Thursday, September 30, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

Even before we agreed to a date we'd be out of the house by, I had started packing.  As I previously noted, we have 24 bookshelves alone, and then there's the in-house 3 month supply of food, clothes, the BUSINESS, the KITCHEN (my condiments alone are daunting to pack and move), etc.

The food, of course, is a bit of a dilemma.  It's a lot of stuff to move.  We can't eat ALL of it in the next 4 or so weeks, but we CAN reduce it.  And I could 'rotate' commercially canned food by donating it to the food bank. 

But if we greatly reduce our stored food, that greatly reduces how prepared we are after our move.  And the town we're moving to doesn't have the vast array of supermarkets that I use here, or a BJ's/Sam's Club/Costco, or an Aldi's, and CERTAINLY no H-Mart!  So stocking up again, at the low prices that I could get by hitting the vast array of store loss-leaders I'm used to is going to be right out.

So, a compromise.  We're eating our way through about 4 cans a week, sometimes up to 8, and I'm not replacing most of them.  I'm doing just-in-time purchasing of things we use up, like cream of mushroom soup, only buying what I need for planned meals. 

Some food will certainly be donated rather than moved.  Commercially canned tomatoes, mostly, along with scattered other items. 

It's been great to have the food when our income was so low, but, boy, I dread moving it all.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Magical Metrics

Blessings, Darlings!

No, the title of this post isn't about the usual metric system, kilometers vs miles, liters vs quarts, etc.  What I want to talk about is setting up you do magically so you can measure the results.  Clearly, this applies more easily to thaumaturgy than theurgy, but it can be done in both.

I lightly touched on measuring results in the last post, on curses, where I mentioned that I had not set up any way to measure my first curse, but the second one was more easily measured - the Beltway Shooters got caught and police started getting FAR more clues starting that day (and for the protection spells I did with that, none of the rest of the attacks took place in my county). 

If you can't/don't measure your results, you don't know if the spell worked at all, worked some, worked a lot, failed totally.  And you need to know these things so you can improve the results of your magic.

I still say that if you do a ritual for peace for a specific period of time, and war breaks out instead, then your ritual probably failed.  If you do a protection spell on your home and it's followed by a break in two weeks later, then something went wrong.

Your Book of Shadows is a lab notebook.  You note exactly what you did, what you wanted, how you did it, etc.  You then note all the results.  And then you see what could be tweaked. 

About 15 years ago I did a working to help our home business get more business, focused on improving our marketing, our success in getting word out to potential clients about how we could help their businesses.  It worked, we got TONS of business in a few months.  BUT it turned out we got more business than we could handle, we lost some clients, got sued by one of them that we hadn't vetted well enough, etc.  Not the best magical result.  A costly lesson, but one that I know about because I followed up on results. 

Doing a ritual to heal the earth? Focus on a specific area where you can check stats on results.  Maybe compare number of days with air pollution warnings to the same time last year.  Or number of days beaches are closed.  Maybe number of people involved in stream cleanup, or percents of garbage recycled vs sent to landfill over time.

Metrics are you friends. Measuring results lets you modify what you are doing to get better results.

Go forth and be wonderful!

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

I'm going to discuss using magic/witchcraft to curse folks.  So let me say right up front that I'm currently in a trad that does not allow that (nor can I order around Goetic Demons while in this trad, dunno about making servitors and such) so I'm not currently doing curses nor have I been doing any since I started Wicca 101 with them.

That said...

Back in the day....

Heck, yeah, I did curses.  And I'd do them again.

Remember, I'm up front that part of my motivation for becoming a witch had to do with power, knowledge, all that good stuff.  With those things comes responsibility.  One of those responsibilities, in my mind, is to use curses when appropriate.

When is Cursing Appropriate?

So far, I've done curses twice that I remember.  I doubt there are any times I don't recall, because it takes a big deal for me to do one.  Obviously, I wasn't cursing the morons who clearly got their drivers licenses out of a gum ball machine.  I wasn't cursing folks who insulted me in AOL chat rooms.  

Most folks who do stupid or irritating things curse themselves just fine.  They don't need my help in that!  I might include in a prayer that it happen sooner rather than later, but that's about it.  

Harm to the Tribe

But when someone does harm to the Tribe, it's time for intervention.  The police have their role in 'harm to tribe' interventions, and I have mine.

So the first curse I threw was targeting rapists.  Not that they die, not that they suffer.  But that they get caught.  That they get STOPPED.  Yes, dying would have done a fine job of stopping them, but that wasn't necessary for my goal.  They didn't ask me to help them heal from whatever reason they chose to rape, and magically forcing them to change is forbidden in most Pagan Witch traditions, and healing without permission is equally forbidden.  But the Tribe would benefit from rape stopping.  So I did it.

I did not follow up local law enforcement arrest stats, let alone district attorney conviction stats, to see what, if any, measurable effects the spell had.  This was WAY early in my Witchy life.

The second curse I did was in fall of 2002, at the Beltway Sniper (BS for short) here in DC. It was the day he shot the kid at the school my son had been attending the year before.  Again, it was all about stopping him (or, as it turned out, them, but I didn't know that at the time and it didn't matter for the working).  Me, the Sacred Weber Grill, articles on the Beltway Sniper, and well-directed fury.  It's a pretty direct attack on my tribe when a kid who my son went to school with as recently as 5 months before get shot! 

Result? This was the first of the attacks where the BS left a clue. The Death Card from the Waite-Rider Tarot deck, deliberately written upon and left for the police, a fact not released to the public for a few days.  The BS was now contributing to being discovered. 

[Yes, I also did healing spells for the wounded, and all families involved, and protection spells for the area, thanks for wondering.]

A Curse Not Done

OTOH, I did NOT do any cursing after the 9/11 attacks on the US.  Why? Several reasons.  At first I didn't have a good enough concept what group did the attack, later because I wasn't sure what outcome would be best to deal with the type of radicals who were behind it and what bred them.  I'm still not sure if the US killing them might just make martyrs for future generations to emulate and thus increase the problem if underlying social and political factors remain the same around the world.  And for CURSES, rather than general magic, prayers, etc, I think that you need an especially tight focus. Therefore, I did different magicks for that rather than going to a curse.

Where do you stand on the subject of cursing?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rite of Passage

Blessings, Darlings!

Is there some reason why dissing Christianity HAS to be a rite of passage for neopagans?  I'm getting REALLY REALLY tired of it.  Especially since it's usually combined with the "Oh, we Pagans are tolerant and accepting and never proselytize, even to you awful Christians and your awful religion, that you really should leave and I'm going to do everything I can to tear down your religion so you'll leave it" intolerant unaccepting proselytizing.

I'm tired of the birthers - you know, the "My Goddess Gave Birth To Your God (and BTW, your God is part of MY "The God", so if I choose I'll add him to my rituals anyway)" stuff. I dislike the assumption in this that Paganism is somehow different and didn't plagiarize from everything that came before.  Heka in Egypt became Hekate in Rome, and become the Hecate versions we see worshipped today in so many different ways.  Oh, everyone gives lip service to Paganism as having 'evolved over time', but apparently when Christianity does that it's different and sinister.  Hell, pagans still take from other religions and cultures today.  We have a huge problem with cultural appropriation.  We should address that - oh, or how about saying that Christians learned THAT from Pagans, too?

Actually, this one includes a dose of antisemitism, in my never humble view, since it ignores the Jewish roots of Christianity.  You know, the Torah, the "Old Testament law" part that is still part of the underpinnings of Christian Theology. 

I'm tired of the "Christianity (alone) has a history of genocide".  They do ... but how about saying that they learned that, too, from Pagans?  Pagan Rome tried to commit genocide against Christianity, remember? And did it because Christians wouldn't worship the Roman Gods.  Heck what happened to the Picts, the descendants of the proto-Beaker people who started Stonehenge? Stonehenge was 'stolen' after they did the astrological work and first round of building.  They 'disappeared', they were obliterated as a people thru' genocide and appropriation by the Celts.  Have a peek at the "Book of Invasions" to see the history of genocide in Irish Celtic Pagan history.  The Tuatha were but the latest invading God-folk, killing all the previous God-folk.

I'm especially tired of the "Everything in Christianity was stolen from Pagans (except Satan and Hell, since I don't like those things)" version, too.  How had Set evolved in Egypt by the time Christianity started evolving?  Hmmmm?  Most moderns see Pan as the party animal lusty lover, but back in the day there were REASONS He caused panic.  When you do a ritual to meet the Crone, do you expect Betty White?  What if Baba Yaga shows up and expects you to get into her mortar and pestle? I'm not talking 'trickersters' here.  And, yes, many Pagan cultures had at least some small afterlife area where a particular nasty person could be tortured for ever.  Sisyphus, anyone?

It's all getting old.  How about encouraging Christians to live and grow in their religion, 'be the change you want to see', all that stuff?  

It may not make you happier, but it would make ME happier.

Frondly, Fern

We Shop

Blessings, Darlings!

My name is Fern, and I'm a farmer's market addict.

Today the Chubby Hubby and I went to the Bowie Farmers Market, a producer-only market.  Oh, could we have bought!

Our favorite vendor there is Unger Farm.  Their early and late season peaches are wonderful, but their midseason peaches are the most amazing peaches we have ever eaten.  Bursting with flavor, often huge, always deeply colored, there are peaches you have to eat with a bib.  You will eat them even without one, and the trails of peach juice they will leave on your shirt is a minor price to pay.

[Fern's hubby here: the thing that's really special about an Unger peach is that it has this deep flavor that is so far above any other peach we have ever eaten.   The flavor doesn't just say "peach," it says "PEACH!!!"  It's like the difference in sound between a cheap fiddle, vs a Stradivarius played by a master. The cheap fiddle sounds tinny and tentative, but a Strad has a rich full-throated sound that is as smooth as velvet. Yeah, Unger mid season peaches are THAT good. ]

Alas, it is too late in the year for ANY MORE peaches from their farm.  We 'settled' for apples:  a half-peck bag of Golden Delicious for both eating out of hand and for a pie I plan to make this week, and small box of Smokehouse, a heritage apple..

I've never run into anyone selling Smokehouse apples before.  Firm but not rock hard, they have an intriguing sweet/tart/apple flavor.  To me, they cry out to be eaten with slices of a sharp cheddar.  No one else in the family feels they need to be paired with anything.  Unfortunately, the Ungers have few boxes of them to sell, as they have had to remove many of their Smokehouse trees.  The variety is not resistant to black spot.  It's a shame, so, sadly, to allow more shoppers can enjoy the variety I limited myself to one box.

Our next spot is Barbie's Breads, who sells breads and pastries from Uptown Bakers  Yes, long-time readers know that I bake most of my own bread, even grind much of my own grain for my own breads.  However, Uptown Bakery makes better artisan bread than I do. Way better. Way, way better.  So, for the 6 months or so that Barbie sells them at farmers markets, I buy one loaf a week.  This week we bought a seeded rye.  We somehow managed to resist the pastries ... this time.  However, I can assure you that even their oatmeal cookies are special, their wonderbars ARE a wonder, and their unique tea cakes are the well-blessed result of a culinary ad lib.

There were no leeks to be had yet (I'm hoping that the drought hasn't toasted them, but booths were so busy I didn't have a chance to ask).  We settled, after a survey of all stands, for adding beets, sweet potatoes, spinach, peaches from a different provider, and hard squash to our haul.  CH and I had a spirited debate over getting some fresh unpasteurized cider, but ultimately had to admit we didn't have room in the fridge for the gallon jug. We also deferred buying asian pears, more peppers, hubbard squash (excellent for strudel!), and a whole host of other enticing produce.

And I do believe I'll also get some leeks at the grocer, as I feel a fall chicken pot pie coming on.

What's fresh and local and wonderful in your area now?

Frondly, Fern

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Posh Life

Blessings, Darlings!

So, the Chubby Hubby and I are preparing to move - we should sign the lease early next week.  I'm sure that the property manager is waiting to  make sure that the deposit check doesn't bounce before moving on to that stage!

In any move, there are lots of costs that aren't obvious.  Obvious costs are boxes, movers, trucks, etc.  Less obvious is lost income (since we have a home based business that will be moved, and lost income as we take the office and lab apart, move it, and then put them back together).

In this move we'll also have to get a washer/dryer, since the house doesn't come with them.  We'll get 'em used, rather than trying to go thru' Freecycle, because we can't store them before we move and we're not in 'prime Freecycle area' after we move.

But then there are all the other costs.  I THINK we'll avoid the "get new towels to match the bathrooms" cost.  We have towels of darn near all solid colors by now!  We won't need to get drapes/window shades in this house (one of the others was without them .... but DID have a washer/dryer).

But the CH, saying we're moving nto this really great almost new rental, wants us to get the dining room chairs, an overstuffed armchair, and at least one loveseat reupholstered.  Well, I can agree that they ARE old - older than our spawn, who is 22. And the cats HAVE used parts of them to scratch on.  I'm talking about YOU, Ms. Brianna, who is staring at me looking VERY demure as I type.

I do believe I went pale at the suggestion.  I don't know exact costs for reupholstering, but I know it's not cheap.  It might not even be frugal - we might be able to buy new chairs for the cost of reupholstering the old ones!

I tried to make a counter-offer: let's move, see what all our costs are, THEN investigate reupholstering.  That was rejected, as the CH doesn't want to move crappy-looking furniture into the new place.

But, being of sound mind, I bounced the issue off of my coven-siblings at ritual last night.  They told me that with a staple gun and hot glue I can do a reasonable job of reupholstering myself.  While I think that they over estimate my attention to detail, I think that will be what I try.  The CH has not rejected the idea, and I'll start by doing the chair whose seat is the most torn up.  That way, even if I screw up terribly, the 'only' things lost are costs for a small amount of material and my time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pre-ritual Ritual

From Wikipedia: "Cult in this primary sense is literally the "care" (Latin cultus) owed to the god and the shrine."

Blessings, Darlings!

I'm typing this about an hour before the actual Autumnal Equinox occurs. The coven I'm in will be holding our ritual tomorrow night.  Me, I'm nearing the end of my pre-ritual rituals.

You see, while I can and do work magic or rituals or whatever is necessary at darn near a moments notice, I have found that both theurgy (magic/ritual aimed at spiritual growth/honoring the divine/etc) and thaumaturgy (magic/ritual aimed at material world miracles) work best with serious preparation.

It used to be the standard for magic users.  Even now, I have friends who don't blink an eye at spending a full month or more preparing for a ritual. That month, depending on the ritual, might include celibacy (while married/living with significant other), dietary prohibitions, etc. Which of course is seen an VERY hardcore in modern America.

Me, I just like to spend the week before a high day working with the Patron Gods we're going to work with, on the seasonal changes whose energies we are working with, the magic we are trying to do.  Often the 'working with' is working with a visualization for the week, whether it be an animal or a gold circle with a green dot in the center, on a black background, whatever.

Other friends of mine, on more ethnic pagan paths, do some more serious or long lasting cultus.  One friend working with Apollo did a year without meat.  Another does an assortment of fasts throughout the year.

The week before my first circle vigil in Ar nDraioch Fein - back at Samhain in about 1991 or 1992, I've packed my journals so can't check the date right now - I ate little meat, and only meat I killed myself. The day leading up to the vigil I only ate food I grew or at least harvested myself.  I feel that preparation made a huge difference in the coherence of my mind, body, emotional, spirit, etc., for the vigil.  It was pretty dang amazing!

Cultus. I recommend it.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Christine O'Donnell Brew-ha-ha

Blessings, Darlings!

As the bulk of you know, Christine O'Donnell, the Republican running for senate in New Jersey said, about 13 years ago, that she dabbled in Satanic witchcraft when she was in high school.  Unsavory folks, blood on altar, etc.

It seems that all the big name Pagans have their panties in a bunch over it.  Which makes it a particular shame that Isaac Bonewits has passed on, since he was active in a Church of Satan group while in college and no one was up in arms over that. Here's Isaac's "I was a teen aged Satanist" story: 

And here is the clip from Politically Incorrect with Ms. O'Donnell telling her story:

And now for MY editorializing.

Christine O'Donnell said NOTHING about religion in the clip that's being shown.  She said that as a teen she dabbled in WITCHCRAFT, and they had a Satanic altar.  So let's say that it was Satanic Witchcraft.

She did not say that she studied Wicca, or theistic Satanism, or any other religion.  She did not say it was religious at all.

The only folks who are equating her "unsavory folks involved in Satanic Witchcraft" have been some Wiccans. 

Yes, the press probably called a few BNP's up for their opinions, but just saying "She said it was Satanic Witchcraft - talk to them. Not all witches are Wiccan."  Of course, if they had left it at that ... they'd not get their names and quotes all over news articles. 

There certainly are a whole lot of pagans, especially some Wiccans, who talk as if we have copyright to the word 'witch'.

We don't.

Satanists of all stripes are entitled to use the word for what they do, some atheists are, Jewitches certainly do - I don't see any reason why all users of magic/potions/etc shouldn't be entitled to use the word if they so choose.


Now that I think about it, we might not want to use it around our ancestors if you're inviting them to the party.  Most of our paleopagan ancestors were pretty much anti-witch, when you come down to it.  They'd have put us iin a coracle with no oars in it and left us beyond the 7th wave, if you get my drift. Witchcraft was forbidden by the Celts, the Greeks, the Romans.... those 'spiritual ancestors' we love to lay claim to.

Back to Teen Witch

 Now, while I'm overdue for my Croning, I DO remember being a a teen.   Don't you? 

As a teen there were certain things on our minds. Sex. Partying. Our growing sense of in dependence and power, and pushing other people's (especially adults) buttons. All of which make witchcraft and generic Satanism attractive platforms.  I didn't do Satanism, but I can tell you that my friends and I didn't do our seances for religious purposes.  We didn't do love spells for religious purposes.
We didn't do folk magic for clear skin for religious purposes. We didn't do divination of our future husbands for religious purposes.

We were after Power, Knowledge, and maybe personal growth ... if you're willing to say that getting the boy or girl we wanted was about personal growth.  I'm not willing to say that, but YMMV.

Witchcraft is NOT RELIGION

Witchcraft is not a religion.  It is a set of skills that is religion-neutral. They can be used by folks of any or no religion, duotheist, monotheist, atheist, polytheist or, as a Ceremonial Magician I know says she is, Polyatheist.

The religion you hold does not matter in Witchcraft. Witchcraft might matter, negatively or not, to the religion you hold, but that's a different matter.

And Satanism might or might not be a religion, depending on the branch. Church of Satan is atheist. Temple of Set and the Luciferians are theistic.

Christine O'Donnell mentioned what they DID, not what they BELIEVED or WORSHIPPED.  Thus, we're back at a-theism.

Again, Back to Teen Witch

So, we're still at generic COS-style atheist Satanic Witchcraft for Christine O'Donnell as a teen.  We know that now she sees the ids she hung with as 'unsavory', and that there was blood on the altar she had a midnight picnic on.

Oh, the Crowleyan thrill of being edgy!   

Let's assume that by now she'd have turned them in if they confessed to murder to her when they told her what types of things they did.

Let's assume that animal sacrifice would have left more blood, because even dealing with a chuck roast in my kitchen leaves a trail of red goop.

What's left?

Teens having sex on the altar while the girls is on her period (because she isn't using birth control & doesn't want to get pregnant), some guy cutting himself to annoint the altar with blood, or, my vote, some girl doing a love spell using menstrual blood.  But copywriting choices make it better to spin it to sound like some 'unsavory sacrifice' rather than "a tampon was here".

In Summary:

Christine O'Donnell has said  NOTHING that link what she did to Wicca OTHER THAN WICCANS GETTING THEIR PANTIES IN A BUNCH OVER IT.  

She dabbled in some sort of Satanic Witchcraft as a teen.  So what?

In fact, she seems to have grown up to be a reasonably functional adult.

She's a testimony to teen witchcraft, even teen Satanic Witchcraft, being a long-term positive force for teens.

Church of Satan should use her as a poster child.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, September 20, 2010

Handfasting - Pagan for Marriage

Blessings, Darlings!

Over the past few days I've been thinking about marriage. Over the years I've watched couples unite and part, and I'm watching some total train wrecks on Twitter (I just unfollowed a second one of them).  Mostly I'm thinking about the role of clergy in performing the ceremony, and clergy responsibility to help identify potential problems.

The chubby hubby and I got married back in 1980.  The rabbi gave us a tiny bit of premarital counseling, pretty much only asking how we'd work on religious differences (I was still nominally Jewish at the time while CH is Christian).  Like - how would we raise the children.  That's ALL I remember, but it was thirty years ago!

On the other hand there was a woman I knew online who had a whole intense list of activities she demanded the couple do before she'd do the ceremony.  Combine finances for the year before, train a puppy together, paper a small washroom together, etc.

Being me, and (obviously) into social media, I took the issue to Twitter.  Got a lot of interesting issues brought up there.

Personal or Group/Tribal/Societal?
First question - is marriage, as an institution, more about individual/couple's spiritual development, or is it more about things that are 'for the good of the tribe'?  Certainly, if the couple is involving clergy, they are taking vows before the Gods.... or are they?

In today's paganism, most folks see every individual as a priest or priestess, able to have their own relationship with the High Ones. Most don't see clergy needed for issues of personal spiritual development (altho' most agree that in some situations they can be helpful).  Personal spirituality is, in fact, seen as the individual's responsibility, not the responsibility of clergy/HP's. 

Involving clergy in a handfasting, not to mention family and invited guests, says to me that the rite is not about a path of personal spirituality, but of tribal status.  Thus, it's ultimately about the good of the tribe. 

The Good of the Tribe, Then
So, what about it was for 'the good of the Tribe'?

Back in the day, I think it's obvious that much of it was about fertility.  Go forth and multiply, make our tribe stronger in numbers so we have workers/fighters/etc. In the ancient Irish Brehon laws there were something like 17 different types of marriage, but the bulk of the legalities, as I understand it, were about inheritance rights of the children that resulted from them.

Another aspect was building ties between tribes/clans.  Marriages between other tribes and clans was seen as a good way to 'invest' and solidify good relationships, prove goodwill, etc.  The ties broadened networks that could be called on in times of trouble, and were hoped to make it less likely that there would be wars between connected tribes/clans.

The Good of the Tribe, Now 
This is rather more nebulous. 

Yes, it still is a public rite of initiation/change of status in the community. 

But what about marriage is 'for the good of the tribe'?  We all know the 'Defense of Marriage' folks have their view, which I think is self-contradictory, and, since most pagan clergy do gay and lesbian handfastings, not applicable.

Breeding more little pagans isn't necessarily what is needed, both because the earth is past carrying capacity and because most new pagans convert from other religions.  We may brag about our growing numbers, but we're not really called to make converts of the world.  And certainly lots of folks don't concern themselves with getting handfasted or married before having children.

What's left, it seems to me, is clan relations.  Two families intertwining members.  If it works, it strengthens the community, even if it works for only a while then ends with respect..  If it ends acrimoniously, it is toxic for the community.  And in that being toxic for the community, the

So What's the Role of Clergy?
They help the community.  In this case, I'd say that they need to do reasonable premarital counseling to help them screen out couples that are not 'marriage material'.  Too immature, too many issues, whatever.  Ask questions, devised screening tests, refer couples or individuals not ready for marriage or too toxic to be married to options for solving the pre-existing issues.  Just saying 'no' to couples where there is deemed to be too likely a toxic ending, when it can be quantified/shown by screening, etc.  

A pro-active clergy.

What say ye?

My Husband's Still an Ebay Virgin

Blessings, Darlings!

Being frugal combined with having a home business means looking for bargains on products.  A product that saves hours of time and frustration is an asset, and usually worth buying - but we still want to get it at it's best price.

Husband has decided that we need PowerPoint 2010 only from Office 2010 (hey, BTW - I'm not getting paid to promote any  products, and I'm up front when talking about products we sell that, hey, I own that business) that works with Camptasia 7 and makes it easier to create then relocate full slide shows.  Okay, but what's the best way to do that?  We have Office 2003, and the Evil Empire of MicroSoft won't let us do a cheap upgrade to 2010 directly, which would be our choice to do.  They WILL let you have a free upgrade if you have Office 2007, but only thru' the end of this month.

So, off to Craigslist, Ebay, and Google to see what's available in at what price for Office 2007 Pro.  Found one suspiciously cheap, couldn't find out a THING about the company, decided it was too likely to be a scam.  Found a good looking one on Ebay, but some of the fine print on the MSFT end of the deal makes it harder to use with Ebay purchases, and this was a lab bench copy.  Craigslist didn't have anything.  Amazon prices were sky-high.

So, husband is buying Power Point only, not the full suite, for whatever point one of the local office supply stores has it at.  He can get it today, which is nice, it won't cost what a full copy of Office (either 2007 or 2010) would cost.

I just hope he doesn't bring home a fax machine - story about THAT some other day!

Frondly, Fern

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cheap Eats

Blessings, Darlings!

The Spawn has just driven off to his job at Popeye's, which brings food and lack of income to mind.  And I realized that while I've talked about gardening, cooking from scratch, and foraging wild foods (which reminds me, I should check the persimmon trees in one of the parks in town to see if they will be worth checking when ripe) I have NOT talked about other food resources that may be available.

Since I already mentioned Popeye's, we'll start with "food from work".  The Spawn gets one two piece chicken meal with a biscuit, a small side, and a drink every shift he works.  That's a heck of a lot of his daily calorie need, and a lot of fried food.  What he does is bring his lunch 4 out of 5 days - a sandwich and a piece of fruit - and have that with the drink and side dish (about evenly split between the fries and the red beans and rice).  He tucks the two pieces of chicken in his cooler and brings them home.  Once a week we have Popeye's chicken as a family dinner.

It used to be that if you worked at a grocery store you'd be able to get items that were past their sell-by date.  That is far less common now, but in some ways that's a good thing - when I dropped off some garden-fresh tomatoes at the food pantry today I saw that they had out a whole bunch of pre-cut/packaged fruit from a local grocery store for their clients.

Many folks I know online like the monthly food from Angel Food Ministries:  I find that I can do just as well buying groceries at the store as I'd do thru' them, but as always YMMV (your mileage may vary).  You get a box of food for a reduced price.  It's a bit high on breaded fried foods for me, even more so now that we have a weekly dose of fried chicken!

The SHARE program is one that I like a lot  This is the DC area link, but I know that there are other areas in the US where it operates as well.  For SHARE, you pay a reduced price for our food as you do with Angel Food, but there is one more requirement - that you volunteer somewhere for 2 hours a month.  It's still not 100% food I'd buy myself, but it's closer to my tastes than Angel Food.

Let's not forget that there are also food banks available.  They are under more pressure than ever, with donations down and people in need up, and they, unlike the previously listed places, often require that you prove need. Back in the day I worked at a shelter than gave out some food, a typical bag for a family of 4 would be a box of cereal, a quart or two of dried milk, a box of crackers or a loaf of bread if we had that, two cans of soup, three cans of veggies, two cans of fruit, one box of jello, one can of tuna, a jar of jelly, a jar of peanut butter, a box of mac & cheese.

Dumpster Diving ... you know, at least one of the grocery chains here locks their garbage so no one can root thru' it for out of date food.  They say it's because of risk of lawsuits. 

Road kill - my husband hasn't let me do this yet.  But, sheesh, last Saturday we passed not one but TWO dead deer on the road.  I wasn't dressed to butcher them, but that would have been a whole lot of good venison.  Why should the crows and buzzards be the only ones getting them?

Clearly this is not an exhaustive list.  I've not looked into soup kitchens and other sources. But none of my posts are exhaustive!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Colbert a Satire? Who knew?

Blessings, Darlings!

Apparently, not everyone understands that the Colbert Report is satire.  His promotion of 'Truthiness' instead of truth, of everyone being entitled to their own "facts" rather than evidence, logic, etc, is NOT meant to actually be the ideal to be worked for.

I've been told that there was an ancient Pagan Celtic Potato Goddess.  And that the "traditional Irish and Welsh practice of growing potatoes solved the great Famine in Ireland".  Now, actual EVIDENTIARY FACTS show that potatoes were not grown in Europe during Pagan times - it came to Europe after Europeans made it to the Andes in the Americas and brought them back to Europe some time after Columbus ran into the Americas in 1492.  And actual EVIDENTIARY FACTS show that the Great Famine was caused by failure of the potato crop - which is why it's called the Irish Potato Famine.  

Facts.  Lovely things. They describe - accurately - the world around us.  Beliefs/dogma/religion/spirituality are different from facts.  They work to describe some transcendent reason underlying facts.  They are, literally 'metaphysical', beyond the physical.  Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs.  They are NOT entitled to their own facts.

Frondly, Fern


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stephen Colbert announces that "The Wørd" of the night is truthiness, during the premiere episode of The Colbert Report.
In satire, truthiness is a "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.[1]
American television comedian Stephen Colbert revealed this definition[2] as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd" during the pilot episode of his political satire program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005. By using this as part of his routine, Colbert satirized the misuse of appeal to emotion and "gut feeling" as a rhetorical device in contemporaneous socio-political discourse.[3] He particularly applied it to U.S. President George W. Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.[4] Colbert later ascribed truthiness to other institutions and organizations, including Wikipedia.[5] Colbert has sometimes used a quasi-Latin version of the term, "Veritasiness".[not in citation given][6] For example, in Colbert's "Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando" the word "Veritasiness" can be seen on the banner above the eagle on the operation's l.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Harvest Time

Blessings, Darlings!

As all y'all who have been reading this for a while know, it's been a long, hard slog the past few years.   Money has been pretty non-existent. Well, non-existent in a first world way, at least.  All clothes except undies and socks come from Goodwill.   The only thing I go to Starbucks for is coffee grounds for the garden.  Haven't bought books at all, one meal out a month at most, if things around the house get repaired it's by us or not at all unless it's the car, etc.  Bills have been paid a bit late on occassion, but always paid in a reasonable amount of time.  Spas? Facials? Nope. Movies? Nope. Vacations? Nope.

Not exactly living the American Dream of the American Lifestyle, but there is NO question that we are living richer than most of the world, right?

It's paying off.  Not that the business is pulling in mega bucks, tho' consulting is doing well.  But, you know we have to move, and move fast.  Landlords/management companies pull credit reports on prospective tenents.  We applied to rent a WONDERFUL house, and the agent renting it immediately told us we were the #1 prospect (and 2 other families applied the same day we did) because of OUR STELLAR CREDIT RATING.  The weeping, the stressing, the juggling needs/wants/desires, everything has worked to make us, if not financially secure, at least look great to potential landlords.

I hope we get our #1 choice in houses.  Once we are settled after we move (in any place we move to!) we get to work to amass savings for later house/land purchase.  And of course, we will keep knocking off the debts the business has.  But at least the hard work has shown SOME results.

Most amazing has been the magical working aspect.  I have NEVER before held back from micromanaging magic.  I have declared what I wanted and worked for it.  This time, since the awful day in December that the landlord's bank slapped foreclosure papers on the front door, I stepped back and did magic aimed "at the highest good of all involved".  One of the results: living 10 months rent free.  Holy cow - I'd NEVER have worked for that.  That monetary aid alone allowed us the opportunity to work on bringing out a new product rather than just doing consulting. 

I did it this way because I knew I was too emotional to see all options, and too pissed at some of the people and institutions involved to focus well.  But it paid off incredibly.  I'm still in awe.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm a bad blogger

Blessings, Darlings!

I know - I've been missing in action, and not blogging.  But it's because life has had SO VERY MUCH action.

I've been canning and drying food.  I've been balancing paying creditors while my husband (and thus our business) has been working on bringing out a new product line instead of doing consulting which actually brings in cash.  Yeah, new products will pay off 'someday' - but Baltimore Gas and Electric wants their bill paid NOW.

And - get this - our landlord stopped paying the mortgage a year ago April.  The house we rent has been foreclosed on.  We just got our formal notice that we have to move. By law we have 90 days.  But we will lose consulting income during a move, since we have a home-based business.

Right now we don't even know what state we want to move to. Stay in Maryland? Move to Pennsylvania? West Virginia? Indiana?

I'm a bit overwhelmed, and part of why I've not blogged is that EVERYTHING I typed seemed too whiny to publish. 

In good news, the spawn has officially dropped out of college, but has finally gotten a job.  Part time, slinging chicken at Popeye's.  It's a good thing.  And the garden is producing huge amounts of tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as marvelous grapes.  I just planted fall crops before we got notice to move, dang it ..... ooops, heading towards whining.... The torn meniscus in my knee is doing better, I'm working out on the exercise bike and regularly increasing the resistance.

But ... having a ton of canned food isn't a great thing for moving.  So I'm stopping the canning and dehydrating instead, and we're going to push eating canned foods at every meal up to the move. Which is a shame to have to do when veggies are still cheap and available!  Fresh beans are 79 cents a pound this week, and we're eating canned beans instead of saving them for when fresh beans are $2/lb or unavailable.  Le Sigh.

Well, that's the summary.  I've got all sorts of ideas for what I'd like to be posting here, but time's going to be scarce for the next few months.

Anyone have a house with some 2200 square feet of living space available to rent, for $1500 to $2000, east of the Mississippi and from DC on north?

Frondly, Fern