Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Road Trip!

Blessings Darlings!

My life features a monthly road trip to central  Maryland once a month for business stuff.  Today was that day.  Lovely day for driving (well, after the intense morning fog cleared (both in my head and in the real world)), the leaves had peak fall colors, the sun was shining, the temperature was lovely.

Instead of just my usual stops, I added OccupyDC to the list of places to go. 

See, I had cooked a huge batch (75 one-cup servings worth) of Lentil Vegetable soup the night before to bring over there.  It's a damn fine thing I spent a semester or two volunteering at the Maryland Food Co-op, helping prepare Vegan Lunch for 350, because I used all of that knife and big-ass cooking skill for this!  It WOULD have been easier if I had real restaurant quality and number soup pots, cutting boards, measuring cups (measuring quarts/gallons?), prep bowls, etc.  And I gave up cutting veggies at 75 servings, instead of making the 100  had planned, but I admit I'm out of mass-chopping practice!

So this morning I loaded up the car, the soup in re-purposed frosting buckets (Yay for prepping, which meant I had them on hand), printed out directions to McPherson Square, and headed in.  Was stopped for a while due to an accident on 270.  Okay, no biggie. Then, something was up on Clara Barton Parkway.  Lots of police cars at the parking for the C&O Canal.  Get to Canal Road - traffic is not moving.  Turn on radio.  Not only are the police closING Canal Road ... but they've already closed off the freeway the directions want me to take. How was I to know that President Obama was giving some speech at the Georgetown Waterfront? Oh Dear. I do NOT know this part of DC. 

Inching my way forward with traffic, I think, okay, I couldn't make a right onto the freeway, I'll make a right here... Oh - I'm on a bridge going over a river.  That means I screwed up, and am heading into Virginia and AWAY from my destination. Oh! A sign for the Roosevelt Bridge!  Zoom! Back in DC, and on the Mall, where I could find my way easily again.

McPherson was easy to find, parking was not.  Ended up parking illegally, just long enough to drop off the buckets of soup (neatly labeled as vegan and gluten-free).

I'd love to go back, catch workshops, work the kitchen or cleanup, take part in an action if one is going on. But for that, I'll need to take Metro in from Montgomery Village or something, with the Spawn dropping me off and picking me up.  And even that metro stop CLOSEST to home is 50 miles away, requiring a lot of family help.  Not an everyday thing. Maybe once a month? We'll see...

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Washington DC & Occupy

Blessings Darlings!

I moved out of the DC suburbs under a year ago, so I feel qualified to comment on why the government of Washington DC and the OccupyDC occupation are getting along so well.  So I'm going to share my unique insights with all y'all.

There are two major reasons, IMNHO.  The first is the unique relationship that DC and it's residents have with the Federal Govenment, the second has to do with .... the reality of the type of folks who so often get elected in the US.

I'll start with the fact that Washington DC and its residents do not have any federal political representation ... and that the Occupy movement is focused on the relationship that corporate money has on ... the federal government.  DC government can't even make their own laws without 'review' by Congress.  Washington DC is a not-represented US colony.  As a result, most of the city government is more than happy to help folks pressure the Federal govt about ANYTHING.  Poke them!  Harass them! DC Govt will stay out of your way as long as you don't cause any  more problems than the constant federal motorcades cause.  DC is used to protests. They've been thru' calm ones, mild ones, and everything in between.  After the WTO ones, OccupyDC is a bunch of scouts camping out in a park. The police like protests, in my view.  They justify  keeping lot of police hired, and dealing with them is FAR safer for the police than dealing with criminals and far FAR safer than going on a domestic violence call.  Back under Police Chief Ramsey the size of protests were routinely overestimated, the better, IMO, for the police to ask for more money from the city. 

Sidebar - for some protests under Ramsey I'd go into DC and watch them, taking the Spawn and teaching him to estimate crowd sizes.  I'm pretty good at crowd size estimation, in my opinion. 

The other major reason that OccupyDC and the Washington DC city council are getting along is .... Sigh.  We once again have a mayor who is under investigation of possible criminal wrongdoing.  Having protestors in town and having the press give THEM attention takes media attention off of him.  Personal political power is at stake, but only if the residents follow the story (and care about the story). Even if there is enough evidence to prosecute him, even if he's convicted, none of that matters.  What matters is voter memory.  The less the press carries the story, the shorter the memory of voters.

So, those are, in my view, the major reasons why OccupyDC is smiled upon by the DC city council.  They see it as something that can only help the status of the city and/or their careers.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pushy Jewish Broad

Blessings Darlings!

I was raised Jewish, and I was raised in Skokie, Illinois.  That's sort of the epicenter of Chicagoland Middle Class Conservative Jewry.  By any ethnic consideration, I am a Jewitch, or Druish, depending on if you are coming from Wiccan or Druid perspective.  The 'woman of a certain size' version.

Which means that in business and social situations I tend to speak right up with my concerns/issues.  I do not suffer in silence - I make sure that everyone else suffers with me.  Add that to my Survivalist leanings, where a basic tenet is that s/he who hesitates is shot, and ... let's just say that when pushed I push back. Solidly.

Do you think I need a warning label?  Or just a camera crew to record the fun that occurs when folks don't realize this about me?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, October 24, 2011

Life, The Universe, and Everything

Blessings Darlings!

It's been REALLY busy around here lately, but nothing worth blogging about!  Switching the garden from summer to fall/winter.  Switching my COOKING from summer to fall/winter (stews, soups, baking again now that I don't have to worry about heating the house in summer).  Working out transportation issues now that the Spawn works and we still only have 1 car that we are sharing among the 3 of us.  Trying to find time and money to visit my mother in the nursing home in Chicago.  The hard work of feeding a family on what we'd get if we were on food stamps (which I can only do because I work at home and can make damn near everything from scratch while still working).

In fact, I'm going to go throw some bones into the oven, because roasted bones make better soup stock.  Then I can bring them and saved carrot scrapings, etc, and water to a boil, and make more soup stock.  I've been going thru' GALLONS of that this month, and am trying to get every particle of flavor out of every bone.

Business has been busy, but as you hardware and software geeks know - all development takes longer than you think it will.  Which means we are behind on several client's projects, which means we haven't been paid for several client's projects. 

And I'd prefer to be at OccupyDC than here.  Partly because I'm still having hot flashes and camping in the cold sounds REALLY nice, but mostly because I'm fully behind forcing our congresscritters into making real campaign finance reform.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gritty Reality

Blessings Darlings!

To continue on the grain theme from yesterday ... I've been grinding my own flour again, now that it's cool and I'm doing a lot of baking again.  I don't bake 100% whole grain bread, for the record, because my family isn't fond of it.  Over time I'm raising the percentage of whole grains, but that's going to be a LONG LONG slog.

But since I am grinding and sifting and making corn meal mush and frying polenta and all, I ended up with a jar of ... well, *I* called the stuff corn grits, but in reality it was mostly husks.  Being cheap frugal, yesterday I figured I'd see if they WOULD cook up into grits.

The answer was ... not exactly.  Too many flakes of husk.  But ATSHTF, I'm sure we'd eat them happily.  They weren't AWFUL.  But we're not going to eat them until then.


Okay, I'll probably try them mixed into a loaf of white bread and see what happens next.  Shhhh.  Don't tell my family.  Let's keep it a secret.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, October 21, 2011

People Food

Blessings Darlings!

As many of you know, my food storage program is built around a base of feed-store bought wheat and corn (and, damn, I wish feed stores around here sold whole soybeans).  Some people have wondered about whether humans can/should be eating food that's sold for feed for animals - sure grains sold for direct human consumption are better somehow.  Cleaner? Better inspected?

Certainly the same products sold for human consumption are more expensive.  But better/cleaner/certified?  Nope!

While the Chubby Hubby isn't at all into prepping, really, he DOES bring a serious knowledge base into this part of the discussion.  While in college, he worked summers at a Huge Corn Processing Company.  They made (I'm sure they basically still exist now, but have been swallowed by an even LARGER Huge Corn Processing Company) most of the types of corn products used across the US: corn starch, corn sugar, corn syrup, glutens, flours, etc.  He has told me stories of how things work there.

The corn the company got was the same corn that the feed producers get. The same silo spits it out into the same train hopper cars.  The silo tests ALL of the corn for toxins.

The feed companies and the Human Processing company both use the same process to 'clean' the corn - fundamentally, using fans/compressed air to blow away things not the right weight as the kernels should be.  After that, the feed company fills 50 pound bags with the grain.  Meanwhile, the Corn Processor starts to play.

Corn Processor 'cleans' the corn .... by dumping the kernels water with sulfer dioxide in it, making the water a weak acid.  Yummy! This kills stops any mold from growing during the 24 hour soak, but allows enzymatic action in the kernels.  They then wet mill it, and the slurry gets divided into it's 4 main component parts - hulls starch, germ, and something I can't recall right now.  Dang. The splashing acidic slurry eats away at the concrete around the milling machines, by the way. 

Anyway, let's talk about where the starch goes.  It gets refined in TONS of different ways, for different purposes.  Every now and then, they take out a sample to test it.  When they take a sample, some spills on the floor. 

How do they clean the floor?  Oh, with water.  Where does the corn starchy water go? BACK INTO THE MIX FOR PROCESSING.  How yummy is THAT?

So, yeah.  I grind my own flour, from whole grains meant for animals.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Journalistic Integrity

Blessings, Darlings!

Do you work in a large business, with lots of branches around the country (maybe around the world)?  Or, in ANY work situation do you ask the same probing questions of co-workers that you would of others?  Would you say to a co-worker that what they are saying doesn't make sense to you, and push them HARD for better answers on a non-work related issue they promote? 

Like, oh, for instance ..... if your co-worker was to organize some political thang.  And you were assigned to cover that political thing.  Would you push your co-worker for clear answers as hard as you would a stranger, knowing that you'll still be passing each other in the halls, hanging out with the same folks at work?  Would it be as easy for you to ask them the tough questions, and try to insist on answers? If you had more questions, and your work in the same building, would you seek them out and push for more answers?  Would that person then feel that they were in a hostile work environment?

I'd hope, that as a news person, you'd be able to do that.  But I understand why your employer would feel that you might have a hard time doing that, and that it might at least subconsciously affect your reporting.

Which, obviously, brings me to National Public Radio's (NPR) rules against any of it's employees participating in that NPR covers. The issue also is whether someone on NPR's payroll should be allowed to say something in one venue that NPR would not allow on its air. NPR’s ethics code says they cannot.

I'm betting that NPR would not allow it's employees to advocate, on the air, that congressional office buildings should be occupied.  Which is what StopTheMachine2011, the group that Lisa Simeone is on the board of directors of, did the other day.  I dunno just what they did today at the bank. And I blame the editor from the National Standard for the incident at the National Air & Space Museum.

I don't think that their policy is a great one.  I understand why they have it, but I think that there area better ways to promote journalistic integrity, like just saying they can't participate in things that they themselves cover.  But the policy is clear, and has been VERY public since NPR fired Juan Williams a few years back.

I AM amused at the folks crying censorship over this who were fine with Juan Williams being fired.  Just because I'm amused by folks who rationalize things like that. 

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Purple Sweet Potatoes

Blessings, Darlings!

I removed all the sweet potato vines from my garden.  They go into compost unlike the tomato vines which, due to risk of blight, don't get composted.  While removing the vines I found yet MORE potatoes.  Bringing my harvest up to about 18 pounds.  I'm VERY happy with those numbers, given I had NO idea what I was doing and planted only 3 slips 'lasagna' style over solid clay soil.  These are, after all, a crop that loves SANDY soil, the opposite of what I have!

So, I hear you asking, how are they for eating?  Remember - I've grown these in the wrong soil and in a drought/heat wave, so YMMV.  Not as sweet as most orange sweet potatoes to me, and while the skin on most of them is thin ... just under the skin is a fair amount of fiber which can be nasty.  But I'm sure that I'll learn how to deal with that better soon.

I expect that the leaves are edible, too, but haven't tried them yet.  The deer LOVE them.  I let the deer in at the end of the season, so they could help remove the vines.  Working WITH nature rocks!

So, again - nice flavor, GREAT color, GREAT yield.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside

Blessings Darlings!

Actually, it's cold AND damp.  Rain, and the temperature hasn't gotten out of the 40's in days.  It's a colder snap than usual this early in the year. 

So we're trying to acclimate to fall/winter temperatures a bit earlier than we'd like to.  The Chubby Hubby even turned on the heat in the bedroom last night!  The house is 63 now, instead of 78.  I'm very unhappy - I have a cold and I'd be uncomfortable under the best of circumstances, and this is ... okay, it's a first world problem.  We CAN turn on the heat.  We CAN afford it right now. 

Since the weather is no longer nasty hot, I'm back to making soup and we're having that for most lunches.  Last week I made Huge Batch O' Chili. We're still eating that, and there's a half gallon in the freezer for some other time.  I'll probably make Barley Veggie with Beef next - we love us some barley!  The guys will probably insist on chicken noodle after that - they are kind of predictable.

Soups have been one of my favorite foods since I was a baby, apparently.  My Mother says that I couldn't get enough the first time she fed me chicken noodle soup.  I immediately became a soup addict.  Or at least a salt addict.  It's likely that was the first salty food I was given as an infant.

I often make soup in big enough batches that I can freeze a couple of quarts for some time when I'm too busy to make more.  I consider that good use of the freezer.  I'd probably can some of it but I'd have to can the full batch to fill the canner, and then what would we eat immediately?  Okay, that's not an insurmountable problem.

To sum up today's post:  Weather cold, soup good.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trading Stocks

Blessings Darlings!

I love puns.  In this case, I'm trading talking about soup stocks for talking about trading stocks.  Or at least options on stocks.  I considered using 'stocks and bonds' as a title, but more than a few of you would have thought I'd be posting on some BDSM stuff.  Alas, this post isn't THAT interesting.


I've started back trading stock options.  But only in a small way - I've spent most of the investment money to pay for frivolous things like rent and food over the past couple of years.  So I'm only buying/selling one contract at a time and being very conservative ... even while doing investments where I can easily lose the entire investment if I don't do things right.

I didn't structure my last trade very well, but still made 5% in 4 trading days.  Not a fortune - that was $55 in profit.  But once I get more up to speed, I'm hoping that I'll double the return per trade while keeping my ASSets covered.

I like options because they take little up-front money (compared to buying stocks), don't risk more than you invest up front (unlike currencies), and can make money on either an up or down market.  Right now I'd say that the market, using the S&P500 as a marker, is going sideways, and I can handle that, too.

My biggest problem is that I tend to cut my wins off too soon.  I'm still working on that, among other skills.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pantry Stuff

Blessings, Darlings!

My son just finished making a sheet cake, and I've just started a sponge for a loaf of bread.  All this yummy use of on-hand ingredients leads to a question - do you know how much of what you use in a typical month?  At least of staples like flour, sugar, coffee?

I've been thinking about that, and compiling next-month's shopping list.  So I'm going to bore treat you to some of my figures.  Most are a bit more than I use in a typical month, but buying this month allows a LITTLE natural accumulation of supplies.

Minimum purchases from Aldi's (staples, no name brands, store profit goes to Germany, but GREAT prices):

Flour -           5 5-pound bags
Sugar -          2 5-pound bags
lunchmeat       3 pounds
croutons         1 bag ( really should make them myself)
soup - cream of  mushroom      5 cans
peas             2 cans
canned mushrooms 9 cans
canned tuna    5 cans
canned ham     1 can
onions              6 pounds
potatoes          10 pounds
canned tomatoes     6 cans (pints)
cooking spray        1 can
oil                  2 bottles 48 oz
napkins            2 packages
hash browns        1 package, frzn
frozen veggies       9 bags
Milk                10 gallons
eggs                 9 dozen
half & half          4 quarts
OJ                   4 half gallons
cereal                4 boxes
mac & cheese mix       3
scalloped 'tater mix      1
canned nuts        2 cans
bar cheese          1 1/2 pounds
sliced cheese        2 pounds
butter                  4 pounds
Coffee                4 pounds
salt                    1 round
Brown sugar        2 lb
saltine crackers     1 lb
apples                   15 lb
oranges                 8 lb
bananas                 11 lb
hamburger buns       2 packages
hoagie rolls              1 or 2 packages
yogurt                1 qt
lettuce                 5 heads
carrots                 8 lb
cabbage                2 of 'em
celery                   1
green peppers       1 package
garlic                    lots
paper towels         2 rolls

And those are just the 'normal' purchases I make each month.  The meat, meds, cat stuff, etc are all at other stores (and on sales if possible). I didn't even include chocolate of ANY type!

What are you 'every month' purchases?  How much money do you need to allot to those, before you can even think of buying other stuff? 

Frondly, Fern

Canning Pumpkin

Blessings, Darlings! 

It's that time of year again - the hard squashes are in!  I'll be stocking up this week, while they are on sale at the grocer, but on Nov 1 your can probably get 'Halloween Pumpkins" for free at pumpkin patches.  Not the best tasting flesh, but great for seeds (especially the tiny ones).

I usually just keep them fresh, if you buy good quality ones they don't go bad quickly.  But I have canned them if I have a bunch and several go bad at once.

Always can cubes -  home canning puree doesn't work, you risk botulism.  You do NOT want to risk that.

Clean 'em of strings and seeds, wash 'em, cut 'em into 1 inch cubes, remove rind.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Fill jars with the cubes and the water you boiled them in, leaving 1 inch at top of jar.  Add tops/rings. 

Pressure can at 10 pounds (15 if over 1000 feet) pints for 55 minutes, quarts for 90 minutes.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, September 12, 2011

Infinity and Beyond!

Blessings, Darlings!

It's a quiet morning here in the mountains.  Well, not totally - the Spawn was awoken by an emergency call from work, asking him to cover another shift ... on top of the short shift he's working tonight.  Being woken up by the phone is jarring.

Still, it's the first sunny morning in days.  I can sit out on the deck sipping a cuppa without getting wet.  Instead I'm going over my e-mail, facing where Infinity lurks.

Infinity - something boundless and endless. I'm not talking about the Internet, actually I'm not referring to the computer/online at all.  I'm facing a part of myself, evoked by e-mail.

The evocation came from a Woot ad.  I LOVE reading Woot ads - they have the best damn copy writing on the planet, and I read the ads daily for inspiration (I stole styles for business letters and ads more than once).  However, this ad was different.

I want the product.

That doesn't happen all that often.  I'm not that into what they actually offer most of the time.  In the years I've been reading the ads I've bought two items - both for the business not for 'me' per se.

And in wanting the item, I allowed myself to wonder how I'd fit the purchase into our budget.  Which meant having to think of all the other things I wanted to spend money on.

That, my dears, is where I came face to face with the Infinite. My own needs, wants, and desires.

From the actual necessities (basic food/clothing/shelter, paying off what I've already got, and maintenance of what we already have), to my wants (different home cooked food, tailoring of clothes, etc) to my desires (everything else in the universe that I want!!!! and want NOW!!!) - there was infinity. 

It was scary.  And humbling - I don't usually think of myself as being as materialistic as I am.  Denial works, but only for a while.

But I'm sure I can achieve denial again.  So I'm writing a blog post distract myself from the reality of the experience, and with the distance of a few minutes of time I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get back into comfortable denial.

And then I'll get back to work on my basic needs, by planting some turnips and spinach in the fall veggie garden.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fire Protection

Blessings, Darlings!

Have you noticed that the Land, Sea, and Sky seem rather upset lately? In the US alone this year, we have had unusual winter cold in west Texas and New Mexico, spring floods, spring tornado sprees, summer droughts, unusual earth quakes in Louisiana and Colorado and Virginia/DC, unusually severe heat waves in lots of the country, fires in Texas, and now a couple of hurricanes causing severe flooding.

Most of the things line up well with global warming, and the fires include humans preventing smaller fires and letting available fuel for fires build up. The Earth quakes in Louisiana for sure, and maybe the one in Virginia, was directly related to fracking for petroleum/gas. In other words - most of this has roots in human actions and hubris.  


Typically I'm down with pride and arrogance. I am a magic user, I hang with Mages. But I admit that I've screwed up magic and other things at times and so do the other magic users in my life. Well, most of them. But even the most arrogant are up front about magic being a hand grenade which can take out the user with shrapnel along with the intended target. Because magic is powerful. Still, none of the magic users I hang with think that the Elements are their bitches.

Apparently not all share these views. Over on FaceBook there's a group that's going to do weather magic for Texas. The two main forces in that group have written that they intend to make Tropical Storm Nate into a hurricane and move it into the affected parts of Texas, and that flooding and such are 'lesser evils' than drought and fire. I asked them about what the nature spirits, land spirits, and divination on this indicated. I pointed out that floods are more damaging to everything than fires, both in deaths, nature affected, economic destruction, toxins left everywhere.

Oh, look at the thread , plus the link for flood and toxins and such . 

They want to make a hurricane their bitch, and the heck with how many people it kills, how much property it destroys (hint - it would end more human lives and destroy more property than fires will). 

What magic would *I* use in a case like this?  I'd start with the protection of fire insurance that covers wildfires.  I'd add the insurance of evacuation.  And then I'd do the magic of PROTECTION for people/pets/property.   I'd work on becoming intimate with the local land there and the watershed before doing any work - for their spirits might not want the same thing that we humans want to impose on it. 

The protection magic in this case would be among the easiest, when working with the local land spirits and elemental fire.  Wild fires are already big on being arbitrary, burning one house and not touching the one next to it.  That's a feature that magic can influence.

Existing feature.  Magic can influence.  Not making fire my bitch.  But protection plus work with local land and the elementals earth, wind, water, and fire..  Not a working guaranteed to spread toxins across the land and into the watershed.

I'd not use the same hubris based approach that caused the problem in the first place.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, September 5, 2011

Zucchini Experiment Redux

Blessings, Darlings! I'm declaring this batch of pickled zucs a failure. They ended up bitter. I'm guessing that it was because I fell way behind harvesting and they got too big and got bitter. I will try again, this year or next. I will try with smaller zucs, and I will try with some more 'mature' ones that I will salt, let sit for an hour or two, then rinse. Just like how I prepare eggplant, which can also be bitter, for cooking. Frondly, Fern

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Zucchini Experimentation

Blessings, Darlings! Since my garden is producing an over abundance of zucchini/marrows/courgettes this summer, and my kirby cucumbers died, last night I tried making spicy half sour pickles out of the zucchini. For a NORMAL batch, you put the sliced cucumbers in the brine, leave them out 2 days, and they are done. This being a Laboratory Experiment .... I refrigerated them immediately instead of leaving them out. And I just tested them, about 13 hours after the pickling started. They are done. Really really done. So done that I've just replaced half of the brine with water. For some reason they are a bit bitter, but the texture is great as is the level of sourness. Perhaps the zucchinis I used were a bit too old for this? BTW, the stink bug collection experiment continues, but we've been having lots of overnight rain and I think that inhibits their travels. Or this technique is just good for indoors/attics. Or the technique fails. As the damn bugs move inside I'll try it in the basement and see what happens, but I'll keep trying it as a garden pest treatment until the garden is done. Frondly, Fern

Friday, September 2, 2011

The More Things Change...

Blessings, Darlings!

So, the Spawn is working, after 9 months of job searching.  He's the host at a family restaurant.  On weekdays, which are slow, he makes more than the servers, since his salary is not dependent on tips.

Last night he got a call from another job he applied for recently, to see if he could come in for an interview.  Too late, guys. 

Two jobs calling in two weeks would seem to be an improvement in the economy.  Except....

Yesterday at his job, a whole flock of folks from the big expensive supermarket across the street came in for job applications.  So either that place is lousy to work for, or they are going to be laying folks off or closing.  About 6 weeks ago that store had claimed they were hiring - Spawn applied, even took the 'psychological evaluation test' there, and never got called back. 

Maybe the Spawn slipped into jobs that opened because people quit as the school year began. This is the same time he got a job last year, after several months of looking.  But the group coming in for job applications seems to show that there are still WAY more folks looking for jobs out there.  Even entry-level jobs.

Yes, new applications for unemployment benefits are slowly dropping.  But today's job figures from the Fed were abysmal, even tho' they claim that the unemployment rate is unchanged.  New jobs being created aren't equaling those destroyed, let alone new people coming into the job market from population growth.  IF the unemployment rate actually IS unchanged, it's only because they consider those working part time (even if they need/want full time work) are 'employed' and because so many workers are 'discouraged' that they've given up on finding work.

Frondly, Fern

Kids Online

Blessings Darlings!

I was reading my friend Daniel's blog this morning .  He really DOES post darn near anything.  He CAN be edgy at times, typically because he addresses important issues.

Reading that got me to thinking about how so many people work so hard to control what kids can see online.  And from there, on how my reading habits helped make me what I am today.

I was, shall we say, not the most popular kid growing up.  Socially awkward.  First to get boobs. I escaped into reading.  Library books at first ... not just the kids section, too, I edged into the Grown Up Books.  Then I got older, and started buying magazines at the drug store and grocery store check out.  Yes, "Young Miss" was one of them, but I also read my parent's subscription to Time, and bought those little 25 cent booklets on astrology, psychic skills, etc. 

High school, and I was more mobile, biking and taking public transportation where ever I wanted to go.  I discovered a HUGE used bookstore in Evanston.  More books on psychic stuff, into to Theosophy, etc.  And I subscribed to Ms. and The Village Voice.  TVV was perhaps on odd choice, since I lived in Chicago, but whatever.  I totally would have lived reading stuff on the internet if I could have back in the day.

I'm sure that my reading choices we not ones that made my mother happy.  She totally freaked at an article on masturbation in Ms.  But she never tried to control what I read.

I took that same approach with my Spawn, who had the advantage of the the Internet.  Okay, ONCE I didn't let him look up something online.  He was in grade school, and was to write about an animal.  He was assigned the beaver.  I kind of figured that Google would give him a whole lot of results that would be about twats, not the animal.  I had him use an encyclopedia.

In middle school, some of his friends got in trouble with their parents for trying to access porn online.  If he was doing it at that age, I'm unaware of it - which means he was good at keeping it private.  His computer access was in our home business office, sitting 10 feet from his father.  I THINK that if we had found him looking at porn I'd have done a quick evaluation and let it alone.  He didn't have a credit card, after all, and that was over a decade ago.  He'd have seen boobs, maybe full frontal nudity, and that was all. 

At any rate - one the whole, I let the Spawn travel the internet at will, reading everything he wanted to, from a very young age.  I figure it encouraged reading skills, search skills, and exposed him to more ideas than he'd get from being overly supervised. 

I think that's a good thing.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Frakkin' Stinkbugs

Blessings, Darlings!

The garden is going great guns right now.  I've lots of green beans in the fridge to get thru' the next week or 10 days 'till my next bean patch starts producing.  I've lots of zucchini.  The tomatoes are still behind, and I noticed a very wasp-larva-encrusted tomato horn worm on them.  I have no clue if the sweet potatoes are doing anything but producing incredible amounts of vines.  Tasty-leaved vines, to be sure.  

But I've had to remove two of the 3 zucchini hills due to wilt.  Or maybe because of stink bugs sucking the life out of them and killing them.  I really don't know which. 

So I'm putting out a stink bug trap that I saw online.  I do NOT know if it will work effectively, but it has the advantage of being cheap.  I took an empty 2 liter soda bottle.  I cut the funnel top off.  I turned on a small battery powered LED light and put it inside.  I inverted the funnel top back on.  I put it in the garden at dusk.

Tomorrow morning I'll see if it worked.  Or if we'll get rain and if that will kill the light (and maybe take a few bugs with it?)

Stay tuned ....

Frondly, Fern the killer

Friday, August 26, 2011

Douchery Vs Persecution

Blessings, Darlings!

Why is it that in US history, Jews have come here, built temples, openly lived as Jews, handled prejudice, but so many neopagans don't seem to be able to, thus huddle in broom closets?

Are the Gods of such neopagans weaker than the Jewish God?  Are the magical abilities of those neopagans as powerful as tissue paper?

Zoning laws getting you down?  Whoop di do.  That's douche baggery.  Persevere until you win.  Others have.

You are not delicate flowers.  You are kin to the Gods.

I'm sure I've posted this before - but what you are experiencing is 'loss of privilege'.  You have left your at least nominally Christian upbringing and now are being treated LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.  Get over it, put on your big boy/girl undies, and get on with life.

Frondly (or not), Fern

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Four Wonderful Years

Blessings, Darlings!

It's almost exactly 4 years since my hysterectomy.  I posted on that sometime before, under the title "Uterus-free womanhood". 

But even without a uterus - and what ever gender or combination of genders we all are - we all have hormone cycles.  Even after menopause.  Even when on hormones (since the body still produces its own), and despite the best work of anti-androgenic meds for those on them.

This afternoon I realized that I was experiencing what would be PMS if I was still menstruating

I had what I've learned over decades of cycles are my classic symptoms:  I was up most of the night Catastrophizing (over bills now, when I was in college it was over grades, when I worked for others it was over job reviews/performance), and I spent the day crabby and practically looking for fights.  Finally I realized what was happening.  I had gone over EVERY bill by then. 

I don't have a clue about how fast or slow my hormones cycle any more.  I'm gonna note this on the calendar and try to keep aware of this more in the future.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Growing Up.

Blessings, Darlings!

I just had an interesting little interaction on Twitter.  One of the folks I follow tweeted that she wanted parents to not let their children call stores to ask questions (about their hours, if they carry certain items, etc). She, as an employee, didn't like to take such calls.  Rather than saying "fuck you, they are your CUSTOMERS, take their calls and do it with respect", I asked how she expected anyone to learn how to make such calls without, well, making them?  She told me she expects parents to handle all that until the kids are teens. 

Just  Now we're going to have totally screwed up teens, who don't even know how to make a simple phone call to a store to ask about products/hours.  Just because an employee doesn't want to do their job and help customers.

By the time my spawn was a teen I expected him to have PERFECTED the skill of using a telephone.  And mowing the lawn. And doing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, etc.  But now someone expects me to parent HER and protect HER as an adult from doing HER job, and thinks I should RETARD my own children.

Nope.  Not gonna happen.  I expect MY children to grow up.  And I expect all people interacting with customers to grow up, too.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Farmers, not markets

Blessings, Darlings!

We got paid by a client and two of our distributors yesterday (well, checks came from two of 'em and money was deposited electronically by the third).  Thus I had to go to town to deposit checks and buy some staples.  All well and good: shopped at one German-owned store, a Big Box store, gas from unknown country of origin, another Big Box store, finally hit a chain grocery store - damn, it was HARD finding canning lids!

But there was one more stop to be made.  A family run farm stand.  Where a half-bushel of peaches - seconds, and not organic - is $10.  Way less expensive than at a farmer's market.  Way WAY less expensive than from the store.  And, obviously, as local as they come. 

Tomorrow I shall be back at canning.

There were other fruits and veggies - LOVELY grapes! Lots of tomatoes - I bought two (yes, seconds).  I may get a half or full bushel of tomatoes for canning next week.  Alas, no corn, the drought plus deer have pretty much totaled the sweet corn.

I love food!

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Git Your Biscuits In the Oven.....

Blessings, Darlings!

I have a history of making really really lousy biscuits. No matter what I did, they came out heavy and flat tasting. Not worth the calories.

Which is a shame, since unlike big ol' loaves of bread (which I now rock at), biscuits can be cooked on a balcony or patio or porch in a toaster oven.  A great plan for summer baking without heating up the house.

This changed last week.  Since I was still working on the half-bushel of peaches I had bought I figured I'd that) so I figured I'd do a peach cobbler. Because they are 'just quickly cobbled together', you know.  Well, usually they are, but I went with the Test Kitchen recipe which has you par bake the cobbler and biscuit topping separately.  So I had to make biscuits.  Intimidating!

BUT these weren't the type of biscuits I had tried to make before. I had always tried making cut biscuits - THESE were drop biscuits.  And they turned out AMAZING.  I also added two pinches of freshly-ground cardamom to the peach mixture, which kicked it up too.

So, tonight, dinner is soup from leftovers.  Fundamentally a beef barley soup.  Great soup, but it needed a little something something to make it special.  How about drop biscuits?  Husband said - how about cheesy drop biscuits?  Okay! 

They SO rocked. I made a dozen and I don't know if there will be any left by the end of the evening. And there are only three of us. 

Since I love you folks, I'm going to share the recipe.

                                             CHEESY DROP BISCUITS

2 Cups all purpose flour                                       1 tsp dried wild green onions 
1 tbs baking powder                                            1/4 cup shortening
1/4 tsp baking soda                                              3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp salt                                                               1/4 cup cheddar cheese, small dice
1/8 tsp garlic salt

Oven on, set to 450. Baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
All dry ingredients plus the cheese into bowl, stir.
Melt the shortening.  Mix it into the buttermilk.  The lumps are a GOOD thing.  Add liquid to dry ingredients, stir 'till just mixed.  I had to add a smidge more milk, you might not have to. 

Use the 1/4 cup measure you used for the cheese to dole out dough on to baking sheet.  Bake.  In my oven it took 10 minutes - it could take up to 15 in yours.

Eat.  Smile. Repeat.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Working Thru' Pain

Blessings, Darlings!

There are a LOT of obstacles to self-improvement.  It doesn't matter what type of self-improvement it is: educational, emotional, physical, business, spiritual, whatever. 

They all take work.  They all require overcoming inertia.  They all require that you do that incredibly scary thing - change. 

There is pain associated with work and growth and change.  On the whole, we humans don't like pain.  Thus, we tend to get into patterns that limit the amount of change we have to do.  Which means we don't grow, we don't improve.

But facing the pain, working thru' pain, overcoming inertia, is the only way to improve your life.  The only way to grow and become more of your ideal self.

Mundane example: I've written about my knee before, arthritis and now torn meniscus that I can't afford surgery on (and, yes, we're working on the finances, painful as THAT is, and things are somewhat better thank you for asking).  If I don't do my exercises (physical therapy PLUS biking and walking) not only will it not improve, but it gets worse.  Walking and taking stairs HURTS if I blow off exercising (which I admit I hate doing) for as little as 3 days in a row.  And if I give in to the pain that starts when I don't exercise, then the knee continues to get worse - I could end up just sitting on a couch, my leg extended, having trouble even getting up to hit the bathroom.

That's not the life I want.  So I exercise.  And if I do hit times when I miss too much exercise (because I have screwed up my schedule!), then the BEST thing I can do for the pain is work thru' it.  Do the physical therapy routine. Walk a mile and a half, tho' it hurts.  Get 20 minutes in on the exercise bike, even if I have to do it in 5 minute segments.  Because if I don't avoid the pain, if I work thru' it, then quickly I'll see improvement. 

If I complain that my knee hurts, my husband will ask what he can do to help.  The WORST thing I could ask for is for him to take over things so I can stay on that couch.  Instead, if he handles answering the business phones while I exercise, THAT is the help I need to improve myself.   Patting me on the head, saying "oh, you poor dear, stay right where you are" would SOUND supportive but would in FACT be undermining my health.

It's no different for others types of healing or growth.  You don't need codependents working to keep you where you are.  You need to work thru' the pain.  You need to celebrate the challenges - roar at them take them on with vigor.  Make challenges your bitch.

Am I able to do this 24/7 right now?  Nope.  Is it what I am working for?  Damn skippy I am!

Join me.  Rawr!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Can It.

Blessings, Darlings!

It's canning season again!  I've been doing fruit so far, but tomatoes (okay, technically a berry) and corn and beans are going to be canned soon.

It's hot and time consuming work, but not exactly intellectually demanding.  Which means I have time to do magic and to ponder things.  I'll talk about the magic in this post.

Back in the day, when I was a kid, one of the stories we were told about Benjamin Franklin was that he and his father were putting up barrels of pork (no doubt layered with salt).  Ben, who was NOT impressed by the long time spent at each meal saying grace, reported said something along the lines of "Dude, why don't we do the grace thing now, over the whole barrel, and get it over with?  We'd get our eat on faster at dinner..."

Well, I'm not taking quite that approach to the canning, but I AM invoking the blessings of the Gods on each batch I can.  Working for health. For wholeness.  For it to feed us body and soul. 

I layer flavors in my cooking (even the peaches I just canned had added cinnamon), it's time I started layering blessings in all I do.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Playing With Fire

Blessings, Darlings!

As some of y'all know, I have some issues with depression/Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  It started when I was very young, around age 10 or earlier.  Over the years I've tried a large assortment of therapies and drugs, and currently it's pretty well controlled with Effexor and having set up a system of accountability (so I don't try to duck/ignore anything that makes me anxious, a 'solution' which of course causes more problems than it solves).

Still, there are times when stress is high and it kicks in, and I have to change or increase medications or add some talk therapy for a while.  When that occurs ... I cut down or completely cut OUT doing deep spiritual work.

You may be asking 'why' - why would Fern 'turn from the Gods' when she seems to need them the most?

Well, I don't turn from the Gods - I still talk with them (and they get their messages across to me).  Same with the nature spirits, and the ancestors.  And I still meditate, since that helps (as does exercise, for that matter) But I do respect the intertwining of body/mind/spirit.  And I've found that it's best to work with one variable at a time.  

J. H. Brennan wrote about this in the introduction to Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki's WONDERFUL book "The Ritual Magick Workbook".  He talks of having nervous breakdowns after starting his occult studies, and goes into why esoteric training easily and often increases depression to such an extent that it will push you over the edge.  The short reason is that MOST spiritual/occult things you do - in any system - are DESIGNED to influence all of your energy systems.  And all of your energy systems (physical, mental, spiritual, chi, endocrine, emotional, sympathetic and parasympathetic, kundalini, etc - ALL OF THEM ) interact in ways that are intricate and powerful. 

So, the last time this happened ... probably not coincidentally while the coven I'm in was doing a year of Kabalistic workings (and I was prepping the working on Binah, for goodness sake!) .... I took a leave of absence from the coven I'm in that allowed me to have space to adjust drugs/therapy without the added variable of continuing the Kabalistic (and other) coven work.  I felt it would be detrimental to MY mental health to continue at that time, and unfair for me to burden my High Priestess with mediating any effects my out of control spiritual/occult energies could have on the coven's Group Mind.  (For the record, I'm SURE she could have handled doing that!)

And I bring this up now .... why?

I'm so glad you asked that!  I bring this up because lately I've seen a whole lot of folks who have depression or other emotional and mental challenges who really really want to work on their spiritual development ... whose depression or mental illnesses are not currently under any control at all.  And I'm scared for them.  These paths we walk are dangerous even for those who aren't pre-disposed, and for those who are pre-disposed but controlled and aware of the dangers and early warning signs of trouble.  For those whose mental/emotional issues are NOT in control - on this path lies madness. 

Literally. Madness.  Dousing yourself with gasoline and jumping into bonfire madness.  Not peace.  Not initiation.  Not MORE control, but LESS control. 

Stop.  Don't do it.  Don't do energy work.  Don't do trance work.  Don't do Pathworkings.  Don't attend 'transformative workshops'.  Don't attend Pagan festivals, where folks get ungrounded as it is from all the energy darting about. 

Pray, yes.  Talk with the Gods.  Make offerings.  Honor the cycles of nature.  Attend generic public rituals. Stay grounded with exercise, good food, good air, talking with real counselors, try on the appropriate prescribed drugs.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Focus, Dammit

Blessings, Darlings!

I've already lost one Twitter follower over what I'm going to post here (and I sure didn't go into as much detail in 140 characters as I'm going to do here).  But, for goodness sake folks, if you are getting something out of your life - be it meat, or refined carbs, or people or whatever - then really get the things out of your life.  Stop blogging/posting/commenting on what is OUT of your life, and focus on what is IN your life.

Focusing on what is 'not in your life' keeps the stuff IN your life.

If you've gone vegetarian, stop the obsessing with other people eating meat - otherwise 'meat' is still a focus of your life.  If someone offers you some, you just say 'I don't do that anymore, thanks" and eat something else.

Same thing if you have decided to no longer let your past limit you now.  Stop pointing out the scars you got from your past.  Pointing them out - focusing on the scars - keeps the past as your organizing principle.

Friends/family keep bringing up your ex? Calmly say that you are not going to discuss that issue any more, it's over, and change the subject.  And do NOT change it to "why do you keep insisting on discussing 'this topic'.  Change it to something positive or future oriented.  Like your planned vegan meal for dinner, and how you love it (see?  not how you are 'replacing meat with X, Y, or Z).

Remember that Zen allegory:  "Older monk and younger monk walking to the next town together.  At a river, there is a woman trying to cross, unsuccessfully, so is back on the short, crying or whatever.  As monks, they aren't even supposed to NOTICE women (which I think is bullshit, and that this is an American story 'set in Asia to be cool', but, well, whatever).  The older monk, saying nothing, picks the woman up and crosses the river with her.  On the other side, still silent, he puts her down and continues on his way.

"Younger monk is fuming!  They walk for a few hours, and then younger monk turns to his companion, saying "WTF? We aren't supposed to touch women, we aren't supposed to NOTICE women, and there you were, picking one up.  You are SO full of crap!"  Older monk looks at him, and replies "I put the woman down hours ago - why are you still carrying her?"

Just do it.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cheap, Not Easy

Blessings, Darlings!

Did you know that the USDA estimates how much it costs to eat? "The Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal Food Plans each represent a nutritious diet at a different cost. The Thrifty Food Plan is the basis for food stamp allotments."  The site with ALL the links is here

The most recent data - for May, 2011 - is available here:  (where they also have links to what they figure people will each on each plan.)  According to them a family of thee, one woman my age, one man my husband's age, one man my son's age, will need to spend $494.90 a month ON THE THRIFTY - the LOWEST COST - of the plans.

Right now my budget for all 'grocery' type items (food, cleaning supplies, cat supplies including Frontline but NOT including the vet) I'm spending $400 a month.   Which I suppose explains why I'm finding this really really hard to live on. That's rather a relief, as I had begun to think that I was screwing up somehow.

I could not do this without having a freezer - which allows me to shop sales and stock up on things.  And I certainly couldn't do this if I wasn't cooking almost everything from scratch, which probably means I couldn't do it if I had to leave the house to work.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Castle of Arianrhod

                     Castle of Arianrhod

presented by
The Fellowship of the Ancient White Stag

Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Elder Michael Smith will be teaching a fascinating workshop and leading the Castle of Arianrhod ritual.
This is an open & free event--however donations are welcomed and will benefit
the New Alexandrian Library.
Class size and ritual size are limited to 40 people.

For more information and to preregister,


Monica (

Date: July 30

Time: Gather: 1:30, workshop 2:00
Location: Sandy Spring Community Center
17801 Meeting House Rd
Sandy Spring MD 20860

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

My Spawn had one of those really neat dreams recently, that I'm going to steal for a magical working soon.

In his dream, he was playing video games (yes, he's a young male through and through).  As is so often the case, the character he was playing had the option of buying some tools/skills.  One of the options was to buy 60 dreams.  He bought that.

Apparently, since that time, he's been remember his dreams FAR more than ever before in his life.

I'm wondering what he paid for this ability, mind you.  Still, this concept is one I can work with!

Frondly, Fern

Friday, May 27, 2011

Holiday Eats

Blessings, Darlings!

I'm working on the food for the holiday weekend right now - menus and shopping lists.

Pulled pork meal: have roast, made rub, have slaw ingredients, have rolls, need to make sauce but have sauce ingredients.

Beer-can chicken: have beer, have can, have chicken, have rub.  Have taters.  Have green beans and have salad ingredients.

Brats meal: have brats, buns, more slaw ingredients, mustard, need chips.

Need one more dinner .... I guess eggs or spaghetti and sauce, since I've got all ingredients for those meals.

What's on your menu?

Frondly, Fern

Memorial Day

Blessings, Darlings!

What are your Memorial Day plans?  We'll go to a parade, and pay respects at either the Antietam graveyard or at one of the markers where a body was found from that battle closer to home.

Frondly, Fern

Taco Recipe

Blessings, Darlings!

Dining well while broke continues.  Tonight was taco night.  But since the temperature was in the 90's, I chose to NOT fry tortillas into taco shells - we did soft tacos by just pan warming corn tortillas.

The shredded cheese was a bar of cheap cheddar from Aldi's. The tortillas were from a big package bought cheap somewhere else (Aldi's hasn't had corn tortillas at all this year!). No sour cream, but the Chubby Hubby could have used plain yogurt in its place. Tomatoes, well, I wasn't paying $2 per pound for fresh, so I used ones I had canned last year.

Taco filling was a mix of ground beef (sale priced) and black beans.

Taco Filling

1 large onion, chopped
2 green or red or yellow or orange bell peppers, chopped (I used ones I dried last year) 
2 or more cloves garlic, chopped 
1 lb ground beef
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 8 oz can tomato sauce 
1 tsp chili powder
4 tsp cumin
2 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt 1 tsp pepper
1 - 2 tsp ground coriander seed

Add a bit of oil to pan. Saute onion and pepper until onion is translucent.  Add garlic, cook about 30 seconds more.  Add and brown meat.  Drain excess fat.

Add the dry spices.  Cook them for about a minute.  Add the tomato sauce, beans, and maybe up to 1/2 cup water.  Simmer 1/2 hour.  Done!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today's Oracle

Blessings, Darlings!

As I added cream to my coffee today, it took the shape of a whale.  Could be that there will be a Twitter problem today ("Fail Whale").

Or not.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Blessings, Darings!

I read a lot of what is posted at .  It covers all sorts of religions and religious topics (even if some of the folks there, in my NEVER humble opinion, post on politics and NOT on religion).

Well.  Today there was this post.  I responded to it on Facebook, and I'm sharing my response right here, right now.

My Reply:

How odd. If 'fat' was no longer an issue, I'd think that people would have to listen to their body and their taste buds, and see what actually tastes good and works best for their bodies. "Fat" is not a medical diagnosis of illness. Diabetes, high blood pressure, etc are.

So let's try THIS analogy instead:

What if all food was 'free' - that is, you didn't have to pay cash for it, and any ingredient you wanted was available in any amount you wanted ... and close to your home. No more food deserts in the cities. Fruit, vegetables, all cuts of all meats/fish/tofu just down the block from you. No one would starve again.

Would people eat only Twinkies? Or, no longer having to fill up on inexpensive refined flour/rice/sugar based foods (and having less pressure on their wallets), would they now select food for flavor, texture, nutrition? Would they, now that they were no longer choosing food on a basis of scarcity, select food on how it worked with THEIR particular body's needs? Without commercials pushing unhealthy food by this food lobby or that one, would they really pick the 48 oz cola that makes their blood sugar funky and their brain wired as their drink with lunch, or would they have one chilled beer? Having a bowl of organic fruit on the table, would they go out to track down gummy bears?

Or, to use another analogy - now that they have lean, grass fed, incredibly flavorful steaks (and garlic, pepper, salt, and steak sauce) at home, would they go out for greasy unflavored hamburgers?

Yes, I said steaks. Multiples. Maybe not all at one meal, because being overfull is not comfortable and your body TELLS you that. Just like it TELLS you if you listen and you feed it only junk food, even if the junk food is free.

Some people would still choose to be vegan - and it would be easier for them. Some would choose to be omnivores. Some bodies would still do best on Atkins diet, or Dr. Weil's anti-inflamatory diet. But, wit food free .... they would be able to follow the diet best for them, and listen to their bodies, without the pressure of a for-profit (or for-prophet) sales system.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

Rain and thunder are happening as I type this.  Which is  typical for this spring.  Which means my garden is FAR FAR FAR from in.

The soil here, being clay, really is sticky and heavy when wet.  And rock hard when dry.  We're trying to turn it, then add compost, but it's been really slow going.  The guy who the landlord hired to mow the lawn is willing to till it, but his tiller needs welding so that hasn't happened yet, either.

So my seedlings wait, rather root bound and impatient.  And I never got the greens and turnips and such in.  I'll try for a fall crop of those. 

How does your garden grow?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wicca 101 - Class 1

I'm kind of noodling about how I'd teach Wicca 101.  I'd love some feedback!  I've got ideas for the first three classes (I expect that there would be 10 to 13 classes in the series.  

Class 1 – nature, not nurture.

       In this class everyone is outside for the entire class.  Summer is the best time for it.  Tick, and maybe mosquito repellent is recommended.  Go out looking at wild flowers.  See that sex is everywhere in nature.  See that all the sex isn’t hetero – much of it is a 3-way of one male flower part, one female flower part, and it doesn’t work without a female bee in the mix (or wasps or flies of any gender, for that matter).  Note that some flowers are male only (easiest to see in spring, when mulberries and pine are spewing semen/pollen all over the place), some are female only, some are hermaphrodites.  

      Actually, with the mulberries, I suppose Wind/Air takes the place of Spirit.  I'll have to ponder the implications of that, besides the obvious connection of air/east/beginnings.
     Also note that sex is, sometimes, NO WHERE in nature.  Ferns – a topic dear to MY heart – are asexual, with a whole different type of reproduction that includes not just spores but a haploid version. 

     Note the yews, with sexed plants PLUS asexual spreading/survival.

     Meet some chickens, where the female are XY and the males are XX.  And where XY females have been known to become fully functioning males if the flock needs it.  Thus, transexuality is build into nature, too.

     From here, the discussion goes into how polarity is not duality, it is subtle, shifting, mutable.  Much of Wicca’s theology and magic is based on the dance of polarity.  Remember this when talking of The God and The Goddess.  Mutable. Dance. Subtle.

First World Wicca

Blessings, Darlings!

I know, the title of this is redundant. 

But I keep getting amazed at the Wiccans I run into on-line who approach Wicca as something to be purchased.  Yes, I ranted about this before, which is why I put forth the "don't buy ANYTHING MORE" challenge. 

Alas, it seems that not everyone on the planet has read my blog.  [Darlings, aren't you re-tweeting the link?]  I keep running into new Wiccans who aren't DOING a thing, their entire focus is on BUYING things.  Not buying one book, but buying every tool, everything they might want for their altar, etc. 

This idea that you BUY Wicca is, to me, abhorant.  Okay, to me the idea you can buy ANY religion, any connection to the God/dess/es, is.  But to say that you don't DO any Wicca until you have all the bling?  Screw that!  It's just an excuse to keep consumerism as your religion, to continue to build a relationship with what you own (and owe) rather than the Gods.

Seriously - you don't need to 'buy all your supplies' before you can build a relationship with the Gods.  Unless in truth it's all about shopping therapy, and not truly the Gods.

Instead of spending hours online deciding what to purchase - and asking fucking strangers online if "this is the right thing to buy for my BOS" - START TALKING TO THE GODS.  And, more than that - LISTEN TO THEIR REPLIES.

THAT is what Wicca is about.  Not buying altar clothes.  Not buying overpriced 'Charmed-style' notebooks for your Book of Shadows - use a spiral notebook.  Or, often better, a 3 ring binder and loose leaf paper.  I get my 3 ring binders from garage sales. and re-use the blank back side of printouts of our office computer programming printouts for the pages.

Stop confusing affectation with content.

Do the WORK

All you need is yourself and the Gods.  All else is optional, but, in fact, you already have them. Incense? Cut an orange or a lemon.  Athame? Grab a kitchen knife. Chalice? A sippy cup would do, let alone a water glass. Wand? I've used a stick from outside my apartment or chopsticks. Candle? Does not the fire of life run thru' you? 

Doing the work makes you Wiccan, not owning shit.

Frondly (or not), Fern

Monday, May 9, 2011

Could it be .... Satan?

Blessings, Darlings!

I've said most of what I'm about to blog before, not so much here in the blog but in oral discussions, old Prodigy bulletin boards, and in various chat rooms.  The impetus for putting it together here came from the following exchange on Facebook (in a discussion of the movie Thor):

Lucy Castellon Goffan I love to know when they are going to GET THAT WE DON'T WOSHIP SATAN !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kristi A Gilleland Lucy - probably when their preachers decide to quit telling them that. 

I'm not going to argue about who 'we' are here - tho' I'm thinking that they aren't Asatruar, since I've never seen any Asatruar who spend any time wondering when 'they' are going to do ANYTHING. I'll assume that they are 'generic neopagan'.

Yes, I know very well that generic neopaganism doesn't involve the Christian version of Satan.  I know that polarity is not duality.  

But, oh you who demand tolerance, nay, demand acceptance - when are y'all going to accept that in traditional/standard Christian monotheism all Gods but their own are defined as Satan (or a Satanic delusion)?  

Seriously:  demanding respect by disrespecting their beliefs is lame.

So what if their religion defines 'our' religion as Satanic?  Get over it. Maybe read my earlier post

Frondly, Fern

Unpacking. Still.

Blessings, Darlings!

You remember that I moved?  Back in November?  My computer tells me we're now into the second week of May.

We still have a whole bunch of unpacking to move.  We do not travel light. We are book people.

Actually, MY books are unpacked. I have a few boxes of papers that are not unpacked .... okay, maybe 10 or so of them.  But the husband .... he has boxes of crap in the bedroom to be unpacked, boxes of equipment to be unpacked (most of which I have just neatly stacked so I can move around the office and lab better), and over 50 boxes of books to unpack.

But yesterday one of our clients sent an e-mail, waving money and asking the Chubby Hubby to work on a new project.  For which the CH needs to get at his books on SNMP.  Which are, as we say a lot around here, "in a box, somewhere."  So the CH mentions that he wants our Spawn to find the books.  Which were last seen 'on the floor by his desk' before we moved. 

Spawn and I, after we finally cut back the pampas grass, head to the detached garage to go thru' the pile of CH's boxes of books.  Nothing is labeled "floor by CH's desk".  (Yes, I had boxes of my books labeled "floor by the couch". I found all MY books.)   I send the Spawn to drag the CH to the garage.

"Okay, there are boxes labeled 'Lab 1'.  Those are from the bookshelf unit that was by my desk. I would have packed the books by my desk in those boxes."  Ours not to ask why.  I have the spawn move all 'Lab 1' boxes to the front parlor, which has no furniture, just boxes of CH stuff, and tell the Spawn to open them there and look for the books in question.  It takes us some effort to go thru' the 50 boxes to get all the 'Lab 1' boxes identified and liberated, but we do it, Spawn schleps them, and finally finds the right box.  CH is now thrilled, as the box has a whole LOT of books he really used often.

But, had he just labeled the damn box "books from floor by my desk", we'd have put that box in the office IMMEDIATELY when we moved, and he'd have had them all along.

OTOH, CH wanted us to open EVERY ONE of the 50 boxes, rather than try to figure out which label was most likely to succeed.  So I think I scored efficiency points.

Frondly, Fern

Cream Sauce Recipe

Blessings, Darlings!

As I said, I made a quick and sleazy cream sauce yesterday - well, a cream sauce that featured no cream, nor even half and half, but was still tasty.  It was almost entirely made with storage foods.  Time to share the recipe!

3 tbs butter
2 tbs all purpose flour
1 12 oz can evaporated milk (I used evaporated skim, it would have been better with evap. whole)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
dash or two or three of hot sauce
a nice slug of dry sherry (I had to use extra dry vermouth, as I'm out of sherry)
1 small can mushrooms (if you want to make it a mushroom cream sauce)

Melt butter in saucepan, let the foaming come to an end.  Add flour, cook for a few minutes to cook the butter.  Slowly add the can of evaporated milk, stirring well and constantly - use a whisk if possible!  Add the other ingredients.  Simmer for a minute or two, adding more of any of the seasonings to taste. I added more salt and nutmeg this time, for the dish I was making.

That's it.  Easy peasy.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

It's Mother's Day.  I called my Mother, but can't afford to send her anything.  I don't think that the Chubby Hubby has called his mother yet.  The spawn ... well.  He got me nothing, didn't say Happy Mother's Day or anything.  Around 11 I told him I was hurt.  Around 12 I told the CH to order the Spawn out to get me a card.  So now I have a card.  CH didn't get me a card, or say anything, but he's overwhelmed by our finances so he's getting a pass this year.

So I'm cooking for me today.  I made a cream sauce, and then Eggs Florentine for breakfast.  I'm baking one of my favorite cakes right now.  I'm considering forcing the guys to eat vegetarian for dinner, but might make dol sat bi bim bop for dinner.

Le Sigh.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Secret Stuff

Blessings, Darlings!

Today I started planning for my husband's birthday.  Which is not until the end of August.  But at the end of August he will be in Phoenix at the Microchip Technology MASTERs Conference .... and I will be here on the east coast.

So getting him some birthday on his birthday is going to be a bit of a challenge.  However, since he NEVER reads my blog, I can plan it here safely.

The MASTERs conference - and I'll probably put up banners for it later, we tend to be the 3rd party vendor who out performs everyone else at promoting the conference - gets at least 500 people in attendance.  It used to get about 900, but since then they have started offering them all over the world, so far fewer Europeans and Asians come to the main one.  Still, 500 people in one dining room is a substantial amount of people.

So .. I've e-mailed one contact at  MCHP so far, and tweeted another, and may e-mail yet another.  What I want is for someone to lead the folks eating dinner in singing "Happy Birthday" to the Chubby Hubby.

Now, the fact that this would get a bit more attention to our business at the conference, and the classes that the Chubby Hubby teaches there, isn't the point of this .... but I suppose that type of thing could happen.

I did something like this once before.  Back in 1987 I was very pregnant, and we were on vacation in Oregon.  We were up at Timberline Lodge at Mt Hood.  I could not walk 10 steps without having to stop and rest.  The Chubby Hubby wanted to hike.  I sent him out without me - hiking was NOT an option for me.  It was his birthday.  I called the dining room, made our dinner reservation.  I made sure that they knew it was his birthday, and that his dessert should come with a candle, a group singing, and an extra helping of embarassment.  That night, as I did request, so it was done.

The Chubby Hubby LOVED it.  Ate it up with a spoon.  Loved the dessert, too.

This might be as epic, if I work it right.

Frondly, Fern