Monday, April 30, 2012

Video Making

Blessings Darlings!

Having a home business means pushing your limits and doing things you never thought you'd do.  And that you have NO training to do.  Which is how the Chubby Hubby and I have found ourselves spending today (Saturday, tho' I'll schedule this post for Monday) working on a video.  Andy Jenkins is running a contest for a free subscription to The Video Boss - see the details here.  We want to win it.  Actually, we NEED to win it - you should see how painful our video is.  Actually, you WILL be abe to see it, since we'll be uploading it to Andy's YouTube channel to enter the contest.

I've filmed mega mansions (and the CH being dragged away from them).  We've done Oven Cam shots (with the camera 'mounted' in the oven in a bowl of raw rice to hold it at the proper angle).  Most those shots showed how dirty my oven is - ooops.

We are battling gnats outside and the learning curve on Camtasia software inside.  We're not done with the outside filming, but the noon time sun is preventing us from getting the right camera angles.

I plan to make some Wiccan, Druid, general Pagan, and Magic videos sometime, so doing this will help that goal as well!  Never a dull moment here.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, April 27, 2012

Diet/Fitness Update

Blessings Darlings!

Well .... uh ....  you see ..... I'm starting over on this diet/fitness stuff.  I let it go, again. I'm calling it another practice round.  This time will be for real!  Yeah, that's the ticket.

Weight is up.  Endurance down. Don't know what's gong on with blood pressure.  I assume my cholesterol and triglycerides are at their usual high levels. 

Today I ate well and got back to beginning levels of exercise.  Still HATE HATE HATE to exercise.  Still don't have the knees or endurance to bike to the store instead of using exercise bike.  Current plan is to walk tomorrow. 

I've been meaning to take some psyllium fiber supplements before meals, but keep forgetting to do that.  It's not only supposed to help you feel fuller but also block absorption of dietary cholesterol.  OTOH, my cholesterol and triglyceride issues are not just diet but also genetics.  Still, it's something to try that's cheap and doesn't have a litany of bad side effects.  Unlike most of the cholesterol drugs on the market.

That's what's up here today.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dining Out, Alone

Blessings Darlings!

The Daily Show just sent out this tweet:!/TheDailyShow/status/195280217323999232 . 

Apparently folks are assumed? Supposed to? feel uncomfortable or self conscious or something when eating alone in a restaurant.  How odd!  One of my personal rites of passage was taking myself out to eat at the tiny restaurant next to the drug store in my home town.  It was all about Me doing a Grown Up Thing.  Going in. Ordering food. Enjoying it. Paying for it.  Leaving a tip.  All of this All By Myself.  I'm not sure how old I was then - 10? 11? 12?

I admit I'm a bit of a foodie, and that was not a 'foodie' place.  It didn't matter.  The first 'foodie' type place - for me as a then-teen - was taking myself out to a crepe place for lunch a few years later. 

I don't understand why anyone who need hints on how to eat alone.  Or why people would need them.  You order food. You wait a bit. Your food gets delivered.  You eat.  You can think, you can read, you can relish being alone and being served for a bit.  It's okay to enjoy that, just like it's okay to enjoy food.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

End-Of-Storage Soup

Blessings Darlings!

Tonight there is a late spring snowstorm happening in the north east US.  Trees, which have already pretty much leafed out, are losing branches and bringing down power lines. Nevertheless, I'm fully in Spring mode, and have started making batches of "let me clean out last years dried veggies' soup. 

Today's soup is a pretty typical one: dried tomatoes, wild onions, jalapenos, celery, zucchini, along with wheat berries, chickpeas and the plantain leaves I posted about on Monday, in chicken stock.  I'll make another pot in a few days, with eggplant in for the zucchini ... and maybe dock weed in place of the plantain.  This weekend I'll make a pizza and turn the dried tomatoes into pizza sauce.

Very soon I'll be getting lots of veggies from the garden and fruits and veggies from local farms - I'm going to need every inch of shelf space and every available jar for canning.  If I don't use the older yummy stuff, I won't have room for the NEW yummy stuff.

And I need to start experimenting with this recipe for coffee jelly I ran into on line.  I'm thinking about kicking it up with cinnamon and/or hot pepper.  And giving it out as Yule gifts.

It's NEVER too early to get started on Yule gift when you're a reconstructionist, since preparing gifts by hand takes longer than spending money on 'em.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fern's First World Problems

Blessings Darlings!

I'm not one to whine .... oh, wait.  I totally am one to whine, I just don't usually do it online, I inflict it on my husband and Spawn instead.  Today, OTOH, I'm inflicting it on the world.  That was your warning.  You may want to stop reading now and go on to something more useful.

We have one car for the three of us.  This is not usually a problem.  The Spawn is the only one who works outside the house and as long as he's out I have him do the shopping.  Which is great unless the car acts up.  Yes, the car is acting up.  It hasn't like running in wet weather for about 5 years, we've spent about $1k failing to get the problem fixed.  Having the car live in the garage instead of the driveway has helped, and having me drive the Spawn to and from work so the car can be garaged even on rainy workdays has been a work-around.  Well, it worked up until this last weekend, when I got stranded on the side of the road 3 times.  WITHOUT A BOOK!  THAT was my own fault. 

So, with the Spawn having 3 days off in a row (his workplace is at the end of their fiscal year, and to keep their labor costs more in line with where they should be most hosts are being told to not come in most days) I drove the car to the repair shop 12 miles away.  In the rain. Nervous. And the dang thing drove there fine (lighter rain, maybe?) so I can't even DEMONSTRATE the problem.  Took a cab home.

Meanwhile, the Chubby Hubby has an abscessed tooth.  Pain started Thursday, he thought it was a sinus problem due to record levels of pollen - he's had toothaches that were sinus-caused before.  Saturday morning it was clear that it wasn't sinus, he looked like a chipmunk on one side of his face.  Urgent care gave him antibiotics, we got home before the rain started and the car problems began.  He's feeling better, looks a BIT less swollen, and we know he still needs the tooth dealt with.

He has an appointment early tomorrow for tooth removal, since he lost chunks of tooth and the filling weeks ago .... which certainly let the infection get started there.  But with the car in the shop it will cost a lot to get to the city where the oral surgeon is.  Like $70+ for the round trip.  Cash.  Sigh.

At least these ARE First World Problems for us.  Not because we have insurance to pay for any of this - we don't have dental insurance.  But because we can afford to pay for antibiotics, and tooth removal, and taxi's, and it hit at a good time for us to try to get the car problem really repaired (and get an oil change and the burnt out turn signal bulb replaced while they're at it). 

We're lucky,  An abscess like this, untreated, can and does kill people.  The Spawn could be hitching to and from work every day (or still trying to find a job walking distance from home).  Surrounded by blessings we are, even while handling life's little challenges.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wildcrafting: Plantain

Blessings Darlings!

We are finally getting rain here in the northern Blue Ridge Mountains.  We were at about half our normal rain for the year, with yesterday and today (today be Sunday) we might get up to 65% of normal.  The grass and fields planted in winter wheat are loving it - they were both VERY unhappy about the lack of rain. 

The wild greens are loving it, too.  We've moved out of dandelion and chickweed seasons (well, I have one patch of chickweed on the north side of the house I will harvest tomorrow, but that's it) and moved into the dock and plantain seasons.  Today, out in the cold rain, I harvested a scant quart of plantain.  Here are some pictures of it.  I have both the narrow and broad leaf varieties in the yard, but I harvest the broad leaf. 

Most parts of the plantain plant can be used, either for food or healing.  If you have a choice, the best parts for eating are young leaves.  The leaves get tough later.  And while the seeds are often listed as an item 'Indians ground and used for bread' ... that speaks more for how hungry folks got rather than the taste of the seeds, says a friend who tried doing that.

I'm going to use these as the greens in soup, with canned or dry tomatoes, whole wheat pasta or wheat berries, chickpeas, wild onion, and some asparagus.

What's fresh and tasty in your land base?

Frondly, Fern

Friday, April 20, 2012

Self Evaluation: Plastics Use

Blessings Darlings!

I use Earth Day as a time of evaluation and vow taking.  Two years ago my vow was about reducing my use of plastics. Evaluation (a few days before Earth Day, I admit) makes it clear I'm failing at this.

I've had some success at reducing styrofoam and #5 plastics that are brought into the house - because we can't afford Chinese take out any more (comes in #5 black plastic bowls with a translucent plastic lid) nor can we afford to eat out (leftover brought home in styrofoam plastic boxes).  OTOH many of our groceries still come into the house in plastic bags, because we fail to use the cloth bags.  Even at Aldi's, where we use bags from home, the bags we re-use are the plastic bags from other stores.

Implementing a system other than Gladware for refrigerator food storage has also been a failure.  I can't buy Pyrex replacements (which still have plastic lids) and I am afraid that if I DID use them I'd break them.  I drop things.  A lot.  And we have regular 'landslides' in our freezer and refrigerator.

I'm going to keep looking for metal bowls of all sizes at garage sales, in the hopes that they will be useful for fridge storage.  I would be able to use aluminum foil to cover them with ... not that the mining and refining of THAT is not destructive to the environment, just that aluminum foil can be recycled more readily than plastic wrap can be.  Like - it can be recycled at all.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Slip Me Some Spice

Blessings Darlings!

My Mother, bless her heart, was never an inspired cook.  She was constrained by the times she was born into (born during WWI, teen during the Depression, young adult during WWII rationing) and the challenges of kashrut.  Salt, pepper, onions, and garlic were about the only seasonings she used, and she insisted that "Jews don't use gravy."

So, shall we say, as a cook I am not my Mother's daughter.  While I started slow, by high school I was experimenting with foods from health food stores (Dannon yogurt! Exotic! Yeah, I'm OLD) and started making bread from scratch.  My husband, whose Mother had a similar generational if not religious upbringing, came into my life having already broken out into Chinese cooking and always trying new foods at ethnic restaurants.

So today I'm going to share with all y'all two spices that are important in my life.  They are cumin and ginger.


Many folks only know ginger from its role in sweet foods.  From Red Hots to pumpkin pie to gingerbread, cooks first get to know ginger in powdered form.  Big, bulbous, fibrous spicy - these attributes of ginger root make working with it directly a bit intimidating at first. It's used a lot in Chinese cooking to kick things up. 

It's easy to start by peeling about a square inch of ginger root and chopping it finely. DO NOT START BY USING A MICROPLANE GRATER ON GINGER.  Recipes call for CHOPPED ginger for a reason - microplaned it's stronger than you will expect.  Saute' it lightly in some olive oil, then add a pound of green beans and saute' them until done.  Experiment from there in other dishes later.

My 'secret' ginger use?  I use those peels from the ginger root when I make chicken stock.  They add a wonderful depth to the flavor.

I also grow ginger, but .... I'm not good at it.  I can't stop it from going dormant in winter even tho' I bring it in, and it starts up LATE in spring.  I certainly don't get enough for me to use my own much of the time!


You might now know it, but you've probably already met cumin before.  It's one of the ingredients in some good chili, and in some tacos.  Which, when you think about it, makes it a pretty NEW addition to actual  Mexican food, since it's a native of the middle east and India! You'll use this spice ground, rather than in the whole seed.

To me it particularly shines in middle eastern food.  Tzatziki Sauce is one of the staple sauces of my kitchen.  A simple mix of yogurt (usually Greek yogurt, tho' 'regular' yogurt is fine if you want a thinner sauce), lemon, salt, garlic, cumin, and chopped cucumber, I use it as a sauce on sandwiches (felafel, gyros), as a salad dressing, as an accent to roast lamb, etc.  

I've been failing at growing this, too.  Le sigh.

So, go forth and play with your food!  It's fun, and alchemical.

Frondly, Fern


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Blessings Darlings!

[Obligatory notice – I paid for books 2 and 3.  My Spawn bought book 1. No publisher provided free books for this review, dammit]

Yes, I took a foray into Young Adult Literature.  In fact I dove deep into it, reading the entire Hunger Games trilogy, not just the first book. 

The books are not supposed to be ‘great literature’. They are thrillers, just like the series of books by Dan Brown that includes The Da Vinci Code.  Events move fast … so fast that you are likely to fly by holes in plots or logic or be able to keep track of the huge number of Deus Ex Machina moments.  And the Hunger Games series is FULL of amazing coincidences. 

Plot summary: The US fell ages ago, there is a new government of North America (whole? Part? Dunno) called Panem.  Panem has a capital and 12 outlying districts which provide fuel, food, technology, etc.  There used to be 13 districts, but 13 led the others in rebellion and was destroyed 75 years ago.    As eternal penance the other 12 districts have to provide one teen boy and one teen girl every year as tribute.  The kids fight to the death in Reality TV with only 1 of the 24 surviving. Survivor gets to … well, not starve, unlike most of the folks in the districts.

Book 1 – The Hunger Games - Katniss, 16, is the only girl in District 12 who can hunt and eat off the land and is entrepreneurial and independent.  When her little sister is randomly selected as tribute she volunteers in her place.  The boy chosen happened to have helped her survive some years before.  And it turns out he loves her.  But only one can survive! 

The first book is totally adequately written.  It holds together well enough by itself as a novel.  Many of the characters are interesting.  Katniss Everdeen, the hero in whose voice the book speaks, has rare occasions when she seems like a real teen early in the book.  It’s Theseus in the Labyrinth. 

Book 2 – Catching Fire - Katness and Peeta (the other tribute, yes, both survived) get thrown into another survival reality show.  They make friends in this one. The game in interrupted by new rebellion. Deus Ex Machina rise higher and higher.  Here is where Theseus leaves Ariadne behind.  And, yes, Ariadne’s threat shows up.

Book 3 – Mockingjay - Rebellion continues. Peeta is rescued, damaged. District 13 is involved. District 13 is in many ways the opposite of the Panem capital, except for the president who is pretty much a carbon copy of Panem’s president.  Katniss’ part in the rebellion is pretty  much another reality TV/video game.  The survivors of the whole mess live as happily ever after as PTSD lets them. Dues ex Machine max out.  Theseus ends up with Ariadne’s sibling…. Sort of.

All pre-marital sex in the book is extremely exploitative (and off camera).  I was relieved that the exploitation was all heterosexual, and suspect that the author did that to avoid offending anyone.  Why sex would be less offensive than the extreme violence…. Gosh, the author is a TV writer where violence is allowed but sex is not allowed as easily.

By book 3 we see how incredibly body modification/art has been used by the residents of Panem’s capital, all with no hint of gender correction for transsexuals.  Well, if sexuality isn’t mentioned, and no one gets their period during the games (24 girls, no one on the rag and having to stop the flow from giving their location away or having cramps….) I guess that most body/spirit issues are going to be ignored. 

Reading book 1 was fine.  Book 2 …. Started having hints of deeper stuff but the plot dragged and the games got old.  By the time I got thru’ book 3 it was a video game that I would have stopped playing for at few weeks in the middle of it and maybe gotten back to it later. 

For me the oddest part was that the President of Panem went out of his way to be totally honest with Katniss.  Why? It didn’t serve him in any way, it only served her.  Given his character, especially as presented by the end, he was a psychopath.  He’d not have been honest with anyone.  He would have be far more subtle and less obviously manipulative.

If you are new to conspiracy theories and the idea of ‘secret totalitarian govenments’, maybe this is an introduction.  The plot holes pretty much drove me nuts.  The districts that provided technology & such – things where the production was most easily automated – somehow had the biggest populations, while the districts  that mined and grew things – which they were doing without automation – had the smallest populations. Huh?  How did that work out?  How did those small populations provide all the food and energy? Why did Katniss, whose mother was providing health care to her district for virtually nothing, feel that SHE couldn’t owe anyone anything?  Wouldn’t her mother’s example of giving without return be a model of how everyone should behave?

Feh.  If you gotta read the first book, okay. The rest was just tiresome.

Frondly, Fern.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Covens vs Paleopagan practice

Blessings Darlings!

Many Pagans operate within covens or other small groups.  Such groups can be intimate.  But are they 'traditional'? I suppose it depends on what part of paleopaganism you look at.


Yeah, the Celts had Druids.  They had their own training and such.  We don't know much about how that worked out.  But after training, they were out in the communities 'Druiding' - doing legal stuff, mediating between the people and the Gods, teaching history and other lore, etc.  The villagers would have their own tales, shared by elders.  They'd do their own folk magic, interpret drops of cream in water, etc.

No small group structure - everything was pretty much village wide or individual.  No 'cities', no group cultus.


Here we have cities, and with cities we can have Temples for different Gods and Goddesses.  But even with different temples ... people poured their libations to Hestia in their home, and the entire city went out to the temple for the high day of the specific God/dess. 

Again, no small group structure.  Not even a 'coven full' of priestesses at the average temple. 

Were there some groups?  Yes.  Lupercalia had some group in charge of the sacrifice, and they weren't 'full time' priests (some were politicians as I recall).  And the Elusinian Mysteries were not done by everyone, but the experience was totally individual.


Were there some folks who did magic outside of the bounds of the Druids/temples/dominant paradigm?  Sure.  The Greek and the Celts did not look positively upon them.  They were VERY much on their own, no structure, no group worship - they were probably magic only, not a different religion. 


As near as I can tell ... it was invented by Christianity.  Maybe they got 13 members as a 'bad reflection' of the Last Supper, just like the Black Mass is a 'bad reflection' of the Mass.  I don't see it anywhere before being mentioned in the Malleus Malificarum, tho' I admit I've not looked that hard.  Certainly that's where the phrase "You cannot be a witch alone" comes from, which so many witches/pagans take as 'law' now.


So nothing.  Just a train of thought about what the ancients did vs what we look to do today.  They did it all alone or with the entire area.  We focus on small groups (okay, except for ADF which was formed specifically to provide entire area public ritual ... and even their groves tend to 'choose' who gets to be a full member of the grove, tho' not the denomination).

Frondly, Fern

Monday, April 16, 2012

Let There Be Quiet

Blessings Darlings!

I love music ... tho' I cannot carry a tune in a bucket and have failed at every instrument I've tried.  But, as I try to search for Twitter posts with "Pagan" in them (and try to ignore all the @#$%%~@~! sales posts there) it makes it seem as if a lot of folks have music playing all the time.  And when I was in college one of my roommates had music or TV going pretty much constantly.  Later I had neighbors who .... uh .... liked to share all their music with me.  Then there were the many, many times I've been driving and I've not be able to hear anything except the music from another car at the stop light. 

Which is not to say that my world is silent.  Right now the loudest sound is the neighbor using a power edge trimmer around his fence. and probably another neighbor will mow their lawn and I'll hear that later.  Not my favorite sounds, but .... really, my dishwashers noises bother me more when it runs. 

Even with those outside man-made sounds, tho, I can still hear birds, and the wind, and my husband, and the creak of the window (I don't know WHY it creaked, tho), the hum of my computer fan, etc. 

Even with THOSE sounds .... I can still hear myself think.  And at times, I can hear the soft voices of the God/dess/es.  I don't recall any time when I've heard the voices of the God/dess/es in music or TV, altho' I've certainly heard them in the quiet times of some guided meditations.

I've never understood the impulse to always have music/TV/etc sounds going on all the time.  It's just not ME.  I'm not going to claim that it's because I am doing Deep Thinking or anything - more likely it's because I'm too easily distracted and that would put me over the edge on being able to concentrate be so irritating that I'd get a headache. 

Is it because I'm an only child of older parents? Probably part of it is from that.  My suburban upbringing, without the constant pressing noises of urban life? I'm sure that's part of it .... tho' my neighborhood had so many toxins on the lawns that we didn't have crickets at all, and not a ton of birds.

But I DO value quiet.  Intensely.  I don't travel without ear plugs, and the discomfort of those have always been far FAR outweighed by the quiet they provide. If I had to make a binary choice between music and silence .... okay, I'd opt out, because I don't accept that paradigm. 

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Go Away.

Blessings Darlings!

Shivian blogged on Gnosis.   Which means today you should read HIS blog.  Scoot on over there!

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Light .... and shadow

Question on a Pagan group:
What is it with 'love and light' and 'Wiccan brothers and sisters'??????????


Why is such fluffy familiarity okay? And, without checking if the recipient even wants bloody 'love and light' and 'blessed be sister'??????
One reply (paraphrased and shortened): .I say those to people to express kind intent, to pass along the pure gentleness of my heart & soul...To express the truly sweet person I am, how I treat everyone from my friends to strangers. keep in mind that there are those of us out there who are REAL empaths, who are genuinely caring souls with true intentions.

Well.  I had to respond, because I am me.

First ... I'm still having trouble getting my head around "I'm an empath (but I can't understand that my words could be irritating anyone),"  

to get back to Liz's original question - why do folks always pushing light and love/blessed be

1 - not give a fig if the person WANTS that?

2 - not care if the person can HANDLE that?

3 - not VALUE the dark? Or the power of the lone path?

4 - Not respect that others have different boundries?

Look - for years I had stomach problems. My well-meaning husband always gave me milk 'to help settle my stomach'. Turned out I had lactose intolerance!  To put it mildly - my husband's 'cure' only made the problem worse.

 Pouring what may work for ONE person on everyone is NOT a good idea, NOT good magic, NOT good spirituality in my never humble opinion.

I have said this before, and I will say it again - intent isn't worth squat when you don't actually look at what you do DOES.  My husband TOTALLY meant to help me. His action HURT me.   


The Empath responded: It's sweet that you have a well-meaning husband...Yet, irresponsible of you to not take your health seriously and take matters into your own hands to see a doctor. To me, that is someone not listening to their body - especially if you let it go on for years.

Baby girl didn't answer my questions .... and of course I HAD been to doctors.  Repeatedly. Because then I had good insurance.  But apparently if I did NOT have insurance and could NOT afford a doctor .... that is being 'irresponsible'.  Because the poor are irresponsible, I suppose.  

And I'm sure she still thinks she said nothing anyone can object to.  And she still thinks she's an empath. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Pagan Year

Blessings Darlings!
There was a bit of a debate about 'names for the full moon each month' in a Facebook group I'm in.  [BTW, if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion - if you say "I've done a huge amount of research on this" .... don't later change your story to "this is my UPG"] 
But I don't name moons, or care to do so.  I look at local plants and animals for my seasonal cues.

Imbolc - is when lambing has started in my area. And when I start seeds indoors

Beltane - is when hawthorn leaves the size of squirrel's ears (your squirrels ears may vary). It's time to transplant tomatoes to the garden.

Lughnasadha - the barley harvest is done, take a breath before the next heavy harvest work. Or .... in MY life .... first tomato is ripe in MY garden. Because there isn't much barley in my area. Wish there was, it would help my beer making.

Samhain - 3 days after the killing frost. Not the one that gets the basil, the one that kills those tomato vines noted in Lughnasadha.

Incidentally, I saw the first goat kids last week. Perfect timing if I celebrated Passover, since one of the songs sung there is "Chad Gadol" which translates as "One Goat Kid"
Frondly, Fern

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chocolate Egg Monday

Blessings Darlings!

Not only is today  Manure Monday, but it's also the day I rush out to the stores and buy half price Easter candy. 

I JUST finished the Valentines Day Dove Chocolate hearts, so I'm getting kind of .... desperate. I NEED a new supply.  Which is darn near the definition of First World Problem.  I might get some jelly beans, too.  And some .... drool .... chocolate covered caramel eggs. And ONE Cadbury Cream Egg for the Chubby Hubby (he's the only one who eats those here). 

So, I'm off to the stores!  See you later.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, April 6, 2012

Manure Mondays

Blessings Darlings!

I know what mot of you thought when you saw the title of this post - aren't ALL Mondays "Manure"? But I'm talking literally here, not metaphorically. 

I have a manure date next Monday! With the beautiful Suz (and by extension with her beautiful and bountiful manure producing ponies). We'll fill another 9 or 10 buckets with well-aged manure for my garden. There the wonderful if weedy manure will be layered with straw and I'll plant my veggies in it. 

Manure makes me happy happy.  I'm special that way.  The manure makes my veggies even happier than I am.  One year I got all the beans we could eat PLUS 8 pounds to freeze from 36 square feet of garden, all due to the combination of horse manure and a Beltane ritual that involved Epona. 

Just remember - horse manure is "hot" compared to ruminant manure in that using it without it being aged will damage plants from too much nitrogen too quickly.  It is also comparatively very weedy since horse digestion doesn't deal with the seeds they eat the same way ruminant digestion does.

Remember - the buckets are all 3.5 gallon to 5 gallon ones, mostly with lids, that I got for FREE.  All food grade, too, not that it matters for manure (when I use them for storing wheat/other food stuff that matters).  I get them by checking at the bakery departments of any grocery store I go to, especially when I get to the 'big city' to go to the bank or Costco.  They are in hot demand where I am now since this is rural rather than the suburban area I used to live in.  Folks here keep farm animals, and buckets and farm animals go hand in hoof/paw.  Carrying food, carrying water, collecting waste, collecting eggs, milking - you name it and a bucket is involved in it.  You cannot have too many buckets.

Suz and I used to 'package' the manure in big black trash bags.  But they tear, are awkward to fill, etc.  Buckets are better.  OTOH, using the now-rare buckets I can get for manure rather than food storage would be a problem for food storage.  I guess it's a good thing I can't afford to store any more food right now, eh? 

So I'm having a happy Friday, anticipating Manure Monday!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Who's Green?

Blessings Darlings!

Earth hour was March 31.  I KNOW I wrote about it a few years back, but I can't find where.  It might have been somewhere other than my blog.  Oh well.  I find it rather a feel-good gimmick, similar to clicking 'like' on a picture on Facebook thinking that's going to change something.

But it got me to thinking about how environmentally 'green' most neopagans are, by looking at me.

By most of those 'measure your environmental footprint' things .... our family uses less resources than 'average' in America.  Which of course means NOTHING, since the 'average' American uses a disproportionately high amount of resources.  And those measurement tools don't count how many resources your job uses.  We're lucky that way - since we work at home at least it DOES take that into account for us. 

But .... if we used our fireplace for heat, using the 100% non-fossil fuel of wood, it would be GREAT for helping stretch out the end of oil .... but it would be TERRIBLE for air quality, pumping incredible amounts of particulates and carbon dioxide into the air.

I'm online a HECK of a lot, as a part of my work.  That means that I share responsibility for the raping of the groundwater in Silicon Valley, the work conditions in factories in Asia, environmental damage from mining and refining rare earth elements used in the batteries and such.

It's not like my coven is in the town I live in, either.  It's 65 miles away.  The denomination covenstead is 190. 

I can, and pretty  much do, recycle every scrap of paper, every bit of plastic, every bottle, etc. than comes into the house.  That does not negate the energy that went into making them, the pollution they generated, the mining/drilling/etc.  Heck, recycling some of them take more water than creating them from scratch.  Recycling doesn't mean not consuming. 

Right now my dishwasher is running.  In part because it uses less water than washing that many dishes by hand, and in part because it sanitizes the dishes better than I can do by hand.  Saves water, saves electricity used for heating and pumping water, but uses electricity to run. 

The fact that I cook from scratch actually causes me to use MORE energy than if I didn't.  It woul be FAR more energy efficient to have a central bakery do all the baking, a central kitchen do all the cooking.  Cafeteria food is efficient.  It is not what I'd like to eat.  It is not HOW I'd like to eat, giving up deciding what to feed my family personally.  But environmentally -  not having every house have a kitchen thus saving on all the appliances, cooking in big batches not individual family servings - is better for the environment.

All this before even looking at the coffee and chocolate issues.  Or citrus issues (that's sure not a locally grown item, either).  Or my beloved avocados.

Yeah, I only spend 12 minutes a week showering - I time it.  In, wet down, turn off water, soap, rinse, do the same for the hair.  Rain water, mostly, for the garden - tho' right now we're kind of droughty already so who knows what this summer will be like.  Clothes line for laundry, but I can't afford to get the washer fixed and the cold water line is blocked .... so it's washing with warm to hot water, not cold. 

Everything has trade offs.  We have cats, how much less can I vacuum without cat hair being everywhere?  How many holes in my husbands underwear before we have to toss it?  Bleaching the tighty whities isn't happening, the better to make them last longer.  They are now tighty off-whities.

The freezer that saves me HUGE amounts of money on food ... uses electricity to run, and wasn't great for the environment to manufacture.  Two cycle engines, like on tillers for the garden, are TERRIBLE for polluting the air.  Deer netting is made from plastic - other mesh is from metals that involve mining and refining, too. 

The 'measure your footprint' things say I'm green.  I look at my life and know I'm not. At all.  "Relative to other Americans' is a foolish comparison.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fire Protection, Redux

Blessings Darlings!

As many of you recall, last August/September there were some terrible fires in the Texas region, brought on in part by severe drought.    Some Pagans on Facebook got together to fight the fires by trying to get a hurricane to hit the area, as I noted here.

They never updated their Facebook page to say if they felt that they succeeded, or if they didn't how to do magic better.  I'll do that for them right here because I'm nice that way.

Here's the USGS Drought Monitor summary for last year.  It seems to be missing the last few months but DOES include the ends of July and September - the time the group was working in.  What happened? The drought continued to increase.  Here's the summary for the first 12 weeks of 2012, so you can compare the beginning of 2012 to the beginning of 2011.  What happened? The drought is worse now than it was early last year.  I'm having trouble finding any archives of the fires from last year to link to, sorry about that.  As I recall ... the number and acreage involved increased during September.

I am NOT here snarking about trying to do big magic. I am all for that. I AM pointing out that the group didn't like me bringing up how they were going to measure success or failure to the point of refusing to consider doing any measurements.

Looks to me like the magic failed.  Just like the magic my coven did for "Peace" during the Olympics .... and within a week Russia and Georgia were at war.  Not all magic works, and when it doesn't - heck, even when it DOES work - you need to look at what did and did not work.  That is how you LEARN.  That is how your magic IMPROVES.

Have a few extra bucks and want to improve your magic?  Pick up one of those "Spell a Day" books published by Llewellyn, and do the spells .... and look into why they call for this, that, or the other 'ingredient'.  Or look at the goal and make up and do your own spell for that.  Yes, a spell a day. Just like if you were learning piano or martial arts you'd practice daily.  Just like a baby learning to walk practices and practices and practices.

Go forth and be wonderful.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cheap Eats - Refried Beans

Blessings Darlings!

I haven't focused on cheap eats recently, and given the economy I really should.

Tonight's dinner is going to be the Taco recipe I posted before, the half beef/half bean taco mix.  A fact I forgot about last night before going to bed - I had planned to start soaking the beans then.

But I didn't.  I DID remember them when I awoke at 1 am. And hauled my sorry butt to the kitchen to sort, wash, and start soaking two cups of dry black beans.

Have I mentioned that I tend to be my own worst enemy?  Then again, in my experience, that is true of us all.

This morning I drained the soaking liquid then pressure cooked the beans.  Since I only needed one pound of cooked beans, the two cups of dry beans resulted in FAR more beans than I needed.  Which is great, it allowed me to make refried beans.

I'm sure all y'all already know that 'refried' beans aren't 'refried' at all.  Refritos, in Spanish, means 'twice cooked'.  First the cooking to make them soft and edible, then the cooking with seasoning and mashing them to make then tasty and give them a creamy texture.

This is a VERY laid-back recipe.  I don't measure a damn thing, it's all mix/taste/adjust.


Several cups of cooked beans. Any type, really, except garbanzos, because then you'd be making hummus. I probably used around 3 cups this time, and the water left from cooking them.
A chopped onion. You pick the size. I used a large but not huge one.
Chili powder. I probably used  about a tablespoon
Salt, I used at least a teaspoon
Minced Garlic, I used 3 cloves this time. Mince this first - it allows antioxidants to develop
Pepper, black, I dunno how much, I ground the pepper mill for a bit.
Ground coriander seed, maybe 1/3 tsp?
Ground cumin seed, maybe 1/2 tsp?
Oregano, a dash or so.
 Some oil.

So, put 1 - 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a heavy pot.  Let it get shimmery over medium heat.  Add onions, cook 'till translucent.  Add minced garlic and seasonings, let them 'bloom' in the hot pan for 30 seconds.  Add beans.  Heat. Mash. Adjust seasonings, add water if needed. 

Serve with chips, or baked tortillas, or cut veggies. 

Frondly, Fern