Sunday, October 13, 2013

Before First Aid

Blessings Darlings!

Today I saw a FaceBook post from a friend.  He's teaching first aid, and wanted to know what to teach along with that.  This is my reply ....

About a decade ago, my boss collapsed - Atrial Fibrillation. It took 18 minutes for the EMTs to arrive (that's a story for a different time). One of my coworkers was a volunteer firefighter, had spent the past year and a half I'd worked with her claiming how ready she was to deal with anything.

That coworker froze. I, along with a woman from the loan office housed next to ours, did CPR and kept the boss going until the EMTs got there and defib'd her.

Why did the 'trained' person fail, while I could function (even tho' my CPR training had been two decades earlier)? Because in ALL things I didn't procrastinate, instead my habit was to deal with problems as them came up (and try to head them off, of course, but that, too, is a story for a different day. OTOH, my coworker was the youngest child of many, and her siblings would usually step in to 'help' her if she was slow in doing things, or her boyfriend would handle unpleasant things, etc.

Cultivating the habit of handling problems (that you failed to prevent) as they happen, so you don't freeze and act out the habit of putting things off and having others handle them, is to me the most important thing to learn along with the skills involved in first aid.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Living La Vida Busy

Blessings Darlings!

Yes, I've become very scarce online lately. Adding an evening job to my day job ... no surprise that I don't have much time for Facebook or for blogging!

Love the grill cook stuff, don't mind when emergencies mean that I, as least trained grill cook, get shifted to dish tank (I did that volunteering at a Food Coop, so I didn't need training, just had to show me what button to push on the dish washer). They may have me cross train to do prep as well, which I also did at the coop.

The only problems I've had have been my feet aching from standing for all but 15 minutes of 8 hour shifts and, of course, being tired while adjusting to my new schedule.

Sure, it's not in my field and the hourly rate is probably 1/2 of what I'd get in my field. But any 'non-day' job in my field would have been back to crisis intervention/up all night stuff. Here, even on the 'worst' night, I'll be home by midnight. And I don't have to deal with life-and-death crises. No suicide hotlines. No rape hotlines. No running out at all hours to hospitals to support rape victims. No overnights in shelters.

Instead, the worst that can happen is that it takes 'too long' for customers to get their food, or their food is cold, or the toast or bacon too crisp. Yes, we all try to avoid these things happening, but if things get busy and they DO happen ... no one dies.

This is a luxury I'm ready for.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, September 6, 2013

New Job!

Blessings Darlings!

I've added another job to my life - grill cook at a family restaurant.  The one that the Spawn works at, so we can car pool some days.  If I work evenings, I can keep doing the house/home business days before going to work. 

Pay is ... not impressive.  But I'll be learning a new skill, and bringing in SOME cash to help the cash-flow issues, even tho' I'll be part time. 

I'll be doing more big batch cooking, and the Spawn will be doing more cooking.

It's workable, and a new and exciting (or is that terrifying?) challenge!

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Put On Your Big Girl Panties.

Blessings Darlings!

I have typed that phrase, "Blessings Darlings", in almost 500 posts now.  It's not that I'm blessing you, you know - it's more like the Irish concept of "Catch the Blessings Already Sent Your Way."

But it's becoming more and more apparent that what my view of a 'blessed state of being' is is different from how others see it.  And we differ primarily in the role of the God/dess/es in achieving that state.

I see being blessed as being an adult, handling the every day events of life yourself.  Many every day events of life are great - birthdays, graduations, getting jobs, etc.  Some aren't great - deaths and diseases, money issues, etc. 

Being blessed, to me, is being able and WILLING to handle those things yourself.  Get a splinter?  Remove it (yes, own tweezers, and face the discomfort, and get it done), wash the area, maybe slap on some antibiotic ointment and a band-aid, and go one with life. No need to ask anyone else for tweezers you don't have and get your body fluids on their stuff, no need to get paranoid and make offerings to the God/dess of your choice that you don't get an infections.  And I DO assume your tetanus shots are up to date.  Because as a functional adult, you should be able to handle this.

So, too, most aspects of, say, storms.  You'll have homeowners insurance, flood insurance if necessary, know where you can evacuate to if needed, have the sense to get out in time to get to where you can evacuate to, etc. 

Others don't seems to see things the way I do.  They can't start their day without checking Tarot or some other form of divination to see what's going to happen.  They start their day asking for peace and protection, rather than for the strength and ability to handle what happens.  And, yeah, they've been doing this for so long that they do NOT have any personal strength, no personal flexibility, no ability to handle things.  And no skills at first aid. 

Functionally, they've been asking the Gods TO MAKE THEM INTO INFANTS, totally dependent on the God/dess/es and others.

Fuck that bullshit.

How about asking the Gods to send what you need to grow strong, wise, and experienced.  Ask them to send you challenges that will, over time, push you to learn new things.

In other words - ask to grow up, while you work on growing up yourself.

And, if you have to pull that Tarot card/set every day ... pull the cards in the morning, but don't look at them then.  Look at them in the evening, to see what you should have learned from the day.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chubby Hubby's Birthday - While Broke

Blessings Darlings!

We celebrated the CH's birthday today.  He took almost the whole day off! 

It started with a huge breakfast, eggs and toast and hamburger patties and two, not just one, pastry from the local great bakery.  Sundays are the only day we have meat with breakfast, and usually we have bacon, occasionally ham.  Today he opted for burgers.  So - big high fat high protein meal.  And the only thing I bought special (since I always have frozen hamburger patties in the freezer) was one pastry, since we usually go one and buy one to share every weekend.  That was $2.50.

Then we headed out, and spent the bulk of the day at Harper's Ferry National Historical Park ... because not only did we WANT to go there, but the park was free today (it's the birthday of the National Park system).  We visited lots of museums, walked along the Shenandoah river, looked at ruins of the canal system and factory buildings.  Learned a lot about John Brown's raid, water powered manufacturing, how often the Shenandoah river floods, etc. Had a great time.  Treated CH to a Coke and a box of candy cigarettes.  $3.25 for all of that.  Oh, and, for the first time, set foot on the Appalachian Trail!

Then we figured we'd have the dessert we had planned for after dinner BEFORE dinner, so we went off to Nutters Ice Cream Parlor in Sharpesburg, MD.  We shared this HUGE banana split (with extra hot fudge).  CH was astonished to see the size of it.  And even with the extra hot fudge, it cost only $6.75.

Total spent - $12.50.  Had a great time.  And too full for the steaks I bought (within the food budget) for dinner.  We'll have them some other night this week.

Happy happy happy.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, August 16, 2013

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Blessings darlings!

I'm glad you're here. 

Now, go read THIS, because it's the most useful magical advice you'll get today, this week, maybe this year.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cool, damp summer

Blessings Darlings!

While we DID have a dry month early this summer, on the whole this summer has been coolish and dry.  There have been less days over 90 degrees than usual, and rain levels have been more than usual since the early hot dry spell.

So now I have issues from those factors in my garden!  I've only lost a couple of zucchinis to end rot from the rain, but on top of those losses some of the zukes haven't been well pollenated - they grow right the first few inches then sudden narrow and don't develop the rest of the way down the fruit.  Others, while properly pollenated have seemed to started to hibernate instead of finishing growing.  And my tomatoes are not just waiting for a few hot days to suddenly have hundreds of them suddenly ripen all at once - the indetermanent ones that ARE coming ripe one at a time all have big cracks at the stem end, the standard sign of too much water. 

I'm concerned I won't get any of the sweet potatoes, as they need rather a lot of days over 90 degrees to move from forming vines to forming tubers.

By the way, the DE didn't do squat for any of the bugs on the beans.  I don't think I'll be getting even enough beans for a dinner side dish, let alone freeze or can any.  The leaves of the beans look like delicate lace.  And the daily rain means that anything I use on the plants gets promptly washed off.

To paraphrase the folk saying:  humanity proposes, nature disposes.

Frondly, Fern


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Meh Ravioli

Blessings Darlings!

Tonight I made our fortnightly Vegetarian Dinner.  I decided to try Spinach and Ricotta ravioli, with the budget substitutions of plantain weed leaves for spinach and cottage cheese for ricotta.  Once again I found that wild greens suck up a lot of flavor and recipes have to be adjusted for that - had to double the salt, black pepper, nutmeg and add basil and garlic in order for the filling to have flavor. 

The pasta part was pretty typical, except I've never made ravioli before.  OTOH I've made more than a few recipes of Chinese dumplings and egg rolls!  I did run into a problem with them sticking to the parchment paper and tearing, because using cottage cheese instead of ricotta make the filling more moist.  I'll be making steamed dumplings (instead of boiled ones) out of those tomorrow. 

Chubby Hubby asked for a pink sauce for these, instead of a red sauce.  So I added a cup of cream to a red sauce and he was happy.  Spawn and I weren't that impressed, it didn't 'sparkle', but it was adequate. 

It all tasted fine, but it was not Restaurant or Company Quality.

I'm sure I'll do better if I make it again soon, but I probably won't make it again until next summer - the plantain  plants are going to seed.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, August 2, 2013

Pagan Dreaming

Blessings Darlings!

So in my dreams this morning ...

First remembered dream, I was back in grade school.  Which was not a fun time.  I came out of the restroom into the classroom and could not recall which was my desk. There were no visual signs - no backpacks, no books/pencils on an empty desk, etc.  I admitted I couldn't recall, but didn't get any crap.

Then there were fires in the area, along with flooding from thunderstorms in denuded areas.  I went to look at the near by river, and saw a bear on fire.  I 'willed' it to go into the stiller water to put out the fire.  It did, then came over.  It was a very small, young bear, and it's coat was very like a sheep's coat.  I took it back to the school for the school nurse to help (had to put a collar on it to have it come along!)  I was then sent to room D-1 for something.

Later, I was magically avenging something, a death of a relative.  Related to going out a hotel window into a fire. This somehow involved dealing with an A/C unit. That was part of a seat in a movie theater.  I gathered the materials I needed.  Then got together with Kerian Nox (who had her own doom to deal) and Shae McQuoid.   And then Pagan Illini somehow joined the dream, meeting in a university owned camping site .... which I was sure was D-1.  I turned to lady bugs to spread the word, getting in touch with them using some bushes that I was sure my father had had planted outside the dream-version of the Jewish shul I attended as a child.  The Chubby Hubby helped me advertise the ritual I was doing (Keri's was not connected), which was to be Pagan interfaith.  Kevin Costner drove by in a pick up truck, and was going to return for the ritual. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fern Likes Flavor

Blessings Darlings!

Actually, the title is a bit off - while I do like flavor in my food, my husband DEMANDS it.  Except it can't be too spicy.  Or pickly-sweet.

This comes up because after I dropped the Spawn off at work, I checked the grocery store for marked-down meat.  I found rather a lot - 3.5 pounds of 'beef for stew' and two packages of pork.  We're going to have one of the packages of pork for dinner tonight.  But pork is bland by itself, so having a sauce with it came up.  I would have been happy with a white sauce (because modern pork loin is really lean and often dry), but the Chubby Hubby wanted something ... more.

He decided on a charcutiere sauce.  I'm looking at that, and thinking "cornichones?  That's going to be pickly-sweet."

Being fearless, I'm going to make it.  But only add the pickles to a bit in a small bowl and see if we like that.  I think that pickled peppers would be a better choice, and will likely try that, too.

I will probably have the results before I post this.

Results are in!  Couldn't find any cornichones, so didn't add them.  Had to thin the sauce, apparently the recipe and I had a disagreement on how reduced the liquids should be.  It was tasty, and since I DID fail on cooking the pork, it needed a sauce to cover the dryness.

We WILL use the sauce again.  Maybe I'll even succeed at tracking down cornichones.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Unobtainable Fantasies.

Blessings Darlings!

 If I see one more "Being a Witch is a way of life" captioned picture where the picture is some skinny young thing in "obvious witch-clothes" (flimy dress that goes to the ground, big boobs supported (apparently) by magic because there is no bra and no way physics can explain their perkiness, wearing a pointed hat, and/or a pentacle the size of a dinner plate) I might start bitchslapping people.

Is that REALLY how you look on a typical day?  I call BS.  MY 'way of life' doesn't include dry-clean-only witchclothes at all, let alone for every-day wear.  I'm sitting here now in my typical summer life style clothes - remember, it's hot and humid here and we don't use much air conditioning (because THAT is a way of life).  So I'm in a nice pair of shorts today, and a white tank top.  My wet hair is in a turban with one of my standard towels - this one is 25 years old, and rather frayed around the edges, because using things up IS a life style.  Pizza is for dinner tonight, which I mention only because when I sit down to eat I'll be wearing a chef's apron so I have LESS chance of staining my clothes with the tomato sauce.  Because, you know, gravity always bats last.

You who post those pics may be young and beautiful - but those are temporary blessings/conditions, not a life style.  You don't wear those clothes in your day to day life ... you may be one of the fools who wear the plate sized pents daily, I suppose.  But if you have bodacious tatas, they aren't that perky. 

If you mean that your lifestyle is a fantasy, get over it and join the real world.  Embrace who you REALLY are, not some unobtainable fantasy of who you wish you were.  That, my dears, is what is really meant by the occult term 'being grounded'. 

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Zuke Problems!

Blessings Darlings!

I've had several weeks of being buried in zukes.  This has been a good thing for me.  But ... now not only have some low-level problems with squash bugs started (and I think THEY are rather under control), but wilt has hit.  I removed the plant with that, but ... I'm worried it will take out the other two in that hill.  And that it will move to the gray squash in the next hill over.

I'm debating starting more grey squash in a new hill to get me to full summer squash power, but they'd have to go in the area I planned to put my fall greens/radishes/turnips in. 

With the beans being so bad this year (I'll be applying BT to those this evening, if the wind is calm then), and the tomatoes being so late (my fault), the zukes have been our main veggie.  Without them ... mostly I'll just be getting herbs and spices from the garden.  Which will leave me sad and lower on money, since I'd have to pay for veggies. 

On top of that, something has eaten leaves from some of my cucumber plants.  So even THOSE aren't about to bury me. 

I'm beginning to think I need a larger garden, as well as the energy and time to work it more.

Oh well.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What if it was your daughter?

Blessings Darlings!
What if Trayvon Martin was your daughter?

She's 16 and walking home from the store. Some older man in a car is following her, slowly, watching her intensely. He eventually gets out of his car and starts following her on foot. He gets close to her.

Being a good parent, you've made sure she's had been thru' women's self defense classes. There she was taught to face and confront men who seem to be a threat. She turns, faces him, calls him out for following her. He come closer. She feels more threatened. He invades her space. She pushes him away from her. He hits her for pushing him - she goes into the rest of her self-defense moves.

He shoots her.

He claims self defense.  And that, due to her skimpy summer clothes, she was asking to be followed.

He get off.
Frondly, Fern

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fern Makes Pot Stickers

Blessings Darlings!

In our household, we like food.  Which explains part of our weight problems, but that's not what I'm writing about today.  We like food, and we want it to be tasty and have great texture ... and we need it to be inexpensive, because we're limiting our food budget to what we'd get if we were on the maximum amount of food stamps - that's roughly $410 a month for 3 adults here.

Which  means I cook a lot of stuff from scratch.  While I don't make hamburger buns or most pasta from scratch (the later because it's hard to get the right flour at all around here, let alone at a good price), I make make most of the rest of our breads.  Yeah, most of you have been reading long enough to know all this.

Last night I took out the Sacred Book of Chinese Recipes, and I made Pot Stickers - the dumplings that have the crispy bottom.  They are one of our Oh My Gods! recipes, amazingly good.  And not expensive, especially compared with getting them in restaurants, where they are often not even as good as the ones I make.

I DID cheat a bit, as I chose to NOT make the wrappers from scratch.  I've done it before, and I'll do it again, but that will be some day when I'm not working in the garden much of the day ... and yesterday I spent lots of time in the garden.

The entire batch of potstickers had an ingredient cost of about $10.50.  It made 96 dumplings.  That would have been 12 orders of potstickers in many restaurants.  And it would have cost $96 just for the pot stickers - never mind the drinks we'd have ordered, and the tip.

Now, we did not eat all those last night, even tho' we did them as our main course ... hell, it was our only course.  We DID eat half of them.  I'm going to wrap and freeze the rest tonight and we'll have them some other time, when I don't want to cook.

Cheap never tasted so good.

Oh - and I did NOT use any zucchini in them.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It's Zucchini Time!

Blessings Darlings!

So ... Zucchini.

I gave 3 to Suz today (and then we went out and picked blueberries, so I have 9 pounds of those to process).  And I had half a cooked zuc left, and one whole fresh one in the fridge, and then harvested one more.  So my lunch was pasta with the cooked zuc added.

The Chubby Hubby likes to have something hot with his lunches. Often that means leftovers, but as much as possible I steer him to soup.  So I made zucchini soup.  Well, a vegetable soup that featured a lot of zuc.  Three cups water, 4 boullion cubes, one cubed carrot, most a zuc (cubed), and a large handful of dry egg noodles.  He was happy.  He ate some zuc, so I was happy.  There is soup left for tomorrow, so we can be happy again tomorrow.

I may try Suz's recipe of battering sliced zuc, drizzling it with olive oil, and baking it next, because clearly I have to keep coming up with recipes.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, June 17, 2013

With Apologies to Kelis

My clover brings all the bees to the yard
And they're like, it's not poisoned like yours
Damn right it's not poisoned like yours.
I'd teach you, and not even charge.

Blessings Darlings!

I'm finally seeing a goodly number of bees in the clover.  Still mostly bumble bees, but the number of honey bees is up.

This will all change on Friday, of course, when the guy mows the lawn.  And he often scalps the lawn, on top of mowing all the wildflowers.

But we persevere.

What *I* ask him to do doesn't much matter, since I don't pay him, the land lord does.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, June 10, 2013

I want a Witches Garden

Blessings Darlings!

If I EVER get my veggie/herb garden to the point I'm happy with it ... and it's no where NEAR that point now ... I want to put in a Witches' Garden. 

This wouldn't be a happy healing/culinary herb garden.  This would be a nice traditional baneful garden.  It would feature poisons and other oddities - deadly hemlock, deadly nightshade, maybe poison ivy (tho usually that's easy enough to find growing around here!), pokeweed, mugwort, wormwood, foxglove, lily of the valley, yews, may apples ....  I might even grow abortifacients like pennyroyal in that garden.

Yes, some of them can be used medically.  But they can also harm folks. 

Just ... because. 

Frondly, Fern

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hard Won Gifts

Blessings Darlings!

As I noted a few days ago, we have a bit of a heat wave here.  Today will be another hot humid day, and we MAY have air pollution warnings - DC has warnings, but I don't know about the Blue Ridge.  But I digress ...

As a result of the heat wave, I was out working in the garden very early today, while the temperature was in the lower 70's.  Oh my goodness, it was sweet outside then.  The birds were chirping, no tractors were running yet (either mowing lawns of my neighbors or cutting hay), the breeze was NOT from the cattle barns, etc. 

I, of course, was sweating exactly the way a pig doesn't.  This is because to be more intimate with my immediate land base I work my garden by hand.  I worked the bean bed again today, with the days work being taking a spade (and not a shovel) and turning what would be topsoil (if I was still in Illinois).  Here in my little corner of Appalachia it is NOT topsoil - it is clay.  Heavy red clay.  I need to do another round with that now broken bed, and work compost into it so it is ready for the seeds.

Heavy Red Clay.  I looked at those first spadefuls, and a soft voice said, "You know those runes you want to make? They can be made of clay."  I went back to the garage and got a bucket.  And a lid.  By the time I had the bed turned I had 4 gallons of great red clay, 13 pieces of quartz .... and a blister.

Because the real gifts of the Gods are their quiet voices.  Not in them doing the work for us.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Calling a Spade a Spade.

Blessings Darling!

Let us all say this in unison - Fern is not everyone's cuppa.  Did I hear all my Mountain Sisters (and I don't just mean Owl Mt, I mean all the Delicate Flowers of Appalachian Womanhood) snickering? 

I am an opinionated, wordy, judgmental, and precise bitch.  The same in person as I am online. Did I just hear an "AMEN" and "Preach it, sister" from Asheville?

I'm not the person who uses a lot of exclamation points, even tho' I have strong opinions.  Instead, as you may have noticed in the previous two paragraphs, I ask a lot of questions. I am not just interested in your conclusions, the 'what' you do, I am also interested in the 'why you do it part'. 

Some people seem to think that the 'why' part is an attack.  I find that view odd, to say the least (see, I CAN be diplomatic).  I assume that you have good reasons, even if I can't see them, and want to know what they are.  Because magical and life-skills THEORY matters and informs what we all do.

Yes, I think that what words you use matter, too.  If you make up your own definitions to words rather than using the meanings used in normative English and in the dictionary - then you are NOT actually seeking to communicate but to hide things or sound like you know more than you do. 

Did you notice above that I did NOT say that I was "not everyone's cup of tea", even tho' that is a commonly used phrase?  I'll tell you why - tea is a precise word, referring to a precise family of shrubs.

I'm not everyone's tisane, either, which is what you get when you made an infusion of other herbs.

So if you are easily offended, this is not the blog you should follow.  You probably shouldn't follow me on Twitter, or friend me on Facebook, either.

Because I'm going to continue to call a spade a spade.  And not a shovel.

Frondly, Fern

Can't Escape Classical Greece

Blessings Darlings!

Today the remarkable Suz and I went to the coffee shop to write.  As it happened, we were both writing about Hellenic Paganism.  Which isn't TOTALLY unusual for us, her being Hellenic and me being ... all over the board when it comes to blogging. 

The coffee shop features art for sale.  Some weeks we like the art more than other weeks, of course.  This week, the art was okay, nothing we'd buy if we had the money.  Until .... after writing a while I got up to stretch and looked at the inexpensive monographs by Susan Carney.  Lovely work, in general, and one got us all tingly.  We both took pictures of it to show others.  A monograph entitled "Minotaur", featuring a woman, and bull, a man ... some amount of overlapping.  Figuring out especially when the man and bull began and ended was not clear.

I may come back and buy it, but I'll need a frame for it.

The picture alone got us talking about an aspect of Ariadne we hadn't much considered before - that she is sister to the Minotaur that she helped Theseus kill.  In a sense, she helped him kill a part of herself.  What part of herself lay dead in the labyrinth when Theseus followed the thread back to her?

Gotta love it when you go out into the world and blog "Hellenic" - you're always going to find references and start you thinking!

Frondly, Fern

Addenum - after I got home the Chubby Hubby and I DID go back and buy the Minotaur monograph.  I will need to find a frame for it, of course, but at least we both agreed on a piece of artwork.  I want to put it up in the dining room.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Heat Wave Eve

Blessings Darlings!

An early heat wave is going to be starting here tomorrow.  Temperatures will be in the 90's and the humidity will be high for 5 days.  Therefore, I did some preparations to help reduce my electricity use during that time.

That means that today I totally caught up on the ironing, so I won't iron at all during the heat wave (the Spawn will, since he didn't iron his work clothes.  His choice).  The Spawn made blueberry muffins, and pizza for dinner tonight - we won't bake desserts during the heat wave, and will grill and/or pressure cook dinners.  Bread and rolls are about to go into the oven, so we won't bake those during the hot days.  We don't need the loaf bread at the moment, so that will go into the freezer for a few days.

Late spring allows me to do this.  The hot weather isn't unrelenting ... nor is the cold weather.  A little preparation, a little care to work with, not against, nature goes a long way right now.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, May 27, 2013

Nature Unaided Fails

Blessings Darlings!

I want a stang.  Y'all who are Pagans have seen stangs before - they are the 'staff with two or three points on the top'.  Here's a grand article about them  I have heard it can be used as a magical gateway, and want to try that out.  I have to admit I don't quite get how that would work, or why it would be different than using a 'regular' staff, or my staff with the antler on top. 

Today, a cold day with a seriously sharp wind, I moved from inertia into active on getting one.  Or co-creating one. 

We have a whole lot of Tree Of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) growing around here. It and I have decided that my stang will be of that wood.  While a import (and, let's face it, an invasive one at that) in the US it already has a mythos here.  Not only does it resist city pollution, but it's the tree that was the central image in the book/movie "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn".  And it grows fast, which is part of why it and I are working together on this.

Because while I WANT a stang out of this wood, that doesn't mean that the trees here have the formation I want ready.  Or at least ready somewhere that isn't 40 feet in the air.  So today nature and I started working together. 

I went out to the smaller of the two copses - the one my main altar and the huge holey stone is in - and started evaluating and conversing and building a relationship with the smaller trees.  I removed the side branch buds forming under 6 feet high on their stems. Once they get to be about 8 feet tall, I'm going to be pruning the main stem back about 2 feet, and letting two or three branches form and grow up, competing to be the main trunk.  Once those get to be a couple of feet tall, I will fell the tree and make the specialized staff.

You might have noticed that this is not an instant-gratification version of getting a magical tool.  No, this is a form a relationship, grow together, work together, THEN work to turn out a tool (and working to a freshly cut tree whose fresh sap can cause blisters).  This is taking time to build the right long-term relationship.  This is not 'shopping for a tool'.

It is the tree working on my nature, as much as me modifying nature.

This, my darlings, is the Great Work.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Witching Hour

Blessings Darlings!

There's a lot of references to "The Witching Hour" in popular culture.  Mundanely, it can refer to the time of day when things are at their worst - the rush time a job, the time of day when the newborn is ALWAYS cranky (that was 5:30 pm for the Spawn), that type of thing.  Sort of the inverse of Happy Hour, both in tenor and in the ability to have a drink during it.

The basic premise behind 'the witching hour' is that witches, ogres, demons, and all sorts of 'nasties' come out and play when all the adults circadian rhythms say 'sleep'.  And by 'adult', I really mean adult.  As in 27 or older, when the brain is fully developed. 

Here's what the adult body circadian rhythms are doing during the day

But, as you might guess, this post is going to look at that from the perspective of an adult Pagan/witch.  And when most folks talk about the witching hour for witches, they most often mean midnight (with a small number of people saying 3 am) being the 'best time' to do magic/rituals/whatever.

That's a nice theory.  It fits in very well with the lives of teens, who don't have the same circadian rhythms as adults, and usually feel the need to hide their witchcraft from their parents.

But the times that matter to most witchcraft are liminal times.  Liminal times are the 'times between'. The best known liminal time for most witches and pagans is Samhain - the Celtic 'New Year' that is celebrated on a day after the end of the old year and before the beginning of the new year.  Lliminal times go together with the liminal spaces we make when we cast a circle, as in the line so often used as part of circle casting "A place that is not a place, a time that is not a time, between the worlds and beyond".  A three-fold liminality!

What does liminality bring to the table?
What do you want it to bring to the table?  For me, in my worldview, it is a time when it is easier to manipulate energy.  Energy in these times is more fluid, not yet one thing or the next.  

These are the times I like to play.  

Everyday liminality
Every person has their liminal times. Your personal ones are the times each day when you are falling asleep and when you are waking up - you are in two worlds, and neither, at once.  We've all been there, probably within the past 12 - 24 hours.

Every day has it's liminal times.  Midnight is a modern version of a liminal time - until there were clocks, no one knew when it was midnight (at least without referencing the Big Dipper, humor me here).  More traditionally, the liminal times were and are the grey time before dawn and twilight.  Not yet the one state of night, nor the other state of day.  These are the times when traditional Witching was done.  

Every month liminality

The month, okay the LUNAR month has it's own liminality.  That occurs on the Dark Moon, the time after the moon has waned all the way, and before that first thin crescent of the Waxing/New Moon.  Just like Samhain is a day between the years, the Dark Moon is a few hours between the months.  For me, I use the 13 hours (one hour for the 13 lunar months of the year) before the astronomical New Moon.  

 Don't get me wrong
I don't limit my magic/ritual to liminal times.  For example, I cook at all times of day - I'm going to do my food magic every time I cook and not try to only cook at liminal times.  And as noted earlier, I create my own liminal time and space when I cast a circle.  But Ii don't blow off the every day or every month liminal times when I have some workings that I can do that don't have a set time frame.  Because I'm one of them Practical Pagans.

Frondly, Fern  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Charmed, I'm sure.

Blessings Darlings!

A recent question, not asked to me exactly, but posted online: "This is going to sound silly, but I love to have all my pieces with me, particularly the ones that function as jewelry, so my question is how do you pick which to wear? My stones help me regulate my emotions and I can't forsee [sic] what I'll need thoughtout [sic] the day. Any tips?"

Amulets probably go back almost as far as jewelry does.  Maybe farther, but my observations of children's brain development tells me that 'pretty' comes before 'symbolic' in their use of items, so that may be true of general human development as well.  And most humans being hoarders, the idea of 'the more the merrier' probably goes way back, too.  So humans have had to find ways to handle carrying around lots of amulets at once.

So humans made special necklaces and bracelets and sachets.

The idea of bracelets being used to hold special items is still common today.  They are called 'charm bracelets' - remember them?  Now the charms tend to be symbols of life events, like a charm representing each child born, or getting married.  But charging and then adding a wire-wrapped crystal or stone or tooth or whatever for a magical purpose is a natural way for a magic-user to move a charm bracelet back to, well, a bracelet of CHARMS. Of course, a this can be worn either as a wrist bracelet or an ankle bracelet and serve the same purpose. 

Creating your own necklace as a multi-purpose amulet is also a great option.  From delicate looking ones, using beads from a craft store (different sizes/colors of beads charge for different purposes) to the more old-school rustic ones, using, say, animal teeth with holes drilled into them for protection, along with (again) wire-wrapped stones and crystals (hard to drill holes in them yourself!) or plant seeds you've carefully made holes in and lacquered, or whatever materials, each type charged for its purpose.  Strung on nylon, leather, cotton, or your own hair. 

Even using charm bracelets and necklaces, you will still have times when you may want to use a sachet.  Sachets (which Byron Ballard, writer of "Staubs and Ditchwater" on Appalachian Rootworking assures me is to be pronounced 'sa-chet' here in the Appalachians, not "Sa-shay") are little cloth bags that you fill with 'stuff'.  The 'Stuff' can be herbs, roots, bits of stones/clay/crystals, whatever.  Sachets tend to be one-purpose items, the way I use them, and somewhat time-limited.  After the one, two, or four-week period I keep it with me, I will usually bury the entire bag, to return it to the earth. 

Do y'all need me to go into how to magically charge things?  My online group reading is making me think that a lot of folks haven't been taught that yet.  Please - let me know.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dream Worlds

Blessings, Darlings!

The more you track you dreams, the more you are likely to see familiar and repeating layouts and figures in your dream world.

I 'know' a person online who has been writing about her dream worlds for year. While it can make starting to read her blog difficult (in most places deep knowledge of what she's posted before really helps), there are times when story arcs begin and those places are where her blog is most accessible.

So, to enter a coherent and pretty well-mapped dream world of one individual, I give you Three Different Ways: at a place where the first three posts can stand alone, but the story arc comes back in a big way over the rest of the year.
 Frondly, Fern

Monday, May 13, 2013

When the Spawn's Away...

Blessings, Darlings!

Since the Spawn hasn't been getting many hours at work (they aren't getting many customers for day shift, so they call and tell him not to come in), he's covering not one but TWO other folks' shifts at work today.  So he's not home for dinner.  Which means ... the Chubby Hubby and I can have food he doesn't like without a care in the world!

Don't get me wrong - the Spawn likes most foods. But like all of us, there are a few he just doesn't care for.  Corned Beef, what we had tonight, is one of them.  And I bought 3 corned beef briskets at REALLY good prices around St. Patrick's day.  We had one of them last month, and I cooked the last two today.

And now that I've eaten dinner, I'm especially happy that I did.  Damn, they're good.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Casting a Quarter-Cast Circle

Blessings Darlings!

I'm going to steal my own writings here.  I explained circle casting in a Facebook group today, and I'm cutting and pasteing that here now.  Enjoy!

A circle is one way of creating sacred space for magic or ritual or healing or whatever purpose. The 'typical' circle is a quarter-cast one, using either the 4 directions or the 4 elements as part of the structure. Details, as always, will depend on the magical group or tradition one trains in. Generically - you can start in the East. Using your finger, or an athame, or a wand, you ask for the power of that direction or element to ward the circle and add it's power to your working, then visualize a blue (usually) etheric flame pouring from it. You visualize that line of flame going from that quarter to the next, as you walk to the South. Repeat, asking that direction or element. Repeat for the next two quarters, and after you invite the North or Earth, continue the line of blue flame to the east again, completing the circle. At that point, change the visualization of the blue flame from a circle around you in one dimension to an orb around you in three dimensions.

You can get fancier. You can have altars at each of the directions. You can draw pentagrams at each direction and open a gate for the power of that direction to enter thru'. Etc.

After you do the hoodoo you do in the circle, you take the circle down by thanking the powers you invited and bidding them farewell. Some do this in the reverse order that the powers were called in, some don't. Use the same tool you used to cast to 'suck up' the energy of the blue flame as you dismiss. And ground that tool afterwards (ground yourself if you used your hand/finger, put the top of the tool to the earth if you used a tool).

Here are the words to two sung quarter-castings by Isaac Bonewits

The Calling, with the blue flame visualization, really is it for a simple circle casting.

The only tool needed is Knife/athame, or wand, or pointed finger.

Again, you can get fancier.  And you're going to get better results the more intimate you are with the elements/elementals and the directions.  

Any questions?

Frondly, Fern 

Friday, April 26, 2013

End Of Month Eats

Blessings Darlings!

In a recent discussion in a Facebook group, the issue of getting thru' the end of the month on pasta or ramen came up.  And how boring living on those noodles are.


First of all, you KNOW my view of pasta vs ramen, right?  That pasta costs WAY less per serving, so go for that if you can?  But, onward to making noodles flavorful (and more nutritious) when broke!

First, of course, your herb/spice rack is your friend.  A shot of Sriracha sauce will kick up noodles.  So will garlic and onion - use the powdered form if that's what you have.  

Canned or frozen veggies can be added.  Don't have any?  Well, now that it's well into spring you can harvest what's growing wild.  Today, for instance, I'm adding the greens from wild garlic, for vitamins C, A, fiber, and flavor.  Here's a shot of wild garlic:

I'm also adding wild yellow dock.  This is more of a problem to add - it can be bitter, and the Chubby Hubby is a supertaster of bitter and HATES HATES HATES it.  So after I harvested it I chopped it, threw it in a bowl, and poured boiling water over it to blanch it.  I drained it after it soaked for a few minutes and had CH taste it - it met his approval.  For your viewing pleasure, a shot of yellow/curly dock: 

There are plenty of other plants growing right now that you can add.  Dandelions (again, bitter - you may have to soak/drain several times), plantain is coming up, creeping Charlie (nice peppery flavor), Corn creeper (boring flavor, but very nutritious), chickweed, etc.  Even the young leaves of clover can be used.

And let's not forget to use those pasta, as well as ramen, in soup.  Just add cheap cubes of boullion, and more wild greens (or canned veggies if you have them).  Leftovers, in broth, with noodles, is a grand meal.

So - eat well!

Frondly, Fern

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Snow Day

Blessings Darlings!

We have about  6 inches of snow, and it's still falling.  Spawn got an 8:00 call from work, telling him not to bother coming in, they wouldn't be getting enough business to justify paying him.

Therefore, it's an official day of Spring Cleaning in our household.  I'm mostly just doing the kitchen and breakfast nook myself.  Spawn is doing bathrooms, and since HIS knees work he's scrubbing the sides of the cabinets and outside of the fridge/oven/dishwasher.  Vacuuming and shampooing carpets is well under way.  Chubby Hubby is going thru' his accumulated papers, and cleaning the laboratory.  I'll clean many of the cobwebs, but one of those taller people will have to deal with some of them.

By the end of the day I expect we'll all be tired, but we will have a nice clean ready-for-summer-and-having-people-over house.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Magick for Beginners, by J.H. Brennan

Blessings Darlings - it's time for a Book Review!

I must have bought J. H. Brennan's "Magick for Beginners" a decade ago.  I don't recall WHY I bought it, I suppose it's because I know that Brennan did at least one book with Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki and I like her classes and books.  Earlier this month I decided it was long past time for me to read the book.

I did not enjoy the book.  I do not think it is a particularly good book for beginners at magick. I THINK he intended it as an intro to Ceremonial magick, but it's too disjointed to be that, and it has so little 'how to do' magick in it that a simple spellbook would be more practically useful.

The author says that he's starting readers off with 'low magick'.  However .... he actually starts readers off with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram - pure theurgy, not practical, low-magical thaumaturgy.  Then he moves into chapter after chapter on the 'clairs' - clairvoyance and such.  Those, in my world view, are not magical skills, rather they are psychic skills.  The one 'practical magical' working is to bring in $100 ... but he drags the reader thru' 'inadequate explanation and knowledge of the Kabala" to do it. 

Then it's off to how magic isn't really magic, it's psychology, and we head to theurgy for the rest of the book.  But not just any theurgy - it's Intro to Enochian, where one is supposed to do invocations in a language you don't know (and he doesn't always include translations).  Then ... off to assumption of Godforms, the Rose Cross ritual (with no explanation of any of the Divinities the reader is calling!), etc.

Nothing practical in it's thaumaturgy.  Nothing beginner in its theurgy.  I simply cannot recommend the book.

Oh, let me look at how long it would take to 'work' the book, given it's exercises.  Two weeks of doing the LBRP.  Tatvva work - no clear idea how long that is supposed to take. Several weeks of the color version of the Middle Pillar. Then add the 'fountain of light' for an unmentioned amount of time.  So - two months, THEN you spend a month on getting that $100.  Total - over three months on what he calls 'low magick', only one of which is actually doing low magick.

Onward to High Magick - several exercises of self-awareness given, no time frame for how long they will take.     Then a ritual to charge a Talisman, which requires the reader to prepare for two months (but anyone the reader gets to join in .... doesn't have to prepare that long?  Because it's really only about the reader?  very odd....), etc.  No preparatory times given for these rituals, nor any word on how long to take between them or if you should/could do them all in one day.  So, let's say another over three month period for theurgy. 

Bah.  And Humbug.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Inducing Sleep

Blessings Darlings!

Among the many and varied things I've taken on lately, I'm finally getting around to something I should have done decades ago - programming myself to fall asleep on cue.  I often have issues with insomnia (both type - delay in falling asleep and waking in the middle of the night and being unable to fall asleep again easily).  Thus, the need to program myself.

The plan is to put in place a two-part program.  One part is a specific physical relaxation technique (and I've had to pick one I don't use for other purposes, like for astral projection preparations or other things); the other part is to pick/create a mantra to repeat just for falling asleep.

I'm still working on the mantra part.  I DID hit one of the 'quotations' websites to select a bunch of quotes that might work (some with some adjustment) as the mantra.  The quotes I'll be selecting from are:

So, next time you see someone sleeping, make believe you're in a science fiction movie. And whisper, 'The creature is regenerating itself.”  George Carlin, Brain Droppings

“Sleep is my lover now, my forgetting, my opiate, my oblivion.”
― Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife

“Sleep my little baby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you wake you'll see the world
If I'm not mistaken...

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.”
― Akira Kurosawa

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”
― Homer, The Odyssey

“I crave the sweet surrender of sleep and my dreams' uncensored communication: no tiresome small talk, sucking up to impress, or tiptoeing around charged topics. Dreams are the naked truth; get ready for it.”
― Judith Orloff

“Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously.”
― Jean-Pierre Barral

The message of the lullaby is that it’s okay to dim the eyes for a time, to lose sight of yourself as you sleep and as you grow: if you drift, it says, you’ll drift ashore: if you fall, you will fall into place.”
― Kevin Brockmeier

“I breathe slowly and deeply. I make my eyes still under eyelids, I make my mind still, and soon, Sleep, seeing a perfect reproduction of himself, comes to be united with his facsimile.”
― Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife

 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled,’ she said. ‘Tonight you shall sleep in peace.’
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“We sleep, allowing gravity to hold us, allowing Earth- our larger body- to recalibrate our neurons, composting the keen encounters of our waking hours (the tensions and terrors of our individual days), stirring them back, as dreams, into the sleeping substance of our muscles. We give ourselves over to the influence of the breathing earth. Sleep is the shadow of the earth as it seeps into our skin and spreads throughout our limbs, dissolving our individual will into the thousand and one selves that compose it- cells, tissues, and organs taking their prime directives now from gravity and the wind- as residual bits of sunlight, caught in the long tangle of nerves, wander the drifting landscape of our earth-borne bodies like deer moving across the forested valleys.”
― David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

“And then, despite all these concerns, Arnette felt her mind begin to loosen, the images of the day unwinding inside her like a spool of thread, pulling her down into sleep.”
― Justin Cronin, The Passage

“Sleep is closing your eyes and trusting you will heal.”
― Danielle Barone, Releasing A Toxic Person

“Whatever it may bring, I will live by my own policies, I will sleep with a clear conscience, I will sleep in peace.”
― Sinead O'Conner

 She falls asleep like someone yielding to the gentle tug of a warm tide, and floats with confidence till morning.
― Julian Barnes, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters

 He was sleepy. He felt sleep coming. He curled up under the blanket and went to sleep.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Nick Adams Stories

I like so many of the quotes!  But, by the end of the day, I shall decide on one and start programming myself tonight.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, March 15, 2013


Blessings Darlings!

So, I'm slowly getting better.  But now the Chubby Hubby is ill.  At least it got him after we made some progress on consulting projects in the business, and we have enough money to get thru' the the next month.  I'm quite fond of being able to pay the rent and utilities and such you know.  And our grocery spending will only be $100 below food stamp levels.  Whoo hoo!

I even made it to the stores for the 'big monthly shopping trip' yesterday.  I wasn't able to buy everything I'd have liked to (you can check my ideal monthly shopping list here) but I also hit the corned beef and beer on sale for St. Paddy's day and got wine to cook with, all for my $100.  I'm really low on sugar, but, let's face it, until I'm better I'm not likely to bake.  I've even been relying on store-bought cheap styrofoam bread since getting sick.

Being able to rely on the pantry while sick is of course making life easier.  We rely on apple juice when sick - it's sort of a family tradition.  When the Spawn started this round of illness I grabbed another bottle as insurance, even tho' we already had bottle here.  We're opening that bottle today for the Chubby Hubby.  The Spawn, who is working a 12-hour double shift today, won't have to drag his sorry butt to the grocery store after work to help his Dad out. 

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Extra Meditation

Blessings Darlings!

One of the things about being sick is that, having cut out as much physical activity as I could from my life (the better to rest and heal - being unable to breathe is exhausting!), I have more time to meditate.  So my daily meditation has risen from once a day to 3 times a day.  I increased the meditation as soon as I got sick, so by the middle of this week - when I had two regularly-scheduled workings to do (Commune With Divinity and a Coven Crystal Charging) I was in a particularly good space to do them.  I may have gotten past my problems binding with the new crystal, and I got a moon cycle (at least!) worth of tasks from the Stag.

And goodness knows what the wind is blowing in and out today, and for the rest of the month of March!

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Exercise While Sick

Blessings Darlings!

I'm not over the pneumonia yet, not by a long shot.  But I'm breathing much more easily.

So I started back with light exercise today.  Upper body weights, using the shoulder/arm muscles I keep getting tendonitis in.  I did this because I really really need to keep those muscles in play now that they aren't hurting on a daily basis.  I used the lightest weights I have, and not many reps, and only 3 sets.

Felt GREAT.  But after a week on the couch ... it was absolutely all I could do without having to take breaks.

Maybe Friday I'll be able to do a moderate bike workout!

Frondly, Fern

Monday, March 11, 2013


Blessings Darlings!

So, yeah, I have pneumonia.  They gave me an impressive assortment of drugs for it on Saturday, and I'm getting closer to feeling functional now that there is more oxygen in my bloodstream.

Uh ... about those drugs ...  They gave me three types of steroids and an antibiotic.  The steroids - one long-acting/slower onset one by pill, one nasal spray for my sinus', one fast inhaler for my lungs - are aimed at opening my airways so I can breathe.  And the fast ones HAVE worked fast.  There was improvement within 6 hours.  But HOW do steroids do it?  Wait for it .... wait for it .... wait for it ....

They do it by inhibiting my body's ability to fight infection.  So I'm breathing better, and the antibiotic is doing it's part about the infection, but my body is no longer as fully involved in the battle. 

I'm seeing if I can stop the fast-acting ones today, as per the Dr. instructions, and take the pills two more days.  The antibiotic I get to take for 7 more days.  Oh, and remember, there's no alcohol allowed while on antibiotics, because the liver, in the face of both alcohol and antibiotics, quickly breaks down and excretes antibiotics.  So I can't take my elder extract while on the antibiotic even after the steroid phase ends.

Tis a mad, mad world.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Double yuck

Pneumonia. I expect I'll be taking at least a few more days off.....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Sick. Crabby. Coughing. Whining.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Too Windy to be Green

Blessings Darlings!

The wind is killing me today.  I'm one of those traditional types who prefers to do laundry on Mondays ... and dry it on the line.  But in winter/early spring, I can only get one load dry on the line on a GOOD day.  So I end up doing laundry pretty much every available day of the week!

So I hung today's laundry - linens.  Big top and bottom sheets, which catch the wind.  And boy is there wind today!  I had to come in to the house to put gloves on, because the wind chill while handling wet laundry was killing me.  In the 2 hours since I hung the laundry I've been out there twice to recapture what has blown off the line (and I put a LOT of clothes pins on each piece) and re-hang them.

And the wind hasn't just been screwing around with me on that.  The newspapers and cardboard I used last week to help smother grass in the area I plan to garden in have had their protective heavy mulch blown off - I've been chasing after them in my 3 acre yard (and I think I see some in my neighbor's yard as well). 

The weather folks promise that the wind will die tonight ... if I make it that long.  And if we get the promised snow storm on Wednesday, that will help settle the garden, but with rain starting on Tuesday and the storm on Wednesday, those are at least two more days I can't hang laundry. 

I'm going to get a nice HOT cup of tea now.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tomato Talk

Blessings Darlings!

I've been looking at my tomato planting options today.  I'm not 100% happy with the variety of seeds I bought.  Unless otherwise noted, all these tomatoes are open pollinated, tho' not all are considered 'heritage'.

I bought Beef Steak tomatoes - a GREAT large fresh-eating tomato.  I will happily use them for that.  But they aren't a great variety for canning and drying, as the seeds/goo are spread thru' the tomato and not in a few large, easy-to-emply cavities. 

The selection of cheap seeds also had Mortgage Lifter tomatoesI don't want those - they are way too large to can easily, and are low acid tomatoes so they can't be water-bath canned unless you add vinegar. These were developed in southern West Virginia, which has a pretty significantly different climate/growing season than we do here in northern West Virginia.

Often I grow Roma tomatoes, also known as Italian tomatoes.  They are great for canning, drying, and sauces, with thick flesh and easy to remove seeds/goo. They are also a determinant variety, unlike the previously listed tomatoes, which means that all the fruit on the plant ripens at about the same time, rather than continuously producing over the season - this is one of the things that makes them great for canning. OTOH, their flesh is grainy and their taste peaks when cooked, so they aren't great for fresh use. These were developed close to where I used to live - at the Agricultural Research Station in Beltsville, Maryland (same place they developed modern big-breasted turkeys!).

Rutgers is another of my go-to tomatoes.  Developed at, yes, Rutgers University in New Jersey, they were one of the first Wide Spread Industrial Farming tomatoes.  Meaty without being grainy, thick-skinned for their time (thin skinned for our time!) for less problems when shipping, good flavor, easy to can, nice size for canning at about 8 ounces each, and determinant. 

Juliet tomatoes are a variety I'm fond of - but, alas, are a hybid. They are a large grape tomato - I'd call them between grape tomatoes and Roma tomatoes in shape and features.  Nice flavor.  Great for drying. 

Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes - what a great taste!  But how easily they split! And another hybrid.

What I'm going to do is use the Beefsteaks, and also see if I can get my existing (but old) Rutgers seeds to sprout.  If not, I'll see if I can get more of them or some Roma seeds, even if I have to pay Burpee prices for one packet. 

What are your tomato considerations, and favorite types to grow?

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Great Depression Story

Blessings Darlings!

Times were tough back in the Depression.  They were especially tough if your father was an alcoholic who had been fired from his job as an insurance salesman and your mother was abusive, and you were still in high school.

This was the situation my Mother In Law was in. 

As a result, they somehow ended up on some rural farmland during the Depression.  I don't know if they owned the land, how much land there was, or where in Illinois the land was.  It was not located 'in town', or walking distance from the high school.

They made it thru', obviously, or she'd not have married and had a son that I ended up marrying. 

They grew stuff and had a farm stand.  I suppose they grew all sorts of things - but what she says got them by were two main crops:  Sorghum, which was pressed for sweetener; and Kentucky Wonder pole beans.  Perhaps these were their 'cash crops', while most other things they grew they consumed and sold only extras.

But while what they raised 'got them by', they didn't provide enough for her to go to high school.  She left home (moved out permanently? during the school year? During the school week only?) to live with the widow who ran the general store in town, working for her after school, to get thru' high school.  That way she could get to school by walking and earned enough cash to pay for books/supplies and clothes and such.

This year, the first growing season after my Mother In Law has passed on, I'm going to grow my first Kentucky Wonder beans, in her honor.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spring seeds

Blessings Darlings!

Yesterday I spent in the garden - today we have sleet and cold rain.  Pretty typical!

In today's part of "Quest for Vegetable Seeds", I was able to get to two different 'Dollar Stores'.  One I knew had seeds in (the Spawn had checked the day before, and reported 1 - they were in and 2 - they were 3 packets for a dollar) and one that I figured would have them as well.  Checking store #2 first turned out to be a good idea, as the seeds there were 4 packets for a dollar.  I got all the seeds they had that I wanted, then headed to the other store for anything else I could find.

So, for the sum of $6.50, I have two types of lettuce, three varieties of peppers, two types of summer squash, two types of hard/winter squash (sure wish any of 'em had had hubbard, but no), two types of radishes, two types of peas, cabbage, beets, turnips, cucumbers, beefsteak tomatoes, pole beans, and carrots.

I already have stevia, rosemary, oregano, thyme, ginger, turmeric, some green onions, one or two plants of Jerusalem artichokes, basil, purple sweet potatoes, lettuce, and turnips growing in the house for the winter.

I'll need some potatoes, some bulk beans, more onion sets, spinach seeds, etc.  I'd love to find peppers to make my own Paprika - I'd even be willing to smoke them. 

How's your garden planning going?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, February 25, 2013

The First Aches of Spring

Blessings Darlings!

I started working in the garden today.  I have to move fast so I can get early spring crops in, well, in early spring.  I didn't finished putting mulch down to smother the grass last fall, so I have to do it now.  Also, at least part of the garden should be covered in plastic so the earth can warm faster to be ready for the spring crops.

Seeds are on sale, for 50 cents a package, at Aldi this week.  I'll also see if they are available at a dollar store type place around here for less. 

What I started doing today was covering more of the garden with a layer of news paper topped with dead grass today.  The grass doesn't blow away in our wind, while the news papers DO blow away if not covered.  I used up one full 'book box (1.5 cubic feet) of news paper.  I used the grass that had grown up at the fence line last year, and had died back over winter - thus saving me having to use the little bit of pricey straw/hay that I still have. 

With what I got done today, about 2/3 of the garden is covered.  The remaining 1/3, of course, is where the grass is tallest and it takes more news papers and heavier amounts of dead grass/hay/straw to cover it.  The 2/3 done also needs some spots dealt with where grasses have managed to push thru' the news papers.

Where does a cheapie like me get news papers?  Most of mine are free - I got a free subscription to the Wall Street Journal!  We also do subscribe to one news paper, for local food ads and coupons.

I didn't work in the garden ALL that long, since I only used up that one box of news papers.  But, holy cow, am I every achy!  My legs say I was doing a lot of stooping, my shoulders and arms are talking about me 'harvesting' the dead grasses by hand.

But it has to be done - it's about 2 weeks 'till potatoes can be planted, and spinach and turnips and beets and such should be going in soon as well.

Good eats!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Blessings Darlings!

Have you noticed that the 'end of money' EOM keeps coming earlier and earlier compared to the "end of month" EOM?  Here, where we're supposed to get 2 paychecks a month, we've only gotten 2 1/3 since November 1.  That's ONE THIRD of our usual/budgeted for income for the last 3 1/2 months.  We're hurting.  Our emergency fund is dry.  We're running really really late in paying some bills.  We've even taken withdrawals from the Chubby Hubby's IRA!

Normally, this would be mitigated at least as far as our grocery money by our son paying 1/4 of his income for buying groceries, but his hours have been cut drastically at work.  Partly because they cut every one's hours, partly because the restaurant he works for has had a cut in customers due to Lent, partly because even before Lent the 'labor costs' at the restaurant were higher than they wanted. They can't cut cooks, they can't cut salaried management, servers get paid less than hosts so cutting them isn't as 'useful (tho' they HAVE sent them home as well), so the Host gets sent home and management seats customers and handles the cash register.

AND - our electric provider estimates our bill most months.  The last bill was estimated, and we paid about half of it.  But they estimated LOW, even by normal usage standards - and the month was COLD COLD COLD so our electric usage for heat was HIGH HIGH HIGH.  We're going to get slapped by a particularly high electric bill next month, on top of what we already owe them.

So, here it's all about trying to stretch what we already have as far as we can.  Car tires are a bit over-filled to increase MPG.  My afternoons are spent sitting under blankets on the couch - not watching TV, but sewing patches on pants in a 60 degree house.  The water supplies to the two toilets that run on have been shut off.  My lunches have been featuring soup and small potatoes/sweet potatoes, leftover veggies, and small sprinkles of cheese, and the Chubby Hubby's lunches are the same soup plus half a sandwich of cheap lunch meat (on home-made bread). The only meat bought each month that isn't 'reduced for quick sale' is one 10 pound bag of chicken leg quarters for $7.90 total. 

One good thing - the Chubby Hubby has finally started to do some needed household repairs, which help make things more efficient around here.  Like - the cold water filter into the washer is now fixed!  I no longer have to carry buckets of cold water from the kitchen to the laundry room to wash clothes.  Because you KNOW I'm not using hot water for my laundry and rinses!  He also spliced a new plug on to the old iron, so it works for ALL of us.  For the past few months I was the only one who could bend the cord 'just so', which allowed some broken wires ends to meet.  He used a cord we had salvaged off something else, years ago, to replace the old plug, so it only cost him time/effort. 

This next weekend we'll be working on the running-on toilets.  I'm hoping we won't have to buy parts for them, just clean calcium and rust deposits off the inside of the tanks and flappers. 

The Spawn has even stopped buying his occasional fast food, instead coming home and eating instead.  I may have to keep some pizza dough half-baked baked, or make him some bagels, so he can whip up home-made pizza fast.

What things are you doing to keep from having to spend money?  Share your ideas here or ....

Have I mentioned that I started a Frugal group on Facebook?  You can join that and share your ideas there, too!  It's at

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Healthy Eating

Blessings Darlings!

So it's noon, and so far I've eaten the way .... sigh .... the way I feel I should be eating all the time.  Brunch was one small left over cubed baked potato, leftover home-canned green beans, diced onion and red pepper, all topped with a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella, nuked to heat it/melt the cheese.

Cheap, filling, two servings of veggies.  I dunno if I can count the tater as a veggie or not - it's certainly not a grain!  So I'm on my way trying to get 9 servings of fruits/veggies for the day.


Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dang Entropy!

Blessings Darlings!

We use our toaster oven a heck of a lot.  Altho' it is not at all insulated, we figure that by heating the smaller space for small baking jobs we save energy and money.

No, I've not measured the electric use, I'm making a total SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) here.

About a week ago the toaster oven stopped being reliable.  We started having to hold one of the dials in place for it to work.  As the week went on, even holding the dang dial in place wasn't always working.  That is, it NEVER worked for me, but WOULD work for the chubby hubby.  Which seemed almost fair - we had just fixed a problem with the iron (a loose connection within the plug) that only behaved if I arranged the cord, but not if anyone else plugged it in).

An appliance that I use a lot that doesn't work for me is NOT acceptable.  An appliance that requires my husband to hold a dial in place to make his toast, meaning he can't scramble his eggs while the toast toasts, didn't work for him, either.  So today he worked on a DIY repair of it.

You'd think it wouldn't be too hard - maybe the dial had to be removed and some gunk cleaned from under it or something.  But noooooooooooooo.  The dial won't come off.  Trying to take the beast apart to get at it from inside failed - the thing is a miserable design, a rats nest that requires that you take apart multiple not LOGICALLY related interwoven parts to get to any other part.  After 2 hours he gave up.  Dammit, this one isn't even over 6 years old!

I'm going to buy a new toaster oven.  I'm debating between a no-name one at Walmart for about $25 and a Black and Decker at Target for about $40, but I'll also look at the Sunday ad inserts before deciding.

Anyone have recommendations on what brands you like ... or hate?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hoping for Mud Season

Blessings, Darlings!

I mentioned "mud season" in last week's Imbolc post.  For those of you with lawns rather than pasture areas, let me explain this a bit.  Mud is what you get when you combine pastures with animals (especially hooved animals) with rain.  Mud season is when you have a spring with normal rains.

Unfortunately, most of the US (and a goodly part of the rest of the world) hasn't been having normal mud seasons.  The serious drought continues across the US. Worldwide, humans used more wheat than we harvested (and in the the US, most of the wheat is winter wheat, which relies on spring rains, rather than winter wheat which relies on summer rains).

While the area I'm in isn't having a current drought problem, my area isn't the breadbasket of the nation/world.  That blighted area of the Great Plains IS that breadbasket.  This has been going on for almost a year, and the weather pattern does not seem to be changing at all.

Rains.  Long and slow and renewing.  We needs it.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, February 8, 2013


Blessings Darlings!

Being as I'm even more of a hermit than my friend Suz is, I don't get out  much.  But today I found myself driving off to the Big City on business, and I ran smack dab into Imbolg. 

At first it was a subtle thing.  The bare trees of winter no longer seemed as harsh.  Their outlines had softened with the faint beginnings of swollen buds.

Then came the official in-my-face sign:  LAMBS!  Very young lambs, already rather coated in the signs of Mud Season.

As I've mentioned before, I don't personally celebrate the High Days based on either the calender or astrological timing, I do it by local herding and agricultural signs.  These are the signs of Imbolg in my area.

So, it's official.  Imbolg has arrived.  Bridget - come in, come in, and welcome!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Good News!

Blessings Darlings!

We just got off the phone with the State of West Virginia .... and discovered if the only employees of a business are the owners they don't have to pay unemployment insurance. 


Instead of having yet another bill we're late on, we don't have a bill at all.  We assumed we had made a mistake, and that we were going to be found out and in BIG TROUBLE.  But ... no mistake.  No trouble.


Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Cup of Tea

Blessings Darlings!

My Mother was one of eight children.  Her parents, and about half of her siblings, were immigrants to the US.  They did well, but let's face it - raising eight children takes a chunk of money, especially when 5 of them are hungry boys (trust me, the girls were taught to not take seconds unless the boys had eaten their fill).

Forward several decades.  Friday night, Shabbos dinner, in the suburbs.  One of Mom's sisters and 4 of her brothers (and their assorted still-living-at-home family members) are at our place for dinner. Everyone has eaten, the table cleared of dinner and now dessert plates, coffee/tea cups, and dessert have replaced the potatoes and brisket.  A few people have coffee with their dessert, but most have tea. 

How many tea bags get used?

Wait for it ... wait for it ....

At most, two tea bags are used.  Usually just one.

Because everyone STILL barely dunks the tea bag in their hot water long enough to color the water, then passes it to someone else who wants tea.

Now, I love me some tea, and prefer it a bit on the strong side.  But with money tight, strong tea is not something I get to have now.  I need to make that package of 100 Earl Grey tea bags I got for Yule last a year.  So I'm doing the barely dunking thing, and now using each bag for 3 cups of hot tea.

I'll be making up a batch of copycat Constant Comment tea soon, too, since I LOVE that for iced tea.  OTOH, I drink that far more in summer than in winter.

Remember, tea is full of healthy flavonoids and such, so are almost health food.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


 Blessings Darlings!  This is the conclusion of the story of what we've been up to.


Mother In Law did well for a while with rehab and such.  Then ... things started to go south.  And she broke the same bone again.  She had VERY severe osteoporosis - she'd spent most of the past 5 years seated.  Very little walking, no exercise.  Her bones were pretty much like chalk.  So right below the metal plates, the bone broke again. 

Back to the hospital.  Back to deciding on surgery.  Again, yes on surgery because it was the best way to prevent bed sores and pain.  But she was exceedingly bruised, and the blood thinners were complicating everything.  Surgery was being scheduled and then delayed daily, waiting for the blood thinners to leave her system.

Unfortunately, she kept sinking while awaiting surgery.  Chelsea kept visiting, and gave us reports.  In early January she was barely conscious, then she was not conscious. It was pretty clear that she'd be passing the weekend of January 4th, but like many people .... at some level she knew when family was around her and she felt it was rude to leave when she had visitors.  On January 5, as Chelsea and her boyfriend were on the road back home after spending most of the weekend with her, she passed away.


Well, there isn't much to say about that.  It's rough.


So, it's about 3.5 weeks after Norma died.  We are still waiting for the death certificate, so we can cancel the Medicaid contact, and officially tell Social Security and give Chelsea the death benefit (she covered the cremation expenses) (and, what a shock, her boyfriend wants us to NOT tell SS so her checks will keep coming - no, of course we're not going to participate in fraud), and so we can file the life insurance policy, and file the will.  The H is executor of the estate.  But we'll need to contact yet another lawyer at random for that. 

Oh, at least the lawyer for the guardianship returned most of the money we gave him, only charging for the initial meeting .... which was plenty pricey, if you ask me.  Tho' I know you didn't ask me.

We were lucky - we all had a good idea what my MIL would have wanted during most of this.  She had a living will.  She had talked at length to Chelsea about funeral stuff, and CH and I agreed on what Chelsea remembered. 

The boyfriend is .... expecting the family to help him pay for the house expenses.  We fully expect to pay off the roofer for the new roof, and to pay taxes on the house, but legally the bf is required to keep the house up and pay all living-related bills.  Again, we don't know if he can afford to.  Our focus is to do what is right, and let him do as he will.


At any rate, this is what I've been up to while I've been away.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Good stuff, & Legal stuff

Blessings, Darlings!  Here's part 2 of "What has Fern & Family been up to, since she clearly wasn't HERE".


Here, we have the POA/medical that was missing, but no medical folks really cared.  It was enough that my husband was closest kin, and that she was clearly suffering from advanced Alzheimer's.  The guardianship was .... well, we'd given the lawyer cash but not signed the agreement yet. 

But what about paying her bills, medical and otherwise, if the medigap insurance wasn't reinstated?  Would the house have to be sold to get down to medicare asset levels?  The bank wouldn't give us info on her account balances and CDs until we had guardianship.

And .... a few years back, well into her dementia, she had changed her will, so that her boyfriend gets to stay in the house until his death. Which we're not sure he'll be able to afford to keep up.  Did the lawyer know she had dementia? Who knows?

Did she change who gets her life insurance?  Dunno that, either.


During all of this, there was one immensely bright spot.  Bob and I got in contact with our niece, Chelsea (Bob's sister's daughter).  She lives about 100 miles from my MIL (unlike our east-coast to mid-west distance) and is smart and knowledgeable and had experience in guardianship issues, and has friends who are lawyers and know lawyers in the state my MIL was in.  AND she's a foodie.  She and her boyfriend and the CH got together in my MIL's city to work together on all the issues and go thru' my MIL's papers.

Getting back in touch with her again was a wonderful thing.  We should have done it years ago.

Also, H managed to get the medigap insurance thru' her pension reinstated, after the boyfriend and we paid the back-do amount.  Not only that, but it was reinstated back to the time it was cancelled, so all broken hip related costs would be covered.  But this was cleared up after she'd been moved to the other nursing home.

Stay tuned for the next urgent but anything but exciting episode!

Frondly, Fern