Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Obligatory Sandy Post

Blessings Darlings!

Hurricane Sandy has just about finished having her way with my area now.  Howling winds, torrential rains, 5 leaks in the house, etc.  We didn't lose power, in fact very few in our county have lost power - probably because the derecho took down most of the at-risk trees at the end of June! 

Being a prepper, I didn't have to hit the store for supplies.  I did hit the stores before the storm because the Spawn wanted to make lasagna so he gave me $ and a shopping list.  Most of the other carts had one or two cases of bottled water and other supplies each. Which was a surprise .... Spawn had mentioned that when he hit Walmart for catfood the place was sold out of water.  I guess the supermarket had a new supply come in.  Cases of water being easy to spot in carts I notice them, but didn't feel the need to examine carts closely to see what else folks were getting at the last minute.  There was no run on ricotta, crushed tomatoes, mozarella, etc. 

Just because I didn't 'shop for the storm' doesn't mean that I didn't do some preparing over the weekend.  I did all the laundry - even changing linens a day early.  I filled two 2-gallon buckets with water for dishwashing if power went out.  I worked on the back log of ironing.  I made sure all the carpets were vacuumed.  All cell phones and computers were charged.  I made sure that the camping stove and some fuel were in the house, not the detached garage.  I moved all loose stuff from around the house into the garages.  I made and bagged ice and filled the freezer. The usual stuff before storms.

The leaks were surprises, even tho' all were on the windward side.  Not that I'm saying that McMansions are well built - I'm TOTALLY not saying that.  First the frame around the front door - from bad construction of the tiny ... 'not porch' over the front door. Then a leak in the garage - bad intersection of the side of house with the 'bump' on the first floor to make it a two car garage.  Then the leak by the window frame facing the wind.  Then a second leak in the garage.  THEN the leak in the foundation, soaking part of the carpeting in the finished basement, causing wet spots in the drywall, putting two book shelves full of books and software at risk ... because there wasn't proper drainage around the house - the hill drains towards the house and construction hadn't included a ditch to divert the water.

Those extra empty frosting buckets from Walmart were put to use, and I preventing more serious damage in the basement by using the carpet shampooer to suck up the water from the carpeting ... every one hour at first, then every two hours, then every 3 as the storm passed.  If we had lost power I'd have used every dang towel in the house, and possibly have pulled up the carpeting and padding to protect it.

Now that things are calmer, I'm going to haul bones out of the freezer and start some more stock.  It's gotten cold out and I want to make soup.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

The other day, in "The Life You Save", I pointed out how a volunteer firefighter was useless in the face of an emergency.  She's no longer my problem now that I don't work with her.  My problem is that the Chubby Hubby is useless in most emergencies!

Take that one Christmas.  At 5:30 that cold morning we were awakened to the sight of a car on fire across the street.  Turned out that an arsonist had lit 4 cars in our city and the close by village, and one was across the street from us.  My husband stood at the window in his tighty whities staring at the fire.  I called 911, and got dressed.  He did eventually dress and join me and the neighbors outside as we did what we could with fire extinguishers (useless) and moved nearby cars.

Or take the day the Spawn was stung by a bee at school.  I was working outside the home at the time, so it must have been towards the end of grammar school, say 5th grade.  Sting was by eye, it was near the end of the day - they removed stinger and had CH pick Spawn up.  CH called me in a panic about what to do.  Okay, CH, here's what you do:  give him a dose of Benadryl, give him some ice in a washcloth for the eye, if he starts swelling up and/or has trouble breathing go to the ER, and if you're still nervous call the pediatrician for more info.  And I told my boss I needed to leave for a family emergency - because my husband was melting down over the Spawn's bee sting.  For the record, Spawn had been stung before, and has no known allergy to bee stings.  I got home in time to get the return phone call from the Dr's office.  The nurse agreed with all I'd told the CH. 

There was the recent incident when he got lightheaded the day after his abcessed tooth was removed and he was on HEAPS of antibiotics ... but you get the picture.

The time *I* am the one ill or injured I'm going to be in a heap of trouble, because he won't be useful.  When I had a year of stomach trouble, he kept pushing me to have milk 'to settle my stomach'.  It turned out I was lactose intolerant, FFS.


Frondly, Fern

Monday, October 22, 2012

Who Controls You?

Blessings Darlings!

So you say that you are a Witch, or Wiccan, or some other form of Magic User.  You Create Change in Conformity to Will (a phrase that goes back to, gasp, Aleister Crowley).  Or so you say .....

If you and your Will are so tight, then why can perfect strangers push your buttons and get reactions from you that cause the clerk in the store you're in to have to try to calm you down?  If you can't control yourself, and be in charge of your anger/reactions so you can choose how you act, how do you expect to control the Universe, or even do a working to help you in some smaller way?

Get it together.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, October 19, 2012

Man Down!

Blessings Darlings!

I have a VERY good first aid kit.  Full boxes of face masks and bandages and other supplies, full bottles of alcohol and such, lots of pressure wraps, 1st aid book, arm slings, eye patches, etc.

Yesterday it came into use.

I was outside hanging laundry. The Chubby Hubby decided he wanted breakfast, came up to the kitchen to pour a bowl of cereal/etc.  Discovering he was too low on cereal for a full bowl, he headed down to my office to grab a fresh box of cereal. Box in hand, he hurried back upstairs ...

and tripped on the stairs.  Landing hard and at an awkward position on his right leg - momentum making that awkward knee/leg alignment taking even more of an impact than his already too-substantial weight.  Pain ensued.

I came back in at this point, finding him gasping in pain.  Quick evaluation - whatever it is, we don't have a car to get it X-rayed right now. He didn't hear a pop (he wouldn't have, even if there WAS on, his hearing rather sucks), nor did he feel a pop (better evidence than his hearing).  RICE is clearly called for - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.  He agreed to only some of that.  He can't work in the lab with Elevation, but I can be his servant for getting things (rest), I grabbed compression wraps from the 1st aid kit and snugly wrapped the knee (compression), and I filled a bag with crushed ice and tied it on to his knee.  And he grabbed some NSAIDs.

The compression made an IMMEDIATE difference in how the knee felt when moved.  And the knee didn't hurt when NOT being moved or when NOT bent.  He also didn't feel anything inside 'rubbing oddly' or 'rolling around' when moving.

Today the knee is not as painful when bent.  He's still avoiding bending it, it's been re-wrapped for compression after his shower, etc.  There is no 'unsteadiness' in walking on it when unwrapped.  So he PROBABLY didn't tear anything.

It seems to me that being able to immediately compression wrap the knee made a huge difference.   It didn't swell, complicating anything.  It made the CH feel better - always a good thing.  I didn't have the stress of knowing what to do but NOT having the supplies on hand, nor a car to get the supplies.  Biking or walking to the store could have been done, but being cash-strapped just now buying the supplies would have been another stress.

Also, I just got off of chat with NARIC, the National Rehabilitation Information Center.  They are a not-very-well-known font of information and referrals.  I only know about them because some of folks there are friends of mine. If you need info on ANY sort of rehab issues, they are the folks to ask. 

Clearly this 'event' is not yet over.  But at least it seems to be moving in the right direction.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Omen or not?

Blessings Darlings!

Neatly bucketed black walnuts, now scattered over the deck.
Very cute garter snake sunning itself on the back step.
Dreams for a week all about the same area of Chicago.
Barking foxes every night at 11. 

Are any of them omens?  How would you know?

None of them are actually 'magically significant' for my life, as it turns out. Black walnuts scattered? Squirrel! Garter snake sunning? It's fall, but that was before the first frost - they are sunning themselves EVERYWHERE, lots of them run over on the roads. Barking foxes? they have a den in the larger copse by the house, and there's another under the big altar in the wooded area on the East of the house. Dreams about Chicago? That's my guilty conscience telling me to call my Mother more often.

Know what's normal for your area, and what's not.  Only the unusual should be looked at as an omen at all.  Certainly that the daughter of a Jewish mother is feeling guilty is NOT unusual. 

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

For discussion purposes I 'divide' magic into two broad categories, thaumaturgy and theurgy, the thaumaturgy being measurable 'miracle working/money drawing/physical healing/etc' and theurgy being "spiritual development work".

I've posted some about those things before, like here, and here, and here, and here.

Now, probably everyone agrees that the theurgical magic you do is tied to you.  Cuz who else would it be tied to?  I'm also assuming that you probably use your magical tools to do this magic when use of them is appropriate.

It has come to my attention that some folks don't think that 'everyday' magic you do is also tied to you.  As in "Blood anoited [sic] tools binds magic to you and your bloodline. Not wise if you plan on to use the tool for basic everyday spells."  This was a response I got on the Witchcraft, Paganism, and Wiccan page on FaceBook.  I'd link you, but, due to people posting complaints about the regular plagiarism there, posting by all but the admins is now closed so getting at MY post is impossible. 

Darlings, your tools are ' yours' because you and then are bonded together.  that's a fundamental part of your being able to use them fully.  If you are REALLY bonded to, say, Wand, then you can use your finger and not a pretty anointed with ANYthing stick. And, guess what - your flesh, blood, and bone makes up that finger.

ALL MAGIC YOU DO IS TIED BACK TO YOU. That's how we trace back hexes to who they came from.  That's how the "Law of Return" works, to those who believe in that.  That's how the 'three fold law' works for those who believe in that.  That's how your senses work, for that matter - that tree I'm looking at is sending things that ENTER MY EYE so I can see it.

If you think you can duck being tied to your magic by NOT being 'blood tied' to your tools, you are fooling yourself.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Blessings Darlings!

Starting last year, the fall hype about Pumpkin Spice Lattes got my attention.  The hype is greater this year, and that 'rumor of unknown origin' that Starbucks 'is running out of' the stuff made my inner marketer smirk.  Ah, ADDED urgency - not just the limited time it's available, but now limited amounts!  Everyone to Starbucks, NOW!

Now, pumpkin spice lattes DO taste good.  But why would I buy one?  That has GOT to be one of the easiest things to make at home.  So today I brewed a pot of it.  On top of my usual dark grounds I added the spices.  While it brewed I figured the costs, because I'm like that.

The 24 ounces of coffee, with another 4 oz of half and half added, would equal a 28 oz cuppa. Let's say that would be around $5 at FiveBucks.  Cost to me to make it - 60 Cents.  That includes coffee, half and half, and spices.  I did not figure in coffee filter, water, electricity, or washing the pot costs. Five cents would be a SWAG estimate for those things.  So - 65 cents vs $5.  Maybe add a few more cents if I added whipped cream, but I didn't.

Not only does it cost less at home, but I can have this anytime, and without having to put on clothes or drive and use gasoline or incur any other car expenses. 

Now, I did NOT measure what I put in, so I'm going to give you estimates here. For one 4 cup pot of coffee, add -

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp FRESHLY GROUND nutmeg - pre-ground nutmeg has zero flavor
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground ginger - I may have used a bit more of this, to be honest. I like ginger a lot.

As always, adjust to your tastes.  You are not me. I am not you.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Poke Berries and Mullein.

Blessings Darlings!

I've been blessed with the poke berries and the mullein that I was looking for.  Poke berries are drying for future use even as I type, I'll dry the mullein after they are done and I've washed everything clean of the toxins.

I'm still putting out to the Universe that I'm looking for a few good hawthorn trees, one or more for the haws and one (best by a well or stream or river) as a clootie tree.

Oh, I got a bonus today - wild hickory nuts, when I thought I was going to be getting more black walnuts!  I'm not sure these will be my favorites, tho.  While it is FAR easier to get the outer husk off the hickory nuts, the meat itself come in smaller/narrower twists and turns in the shell, which makes the meat harder to get out once you've freed and cracked the nut.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, October 8, 2012

Imperfect Practice

Blessings Darlings!

I spent much of the last waxing moon making my first batch ever of magical chalk.  Today I tried out the finished product.  Clearly my skills in this still need some work.  The chalk is too hard - I can use it on concrete, and probably asphalt, but it fails on wood, plastic, and cardboard.

I will try new proportions of ingredients, vary the ingredients some (corn starch should work the same in magic as white flour, shouldn't it?), etc. 

A witch's work is never done.  Just like tweaking recipes for food, recipes for magic take practice and I don't know if I'll ever call them 'perfect'.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Visiting My Ancestors

Blessings Darlings!

I just read Byron's lovely article "Food For Thought ... and Spirits", to credit the inspiration for this post.

Byron has a great advantage over me on this one.  The bulk of my ancestors are buried almost 900 miles from me, in two Jewish cemeteries in Chicago, while she lives close to hers.  And she has a different heritage of working with them.  Jews DO visit their cemeteries, and DO work with each ancestor on the anniversary of her/his death, but decorating graves or eating/drinking at the cemetary is right out.  It was a VAST break in Jewish tradition when we planted flowers along with burying my uncle Maury - but everyone at the cemetery service knew Maury and knew that he LIVED in his garden, so knew why we chose to break tradition in this way. 

So where do I go now to honor my Ancestors? 

Celts had several options.  Tir Na Gog is 'in the West', and the Ancestors are often seen as part of the Sea/waters.  Or they are said to be in the North.  When I lived close to, but west of, the Chesapeake Bay, that West association didn't work well.  I winged it.  But now the Potomac is north of me.  I'll do my major working on that river.  Part of that will be a boat of food pushed out on the water, as part of my Samhain celebration.

But, as you know, I start the preparation work for Samhain well in advance.  As part of that, I'll be sharing food and drink much of the month with my Ancestors.  I find that efforts put in to renew the ties well before Samhain, when I will be out communing with them officially, pays off.

And, I'm assuming that all y'all already have ancestor altars you work with regularly, right?

Frondly, Fern

Mugwort, and sumac, and grapes, oh my!

Blessings Darlings!

Wednesday I FINALLY made my monthly trip to the DC suburbs.  I have business to do there early in the month, and I try to combine a lot of things in the trip.  However, it's VERY hard to drive there without a car ... so the trip had to be delayed from Monday when I intended to go until Wednesday, when my car cooperated.  Car needed an offering of a new starter before it was going ANY where.  Or, as we say around here, "O Entropy!  Dread sister of Death".

Yes, we are Shakespeare sluts.

Drive thru' the heavy fog to drop the Spawn off of work.  He reminds me he works 'till 4, not 5, that day.  Crap.  Okay. I start the long drive - I'm not just hitting the DC 'burbs today, I'm on a mission.  Therefore I'm going all the way to ... Annapolis! 

The drive and getting the business-related part of the day done took less time than usual.  Head east to Annapolis.  I was searching for dried or (even better) fresh elderberries to use for a tincture to treat colds and flu.  None were to be found in either my area's store nor in Frederick (a mere 30 miles away), so I was driving 110 miles to search for them.  Finally found them in a little place in Annapolis, after checking 3 other places.  VICTORY WAS MINE!

Back into the car, heading west.  Hungry. Raided grocery store between Annapolis and DC, and ate in the parking lot of a minor league baseball team for peace and quiet.  Well, what did I spy with my little eye? Wild grapes!  So after I ate I grabbed a plastic bag and harvested.

First the grapes.
Then both the fuzzy and less fuzzy seed bunches of staghorn sumac.
Then ... holy cow, that's MUGWORT!  Squee!

I didn't harvests the acorns, nor the vines from the grapes, nor the poke berries.  Instead, I headed back to Frederick to hit the Costco, then out home to pick up the Spawn. 

Elderberry tincture is kind of started.  I ran out of vodka, so can't make a full batch.  And I might want to make some with ginger added.  I'm not sure if I will use brandy and make a mugwort tincture or dry it, for that matter.  Probably dry it, so it can be used any way I want to later.

All in all, a busy but productive day, making for a happy Fern who is still singing show tunes.  It was HARD to not buy the 6 CD set of Rodgers and Hammerstein movies at Costco....

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

All apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein, who wrote the original words and music to the song "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning", and to Dr. Who for the second verse, but I feel some filk coming on.

There's a dull sodden grey in the meadow.
There's a dull sodden grey in the meadow.
The fog is as high as an elephants eye
And it looks like it's rising up high in the sky!

Oh! What a gothic fall morning.
Oh! What a gothic fall day.
I'm putting on some black lipstick
And heading outside to play.

All the statues are weeping ... and watching
All the statues are weeping ... and watching.
They don't turn their heads as they see me walk by
But I still don't trust them
Cuz I don't want to die.

Oh! What a gothic fall morning.
Oh! What a gothic fall day.
I'm putting on some black lipstick
And heading outside to play.

All the sounds of the earth are like music.
All the sounds of the earth are like music.
The caw of the ravens, the bark of the fox,
The sound the cat's making
As a hairball she hocks.

Oh! What a gothic fall morning.
Oh! What a gothic fall day.
I'm putting on some black lipstick
And heading outside to play.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

Fall is an insanely busy time around here.  The Chubby Hubby has caught up on work after the summer conference he teaches at and is involved in new projects, for one thing.  For another, the weather has finally cooled off so I'm doing more things.  Meanwhile, the garden hasn't really slowed down yet. 

The first thing I did with the cooler weather was do the sewing I'd put off all summer.  In late spring I'd taken all the clothes that needed patches and other repairs and gotten them ready to be worked on.  Mostly that meant that I'd ironed or fabric-glued patches in place, intending to sew the the patches on more securely.  Since the clothes were all long-sleeved shirts and long pants, they didn't need to be done immediately.  But I discovered that during the 100 degree days of summer I was .... disinclined .... to sit with material covering me, doing the sewing in my lap (knee and elbow patches have to be sewn by hand here, I don't have a sewing machine with an long narrow plate to slip them over). So suddenly it was 'patch or die!'  or at least "patch or everyone will have to wear their GOOD STUFF around the house, leading to them wearing out into no longer being the good stuff".

It took a few weeks, but the winter stuff is now caught up on.  Which means I'm identifying summer stuff that needs work.  Why do the underarms get holes in them?  I understand the holes in the front of the shirts - we have cats. Cats have claws. Cats poke holes in things.  Those holes I'm going to do some embroidery over.  I'm thinking of doing protective runes.

I've also started the fall round of carpet shampooing, and all the rest of the fall cleaning.  It's a constant battle against cobwebs here! 

And I'm working on harvesting every wild herb that I can.  I'm sure that this is embarrassing the Spawn, who is often with me when I suddenly stop and grab, say, a nice mullein plant, or cut some grape vines, or dig up some chickory roots.    And then I have to clean them, dry them, store them. 

And, as I type this, tomorrow in October 1.  Which means Samhain is coming.  With my 9-day personal prep for that (see this post), and coven ritual, and maybe Audience with the Ancestors with the larger tradition .... busy.

What's on your plate for Autumn? Are you preparing for the Cold Times, for Samhain? Clearing the way for introspection or study?

Frondly, Fern