Friday, July 31, 2009

Blessings

Magaly, over at the blog Pagan Culture, recently had an incident which landed her in ER. She shared it on her blog the other day, titling the post Bumps, Bruises & BLESSINGS. What struck me was that she spent more time talking about the blessings than either the bumps or bruises, in spite of the fact that her bumps and bruises were quite nasty. It made me think, a little.

A couple years back, I had a concussion that landed me in ER. I don't want to go into all the details, but I got the concussion on October 30th, tried going to school on the morning of the 31st, threw up on the bus, was taken to the doctor by parents, got sent to ER by the doctor (after he made his displeasure known about the fact that no one checked up on me every few hours during the night, and that I'd attempted to go to school that day), and went back home that evening. It was not a pleasant experience, to say the least. Yet, in spite of that, like Magaly I'm more inclined to remember the little blessings that came my way, and how wonderful other people were.

1) When I threw up on the bus, people were very nice about it. One woman brought me a paper towel to wipe my mouth. And the guy sitting right next to me didn't bolt, much to my surprise, because he was so concerned.

2) The cemetery the bus let me off at (I swear, I am NOT kidding -- the next stop after I threw up happened to be a cemetery, and this was on Samhain aka Halloween) was nice and peaceful. I sat under a tree to write poetry.

3) One of my mom's coworkers drove my mom over to pick me up from the graveyard, in spite of the fact that I might throw up in her car. I didn't, by the way.

4) When I got to ER I was amused to find that my nurses were in costume. It was Halloween, remember. My nurses were a devil and a crocodile.

5) I told one of the nurses that I'd been on my way to poetry class when I'd thrown up, and she asked my favorite poets. When I told her Shel Silverstein and Sappho, we got to talking about Sappho, much to my delight.

6) When I was released from ER but waiting for a ride home, one of the staff picked up a little spider ring that was on the floor and gave it to me, saying something along the lines of "God bless you." I still have the ring.

7) I got to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters that evening! I think that was when I decided that handing out candy is at least as fun as (if not more fun than) going door to door as a trick-or-treater. Ok, so I would have be doing this even if I hadn't been in ER, but it's part of my memories of that day, so I figured I'd add it in.

So on reflection, I think that as bad as visits to ER might be, that they can and do have one upside: they help us realize exactly how much we are blessed.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Spinning wheel

My mom has told a few of her coworkers that I've taken up the drop spindle. I am quite happy that she did, because one of her coworkers needs a temporary home for her spinning wheel; more space is needed in her home for friends/family/someone who are visiting. This coworker correctly guessed that I might be interested in getting ahold of the spinning wheel, with the result that it is now sitting in my living room. :)

Unfortunately it doesn't work right now. It needs a belt thingy that this co worker's cat ate yesterday morning. And what is this kitty's name? Loki. Joy oh joy. Haven't I had enough encounters with that god already? lol Ah well. But I guess I can't complain about other people naming cats after trickster gods, since I named the cat who owns me Kokopelle.

I don't know how to actually use the spinning wheel, though. Well, I guess that's not strictly true by now, since I've looked at videos online, and I think I have a good idea of how it's done. Plus I have experience with the drop spindle, so I know the mechanics of how the wool gets turned into yarn. But it'll probably take some trial and error before I get it figured out. I'll start playing with it once mom's bought a new belt thingy for it.

Fun fun fun. :D

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Celsius and Fahrenheit

For those of you not in my neck of the woods, let me tell you something: it is darned hot around here. Naturally this leads to people talking about the temperature, which leads me to thinking about Celsius versus Fahrenheit, and yet another one of my oddities.

One winter, when I was young, I started paying attention to the thermometer that was set just outside the sliding glass door. I would look at the temperature it gave, and make a mental note of what it felt like outside. Pretty soon I had a good idea of what the temperatures felt like -- in Celsius.

You see, no one had told me "In the USA we use Fahrenheit, not Celsius, so you can just ignore the temperatures that have a little c next to them." That being the case, I just went with what seemed natural to me, which was freezing being equal to zero. I don't know how I learned my mistake, but I know I became enlightened soon enough. Yes, when the weather started warming up, I started looking at the numbers with the little f next to them.

The result is that I find myself in an interesting predicament; I know my colder temperatures in Celsius, and my warmer temperatures in Fahrenheit! Really, it is quite strange. The cut off point where I switch from one to the other is 20*C, which is 70*F. (Ok, so it's actually 68*F, but I figure 70 is close enough. :P) So in the summer I have no trouble following what people are saying about the temperature, but other times of the year things can get...interesting.

I am learning to recognize the lower temperatures in Fahrenheit. I've always known that 32*F is freezing, and of course I know that 70*F equals (approximately) 20*C, so that's a help. I also have a little thing I printed off the Internet taped to the side of my monitor, which helps me "translate" between the two.

Then Tall One insists on using Celsius because it's what makes sense, so I'm hearing all about the heat in terms of Celsius from him right now. That's also somewhat educational. "It's supposed to get up to 40 degrees tomorrow!" That's 104*F, by the way. And of course, I know that thanks to the thingy taped to my monitor. :) I hardly ever pay attention to it, but when I do, it's quite helpful.

So, I'm learning. But at the moment I have one foot in one world of Celsius, and the other in the world of Fahrenheit. Hopefully I can combine the two, and eventually switch easily between them whether we're talking hot or cold temperatures.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Highland Games weekend

Well, I'm back!

I had a math exam today, which meant I had to study over the weekend. This resulted in me staying at the hotel on Saturday, while mom and Tall One went to the Games. It wasn't so bad. I listened to Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" while I studied. I also got out of the hotel just a little, though I wound up regretting it.

Reason number one I regretted it was that the one place nearby that I considered worth checking out was a pet store, which didn't take proper care of its animals. That was rather depressing. Reason number two was that when I decided to go barefoot in some grass (which is one of the great joys in life, so far as I am concerned) I stepped on a bee! Not very pleasant -- for me or the bee. I'm not sure which one of us was more unhappy with the other, though I was in too much pain to be overly sympathetic to the poor bee at the time.

In spite of the pet store and the bee sting, the day wasn't too bad. :) And on Sunday I went to the Games.

I just realized, I don't think I've ever talked about massed bands at the Highland Games. How can I not have talked about them? They're one of the highlights, so far as I'm concerned.

Think of one Highland bagpipe playing. You know, the really loud pipes, the ones that get all the attention? (Yes, there are different kinds of bagpipes...but that's a different topic! :P) I think you know which pipes I'm talking about. They're cool enough by themselves, but add in perhaps ten other Highland pipes and a drum core. The result is a pretty awesome band. Now, multiply that by ten; yep, ten or so pipe bands playing together. That is what I'm talking about when I say "massed bands." They are amazing to behold, and I LOVE them. Unfortunately, my love is not shared by the pipers and drummers.

The pipers and drummers who participate absolutely loathe them. The only way to make the bands participate is to disqualify them from the competition if they refuse. Even at that, getting all the bands together is often compared to herding cats, and it isn't unheard of to see pipers or drummers on the outskirts of the band sneaking away before it's over.

They do actually have reason for not liking massed bands, though. You see, when you get a pipe band playing together, you have to tune the drones to each other, if you want all the instruments to be on the same wavelength. This is absolutely impossible to do in a massed band, because of the sheer size of it, and the pipers find it quite annoying to say the least.

Regardless, I immensely enjoy the massed bands, and always look forward to them. They are a sight and a sound to behold.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Outa town!

I'm leaving in an hour or so for the Seattle Highland Games, and will get back late Sunday. So in other words, don't expect any posts until Monday! :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Faith Healing

There's a local case (which I think made national news?) about a couple whose daughter died. The reason she died? They relied on faith healing, and did not seek medical treatment for her. As a result, she died from complications which could have been easily avoided, if only her parents had taken her to a doctor when it became obvious that she needed help.

I'm all for freedom of religion, so I hate to say this, but I think this is just wrong. Yes, I do totally believe in the power of prayer, but sometimes a little mundane help is needed. Perhaps I can illustrate my point with a little story:

There was a flood coming, but a man who had strong faith in God refused to go to safety. The first person who came to him was a police officer, who said "Come on, we need to get you to higher ground." The man said "My faith in God will protect me. I'm staying." So the police officer left.

A second person came in a canoe. This person said "Come on -- I'll get you to safety!" The man said "No, my belief in God will protect me." The same drill happened later when a helicopter came to rescue him from where he was perched on his rooftop.

The man wound up drowning. When he came before God, he said "I trusted you to rescue me! Why didn't you?" God replied, "I tried. THREE TIMES."

I heard this as a joke, actually, but on reflection I realized that it makes a good point. Yes, miracles do occur. Sometimes they occur in the form of people who want to help.

Use the tools available to you. If you want to use prayer, great -- I know that when I am worried about someone who is hurt, I pray to Brighid. But also seek medical treatment, in addition to prayer. For all you know, it might be the miracle that will make the difference between life and death.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Drop Spindle

And guess what I got in the mail today? A drop spindle! Remember I fell in love with drop spindles when I was at the Skagit Valley Highland Games? Well, I got mom to order one for me, and it came in today. :)

I really don't want to write, since I am going on fairly little sleep. However, I will share a couple of photos, one of which has Kokopelle in it. Kokopelle, by the way, is the kitty who owns me.




ps. The end of the spindle has been chewed on by a certain feline. :P Gotta love them! lol

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Scottish stuff

Yesterday was the Portland Highland Games. It was really great, though it was a long day. Throughout the day I collected sayings off of things like bumper stickers, shirts, and whatnot, some of which I'll share here. Once I share htem I'll leave it at that, since I'm still tired.

Scots inside car -- pass with awe

There are three kinds of people in the world -- Scots, people who want to be Scottish, and those with no ambition

Anything can happen in the kilt

Life is too short to not be Scottish

Got haggis?

I break for haggis

Haggis hurling competition

Parking for drummers only. All others will be snared, skinned, and beaten.

Kiss me, I'm Scottish

Thank God I'm Scottish

Kiss me, I'm Irish
[Yes, the Irish somehow worm their way into the Games too. :P]

Thank God I'm Irish

Pipers do it with Amazing Grace

You look like I need a drink

I'm so cute, I must be Scottish
[This was on a shirt for a little kid.]

I'm so cute, I must be Irish
[Ditto.]

Real men wear kilts

Up with kilts!

Be a man -- wear a kilt!

I'm here entirely without adult supervision

Flogging will continue until moral improves
[I don't get this one but I still find it...interesting...is there some reference here I'm not getting?]

Built for a kilt

The Pipes, the Pipes are calling

Scots make better lovers

Piping is life -- the rest doesn't matter

Many have been kilt for calling it a skirt

You may kiss the Irish, but it's the Scotsman you'll be taking home

Monday, July 13, 2009

Skagit Valley Highland Games

Excerpts, with a bit of editing (for privacy's sake, grammar's sake, the sake of expounding, etc.), about my weekend at the Skagit Valley Highland Games.

July 11th, 2009 Saturday 8:18pm
Skagit Valley, WA

I am oh so sunburned. I need to start thinking to bring (and use) sun block.

Tall One had three solo competitions, today, none of which he placed in. The problem was that he'd forgotten his sheet music for the piobaireachd (pronounced pee-brok) competition, so he had to sprint to the car to get it, and since he already wasn't feeling well that threw him off. :(

Portland Metro Pipe Band placed first in grade three, and the youth band attached to it placed fourth in grade four.

The weather was absolutely wonderful, though somewhat hot. I went barefoot the whole time. It was funny, because my bare feet somehow stayed fairly clean, whereas other people in sandals managed to get their feet all dirty. We've no idea what the difference was, and I'm still puzzling over it.

Soon after we got there this morning we heard screaming, as though someone had just be injured. I didn't like sitting still being clueless, so a minute or so after it stopped I went to investigate. After a bit of wandering, I was amazed to find that the commotion had been closer to where I'd been than I'd thought.

It turns out that the problem had been with a dog. Dog owner #1 dropped the leash, and dog #1 attacked dog #2. I know that one of the owners intervened and got hurt, and though I think it was dog owner #2, I'm not entirely sure which it was.

Later I was happy to find that there was -- I guess it was a shelter -- trying to get cats and dogs adopted at the games today. I looked at the cats, and to my delight I was allowed to hold one. No, actually it was three I held. :D One of them was quite feisty, and went after my dangle earrings. I got him to leave them alone, only for him to attack my pentacle pendant! But it's sturdy, and I didn't mind. I just laughed, thinking "Ooo, I've got a Pagan kitty here." :P

I miss my kitty Kokopelle! I keep thinking I see him out of the corner of my eye in the hotel room.

I was hanging out around the the bagpipe band tents, which happened to be right next to a chain link fence. Well, guess what? Something managed to get blown over the fence. It wound up with me climbing over the fence to retrieve it, while Tall One took photos of me. He threatened to post them on Facebook, and I told him that if he does I'll make one of them my profile pic.

Much to my surprise and delight, there was a story teller wandering around, sharing Scottish myths and legends. I'd have to say that was one of the highlights of the day. :D

I am tired, and still have to do homework, since I'm taking summer classes...

July 12th, 2009 Sunday 5:02pm
A highway, WA

There was a group doing spinning and weaving demonstrations today. Because I was curious, a woman with a drop spindle explained what she was doing. Then, my to my surprise and delight, she put it in my hands so that I could spin some yarn! I must have spent at least fifteen minutes doing that, and (again to my surprise and delight) she gave me the yarn I'd spun! I would have happily spent longer there, but I was afraid that I might miss the band competitions.

Portland Metro came in second place [I actually remember them taking first, but it says second in my journal....???], and the youth band attached to them took second.

I watched some of the athletics today. I still don't know what they're all called, but I know that caber is my favorite.

Later 8:57pm
WA/OR border

I had to stop writing earlier because we came to a rest stop, and I wanted to stretch my legs. By now it's almost to dark to write.

One of the events at the games was a Border Collie competition, where they were herding sheep. It was quite fascinating to watch.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Highland Game this weekend

I'll be out of town this weekend at one of the local Highland Games -- "local" meaning "something like five hours from home." :P I leave noonish tomorrow and get back late Sunday. Don't expect any posts before Monday, but hopefully when I come back I'll be able to share something from my travel journal with you.

The simple things in life

I think that sometimes it's good to sit back, and take a look at all the simple little things in life that are really wonderful. So, I decided to list some little (or perhaps not so little) things that make my life really wonderful.


Walking barefoot in the grass

The wind

Seeing the young squirrels

Being woken at dawn by bird songs

Listening to an audio book while going to sleep

A good new book

Being a library volunteer

Mending books at the library

Hearing someone who's not afraid to sing off key -- in public

The land I live on


The list of course goes on and on...but I think I'll leave it at this. :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Musings about Tortall

WARNING: I'll be talking about Tamora Pierce's quartet, "Song of the Lioness." Unless you don't mind me giving things away, or have already read it, you might want to skip reading this post.

As I said in one of my recent posts, I am a big fan of Pierce's Tortall books. I reread the first three books in the afore mentioned quartet in the last couple weeks, and I just started on the fourth...today or yesterday? Dang, isn't it so sad when you can't remember silly little details like that? :P

First of all, I really like most of the stuff in the books. As I said, I'm a big fan. However, I'm not entirely happy with Ralon or Akhnan Ibn Nazzir. It feels like they're just too one dimensional! Yes, I know not every character can be fleshed out in books, but come on -- these two are pretty crucial to the plot. They aren't simply sideline characters. As it is, Ralon is just a nasty bully, and Akhnan is just power hungry. And I know it's not just a case of Pierce not feeling like fleshing out the bad guys. Look at Roger. Roger is pretty darn nasty, but he certainly seems to have depth. Same with Thom, though he technically isn't a bad guy (is he?).

And speaking of Roger...

I noticed that Thom raised Roger from the dead on Samhain. Ok, so they didn't call it Samhain, they called it All Hallows. (aka Halloween, for those who don't know "Pagan speak.") But it's the same day. And, Samhain is generally considered the time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. So, it'd make sense for that to be when Thom raises Roger from the dead.

...except that Roger wasn't truly dead, was he? I haven't gotten to the relevant part, so I haven't reread it yet, but I seem to recall that while Roger is dead for all practical purposes, there's some spell he did to keep him from being truly dead. I think. Hmm...

...I probably should stop my ramblings/musings and do some schoolwork now. :)

Fourth of July

Fourth of July was pretty good, though my family didn't do anything special beyond a nice meal. We normally go out to see fireworks, but the Vancouver fireworks show was a no-go this year, which meant that those closer to home would be extra crowded. Mom and Tall One didn't want to deal with the crowds, I was sick anyways. Hmm, interesting, I almost didn't even think to mention dad. I guess that's because with his medical conditions, he hasn't had the stamina to do things like going to firework shows in some years. :(

We watched the "The Terminal," which was recommended by one of my mom's coworkers. It was a neat movie. Ok, "we" being mom, Tall One, and myself. Dad didn't feel like watching it.

I stayed up until about 1am, waiting for the neighbors to stop doing fireworks, so I could sleep in peace and quiet. Honestly -- it sounded like our neighborhood was being bombed last night! When I made that observation to Tall One, he pointed out "Yep, and plenty of veterans don't like the fourth of July just for that reason." Oh my gosh. I hadn't thought of that before. They have my sympathies. Most of them have things tough enough already, without our Independence day making them feel like they're back in a war zone again.

And because I left one of my bedroom windows open a couple inches or so, my room smelled like smoke. My mom discovered this before I did, and decided to solve the problem by simply closing my bedroom door. Well, that did keep smoke from getting into the rest of the house, but it didn't help my room! I wound up sleeping on the futon in the living room. *rolls eyes* I took it with good humor, though. :P

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sick

Not much exciting to report today. I haven't been feeling well, and spent quite a bit of time in bed. I did find that there were two perks of hanging out in bed, though. Well, ok, specifically perks to hanging out in bed and not sleeping.

Firstly, I got to watch and listen to the hawks that have been nesting on my street. I mean, their home base (aka nest) is easily spotted from my bedroom window, so I couldn't have ignored them if I'd wanted to. They really are amazing birds. Normally I'm somewhere else in the house, without a good view of the sky, and don't see much of them.

The second perk was that I got to read. I'd picked up the first in the "Song of the Lioness" quartet by Tamora Pierce two weeks ago, and I finished the second book a couple days back. And today I have read nearly three quarters of the third book. I'm a big fan of Pierce's books about her Tortall characters, by the way. :D

I'm feeling better now than I was this morning...which is opposite of yesterday. Yesterday I started out feeling pretty good, then wound up not feeling so great in the evening. So hopefully I'll feel great tomorrow! :) If not, I'll do some more birdwatching -- though I expect I'll be doing more homework than reading.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Earth Day

Every day is earth day when your spirituality is nature based, like mine!

I like to do what I can to help the earth, and as such I am really big on recycling. Really. Sometimes I'll be someplace when I finish off a bottle of water/juice/whatever, but there isn't a recycling bin around. I admit that occasionally I'll throw something recyclable in the trash in that situation (and then feel guilty afterwards) but usually I'll take it home to recycle.

Yes, I'll go ahead and admit it right here: in this post I want to convince what few readers I have to do their part to avoid sending stuff to landfills. However, I'm going to suggest something a little unusual, and I hope I don't gross out any of my readers. If I do, you have my apologies in advance.

What I purpose is for women to use cloth sanitary pads. Yes, I know at first glance it sounds icky. And yes, you do have to wash them yourself. But please keep reading, and I'll share with you some very good reasons for using them.

1) They can last several years.

2) You won't have to keep running to the store to buy more sanitary pads whenever you start running low.

3) Yes, they're somewhat pricey up front, but in the long run they're quite inexpensive. The Pad Sampler Kit over at GladRags is about $70, but I've had mine for perhaps three years and they're still in great condition. I expect them to continue saving me money for a while yet.

4) Cleaning them isn't as icky as you might think. I just throw mine in with the towels when I do laundry, and I haven't had any problems yet.

You might want to shop around to figure out what to get -- there are at least a few options out there, but it's been a while since I did the research, so you're probably better off figuring things out for yourself. All I can tell you is that I settled on GladRags, which is a brand local to where I live.

And this post isn't just for women, by the way. I know that men don't have any use for sanitary pads, but surely you know some women who do. Perhaps you can share the info with your wife, sisters, daughters, and/or other women in your life.