Friday, December 31, 2010

This time four years ago

I've been thinking about where I was four years ago -- at the end of December in 2006, when I was 17 years old. I was also thinking about it this time last year, and although I almost blogged about it, I didn't.

For the past four years I have been a college student. This has defined me, to the point that when I started this blog there was no question that I would title it A College Girl's Days. Notice, I've been a college student for four years, and the time I think about is four years ago.

My first college experience was at Portland Community College, in winter of 2007, and it was this new upcoming experience that was on my mind at the end of December in 2006. I had been homeschooled since third grade, and even though I had taken dance classes and had had learning experiences with other homeschoolers this was to be my first time in regular classroom in...nine years.

Since this was to be my first term I wanted to take fun classes. I chose Fundamentals of Music and an English class: Mythology and Folklore. (I aced both of those classes, FYI.) I also decided to take one required class so I chose to take writing, which I thought shouldn't be too bad of a class. (I didn't quite ace that one, but I did fairly well in it, and learned a lot.) It was going to be a fantastic term.

I couldn't wait for my first class.

On the other hand, I could wait, because I was really nervous.

Time marched forward, taking me ever closer to my first college class, whether I was ready or not.

That's where I was four years ago to the day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mending books

I volunteer mending books at my local library. I've done it for several years, and I really love it. Taking books that are falling apart and putting them back together is really a wonderful thing. I can still find it amazing to look at a book that I've repaired. It's amazing what a little TLC can do for them.

Well, us menders are running into a bit of a problem right now at my library. One that quite distresses me.

Now, I've seen many problems during my time mending book. Of course books simply fall apart from too much love -- that's a common problem for me to fix. I've also seen books that people have written in (sometimes with ink), teethed on, and torn the pages of. Sometimes people decide to tape loose pages back into the book, which only creates more work and a headache for me. Heck, I've even seen a book where someone seemed to have drawn on the fly sheets with blood!

So I'm used to seeing problems with mending books. I can look a torn up book straight in the eye without flinching. (Ok, they don't have eyes, but you know what I mean!) It takes an awful darn lot for me to be upset by anything in the book mending department.

Well, the problem is...the problem is that we're suddenly finding fewer books that need mending! *sob*

Ok, ok...I guess this is a pretty good problem to have having. In fact, it's no problem at all! It's a wonderful, spectacular thing to happen! Fewer books getting torn up means that more books can go straight back to the shelves for our patrons! Our books will also have longer lives if they don't get damaged so much. So, really, this is a good thing.

Yeah, it's a good thing. *wistful sigh* It's a good thing...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas loot

Ok, so I know that Christmas is about giving, not receiving, but I've just got to say...I am VERY happy with the stuff I got this year! :) I'll just share three things I got...

First of all, I requested a lap desk. I was very happy when I unwrapped it, until I got it set up. Once I got it set up I became quite dissatisfied because I found it a little too plain. So, I decided to solve the problem with some paint and my limited painting skills. I am very happy with the results.


The labyrinth was pretty easy to paint, by the way. If you just Google "how to make a labyrinth" you can quickly find very simple step by step directions.

I also requested, and received, The Burning Island by Pamela Frierson. It turns out that it's an out of print book, but mom was able to find it on Amazon.com.

Tall One surprised me with his gift -- a CD of Peter Paul and Mary's music. I really don't know why I was so surprised, though. He was questioning me just last week about which of their CDs I have. I should have guessed what he was up to. lol And I'd like to share a song here...

Well, the song I wanted to share was "Garden Song", which seems to me to have a Pagan twist. (You can read the lyrics here.) But I can't find it sung by Peter Paul and Mary on YouTube, so I'll share "The Marvelous Toy" instead.



I think this is the type of song that I could play again and again and again and again and...and so many times that I'd drive my family crazy. Tall One has probably just created a monster, and he doesn't even know it yet. Bwahaha!

Oh yes, and Tall One...

Tall One requested, and received, a penny whistle for Christmas. His penny whistle is special in that it has the same fingering as a highland bagpipe, so he was able to pick it up and start playing it immediately, much to our delight. :) I think that penny whistle was a present to the whole family.

What did you get this holiday season?

Friday, December 24, 2010

One More Sleep 'til Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve!

LOTR

We watched Fellowship of the Ring on Yule, and we're watching The Two Towers this evening. Well, mom and Tall One are. I'm sort of popping in and out.

Anyways...

I kept wanting to laugh during Elrond's council, because I couldn't help but remember the MTV version of it. It's a rather amusing parody that you might be interested in watching if you've seen the movie or read the book.

Be forewarned, though -- the video contains mature content. Or should I say, immature content.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Yule!!! :D

My family is celebrating Yule this evening by keeping a fire going all night long. Tall One is the official Fire Tender (not to be confused with Fire Tinder), and he got the fire going.

I've been saving this next song for Yule. I hope you enjoy it!




Last night was the total lunar eclipse. I was able to see it, though I had to wait for breaks in the clouds. But I guess I can't complain too much, because I know some people weren't able to see it at all.

I took some photos, and would like to share them.



Partway through the eclipse Tall One taught me how to use the shutter speed on my camera. I didn't know my camera even had a shutter speed!

Thanks to my new found knowledge, the following photos are higher quality than the previous two.



Doesn't it look like Mars in these photos?


The moon didn't look quite that red to the naked eye, but it was somewhat reddish.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A kitty Christmas

Here are some big cats enjoying their Christmas presents to some seasonal music.



They look like they're having a lot of fun tearing apart their Christmas presents, don't they? :)

By the way, this video was made by Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Big Cat Rescue is an organization I discovered a month or so ago that is dedicated to rescuing and helping big cats. They seem quite fond of posting videos of exactly what these wonderful felines think about holidays (and other things), which makes me quite happy.

I love love love cats, so naturally I think Big Cat Rescue is awesome.

If I run away to Florida, you'll know where to find me. ;)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Peace rally

November 26th, 2010

A would-be terrorist was arrested for attempting to detonate a car bomb at an annual Christmas tree lighting. The annual tree lighting was at Pioneer Courthouse Square, and many people were in attendance.

Two days later

A fire was set at a mosque that the would-be terrorist sometimes attended. The fire was ruled arson, and the culprit has still not been found. Fortunately only one office in the mosque was burned. But that's still unacceptable.

December 19th, 2010 -- Today

There was a rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square. I keep calling it different things: peace rally, non-violence rally...in any case, the point of the rally is to make clear that 1) Terrorism is not ok, 2) Retaliation against Muslims who are not involved in terrorism is really not ok, 3) Islam is a religion of peace, and it does not condone terrorism.

Religious leaders of Islam, Christianity (I think), and Judaism spoke at the rally.

I attended, and took photos. Here they are.
















The rally ended with a song. Please forgive the quality -- I only brought my regular camera because I didn't expect that I would want to record anything!


EDIT: I'd like to add that I think violence is necessary in some cases, unfortunately. But not here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yule as New Years

The solstice is only three days away now, and I'm getting pretty excited.

To me, Samhain (October 31st) is the end of the old year, and Yule is the beginning of the new year. Since Samhain I've been working on letting go of old energies that are either negative or stagnant, and preparing myself to start off the new year well.

One of the things I did to get rid of old energies was thoroughly clean my bedroom, and I pretty much turned the place upside down doing it. It's amazing how something as mundane as cleaning can have such an effect on my above stated goal.

I also wanted to share a YouTube about Yule. Not everything she says clicks with me, but I like it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Giveaway for fun stuff


I am holding a Yule Giveaway for my online shop, Dragonfly's Laughter. You can enter any time from now until 12:01 am on December 22nd, PST.

The winner will win the item of their choice from my shop, and I will ship it to them free of charge.

You can get multiple entries.

Here are things you can do get entries:

1) Go to my shop (www.DragonflysLaughter.etsy.com) then come back and tell me what your favorite item is. Worth 2 entries. Note: If you win, you may choose to receive a different item.

2) Heart my shop on Etsy, then come back here and let me know that you've done so and what your username is on Etsy. Worth 1 entry.

3) Blog about this giveaway, then come back and share the link to your post. Worth 4 entries.

4) Put the following button on your blog, and keep it up for the duration of the contest. Let me know that it's there. Worth 2 entries.




<a href="http://www.dragonflyslaughter.etsy.com"> <img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_WA0UrQb-izc/TQqy0HwFK_I/AAAAAAAABXw/xN_uV7HuYso/avatar2.JPG"/></a>

5) Tweet about this and leave me a link. Worth 4 entries.

6) Follow my shop on Twitter. (http://twitter.com/DragonflysLaugh) Come back here and tell me that you're following, and also what your username is on twitter so that I know who you are. Worth 1 entry.

7) Tell me what you plan to do this solstice. Worth 1 entry. Note: You can do this even if you don't plan to do anything special. For example: "Work, fix dinner, watch a movie, go to bed."

Total Lunar Eclipse on Yule!!!


I just found out today that there will be a total lunar eclipse on the solstice. I am a little bit astounded, to say the least. How often does this kind of thing happen on a solstice???

Anyways, I wanted to let people know, in case there's anyone else who (like me) has been clueless about this little detail.

I'm just hoping that I'll actually be able to see the eclipse. I mean, I'm in the right location, but the weather forecast is cloudy. :( Oh well. We'll see.

Also...

Last night I went to YouTube and typed in "Pagan Solstice". I found several songs that I liked, and will be sharing them between now and solstice. Below is the first one.

It's got alternative Pagan lyrics to the song "Silent Night", though there isn't any vocalist in the YouTube. So you'll have to sing the lyrics yourself. :)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Presents

Last week I walked into the living room and saw Tall One kneeling next to a giant box by the Christyule tree. The following conversation ensued.

Me: What is that? Oh, it's your printer.
Tall One: Quiet!
Me: What? Why?
Tall One: It's my Christmas present!
Me: So?
Tall One: So it's supposed to be secret!
Me: *puzzled silence* But it's right there in front of you.
Tall One: Don't talk about it!
Me: But it's right there in front of you! And you already knew about it!
Tall One: It's my Christmas present! Don't talk about it!

How do you argue with that?

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here is how to wrap a cat up to give as a present this holiday season.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The "war" on Christmas

Some people want to put Christ back into Christmas. And I'm fine with that. Really. After all, Christmas really is celebrating the birth of Jesus, once you get past all the consumerism. It's a really special day.

However, it's not the only special day in winter. And Christians do not have a monopoly on winter, whatever some people may think.

There are other religious and non-religious holidays during this time of year. Hannukkah. Yule. Boxing Day. Kwanzaa. The secular new year. Christmas is just one more. True, it's the big one, but I think I've made my point that it's not the only one.

Some people think that if other religions are acknowledged that Christianity will be marginalized. (In fact, some people made a big fuss about BBC covering the Pagan celebration of Samhain earlier this year, saying that they were marginalizing Christianity by doing so. You can read about it here.) But here's the thing -- Christianity is one of the biggest world religions. I don't think it's in any danger of falling by the wayside anytime soon.

Besides, Jesus taught tolerance and love. I think it's safe to say that he isn't offended by the all inclusive "Happy Holidays". And trying to shove Christmas down the throats of non-Christians is definitely not tolerant or loving. In fact, I would say that it alienates people, something which I think those who talk about there being a war on Christmas haven't figured out yet.

"Happy Holidays" really isn't a war on Christmas. It's just acknowledging that there are other paths as well.

Happy Holidays, everyone. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Christyule"

My family is an interfaith one. My brother and I were raised Christian, but are now Pagan. My mom is sort of Pagany (that is now a word. because I say so), and my dad is still definitely Christian.

But, we celebrate each other's holidays.

On the night of the 21st my mom, brother and I will keep a fire going throughout the night. Well, ok, it'll technically be mostly Tall One keeping the fire going, since he's just a natural with it...and even though dad won't stay up overnight, he'll probably spend a little bit of time with us by the fire.

On the 25th, we'll all open Christmas presents. We'll all sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and eat his birthday cake. (Even though he was probably born in the spring.) We'll also watch A Muppet's Christmas Carol if not on Christmas then around that time.

In common to both celebrations is the tree. I call it a Christyule tree, since it's for both Christmas and Yule. Hey, why not? Simply calling it "the holiday tree" feels a little too politically correct for a tree in someone's own home, and I can't call it a "Yule tree" without excluding Christmas and vice versa. Hence, Christyule. :) It's a word I made up a year or so ago.

I like being part of an interfaith family. It means double the fun in the winter, since I get to celebrate two holidays! And eat a birthday cake that I don't have to share with the birthday boy. Yum.

Last, I would like to leave you with the following song from A Muppet's Christmas Carol. I think that the line "Wherever you find love it feels like Christmas" could be traded for "Wherever you find love it feels like Yule-time" if you wanted. :)


My choir

Here are a couple more songs that my choir performed at The Grotto recently!



To begin with I didn't much like the Hodie song. In the end, though, it was one of my favorites. :)

Do you have a stream in your backyard?

When my family moved in to our current house about three years ago we discovered hints of a stream bed in our backyard. We could tell where it would have flowed into our yard under a fence, and we could see where it would have left our yard and gone into a neighboring yard. In between was sketchy though, and I now realize that someone before us must have filled in the stream bed in the middle of the yard so that they could have a nice lawn of grass.

We talked about this stream, and examined closely where it must have flowed. But we never expected to see that stream.

But today, we have a stream in our backyard.

Here are my two best photos of it:



That's it leaving the yard. And now, for the entrance...


I guess it's not much. And in between the entrance and the exit it isn't at all impressive!


Still, we technically do have a stream in our yard. And I am quite impressed.

And this stream is thanks to the rain gods, because they are pouring down a LOT of rain today. It's so much rain that people are worried about flooding.

But I guess that's how much rain it takes to return a stream to where one hasn't flowed in years!

EDIT: I notice that the photos are too big to fit into the narrow column of my blog. Click on them if you want to see them properly.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yes I Can!

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to spin her own yarn. She saw someone doing it at a Girl Scout camp, and thought that turning fluffy white(-ish) wool into yarn was the most amazing thing in the world.

But she thought to herself, "This is too out there for me. How would I ever be able to get ahold of a spinning wheel or roving [not that she knew the word roving then], let alone learn how to spin the roving into yarn? It's just too fantastic." And so she gave up the idea of ever being able to spin yarn.

Fast forward some number of years, a couple of happy chance meetings with spinners, and a little research. That girl is now a young woman (me) who has her own drop spindle and spinning wheel, and she knows how to use them!

It's true that I'm not the most skilled spinner, but I just need more practice. And maybe I'll eventually find a local group of spinners who I can get together with and learn from.

I guess that the moral of the story is that you shouldn't consider a skill unattainable just because it is so "out there", isn't main-stream, and seems too fantastical.

And speaking of spinning yarn...

My mom knits, and she would love to get ahold of yarn that I've spun. So for Christmas I've told her to pick out roving (which is wool/cotton/whatever that's ready to be spun) that she likes, and that I'll spin it for her. To tell the truth, this gift to her is also sort of a gift to myself, because it means that I get to play with my spinning wheel. lol I guess part of me is still a little kid!


Now I just need to figure out how to spin straw into gold. ;)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Further proof of the season

Further proof that the holidays are approaching is that UPS is dropping off packages on our doorstep and my parents are strangely silent about what is in those packages.

Also, my school choir had two performances this weekend. One was a benefit concert, and the other one was at The Grotto.

I first performed there a few years ago with another choir. Ever since then I have looked forward to performing there each holiday season because it is really a beautiful venue, and I love how we sound there.

My mom recorded the performance at The Grotto, and below are three songs from the performance. And FYI, I am the soloist in "Breath of Heaven"!!!








More videos to follow. :)

And yes, in the future I will post some more Pagan themed holiday stuff. As a matter of fact, I've been coming up with a list of what to perhaps post about, including:

* Being in an interfaith family
* Favorite holiday traditions -- both Pagan and Christian
* Commonalities between Yule and Christmas
* There's nothing wrong with putting Christ back in Christmas, but hello, this season doesn't belong entirely to Christians!
* ...

I know there was at least one more thing on the list, but I can't remember it...

If you have a subject or question related to the holidays that you'd like to see me blog about, let me know. I'll probably get to it once I'm through writing papers for school. (Two to go...both due this Thursday, and then I'm done!)

:D

Sunday, December 5, 2010

'Tis the season

As proof that the winter holidays are approaching, here is the Christmas tree in downtown Portland.




Isn't it pretty.

Every year a tree is placed and decorated in Pioneer Courthouse Square, which is sort of the living room of Portland. There is also a tree lighting ceremony each year.

This year there was a bit of excitement when a teenage would-be terrorist tried to set off a car bomb to kill as many people as possible. Fortunately the FBI were on top of it and nobody was hurt.

And now, there is an ale celebration at the Square. That's why there are so many tents such that you can't see the bottom portion of the tree in the above picture.

Below is a picture of it before the tents were placed (and before it was decorated) so you can get an idea of its exact size.




:)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snow trouble made funny

I found this today, and since we are entering the cold part of the year I just wanted to share it here.



It makes me laugh each time I watch it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday at Dragonfly's Laughter

I'm getting into this late in the game, but at least I'm getting into it at all!

From now through Wednesday evening you can get 50% off of anything at my shop Dragonfly's Laughter if you enter the coupon code "cybermonday" during checkout.

Don't miss out! It's all handmade things, some of which were already pretty inexpensive. Prices were ranged from $5 to $18, but are now only from $2.50 to $9.00!!!

Below are just some of the things you'll find in my shop.



In my shop:

* Scarves
* Jewelry
* Needlework
* Bead buddies
* Heating pads

Official PayPal Seal

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Laughing as you sink"

I came across this yesterday, and since I don't really have anything else to blog about, wanted to share it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Food Court Flash Mob

You may remember that earlier this month I shared a YouTube of over 650 people bursting into Halleluja in a crowded Macy's, accompanied by the world's largest pipe organ.

The YouTube I've shared below is a flash mob on a slightly smaller scale, though equally cool. In it people burst out singing Halleluja in a food court, surrounded by unsuspecting shoppers.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Hearing problems

I went to my doctor a couple weeks ago because of a problem that started at the beginning of this term: when singing with my choir, I inevitably get a static sound in my left ear.

It's happened occasionally in the past, but it's never stubbornly stuck with me week after week, let alone month after month, like it is now. It's the soprano range that triggers it (and FYI -- I sing soprano), though listening to a lone bagpipe without an earplug in my left ear also brings on the static. It's only in my left ear, though. My right ear is fine.

So, as I said, I went to my doctor after a couple months of this, since it wasn't going away on its own. She said there isn't anything she herself could do, but that I could go to audiology. In response I told her that my tentative self diagnosis was that I could maybe perhaps possibly have too much ear wax in my left ear, and that it could maybe perhaps possibly be causing the problem. She took a look, said that it didn't look like it was too much, but that the nurse could remove it for me if I liked. I said yes, I would like that.

Unfortunately, it didn't solve the problem, as I discovered a couple hours later when I went to choir. :(

But before I left, and even before the ear wax was (unnecessarily) removed, my doctor suggested another solution: using an earplug. I didn't like that idea, because an earplug would change how I sound to myself, which could be problematic in singing with my choir.

But after discovering that removing the ear wax from my ear didn't work, I decided that desperate measures were called for. I decided to try using an earplug.

I talked to my director and section leader about using an earplug. I wanted to get the director's permission, and I wanted to give my section leader a heads up. The director told me to do whatever I needed to do, and my section leader actually gave me a suggestion -- that I might want to view the earplug as an opportunity, rather than as a problem; that I could use this opportunity to work on singing by feel rather than by how I sound, since how I sound to myself would be distorted by the earplug.

With my section leader's advice in mind, I eagerly brought an earplug to the next choir rehearsal. When the static began to attack my ear, I used the earplug.

Unfortunately, the earplug plan backfired. Big time.

I expect that the earplug would work if I were just listening to a soprano, but it definitely does not work when I'm actually singing myself. As I realized belatedly, when I'm singing soprano, my own vocal chords are causing some of the problem. And when the problem is internal rather than external, the earplugs make it louder, just like they make my voice louder to my own hearing.

So the earplugs aren't going to work, unless I'm an audience member at a performance. If I'm actually on the stage performing, they're worse than useless to me.

So, I need to go to audiology, and see if they can help me.

On the upside, the static is only in my left ear. It isn't bothering my right ear. That's something to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Celebrating snow

It snowed Monday night, much to my delight. (Hey, that rhymes! I'm a poet! :P) When I discovered the snow I went outside to get a closer look at it, and my mom followed me out. We only had a very little bit, but I decided to celebrate by scraping together enough snow to make a tiny snowball to throw at my mom.

The first snowball of the season! It was rather tiny and pathetic, but oh well. It was still a snowball.

We still have snow, although I admit that it's pretty much only a dusting. Regardless, I would like to celebrate its continued existence by sharing the following video.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow

And guess what? It's snowing!!!




It isn't much, but we've the whole night ahead of us. :) This photo shows what's in our backyard.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Snow, or lack thereof

For the last several days I've been getting sort of antsy, wanting snow. And today, we were supposed to finally get snow, in the afternoon.

Hallelujah!

But wait, the snow was delayed, and it was supposed to start snowing in the evening. Oh well, I figured I could wait.

Hey, there's more news! Evening classes have been canceled, due to snow.

Darn it.

So now it is almost 7pm, and I am sitting at home rather than attending what would have been a cool class, because of snow that has yet to appear.

The snow had darn well better show up soon and be worth me missing a class for. Otherwise I am going to be grumpy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Randomness, concerning ADHD and Gummi Bears

Random ADHD quote:

"Those of us with ADHD don't suffer from a deficit of attention -- if anything, we have a surfeit of it. We're vulnerable to distraction because we perceive too much at once; we're unable to filter out extraneous stimuli and focus on what is most important." ~ Niika Quistgard-Devivo

It's true.

And a random ADHD fact: Yes, we can have trouble focusing on things (or on what we're supposed to be focusing on, anyways), but we can also go to the complete opposite and hyper-focus on things. This can be good, like if we're hyper-focusing on homework. It can also be bad, like if we're hyper-focusing on something that frightens us.

By the way, I'm taking a communications class this term and for my final project I'm studying what particular challenges people with ADHD might have when it comes to communication. In some ways it's great, because it is giving me more tools to use when my ADHD gives me trouble. On the other hand it can be depressing, like when one article refers to it as a "disease" and another one talks about someday finding for a "cure" for ADHD -- as though we're broken and need to be fixed!

Overall, though, I think that studying it is pretty good for me. :D

Now, before getting back to homework, I'd like to share the following Gummi Bears episode. I don't really remember any particular episodes of this cartoon from my childhood, with the exception of this one. I was so happy to find it on YouTube. :)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Enhanced pat downs

"Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." -- Benjamin Franklin

Have you heard about what's going on at the airports now? They have a new "enhanced pat down" which includes feeling the groin and women's breasts. I've read a few first hand accounts, and it's been described as sexual assault.

People are generally spared this enhanced pat down unless they decide to opt out of the body scan that looks under your clothing. However, if you get dinged by a security device twice then an enhanced pat down is required, and it is my understanding that people are randomly chosen for the enhanced pat down.

Think about it. What gives them the right to feel you up and grope you? If they weren't the TSA, they would be arrested for sexual assault.

I've seen outrage over this in the blogging community, and I'm happy to have found a video of Ron Paul also expressing disgust with the TSA. I don't agree with everything he says, but I appreciate that he's speaking out and trying to do something about it.



Some people approve of the enhanced pat down, saying that it makes us safer. However, I would like to point out that there comes a point when the terrorists have won.

There comes a point when we are so afraid that we work ourselves into a corner and we can barely move. At that point the terrorists have won. They have also won when people are sexually assaulted in the name of being protected from terrorism.

Let's have freedom again. Freedom from being molested by those who say that they are only trying to protect us.

Now, for a return to sanity and because I think something is needed to make me smile after writing all this, I would like to share the following video.




(PS. What joy. I can't work on homework but I can write this. I guess this is easier to write...?)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sacred space

This evening I was reminded by a bored deity (to steal Anne's Johnson's term) that even though I may have lots of stuff on my to-do list, I shouldn't ignore my spiritual practices. And you know what? If I do take time to pray, meditate, drum, do whatever I need to to fulfill my spiritual needs, I'll probably have more energy for the stuff on my to-do list.

And speaking of spirituality...

The latest Pagan Blog Prompt is the following: "What is your sacred space like? Is it a permanent set up, or something you only create when you need it? What sorts of things do you need in order to make your space sacred? Is it an outdoor or indoor thing, or whenever and wherever you need it?" For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's exactly what it sounds like. Pagan Blog Prompts is there to provide blog prompts for Pagan bloggers. I've been aware of it for some months, but this is the first time I'm actually responding to it.



I guess my sacred space is my bedroom. It's my only space that is all my own, since I live with my parents and brother. It hadn't been sacred space, until I recently did major cleaning in it (which still isn't done -- I do need to go through some drawers). While cleaning I have made an effort to get rid of negative energy, and invite the good in.

I also moved my altar. It had been on a bookshelf, and that worked for a while, but it was finally time for a change. So I moved it to a little nightstand type table, and am trying to figure out what to do with it to make it my ideal altar. It's a work in progress. I might share photos eventually, but at this point in time it doesn't feel appropriate.

The one downside to my altar's new location is that the cats can jump on it. lol That's ok though, I guess. I just need to make sure that I don't leave anything breakable on it. And I shouldn't let the cats in my room while any candles are lit, since they might jump before looking.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gummi Bears

Last evening I was with some friends (we actually went to see a high school production of Les Miserables!) and somehow the subject of cartoons came up. I never was really into cartoons, with the exception of Gummi Bears.

Ah, Gummi Bears. I loved them. I remember fondly the mornings that I had breakfast in front of the TV and watched the cartoon.

So, I found them on YouTube! Here's one episode in three parts. I think it's the first one.








I think my favorite is Gruffy Bear.

I also think that if I don't watch it, I'm going to get hooked on these cartoons again. lol :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cheating

I just finished reading the latest post over at The Didactic Pirate, and guess what? It turns out that at one university there was a class of 600 students, 200 of which cheated on their latest exam. Think about it. That is 1/3 of a class of 600.

I don't like cheaters. Cheating is dishonest. Not only that, but cheating actually hurts people in the long run -- think about it, they graduate with a degree that they didn't really earn. And how much is a degree worth if you haven't really earned it? (Hint: Not very much.)

I don't feel like writing all the dirty details, but here are the basics: someone got ahold of the answer sheet and shared it with classmates. The professor and dean figured it out, due partially to someone who tipped them off anonymously. They have a way to figure out who cheated, and the cheaters will be dealt with...unless they confess that they cheated, in which case they are off the hook.

Personally, I think they're being too nice. Personally, I think everyone who cheated ought to face repercussions.

Also, everyone will have to take a new exam in place of the one already taken.

I do like that, but if I were one of the students in the class I would be very angry as heck with my classmates who cheated and made it necessary for me to retake an exam.

Interestingly, someone recorded the professor confronting the class about it, and the Pirate shared it in his post. I watched it, and it is quite impressive. It's fifteen minutes long, so you might not want to watch it due to its length, but if you're interested here it is.
If you want to find out more, you can read the Pirate's post about it here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm back!

I've been pretty quiet the past few days, maybe because I've been spending a LOT of time cleaning my bedroom. You see, I found mold growing first on the edges of my bedroom windows (yes, you saw that right -- windows, plural!), and then on my window sills. So then I turned my room upside down looking for more mold and doing a thorough cleaning in the process.

The good news is that I found no mold growing on my walls.

The other good news is that my bedroom is now quite clean.

There is no bad news.

:)

Also, I wanted to share a video clip. In it over 650 people burst out singing Halleluja in a crowded mall.

It is awesome.



Don't you wish you could have been there to see it? I wish I'd been there, not only to see it but to sing with them.

Oh yes, and the singers were accompanied by the worlds LARGEST pipe organ. More awesomeness. :)

(Do I seem to be writing differently? I feel like I'm writing differently...maybe all that cleaning has me in a weird mood...)

=D

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What the heck?

I was on my way home, and had just missed a train. That was ok, though, since I knew another one would be along in maybe five minutes. I decided to walk to the far end of the station to wait, but was stopped halfway there by a guy who asked "Why aren't you smiling?" This took me by surprise. "What? I'm not smiling?" "No," he said, and added something like "A beautiful woman like you probably has lots of reasons to smile."

He said a few other pretty things like that, and I was just beginning to figure out what he was up to when he said "You know, I usually don't make a pass at women wearing glasses, but there's just something about you." I guess I was supposed to feel flattered and special, but I just wanted to laugh. I contained my laughter but I did smile, which I think he took as encouragement.

He asked me some other questions -- like what my job is, am I a college student, what's my major, what's my accent, how old am I -- and eventually commented "Your boyfriend is really lucky." When he figured out that I don't actually have a boyfriend he said "What? I can't believe it! A woman like you, guys must be lining up to knock on your door." At that point I considered telling him that I prefer women. It would have been a lie, but it would have been interesting to see how he responded to being told that he was making a pass at a lesbian. Plus it would have told him that he had zero chance of getting me.

Eventually the train came, and we parted ways. I was on the verge of laughing the rest of the way home. It just seems funny to me that a guy would stop a woman at a train station to make a pass at her. I mean, he didn't even have any idea whether I was a serial murderer or something else just as bad! He didn't even know my name! And he never even told me his.

Ah, the people you meet when taking mass transit. Some are interesting, and others are...more interesting.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Samhain stuff


My Samhain went pretty well. One of the highlights was talking on the phone to a friend of mine who moved away a month ago. I spent last Samhain with her and was really starting to miss her as this Samhain approached. Talking on the phone isn't the same as hanging out together and telling stories around the fire, but it was pretty good to see her name on my caller ID and hear her say "Happy Samhain!"

I also figured that Samhain might be a good time to smudge my home. For those who don't know, "smudging" is basically cleansing, purifying, and banishing negative energy. It can be done a variety of ways, and I decided to do it with water. (I'd originally wanted to do it by carrying burning herbs around the house, but I couldn't get the herbs to stay lit. So I improvised.) In the end everyone in my family was also smudged, and I even smudged the cats -- amazingly they didn't object to me sprinkling water on them.

And then the next day at work...

A coworker asked me how my Halloween had gone. At first I was hesitant to mention the spiritual aspect of the day to me, simply because being a minority can be a little tiresome at times since you have to explain yourself to people. But after telling her what I dressed up as and how many trick-or-treaters we got (one group of three kids) I added "And I'm Pagan, so I also celebrate the Pagan roots of Halloween..." Much to my amazement, she responded with "Oh, I should have called my Pagan relatives!" It turns out that she was already familiar with Samhain, and that I didn't need to explain anything about it.

It also turns out that this coworker of mine comes from a country that celebrates October 31st as a day honoring the dead. I don't remember all the details, but she told me a little about how they celebrate the day, which involves visiting grave sites of deceased relatives. It's also a national holiday in her home country, and almost everyone also had Monday off.

It was really nice to talk to her, and hear about how she used to celebrate the day with her family. Unfortunately I don't remember the name of her country...I know it's a small one, though, and its name sounded vaguely familiar to me when she said it.

Last, I want to share this news article. BBC covered the Pagan celebrations going on on the 31st, and then was criticized for "neglecting Christianity." Apparently Christianity is in danger of being "marginalized" by news agencies such as BBC who decide to give air time to people of minority religions. I'm not sure if I should laugh or what. I mean, come on. Christianity is one of the major world religions. I don't think that it's in any danger of being marginalized.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A reminder to my witchy friends...

...to not drink and fly this Halloween! The consequences might be painful. And people might laugh. ;)


Samhain

Samhain (which is Pagan speak for October 31st) is a time to remember and honor those who have passed on in the last year. This year I remember:




Rest in peace.

On a more upbeat note, my grandma has a 90% chance of beating her cancer. She should remain among the living for a while longer. :)


Giveaway

There is yet another givaway at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom that I am entering. This time it is for a bunch of Halloween goodies, some of which look VERY yummy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Big cats and pumpkins

Do you like pumpkins? Do you like cats? If so, you might want to watch this short video.



I want to know -- did they have to stuff the pumpkins with cat nip, or do the cats just like pumpkins naturally?

Halloween: A Brief History

I came across this brief video explaining the roots of Halloween, and I wanted to share it here.



Modern day Pagans still celebrate Samhain, including yours truly. I'm not sure that I believe that all of the dead wait until October 31st to finally head wherever they're going, but otherwise this is a pretty good explanation of Samhain as I see it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Agh...

On Monday I cut myself with a plastic knife.

Yesterday I scraped my knuckles on a wall.

Today I half expected to prick myself on my spinning wheel. (Hey, maybe I should be Sleeping Beauty for Halloween!) Except, how is that possible? There's nothing on the spinning wheel to prick myself with. It's not the sort of thing you would expect to happen. Then again, one doesn't expect to cut themselves with a plastic knife or to scrape their knuckles on a wall.

Well, I haven't pricked myself with my spinning wheel (though I guess there's still time...) but I did stay home sick. :(

On the upside, Kokopelle kept me company when I slept in today. And before getting out of bed I just had to take a photo of him with my handy dandy iPhone.

Isn't he adorable?


Monday, October 25, 2010

Who do I write for?

In my English class my professor brought up a point to consider when you read something: Who is the writer writing to? Who is the intended audience?

So that got me to wondering, who is my audience?

I already have some idea, and I know I have (something of a) diverse audience.

* Pagans, who understand "Pagan Speak"
* Non-Pagans, who do not know "Pagan Speak" -- that is, words like Samhain, Sabbat, Beltane...

When I write about Paganism I like to explain what I'm talking about so that the non-Pagans can follow, but without boring my Pagan readers with explanations about details they already know. It can be an interesting balance to maintain.

Some more of my audience...

* College students
* College graduates
* At least one professor

These are people who can probably relate to the school stuff I'm talking about. And yet, I also have...

* People who have never been to college, and who don't plan to go

However, since I talk about a lot of non-school stuff, I think I can keep these people engaged.

Oh yes, and let's not forget...

* My mom

Cannot forget my mom.

Here's an idea: Why don't you write just a little about yourself in the comments? Even just a little "Hullo! I'm not a college student or a Pagan. I don't know why I read your blog, but whatever. I guess you entertain me." Or maybe, "Hullo sweetie, this is your mother. I'm reading your blog to keep an eye on you."

I'd love to hear from you. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fun, Sweet Adelines style!

Were you watching the Sweet Adelines International competition today? I was. :) On the webcast. The quartet finals competition will be tomorrow (Friday), and then the chorus finals on Saturday. I highly recommend that you tune in for some good music.

This evening was the chorus semi-finals. After the competition, but before the top ten finalists were announced, Rich Tones Chorus performed. They were the chorus champions last year, and it's traditional for them to perform after the chorus semi-finals. It's sort of their time to say to everyone "Hullo! It's been great to be your champions! We'll be stepping aside now to make way for a new champion, but we'll be back to compete again soon."

Rich Tones did some wonderful songs, with some funny commentary in between. For example...

Their director, Dale Syverson, took the mic at one point. She started saying "According to my watch..." She paused, and looked under a wide wrist band she was wearing. She started again "According to..." Again she paused. This time she looked under her sleeve. "Ok," she began, "According to my watch..." And again she paused, looking uncertain. And this time, she looked inside her shirt, like something was tucked away under her bra strap. More confident this time, she began yet again. "According to my watch, we have forty-eight more hours of being your champions..." This time she stopped because every one was laughing at her. She rolled her eyes. "I have an iPhone." More laughter. So, she reached into her shirt, and produced an iPhone. Everyone continued laughing, now at the fact that she took an iPhone on stage with her. "I have it on vibrate." She explains. Then adds, "That's how I enjoy it the most."
Another time...

An energetic song had just ended. A young woman runs up to the mic, panting. She says "Ok, you know, and I know, that I'm up there to give them," she points over her shoulder to the chorus, and continues gasping, "a chance to take their breath. But I want to know, what about me? I mean, come on..." An older woman comes comes up to the mic, and says "You youngsters. Always complaining."

Ok, so I guess that's sort of an inside joke. You would get it if you'd been following Rich Tones for a few years.

I tried to find a video of them on YouTube, but the following video is all that I could find. It's got snippets from the chorus finals competition of last year. If you want to take a look you can find them at 4:15, and it's no longer them when people start singing "Once a winner, always a winner..." That's The Winner Song. We like to sing it after competition results have been announced. :)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another givaway!

Mrs. B. has yet another givaway that I'm entering. It's for a lovely pendant, and you can see it here.

If you haven't already checked out her 31 Days of Halloween, I recommend that you do! Soon!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Drumming debut

Tall One plays drums, and he had his first performance on the drum recently! Below is a video of him debuting on the drum. They (or the song, I'm not sure which) is called Celtic Fusion.



They came together for just this one song, but they're debating whether to do future performances together as a band.

Cool givaway

There is yet another cool givaway over at Mrs. B.'s 31 Days of Halloween!

This time it is an adorable pair, a Witches Cauldron Plush (that's boiling over!) and a Cutie Corn Plush. You can see the photo here.

Incidentally, I won a pair of hair sticks from this same Etsy shop last year, that looked a lot like this.

Yes, I'm whining

I stayed home today, sick. Well, ok, I guess that was technically yesterday, since it's now 2:05AM. I haven't been feeling well the past few days, and today (sorry, yesterday) it was finally enough that I called in to work sick and e-mailed my professors to explain my absence.

What fun. And don't ask me what I'm sick with. I'm certain that it isn't flu, and it's definitely not a cold, but I don't know what it is.

Then this evening I went to bed early at about 10pm. I lay in bed for a few hours, tossing and turning, unable to sleep. Then at about 1:45am I gave up and got out of bed to have a (late) midnight snack.

I don't like to complain about being sick on this blog, but...do I have to be sick and deal with insomnia at the same time? Do I really? If this is some bored deity's idea of a joke, I am not amused.

Fortunately, I do have some good news to share...

Yesterday (or I guess that was two days ago, since it was Sunday and it's now the wee hours of Tuesday) we got the Halloween decorations out of the attic and decorated. What we've got is cool, or so I think, but we haven't got very much of it. Part of me wants to go out and buy more Halloween stuff, but I'm forcing myself to show restraint. Maybe I'll share photos of what we have got.

What have you done for Halloween/Samhain?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Barbershop music

With the Sweet Adelines International competition coming up (which I talked about in this post) I wanted to share with you just what Barbershop music really is. And since I wrote a post on the subject last year, I decided to be lazy and just repost it.

By the way, if you don't feel like watching all three videos I recommend that you pick the last one to listen to. I like to save the best for last. :)

*******

Barbershop music got started thanks to bored guys who were waiting their turn in line at, you got it, barbershops! Originally the music belonged to the men, but it's so darned cool that women didn't let them keep it to themselves.

Barbershop is four part harmony, a cappella. I've heard the four parts related to parts of a cake, and it's the best way I've found to explain the different parts.

Bass -- the basses are the plate, and hold everything together. They scarcely ever have the melody, but I think their part is really cool, and would be singing it if I had the range.

Baritone (aka bari) -- they're the icing which adds character to the cake. They do this and that, and are basically whatever the cook (or composer) needs them to be. "Vocal gymnastics" is a good way to describe this part.

Lead -- we virtually always have the melody, which is why we're called leads. We lead the song. We're the absolute best of all four parts. (Never mind that I sing lead and am therefore biased... :P)

Tenor -- they're the sprinkles on the cake, but unlike sprinkles, they are absolutely necessary for Barbershop. They add it a bit of something that you don't otherwise have in the music. A good phrase to describe them is "seen but barely heard."

The parts are called this regardless of who's singing it: men, women and men together, or just women.

At this point I think that more description is pointless unless you can actually hear the music, so I'll let the music speak for itself.



This is the Realtime, which is one awesome quartet. I was fortunate enough to see them live a few years back, and have been in love with them ever since.



This second one is Martini, and is really good. Their lead (second from the left here) is in the Pride of Portland chorus, which I was talking about in my last post. Yes, I've also seen them live. :)



I wanted to also share a chorus, so I picked Westminster chorus. Notice their choreography. Choruses tend to do that. Unfortunatley I have not seen this chorus live. :( I hope I will someday, though. :D

I could add more, but three is a pretty good number so I'll stop here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Music majors vs. English majors

Last year I was a music major. This year I'm an English major. And I'm noticing a difference.

This year I'm more likely to run into classmates when I'm eating lunch on campus, when I'm in the campus library, or when I'm otherwise hanging out on campus. And it's not just that I run into them, it's that we stop and chat. It's not that the music majors were cold or that we never chatted, but it happens way more frequently now. I've been wondering why the difference is there, and I can only come up with three possible reasons.

1) It could be that I've changed somehow almost overnight, and that because of this change classmates are suddenly coming up to me to chat. However, I'm pretty darn sure that this isn't it.

2) Maybe it's because music majors have a building that's all their own, whereas English majors don't. Us English majors have to share buildings with people of other majors, so we're more spread out over the campus. My theory is that being spread out is somehow connected to the difference.

3) Mom suggested that it could be a difference between music majors and English majors. I don't think that this is the case, but I can't rule it out.

I'm thinking that possibility #2 is the real reason, but I can't prove it. And who knows, there could be more than one thing going on that causes this difference...maybe even something that I haven't thought of.

Wise and Worldly Readers (yes I'm stealing that line from another blogger), have you ever changed majors and then noticed that the dynamics at your school suddenly changed?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Apples and HPs

Is it wrong of me to put an Apple sticker on my HP Mini Netbook?




I had a couple of Apple stickers just lying around, with nothing to do with them...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Where are you from?"

At Marylhurst we're in the third week of fall term, and so far I've been asked maybe five times "Where are you from?" Well, ok, so one guy asked "What's your native language?" (and he wasn't sure if I was joking when I told him that it's English) but that's just another way of approaching the same question.

Each time, the conversation went something like this:

Classmate: So where are you from?

Me: I'm from around here. If you're asking about the accent [I used to pause here but I'm so used to people responding "yes" that I just keep going now] it's actually a speech disorder.

Classmate: Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize that. I thought it was just a cool accent.

They usually apologize, as though noticing my speech disorder was somehow wrong of them.

Me: Yeah, that's what pretty much everyone thinks. Everyone has their peculiarities, and this just happens to be one of mine.

Classmate: I totally thought you were from Australia/England/New Zealand/some other cool place.

Different people think that my "accent" is from different parts of the globe. I've even had one person ask me if I was from the southern US states (which is actually where I was born, and where my parents are from!), whereas others have assured me that I have no hint of a southern accent at all. It's rather amusing.

Sometimes the conversation stops at this point, but sometimes I find myself explaining about FAS. Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) is when a person suffers a head injury and then abruptly develops an accent. I haven't been diagnosed, but I'm pretty sure that's what my speech disorder is...though in my case the injury would have happened when I was about a year old, when my language was just beginning to develop. So I'm not sure if FAS could be diagnosed in my case. Not that I've actually gone to doctors to ask about it. I don't think there would be any real point to getting a diagnosis, since there's nothing that could be done about it.

In any event, it keeps life interesting. How many people get mistaken for a foreigner in their hometown?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The un-trapped miners

I think everyone knows about the Chile miners who have been trapped underground for almost 70 days.

As I write this two are now above ground, and a third is one his way up. I've been following live updates here.

I've got to ask, am I the only one comparing what's happening to these people to what happened to Apollo 13? In both cases the people shouldn't have survived. But the people in Apollo 13 pulled through and these miners are pulling through. The world watched Apollo 13, and the world is watching as these miners are coming up. Literally! There is seriously a live camera pointed at the new entrance/exit for the mine. I don't know the link, but my dad is watching it on his computer.

I think this qualifies as a miracle. :)

Oh yes, and, since time isn't standing still as I write, the third miner is above ground now. Three down (or up), thirty more to go.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sweet Adelines International competition!

It is that time of year again! We are nearing the international competition for Sweet Adelines International!

...an explanation is probably needed for those who are unfamiliar with Sweet Adelines.

Sweet Adelines is an organization of women who love to get together and sing barbershop music. And barbershop music is a style four part harmony a cappella music. You can click here to see an example. (Sorry to provide a link instead of embedding it, but embedding has been disabled for this video.) Barbershop music is really great, and is a lot of fun to sing.

Choruses from all over the world will be competing, and I'll be rooting for the one from my hometown, Pride of Portland. Fortunately, I can embed a video of them in this post. In the video they aren't singing typical barbershop music, but oh well. It's still Pride of Portland.

Mrs. B.'s givaways

Mrs. B. is doing another givaway that I want to win. This time it's for a bath set with soaps and sea salts....it looks really nice. You can see it here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So confusing!!!

If you've written academic papers or essays, you know that you have to cite your sources. You probably also know that there are different formats to cite your sources. For example, there's MLA, APA, Chicago, AMA...and others.

At Portland Community College I learned to use the MLA format. MLA was all I knew. I was barely even aware that other formats existed. Then when I arrived at Marylhurst I learned that not only do other formats exist, and that as a music therapy major I would be using APA when I wrote papers, not MLA.

There are little differences between MLA and APA. To illustrate this point, I'll share how to cite a text first using MLA, and then APA.

Billen, Andrew. "The prude of love." New Statesman 138.4973 (2009): 46-47. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 11 Oct. 2010.

Billen, A. (2009). The prude of love. New Statesman, 138(4973), 46-47. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Slightly different, isn't it? They both say the same thing, but they say it slightly differently. And if you know one and are trying to unlearn it to learn the other, it can be a little confusing. And if you get them mixed up, you're in trouble.

But now that I'm an English major, I'm having to return to MLA! Which is so weird.

So, to recap:

1) Started out using MLA, was happy.
2) Switched to APA because I was a music therapy major. Had fun trying to learn a new way to cite my sources.
3) Now am returning to MLA, and am somewhat confused.

Ah, the joys of life...