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.