Friday, April 29, 2011

Of Easter and grandmas

I have come to the following conclusion: when your grandma has dementia, you can either laugh or cry.

I chose to laugh (though not to her face) when grandma introduced Tall One to mom and me last evening, and asked we knew each other.

(And yes, she has dementia. She was officially diagnosed about two weeks ago, but that diagnosis didn't tell us anything new. It only made things official.)

This is just one of many interesting things that have happened since grandma arrived in our home. I'm not going to write on this blog everything else that has happened, but I might tell stories about it years down the road. I will tell you, though, that we're trying to get her into a nursing home as quickly as possible. I'm worried that she might start wandering, get out of the house, and get herself into trouble when we're not looking. Because, of course, we can't watch her 24/7 like they can in a nursing home.

Now, forward to last weekend! Or would that be back to last weekend?

Mom and Tall One were up in BC attending the Indoor Games competition. It's the first of the Highland Games each year, and it's always on Easter weekend. There's always been one thing or another that has kept me from going to the Indoor Games, and I'd been looking forward to going this year. However, then grandma entered the picture and I had to stay home and look after her.

Oh well. There's always next year.

As usual, I hid Easter eggs for Tall One and mom to find when they got back home. But I wasn't 100% sure where the eggs from last year were, so I went to the store to get some new eggs.

When I got back home I thought to myself, well why not also hide the eggs that I bought last year?

So once I texted mom and found out where the old eggs were I climbed up into the attic (and wow, it was warm up there!) to get the plastic box containing 50 plastic eggs sitting on top of the Easter decor boxes.

Then I decided, well why not also decorate for Easter? So I brought down the four boxes of Easter decorations.

Even though I hide eggs we haven't decorated for Easter in at least two years. Actually, I don't think we've taken those boxes out of the attic since we moved into this house about three years ago. So I had quite forgotten that there were at least 100 eggs that I would uncover as I stuck Easter bunnies and other fun stuff around the house!

I didn't count all of them, but I think I hid about 150 eggs. And I know for a fact that there are still four eggs that haven't been discovered, two of which are out in plain sight!!! I'm trying to figure out how the two in plain sight are still undiscovered.

As for why I decorated for Easter for the first time in years...I think it was a combination of two reasons. One was that I just felt like it. The other is that grandma is Christian, and I thought that doing something for Easter might be comforting to her.

In a future post...some of the fun places that I hid the eggs. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A giant Easter egg

Someone at Big Cat Rescue decided to celebrate Easter with their big cats.


They definitely know how to have fun! :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Meet Grimalkin

I would like to bring your attention to the blog Diary of a Familiar-in-Training. You will probably like this blog if you are:

1) A cat lover
2) A witch, or interested in witchcraft
3) Looking for some laughs

As indicated by the blog name, this is a diary of a familiar-in-training: the young feline Grimalkin. It's a new blog, and so far only has only seven posts.

I'm already hooked on it. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

I don't tend to get too excited about Earth Day. Not because I think it's unimportant, but because I think every day is Earth Day. In fact, I've only written one Earth Day post before, and it wasn't even on Earth Day!
Today I gave offerings to the land that I live on, and also to the fey. Hey, may as well get them in on the fun. :)

I also walked to a place near my house that's just below a roadway, and yet somehow manages to feel like it isn't. It's a pretty special spot.

And would you care to guess what I found at that special spot? Faded flowers and what looked to be a weathered love note. I like to think that they were left for a lover, but it looked like they may have been left for someone who had passed on. It was hard to tell for certain.

What did you do for Earth Day? And do you celebrate it just on one day a year, or throughout the year?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thread magic

A certain someone was very enthusiastic about yarn magic yesterday, so today I'm doing a post about two witches who practice thread magic. Both are from books by Tamora Pierce.

Alanna, a.k.a. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

Alanna is a witch (although she's called a mage, and I think once or twice a sorceress) who can do all kinds of cool magic. She is first and foremost a healer, but she also does some pretty neat tricks with thread.

I'd like to share an excerpt from The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, which is the third book in the Song of the Lioness quartet. (Oh yeah, she's also called The Lioness.) I've edited out chunks from this excerpt that are important to the plot but not to the bit of magic being done.

Alanna swiftly tied a knot in the thread. Ishak fell as the carpet he stood on yanked itself from under his feet, dumping the young man on the ground. The carpet then sailed around the tent frantically. . . .
Alanna swiftly tied a second knot. The carpet stopped its mad journey, coming to a halt directly over Ishak's head. . . .
She loosened the second knot, and the carpet began to lower itself onto Ishak's head. . . .
She untied the first knot, and the carpet whisked itself around the tent, stopping in front of Ishak this time. Alanna undid what remained of the second knot, and the carpet trembled. "You're in its way," she told the young man. Startled, he moved aside, and the carpet settled gently into its former spot.

Alanna appears in The Immortals quartet and Protector of the Small quartet, although she plays a supporting role in those stories rather than being the big hero. She's also the mother of Aly, who is the heroine in The Daughter of the Lioness books.

I'd also like to mention the presence of a certain purple eyed black kitty on the cover of the book. Alanna named him Faithful, maybe because he faithfully gives her advice on everything, even things (or perhaps especially things) that she doesn't want his advice on.

Hmm, and there was a purple eyed talking cat who was a friend of the witch Beka Cooper, who liked giving her advice. And that story took place 200 years before this story in the same world. Oh yeah, and there's a funny cat constellation that sometimes disappears for decades at a time before mysteriously reappearing... ;)


Sandry

Sandry is in The Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens quartets.

Sandry is a stitch-witch. Yep, that's what she calls herself. :) I don't have any of her books on hand so I can't share any excerpts, but I can tell you about her.

She does all her magic with thread, yarn, and anything made from thread or yarn. String, yarn, and fabric both do whatever she wants them to do. Once when she gets angry she orders some tapestries to cocoon people so that they can't move. It takes a while for them to escape!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yarn magic

The fantasy book I'm reading right now is Blackveil by Kristen Britain.

(This is the fourth book of the Green Rider series, and you can read my review of the first book here.)

Yet again, no one in this book (with the possible exception of one) is called a witch. But quite a few people use magic, so for the purposes of the party Witches in Fiction they're all witches. :)

There's one woman in particular whose magic interests me. She's just known as Grandmother. I'll share an excerpt from the first chapter of this book which demonstrates how her magic works.

From the basket she carried over her wrist, she removed a skein of red yarn and cut a length of it with a knife that hung from her belt. Her fingers were cold and stiff, but moved nimbly to tie knots, and as she did so, she spoke words of power. . . . .
When she finished tying the knots, she breathed on them, and they tightened of their own volition, flexing and melding together into a single mass that transformed into a luminous red salamander perched on her palm Her people, she knew, still only saw a snarled wad of yarn.
"Find the road," she commanded the salamander, for it was a compass
It gazed at her with eyes of coal andl ashed its serpentine tail this way and that until it settled on a direction, pointing the way with its tail. The others probably saw nothing more than a loose end of yarn lifting in an air current.
Maybe because I love to use yarn, and even spin my own yarn, I find the idea of using yarn in magic fascinating. Grandmother uses yarn for all her magic, and believe me she does cast a wide variety of spells. It seems that her yarn is quite versatile!

Dear Insomnia...

Dear Insomnia,

I know you love me, but your love is unrequited. Every time you visit me I am tired the next day -- and I am not tired due to having had a good time.

No more nights like last night, or two nights ago. I do not like taking well over an hour to get to sleep. How about more nights like one night ago, when I fell asleep almost immediately on going to bed?

And don't make me even mention the one time some years ago when I couldn't sleep until dawn at 4am. (Whoops, too late. I mentioned it.) I still haven't forgiven you for that.

Please, cease and desist. If you don't then I will be forced to pull out the medicines that will make me sleep. I still have those from the last time you decided to pay an unwelcome visit and stay a while. Do you really want to fight them?

Sincerely,

Sarita

ps. Oh yes, I'd forgotten about the times I couldn't sleep until 6am. And that was even more recent than when I only got to sleep at 4am. I guess I should thank you for letting me sleep before 2am last night?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beka Cooper

I've run out of short stories to tell, but that doesn't mean I'm through writing posts for the Witches in Fiction blog party!

Today I would like to tell you about one of my favorite witches in fiction: Beka Cooper, from Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper quartet. The first book is Terrier, the second is Bloodhound, and the third (unreleased) is Mastiff.

Beka isn't called a witch. In fact I don't think she's called anything. Not even mage or hedgewitch. But she's got magic, and I think that for the purposes of Witches in Fiction that makes her a witch. As for how her magic shows itself...

Now first of all, I've got to explain that in her world pigeons carry the ghosts of those who aren't ready to move on to the Peaceful Realms (their afterlife). This is a key point because Beka can hear their voices. When she was very small her mother was afraid that she was crazy, but fortunately her grandmother happened to know that it was a bit of family magic.

Because of this magic Beka feeds the pigeons on a very regular basis, and it's not unusual for the birds to seek her out. This is a win-win arrangement -- the winged nuisances get fed, and Beka gets info. Oh, did I mention that Beka is law enforcement? Hearing the voices of the dead can be helpful when trying to solve a murder, especially when they're complaining about who killed them and how.

Sound strange? Maybe. But the other way that her magic shows up is even weirder, and I think it's cooler.

Throughout Beka's city are things called dust spinners. Dust spinners are basically small vortexes of wind that generally go unnoticed. They stay in one place, collect dust, and more importantly they also collect snatches of conversation.

When Beka steps into a dust spinner she is able to hear the snatches of conversation that have been collected. This is also a bit of family magic, and it's something else that's useful to her as law enforcement.

Last but not least, is the cat you may have noticed on the cover of the Terrier. That cat is Pounce, and he's a purple eyed black cat who she found in a stable. Pounce has made her his friend, and is fond of giving her advice. Yep, he's a talking cat. If that doesn't make her a witch, what does? ;)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Trust

Here is the final short story I will contribute to the blog party Witches in Fiction. Or anyways, it's the last one unless I dream up any more stories.

And yes, that's how I got this story: from a dream.

I blame my recent short story frenzy on Magaly. She's got my subconscious plotting witchy stories and my subconscious is giving them to me as dreams. Or something like that, anyways. ;)

Let me tell you a story of magic gone wrong.


Trust

Zeke had come to Whisp for help because she was a witch. And because he trusted her.

He had married another woman because he needed to produce an heir, not because he wanted to. In truth he was in love with Whisp.

Zeke had made his love known to her in the past. He did so not because he hoped that he could marry her, or even because he expected that his love would be returned, but because he could not remain silent.

Whisp did love him, but because she could never be considered suitable as the mother of his heirs she had decided that their lives would be easier if she politely kept him at arms length.

And now, here he was, come to her with a problem of a rather personal nature: he did not desire his wife, and so could not father the heir that he needed by her.

Whisp knew she should send him to another witch, but she also knew that he had chosen her because he trusted her above all others.

As she worked her magic she silently chanted Let this man be a father within the year.

Afterwards Whisp was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. She began to cry, and Zeke hesitantly put a comforting arm around her.

One thing led to another, as they say, and nine months later Whisp gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gay rights

I normally try to avoid political issues on my blog, but there's an issue I've been meaning to address recently and a video that Debra shared made me finally decided to write it. First, the video she shared.



The issue I want to address is whether or not people of the same gender should be allowed to marry.

My short answer: yes.

My long answer includes an explanation for why my answer is yes.

For a while I didn't really think about this issue. Before I was 18 there was a law passed stating that homosexuals may not legally marry, and I didn't really care about it one way or another.

But then I met someone, a woman who is attracted to both men and women. Neither of us made a big deal about it, but she didn't try to hide it, and I found out about her orientation when she talked about previous girlfriend(s) and her (then) current boyfriend.

After we became pretty good friends I tried to imagine myself saying to her "So, if you fall in love with a man, that's great! I'll come to your wedding and everything. But if you fall in love with a woman? Sorry, you're out of luck." I knew I could never say that to her.

I don't think she even knows that it's thanks to her that I woke up and made up my mind about this political issue. An issue which really shouldn't be a political issue, but up to individuals about what's right for them.

Love is love. Some of us are attracted to the opposite gender, others to their own, some to both. Whatever the case might be, we're all equally capable of love. And we should all have the same rights, whatever our orientation.

What do you think? Or are you like I was before I met my friend, and haven't really thought about it?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friendship

Friendship

Willow took a deep breath and descended to the edge of the stream where she intended to hold a night long vigil.

In truth, she knew that she was not supposed to do this. Normally only witches with several years experience more than her would hold this vigil: there was a certain truth sought at this stream, and it was one that a person of her age was not generally considered quite ready for. Willow was not entirely certain what this truth might be, but she was certain that she was ready for it and was willing to risk her teacher’s disapproval.

Part of her whispered that she was an overeager student trying to run before she could walk, but she ignored that sensible voice.

~~~

Hours later her teeth were chattering, and Willow was thoroughly miserable. The only truth she could find was that she now loathed the stream.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, but --”

Willow started and tried to jump up. Unfortunately her legs collapsed under her and she fell.

“Oh! Were you meditating?” Strong hands grasped her arms and helped her to to her feet.

“Yes. I mean, no. That is, I was trying to...” Willow tried to make out the figure of the man who was now helping her to the road near the stream.

“I thought so. Things didn’t look quite right to me, though. Why don’t I help you to someplace you can recover?”

~~~

When Willow woke up in a cozy bed the next morning she was warm, comfortable, and decidedly embarrassed.

When she got up and left the bedroom Willow found herself in another room that served as the kitchen and living area. There were some blankets in disarray in one corner, and the man who had helped her the previous evening was busy starting a fire. He looked up when she entered.

“There you are. How are you feeling?”

“Very well, thank you.”

Willow hesitated, looked around as though trying to escape from herself, then said in a rush “I suppose you want to know what I was doing.”

“I think I can guess.”

“Oh, what am I going to tell my teachers!”

“You could tell them that you spent the night in my bed. You don’t even have to mention that I slept elsewhere. I think that will stop their questions.”

Willow stared at him, at first appalled, but then she burst out laughing. She laughed until she was crying and could not seem to stop. Finally she was able to gasp out “Thank you. I just might do that.”

“You’re welcome. My name is Douglas.”

“I’m Willow.”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Two firsts

Today I have done two things I have never done before.

1) I cut someone's hair.

2) I washed someone's hair. That is, I washed someone else's hair for the first time! Obviously I have washed my own hair before. Many times. ;)

This all started out because mom asked me to help by washing grandma's hair. And then as I was about to wash grandma's hair she asked me to also trim it. I told her that I've never cut hair before and warned her that she might have to go to a professional afterwards to get the job done properly.

"I have faith in you" she assured me. I wished I just had faith in myself!

As I began to cut I found myself trying to think of a hair-trimming god/dess who I could pray to. None came to mind (I doubt that there are any deities specializing in hair cuts) and I eventually settled on Brighid, because she is a goddess of the hearth. I think she laughed at me, though. I know that in the end I laughed at myself in the end.

And I did an excellent job cutting grandma's hair, if I may say so myself. :)

What's under that kilt?

Have you ever wondered what's worn under a kilt? Well, look no further. I have the answer here.

The answer comes in the form of a song. The audio isn't too great, but I'm sharing it because the visuals are amazing. (Don't worry, it's PG-13!!) If you want to get a look at the words, you can find them here.



Actually I had one Irish step dance teacher who would answer the question of what's under the kilt by just pointing at his feet and saying "sneakers!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Awesome giveaway

I am here to tell you about a giveaway. Oh, and did I mention that the giveaway item is awesome (if I may say so myself)?



The needlework pictured above is something that I myself made, and if you want to find out how you can win it I recommend that you click here.

(Obviously, I'm advertising myself here, not writing a blog post to try to win it. ;) )

If you like what you see here you might want to check out my Etsy shop Dragonfly's Laughter.

I'd also like to mention that Dragonfly's Laughter has a facebook fan page. If you like what you see, why not "like" Dragonfly's Laughter there?

Douglas

Here is my first offering for the blog part Witches in Fiction. It's one I wrote recently and it's based on a dream I had.

If you want to find more witchy stories then check out Magaly's blog Pagan Culture. :)

Douglas

“You must heal me.” Douglas looked up at Bludrex, wondering how such a thing was possible. Yet it must be done if Douglas were to stay alive. And the job was not made any easier by the fact that no one was allowed to touch Bludrex.

“Please let me consult with a colleague. I may have more success with her help.”

“Very well. But you must return with a cure by noon tomorrow.”

~~~

When Douglas arrived at Willow’s cottage that evening he entered without knocking as was his custom. He found her in the kitchen brewing some sort of potion. Or maybe it was tea. It was sometimes difficult to tell the difference. Despondent, he sat at the old table without a word. When Willow finished adding the latest ingredients to her brew she placed some food in front of him, but he could not bring himself to eat. They sat in silence as she waited for him to tell her what was wrong.

“I will die at noon tomorrow.” He had to drag the words out.

Willow was silent for a while. Finally she asked, “Why?”

Douglas told her that he must heal Bludrex or be killed, and went on to describe the symptoms: the sleeplessness, the weight loss, the unending appetite, and the horror of it all. Once he finished she said nothing, but when he looked at her he realized that she was deep in thought and he began to hope. He had believed that even Willow would be unable to cure Bludrex, but now wondered if he had underestimated her skills.

“I believe there may be a cure,” she said slowly. “My present potion must be discarded, but no matter. There is also a song you must learn, and a potion that Bludrex must drink. As he drinks it you will sing, and I will spin yarn. I will make some cloth from the yarn, which we will use to heal him.”

“How can I help by singing? I am no witch.”

“You do not need to be a witch to sing the song.”

“When will we do this?”

“Tomorrow. We will go to Bludrex at noon and tell him what must be done.” It did not occur to Willow to mention that she would take some hairs from Bludrex’s head, just as it did not occur to Douglas to warn her not to touch Bludrex.

“You will come with me?” Douglas was surprised.

“I must.”

Willow stood and took her brew off the fire. As it cooled she began to chop and measure various herbs. Douglas felt tears sting his eyes as he watched her. He stood and went to her, putting his arms around her waist from behind and resting his cheek on top of her head. “I love you so much.”

“I know.” She whispered. “I love you too.”

~~~

At noon the next day Willow explained to Bludrex what she had told Douglas the day before. Bludrex obviously did not approve of Willow, but because he did not complain they went ahead with the plan. Things seemed to go well, and that evening Bludrex drank the brew as Douglas sang. Douglas’ eyes were closed as he focused on remembering the song Willow had taught him the night before, and so he did not see her approach Bludrex to take hair from his head. Willow knew as she took the hair that Bludrex was displeased, but she could not have guessed the ramifications of what she did.

When all was done and Willow had finished her spinning, there was silence. Finally Bludrex spoke. “You did not tell me that you would take a hair from my head.” Douglas was horrified.

“Please.” It was a whisper. “Please do not kill her…”

Willow stood very still, suddenly aware that something terrible was about to happen.

Bludrex laughed and said, “Very well, I will spare her miserable life.” He began to sing.

Willow trembled and fell to her knees, gasping. Douglas, disregarding his own safety, rushed to her and held her. She grasped his arms, but by the end of the song he was pulling away from her. When she looked up she saw that he was looking at her distastefully. “Who are you, and why won’t you let me go?”

She released him, shocked. Bludrex curtly dismissed Douglas, who he left the room quickly, with one final look of disgust at Willow.

“I have spared your life.” Bludrex told her “The sad fact is that you are useful, and I prefer to keep useful people alive. Still, you must be punished. Your foolish lover does not remember you, and will never remember you. Now, you will make this yarn into something for me to wear?”

“Yes.” She whispered it. “I will bring it to you soon.”

Willow left without looking back. That night, she burned the yarn and the spindle it had been spun on.

Monday, April 11, 2011

School

I haven't read anyone's blogs for the last few days. As for why...I'm getting to that.

When I was looking for classes to take this spring I discovered a Celtic Worldview class. I immediately knew that I wanted to take it. After all, I mostly turn to Celtic deities, and the better my understanding the Celts is then the better my understanding of their gods will be, and hence my own spirituality will be enriched! You can imagine how happy I was when my adviser told me that yes, I can fit the class into my degree plan.

(Financial aid doesn't cover anything that doesn't fit into my degree plan, so if I want to take a class it has to fit into my degree plan. Unless I want to find a way to pay for it myself.) (And yes, in the end I do have to pay for all my classes, but the point is that I don't have to pay for them here and now.)

I signed up for the class, and then looked at the schedule. My heart may have stopped momentarily when I saw what it was:

Friday, April 8th -- 9am-5pm
Saturday, April 9th -- 9am-5pm
Sunday, April 19th -- 9am-5pm

I hadn't even known that they scheduled classes like that. It was a mild relief the first day when the professor said that in reality the class would actually be from 9:15am-4:30pm. (Actually I was disappointed at first, but by Sunday I was definitely relieved.) Anyways, you now know why I haven't read any blogs the last few days.

Oh yes, and the reading...let's just say that I hadn't realized that I needed to do some reading beforehand. I'd assumed that the professor would e-mail us about any reading we needed to do, and I was wrong. So I had a lot of reading to do Friday and Saturday evenings.

However, I have survived, now know much more about the Celts, and am quite happy with myself. Oh and I need to finish reading 1 1/2 chapters about Druids that I was supposed to read before Friday.

Monday, April 4, 2011

How to help witch hunt victims

Mrs. B. is doing a series on 30 Days of Advocacy Against Witch-Hunts which I have been following. In her posts you can find info about how to help those who have been (usually falsely) accused of witchcraft and then tortured and/or killed for it.

There are two things in particular I'd like to highlight...

She's has set up a page to help raise money for Stepping Stones Nigeria, a charity which helps children who have been victims of the witch hunt. Even if you can't donate, why don't you tell your friends about it? It's for a good cause.

The English major in me particularly loves another option for helping: buying the book Eno's Story by Ayodele Olofintuade. It is a children's book written to raise awareness about what happens to the children accused of witchcraft, and half of the proceeds go to Stepping Stones.



I have ordered it, and when I get it I'll definitely review it. So keep your eyes peeled for my review! :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gmail Motion

If you don't already have Gmail, I suggest you check it out at www.gmail.com/motion. Why? Because of this:



Well? What are you waiting for!?

;)