16 November 2007

Dreams of New Beginnings

All of my dreams last night had a theme: birth. I have been having pregnancy and birth related dreams sporadically for the past few weeks. Symbolically associated with new beginnings, I felt that these dreams indicated I was on the right track again with my business plan. For those who don't know me, I have been in the planning stages of an online metaphysical store for about three years now. I have the domain, the appropriate registrations with the government, and even a closet full of great merchandise, but no working website. A lot of our indecision lies in the choice between starting small or saving up lots of money and starting big. We have vacillated between these ideas endlessly.

Choice #1: Start with an online all-in-one hosting package that offers simple templates for a monthly fee.
Choice #2: Pay a programmer to design the whole website with all of the features we want, exactly how we want.
Choice #3: Wait until we are living in a place that makes us happy (not Texas) and start with a brick & mortar location.
Choice #4: Go ahead and open a brick & mortar location in Texas now, along with a simple website, and then move the business when we move.

After a few dreams of myself being pregnant and giving birth, I made a decision to go with choice #1. This after we had been settled on #2 for quite some time (which had resulted in nearly no action being taken.) While I am anxious to have a physical location where I can interact in person with people and provide services such as seminars and discussion groups, I have finally realized that Rome was not built in a day. To quote an insightful friend, I need to Start Where I Am, Use What I Have, and Do What I Can.

We are once again actively researching hosting sites, and my husband is actively working on one of his pet projects, making ambient music. Keyword here is ACTIVE. We have been passive and (mostly) patient for too long.

Which must have led to my all night dreaming of births and babies. The weirdest one involved me taking a carton of eggs out of the case at a grocery store and feeling movement inside. When I opened it, the eggs started hatching. Another had me carrying a basket (womb metaphor) of mouse babies to a woman who had just given birth. I held the baby for her while she took the basket. According to one of my more far-out dream interpretation books, accepting a baby represents accepting a new birth in the initiation process of your higher self. So we're off to a new beginning!

31 October 2007

Trick or Treat

Delayed Daylight Savings had an unexpected benefit after all. Every Halloween we frantically try and fail to finish eating dinner before trick-or-treat time at sundown around 6:30. This evening, however, found me finishing dinner preparations at 6:30, as per usual, with a little panic - until I realized it was not getting dark. We were actually able to finish eating before the first ring of the doorbell. That doesn't mean I have to like it, though.

Something interesting happened this year. My son forgot it was Halloween today. We didn't discuss costume options prior to this afternoon, after he remembered (he saw someone dressed up at the store.) So at the last minute he threw on his (homemade) cloak and pointy wizard hat, grabbed his (real) wand, and away we went. We made it through our entire neighborhood in just one hour. Only about thirty percent of our neighbors had on their front porch lights. I guess that's to be expected here in the Bible Belt. One house even had a sign advertisement in the front yard for their church party. Yuck. The participating neighbors were very generous with the candy; we ended up with two full buckets (a pumpkin and a cauldron) out of a fairly small number of houses.

A cold front is apparently coming through either tonight or tomorrow as we observe the change into the darkest part of the year. Another turning of the wheel.

24 September 2007

Back to School

After successfully completing our first week of sixth grade last week, we are now almost done with the second. I feel much more on top of things this year, this being our second year of homeschool, even though I procrastinated quite a bit on getting the syllabus ready. (I didn't finish until the middle of last week!) I think I put it off so much because I was a little worried about this year's topics. For example, how do you explain the Enlightenment to an 11-year-old in a way that is interesting to them? Or, is Dickens really appropriate for 6th grade? We're also doing a study on the origins of Judaism and Christianity, which I feel needs to be done with care in order to engender tolerance and respect for other religions. Following that is an in depth study of Greek mythology (fun!) and the Iliad and the Odyssey. Then comes Dickens with the Industrial Revolution, followed by reforms such as the women's suffrage movement.

All in all, some pretty serious subjects. It's almost like this year my son will officially become an older kid and begin to take some of the weight of the world onto his shoulders. This was worrying me. And then he and I sat down and talked about the schedule for the year. After not completely finishing everything last year until well into July, he had some definite ideas about how to avoid that this time. I did some renegotiating of my work schedule so that I'm home three days during the week rather than two. We cooperatively came up with a daily schedule that will allow us (if followed faithfully) to finish everything by May:

Monday - Math, Science, Reading (textbook)
Tuesday - Math, History, Writing, French
Wednesday - Math, Science
Thursday - Math, History, Art, Writing
Friday - Math (lesson + test), History, Poetry

Literature and history reading assignments are worked on every day, and PE and Health are incorporated into daily life. Monday and Wednesday are the days I've been working, so on those days he does the subjects he can do without me present. I was excited to find quizzes and activities online for the textbooks we're using for Reading and Science. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with having a schedule. Last year we didn't start with 'official' days for specific subjects until towards the end of the year when we realized we needed to get caught up.

Learning French was a last-minute decision. I had been wanting to teach it to him and had purchased a beginner text "on a whim," so when I casually brought it up during schedule-making, he agreed enthusiastically. (Much to my surprise!) Another pleasant surprise so far has been that my staunchly anti-Art child has now done two art projects. I guess it helps when it's on the schedule! Here's one of them:

This is called Bubble Aquarium, and it's from a textbook called With Art in Mind. Even though it is from Bob Jones University Press, there are only two references to God or the Bible in the whole book (easily skipped.) It has simple lessons that show examples and list supplies needed. Perfect for my Art-hating kid. Luckily he doesn't mind looking at art, just actually doing it.

As for Dickens, I found myself greatly relieved when I did my Lexile rating research. Turns out that Dickens is right in line with my son's current reading level and is just about on par with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. So, we'll be reading (out loud since I've never read these two) A Tale of Two Cities and Hard Times as planned. Now, I'm still a little worried about the sections on Romanticism and the Enlightenment. We're to study the ideas of Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau, and how their ideas affected history. I'm open for suggestions on how to approach this in a non-yawn-inducing manner!

I mentioned I've been worried about introducing these heavy topics. After working with him these past couple of weeks on preparation, and then seeing him try things he's been resistant to in the past, I must admit that maybe he is ready for the added responsibility that this knowledge will bring.

28 August 2007

Birthday Eclipse

I've just come back inside (about 15 minutes ago) from seeing the eclipse. This one was pretty exciting for me: how often does a full moon eclipse that is visible in your area occur on your birthday? I had seen that the mid-totality would occur at 5:37 AM, but I didn't set my alarm to see it. I thought I would let fate set its own course. As it happens, I woke up at 5:23 from an interesting dream about the eclipse, which saw me going outside into a body of water to help a woman named Diane. After rising, I quietly asked my husband and my son if they'd like to join me. Both declined. My son actually said, "I'm trying to get some sleep!" So I sat alone on the back porch and enjoyed the view of a beautiful, muted red full moon. As I sat, I realized I also had a great view of a lot of constellations. I was able to see Cassiopeia, and my favorites Orion and Taurus, with the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, almost directly overhead. Sirius was just above the horizon winking at me, the old dog.

10 August 2007

Harry Potter and the Canon

Is Harry Potter becoming a new mythos? Complete author's works are often referred to as their 'Canon of Works.' This has become the case for Harry Potter as created by Jo Rowling. Not only are the books considered canon, but any direct quotes from Rowling herself are considered as well. Basically, anything Rowling says or writes about Harry is 'the truth,' making her, well, the god of her alternate magical world which seemingly coexists alongside ours. It is so easy at times to want to suspend disbelief and imagine that there really is an unseen magical society just down that alley or behind that mountain. It is a story that seems to offer some form of hope that things aren't always as they appear.

This thought originally struck me as possibly similar to the way in which scriptures, and therefore religions, come about. Let's consider the Gospels of the New Testament. In a nutshell, what supposedly happened is that a guy was born of a virgin, stirred up a lot of trouble with his own religion, Judaism, became a problem for the government of the time, the Romans, and performed some miracles and generated followers along the way. This is all clear from reading the New Testament as a whole. What is interesting is how we came to have this Testament. The four gospels as we know them weren't written until about 70 CE, supposedly some 40 years after our hero's death and resurrection. In letters written a bit earlier, Jesus began to become divine with the views of the apostle Paul, who had never even met Jesus. What I like about the gospel stories is how similar they are to other 'Saviour' mythologies. Virgin birth in a cave (stable in later versions,) death for the World's sins, and resurrection. These themes can be seen in the story of Mithras, Krishna, Horus, and various others.

If our hero was an actual person, you can argue that the stories about him were circulating orally for a time until they were written down. But what if the same thing occurred from legends rather than truth? Jo Rowling had the complete story of Harry fully formed in her mind before she ever wrote a word. What if she hadn't written them down? What if there was no such thing as the printing press and mass distribution? Perhaps she would have shared the stories with those closest to her. they would have, in turn, told the stories to others, thereby 'spreading the word.'

A correlation I find fascinating is that of 'fan fiction' and extra-biblical texts. There are numerous such texts hanging around. Some resurface every now and then to stir up some controversy. Currently there is a swirling storm of controversy around any 'Gospels' containing mention of Mary Magdelene. These were all found to be 'heresy' by around 1560 during the Council of Trent, and most of the current New Testament was in place by at least by 382 CE. How did they decide what was 'truth,' or Canon, and what was not? With Harry, fan fiction also abounds. There are stories about Harry's parents and other adult characters when they were at Hogwarts, and stories that fill in gaps that are left in the stories. In Book One, Harry goes from infant to ten years old rather quickly. Included are only a couple of anecdotes from his childhood. Fan Fiction fills in these gaps. Consider also the Infancy Gospel of Jesus Christ with the missing years of the traditional gospels or the books about Adam and Eve's experiences in the Garden of Eden.

In regards to Harry, the seven books are definitely considered canon, but some disagree as to whether additional statements by Ms. Rowling should be as well. It seems to make sense to include her statements, since she is the creatrix. But what about the movies? These present the same story, only slightly different. There is even some major tampering with the plot here and there. This reminds me of four gospels that tell the same story, only with slight differences. Also intriguing about including the movies is that we are now supplied with alternate names for our characters, Harry becomes Daniel, Hermione becomes Emma, and Ron becomes Rupert. Ron is even mistakenly called his alternate name by Professor Slughorn in Book Six, further entwining our two versions of the same story. In other myths and legends around the world, many heroes, heroines, gods, and goddesses are referred to by different names. This sometimes occurs within the confines of the story, for instance when Jacob becomes Israel in the Old Testament. It can also occur when the same story is told, but with different character names as in the case of Gilgamesh and Noah. What if some of these alternate names are indeed those of actual people who played that part in a yearly play or ceremony and did such a remarkable job that their name became synonymous with the character?

I can envision a future several hundred years from now where there is much debate about whether a boy named Harry Potter did exist. Perhaps the meaning of the word 'Novel' will have been lost. Such things do happen. Maybe certain well written fan fiction will be considered 'truth' in regards to the story of Harry. Maybe there will even be an outspoken group of people that influence society and government while waiting fervently for Harry's return so that he may bring tribulation and usher in a new era of peace.

Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that I am not a literary scholar nor a religious one. I study these things on my own time for personal interest, and my opinions and ideas are always evolving.

11 July 2007

Order of the Phoenix

At midnight last night, I found myself breathless with anticipation in a darkening theater with family and friends. Many people were dressed in wizard gear (myself included), and some in full character costumes. We had a fantastic Mad-Eye Moody and Draco Malfoy in our row. Luckily we had arrived two hours early and gotten our preferred seats. The theater we attended sold out all 18 screens (!), so every seat in the house was filled.

I was pleasantly surprised, right from the start, with how much was taken verbatim from the book. This installment actually did the least twiddling with the plot out of all the movies, in my opinion. There were a couple of notable changes and omissions that disappointed me. However, seeing as Ms. Rowling signs off on the scripts before production, I can only assume that they are unimportant in the long run. It seems that she did insist that one character be put back into the film who was not previously included. Apparently this character will play an important role in Deathly Hallows. My immediate guess when I read about this was that it was Kreacher who must be left in. I then found an article at The Leaky Cauldron quoting the director that confirms my guess, but I can't get it to load properly, so I don't know if this link to it will work.

In short, we all enjoyed the movie a great deal, but we all agree that a second viewing will be in order very shortly. It seems everyone missed quite a bit of the dialogue because of our own laughter and gasps along with those of the rest of the audience. Hopefully our next theater trip will be this Saturday morning.

25 June 2007

Solstice Reflections

The Solstice has passed and the Sun is again waning. It seems that it might be a nice time to check in with myself and see how I'm doing on my resolutions.

1. Blog once or twice a week.
Not going so well... But at least it's more often than before...
2. Exercise more.
This I'm actually doing, if only to fit into my white capris for July 4th.
3. Finish painting and unpacking.
Ummm... I unpacked a few boxes...
4. Meditate.
Maybe if I'd finished unpacking and arranging my meditation area, this might be going better. What am I saying? That's no excuse.
5. Business.
No change really, other than a couple of ideas. Anybody have any recommendations for a good webhost and/or programmer?
6. Complete homeschool by June.
Well, almost - it seems we took an extended Winter Break and are running a little late. Almost done, though. I've told him we're on the Hogwarts schedule.
7. No caffeine.
This I've done, with minimal chocolate even.
8. Buy books.
No problem!

We had a nice theme dinner for Solstice (this seems the simplest way to celebrate, especially if it involves company.) Lots of Sun shapes and colors. My son, of course, helped with all the cooking while we discussed the relevance of the ingredients. He even pointed out that he was remembering to stir clockwise while he mixed the icing for the Sun Cake.

We ate alfresco and enjoyed ourselves until the sun fell below the horizon. Hope everyone else had a pleasant time as the Holly King takes charge once more.

06 June 2007

Jericho Lives

So, I just got home from work and found this article waiting for me when I got online. I am so happy that they decided to save this series. My family has definitely enjoyed watching Jericho this past year, and it has sparked a lot of discussion about how realistic the premise might be and what really causes people to go to war. We were very upset when we heard that it was to be canceled. I even joined in the ensuing fray myself by e-mailing our displeasure to CBS and by signing an online petition. I stopped short of mailing a bag of nuts to CBS headquarters. I say Nuts! to my friends who told me to give it up.

So now it seems that it is up to the fans to enlist more viewers. I guess that means me. So if you didn't watch this post-apocalyptic drama over the past year, please give it a shot and join in for the second season. The article says that they will rerun the series over the summer and then release season one on DVD in September so you will have a chance to get caught up. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

19 May 2007


We've just gotten back from our (mostly) annual visit to Scarborough Faire. I'm munching on some lovely cinnamon sugar encrusted pecans from said Faire and thinking about butterflies.

I have always been enamored with butterflies. I practiced catch and release as a child with my trusty butterfly net, and I also used the symbol of a blue butterfly to represent myself in numerous (OK, just three) 'Secret Clubs.' I have butterfly jewelry, butterfly hair pieces, and I'm still looking for copies of particular prints of various butterfly species that I saw once in a model home. And we're currently planning our butterfly garden.

This Spring has been rather good for wildflowers and therefore butterflies. They are everywhere in droves. I have to remind myself while driving that I shouldn't swerve to avoid hitting them. It's been really cool to have them hovering around and landing on us whenever we're outside. I've had three nice experiences with butterflies over the past couple of weeks, and since three of the same type of thing equals a blog post, it's time to share.

#1 - Three weeks ago, we had a family reunion at Lake Whitney. There were, of course, just as many butterflies flying around there as there are around where we live. On the last day, we were all down at the dock after a final boat ride. My son noticed a butterfly that had landed in the lake and couldn't pull itself out because its wings were wet. It struggled for a while and then eventually stopped as it drifted closer and closer to the dock. We thought that it had drowned. When it got close enough, I leaned over the edge and scooped it out of the water and found it was still alive. It rested in my hand for a bit while its wings dried and then took off. Very cool.

#2 - I spotted a butterfly hanging out in the grass in our front yard one day. For some reason I thought I'd try and see if it would climb onto my finger (despite many hundreds of failures attempting the same as a child.) To mine and my son's surprise, it climbed right on. We then noticed that it was having trouble flying as it would go a very short distance and then climb right back onto my hand. We fed it some leftover fruit smoothie and then took it to some nearby flowers. Hopefully it has recuperated.

#3 - Today at Scarborough Faire, there were again lots and lots of butterflies flying around and landing on people. One butterfly took a particular liking to me. It apparently liked root beer. It landed on me, flew around me and then landed in my cup to sip some of the drink clinging to the side. We watched it until it curled its proboscis back up and flew out of the cup. As we were walking from the area, it followed us and continually landed on my hat and my shoulder for quite a bit. It was really grateful for the root beer. Very amusing.

Just call me the butterfly whisperer. :)

23 April 2007

A Poem

A friend passed this poem to me today as she thought I would enjoy it. She wrote it a while back after being inspired by a dance she was performing. I did enjoy it and thought it would be nice to share. (Yes I got her permission first...)

Dark Moon Witchery

I'm a witch
With fingers gnarled
Purple walks in my shadows
There's eternal Spring in my stepping
In my mouth the taste of June
In your ears my haunting tune
Airs my cavernous throat hums hallowed

Catch if you can a fatal glimpse
Of all that's forgotten, of all that is lost
I tread darkly nightly through thickening verdure
Claiming my soul as a mytsic sojourner
Come if you will to watch my descent
But do not turn back, do not repent
You too can be lost

If you feel dark arms surround you
Fear not, for that is me
If you feel a kiss like fog
Cringe not, for that is me
And if you wish to know the night
Cry not, come with me
We will swallow the night together
Or failing, swallowed be

by Stephanie WIlling
October 19, 2005

09 April 2007

Crazy Spring Storms

I know that the weather may not be the most interesting topic for a blog post, but it's the best I've got for now. I promise that there are much better things percolating in my head that will be posted soon.

So hail and tornadoes, in the Spring, in Texas, is not really that unusual. But I wanted to at least share a couple of pictures from a recent storm that had us scurrying for cover in the downstairs bathroom while the storm sirens were blaring. The first three were taken from our house by our friend Zach Durland. He got some really cool shots.



And more lightning

He took more, but alas, I can't seem to uplaod an unlimited number of pictures.

This shot is of the ping-pong ball sized hail that fell at my parent's house a few miles away. You can see it falling as well as the pile collecting on the ground.

And here is a pic of snow falling this past Saturday. Snow. In April. In Texas. I'm not thinking so much anymore about Global Warming, I'm thinking more along the lines of next Ice Age...

And, no, I didn't have anything to do with this storm.

21 March 2007

Welcome Spring

Happy Ostara to everyone! Spring is here and everything is blooming *sniffle* - I'm having bad allergy problems this year. This spring seems to be extra strong! I'm seeing things blooming that I didn't know even bloomed. The bluebonnets are awake today, and I'm so glad to see them. Last year there were very few because of the drought.

March came in like a lion with the wind. On the 1st, we had a very nice strong breeze that was perfect for kite flying. Since then we've had some really strong winds. Our porch swing was blown over! Here's some pics of the kite flying fun.

Here's our son with Mr. Dragon:

And here's both of us:

And a close-up of his cool dragon kite:

This was the dragon kite's first outing as well as our son's first kite-flying experience. He did really well, and we both had a blast! We're hoping to take Mr. Dragon out again really soon.

14 March 2007

Happy Pi Day

I hope everyone had a great Pi day this March 14 (3.14, get it?) We celebrated at work with chocolate pie. Yummy! For some Pi day fun, check out this poem/story on Mike Keith's page and see if you can figure it out. Today is the biggest clue you can have!

12 March 2007

Daylight Savings

I hate Daylight Savings. It is unnatural. I was rather upset when I found out that not only are we now starting three weeks earlier, we'll be ending one week later. That's an extra month! There is an article from BBC news extolling the virtues of moving the clocks ahead. Something about less electricity usage, less crime, fewer traffic fatalities, and various other 'good things.'

About the lessening of electricity usage, I'm wondering just how much it really saves. It seems that the only difference would be in homes that won't turn on their overhead lights until it gets dark. Meaning only those homes that have good enough windows to get decent natural light and have people who don't habitually keep the lights on. Otherwise, people still use their TVs, computers, dishwashers, refigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, irons, hair dryers, hot water heaters, ovens, stoves, microwaves and toasters just as often whether it's dark or not.

As far as crime, I don't think criminals care what time it is. Daylight naturally increases as we approach the Summer Solstice leading to less 'cover of night' crime anyway. We don't magically have any more daylight with Daylight 'Savings.'

The article actually says "Ultimately, daylight saving just brings a smile to everybody's faces." Not mine. I now have to drive to work in the dark. This is a real problem for me as I've got terrible night blindness and avoid driving in the dark at all costs. It's just not safe (especially for the other drivers since I can't tell where they are.) So as far as fewer traffic fatalities, I guess they only mean on the drive home. At least with the older version time change, the sun would already be rising early enough for me to be able to see.

I just don't appreciate being 'out of sync' with what the Earth is actually doing. The sun should be directly overhead at noon, not 1:00. So it seems that for the next 9 months, I will be getting up, going to work, coming home, and going to bed all an hour early. You may have noted that I didn't say watch my TV shows - we have TiVo :)

Maybe I just need to move to Arizona.

05 March 2007

Harry Potter-thon

Let's start with an admission. I'm a big Harry Potter geek. I actually got giddy a few minutes ago when I saw that Daniel Radcliffe has signed on to do the last two movies. But, c'mon, how could he not?! You can watch the trailer for Order of the Phoenix here. I still get chills when I watch it. I know, I'm a nerd.

My son is, of course, also a fan, so a few months ago we decided that it would be cool to spend a whole day watching all four movies in a row. While at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, we mentioned this to one of my coworkers. Since he's a fan too, we promtly invited him to join us when we got around to it. I wasn't sure when this would be since Holidays were coming up, and we had yet to unpack much. Then a Very Nice Thing happened. A friend of ours called us up to tell us that his dad had gotten a new flatscreen TV for Xmas and was tossing out his 60 inch big screen TV, did we want it? Are you kidding me? Our rescued TV was in place within two days. I always had the impression that big screen TVs had a somewhat fuzzy picture, and this one fulfilled my expectations. Still, it was pretty cool to have such a BIG picture. Then the picture went out. My husband has always seemed to have some kind of luck with fixing mechanical things by simply taking them apart, jiggling the parts, blowing on it, and then putting it back together. It's a gift, really. Since the TV was free, there was no fear of screwing it up by taking it apart. When he did, not only did it start working again, but after he cleaned the projectors with windex, the picture was crystal clear and beautiful. All that was left was to have a Harry Potter marathon!

Well, word got around at work and before I knew it we had plenty of people wanting to share the love. We finally got together a couple of weeks ago with plenty of chips, dip, popcorn, pizza, candy and soda. I have to tell you that if you've never watched them all in a row, book yourself a Saturday (it'll take 12 hours with breaks) and do so. It was so neat to see the characters growing up. Also, I had had kind of a problem with the portayal of Voldemort in Goblet of Fire when I first saw it, but after seeing the others right beforehand, it was actually the most appropriate portrayal they could have done.

So now we are anxiously awaiting the final book, Deathly Hallows, and the fifth movie, Order of the Phoenix. I think we might be doing the marathon again when movie 5 comes out and then go to see it at the midnight showing. In preparation for the book, we're reading all the books out loud together again. We just started last night. Hopefully four and a half months will be long enough!

21 February 2007

Weather Control

Can someone control the weather? It seems unlikely, but there are lots of theories and books about it. Some of which I own myself... *clears throat* I guess I'm willing to give any wild idea a bit of my time. One of the most interesting ones I've read is PK Man by Jeffrey Mishlove, which was loaned to me a few years ago by a friend with similar interests. It's about a guy, Ted Owens, who claimed to cause storms, among other things.

So why the blog post you ask. I feel compelled to tell a story that that seems, well, worthy of sharing because I find it somewhat humorous. Some interesting things have happened in my life. If you know me, you're saying 'Well, that's one way to put it.' In the realm of weather, there have been a few, shall we say, coincidences that have occurred. I'll just highlight a couple of them.

In the autumn of 1998, my husband and I were scheduled to take our long-awaited two-years-late honeymoon in Cozumel. About three weeks before said trip, Hurricane Mitch decided it would wreak some havoc in the Caribbean. Early to mid reports predicted that it was heading straight towards Cozumel. Well, I wasn't going to have any of that! I watched the Weather Channel everyday and focused all my energy and willpower on making sure that hurricane didn't go anywhere near the island I was planning on visiting. In the end, the storm made a circle around Cozumel and didn't cause any major damage there despite being a category 5 storm at one point. We had a wonderful time.

More recently, we had our first new house built. Now, my husband has a hyper-sensitive nose and was feeling kind of paranoid about our house being constructed over the winter when it usually rains/ices/sleets etc. He didn't want any mold taking hold and hiding out in the house's innards. He had wished aloud that it would be nice if it just wouldn't rain before the house was done. It rained just after the foundation was poured in October, and then didn't rain again for 88 days. We got more than 1.5 inches on January 28, after the house was completed. We closed on February 2 and moved in soon after.

I know those weather events aren't humorous, they caused terrible damage and death. But what happened this week is kind of funny. Last week at work there was a lively discussion about the weather and how unusually cold it had been all winter. One coworker then looked at me and said, 'You can control the weather, can't you?' 'Sure,' I said, ever the joker, 'What would you like?' She replies, 'I'd like some nice real Spring weather.' I told her I could get it for her the next week. So, this week it's in the upper 70s, and I saw a robin on the way to work.

So, do I truly believe I have anything to do with the weather? Not really. Besides, who would want that kind of responsiblity?

06 February 2007

Makes You Wonder

A remarkable thing has occurred. So I shall remark upon it. Through various interesting circumstances, my teenage daughter has had to transfer high schools mid-year. If you've read previous posts, you might be wondering why she isn't also in on the homeschool experiment. She was in a private school for part of elementary and all of middle school. When high school came, she was dying to go to a 'real' school, so we moved her to public. She is a social butterfly and loves being surrounded by her friends.

Back to the story. Without going into the why's here (because I don't think I could make the story succinct otherwise) she has now transferred to my old Alma Mater. This is also the Alma Mater of both of my parents and various aunts and uncles. We were nervous and excited when we went to enroll her. We were taken on a short tour during which I got to insert things like, 'Wow, that's new,' and 'Hey, that's where my locker was.' Very surreal. In the main hall we came upon a display of all the panoramic pictures of classes back to the sixties. This, of course, led to 'Where are you?' and then snickers at all the eighties hairstyles. My parents are on the wall. Again, surreal.

While in the office filling out paperwork, a curious thought came to me, so I just blurted it out. I said, 'I never picked up my senior yearbook, do you think ya'll have it laying around somewhere?' I had moved overseas shortly out of high school (first husband, Air Force, don't want to talk about it), and had not stopped by the school before I left, nor had I ever gotten up the nerve to stop in for it after I got back (sans husband). I had paid for one, surely it was still there... The lady politely asked me what year and explained that she doubted it, but she would send a message to the yearbook coordinator. I felt sufficiently foolish and promptly forgot the matter.

Several days later, there was a message on my cell phone when I got off from work. It was a bubbly yearbook coordinator telling me that they actually still had several copies of that yearbook, and she'd be happy to let me have one. I actually jumped up and down on the spot. Luckily, my coworkers already think I'm a little strange. Arrangements were made to have my daughter stop by the yearbook room to pick it up the next week.

I had never seen this yearbook. I only knew that I hated my senior picture. My hair had been in drastic need of a cut and was very uncooperative. It had been suggested that the girls put on their make-up a little heavier than normal so it would look good in the picture. Mine ended up looking garish. Luckily, I had only ordered the basic prints package and was able to hide them away when they arrived.

The day came, and she picked up the yearbook. It was my dad's birthday, so we were all over at my parent's house for the party. My daughter informs me that she has been showing my picture to everyone at school all day (horror of horrors!) and that she thinks the picture is 'gorgeous' and that her guy friends said 'your mom's hot.' What??!!! She opens up to the page I'm on, and, wonder of wonders, it's actually not bad in black and white.

We had some more fun looking through at everyone while I pointed out things like my first boyfriend and guys on whom I just had a crush. More surreal-ness. Like I was in a time warp or something. It was so long ago (it seems), but looking at the pictures took me right back. I felt almost a solemn reverence as this portion of my life was completed, now that I had the yearbook. Another chapter closed. What struck me most about the whole situation, though, was the yearbook title. I felt like it was the most appropriate title to see when presented with my yearbook after so many years. It was 'Makes You Wonder.'

03 February 2007

Holiday Tea

I hope everyone had a wonderful Imbolc celebration this past week. We had some cooking fun by combining ours with a culminating school project on The Secret Garden. We had a traditional English 'Tea' party, or as we referred to it, a "Secret Garden Party." I looked through a stack of different 'Tea' magazines and The Secret Garden Cookbook for recipe ideas. We chose to make Hibiscus Tea Punch, Cucumber Sandwiches, Orange Mini-Muffins with Turkey and Orange Marmalade, Lemon Cream Scones, and regular Cream Scones. We also served Lemon Zinger tea and plain old Lipton, and had Lemon Curd and Black Raspberry Preserves on the side. All in all, it was very successful, and tasty. My son helped prepare each dish, and he made the Cream Scones without my assistance. Everyone who attended agreed that these scones were the best item. Here's a pic of the table:

And here's a better pic of the scones (the traditional triangular-shaped ones are those which my son made all by himself!):

The ladies (three of us) wore fancy hats, and fun was had by all - even the boys. Going through all the tea magazines had me wishing I had more time in my life to throw tea parties. Now I just might need a subscription to Southern Lady Presents Tea Time. hint hint...

21 January 2007

Winter Clothes

You may have noticed the winter storm that traveled over the U.S. this past week. Well, it came through Texas and gave us a nice blanket of snow for day or so. (Enough to make a medium-sized snowman!) The picture is actually from the day after it snowed, and so most of it is gone. That's a snow covered construction site in the background, not a mountain - or even a hill.

Because it was cold for a whole week, for once, (it's in the low 60s today) I was able to wear what I call 'real clothes' to work. You know, sweaters with a nice shirt underneath that coordinates with your pants and so forth. Anyway, I got SO MANY compliments on how I looked, I think I've decided that a cold climate works best for me. You can look nice even if you've got a little extra 'fluff' around the middle from certain holiday overindulgences.

20 January 2007

Another Cute Bunny Vid

This one's called 'The Fox and Bella Story.' Make sure your speakers are on for this one. It's definitely one of the best bunny vids I've seen on YouTube. We can't have a bunny right now, so I must satisfy my bunny cuteness cravings online. (That almost sounds like something I need a 12 step program for!)

Without further ado, here are bunnies doing all those cute bunny things...

06 January 2007

Flounder Joy

My son wants to be a chef. He has always wanted to be a chef. Not a fireman, not a doctor - he did say farmer for a little while, but that was so he could grow his own ingredients. He's watched Food Network since he was four, and he's been writing recipes since then. He even got a little hand-held voice recorder for Christmas one year because he kept getting frustrated that he couldn't write things down fast enough. And of course we still have the tapes!

Since our Renaissance study, he has decided that Leonardo Da Vinci is his hero, but I often wonder if it isn't actually Alton Brown. He quotes 'AB' all the time like gospel. Cooking is kind of a big deal in my family. We have certain 'family recipes' and traditions like making dressing together at my grandparent's for Thanksgiving. Because of his enthusiastic interest, my son was introduced to all of this at an early age with bread making and then cookies (all with my grandfather.) Recently he's been getting lessons on Chicken and Dumplings - mmmm. Now, however, all of these lessons are punctuated with "Alton Brown says."

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big 'AB' fan myself, so is the rest of my family. It's just funny to hear a 10-year-old voice correcting someone with something Alton said on last night's episode. Because he watches it every day!

Even though he has always wanted to be a chef, he has never been adventurous about what he actually eats. I think he subsists on mainly cheese and bread products along with the occasional hot dog. Well, he will eat steak, but how often does that get served?

Most of his cooking experience so far has been of the helping variety. Measure ingredients, stir the sauce, roll the dough. He recently graduated to using a knife to help with chopping. So I was pleased the other day when he suggested a dish that he wanted to prepare that I thought he could actually do mostly by himself. Usually he suggests very complicated things (sometimes of his own creation) that we have to politely put off till later... Well, you can probably guess where this suggested recipe came from. That's right, Good Eats. Episode Flat is Beautiful III - Flounder. The recipe is for Oil Poached Flounder.

My son did almost all of the preparations himself. I only helped with the 'hot' bits. It turned out just great. And here's the best part. The rule is, if he cooks something, he has to at least try it. His response to a bite? And I quote, "That's wonderful! No really, I like it!"

Thank you Alton Brown.

02 January 2007

New Year's Day Magical Associations

As I finished eating our New Year's feast leftovers, I thought it might be nice to post about some of the magical things about our New Year's Day.

Let's talk about food. If you're from the South, you know that you are supposed to eat black-eyed peas for luck, and greens for money in the coming year. We did both at our house, using spinach as our 'green,' since it is strongly associated with prosperity. We also followed the tradition from my family of having rice and cornbread with the meal. Rice is a prosperity grain which, in addition, confers protection and fertility. Cornbread (another Southern dish), made from cornmeal, is protective as well, and it connects us to the Mother Goddess ensuring spiritual growth.

Foods will always naturally carry their own special brand of magical energy, but this can be greatly enhanced by your intent. If you choose foods based on their qualities, be sure to 'charge' the foods before and during cooking, and then bless the food again before consumption. Charging simply consists of raising energy within yourself while focusing on the appropriate intention, and then directing it through your dominant hand (or from your hand through another item, if you prefer) into the desired object, in this case your food.

As far as non-food magic goes, the first day of the year is supposed to be representative of the year to come. With that in mind, it is best to have a clean house, a full pantry, and most importantly, lots of fun!

We had some discussion at our house about when we should actually be celebrating the New Year. It seems that you can find a different 'right' time to do it with every tradition investigated. It could be Yule or Samhain, or possibly Ostara. New Years based on lunar calendars change every year (from a Western perspective). So, then, what is right? I feel like it is appropriate to celebrate the New Year based on whatever tradition you are following, but it is also appropriate to celebrate the calendar New Year. We are subject to the energies around us whether we participate in them or not, so why not join in the festivities? As long as in your tradition there is not a 'ban' on such willy-nilly joining in, it seems to me that by participating, we can enjoy the free flow of happiness and joyful energy that surrounds us during celebrations such as these. The more the merrier!

01 January 2007

Perfect Excuse for a Blog Post

Here are my New Year's resolutions/goals for 2007, in no particular order:

1. Blog more - at least once or twice a week.
(Obvious, I know)

2. Continue with my recently instated exercise program of walking three times a week, and maybe add a little yoga.
(Again, obvious)

3. Finish painting my house (interior) and unpacking all those boxes ASAP.
(Three months is long enough to put off unpacking, don't you think?)

4. Begin a regular meditation practice of at least once a week.
(For my own sanity)

5. Actually get my business going online finally.
(Year number 3 for this particular goal, but it looks more promising this time)

6. Succesfully complete our first year of homeschooling.
(Meaning we get everything finished by June)

7. Continue to be caffeine-free.
(But I might officially exclude chocolate from the caffeine category)

8. Buy more books :)
(OK, that's not a real goal, and not really hard to do, but you gotta have something fun on your list, right?)