lydamorehouse: (Default)
The Lap of Love folks have their own memorial page for pets and so I decided to add Ms. Ball. If you'd like to see a bit more about how Ball got her name and came to us, there's a short bit of a story about her under the "about" tab: www.lapoflove.com/pet-memorial.aspx. You are welcome to leave a "candle" there, if you like. (It all appears to be free.)

But, there's no need to make a special effort. I have very much appreciated all the comments left here for her and in support of our family during this horrible time.

In other news, because life goes on, I've decided to take on a rather unusual project for the next year. One of my Solstice gifts was Llewellyn's Witches' Spell-a-Day Almanac. Even though I'm getting a late start, I thought I would attempt to do each daily spell for the rest of the year. I will report on them here, probably a bit like I did with Ms. Ball's update, under a cut, in case my pagan practices aren't terribly interesting to you. But, nearly every year I vow to be "more witchy" and this seemed like a fun project to undertake. Plus, I have long followed the Tarot for Yourself practice of figuring out my personal "year" card, and, by chance, this year I have Temperance.


Aquarian Deck:Temperance


Which, according to Greer (my Tarot book author) means when applied to the year: "Developing health and haling practices, testing and trying out your beliefs and philosophy, creative combinations." (emphasis mine.) Seems like a good year, then, to try something like this.

I should probably put out there, before I begin this, that I'm very much aware that Llewellyn is in the BUSINESS of magic, and so, I will likely be critiquing some of these spells based on how much their ingredients might cost a newbie who might think they need the exact oils, herbs, soaps, etc., and will be offering cheaper alternatives (or practices that involve buying NOTHING.) I have, myself, been practicing witchcraft since the early 1990s, so I will be taking a lot of these spells with the proverbial grain of salt. If there are ones that I feel are ill-advised I will post about why I think so and see if the previous years' almanacs have alternatives that might work better.

But, even so, there's no harm in trying a project like this. I think it will be a fun away to be more mindful in my practice.Test out my beliefs, think about my philosophy. These are good things.

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 6) )

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 7) )
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
All I know is that it's 2019. I have no actual idea what day of the week it is. Wednesday is my best guess.

My family all went back to school and work. I stayed home with kitty, who is still with us, but it's unclear how long (more under the cut at the end.) I was extremely grateful when [personal profile] naomikritzer reached out to offer to bring lunch and chat. She brought some potato/leek soup that was left over from a New Year's Eve party that she'd gone to. I supplied some day-old French bread, and she also brought a spinach and cheese stuffed naan that needed to be rescued from a freezer that apparently stopped freezing and used up. All and all a lovely meal, made more lovely by the chance to chat with a dear friend about anything OTHER than a sick cat for several hours.

It is also "What Are You Reading" Wednesday, and I can report that I read another short story last night. "Sour Milk Girls" by Erin Roberts which I kind of hated. There's no hard and fast rule that stories have to have a happy ending to be satisfying. Lots of people will tell you that they sometimes feel that grim endings are more realistic, but what "Sour Milk Girls" felt like to me was "mean girls being mean, the end." There was a clever sort of word-building going on, but one of the main plot points (memories being wiped) was never explained in context of the world. What was the point of it? What did the people doing the wiping (institutionally, and then, later, individually) get out of it? What was the benefit? And, then it was just "ha, ha, we were mean."

Or, so it seemed to me.

Well, I will keep hunting. I have five slots I can fill in my nominations for the Nebula, and I only have three filled so far. There are lots and lots of eligible short stories out there.

I'm also revisiting Starhawk's Truth or Dare.; Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery, which is a book I tried to read when it came out in the late 1980s. I'm not sure how this type of book bills itself. It's not non-fiction, though it tries hard to be, with footnoted research and a lot of academic language. It's kind of like creative nonfiction, maybe? With a dash of memoir and a lot of poetry? Starhawk (a native St. Paulie!) is one of those people that a lot of pagans my age read back in the day. She's probably best known for Spiral Dance, which is a bit more of a how-to. Possibly my revisiting of Starhawk should have started there, because I'm finding Truth or Dare tough going. Reading it has made me think about how little has changed and how many revolutions are still needed.

When I need something lighter (or to pass the time at the vet's office), I've been SLOWLY making my way through the first Longmire book, The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson. Shawn and I really enjoyed watching "Longmire," and Shawn found a copy of this at on the library friends bookstore's free shelf.

Cat update (not good) )
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
New Year's day is the day we take down our Christmas/Yule tree and pack away the decorations.

This year is no exception. Though we did start in on the process a little bit yesterday, since we knew any big undertaking all at once would be too much for us. Normally, I find this process a little sad and emptying, but, this time, it restored a small sense of order.

Partly because we often use our downstairs bathroom as a place to store all the boxes and bins that the Yule stuff comes out of. Normally, this is a temporary hassle that is tolerable and makes more sense than dragging everything back up to the attic, only to drag it all down and back up again in a matter of weeks. However, with the very much needed addition of an emergency downstairs litter box, it was impossible to keep the floor clean of litter bits and everything just felt chaotic any time I needed to change the box or even just didn't want to bother to go upstairs to do my own bathrooming.

The decoration bins are now staged to migrate upstairs over the next day or two and then be tucked back into their corner in the attic. The rocking chair is off the porch and back in its spot as the guest chair. It was never MEANT to only belong to guests, but... well, funny story about that:

I have a friend Theo, who, when they were buying a house for themselves, got really into the theory of interior decorating. They read a book that talked a lot about what your furniture and style choices say about you and your family's values. They took one look around our cozy little living room, the three overstuffed chairs pointed towards each other in an intimate circle, and the weird, almost out of place rocker and nodded and said, "This house is house for three."

And they are absolutely right.

We happily entertain others, but in the end of the day, this house is a house for three. Possibly three HOBBITS, given the amount of food around the house. We have little stacks of books at our feet and blankets (and snoozing cats) everywhere. The house often smells of something baking.

In fact, I took bread out of the oven only a few minutes ago. I have a French bread recipe I always make as an accompaniment to our traditional wild rice soup for New Year's day. Wild rice soup became the tradition because the recipe we have--from my late stepbrother Mark--calls for BOTH turkey and ham, and we always have leftovers of each in the freezer from the holidays.

We have a pagan ritual we do every morning of the new year, too. Last night, some time before midnight, we find a dime minted in the current year and add it to our collection of dimes that are wrapped in a gold silk square. We put this symbolic "silver and gold" outside of our house and then, in the morning, we bring it in over the threshold to symbolize the act of bringing fortune to us in the new year. This has been our good luck tradition for years (we could probably count the years, given the number of dimes. At least 20, at a guess. I can't remember if we were doing this when we lived in Uptown before we bought this house or not.)

Do you have something personal like that, something to bring you luck in the new year?

I have to say, this is the first year that I've even heard of the whole "rabbit, rabbit" thing. But, I had two FB friends discussing it this morning. Despite my surname, I'm clearly not British (or American?) enough for this whole tradition.

Quick cat update for those interested... )
lydamorehouse: (Default)
It's been a rough couple of days for Ms. Ball, though she seems to be having a good morning, so far.

Potentially TMI Cat issues under the cut )

Okay, so somewhat brighter news.... Of course, my whole family and I spent much of Christmas day worrying about our cat, but we still did our usual round of Christmas eve/day presents. 

Shawn's family has a tradition of the big meal on Christmas Eve followed by present opening. We have morphed this tradition over the years and now open presents as soon as consensus is reached. This year, with Ball's initial appointment and extremely bad news, we ended up delaying opening presents until 1:00 pm.  

Mason got more D&D books, plus a fantasy series he wanted, the Grishaverse trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. We got him "Luigi's Manson" for the 3-DS and several gaming related gift cards, which he promptly spent on games for the Switch. He had also been covetous of an electric blanket that his girlfriends' family owns, so we bought him one of his own. And, of course, socks. Everyone should get a nice pair of socks for the holidays, IMHO.

Shawn turned out to be a trauma this year. I had ordered the presents I wanted to get her ahead of time--two different earrings from a catalogue that specializes in Native American art.  Unfortunately, because each piece is handcrafted, they almost didn't arrive in time and this causes me to turn into one of those deadbeat spouses who wandered around all the nearby stores that were still open wondering if she would like an air-freshener in the shape of a tree or a tin of sardines, you know? Luckily, I was actually able to find a meaningful gift card (when Mason has robots we often have mini-dates at the Caribou near his school) and a gag present of some cookie cutters in fun shapes (a unicorn! A dragon! Stegosaurs!)  And, then, ON CHRISTMAS EVE AFTERNOON the earrings arrived so I was able to quick add one under the tree--after we'd opened, but, hey, the day wasn't over, AND surprise her with the second one in her stocking (she'd only known that I might be buying one of her two choices.)  SAVED FROM DEADBEAT SPOUSE-ING.

I was too frazzled to make a yeast bread with our ham dinner, but I whipped together some popovers last minute. The ham was good, we had mashed potatoes, wild rice hash, and roasted root veggies for sides.  

Christmas morning is when my family used to open presents, so we always reserve one or two for Mason 'from Santa' (yeah, he's fifteen, but he likes the tradition, so we keep it up.) And, then some time in the middle of the night I fill up stockings with candies and small things--normally this is when everyone gets socks, for instance.

Of course, this was the one time Ball's illness worked to our advantage. I was up checking on her at 2 am, anyway, so I took care of the stockings then. I got up again at quarter to six, because that's when we've scheduled her prednisone dose (6 am + 6 pm).  

Christmas day, as noted under the cut above was a hard day for Ball, so I can't say it was our best ever Christmas. Normally, I look forward to having so many days off with my family. We all get along really well (minus hormonal surges.)  And, with nowhere to go and nothing to do, there are usually lots of board games and eggnog.  Shawn is off yet today, so perhaps we can have a day-after Christmas Christmas celebration.

I set up our altar to Bast and we've been keeping a candle going for Ms. Ball. I hope whatever happens, Bast keeps Ms. Ball safe in Her arms.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 Well, maybe you're not pagan, so you're not on her list!  But, the Ostara bunny came to ours.  She left her usual basket and a few Goddess themed eggs:

A dyed blue egg with a yellow Brigid's Cross on it

The actual basket:
Ostara basket with candies, eggs, and a cat toy

One more of the Goddess eggs:

Mottled purple egg with a sliver of a moon on it

Mason told me that he feels too old to do the actual HUNTING for the eggs, but he does still like getting the basket. I told him that he can keep getting an Ostara basket as long as he wants. I'd even send one to college, because WHO DOESN'T LOVE PEEPS AND CHOCOLATE COVERED MARSHMALLOW BUNNIES???!!!???  

Yesterday, I also changed over the altar to its spring clothes... no that that's stopped the snow from falling. When we headed out to school/work this morning, a light dusting was falling. I can see the it's sticking in places. I don't like to complain about the weather too much, but, OMG, the snow could stop any time now. People I know in Chicago are posting pictures of flowers in bloom.

Ah well.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 It's several hours into 2018 and it's going pretty well so far!!  After ringing in the New Year, Mason and I stayed up until 3 am binge watching Haikyu!  There may have been tears. Such a good show.  Now I have to wait on my hands until the next season airs... or, take the plunge and read the manga.  I'm only a little nervous about joining another on-going fandom, due to how badly Bleach burned me. I would feel so much better if Haikyu! wasn't a Weekly Shounen Jump product.  I don't trust WSJ to treat its properties very well or to have the editorial spine to tell a popular mangaka that their ENDING IS TOO STUPID TO LIVE.  Lookin' at you, whoever edited Kubo-sensei and Kishimoto-sensei.

I ended 2017 arguing with people who are Wrong on the Internet (tm). Honestly, it wasn't bothersome that they were "wrong," because we were talking about the new Star Wars film, and I actually ADORE intelligent people who have serious, thoughtful criticisms of the things I love. I was raised Unitarian Universalist, debate is my RELIGION. Bring it!

But, in this case, it was bothersome because this person's strategy for arguing their point was, when they were failing to win, call people "gas lighters" and suggest that if they didn't get a 100% agreement on a point they would say people were being dismissive of them. (See, how, if I agree with you, you actually win and I lose and that's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.) 

What's particularly sad about this, is that this is someone I know in Real Life (tm), a former student of mine, whom I previously respected a great deal.  I got nothing for people who can't stand and fight, however. I mean, if you just want to shrug and say, "Meh, it didn't work for me."  I'm fine with that.  Lots of my friends fall in that category, but coming to my feed and INSISTING that I agree that it sucks? Fight me.  I mean, I presume that's why you came, right?

Before you ask, no, I didn't unfriend this person. I don't unfriend people for having a strident opinion or even for being kind of a dick about it. It's a do onto others thing for me, because OMG can I be a dick about my fannish opinions.  :-)  In fact, I think that if my fan clan had a coat of arms, its motto would be: FIGHT ME (in all caps). Let's be honest, I adore a good debate. (New caveat: so long as it is actually a debate.) Anyone of you who has ever seen me on a panel knows this to be a Truth of my life.

But, so that's how I rang out the year.  Then I stayed up too late consuming amazing anime, and this morning we took down the tree and all the decorations. The house always looks so sad and empty after the tree is gone, so we are consoling ourselves with mimosas (faux-mosa for Mason) and a nice chicken roast for dinner.

We did our traditional pagan ritual of putting silver (dimes are our metaphorical substitute) outside our house and bringing it in on the morning of the New Year. The idea is supposed to be to encourage silver (both as a monetary thing, but also general prosperity) to flow into the house. We keep the dimes in a hidden cache in the heart of our home.  We've been collecting dimes from each year that we've done this (I found a 2017 dime last minute!), so we probably have twenty or thirty cents or so built up over the years.

Meanwhile, our cat has become an Internet junkie:

buttercup (our cat) trying to cat a mouse on an iPad

He will now come up to Shawn when she's reading on her Kindle and paw at it, hoping for his mouse game. Alas, it's only on the iPads, but of course we run get it for him when he does that. He has us well trained.






lydamorehouse: (ichigo hot)
 For those of you who don't know, my family is Pagan. We're not always the most observant of pagans and we do also do some Christmas-y things around this time of year.  But we do make an effort on Yule/Winter Solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year.  

We've had a Yule Log for years.  Shawn and a friend of hers "liberated" (aka stole) a perfect-sized birch log from Eloise Butler Wildflower Preserve.  Another friend of ours drilled three holes in it for candles.  Every year, we pull it out of storage and I decorate it from pine boughs either scavenged from our tree or from the leftovers at the Y's Men's tree sale (they usually have a bundle we can take for free.)  

On Yule, once the sun goes down, we do a very simple ritual of singing a few songs (including Fa-la-la-la-la because it mentions Yuletide) and a lighting of the candles. We normally open a few presents on Solstice under this light--and that of the tree. Traditionally, we try to give the more meaningful, less expensive, non-commercial gifts on Yule, but that doesn't always work out either. This year I gave Shawn her SUPER expensive hair product, for instance, which is neither non-commercial, nor cheap.  :-)

Then, once the excitement of all that dies down, Mason and I brave the cold and take one of the candles outside and light a fire in the chiminea.  We have a cast iron chiminea in the back yard, and I collect firewood all year for Yule. Last year, we stayed out so long, I actually RAN OUT of kindling.  This year our toes got chilly, but we hung out watching the flames and thinking about life, the universe, and everything for an hour--maybe a little longer.  Once we felt sufficiently "bonfired," we relit the candle from the chiminea, banked the flames, and came back inside.

We then transfer the flame to a fire-safe glass that we can leave unattended (though we keep it where we can keep an eye on it, in our bedroom) for it to burn all night, symbolically keeping the light going in the darkness. We have this really lovely stained-glass chalice type thing that, when light shines through it, looks a bit like a multi-faceted sun in yellows and light greens. I often use it whenever we do Solar rituals, in fact. 

Sometimes, one of us (usually Mason, since he's such a night owl) volunteers to keep vigil for the return of the sun by staying up all night and officially greeting the sun.  This year, Mason passed out watching Haikyu! (a volleyball anime) with me in the TV room.  So, I tucked him in, shut off the lights, and went to bed.  I'd put a 10-hour votive in the little stained-glass thingy so I wasn't surprised it was still going when I went to bed around midnight.

It was still going in the morning.

In fact, somehow, it stayed lit until the next nightfall, almost 24 hours.

My theory is that somehow, I placed the votive exactly on top of an old wick. There was old wax in the chalice thingie, but I thought that the previous candle was completely spent.  I'm guessing not.   What was especially neat to me was how STRONG the sunlight was the day after the day after Solstice.  It was almost like the sun really did absorb all of our Yule energy.  :-)  Of course we didn't really do that, but it was magical, none-the less.

But... spiritually and metaphorically, I think the world needed more light after give how dark and... awful (politically) 2017 has been. I hope that our small ritual gave the world what it needs to get through, and, in fact, it is my hope that our Yuletide miracle extends to you and your family.  If you have been in darkness, let our light shine through. 
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 Last night was our traditional all-night Solstice vigil.  

To be fair, the tradition has varied over the years. When it's -bazillion out, we tend to go heavy on the SYMBOLIC when it comes to actually sitting outside around a bonfire.  But, yesterday was mild enough that we planned to try to stay out as long as we could.  

First, though, before the sun went down, we lit the Yule Log and sang "Fa-la-la-la-la," because it's one of the few Christmas songs that is clearly about Solstice/Yule.  Then we pulled out a picnic meal and opened Solstice presents.

Solstice presents differ from Christmas presents in that they're personal, simple, and cheap (possibly even homemade.)  But, if they're any not those things, then they're MEANINGFUL in some way. Like, for instance, the Solstice Fairy always buys our family a gift--often a jigsaw puzzle because that's a group activity, and this year she found one with the Periodic Table of Elements on it.  

In a surprise to no one (but a GREAT JOY to me), I got more stamps. 

After we ate and cleaned up and played with our various gifts for a while, we went out to start the bonfire in the chiminea.  Normally, I like to light the bonfire from a flame started at the Yule Log, but for some reason the candles I picked this year for the Yule log decided to poop out. But, so I got a fire blazing in no time.  Mason made some snow people, because the snow was melty and easy to manipulate.  We sang a bit, chatted, and drank hot chocolate.  Mason went in and out to stay warm, and I fed the fire until we ran out of fuel for it sometime around 11 pm.  At that point, I transferred the flame to a ten-hour votive and brought it inside.

I went to bed. Mason stayed up the rest of the night watching over it.  He only just went to sleep after Shawn and I woke up in time in time to join him at sunrise to greet the returning sun.  

A good Solstice.  The sun is bright and strong this morning.  A few minutes ago,  watched sunlight hit the prism we keep in the windowsill and throw rainbow stripes all across the ceiling.  (The Solstice miracles besides the return of the sunlight? The tree which hadn't been drinking much water, suddenly sucked up a ton last night!  Also? The plows finally went down our block having missed our block several times now since the big snow storm.)

I spent a lot of my time in front of the fire last night just thinking about the up-coming year and the fight we have in front of us.  There are a lot of flames we're going to have to tend and guard.  Even if the big fie goes out, we're going to have to hold safe any light, no matter how small, that remains.

Even when the darkness is at its strength, when the night is longest.

We will preserve the light.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 Today's breakfast is two eggs over easy (but three yolks, because I got  double one!) and two slices of yesterday's cardamom bread. This is a little heartier than normal for me, but I'm bracing myself for a long day at Quatrefoil Library.I'm volunteering with the acquisitions committee. I have no real idea what I'll be doing exactly, but hopefully it will be fun or rewarding or both.  I'll let you know how it went tomorrow. I'll be doing something with them from 9:30 am, until 1:00 pm.  

I also have to take off even earlier this morning to hit the post office before Q.  Not only did I finish off my pen pal list, but I also have a package that needs to go to New Zealand for one of the winners of the charity auction that Jim Hines organized to help fun the trans hotline in Michigan. If you're curious, I raised a decent amount of money considering that there were only three books on offer. I'll be curious to know how this auction is going over all, but fingers crossed that he's raising good money.

Otherwise, the weekend was very quiet.  My family intended it to be that way, since, like most Minnesotans, we'd heard that the polar vortex was coming and so basically planned to hunker down and wait it out.  I went outside exactly three times this weekend. The first time early Saturday morning to shovel the sidewalk. The second time, I started up the car Sunday morning to move it over to the day plow side of the street (a frustrating exercise since the day plow NEVER SHOWED.)  The third and final time was to take Mason over to his friend Rosemary's for their traditional Saturday (moved to Sunday) dinner and movie night. I guess last night they also made a gingerbread house with Rosemary's brother, which frankly looked AMAZING (ours last year was more of a gingerbread shack and kept listing to the side.)

We finished decorating the house for Yule, which, in our case, meant actually getting the Yule Log together and putting various evergreen boughs around the house.  Yeah, we decked the halls.  Except without holly, since I think holly berries are poisonous to cats... and this year I would not trust our new kitty Buttercup not to eat ALL THE POISON.  He already likes to climb up on of of the larger presents under the tree and carefully chose various ornaments to steal and then noisily bat around the room.  THIS is why we decided to revert to our "toddler tree" in which we hang absolutely nothing breakable on the lower 2/3rds of the tree.

Solstice shopping is done, but I still have a few Christmas presents to get.  The bonus of being pagan is that decided to double up on the gift-giving holidays and we celebrate Yule/Solstice AND Christmas (because, really, outside of this whole birth of Christ thing, have you LOOKED at Christmas?  It's completely pagan.)  Plus, Shawn was raised Christian and decided she wanted to keep Christmas.  Given that none of what she wants involves going to a church, it seemed perfectly fine with me.  I will say that I'm just as happy to celebrate it.  Easter always gets me, because we celebrate Ostara and it ALWAYS comes early (being one of the points from which such things are counted) and so I end up wandering around on Easter Sunday wondering why the heck all the stores are closed!  

Ah, I'd better run. There's sure to be a line around the block at the post office, and I don't want to be late to my first volunteer gig!
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Our holidays, of course, started on Solstice. We actually had a lovely time on Friday. First we spent lunch with dear friends of ours, Richard and Frank, who are Mason's "Fairy Godfathers." Frank and Richard currently live in Atalanta, so we don't see them nearly as much as we'd like, so lunch was a great deal of fun catching up on all the news (while the waiter flirted OUTRAGEOUSLY with Richard, though I'm not sure he noticed...though he did feel compelled to point out that he and Frank had been together for 23 years, very loudly, in the waiter's presence, so maybe he DID.) At any rate, we got home and relaxed a bit before my folks came with their bundles of presents. We made our somewhat traditional wild rice soup and homemade French bread for diner and then we opened presents. I was pleased when Mason ran off and changed into to his 11th Division tee-shirt right away, especially given that a lot of the presents the folks brought rattled suspiciously like LEGOs.

After the folks headed back to the hotel (they don't stay with us because a] we have no guest room and b] my dad is allergic to our FOUR cats,) we lit the Yule log and drank eggnog. Then we took a votive candle lit from the Yule Log to keep in our bedroom to keep the flame burning all night. I have friends who actually, in the past, have had the actual bonfire that they keep going all night, but I have to admit to being a lazy, urban Pagan and doing things this way. I tell myself that as long as the fire goes all night, that's sort of the spirit of the thing, so there you go.

Then we went swimming at the hotel pool on Saturday morning, which we adored because the place was completely empty. We were the only ones in the pool the entire time. Usually, when we come in the evening (my parents stay in the same place every time they come up), usually we have to stop playing "piggy in the middle" because another family joins us... sometimes several families. This time, the only frustration Mason had was that we old folks insisted on occasional breaks to use the jacuzzi.

It seemed like the next time we turned around it was Christmas eve, but I do remember a day in there where I ran around like a crazy person trying to fufil Shawn's request of socks for her birthday. Luckily, Irish on Grand had just what I was looking for--plus I picked up some British digestive cookies for her to snack on while she watches her shows (currently we're working through Foyle's War, along with our continuing obsession with EastEnders and Downton Abbey, of course.)

Christmas eve was nice. I got up at six am to start the diner rolls, however, but then, once the turkey was in the oven, I pretty much relaxed until it was time to get the rest of the fixings in order. Uncle Keven dropped in and was good company (sometimes a mixed-bag with uncle Keven) and we generally had a lovely meal and good times. Crackers were cracked after the meal (we read each other the groaner jokes while wearing the silly paper crowns in fine Morehouse tradition), and then the wrapping paper was shredded and presents revealed. The best gift I think I got, besides the homemade Solstace gift from Shawn--a hand painted tea mug, was the .mp3 player. The irony here is that's exactly what I asked for, and got, for my birthday. Only... I lost it. In less than a month. Sometime between November 18 and December 25, I lost my.mp3 player. Shawn got one at a VERY GOOD PRICE, so, should it happen again, I won't feel nearly as guilty. Now I just have to find some time to load it up.

prexmas 006

Our Christmas morning tradition involves stockings and the few extra presents that Santa brings. Then we spent the next several days playing with what we got. Mason has already put together nearly ALL the LEGO sets he got, which, when you think about it, is kind of amazing. He's currently working through the books that the 50 dollar gift certificate his Uncle Keven gave him to Barnes & Noble bought him. Those will probably be finished later today.

prexmas 001

Shawn went back to work today and will likely go tomorrow. Since today became B&N reading extravaganza day, tomorrow will be a Bleach-a-thon punctuated by a trip to Hmongtown Market to satisfy my craving for red bean paste.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
So yesterday, I was quite convinced that my printer was going to defeat my plans for Mason's Solstice gift. For those of you just tuning in, on Solstice, this pagan family attempts to give gifts that are 'from the heart'--which has come to mean, homemade rather than store bought or of SOME DEEP SIGNIFICANCE. For instance, I once spent quite a bit of money on a pair of earrings for Shawn for Solstice, but they were perfect replicas of a children's story about Raven that we read to Mason when he was quite young. It's the story of Raven stealing the sun and the earrings were Native made and actually included a sun in the raven's beak.

But, so I started out thinking that to make Mason's tee-shirt, I would need to use our printer and heat-transfer paper that I bought at Michael's (a craft store.) This assumed that what I had at home was an InkJet printer... which I thought I had, but it turns out not so much. In fact, the heat-transfer paper nicely went in.... AND PROMPTLY MELTED COMPLETELY, like didn't even come out the other side AT ALL. Very smelly. Very impressive. I do believe, however, that my printer may actually survive this mistreatment. BUT, I had to give up on the printer option. My friends on the Interwebs suggested trying Kinko's, the lady at Kinko's said they had no InkJet printers so, nope, try Office Max. The Office Max helper also said, "No, sorry!"

I thought, perhaps, I was defeated. Because, while I can draw, I normally am baffled by straight lines (which this design would require.) But, I gave it a go anyway:

prexmas 025

I think it turned out pretty well. You may be wondering why I am gifting my son with the number 11 in kanji. The answer is, of course, Bleach related. The 11th Division kicks butt and, since Mason might be wearing this to kuk sool (which requires black tees under the gi) this will give him extra kickiness to his buttness, I'm sure. We already swear in Japanese as part of our key-yop. Luckily, these folks are Korean, so shouting the s-word equivelant really doesn't make much of an impression. Plus, our Japanese is crappy enough I'm SURE no one notices.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I have to tell you that one thing that I'm constantly surprised by with small presses is SPEED. So... you know how I announced that the e-book version of Archangel Protocol will be coming soon? Well, I meant, like, tomorrow. (Yes, there will be a posting, tweeting, social media frenzy with all the details on how to buy it. It will probably first appear in the Wizard's Tower Press catalog before it makes its way to Amazon and B&N and other traditional venues, but it will be compatible with all your e-readers right away.)

My publisher has asked if there are any review sites I should have her send copies to, and I'm honestly not entirely sure who to recommend. Any suggestions?

In other news, I have to ask: why is it that when I anxiously post my porniest slash to AO3, they seem to schedule maintenance and the site goes down for an hour or more? I swear they do this just to make me sweat. ;-)

Also, 'tis the season for holiday freak out. Shawn woke up in the middle of the night last night and sat in the bathroom and scribbled down frantic "to-do before the holidays" lists. We have a tradition in our pagan household of celebrating both Solstice and Christmas. On Solstice, we've tried to institute a tradition of "homemade gifts." This does not, of course, extend to the grandparents, who, we're quite happy to say, will be joining us on the holiday proper. However, this means, for me, it's time to get cracking. Because of some failed attempts ot get Bleach gear for me for my birthday, I've decided to hand-craft an 11th Division tee-shirt for Mason to wear to kuk sool. It's just going to be an iron on patch of the Division's diamond with the kanji for 11 in it. I have an iron-on product that works with an ink jet printer, so all I really have to do is figure out how to flip the image and print the thing out. However, I should probably try to make a stab at that today, in case of failure. (Despite my ablities with pen and paper, I'm kind of a klutzy crafter.)

I also need to walk up the block to check out when the "Y's Men" (get the pun?) tree lot is open over at the YMCA. We're planning on getting the holiday tree on Saturday, with the plan to decorate it sometime Sunday. Mason has a big birthday thing he has to spend a lot of Saturday on (his friend Ava decided it would be cool to take all her friends to a play, which is nice, but it means one whole hour of theater and then events after, which kind of sucks up almost three hours in the middle of Saturday.)

Depending on when the Y's Men are open, there will be the traditional OMG-TREE-RUN across University Avenue, in which we drag a gigantic pine tree across the extremely busy street that lies between us and the Y. This should be made extra spectacular now that there's a light rail line right in the middle. At least it's not active yet. When it goes live, I'm not quite sure HOW we'll do this. It would feel silly to strap a tree to our car in order to drive around the block and back again.

I also need to make a trip to the Mall to check out to see what of the things Mason has on his list are actually available INSIDE the Lego store and what we may have to order on-line. I will either do that tomorrow or Friday, but I need to go this week because, if we have to place an order, we should do it soon.

I also have to figure out what my partner wants. It's easy to shop for me. I want Manga and art supplies and blank journals and pretty much all of the same things I wanted when I was fifteen. I've been known to squeal with excitement over a crayon maker and a rock tumbler (and that was only a couple of years ago.) But, Shawn is like a grown-up... so I'm going to have to put some serious thought into something she'll like an enjoy.

Alright. I'm going to go check and see if AO3 is back up and then think seriously about doing some of these things on my holiday list. I also need to make a quick run to the grocery store as Mason's friend Soren will be over for dinner and KSW again tonight and I think we were planning hotdogs or something equally "boy" for them.
lydamorehouse: (me)


Today is the official launch date of the second book in my vampire princess of St. Paul series, ALMOST FINAL CURTAIN.

The back cover copy says:

Craving the spotlight is in her blood.

Ever since high school student Anastasija Parker discovered she was vampire royalty, her life has been sort of crazy. The half-vampire- half-witch just wants some normalcy, and trying out for the spring musical seems like the perfect fix.

But when the ancient talisman that stands between vampire freedom and slavery to witches is stolen, Ana has to skip rehearsal and track down the dangerous artifact before someone uses it to make this year's curtain call her last...

And, you can read the first chapter here: www.tatehallaway.com

-----

/ad

In other news, Shawn and I had fun yesterday shopping for crafty (Crafty?) things at Michael's. We've been putting together a new family altar in the sunroom (which the cats have instantly adopted as a new favorite perch, so it already has good energy.) I've been having fun doing a little fabric painting on various colors of altar cloths. Plus, we bought some "modge podge" just because it's fun to say, and I was pretty sure I could find projects to do with it. When we get it all together I'll post a picture or two.

The sun is finally out, so I may try to plant a few containers or expand Mason's garden EVEN MORE. We kind of went "hog wild" at Menards, so we're going to need a lot of room for all the veggies he picked out. Luckily, I'm terrible at growing grass (probably my reluctance to fertilize,) so I don't feel badly tearing up sod to make room for something more useful -- like spinach.

Whole Foods actually has some blueberry plants for sale that they claim don't need acidic soil or other of the usual requirements (like male and female plants.) I'm going to look up the scientific name of what they have on offer and see how much of that is true, and if they're right that these are relatively low-maintance, I'm thinking of building a raised bed for a couple of blueberry plants. It would be COOL to have home-grown blueberries.

Otherwise, I got jack done on the new novel. I hope to do better today, but, man, that sun is calling my name....
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Mason caught a cold over the weekend. He's home sick today.

So far, knocking on wood, I'm staying pretty healthy, though I did have a sneezing fit this morning (allergies?) followed by a lot of coughing (asthma?) Shawn goes to a neurolgoist this afternoon to hopefully begin to unravel the mystery of her random numbness.

The weekend was busy for me. A long time ago, I agreed to run an hour long workshop at the Bloomington Art Center's "Writers' Festival." Truthfully, I wasn't looking forward to it. I'd planned to do my usual song and dance routine, as I like to call it -- a workshop I've entitled "Mars Needs Writers." It's loosely based on all the zillions of classes I used to teach at the Loft, and I can do it with minimal prep.

There were only about a dozen people signed up and I didn't really think it was going to be my target audience.

Yet, I had an *awesome* class.

I don't know if you've had ocassion to visit the Bloomington Art Center, but it's surprisingly MASSIVE. I was following the directions the coordinator had sent and I was looking around for a building I thought might be the Center. I see this huge building -- like three blocks big, with a big public sculpture -- all glass and brick and I thought, "must be the civic center or city hall." I glanced down at my directions and saw "turn left and into the parking lot." I was like, "Wow, these people are big on the arts!"

Inside it was equally as impressive. The organizers had all sorts of venders lined up hawking their various publishing and book-related wares. After getting my instructor packet, I wandered around a little. I'd heard that some folks from the Midwest Fiction Writers (our local RWA chapter) were going to be there, but I never did find them if they were. Sisters in Crime had a nice display, complete with "do not cross" police tape.

The room I was meant to be in was called Auditorium 1 or something daunting, but the interior was less auditorium than basic meeting room (thank God). They had gotten me the white board I requested, which is good because I can't lecture if I can't jot down notes.

Anyway, when everyone settled in, they seemed pretty receptive. And, sure enough, we were all laughing and discussing by the end. It was a surprising success. A couple of people came up to me afterwards to express regret that the class wasn't longer and that I wasn't currently teaching at the Loft. They would have signed up for more on the spot.

That makes a girl feel pretty loved.

Sunday was Ostara, so I got up super-early (okay, only 7:00 am, but it was DARK out) to start the hot cross buns. I used the same reicipe that I used last year, and they turned out awesome. I helped the Ostara bunny hide a few colored eggs around the house and set out Mason's Ostara basket. Mason always really enjoys the egg hunt. (I was the same at Easter when I was a kid.) Then, just as we put the buns in the oven about 9:00 or so, the family trooped outside to do our usual Ostara ritual.

It's nice and simple and, frankly, one of my favorites. We go out to the back yard and find a spot in the herb garden to stick a couple of candles. Some years we actually put them in mud, but this year, we dug a small hole in the snow. There are melty parts all over our yard where you can actually see grass and bits of green beginning to push through, but thanks to the record snowfall the back yard is still one big pile of snow. So I shoveled out a spot and we lit the candles and said a little poem to gently wake Mother Earth. We breathe into our hands to warm them and place them as close to the earth as we can. Then we leave the candles going (as long as they're some place safe.) This year, I watched a curious squirrel run off with one after it had burned out (the candle, not the squirrel).

Then we feast on sticky buns. It's a really nice tradition.

Sunday night we had nephew Jonathan over for lasagna, which Shawn made. We ended up having to buy a brand-new noodle pot because I'd *cough* left ours outside next to the compost pile for almost a year *cough*. I don't want to talk about it, but suffice to say that no amount of scrubbing could convince Shawn that it was safe to use. Luckily, Target is only a few blocks down University from us.

Jon stayed and chatted well after midnight, so I'm a bit fried this morning. Still it was really great to get to hang out with him.

All and all a good weekend (except for the Mason getting sick part.) You?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Not much to report here, except that Yule with the folks was extremely pleasant. I got the VERY BEST Solstice present EVA, which I will have to post a photo of tomorrow as I forgot to bring the camera to the coffee shop.

It will take some explaining, but it belonged to my great aunt Clara, a devout Catholic, who has recently moved into hospice. At any rate, it is a holographic image of the classic-blue-robed-lily-white-hippie Jesus knocking at the door. If you flex the plaque, his knuckles rap. It is MADE of awesome. I spent a lot of time when I was helping with one day of cleaning out my great-aunt's house marveling at this spectacle of cheese, but reluctantly put it back. My mom rescued it and gave it to me. How cool!

Plus, my folks gave me money for coffee, which I divided evenly between my current hangout and my old place.

Mason, of course, got the usual embarrassment of riches. He has already completed two of the three LEGO sets he got.

Of course, even though we also celebrate Christmas with Shawn's family, I now feel very DONE with the holidays -- because my important one is finished. We'll have a nice little Solstice-Actual celebration tomorrow night. I may have to break the new rule I just instituted about Mason's bedtime, since there will be a lunar eclipse on Yule for the first time in some 450+ years. Seems like powerful magic to me. And, considering that Mason has not yet seen a lunar eclipse, it might be nice for him to stay up/wake up for it. On Solstice-Actual, we give simple, sometimes homemade gifts that are more sentimental than commercial. We also buy things like puzzles or other board/card games for the family. It's a nice tradition. We'll light the Yule Log and keep one of the candles going all night. Sometimes I've tended a "bonfire" in our chimena, from which I'll light a candle, but that often depends on how bitterly cold it is. It's the symbolism that counts more than anything.

Anyway, school vacation has officially started, so I may be very spotty here (or not, depending on how much time Mason wants to spend at the coffee shop.)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I took Mason to the May Day celebration in Powderhorn Park yesterday. For those of you not from around here (or who have never experienced it), this event is going to sound stranger than fiction.

For the last thirty-six years, a puppet theatre troupe based in Minneapolis called In the Heart of the Beast puts on a free parade and performance on the Sunday closest to May 1, which is probably best described as a modern, progressive version of a morality play. Usually, it's an expansion on a classicly pagan idea -- something (greed, corporate interests, war, poverty, or, as in this year's theme, our "baggage") mortally wounds the Goddess/the Tree of Life, who must be tended by the forest creatures (as well as a change of heart in "The People," this year their baggage transformed into the tiger of activism) and then is reborn. She is played, at first, by an average-sized woman, but when she is reborn she is a huge puppet. Her skirt is the May pole.



Another reoccuring event every year is the passage of the sun across the lake. (Powderhorn Park's centerpiece is a circular lake with an island in the center of it. The lake is big, but not so large that you can't walk around it in, say, a half hour or so.) Many years, as it was this year, the weather is typical of Minnesota in spring -- gray. But, every year, the sun comes out an shines on this pageant. It's one of those moments that, if I wrote about it in a novel, you would ASSUME I made it up.



In fact, people kind of wait for it. The sun hit the shore and you could almost sense everyone on the hill (there were easily tens of thousands of us) holding their breath. The sun broke from the clouds and everyone, well, in keeping with the tiger theme this year, ROARED. It was incredible. (I have a few more pictures up at Wyrdsmiths' page.)


Mason, for his part, found the whole thing kind of boring. I blame myself. I've only attended May Day a few times in all the years I've lived in these towns, and I never remember the schedule. Even though I looked it up on the Interwebs, I still didn't quite realize that the parade would last until three and the pageant wouldn't get underway until 3:30. (Some people go for the parade, some for the performance. I've always been a fan of the performance...) So, I got Mason there early, like 11:30 am. We ate a lot of the fair food and checked out all the boothes and whatnot, but, even though we stationed ourselves near the end of the parade, he wasn't that into it. So he spent a lot of the day singing the "I'm bored" song. I made him hang out until after the performance, and I'm not sure he thought it was so awesome after all that time hanging out.

On Saturday, Beltane proper, I initiated Mason in the tradition of May baskets. I asked this question on Facebook, but I'll also ask you: how many of you (not including those raised in a pagan household) had the tradition of May baskets? They're usually handmade baskets filled with flowers and other goodies that you hang on people's doorknobs or leave on their doorstep in the early hours of May 1. We had the tradition of ringing the doorbell and dashing off, unless you set them out (as I often remember doing) before, say, 8:00 am. I find it baffling how many people DID this. It, like Halloween, is one of those traditions whose pagan roots are undeniable. In fact, when you think about it, it's the opposite of what you do on Halloween (which is its opposite on the Pagan solar calendar). You get up early and you give something AWAY. On Halloween, you go out after dark and ask for treats.

Anyway, Mason had a blast with the running away part. He had some fun putting together the baskets themselves:



But he ADORED sneaking up to our friends' houses, placing the baskets, and scurrying away.

After all that, it's hard to go back to real life. Like, I need to buy a lawnmower today and a bunch of other mundane things that I don't really want to do.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
A lot has happened in the last few days. I chaperoned an all-day field trip to the “big” Minnesota Zoo, got Mason’s veggie garden ready for planting, and attended another Kids and Kin event at Sacred Paths.

Moving backwards through time, yesterday, was the zoo trip. It was fairly stressful. The way the teacher decided to handle the field trip was to assign each parent/chaperone a small group of four kids and told us to run free. I can’t imagine a better way, but this meant that all the responsibility for what we did, when, and where was down to me. Luckily, I know the zoo very well, having spent a lot of time there with Mason in the past. I asked my group (three boys and one girl) what they wanted to see on the bus ride out: Sharks! Wolverines! Monkeys!

I’d also decided on the way out that since there were only five of us total, I’d treat my group to a ride on the monorail. I figured that by the end of the day what I’d really want was a chance to sit down and not have to keep an eye on all four of them (since once the tram doors closed, they were stuck in one place.) Man, was I right! Plus, that way they got to see the animals without having to walk any further.

So, besides the monorail, we also saw the sharks (we went there first), Russia’s Grizzly coast (the leopard was the most cooperative, pacing back and forth right in front of the viewing glass), played in the new play ground “Woodland Wonderland”, had lunch with the rest of the class, and then did the Minnesota trail (where I gave each kid a punch sheet and told them it was a scavenger hunt to see if they could collect all the stamps,) and then, after the train ride, I thought we might have time to get out to the farm to see the farm babies – but they got distracted by the playground and I figured I’d just let them play until it was time to go to the bus.




I’m glad I gave us extra time, because I almost lost the girl – who, for reasons all her own, decided to run ahead and find the bus herself. She turned a corner and we completely lost sight of her. Worse, it was at an intersection of the "Woodland Wonderland" play area, the Grizzly Coast, AND the way back toward the aquarium. I thought, "This is it. I've officially lost a child. Parent FAIL!"

Luckily, we were close to a playground and I saw her heading back to it. We managed to even make it back to the bus on time and without further incident. All I can say is I was very, very lucky. Next time, I'm chaining those kids to me with adamanium!!

So I did nothing the rest of the day. What little energy I had left had been sucked out of me by the adrenalin rush of nearly losing track of one of my charges, and the squealy-ness of the bus ride home. We ordered a pizza and I played a few video games with Mason, tried to read a chapter or two (but my eyes kept crossing), and collapsed into a heap.

On Monday, I decided that I'd skip working out to work in the garden. There's a LOT to do in our yard. While I can't grow grass to save my soul, every seed that falls from the neighboring trees sprout and grow in inappropriate places like under the fence, next to the house, in the garden... you name it. If I don't want a tree there, it grows. HUGE. So I spent a lot of the morning ripping out junk trees with the new clippers I bought over the weekend at Menards. And, then, because that's a never ending job, I took a break to write. The sun called to me after an hour of writing, and so out I went to tackle the area that's become Mason's garden.

Mason, as I've mentioned before, somehow inherited my maternal grandmother's ability to throw seeds on the ground and have them sprout. Genetic osmosis, perhaps, but whatever it is, last year we dug up this little square of yard -- he stepped on a few seeds and we suddenly had a garden bursting with carrots, peas, corn and sunflowers. If I had planted it, we would have gotten nothing, as the birds would have eaten the seeds or some other disaster or blight would have killed anything that struggled up through the weeds.

Anyway, this year I decided it needed more definition. I had bought some bricks to edge the garden last year, but I wasn't happy with the way I had them arranged. So I did a bit of landscaping with the bricks and two of the pots we have for herbs -- rosemary and lavendar and set them in an artful arrangement. Now it looks great and is just waiting for Mason to work his magic.

Speaking of magic, we went to another Kids and Kin on Sunday. This one was even less formal than the last. It was an Earth Day celebration, which involved a walk over to a nearby park with the intention of picking up trash. We did that, although mostly Mason picked dandilions, violets, and pinecones. There wasn't a lot of trash, actually. I did find an abandoned fisbee. The "ritual" half consisted of play on the playground, which Mason opted out of. Not the most organized of the events, so far, but it's still a place where Mason can talk about the goddess and not have to explain what he means. That's something for now. Plus, next time is going to be Beltane/May Day, and we even have an extra meeting because Kids and Kin are in charge of making centerpieces for Sacred Path's Beltane pancake breakfast or something (I'm so not a part of this community, I have no idea. But, hey, I'm getting more involved!)

I feel like a lot more happened, but that's basically everything I can remember. I'm going to try to be more regular, but with the sun calling to me and gardening to do.....
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Let's see, for starters, I got nothing done this weekend. Apparently, there was some kind of holiday on Sunday which involved a lot of stores being closed, which nixed our one big plan for the weekend: fixing the toliet seat. Apparently Minicon was this weekend as well, but I kind of forgot about that too. (I'm a little sadder I missed that.)

Mason had Friday off (which should have been a clue about the above holiday), and my writer friend Gary and his wife Brin came over and we talked a good portion of the day away about writing, gaming, comics, health insurance, and life. It was a great excuse not to write a damn thing. (Actually, to be fair, with Mason off the likelihood of getting work done was already shot.) Plus, I got to introduce Gary and Brin to the Russian Tea House on University -- at the end of my block, actually -- which made me happy, especially as it was Friday which meant I got to get the stroganoff. Yum! I have no idea if they liked it, but I'm always happy to give those folks business. I really, really want them to stay in the neighborhood.

Saturday, I discovered that Shawn and I aren't normal, modern parents. Shocking, no?

Here's what happened: Mason had a birthday party and I (*gasp*) DROPPED HIM OFF. Yep. I left my son to have fun ON HIS OWN. Apparently this is one of the seven signs of the apocalypse. All of the other parents stayed and watched over their children. This, however, did not seem to make a more orderly party. When I came back a half hour before the party was scheduled to be over, I noticed that a lot of the parents stood on the sidelines and watched their kids run wild. There was no less screaming with a 2:1 adult to child ratio. And I kept asking myself why all these parents decided it was necessary to stand around with glazed expressions, when they could have just dropped of their children and stared at the wall somewhere else. Apparently, it's expected to hang around (and I did KNOW that on some level because I did ask the host parents if they needed/expected me to stay, and I left with their startled blessing.)

I have no memory of parties like this when I was a kid. Though birthday parties were never the PRODUCTION they seem to be now when I was younger either. I can't imagine my folks dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on a birthday party for me -- well, maybe they did. I was pretty clueless about all the awesome things they did for me, but I certainly don't remember everyone's parents hanging around while I blew out candles (unless they were family, ala my cousin's folks or my grandparents.)

This is just one of the truths of the new reality Mason is growing up in that I continue to resist. We've decided to thwart our colleagues this year. Thanks to our friends from Colorado, the Jacksons, we're members of the Children's Museum again. The Children's Museum has awesome (and cheap) birthday packages with a maxium number of PEOPLE. We do need to have one grown-up/adult for every five kids, but we can have no more than 20 people total. Our invites are going to encourage dropping off.

Take that, helicopter parents!

It probably still won't work because Mason doesn't have fifteen close friends, but it's worth a shot.

In other parenting news, I found a pagan Sunday school for Mason. It's at Sacred Paths Center called "Kids and Kin." We checked it out on Sunday, and Mason LOVED it. They do a little craft/instruction at the beginning and a short ritual at the end (oh, and of course, the traditional pagan "cakes and ale" kid style: carrots and ricecakes/water and brownies). Anyway, Mason got to represent fire in the circle and you'd have thought he was crowned king of the world. This weekend was about "Tricksters" and it was, apparently unusually, almost all boys. The age range was pretty huge -- there were teenagers and two year-olds -- but Mason adores older kids and tolerates the younger ones, especially when they'll play chase with him.

"Kids and Kin" runs every other Sunday, and I think we're going to try to make it a regular event. As I told Shawn (who is still nursing a cold), there were two things I really liked: 1) they encouraged dropping off (see above rant), and 2) if Mason decides when he's older to become an evangelical Christian, at least he'll have had a solid base understanding of his "religion of origin" to leave behind. A religion to abandon/rebel against a gift every parent should give, I think. :-)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I thought I'd post a few photos of the recent goings-on in my life. First, last night, Mason's school had "Science Night." One of the reasons we chose Crossroads is because it's a science magnet. They have a "scientist in residence," who is a Bell Museum curator. So as part of the big event last night the folks from the Bell Museum came out with some of the animals from thier interactive area, including (much to mama's chagrin) the giant bat cave cockroach:



That's a grown man's hand the cockroach is perched on, and, yes, those are lovely wings. Mason, who is a huge bug person, was actually a little freaked by this cockroach because -- well, because it seemed to like him. When the guy took it back, it instantly leaped into the air and flew over to perch on Mason's shoulder:




There was also a milliped from Africa so large it could wrap all the way around a woman's wrist. Mason was (oddly) similarly disinclined to hold that one, though I touched it. Despite his reaction last night, Mason woke up this morning begging mama to have a giant bat cave cockroach as a pet. You can probably imagine mama's reaction to that... especially since she spent her time in the science lab room cringing in a corner and trying not to squeal in horror every time the cockroach and Mason interacted.

The other big events was the free-range tour of the I-Zone (stands for "Inquiry-Zone"), which I think I've described before. It's a bunch of cubicles set up in a large atrium area in the school. At each station there's some kind of science experiment for the kids to investigate on their own. There were light bulbs to light using wires, a battery, and circuits. There are blocks to play with, magnets to experiment with, lightboxes, kalidoscopes to make, and just a TON of fun stuff for the kids to learn about/play with. There's cockroach farms (new addition: bat cave cockroaches in addition to their already thriving Madagascar hissing cockroach farm!) tanks with fish, plants, turtles, etc. There are grow lights with different plants being grown -- and, well, it's no surprise that when Mason first experienced the I-Zone during the open house when we were considering attending Crossroads, he CRIED when it was time to leave.

As we were leaving, he said the only thing that would have made the night more perfect was if the library/media center were open.

Also, I have a few shots of our Ostara celebration to share. As I said earlier, Mason and I decorated over a dozen eggs. We did our usual Goddess/Ostara symbols (spiral, moon, sun), but Mason also decided to add a bit of BLING this year:



Here's all of the eggs, Mason's bunny Sirraliyboadoh (I can NEVER spell that name), and our Trader Joe's tulips:



I also took a picture of all our food -- we had hot cross buns (I finally found the perfect recipie) and quiche lorraine (from a recipie from Shawn's mother):



Bonus image of Mason playing his DS. At that moment, I believe he was "training up" a Pokemon.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I'm kind of headache-y and tired today, which seems like a very reasonable response to having had a wonderful Yule yesterday. Thanks to the nasty weather (seven inches of snow, followed by sub-arctic temperatures), we ended up skipping the Yule Vigil, and stuck closer to home on Saturday. We lit a fire in our backyard chiminea at sundown, and kept it going almost until midnight, when I got really tired of treking to the backyard as the temperatures started falling a degree a minute. So I lit a candle from the Yule fire and brought indoors, and we kept it lit until this morning actually. Sean M. Murphy came over and brought some homemade rosemary bread with a solar cross for us -- we had it with our Yule feast on Sunday. Yum!

My folks came up for Yule proper (on Sunday), and we opened presents. I got another year gym membership along with the DVD for "Iron Man" the movie from Shawn. Mason got me a LEGO set (no, really???) and my folks gave me exactly what I wanted: big bucks on my coffee card at Cafe Amore. Now I can get my coffee "for free" for at least a couple of months, work out, and watch Iron Man any time I want. Life is grand.

Shawn's present came from ThinkGeek.com. Her father was a pharmacist and he used to tell her this rhyme all the time: "Poor Johnny was a Chemist's son. Poor Johnny is no more. For what he thought was H20 was H2SO4." She nearly teared up. Plus, my folks totally win the thoughful award this year (not only for my coffee, but also) because my dad, when he was in Wales, hunted high and low for a set of egg cups for Shawn. This was an incredibly thoughtful gift because Shawn, many, many years ago (probably closing on a decade) made a bad choice at Portabello Road when we were in London with my folks. She saw an egg cup in one of the stalls for a pound. She thought and thought about that egg cup, but finally decided a pound was too much to pay for it. She put it back. We left without it. She's regretted that choice ever since, to the point that when we see other things she's waffling on I ask her, "Is it an eggcup?" Anyway, now she has a set of four that came all the way from a second hand store in Wales. She almost cried over that one, too.

Mason, of course, got a obscene load of LEGOs and Bionicals and other fun bits of presents. He was pretty much in hog heaven all day. Of course, now all that's left of all that excitment are the bits of boxes and wrapping paper and bows, which the kitties chase about the house.

I feel like my holiday season is over, but I guess we still have to do Christmas with Shawn's family, which I'm rather dreading. (We had a big fight with one of Shawn's brothers that has yet to be resolved, let's just say.) Plus, it's a long drive to the other brother's house just to potentially be insulted again.

Wee... the holiday spirit, indeed.

Well, I got page proofs for Tate's DEAD IF I DO, which I must attend to (not to mention trying to write with Mason underfoot.)

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