Friday, November 30, 2012

So you finished writing your first novel...

So you’ve just finished writing your first novel… how do you feel?

I feel elated that I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge. It’s a lot like the feeling I had when I lost my first ten pounds with SparkPeople. It feels great to set a goal and achieve it. It gives me a wonderful “I can do anything I set my mind to” feeling. I feel pretty proud of myself. I’m definitely walking a little taller today, shoulders back, sticking my chest out just a little bit. I’m incredibly thankful for Tim, who supported me and encouraged me and did everything he could to facilitate my writing. I have a new appreciation for those writers whose work I love, Bertrice Small, Jim Butcher, Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling. I know when a lot of those folks got their start; they were working another full-time job, or a couple part-time ones, to make ends meet. The fact that they persevered and ended up at the top of their respective genres is amazing to me.

I’m also glad to be getting other parts of my life back. I haven’t seen the inside of my gym in almost three weeks. I want to get back to Zumba. I would also like to see Tim for more time in an evening other than to say, “Honey, can you bring me more coffee?” I’ve got new books to read and TV shows to catch up on. This last week, catching up and driving to reach the word count goal and the end of my story also involved a lot of late nights. It will be nice to wake up in the morning not feeling still tired.

Other thoughts on my NaNoWriMo experience, I’ve developed a tick now of checking word count at the end of every paragraph, even when it doesn’t matter, because it’s for my blog. I also learned you don’t have to map out your entire story start to finish before you start writing it. I think if you have interesting characters that are real and alive to you, they’ll help you get there. There were times while I was writing that I panicked because I had no idea how to resolve my plot. I had created conflict and problems, but I hadn’t created the solution. So I just kept writing. I wrote dialogue and relationships and flirting and then somehow my characters came up with the solution and told me how they were going to pull this off.

I’m looking forward to starting the editing process. What I’m really wanting to do is sit down and read my own story, and see if it makes me cringe like listening to myself speak or sing on a recording does. I’m sure I’m going to find gaps and plot holes and grammatical errors galore, but that is what December and January are for.

While I’m happy and excited about all I’ve learned, I’m also feeling a little trepidation about what to do with this little novel I’ve written. I have a friend who has done NaNoWriMo for quite a few years, who’ve never let even one person read their work. Right now I have people asking to read it, but I’m reluctant to let it out to friends and family until I’ve done a lot more work on it. In two or three months, when I haven’t been posting my escalating word count on Facebook everyday, will anyone care?

And then what after that? Do I try to get it published? I’ve been reading a lot of articles on writing and publishing. The general consensus is that everyone’s first novel attempt is terrible. It’s a learning experience, one that every potential author must go through. And if I do decide it’s good enough that other people should pay money to read it, do I try to go the traditional agent/print publisher route? Or do I try to self-publish? E-formats only, or do I go for getting actual real books printed? The dream, of course, is to see a stack of my books on an end cap at Barnes and Noble or Books-a-million. It’s to have a major motion picture made from my film. I’ve already decided Ben Browder (from Farscape and Stargate) should play the police officer/seer character. Realistically though, I’ve got only a slightly better chance of that happening than I do of winning Powerball.

A couple people with more writing and editing experience have offered to read it for me and give me some much needed feedback, so editing is the next step. For now though, I'm just going to be proud of my accomplishment, that I saw my story through to the end.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oubliette - Chapter 1

So for all my friends and family who've been rooting me on via facebook, here is the first chapter of Oubliette, the novel I've been writing for National Novel Writing Month. Since it doesn't go without saying, all the work here is original and my intellectual property. If Nyx sounds familiar, I wrote a short story about her for my blog in September.

Chapter 1 – Invisible Stag

Nyx hated riding the bus. But her beloved black Ford Probe had died its final death somewhere between Boston and New York. So now she got to be crammed between a guy who smelled like bratwurst and a woman with pointy elbows. It felt like they’d been driving across Pennsylvania forever. Bratwurst Guy tried to strike up a conversation about beer when they passed Pottsville. “That’s where the oldest brewery in America is. Have you ever had a Yuengling? I could buy you a Yuengling when we stop in Philly.” Nyx just shook her head and pointed to her ear buds.

“Sorry, what?” she said loudly. The ear buds were plugged into a knockoff MP3 player that hadn’t functioned since Bush (the second one) was President, but it made it easier to get nosy or flirty bus passengers to leave her alone. The latter usually wasn’t a problem, as she was built like a 14 year old boy. Her arms and legs were skinny; she had narrow hips, and no appreciable cleavage. Her skin was naturally pale and her hair was dyed shoe polish black and cut short in back, longer in front. She tried hard not to attract attention, but she was wearing the wrong outfit for avoiding it here. Her long black fishnet gloves, a long black cardigan sweater, black turtleneck, short black leather shorts with black and white striped tights marked her as “one of those Goth kids from the city”. Her boots were the very best part of the outfit. They were knee-high, black leather, with a zipper and thirteen belt buckles covering the zipper. They had a single black spike on each toe that made them look like evil elf shoes. The boots were a parting gift to herself for leaving Boston. She looked like a dark, angry Amy Brown fairy, minus the wings.

‘What a boring place,’ Nyx thought as she began to fitfully doze.

Brakes squealed and a loud thud woke her a short time later. The driver was yelling at a woman near the front to quiet down. The shrieking woman yelled, “But that beautiful animal! We have to help it! You have to call the police, or the game commission, or animal control. It could be bleeding and suffering under the bus right now!”

The driver told her to put a sock in it, they would check on the deer and the damage as soon as he confirmed all the passengers were safe. Nyx rolled her eyes. She saw sleeping in a bus station in her near future, as they were probably not going to make it to DC tonight. She filed off the bus in an orderly fashion with the rest of the passengers. After checking off the passenger list and making sure no one had any injuries, the driver checked over the bus. There was definitely a deer - sized dent in the front end, and they had punctured a tire on some debris when they pulled onto the birm of the highway. But the deer was nowhere to be seen.

“Well don’t that beat all,” said the driver.

“What doesn’t beat all?” Nyx asked. Bratwurst Guy had been sidling her way, probably to see if she needed comforting after the accident. Better to look interested in a dead deer carcass.

The bus driver said, “That was about the biggest buck I’ve ever seen. He had a prettier rack than Pamela Anderson. I’ve been in accidents where the deer runs off after, but not when I was driving my bus! And look, there’s no blood on the road, and no hair caught in the grill.”

Nyx looked more closely at the front of the bus. If the driver and the passengers at the front hadn’t all said they hit a deer, she’d have said they hit an invisible boulder. There was no blood at all. She’d seen hundreds of deer hit along roadsides, if anything as big as a bus or a semi hit them, they were toast. Raven food. Nyx asked the driver, “So what now?”

“Now, we wait for the tow truck out of the bus depot in Harrisburg. The next bus that goes to DC comes through tomorrow at 11:15 AM.”

‘Great, Harrisburg,’ Nyx thought sarcastically, ‘Maybe I’ll meet the Governor!’ She felt like he owed her an apology for every extra minute she had to spend in this state.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review of Glee Season 4 Episode 6 - Glease

Since I disagree with every review I've read of last night's episode so far, I'm writing my own.

First, it should be said that I LOVE Grease. My parents had the soundtrack on vinyl, it's one of my Mom's favorite movies. Even Grease 2, which is universally considered terrible, is a guilty pleasure for me, just because I get to see Frenchie and the Riddell High teachers again.

Now for the actual review of the episode.

Sue and Finn: First, I'm glad to see Mean Sue back. Her rampage through the hallway was classic Season 1. I also love her line about "I'm only saying what everyone else in America is thinking" regarding Finn leading the Glee Club. Schuester and the show's writers can say all they want that it's fine for Finn to lead Glee Club since it's an extracurricular activity and not a class (But Schue gives them homework, I don't remember ever getting homework from an extracurricular activity), but it's completely ridiculous that he would ask a barely 19 year old kid to take over a club rather than leaving any other qualified adult at that school in charge. List of possibles: Emma, Will's own fiancee, who's been involved with Glee in the past, chaperoning the club at Sectionals when Will was banned in Season 1 following the mattress incident. Coach Bieste, who co-directed West Side Story last year. Ricky Martin's character, David Martinez, who is an awesome singer and teacher, and last we knew should be teaching Spanish at McKinley. It's a lazy way to keep Cory Monteith involved in the show, even though Finn has no reason to be any place but in the tire shop. I love Finn, but his storyline is sad and full of holes.

NYADA and NY: It is ludicrous that Rachel and Kurt would have made the trip back to Ohio for one weekend. If the show ever bothered to give you a sense of what time of year it was, they could justify some of the graduates being around because it's fall break or Thanksgiving, etc. But since Glee only shows us a calendar at Christmas, Valentine's Day and Graduation, we just assume the graduates have nothing better to do that FLY HALFWAY ACROSS THE COUNTRY to hang out at their old school. (This also applies to having had Puck show up earlier in the season and of course, Mike and Mercedes being there now. Also having Amber Riley there and only having her sing back up on Hand Jive last week is like buying a gourmet cupcake to look at. And what happened to Sam and Mercedes? Not one scene together since she's come back? Seriously?)

The only NY plot that made sense to me, that everyone else has made yucky faces at is Cassandra July seducing Brody. It's college, not high school. If Brody's a Junior at NYADA then he's at least 20-21. He's got an insanely hot body and Cassandra July is a desperate mean old has-been. Kate Hudson has done a great job making her character thoroughly unlikeable. And her dance number with Brody was sexy. If you didn't see her tirade at Rachel coming at the end of the episode, then you haven't been paying attention.

Unique/Wade: I thought Unique not being able to play Rizzo in Grease was a total faceplant for this character. Finn warned Wade last week that he was going to take some heat for this, and he needed to be ready for it. Instead, he completely caved and didn't even try to argue with his parents and Sue when they wanted to pull him out of the musical. I do love Unique's voice though, so I was glad we didn't completely miss her take on "There Are Worse Things I Can Do" And as much as I love Santana, and agree that she made a great Rizzo, she would have been even more perfect if they had done Grease last year, when she was actually still a student at McKinley. And didn't Finn and Artie get any understudies? Did that few people audition for Grease?

Other New Characters: I like the Marley/Ryder/Jake triangle. All three of these characters are interesting and and I like hearing them sing, both separately and in combination. I really enjoyed the dialogue between Marley and Ryder this episode, and their performance of "You're the One That I Want" was great. Kitty - she's the perfect mean girl character, she's like Quinn Fabray without a soul. Her voice is only just passable though. It was cute on her duet with Jake last week, but I hated hearing her do "Sandra Dee." I would like her making alterations to Marley's costumes to be found out soon.

Old Glee Clubbers: The only reason Artie had lines in this episode is because he co-directed the musical. I generally think this season has neglected Tina, Artie, Sam and Britney horribly. They should be the ones leading the club now, rather than dragging back Finn and everyone else. Once someone gets out of Ohio, they should stay out. Britney's had one song so far this season, in the election episode, which she shared with Sam. I don't think Tina's had a solo this entire year, the only time we hear her sing on her own is during Call Me Maybe in the first episode. She and Artie also both did songs in the Britney 2.0 episode, but they were so completely unmemorable I had to go to Wikipedia to find that out.

Blaine/Kurt - Kurt's lines at the end about their relationship being over because he couldn't trust Blaine anymore rang sad and so true. Kurt has a developed a more adult understanding of relationships. Blaine's performance of Beauty School Drop-out was fantastic though, the best Grease number of the whole show. If anyone is going to portray a dreamy teen idol, Blaine is it. Also regarding that number, Sugar was the most adorable perfect Frenchie.

Song by Song rating - Scores of 1 - 10 - 10 being better than John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and 1 being worse than Grease 2.

Greased Lightning - 8 - The cleaned up lyrics took me out of the performance

Sandra Dee at Slumber Party - 3 - I really don't like Kitty's voice, and it doesn't stand up to Stockard Channing's at all, not even if a partially deaf person was writing this review.

Beauty School Dropout - 10 - Blaine is amazing and can sing anything he wants.

Sandra Dee, Reprise - 9 - Marley knocked this one out of the park.

There Are Worse Things I Could Do - 9 - Santana's voice is perfect for Rizzo, and I like the three characters, Santana, Unique and Cassie singing it together at the end.

You're the One that I Want - 7 - The Marley/Ryder part was great, the Finn/Rachel part was so... 3 years ago. I know everyone wants to see the old cast singing and dancing together, but I wish they had gone back to the actual cast of the musical for the finale. The flashback Rachel sees makes sense, but not letting them finish the song that way.

I think that about covers it. I'm going to download the original Grease Soundtrack now so I can remember the actual words to Greased Lightning... I know it wasn't a honey wagon...

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update!

As of this morning, I am up to over 10,000 words on my novel. I'm still a bit off pace, but as I'm off work next week, I'm hoping to catch up. I really need to push hard when I have time this week, as I'll be in Reading most of this weekend for the Starhawk workshop.

So, the blog is basically on hiatus while I work on this. I put up a review of the Clover Lane Coffee House night from this past Friday. Bear with me and hang in there and in December I'll be blogging more regularly.

As a reward for your patience, here's an excerpt from Oubliette, the novel I am working on for NaNoWriMo.

Nyx hated riding the bus. But her beloved black Ford Probe had died its final death somewhere between Boston and New York. So now she got to be crammed between a guy who smelled like bratwurst and a woman with pointy elbows. It felt like they’d been driving across Pennsylvania forever. Bratwurst Guy tried to strike up a conversation about beer when they passed Pottsville. “That’s where the oldest brewery in America is. Have you ever had a Yuengling? I could buy you a Yuengling when we stop in Philly.” Nyx just shook her head and pointed to her ear buds.

“Sorry, what?” she said loudly. The ear buds were plugged into a knockoff MP3 player that hadn’t functioned since Bush (the second one) was President, but it made it easier to get nosy or horny bus passengers to leave her alone. The latter usually wasn’t a problem, as she was built like a 14 year old boy. Her arms and legs were skinny, she had narrow hips, and no appreciable cleavage. Her skin was naturally pale and her hair was dyed shoe polish black and cut short in back, longer in front. She tried hard not to attract attention, but she was wearing the wrong outfit for avoiding it here. Her long black fishnet gloves, a long black cardigan sweater, black turtleneck, short black leather shorts with black and white striped tights marked her as “one of those Goth kids from the city”. Her boots were the very best part of the outfit. They were knee-high, black leather, with a zipper and thirteen belt buckles covering the zipper. They had a single black spike on each toe that made them look like evil elf shoes. She looked like a dark, angry Amy Brown fairy, minus the wings.

‘What a boring place,’ Nyx thought as she began to fitfully doze.

Brakes squealed and a loud thud woke her a short time later. The driver was yelling at a woman near the front to quiet down. The shrieking woman yelled, “But that beautiful animal! We have to help it! It could be bleeding and suffering under the bus right now!”

The driver told her to put a sock in it, they would check on the deer and the damage as soon as he confirmed all the passengers were safe. Nyx rolled her eyes. She saw sleeping in a bus station in her near future, as they were probably not going to make it to DC tonight. She filed off the bus in an orderly fashion with the rest of the passengers. After checking off the passenger list and making sure no one had any injuries, the driver checked over the bus. There was definitely a deer - sized dent in the front end, and they had punctured a tire on some debris when they pulled onto the birm of the highway. But the deer was nowhere to be seen.

“Well don’t that beat all,” said the driver.

“What doesn’t beat all?” Nyx asked. Bratwurst Guy had been sidling her way, probably to see if she needed comforting after the accident. Better to look interested in a dead deer carcass.

The bus driver “That was about the biggest buck I’ve ever seen. He had a prettier rack than Pamela Anderson. I’ve been in accidents where the deer runs off after, but not when I was driving my bus! And look, there’s no blood on the road, and no hair caught in the grill.”

Nyx looked more closely at the front of the bus. If the driver and the passengers at the front hadn’t all said they hit a deer, she’d have said they hit an invisible boulder. There was no blood at all. She’d seen hundreds of deer hit along roadsides, if anything as big as a bus or a semi hit them, they were toast. Raven food. Nyx asked the driver, “So what now?”

“Now, we wait for the tow truck out of the bus depot in Harrisburg. The next bus that goes to DC comes through tomorrow at 11:15 AM.”

‘Great, Harrisburg,’ Nyx thought sarcastically, ‘Maybe I’ll meet the Governor!’

Review - Clover Ln Coffee House, Jamie Marich

Friday evening my fiance Tim and I went to the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg to enough the Coffee House night. The performer this month was Dr. Jamie Marich, who in addition to being a performer and song writer is also an addiction counselor and leads workshops and retreats about mindfulness.

Jamie opened her set with several familiar folk and country songs that most people in the audience knew. Jamie encouraged singing along wherever possible, and this is an aspect of her show I very much enjoyed. The artists she covered ranged from Neil Young and Cat Stevens to Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. These songs made me a little homesick, as they are songs my Dad and Aunt Beck have played She also shared several original songs from two of her three CDs with us. I enjoyed her original songs very much, especially Grace of a Woman and At Arm's Length. I was impressed by her skill as a guitar player, as well as a singer and a songwriter.

Generally, I think Jamie Marich would be an awesome person to hang out with. I think she's found the secret to surviving in a very tough profession, mental health. Her work with music and mindfulness balances her, and keeps her from burning out like so many who chose to help others. If we're lucky enough to get her back at Clover Lane in 2013, I would definitely go back to see her again.

Unitarian Church of Harrisburg

Monday, November 5, 2012

Restaurant Review: Fox & Hounds @ Susquehanna Town Shoppes

Last week I got an email with a Groupon offer for $10 for $20 worth of food and drink at Fox and Hound. We decided to give them a try for this week's Steelers game, instead of our usual trip to Aroogas.

Food: We ordered two appetizers and 3 dinners between everyone at my table. For appetizers, we had pretzel nuggets and spinach artichoke dip. The pretzel nuggets were unlike anything I've had elsewhere. They were lightly fried and had a buttery flavor with a little sweetness. It reminded me of a funnel cake without the powdered sugar. They were served with a spicy cheese dip that made me think of Nacho Cheese Combos. The spinach artichoke dip was good, it was served in a small soup bowl surrounded by red and yellow tortilla chips. My fiance's burger and my friend Ryan's sandwich both looked good and were prepared as requested. I ordered Newcastle Brown Ale battered Fish and Chips. The fries and fish were both a little greasy, and the breading on the fish was a little dark. It tasted good and the portion of fish was substantial. One thing that must be mentioned, since I mentioned the fries, is that their ketchup was not Heinz. So that's one small mark against the food.

Beer: Fox and Hound has a larger number of beers on tap than Arooga's. I had a Newcastle Brown Ale (to go with my Newcastle Fish and Chips) that was delicious.

Service: Our server was attentive and polite. She continued to check on us throughout the game. We arrived at 4 PM and were there until almost 8 PM by the time the game finished.

Atmosphere: There are plenty of TVs in the restaurant and there was no issue seeing the game. The section we were in had 3 tiers of tables, and we were at the highest tier at a high table. There was a large TV with the Steelers game on right in front of us. The only problem with this was it was almost too close to watch comfortably. With the way the room was set and no cloth on the walls to dampen the sound, it was very loud. It was difficult to hear our server at times (for which she apologized and had no problem repeating things when asked, she was very sweet.) It was also difficult to carry out a conversation at the table when the game was on. Commericials were just as loud, so there was no break there either. I had a pounding headache by the time we left. Also, even though some of the staff and other customers were wearing team apparel, no one seemed that interested in the game. I was often the only one cheering or clapping, not that anyone else could tell, because it was so loud.

So is Fox and Hound going to replace Arooga's as our go to place to watch the Steelers? No. But I wouldn't mind trying it again just for dinner, when there's not a game on. They had a good menu and there are other things I'd like to try, and I was pleased with the service.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy!

I recently learned (recently like this morning) that the above quote is often wrongly attributed to Benjamin Franklin. It may be a paraphrase though of this quote, which he wrote in a letter to Andre Morellet in 1779.

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.

So why am I talking about wine and beer at 11 o'clock in the morning on a Friday? Well, because It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere and because the Giant supermarket on Linglestown Road opened a beer garden today! Finally, I can enjoy the same privilege as my Nebraska friends who can buy their beer in the same place as their groceries.

I went over on my lunch time to check out the new space. There is a wall of coolers and then 3 shelves of single serve bottles and six packs. I was very impressed by the selection. I recognized several craft beers from the Fort Collins CO area, including Rogue and Dogfish Head, thanks to my beer education from Nebraska. There were also local selections from Appalachian Brewing Company and Lancaster Brewing Company. Southern Tier Brewery and Presque Isle Brewery from the Lake Erie region were also represented. They also have 6 packs of Mike's Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice for those who like more girly drinks. It's funny, I used to love that stuff, but now I turn my nose up at it. I'm now glad that I can enjoy "real beer."

I'll have to be wary of the temptation to buy beer every time I buy groceries. I am aware that it should be an indulgence and not a necessity. With the kind of beers I like best, stouts and lagers, the main reason not to overindulge is the calories I ingest. I'd have to spent an hour on the elliptical, or do Zumba for an hour every day, to burn off the calories from a six pack of Milk Stout.

All things in moderation!

Sources: - Urban Legends - Linglestown Giant Food store opens beer garden

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What's NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month!

I have many friends who particpate in this, and I've decided to go ahead and do it. My mom is always telling me I should write more. I think if I write a novel I can guarantee that at least she would read it. I haven't been keeping up with the blog as much as I'd like. I really need to reclaim some of my time at home from watching Netflix and playing video games to 1) exercise and 2) writing. I admit to blogging, or at least planning my blog at work a lot of days. We are heading towards winter, it's a slower time in the promotional products business. But if I'm to keep writing when work is busy, I need to carve out that little bit of time each day.

I'll be posting on the blog about how the novel writing project is going. I can tell just from reading the welcome message it's going to be a challenge for me. It's all about output, just getting words out there, and editing later. "Editing is for December" it said. I always edit and nit-pick as I go, which is what leads me to dead ends. So the idea of just pushing, pushing, pushing, writing, writing, writing, is intriguing for me. I enjoy ideas and challenges that force me to think differently about things.

So wish me luck! (I'm gonna need it!)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kids didn't have to go to school but I had to go to work... :-(

Hurricane Sandy

1.) How did hurricane season make it all the way to the S's without me really noticing it til now? I remember a couple tropical storm reports back in late August/early September, but we're all of a sudden on Sandy?

2.) I live in Harrisburg, PA. The governor has declared a state of emergency, and so has the mayor. State offices and schools are closed, but my employer is open. I'm left with 2 things. Either A) The state and city etc are all overreacting or B) My employer might be under-reacting? Our decision makers are in the midwest, so I'm not sure what the storm coverage is like out there. Here, everyone is being encouraged to stay safe and take it very seriously.

3.) School is canceled today, which has to be a pain for anyone who has kids whose job is open, because they are going to have to scramble for childcare.

4.) I'm a little nervous. They are anticipating major power outages, and possibly flash floods. I missed the flooding here last year, I didn't move down until the start of November. I can handle snow, having lived near Erie most of my life, and also in Western NY. The idea of water everywhere and ending up trapped someplace is a bit unnerving to me, even if it is unlikely to come to pass.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sorry, no blogs! But good news - and Catching up

I know it's been almost a week since I blogged last, but it's been a busy week and a good week.

On Saturday, as most people who read this blog already know, Tim and I got engaged. He first surprised me with his new costume, a complete Capt Jack Harkness (of Doctor Who and Torchwood fame) outfit, including hat, coat, suspenders, Webley revolver and vortex manipulator. This went perfectly with my own Doctor Who inspired costume. I was dressed as Oswin Oswald, the junior entertainment director of the Alaska which crash landed on the Dalek Asylum planet in Episode 7:1. Then we stopped at his parents' house. We were there ostensibly to check on the house since his folks were out of town for the weekend. Then he surprised me again by setting up a bottle of wine (a 2009 Riesling he brought back from his trip to Germany a couple years ago) that he had been saving for as special occasion, along with the glasses we drank from on our first Renaissance Faire date. He asked if I’d like to marry him and then pulled the box with my beautiful ring out of the jacket pocket. We drank wine and called our families, and then went on to our friend Kim’s Halloween party.

To answer the obvious questions:

1) No, we haven’t set a date yet.
2) Yes, I’m incredibly happy and grateful and excited, etc.

Here is an awesome drawing one of my friends from Sparkpeople did of Tim and I in our costumes, complete with Tardis backdrop:

The week since has been prepping for tonight, which is the Halloween/Samhain party at UCH being put on by Clover Grove, one of the groups I participate in. Tuesday night we went grocery shopping so I would have ingredients to make stew for the pot luck. Wednesday night I went to help set up. I’m amazed by how we were able to transform the space in the Common Room. I’m looking forward to wearing our costumes again. Last night I went to Zumba so I can wear my rather form-fitting costume without worrying about my gut hanging over my utility belt. And tonight is the party. But we’re a little slow at MARCO today, so I decided I’d get back to blogging.

Other topics I’ve missed blogging about this week – Football – Mike Wallace’s butter-fingering up the game last week and the Steelers managing to win despite it, the Retro uniforms for this week – Weather – FRANKENSTORM! – The Election – Mourdock – An idiot but at least he’s an honest one and he didn’t say a woman’s body can tell when it’s a “legitimate rape.”

Have a fantastic weekend folks! I’ll get back to blogging more diligently this week, I promise. (Girl Scout’s Honor – Hey, the Girl Scouts do still have some, since they aren’t discriminating against gay and lesbian Scouts and parents! – But that’s a blog for another day)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tales from the Police Blotter - Fiction

"I swear if we get called out to one more place about this bacon shortage, I'm never eating it again." Officer Ben Fulcher said to his partner as they headed for Union Deposit.

"I'll call your wife right now and tell her the good news, Ben. She'll be thrilled." Officer LuAnn Polson quipped back.

"Call her later, we're here." Fulcher said as they parked at the Waffle House. Through the windows they could see a disheveled man pounding emphatically on the counter. "You come in from the other side, I'll take lead. Hopefully, we can just talk him out of here."

Office Fulcher came quietly through the door. The man at the counter was yelling, "This is the Waffle House, how can you not have bacon? What is wrong with you? People deserve to have bacon with their waffles!"

Fulcher gently put a hand on the man's shoulder. The customer turned to face him, his eyes were unfocused and bloodshot. Officer Fulcher could smell cheap beer on his breath. He spoke to him in a soothing tone, "You're right sir, people do deserve bacon. Unfortunately, there's a nation-wide shortage. Millions of people are without bacon right now, isn't that sad?" This tone usually worked well on the inebriated, enabling him to lead them to the car.

"It's all a lie! The media just wants you to THINK there's no bacon. They're in on it! The president is keeping it all for himself and his friends. It's Bacon Socialism! Bacon should be for the masses, not only for the privileged!"

Fulcher glanced across the restaurant at Polson. She rolled her eyes. It was the Great Bacon Conspiracy. This guy was going to make some new friends if they had to 302 him. So far though, he wasn't presenting any real threat. Fulcher tried again.

"Sir, you're absolutely right. Everyone should have bacon. It should be a constitutional right. But there is no bacon here sir, and you're scaring this young lady." He gestured to the woman behind the counter wearing a white paper hat, who did her best to go from looking bored to scared out of her mind.

The bacon-starved man looked at the officer, and then spoke quietly, as one trying to bring others to his cause. "She's part of it too sir, and she probably doesn't even know it. There's bacon here. It's hidden for the Mayor and the Governor. I know if she just goes and looks in the back, she'll find a secret cache of bacon!" he finished triumphantly, his volume having risen back to shouting for the last sentence.

Officer Fulcher raised his eyes to the stained drop ceiling, praying for patience. "Sir, what is your name?"

"You can call me Wilbur," the man replied.

"Okay, Wilbur. There's no bacon here. And I can't allow you to continue to harrass the employees and disturb the other customers. So why don't you let Officer Polson and I give you a ride home?"

Then Wilbur tried to take the Waffle House hostage with the only weapon he had.

He unzipped his pants and pulled it out, gripping it firmly in his hand and then screaming at the staff, "I will urinate on every person in this restaurant if you don't go in the back, and get me some bacon RIGHT NOW!"

Officers Fulcher and Polson reacted the moment Wilbur reached for his zipper. On Fulcher's signal, Polson released the tazer from her belt and fired. Her shot landed squarely in the meat of Wilbur's left buttock just as his reached the end of his threat. The "weapon" in his hand misfired, and Officer Fulcher quickly stepped aside to avoid the spray as Wilbur fell to the ground. The rest of his "ammunition" pooled underneath him as he twitched.

"You should have let me taze him sooner, that was almost the Cracker Barrel incident all over again." Polson said.

"He would have wet himself anyway." Fulcher replied.

"True enough. Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who has to haul him into the cruiser?" Paulson asked.

Fulcher nodded. He threw rock, she threw paper. He cursed, she laughed and said, "Stop throwing rock every time and you'll stop going home smelling like pee."

Fulcher sighed heavily as he pulled Wilbur to standing and then over his shoulders in a fireman's carry. Polson graciously held the door for him as they exited the scene.

This story was inspired and informed by:
The Susquehanna Twp Police Blotter
Apparently This Matters: Bacon Shortage
How to Perform the Fireman's Carry

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is it lies or make-believe?

Because of our shared love of Downton Abbey, Tim’s father loaned me his boxed set of Upstairs Downstairs last week. (British TV is so much better than ours!)

I was intrigued by one of the characters in the first episode. She’s a housemaid who’s just entered service, and when we first meet her, she gives her name as Clemence Dumas. She tells the lady of the house that she is from France, and she had to come back to England because her mother was ill. Her employer says they will call her Sarah, because a name like Clemence is above her station. “Sarah” tells the others in the household that her mother was a gypsy princess, and her father was a French count. She claims that her mother died giving birth to her. She also says she can tell fortunes by reading palms and tea leaves and that she’s never wrong.

On her first day of work, she observes the cook, Mrs. Bridges, giving food from the larder to an elderly woman for money. Sarah believes that Mrs. Bridges is stealing for her own ends and thinks that would be a good way for her to make a few extra quid. When she is caught and forced to tell the truth about everything, Rose, the head housemaid, accuses her of thinking that she’s better than all of them.

Sarah replies that she doesn’t think she’s better than them, just more interesting. Rose calls her a liar and Sarah defends her self that they aren’t lies, they’re make-believe. Her stories are her escape from her lot in life.

Make-believe has always been a word relegated to children’s programming here. It’s what we tell children about things on the TV, so they know that the scary monsters or the man who can leap from tall buildings are not real, and they don’t need to worry (or shouldn’t go jump from the roof). And when they grow older, we tell them that some good things they believed in were just make believe. And can we blame them if they feel hurt and angry that we lied?

So when do we stop playing make-believe and start telling lies? Is it all a matter of perspective? Age? Are politicians (this is a non-partisan statement) all just playing make-believe, not lying their butts off? And where is the line between make-believe, lying, and acting 'as if'? Can we really 'create our own reality?' That's all Clemence was trying to do.

Acting 'as if' is a concept I learned from Wicca. It's also known as 'faking it til you make it.' If you assume the attitude and actions of a successful, happy person, you will be a successful, happy person. This is not lying or make believe, because you are taking a thing that is not-real-yet and making it real.

So the difference between make believe and lies, as far as I can tell, is knowing participation. When we watch a movie, we know the story isn't true, but we allow ourselves to believe it is for a time. We make-believe that the characters in our favorite book is real. A lie is when fiction is presented as truth to an unknowing audience. For example, like Sasha Baron Cohen and his team did when they made Borat. The result may be entertaining, but it can also cause people to feel embarrassed and foolish when they find out the truth.

In conclusion, I think that I will teach my children not to lie, but I will never, ever teach them to stop playing make-believe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Posting pictures of yourself counts as a blog, right?

Dress rehearsal for my Halloween Costume!

Here's what I was going for:

And here's what I ended up with:

I am Oswin Oswald. I am human and I fought the Daleks. Remember me!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review - Rising Regina, Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

I took yesterday off, sorry folks! Tim and I spend the entire day at the wonderful Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. When we got back home, I was too exhausted from walking and standing and having fun to sit in front of my computer and write a blog. But the good thing about taking a day off from blogging to do something fun is that it gives me something fun to blog about!

Rising Regina is a familiar sight and sound to many regular Pennsyvlania Renaissance Faire attendees. They identify their musical style as "Americana Roots Rock." This year the band will be performing during the last three weekends of the year, October 13-14th, 21-22nd, and 28-29th. The band is comprised of two sisters, Jessie and Kiki Young, and 3 other talented musicians, Rich Kulbacki, Eric George and Phil Raffle.

Sunday's performances at the Endgame Stage at the PA Renaissance Faire included a special guest performer Libby Eddy standing in for Kiki Young on vocals and violin.

Sunday's playlist included songs from both the band's CDs and some unrecorded material. I really enjoyed their unique take on the Celtic standards, "Danny Boy" and "Banks of Loch Lomon." The last song of the set, "Johnny Jump Up" was my favorite. I wanted to get up and dance to it. (but it was noon and no one at the Faire was drunk enough to dance yet.) It's not on their current CDs, but I'll definitely be looking for it when it is available. I also loved the song This Road. The verses are slower and thoughtful, and the chorus is amped up and rockin'. I like when music does something unexpected. Almost all their songs included beautiful 3 part harmonies between Jessie, Rich and Libby. The band members are all very much at ease on stage, talking about the inspiration behind the songs, why a song is special to them, etc.

So if you are in Central PA and planning on attending the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in the next two weekends, definitely check out Rising Regina!

Info for this blog from:

Rising Regina on Twitter
Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

Saturday, October 13, 2012

In the strangest places...

Tim and I spent the day on a scavenger hunt. We were looking for the last few elusive pieces of my Halloween costume, as our first Halloween event is next weekend. Here are the places we found the items.

Belt - Spencer's at the Capital City Mall
Chain & Whisk - Discount Store Colonial Park Mall
Tights and Back-up Whisk - Boscov's at Colonial Park Mall
Flashlight & links to fasten various items to previously mentioned belt - Home Depot

So now, along with a red rose hair clip from the PA Ren Faire, a red dress from Forever 21 and the awesome-est high-tops ever from DSW, I'm ready to put it all together for next Saturday. I'll post pictures next week so you can see how close I get to this:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Is this what it feels like to be a Bears fan?

After last night's loss to a 1-4 Tennessee Titans, I'm feeling very disheartened by my beloved Steelers. I will always root for them, but the bar has definitely been lowered. We have some quality players, who do their best to make the most of every play (Roethlisberger, Suisham, Harrison, Redman, to name a few) We have a ton of injured players. We have players who all of our hopes are pinned on, like Polamalu (The defense will totally get better as soon as we get Troy back!) and Mendenhall (Once his knee is 100%, our offense will be unstoppable!) We sound like the SNL skit with George Wendt and John Goodman talking about Da Bears.

There will always be Steeler Nation. We are legion. But if things don't start clicking, I feel like this is the beginning of a less-than-glorious time in franchise history.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review - A Deadly Mission

A Deadly Mission (The Olympia Brown Mysteries) by Judith Campbell

I heard about this series from the UUA World weekly e-newsletter I receive. The $.99 for the Kindle Edition turned out to be money very well spent.

The heroine of this series, Olympia Brown, is a college professor and a Unitarian Universalist minister. A Deadly Mission begins with Olympia hearing about the death of a of a student at her college. The girl had been involved with a group called the Boston Fellowship. Olympia had noticed the girl's behavior change, and her weight loss, and felt guilty that she hadn't tried to do more to reach out to her.

The start of the book is a little slow. The author spends some time establishing the world her characters live in, a small academic community in New England. We find out about her family and friends, etc. There's a long break between finding out about the girl's death and finding out any information about the Fellowship.

The book picked up the pace with the introduction of a new student at Olympia's college, Bethany Ruth. Bethany is a sweet girl from Oklahoma who comes from a very conservative Christian family. Olympia befriends the homesick girl and is alarmed for her when she finds out the bible study group she had encouraged her to attend led her to meeting members of the Boston Fellowship.

The story gets much more focused at this point, everything moves around how to save Bethany. Olympia's son tries to find out more and Olympia is threatened when the Fellowship finds out who he is. Olympia's priestly friend Father Jim discovers more deaths of college students in the area. These deaths all seemed like accidents at first, until further research reveals they all at the same cause of death, and were all members of the Fellowship who were trying to leave.

After having picked up and put down my Kindle several times over the past couple weeks, I got hooked in and stayed up til midnight last night to finish the story. The story is tragic in parts, exciting in others, and all too realistic. The hero characters (Olympia and her friends) have depth and history that drive them to help others, but they do this without immense wealth, magic or super powers. They are just intelligent people who care about others and have the courage to take action.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Nyx's Bad Night - Fiction

Pain. She woke up to pain and her first thought was 'It feels like someone kicked me in the spine. A lot.' Her next thought was remembering that someone had.

Nyx tried to make herself breathe slowly. First question, where I am now? The answer was comfortingly apparent once she noticed the IV in one wrist and the ID bracelet on the other. Hospital. Okay, no immediate danger.

Danger. How had such a normal night gotten brutally complicated so damn fast?

She was taking care of business in the back of the bar. Just a typical Saturday night in Harrisburg. It was a seller's market; it's not like there was ever a cop anywhere downtown after 10 PM. Nyx was just taking advantage of the socio-economic climate. The people who were too scared to do that were sheep.

Sheep. The hospital sheets were white and soft like sheep in a mattress commercial. She wanted to go to sleep, but she needed to remember what happened.

One of the flock stomped back the hall near the bathrooms towards her. To use the colloquialism, the girl was a hot damn mess. She walked like it was her first time wearing platforms, even though she probably had a closet full of them. Nyx had been successfully avoiding her for weeks. Customers like her brought more trouble than they were worth. Hot Mess was yelling something about "Dis-respect!" when Nyx felt leaves and ice cubes from a mojito hit her in the face. Hot Mess took a wide swing and Nyx narrowly dodged the forearm that was adorned with a thick, cheap-looking gold cuff.

Cuff. Nyx looked down at her wrist again. It was hand-cuffed to the bed rail. Shit.

After ducking, Nyx scrambled for the emergency exit at the end of the hall. As her hands reached the bar to press, she was shoved hard from behind. She fell rather than stepped through the door. As Nyx tried to get her balance back to run, Hot Mess grabbed her by the hair and threw her against the dumpster. She landed on the ground. Glancing up, she saw that several others had come out into the alley. Now she was the sheep, and the wolves were circling. Nyx curled into a ball and covered her head. She felt boots and high heels kicking her back and legs with vicious force.

With the edges of her vision darkening, Nyx knew she had to do something. Maybe if she hurt one of them badly enough, the rest would leave her bleeding on the ground rather than bothering to finish her off. She let the blows shift her so they wouldn't notice her going for the knife in her boot. With all the strength she had left, she struck out and brought the 4 inch blade straight down through someone's Louboutin knock-offs. A chorus of screams bounced off the walls of the alley. The crowd began to back off. Rough hands emptied Nyx's pockets of product and cash, and then she was alone.

Alone. No one was going to come to see her here. She wasn't even sure what hospital she was in. No one even knew where she was. In pain and alone. Nyx rubbed her middle finger and thumb together in a silent gesture, disgusted by her self-pitying thoughts.

She was completely shocked to hear his voice say, "Is that the world's tiniest violin playing your song?"

*End Scene*

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why Gandalf and the Doctor should totally hang out

This springs from a conversation Tim and I had on the long ride back from my parents' house yesterday afternoon/evening.

1. They both like cool hats - floppy wizard hats, fezes, Stetsons.

2. Gandalf could easily take care of the Weeping Angels. His staff and Glamdring broke the Bridge of Khazad-dum, and smote the Balrog. Obviously stone enemies, not a problem.

3. The Doctor could have sonic'd the door to the Moria open in Fellowship of the Ring.

4. The Doctor could have easily taken care of the whole Ring problem. He could have had the Tardis materialize over Mount Doom, dropped the ring into the mountain of fire, and the whole thing is a 45 minute episode rather than a 12 hour trilogy.

5. They both regenerate.

6. They both believe in humans/mortals and put immense power in their hands.

7. The Doctor and Gandalf both have a habit of showing up just when they are most needed, whether you're escaping via the air lock of a space liner or about to be burned to death by a volcano.

Blogging Break

I was away over the weekend attending the wedding of two awesome friends. The blogs will resume as planned later today. Possible topic idea - Why Gandalf and the Doctor would be the Ultimate Fantasy/Sci Fi Duo.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shopping Jones

Everyday they come into my Inbox, tempting me.

Pictures of beautiful clothes and shoes complete with money-saving coupons! NY & Co, Kohl’s, ModCloth are all seducing me with sales and gorgeous rich fall colors. NY & Co’s Fall Collection has this beautiful deep red shade they are calling Chianti. I love it; I want every dress, sweater, and pair of pants or shoes I see in it. I try to remind myself, Christmas is coming, you need to save money for other things etc. And then, sounding just like Rumplestiltskin on Once Upon a Time, I hear my NY & Co credit card chortling from inside my wallet, “You don’t have to pay for it today, dearie. You can use me! Just remember, fashion magic comes with a price!”

Sometimes I think my favorite websites and stores are conspiring together. The deep reds, browns and tans of the NY & Co fall collection would be great with the boots that I want from ModCloth. And I've worked so hard to be in better shape the last two year, there's a voice in my head that says "You deserve new clothes. You deserve an entire fabulous new fall wardrobe. You've got it now, so flaunt it!" Maybe I should watch Confessions of a Shopaholic. I need a good cautionary tale right now.

Because seriously, I would rock the hell out of this dress. And these boots. And this sweater. And this bag...

Is there a pill for this!?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm too old to date Zack Morris

So last night I had a dream where Zack Morris (yes, that Zack Morris, from Saved By the Bell) picked me up to drive me to school. He asked me to go to the school dance with him. I was going to say yes, and then I remembered that I'm not in high school and haven't been for a long time. I said, "I'm 2- wait no, 32 years old, Zack. How old are you going to tell your friends I am?" He said he would tell them I was 18, and I was flattered, but it didn't seem like a good idea. Then, since I didn't go to school, Zack dropped me off at the mall.

So this dream got me thinking about the things I am now too old to do at the ripe old age of 32. The maximum age for enlisting for active service in the Air Force is 27, and for the Marines 28. (I could still join the Army or Navy for another two years.) I am too old to audition for American Idol.

There are other things I am probably too old to do, even if there's no law against it or rule restricting my participation. I'm too old to start training to compete in most of the Olympic sports I enjoy watching (figure skating, gymnastics, diving, ski jump, etc) Based on watching No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, I think I'm too old to begin a serious career as a professional chef. I'm too old to become a super model or a movie star. Too old to become an astronaut, (see too old to join the Air Force) too old to become a ballerina, too old to become the star of a Disney Channel sitcom.

There are tons more things though that I am NOT too old for! I could train for a marathon, climb a mountain, start a business. I could travel anywhere in the world. I could write a book. I could write 12 books, and get them turned into an HBO series. Charlaine Harris and George R.R. Martin are 60 and 64, respectively. I could go back to college. I can be a Mom. (I really still have time, biological clock, could you turn it down a minute!?) Lots of people do all those things (sometimes two or three of them simultaneously) all the time. I'm not saying it's easy, but I am saying, yes, I can do it. I can do anything I put my mind to. That's how I was raised.

So while I am too old to date Zack Morris, there are a whole lot of things I can still do. It's all up to me.

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” - Goethe

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why I unabashedly love Tim Tebow

Yesterday was not a football day at our house. The Steelers had a bye week and I managed to strain my shoulder in my sleep Saturday night, so going out was not in the cards on Sunday. Neither was sitting up at the computer long enough to write a second blog. I was catching up on things this morning, seeing the results of yesterday's games, and cringed when I saw the Jets had gone down 34-0. Tim (my Tim, not Tebow) had mentioned last night that it was ugly and that Santonio Holmes (former Steeler) had been injured. The Jets coach was angry. "I was going to say we got our butts kicked, but we got our *sses kicked." FOXSports writer Sam Gardner had some pretty harsh, definitive phrases about the Jets performance. "Sunday’s effort was so exceptionally horrid, and New York’s moribund offense was so unthinkably inept"

You would think with that kind of performance, the Jets fans would be chanting "Tebow, Tebow, Tebow!" He only played briefly again in Sunday's game. After the game, he dodged reporter's attempts to bait him into saying he wants to play more, or to say the game would have turned out differently if he'd been in it more. Always hopeful, always looking ahead, he did his best to turn the attention to next week.

“Different teams that I’ve been on, with losses like this, I feel like we really have rallied behind because you don’t want to feel like that again,” Tebow said. “It kind of puts you on edge a little bit. When you’re in meetings, you’re a little more focused; when you’re on the practice field, you go a little bit harder; when you’re in the weight room you lift a little bit more. And I think it could be the best thing that happens to us all year.”

This is why I love Tim Tebow, and I'll watch any team he's with. He is a class act. He's positive, he's inspiring without shoving his faith down people's throats. He's not the only NFL player to take a knee in thanks or in respect to a higher power for a win, or if another player is hurt. Is he an amazing quarterback? I don't think he'll ever a Peyton Manning or an Aaron Rodgers. He is a team player, and maybe being a star quarterback requires a little of the swagger that seems to be absent from Tim Tebow. But I'd rather hear what Tim Tebow has to say after a game than Cam Newton or Michael Vick any day. I love the Steelers and I love Ben Roethlisberger as their QB, but would I want my daughter (or sister, or sister's daughter for that matter) to date him? Of course not! But I'd feel pretty good about her dating Tim Tebow.

And I'll admit, he's pretty easy on the eyes too.


Fox Sports

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Casting with Feri Fire

The first blog today will be the one I intended to write yesterday. I have this excellent book called Evolutionary Witchcraft, written by T Thorn Coyle, a Reclaiming and Feri practitioner, that I've adopted some of my regular spiritual practice from. I want to work more on some of the exercises in the book, so my idea is to do some of the writing exercises from each chapter here on my blog. I'm going to be as open and honest and possible here. It is not my intent to offend anyone. The purpose of doing these exercises here is to continue the idea of writing often to overcome my fear that writing and doing things that are important to me is a waste of time.

The first chapter is called The Sacred Sphere: Casting with Feri Fire. It deals with opening to the energies unique to the Feri Tradition and some ritual basics that are familiar to many Pagans, grounding and centering, and casting a circle.

This exercise is called Finding your Feyness. Exact text of the exercise from T. Thorn Coyle's book is given in italics.

Divide a piece of paper into three sections and begin to answer the following questions, one for each section. What in your life makes you feel "different"? What fears keep you from cultivating the sense of walking "in-between" What changes would you make in your life to cultivate the fey point of view - to dance, to dream, to stand tall, to have deep knowing? Make a list of all these things in your three sections. Check back with them in a few months. Are you answers different, or the same?

I think that last portion of the exercise is the most important. Checking back in, seeing what still holds true, which things are still holding you back. Maybe after facing one fear, another takes its place. Spiritual work is not completed in a few weeks or months, it is the work of your lifetime

Section 1 - What in my life makes me feel "different"?

Being intelligent, thinking about things in a way other friends and family don't. For example, I find it fascinating the word methelglin derives from the Welsh word meddyglyn. The Welsh for mead is medd and the word "metheglin" is from a compound of meddyg, "healing" + llyn, "liquor." My family cares about the taste and the alcohol content. And they think beer is better anyway. (specific details here from Wikipedia article)

Section 2 - What fears keep you from cultivating the sense of walking in-between?

I'm afraid of being thought crazy if I spend too much time in the "magical" world. I don't want to lose touch with reality. I want to know that my choices are responsible for what's happening to me, not outside "occult" forces. At the same time, I fear separation from my friends who do walk more in that world, because I find myself judging them as nuts when they look for magical solutions before practical ones. At the same time, I'm envious of their freedom from the mundane, 9 to 5 working world I live in most of the time.

Section 3 - What changes would you make in your life to cultivate the fey point of view - to dance, to dream, to stand tall, to have deep knowing?

The magic I do believe in is the magic of action. You can light green candles all day long, but if you don't send out some resumes and make some calls, you'll never find a new job. You can tie up rose petals in pink sachets all you want, but if you never go out on a date, you won't find love. Action in accordance with will is what makes change. To cultivate a more fey point of view, I need to not be afraid of the weirdness as long as I know I am acting in accord with my own wishes and needs. For a long time, I put my needs before my wishes. When I ignore my wishes, I'm ignoring my own feyness. In Feri/Reclaiming terms, I'm ignoring my Sticky One/Younger Self, which is the part of the spirit that lives closest to the space between the worlds. This part of me doesn't deal with practical needs (money to put food on the table, a roof over my head, a car to get me to work to keep getting the money I need to put food on the table, etc.) It deals with the needs of my heart and soul, the need for bright colors, good smells, cake, dancing and singing.

So my challenges from this exercise are to eat more cake, and create magical symbols of the things I am working to bring into my life.

2 for the price of one!

I know, I didn't get a blog up yesterday. It was a busy day. I went to Zumba, we took Amoonda to get her nails clipped, then we hung out with Tim's brother and sister-in-law and went to dinner. So today there will be two blogs, and I think that more than makes up for it, don't you?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Why I really can't call myself Wiccan anymore

This has been a long time coming really. I haven't attended a Wiccan ritual since 2 Beltanes ago at Brighidshaven in Erie PA. And I mostly went there to see Grey and Leo. I still find the rituals of Wicca comforting, enlightening and beautiful. I am still moved by those rituals. But I've never truly belonged to it. I think other Wiccans wouldn't consider me a Wiccan. I'm not part of a family tradition, I've never been initiated in to a coven. I don't feel any pull to do that either. Calling myself Wiccan now feels like putting on a shirt that is just too small.

My spirit is equally fed by the ADF rituals I've attended with Snow Water Grove (Long live the Tradition!), the lay-led groups I attend at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, and the Sunday Services at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg. In fact, UCH is the first church I have ever made a decision to belong to. I love belonging to their community. I feel truly welcomed and appreciated there. The principles and history of Unitarian Universalism are completely in alignment with beliefs I've held literally all my life.

Seven Principles (from

The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

So I would say that I am a Unitarian Universalist, with distinct Pagan leanings. I still love the God and Goddess, but I see them as one facet of a universal truth, that I can only hope to understand one piece of in this lifetime.

Links to organizations/groups listed in this article:

Unitarian Church of Harrisburg
Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF)
Snow Water Grove

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Restaurant Review - Aroogas

My boyfriend and I have been going to the Arooga's location at the corner of Colonial and Linglestown Roads since the start of last football season. It's a great place to watch a game and hang out with friends. We've always had good interactions with the wait staff, and we've always enjoyed the food.

Arooga's is a sports bar. Their menu staple is definitely wings, but don't think you won't like it if you aren't into wings. Their menu is 8 full pages of appetizers, sandwiches, subs, wraps, pasta, flat-bread pizza, stromboli, etc. etc. Tim and I have tried most of the appetizers, the wings, and many of the sandwiches and other entrees. I have yet to try everything on the menu.

Of the appetizers, the Aroogas Baseball Bats are my favorite. They are warm soft pretzel-like breadsticks. You get honey mustard or cheese to dip them in. They go perfectly with a nice Yuengling Draft. Another favorite there is the boneless wings. The appetizer sampler plates are great for sharing.

The service is excellent. Tim and I regular spend 3-4 hours there on a game day, and the staff never gives us grief about hanging out long after our food is gone. They come back to check on us just enough so that our drinks aren't empty, and that we can order more food if we are feeling a bit peckish around halftime.

The only things I haven't been 100% thrilled with there are the lack of beer selections (Nothing from the local microbreweries) and the fried macaroni and cheese balls (the mac and cheese was dry, and I consider myself a connoisseur)

So if you are traveling in the Harrisburg area and you think you have to miss the Steelers, don't despair. You can come to Arooga's with Tim and I. We'll likely be in a booth on the left side of the room with the big screen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I like, no LOVE, Zumba!

Zumba, according to wikipedia "is a Colombian dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez during the 1990s. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Zumba's choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves"

I've been going to Zumba about once a week for a month or so now. I've always loved dancing, but now that I'm a little more mature (cough *old* cough) I don't like going out to bars and having to deal with cigarette smoke, crowds, and music that is way louder than it needs to be. At Zumba, I get to dance with other women, listen to fun music and burn calories. There's no bar stench and no nasty men trying to rub all over me when I'm shimmying and shaking.

Zumba is also an equal opportunity exercise. At my class at the Gold's Gym in Linglestown, there is no judgement in that room. Women (and occasionally men) of all ages, sizes and colors, are moving however they can and having an awesome time. Some of the instructors will have people from class get up on stage with them to dance, if you feel comfortable and know the moves. That gives me a goal to shoot for, makes me want to go to more classes so I know the songs and the steps.

I've never had a workout where I finish with great big smile on my face. I've done latin dance and bellydance DVDs at home and it's pretty good. But there's something about being in a room with other people, and having it change up from week to week, that makes it pure, sweaty fun.

So if there's a Zumba class in your area, or at your gym, I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Empathy is defined as "The ability to understand and share the feelings of another." To me it means to feel what another person is feeling, sometimes whether we want to or not. Many times it's a good thing. I came up with this topic because I received good news about a friend I haven't seen a in a long time. I felt happy and excited for him, and at the same time, I feel the sadness of the people he's leaving behind. Then just a few moments later, Facebook reminded me that it's the birthday of a friend who passed away a few years ago. (This week is also the anniversary of his death) And for a moment I felt my grief from when he died, along with an echo of his wife's grief. Empathy is a way I understand how much people have affected the world around them. For people to still be posting "Happy Birthday, I miss you" on my friend's Facebook Wall tells me something about what lasts and what makes a difference - to paraphrase Whitney Houston, "It's so emotional, baby."

Empathy is tied up with memory for me. I can remember when I felt a certain way, and bring it back to the surface. It helps me clear up old issues, or be able to deeply listen to a friend who's suffering. Sometimes I feel that by listening and feeling what they feel, I am sharing their emotional load, which at that moment is the biggest help I can offer. I feel really rewarded by those occasions.

I've also completely lost my ability to empathize at times. When my own heart was damaged and broken, I couldn't feel anything for any of my friends. I couldn't help myself, so there was no way I could help them.

I think empathy is one of the most valuable and yet undervalued human abilities. And it's one that I'm proud to have.

Finger on the pulse, that's me

This isn't today's actual blog, I just wanted to say that I think it's very interesting that while I was posting yesterday's blog, this debacle was going on in Seattle.

Goodell to Blame for Referee Debacle

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Replacements

No, not the movie with Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. I'm talking about the NFL replacement referees who've been officiating every game since pre-season. The ones who I think are doing the best they can, but just don't have the experience and the knowledge to be a voice of authority on the football field. They come from leagues where the rules are different, or more lax. (Division III college football, Arena Football, High School and even the Lingerie Football League) When they do make a call, they sound as wishy-washy as Charlie Brown. The longer this situation continues, the worse it seems to get. Week 3 was the worst yet. My concern is that if this isn't resolved soon, anything that is accomplished during the 2012-2013 season will always be called into question, or have an asterisk beside it, if you will, because of the replacement referees.

To provide some background on this situation, the agreement between the Referee's Association and the NFL expired during the off-season. There are 4 major points of negotiation that need resolved. The first is compensation, the NFLRA is asking for twice as large of an increase to what the NFL offered. The second is that the NFL wants to eliminate the existing pension plan and offer the refs an employee-contributed plan like a 401K. The third is bringing on some full-time positions to help oversee enforcement of policies. And the last is adding more crews of referees, which would result in less games (and hence fewer paychecks) per ref per season. The largest point of contention seems to be the pension plans. All of the current referees were hired with the promise of significant pension plans upon retirement and have planned for their golden years based on that promise.

After watching the games Sunday, it was apparent that the replacement referees have no control over the game. Many calls were overturned, games ran long, and players are getting hurt. The players and the fans need to demand that the referees and the NFL work out an agreement so they can get back to work, the players can get back to playing football, and I can get back to enjoying football.


NFL Football Post
The American Prospect

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Today was a good day.. I could write about any number of the events of the day. There was an interesting and thought-provoking guest speaker at church this morning. I gave blood for Central PA Blood Bank at a blood drive at my gym. Tim and I had lunch with friends at one of our favorite Sunday places, Arooga's. And we watched football out at his folk's place tonight. I do want to keep this brief though, as I still have last night's Doctor Who to watch.

So, briefly, a haiku about my cat -

Fluffy Amoonda
Likes tuna and belly rubs
Sweet purring happy

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Clover Lane Coffee House Review

The Unitarian Church of Harrisburg puts on a Coffee House Night on the 3rd Friday of each month. They get some interesting and eclectic acts, some local and some from all around the US. From the UCH website:

Each month offers a different type of entertainment, including blues, folk, dance, and a few surprises. Admission is $10, and shows typically start at 7:30 pm.

Last night, Tim and I went to see folk singer Cary Cooper at Clover Lane Coffee House. Opening for Cary were her band mates Brad Yoder and Jason Rafalak.

This was Brad Yoder's second appearance at Clover Lane. His last performance was 6 or 7 or 8 years ago depending on who you asked last night. Brad was introduced as "the king of the Pittsburgh coffee house scene" and it was easy to see why. He and Jason are both very talented musicians. Between the two of them they played guitar, soprano saxophone, xylophone, mandolin, ukelele and guitar in the course of the evening. Brad also has a unique voice, both vocally and for songwriting. He performed a song titled Lite Brite, which was written for a songwriting contest where you had to talk about a toy you played with as as child (and got bonus points if you could work in monkeys). Another highlight of his set was WWJD? My favorite line from the song was "So if you wonder, “what would Jesus do?”/he’d probably mess it all up just like you/it’s just he’d do it with a lot more love…" My favorite song of Brad's was also what determined which of his CD's I decided to purchase, since it's the title track from that album. The song is called Excellent Trouble. My interpretation is that it's about being yourself regardless of what the world tries to make you be. If that gets you in trouble, then that's excellent trouble to be in.

Cary Cooper was delightful, she reminded me of all the great female artists I listened to in my college radio days. She has a sweet, breathy voice that reminded me of Lisa Loeb. She's a wonderful song writer, mixing clever phrases and also sharing real emotions and thoughts. The most memorable song of the evening for me is called "Suzanne." It's a story about a wife and a mother who runs off to join the circus for a year. What it's really about is the choices we make and the dreams we give up to have other dreams. "You can't have everything, everything, everything/no you can't, you can't have everything, everything, everything/can you Suzanne" I also liked the song Jimmy Stewart, as I identified with watching old romantic movies with family and getting some interesting ideas about how relationships work. Many of Cary's songs are upbeat and light-hearted, but the lyrics are actually saying something, usually "Be yourself and enjoy every minute of your life because it is a gift." When she sang songs she had written for her daughters, I don't think there was a mother or a daughter in the room who had dry eyes. Her song "Pretty Girls (Have Pretty Voices)" struck a very personal chord with me as it's about changing yourself to meet someone else's expectations.

Most of the songs Cary played were from her album Pink Umbrella. She also sang a song called Charlie Brown which she wrote for the Real Women Real Songs project she is participating in with many of her songwriting friends. I love this idea, as it's similar to what I'm trying to do for myself with this blog. It's like Jonathan Coulton's Thing A Week project, but with a lot more song writers, and all of them female.

Both Cary and Brad spoke easily and with humor to the small audience about their inspiration for different songs making the whole evening a relaxing and entertaining experience. I'd definitely go to see them again, either together or separately.

You can check out their websites here:
Brad Yoder
Cary Cooper

And you can check out the Real Women Real Songs project here:

Real Women Real Songs

Friday, September 21, 2012

Parking Lot Drama! A Short Story

Last night on my way into the Colonial Park mall for a hair appointment, I parked next to a couple in a pick-up truck having a very loud argument. The fight seemed to be about another girl's number in his phone, and why did he have this number, etc. Here's my version of how this story went down and how it hopefully ended.

It started off as a lovely fall evening in Harrisburg, PA. Jim picked up Sally from work in his red pick-up truck. They headed over to the mall for some Chinese food and so Sally could check out the End of Summer sales. They were both laughing and singing along with the radio, and Sally decided to take a picture with Jim's phone to capture the happy moment. She took the picture and then went to send herself a copy. As she scrolled through his contacts to look for her number, she saw an unfamiliar name.

"Who's Theresa?"

Jim was silent as Sally's mind went through all the girls they knew, Jim's aunts and cousins. Could Theresa be the bartender from Aroogas who flirted with Jim last week? Or the waitress from the Drinking Bone?

"She's nobody, she works in the mall," Jim replied, as he parked, scrambling for the answer least likely to get his truck keyed.

"So is she nobody, or does she work in the mall? Why is her number in your phone?" Sally asked suspiciously.

"So I can call her. That's usually why you have someone's number in your phone isn't it?" Jim asked sarcastically. "She's one of the ladies who sells bath fixtures, I was going to get the shower redone." He loved Sally, had since high school, but when she acted like this he wondered if they were STILL in high school.

"Don't make a joke Jim! You've never talked to one of those people for more than 10 seconds. Tell me who she is. What's her last name? Why is this bitch's number in your phone?" Sally asked.

"You need to stop this now. We've been together for years. Don't you trust me at all? What kind of sleaze do you think I am?"

"You're a lying bastard is what you are, Jim! I'm tired of waiting around for you to get serious about us, and I'm tired of there being other women's numbers in your phone!"

Sally got out of the truck and slammed the door. She started to stomp towards the mall. Somewhere in there was a red dress and a pair of screw-me heels with her name on them. She'd see how HE liked it when she had other guys giving her their numbers. Jim got out of the truck and yelled after her.

"You're a crazy bitch! How can I get serious about someone who threatens to break up with me all the time?"

"It's the only way you pay attention to me, you idiot! We've been out of high school for SIX years, everyone we graduated with is already engaged or married. Just admit that you're just hanging onto me until someone better like THERESA comes along!" Sally screamed. A group of high school kids clustered in front of the mall entrance, watching and smoking in silence. This was better than the Kardashians!

"Do you want to know who Theresa is? Why don't you call her and ask? Isn't that next thing crazy bitches do?" Jim kicked his phone across the parking lot at her. He could buy a new case inside, the look on Sally's face when she called Theresa's number was going to be totally worth it.

Sally grabbed the phone and yelled back "Yeah, I'll call her, and I'll tell her about that time you got so drunk you fell asleep in your truck and pissed all over yourself! That'll impress her!"

Sally hit the send button, and nearly dropped the phone when a pleasant voice answered, "Kay Jewelers, Colonial Park, how may I help you?"

Still not completely convinced, Sally asked "Does Theresa work there?"

The pleasant voice said, "Yes, but she's not in this evening, she'll be her Saturday. Is there anything I can assist you with, or would you like me to leave a message for her?"

"No thanks, no message, I mean thank you," Sally hung up the phone and looked at Jim, perplexed. "Why do you have a number for Kay's in your phone?"

Jim walked towards her and put his hands on either side of her face. "I have Kay's number because I bought a ring for you. Theresa is the saleswoman, she was very kind and helped me arrange a payment plan. It says Theresa in my phone instead of Kay's because I know you go through my phone when you think I'm not paying attention and I wanted to surprise you. I love you Sally, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Now can we go get our sweet and sour chicken?"

Sally started crying, "You bought me an engagement ring? You bought me a ring and I'm horrible and jealous and crazy. Are you sure you still want to give it to me?"

Jim laughed, "Of course I still want to give it to you! C'mon, I don't want Chinese food now. I'm going to take my future wife someplace classy. Let's go to the Olive Garden!"

The End

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Last night during a guided meditation on balance with Clover Grove (the CUUPS group for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Harrisburg) we were asked to think about what in our life is out of balance. What element is missing that we need to grow? (As a dandelion seed needs sunlight, soil and water to grow)
As I thought about it, I was overall pretty darn pleased with my life. I have a secure job and a beautiful home with the man I love. I’ve made friends and found a spiritual community to belong to here in Harrisburg. The rest of my family and friends are only a call, text or email away. I’m the healthiest and strongest I’ve ever been. The things that I most want, to get married, to start a family, are visible on the horizon.
The only thing lacking, the only part of me that feels out of balance, is that I’m not using my creativity. I’ve always been creative. As a kid, I loved to write stories and poems. In college and after, I used my creativity to create adventures and worlds for role-playing games with my friends. When I was going through my divorce and after, I wrote as a way to express my needs and frustration and anger. So what keeps me from writing? What keeps me from using my creativity? What came to mind during the meditation is simply this: Fear. Fear that what I write isn’t any good. Fear that writing will somehow take me away from my other goals. Fear that it will take away time from other things I want to do, like working out, playing with the cat, spending time with Tim. Fear that it will take time away from things I need to do, like laundry, cleaning the cat’s water fountain, grocery shopping. This is an irrational fear. It is something that was planted in me by someone else, who didn’t want me to spend time doing things that make me happy. I will not let this fear keep me from being in balance any longer. “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” - Litany Against Fear - Frank Herbert Last night I wrote what’s keeping me out of balance – Fear – on a slip of paper and burned it in the cauldron. Cauldrons are an important tool/symbol; they transform things - lead to gold, death to rebirth, fear to courage.
How do I bring about change? How can I act in accord with this act of power and work to feed my creative fire? I discussed it with Tim last night, and he suggested blogging. Blogging about anything and everything, writing about different things each day, whether it be something I saw on my morning drive (how often do I see something strange and think, I should write about that!) or something I read about in the news. I think it’s a great suggestion (He’s not just a pretty face you know, he’s quite brilliant.) Starting today, I am making it my goal to write something every day. I’m not yet ready to try to work on a novel or a script every day. So I am starting a new blog – separate from the old one, The Daily Rede. I haven’t touched that blog in over two years. It was a useful tool and documented many important events in my life. Many of those events are things I want to leave in the past. This will be a fresh start. I’m not sure what direction this blog will take. But I have decided what to call it – The Daily Rite. I like playing on words. And this is my new playground.