Monday, January 26, 2015

Northeast Blizzard "Juno" 2015

I don't live in the Northeast. But, I know people who do. And, those people have my thoughts right now.

The Northeast is preparing for "Juno", the blizzard named by The Weather Channel that looks to dump 3 feet of snow on New York, New Jersey, and several other northeastern states. If you live in these areas, and you are not a preparedness type, I implore you to change your battle plan.

Now, I realize that most "preppers" are looked at as ammo and gun hoarding, bus burying freaks who carry guns into the local Denny's. But, not everyone who practices disaster preparedness is like that. In fact, in my experience the ones who are like that are the rarities.

But, I'm going to show you why I practice food storage (called a pantry when in my grandparents' day) and disaster preparedness. I come from the NORTH, I know what this shit is like. I still practice this living in the South, but for different disasters.
Bread, milk and water flew off the shelves this weekend as New Yorkers prepared for the

 If I didn't have food storage, I'd be staring at that empty bread shelf about now saying, "WTF am I going to feed my kids?!". I don't know about you, but I don't want to be put into that situation. Yes, these disasters aren't "OMGArmageddon!". But, when you've got no power and no way to get around in 3 feet of snow and are told by the authorities to stay put, what the hell are going to do when and if you run out of food?!

I store everything I would need to make bread. To make bread on my grill, with no power. How many people do you suppose do that? Not many by the looks of that bread aisle. Crikey.
Shelves stocked to 100 at shoprite .

The meat aisle doesn't seem to be looking any better than the bread aisle. I have a fully stocked freezer. Yes, if I run out of power, my freezer is going to need attention. But, at least I'm not going to starve. And, I'm also not going to decimate a meat counter at the grocery store hours before a blizzard either. In fact, I won't even need to hit the grocery store before one.

This is the line at a CT grocery store before today's “potentially historic” blizzard:

 This is one of the reasons that I don't want to "have" to hit up a grocery store hours before a big storm of any kind. I don't care if it's only going to dust me, and snow storms where I live are only a dusting but you should see how the people react. I don't want to be hitting a grocery store less than 72 hours away from a big storm of any kind. You don't want to need something and have to stand through this.

Another photo of the lines. No way. That's almost like Black Friday.

More panic shopping. This is why I do what I do. There's no reason to live like that.

Whenever this happens, we see pictures like this. And, I always ask myself just how many times a person would have to go through this before they would change their strategies. A lot, apparently. Because this happens up there a lot and......we still see these photos.

We have a saying in my family. It started with my grandparents and actually, I think it's even older than that. My oldest grandmother died last October, she was almost 101. They used to tell us, "Snow means you stock up." But, they weren't talking about shopping the day the storm was to hit. They meant stocking up when you hear the front is coming.

I've had some weird looks where I live because I still do the things taught by my grandparents. I stock up at least 72 hours before the front gets to me. I sure wish other people did that. You would fight less at the grocery store.

Whatever your circumstances, if you are up in the Northeast, hunker down, stay warm and be safe.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Approaching The Crone Phase

My mother is incredibly afraid of getting "old". She's always been this way. She is so terrified of it, and I suspect of death, that she lies about age related topics and has never really engaged in age appropriate activities or gathered in age appropriate circles.

Whenever possible, she claims that when people find out how old she is they always tell her that she looks as though she's in her late 40s or early 50s. It's a great compliment if they really do say it, but I suspect they don't really mean that. Because, while my mother doesn't really look 67, she definitely doesn't look 50, either. In fact, I suspect the entire situation there is a lie, but that's a post for another day. The bottom line is that my mother is sadly, petrified of aging or embracing the stage of her life she is clearly in and has been in for the last 17 years.

I, on the other hand, look at life stages from a more optimistic perspective. Now, anyway. During my Christian, "searching for the one true God and Jesus" days, I was intensely afraid of death. I was a truly negative person for very many years. I credit my time as a pagan with looking at life in a different way.

Life is a condition. A terminal one. You can either waste your time in fear of it and in fear of whatever may come after it, or you can run with it and make the best of every life phase. I still have a mild fear of death. I think you really kind of have to.

This morning, I've been pondering the phase of life I'm approaching.

The Crone Phase

I just had a birthday last November and I really only have a handful of years left until I will enter this phase. Technically, if I were Wiccan, it might be possible for me to have my Croning ceremony already since I meet all of the criteria.

To become a Crone, you have to be past your fertile "Mother Phase" years. Most women wait until after menopause has already begun and I've been menopause for a couple of years already. It began early for me and I was already in perimenopause at age 37 when I had my hysterectomy. The Mother Phase is definitely over for me. My kids are grown and there will be no more. Even though, I will never be an "empty nester", Mother Phase is waning.

To become a Crone, most traditions say you should be 50+. So, that's really the guideline I'm working with when I say I only have a handful of years left before I will officially become a Crone.

I've been thinking of my Croning. Should I have one? I don't have a coven as there aren't any atheist, Earth centric covens out there, that I know of anyway. What would I do for a Croning? It's something I will think a lot of in the coming year, I suspect. I'm 43, so I have some time.

I'm excited.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Points on the Wheel: Their Meanings

When it comes to sabbats, I've always wrestled with them. Always. Back when I was still a brand new Wiccan, some of the sabbats never made any real sense to me. Now that I'm a sciencsy, Earthy branded witch with no belief in deity, this hasn't changed.

It always struck me odd that while we had esbats for the full moon and certain other rites for the new moon (if you were really devout about it), they were always considered secondary to the sabbats. And, the sabbats were devoted to the sun. It's not that I think that devotionals to the sun and it's yearly phases isn't a good thing, it just struck me as odd that the moon was considered important, yet ignored unless you were really devout enough to remember the esbats.

Spring Equinox made sense to me. It's definitely a light sabbat. The emphasis being on the fact that the day and night cycles are equal, and life is beginning to bloom again after being dormant all winter long.

Summer solstice made sense, as well. The time when the day cycle is longer than the night cycle and is at it's longest. Days are hot, summer is in full swing, life is milling about.

Autumn equinox is easy to explain. Day and night cycles are again even, however, the night cycle is over taking day cycle and life will begin to die and go dormant again. It's time to harvest the fruits of our growing season (which, where I'm from originally begins in March and ends in September) and put away our stores to last us through the cold, dark winter.

Winter solstice is when the day cycle is at it's lowest and shortest. Night rules us for a time. It is cold, dark, and a lot of times, depressing. But, we do have a reason to celebrate. The sun will gather it's strength once again.

So, what of the other 4 sabbats? What do they really represent for us atheistic types? Not much, frankly, if taken the way the mainstream takes them. In my opinion, they are just halfway points between, what I would consider, major sabbats. It made no sense to me as a Wiccan when they called the solstices and equinoxes minor sabbats. Peculiar. I see it the exact opposite in terms of solar sabbats.

I've always seen the other 4 sabbats as "dark". I had no real attachment to them for years. Most of them involve the dark in some way. The older holidays they're based on have dark tendencies, as well.

Let's take Imbolc. This one was a major pain in the rump for me. In no where I have lived has this ever been the very dawning of spring. I don't associate it with fertility in any way, though I know it's supposed to be associated with that. I do consider it a fire sabbat, but I don't equate fire with fertility, I associate it with darkness.

This year, Imbolc is going to feature an almost full moon. One that will likely be ignored unless you do esbats. Here in the coven of me, myself and I, we are more comfortable with Imbolc representing a Dark sabbat, and having a darker theme. Imbolc still features longer night cycles and colder weather and I think we should really pay attention to the night, here. There's a (nearly) full moon to light this sky this Imbolc, let's celebrate the night, shall we? The moon is a prominent feature of the night.

"How?", you ask? Well, for me it will be partaking in things with darker themes. Foods, beverages and incenses which are all a part of my sabbats and have been for eons. Chocolate, in my opinion, is a dark food, associated with dark things. Same with things like, cherries, dark colored berries (blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries) and pumpkins. Also cinnamon, to me, a spice for darker days. It doesn't really make much sense for bright, sunny things.

How about Beltane? I will refer to this as May Eve and that's because I really do think it's a rather dusky sabbat. Indeed, the Great Rite is usually performed on this sabbat, and that's usually done at night. Most sex is. This is a darker, more serious my opinion. Look up Beltane on Google images and look at the number of fire festivals going on that day. It's a very "night related" day.

This year, May Eve will also feature an almost full moon. People's emotions and impulses will be riding high for many reasons. If that doesn't scream Dark sabbat, I don't know what does.

Lammas. Oh, Lammas, I struggled to reconcile you for the longest time. First of the harvests, but nothing much "solar related" going on for this sabbat. What foods are most prominent for Lammas? Bread, blackberries, root veggies. All darker foods in my opinion.

The story of Lammas is that it's the celebration of the harvest of the first grains of the season in the name of the Goddess. The God (represented by the sun) puts all it's energy into the crops to ensure life while the Goddess in her Mother aspect prepares to enter her Crone aspect. The God loses his strength and the days grow shorter.

Sure sounds pretty damned dark to me.

Celebration of the coming dark, losing the warmth of the sun for a time, things dying or withering. Lammas is a dark sabbat. Lammas will have an almost full moon (but, waning this time instead of waxing), as well. It seems only fitting to give the dark it's due.

Finally, Samhain.

Everything about Samhain is dark. Everything. It's the day the veil between the living and the dead is thin enough for the dead to join us for a night of festivities. There is nothing "solar" about that. It's visiting dark themes and celebrating dark festivities. I've never had a problem with Samhain, it's the witch's new year and always made sense. Samhain is the only night where a mostly full moon isn't a feature, but I think what will be there is enough.

Maybe I've had it all wrong for years. Maybe it's always been about celebrating light and dark evenly. Perhaps someone could point out there I've been wrong there? In any case, I'm fired up about Imbolc, probably for the first time EVER.

The Picky Vaper

I think I mentioned this somewhere a long time ago, but I used to be a smoker. I smoked cigarettes from age 12-ish to 33.

I firmly believe that smokers, or people who have the personality for addictions like smoking, are born. Not made. For instance, my husband who is just like me, only a bigger version, was also a smoker. He smoked cigarettes until 2008 and he started when he was a teenager. He's a naturally nervous person, like me. My middle son, "Artist", is also a high strung individual. And, smokes, unsurprisingly. However, my youngest son, "Gamer", doesn't smoke and has absolutely no inclination to do so. He's very laid back, very calm, not at all a nervous, adrenaline junkie like the rest of us. The oldest son, "Movie Buff", doesn't smoke either. But, he has Down Syndrome.

When I quit smoking, I found that I was always miserable. I don't want to go deep into the history of it, so I'll shorten the story and get to the point of the rant by saying that I picked up vaping.

For those who don't know, vaping is using e cigarettes for your nicotine fix. I've been vaping for two years, now. My husband and the Artist both vape as well.

This post is a collection of rants that I have stored up about vaping and buying e-liquids for my e-cigs. It should surprise no one that knows me that I make a lot of my own e-liquids because my satisfaction with the e-juice industry is so low.

It's all the same crap!
My biggest beef with the e-juice industry is that once someone finds a juice that works and everyone loves it, every Joe Schmuck on the street makes their own version of the cash cow. This is one of my big beefs with the gaming industry too, but this is about vaping. On every single site, everywhere, you can find branded versions of the same stuff. Strawberries and Cream, Absinthe and Anise vapes,  Citrus Coolers, etc. Everyone has their own version, they all taste exactly the same.

In fact, I'm finding it increasingly common to find websites with pages and pages of "run of the mill" flavors and very little else. So, when I find a new flavor, I usually buy it. But, if the website just has all the same crap I can find everywhere else, I usually pass and make my own.

Your Juice's Name Has Nothing To Do With This Flavor! Pass!
My second beef is with people's naming conventions. I'm finding more and more e-juices with names that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the flavor they're trying to create. This can be okay, if it's a totally random name and not something that invokes thoughts of flavor profiles that aren't in the juice.

An example of one of the more egregious examples of offenders in this category is a juice I came across called "Ambrosia". The picture on the front of the bottle has an angel of a sort and the rest of the juices they make are about Gods like Bacchus and Artemis. And, indeed, Ambrosia is considered "the food of the Gods". Ambrosia, in real life, is a fruit salad. It's made from oranges, coconut, cherries, pineapple, pecans and tiny marshmellows. It's truly gross to behold for people with food nightmares, but I digress. A juice by the name of Ambrosia invokes thoughts of decadent fruits, cream and marshmellow. You'd think that this would be what you were getting, and you'd be wrong. Whoever created this juice decided that "Ambrosia", "food of the Gods", should be a cinnamon strudel cupcake.

Cinnamon strudels have zip all nothing to do with Ambrosia, or foods of the Gods. This just bugs the ever lovin' crap out of me. I mean, everyone and their Uncle Pete has a cinnamon strudel juice of some sort. If you're going to have one, you could at least name it something that fits for crying out loud. Don't just.....shoehorn it into your theme!

And, this is not the only offender in their line, either. They've only got one that has anything to do with what it's named after. It's called, "Bacchus", and is a grape and wine flavored juice. Hurray! Don't celebrate too much, though. Baldr, a manly man God got raspberry marshmellow, Apollo got pineapple and guava (two things that aren't even native to Greece, so I'm not sure why the association), and the one called Mjolnir (which is Thor's hammer more or less) is a chai latte vape! Chai is Indian!!!!

Actually, I intend to order's the only one that seems to be fittingly named.

Another offender with names is a company that makes an entire line of e-juices named after Gunslingers of the Wild West. The line is actually called that. Now, when I think of Gunslingers from the dirty, gritty, harsh wild west, a place that I hail from mind you (I'm originally from the plains), I think of tobaccos and flavors that are woody and nutty, perhaps yeasty. I think a lot of people would. I was very disappointed to see the flavors associated with that line of juices.

They've got men like Jesse James, and Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday, all who's names are now associated with some of the wimpiest flavors imaginable. Jesse James got pear and coconut, while Doc Holliday got banana waffles with cream. Are you freaking kidding me?! Doc was a dentist, and associated with the famous gunfight at the O.K Corral and you gave him a banana waffle?!?! Did it ever occur to anyone that Doc Holliday had very likely rarely eaten a banana?! They were only sold in port cities. There were no bananas in the wild west. Who thought this was a good idea??? Don't even get me started on coconut.....none of these things has anything to do with Gunslingers.

I would hope the makers of this line would have at least put some thought and originality to making juices for this theme. Give us something new! Something tobacco-y, not the same old crap regurgitated!

They also included Geronimo the Apache Indian who only vaguely belongs in this category. He got to represent peaches and cream.

Poor Geronimo. Jesus Christ. Pass.

There's also one called White Out . It's a black licorice vape. I could go on all freaking day about this issue.

Your Lack Of Transparency Means I Won't Buy!
We don't know very much about vaping, yet. We don't really know what it's affects are on the body, etc. So, we're really dependent on all the information we can get. Including what people put in their juices. For some of us, we have other reasons to require transparency regarding this.

More and more often, I'm seeing people that either blatantly tell me they're not going to tell me certain things, or they want to toy with me. This turns me off and I won't buy their juice because of that. I'm allergic to things like Watermelon, so any watermelon juice is off limits. I don't even like melons anyway, so it's not a loss to me. But, if they don't tell me what's in their juice I have to pass out of caution........and annoyance.

One offender in this category has a description on their juice that says, "you'll just have to figure it out". Not only will I not buy something like this, you don't get second chances to make first impressions and the maker of a juice that puts something as flippant as that in the description will forever go down as a douchebag.

There's a really popular juice out there, it's called Boba's Bounty. I'm sure every single vaper on planet Earth has heard of it. It's really not all that great, but it gets obscene amounts of hype. The guy that makes it refuses to say what's in it and instead toys with people about it on forums. "It's only got X number of things in it and that's not iiiiittttt". I will never pay money for that juice. I've tasted it because other people I know love the stuff, and I've made a "clone" of it that I believe is better than that, but I would never give a person my money for toying with me. He won't even describe the juice in the description which is just stupid and ridiculous.

There's another, "Radiator Pluid", that is in the same boat as Boba's. You can't even buy Pluid 90% of the time because people just freak out about it and buy it faster than the guy can produce it. But, he refuses to say what's in it. I've made a clone from a recipe I got online, but I will never buy the original simply because lack of transparency bugs the crap out of me.

How about a juice called "White Gummy B". They just describe it as a "candy vape". Fabulous, but what kind of candy vape, can you give us a clue? And, don't say that we should be able to figure it out by the name of the juice because while I would expect it to be a white gummy bear, we've already established that some joker out there thinks Ambrosia is a cinnamon strudel! For all I know, White Gummy B could turn out to be banana bubblegum or perhaps something with blue raspberry in it. Just tell me what freaking flavor it is for Pete's sake!!

Yeah, I'm pretty picky. But, in an industry we don't know much about yet, that still is getting hit from all sides of the "smoking cessation" debate and we're still trying to regulate, a lot of these issues hurt us as a community. So, I won't buy something that doesn't have a legitimate description that's accurate and doesn't give out exactly what's in the juice. It's just too important an issue to mess around with.

All in all, I really love vaping. It's kept me off of cigarettes, even in the most stressful times. And, I've decreased my nicotine usage to amost zero! Vape on!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What Exactly Did You Learn?

I had a conversation with a woman the other day about homeschooling. A lot of people think homeschooling is where kids go to be indoctrinated in some way. Taught to follow the rules and beliefs of some cult or other. But, in today's day and age, this just isn't true and antiquated thinking needs to stop.

She told me that she didn't believe homeschooling could really provide the knowledge needed to get along in the world. So, I asked her a question.

"What exactly did you learn in school?"

She went through the normal list of bs. Math, social studies......yada. But, I told her that wasn't a sufficient answer. Math and social studies are generalizations. You learn more about social studies from day to day life than you will ever learn inside a classroom. Math is something you use even when you're not in class, so that's also not going to cut it.

Long story short, this woman could not give me any clear cut indication of what she thought she learned in a school that didn't actually happen in college. And, college, let's face it, is a whole different animal.

The fact is, the American education has become less of what it was before. It happens every single generation. I didn't get the education my parents got, and they didn't get the education their parents got. My kids didn't get the education they deserved from public schools. You can learn math outside of a school. In fact, you can even do your college degree outside of a school setting now. The school house was just some place to send children to get the learning all done in one place. A convenience.

The only one of my children who is homeschooled is the one that didn't thrive in a school house. He wasn't learning anything there except to believe he had some sort of learning disorder. Newsflash: He doesn't. He's as normal as any other normal kid. There are kids out there who legitimately have learning disorders and he is not one of them. But, he was learning to believe he did simply because he wasn't in the rank and file that we associate with public school.

My middle son went to public school, and also dropped OUT of public school after being fed up with the atmosphere it fosters. My middle son is doing just fine, but he got no better education than my youngest has had outside of the school campus. In fact, he admits that in most ways, my youngest is going to be better equipped to handle life "on the outside", as he puts it. He's 20, now.

My youngest has learned every single thing that anyone else learns in public school, however, he learned most of his social values "on the outside". He doesn't engage in a lot of the very destructive behaviors found common in public school, and doesn't associate with people who do. He's very selective about his social circle, (a wonderful trait to have), and doesn't think twice about it. In fact, he's learned about 3 times as much "on the outside" as his peers have learned on the inside.

So, the question stands. What exactly did you learn?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year 2015

One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to blogging. I found out last year, when I didn't blog much at all, that my life is significantly less stressful when I've got an outlet.

We'll see how it goes.

The goal as of right now is to blog at least once a week for the entire year. That's 52 posts. I'd like to have most of the posts be photo related, I don't know if that will work out or not. We'll see. I also want the posts to focus on the Wheel and how it relates to my everyday life.

I just had a bit of deja vu, did I say this once before??? I probably said it last year. Heh.

Welcome, 2015!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Path Has Many Twists And Forks......And Scares

I've heard it said that, when it comes to the craft, you should never consider yourself learned. I think that's it's probably the same for any set of traditions, or beliefs, or religions. We should never consider ourselves "learned". You can not possibly know everything there is to know simply because that's not the way lifestyles work.

I consider the craft to be a lifestyle. I consider naturalist paganism to be a lifestyle. I think they go beyond religion. But, I could never consider myself learned, in either.

I've been pretty silent since my post on coupons. And, that post was a ruse. It was a what I call a "dummy post". I had nothing to post because I was too involved in the big vat of poo I got myself into with this shadow work....thingy. The post was valid only in the sense that I really do stockpile, although I don't call it that, I really do coupon and I really do consider both of those things fundamentals of paganism. But, that was an unplanned post, but I just figured I needed to post something.

The truth is, the shadow work got the best of me. I bit off a fair bit more than I could chew at any one time. In fact, more than I should have been attempting to chew in probably two consecutive dark half cycles. I jumped in the deep end with both feet and I didn't look to see if there was a yawning chasm waiting to swallow me whole before I did it, too. What happened was that the work started to lead itself. I was no longer in control of where it was going, and I'm not sure that's normal and I'm also not sure I want to repeat it.

I started having nightmares on a pretty regular basis starting by about the end of September and I had only been dealing with it at that point for about a week and half. If you look back at every single post I had from equinox until today, you should notice that they're pretty "off". Not only that, but they're very angsty. Even more angsty than is normal for me. By the time I wrote my Thanksgiving post, I was completely engulfed in.....I don't even know what. I like that post and it's surprisingly well written considering where my head was at during that post.

Nightmares were just the beginning my problems. I also started eating. Not eating like, "Wow, I'm hungry, I'm gonna go get me a sammich!", but, "Let's see how much fun it would be to eat this entire chocolate pie!". We are talking destructive eating, here. Destructive to the point where I gained 30 lbs. since Equinox. I can't really explain why, either. I haven't eaten sugar as a normal part of my diet since 2009! But, since I was facing food phobias, I went off the deep end. As I said, the work was no longer under my control, it was controlling me!

On top of that, if I wasn't having nightmares, I was having migraines. I've had a couple serious migraine attacks since equinox. I get these when my stress level spikes. During those attacks and during my nightmares, repressed memories of emotional abuse from my childhood came to the forefront. This is what I wanted to happen, and that's good, but the amount of it was staggering! I don't think I was quite prepared for the sheer amount of emotional muck I'd be dragging from the depths of whatever pit of hell my memory had flung them into.

I think at this point, I should just admit that this season's shadow work got the best of me and since I really had no idea how to handle it, I stopped early. I'm not doing anymore right now. I'm meditating on the problems that resulted from it, and some of the things I learned during it, but I'm not focusing on any more of my "shadows" at the moment.  I wouldn't have stopped until Midwinter (Imbolc for wiccans), but there was no way I was going to make it through another month. I'm already going to have a lot of clean up to do as a result of whatever the hell just happened.

I've been involved in paganism for almost 19 years. In that amount of time, I've seen some really dark things. But, there is nothing that I've seen that just flat scared me. But, this has and maybe that's what was supposed to happen. Maybe any other time shadow work has been done by me, I've been doing it wrong. Either way, I'm convinced that I need a new strategy for controlling my work. Because it was just eating me alive.

My path has had many twists and forks and turns.....and now scares. I'm in it for the long haul, I'm not going anywhere. I love being pagan it makes me feel more alive than any other lifestyle ever could, of that I have no doubt.