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Writer's Block: Animal Instinct

What creature would you choose as your spirit animal?
Well duh, Wolf, of course. I've always been very lupine in nature and those who know me well have often commented on me being what I call 'close to one's Medicine'. Wolf is 'Teacher' Medicine, and I definitely fall into that path of teaching what I know for the sheer joy and delight of passing it on to others.

I have to admit, over the past decade or so, I find that there's also some sort of large, heavy, diurnal raptor in there, though, too.  I feel kinda presumptuous to call it Eagle, but golden eagles are the raptors I identify most with.

And while I don't feel I have Raven Medicine per se, those whom Wolf chooses most often have a little of Raven with them, (and vice versa) because Wolf and Raven are brothers and live in symbiotically. A dear friend of mine who is the husband of another dear friend (and I never use either of those terms lightly) is definitely a Raven sort, always the clever, prankish clown, and when we get together even bystanders notice how the energy can really get kind of crazy; we each seem to feed off of and amplify the other.

I feed the local ravens with our 'bone pile' up on the hill made from the waste parts of butchered livestock and whatnot. I love listening to their hugely varied vocabularies of sounds and vocalizations they make. We've even had a bald eagle or two visit, we've seen them occasionally and heard them as well.

Nothing wrong with feeding the Allfather's birds, you know....  ;) There's a reason why I called this place 'Hrafnstead', after all.

Home sick again today; I did try to make it in, but figured when I very nearly ran my right front tire off the road that I was too woozy/out of it, this was probably not a good idea, and turned around and went home. Slept another 6 hours, and still have virtually no voice. Yuck.

The upside is that I get to dye my Viking underdress that I finally got done enough to dye; the only thing left for sewing is the bottom hem. The fabric is a linen-look that I got from a dear friend when she was moving house and downsizing her fabric hoard. I was the lucky recipient of Much Good Stuff. I'll post the before and after pictures if I can find the bloody camera wherever it's hiding out. I'm dyeing with a box of royal blue Rit that I got in a lot of a few boxes at Goodwill for literally pennies. Yay, Goodwill! I'm guessing that since the original color is a very cold, light pastel sort of lime green, dyeing with the royal blue will give a brightish royal blue with a slightly greenish undertone. I'm doing the stovetop method, and the whole thing is quietly steaming on the stove as I type.

Since I'm never one to waste dyebath and dyeing anything invariably turns into an addictive/experimental adventure, I'm going to try 'painting' some wool roving, as well. I've been told you can take a nice long chunk of roving, put a plastic garbage bag over an upended bowl, wrap the roving around the bowl so it's contained in plastic, and paint/daub/pour yourself into colored roving paroxysms of delight. One of the neat things I learned about your usual commercial dyes like Rit is that the color is formulated in a sort of half-and-half mixture for both protein and cellulose fibers, so that if you exhaust a dyebath with wool, you could pretty much start over with a cellulose fiber and exhaust it all over again, using for the cellulose what won't adhere to the protein.

Wheeeeee. I can't quite muster the energy for exclamation points right now...

Incidentally, I was looking at this page for info on spinning flax, because sometime soon I am going to dig out the hunk of flax roving I picked up at Ye Merrie Greenwood this past summer and want to learn how to wet-spin flax. Interesting page, although it passes on the misinformation about the Celts and woad body painting...

Going to go mess around with the roving-painting and finish stirring my dress.

Pictures  to come. Maybe.


Writer's Block: Dream Trip

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
These dratted questions always seem to imply that you should pick only one thing....I've always wanted to travel so there's a list.

Number one would be without a doubt a trip to Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and all the small outlying islands around Scotland, like Shetland, the Isle of Man, the Faroes, etc. I'd love to be able to go for a month with recording equipment and chase songs in their 'natural habitat' as it were. As cornball as it might sound, one of the things to do before I die is to gallop across a moor in full heather in Scotland. And the museums!! I've never actually been to a real museum, sad as that is, and I'm sure I'd probably explode or spontaneously combust with delight and awe at going to some of the European museums.

There's a lot of the rest of Europe that I'd give a lot to go and see, as well. I'd rather do it mainly on foot, instead of doing the touristy, bus-tour, Rome-in-an-afternoon (shyaah, right) sort of thing. I'd really rather constructively wander, get pleasantly lost, listen to and watch the locals go about their daily business, eat and drink what they do, etc.

Africa is also a big draw for me, and again, I wouldn't do the touristy-safari kind of thing, but I'd love to go hunting there, especially with a bow and mostly primitive equipment. Parts of Australia and New Zealand look beautiful, too, and I wouldn't pass up a trip going there if someone handed it to me... :)



Dork humour...


*snortles*



One other Radcon note...

I met the Three Holy Clerics of Lister's Diner!



They gave me boon of a Most Wondrous and Holy packet of Blessed Mustard.

I shall cherish it for evar. My pilgrimage is complete.

Giant Testicles Fantasy Land...




or...

"Pinhead Exhibit A"

Whew, back from this past weekend's annual RadCon in the Tri-Cities! Lots of fun, but per the usual, I'm sick the day after. This always happens, and you'd think I'd learn to schedule the following Monday off from work instead of having to call in sick, but... It must be something about the tons of people there, as well as the hot, humid enviro of the dance floor, etc. etc.

First, the high points! Because I'm an optimist, that's why!

Definitely the ultimate high point of the con for me was the Khan Ignition fire dancers. These folks were Freakin' Awesome, especially with the flaming bullwhip. Said bullwhip caused much speculation between myself and Forrest; I've done some bullwhip work and love it. My old whip kind of wore out and I never replaced it, but this definitely re-piqued my interest, especially in how to get the leather soaked in whatever flammable material is used. And yes, this research will be carried out in the safest manner; the Pinhead Exhibit A shall not be me. We'll get to that later.

Another neat thing was my first visit to a panederia, a Mexican bakery! What a neat thing! These are usually small businesses that cater to the local ethnic population and bake everything from scratch. Arriving there, I was a little confused as the main shop floor didn't have anything out on a display rack (as I was expecting) except a few bags of buns. We peeked through a door into the back room with the ovens and sinks where we could see racks and racks of baked goods; then one lady motioned that we should take a pair of tongs and a large metal plate from the stack near the register and go pick what we wanted. We ended up each getting a paper bag full of things like turnovers, cookies, popovers, etc. and the total price? About nine bucks...wow! That was breakfast and snacks for most of the con and it's all very yummy. We hit the same place on the way back, mainly because I was craving another piece of the sinfully-rich chocolate cake they made, and got stuff to bring back. If you go to a panaderia, be aware that they usually do not use any preservatives in what they make, so don't think you can bring back something and store it for a week unless you aim to create fuzzy monsters. We were joking on the way out that it would be kind of an amusing and nice (maybe!) thing to do for that particular panaderia if we plugged them at next year's con, especially since they're so close to the hotel; imagine a horde of hungry con-goers of all looks and stripes descending on the bakery in costume and buying lots of their stuff...

Definitely the Low (although Highly Amusing in a rather uncool way) Point of the Con was an incident at our 9 a.m. Saturday morning tatami mat cutting demo. Our group partnered with a local guy who collects antique swords as well as one of our members who is currently with the Seattle Knights to show medieval-style and other swords cutting tatami-mats. We gave the disclaimer that we didn't know the 'proper' stances, swings, etc. of the art form of Japanese tameshigiri; we weren't doing that, so don't expect it. We started off with the general educational and safety spiels, i.e., don't do this at home if you haven't trained for it, be careful of things around you and your cut direction, and be careful of where the flying pieces of tatami mat might go and hit, our guest Michael gave a few strikes, as did dameruth  who was running the show. Another of our members stepped up and prepared for a backswing strike (which, if successful, would probably have sent a large chunk of very wet tatami-mat lofting into the audience, so we again made mention of being careful about Where Stuff Goes Flying, and he chose to not make that swing.

After a few preliminary strikes it became apparent that the tatami mat wasn't much going to cooperate with us, and was sort of flopping over. Up from the audience steps a tall, lanky, youngish guy in your usual 'black' ensemble, combat boots, black beret, black trench and mentions that he's been doing tameshigiri for 'a long time' (red flag #1) and knows the stances, strikes, etc. (red flag #2) and would we mind some help? (screaming red flag #3) He's talking to our sword guy, and I notice that Dame Ruth is not exactly looking happy with this 'help' from the audience. If you know Ruth, you know that when she starts getting pissed, her face gets deadpan and blank of expression. The worse it gets, the less expression she shows. I noticed she was being rather expressionless and blank right about now, and thought, "Oh, my...this is going to be interesting."

Now, a wee word about the ballroom we're giving this demo in; nice hardwood floor surrounded by carpet. We have a tarp down to keep things neat. There is also a rectangular chandelier-type thing that has lights in it, but also has umpteen squarish glass tubes that are moored to the main solid part. Kind of ugly actually, and I find it amusing that the music for the dance nights is so loud and bass-heavy that it makes all those glass tubes (think your usual 80's-era glass tumbler turned upside down in size and shape) chime and ring together from the thumping. It also makes the same chandeliers in the same adjoining two subsequent ballrooms ring, as well.

You see where this is going, right?

Mr. Che Guevera lookalike-wannabe steps up with his own sword (an odd-looking single-piece katana-something) and does a downward swing to the left, cutting a chunk off the mat and sending it towards the backstage, swings back around coming to the right and up, cutting a piece of tatami mat and sending a large, rolled chunk of it flying....out towards the audience, and UP. Directly into the chandelier with a THUMP, where it knocks off one of the aforementioned glass tumbler-tubes, which falls onto the hardwood floor and smashes into a million pieces maybe 3 feet in front of the audience.

You know how when minor disasters like this happen, they happen in slow motion? And you can't do a damn thing about it except watch the trajectory and think things like "Oh no...",  "Oh shit...", and so on? Watching that piece of tatami mat fly up in slow motion, hit, and seeing the glass plummet straight down was, in fact, just like that. There was a nice second or two of shocked silence after the glass hit, before damage control went into action. The kicker was that this guy just kind of chuckled and said "Oh, I'll get a broom and clean that up,". Luckily, Avalon has insurance to cover things like this, but apparently the guy didn't even go tell the hotel, we had to be the ones to do that. I passed him later in the hall going to something, and kind of grinned at him, but he didn't do anything but glower in return.

Your Honor, I present Pinhead Exhibit A....

I also know one of the ladies that was taping the whole thing, I'll see if I can't get a video link when they can upload. Hee hee.

Later in the room Ruth and some of the rest of us were talking about it, and joked that while he may well have had some experience in tameshigiri, he definitely didn't use good judgment that would accompany the Grand High Master he seemed to think he was. Ruth made the comment that people like that "live in fantasy land" most of the time, and that oftentimes it's guys who have a macho image to project. Thus was born the comment of 'giant testicle fantasy land'...which brought to mind that movie Pom Poko, about shapeshifting tanuki with giant testicles they used for various purposes.... 

Another high point was the Avalon room party. Although this year it was pretty low-key, mainly due to our room being located off the main party-room drag and being an alcohol-free party, we had some folks drop by. I ended up singing a few amusing, semi-bawdy songs for entertainment, although it had been a long day and some of the songs requested I could remember the tune, but not necessarily the lyrics, lol. I think I'll definitely make a small booklet of popular stuff to sing at camping events, cons, etc. so I can have something to jog the memory.

A long, fun, weekend, but I'm sort of glad that RadCon comes but once a year....


Writer's Block: In a Former Life

Do you believe in reincarnation? If your answer is "yes," describe some of your past lives.
Absolutely! I don't know if it was a past life, but I remember having an extremely vivid dream once where I was a wolf, and the whole dream was living that whole life, all in extremely vivid and colorful detail. I've also been to and seen certain places or things for the first time and felt very strongly that I've seen/been there before. Upon seeing webcam images from the isle of Skye off of Scotland for the first time, my heart gave a fluttering leap and it all looked very familiar; not too long after that, I learned that the traditional 'home' of most the MacCutcheons (on my mother's side) was, amazingly enough, the isle of Skye. Go figure.

Writer's Block: Dream Job

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Oooh, I've so often thought of this. Typical to my Piscean nature, there is more than one! And a list!

In no particular order of favoritism....

1. Working as a vet tech/rehabilitator with birds of prey at a raptor center. This is what I'm actually working towards, since I have a job where I can leave in just over three and a half more years with a decent check from stocks (privately held; nyah nyah, Wall Street) so I can easily fund going back to school for the 2 years it will take me to get a vet tech certificate. I'd also love to do the public education presentations like I used to do with the WSU Raptor Club, I'm fairly decent at public speaking (when I'm talking about something I know about, anyhow) and I like making a difference in how people view raptors, whether it's a roomful of kindergarteners, or a retirement home.

2. Semi-professional jouster, either on the jousting circuit (yes, such a thing DOES exist) or at some of the larger Renn Fairs. I wouldn't mind pulling double duty doing a falconry/raptor presentation for education, as well.

3. Falconer for doing bird-suppression at places like golf courses and airports. What? You want to pay me to go hawking and chase birds for half a day? Oh, ooooh, twist my arm a little harder...

4. Full-time homesteader. If I could make it work by selling things like eggs, produce, meat, candles, etc. on a basis that was steady and profitable enough to support me and mine, I probably would. I'd love to spend the days doing things the 'old ways', ploughing with horse-power, swinging a scythe, etc. And it's not a dream founded on idyllic ideals without any firsthand knowledge, rest assured. Even work like mucking out the goat or sheep pens after a winter's worth of use gives me a certain sort of contented happiness. As well as clear sinuses, whew!

Speaking of jobs and education, I had a semi-epiphany yesterday. While I was loading boxes at work (I'm a Shipping Clerk) I was reflecting on how much I learn about animals, homesteading, etc. by doing things like reading Countryside magazine and the threads at www.homesteadingtoday.com . Realizing that one of the things that makes me happiest is learning and doing things relevant to raising critters, whether it's vet care, breeding, nutrition science, etc. I wondered why I never considered a degree in agriculture. Just as quickly, I realized it is probably largely because I don't subscribe to the 'big ag' ideas, where the bottom line is profit, and the animals, plants and lands are viewed more as 'commodities' and 'utilities' than the things of beauty they really are.

So then thought I....what about the organic agriculture major that is new to WSU? It's right in my backyard, nigh-literally. I still want to do the vet tech thing, but what about after getting that degree? How feasible and beneficial would it be to pursue it? I wondered what sort of courses were involved so I looked at the courses online. My excitedly galloping mind came to a screeching, spark-throwing halt, then bucked and bolted in the opposite direction when I noticed there was a lot of MATH involved. Things like Statistics. Other things like Chemistry. My math abilities are virtually nonexistent, and I'm kinda neurotic about it. Due to moving high schools a couple of times, I have virutally no Chemistry or Physics knowledge, either. Lucky for me, Forrest has a Ph.D in chemistry and is a gentle patient soul who puts up with my pestering series of questions with an air of interested bemusement.

Maybe I could independently study the stuff that I know would give me Major Problems and have a foundation built up if and when I got there. But I have to admit, the idea really does pique my interest. Not sure what I'd do with a degree like that, job-wise, but...boy, it's a wealth of information I'd love to have, and I like the fact that it's off the mainstream, kind of going its own way and often contrary to the current paradigm of agriculture. We need to turn away from that kind of thing before it's too late.


Be Afraid, Geese....

...be very afraid.

I have 8 geese here on the homestead. Eight gray, ordinary, run-of-the-mill geese. We started out with ...hang on, mustering memory and math...6, I think. There was an ad on a local ad site for someone with 6 geese, 3 adults and the 3 half-grown goslings that one of the females had hatched that year. There was a bit of a story in driving 50 miles or so one way to go get the damn things, then we found the carriers we had brought were WAY too small, so the lady that sold them to us ended up giving us a bunch of old plastic grain sacks, we put down the back seat of my Blazer and spread them out, and just let the geese hang out on the ride back. 

Geese shit a lot. All the time. My irascible grandmother used to grouse at my mother (who would get hung up in hour-long conversations with total freakin' strangers at the grocery store) and say "Your mouth goes like a duck's ass!"  I think that means it pours out a lot. So the geese are crapping all over, but being reasonably calm (for geese) and I'm trying to get home as quick as I can, because it's summer, and we're in a car with 6 crapping geese. And then a local sheriff pulled me over when I zipped past him going through a small (no real stoplights) town at 10 miles over the limit. He came up behind the Blazer on foot kind of slow, and paused to look in the back and did the classic double-take...

After my cheery greeting and quick explanation that I was trying to get the madly pooping geese home ASAP, he said "Well, I kinda just wanted to see what or who was moving around in your back...you have a nice day, Ma'am," and let me go without even a license/registration/insurance request. Ah, small-town Idaho....

That Blazer has also brought home 2 does and their combined 4 kids in the same back area, with a tarp down. And Forrest, plus two good friends (a father and son) back there, too, while I drove and laughed at the goats whizzing on them with the wife/mother in the passenger seat. Fun times.

Where was I? Ah, yes..the geese. That winter, one of the now-grown goslings got harassed and chased out of the flock by who we assumed was the gander, and figuring that the harassee with the newly-bald neck was another gander, and therefore for the roasting pan that winter. Then we were down to 5, and after a first clutch failed that following spring (it was so rainy and cold for so long, those eggs had no chance), one of the females hatched out 4 fuzzy, constantly-peeping goslings. One died up by the horse's drylot and we assumed Abby (my rescued Shire mare) had probably inadvertently stepped on him. So now we are at eight geese. Eight, noisy, prima-donna-of-the-barnyard, drama queen geese.

We found some information about how goose down is collected, and a basic summary is: "Catch a goose. Put a sock over its head so it can't bite you (Geese can be downright mean, and they're a lot stronger than most people think). Turn the goose over on it's back, and gently pull the down off it's rear end, some will naturally shed/pull off, and it regrows quickly. This hurts the goose only in the dignity, and how all down is harvested."

So after RadCon this coming weekend, I think I will get a sock or two and harvest some goose down.

I wonder if there are many medieval uses for goose down; the only thing I can think to use it for would be to put it between some sheets of muslin, sort of quilt it, and use that for an inner lining on the wool coat I want to make.

On a semi-related note, while Forrest was mucking out the goat and sheep pens and I was in Raven and Eowyn's drylot re-installing hotwire and fixing the fence they've busted down for the umpteenth time, we got quite a chuckle. The geese had found this tiny 'pond'; it's a large-ish (maybe 6 feet across, max) hole that was probably made when a tree went over and pulled up the roots and fills with water in the spring runoff in the woods just on the other side of the property line. It's not fenced or anything; we're surrounded on three sides of our place by a lot of nicely-wooded timber company land, which makes it feel like we have more than we do. The geese made quite a commotion, swimming and dunking in their newfound personal swimming hole. Every so often there'd be a huge honking, and everyone would jump out of the pool, and run/flap at top speed up to the top of the hill. Five minutes later they'd be back down in the water and the 'game' would begin all over again.

Geese are fun, tasty, and I'm not afraid to pluck their noisy little butts.

Livestock is not for sissies.

So Long, Farewell, Bye-Bye


Ganked this from ladymustapha , and gave it a whirl. Some of this did make me howl with laughter, so I thought I'd share it. The idea is you C&P this into a Word document, put your music library on Shuffle, and answer each question with a click of the 'Next' button. The version I got said to write ANYTHING that came up, but....I skipped songs that were tune sets (I listen to a lot of Celtic music) as an answer that said something like "Morrison's Jig/Toss the Feathers/Pigeon on the Gate" would sound either nonsensical or schizophrenic, so a lot of the Celtic stuff got skipped. I also skipped song titles that were in other languages (Swedish, German, Latin, Gaelic) that nobody would have a clue what they meant. I listen to a lot of world music.

Song questions are in all caps, and I added the feature of listing the song artist in parentheses. My own commentary is in italics.

What fun!! I wanna see other folks I know do this!

1)      IF SOMEONE SAYS, "IS THIS OKAY," YOU SAY?
She Will Be Loved (Maroon 5)
I'm not THAT friendly.

2) WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
March of Cambreadth  (Heather Alexander)
Oh, the sweetest irony, it kills! rofl
Cut me!Collapse )