Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A bit? That's not a bit!

"You may be a bit sore when the injection wears off," the dentist told me, reminding me that she'd had to poke me about a fair bit to get in at that wisdom tooth. "But don't worry about it unless it's very bad for too many days."

"OK," I said, thinking it wouldn't be a big deal. The pain from the broken tooth wasn't too bad, and I wasn't bothered by pain as a rule; I'm pretty good at ignoring it.

Usually.

This pain was different.

This pain was bad enough to make me skip lunch - since there was no way I was attempting to chew food with the pain - and grab for the medicine bottle; I even checked there was "adult medicine" available, just in case!

For those who don't know: I don't skip food; I can be eating egg sandwiches and drinking cocoa within an hour of being revived from an opperation (honestly; I've done exactly that). So if I skip meals there has to be a VERY good reason for it! And, I only take children's medicine. For one thing, since I try to avoid taking medicine if possible, it's plenty strong enough when I do finally take something. For another thing, children's medicines taste better, and since they work for me, I don't see why I should take the awful tasting adult stuff! Besides, it makes for interesting conversations with people at the chemists about 27 year old children, LOL!

Anyway, my usual medicine did the trick, so I didn't have to ttake the disgusting adult stuff. And, though I woke in the night with the pain, I just had some more medicine and then went back to sleep. The pain's not as bad today; it's in the "yeah, OK, it hurts a bit, but never mind," pain range now, so I can ignore it.

Willow's World: big water

Hi humans. This is Willow. Guess what? When we went for walkies the other day the humans showed me the really big water that you humans call the "sea" or "ocean" that's near here. I have seen it before, but I was so shocked to see it was just down the road from us that I just stood and stared at it for a long time. The humans wont let me play in it yet though (they say it's too cold). Aren't they mean? I never thought I'd live in a place with so many big waters I could play in. Now if I could just get the humans to let me go swimming... Lots of licks, Willow

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dentist: February 28th 2012

It took 25 minutes for her to sort my wisdom tooth, and that was mostly because of how difficult it was to get in at. As it is she slightly cut my lip where the tools were rubbing against it because of the angle they needed to be at for her to get in there. And, since I had another 20 minutes of my appointment left, she also fixed the two teeth on that side that would soon be breaking if they didn't get fillings. So now the entire right side of my mouth is numb. But, hey, at least they're done.

I have to go back on Thursday afternoon for her to sort the tooth on the other side that needs a filling, but that will be a shorter appointment, and - unless I have any issues that mean I need to call them - that "should" be it until about 6 months later.

The noise of the suction thing was getting on my nerves. Mind you, I was probably getting on their nerves with asking random questions whenever I could (as in, whenever they weren't actually doing anything to my teeth for whatever reason). Well, they were rellavent questions, like "what's the paste for the fillings made of?" and why they were doing this, that and the other. I figure if they're going to do something to me, I should know what it is, and if something's being glued to my tooth, I should know what it is and how come. Right? Besides, asking questions is the only way to learn, and learning about things is much more interesting than just sitting in the chair opening and closing your mouth on command, don't you think?

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Nana

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my Nana.

Nana - Nelly Louise, for whom the "Louise" in my name appears - was my Great-Grandma; my Mam's Grandmother.

My first memory involves my Nana.

I was really little; about 2 and a half, I believe. I was at my Nana's house (along with my Mam; not sure if my brothers were there or not, since I don't remember and have never asked). There was a cat... I think it was my cat, Lucky. The cat ran under a TV unit, and I tried following, banging my head. I cried, and Nana picked me up. She took me in the kitchen with her, sat me on the counter, and gave me some chocolate to make me feel better (I think it was Maltesers; or something like them).

I loved my Nana, and was broken-hearted when she died (when I was about 6).

I wonder why I've been thinking about - and missing - her so much lately?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The three adventures of Doctor Who

Pest Control
Series: BBC New Series Adventures
Release Number: 1
Writer: Peter Anghelides

"The Doctor and Donna face monstrous insects and a ruthless robot exterminator in this thrilling, exclusive audio story, read by David Tennant. The TARDIS is lost in battle on a distant planet. When the Doctor sets off in pursuit, Donna is left behind, and finds herself accepting a commission in the Pioneer Corps. Something is transforming soldiers into monstrous beetles, and she could be the next victim. Meanwhile, the Doctor steals a motorbike and stages a jailbreak. Well, how hard can it be to find the TARDIS, rescue Donna, and negotiate a peace? But that's before the arrival of a brutal and remorseless mechanical exterminator, bent on wiping out the insects. It may be that nothing can stop it, because this robot's solution for the infestation is very simple: kill everything."

(Above taken from this page).

The Nemonite Invasion
Series: BBC New Series Adventures
Release Number: 3
Writer: David Roden

"Catherine Tate reads this exclusive thrilling story, in which the Doctor and Donna take on a race of dangerous bloodsucking aliens

When the sky rips open somewhere over Dover, two objects hurtle out of the Vortex and crash-land in the sea. One is the TARDIS, out of control and freefalling - but the other, a mysterious crystalline sphere, is far more sinister.

The Doctor and Donna are rescued and taken to a secret command centre in the Dover cliffs. It's May 1940, and Vice-Admiral Ramsay is about to finalise one of the most daring plans of the Second World War: Operation Dynamo.

But something else has got inside the War Tunnels, a parasitic Nemonite from the crashed sphere. Its aim is to possess all humans and spawn millions of young. The Doctor and Donna must fight for their lives in order to save both Operation Dynamo and the world at large.

The Nemonite Invasion features the Doctor and Donna, as played by David Tennant and Catherine Tate in the hit BBC Television series Doctor Who. Written specially for audio by David Roden, it is read by Catherine Tate."

(Above taken from here).

Dead Air
Series: BBC New Series Adventures
Release Number: 7
Writer: James Goss

"'Hello, I'm the Doctor. And, if you can hear this, then one of us is going to die.'

At the bottom of the sea, in the wreck of a floating radio station, a lost recording has been discovered. After careful restoration, it is played for the first time - to reveal something incredible. It is the voice of the Doctor, broadcasting from Radio Bravo in 1966. He has travelled to Earth in search of the Hush - a terrible weapon that kills, silences and devours anything that makes noise - and has tracked it to a boat crewed by a team of pirate DJs. With the help of feisty Liverpudlian Layla and some groovy pop music, he must trap the Hush and destroy it - before it can escape and destroy the world..."

(Above taken from this page).

NOTE: Links may contain a few spoilers.

Three adventures of Doctor Who, all featuring - and, in the case of two of them, also read by - my favourite Doctor; what more could you ask for? I enjoyed them all, though "Dead Air" was my favourite of the three. Also, I didn't feel that Catherine Tate did as good of a job of reading the one she did as David Tennant did. And, no, I'm not just saying that because he's my favourite Doctor. David Tennant put a lot more enthusiasm in to the reading than Catherine Tate did, that's all. Anyway, if you're a fan of Doctor Who, then I recommend these three books; "Dead Air" especially!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February birthdays; 1 late, 1 right on time

Today - February 25th - is my nephew, Devin's birthday. As of today he's officially a teenager! Happy birthday, Devin; hope it's a great one! :)

Also, posting about Devin's birthday reminds me... A belated happy birthday to Rita's cat, Karma (since I forgot to give her a mention on my blog at the time). Karma's birthday was February 5th. Although, with the amount of loving that kitty gets, she probably doesn't care when her birthday is; it probably feels like every day is her birthday... I know it would for me if I had Karma's life! But, a belated happy birthday to her, anyway! :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Candles and soaps

I have a new respect for soapmakers.

I'd assumed that soapmaking would be similar to candlemaking. You heat up the ingredients, mix them together, pour them in to a mould of some sort, leave them to set, and if things go wrong then you just have a funny looking candle or bar of soap.

I was sort of right. Only, there's one very important difference (which I learned about while reading the lessons for the "Handmade Soapmaking" course); if you go wrong with the soaps, they could potentially be dangerous to use.

Unfortunately for me, the signs are only visible signs, and you need to be able to read ph test strips, which you use to determine the degree of alkalinity (7 to 14) or acidity (1 to 7) of a substance, and doing this is how you will know if the soap is safe to use. If the soap's ph level is too high or low, the soap could be harmful.

So, I guess I wont be making any soap; it's too much of a visual process.

I'll just have to stick to candles.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dentist: February 16th 2012 (PTMI)

A week ago I had my dentist appointment; it's taken me this long to post about it because of how many things I have that I want to post about (as usual). I still have some other things I want to get posted (including some reviews of books I've read recently), I just need to find the time to write the posts... You know how it is!

Anyway...

The taxi was as helpful as usual, but the driver couldn't deliver me to the receptionist. Why? Because nobody had thought to tell me that it's pointless me going early; they're shut between 1:00pm and 2:00pm for lunch. I arrived a little before 1:40pm. The taxi driver was reluctant to leave me, but he couldn't stay - he wasn't allowed to linger longer than necessary - and it was pointless my paying him to take me back home since by the time we got there it would be almost time to go back. So I told him to go, and promised that if I froze to death - since it was quite cold - I wouldn't hold him responsible for my fate, LOL!

The reason I thought someone should have mentioned it was the fact that my appointment was for 2:00pm exactly, so I'd have thought someone would have said, "don't bother coming early for it, since you're our first appointment after lunch," or something. Maybe they assumed someone had read the opening times to me? *Shrugs*

Anyway, part of the reason I was there so early was that I like to be early for appointments (I'm a firm believer in, "better early than late," when possible). The other part was that I wasn't sure exactly how long it would take to get there. The dentists' building is only a short walk from where we live, but some of the roads are accessable on foot and not by car, so I wasn't sure how long it would take by taxi.

Anyway...

Just after he left one of the dentists poked his head out of the door, saw me, and told me he'd come back at 2:00pm, but I'd have to wait until then. He then closed the door. I later discovered the reason why he left me out in the cold was that he and his family live in the building, and he was trying to give his young children lunch.

I suspected as much when he answered the door with a young child beside him chattering away, and had this confirmed when - a few minutes before he was due to come back for me - the receptionist returned from her own lunch and took me inside, where a woman (the children's Mother, I assume) was getting the children ready to clear out of the place. I'm not sure if they were school-age children, because last week was half-term week, which means that most children weren't in school. I know one of them at least - the one who was with the dentist when he answered the door - was no more than 4 or 5; well, I don't know, it's just a guess based on his speach level.

But, enough of that...

They were as helpful as the people were at the doctors surgery, which is a plus in my book (especially since I need that to be the case). And they seem like decent dentists. I'm not sure if there are two or more of them, but I know there are definately the two, since there's a male dentist (the one who answered the door) and a woman dentist (the one who appears to be my dentist).

Because of the fact it took so long to do the thorough examination of my mouth, x-rays of my teeth, double check paperwork, etc - you know, all that annoying new patient stuff - they didn't get to fixing my tooth. So I have another appointment for Tuesday (February 28th). It's another 45 minute one. Partially because of the fact that, where it's a wisdom tooth, the tooth is so far back in my mouth it's going to be tricky to fix (the dentist did half consider just pulling it out, but - thankfully - decided there was enough tooth to save it). And partially because the couple of other teeth that I thought "might" be close to going the same way are (though it took the x-rays for the dentist to be sure). The plan is that if my wisdom tooth can be fixed quicker than planned then the others will be sorted the same day, but if not, then I'll have to go back for them to be done another day.

We also discussed the bottom wisdom teeth, which still wont - or can't - break through the gums. My new dentist - like my old dentist - thinks that as long as they aren't bothering me (which they aren't) then they should just be left alone. If they start hurting then I'll be sent in to hospital to have them removed (the only option when your gums have to be cut open to remove a tooth stuck under them). But if not then I'm to leave them alone, and they'll either find room to push through, or rot in the gums. Neither really sounds pleasant, but the "leave them alone, since they aren't hurting," option keeps me out of hospital, so I like it!

I guess this is my punishment for gloating about not having had to have much work done on my teeth, huh? Hmmm... I'd hoped I'd at least make it to 30 before I had to join the people who have to regularly make more than the "quick check-up" trips to the dentist. I guess it wasn't to be, LOL!

Willow's World: in a sort of snowy park

Hi humans. This is Willow. I thought that I would post a photo that was taken of me 2 weeks ago. It was when we were having walkies at the park when we still had some of the snow. All for now. Lots of licks, Willow

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kero's Korner: February 2012 grooming photos

Hi humans, this is Kero.

You may have noticed I'm going back to using "Kero's Korner" for my post titles? Well, Mami and I agreed it was a good idea. Willow has her "Willow's World" and I have my "Kero's Korner"... Seems only fair!

Anyway...

A couple of weeks ago a groomer came to the house. I've never known it happen that way, but it did this time; for some reason the humans decided that was how it should happen. Not that I'm complaining, after all, that meant I could have Mami with me while I was being groomed, and didn't have to go to a strange place where either Mami doesn't come, or Mami leaves me behind for ages and ages, then I get shut in a cage!

OK, I'm getting side-tracked. So... Back to the groomer lady.

She took some time to say, "hi," to both me and Willow, then she got her stuff out and did the grooming. Mami liked her, because she was good with me (didn't yell at me when I got all panicky, showed me everything before she used it on me, etc). My only issue with her was the fact she was a groomer, and groomers have this nasty habbit of bathing me, and I hate water! (I even prefer the grooming clippers to the bath).

Here I am looking all clean and at my most handsome:




They say the grooming lady is coming back in May (I think Mami said the 15th).

Anyway, this will do for today.

Licks and sniffs,
Kero

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Runic Ramblings

This week's "Pagan Blog Prompt" is the following:

Runes

Do you use them?
Which set of runes do you use (if something other than the Elder Futhark)?
How do you use them (divination, magic, as an alphabet for writing, etc)?

If you do not know/use the runes, are you interested in it?
What is keeping you from exploring them?


My thoughts:

I'd never given much thought to the runes; I'd think from time to time that it might be nice to learn to read them, but that's about it. Then AstraeaSapphire had a blog renaming contest, and I won. I had a choice of a set of runes or a tarot set as my prize. Well, I already have a set of tarot cards that I love, and have no desire to have another set, so I decided to go with the runes. I can't remember what set it is (and as they haven't arrived yet, I can't check), but I'm quite enthusiastic about the prospect of learning to read them.

Of course, then I ran in to the issue of how to identify which symbol is which. Runes are carved most of the time (and if the ones I won aren't, then my hubby - who also wants to learn to read them - will buy me a set that is, and have the set I won). But how was I going to figure out what the symbol was?

Rita reads the runes, and when I realized this - or, rather, was reminded of it - shortly after winning the rune set, I contacted her to ask for her help in making tactile symbols to become part of a chart I planned to make to solve the problem. The little clay tiles with symbols on them that Rita, her daughter-in-law, Leah, and (I think) her son, Dagan, made for me arrived just a couple of days ago. I will post photos when I can. Although, if you read Rita's blog then you'll have seen them already (and if you don't, you could go and look; the photos were posted a couple of weeks ago, though I don't remember exactly when).

Now I just need for Kelly (my hubby) to help me make the chart, and for my rune set to arrive, and then I'll be all ready to start learning to read the runes!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Crazy for chocolate?

Do you love chocolate?

If you answered yes, then you should check out Autumn's blog.

"Why?" you ask.

Well, because she's giving away free chocolate!

Yes, really!

Go look for yourself: http://thewhispersofautumn.blogspot.com/2012/02/crazy-for-chocolate-two-giveaways.html

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Courses and catch-up attempts

Other than the last 2 lessons for the "Fantasy Novel Writing" course, all the courses I'd signed up for before are finished, and I have all the lessons for them. When all but that one and another that was 15 lessons long were finished, I decided I'd sign up to get a few more courses. It's lucky they're courses you can do at your leisure, because I ended up signing up for:

Handmade Soapmaking
Herb Gardening
Historical Novel Writing
Horror Writing
Maths For Everyday Life
Numerology Principles
Opening Hooks
Pen Names And Pseudonyms
Penny Dreadfuls - A Litarary Tour
Permissions
Play Review Writing
Play Writing As An Art Form
Play Writing For Beginners
Play Writing - Script Process Introduction
Poetry As Health Therapy
Poetry For Beginners
Publishing The E-Way
Pulp Fiction Era

***

The "Herb Gardening" and "Poetry As Health Therapy" courses are already finished.

Many of them I'll probably never use, but - as I've said before, and probably will again - since they're free, and you can do them whenever, I'm grabbing any of the ones where I have even a vague interest in the subject. At least that way, should I change my mind in the future, I have them. Especially since we saw recently how easily the site could disappear, so who knows if it will be around should I decide in the future that I want to grab the courses after all, right?

***

OK, well... I've just spent a few hours catching up on blog posts from the last couple of days, so now I need to get to other things that I let myself get behind on somehow. I don't suppose you know what happened to the last couple of days? I lost them; I think the clock was on fast forward on Friday and Saturday or something!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The New Death and others

Death was enjoying a cigarette and some powdered baby formula ('more pure than mother's milk!') when the phone rang.
"Death speaking. Oh, hi Pestilence. How's your cold?"
"It's going great, thanks. It's turned into pneumonia."

~~~From "The New Death," one of the stories in "The New Death and others" by James Hutchings


Taking inspiration from authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith, James Hutchings has compiled an e-book containing a collection of short pieces of dark fantasy, which he approached me about a couple of days ago, asking if I would read and review his e-book. I agreed to do so; partially because I felt honoured for being asked to do so, but mostly because I love to read just about anything, with fantasy right near the top of the list (how near depends on the type of fantasy, and the type nearest the top depends on my current mood). But also because the offer of a free copy of the book in exchange for a review was a huge temptation for me. And since he was willing to convert it to a format of my choosing... Well, how could I say no? The answer is, I couldn't. So I told him that if he could send it as a text file then I'd be happy to read and review it. He kept his promise; an RTF (Rich Text Format) version of the e-book arrived in my inbox yesterday (Friday). Now I'm keeping my promise, which means posting a review of the book.

For those who aren't clear on some of the genres used in writing... As a general rule, dark fantasy refers to stories that focus on elements usually found in the horror genre, but which take place in a more fantasy type of setting, involve magic of some description, or involve characters more at home in fantasy stories. Anyway...

"I'll just read a story or 2, then I'll decide from that whether I want to read more tonight or will leave it until tomorrow to carry on," I told myself last night, settling down in front of my laptop (which was - thankfully - behaving for a while). A couple of hours later I had read the entire book, and found myself disappointed that there were no more tales to read.

The tales are what you would expect from the genre; tales of mystery and magic, or tales of creatures that belong in nightmares, or - more often than not - a combination of those things. If you're the kind of person who enjoys that, then I'm sure you will enjoy the book, as I myself did. James also managed to throw a dash of humour in there, which had me chuckling out loud on more than one occasion. He also brought some versions of older tales in to the 21st century; his version of "Rumpelstiltskin," for example... The old tale of Rumpelstiltskin that most - if not all - of us are familiar with, given a new twist with the complication of modern technologies.

I enjoyed reading it, and I'm glad I was given the oppertunity to do so; thank you, James!

Should you wish to get your hands on a copy of this e-book for yourself - or perhaps for a friend or family member who you think might enjoy it - I have been advised that you can do so by visiting any of the following three links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/New-Death-others-ebook/dp/B005Q8Q8DY
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/92126
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-new-death-and-others-james-hutchings/1106579897

You can also visit James' blog: http://www.apolitical.info/teleleli

***Note***: The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and not influenced in any way by anyone who exists outside of my own head.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Snow and ice at the park last week

When we had the first lot of snow this month I thought it was all gone by Tuesday morning, but when we took the dogs out I discovered I was wrong; though most of the snow was gone there was still some around. I told Kelly that if I'd known then I'd have brought the camera with us to get photos. Why is it you never have the camera when you need it? Anyway, it was the same out there the following day, so I grabbed the camera and persuaded Kelly to get this photo for me while we were walking in the park:


I was holding both dogs while he got the photo, so he took this photo too:


Anyway, this will do for today. Stay safe and warm (or cool, as the case may be).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What I made for the Valentine's Swap

Now I know Autumn has the items, I can reveal what I made for her for the Valentine's swap (for the benifit of those who are interested and follow my blog, but don't follow hers).

Here's the knitted dog I made:



I'm really pleased with how the dog turned out; I think it's my best knitted toy ever!

When I showed my Dad the photo he mentioned the orange-ish colouring to it, and pointed out that was due to the use of artificial lighting; said I should have taken it outside to get the photo. But since it was raining when we wanted to get the photo and I had to get it ready to be posted (as it was it only just made it in time for Valentine's Day) I can't really help that.

Anyway...

Here's the card:


There was a keyring I made too, but I forgot to get a photo of it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Magaly's "Sexy, Dark & Bloody" bloggerversary party

Magaly is celebrating her 3rd bloggerversary with us all by hosting a blog party.

The party's theme is all about having the freedom to express your creativity in the way that's right for you, rather than being forced to conform to the stereotypes created by the works and opinions of others in the past.

Why not check it out?

Just click on the banner below, or on my sidebar:



We'd love to have you join in!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine swap (FD)

Happy Valentine's Day to one and all! :)

This year I have something special to share with you.

You see, Autumn and I decided to do a Valentine swap together, and today I intend to share with you the contents of the package I received.

There were heart shaped chocolates:


(There has to be chocolate of some kind in a Valentine's Day package, doesn't there?)

I was really good and didn't scoff the lot at once; tempting though it was! ;)

Some roses:


Heart shaped cookie cutters in different sizes:


(Which I will probably use to make some heart shaped cookies today, actually).

A lovely teatowel decorated with hearts:


A book of recipes for people and pups:


And a vanilla scented sachet...


...Which was beautifully decorated with my name and some hearts:


Basically, a lot of great stuff!

Thank you Autumn for this special Valentine! :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Random question: the way love works

"If I lose the weight I need to lose, will you love what's left of me more?"

That was the question I asked Kelly the other day; for no other reason than because it popped in to my head and I was curious about what the answer might be (which, I think, is a good reason for asking a question).

The thing is...

Love expands and envelopes all as needed. So, I was wondering... If you love someone who's on the large side - weight wise - and said person loses the weight, would you love what there is of the person more? Does love work like a blanket; remaining the same size - though able to be added to if needs be - and wrapping around the person an extra time or two (covering them in extra layers of love)? Or does it work like skin; keeping an even layer of love on each part of the person, but stretching and shrinking as required to maintain that amount of love for each part?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's Christmas in February! (FD)

OK, so it's not Christmas really, but it sure felt like it this morning!

I was stood in our doorway while the dogs sniffed about outside, it was snowing, and the churchbells from one of the nearby churches were ringing merrily in the distance.

A few holiday lights, a couple of cookies, a mug of cocoa, and my favourite book of Christmas stories and I'd have had the makings for a perfect Christmas Eve!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quarter past eight on Saturday evening

It's Saturday evening, and we're almost half way through February... How did that happen?

My sleep pattern is back to being all over the place again, so I'm sleeping in snatches and feeling like I'm not getting anything done again. Funny thing is, I'm getting about as much done as I was while I was sleeping at night (though more writing and less crafts). I know I say this every time this happens (lately anyway) but... I wonder why it is I always feel like I've achieved more if I sleep at night and am up in the day? I wonder if maybe the fact it's a couple of hours of activity here, a couple there that's the issue this time? *Shrugs*

***

I now have all the lessons for the course on greeting card writing (which I can't be bothered to grab the link for; I posted the link in the post I did on the subject of courses just a couple of days ago though, so if you want to take a look then you can scroll down and the link will be right there for you). Hopefully the courses will continue to come; a couple should be finishing tomorrow, I think.

***

Sorry I haven't been on the blogs properly over the past couple of days. I've come and read posts, but I haven't commented because I couldn't be bothered with signing in. My laptop's been very tempremental and having to keep signing in was getting annoying. I'll come by and comment again soon though... Really!

This will do for tonight, since - due to laptop restarts - this has taken me ages to write.

Friday, February 10, 2012

New patient appointment

So, I had my "new patient appointment" for the doctor on Wednesday. Because of Kero's anxiety issues I had to go by myself; something I haven't done since before I lost the rest of my sight. It helps that we have a good taxi firm who are usually quite helpful, and who had no problem with dropping me off at and then picking me up from the reception desk on the correct floor of the building in which I was being seen. The receptionist was very helpful too, and I was quite impressed that she remembered me by name despite only having seen me once before (when we went to register).

Anyway, I'm sure you know the drill; blood pressure, weight, height, etc, all get checked.

First time they took my blood pressure it was 161 over 88, then it went down to 141 over 85, then 134 over 83. A bit higher than it should have been, but under the circumstances that wasn't too bad. To be honest, I actually expected it to be worse (it's been 170 over 90 quite often in the past).

As for my weight... I'm not as light as I'd have liked to have been when I went back to see a doctor, but I'm lighter than I was when I was last weighed by a doctor, even with the fact that last time I was given the oppertunity to remove my shoes, jacket and pocket contents (phone, wallet, etc) and this time I wasn't given time to do so. I knew I'd put back on a lot of what I'd managed to lose last year - that keeps happening; I lose some, I put most of it back on, I lose some, I put most of it back on, and so on - so I was actually pleased with what the scales said on Wednesday.

Anyway, that's that all sorted.

It's just a shame I forgot to ask them about refering me to an artificial eye person. *Shrugs helplessly* Ah well, it's not like that's urgent.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Mind-reading program translates brain activity into words

The research paves the way for brain implants that would translate the thoughts of people who have lost power of speech

Ian Sample, science correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 31 January 2012 21.59 GMT
Algorithms translated the brain activity associated with hearing 'Waldo', 'structure', 'doubt' and 'property' into recognisable words.

Scientists have picked up fragments of people's thoughts by decoding the brain activity caused by words that they hear.

The remarkable feat has given researchers fresh insight into how the brain processes language, and raises the tantalising prospect of devices that can return speech to the speechless.

Though in its infancy, the work paves the way for brain implants that could monitor a person's thoughts and speak words and sentences as they imagine them.

Such devices could transform the lives of thousands of people who lose the ability to speak as a result of a stroke or other medical conditions.

Experiments on 15 patients in the US showed that a computer could decipher their brain activity and play back words they heard, though at times the words were difficult to recognise.

"This is exciting in terms of the basic science of how the brain decodes what we hear," said Robert Knight, a senior member of the team and director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Potentially, the technique could be used to develop an implantable prosthetic device to aid speaking, and for some patients that would be wonderful. The next step is to test whether we can decode a word when a person imagines it. That might sound spooky, but this could really help patients. Perhaps in 10 years it will be as common as grandmother getting a new hip," Knight said. The study is published in the journal PLoS Biology.

The scientists ran tests on patients who were already in hospital for an operation to treat intractable epilepsy. In that procedure, patients have the top of their skull removed and a net of electrodes laid across the surface of their brain. Doctors use the electrodes to identify the precise trigger point of the patient's fit, before removing the tissue. Sometimes, patients wait for days before they have enough seizures to locate the source of the problem.

Scientist Brian Pasley enrolled 15 patients to take part. He played each a series of words for five to 10 minutes while recording their brain activity from the electrode nets. He then created computer programs that could recognise sounds encoded in the brain waves.

The brain seems to break sounds down into their constituent acoustic frequencies. The most important range for speech is 1-8,000 Hertz.

Pasley compared the technique to a pianist who can hear a piece in their mind just by knowing which keys are played.

He next played a collection of new words to the patients to see if the algorithms could pick out and repeat recognisable words. Among them were words such as "Waldo", "structure", "doubt" and "property".

The scientists got their best results when they recorded activity in the superior temporal gyrus, part of the brain that sits to one side, above the ear.

"I didn't think it could possibly work, but Brian did it," said Knight. "His model can reproduce the sound the patient heard and you can actually recognise the word, though not at a perfect level."

The prospect of reading minds has led to ethical concerns that the technology could be used covertly or to interrogate criminals and terrorists.

Knight said that is in the realm of science fiction. "To reproduce what we did, you would have to open up someone's skull and they would have to co-operate." Making a device to help people speak will not be easy. Brain signals that encode imagined words could be harder to decipher and the device must be small and operate wirelessly. Another potential headache is distinguishing between words a person wants to say and thoughts they would rather keep private.

Jan Schnupp, professor of neuroscience at Oxford University called the work "remarkable".

"Neuroscientists have long believed that the brain works by translating aspects of the external world, such as spoken words, into patterns of electrical activity. But proving that this is true by showing that it is possible to translate these activity patterns back into the original sound – or at least a fair approximation – is nevertheless a great step forward. It paves the way to rapid progress toward biomedical applications," he said.

"Some may worry though that this sort of technology might lead to mind-reading devices which could one day be used to eavesdrop on the privacy of our thoughts. Such worries are unjustified. It is worth remembering that these scientists could only get their technique to work because epileptic patients had cooperated closely and willingly with them, and allowed a large array of electrodes to be placed directly on the surface of their brains.

"We can rest assured that our skulls will remain an impenetrable barrier for any would-be technological mind hacker for any foreseeable future," he added.

Taken from http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jan/31/mind-reading-program-brain-words.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Furkid thoughts: "No, Mami, I want that one!"

Hi humans, it's Kero here.

Well, I think you know that Willow's here? I'm not sure why, and neither is she. Neither of us can figure out how the humans' minds work and why they do some things. All we know is that Willow is here, Willow's stuff is here, and both Willow and her stuff look as though they're staying for a long time. Mami says Willow will probably be here for good, but you never can tell with humans!

Anyway...

The other day the humans got us a toy each. You'll have seen Willow's if you read the post she put on Dadi's blog yesterday; there's a photo of her with Mami and the toy.

They - the humans, I mean - tried to give me that Scooby Doo, but I wasn't having it. I got really upset, and Dadi didn't know what was wrong. Mami was quick to figure it out though, and switched the toys (since Willow doesn't care as long as she gets something) and I was happy then. After spending a few minutes playing with it, I sat on the sofa and dropped it beside me to wait for a photo. Mami sat it up, and Dadi took the photo. Here it is:


Yes, my new toy is a bear. I decided I wanted a bear much more than I wanted a Scooby Doo toy. I just didn't want the Scooby Doo!

After the photo was taken I played with my bear some more, then curled up for a nap with it. I've been cuddling with it on and off ever since. Willow's a bit upset because she wants it, but it's mine and she's not having it, so there!

Here's another photo of me taken recently; I'm sitting on the bed that the humans keep insisting is theirs for some reason, despite the fact that they are, of course, mistaken. I just allow them to share it because they're nice and warm to curl up with.


Anyway, before I end this post I have one more photo to show you. It's me taking a nap on the sofa... I needed the blanket; it's been quite cold lately!



Speaking of naps, I could use one right now... Don't forget - if you haven't already - to go to my Dadi's blog and take a look at Willow's post that she did yesterday; I'm pretty sure she also did one just before I came to do mine today, so you might want to read that too. Personally, I'm going to bed to rest up for walkies!

Licks and sniffs,
Kero

Willow's World: new stuff

Hi humans, it's Willow again. OK, I know I only posted yesterday, but I have a couple more photos for you all. They are a bit dark (sorry) but the bedroom is a bit dark and it is not easy to get photos of a dark dog in a dark room on a dark bed. The humans wanted to show you photos of me on my new bed though. So here are the photos. The bed itself is grey but you can't see it since the blue blankets are over it. I also have a new set of bowls. One is grey and the other dark blue. We didn't bother to get photos of those though. They are plastic bowls which Kero tells me is done in this house because otherwise the bowls would get broken too easily. I asked him why but he has no idea and says that's just what the humans say. The bed, blankets (there are two blankets which are both the same colour) and bowls came in a big box on Monday. Our pal Iggy had it sent to me. Isn't he nice? Thanks Iggy! Lots of licks, Willow

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Willow's World: some photos from a confused dog

Hi humans. This is Willow. For some reason that I don't understand I am now with Kero and his humans. I don't know where my Mami is. It seems like a nice place to live (Tori especially has always been nice to me) so I will just focus on that as I have given up trying to figure out why these humans do things. I am 7 now, and still don't understand. All I know for sure right now is that Kero's humans say they will now be my humans. Oh, and also that I have some photos for you. Here I am napping with Kero on the sofa. And napping by myself on the sofa. And here I am walking with the Kelly human at the park. There are some good smells at the park. Here I am sniffing some of them. I was very pleased when I saw the park. It is very big with lots of running room and has a big bit of water. For some reason I can't find a way to get in to the big bit of water. I will keep trying though. There has got to be a way through that fence! Anyway, here I am with the Tori human and the Scooby Doo teddy these humans got for me. That was before I pulled one of Scooby Doo's eyes out of course. And one last photo. Here I am playing in some snow with the Tori human. She was throwing snowballs and I was catching them and eating them. I love that game! This will do from me for today. Lots of licks, Willow

Course related chatter

From what I can gather the site I was getting my courses from (E-Mail College) was temporarily suspended because of late payment for their domain name or something like that. Anyway, it's up and running again so I figured I'd have another go with signing up for those courses. So I'm now signed back up for the following courses:

Fairy Tales
Fantasy & Sci Fi Worlds
Fantasy Genre - An Introduction
Fantasy Novel Writing
Film Reviewing
Flash Fiction
Freewriting A Book
Getting Your Non-Fiction Published
Ghost Writing
Gothic Fiction

And I also signed up for their course on Greeting Card Writing.

I figure I may as well try them again since they're back up and running. I mean, I would like to get all the courses I want from them (which is most of them, if I'm honest). But, the lessons either come or they don't. We'll see. Of course, with all but the Greeting Card Writing one I have the first 7 days of them - since I hadn't gotten around to deleting them; which I'm glad about now (or will be if I do manage to get the rest, because of sorting them in to text documents) - but it would be nice to have the lot (especially with those couple that only have 8 lessons, meaning I'm only a lesson short). The first 3 lessons for each have shown up anyway; the first Sunday, the 2nd yesterday, the 3rd today. So that's a good start. Let's hope that from now on we don't get any issues and I can collect the rest.

Anyway...

While that site was down, I found a free 3 day writing course on Creative Writing Now, so I signed up for that too, and now I have those lessons as well. The course was called "Endless Story Ideas" and - like I said - was a free 3 day course.

That site also has some free writing tips and story starters. It does also have a few other courses which I haven't signed up for because they appear to cost money, and - while they aren't all that expensive - I want to avoid paying out money I don't need to. Enough of it needs to get paid out right now as it is! Besides, even if I don't end up getting the rest of those courses from e-mail college, I have several to be getting on with, and a few ideas bouncing about in my head of their own free will. And I think my struggle to fit everything in to my day that I want to most days shows I'm not exactly stuck for things to do these days, between craft projects, the courses I have, walks with the dogs, household chores, various writing projects, etc... Well, I'm not bored, that's for sure! ;)

Monday, February 06, 2012

YAY! Snow... Finally!

When we went to bed Saturday night the promised snow still hadn't come, despite all the times people had pointed out the snowclouds when we were out on our walks. I was actually starting to think we'd miss out on snow this year. That's why I didn't bother going out to check for snow when I let Kero out just before 7:00 am Sunday morning

Of course, since I didn't go out to check, it was only when Kelly opened the door to take Willow out a little over an hour later that I learned that there was snow!

I dashed out to see - dressed in PJs, a dressing gown and the flipflops I keep by the back door for if I need to slip something on my feet quickly - and discovered that there was, indeed snow out there. A couple of inches, in fact.

Here are a couple of photos we took of the snow covered cars:



OK, I know, it's only about 2 inches, but it was enough for me to throw a few snowballs for Willow to eat, and it was "real" snow. you know? The proper fluffy kind!

Some of the neighbours told me that when we get snow it doesn't stay more than "a day or so" before it melts in to slush. I'm assuming it's the salt in the air from the sea? Anyway, I know that's a common thing near the ocean, which is why I wasn't sure if we'd even get snow. But we did!

Kelly tried to take the dogs out (it's hard for me in the snow, since it's even more difficult for me than it is for most people to tell the difference between path and grass in the snow, and it's not easy for most people) but neither dog went far. I know in Kero's case it was because he wasn't sure he even wanted to be out in the snow; he thought Willow and I were mental for playing in it, and decided watching from the window was a much better idea. I'm not surprised; he decided last year he was too mature for such foolishness as playing in the snow. *Shrugs* If that's how he feels then fine; more snow for me and Willow to play in, LOL!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Celebrating Imbolc 2012 (FD)

On the evening of February 1st I had a dinner of pasta with cheese sauce, then did the "Imbolc end-of-Winter meditation" I posted on my blog that evening. Then I went to bed, since the rest of what I planned to do would be happening the next day.

The morning of February 2nd arrived, and it was a cold one. The wind was bitter, and despite the blue sky there was no warmth to be felt from the sun. Still, Kelly took Willow for her morning walk, and when they got back, Kero and I set out for ours.

I decided to take the camera with me and try and get some shots. I wasn't sure how well I'd done, since I didn't want to spend too long trying to aim the camera; it was hard to use it through my gloves, so to do so I had to remove them, and staying still made it seem even colder out there than it had while I was walking. I wanted some photos though, so I put up with it long enough to take some.

I took this one as Kero and I walked through the archway to enter the park:


The lawn in the photo is the bit of grass Kero and I walk around before leaving through the same entrance we entered when we go to the park on our own.

Most of the trees are still bare:



Though there is some green to be seen in the park, since some trees are green year round. Here's a green tree for anyone who's longing for the sight of green things:


I believe this was taken while I was standing the opposite side of the grass, with my back to the pond:


I know this one was definately taken with me standing with my back to the pond:


When we got back I had a nice mug of cocoa to warm up, then settled down to read my book on candle making in hopes of memorizing as much as I could before beginning the task. Then, when I was ready to do so, I went and made some candles:



They're rather nobbly looking; especially the two in the photo with the one in the glass container. The book says that can happen if you don't quite have the wax warm enough, and since I don't have a thermometer I had no way of knowing the wax's temperature (ordinary thermometers may not cost much, but talking ones do, hence my not having one). Apart from being rather nobbly looking though, I don't think I did too bad of a job for my first attempt at candle making. What do you think?

Before dinner Kelly, Kero, Willow and I went for another walk.

I wasn't sure at that point if I'd managed to get any shots worth keeping, so I asked Kelly to get a photo for me, and this is the one he took:


And that's how I celebrated Imbolc this year.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

My thoughts on 3 recent Pagan blog prompts (FD)

As some of you may know, I follow a site called "Pagan Blog Prompts" and sometimes do the prompts they post. Well, I have some thoughts on a couple of recent ones, so I decided that they would make suitable subjects for today's post, and that the article I was going to share can wait for another day. Here are the prompts and my thoughts:

Prompt: Meditation
Posted 12/08/2011
"Do you meditate? How?

Does it help you deal with things? Or do you do it for clarification on tough issues?

Do you include any sort of meditation when working rituals?"

My thoughts:
I meditate for a couple of different reasons. Sometimes it's to clear my mind for stress relief, sometimes it's to help me sort out my thoughts and work things out, sometimes it's as part of a ritual. It all depends. I'd like to make it a daily habit to meditate - even if just for a short time - but that has so far not happened. As for the rituals; most of the rituals I do at least involve a small amount of meditation. In fact, most of the time I tend to lean towards the types of rituals where I have a few items on my altar but the main focus is on the meditation on the particular thing I'm trying to achieve. I prefer the rituals involving quiet meditation to the flashy type of ritual, if you know what I mean. This is one of the reasons that - despite his being Pagan too - Kelly and I decided that doing rituals together is not an option for us as a rule; he's never really gotten the hang of quiet meditation, and prefers an altar full of props and some words to call out to the universe, rather than the quiet meditation and visualization with very few props that I prefer.

***

Prompt: All in the Genes?
Posted 1/19/2012
"This may seem a bit weird, but....

Is it hereditary?

I had to think about my wording on this one... I had to leave it vague, because I wanted it to be as open to interpretation as possible.

What I'm referring to here can be magic, witchcraft, spirituality, the things you can do that others around you cannot, etc. Another way to put it might be "Do you come from a family of Witches?" but that only works if you see yourself as a witch. Get what I'm trying to say here?

What you do and who you are - did it come from your bloodline? Or is it something you discovered and nurtured on your own?"

My thoughts:
Being exposed to something as a child because your parents are involved with it can sometimes increase the chances of you being involved in it, but other times it can encourage you to shy away from that particular activity. I think the same can be said with someone's faith. I mean, some Pagan parents have children who grow up to be Pagan, others have children who grow up to follow other paths; just as parents of other paths have children who grow up to follow their path, and others have children who grow up to become Pagan. I think sometimes "gifts" (such as the ability to "see" things; by which I mean premonitions - in waking life or in dreams - etc) can be passed down through the bloodline, but I think it's the choice of the person in question whether or not they decide to nurture said gifts, and I think the decision to do so has little to do with their genes.

***

Prompt: Simplicity
Posted 1/26/2012
"A very common thing these days is to simplify our lives, in many different ways and for many different reasons.

Has being a pagan/wiccan/druid/etc inspired you to be simplistic? How?"

My thoughts:
Ah... A simple life; yes, I would like to - and, indeed, try to - achieve such a thing. I don't think I can be sure though how much my spirituality influences that wish. On the one hand I think it might influence it, even if just a little, and that it's my desire to live in harmony with the Earth that makes me crave the simple life. On the other hand, I can't help thinking it's just that with everyone rushing about and all the stress everyone's under these days, I just want a simple life to get away from that and be left alone. Whatever the reason, however, I do try and live as simple a life as possible; making things by hand when it's an option to do so, re-using what I can, etc. And if it was an option for me to do so, I would love to own my own bit of land where I could have chickens for eggs, goats for milk, and space to grow the other things I'd need. Unfortunately that isn't an option for me.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Furkid thoughts: 2 new Kero photos

Hi humans, it's Kero here.

I just thought I'd share a couple more photos. So, here you go...




This will have to do for today; more from me soon though!

Licks and sniffs,
Kero

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Story: MEAGAN'S IMBOLC

By Kathryn Dyer

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Meagan. She lived with her mommy and daddy, her big brother Corwin and her beautiful cat named Starweaver.

Meagan was waiting for her daddy to pick her up from school one day. It was cold and she was very unhappy. She couldn't wait for her daddy to get her to help her feel better. Soon she saw her daddy standing at the doorway. She ran to hug him. "Whoa there," said Michael, "You almost ran me over! What's the matter honey?" He lifted Meagan's chin and looked into her tear-filled eyes. "Some, some other kids called me names today!" cried Meagan. "Oh, honey," said Michael as he gathered her up into his arms, "Let's go get into the car and you can tell me all about it. It looks like it really hurt your feelings." Meagan nodded and hurried into her coat.

Once she and Michael were in the car she started to tell him about her 'most awfullest day'. She told her daddy how she had been telling her best friend Cindy about making candles for Imbolc. Some other kids overheard her and started calling her 'witch' in very mean voices. On the way home Meagan cried and cried. Her daddy started to look very upset himself.

When they got home, they found Corwin sitting in the living room playing the recorder that he had gotten for Christmas. "There you are!" said Corwin, looking rather disgusted, "Dad, do you know what she did? She went blabbing all over school about being a witch. Two of the guys in my class were talking about it. Why does she have to be such a big blabbermouth?!" Michael looked at Corwin sternly and said, "Meagan was talking to Cindy about making candles for Imbolc, I hardly think that counts as blabbing all over school. Do you remember how hard it was for you to keep from telling everyone about rituals when you were her age? Meagan feels very hurt because some kids don't understand our religion and were making fun of her. As I recall, you felt the same way when the boys down the street teased you about learning to cook even though you like cooking. I think you'd better go up to your room and do your homework while your mother and I talk to Meagan about what happened." Corwin looked at the floor, "Sorry Meagan. I'll tell mom you're in here on my way upstairs." and with that he slunk out of the room.

Meagan's mother Elizabeth came into the room frowning just as Meagan settled onto her daddy's lap in the big armchair by the fireplace. "Oh my," she said as she saw Meagan's teary face, "Corwin said that you'd been teased at school today. What happened honey?" Meagan snuffled her nose and took a deep breath, "I was telling Cindy about making candles for Imbolc and she asked me what it was and I was telling her when some stupid boys overheard me and started calling me a witch!"

Meagan burst into tears again because remembering made her feel bad again. Michael kissed the top of her head. "I know that it's hard when other people say things to try to hurt us," he said, "Why do you think they were teasing you?" "Because they're mean!!" said Meagan. Elizabeth took her hand and said, "I don't think that's it honey. Do you remember when we told you why you shouldn't talk to Gramma Lee and Granpa Scott about rituals?"

Meagan nodded, "Uh-uh, 'cus they're Christian and they're scared that we'll go to hell and so they get really mad when we talk about it." Meagan's parents smiled at each other. "That's right Meagan. They don't understand why we are pagans and when people don't understand things sometimes they get mad instead. Lot's of people are afraid of things they don't understand but they don't like being afraid and so they'll get mad to keep from being so afraid", said Elizabeth, "Do you think that those boys understand what being a Pagan is?" Meagan shook her head.

Michael hugged her close. "Are you feeling a little better?" he asked. "Yeah, I guess so", said Meagan. "Well", said her daddy, "What would you like to do about this? Do you think that we should talk to your teacher, or to the boys?" Meagan thought about it. The boys teasing did make her feel bad but she knew that she was not a bad person and she really liked going to rituals. "No", she said to her parents, "Maybe if we leave them alone for awhile they will not bother me. When Bobby teased me about my hair at day camp I just pretended like he wasn't there and pretty soon he stopped doing it. Maybe these boys will do the same thing." Her parents smiled at her. "That's a really good idea Meagan", said Michael, "Let's leave them alone for awhile and see what happens."

Elizabeth stood up, "So are you in a good enough mood to make candles now?" she asked. "Oh yes!" said Meagan, her face brightening as she jumped up from Michael's lap. Meagan and her mother went into the kitchen. Just then, Corwin came thumping down the stairs with something in his hand. "Here Meagan," he said handing her a small circle of metal, "I was saving this for your birthday, but I thought it might cheer you up. I'm sorry I called you a blabbermouth". Meagan looked at the disc in her hand. It had her name on one side and runes on the other. "Thank-you Corwin", she said, "What do the runes mean?" "Oh," said Corwin, "This one stands for you and this one is for protection and this one is for happiness.

So, mom, are we going to make candles now?" Elizabeth nodded, "Remember to keep away from the stove Meagan, it's going to be very hot!" They all worked hard to make candles for Imbolc. They made green for the earth, yellow for air, red for fire, blue for water and purple for spirit. They also made white candles for the Lady and Her Lord. Meagan helped pick out the scents for the candles. She had been studying oils told her mother to add patchouly for earth. She decided they should add lavender for air and cedar for fire. Meagan wanted lilac for water and sandalwood for spirit. But she couldn't decide which oils to use for the God and the Goddess.

She looked at the list of oils in her parent's Book of Shadows. The Book of Shadows contained lots of information, like rituals and lists of herbs, oils and runes. She saw that carnation and jasmine both stood for Imbolc. Carnation was listed as a masculine herb and jasmine was a feminine herb. When she asked her mother what that meant, Elizabeth told her that masculine meant 'male' and feminine meant 'female'. So Meagan decided they should put carnation and jasmine in the candles for the Lord and Lady.

"Momma", asked Meagan, "Why *do* we make candles for Imbolc?" Elizabeth set aside the hot wax. "Well," she said, "do you remember what I said about what we celebrate at Imbolc?" Meagan nodded, "We're celebrating because Winter is starting to go away and Spring is coming back." "That's right," said Elizabeth, "and we light candles to remind the Sun to come back to us. On Saturday we'll have an Imbolc ritual and light all the candles so that the Sun will know where to come back. If you remember to take a nap on Saturday you can stay up and go to Circle with us." Meagan was excited. She loved to go to Circle and she especially loved to sing the chants to honor the gods.

Just then, Starweaver jumped onto the table. "Oh no!," cried Elizabeth, "Star, get down, you might get hurt by the hot wax! Meagan, you'd better take him outside so he'll be safe. The candles will have to cool and harden now. Corwin can help me clean up." Meagan picked up Starweaver the way her parents had taught her, holding him under his chest and holding his back legs so that he would feel safe. She and Starweaver went outside to play.

Soon, it was Saturday. The boys at school were still teasing Meagan but because she didn't pay any attention to them they weren't finding it as much fun as they had at first. It still made Meagan feel bad and she had written a story about how she felt and that made her feel better.

On Saturday Meagan helped her brother Corwin put the candles all around the family room. In the winter their Coven met in the family room because it was too cold to circle outside. Meagan saw their High Priest Jeremy put a fire extinguisher by the place where the gate to the circle would be. That made her feel better since there would be so many candles lit tonight. Soon it was time for ritual. Meagan took a bath and got into her robe.

When she went downstairs she saw that all the candles had been lit. The regular lights were out and the room looked like a fairyland.

After circle everyone helped clean up. Meagan yawned. She went over to Isabella who had been made an initiate in their tradition. Isabella had been studying a long time to learn all the things that their tradition said a first degree initiate should know. Meagan knew that she had to wait until she was grown up before she could become an initiate. In their tradition a person had to be 18 before they could become an inititate but Meagan's mother told her that she could go ahead and learn many of the things that an initate had to know. She was already learning about oils and herbs and things.

Meagan went to kiss her mother goodnight. Just as she was going to kiss her father she yawned even bigger than before. Michael smiled at her, "Excuse me everyone, I think a little girl needs a proper escort to bed". He picked her up and carried her to her bed.

As Michael tucked her in, Starweaver jumped onto the bed. Meagan cuddled up with him to go to sleep. She decided to dream about the magic land of pancakes where the rivers are made of syrup and all the leaves are different flavored pancakes. When her mother came into check on her she was sound asleep with a smile on her face.

Her week had started out bad, but ended up very, very good.

(Click here to see the page that I got the story "Meagan's Imbolc" from).

Activity and ritual ideas for Imbolc

Imbolc is a time of celebration and ritual, often honoring Brighid, the goddess of the hearth. This is also a time of new beginnings and of purification. Celebrate the Imbolc season by performing rites and rituals that honor the themes of the end of winter.

Imbolc Activities:
*Place a lighted candle in each and every window of the house, beginning at sundown *on Candlemas Eve (February 1) , allowing them to continue burning until sunrise.
*Hold a candle-making party and then bless all the candles you'll be using for the whole year.
*This is one of the traditional times for initiations and rededications into the Craft.
*Take a hike and Search for Signs of Spring.
*Decorate a plough and place on your doorstep.
*Perform rites of spiritual cleansing and purification.
*Weave "Brigit's crosses" from straw or wheat to hang around the house for protection.
*Make a potpourri for Imbolc by taking a piece of fabric, filling with dried leaves, pine cones, and fruit peels. Tie with a ribbon.
*Research Fire Deities of your Tradition or pantheon.
*Private Meditation and/or Ritual
*Read stories about Groundhog's day, Fire, or even try reading some poetry.


***
Imbolc Circle Notes:
*Use a brown altar cloth to symbolize the Earth, and decorate with narcissus, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, or other seasonal flowering bulbs.
*Anoint white candles with musk oil and place them in ivy-covered candle rings. *Burn Imbolc incense.
*After casting the Circle with the wand, use the besom to sweep the perimeter. As you sweep, say: "With this besom filled with power, Sweep away the old and sour. Sweep away the chill of death, As winter draws its last cold breath. Round, round, round about, Sweep the old and useless out!"
*After libation, bless the candles for the coming months saying: "I bless thee creatures of wax and light, and cast out negativity. Serve your purpose, flaming bright, infused with magick, you shall be. Instruments of light and strength, wic and wax though you may be, I give you life of needed length. To aid in creativity!"
*Continue circle in the normal manner.

Imbolc Celebration Ideas:
*Tie three small ears of corn together with a white satin ribbon, then wrap the bundle in a white doily to represent Brid. Use a clear quartz crystal point to represent the Young Lord. As you place them in the basket, say: "The Maid and Lord now bring us light, The winter dies, and all is bright! And as They lie in bed so near, The frozen ground does disappear - For Their love brings fertility, To the Earth again; so mote it be!"
*Burn all evergreen decorations from the Yule ritual. This ensures good luck in the coming year.
*Tie small bundles of straw together with pieces of black ribbon. Name each bundle for something you want to remove from your life, then burn it in the cauldron.
*After libation, walk outdoors for a few moments. Remember the warmth of spring. Then trace the male and female symbols (the symbols for Mars and Venus) on the ground and enclose them in a circle, say: "Encased in Sun, Your light shall shine, And guide the spring toward greening time. And as your hearts both melt in love, To light grows stronger from above."

***

Imbolc
Warm blessings to you all! The Light has been reborn and is growing in strength to warm us all. 'Imbolc' is a term which means "ewes milk"; this is the time of year that pregnant sheep begin to lactate, a sure sign that spring is coming. It is a season of faith and hope that the sun will once again warm us all and bring new life.

This is a season of staying indoors, and to our ancestors it was the time of busy hands. After the rush of making and buying Solstice gifts and cookies, sending cards, and visiting with family and friends, our ancestors were often indoors in the cold winter months until the planting could begin again in the spring. 'Tis the season for handicrafts of all sorts! Interior home repair, woodworking, needlework of all varieties. This is the time of year candles were made, baskets woven, and wool spun into thread and yarn to make clothing and household items. All of these activities helped decorate the home and kept everyone busy. It is also a perfect time of year for developing psychic ability and creating a new meditation practice.

Brigit, a Celtic Fire Goddess, is remembered this time of year as she keeps the hearth fires burning, keeping everyone warm. Hopefully firewood and food stores will hold out until warmer weather comes again. We gather around the fire with our various projects, telling stories and enjoying the companionship of those present, and planning the months to come. What seeds will be planted at the Equinox..... what goals do each of us have for the coming year, what projects will be completed?

IMBOLC ACTIVITIES:

Learn a new handicraft to keep your hands busy in front of the fire or chatting with friends and family; take up a needlecraft, woodworking, scrapbooking.
Call a local food shelter and ask what items they need this week. Often, though they are inundated at Solstice, their storage areas are empty by February.
AN IMBOLC RECIPE:
Dairy foods are appropriate for this time of year, as is anything that reminds you of the sun - spicy foods, colorful foods. February can be a time of scarcity. Here's a good clean-out-the-fridge recipe for a hearty soup. All you need to add is a piece of crusty bread for a warming meal.

Imbolc Vegetable Soup
A third to a half head of cabbage, chopped
1 can tomatoes, diced
a can of beans, whatever you have or like
green beans, carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, corn - whatever you can find; fresh, canned or frozen

Here's the fun part - you can flavor it to suit your mood. Leave it as is to enjoy the flavors of the vegetables. Spice it up with cumin & cayenne. Or add coriander and turmeric for an Indian effect. Make it thicker, like a stew, and add raisins. Experiment and Enjoy!

***

Sources:
http://www.angelfire.com/wa3/angelline/imbolc_activities.htm
http://www.angelfire.com/wa3/angelline/imbolc_rituals.htm
http://www.matrifocus.com/IMB02/hearth.htm

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Imbolc End-of-Winter Meditation

Say Farewell to the Dark Half of the Year

This meditative journey is one you can read ahead of time, and then recall as you meditate, or you can record yourself reading it aloud, and listen to it as a guided meditation later on. You can even read it aloud as part of a group ritual. The ideal place to perform this meditation is somewhere outside -- try to pick a day that's warm, or at the very least sunny. Go out in your garden, or sit under a tree in a park, or find a quiet spot near a stream.

Visualize yourself walking along a path. You are traveling through a forest, and as you walk, you notice that the trees are covered with the vibrant hues of autumn. There are reds, oranges, and yellows everywhere. A few leaves have fallen on the ground beside you, and the the air is cool and crisp. Stand for a moment, and take in the scent of fall.

As you continue down the path, you see the sky getting darker. The air has become more brisk, and the leaves are gently falling around you. Soon, the trees are bare, and there is a crunching sound beneath you. When you look down, the leaves are no longer bright with autumn's colors. Instead, they are brown and brittle, and there is a light touch of frost on them. Winter has arrived. Breathe deeply, so that you can smell and taste the difference in the air.

The darkness is full now, but above you there is a full moon lighting your way. A snowflake falls in front if you, drifting down ever so slowly. Soon another drifts down, and another. As you walk further, the snow begins to fall heavily. The crunch of your feet on the leaves is muffled, and soon you can't hear anything at all. A blanket of pure white snow covers the forest floor, and everything is quiet, and still. There is a sense of magic in the air -- a feeling of being in some other, special place. The real world has vanished with the sun, and all that remains now is you, and the darkness of winter. The snow glistens in the moonlight, and the night is cold. You can see your breath before you in the moonlit air.

As you continue through the forest, you begin to see a faint glimmer of light ahead. Unlike the silvery light of the moon, this is red and bright. You are beginning to get colder now, and the idea of warmth and light is promising. You walk on, and the red light draws closer. There is something special about it, something of relief and change and warmth.

You walk through the snow, up a steep path, and the snow is now up to your knees. It is becoming more difficult to travel, and you're cold. All you want, more than anything, is a warm fire, and some hot food, and the companionship of your loved ones. But it seems that there is nothing but you and the snow and the night. It seems as though the light has grown closer, and yet is still unreachable. Eventually, you give up -- there's no reaching it, and you just keep walking through the snow.

As you come over the hillside, though, something happens. The forest is no longer surrounding you -- in fact, there are only a few trees left on this side of the hill. Off in the distance, to the east, the sun is rising. You continue on the path, and the snow fades away. No longer are you walking through great drifts -- instead, you are on a muddy track, crossing an open field. In the meadow are tiny buds. Grass is peeking up from the dead, brown earth. Here and there, a cluster of bright flowers appears beside a stone, or beside the path. As you walk, the sun rises higher and higher, bright and orange in its glory. Its warmth embraces you, and soon your night of cold and darkness is forgotten.

Spring has come, and new life abounds. Flowers and vines are beginning to grow, and the earth is no longer dead and brown, but vibrant and fertile. As you walk in the sun's warmth, you realize that winter has truly left you, and that you are renewed and reborn once more.

Stand and bask in the light for a few minutes. Meditate on what sort of abundance you are looking forward to this season. Think about what you will plant in your own garden, and what new life you will bring forth.

Source: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/dreamsandmeditation/a/EndofWinterMed.htm

Midweek medley (FD)

While my Mam was here I helped her grab photos of Harrison and Emma off her phone and get them posted on her blog. So if you want to see them, go on over and take a look.

***

Mam wanted to go in to Hastings while she was visiting, so we left Kelly and Kero to see to Willow (who is a 7 year old Black Labrador; for the bemifit of those who don't know or don't remember) and Mam and I went in on the train, leaving her car outside here, since we figured it would be easier than trying to find a parking space in Hastings. We went around a couple of shops, went in a cafe to have a drink and bite to eat, then headed home. We got a taxi home though.

Then Mam - who was tired from her drive down and trip in to Hastings - took a nap. Kelly and I were both going to take the dogs out, but he offered to do both, and I wasn't going to argue. So, Kelly walked first one and then the other of the dogs and I spent some time with whichever dog he wasn't walking at the time, while texting Iggy. Who, by the way, is - if you don't know - an absolutely wonderful friend, who I feel very lucky and greatful to know!

At some point in the evening - I don't know when, and don't suppose it matters... I know it was a while after dinner though - Mam and I took the dogs out. Willow has already managed to figure out roughly which way it is to the park, LOL!

***

It snowed the whole time we were in Hastings, but none of it settled anywhere, really. Everyone except for me was pleased about that. I mean, I'm pleased in a way because it snowed a fair bit but we didn't end up with the issues snow usually brings (bad driving conditions, etc) but on the other hand... Well, I wanted enough snow to play in it! Maybe it will snow more soon? *Looks hopeful*

***

This morning Mam stayed with the dogs so Kelly and I could go and get ourselves registered with the dentist and doctor. Yeah, I know... Finally!

We have "new patient appointments" for the doctor next week (Kelly on the 6th, me on the 8th) and for the dentist later in the month (me on the 16th, Kelly on the 20th).

I told the dentist about my broken tooth, but the 16th was the soonest they could see me because, "all new patient appointments are required to be 45 minut appointments, and that is the first available 45 minut slot there is." Still, I've waited this long to get it sorted, so what's another couple of weeks, right?

***

Now Mam's gone, Willow's fast asleep on the sofa, and Kero's fast asleep on the back of the armchair, which I'm currently sitting in (and I think it's me being sat in the chair that's the reason he's on the back and not actually in it). So, while both of them are happy and asleep, I think I'll go see what's new on the blogs.