Vintage flowers

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice/Yule, everyone! Well we're all still here, and so is the world, so I think that's pretty good cause for a celebration. Also, it was the last day of work before the holidays, which is a pretty good reason to celebrate, too ;)

Today dawned beautiful and bright with a fresh dusting of snow and not-very cold, just a mere -5 in my neck of the woods. A perfect reminder that the dark days of winter will not last forever. Awesome boss let us all go at noon today, so I toddled off downtown to do some shopping and grab some lunch. I walked down the forest path that leads back to town, and along the quite side streets when I perfect solstice moment.

The scene in front of me

A beautiful bluebird day with the mountains shining bright and white with their new coat of snow. The sun was warm on my back, and I had to squint against the glittering snow. Quiet. Peaceful. Perfect.

 Yule is a time when we celebrate the return of the Sun and welcome it back into our lives. Today I felt as though the sun was welcoming me back into it's life - he was happy to see me out and about and enjoying his presence, instead of scuttling from building to building, from one job to another, to home, to bed. Today was a promise: the days ahead may still be dark and cold, but I am still here. I will return. It was a perfect moment.

To top it all off, the world didn't end AND there is an "Ecumenical Solstice Celebration" happening in the next town over! I'll be heading over to that after dinner to celebrate tonight. Wherever you are, however you worship, I wish you all a Very Happy Yule. May your celebrations be merry and bright.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ackbar's Fishsticks

Thanks to the boyfriend's alarm on his phone this morning, I have now had this stuck in my head all day. Time to share the love!

Friday, December 07, 2012


I will confess to being a bit of a spiritual and intellectual zombie for the past month. I've just been shuffling along from one day to the next, one job to the next, from rehearsal to the couch to bed without really engaging with anything on a deeper level. I read the usual blog posts, of course, but nothing really flipped the switches in my noggin.

My immune system was walloped with a food-poisoning-and-cold one-two punch in the last week, which has knocked me firmly on my backside and has me taking some much needed time to regain perspective. Lo and behold, no sooner did I do so, fun new fascinating concepts fall into my lap. Yay!

A possibly-former-Catholic and definitely queer past boss/now facebook friend of mine posted a link to a video about the Catholic Church and it's secrety history on sex, abortion, and birth control, which has just got my mind a-whirring. I won't post the entire video here (it's 45 mins long) but you can watch the documentary here:

This video reminded my why I enjoyed religion class so much in (my Catholic) high school, it was as much about learning the tenets of the Church as it was about philosophy, history, ethics, asking questions, and really intellectually engaging with your faith. The theologians and professors interviewed in the documentary revealed facts I never knew about the Church's history and in particular in regards to St. Augustine's writings (i.e. that he basically just projected his issues over his own promiscuous sexual history on the rest of the population) and the role of conscience vs doctrine. Their willingness to engage with these issues and ability to come out and basically say "The hierarchy of the Church is old, stubborn, and dead wrong" made my brain sit up and take notice. I wasn't/am not the only one! Not that I didn't know that, of course, just hearing it after all the nonsense in the States about institutional conscience rights and depriving people of birth was nice.

This is what has attracted me to pagan leanings (aside from my hippy tree-hugging tendencies), is the pagan community's great capacity not to take themselves too seriously and to continually examine, discuss, and adapt their beliefs to the relevant social and scientific contexts. There is (generally) a recognition that the pagan beliefs and rituals of today are only a few decades old and they cannot and should not be set in stone. There is always room for exploration and examination. People are willing to use their brains.

Here's another happy for today: Fox News gets schooled for their "War on Christmas" rhetoric

So remember folks, use your brains or you'll end up a zombie!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Hallowe'en

Happy Hallowe'en and Samhain, all!

Today the BF and I celebrated our first "real" Hallowe'en together: costumes, jack-o-lanterns, and handing out candy. We tried to do this last year, but it was a very last minute affair in which we ended up carving a butternut squash and tossing candy off our balcony at random passers-by. This year we bought our pumpkins in advance, carved them on Monday night, left them outside where they froze, had to use a hairdryer to thaw out the tops so I could get the lids off to light them, and went over to a friends house that gets kids trick-or-treating. It's a true Canadian Hallowe'en! (not really. I've never seen it this cold on a Hallowe'en before)

I hope you all had a wonderful night, and a very safe and blessed evening. Now I must run as the BF and I must have a very serious discussion about the Disney buyout of Lucasfilm, and the future of Star Wars. Serious business, folks!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

DIY Deoderant

It's a dark and snowy day here in the mountains, which means it's a perfect time for another DIY personal care recipe!

Deodorant seems to be the first product most people think about when considering going "au naturel" with their personal care routine. Most of these thoughts end up somewhere in the vincinity of an un-shaved armpit, a need to forgo the offending drugstore stick,  and a very "naturel" odour emanating from your person. Needless to say, no one really wants to run that risk.

I have tried several store-bought deodorants with success, my two favourites being Rocky Mountain Soap Company's Liquid Crystal Deodorant, and Weleda's spray-on Sage deodorant. However, it does always make me cringe a little to pay around $10 for a bottle of deoderant (granted, the Rocky Mountain Soap one lasts me for at least a year) so I decided to try making my own.

This recipe is from Gill Deacon's fabulous book "There's Lead in you Lipstick."

Creamy Coconut Deoderant

*1/4 cup baking soda
*1/4 cup cornstarch
*10 - 20 drops lavender oil (can substitute tea tree oil for a less girly scent, but test it on your skin first to make sure you don't get a rash!)
*2 Tbsp coconut oil

Step 1: Mix together to form a stiff paste.
Note: Do this in a microwaveable bowl. Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature and doesn't mix well. I found the best way was to measure out the oil as a solid, put it in with your other ingredients, and then nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the oil. When we did this in my eco-care workshop, those who melted the oil first and then measured it out did not get the right consistency in the end - it was all crumbly.
My original attempts with a stainless steel bowl

Step 2: Pack into an old deodorant stick container and apply a thin layer to underarm.
Note: allow the coconut oil to re-solidify before you apply, wait a few hours.

Lacking an old deodorant stick, I re-used a Rocky Mountain Soap body butter container, as well as another empty face cream container I had saved.

Verdict?  AWESOME. This is actually the best natural deodorant I have ever used. It is even more effective than the other two I mentioned above. And it's cheap as chips: $2.52 for the whole batch. The most expensive part of it was the lavender essential oil - $16.49 for a 12ml bottle (for those wondering, 20 drops = 1 ml). Now, this is not the deodorant to wear with your little black dress, it does leave white marks, but this is great for everyday wear and even survived my Friday lunchtime spin-and-muscle-pump class at the gym.

Oh, and a word to the wise: wear an apron when you're doing this. That cornstarch gets EVERYWHERE.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I just re-read my last post and felt my anxiety level go through the roof. I didn't think I was that stressed, to be honest.

It reminded me of Mrs. B's Gratitude post from a couple of weeks back, so I thought I'd try listing the things I'm grateful for in a bid to focus on more positive things.

1. I live in a beautiful place. My life is a postcard.

2. I have a pretty awesome significant other.

3. Said significant other is agreeable to buying a house with me.

4. We can afford to consider buying a place in this beautiful, expensive, postcard town.

5. I have family nearby.

6. My big crazy extended family may be crazy, but that's what makes them all the more awesome, and I love them for it.

7. My sister is coming to visit in a few months!

8. Bellydance troupe :)

9. I am strong and healthy.

10. Dairy-free pumpkin pie. YUMM!

There are many more things to list, but these are the first that come to mind.


Summer's nerves are a little more on edge than usual these days.

First of, the virtual inlaws have moved across the country to settle less than 20 mins away from our place. While it's lovely to have family in the area (especially such nice, grounded people) it's a new demand on our time and social life.

Second, one of my younger cousins(who is stubborn as hell) has been diagnosed with anorexia, and the whole dang extended family is in an uproar while her parents are locking horns with her every day trying to get her into treatment, or, you know, actually eat food.

Third, one of my favorite profs from back in the day passed away last week.

Fourth, the boy and I are house shopping. Nuff said, right? Oh, but then we saw one that we loved, so we made an offer!(gahhhh!) So we're buying a house. But then it was rejected, so we're not. Oh but wait! They changed their minds! We're may be buying a house again! or do we make an offer on another one that we really like as well? BAHHHHHH!

I've been alternating between cleaning everything in sight out of nervous energy and collapsing on the couch with not even enough motivation to get dinner together. My kitchen sinks had better watch out: they are in mortal danger of being scrubbed within an inch of their lives, or bing suffocated under a pile of unwashed dishes.

Thank goodness for dance practice tonight.

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Hello folks! The vacation was lovely, but alas it's over and it's time to get back into the swing of things. I have a workshop that I'm running for work at the end of the month that I need to prepare for, so I thought I'd accomplish two things at once and share what I'm working on with you fine folks on teh interwebz.

The project is a lunch'n learn on eco-personal care that I'm offering to our staff through our HR department. I did an info session on the toxins in our personal care for the artists in residence earlier in the summer and it got a really good response. The environmental committee was impressed with all the research I had done and my borderline-obsessive knowledge of the effects of toxic chemicals, and asked if I would be interested in running DIY sessions if they helped pay for the supplies. Of course I was!

I've asked people to request what they'd like to learn to make in our sessions, and the first request I had was for toothpaste. Personally, I'm a store-bought eco-toothpaste kind of girl (Green Beaver Frosty Mint is currently in my bathroom), but I figured I'd give it a try. The following recipe is from Adria Vasil's book Ecoholic (pg. 20, in the Canadian edition), which I believe she got from

DIY Eco-Toothpaste

6 teaspoons baking soda (whitener)
1/3 teaspoon salt (mild abrasive)
4 teaspoons vegetable glycerin (to create the gel)
15 drops of an organic essential oil - wintergreen, spearmint (minty fresh flavour) (I used peppermint instead)

Mix into a paste. Store in a small, labelled jar.

My slightly drippy homemade toothpaste not sure what I really think about this one. It is SUPER salty, and no amount of added mint essential oil is going to change that. However, baking soda does leave your teeth feeling very nice smooth. I found another recipe elsewhere that used coconut oil and xylitol in addition to the baking soda, which apparently helps off-set the saltiness. However, I forgot to look for xylitol at the health food store today, so that'll have to wait for another day.

I really don't know if toothpaste is one of those things you can successfully DIY. Sure, it's cheaper this way but I think I might rather wait for 10% off Tuesday at the health food store and stock up then. Has anyone else tried making their own before?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gone Fishin'

...or something like that.

I'm off on vacation! Back to Ontario for me for two weeks for my BFF's wedding and some family festivities. It's starting to feel like fall (already!) in the Rockies, so the timing is ideal - Southern Ontario is still hot humid, and very much like summer. Also, I heard something about potential snow on Friday, so I'm skeedadling my little butt off to the airport as fast as possible! Time for some fun, sun, and yes, maybe even some fishing.

See you in a few weeks!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Feisty Foxes Bring Home the Hardware!

 Dragonboat festival was, in a word, awesome. Or, in three words: SO MUCH FUN!!!! (this is how I felt all weekend, complete with all five exclamation points :P)

 My upstart women’s team, the Feisty Foxes, did quite well coming in third place in the women’s division. Not too shabby for a bunch of ladies who (mostly) only set foot in a real dragon boat last week! We did have some veterans on our team, ladies such as myself who competed on corporate teams in years past, but “veteran” really means only an additional 4 hours of practice in this case.

What a great group of women, and such great community spirit. This was the first time my community had put together a community team for the festival – that is, a team that wasn’t a corporate thing. In this sort of town, it’s too easy for all of the special events to be for the tourists and leave the locals on the outside. To have a team made up of local women from all demographics – long-timers, seasonal workers, and even the mayor, certainly says something about our local community. Add in the fact that we had more committed women than we had seats on a boat, and that everyone worked together to ensure we all got a fair chance to paddle – well that certainly says something indeed.

I am so freaking proud of all these women who came together to made this team. I am even more proud of us for making this team work without any drama, whining, backstabbing, or stupidity and giving it our all in every race – even when we were doing back-to-back 500m races against mixed teams who could have easily kicked our collective asses. (btw, we actually did okay in those ones too- came  in fifth in C divison!) (Okay, fine, fifth out of six teams.) (IT WAS BACK TO BACK 500M FINALS!)


Whatever, we only cared about our women’s standings anyways.

Ahem. Sorry, where was I?

It’s Thursday now, so most of the sore muscles and frantic energy have worn off, but wow, what an experience. We brought home the hardware, had a great time, and can’t wait to do it all over again. All of the local teams (corporate and otherwise) are churning with ideas and by next year we should have our very own local dragon boat club. But the best part? All that training paid off, and I now have a wicked set of guns :P

Note: I wrote this post on Thursday with the intent of posting it when I got home and got some pictures. Unfortunately I'm having picture issues, so I'm posing it now and will add the pics later. Because I KNOW you all want digital tickets to the gun show :P

Thursday, August 09, 2012


Photo from North Shore Dragon Boat Festival
Just popping in quickly to let you know that I'm still here! I haven't given up on this blog yet, I promise :)

This past month has been non-stop busy with working both of my jobs (50 hours a week is FUN! :P), preparing for my best friend's wedding, creating and presenting my first Toxin-Free Body Care session for the the local community, and training for race weekend.

Yes, race weekend! I am part of the inaugural crew of our valley's first all-women's dragonboat team. We've been training since May on dry land and in large voyageur canoes all prepping for this weekend's Dragon Boat Festival! We're a casual social team with a competitive streak, and we're going up against some very experienced crews from out of province and out of country in our division. Needless to say, we've got a long way to go to have half a chance of keeping up with our competition, so we've been training hard. And it doesn't hurt that the very attractive professional coach and event orgainzer has come down from Edmonton to train us either :)

I'll be back after this weekend with some posts, 'til then, Paddles Up!

Not my team :P Photo from

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Happy Belated Canada Day!

Summer has been a busy little blogger this week, doing everything under the sun EXCEPT blogging, lol!

Summer (the season) has finally made an appearance in my neck of the woods, and it's here with a vengance! Bright blue skies 3 days in a row, hight 20-ies every day....after all the rain and cold(and snow!) in June, I'm feeling very spoiled. So, when I haven't been working at one of my 3 jobs, participating in flash mobs, training with my dragonboat team, or madly trying to get errands done in my spare time, I've been just crashing outside on the deck with a beer in hand. Ahhhhh....sunshine and beer. Good combination :)

So yes, it's been busy. I started a new position with my company this week which has been interesting and challenging, however I'm still doing some shifts in my old position to help cover until they can find a replacement. In addition to that I'm still working my part-time retail job, so I get the fabulous luck of two weeks straight without any days off! Yay! *Sigh* I know, I know,  I brought it on myself. Just...can I get to complain a little? just a little? Okay. A tiny bit. I'm done now.

I am happy being busy, it's no fun to sit at home and be bored. I just think I've overextended myself a bit of late. I actually ended up sleeping in until 10:30 yesterday. Ten thirty! Unheard of! Usually I'm up by 8am and raring to go. It's just that this summer weather is such a rarity, I can't help but wish I was outside hiking or canoing or something, rather than inside working. Granted, this does mean I get to wear pretty sundresses to work, so it's not such a bad trade-off.

I have a couple of things I want to blog about, most notably the bellydance flash mob that I was in this week, and a thing call "The Modesty Project." I originally read about it on Mrs. B's blog last week, and it's been niggling at my mind ever since. I hope to get those niggly thoughts out on blog-paper soon. For now though, I'm writing this during a quite moment at work, and should probably get back to it. Until next time!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Culturally Catholic

I found this intriguing blog post today while wandering over to Charmed I'm Sure.  Deborah Castellano is an excellent writer -  I found her moral compass article on Witchvox, which of course lead me to her blog, which leads me here. (As an aside, I've been trying to follow her blog for a while now but was being technologically challenged and just couldn't figure out how to do that from my phone. Blogger = not so phone friendly. Glad I finally managed to wander over on a real computer!).

Anyways, Debora wrote this great little piece on doing the Catholicism to Pagan thing, and trying to find peace and balance with your Catholic roots. She brought up this concept of being culturally Catholic, much like people are culturally Jewish though they may not actively practice the religion. It's an interesting concept, and one I had never considered before. I had a roommate in university who had a Jewish background one side of her family, but never practiced as far as I knew. I couldn't understand how she could classify herself as Jewish but not practice that religion, though I knew people did it all the time. A few years down the road, I can now see what she was saying. As Andrew B Watt, one of the commenters on the blog post said, "[It's] like belonging to a particular tribe. Which we do. It’s not necessarily the set of religious obligations we hold to throughout our lives, but it’s the set of rituals and ceremonies we were initiated in, and it’s hard to let go of that."
I had never considered the possibility of this applying to my own heritage - that I could be culturally Catholic and religiously ambiguous.

Unlike Deborah, I don't have nieces and nephews to godparent yet, but I can see this concept as helping me reconcile my faith choices with my Italian Catholic family. It's a way of saying "I respect and honour the values of our family's religion. I do not reject this common bond that is so important in your life. I respect your commitment and your efforts to bring me up to be a upstanding member of our (non-religious) community and society. I accept the values you have instilled in me and will bring them with me as I progress through life, and pass them on to future generations."

Catholicism was such an integral part of my life for the first 18-odd years, it has made me the person I am today. I had a pretty good relationship with the Church, we just differed on certain topics (e.g. birth control) and the priests I was exposed to just seemed out of touch with the world I lived in. My real turning point was when, in confession one day, I told the priest that I didn't agree with the Church on some things, like homosexuality, and he took it as "I'm a lesbian" and started talking vaguely about how we should resist the urges and pray for guidance...he totally missed the mark and wasn't listening to what I had to say. At which point, I stopped making regular efforts to go to church. One misunderstanding priest was obviously not the whole reason, but the trigger. But I'm getting off-topic. Such an important part of one's life cannot be dismissed away by conversion from one religion to another, or even by rejecting religion altogether.

Has anyone else heard of the idea of being culturally Catholic/Christian? How have you been able to integrate that into your identity? I'm intrigued by this idea, and would love to hear input from others.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Whooo boy! It's been a while, eh?

Things have been super busy around my neck of the woods. I think I had about 2 days off of work total for the entire month of May. I have a full-time job as well as a part-time one, and the hours really ramped up last month. I kept meaning to blog every time I saw a good post that I wanted to respond was just a matter of finding the time. Clearly, I didn't. Not to worry though, June is looking a lot less hetic!

Lots of stuff going on around Casa de Summer. I (finally!) started my planter box garden experiments, something I've been meaning to do since the beginning of last summer. For the vast majority of the year, my apartment balcony gets zero sunlight (north facing windows for the win!), but with the sun riding high in the sky and the long days around Midsummer, we do actually get some sunlight from 3pm-7pm. I've been desperate to grow some plants, but didn't know how they'd survive with the lack of sun. They don't get much, but the herbs I've planted aren't dead yet! Actually, the chives are looking quite happy. I wish I could say the same for my shade-loving coleus... out of six, 2 shriveled with in the first week.They were supposed to be the sure bet! Freakin' coleus. I would show you pictures but it's snowing today (SNOWING) and it's just sad.

What else has been going on...I bought a bike (yay green transportation!), joined the local women's dragonboat team, wore shorts, it snowed, wore my winter jacket, cut off most of my hair on a whim (it's so short now!), learned how to install insulation, and got a new full-time job. Oh yes, and the town has been under flood advisories for the past few days. The river has overrun many of its banks and has turned low-lying fields into new ponds. I think I should have bought a canoe instead of a bike...I'd get more use out of it.

Midsummer is just a few weeks away, and I cannot WAIT. As a kid, I loved the long days of summer, but the days are a lot longer here in Alberta than Southern Ontario. It's bright at 4am, and doesn't get properly dark until 10:30 or 11pm. It's really messing with my sleep schedule, so I'm looking forward to the days getting a little shorter. Not a lot shorter, just a little. (Did I mention that in December the sun is barely up by the time I get to work at 8:30am and has already set by 5pm?) It's a matter of extremes out here.

I'm not sure what I'll do to celebrate this year. I really like the sound of a bonfire, but as the fire pits at the rec grounds are currently underwater, that might be a bit soggy still. Smaller risk of forest fire, I guess! I'm the only pagan-y person I know out here, so I might just do a non-pagan celebration with friends that night. Who doesn't love a party? What are your plans?

I plan to get at least 1 more post done in June (ha!), so I shall see you around soon!

Monday, April 30, 2012

May Eve Grumblings

Yesterday, it was bright, warmish, and sunny (for a bit). I even broke out the shorts for the first time all season. Today, there were snowflakes falling as I went into work. Someone explain to me how this is spring again?

This May Eve doesn't feel very May-ey. It's been chilly and drizzly and all together gross. If this keeps up, local Beltane revellers are really going to have to re-think the "getting in on in a field" thing.

Spring fertility my butt...*grumble grumble*

I wouldn't mind curling up next to this, today!

 Hope your Beltane celebrations are significantly more spring-like!

Image Credit

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Pig of Happiness

I saw this video on a friend's facebook feed, and had to share :)

Creator's warning: Watching [this video] is likely to make you a happier person. Sharing it with your friends is likely to make them happier too.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Caught in the middle

There they go. My parents have left for Good Friday service and for the first time in my life I'm not going with them. I feel...happy, no, relieved that there was no fight with my dad about not going to church, but sad that I kind of wanted to go as a sign of respect for my parents and there was the assumption that I wasn't coming. I might have wanted to, you know.

My parents have been in town for a week, they arrived last Friday night (one of many reasons for my recent absence from the blogosphere). Last weekend was Palm Sunday and, being completely worn out from a long work week, little sleep, and hard skiing the day before I had no interest in going. Dad was upset that morning, though I couldn't figure out if that was because I wasn't dressed and ready to go with them or because they were late getting out of the house. They were walking to church, and I think ended up getting lost along the way, after all the directions and consternation. When they returned (I, having spent the hour cleaning with great vigor and having imaginary religious arguments with my father in my head) Dad offered me a palm and I decided it was best to accept it with grace and put it on display.

I've never had a proper talk with my parents about what I believe, or why I've stopped attending Mass. Dad brought it up at the dinner table several years back when I was still staying with them on occasion, and they knew that I was reading a lot of books on witchcraft. It didn't go well. Dad was not pleased with what he saw as my rejection of our family's religion, was unwilling to consider other perspectives, and despite trying to be civil about it, ended up uttering the famous phrase "But the Bible says it (what ever I might be studying) is evil and you'll go to hell!". Needless to say I felt cornered, could not articulate my thoughts, started crying, and Mom (the perpetual mediator) stepped in with the "I don't hear a willingness to listen others' points here, I hear a lot of judging", which made Dad more upset, I left the table and we've never spoken of it since. I've been thinking it's a chat we need to have, but I've never found the right time. Also, I'm still trying to work out what exactly I do believe (e.g. one lifetime or many? Eternal punishment/reward, or we all end up in the Summerlands?)

Which brings me here to this Good Friday. When I'm at home I go to church with my family as a sign of respect for them and the faith that bonded our family together. It was a hugely integral part of my upbringing. Here, out west, an independent adult, I do not go to church. So now here, out west, but with my parents staying with me - what to do? I want to honour and respect my parents, I can relate to the Easter story with Jesus nailed to a cross, dying, and resurrecting much in the same way I can relate to the Pagan stories of people/gods passing into the underworld to re-emerge. I see them all as stories humans created to help them relate to the Great Unknowable. However, would I also not be perpetuating a falsehood - that I consider myself a Catholic? Or worse, that I've become a "C&E Catholic", the likes of whom we looked down upon in church? You could always pick them out, those that did not remember when to sit/stand/kneel or did not know the words to say along with the priest because they only came twice a year. Lazy Catholics - only bothered to show up for Christmas and Easter.

No, I do not want to be seen as one of those. However, neither can I come forth an proclaim myself Pagan of one path or another because I just haven't figured it out yet. I haven't met any particular gods or goddesses (at least not by name), and I feel foolish performing rituals by myself at home. I don't wear a pentacle, but I do talk to trees and birds, and while I don't cast spells, I do know that when I cry out in pain and despair, that comfort will come on the wind. What I am I? I'm an in-betweener, existing the the liminal spiritual places between declared religions.

And thus, as an in-betweener I shall eat no meat today on Good Friday, I shall decorate my home with tulips and daffodils to celebrate the coming of spring, and sit here and keep an eye on the hot-cross bun dough that is rising in the oven while two of the people I love the most mark the decent of their god into the underworld.

...and probably eat some chocolate. Happy Easter, all - however you celebrate!

Somewhere between Paganism and Christianity is this photo.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Ostara!

I will confess, I'm not doing anything to celebrate Ostara today, besides marveling that there is still light in the sky when I get home at 8:30. Yes, it's been one of those days where your day finishes at 8:30...

I'll do a quick candle ritual to celebrate tomorrow, and have a nice post for you with nice pictures :)

I hope your Ostara a happy and blessed one!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

For me, being religious (or spiritual) has always been a given. When I was younger I couldn't imagine anyone NOT being religious, to me it was just such an obvious thing. Of course there is something greater than us all out there. Of course we should aspire to be better people because that's what's right and God told us so. Do unto others, love your neighbour as yourself. Be a good member of the collective - communities religious and otherwise. As I grew older and met more people who grew up outside of the "Catholic Bubble," I would find that the above was rarely true. You were given funny looks for saying you believed in God, and told only stupid people believed in religion because it was irrational and there was no scientific proof. At first I thought it was just directed towards Catholics (Catholics=conservative=no fun, goody two shoes-es, and are therefore stupid) but now as a (sort-of) follower of a fringe spirituality I see the disdain is equally distributed.

Most of the people I've heard speak about religion think that those who believe is something that cannot be seen or definitively quantified are stupid, irrational, or morons. And these are people who range from my significant other to TV personalities such as Bill Maher. I am always trying to find ways to understand and describe how I, as a fairly logical person, need to believe and participate in something they see as totally irrational. I have several amorphous ideas centering around the human mind's inability to grasp concepts or interact with something that exists beyond our realm of understanding, however nothing concrete.

Thus, I was very pleased to have come across this TED Talk on Facebook today that explains a social scientist's perspective as to why humans have evolved to seek out self-transcendental experiences, such as those associated with religion. It is about 18 minutes long, but it's a good talk and I encourage you all to check it out.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You call this spring?

Can we just talk about the fact that spring is SO not coming here yet? Ellen Dugan blogged this week about how her perennials are sprouting in her garden and buds are swelling on the trees....not so here! It's been about -15 every morning this week, and it was so cold when I was skiing on Sunday that I actually got a bit of frostbite on my cheeks. Spring is coming my ass! It's still February (by a margin of a couple of hours), and Mother Nature hasn't forgotten.

I suppose I'll quit my complaining - at least I finally got out on the slopes!

Things have been really busy lately with work and some very weird stuff happening in my personal life, so I'm mostly just popping in to say "hi." Hope you all are keeping warm and enjoying the longer daylight hours - it's now light when I go to work AND when I get home! Miracles will never cease :P

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In Which I Make Laundry Jello

I consider myself a fairly green cleaner. Not like some weird version of Molly Maid that only dresses in shades of emerald (that'd be weird), but I do my bit. The floors are washed with vinegar and hot water (thanks Mom!), and the BF even scrubs the bathtub with baking soda on a regular basis. I'm phasing known toxins out of my personal care routine, too for an added bonus. But, it wasn't enough. I needed a bigger challenge. Something to really let me earn my patchouli-scented hippie stripes. And, since I haven't heard the BF comment on how cleaning the house with vinegar makes him crave chips in a while (salt and vinegar, om-nom-nom!), I figured the time was ripe to green my laundry...or at least my laundry detergent.

I've seen a couple recipes floating around, many of which involve ingredients I've never heard of or have know idea where to find (or both). NotHannah, over on her wonderful blog I'm Not Hannah wrote a great post about her forays into home-made laundry detergent, but it involves Fels Naptha soap which I a) had never heard of previously and b) consequently found out may be a bit toxic in it's own right, and most importantly c) couldn't be bothered to go looking for it. Anything slightly odd-sounding is generally difficult to find out here unless you want to drive 2 hours into the city.

Anyways, I found a series of recipes on the David Suzuki Queen of Green blog and I was all like "Sweet! I know what these are won't have to drive to Calgary to get them!" There's a whole PDF of various cleaning methods (which you can find here) which say they have all been tested by the Queen of Green herself. Lovely. So we know this will turn out. (Ha!)

I decided to follow the instructions for the first one, the liquid laundry detergent. For those of you who didn't open the PDF, it goes as follows:
7L of water
1c of soap granules
1/2 c washing soda
1/2 c borax
20 drops essential oil (optional)

It seems a little weird to add that much water when it's all going to go into a washing machine full of water, but whatever. I dutifully measure out my one liter of water into a saucepan and heat it up, while dissolving my soap granules and making sure the whole darn thing doesn't bubble all over the stove. I fill up my mop bucket with the remaining 6L of water, measuring exactly, and mixing in the remaining elements. I pour the hot soapy water in the bucket, give it a stir and feel very pleased with myself and my laundry-detergent-making abilities. Lookit me! I'm so awesome and independent! I don't need mass-produced toxic laundry detergent, I'll make it myself! 7 liters at a time!

7 liters at a time? uh-oh. My brain slowly starts churning and putting 2 and 2 together. Somehow in this VERY simple process, I failed to realize that 7 liters of water on the ingredients list would make this batch at least as large. My plan was to re-purpose my old laundry detergent bottle (Reduce! Reuse! Go me!) which is only 2.4 L. Balls. Well, at least I can pour some of it in there for now until I can find containers for the rest. A pickle jar and yogurt container are rescued from the recycling bin and I begin to pour... well, "pour" is not the exact word. See that bit on the instructions where it says "Soap will gel as it cools?" Apparently it cools rather quickly.  And "liquid" laundry detergent is a bit of a misnomer - my super awesome green cleaning power detergent has now reached the consistency of very thick hair conditioner. I can coax it into the wide-mouthed pickle jar and yogurt containers, but there ain't no way it's fitting in that teensy-tiny opening on the detergent bottle. Double Balls.

So here I am with a bottle of Straub's Kosher Dills and Strawberry Activia detergent, and a whole other 6 liters of lavender-scented goop sitting in my mop bucket. This bucket which I now need to wash the floors after my kitchen chemistry experiment (soap flakes go EVERYWHERE). I called up a friend that I was going to meet for dinner, and all she could offer me was an empty wine bottle. I would have been better off with a full one, I think. Preferable a nice white from New Zealand. But then, in a stroke of genius, I thought of the person who introduced me to white wine from New Zealand! The BF! an honourary Kiwi himself! Who conveniently works at a hotel with many MANY restaurants that would totally have large leftover food buckets from the kitchens!

By the time he brought a bucket home from work many hours later, my laundry detergent had become laundry jello. Very, very thick laundry jello. We precariously shook it out of one bucket and into the other and somehow managed to get the near-solid all in without making a gigantic mess. I tried it out the next day, and it seems to work just dandy, although you really do have to put it in the washer first and let the water run for a bit to dissolve it before putting the laundry in.

Here's the kicker though. After going through this entire process, I happened to take a look at the powdered laundry soap recipe on the other side of the page as it was stuck to my fridge. It's the exact same, minus those stupid 7 liters of water.

That which works

I read on someone's blog somewhere a quote that goes something like this: "Don't change religions. Just pick what works from the one you were brought up with, and borrow from other ones." It's not the exact quote, and I don't know who said it but it's stuck with me over the past few weeks since I read it.

Thus, I present to you, in no particular order, what worked/works for me about Catholicism, the religion I grew up with.

1. Chastity. This seems like a weird one for most, I suppose, but it really was integral for me during my teenage years. For the majority of my life, I believed I'd wait for marriage. While pragmatism and raging hormones certainly counteracted that, I'm still grateful for that value being taught to me. As a result, I waited until I was sure I had found the right person and avoided much heart-ache and teen angst. I was also at an age when I was adult enough to understand the emotional and physical ramifications and take the appropriate precautions.

2. Regular Practice. Spirituality was a regular part of my life growing up. We said Grace Before Meals at dinner, prayed every night before going to sleep, and of course went to mass every Sunday (as we kids grew older it became Saturday night instead, but same difference). There was never any question about why we did those things, that was the way things were. My siblings and I were surprised when we learned that we were one of the few families amongst our friends that did! I'm grateful for being raised with regular and integrated spiritual practice as it's a difficult discipline to adopt later in life.

3. Community. The Catholic Church has (deservedly) earned a bad rap in many respects, but our church did one thing really well - we had a great sense of community and involvement. Parish breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, car washes -- I think my family volunteered for each parish activity at least once. My dad is in the Knights of Columbus (a bit of a macho "men only" sort of organization) and my mom somehow always ended up in the kitchen on their parish breakfast days sorting the men out and making sure the food turned out and that it made it to the tables hot. Some of them grumbled but most were relieved, lol. I, on the other hand, always seemed to end up bussing tables along with my sisters and the other kids our age.We had a community - still do. Even now when I go back to the parish church on holidays with my family there are always people to chat to after Mass, wanting to know where I am and what I'm doing, and my haven't I grown! Why they remember me when I was just a little thing!

My sisters and I were always involved as well. We went to Jr. Liturgy during mass, when we got too old for that we became altar servers, and after that I even became a Lector for a while.  My sisters, being less blessed with performative leanings, declined to follow in those particular footsteps. And of course, we were pressed into volunteer service whenever my parents were helping run an event. This is the element I miss most about Catholicism - you don't get that same sense of community as a solitary semi-pagan practitioner.

So that's it, 3 things that really worked for me about Catholicism. I could make the list go longer, but I've been working on this post for over a week now and really just want to get it finished, lol. Hopefully one day soon I'll get a list of about what appeals to me from the pagan side of things. That is, if I can tear myself away from the Downton Abbey marathon I recorded on the weekend....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Hobbit Hole of Your Very Own

For all LOTR nerds, Tolkien geeks, and eco-home enthusiasts, you need to check out this house.

Photo Credit:

It's a real live hobbit hole! I want one. Seriously. I want one.

The Dale family has built an amazing low-impact eco-home that reminds me of a the very cozy home of a certain variety of haflings. True, the resemblance is more on the outside than the in, but it's still very cool :) You can check out their website here.

The hills around here are all very tall and made of you think the BF will move to Wales with me so we can build our own?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

a belated post

Hmmm, I guess I did promise a post after last weekend, didn't I? I guess I should get on that.

Flippancy aside, I have a very good reason for missing last week's promised post. It was a very busy weekend running back and forth between the city and home, I think I made the drive to Cowtown or back at least once every day. Visiting friends, attending workshops, dropping people off at the airport...on top of which, I got some serious news (my father was taken to hospital on Friday - precautionary measure, he was released the next day). Needless to say, I was VERY tired after all that.  I also received some exciting news which quite honestly has had me preoccupied the entire week.

One of the events I went to that weekend was a belly dance workshop with some of the girls in the local troupe. It was my first workshop, and my goodness, what an experience! I've never danced that long all at once or learned a new choreography in such a short amount of time. I was hiding from the videos at the end, because after 2.5 hours of non-stop dancing, my muscles just were not responding anymore and I was a hot mess. A hot, tired, sweaty, uncoordinated mess. But it seems the mess was worth it, as I've been invited to dance with the troupe for the annual Canada Day performance!! *squee!*

I've been hoping and dreaming that one day I'd be good enough to dance with these wonderful ladies, every since I moved here and first saw them perform. It is a venture not to be taken lightly, if nothing else buying your costume is a significant financial investment (~$400..eek!). It's intimidating, but I think I'm up for the challenge. So this past week I've been doing what I do best: obsessing over costumes, hair extensions, and working on getting this body into graceful, midriff-baring shape. This mostly involved cruising belly dance forums on the internet, but I did make a point of being more active and practicing with some of my DVDs. July 1 is a ways away, so I've got time  to work on the graceful thing :P

So yes, I've been more than a little distracted. Also, the BF was out of town for the week so I was keeping myself busy with things around the house so I wouldn't go crazy with loneliness...while my the house is now clean all the way up to the bathroom ceiling (yes, I did bleach it) it didn't leave much time for blogging.

I did watch Bill Maher last night, and it got me thinking about faith, the supernatural, and their compatibility with science and the rational mind. There's a post brewing in my mind on those topics, but I haven't quite fleshed it out yet. Perhaps I'll have one ready for you all* in a few days.

Hope you have an excellent Monday tomorrow!

*all 1 of you. Yes, I actually have one follower now!!!*

**yes, the excessive use of exclamation marks is justified in this situation.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Beware, Canada!

Ah Rick Mercer, how I love thee! Another witty video from the Rick Mercer report on our favourite Canadian broadcasting corportation.

Several friends have been sharing this on Facebook, and given it's particular relevance to my last post I thought I'd share it again here. You know, for my masses of readers :P

New post coming next week after I make it through this weekend. It's going to be action-packed... I'll hit the ground running at 4:30pm today and it probably won't let up until Sunday afternoon. Hope everyone's weekends are good ones!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Today's post feels very I'mnothannah-inspired. Though I lack her enviable wit, humor, writing skills, and talent for making lists, I shall do my best. And I may have to throw in a y'all for good effect :)

I'm having one of those days where I look at the world and think "we are all so screwed." It makes me want to knock heads together, scream, throw up, and hide all at the same time.  Today is energy-related.

I mean, I get it. I live in Alberta, and the reason I don't have to pay an extra 12% in taxes on every purchase (or whatever HST is at these days) is because of the oil and gas industry. It is what funds this province, and keeps many many people employed, including, in some part, myself. It is an essential part of this province's current economy. I get it. Really. I do. However, we are a smart nation, and (despite my redneck Albertan jokes) a pretty smart province, too. So when are we going to realize the oil really isn't worth it?

The oilsands have a deservedly bad rap. It's dirty oil, that's a fact, though feel free to argue exactly how dirty it is. The extraction and shipping of oil and gas is polluting, destructive to the environment, and absolutely devastating when there is a spill. We all know this, yes? And yet, this is the poll I saw in the Calgary Herald today:
Are you in favour of building the Northern Gateway Pipeline? 82.24% yes; 17.76% no (at last check) 

For those of you who haven't been following the CBC, Enbridge wants to build a pipeline through British Columbia to bring Alberta oil sands oil to the west coast, where it can be loaded on to tankers and shipped to Asian markets. To do so, it would pass through one of the world's most diverse and precious ecosystems, the BC coastal rainforest, where a spill would be catastrophic. For more info, you can visit the CBC website:

This is what I find so frustrating. Yes, currently we are addicted to oil and gas products. We need them.Yes, they support our economy. Yes, Enbridge has promised that they will respond as quickly as possible to any leaks or spills. But really, is it worth it? The coastal rainforests, waterways, ocean, and BC's interior are amazingly diverse places that support an incredible amount of life and greatly benefit the health of our planet. I had the chance to explore them for the first time this past fall, and they blew me away. (Pagans, want to get connected to the earth? Try a 6 day sea kayaking trip. It's like nothing else I have ever experienced.) I just cannot imagine the devastation that any sort of leak along the pipeline, or worse, spill in the coastal waters of British Columbia, would have. Actually, I take that back. I can imagine it, and it makes me sick. Like actually, my stomach is turning.

On a similar vein, I heard a report on the radio today (As It Happens, CBC Radio 1) about some folks down in Pennslyvania who can no longer drink from their wells due to "fracking" - hydraulic fracturing, a process used to drill for gas. All the water coming out of their taps is now contaminated with methane gas. Earlier this year, my BF's mother met some people south of Calgary who have had the same problem - gas now comes out when they turn on the taps, and they cannot drink the water. I hear these things, and I am furious. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?? Here? In CANADA - a country with the most clean fresh water in the world - we can't drink what comes out of our taps???

I get that right now, the world relies on oil and gas. Trust me. It was almost -20 C this morning when I left for work, and the idea of taking the car was very tempting. I'm sure the light that's on beside me and this laptop are not fueled by wind-generated electricity. But we as a country and as a human race are never going to move beyond our reliance on oil until we are forced to start changing our ways. At what point are we going to say "enough is enough" and make the choice to stop chasing after more and more elusive sources of oil or gas. At what point are we going to decide to make the change? How much are we willing to sacrifice before the change is forced on us?

There needs to be a reality show for the Earth: Extreme Makeover: Environment Edition.  We need that someone to come and knock our heads together and show us the truth: we just can't continue this way. Put us on an energy diet, help us source out and consume cleaner, greener options, and if we could have some fun little challenges along the way and wrap it up in a nice little one-hour parcel, we'll that'd just be peachy. Oh, and of course the ending where we get weighed in, have been wildly successful, and finish with lots of tears of happiness. Can't forget that bit.

In the mean time, I don't know what else to do. People like myself are vastly outnumbered (see above poll for proof) I feel like I'm constantly butting my head against a brick wall. At this point, I'm just crossing my fingers and praying that the pipeline will not be approved. 4,300 individuals have signed up to to speak at the review panel, I can only hope that the panel's mind can be swayed in the environment's favour.

Before I go, I have to share what I heard yesterday. Apparently, all the opposition to this pipeline is coming from "environmentalists, and other radical groups" according to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. The are funded by "billionaire socialists" from the States who are all trying to derail the Canadian economy.
"Oliver says the groups "threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda," stack the hearings with people to delay or kill "good projects," attract "jet-setting" celebrities and use funding from "foreign special interest groups." " Puh-LEEZ. Y'all, I am an environmentalist and I support the David Suzuki Foundation, but that must be some special math Mr. Oliver is using...that, or I've misplaced all my billions.

A change in content

I was super excited to start this blog back in July. I had so many ideas racing around in my head I couldn't write them down fast enough. However, my excitement for exclusively pagan-exploration themed topics quickly waned and I've been left with a very empty blog. Not to say that I didn't have ideas for's just that many of them didn't fit in the very specific focus I'd set for this blog. So, as any good writer does, I've decided to expand my focus a bit and move beyond a pagan specific blog, and write about what interests me. Often, the things that interest me are pagan-related, but I will be writing more than just that. So stay tuned, my readers*, and expect more expansive topics coming soon!

*"regular readers"'s a goal to which I aspire :)