Prosciutto and other interesting things

GIR likes FOOD!
Not a lot happened yesterday, though had dinner with a couple of my brother's friends. (Mexican, at their house.)

Today we drove out to San Daniele di Friuli for lunch. This is the place where a lot of Italy's prosciutto cured ham is made. Oh My Ghodz. Sogoodyesomg. I'd never had it before, but this stuff was amazingly delicious. I also got some nice photos of bits of the town in the mist, which rolled in today not long after it got light. Among the photos I got a nice architectural detail from the original 8th century structure of a 16th century church. We didn't go inside, but walked around the outside of it. We found flower petals and rice scattered around the door, evidence of a recent wedding.

The last several days, I've been up between 7-7:30am, about which I am not sure how I feel. The dawn chorus of roosters doesn't help, I suppose, and last night there was a braying donkey as well.

I spent some time this morning wrangling with Comcast. They're sending me a refund check for part of this month, given that service was cancelled. It wasn't difficult, just time-consuming to deal with. The refund is a little less than $75, so it was time well-spent.

At lunch today, along with my prosciutto, I got to use some of my very elementary Italian. I asked for a glass for my water. A glass was brought. SUCCESS!

A slow but useful day

05 nin
Today we went down into Montereale to pick up paperwork and then over to Maniago to get my Codice Fiscale, without which no other things may be done by anyone. Jim had thought we'd have to go into Pordenone to do the CF but the clerk at the municipal office on Montereale suggested Maniago and the office there was nearly deserted, so we didn't have to wait in any lines or deal with any huge hassles. I did a blog post about it, so you can read in more detail there.

I just want to say, the little artichoke I got at the market a couple of days ago tasted amazing. I just had it for dinner. The artichokes here are much smaller than the ones you get in the US. I usually went for the globe artichokes but these are long and narrow, and not pointy. Because they're smaller and less prickly, you don't have to scoop the choke out of the middle before you eat it - it's lovely and tender and the outer leaves don't taste like nasty chemicals no matter how you wash them, like artichokes in the US do.

AT&T appears to be in process for unlocking my phone, but I can't really tell from their website. Comcast had sent me a bill in email for this month despite my having cancelled my service, so I had to call them. The woman at their office said that I don't show any balance on record, so I'm assuming that the bill was just sent automatically, and if I sent them money, well, I'm sure they'd be happy to take it. When I got the bill I went online and cancelled the automatic payment, so they won't be able to take any money out even if for some reason the bill actually exists.

I've had to start a refund request from ebay for the recharger for my toothbrush that I ordered. My brother lives just on the edge of town in a place that utterly confuses delivery companies. The post office manages, but they've been delivering here for years; it's the places like FedEx and the other commercial delivery organizations that have no idea how to find it. Anyway, they say they tried several days in a row to find it and I haven't received anything yet, so I initiated a refund request and we'll see if that happens. Ebay says if I don't have the item or have the situation resolved by December 24th, they will start the refund procedure.

My sleep of late has been crap, but I managed to grab a nap this afternoon for a while. I'm hoping that'll help. I'll try to sleep again tonight; it's almost midnight here and probably time to try crawling off to bed again.

Tomorrow afternoon we're going back to Montereale to finish filing for my ID card, as that's when the office is open (4-6pm), but aside from that, nothing much.

Heard from my brother

Book of Dreams
I was down at the VA today for my shrinkage and talked a lot about my anxiety around moving, and how dependent I am on others for transportation, and all that good stuff. It was useful and I felt better afterwards even though I was kind of sniffly at a couple of points during the session.

I checked today into a couple of potential transport options that don't involve calling my friends, but either they're not really viable, or I'm just not qualified.

For dinner tonight I made a lamb stew that turned out really nicely. I had some mixed legumes that I soaked for a bit to use as the base, then sauteed some onion, the lamb, and a portabello mushroom, added some wine that wasn't really drinkable but was okay for cooking, and some spices (peppercorns, rosemary, sage, bay leaf), then let it all simmer for a while. When it cooked down a bit, I added some water, then more wine, until it was a nice, rich broth. Once it was nearly done, I cut up a tomato and tossed that in as well, then let it simmer some more. It was very tasty and the lamb was incredibly tender, so I count that as a success.

While I was on skype talking with random_nexus about life and fic and such, my brother came on. I'd seen him earlier (he'd left the computer on, so he wasn't actually there), and he was responding to my query to see if he was there. We texted for about 15 minutes. He's got the current form for the invitation letter; the one I'd sent him was outdated and I knew it, but at least it gave him a place to start looking. I need to scan and send him my various financial papers that I've been collecting, and I need to once again send him the draft of the cover letter for my application. He wants me to send everything to his military email so that he can print stuff off on base with their much better equipment.

He's talking to someone in Aviano today, then I think Friday or Monday he's supposed to speak with someone in the Quesura in the town where he lives. He has to get official stamps on things and send me originals, which I will apparently also need once I get there, to give to the Quesura for officially registering myself as a resident alien. I had asked him if he would be okay with me getting a return ticket from Italy and just visiting for Christmas and New Year if the visa was turned down; I don't think he saw the question because I didn't actually get an answer. We will talk more soon, though.

I'll be dealing with the scanning and emailing stuff tomorrow after I get home from Seattle. Tomorrow is group and I'm also hauling my comics and F/SF stuff down to Comics Dungeon for them to have a look. I am guessing they will want at least a few hours, if not a couple of days, to look through the collection. Only some of it is in order. A few of the boxes are just "random assortment of comics I never had time to sort through and categorize," and that will take some time to deal with. I told ingvisson that we could hang out at Kwan Yin Teahouse, though he also wants to go over to Archie McPhee's, both of which are pretty much just down the street from the comics shop.

In looking at my calendar, I realized that if I do go to Italy, I'll be leaving the day of the final session of this round for the group, December 12th. My flight will leave at 8:20am, so I'll be in Chicago changing planes for Madrid by the time group starts.

If this happens, I'm really really close to leaving. Part of my brain thinks December sounds far away, but it's coming up so very fast. There's so much to do and still so many things to deal with.

Lastly, I updated the phone and iPad, so I'm also feeling a little weird with the new OS update. The appearance is different and things work a little differently, so I'm still trying to figure things out.

And now, to bed. ingvisson is coming by at 1:30pm tomorrow to load up the boxes of comics and stuff before we head down to the VA.

Quiet, food, and research

GIR likes FOOD!
Today we did some further talking and research for the spirit work and PTSD presentation. I pulled out some materials to photocopy for tomorrow, when we're down in Seattle. We passed references and PDFs back and forth and made notes and updated outlines.

For dinner, I roasted a duck. We had the rest of the borscht from a couple of days ago, and I also made a caprese salad; we had all that with some chianti. Dessert was a baked pear with fresh ginger and some mace then, once everything had settled, we had a little Mexican hot chocolate with rose water. Pretty good stuff. I spent the rest of the evening making duck broth and picking the meat from the carcass to use later.

I looked into why I hadn't yet received the tickets for the upcoming Medieval Women's Choir concert, and Brown Paper Tickets said that nobody's had been shipped and to pick them up at will-call. I'll do that, but last year we got the tickets mailed, and I taped them into the calendar for the days when the concerts would be held. That helped so I wouldn't forget when the concerts were. The holiday concert is at St James's Cathedral, Saturday, December 15th at 8pm, if anyone is interested in attending. They're featuring Medieval English carols this year.

Also today, I made a reservation to go to the local Sherlock Holmes society's Holmes Birthday Dinner on January 5th. They're still awfully 20th century. Their website is not particularly functional, they don't really have an email discussion list (or any other online forum), and they still take RSVPs generally by mail with a check. I don't think I've used checks since I swapped over to BECU, several years ago. Anyway, I can carry cash with me for the buffet, so that's dealt with, at least. I ran into these folks at the Sherlock con down in Seattle and they seemed like a nice bunch. It should be fun getting together with them.

I need to start ordering books to take along with me for PCon in February; I'll have to email Storm about copies of the ogam book and Circle of Stones, and I need to order more copies of Fireflies as well.

A good ritual

Oiche Shamhna
Things got done well and in time, with folks showing up about when they were supposed to. Sadly, ingvisson wasn't able to come today, but gra_is_stor was feeling well enough to come and attend most of it. She had to beg out of parts of the ritual due to her health not being up to it, but she did stay for a while afterwards for talking and snuggles.

The food was really fantastic (if I do say so myself) - roast chicken that turned out with beautifully crispy skin, gravy, roasted parsnips with herbed feta, steamed green beans, goat cheese brie, gluten-free cornbread, marinated and sauteed portabella mushrooms, rosemary bread, a cabernet-sauvignon and a chianti, and for dessert, baked pears with cinnamon and ginger, with fresh whipped cream with cinnamon. Tea included some really nice pumpkin-spice creme liqueur that was actually very tasty, brought along by Gary and Melody.

We lit a fire, had candles for the ancestors, and carved turnips into little lanterns. Folks enjoyed the ritual, and really loved the food. I was happy to be able to provide, and I have a good bit of really nice chicken for later, and can make chicken stock from the bones. It was well worth the time and effort that I put into planning and cooking. For those interested, the ritual text is below the cut.

If you're interested in the ritual, it's here.Collapse )

More stone circles (and Poohsticks)

fern spirals
Today fififolle and I went for a two-mile walk along Ennerdale Water (as everyone keeps telling me, "there's only one lake in the Lake District"), along the lakeside (waterside) and up on a trail that led us through the forest and over a couple of small footbridges across a stream. It was really good weather for a walk early in the day. There was sun, a reasonable temperature, if slightly cool, and a little bit of a breeze. I got some really cool photos of the landscape, of the trail and the waterfall, and of a number of variety of mushrooms along the trail, as well as a butterfly, and some sheep that we encountered being herded along the lakeside road by a couple of shepherds and a dog. I think I get to fill in one of my Rural England Bingo squares or something.

Upon encountering one of the bridges, Fi and I realized that we must, perforce, play Poohsticks. I mean, what else to do you do on a footbridge over a rural English stream? Really? (I won. Her stick was too small to see it emerging from under the bridge. She insists that she didn't see either of the sticks.) We also found some lovely ripe blueberries along the trailside, which we nibbled upon. We spotted a tiny frog under the foliage as well, but it got away too quickly to get a photo. It was a brownish one, and about an inch or so long, very small. There were quite a few cars in the car park, but we didn't encounter nearly as many people as the number of vehicles suggested. We did see a fair few people out in the wonderful weather, but there was a lot of peaceful walking without crowds of tourists today.

The walk was about two miles, which was right on the edge of what my hips were able to take today. She'd suggested a couple of options, one of which was this and the other would have been a considerably more strenuous bit that involved a hill and closer to five miles. I knew that I really would not be up to it, as I'm all crampy at the moment, and this would have aggraveted it considerably. As it was, I needed a fair bit of rest once we were finished.

We drove out to another nearby stone circle after our walk. This one was right next to the road -- closer to the road than Castlerigg was, in fact -- but out in a much more deserted area. Fi tells me it was on Cold Fell, and it rather did live up to its name. The landscape was quite bleak and there was a brisk bit of wind blowing. We had originally thought we might have lunch at the circle, but it was too chilly, so we ate lunch in the car. I did get quite a few photos of the circle, though, as we were the only people around. This circle, known as both Blakely Rise and as Kinniside, is a circle that was "restored" in about 1925, with the stones once again set upright, and kept in position by being cemented. These days the cement is covered in moss, but you can still see bits of it around the bases of the stones.

From the circle, we could see the Irish Sea in the distance, and mountains north of us, which she said were in Scotland. I waved to Scotland, as it was about as close as I'm likely to get on this trip. I don't know if I'll ever get closer. She also said that from the top of the hill across the road from us, on a clear day, one might theoretically be able to see the Isle of Man. She's never seen it herself from there, as she's never been on a sufficiently clear day, but from the Isle of Man one is supposed to be able to see Ireland, Scotland, and England, at least, and possibly Wales, if I remember correctly. it's situated ideally for that, at any rate.

After spending some time at the circle, we headed down into a small town nearby, where we stopped at the Shepherd's Arms hotel and pub, and had half a pint before proceeding back to Cockermouth to do a little shopping for necessary bits and bobs. We picked up a few kinds of cider to try for dinner tonight and tomorrow. There were a couple of pear ciders, and one that was just spectacular, in my opinion. It was from a Swedish brewery called Kopparberg, and it was elderflower and lime flavored. Really amazingly good. I have been told by the lazywebs that it can in fact be acquired online in the US, so I'm going to have to order some to share with friends of mine who appreciate St Germaine elderflower liqueur, which has a similar but much heavier and sweeter taste. This is light and perhaps very slightly acidic (the influence of the lime, most likely) and really quite extraordinarily good. The cider was had with a dinner of pasta and salmon, with a spinach-ricotta sauce for the pasta, and a little spinach on the side. Quite lovely.

After dinner, Fi showed me chunks of the olympics opening ceremony (we fast-forwarded through the parade of atheletes). I don't recall ever having seen an olympics opening ceremony before, but some of this was pretty hilarious. Parachuting Queen Elizabeth with James Bond was pretty much drop dead funny, imo. It was all wildly British, so (as an American) there were occasional moments of WTF for me, but I did follow most of it. The various Interpretive Dance bits rather lost me, but reminded me of the days of my Lone Gunmen fandom, when we would threaten to do interpretive dances for one another on fic themes. "I shall now do an interpertive dance..." was a fairly common IRC comment.

Neil was watching a lot of the weight lifting stuff today, but he used to do that when he was younger, so he has a rather up close and personal appreciation for it. There was a little gymnastics and some synchronized diving as well, though some of that was the result of channel-surfing. They have 20 channels, all showing nothing but olympic events. I don't think you can actually watch anything non-olympic-related in the UK at the moment. I suspect it would be high treason. Unlike the reports I've been hearing from the US, however, they're giving really broad coverage of a lot of events and nations, so it's not All UK All the Time, as NBC has been holding the coverage hostage for Americans only.

In the midst of all of this, I was told that my ballot arrived early last week for the primary elections on August 7th, and I won't be home to vote. There's no way I could get the ballot shipped to me and sent back in time to be counted. I have only rarely missed an election of any sort since I started voting back in 1980, so this is rather a painful point for me. I would never exactly consider myself traditionally "patriotic," but I do care about what happens in the US and I tend to think that not voting is abdicating at least some of one's responsibility as a citizen, even when the options are not terribly good ones. There have been moments when it might as well have been "Cthulhu or Darth Vader, you choose!" Sometimes I think all I can really do is vote to minimize harm on a national level, but in local elections and ballot issues, I do think some difference can be made. I tend to always support school and library levies just on general principle, unless I know there's something bad/fishy going on with a particular one. Of course, anything at all with Tim Eyman's name on it gets jettisoned due to absolute loathing of the man and everything he appears to stand for. That bastard is personally responsible for a lot of the infrastructure problems in the state right now, and I am unlikely to ever forgive him for it.

Plans for tomorrow have yet to be discussed, but on the 2nd I'll be off to Penrith to check out Potfest and meet Stephen, a gent I met over twitter, who will be showing his work there. I'm quite looking forward to this.

And now I shall attempt to get something vaguely resembling sleep, as it's abouto 11:30pm here at the moment and my body is not necessarily thrilled with me. I'm doing my best to both do interesting things and get enough rest to be meaningful. It's a difficult balance when I want to do ALL THE THINGS. We'll see what tomorrow brings, eh?


GIR likes FOOD!
There was this Italian restaurant that joyful_storm found. Four of us went to dinner there. Epic food porn. Seriously. More report when I have brain cells to rub together. I haven't been able to sleep since I got up at 6:30am the day I left home.

Later, y'all!

Tomorrow - Kildare!

Exhausting but fruitful

writy pooped
Today's major project was meeting up online with Jhenah and vyviane, which was about a three hour conference chat as we worked out when and how things were happening. It was a good thing we did this, because I'd accidentally been left out of the loop for a change/shift in the schedule that left me going into a panic until they said that they'd take care of that day and we're just shifting two days of stuff from the schedule I'd been given into one day. It'll make for a rather more full day than I'd quite anticipated, with two different sets of readings/writing exercises, but I think I can live with that. I will probably want/need a down day by that point in the pilgrimage anyway, so it all worked out okay.

I did the outline for the incubation rituals today and shared that, and all the other outlines/exercises/rituals with them that I'd done so far. They've approved everything with only a couple of logistical changes that are perfectly okay by me. The last thing I have to do is write up the closing ritual; for the extra day/theme bit that we're doing, I can write up a quick ogam meditation to go with that so they can use it in more or less the same pattern I was using for the other days and places. They said they'd get back to me on that.

This basically means I have the opening ritual, all of my days of meditations and writing exercises, the incubation and dream incubation rituals, and the Airmed ritual pretty much finished, so only the closing rite needs to be really worried about now. Everything else is fine-tuning and expansion, and a lot of it can just be done from an outline rather than being something strictly scripted. The opening and closing rituals are more along the lines of "needs a script" while the others are just a series of events where everyone participates and contributes to the making of the ritual as it is happening. I still need to send stuff off to joyful_storm for her to look over. I'll try to remember that tomorrow while I'm working on the closing ritual.

I think I'm a little better at dealing with sudden (to me) changes when I'm actually in a place where we're right there and things have changed and we just have to get on with it, than with something where I accidentally got left out of the loop. Mostly it was a function of the fact that I don't actually read Facebook, and some of the things were discussed there and not actually on the pilgrimage list.

In other news, over on the Aedicula Antinoi blog, there was a post about the hero-feast of Suibhne Geilt, and my work in the Disability and Religious Diversity anthology was mentioned pretty prominently. I was really pleased by this. I didn't do a ritual for it today, but working on the pilgrimage was a lot of what has been necessary, and I suspect a panic attack was a suitable event for a day dedicated to a poet-madman. ;)

Also today I got an email from Hiraeth Press with the proof of the upcoming issue of Written River, featuring three of my poems as a preview of Fireflies at Absolute Zero, due out this fall. This is due for release on the 20th of June, with a publication date for the hard copy of the magazine due next week, so I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything, so if you want a paper copy you can actually get one. I'll be getting at least one myself.

alfrecht sent me an essay he did on syncretisms of Minerva, which he'd mentioned yesterday when I saw him. It concerns some possible syncretisms with Brigid, and a mention of a Sulis perpetual flame that I hadn't heard about before, so I'm going to be looking those bits up when I have time and bandwidth, and possibly adding mention of them to my Queering the Flame essay for the Queer Magic anthology. He says that should be ready by end of the year-ish, if all goes well. It'll be nice to have that done. I'm very much looking forward to having that material available, as I think it's important. I read the essay and found it informative, as his work always tends to be. Some good and useful stuff there and I'll have to dig a little more deeply into it when I get home.

I spent time in #writechat today, and also did a load of laundry. I managed to have the wherewithal to do a little bit of soup from duck broth I had in the freezer, French green lentils, cashew pieces, dried salal berries, a little bit of fenugreek seed, and some sambar powder. I topped it with a couple of small scoops of yogurt and it was really very good. I was quite pleased.

Overall, a pretty good day (except for the panic attack part) and I got a ton of stuff done.

A delightfully exciting day

Today's visit to the VA went reasonably well. The travel office computer system is still broken down, which means that fucking "take a number" system has gone back to the old, quiet way of "stand in line until it's your turn to go to the window," which I vastly prefer. It's so much quieter and calmer. I took a copy of the Hyperbole and a Half "improved" pain scale in to share with the group and everyone got a good laugh out of it. I was quite pleased.

After the VA, I hied myself over to Travelers, where I met isquiesque, who's back in town after her few weeks in DC for work purposes. We had chai, then wandered over to Queen Sheba for Ethiopian food for dinner. We had a fabulous conversation, catching up on life, talking about travel and global politics and writing and all that kind of stuff. She's wanting to go to some big roller derby thing up here in Everett, but doesn't have a car, so wasn't sure if she would be able to or not. I told her that, given it was the beginning of June, she could just come and stay here, because it's not that far away, and busses do run past my place that go into downtown Everett, where the event is taking place. She was pretty jazzed by the idea. It was really great to see her again. When we were done with dinner, we walked over to Elliott Bay and pawed around in the books until she headed back to Belltown and I scarpered for the car.

Upon returning home, I found I had an email from Jason Kirkey, my poetry publisher. I'd actually been talking with isquiesque at Travelers about emailing him to inquire about progress on Fireflies at Absolute Zero, so I was very amused (and thoroughly jazzed) to get an email from him. He's asked me to submit a few poems from the book for their summer issue of Written River, their online poetry journal, so as to get a little interest up for the book and start the publicity process. He's thinking probably the end of August (though it is possible maybe sooner) for starting the layout and cover design process, so we're still on track for an October release. I've emailed him back and said I'd go through the stuff tomorrow and select a few for them to choose from.

Before my friend joined me at Travelers, I scribbled a little poem together and sent it over to a website where they're having a competition for a free writing e-course. I thought it looked interesting, and I'm always up for learning something new about writing, so I submitted the poem and we'll see if anything comes of it.

Geordie will be in town soon -- he's arriving Saturday, and will meet gra_is_stor and me in the U District for the Medieval Women's Choir concert. We'll figure out other times/dates for seeing him while he's here when I see him then. I'm still hoping to get Mandragora before he arrives so we can swoon over it together, as he's got poetry in the volume as well.

So many friends, so little time!

This looks like a lot of fun for mid-May at De Laurenti's in the Market:

First on the docket is the Seattle Cheese Festival. It's May 19th and 20th here at the Pike Place Market. It's our 8th year as host and we're pumped to be welcoming you - and all the cheese makers back to Seattle for this great event. As ever, you will taste hundreds of cheeses, learn how to make mozzarella and burrata (from our very own Shane Wahlund), and watch and learn from local renowned chefs as they prepare amazing dishes with cheese. You'll taste wines from all over in our Wine Garden and you will learn, in detail, facets of the cheese business only gleaned from our remarkable Seminars. All the info and details are online, of course, at Don't forget to check out the winning Mac-n-Cheese recipe at the site as well!

Here's looking at you, kid

Marlene in a suit
This morning I went back over to Best Buy and traded in the modem that didn't work for another one of the proper type (DOCSIS 3.0). I'll do the installation when the Comcast tech calls me back on Saturday afternoon, then take their modem back to them so I don't have to pay rent on the damned thing.

Today's drive down to Seattle was pretty smooth except for about 10 minutes of near-standstill through I-5 in downtown, due to a stalled out vehicle. I got to my group on time, but only just. It was a pretty good group today - good topic, good discussion.

Once I was done at the VA, I headed over to Travelers and grabbed a chai and had some banana bread, as I hadn't really eaten much before I left. Upon finishing up, I pinged gra_is_stor to find out what our agenda was for the evening. Her roommate had the car, so I went and picked up her and a friend who is out visiting her from Boston. He's pretty cool. He also paid for our movie tickets this evening.

I really enjoyed the movie, as I always do. I keep forgetting how funny parts of it are; there's a fair bit of humor there that I like a lot. And yeah, there's no subtext between Rick and Louis at all. None. *snerk*

I updated the maps in my god of navigation today with US and Canada maps, and got the lifetime renewal option, so I can just download updates whenever they happen. In exploring the site while the downloads were happening, I discovered that (a) I can get an SD card with maps for Europe that includes everywhere I'll be going (for $99), and (b) that I can charge it on European current as well as US current. I already have the global adapters necessary, and it has a slot for a USB port, so I'll take along the camera cable that also works with the Garmin and be able to find my way around pretty well once I get where I'm going. It may not tell me every last detail about everything, but it should make finding things like restaurants and such much easier when I'm on my own.

Tomorrow I need to do some more work on the pilgrimage stuff, then I might head down to Seattle to see gra_is_stor and her friend tomorrow night, if my hip cooperates. It's been kind of stabby-pain lately, which is not pleasant, but so it goes.

I got email today from Nicole reminding me of my speaking engagement at her class on May 1st in the afternoon. The schmooze has scheduled Beltaine for May 6th, though I'm still waiting on a time to show up. I'll be providing the rhubarb cobbler. Arlen is not going to be deployed to Afghanistan again (yay!), so we don't have to worry about doing the warrior ritual for him at this time.

I'm sure there are a million things I'm forgetting, but I have had my dinner. I made duck and lentil soup, with leeks and mushroom, seasoned with rosemary, thyme, white pepper, and fresh bay leaf, and topped with feta cheese crumbles. It were YUMTASTIC. I am such an awesome cook. ;)

Busy and creaky

ow. Robertson Davies
It was another gloriously sunny day today, in the high 60s, and I went for a walk around the lake again. I forgot to put the knee brace on first, so I was kind of creaky when I got back (hip as well as knee), but it was a good walk. I stopped for a minute to take a couple of photos of some Canada geese and their goslings on the lake as I was on my way through the park.


When I got back, I wrote up a brief author interview for someone's blog. I'll post a link here if/when he posts it. The interview was about writing and publishing, so a little different than the usual Pagan stuff though, of course, Pagan stuff got mentioned because it's what I write about. He's also interested in disability issues, as he has Spina Bifida and has been in a wheelchair since he was 5, so I also talked a fair bit about the whole geilt and PTSD connection as well, and the challenges of writing with fibromyalgia, chronic pain issues, and migraines.

Today's online Isle of Man trip research netted me a web cafe with wireless access in downtown Douglas, on Victoria Street, open from 9am to 6pm, about 4 miles from the campsite I'll be staying at (and not far at all from the ferry terminal), so I should be able to be online for at least a brief update most days. I've also located Keeil Vreeshey, which is the ruin of a St. Brigid chapel, so I'll be doing my best to get out there while I'm running around. I'm thinking that renting a car for a day or two might be a really good idea so that I can get to some of the more outlying areas easily. My google-fu, let me show you it!

Last night's roast duck is currently being turned into broth for lentil soup for tomorrow. I'll be taking the bones out shortly and stripping the remaining meat from them. I walked down to the Safeway to pick up leeks and some other supplies for the soup and whatnot. I did have some veggies, but not the right sort of thing for lentil soup. I did wear the knee brace for that walk, and it helped a bit, but I had to take it off after I'd been sitting for a while when I got home. I was too tired to do much for dinner, so I made some thick hunks of toast with the kalamata olive bread I have, topped it with some goat cheese, then covered it with gravy I made from last night's roast duck. It was fabulously delicious, and I still have gravy left over, so I can do something like that tomorrow, as well!

Shiuwen from Floating Leaves sent out an email saying that from now until Saturday all the tea is 20% off, as she's clearing the decks for her trip to Taiwan in May to bring home the spring season teas, so I'm going to have to head over there and pick up some of her House Black, if she still has any in stock. I haven't been over in some months and have been out for a while. I've been drinking tea bags of English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast instead of the good stuff. ;)

I talked to Teo Bishop today on Twitter about his blog post and said I was planning on doing a response to it. He was pretty excited by that and was looking forward to seeing what I had to say, and he told me he'd link people over to my post when I have it up over on Searching for Imbas, so that'll be nice.

I did a small crafts/repair project today as well, having nothing at all to do with either the pilgrimage or writing. I have an old eyeglasses case that my glasses came with back in the 90s. It's metal and the little plastic padded case inside started coming loose. The faux leather outside wore off several years back and it has been just some slippery fabric that was rather difficult to open. I'd dealt with that temporarily by putting some duct tape in the places where I'd grasp it to open it. It was not the best solution, but it was what I could do without really thinking about it. Today I took a hot glue gun to the interior so that the part that's come loose is affixed once again, then I took an old, worn out Tibetan prayer flag and glued that to the outside. The fabric is rough enough to offer a good grip, and decorative enough to be pleasant to look at. There are a couple of photos of the finished project behind the cut here.

Two photos ahead!Collapse )

And I managed to find it

Brigid Smith
With the information from the Brigid book I got in the mail yesterday, I was able to find the entryway to the original Brigid's well in Kildare.

This link shows the overhead view. There are three intersecting pale lines in the view, and just below the one angling off to the right there is a little curved footpath. That's the entry to the well.

Sadly, from Google Maps you can't actually see the well itself, but from the street view, you can see down along the path into the area where the well can be found. What I can see there matches up with photos I've seen of the area surrounding the well.

I also spent time today looking in the various sources I have on hand and found that the "Barrule" spoken of in the Manx Traditionary Ballad is, in fact, South Barrule and was where offerings were made to Manannán at midsummer. The site is also associated with Lughnassadh celebrations. There is an ancient stone fort at the top of the mountain (it's a hill by Northwest standards, but is one of the highest points on the island) which was said to be Manannán's seat. It's apparently a 30-45 minute hike at a "moderate" pace, so I ought to be able to do the ascent within an hour to 90 minutes, even with my achy bits. I've been digging up a fair amount of other stuff as well, which is pretty exciting. I want to be reasonably well prepared when I get there so that I'll know where I want to go and how I want to get there.

Mom called today and we talked about health stuff, and my upcoming travels. She's really eager to see photos of where I travel, and I told her I'd post what I could while I was over there, but most of the pics would be posted when I got home. I also let her know that I'd check in as often as I could here while I was traveling. I don't know that I'll have access to wireless every day, particularly while I'm on the Isle of Man, but I'll see what I can do. I don't want her (or anyone else) to worry, after all.

Yesterday I'd taken a duck out of the freezer and today I roasted it and have had a bit. The rest of it is in the fridge, waiting to be taken apart and for the drippings to be turned into some gravy. I'll probably make rice tomorrow. When I was considering dinner, I figured I would sauté some asparagus, but someone mentioned that roasted asparagus was really good and told me how to do it, so I did that instead and it was, in fact, quite tasty.

It was a lovely, warm, sunny day today, almost 70f. After yesterday's physical issues, I wasn't sure how I'd be doing, but I decided to go out and take a walk around the lake anyway. I do need to get myself into somewhat better shape for all the walking I'll be doing while I'm overseas and the best thing to do is to try and get out around the lake every day. It takes me about 45 minutes to make the circuit, moving at a good pace, so it should help me get myself together. I did pretty well today and didn't have any trouble, though I'd forgotten to put the new knee brace on before I left, so my knee was a little cranky by the time I got home. It took about 15 minutes for my legs to stop having muscle twitches once I got back, though. That always feels really weird.

Tomorrow is a day for more research, and for some work on pilgrimage rituals and writing prompts and whatnot. So much still to do, but I'm enjoying the process.

In which I contemplate a knee brace

ow. Robertson Davies
I woke today about halfway through the Sunday #writechat, which was rather slow and sparsely attended, presumably because it was Easter Sunday and a fair few people were off doing things with family rather than hanging about yattering with fellow writers. Still, I had fun as I usually do. It's an enjoyable crowd.

Laundry was done while I was chatting, then I tossed myself into some clothing and went for a walk around the lake. It was a lovely, warm 68f today, and partly sunny, so it was pretty much ideal for a walk. I very much enjoyed it, and the park was pretty crowded, as you might expect on such a day. My knee was twinging a bit as I went. It wasn't enough to stop me, but it was fairly creaky. I'm probably going to want to talk to the VA about getting a knee brace sometime soon. If I'm going to walk, especially if I'm hiking overseas, I'd like to be a little more sure the knee isn't going to give out on me at an inconvenient moment - not that there's a convenient moment for joints collapsing, but you know what I mean.

Last night I'd walked over to the Safeway and picked up a few things, including a couple of lamb chops, one of which I had for dinner tonight with some asparagus, brown rice, jerusalem artichokes, and a glass of Boujoulais, which suited it quite well. It was all very tasty, and I hadn't really felt much up to cooking recently because I'd been too tired and there wasn't a lot here that I really felt like eating, nor was there much beyond pasta or a can of beans that was just something I could do quickly and without a fair bit of effort. I dislike having so little energy, but I've been taking B vitamins again and it seems to be helping a bit with that. Sadly, it doesn't do jack for the insomnigrackles.

druid_medb emailed back about Eight Winds and was very much into opening up the discussion, but I think she took it as being potentially rather more than I'd have the bandwidth to help out with. She suggested maybe a ritual (a tentative suggestion), but I don't have it in me to deal with something that involved before I leave in July. I suggested maybe we could do something at PantheaCon next year instead, considering this is pretty heavy duty stuff and I don't have the skills to deal with it if somebody goes all splodey on us. She certainly has more than I do, but I don't think Eight Winds this year is the right time or place. We'd need a lot more time and preparation to pull something viable together. That said, I do think it's an excellent idea to consider for another time and place. Depending on what's going on next year, maybe at Eight Winds in 2013 instead.

This evening I did some more work on the links document for the pilgrimage preparation. I've got something for all the various places we are (or might be) going, and most of the deities and other figures we might deal with as well, so we'll see if this is what Vyviane had in mind when she asked for something. We'll talk on Tuesday at some point, so I don't have too much longer to wait and see if I need to deal with this differently.

Monday is the CR schmooze. I guess the idea is dealing with a definition of cosmology. I'm not in charge of this ride, so I'm not too terribly worried about it. I've got other things to keep my brain spinning its wheels. I'm also meeting thewronghands for tea afterwards for a little bit, pursuant to a conversation elsejournal. Wednesday is Irish class, Thursday is group at the VA (which I should actually get to this time, gods willing) and probably meeting isquiesque afterwards. I may also be seeing another friend, but am not so certain on that one. I was supposed to see her last Thursday but something came up and she asked to reschedule for this week. Saturday is a birthday party, Sunday is the Great Spring Ceremony at the Shinto shrine and a chat with some of the people from Sisterhood of Avalon. All in all, a pretty full week. I hope I have the braincells.
foggy coast
Today, thankfully, was nicely quiet, though I did go out for a bit. I hung out with #writechat for a while today, catching up with everyone after being away for a couple of weeks. It was nice to talk to some of my fellow writers again.

I had a text exchange with ogam and he said he'd contact vyviane about the pilgrimage. Apparently, at least three people are signed up now, with promised checks heading to the Sisterhood for their places. This thing may fill up fast. (I hope it does, as that will relieve some of my remaining anxiety about whether or not it will all happen. We need a minimum of six people, I think.) I also finished reading A Journey of One's Own by Thalia Zepatos, which is about women traveling solo; there was a lot of interesting and useful stuff in it, but even the second edition is from pre-internet/pre-TSA days, so a lot of what she had to say isn't actually useful anymore. Advice on what to pack is a little odd, considering how much stuff you're not allowed to carry anymore, and the kinds of things she suggests (a skirt or two, a dress) just aren't my style at all, but there's still some excellent material about the art of traveling and staying safe when one is alone in foreign lands.

Copies of the two warrior rituals were sent off to Macha NightMare, who is working on some of those same issues with a variety of people, and who had a meeting with a group coming up on Monday. I still need to send them off to Michael, a Marine I met at PantheaCon with whom I had a lengthy and fascinating conversation over dinner one night. He's had much more direct experience with a lot of the things in question, and our discussion seemed useful to him in his ongoing work.

There was a little fiddling about with last minute things from the old computer, which had its memory excised and is now getting the "no, we're scrambling your brains now" treatment as well, in the hope that it will deal with at least a little of the squirreliness of the system's problems when OS 10.6 is reinstalled. I'll deal with the reinstall of the bare OS tomorrow sometime and ingvisson can deal with the updates himself, as he has better bandwidth at his place than I do here.

Later in the afternoon, I went over to REI to pick up a couple of things for my Manx camping trip. The backpacking tent needed a little "footprint" to put under it to protect the bottom from tears (it was on sale) and a couple of extra tent pegs just in case. I also got a really light day pack that can be rolled into almost nothing and stuffed into the corner of my main bag, for carrying things like my camera, binoculars, the iPad and keyboard, a sweater, and such while I'm away from the heavier luggage. Pretty inexpensive, considering. I also got a money belt so that I can carry my money, cards, and passport, etc, safely and out of sight without needing to carry an obvious wallet while I'm overseas.

I do need to look into getting some new hiking boots before I leave, as the ones I have are old and worn out, and I probably shouldn't just wear my Docs over there, as they're more suited to city living and are a little large on me anyway. I adore them, but they'd be problematic for actual hiking, and I'm hoping to do at least a little bit of the Raad ny Foillan (Way of the Gull), the coastal path, that circles the island. The path itself is 95 miles long and obviously I won't be doing the whole thing, but I'd love to at least take in a little of it while I'm there. I know there's a guidebook for the trail, but I'm not sure if it's still in print.

I'm also considering a new and much better sleeping pad for putting my sleeping bag on, which will be of immediate use when I go to California again in June for the Eight Winds festival. I need to go over to REI again and ask if I can check out some of the lightweight backpacking pads to see if I'd be able to sleep on them at all. The little pad I have is just too thin and cold to really be much use to me. The air mattress I carry most of the time when I'm car camping is way too big and heavy to even consider taking anywhere overseas. The backpacking pads can be somewhat expensive, but from the reviews I've read, they're really far superior and we're maybe talking 20 ounces for a good one. There is also the possibility that I'll consider getting an actual lightweight down sleeping bag, given that I do go camping a couple of times a year, and the synthetic fiber ones aren't always the warmest things going. I get cold too easily, and sleeping warm is so important when you're trying to sleep in a tent on the ground.

Serendipitously, I thought to pull out my collapsible chopsticks while I was at REI (they were originally purchased there) and ask if they knew how I could get one of the little brass end caps to replace the one I'd lost on Anderson Island a couple of years back. The gal at customer service said she'd look into it for me and took my information, but she also gave me contact info for the manufacturer. Their website lists the little caps for $5 each, so I just ordered two of them, so I'll have an extra if I lose one again! Those chopsticks are the best present I have ever received from anybody, I think. I use them at least once a week and carry them everywhere. I was so delighted to find that I could replace the missing bit!

Speaking of which, I stopped at Blue C Sushi for an early dinner after I got done at REI and used the chopsticks for that, too. ;) Conveyor-belt sushi is not particularly my thing, but it wasn't bad for being that, and I rather needed some time just to sit and think and not have to worry about cooking dinner.

At the moment, I'm sipping the last of Lucinda's blueberry liqueur, to which I added a dose of rosewater. The combination is exquisite. The stuff my sib made while he was here isn't as sweet, so I may end up adding some sugar to it to compensate; a berry liqueur should be sweet, not tasting harsh and alcoholic. Anyway, I'll be poking around with the sib's experiment and seeing if I can get it to be a little more palatable. It has, after all, aged a bit since he left. We'll see what happens.

Martians, zombies, and Babette's Feast

GIR likes FOOD!
Today was a fairly quiet day. I went to the AFK with gra_is_stor and met Gary and Melody there for a little gaming at about 2pm. The place was pretty quiet when we were there, but I was delighted that they were open. We played several varieties of Fluxx (Martian, Stoner, and Zombie), Cthulhu Munchkin, and Give Me the Brain, another zombie game. While I'm not particularly fond of zombie movies, I find zombies themselves pretty amusing. They are certainly a monster of the zeitgeist.

We were joined a bit later in the afternoon by Charles, who played a few rounds of Martian Fluxx with us, then a bunch of rounds of the quick and simple Cthulhu Dice.

Sadly, gra_is_stor's tummy has been distinctly uncooperative the last few days, so she wasn't feeling too well. We departed from the AFK about 7pm and headed back here. I'd had a bit to drink and wasn't fit to drive, so Charles drove Garuda for us, and we lit ourselves a fire in the fireplace and put on Babette's Feast, which gra_is_stor hadn't ever seen. I really do love that movie and will sometimes get a bit sniffly at its playing, as I did this evening.

When the movie was over, Charles was fetched home by his roommates, and we are now having a quiet evening here doing our own things. The fire is still on, but slowly dying. The wind has been very high today and there are a lot of branches down all over the place. It was reasonably warm over the course of the day, but it got considerably colder as the sun went down. It's about 37f now, and will probably get colder over the course of the night. It rained a fair bit. Someone said that Everett was supposed to get rain (as we did) mixed with some snow (none seen yet, thank the Gods).

My shoulder and neck are bothering me and I will probably be crashing very soon. The DoDC+3 was an utter pill today. He's managed to destroy one of the flaps on the vertical shades that cover the sliding door out to the lanai. I'm going to have to find something that he can't destroy when he goes into one of his frenzies at the door when one of the other dogs goes by. He has been biting at the shade, and has torn a chunk off the bottom of one and ripped another down completely. A few of the others have small chunks taken out of them. The shade is light plastic and I'm wondering if wood or metal of some sort (it has to be white or off-white, in accordance with the HOA agreement) would withstand difficult dog treatment. I'm rather annoyed with him, as he was also being a pill with Charles while we were watching the movie. He spent most of the day in his crate today to get him to calm down.

Anyway, the day has been, overall, a decent one but I'm achy on one side and annoyed with the beast. No writing got done today, obviously, given that I wasn't home to write, nor at the keyboard while I was home.

Tomorrow is looking like a day with Nothing Going On, which I am perfectly happy to maintain. Too much stuff and too many people. I'm glad that the seasonal steampunk tea isn't on Boxing Day but is, instead, on New Years Day. I know there is a steampunk stitch & bitch but I'm not particularly interested in going. I was told that I could bring my long wool coat and some lining material and Qi would help line it again, but that would mean I'd have to go out to a fabric store tomorrow and then out to Snohomish to get together with everyone, and I haven't the wherewithal to deal with it. I just want to stay home and maybe write and/or curl up in a corner and not do anything all damned day. Tired Erynn is currently well and truly tired.

Recap: Gaming with friends at the AFK was epic fun. Babette's Feast is filled with many kinds of win. And food porn. Dogs can be utter pills. I am tired and achy. I am not doing a damned thing tomorrow if I can avoid it.

Tuesday, I'm calling the VA and telling Julia that yoga at 2pm is too early for me to be in Seattle, and trying to get into town at that hour is more stress than the yoga relieves.

An insanely busy day

brain has failed me!
I spent much of the early afternoon today in #writechat with my writer posse, which I missed last week. We had a nice discussion and I met a poet from the Bay Area who had unwoman play for her poetry book release. She'll be up in Seattle for a reading probably in the spring, so we're talking about meeting then.

As I noted in one of my earlier posts today, I finished up the edits on the Circle of Stones file. That took most of the rest of the day, and I'm glad to finally have that off my plate. It's a relief to have it finished at last, because I get all cranky and anxious when I have to deal with it. The book was originally written so long ago that it's not terribly relevant to my practice now, or really to what's happening in the CR community, either, but people are still buying it, so I want to make sure it's available for them.

Dean Haglund (Langly from X Files and The Lone Gunmen) will be in town on the 22nd with the Seattle premier of a documentary he made about conspiracy theorists and conspiracy theories, so I got a ticket for it and offered to buy him a beer or something after he's done with the opening and the presentation. We'll see if he has time to hang out for a little while. It would be nice to see him again.

finnchuill sent me another draft of his Mandragora piece, about Orpheus, and I spent some time with that tonight, doing some edits and making a few comments on the document. I've also printed out material for tomorrow's CR schmooze. At the moment, I'm pretty well exhausted. The time change is one reason for that, of course, but just generally I've had an immensely busy day, particularly after yesterday's twelve metric tonnes of stuff to do.

I made some gluten-free cornbread for dinner this evening and sauteed chanterelles and fresh basil to have with it. It was very, very tasty.

Oh, for anyone interested, I have a DW invite code, so comment here if you want it and I'll give it to the first comer.

Today I also watched Black Orpheus with gra_is_stor -- it was a very cool movie, though the Netflix disc I have is really badly pixelated for the last ten minutes of the film. I really enjoyed this one, both for its Carnivale in Rio setting, and its interesting take on the retelling of the Orpheus myth. It's definitely worth a watch!
GIR likes FOOD!
About the only thing that could have made this better was if gra_is_stor had been able to come to dinner with us. Sadly, there wasn't a damned thing on the menu that she could safely put in her mouth. There were six of us, mostly steampunked out to one degree or another. (Rupert didn't wear anything steamy, in deference to the whole eating with our hands thing.) Maisie and Rupert were there, and Befu, and a couple who had just moved here from Milwaukee two weeks ago. We met this evening at 8pm at Marrakesh restaurant down in Belltown. As usual, driving into downtown Seattle was a freaking nightmare with all the crappy one way streets and weird angled turns that mean you're suddenly facing in the entirely wrong direction and all that other stuff.

Once I got a parking place, all was well. I was the first of the group to arrive. Maisie showed up wearing a green fez with Cthulhu on the front. There was a belly dancer and much fun was had with that -- Maisie and Befu both got talked into getting up to dance with her. (She thought we were the most fun ever.) Maisie at one point traded fezzes with one of the waiters, who also found us beyond amusing. Of course, being steampunks, we are all about the whole having fun thing, especially when food and wine are involved.

I went down to Seattle earlier this afternoon than I'd anticipated because gra_is_stor had asked if I could. She hadn't been feellng her best and wanted a little snuggling time, so we did that. When her roommate got home, we showed her Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which she had not yet seen, despite being a Joss Whedon fan. We giggled hysterically the whole time.

Now we're here and I'm tired-ish and Geordie will be here from Vancouver on the 2:15 bus so I'll probably need to crash sometime soonish. There should be snuggles. There should always be snuggles.

Visitors, yay!

Shinto shrine
I got up a bit early today so that I'd be more or less coherent when dmiley and his wife came over. They arrived right about noon from Olympia and we had some tea and talked for a bit before we headed out to the Shinto shrine. They were quite delighted by the place, and by Barrish Sensei. Doneby had studied aikido many years ago and they spoke about that briefly at the shrine. We had a ceremony and toured the grounds. I hadn't been out since they had done some repair work on the path out to the Inari shrine, and they've installed a new stone lantern and a couple of other new features as well. I've missed being able to get out to the shrine for ceremonies, but I've been out of town for most of the seasonal stuff recently. I am hoping to get to Aki Matsuri in September this year, though!

After the shrine visit, we came back and talked for a little longer, grabbing some more tea and a snack, then watching The Anchoress, which rather tied in with part of the conversation we'd been having. It was just long enough to get us up to dinner, and we walked down the street to Emory's. I hadn't been there since before the fire; the place has gone somewhat upscale from what they were, but the food and the wine were absolutely excellent. We had a knowledgable and attentive server, wonderful food, and some great conversation as well -- what a great pleasure!

They have tucked themselves into bed. They need to be out of here about noon or so to get up to Anacortes for the Orcas Island ferry, so I'll be getting up early and we'll catch some breakfast together before they leave. Perhaps they'll have a chance to stop by on their way south again; it would be lovely to see them again before they head homeward.

All in all, a lovely day. Good news from mom, Sally brought the new globe for the light on my lanai and installed it when we were out at the shrine, and I had wonderful company! How much better could it get?

Thanks, universe!

Garuda and writing news

Magical Sigils
I went in today to have Garuda's oil changed and was told that the rear brakes had worn down to only 2mm of brake lining left, so I had those replaced today. They also said the struts and rear shocks need some work (leaky bits and wearing out), but that will be a rather more expensive fix, and I'll wait on that. Next month I'll get one part of it done, then in October I'll deal with the other bit, to spread the costs out a bit. I do have a credit card specifically to deal with car stuff, so that helps, and they usually give me six months same as cash for paying them off. I usually manage to do that, so there haven't been any interest expenses; this pleases me greatly. I'm just glad I can actually afford to do this stuff when it needs doing.

The mechanic on duty today was a new guy I hadn't seen before and he said that Garuda was in really good shape for a car his age. He says he wants to get an Echo for his girlfriend because they're pretty much bulletproof and they get good gas mileage. I told him I'd been pretty happy with mine over the years but was happy to hear that a professional thought I'd made a good choice on my car.

In book news today, I got an email noting that The Scribing Ibis, a fiction anthology for Thoth, will probably be available sometime late next week. I have my first published fiction piece in it and will let folks know as soon as it's available for sale. This is another devotional volume from Bibliotheca Alexandrina, as was Queen of the Great Below, where I had a poem series published last year.

I tossed together some angel hair pasta this evening sauteed with fresh basil, mozzerella cheese, organic tomato, pine nuts, and a touch of truffle oil tonight for dinner. It turned out very nicely and I've got some left over in the fridge to zap tomorrow before I head down to Seattle. There's another free movie in Cal Anderson Park tomorrow evening, and it looks like a hilariously bad musical. I'll be meeting gra_is_stor again and swooping her back here with me for our steampunk weekend so that we can set out early for the Edmonds/Kingston ferry early the next morning. I'm still not entirely clear on when and where we'll be meeting up with alfrecht on the other side. He hasn't been able to find out about bus transfers from Port Townsend to Port Angeles. I'm hoping we won't have to make the detour through Port Townsend on the way in, but we'll do it if there's no way for him to get from point a to point b by bus.

Arrangements have been made for the next door neighbor to look after the DoDC+3 on Saturday and Sunday until I get home. I'm going to try to get on the project of dealing with September's schmooze readings on Monday after I'm back from the peninsula. I'm really looking forward to the weekend, though I haven't yet figured out what I'll be wearing for the show. I'll deal with that tomorrow at some point.

Since I now have an address for the sib, I forwarded all his mail to him. I'm glad to finally have that done.

I don't know if I'll have time to post anything while I'm away, but the motel does have free wifi. We'll see what happens.

It's time for food porn!

GIR likes FOOD!
Yesterday when I went grocery shopping, I picked up a couple of small pieces of swordfish for me and the sib. I let them thaw in the fridge overnight then let them marinate for several hours in the juice of one organic orange, accompanied by three crushed garlic cloves, a goodly chunk of ginger sliced tiny, and a small section of anaheim chile, also sliced very tiny.

Once I'd let it marinate for a while, I put it in the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes, until it was cooked through. Veggies were a saute of portobello mushroom, garlic, onion, grey squash (like zucchini but a light, mottled green), and Italian kale in sesame oil.

Dinner was declared yummy by all.

Aside from that, it was a quiet day at home. The sib says it snowed and rained before I got up, but it was cold but sunny by the time I'd emerged from my cocoon. It's currently a chilly 36f, partly cloudy, with a full moon in the sky.

I uploaded stuff to an archive site today, which took a few hours. I really should do my load of light laundry tomorrow at some point. Tuesday starts up with the VA group again. Since we don't have a chaplain anymore, we're doing a writing/journaling group for a six-week session. It should be interesting to see where this will go.

Last night's dinner (was awesome)

GIR likes FOOD!
I had been planning to stay home yesterday, given that the insomnigrackles had eaten my head the night before and that I needed to get some laundry done, but evilbusdriver rang me up and asked what I was doing. "Nothing," I told him.

"How about some dinner?"

Well, I could get behind a dinner I didn't have to cook. He stayed with me for a couple of months when he got back to town and owes me a couple of dinners out to decent places, and I was up for it. He'd wanted to go to a place in South Lake Union that had a soft opening this weekend but wasn't actually open to the public yet; when we discovered this (before we left, thankfully), he offered a few choices for things we might do. Sushi? French? Something else? I'd never been to a French restaurant before, so I said how about let's try that.

We made a quick phone call for a reservation, given that the place seats all of 32 people, and ended up at Le Pichet downtown on 1st Ave. Prices seemed pretty reasonable, though I'd been led to believe through the years that French restaurants were all hideously expensive. This one was comparable to a lot of middle-of-the-road type places in terms of price. We both had a before-dinner cocktail, some wine with dinner, and appetizers. I had the cheese plate (sans blue cheese, which always only tastes like moldy closet to me); it was very tasty. For dinner, I had the leg of lamb -- tender, lovely balance of flavors, and the broccoli rabe beneath the little pile of boneless meat was a wonderful accompaniment. The buttered noodles were perfectly done and tasty. The evilbusdriver had steak and frites, done fairly rare. We had the beaujolais rouge with dinner. It was absolutely fantastic with the meat.

I didn't get dessert. It was either too cold (ice cream or sorbet) or it was all apples and eggy things, neither of which do my body much good. I did grab a cup of green tea in order to let the meal settle a bit before we headed out into the evening. In lieu of dessert, we headed back to where we'd parked the car, and wandered into the alley there, where he hauled me into the little speakeasy-styled bar, Bathtub Gin & Co.. Tucked into an alley between Bell and Blanchard in Belltown, it's a nondescript door with a tiny brass plaque mounted on the brick wall next to it. You could easily miss it if you didn't know where it was. The only thing missing was the need for a password and a few flappers dancing downstairs in the brickwork of the underground. We each had a cocktail there, as well, before heading home.

The place has several absinthes on the menu. Four people came in, seating themselves at the next tables over, and were curious about it, so my companion and I talked a little about the drink and its mystique (he likes the stuff, I don't, but I've tasted it and read quite a bit about its history, given its connection with poets and writers). One of them ordered a glass of the stuff and they passed it around the table between them, which appeared to suit them just fine.

I had a much more bitter, herbal cocktail made with Chartreuse. I can't stand anise or licorice (beyond cooking with fennel bulb occasionally), which is my main reason to dislike absinthe. We contemplated seeing if there was a movie or some live music playing that appealed, but a quick web check didn't turn up anything either of us were really interested in. He'd suggested the Crocodile, but they were having some kind of hip-hop retrospective and that wasn't up either of our alleys, so we packed it in and I made an early night of it. I got home before 10pm and crashed fairly quickly; this was good because it meant I actually got some sleep last night for a change.

Yay for good food, good company, and good booze in interesting places! Seattle wins again.

More or less final wrapup for PCon

Monday at PCon was the Antinoan panel about how Antinous isn't just for pretty gay boys. The audience was small but engaged. After the panel, several of us went over to a discussion in progress about gender discrimination in Pagan ritual; sadly, I was only able to stay for about 15 minutes, due to being needed for packout with my Hrafnar peeps.

The situation was a group that had turned away not just men, but transwomen at the door without having specified that the ritual was restricted to women born in women's bodies only. I think there would have been considerably less uproar if they'd simply stated this fact up front. While I was in there, some of the discussion was being framed as "gender discrimination vs. religious freedom" when what really seemed to be the issue was unclear communication and exclusion from a ritual that initially had appeared more open than it actually was. Such discrimination against the transgendered is not uncommon. This is a really awful thing. Of course the whole gender binary discourse in much of Paganism is problematic, but that's been patently obvious for a long time.

I can't really comment further on the discussion, as I wasn't present for most of it.

We got some very positive feedback on the Bakkhoi Antinoou ritual on Monday. Several people told me they thought it was really good, despite that we were reading from scripts for the sacred drama. We'd had no time at all to go through it together first, and several of the participants hadn't even bothered to read it until that day, so I'm a little surprised it went over as well as it did. Star Foster wrote about it in nearly glowing terms over at the Patheos blog in the article "Concerning Three Rituals.

I was in the blog again again at Patheos when Star did a brief rundown of some of the things she'd attended earlier in the con, including a photo from the Pagan Newswire Collective meet and greet. I'm in the middle with mythworker, sitting on the couch.

One of the things that I didn't mention while I was actually at the con was the cattle raid. Traditionally, the Asatru hospitality suite and the ADF suite engage in the traditional pastime of cattle raiding. By this I mean that they have a small collection of little stuffed cows that people try to steal and hold in their suites, in plain sight, so that they might possibly be stolen back. Unbeknownst to anyone, the Sisterhood of Avalon decided, as Celty types, that they were going to play the game too. So by the time I was getting ready to head out for ritual prep on Sunday evening, the Sisterhood had all but one of the stuffed cows in their possession. It had got to the point where one of the women tied a tiny stuffed cow to a cord and dragged it along the corridor as though she were walking it, right past the Asatru and ADF suites in plain sight.

Nobody noticed.

Needless to say, the Sisterhood of Avalon won the competition hands down.

This afternoon, I spent time with finnchuill down in San Francisco. We talked for a bit then went out for lunch and then a walk at the Land's End park. We discussed several issues surrounding incubation work, and some other, more personal issues he'd been wanting to talk with me about. I think we had a really good discussion while we walked. He took me out to some sea caves, which really impressed me with their vibe. The surf coming into the caves boomed like cannons as the waves hit and compressed, and it was both magnificent and unnerving. After that we headed over to the Diana statue and left small offerings there. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, alfrecht arrive considerably later than he was expected, and instead of leaving the city at 4pm, we ended up leaving at 5, which meant I was dealing with very heavy traffic in an unfamiliar area, with the sun setting in my rearview mirror, making keeping an eye on the traffic around me quite difficult. By the time I arrived at Greyhaven to pick up lwood, I was fried pretty toasty, and asked her to drive Garuda the rest of the way to her place. She happily complied.

After dropping alfrecht at House Chaos, we came back here for a bit of decompression, then headed out for a very lovely dinner at a place called Sea Salt -- it's a seafood restaurant in Berkeley. We indulged in the finest of foodporns. There was green garlic soup and some very fresh sauteed squid (perfectly done) for appetizers. I had the steelhead with asparagus and chanterelles with just a touch of lemon and an extremely light and lightly flavored puree of parsnip on top that was TO DIE FOR. I forget what fish lwood had but it was equally yummers. We also had a bit of dessert. We got out for just under $100 for both of us (an unusual feat in a place like this). It's not something I do very often, but we did split the check and so neither of us entirely broke the bank on the dinner.

Upon arriving back here, we flopped down on the bed for a couple of episodes of the Grenada TV Sherlock Holmes -- The Final Problem and The Empty House. There was great rejoicing.

Weather home: It looks awful. I will most likely be proceeding up the I-5 corridor as usual, given that the road maintenance is likely to be better. I have no idea if I am actually going to make it into Oregon tomorrow by the time I'm too fried to drive further. I am still going to try to make Portland by midnight, but I don't know for sure if that will happen. It's just as likely that I'll need to stop on the Oregon side of the Siskiyous for the night. In any case, I'll be phoning martianmooncrab to let her know where we are stopping if it's not her place. I'll keep everyone posted. I anticipate leaving here by 9:30am and am hoping that alfrecht will be arriving here by 9am so that we can do the final getting ready things.

Wish me luck and clear roads. I'll make a final short post before I head out in the morning to let everyone know I'm on my way. I'll probably do the occasional tweet from rest stops or meal stops just to let folks keeping track of me there know my progress and that all is well and I'm safe.

Immense thanks and tons of love to everyone who has been so kind and wonderful to me throughout this trip! I'll see you next year!

Duck curry, mom, and some photos

GIR likes FOOD!
Today's foodporn is brought to you by leftover roasted duck, lotus root, shiitake mushrooms, onion, pineapple, coconut milk, and Thai red curry paste. I snagged the lotus root frozen last time I went shopping, thinking I'd find a good use for it, and I really did! It tasted excellent in the curry, and I liked both the flavor and the texture. I'll have to look into picking up some fresh lotus root at some point and playing around with it to see how to cook it myself. I have some Asian cookbooks that should have some pointers in them and some suggestions for ways to use it. It's a starchy root veg and, while the texture isn't potato-ish at all so it coudn't really be mashed, it does seem like it would be a lovely tasty thing if stir-fried or stewed.

Mom called today. She's bracing for the storm that's bearing down on the midwest right now, and concerned about power outages. We talked for longer than usual today; my brother's been offered a temp job in Colorado Springs at one of the bases, and we don't know for sure yet if he's got it. If he does, he's flying into Missouri to borrow one of mom's cars and drive it out to Colorado so he'll have transportation out there. The job would last until the end of April, so there may or may not be time for us to have a visit while he's still in the US.

We also talked about an antique vase that she has; it was her grandmother's, as I recall. She sent me some photos, including the bottom of the vase with the ceramics marks on it. It's a Royal Worcester vase, probably made in 1892, from what I could find online. If any of you are ceramics mavens and you might have any thoughts on the matter, I've got the photos she sent me under here.Collapse )

I got email back from Ruby Sara saying she'd be interested in my writing an essay for Mandragora as well as submitting some poems, so I'll be considering that. She asked about the possibility of one on Brigid, poetry, and prophecy, though I'll need to give some thought to that, particularly as I'd want to be going in a more experiential rather than a researchy direction for this sort of collection. I didn't get an answer to whether we got a trib copy of the paperback version of Datura but I'm sure more details will be forthcoming.

Tomorrow I have to go down to Seattle. It's currently down to 30f, but it's predicted to be clear and sunny until late Tuesday at least. No precipitation in the cards for several days, at least at the moment. I'm quite happy with that thought. I also have to pay bills and send money to lupagreenwolf because I owe her for something I asked her to hold onto for me. Busy Erynn is busy.

Wherein there are Vorpal Bunnies

Dance for Animala!
Today I roasted a duck for dinner, which turned out to be quite delicious. I served it with sauteed fennel and leeks, sauteed in retsina and the herbed oil from some herbed feta, then popped some of the feta in just long enough to melt a bit. It was VERY VERY TASTY. This, I think, definitely qualifies as Food Porn. I'm seriously considering a red Thai curry for the rest of the duck in the next few days.

Further messing about with Sunday's Imbolc ritual is being done, though it should all be over with soon. Tomorrow is gaming and I won't be home to mess with things until fairly late. I still need to find out if Caera needs a ride to the ritual. And I need to make time to drop by Edge to pick up something from the ritual box; I also need to remember to start soaking the rushes/grasses/whatsits for the Brigid's crosses tomorrow so they'll be ready by Sunday.

After dinner, I took evilbusdriver (who's been staying here) over with me to AFK to hang with the druids for a few hours. We played Fluxx and Monty Python Fluxx (which involved singing MP songs to draw an extra card and other such silliness). A great deal of fun was had by all. Vorpal Bunnies everywhere. And unladen swallows. And eels in my hovercraft.

I have to remember tomorrow to put some gas in Garuda and pick up some sour cream for dinner at gaming. Whee.

Catch you all tomorrow sometime!

A fantastic evening

Dance for Animala!
Final count for today was six. Bj called early saying that SJ's knee was bothering him too much, and Charles texted saying he wasn't feeling well either. Those who showed up, though, had wonderful food, great conversation, and a couple of fun movies.

The goose was done nearly to perfection. I think I could have left it in slightly longer. It was cooked but wasn't to the "coming off the bone" point, though the crispy skin was fabulous. I quite enjoyed it but, yes, it was very fatty. I also roasted parsnips in olive oil with fresh rosemary and sage, with garlic and a touch of pepper. I made goose gravy and also some mushroom gravy for our vegetarian. My stuffing was also pretty good. I had part of a rosemary diamante loaf left and hacked that up to add to the usual store bought croutons, then sauteed onion, garlic, portobello mushrooms, rosemary, sage, pepper, and cranberries in lots of butter, mixed it with the croutons, and moistened with mushroom broth before I popped it into the oven. We had a corn pudding, yummy brussels sprouts, several kinds of cheeses, and a chocolate omg thing to DIE for as dessert. There was tea and some lovely mead as well.

For our flicks, we watched Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, which several of the folks hadn't seen before. It was very well received, with laughter throughout. We also did a couple of eps of Monty Python's Flying Circus -- the ones with the parrot sketch and the dirty Hungarian phrasebook. One of our number had never seen them, so it was greatly enjoyed. After that, we watched Tampopo, which I really think is just about the most perfect food movie ever.

Folks finally departed about 12:30, as at least one had to be up in the morning, but a wonderful time was had by all. Books were pawed, films were watched, food was snarfed, and tea was enjoyed. I couldn't have asked for a better holiday with friends, so thank you everyone! You guys are the best.

Sadly, I didn't think to take a photo of the food or the goose, but suffice it to say that "foodporn" definitely did the whole thing justice. I now have the carcass simmering into soup, along with a couple of parts that wouldn't fit into my little plastic container. I do have some goose left over aside from that as well. I sent stuffing home with mintofthewater and anthea7, and Mint was kind enough to do the majority of the dishes for me. I still have a few that need to be done, but it's just a few bits here and there that can wait until I get up tomorrow.

I'll be kicking back tomorrow and just lazing around, then Sunday is the steampunk boxing day tea. I need to do something for a small tea-related gift, but I do think I have something in mind. In the meantime, tired Erynn is tired, but it's a good tired. My parts ache like crazy but I'm hoping I'll sleep reasonably well tonight.

Thank you, world, for being so awesome.

Good health news for a change

totem steller's jay
I spent time today at the VA with Nina, my primary care doc in the women's clinic. We talked for a bit about the migraines. She suggested a buttload of vitamin B-2 every day as a prophylactic, and will be restoring my previous migraine prescription for if I get a bad one. We'll see what happens. She has also prescribed a blood pressure medication that's supposed to help with prevention as well, with instructions for me to keep a close eye on the bp and pulse rates. Since I'm down at the VA about once a week anyway, she says to just stop into any clinic and ask them to check it for me, or that I can drop into a drug store and get it done for free there.

The down side of this is that the meds may make me tired (I'm already tired most of the time) and if the bp goes too low, I could get dizzy really easily. Since I sometimes grey out if I'm down checking out the floor-level bookshelves in a library or a bookshop, this doesn't thrill me in the least, but I'm intending to be very cautious about it and to stop taking them if there's any problem at all. Unfortunately, until these things have been tried, I can't get enrolled into the neurology clinic again. Last time I was there was back in 2004, when I was trying to sell the house, and the B-2 is an OTC that the VA doesn't stock, so I had no way of affording the stuff. I was having enough trouble paying the mortgage and the bills and putting food on the table. I didn't have a working toilet or shower for a few months there, so "go buy vitamins" wasn't exactly on the top of my list of things to do with my money at the time.

The good health news is that the itchy spots on my hip and the breasts have reduced considerably. She'd been concerned that it might be cancer, except that I had quite literally had a mammogram only a week or so previous that had come back clean. She was so happy about it that she was nearly jumping out of her seat with glee. I've been using a steroidal cream and some serious heavy-duty numbing stuff for the itching, and that has been helping. Some kind of eczema, apparently, though not particularly spread out.

She noted that people with allergies and dry skin tend toward eczema and asked me to show her my palms. Apparently, people with multiple or severe allergies tend to have a lot more lines in their palms than the average person, and it's got some technical medical name that I didn't write down, but it's an indication of allergies, the potential for asthma, and a susceptibility to eczema like I'd developed. It's not gone away entirely but it's reduced enough to be very notable since last time I'd seen her a few months ago. I'd always thought that the lines like that were perfectly normal -- after all, I'd had them there my entire life. I'd never really looked very closely at many other people's hands to compare, as palmistry wasn't really one of my big interests.

Anyway, I've got some advice for potential ways to avoid the migraines, the eczema is clearing up, and I'll be getting meds for the bad migraines in the mail soon.

The goose prep has started, and now it's in the fridge with the skin drying so that it will bake all crispy. It will stay there uncovered until Friday when I put it in the oven. I walked down to the Safeway this evening to pick up parsnips to roast, and pears to stuff into the goose to help reduce the fat, as well as a couple of boxes of croutons for stuffing. I got a couple of nice portobello mushrooms and fresh sage and rosemary for the stuffing as well. I have frozen cranberries in the freezer to add, so it'll be nice. I also boiled up the neck and giblets toward making gib gravy on Friday.

I finally picked up a 2011 calendar today while I was down in Seattle. It's a nice, large photo calendar of Japanese gardens that should be quite lovely next to my desk. I'd been putting it off but since I was over at Elliott Bay anyway and had a little money left at the end of the month, I figured it would be okay. The travel funds from the VA are helping with stuff like this. It's nice to not worry about overdrawing the account when basic needs are being taken care of. That was such an issue for me for very a long time. Things finally appear to be stabilizing and I'll be working again on paying off the damned credit cards starting in January.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to go over and (presumably) join Bj and SJ for dinner, though I don't have a firm time when I should be there as yet. I'll have to call tomorrow and get a time from SJ so that I don't arrive too early (or too late). I'm very much looking forward to seeing them.

Things are shaping up for Friday dinner here. We've finally got confirmation from Caera, who didn't have internet access for several days. Looks like I'll have 8 people here, in addition to myself. The menu appears to be shaping up nicely, including a gluten-free death by chocolate cake. Caera was really impressed that we actually care enough to make an effort to deal with her food allergies, but I have so many friends with so many allergies that it's only common courtesy to care about that. Our group is used to this sort of thing, so when we know, we make an effort to deal with it.

Overall, a very nice day.

Kinda lost track of time there

I woke at some ludicrously early hour this morning (before 11 -- ludicrous by my standards) after having gone to bed at about 4am; I think I woke up because it was actually bright out today and my bedroom was all sunny for a change.

Anyway, tiredness pursued me through much of the day and I didn't make the banana bread I had hoped to, but I did get it together enough to go out to Stian's birthday party, and I got home about 20 minutes ago. I got a chance to talk with purple_mark there, whom I hadn't actually seen in about 15 years. It was great to catch up to him, and he brought some of his home made chocolates and cordial. He brought triple cinnamon truffles and mole truffles (I had one of the moles), and the cordial was a victorian recipe blackberry spiced with clove and allspice that was just fantastic.

I also talked local Pagan history with sebastian_lvx for quite some time. There were many deep and convoluted loops in that one. I had a great time at the party and headed home about 1am so that I could pill the dog. Tomorrow I have to head out to Bj and SJ's for gaming. Should be fun, and I'm looking forward to it. I have to remember to bring along the sour cream as my contribution toward tacos.

At the moment I'm vaguely headachey but I'm hoping that if I manage to get to bed shortly, I'll be feeling all right by the time I get to the Eastside tomorrow.

Mom, I'll try to remember to post that poem in the next couple of days.


GIR likes FOOD!
Today I had the delightful company of varushka for tea and some nutmeg scones. We talked for a couple of hours about dog stuff and food and her school work. It was nice to have a little company, and it was a good break from some of my fretting.

I spent an hour or so digging around in books looking for what I need to bring with me for the CR schmooze on Monday to hand out for the January schmooze. I've collected a couple of things and sent a note to the yahoogroup as a heads-up and to see if there are any objections. If not, I'll do the copying Monday afternoon and haul things in that evening. I have the following for our overview of history of the Celts and some basics on ideas about the druids through the ages:

map from Cunliffe's "The World of the Celts"
Miranda Green's introduction "Who Were the Celts" from "The Celtic World"
from "Druid, Shaman, Priest: Metaphors of Celtic Paganism," the intro section, "Druidic Knowledge: Reconstructing Lost Traditions"

It's about a dozen pages all together. The initial suggestion had included the history chapter from Alexei Kondratiev's book, but that was nearly 60 pages and I wasn't going to bother dealing with that, especially if we don't know how many people we'll be having.

After all that, I toddled off to do the grocery shopping. I picked up a smallish frozen goose for the first time. It was just under $40, so I think I did pretty well. I'll do it up later this month to see how it goes. It should be nice, given that I like duck. Of course, it's also huge compared to a duck, so if somebody wants to join me for goose later this month... well, you ought to speak up!

Aside from that, not much new. Haven't had the wherewithal to deal with the Queering the Flame essay, but perhaps tomorrow I'll have a little bandwidth for it.

For now, I have a bowl of goat and lentils curry. It is tasty. Yum.

Here be foodporn

GIR likes FOOD!
So yiaya came over today and we made baklava. It turned out fabulously! I also still have some fillo left over for other projects. I'm still thrilled with how easy this stuff is to actually use, though it's starting to get just a touch damp in places and sticking to itself, which does make it slightly more frustrating to work with.

I used walnuts, and the syrup in the recipe I used wasn't as sweet as a lot of the commercial baklava I've had, which was a distinct point in its favor. The finished baklava was sprinkled with powdered cinnamon and cardamom before being consumed. yiaya brought over some peach liqueur she'd made. That still needs to mellow some, but it is going to be really fantastic when it's done - vodka, peaches, green cardamom pods, rosewater, and sugar that have been soaking since early August. She decanted a little for me so I can let it age, and I sent her home with four chunks of baklava.

Dinner was some seafood gyoza and a stir fry of bok choy, napa cabbage, ginger, and onion, with a bit of a sauce to it. I tossed together a gyoza dipping sauce of black sesame oil, mushroom shoyu, sake, rice vinegar, and nanami togarashi pepper mix.

We watched the last two eps of Brisco County Jr on the dvd I had and I've popped that into the mail to send back to netflix.

There's a foodporn photo behind the cut. Baklava!Collapse )


What I accomplished today

all your books!
I spent some time today photocopying the article from Études Celtiques on Airne Fingen, about kings in exile that has some bearing on my geilt work. I've read most of the article and realized I really should have a copy for that work. Sadly, the copier on my printer is fairly slow, so it took a while to get those few pages done.

After that, I went through the entire history of brig_irreg looking for entries about the liturgy and other issues that will be useful for both the Queering the Flame essay and the Brigid and flamekeeping book. There's some good stuff buried back there. I marked them in memories (private) so that I can find them again for use when they're needed. Info includes names of the folks who wrote bits that I pulled from for the liturgy, sources, and various notes on issues regarding flamekeeping in general.

At the moment, I'm snacking on some scallops sauteed in ghee with ginger, shallots, and chat masala, then turned into fried rice. Very very tasty stuff. It's spicy but mellow. I'm also watching the feed of the DNA Lounge steampunk show, waiting for Abney Park to make their appearance. Currently, the stage is being set for them while a DJ spins some tunes for the crowd. I've been nattering with a few local fellow fans who are also watching the feed.

Even though I haven't really cracked a book today, I feel like I got quite a bit done, having spent an hour or two reading over the old BI posts. The thing about research is that it isn't all reading books or making notes. A lot of it is actually finding the resources, then taking the time to sort through things. Another goodly chunk of it is spent mulling over what's been found and/or read, working on sorting it into useful concepts and categories that can be expressed in the written work.

Deciding how useful a piece of information might be is a part of learning to do research. Sometimes a bit of info that you didn't think would be at all important turns out to be a hinge-point for a whole argument, so it's always important to make notes and keep track of where everything comes from. Being able to find and cite your sources later is extremely important. I can't tell you how many times I've smacked myself for not writing down where I'd got some tiny bit of something-or-other that I've desperately wished to look up again later, when it turned out to be far more important than I'd thought.

Tomorrow I've got gaming over at Bj and SJ's place. It's been about two months and I'm not sure I even remember where we were in our campaign. No doubt, I shall be informed soon.

And now, Abney Park is about to take the stage.

What day is it?

December 2014



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