Stuff and things, including an important update

So it's not even 8:00am on a Monday. Bleh. I've been up for about 3 hours now, and you can imagine how awesome that is. But on the bright side, I got up early enough to turn off the yoghurt I made last night (from fresh culture! - lactis, bulgaricus, bifidus, and acidophilis! mmmm...) and now I'm at work 1.5 hours early.

First and foremost, let this serve as an important announcement. Peat and I will not be getting married on October 13th. No, the wedding's not off, just postponed.

That is to say, it got to be the end of August and we kind looked at each other over the weekend and said "Aw, crap. It's in a month and a half and we haven't even sent out invitations yet. How do you feel about a spring wedding?" So anyway, we're rescheduling. I'm not sure when yet, but springish. Maybe mid-May?

So one other major breakthrough: I finally managed to stretch my ears again! For those of you who don't know, I had stretched my ears up to 4g so that I coul put in 6g jade plugs, but the plugs were so concave that they shrunk up and I couldn't get them out again! I like them, but I was a little worried I'd be stuck with them indefinitely. But anyway, last night I decided (not for the first time, but for the first time successfully) to do something about it, and found a couple of particularly flat 10g tapers and put them in, with lots of vitamin E, next to the jade plugs. that kind of hurt and sucked, mostly because they weren't a uniform shape and my ear felt pinched. Anyway, about an hour later, I tried to take out the plugs, but still to no avail, so taking advantage of the slight stretching I got from the 10g tapers, I moved up to 8g, and oddly, they weren't as uncomfortable as the 10g. Don't get me wrong - they were still plenty uncomfortable. But finally, after a couple hours, I got the jade plugs out and put a 4g taper back in. I'm going to give them a few days to mellow out before i try going any bigger, but next goal is 2g. Actually, I'd like to be at 0g by the time I'm 30, which gives me about 11 days. I think I can do it, but we'll see how it goes and what my ears tell me as the process goes on.

In other bright news, in my effort not to be a gigantic fat ass by the time I'm 30, I've lost nearly 10 pounds since my really low point back around June. Don't get me wrong - I could still stand to lose about 40, but let's just start with what we have.

I also got rid of my mohawk last night ... [wistful sigh]... It was fun, and I'll probably do it again next summer, but when it comes right down to it, it was just a pain in the neck to maintain it, and I'm plum out of the only product that could actually make it stand up straight, and I don't know where to get more. Plus, the students return in 10 days and I have to start looking more like a 30-year-old supervisor and less like a 20-something punk. Although ideally I strive to look like both, simultaneously. One drawback to having a mohawk all summer - I have a big white tan line right down the middle of my head!

I've been thinking a lot about this turning 30 thing, and I'm starting to accept it, albeit on my own terms. One thing I've been thinking about is getting another tattoo. I wish I had the foggiest idea what I wanted to get, though. I've also been thinking of getting my septum repierced with a retainer (ya know, supervisor and all), but I haven't quite decided yet.

Oh, and in the spirit of pagan holidays, this one wasn't so much misappropriated, but this is the solar term known as The End of Heat, and boy is that ever true. After three weeks of 90s and no rain, it's been pissy and cold since Thursday, and today there is a projected high of 60. It's not supposed to get above the 70s again in the foreseeable forecast. Not that I'm complaining - that month of 90s sucked. On the downside, it's supposed to rain the whole time, which is partially nice, since we need it, but we've recovered from the draught over the weekend and now we're just getting inundated. Just about everything south of here has already been declared a disaster zone, and 10 people are dead or missing just since yesterday because of massive flooding of most of southern Minnesota.

Anyway, back to work with me. I have 24 hours to churn out a kick-ass image for the Journal computers, write up instructions for installing Symantec AntiVirus and the VPN client for the incoming students, and clean my cluttered desk.



Lammas/Lughnassadh In my continuing series on misappropriated pagan holidays, Happy Lammas, the Catholic version of Lughnassadh, roughly translated from the Language of Superfluous Letters That May or May Not Have Any Relation to the Sound They Make, a.k.a. Irish, as "The Murder of Lugh," (pronounced, depending on what pagan you're talking to or which county in Ireland you're from, as ['lu.na.sa].

The short version of the history behind this particular holiday has to do with the changing of the seasons from summer to fall (as this is the midpoint of summer - the astrological equivalent of 15 degrees Leo, which is directly between the summer solstice (0 degrees Cancer) and the autumnal equinox (0 degrees Libra). That's about as far into it as I get, because I'm a Virgo, and I like numbers and facts and things that I can make lists of. However, the Celtic legend is the story of Lugh (or Llew, in welsh), which is about all I can say about that, since I'm not a celtic-style pagan. I also haven't got a clue what the Catholic version of the holiday entails. But that's the mathematics of it.

A subject with which I am a bit more familiar, however, is this holiday's equivalent in Taoism, which is the day on the Solar calendar known as Li Qiu (??), or the beginning of Fall. The Chinese calendar reckons seasons one step back from the western way of thinking, in that the beginning of fall is at lughnassadh and the autumnal equinox is then considered the middle of fall. Samhain, equivalently, is considered the beginning of winter, and I think at least those Minnesotans among us can confirm that winter does not hold off until December 21st.

The Chinese Solar calendar is divided up into essentially 24 sections of approximately 15 days each. Every third section is what we western pagans might consider one of the quarters or cross-quarters, although the Chinese have traditionally been a lot more specific/obsessive-compulsive about their actual dates, and they quite cleanly and neatly correspond to every 5th degree of the Earth's path around the sun. Therefore, while we might say that Imbolc/Candlemas falls on February 2nd, Li Chun (??) actually falls on the mathematical midpoint of Aquarius, which is usually around the 4th, give or take a day; Samhain we tend to celebrate on October 31st, but the crossquarter is generally November 7th; etc.

On another note, Happy Birthday, Grandma!


I35 Bridge, continued

So the President was here today to survey the damage by helicopter. Actually, according to this morning's news, the two helicopters flying around contained:

George W. Bush
Tim Pawlenty
Amy Klobuchar
Norm Coleman
Keith Elison
Michelle Bachman
RT Rybak

All the forces of Good and Evil, hovering around right outside my window. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.


35W Bridge Collapse

I figured I should put this out there and let everyone know that I'm okay and everybody I know is okay. They were back up to 6 dead this morning, but they're expecting that number to increase significantly today when they start pulling cars out of the river. Their immediate objective is to "only pull out cars containing bodies."

Personally, I lucked out big time just due to the fact that it was hot and I decided to take the bus home instead of my usual walking route, which would have taken me directly under the bridge at that time. I've done the calculations in my mind a thousand times now, and I'm fairly sure that if I had walked home as usual, I would have been either directly underneath it or within 20 feet either side when it fell. Here's to being lazy.


Happy Misappropriated UnPagan Holiday!

Since I missed Mayday and MidSummer, I thought today was a good day to post, even though, instead of a misappropriated pagan holiday, Friday the 13th is actually an unpagan holiday misassigned to paganism. Or something like that. Because witches gather on Fridays in groups of 13 or some crap. But it's fun anyway. A good day to be home sick, too, since the network just went down at work. Coincidence? Um... yeah, I'm pretty sure it is.


Saturn, come back and take Stuart away!

So I haven't blogged much about my dear upstairs neighbor Stuart, but he's currently hit a new oil slick on the highway to complete and utter psychosis. He spent the day today removing all the brick from our back patio (which, for the record, Peat and I helped build), and since sundown he's been just stalking around the premeses clutching his cat and circling the building.

The management company gave him until tomorrow to get all of his crap off the patio that he's been storing there for the past three months, and though that's all still there, he actually removed the patio itself. All the bricks are piled in his parking space and he's parked on the street.

I shouldn't laugh too much, but he got a ticket. Hehe.

He filed a grievance against Peat this week for offering people raspberry plants. We can't really explain why. He's nuts. And now, desperate. And as far as I'm concerned, dangerous.

I've even given up trying to visualise him falling in love and moving away, or being happy, or anything like that. And I know better than to try visualising him getting run over by a bus, no matter how happy it would make me. At this point I just keep imagining the day when Jen will move in upstairs and we'll be a happy little coven again with Ms. Maus next door.

Anyway, I'm not even talking about anything, just babbling and ranting. I'm home sick today, so I'm allowed. Oh, and my THIRD saturn return is on Saturday, so I'm bitter too. But I'm trying to be positive about it. Listening to a lot of Tool and all.

Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity
calculate what you will and will not tolerate
desperate to control all and everything
unable to forgive your scarlet letterman.

Clutch it like a cornerstone
otherwise it all comes down
justify denials and grip them to the lonesome end.

Clutch it like a cornerstone
otherwise it all comes down
terrified of being wrong
ultimatum prison cell

Saturn ascends.
Choose one or ten.
Hang on or be humbled again.
Humbled I am.

Saturn ascends, comes round again
Saturn ascends, the one, the ten
ignorant to the damage done.

Sinking deeper.

Saturn comes back around to show you everything
Lets you choose what you will and will not see and then
Drags you down like a stone or lifts you up again
Spits you out like a child, light and innocent.

Saturn comes back around
Lifts you up like a child
or drags you down like a stone
to consume you till you chose to let this go.

Give away the stone.
Let the oceans take and transmutate
this cold and fated anchor.

Give away the stone.
Let the waters kiss and transmutate
these leaden grudges into gold.

Let go.

Well, some of that's paraphrased. Interesting... a bunch to think about. How much of this is about Stuart and how much is about me? Well, given the Saturn connexion, it's about me, of course, but Stuart is kind of a psychotic phuque. But should I care? I'd love to see him get his comeuppance, but I'm sure he'll bring that on himself. I just need to sit back and wait and let him give away his own stones. I don't need to be carrying any for him.



So Peat made this deal with the local Sisters Camelot. They're a group that distributes organic food to people, kind of a hippy non-profit gig. So Peat made a deal with them that whatever food they have that they can't deliver or is going bad they'll drop off at our friend Scooter's (he lives next door to them) and he'll bring them here for the chickens.

So far, it's been pretty cool - every couple/three days we get a couple heads of organic lettuce or day-old sprouts or something like that. Then, a week ago, we got eleven CASES of organic bosc pears.

Most of them weren't even going bad. Sometimes they just can't deliver things because they don't have enough transportation, which is what I think happened in this case. So the last week has been spent coming up with new and exciting ways to use pears. We're pretty proud of ourselves - we only ended up throwing out a box and a half. It turns out ducks and chickens don't even like pears, which put the pressure on us to use them up.

Six dozen pints of ginger pear preserves.

I don't know how much pear sauce, pear butter, and pear chutney.

By the way, we were just kinda fooling around in the kitchen when we "invented" pear chutney, but it's awesome! Pears, onions, shallots, clove, cinnamon, 5-spice, nutmeg, vinegar... who knows what else we threw in there. It makes an awesome addition to curry.

Anyway, I took about two cases and mooshed them down into 4 gallons of pear juice, to which I added pectic enzyme, two lemons, a couple cups of very strong tea, sugar to 1.060SG, distilled water to 5 gallons, and champagne yeast. It's bubbling away in the pantry and should be ready to bottle in about three weeks, then ready to drink in about 3 - 6 months. Perry is essentially hard cider, only made out of pears. The plan is to serve it at our wedding coming up in October.

Anyone who wants any kind of preserved pear product, please let me know!


Happy Spring!

D'oh! I've done it again... this whole posting on pagan holidays thing! I swear, this was not intentional! I just wanted to blurb that I started a new profile for the Artificial Languages group, which I'm trying to use to get people to blog about their linguifacti. Anyway, those of my friends who are into glossothesis should check out http://www.myspace.com/d_paul_alecsandri and check out my Theadish blog. (See? I told you I'd get around to blogging about it eventually!) I see there is also a "Conlang" group here on myspace, but it's more geared towards conworlds than linguistics. We'll see though.

In other news, I stretched my ears last night to 6 gauge and they hurt a LOT. But it's all good. I got a lot of very pretty new jewelry for them.

Happy day when baby jesus hatches out of a pastel egg laid by a horny rabbit... and if he sees his shadow there'll be six more weeks of winter... or something.

Frīða Ōstra!


Imbolc and Coconut Snow Oranges

Well, in keeping with my tradition of commenting inappropriately on misappropriated pagan holidays, here's my Imbolc post.

Imbolc was kind of a bust, but kind of awesome. Actually, I think the technical cross-quarter is today, but we had a little Brighid feast on Friday for the full moon.

It has not been above 0ºF since Thursday, and even then it only got up to 5º. It's currently -11º. So, yeah, living in Minnesota for the winter screws up Imbolc plans. Nathan is the only person who showed up, despite several others who said "Yeah, we'll be there" and then "Um, we might be there" and then "It's just too damn cold." So thank you, dear Nathan, for braving the arctic chill for us!

One of my Imbolc traditions that I've been doing for about 10 years now is that every year I make Chinese Snow Oranges, since I have this weird obsessive-compulsive thing about eating orange food on this holiday. They're god, but they're always way too sweet. This year I changed the recipe and I think I've got a winner:

3pktsunflavoured gelatin
3/4cupscold water
116oz. cancoconum cream (not coconut milk!)
211oz. cansmandarin oranges, drained (reserve syrup)
3 1/2cupssugar
1pintheavy whipping cream

Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water. Gradually stir in coconut cream. Set aside.

Drain two cans of mandarin oranges and reserve the syrup. Add water to the reserved syrup to make 3 cups. Combine the syrup with 3 cups of the sugar in a medium-large saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for five minutes. Add to the gelatin/coconut mixture and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Let cool to lukewarm (105ºF is about right).

If you have a KitchenAid, this next part will be a snap. Otherwise, just go out and buy whipped cream from the store. Take your metal KitchenAid bowl and put it outside (or in the freezer) until it is very cold. Add the heavy cream to the bowl. Using the whisk beater, beat the cream on speed 4 while gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the vanilla. Increase the speed gradually to 8, stopping every few seconds to check to see if peaks are forming properly. Once a stiff peak forms, you have whipped cream. Do not overwhip the cream! (It will become butter.)

If you are just making a pan of this stuff, fold the whipped cream into the lukewarm gelatin. Press mandarin orange slices into the dish - they will sink through the whipped cream and rest on the jello, and sort of glow. Chill for 4 hours and serve.

If you want to be really facy about this, though (and i recommend it!), fold half the whipped cream into the gelatin and mix thoroughly. Then spoon the rest of the whipped cream into individual ramikins and pour the gelatin over it, then garnish each with 4 - 5 orange slices.

This should make about 12 servings.


When will it end???

So on Saturday, Peat and I are going to my family's christmas up in Monticello! How much freakin' christmas can we take? This is seriously starting to reach critical mass. I have so little holiday spirit left, it's not funny.

Anyway, I should blog a serious blog about þýdisc soon.

On a brighter note, though, our geese started laying eggs last weekend! We've had six eggs so far, always two at a time, always two days apart. Go girls!