Saturday, January 10, 2015

Life and Death

I try so hard to remind myself that death is a part of life, and that it shouldn't be something to fear. After Greg’s gran passed away, his aunt asked me what I believe about what happens to us when we die; mom also asked me when her bff passed. My answer was this: Matter is never destroyed; it only changes form. The stuff of which we are made was born eons ago, was part of something else many, many times over, and eventually became what we are now; when the spark of life is gone and the physical part of us is consumed and transformed, we become something else. The matter of which we are made goes on to nourish trees, animals, and, when the planet finally takes the next step, every particle of us will go out into the universe until it accretes into something new. In a sense, there is immortality. It just doesn't happen quite the way a lot of people expect--and I apologize if I’ve offended anyone by saying any of this.
As a Bastist, I can only assume that the belief about the afterlife is similar to what the priests of the ancient world taught. Rather than the afterlife being vaguely skyward, the Field of Reeds was believed to be far to the west, where the sun finished his journey through the hours of daylight. Because the lifespan of the typical Egyptian person 10k years ago was relatively short--due to disease caused by lack of sanitation, insects, poor nutrition, dental problems, etc. and other causes--the notion was that the afterlife would give the soul a chance to have the kind of long, happy life the physical part of the person didn’t necessarily have a chance to live. The dead were often buried with little statues called ushabtis who would function as servants and laborers in the afterlife: planting and harvesting crops, brewing the beer, building the monuments, and so on, leaving the blessed souls to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor. 

Only souls whose hearts were lighter or in perfect balance against the Feather of Ma’at were permitted to make the journey to the Field of Reeds; those whose hearts were heavier went to the Egyptian version of hell. A place filled with dangers, this also provided an explanation for what happened to the sun during the hours of darkness. During the approximately 12 hours of dark, the sun also passed through the twelve precincts that punished those who weren’t sent to the Field of Reeds: being cut to pieces by creatures resembling the Furies of Greek myth, being pursued by the serpent Apep--the sun god’s mortal enemy; physical tortures like being left at the doorway to the place of judgement in such a way that the door hinge continually squished the eye every time the door opened. (See the Amduat, found in the tomb of Thutmose III.) Oh. And having your heart fed to the Devourer if it was heavier than the Feather of Ma’at ensured that the soul was condemned to eternal wandering, which was viewed as far worse than suffering the horrors of the hours of the dark.
It's neither more nor less valid than any other system's teachings about what happens to us when we die: they're all attempts to answer a question that is seen as unanswerable just as they're all attempts to give some comfort to the bereaved. 

So much has happened in the past three years. I moved to Vermont, became engaged, got married, started volunteering at a shelter for abandoned and feral cats, made a lot of good friends, and lost my beloved kitty. I spin, knit, honor the Lady Bast, keep my husband's and my nest in a way that suits us both, and occasionally dabble in gardening. I adore my husband and my kittens at the shelter; I'm loved in return. I have a social life that's unexpectedly lively, and I have learned--and continue to learn--a lot about all manner of things.
In the Spring, there's mud during and after the thaw, and there's life burgeoning in the woods; there's maple syrup. In the summer, there's rain--lots of rain--and the sunny days are a delightful treat. In the autumn, the leaves are spectacular and there are lots of fiber events to enjoy. In the winter, there's peace in the hush brought by a snowfall; the whole world seems to be muffled in a dense cloak of white.
I love being here.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Spring has been springing up and down the street. Lilacs are blooming, the apple tree on the corner is covered with blossoms, and hanging baskets full of impatiens and pansies are hanging on people's porches. The front flower bed has been a little neglected, but we're making progress cleaning out the weeds and grass and maple seedlings in preparation for planting roses and irises. While we probably won't get any flowers from the irises this year, it's possible the roses might manage to produce something besides a single bud. I can't wait to see how things turn out. =^..^=
Well.. I'm here. I've been here for a bit more than a month and am fairly settled in. Last weekend, the kitty came to join; she, too, has been settling in, though the first few days were a bit bumpy. She loves taking advantage of the window screens by sitting on the sill and letting the breezes bring her all manner of interesting scents and sounds, and that's when she's not poking her little nose into Rasputin's closet or behind the washing machine. The house is less quiet with her yowling pronouncements and complaints after she kicks her catnip mouse under a piece of furniture and can't get it back out.
Baking has been sort of up and down. I've decided I'm not too keen on whole wheat flour because I keep getting nice little bready doorstops. A number of people have made suggestions on dealing with this problem, but I think I'll revert to my normal routine of using all-purpose flour instead of continuing to do battle with the doorstop monster. Mmph!
Still knitting and spinning, of course. My drafting technique has changed a little since I watched Abby Franquemont's Respect the Spindle video, but I think it's improved and allowed me to spin a more consistent yarn. Now I just need to work on my carding and not abuse the brushes so. >.<

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I started boxing up my things a few days ago in preparation for the epic journey. It's kind of strange how about eighty percent of my life is tied up in books. Awhile ago, I started trying to reassemble the more beloved books from my childhood, like Blueberries For Sal and The Sky Is Full Of Stars. When I started packing things into the first box, I realized that if I actually read about half the books I own, I'd be a really well read person.. the combination of things like Ovid and Chaucer is probably not that unusual, but throw in a few things like Dragonology and Good Faerie/Bad Faerie, and things start to become a little more tangled.
I've arrived at the conclusion that the ratio of boxes will end up being something like 2:1... until we start thinking about yarn.
So far I'm likely to end up with one box kitchen stuff, one box of clothes, four boxes of books, two boxes of yarn, and gods alone know what other impedimenta will manifest when it comes time to start loading the car. 
The last time I moved, it was literally around the corner. I've lived in the same house for twenty-five years. The prospect of moving household to become part of another household is a little daunting, but I know the various parties involved will do everything they can to make the transition as smooth as possible. 
The weather has also changed rather dramatically. The past week was mostly somewhere around freezing temperatures, but now its up to 70. I'm sitting outside as I write this, enjoying the sunshine and watching a single honeybee look for something appetizing. The plants are trying to bud, but I think they'll be in for a nasty shock when they realize it's still February.
A philosophical question has been tugging at my subconscious: At what point does something change from being "yours" to being "ours"? Is it a gradual shift in perception? Or is it something that happens all at once?  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Good gad.. It's official.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


It's been entirely too long since my last post. Much has happened, though, so now seems as good a time as any. =^.^=
In January, shortly after New Years, we lost our beloved Dog. Suffice it to say that after a protracted struggle with degenerative arthritis, she's in Elysium now, chasing bunnies and running through fields, her ears flapping and her tail wagging.
On about January 3, Rasputin and I left for Vermont. After a couple of hiccups involving the unexpected demise of one of the front tires along the interstate, we reached his parents' house. We were exhausted, hungry, and stressed; his parents gave us a wonderful dinner of fried eggplant and salad and bread before letting us continue on our way home.
The original plan was that I was supposed to stay a week, during which I would do a bit of job hunting and we'd hang out with his friends and family while doing whatever it is couples do. And then the first snowstorm hit. I got a phone call from the airline saying that my flight was cancelled and that I could reschedule without any additional fees. It snowed... and snowed... and snowed... and.. yeah. The following weeks were conducted in much the same vein: the weather continues to conspire with someone--Rasputin, perhaps?--to keep me here. 
I've been pleasantly surprised that, in spite of my expectation that one or the other of us would begin to suffer from Too Much Birthday, everything has been going beautifully. No fights, no arguments, no throwing of canned goods, and no trifling disagreements. We work well together and I feel that I've been integrated into a household and a routine in a way that's comfortable. I'm not a Stepford Girlfriend, which pleases me enormously, and I'm comfortable with the way things are. All that needs to change is my employment situation. There's a document preservation/conservation place here.. that's one of the places on my list of applications.
Much cooking, baking, visiting back and forth with Rasputin's parents, gaming with GURPS or other similar things (I'm getting the hang of it slowly.. I think), and now the addition of two new friends in the neighborhood is an unexpected bonus. Among other things, I finished the Earl Grey socks; he was so thrilled with them that he said, "You're awesome. My first pair of real socks!" and immediately put them on. I need to take a picture of the finished socks at some point, I guess. Next up is likely to be a pair of Glittens or some Dragon Paws. Note: This officially means I've succeeded in finishing my Yule knitting... a month late. And now I have several  birthdays and a few more holidays to knit for. Ye gads.. Fortunately, I'm situated perfectly to take advantage of Webs and The Green Mountain Spinnery. Oh, yeah.. the Golding Spindle folks live practically next door.
There's a pair of octogenarians next door. And they like pumpkin bread. The wife is a knitter who's currently working on a complicated Aran sweater; the husband is an avid genealogist. This morning after Rasputin left for work--armed with a bento box filled with salad, rice, and some of his Cajun blackened chicken--I decided I wanted to make some pumpkin bread. I discovered, however, that we only had one egg in the house. It sounds very clichéd to go knocking on someone's door to ask for a cup of sugar, but that's pretty much what I did.. and I promised to return as soon as the pumpkin bread was ready. Which I did. And spent the next two hours chatting with the missus--she used to have Old English Sheepdogs and loves to read... I'll bet she's got lots and lots of interesting stories to share about all manner of things. Both of them, really. When I finally made my way back home, I came away with an armload of knitting books which were destined to be recycled.. including one from 1961. SelkieB, you're right.. there's nothing better than learning things with someone who's either very aged or very youthful. =^.^=
Assuming the weather cooperates, I'll be heading south next Wednesday. And in the spring sometime, I'll be packing up my books, yarn, and other important gear (pens, ink, laptop, and cat) and moving.
Zounds... It's daunting. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice Delights

5.5 cups all purpose flour 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ginger 
1/2 tsp nutmeg 
1 cup sugar (or more or less if desired) 
1 cup candied orange peel and/or dried apricots (or that dried fruit mix they sell for fruitcake) 
.5 cup coarsely chopped almonds 
1 cup melted, salted butter 
2 cups scalded milk 
1 tbsp yeast 
1 tin of almond paste 
confectioner’s sugar for dusting
(I use a standing mixer, so my technique isn’t exactly standard.) Mix dry ingredients, sugar, and yeast in large bowl while the milk is scalding and the butter is melting. When the temp drops to about 130, pour it into the dry ingredients and mix, mix, mix. Add the fruit and nuts and keep mixing. If the dough is slightly sticky, add a bit more flour and keep mixing until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl; turn out onto a floured surface and knead about ten or fifteen times before returning the dough to an oiled bowl to rest. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for an hour in a warm place. When the dough has doubled, punch down; repeat. When the dough has risen a second time, punch it down again, knead it a few times and divide it into however many loaves you plan to make. Divide the marchpane into the same number of pieces and roll into a cylinder or rope. Shape the dough around the marchpane, pinching the seam and tucking it under; after the dough has been shaped, let the loaves rest on buttered baking sheet (covered with a towel) while the oven heats to 350.. about 35 minutes or so. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes and remove from oven. Move to cooling rack and let the bread rest until it’s cool, then roll it in confectioner’s sugar (or just sprinkle if you feel like being a bit more conservative with the sweetness :P), shake gently to get rid of excess.
Happy Solstice, kids. =^.^=

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


When all is said and done, and people are pains in the fanny, there is much satisfaction to be derived from the fact that yes, dammit, I'm good at what I do and I can knit them under the table. Case in point.. I have now finished another object on my list of holiday gifts and intend to crow about it.
1. For Rasputin, there is half a pair of ____. The other will be completed as time permits, which hopefully means before the self-imposed deadline of New Year's Eve.
2. For Heather, there is a ____. I'm thrilled with the way it turned out.
3. For Rasputin's mum, there is also a pair of _____. They're heavier than I was expecting, which is blamed on the fact that I didn't check the yarn label before I started knitting. Oh, well.. they'll be just fine for those long, cold New England winters.

I still have a ways to go yet, but.. yeah.. I'm feeling accomplished. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, you pompous prat.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

For your listening pleasure we present...

Suggested Samhain playlist:
From Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, the excerpt "The Little Hut On Chicken's Legs"
From Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, the fifth movement "Songe d'une nuit de sabbat"
Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre
From Mozart's Don Giovanni, the aria "Don Giovanni! A cenar teco m'invitasti!"
Mussorgsky's Night On Bald Mountain

Blessed be.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Little Pink Socks

It's taken me seven months to finish these, mostly due to an inordinate amount of dawdling. Here at long last are the socks I started for the Snow White and Rose Red-along.
A while ago, Rachael asked if I had any favorite sock yarns. I was left scratching my head and pleading the fifth because I felt my experience in the realm of socks was inadequate to allow me to answer the question properly. In the interim, I've gained a little more experience with different types of yarn, so I can definitely say that I'm really liking the merino/bamboo blend I used for the Wasabi Peas. It handles well and has beautiful stitch definition, as well as a little bit of a shimmer from the bamboo. I'm guessing it'll wear pretty well, but the recipient will have to answer that for me when I pester her for an update. My second choice--though definitely not because it's a lesser yarn, I assure you--would probably be the Black Bunny Fibers BFL. Amazingly soft and squishy, and with equally amazing stitch definition. And.. it tickles. 
I still need to do some more research.. um.. knitting... especially with the Malabrigo Sock and Dream In Color Smooshy lurking in my stash. But for some reason, I'm having a terrible time coming up with a pattern worthy of my beloved skein of Butter Peeps. ;)

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Another WIP defeated. Still three left to finish and then it's onward to other things. Here's Voltaire in all his green glory. I found out, much to my chagrin, that 220 yards of Cascade is only half a scarf; the rest is Colonia. Yum.