Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New News

And you can read all about it here. :-D

It was quite amusing to tell my family. First they didn't quite believe us, at least for a few seconds, then they were all so excited! Then they were confused.
Auntie: "Why June 21st? That's a Thursday!"
Me: "But it's the Summer Solstice!"
Whole Family: "Ohhhhhhhh!"

Meanwhile, it just seems that weddings are in the air! Two of my fellow snopes-friends are also getting married, which is absolutely wonderful.

And strangely, it seems my ex-husband is also getting married, according to the announcement in the paper, in March, to his just-past-high-school sweetheart, who is far more suited to him than I ever could have been. My main reaction was, "Darn it, I wanted to get remarried first!"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

More Racial Food For Thought

At this temp job of mine, I work in a small office room with two other people. One of them has a radio which she keeps tuned to a station which is a combination of R&B and a talk format. It bills itself as black people radio. One of the DJs actually said it that way- "You're listening to radio for black folk!"

In the afternoon, they have a talk host on who addresses "black issues."

I had to do some pretty extensive studying of vocal quality and tone when I was in college the first time around.

Based on his voice, I am 99.9% sure that this host is actually a white guy pretending to be black. It's not a matter of his vocabulary or language construction or accent; it's his voice itself.

I feel like I'm listening to some sort of weird vocal blackface thing.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Racial Food for Thought

When a commercial for some biography about Muhammad Ali (or Cassius Clay, for sports trivia purists) came on the other night, it occurred to me that the young Mr. Ali was an incredibly handsome man.

Yet if I'd been one of his contemporaries, it would quite likely not even have occurred to me to think of him in such terms. Ever.

How sad.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tagged, I'm It

Well, Martie tagged me, so now I am supposed to post 6 weird things about myself. So here goes:

1. I will go barefoot any chance I get. (Yet another reason for hating winter!)

2. One of my favorite pastimes with my baby brother (which started practically before he could even talk) is to watch bad Japanese monster movies.

C. In my mind, my car has a gender and a name. She is the Red Star. (Named for the White Star ship from Babylon 5.)

4. I am allergic to crab and lobster. Which sucks, because crabcakes are really very good.

5. There are days when the wind off Lake Erie smells so much like the ocean wind down in Florida that it makes me amazingly homesick, even though it's been 15 years since I lived in Florida.

6. I have dreams about vampires with some regularity.

I'm not going to tag anyone... but if you want to do a post like this, consider yourself tagged!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Confessional Friday

(Wow, I haven't done one of these in awhile, have I?)

Confession #1: So, this new job of mine which was supposed to be all wonderful and which I was so excited about? It turned out to be actually dangerous. Not just, "I don't like this job after all," but, "I feel like my life and limbs are in danger if I go to this job." It was at a state facility for people who have MR/DD. Okay, I've taken care of people with severe and profound mental retardation before, and I can do it without much trouble. What I didn't understand before I started the job is that this facility is for the people who can't handle living in ordinary group homes, the ones who, in the parlance of the trade, have severe behavior problems.

I really shouldn't be any more detailed than that, due to confidentiality issues, but after three days of coming home shaking and near tears, I called my old temp agency to beg for help and they quickly found me a one-month assignment that will start Monday. I give all the praise in the world to the workers who can stick it out, but I'm not one of them, and I'm kind of ashamed of it.

Confession #2: I've been reading this website and this website, and agreeing with pretty much all of it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Oh sweet mother of squee, I finally have a job. I start on November 27th. I'll be working at the Northwest Ohio Developmental Center, taking care of people with disabilities. I've done this sort of work before, but in Michigan, the minimum pay set for these workers is $7.65 an hour. Not exactly enough to get by on. Apparently either Ohio direct care workers have better lobbyists, or this group has more sense.

The unfortunate thing about it is that the 2 weeks worth of orientation is from 10:30 AM to 7:30 PM. And I have school on Tuesday and Thursday nights! Those are the last four class sessions! Luckily I have a very understanding professor who is willing to work things out so that I'll still get the class material and be able to take the last test in the University testing center.

Meanwhile, the other night Tirithien told me about the town of Hamilton, Ohio. Apparently in 1986, the residents decided their town name just wasn't exciting enough, so they decided to change it to Hamilton!

Italics and exclamation points would certainly make geography more exciting, wouldn't it?

Unfortunately for the residents of Hamilton!, the US Board on Geographic Names rejected the name change, and they had to go back to being Hamilton.

I bet there are still "Welcome to Hamilton!" signs up around town, though.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Yesterday my reflection frightened me.

I had set my glasses down, since I don't always use them when I'm at the computer, and wandered into the bathroom. I was in an old flannel shirt and jeans, barefoot.

My reflection looked like me at 17. The same pale, drawn face, the messy red hair, the shades of sleepless nights beneath my eyes. And my eyes shone with the same green madness and dark pain they'd had back then.

Twelve years, gone away, just for a moment.

I combed my hair. I put my glasses back on. They hide the green light of madness from others. No one looks closely behind glasses.

But it never really goes away.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Getting Political

I wish, I wish, I wish the election would be over! I already voted by absentee ballot; why do I have to keep seeing nasty ads?

And oh, are they ever nasty. Here in the borderlands, I wind up seeing and hearing ads for Ohio and Michigan. None of them are good.

Oddly, the Republican party has pulled its support of Senator Mike DeWine. DeWine's attack ads on challenger Sherrod Brown seem to consist mainly of mentions of a tax "evasion," which was ruled an oversight by the IRS and paid off several years ago. These aren't even the nastiest ads; why pull the support? Was Senator DeWine just not getting personal enough?

Republican candidate for state Attorney General Betty Montgomery attacks her opponent, Democrat Marc Dann, because he "defended alleged child molestors." Um, the guy was a freakin' defense attorney. That's what they do! Whether they want to or not, it's their job. She wants to be a judge, but doesn't understand the function of a defense attorney? Oy. In the gubernatorial race, Ken Blackwell is accusing Ted Strickland of having (horrors!) TEH GAY!

Then the mudslinging escalation. We start out with things like, "My opponent is soft on crime," and "My opponent voted against the troops." But now with just a few days before the election, we've regressed to such desperate ads as, "My opponent thinks it's appropriate to use nuc-u-lar weapons against puppies!"

And you know what? I filled out my ballot without having seen a single ad about what the candidates themselves say they would do.

I think our electoral process needs a team of ninjas to enforce fair play.

Can't you just imagine? A candidate is making some smug, smarmy, unfounded speech about how his opponent is opposed to equal rights for polar bears, when suddenly ninjas slide in on ropes and set things right!

Maybe someday I will run for state office. My only campaign promise will be, "I won't say anything negative about my opponent."

I just have to find myself an army of ninjas to defend me from the slings and arrows of my opponents first.

By the way, did you think that by voting for Republican candidates, you were supporting the troops? The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America disagree. The IAVA, which is non-partisan as far as I can tell, did a tally of which Senators and Representatives voted in favor of bills which would improve conditions for the troops. The 324 proposals included such things as veterans' benefits, healthcare, and medical research dedicated towards injured soldiers. They assigned each legislator a grade. The Democrats were FAR more likely to vote in favor of these helpful proposals.

I've prepared an analysis of their data, which you can see in Excel spreadsheet form here. The first page is a list of Representatives with their grades, parties, and states, then page two is a chart summarizing the grades in the House. Pages three and four repeat the process for the Senate.

It seems awfully dirty to send these soldiers to war and then refuse to take care of them when they get home.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Deer Guy

So, yesterday afternoon being sunny and warm, Tirithien and I went to our favorite park for a little bit of wandering. At one point, we heard the crunching of leaves behind us, and moved aside to let the person pass. The park is very popular with joggers and power walkers, so this is something we're used to.

A gentleman who looked like the prototype of the aging hippy--tattered denim, long gray hair tied back in a ponytail, arrowhead necklace, and a definite sense that his personality had been "chemically enhanced" at some point-- passed us by, saying, "Excuse me, can I get by you? I walk faster." You know, as if we hadn't moved aside to let him do just that.

Anyway, he went by and we kept walking. The guy had gotten about 50 yards in front of us when he crouched down and started closely examining something on the ground. When we caught up, he excitedly pointed out the deer tracks he'd found.

Now, I'm admittedly not a wildlife expert, but if these were deer tracks, they'd be the first deer ever with pawpads and claws. (Perhaps we should notify the Ohio DNR about the possibility of a deer-badger hybrid running around Wildwood Metropark?)

The hippy gentleman started making a long rambling speech about how he knows all about deer and how to sneak up on them and how to walk quietly in the woods-- even through leaves! -- and that's why we hadn't heard him coming up behind us. Even though, you know, we had heard him just fine. But he's been trained to walk quietly in the woods, because he's part Indian.

Well, I'm about 1/64th Cherokee, give or take a few blood drops, though I look purely Scots-Irish except for having higher cheekbones than my Celtic ancestors did. And this guy looked even whiter than I do.

So I asked him what tribe. "Blackfoot," he said cheerfully.

Ah yes, there are just so many forests in the Great Plains to practice walking quietly in.

For that matter, I'm pretty sure there aren't any deer living in the Great Plains either.

Walking away sounded like a very good idea. So we tried it.

The guy came along for a few steps before he pulled ahead again, crunching the leaves as loudly as ever. He turned around to tell us that deer will attack if you scare them. A buddy of his learned that the hard way, it seems. I know he was just waiting for us to ask for the story, but we didn't oblige.

And away the guy went, loud, fast, and obnoxious, on his way to sneak up on some deer. Around a curve and gone, mercifully!

When we reached the curve, we didn't see any sign of the guy.

We did, however, see three lovely deer grazing in a thicket. Apparently our friend had stalked right past them. Three brown deer, a mama and two yearling does. They considered us calmly for a moment, looking at us out of those big moist eyes. Apparently they approved of us, because they went right back to eating.

Unfortunate that the deer guy was so busy showing off his woodland skills that he had to miss such a thing. :-p

Monday, October 23, 2006

My visit to a cult!

Well, okay, it probably wasn't really a cult, since they didn't ask for all my money. But it was creepy.

I've been visiting a few different churches around town, seeing if there's a place I would fit nicely. Yesterday I decided I would visit Unity of Toledo. (Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the Unitarian Universalist church, whose members have never once creeped me out.) On Unity's national website ( the philosophies sounded interesting. Quite a bit about how God is within all, and Jesus was the only one in which this was fully realized. Definitely intriguing. So I went.

I realized my first mistake as soon as I got there. You see, in my experience I have noticed that the churches with the more liberal philosophies are the ones which generally don't care what people wear to church, so long as they get there. Thus, I figured that I'd do all right with jeans and a nice sweater. Wrong! The people walking in were dressed to the nines. Suits and all. Oy. But I figured I may as well go on in, since one of my criteria for a welcoming church is that they not care what people are wearing. If they reacted badly to me, I'd know I was in the wrong place. And to their credit, I wasn't made to feel at all awkward, clothing-wise.

However, awkwardness was soon upon me in the form of the greeter, who swooped upon me with a gigantic hug as if I was a long lost friend or a child returning from war. Eeeek! Now don't get me wrong, hugs can be lovely things. But really, I prefer to only be hugged by people I've known for longer than two seconds.

After clucking over me for a moment or two the greeter sent me into the sanctuary, telling me she'd come sit with me when the service started. Oh, lovely.

While waiting, I observed what was going on. The sanctuary had auditorium seating rather than pews, which my back certainly appreciated. But there was no choir. This automatically meant they were off my list as a possible permanent church home, since there are cold winter mornings when the ONLY way I can convince myself to crawl out of bed and go to church is by reminding myself that I get to sing, but I certainly figured I could stay and see what the service was like.

With no choir, the congregation was led in hymns by a dorky guy in a cheap suit with a lovely strong tenor voice. The man could sing, no doubt about that. The problem was his musical theatrics. You know how if someone in a pageant sings as her talent, she will "emote" to a ridiculous degree? It looked like that's what this man was trying to do. I couldn't actually watch him; I was afraid I might laugh, and I didn't want to do that to the poor guy (and his singing voice really was wonderful).

And the sermon. Oh dear. Aside from the fact that it seemed like the pastor was making it up as she went along, it seemed absurdly shallow. It was very self-centered, very focused on internal reflection and feel-good self-love. Any mentions of God? None, unless you count the part about how if a reflection or meditation makes you feel good, that's how you know it came from the God-part of you. The sermon culminated in the signing of a pledge which had been distributed in the bulletins. The pledge was on a green card and consisted of a promise to always do one's best, no matter what. It was worded in a more flowery way than that, but that was the gist. The cards would then be gathered and used to create a big banner to hang in the sanctuary. Needless to say, I did NOT turn mine in.

During the Exchange of Greetings (known to Episcopalians and Catholics as the Sign of the Peace), as I was being passed from person to person, being hugged over and over by women with pasted-on, too wide smiles, I accidentally said to a few of them, "Peace be with you," or "God's Peace." It's the way Episcopalians do it, anyway. This drew some absurdly shocked and dirty looks from these well-dressed women.

The closing hymn increased my discomfort even more. Apparently they sing the same closing hymn every week, but not peacefully from their seats. No, they form a hand-holding circle around the outside of the room and sing from there. And of course, no hand-holding circle of song would be complete without the ubiquitous back and forth sway, now, would it? During this ordeal, I caught the eye of a teenage girl across the room from me. She was also in jeans and had clearly been dragged there by her mother. We communicated wordlessly: "HELP! How did we get into this?"

Thankfully, that was the last bit of the service, though the greeter who had sat with me tried to insist that I join them for fellowship. I blurted out that I had to get home and babysit. (It was the first excuse my panic-stricken mind came up with, okay???) She also kept insisting that I sign the guestbook so they could send me info, in spite of my polite repetition of the fact that I really didn't think this church was what I was looking for. She kept on, so finally I signed a fake name and address. And then, blessedly, I was gone, as fast as the Red Star could carry me down Central Avenue!

Aside from the creepiness of the too-wide smiles and the pushy hugs, I was also greatly irritated by the inward focus of the church. There was not a single outreach ministry I could identify in the literature they handed me. The sermon insisted that they were following the Way of Jesus to find God within the self. Coming as I do from an Episcopal parish with a huge focus on social justice and helping the poor, this was an unpleasant shock and cognitive dissonance. Admittedly I'm no true Bible scholar and only an amateur theologian, but I'm pretty sure Jesus was big on helping others. Which had me sitting there during the sermon wanting to yell, "You've missed the whole damn point!"

Apparently Unity is fulfilling a need for these people, but not for me. I think next Sunday I need to creep back to St. Andrew's Episcopal Church which I visited a few weeks ago and sit down quietly in the back with the Book of Common Prayer and the 1982 Hymnal. My faith comes in odd colors at times, and I'm sure I'm more Deist/Panentheist than Theist, and by many or even most strict definitions I'm not Christian at all. But as I've learned from visiting other churches, I am most definitely Episcopalian! (I'm not sure that combination is entirely possible, but I'm trying it anyway.)

So, Unity of Toledo is not the place for me. And if you prefer not to be hugged by strangers, it's probably not for you either.

And if you live on Berry Street in Toledo, if there is such a place, and you happen to get mail from Unity addressed to someone you don't know, I apologize.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Working World Woes

I came to Toledo thinking I could easily start working.


What with my broken arm making things difficult and the fact that I have to compete for jobs with a slew of laid-off factory workers, so far all I've been able to get are temp jobs.

Which are all well and good, but I'd really like to have some dependable income.

Besides, with being in a string of temp jobs, I get kind of confused when I'm answering the phone in a sleepy stretch of midafternoon: "Good afternoon, um, uh... where am I again?"

At this job, though, there is actually nothing for me to do between phone calls. They just can't leave the phone and the front desk unmanned while someone's out on medical leave. So hey, I get to study at work and not get in trouble.

Friday, October 06, 2006

What Woodland Ninjas See

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

-- J R R Tolkien

Even more pictures to be seen here.

This is about 10 minutes away from home. Envy me, city dwellers!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Free at Last!

I'm free, I'm free! I have cast off the fiberglass shackles of my arm's bondage!

Yes, my cast came off yesterday as scheduled, and the doctor was so pleased with how well it's healed up that I don't even have to wear a splint or brace like I was supposed to! I have an ace bandage to wrap it up in if I'm going to do something active, but that's it. And I have no danger of future arthritis from this, and I'm really thinking it bodes pretty well against me getting osteoporosis in the future. I mean, if I'm almost 30 and healed up almost as quickly as a teen would have done, these must be some good strong calcium-laden bones I have!

But oh, it feels so weird to have it off. I was really surprised to discover how weak my arm has become. I had improved so much in strength with the cast on that I guess I was thinking the difficulties I was still having were due to how difficult it is to grip anything with a fiberglass band across my palm! But no, my arm is very weak-- lifting a full glass is difficult, and it was even hard to squeeze the toothpaste tube! How embarrassing.

My wrist's range of motion deteriorated, of course. (Though the doctor was impressed with how much ROM I managed to keep in spite of being immobilized for that long.) I have some wrist and arm stretchy exercises I'm supposed to do to bring everything back to normal. And believe me, I'm going to do them!

The first thing they did after they got the cast off-- even before doing a follow up x-ray-- was let me wash my arm! Ahhhh. :-) But my skin integrity also deteriorated while it was all covered up. It looks like I have a rash. And I've been cautioned not to scratch too much, because I could bleed very easily. The skin is amazingly sensitive at the moment. It's calmed down some from yesterday, but it's still so very weird. Sometimes it feels good, like when I was out in the rain yesterday, but sometimes it's just too much!

However, I took a LONG bubble bath last night. I feel 100% clean for the first time in 6 weeks! And I washed my hair with both hands! And I was able to wash my left elbow! There was all this nasty dirt and dead skin coming off the formerly broken arm. It felt SO GOOD!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Murder Suspect Claims Goat Turned Into Corpse

From Yahoo News and the Associated Press:

A Nigerian murder suspect accused of killing his brother with an axe told police investigators he actually attacked a goat, which was only later magically transformed into his sibling's corpse, officials said Thursday.

Now, in general, I have a very uncomfortable feeling about these weird crime articles which come out of Nigeria. They drip with western superiority. "Ah, those silly, superstitious Nigerians! We would never believe anything like that!"

This one, though, is quite possibly the weirdest excuse I've ever heard. "It wasn't my brother at the time, it was a goat!"

No, I'm pretty sure this guy knew just what he was doing.

Thus, I have no qualms whatsoever at laughing at his ridiculous attempt at an excuse.

Unless it turns out that the brother really was a were-goat. Then I'll apologize for laughing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My Temporary Doggie

This is Jake, who is usually called Jakers.

He is my aunt's dog, and since she and her family are gone to Florida for the week, Tirithien and I have a temporary dog!

Now, Jakers has arthritis, but you sure wouldn't know it from the way he tears around when we take him out for walkies. Oh, no! When he's on his leash, Jake is a big strong moose of a dog who wants to run everywhere and smell everything. (Today I was thanking all that's holy that Jake does not chase squirrels, because they are everywhere! Can't you just picture this ginormous yellow lab chasing a squirrel, dragging along the poor broken armed girl behind him? Ow.)

But Jake is a very good doggie. He was apparently mistreated before my family got him-- very scrawny, very skittish. He still is terrified of loud noises and upraised arms, and he would never dream of getting on the furniture, even though we've tried to invite him up! He will not even touch food if I leave it lying on the table within easy reach. I've never known such a good doggie!

I actually kind of suspect that he might have flunked out of leader dog training at some point and then been given to the abusive people. He's just too well trained for that to have happened on accident.

As you can see, after we go for walkies, he is a very tired puppy. And he misses his mommy. But he seems to be enjoying himself here. He has especially attached himself to Tirithien and gets very excited when Tirithien comes home from school!

This was supposed to be an experiment to see if we could handle having a puppy of our own, but I don't think we'll be able to. If just having this wonderfully well-behaved dog around is wearing me out, what would a lesser dog do? And would I really want to take the dog out in the middle of the night in winter? No! So, alas, having a doggie of our own is going to have to wait until such time as we have a backyard. Too bad I'm allergic to cats, since they love being apartment pets. Oh well. Maybe it's time to look into getting another guinea pig. I miss having a furbaby of my own!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Odd and Beautiful Dream

Five years ago minus a couple of days, I had horrible nightmares about the people still trapped beneath the just-ruined World Trade Center. I can't imagine a worse death than that-- being trapped all alone in the dark and dying slowly. My now-ex tried to wake me from one of these nightmares by touching my back, and I promptly burst into hysterical tears for all those people. "No one will ever touch them again," I sobbed.

Given the reminder of the fifth anniversary of the attacks and how prevalent it's been in the media these past weeks, I suppose it's no surprise that I would dream again of those who lost their lives, but this time it was no nightmare.

Very early this morning, my spirit wandered outside my body, floating here and there, suddenly expanding vastly in awareness.

How can I explain such a strange thing? To my dreaming self, all times were now. All places were here. And the air was full of spirits, bright shining spirits rising to the sky. From the ruins of the WTC, from the Pentagon, from a field in Pennsylvania, from the battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq. But there were more, so many more! From Gettysburg and Iwo Jima, Valley Forge and the Alamo, the killing fields of Cambodia, the plains of the Sudan. Everywhere, everywhen, spirits were rising to the sky.

And they were singing.

I'm not even going to try to describe their song; no words of mine could ever do justice to it. It was everything.

How I wanted to add my voice to their song! But I could not; my spirit could not fly as theirs could, and so I could not sing as they could.

So I wakened, overwhelmed perhaps by what my subconscious had created for me to see and hear. And now there's nothing to do except to try to make things better for those of us who can not yet fly.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Vigilante Juxtaposition

TOLEDO, Ohio—An 86-year-old man was robbed at gunpoint Tuesday afternoon in Calvary Cemetary. The man had been visiting his wife’s grave. The robber took the man’s wallet and car keys. The wallet contained multitudes of identifying information, meaning the man and his family must now cancel accounts, change passcodes, and keep a vigilant eye on his credit report.

More importantly, however, the man is now afraid to visit the cemetary alone.

Police currently have no leads.

The crime victim is Tirithien’s grandpa. I want to cry and scream and track down the robber all at once. “How dare you terrorize an old man like this?” I would demand. And pain, yes, there would be pain. And fear. On the robber’s part, not mine.

MARSHVILLE, North Carolina (AP) -- An angry mob fatally beat a man whom they mistakenly thought was involved in the disappearance of their friend, shortly before police arrested and charged another person in the crime, police said.

Union County Sheriff's deputies found Tony Lorin Blakeney at his home with serious injuries Friday. He later died at a hospital.

Ten men, ages 16 to 30, were charged with murder in the attack. They were being held without bond until an October 4 court date.

But one of the hallmarks of civilization is that we let the rule of law take its course, rather than trying to mete out justice and/or revenge ourselves. I am not equipped to know a person’s guilt or innocence.

Had I been with Grandpa at the time, it would surely have been justified to defend him as best I could. After the fact, I have no right to touch the robber, much as I may want to.

Constitutional Amendments
Amendment V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
Amendment VII: In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment VIII: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Thank you, James Madison, for including these. They do protect scumbags like the guy who robbed Tirithien's grandpa, but they also do protect those upon whom no harm should fall. Our judicial system isn't perfect, but it's better than trial-by-mob.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Where's my chisel?

I'm about ready to carve my way out of this cast! I somehow twisted my arm inside it last night and wound up with something that feels remarkably like a rope burn. I have a feeling that my arm is going to look rather hideously bruised from bumping against the cast by the time the doctor takes it off.

Luckily, this is now going to be 9/18 instead of 9/22. It's only a few days' difference, but even that's something! So if any readers within earshot hear joyous shouts of "I'm free, I'm free!" on the morning of the 18th, that will be me. (Sorry if I wake you up!)

Unfortunately, I am no longer a full-time student. The University of Toledo insists that they have to charge me out-of-state tuition, since I haven't lived in Ohio for very long. They have tuition reciprocity only for Monroe County, Michigan. Well, I lived exactly 20 feet north of Monroe County. Sigh. But I should have in-state residency for next semester and can try again then.

The class I kept is called "The Early Republic." It's a senior level history class about the time in US History between the Revolution and the War of 1812-- you know, the part that gets completely glossed over in most history classes. The professor is a delight-- he absolutely loves his subject, so he's very excitable during lecture. It should be a lot of fun! (The first test is September 12. Hopefully he'll be able to read mine. My handwriting with a cast on is, shall we say, less than exemplary.)

Now I'm off to do some studying. Federalist Era, here I come!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mixed Blessing Across Two Worlds

The other day out in the world, a very dignified elderly gentleman struck up a conversation with me about the cast on my arm. I explained that it had been a rollerblading accident, but that it was healing up nicely and the cast would be off before too long.

The man's face seemed to glow with benificence. "It's gonna heal," he told me. His deep southern voice reminded me of chocolate. "I know it's gonna heal." He very gently laid a hand on the cast and proclaimed, "By the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, you be blessed and healed."

What an odd gift to give a stranger! But he offered it so beautifully that the kindness of it brought a tear pricking to my eye, and I thanked him profusely. "Thank you, sir. Bless you."

It was an absolutely profound moment of beauty, which shifted rapidly when the man asked if I was married, and started to caution me that when I did get married God hates divorce and I needed to make sure I obeyed my husband.


The blessing I accept as the gift of utter kindness and love it was.

The advice, though? It's just not going to quite work for me. Obviously. He was so earnest that I'm sure it was offered with just as much kindness as the blessing, but that is not the world in which I walk.

But for a moment, two worlds intersected just long enough for a blessing to be given, and that contact was a blessing in itself.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Broken Bone Update!

According to Dr. Mike Modano (really, they could be twins), my poor fractured radius and ulna are healing perfectly. The x-rays barely show a fracture line at all (I had to look very hard to see it), and all the bones are lined up just where they should be. So, no surgery for me! The cast can come off on September 22nd. (Believe me, I am counting the hours...) It will be replaced by a splint which will be worn for 2 weeks, and then I should be good to go!

One of the cool things about Dr. Mike Modano is that he does not dumb down his explanations in any way. He's absolutely 100% willing to answer questions if he uses a term I don't know, but otherwise he speaks in genuine doctor language. Or maybe this just seems cool to me because it helps me realize how many interesting medical vocabulary words I've picked up from helping Tirithien study!

The other very cool thing about Dr. Mike Modano is that he's only going to charge me the lower Medicaid rate for my care. Apparently with a fracture, he charges one fee that covers setting, casting, and other follow-up care, such as the cast removal with the scary looking tool that looks like a saw blade attached to a shop-vac. Plus I'll be allowed to make low payments until it's paid off. This is extra good, since I did not have insurance when the injury occurred!

Meanwhile, I've gotten myself enrolled for fall classes at the University of Toledo. I'll be taking 12 credits (4 classes).

Full time school, plus full time work, plus a broken arm.

Clearly I'm quite thoroughly insane.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My first ever broken bone!

This post is pretty much a copy and paste from a post I made on the snopes message board, with Percoset-enhanced mistakes edited out. When you consider that I'm now reduced to typing lefty, and I'm extremely right-handed, I figure you will all understand!

Tuesday morning seemed like an excellent time for rollerblading. I hadn't been in quite awhile, and didn't have anything to do, so why not scope out a new Toledoan trail? Good exercise, fun, etc.

I was doing quite well for not having bladed in ages, once I worked out the initial wobblies, but I had forgotten one of my cardinal rules of rollerblading: never skate a trail before first walking it.

This trail had a slope. In my skating prime a few years ago, I could have handled it with aplomb. It was not all that steep, but was long, so I was going at considerable speed. I nervously tried to grab a tree branch to slow down, and my top half obliged, but my skates kept right on going. Splat! Right wrist, then tailbone. (And I was indeed wearing wrist guards.)

I was pretty well stunned, but thought if I could get my gear off, I could walk back to the car. But I couldn't even get up! And I also discovered, upon working my right wrist guard off, that my wrist was bent at an extremely sickening angle. It was pretty obviously fractured, at the very least, and by then the pain was sneaking through my shock. Ow, ow, ow!

A couple of nice bystanders stopped to help-- one went to fetch the park rangers, while another stayed with me and called Tirithien to let him know his girlfriend was apparently broken. The park rangers called EMS, EMS called paramedics, and I got an ambulance ride to the hospital. They had me all immobilized since my tailbone and lower back were so badly pained. They were so nice-- one of them called Tirithien to let him know what hospital they were taking me to, and another gave me a teddy bear and told me jokes all the way to the hospital.

The hospital nurses were just the nicest nurses I have ever met. After they did the obligatory pregnancy test, they sent me off for x-rays. Meanwhile, Tirithien's parents came to the hospital to check up on me too. X-rays determined that I hadn't broken any spinal or pelvic bones, but my arm... Well, I managed to snap both forearm bones right below where they join the wrist: a Colles fracture. The ER doc told me their orthopedist was doing a surgery, but if I could wait about 3 hours, he'd come treat me.

The unfortunate thing was the possibility that I could have needed surgery to fix this, so I wasn't allowed any food or drink, even ice water. And I was SO thirsty. They hooked me up to a saline drip with some nice painkillers that let me sleep. Evidently I was time traveling in my sleep, because at various points I asked Tirithien if he had fed Colin, my guinea pig who died in December, and who he'd found to watch Brendan, which is what I want to name my future son-- who isn't even conceived yet! Good meds, there. ;-)

The orthopedist, who bore a striking resemblance to Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars, showed up, injected my hand with some interesting numbing solution, and stretched out my arm so the bones popped right back where they should be. Bless him, the post-setting and casting x-rays barely looked different from a healthy wrist!

So then I was sent home, in my hospital gown and shorts, since we didn't dare attempt to get my shirt back on. I looked like a hospital refugee. I'm supposed to go for checkup x-rays and a follow-up appointment with Dr. Mike Modano next week, to make sure I really won't need surgery. And I have Percocet and strawberry ice cream. And I have typed this entire post left handed. But I think my rollerblades are going to Play It Again Sports. :-p

Monday, July 31, 2006

Apartment Pictures!

Well, we don't have it all organized quite the way we want yet, but it at least looks like a home now instead of a collection of boxes, so I thought I'd take some pictures to share! So let's start the grand tour, shall we?

Here is the living room. The dresser which is doubling as an entertainment center was made by my stepdad, and I think it may be the most awesome dresser in existence. The quilt which is serving as the tablecloth was made by my great-grandma.
Another angle of living room. The coffee table, by the way, is actually an ancient steamer trunk which belonged to Tirithien's grandparents.
And one more living room shot. I figured I should show off my huge collection of Red Wings bobblehead guys, who now have Tirithien's two U of Toledo bobbleheads to keep them company.The dining room, which is the messiest room as of yet, since the table just makes such a good place to put random things we aren't sure where else to put. I realize that a milk can is not the traditional method of storing hockey sticks, but it just seems to work. The kitchen. So many cabinets! The stove now has a sign over it that proclaims it to be an Area 51 Top Secret Research Facility.
The all-important bathroom. If you look carefully, you can see me trying to keep my reflection out of the picture and not succeeding! Here is our office/study/computer room. We can both be online at the same time!
Here's the closet of the study (okay, it's technically a bedroom, if you ask the people in the apartment office), which has been filled with bookcases. The laundry room, conveniently doubling as a walk-in closet off the bedroom. No more lugging laundry up and down multiple flights of stairs! Our nice, comfy bed. The bedroom from another angle. Apparently Winnie the Pooh wants to be Indiana Jones when he grows up. He's a very silly bear.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Observations on Moving

1. Don't rent from U-haul! Let me tell you all what those creeps did. I had reserved myself a 14-foot truck and an appliance dolly online. The day before the scheduled pickup, they were supposed to call me and tell me where I could pick the stuff up. Meanwhile, I had gone ahead and changed my cell phone number to an Ohio number, so I called them, since they still had my Michigan number. The woman I talked to told me I would be picking up my stuff at their location on Seven Mile Rd. Wait a minute, that's 30 miles from my home... er, my old home. I don't think so! Somewhat in shock, I asked her to please try to find something closer.

A couple of hours later, I called back and was told that I could now pick things up from the location at Thirteen Mile Rd. and Ryan Rd. To which my response was, "I wanted something closer, not further away!" Plus they still had my wrong phone number, even though I'd given the correct number to the first woman. I asked this person to please try again, since that would be a 40 mile trip one-way. (Did I mention that you're only allowed a certain number of miles when you rent a U-haul?)

About an hour later, I received a call from a man who told me I could pick up my truck from their Michigan Avenue location. Fifteen miles from home. I figured that would be the best I could get from these people and told him, "Okay, fine." Tirithien and I picked up the truck at 11:00 as scheduled, only to be given a very small utility dolly instead of the nice, big appliance dolly I'd actually requested. But at least we had the truck.

2. I cannot believe they just let people rent these gigantic trucks without any training on how to drive them! My car is a Saturn. It's tiny. I've driven a big van before, but that's nothing like a 14-foot moving truck! My poor brother rode down with me, brave soul that he is. We made the trip without incident, until we were almost to the new apartment. A wide one-lane street becomes a narrow two-lane street, and the lane was just a little too narrow for the U-haul. I was trying to keep as far to the right as possible, so as not to interfere with other cars, but bumped the tires up on the curb. This causes a U-haul to wobble and weave like a drunken frat boy on the way home from a party. Not fun! I was screaming, my brother was screaming, and I think my stuffed animals were probably also screaming. It probably lasted less than 2 seconds before I got the truck back under control, but oh, that was terrifying!

3. Moving on a day when it is 95 degrees out is a bad idea.

4. If you do have to move when it is 95 degrees, you need to purchase more than one pack of Propel. (Electrolytes... gone!)

5. When you've been moving heavy stuff in 95 degree heat all day, Waffle House seems like gourmet food. Besides which, they were probably the only place that would have let us in, as grubby as we were.

6. When you have your door open all day to carry stuff in, flies will probably also come in. If one of the flies is in the bathroom with you while you are getting ready for bed, and you attempt to kill it with your bare hand, make sure you do not hit the bathroom counter at full force. The fly will fly away laughing at you, and you will have a sprained ring finger which swells up and turns a very interesting purply color.

Observations on life in Ohio to come later. :-)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Moving Weekend!

Yes, folks, that's right, this is the weekend of moving to Ohio! (And it just figures-- we've had a mild summer so far, but this weekend it's in the 90s with high humidity.)

So anyway, I won't be around for awhile, since of course internet contact is not possible while moving. Talk to you all in a few days. I'm sure I'll have some wondrously comedic moving disaster stories to tell.

Friday, July 07, 2006

What the...?!?

Ladies and gentlemen, bloggers of all ages, I present to you...

The Weirdest Sign Ever!

Apparently somewhere in the world, it is necessary to warn people not to let go of their wheelchair-bound grandpa at the top of the steep hill because there are hungry gators waiting with open mouths at the bottom.

8:26 PM - In email conversation with my Evil Friend Joe today, he suggested that maybe this is not a warning sign, but an advertisement for gators that they can find food easily here. So I have developed a commercial for the gators' fast food:

Hi. Are you an alligator between the ages of zero and infinity? Do you find that your diet lacks that satisfying 'crunch' every gator longs for? Try our new RUSH Old Person Delivery Service! Your tasty snack will be delivered to you in its own wheelchair. All you have to do is open your mouth and wait!

I am so going to hell for this. :-o

Monday, July 03, 2006

Movin', movin', movin'....


Yes, we are officially approved for the apartment. On Saturday we go to choose which apartment we want, sign papers, and leave our security deposit.

Now to pack. Oh dear lord, to pack. Didn't I just do this?

Guess I'm doing it again!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


So, as of yesterday, Tirithien and I have an application in to a very nice apartment complex on the south side of Toledo. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with many oak trees, there's a swimming pool, and the place just has a very wholesome feel to it. The apartments themselves are lovely-- not incredibly fancy, but very nice. And each unit has its own washer and dryer!

Laundry has been one of the banes of my existence since I started living in apartments. Lugging the basket up and down so many stairs... and I really don't do all that well with stairs even when I'm not carrying anything. (I guess it comes of having not grown up with stairs; almost no houses in Florida have them.) And where I am now, I actually have to go outside to get to the door that leads to the laundry room. Which is definitely NOT fun in the deeps of January.

Plus each individual building has locked entry. No more strangers on my porch at 1 AM!

So, keep your fingers crossed that we will be approved!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Alleviating Boredom

Today I got this email from my Evil friend Joe:

"Hey! Update your blog. I'm bored. ;) "

So, now it's updated.

Enjoy. :-p

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Morning Notes

Dear Durango Driver,

Any elementary school science student can tell you that two pieces of matter can not occupy the same space at the same time. Motor vehicles are mostly made of matter. Therefore, you really need to look AND signal before changing lanes. Your car is made of matter. My car is made of matter. So, since they are made of matter and can't occupy the same space, WHY the bloody hell did you attempt to change lanes on top of me? My car is bright red! How do you not see a bright red car? Oh, and flipping me off for your idiocy was just a brilliant touch of class.

Dear Explorer Driver,

Now, I don't know how they do things on your planet, but here, if there is no left turn signal and you're waiting to turn left, the drivers coming from the opposite direction who are going straight through get to go first. So it is, has been, and ever shall be, road without end, amen. Really, it's much safer for all of us if we all play that way.

Dear Executive Secretary,

Why are you driving so fast through the parking lot? Why the attempt to run down a poor soggy pedestrian? And that is NOT a parking space you park in every day! It has stripes on it! What makes you so special?

Dear umbrella,

As if turning inside out wasn't enough, you had to also develop a hole? *sigh*

Dear self,

Why did you get up this morning?

Monday, June 19, 2006

And the winner is...

Congratulations to the 2006 Stanley Cup winning Carolina Hurricanes! It was one heck of a series. And I have to say I'm glad the Oilers didn't win (even though they played amazingly well all playoffs long), seeing as how they beat the Red Wings. But I like Carolina on their own merit, too. They have a lot of ties to the Detroit area. The team owner, Peter Karmanos, is the owner of Compuware and also started the Karmanos Cancer Institute, which has done wonderful things. Players Aaron Ward and Ray Whitney are former Red Wings. Player Doug Weight is a native of the area. So it's sort of a vicarious win, but then again, it's sort of instinctive to root for the team in red jerseys. ;-)

Here is the Playoff MVP, recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy, Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. He's only 22 years old! And he's the first rookie to backstop a team to the Cup since Patrick Roy did so for the Montreal Canadiens. Not bad, not bad at all! I suppose with this I reveal myself as being NOT a hockey purist. You know, one of those folks who think only Northern cities deserve NHL teams? I say if there's a market for it, I've no problem with any particular city having a team! And clearly the Hurricanes have some rabid fans.

It was a well fought series, gentlemen. Enjoy the spoils of your victory. :-)

Separating from Now so I can get to Later

Everything is falling into place with an amazing amount of precision. Tirithien has been accepted to his Master’s degree program, and I’m approved for a student loan that not only will pay for the cost of an accredited course in medical transcription, but will provide me with extra money for living expenses for awhile. The job outlook is excellent. We’ve found an apartment we love (at least on the outside) and we’re going to make an appointment to see the inside and the apartment facilities sometime this week.

Basically, I’m clear to move to Ohio as soon as we have a place to go.

But this means I had to tell my friends from church that I would be leaving them soon.

And that was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.

Given all my questions of faith, I thought it would be an easy enough thing to do. Well enough for me to take some time away from organized religion to sort things out on my own for awhile! But faith in the abstract is a very different thing from church friends in the concrete.

See, Grace Church is a tiny one. We had five people show up to sing for the choir on the last Sunday choir met before summer break, and the rest of the church is sized proportionately. So everyone is extremely close.

I told my choir friends first that day. It seemed okay enough. I explained how all my prospects were better just a little further south, and I would still be able to visit frequently, and all. But these ladies have been my “aunties” for going on three years now. They love me and I love them. We all got through the service okay, until the end.

There’s a little bit of a song of thanks we sing after every Communion, while the priest is straightening up all the altar tools and getting ready for the final blessing. For some reason this song carries all the weight of the emotions of the whole church—the last service by our old priest, many of us were crying too much to get through it. So during this song, I had the sudden thought of, “I won’t be wearing this choir robe again.” And then I happened to look to my left, to my friend Sharon, who apparently had a similar thought at the same time, and we both started to cry.

I hadn’t been expecting this. And then as I was leaving the sanctuary after service, the priest noticed my red eyes and asked what was wrong. And that set me off again.

I know I’m going on to wonderful things, but the process of cutting the ties so I can actually go is more painful than I’d expected.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Passing Through Nohio

Today after work, my apartment hunting begins! Not in any great detail yet, but I have a nice list of apartments for which I'm going to go look at and investigate the neighborhoods and such. The point of actually taking apartment tours and filling out applications will come later.

The scary part?

All the apartments on my list are in Ohio.


Clearly, something is wrong with me. ;-)

Oh, and by the way, there is a narrow strip of land between the "Welcome to Michigan" and "Welcome to Ohio" signs on I-75. To whom does this belong? It's not in any state! Is it the width of the border line painted on maps? Anyway, it has now been named "Nohio."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More Neighborhood Weirdness

So, aside from my now-released-from-jail neighbor who stands at his window and stares at me every time I am outside, and the drunk woman with the abusive boyfriend who keeps begging to use my cell phone, we can now welcome Slurring Late Night Wanderer to the neighborhood pantheon.

About 1:00 AM Monday morning, I heard banging on my door. (My door shares a common porch with three other apartments.) Very, very weird. So I got up and went to the door, thinking there was maybe an emergency. The following is a dramatic re-enactment of that night:

Me: Who's there?
Man: One of your nearby neighbors.
Me: I am not opening this door.
Man: Please, ma'am, I just need some change so I can catch the bus to go see my poor sick uncle.
Me: There is no bus service on this road. GO AWAY, or I am calling the police.
Man: Oh, okay, ma'am. Sorry to bother you.

I really need a new place to live.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Alphabet Game-- Took Me Long Enough

Some number of days ago, Naive-No-More posted a game on her blog. The point was that you would be assigned a letter, and then you had to think of 10 things that were important to you that start with that letter. I was intrigued, and asked for a letter assignment. She gave me "P."

Enter instant writer's block. (Just add water!) Oh, I thought of nine things easily enough, but a tenth eluded me. Until today, that is! Ha! So, with apologies for my tardiness, here is my list.

Poetry: The language I am learning to speak. There are times when prose just won't do, when what I want to say has far too much depth to be spoken in drab, ordinary language. So I shall learn to paint these pictures in words.

Pacifism: I'm actually not a true pacifist, as defined by the dictionary. Mr. Webster insists that a pacifist is someone who will not respond with violence, no matter what. It's the no-matter-what that I have problems with. I'm an almost-pacifist. It takes a whole lot for me to respond with a physical fight, but if you push me far enough or threaten those I love, I will draw my sword (figuratively, of course, as most swords would be far too heavy for me to wield!).

Palm: Palm trees are one of the symbols of my homeland, the far white beaches of Florida beside the green sea. They aren't much good for climbing or shade, and they don't bear any fruit (no coconut palms in the part of Florida where I once lived), but they are pretty and they do
remind me of my old home.

Panentheism: The belief that Deity is both in all things and simultaneously observing all things. "We are the Universe made manifest, examining itself..." It comes closest of all named systems I've found to describing my beliefs.

Physics: If we add "astronomy" on with this, it's one of my strange fascinations. Not the standard Newtonian physics of energy, motion, and thermodynamics, but the strange world of quantum particles in which reality itself seems to break down to particles of vibrating energy, or
the vast reaches of space, the birth of galaxies and stars. I can't say I understand it fully (well, no one can)-- I lack the math for that-- but I'm trying.

Passport: I have one. It has no stamps in it. It actually has been used, to get me in and out of Canada and Belize, but the Customs officials never bothered to stamp it. Someday, it will be full of stamps. (See "Plan.")

Practice: Seems like I've spent most of my life in some form of practice or another! Music, drama, freewriting (you know, the stuff I write and don't show anyone that helps keep my writing muscles limbered up).

Plan: I am forever making plans! Strange plans, beautiful plans, plans for the far future or plans for what I might do this weekend. Of course half of them never come to anything, but the planning itself has a daydreamy joy of its own.

Puppy: I want one. :-) Puppies and dogs love me, and I return the favor. Having a puppy wander up to me and ask to be petted out in the park or along a sidewalk somewhere can make my entire day better.

Phoenix: From the fire and ruin and ash of the mess I made of my old life, I was reborn. What could be more phoenix-like than that?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Unexpected Benefit of Bookworminess

As a geeky bookworm of a teenager, I always used to imagine that I would meet the great love of my life in a bookstore or a library. Our eyes would meet over a shelf of Dragonlance novels, or our hands would brush as we reached unsuspectingly for the same copy of The Hobbit. I can’t say I truly ever believed it would happen, but I wished it would. What good would it possibly have done for me to be with a non-reader? We’d have had nothing to talk about.

(That, by the way, was one of the things that should have been a clue to me that the relationship with my ex-H was a bad idea; he had no books at all!)

Well, it wasn’t in a bookstore or library, but instead across an internet message board, but it did happen. A most vital reason that Tirithien and I fell in love was a long, ongoing cyber conversation about different books we’d read, particularly the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Now, these would have to rank among my favorite books of all time. I can’t explain exactly why (people have asked). The beauty of Tolkien’s language and the thrills of the story itself don’t go quite far enough. It’s just that there’s some chord that the tale plucks on the harpstrings of my soul that resonates in a way that few other things ever have.

So in our ongoing conversation, little drops of Middle Earth would appear. A description of dealing with some rude folks as “slaying orcs,” or a description of a particularly beautiful valley that “could have been part of Rivendell.”

It was like speaking a secret language, a language I thought I’d been alone in knowing, and discovering to my surprise someone else whose thoughts were shaped in the same words, someone else whose ideals and dreams had been shaped by songs of honor and glory.

So no, it wasn’t a bookstore or library. But it was the fulfillment of a dream, just the same. And if two geeky bookworms can meet and fall in love, there’s hope for anyone. ;-)

Tye melan, kolanya. Tye melan.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ohio Birdwatchers and What a View REALLY Looks Like

All right, I have to admit to being jealous.

Of what, you might ask?

The Ohio State Parks system!

There is exactly one Michigan State Park within easy access of me—Sterling State Park in Monroe. It has a beach, a campground, and something which vaguely resembles a hiking trail, but is really more of a biking/rollerblading trail. And the beach has a lovely view of the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant. Yep, just what I want to see while I’m swimming! And admission is $6.

But on Saturday, Tirithien took me to two State Parks just down around the corner of the lake, in that other state, and they both had free admission. We started out at Crane Creek, which is about halfway between Toledo and Sandusky. And it was lovely. It has some trails through marshland and a wonderful shoreline. (Granted, we were now within sight of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, but you can’t have everything.) The only problem was that it was overrun by birdwatchers.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing a trail with a flock of dedicated birdwatchers, but I have to say that it’s a truly surreal experience. See, as a Woodland Ninja ™, I’m used to meeting very few other people along the trail, if any. I’m used to quiet hikes. But instead, it was rather like making way through a crowded outdoor flea market, ducking and dodging people with expensive binoculars staring devoutly into trees and saying things like, “Look! It has yellow feathers and a purple head! It must be a Snodgrass Peregrine Swallow!” while their bored children hang upside down off the wooden railings and do flips into the swamp to look for frogs, turtles, and bog monsters.

Eventually the birdwatchers figured out that we didn’t belong (having no binoculars was a clue, as was the fact that we were tending to look at trees and wildflowers rather than birds), and they ran us off. (Okay, not really, but they were giving us some dirty looks.) We headed back towards town and went to Maumee Bay State Park instead.

Now, this is a truly beautiful park. It’s a park of the well-groomed variety, not a wilderness, but oh, the shoreline there was the closest thing I’ve seen to being a real beach since I left Florida 15 years ago. And the wind was even stirring up the lake enough to form something resembling waves! We wandered along the shoreline, climbed a few rocks (you know, the ones marked “Don’t Climb On These Rocks”), and climbed a rather impressive hill which gave us an absolutely amazing view of the entire park. While we were sitting on the bench at the top of the hill, we were joined by a man with his two young sons. The younger of the two, a bright-eyed lad of about 6, kept saying knowingly, “Now, this is what a view looks like!” and nodding his head sagely.

Rather than risk the boy’s feelings (because he was really quite serious in his fervent declarations that this was indeed what a view looks like) by laughing, we headed down the hill and spent some time on one of the hiking trails, where we encountered wild roses, wild grapes, a bunny, a deer, and several friendly dogs taking their humans for walks. Then we wandered back to the park resort building to find something to drink and headed home after that.

It was really a very good day for Woodland Ninjas to try being Swamp Ninjas and Beach Ninjas. And I have my first sunburn of the year.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Oh, hey, my blog is still here!

No, my fellow citizens of blogland, I haven't forgotten you. But between not being able to access the 'net at work anymore, and my boss being out all last week, I've been busy, frazzled, and fried.

I'll try to come up with something lovely and/or profound to post soon. Meanwhile, have some old poetry. From the Spring of 1997:

"You are meant for other things.
Your destiny lies elsewhere.
So it is now, and so it has always been.
My destiny has always been elsewhere.
Voices speak in troubled sleep.
I cannot understand.
These are days of turmoil.
My dreams are put aside for now.
I am a wanderer,
and must be true to my Gypsy blood.
Spirits of Nature, do not forsake me.
I become as fragmented as you,
as drifting, as insubstantial.
I resent my dreams, for
they make me dissatisfied with drifting.
I shall ever drift
on a storm-swept sea,
with no anchor
and no port in sight,
for my destiny lies elsewhere.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

My Brother's Stage Debut!

Tonight marks the very first ever onstage appearance of my baby brother! He will be playing a native in his middle school's production of Hurricane Smith. Apparently he has no actual lines, but has to make a lot of very strange noises to represent the native "language."

The kid's been doing imitations and accents and telling jokes practically since he learned how to talk, so I say it's about time he made his talents known to a wider audience!

Break a leg tonight, buddy!

Monday, May 08, 2006

No more internet...

Well, it's not GONE, I'm just not allowed to use it at work anymore. My employer is having a massive crackdown on "unauthorized internet usage," which I suppose includes blogging.

Never mind the people who are constantly on personal phone calls, or the gaggle of women who bring their scrapbooking gear to work and spend long, leisurely lunchtimes at a table near my cubicle gossiping and cutting cute little shapes out of strange types of paper. Nope! It's the internet which is the greatest possible threat to office productivity!

I mean, in protest of this, I may well wind up blogging more. I'll just have to write everything in Word and then bring it home to post it. But hey, Word documents are even easier to disguise as work!

And yes, I am feeling better today. :-)

(I really am a decent employee... I'm just rather disgusted with my employers' blinders today!)

Friday, May 05, 2006

29 is NOT off to a good start.

WARNING! GRAPHIC BLOGGING AHEAD! People with weak stomachs may want to skip this entry.


So, my birthday was going just fine. My family came over and brought cake and presents, and Tirithien was making me dinner, when I started to feel nauseous. He sent me to lie down while he finished up dinner. I felt a little better when I woke up, but I could only eat a few bites of dinner.

We curled up on the couch to watch a movie, and then my digestive system went into full rebellion. The top half went into reverse and the bottom half went into fast forward. This phenomenon is known as emetocatharsis. (Bougie Black Boy taught me that $5 word when he had the same issue freshman year.)

This kept up all night. Every hour, I would have to get up and go run to the bathroom again. It was like clockwork! Quarter after, it would be time to get up. When I went back to bed after my 4:15 emetocatharsis, I was able to sleep until 6:15, and this seemed a great blessing-- 2 consecutive hours of sleep!

Needless to say, I did not go to work on Thursday. I'm at work today, but I'm not going to be able to make it all day. I'm exhausted and weak. I actually made myself carsick driving here.

But I ate a piece of bread this morning. Hey, progress is progress.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, today is the big 2-9!

I remember when my uncle turned 29, my mom found a card for him with a sort of wink-wink, nudge-nudge, oh SURE you're 29 theme. Because, after all, this is where people stop and hold, and refuse to go on to 30.

But I really am 29.

And I'll be perfectly happy to be 30 next year, as long as I get cake and presents for it.

I mean, overall, my 20s haven't been that great. They're shaping up nicely NOW, but they're almost done! Which means my 30s are poised to be thoroughly fabulous.

So, bring it on, Time. One second per second, I'm moving forward.

Now, just as I was getting ready to post this, I got a call from the office receptionist, telling me I should go up front because there was a package I had to sign for. So I did. And what do you suppose I found? A perfectly gorgeous bouquet of flowers from my Tirithien, eleven red roses and one white, with baby's breath and a soft purple "background" flower I don't know the name of, tied with a huge red ribbon. Thank you, my love! :-)

Monday, May 01, 2006


On the ancient Celtic calendar, the 1st of May was a great festival day called Beltaine (or it was maybe celebrated on the full moon closest to the 1st of May, depending on which anthropologists you ask).

It was the heart of spring, the fires of life returning to all things that grow, a time of blessing and renewal. It is said that on the Eve of Beltaine, lovers would lie together in the fields, making love by the light of moon and bonfire, and that this display of fertility would cause the crops to grow tall and strong, symbolizing the union between the sun and the earth.

It was also said that Beltaine was a time of in-between. In folklore, these were the times when the veils between this world and the Otherworlds wore thin, when spirits and faeries might walk among us, or brave mortals might enter the worlds of faerie.

To guard against intrusion by malevolent spirits,
then, ladies would gather flowers of the hawthorne tree and weave them into wreaths, which they would hang above their doorways or above their children's beds.

It would have been a lovely thing to celebrate my ancestors' tradition by gathering some hawthorne flowers, but alas, in this part of the world, they won't be in bloom for a few weeks yet! (Besides which, they generally grow on private property, and an arrest for trespassing and flower theft is hardly my idea of a festive holiday.)

So what is the American descendant of wild Celts to do?

I picked some dandelions instead. They may not guard against malevolent spirits, but they should! Just look how bright and cheerful they are! What evil spirit would want to hang around with those?

Happy Beltaine!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Holy Crap, I'm Tired.

Dear Edmonton Oilers,

I totally understand that you want to win games. I don't hold that against you. If you win this series I will even wish you well in further rounds. But by all that's sacred, couldn't you have found a more interesting way to win than by playing the defensive trap? I thought we left that behind in 2004! I watched other games on Monday night, and they weren't boring. So how come you guys are playing boring hockey? Where's the glory, I ask you? Where's the glory and honor?

Oh, and that anthem singer of yours... You have GOT to have someone in Edmonton who can sing better than that guy! Ouch. The pain, the pain.

A Wings Fan who is also a fan of hockey in general


Dear Red Wings,

Okay, you did better at breaking through the defensive trap last night. This morning. Whenever it was. And the two goals within seconds in the third period were most excellent. But seriously, if you're going to keep all of us fans back home up past 2 AM with a double overtime game, can't you at least have the decency to win?

A deliriously tired fan

Monday, April 24, 2006

Annoying Music

You know that piece called "Pomp and Circumstance," the really annoying and repetitive bit of music that gets played at graduation ceremonies while all the graduates are filing in to their spots?

One of my co-workers somewhere off in the distance is listening to it.

Can I go home?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Playoff Time!

Yes, that would be me over there in that picture, posing with the Holy Grail of Hockey. That was from a trip to Toronto and the Hockey Hall of Fame a few years ago. They have almost a shrine for it. All the other various awards are in the same room too, closed in glass cases, carefully cleaned after a day's worth of eager fans press too close, nosing the glass in attempts to see a favorite player's name on a particular trophy.

The Stanley Cup, though, is not under glass. Nor should it be. This is a trophy that's been through some history. The tradition is that every player on the Cup-winning team gets to have the Cup for an entire day and do whatever they want with it. It's been swimming in Mario Lemieux's pool. (And as the story goes, silver and chlorine don't combine well.) Sylvain Lefebvre had it used as a baptismal font for his baby. Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, and Slava Kozlov took it all the way to Russia. Luc Robitaille took it on a roller coaster at Universal Studios. A guy I used to work with told me during the summer of 2002 that he'd been out at a club when Sergei Fedorov and the Stanley Cup just happened to show up. It was once left on the side of the road when some players from the 1924 Montreal Canadiens. who were driving around with it had to stop to change a flat tire. (Luckily it was still there when they went back for it.)

It is the only championship trophy in pro sports in which every player from the winning team gets to have his name engraved on it. The bands that form the base for the Cup? Covered in names. Players past and present, from Hall of Famers to hard-working hitters.

So, here's to the hope that come June, Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman will once more raise the cup above his head and skate it triumphantly around the ice!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Joy of Bad Movies

Lately, Tirithien and I have been on a kick of watching very bad old science fiction movies for the sole purpose of making fun of them. I can now tell you with certainty that radiation can do absolutely anything. It can cause ordinary creatures to grow to many times their original size! It can turn people invisible! It can bring dead dinosaurs back to life and give them radioactive bad breath! It can turn people into radioactive melty monster things!

And sometimes, monsters wear sneakers.

Now, I have taken great glee from horrible sci-fi movies for many years. I remember seeing part of Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster some rainy afternoon when I was a kid, and howling with laughter as Godzilla used his atomic blast breath to cook the sea monster, which was actually a giant lobster. (The movie didn’t specify whether or not Godzilla ate the lobster with butter and lemon afterwards.)

But these movies we’ve been watching aren’t just any bad movies. Oh, no! We have been watching episodes of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” an absolutely brilliant show which ran through the 90s. Through the magic of the internet, I’ve been able to obtain copies of many, many episodes. (Woot!) You’ve probably seen it—you know, the clip of a bad movie with a guy and two robots down in the corner?

It’s like watching a movie with extra obnoxious friends to help you make fun of it! And while there are certainly some movies which are too bad even for the MST3K commentary to improve, most of it is just excellent fun.

Keep your reality TV; I’ll take the low budget sci-fi any day!

I think my DVD player might be starting to get irritated with having to play so many horrible movies, though. I might have to let it run a decent movie soon. It’s so picky.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Return of the Woodland Ninjas!

Thursday was a horrible day to be working. It was 70 degrees and sunny, and every time anyone opened the door a few feet from my desk, I could smell the spring-scented air and hear the breeze calling me to come outside. So as my day progressed, I had an email coversation with Tirithien, as we often do when work is slow and he's not busy, and it went like this:

Bainwen (11:02 AM): I want to go outside and play. The spirit of Woodland Ninja summons me! But no, I'm making spreadsheets. :-p

Tirithien (12:02 PM): Then let's go play. :-) We can go ninjaing tonight, if you want. :-)

Bainwen (12:18 PM): Thursday night ninja-ing (ninjing?)... For some reason, against my custom, I wore jeans and sneakers to work today. I'm ready to ninja. But I've got laundry to do, and groceries to buy, and my apartment is a godawful mess....
But it's 70 degrees and sunny!
Oh poot. I am coming to you as soon as I get out of work. Foo upon all of the housework. :-p Woodland Ninja time is needed desperately!
So I should get there just about almost when you get out of your class.

Tirithien (12:28 PM): Class is out at 5:30. :-) I'll be walking over to the parking lot right after. :-D

Bainwen (3:36 PM): Almost time for ninjing! And how slowly my last hour goes. :-(

Tirithien (3:39 PM): One hour to ninja... ;-)

Bainwen (3:49 PM): Yes, the time grows near. Whee! :-D
I love you, my kolaninja!

Tirithien (4:03 PM): Yes... come to me and ninja with me. :-)

Bainwen (4:11 PM): 20 minutes and I'm out the door. Invisibly, of course. ;-)

And at 4:30 I was out the door (though not too invisibly, since I hadn't planned for ninjing that morning and was in a rather bright blue shirt). On the freeway with swiftness, heading south to my love and the green woods of Toledo. (THAT is one thing Toledo did with perfection; their city planners left room for amazing parks!)

To my surprise, it is much more spring in Toledo than at home. You wouldn't think 40 miles would make much difference, but it does. Their trees have leaves! And flowers! And the woods at Wildwood Metropark were full of daffodils and forget-me-nots, and how strange it was to see daffodils growing wild!

Wildwood is a park of trails through a rather vast woodland preserve near the Ottawa River, and it's a simple enough thing to leave the posted trails and head out to explore. So this we did, going much further into the woods than we had ever done before. We were rewarded, though; we saw the tracks of deer who ran, and a confluence of scuffled deer tracks as if two great stags had battled there for dominance. We saw a smallish mammal pawprint with HUGE claw marks. (Badger on the loose?) And then-- oh glory! Across the river, a beautiful whitetail doe grazing placidly on new grass; then down by my feet, the tiniest garter snake ever, a delicate brown serpent with wee black jewels for eyes.

Before we knew it, it was getting dark, but we thought we knew exactly where we were. The main path is just up that hill, right? Of course it is. In the growing twilight, we made our way around gigantic puddles, over and under fallen branches, and across small running streams to the base of the hill. My, it certainly looked steep. And tall. And covered with slippery leaves from last fall. And muddy.

Well, woodland ninjas should not balk at such things, so up we went! Oh, I could definitely tell that it's early in woodland ninja season. My lungs protested, and my legs protested even more loudly. Then to top things off, the path wasn't there! Well, never mind, we knew which direction to go, and we'd connect to the main path.

Then we realized the hill we were on was a sort of island, surrounded by small streams feeding the Ottawa with rain runoff. And it was very steep on all sides. And it was getting darker and darker.... and the path must be at the top of THAT hill over there. You know, the one which is even steeper than this one and across a particularly wide section of stream. Oy.

Okay. Down we went. I admit to doing the graceless, non-ninja-like thing and sliding down on my bottom part of the way. (On purpose, I mean.) I can climb up pretty much any hill I've faced with no issue at all, but going down the same hills kick my fear response into high gear!

Now how to cross this stream? It was far too wide to jump. (I probably could have done it with a running start, but there was no way to get up a good run with the steep hill behind me, and no good place to land with the steep hill in front of me.) There was, though, a very fortuitous fallen tree which we could use. No, I didn't walk across the log. It was slippery. Again, I did the graceless non-ninja-like thing. (I'm only an apprentice woodland ninja!) I straddled the log and used my arms to scoot myself across. (And for the record, I really need to work on my upper body strength. Ow.)

Yay! Across, and up, up, up some more-- and there was the path! Whew. It was full dark by then, so woodland ninjing would have become very difficult.

Safely out of the park, and off to get some dinner, and I went into the restroom to wash the woodland ninja mud off my hands. I peeked at myself in the mirror and saw myself pink from the sun and exercise, my freckles all showing strongly, sweaty, a smudge of dirt on my cheek, my hair a mess with a few bits of leaf caught in it... and an exhilaration and laughter in my eyes I hadn't seen all winter.

Welcome, Spring. The woodland ninjas are very, very glad to see you again. :-)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Satanic Ritual Abuse?

The other night, I caught part of a show on A&E about Satanic Ritual Abuse. This is the phenomenon by which people suddenly remember (sometimes spontaneously, but more often with the assistance of a hypnotherapist) horrendous abuses they suffered in their childhood-- physical, sexual, mental, emotional, and any other kind of abuse imaginable. In these cases it is remembered as being perpetuated (usually) by their parents, who are said to be worshippers of Satan.

I've got to give A&E tremendous credit for producing a show that showed both sides as fairly as possible. It was my own bias that colored my emotional responses.

You see, I think the vast majority of those who claim Satanic abuse are either victims of self-deception or are trying for attention (or both). There was an interview with an FBI assistant director who has investigated multitudes of purported abuse cases, who pointed out that there has not been one substantiated case of cultic abuse in the US, and that he is not aware of any substantiated cases in any other countries.

I'm not saying it has NEVER happened, but if it's as widespread as its believers claim, there is no possible way it could be completely unsubstantiated. There would be some evidence somewhere. People are clumsy, and there is no such thing as a perfect crime.

The real tragedy, to me, seemed to be in the families of those who claimed to be victims of Satanic abuse. There was a case in which a woman told her therapist that her sister and brother-in-law were planning to sacrifice their own son on the Vernal Equinox. The therapist by state law was required to report this as a clear and present danger. The police, though, did not investigate. They raided the home and took the kids away. It took months for the couple to clear their name and get their kids back. Why didn't the police do any investigation of any kind before taking the kids away? After these months of legal battles, the parents had to declare bankruptcy. They're held responsible for the court costs and the costs of their children's foster care, even though they were cleared of the sister's allegations.

A bizarre case came from a small church in Tulsa. The preacher there learned of the Satanic abuse "phenomenon" several years ago, and began to counsel his congregation in such ways that every single thing wrong with their lives was a direct result of having been Satanically abused in their childhoods. It was almost comical in its absurdity; all of the members of this group claimed to have been abused by the same man, the now-deceased father of one of the members. But this father had never lived in Tulsa or anywhere near it. Even group members who had grown up in completely different parts of the country claimed that this man had somehow abused them, and this stretched the credulity of even the neutral A&E interviewer. "Doesn't that seem strange to you?" he asked. The believers offered no explanations as to how this occurred, but simply claimed it was "the work of the Lord" that had brought them together.

It would have been comical, if not for the very real grief of one woman in the group. You see, the preacher forbids the "victims" from having any contact with their families of origin, because, as he puts it, it's not safe. The way he twists the tale, the more attached you are to your parents and the more you love them, the more horrendous your abuse must have been. There was one woman in the group who clearly missed her parents horribly, but was so convinced of the truth of the Satanic abuse, even though she remembered nothing but love from her childhood, that she would not speak to them.

They showed her sitting with her husband, a smug, smarmy-looking man who said primly that he KNEW there was something wrong with his wife's relationship with her parents because she was so attached to them, and that was why he had taken her to that preacher for counseling. He then proceeded to shame her on national TV by saying that she was still weak and under Satan's influence because she missed them.

If anyone on that entire program was doing evil, it would be that deluded, power-mad preacher in Tulsa.