Oct 29, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Taurus

Quick facts:
You were born between April 21 and May 20
Your sign is the Bull
Your planet is Venus
Your element is Earth
Your metal is copper
Your birthstone is the emerald
Your flower is lily-of-the-valley or rose
Your color is deep yellow
Your body part is the neck and throat
Your descriptive phrase is: I have, therefore I am.

The second sign of the Zodiac, Taurus, enjoys the good life - both physical pleasure and material goods. But like the bull they can be somewhat bull-headed and stubborn. They're the most practical of the signs, plodding along until they reach their goal, but once that goal is reached they're happy to indulge themselves in material goods. But if you worked as hard as most bulls do, you'd deserve the rewards as well. They're patient and dependable and tend to be somewhat conservative.

Taurus is ruled by Venus and governed by the affections. People born under this sign will go out of their way to avoid ill feelings. They are modest and do not seek popularity. They can be very devoted, either to another person or to an ideal. Their love is deep, lasting and undemanding. Humble by nature, they seldom ask for anything for themselves. They are both sensitive and keen witted. They are not afraid of hard work or the unpleasant aspects of life. Emotionally truthful, they make good-natured, reliable and faithful friends, although they are inclined to brood and need encouragement. Their gift for study makes them scholars and artists and they excel at work that requires patience.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Capricorn and Virgo, and to a lesser degree Pisces and Cancer.

Famous Taurus include: Queen Elizabeth II, William Shakespeare, Robert Browning, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Sigmund Freud and Audrey Hepburn.

Oct 28, 2013

Mofette Monday

mofette ~ volcanic opening in the earth emitting carbon dioxide

Everybody ready for Halloween? Pumpkin all ready to carve, house decorated, costume picked out . . .

Need something to inspire you? I highly recommend Alex Westhaven's Jack, part of her Death By Veggies series. You can find Jack in e-book, paperback, or audio format in the Brazen Snake Books on-line bookstore. And while you're at it, check out some of the other titles - you won't be sorry!

We get so few kids (our neighborhood is old and dark and there's a lot of space between houses) that it's hardly worth going all out, but I will have my carved Jack O' Lantern, and this year I'm going to put glowing eyes in the front garden. I bought some black bristol board that I'll cut and paste into tubes with holes cut into them for eyes, and then I'll put glow sticks in them to make the eyes shine in my nice, dark garden. :-)

My costume is pretty simple: black shirt, skirt and hat, and my friend Jamie sent me these really cool striped knee socks with a Halloween Hello Kitty on them. Perfect to complete my wicked witch. 'Cause everyone knows wicked witches wear striped socks. LOL

I just hope the weather is decent for the trick-or-treaters. Wednesday we got a taste of things to come in the form of a wicked hail storm:

The weather has definitely taken a turn for the colder. The windows are firmly shut, the heat has been turned on, and I've switched over to flannelette sheets on the bed WITH a comforter. Even the cats have taken to sharing sleeping space with each other at night. ;-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The second sign of the Zodiac is Taurus.
A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter 89 of Water. Dare I hope this is the end?
Friday: It's the first day of NaNo. So while I'd like to say I'll have something NaNo related, it's anyone's guess if I'll even remember to post at all - hopefully I'll be too busy writing. ;-)

Other Stuff
This week's TraxTime report runs from October 20 through October 26.
Crafts - 14 hours and 29 minutes ~ way up from 5 hrs and 53 min
Emails - 5 hours and 28 minutes ~ down from 4 hrs and 38 min
Games - 4 hours and 31 minutes ~ down from 6 hrs and 35 min
Reading - 5 hour and 13 minutes ~ down from 7 hr and 58 min
Non-fiction - 4 hours and 35 minutes ~ way down from 9 hrs and 28 min
Fiction - 8 hours and 54 minutes ~ down from 10 hrs and 37 min
Total Words - 8445 this week ~ down from 8623 last week

Apparently I spent more time knitting than anything else last week. LOL

Sad to say, it wasn't on my Fair Isle sweater. The daughter requested an infinity scarf last week and being the awesome mommy I am, I started knitting right away. While an infinity scarf isn't as long as a Dr. Who scarf (which is 24 feet long) it's still longer than a regular scarf. So yes, it did take me the whole week to finish it.

I found it interesting that although the rest of my times were down, I still managed to produce almost as many words. Did you notice the words total at the bottom of my TraxTime? I must be writing faster or something.

Did not get the journal entries for Water finished, but I did add to them. And of course I added to Water as well.

This week I have my sister and her husband stopping in on their way . . . somewhere else. But fortunately I have a lot of turkey soup in my freezer to feed them with. :-)

Other than that, this week will be all about writing, re-writing, planning for NaNo, working on the Fair Isle sweater, and maybe a little baking.

Oct 25, 2013

Random Ramblings

On vampires . . .

The notion of vampirism has existed for millennia; cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, Ancient Greeks, and Romans had tales of demons and spirits which are considered precursors to modern vampires. Almost every nation has associated blood drinking with some kind of revenant or demon, or in some cases a deity.

The Persians were one of the first civilizations to have tales of blood drinking demons: creatures attempting to drink blood from men were depicted on excavated pottery shards. Ancient Babylonia had tales of the mythical Lilitu, giving rise to Lilith and her daughters the Lilu from Hebrew demonology. Lilitu was considered a demon and was often depicted as subsisting on the blood of babies. However, the Jewish counterparts were said to feast on both men and women, as well as newborns.

Ancient Greek and Roman mythology described the Empusae, Lamia, and the striges. Over time the first two terms became general words to describe witches and demons respectively. Empusa was the daughter of the goddess Hecate and was described as a demonic, bronze footed creature. She feasted on blood by transforming into a young woman and seducing men as they slept before drinking their blood.

Lamia preyed on young children in their beds at night, sucking their blood. Like Lamia, the striges, feasted on children, but also preyed on young men. They were described as having the bodies of crows or birds in general, and were later incorporated into Roman mythology as strix, a kind of nocturnal bird that fed on human flesh and blood.

The natives of Slavic countries believed that ways of becoming a Vampire included being conceived on a certain day, being buried incorrectly, being born with a caul, teeth, or tail, or an irregular death. Preventative measures included placing a crucifix in the coffin, blocks under the chin to prevent the body from eating the shroud, nailing clothes to coffin walls for the same reason, placing millet or poppy seeds in the grave, or piercing the body with thorns or stakes.

Romanian vampires are called Strigoi based on the Roman term strix for screech owl which also came to mean demon or witch. There are two different types of Strigoi. Strigoi vii are live witches who will become vampires after death. They can send out their soul at night to meet with other witches or with Strigoi Mort who are dead vampires. The Strigoi Mort are the reanimated bodies which return to suck the blood of family, livestock, and neighbours.

One Gypsy vampire was called a mullo (one who is dead). This vampire was believed to return and do malicious things and/or suck the blood of a person, usually a relative who had caused their death, not properly observed the burial ceremonies, or who kept the deceased's possessions instead of destroying them as was proper.

Female vampires could return, lead a normal life and even marry but would exhaust the husband. Anyone who had a hideous appearance, was missing a finger, or had animal appendages, etc. was believed to be a vampire. Even plants or dogs, cats, or farm animals could become vampires. India has many mythical vampire figures. The Bhuta is the soul of a man who died an untimely death. It wandered around animating dead bodies at night and attacked the living like a ghoul. In northern India could be found the Brahmaparusha, a vampire like creature with a head encircled by intestines and a skull from which it drank blood.

The most famous Indian vampire is Kali who had fangs, wore a garland of corpses or skulls and had four arms. Her temples were near the cremation grounds. She and the goddess Durga battled the demon Raktabija who could reproduce himself from each drop of blood spilled. Kali drank all his blood so none was spilled, thereby winning the battle and killing Raktabija.

Various regions of Africa have folkloric tales of beings with vampiric abilities: in West Africa the Ashanti people tell of the iron toothed and tree dwelling Asanbosam, and the Ewe people of the Adze, which can take the form of a firefly and hunts children. The eastern Cape region has the Impundulu, which can take the form of a large taloned bird and can summon thunder and lightning, and the Betsileo people of Madagascar tell of the Ramanga, an outlaw or living vampire who drinks the blood and eats the nail clippings of nobles.

The Loogaroo is an example of how a vampire belief can result from a combination of beliefs, here a mixture of French and African Vodu or voodoo. The term Loogaroo comes from the French loup garou (meaning werewolf) and is common in the culture of Mauritius. The Loogaroo is able to shed its skin, turning into a vampiric fireball and gains access to the home of its victim through keyholes. They suck the blood of their victims through their arms or legs but if they take too much the victim will become a Loogaroo as well.

Similar female monsters are the Soucouyant of Trinidad, and the Tunda and Patasola of Colombian folklore, while the Mapuche of southern Chile have the bloodsucking snake known as the Peuchen. Aloe vera hung backwards behind or near a door was thought to ward off vampiric beings in South American superstition. Aztec mythology described tales of the Cihuateteo, skeletal faced spirits of those who died in childbirth who stole children and entered into sexual liaisons with the living, driving them mad.

The Bhuta or Prét is the soul of a man who died an untimely death. It wanders around animating dead bodies at night, attacking the living much like a ghoul. In northern India, there is the BrahmarakShasa, a vampire like creature with a head encircled by intestines and a skull from which it drank blood. The Nukekubi is a being whose head and neck detach from its body to fly about seeking human prey at night.

In the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia we have the Mandurugo, which takes the form of an attractive girl by day, and develops wings and a long, hollow, thread like tongue by night. The tongue is used to suck up blood from a sleeping victim. The Manananggal is described as being an older, beautiful woman capable of severing its upper torso in order to fly into the night with huge bat like wings and prey on unsuspecting, sleeping pregnant women in their homes. They use an elongated proboscis like tongue to suck fetuses off these pregnant women. They also prefer to eat entrails (specifically the heart and the liver) and the phlegm of sick people.

The Malaysian Penanggalan may be either a beautiful old or young woman who obtained her beauty through the active use of black magic or other unnatural means, and is most commonly described in local folklores to be dark or demonic in nature. She is able to detach her fanged head which flies around in the night looking for blood, typically from pregnant women. Malaysians would hang jeruju (thistles) around the doors and windows of houses, hoping the Penanggalan would not enter for fear of catching its intestines on the thorns.

The Leyak is a similar being from Balinese folklore. A Kuntilanak or Matianak in Indonesia, or Pontianak or Langsuir in Malaysia, is a woman who died during childbirth and became undead, seeking revenge and terrorizing villages. She appeared as an attractive woman with long black hair that covered a hole in the back of her neck, which she sucked the blood of children with. Filling the hole with her hair would drive her off. Corpses had their mouths filled with glass beads, eggs under each armpit, and needles in their palms to prevent them from becoming Langsuir.

Jiang Shi (literally "stiff corpse"), sometimes called "Chinese vampires" by Westerners, are reanimated corpses that hop around, killing living creatures to absorb life essence (qì) from their victims. They are said to be created when a person's soul (pò) fails to leave the deceased's body. One unusual feature of this vampire is its greenish white furry skin, perhaps derived from fungus or mould growing on corpses.

So if you meet a vampire this Hallowe’en, be sure to ask them what kind they are and let me know, before they bite you. :-)

Oct 23, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

Today looks like a great day for a musical interlude. Don't you think? ;-)

Oct 22, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Aries

Quick facts:
You were born between March 21 and April 20
Your sign is the Ram
Your planet is Mars
Your element is Fire
Your metal is Iron
Your birthstone is the diamond
Your flower is honeysuckle
Your color is deep red
Your body part is the head
Your descriptive phrase is: I am.

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, and that's how those born under this sign tend to see themselves - as number one. But although they like to lead, they don't often like to finish what they start, preferring to leave the finishing up to others. Aries can be blunt and to the point, often tempted to ram their ideas down other people's throats.

The ram symbolizes energy, initiative, and aggression. People born under this sign have a reputation for touchiness and dominance. They often consider themselves to be the leader of their group, and do not like anyone who tries to steal their credit. They are never afraid to throw their weight around and refuse to take things lying down. Headstrong and self-willed, they also tend to be impulsive and impatient. They make good leaders and managers but do not often like working for other people.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Sagittarius or Leo, and to a lesser degree Aquarius and Gemini.

Famous Aries include: Hitler, Lenin, Thomas Jefferson, Chaplin, Freud, Machiavelli

Oct 21, 2013

Metronymy Monday

metronymy ~ system of naming after the mother's or female line

Another Monday? Already? How did that happen?

Anybody else suffer from what I call Seasonal Transition? I don't know if there's a clinical name for it, but it happens in both the spring and the fall - a complete lack of focus and energy that goes on for a week or two and then disappears. That was me last week.

However, I still managed to get some stuff done. Not as much as I'd like, but overall it wasn't a bad week. I'm at about 11 or 12 inches on the body of my second Fair Isle sweater, with only about 5 to go before I start the sleeves. And between naps and general procrastinating I got a decent amount of writing done.

The weather was, for the most part, still sunny, but coolish. I guess when the temperature inside the house hovers around the 60 F mark during the day it's time to think about turning the heat on. Either that or hunt up a pair of slippers to wear with my socks. And the temperature has dropped so low at night that I've half-closed the bedroom window. :-)

Over the summer, the hubby noticed his recliner was excessively damp at times. We put this down to the excessively damp weather we had, but over the weekend I discovered the true culprit. It was raining pretty hard on Saturday, I sat down in his chair (which is closer to the TV) to grate some cheese, and all of a sudden I felt a splash on my arm. I looked up and sure enough, there was a small crack in the ceiling above his chair and it was leaking water. We figure the leak must be coming from where the lower roof (over the living room) meets the side of the second story, so hopefully it won't be too hard (or costly) to fix. And this is hard on the heels of being told we need a major brake job done on the car. *sigh* If it's not one thing, it's another!

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The first sign in my Zodiac series is Aries.
A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter 88 of Water. They're saved! Now what?
Friday: This week I'll be posting about the different kinds of vampires you may encounter on Halloween.

And speaking of Halloween . . . Don't forget to check out Alex Westhaven's Month O'Screams! There's lots of great, sometimes scary, stuff for you to check out. And if you missed them, be sure to go back and read the stories and excerpts from last week. And leave a comment for a chance to win a great prize!

Other Stuff
This week's TraxTime report runs from October 13 through October 19.
Crafts - 5 hours and 53 minutes ~ way down from 20 hrs and 10 min
Emails - 4 hours and 38 minutes ~ down from 6 hrs and 12 min
Games - 6 hours and 35 minutes ~ down from 8 hrs and 47 min
Reading - 7 hour and 58 minutes ~ way up from 2 hr and 50 min
Non-fiction - 9 hours and 28 minutes ~ up from 8 hrs and 35 min
Fiction - 10 hours and 37 minutes ~ up from 8 hrs and 02 min

I'm thinking I might have missed logging a couple of sessions of the knitting last week, because I know I watched more than six hours of TV (which is when I get my knitting done). Although I might have been reading while watching TV instead.

And isn't it funny how the reading time goes up when you start reading a book you can't seem to put down? Such was the case with Somebody Tell Aunt Tilly She's Dead, by Christiana Miller, who was interviewed on Alex Westhaven's blog HERE. The book was the perfect read for Halloween, by the way. It was both spine-tingling and funny.

But over all I was down by about ten hours last week, which puzzled me until I realized I got no writing done last Sunday, and Sundays are generally one of my big writing days.

I did keep track of the number of words I wrote, and it came to a total of 8623 words. Next week I'll try and remember to make a breakdown of them. Now while a 8623 total seems respectable enough, it doesn't come close to the 11,669 extra words I'll need to be writing each week in November. Yikes!

My goal for the weekend had been to get those journal entries for Water finished, and I'll tell you right now that didn't even come close to happening. And why didn't it happen? Because I had a SNI (shiny new idea) that wouldn't leave me alone.

Maybe I should have been wearing my writing hat to keep me on track. ;-)

Speaking of my writing hat . . . if you're on my FB and have "liked" my author's page (Carol R Ward, author), you will have seen I finally came out from behind the camera for a picture - that includes my writing hat. If you know me at all you know that pictures are something I try to avoid, but this time I really had no choice.

I was invited to participate in a local poetry event, Window Anthology, Vol.2. This features 12 local poets who each have a poem (and their picture) up in the windows of an empty store front on the main street of our town. So if you're down town in Cobourg, check me out in the bottom left corner of the old Garner's Florist window. :-)

Oct 18, 2013

Random Ramblings

On honouring our dead. . .

One of the more interesting Pagan traditions I've stumbled across in my Halloween research is that of the Silent Supper. This is a special supper that is meant to honour our ancestors as well as loved ones who have recently passed on.

The Silent Supper is held on Samhain (Halloween), the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is thinnest. This is the night where the dead can hear us speak and perhaps speak back.

First you will need to set up an altar area, some place large enough to hold pictures, small candles, and any heirlooms that have special meaning for you or your guests. Each of your guest should bring a picture of a deceased loved one for the altar.

The table should be set with a black cloth and if possible set with black dishes, cutlery and napkins. Your best china and silver can be used if black is unavailable. There should be one place setting for each guest as well as one for each of the deceased being honoured.

Each guest should light a small candle on the altar, and candles should be the only source of light throughout the meal. You must make it clear to your guests that no one is to speak during the dinner, which makes it somewhat tricky to anticipate a guests needs.

The meal should consist of dishes with apples and late fall vegetables, the meat should be game if available. Traditionally the courses are served in reverse order - desert first, followed by the main course, then appetizers.

Once the meal is finished you may offer thanks, snuff out the candles and turn on the lights. Then it's customary for the guests to reminisce about their loved ones and any messages they may have received.

Of course in a true, Pagan tradition you would cleanse the room before dinner, invoking the power of the Goddess and thanking her when you're finished. But whether you're Pagan or not, I think this is a lovely Samhain tradition.

One of the traditional foods eaten during a Silent Supper is a soul cake. A soul cake is a small, round cake that is set out with a glass of wine on Halloween night and consumed by "soulers" who would go door to door collecting the cakes to eat on November 1st. Each cake consumed was said to release one soul from purgatory. This tradition is believed to be where the "treat" part of trick or treat originated.

Of course you know I had to look up recipes for these, and I found three different ones:

From: Recipe Wise
From: Food.com
From: Kitchen Window (This one also has a recipe for pumpkin juice)

Oct 16, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

Today seems like a great day for lounging in front of a fire, don't you think? ;-)

Oct 15, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Introduction

One of the most well known forms of divination is astrology, the prediction of personal fortune through the position of the planets and stars. The band of sky through which the sun makes its annual path through the stars is called the zodiac. This is divided into twelve thirty degree sections called houses, each represented by a different sign of the zodiac.

Whether you're a believer or not, I'm sure most people are familiar with the twelve signs of the Zodiac - Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.

Each sign has its own symbol and its own characteristics. As well, they're each associated with a particular part of the body. From top to bottom they are as follows:

Aries, the Ram - March 21 to April 20. Ruler of the head
Taurus, the Bull - April 21 to May 20. Ruler of the neck and throat
Gemini, the Twins - May 21 to June 20. Ruler of the arms
Cancer, the Crab - June 21 to July 22. Ruler of the breast
Leo, the Lion - July 23 to August 22. Ruler of the heart
Virgo, the Virgin - August 23 to September 22. Ruler of the stomach
Libra, the Scales - September 23 to October 22. Ruler of the kidneys
Scorpio, the Scorpion - October 23 to November 22. Ruler of the pelvis
Sagittarius, the Archer - November 23 to December 21. Ruler of the thighs
Capricon, the Seagoat - December 22 to January 19. Ruler of the knees
Aquarius, the Waterbearer - January 20 to February 19. Ruler of the legs
Pisces, the Fish - February 20 to March 20. Ruler of the feet

Some interesting Zodiac facts:

The term zodiac derives from Latin zōdiacus, which in its turn comes from the Greek ζῳδιακὸς κύκλος (zōdiakos kuklos), meaning circle of animals.

Astrology is considered to be both a science and an art. It has scientific status because it requires mathematics and an understanding of Astronomy, and art because interpretation is necessary to bring the different aspects together.

Ancient star-gazers studied the stars and observed how they followed a cycle every year. The Zodiac was originally a natural agricultural calendar that dated the sowing of crops, harvesting, etc, by the rising and setting of the stars.

Interest in astrology waned with the rise of Christianity, but became popular again when Nostradamus published his book of prophecies in 1555.

Those born under the signs of Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius tend to be extroverts, while those born under the signs of Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces tend to be introverts.

More than one third of all Americans believe in astrology.

Astrologers claim that the moon has the same effect upon humans, as it does upon the ocean. If the moon can affect the huge tides it cannot fail to affect the human body, which consists of 75 per cent water.

Adolf Hitler is thought to have used an Astrologer throughout the Second World War.

Join me here next week to explore the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries.

Oct 14, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving ~ a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year

Today is the actual Thanksgiving Day for us Canadians, while my American friends also get the day off for Columbus Day. And you know what I find grossly unfair? We don't get a corresponding day off for the American Thanksgiving in November. What's up with that??

In honour of it being a statutory holiday, I declare today to be a pajama day. And I'm not going to do anything more strenuous than make a cup of tea. :-)

Saturday I spent the day baking pies and cheese cake - one apple pie and three large apple tarts; one very large pumpkin pie, two large pumpkin tarts, and twelve pumpkin tartlets; and two pumpkin cheesecakes (one was for the daughter's birthday Saturday). And the reason I ended up with so much pie is because I mis-judged the fillings and didn't want to waste anything.

Then yesterday I was up at 9 a.m. and pretty much stayed in the kitchen the whole day. I really wish I'd thought to take pictures of all the food on the dinner table, but I was too busy ferrying dishes in and out of the kitchen. Suffice it to say, no one left my table hungry. :-)

And we still ended up with a pile of leftovers - pie, potatoes, and turkey. Lots and lots of lovely turkey. And tonight we will be enjoying our traditional post-turkey day supper: club sandwiches. Mmmm, I can smell the bacon sizzling now. ;-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The series on the Major Arcana is finished. Join me this week for the first in my series on the Zodiac.
A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter 87 of Water. Will Ravi end up back in Dr. Arjun's clutches? Find out in this week's chapter!
Friday: I enjoyed my Halloween ramble so much that I'm going to do another one this week.

And speaking of Halloween . . . Don't forget to check out Alex Westhaven's Month O'Screams! There's lots of great, sometimes scary, stuff for you to check out. Leave a comment for a chance to win a great prize!

Other Stuff

This week's TraxTime report runs from October 06 through October 13.
Crafts - 20 hours and 10 minutes ~ way up from 13 hrs and 19 min
Emails - 6 hours and 12 minutes ~ down from 8 hrs and 54 min
Games - 8 hours and 47 minutes ~ way up from 4 hrs and 02 min
Reading - 2 hour and 50 minutes ~ way down from 7 hr and 50 min
Non-fiction - 8 hours and 35 minutes ~ down from 11 hrs and 12 min
Fiction - 8 hours and 02 minutes ~ down from 7 hrs and 10 min
Editing - 1 hours and 57 minutes ~ way down from 5 hrs and 20 min

I spent a heck of a lot of time knitting last week, but it was all worth it. See what I finished?

As you can see by the picture I need to re-do the ribbing around the neck, but I think I'll wait until I finish my second one. Don't expect me to keep up this kind of crafting time. I really had a push on to finish that sweater, just to prove to myself I could do it. I've never done a Fair Isle before. But now that I have I should be able to take my time with my next one.

Less impressive is the fact that my gaming time doubled from the week before. I blame this entirely on my newly re-discovered love of Nethack. It has over a hundred levels to it - I've made it to level 10 so far. Previously my highest (or maybe that should be lowest because you're travelling down into a dungeon) level was around 33. Honestly, you really need to give it a try. You can download it HERE.

I'm a little surprised my fiction time wasn't higher - I'm starting to get serious about the re-writes for Water and I thought I'd spent more time than that working on it. Although I have to admit a large part of that time involved sitting and staring into space while trying to come up with journal entries to start each chapter.

Water will be my main focus this week - specifically, those pesky journal entries. I need to be as single minded about my writing as I was with that sweater.

One of the things I'd like to keep track of this week is the number of words I'm writing. It's all well and good to spend, say, two hours writing a post on the Tarot. But how many words am I actually writing in that two hours? Inquiring minds want to know. And if the results aren't too embarrassing, I might even share the words here. :-)

Oct 11, 2013

Random Ramblings

On random facts about Halloween . . .

I don't know about you, but Halloween is one of my favourite holidays. When I was a kid it was because I got to dress up and go begging for candy. But as I got older I started to appreciate Halloween for its supernatural aspects and its traditions. So for the next few rambles I thought I'd share some of the Halloween lore I've collected over the years.

Halloween is the number two holiday in terms of commercial success (Christmas, of course, is number one). Over four billion dollars is spent annually during the Halloween season. Half of that is spent on candy.

Signs of a werewolf are a unibrow, hairy palms, tattoos, and a long middle finger.

If you see a spider on Halloween, it is the spirit of a loved one watching over you.

People of Hong Kong believe that spirits roam the world on the whole Halloween day. Some people burn pictures of fruit and money. They believe that this will reach the spirit world and comfort the ghosts of the dead.

Chocolate bars are the most popular treat to give trick-or-treaters.

In Britain, people believed that the Devil was a nut-gatherer. At Halloween, nuts were used as magic charms.

It is said if you go to a crossroads on Halloween night and listen to the wind, it will tell you your future for the next year.

On this day in Portugal, people have feasts of wine and chestnuts in the cemetery. Also special sugar cakes are baked with cinnamon and herb flavoring.

If a person has an extreme, intense, or irrational fear of Halloween, they may be suffering from a condition known as samhainophobia.

If a girl puts a sprig of rosemary herb and a silver sixpence under her pillow on Halloween night, she will see her future husband in a dream.

In about 1 in 4 autopsies, a major disease is discovered that was previously undetected.

There really are vampire bats, but they're not from Transylvania. They live in Central and South America and feed on the blood of cattle, horses and birds.

The people of Poland believe that spirits roam on this day so they leave their doors and windows open to welcome the visiting spirits.

The movie "Halloween" was made in only 21 days in 1978 on a very limited budget. It was shot in the spring and used fake autumn leaves.

Traditionally, a Halloween Cake was baked with a thimble inside. Whoever got the thimble in their slice was to be unfortunate in love for the next year.

Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.

In China, Halloween is known as Teng Chieh. People place food and water in front of their dead relatives and friends to pay respect.

If you want to see a witch on Halloween night, you need to wear your clothes inside out and walk backwards.

Some believe if you catch a snail on Halloween night and lock it into a flat dish, then in the morning you will see the first letter of your sweetheart written in the snail's slime.

Many people used to believe that owls swooped down to eat the souls of the dying. If they heard an owl hooting, they would become frightened. A common remedy was thought to be turning your pockets inside out and you would be safe.

Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.

The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.

And while you're in the mood for Halloween, don't forget to check out Alex Westhaven's Month O'Screams. There's stories, book excerpts, author interviews . . . something for everyone! And you have a chance to win some great prizes, just by leaving a comment or signing the giveaway sheet if you're shy.

Oct 9, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

There's nothing sexier than a man doing the laundry (or any housework), right? ;-)

Oct 8, 2013

Major Arcana of the Tarot - Part XXI
The World

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress, IV - The Emperor
V - The Hierophant, VI - The Lovers, VII - The Chariot, VIII - Strength, IX - The Hermit,
X - The Wheel of Fortune, XI - Justice, XII - The Hanged Man, XIII - Death, XIV - Temperance,
XV - The Devil, XVI - The Tower, XVII - The Star, XVIII - The Moon, XIX - The Sun, XX - Judgement

At number twenty-one, The World is the last card in the Major Arcana, and as such represents the end of a cycle, with a pause before we begin the next one. We've achieved contentment and fulfillment. It's the coming together of all the elements necessary for us to receive the satisfaction and success that we've been striving for.

The early Italian decks showed this card with some kind of sphere or circle on it, not just representing the Earth, but the universe as well. The Italian word "Mondo" can actually mean "the universe" as well as "the world."

The Tarocchino di Mitelli deck shows a kneeling man with his back to us holding a large blue sphere on his shoulder, while the Visconti-Sfroza Tarot has two angels holding up a sphere with a walled city inside it. In the Cary-Yale Visconti Tarot a woman with outstretched hands is shown in the upper part of the card, while below her is shown an elaborate scene of a village with ships in the background and a knight and a fishing boat in the foreground.

The Rosenwald Tarot shows the World as number twenty, with an angel standing on top of a wreath-like sphere that has the picture of a village within it. In Tarot de Marseille, Le Monde shows a woman holding a staff in her right hand inside an oval wreath in the center of the card, while figures appear in the four corners representing the four elements.

In some decks the wreath is the worm Ouroborous biting its own tail. In the Thoth Tarot this card is called "The Universe." In the Rider-Waite deck, a woman clad only in a flowing scarf floats freely in the center of the card. She holds a baton in each hand and is surrounded by a green wreath. There is a head in each of the four corners - lion, bull, man, and eagle.

The figure at the center of this card has been call the World Dancer, who's rejoicing in the conclusion of the journey, celebrating not only the completion but the new beginnings to come. One of her legs is straight while the other is crossed at a right angle, symbolic of the cross-roads that has been reached. The batons she holds in her hands are the sacred scrolls of knowledge, representing balance and evolution.

The thick, green wreath is symbolic of victory, also of protection, peace, and accomplishment. The red ribbons at the top and bottom of the wreath are lemniscates, or infinity symbols, assuring us that we are infinitely rewarded for any positive actions we take to improve ourselves as well as those around us.

The four figures appearing in the corners are similar to those on the Wheel of Fortune card. They represent the fixed signs of the Zodiac - Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, and Scorpio. These, in turn, are symbolic of the four elements, the four points of the compass, the four seasons, and the four corners of the universe. The lack of any solid ground on this card is symbolic of the feeling you get when you've conquered your world.

To be truly happy we must feel connected to what is around us. We need to know what our goals are and that we are moving towards them to feel a sense of accomplishment. The World represents this feeling. It's a positive sign that you're in the right place to realize your dreams; it's a card of completion and fulfillment.

You've reached the end of a journey, completed one of the major cycles of life. Any challenges you've faced along the way have only made you stronger, if not wiser. The World symbolizes the new beginnings that are now open to you because this cycle is complete. If you have not quite reached this point of completion, never fear. You are very close. Look back at all you've accomplished and how far you've come already. You should be able to see your progress and the impact you've had. Everything is starting to fall into place.

Even those around you feel you deserve the happiness this card brings. The world is your oyster - perhaps you need to broaden your horizons through travel to reach your goals. The energy of this card is so positive that even if it's surrounded by negative cards, it only means a delay before reaching your journey's end. Keep your mind open to the greater possibilities out there.

When The World appears in the past position of a Tarot Spread, it means that whatever you are experiencing now has roots in something you accomplished earlier on. But while the foundation on which you now stand is rooted in this past, you need to move on. Do not fall into the trap of living in the past.

In the present position, The World indicates there's a need to take care that you do not sabotage yourself because of your distrust of your current happy state of affairs. When things begin to go your way, it can lead to stress and anxiety because this is not a natural state for you.

The World in the future position indicates that you need to keep your dreams alive. This is not the time to be questioning your abilities. The universe is telling you to move forward with confidence. You have more to offer than you realize.

Oct 7, 2013

Macrophobia Monday

macrophobia ~ fear of prolonged waiting

So . . . I had an unintentional knitting marathon yesterday. I started working on the yoke of my Fair Isle sweater and I couldn't seem to stop myself. I took a break to add ingredients to a pot of chili I had in the crock pot; I took another break to start supper, which wasn't much of a break because it involved a lot of prep work; and I took a break to eat supper. Other than that, pretty much all I did Sunday was knit.

As I knew it would, we finally ran out of perfect autumn days. It started getting a little cooler towards the end of the week, and from Friday on it's been dark and gloomy. Not too much rain, but it's been warming up again so it's been a little on the humid side.

Hopefully it'll be bright and sunny again for Wednesday. I'm having a small, pre-NaNo planning party and it would be nice to have it out on the deck. :-)

Once again I got off to a slow start last week, but picked up speed as the week went on. I even managed to get this week's installment for Water written ahead of time. And if you didn't like last week's chapter, you're probably not going to like this week's either. ;-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Number twenty-one in my series on the Major Arcana of the Tarot is The World. This is the final card of the series.
A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter 86 of Water. Well, we know there was at least one casualty of the tsunami, but will she be the only one?
Friday: Okay, it's 1 a.m. on Sunday night as I'm typing this and my brain is fried from over seven hours of knitting (I was following a Fair Isle pattern and you really need to pay attention to what you're doing). Anyway, I have no clue what the Ramble will be this week. Maybe something Halloweenish.

And speaking of Halloween . . . Don't forget to check out Alex Westhaven's Month O'Screams! There's lots of great, sometimes scary, stuff for you to check out. Leave a comment for a chance to win a great prize!

Other Stuff

This week's TraxTime report runs from September 29 through October 05.

Crafts - 13 hours and 19 minutes ~ way up from 7 hrs and 18 min
Emails - 8 hours and 54 minutes ~ about the same - 8 hrs and 43 min
Games - 4 hours and 02 minutes ~ slightly down from 4 hrs and 49 min
Reading - 7 hour and 50 minutes ~ down from 8 hr and 38 min
Non-fiction - 11 hours and 12 minutes ~ down from 12 hrs and 00 min
Fiction - 7 hours and 10 minutes ~ way up from 2 hrs and 42 min
Editing - 5 hours and 20 minutes ~ way down from 12 hrs and 44 min

Okay, see that Craft time? That's without including my knitting marathon yesterday. Can you tell the new season of television has started? And I hate just sitting in front of the TV doing nothing, so I either knit or crochet while watching.

All my other times last week pretty much stayed the same until we got down to Fiction. I was feeling rather inspired last week and got this week's episode of Water written on Friday. And I've been working on the rewrites off and on. I confess, however, that I'm lagging behind on the journal entries that are supposed to head each chapter. I guess that's something I'll have to pay extra attention to this week.

Oct 4, 2013

Random Ramblings

On good luck and bad luck and lucky charms . . .

Have you ever noticed that when we're talking about good luck we knock wood, but we don't take such precautions with bad luck? I wonder if this means if we talk about bad luck without knocking on wood does it change to good luck? In my dreams, eh?

Fortune is a woman and if she is to be submissive it is necessary to beat and coerce her - Machiavelli

Luck is something that happens that is beyond our control. Good luck is when some good happens; bad luck is when something bad happens. It's as simple as that. Or is it?

The dictionary defines luck as:
1. The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; fortune: They met one day out of pure luck.
2. Good fortune or prosperity; success: We wish you luck.
3. One's personal fate or lot: It was just my luck to win a trip I couldn't take.

Luck affects everything; let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish. – Ovid

According to Wikipedia (and everyone knows if it's on Wikipedia it must be true):
The English noun luck appears comparatively late, during the 1480s, as a loan from Low German (Dutch or Frisian) luk, a short form of gelucke (Middle High German gelücke). Compare to old Slavic word lukyj (лукый) - appointed by destiny and old Russian luchaj (лучаи) - destiny, fortune. It likely entered English as a gambling term, and the context of gambling remains detectable in the word's connotations; luck is a way of understanding a personal chance event. Luck has three aspects which make it distinct from chance or probability.
Luck can be good or bad.
Luck can be accident or chance.
Luck applies to an entity.

Psychologists call the belief in bad luck “external locus of control.” It’s a kind of fatalism, where people believe that they can do little or nothing to change their lives. So because of this belief, they either just hope for the best or passively accept whatever comes along.

Everything in life is luck - Donald Trump

Most successful people believe in the opposite. They have “internal locus of control.” They believe that what happens in their life is their own doing and even when chance events occur, the important thing is not the event itself, but how one responds to it.

It's been said that people who believe in good luck are more optimistic, more satisfied with their lives, and have better moods. If "good" and "bad" events occur at random to everyone, believers in good luck will experience a net gain in their fortunes, and vice versa for believers in bad luck.

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Some people believe in luck as faith or superstition. The Romans believed luck was bestowed by the goddess Fortuna. Many other cultures believed in offering sacrifices to encourage luck, but the Bible has this to say in the Book of Isaiah chapter 65, verses 11-12: What will happen to you for offering food and wine to the gods you call good luck and fate? Your luck will end.

The dictionary defines bad luck as:
1. bad luck - an unfortunate state resulting from unfavorable outcomes
2. bad luck - an unpredictable outcome that is unfortunate; if I didn't have bad luck I wouldn't have any luck at all
3. bad luck - unnecessary and unforeseen trouble resulting from an unfortunate event

Luck never gives; it only lends - Swedish Proverb

If you believe in back luck, then you're already probably aware of these superstitions for the causes of it:
Breaking mirrors
Seeing a crow
Walking under ladders
Putting shoes on any table
"Jinxing" yourself (saying out loud something bad that you think will happen to you) aka. tempting fate
Wearing opals unless you are born in October
Stepping on a crack in the pavement/sidewalk. ("Step on a crack and break your mother's back!")
Crossing the path of a black cat.
Opening an umbrella indoors.

Some people are so fond of ill-luck that they run half way to meet it - Douglas Jerrold

But are you aware of these signs that your bad luck is about to change?
Dreaming of being on a very high place, such as a building.
Sneezing 3 times before breakfast.
Putting money in the pocket of clothes you wear for the first time.
Seeing a spider spinning its web in the morning.
Finding a pin pointing at you.
Dreaming of clear water.
Eating the point of a piece of pie last.
Finding a crust or cheese bubble in your pizza.
Seeing a cricket in your house (and whatever you do, don't kill it! This brings incredibly bad luck.)

Nobody gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck - Orson Welles

When I was a kid, I remember begging my mother for a box of Lucky Charms cereal because they were "magically delicious". The cereal was terrible, but the idea of a lucky charm stuck with me. I remember scouring a patch of clover for one with four leaves, picking up acorns that still had their little hats on, and even my mother made sure we had a horseshoe nailed above the threshold in our house.

The act of carry lucky charms has been part of many cultures throughout history. Even people who claim not to be superstitious will pick up a "lucky penny" when they see one. Lucky charms have two purposes: first to attract good luck and secondly to ward off evil. In ancient African cultures, carrying an animal's foot, or other parts of a fast animal, were supposed to help a person be able to flee with the speed of that animal. The "lucky rabbits foot" charm was handed down and assimilated into our culture by the enslaved Africans who were brought to the New World.

Here are a few other lucky charms you can try to ward off bad luck:

The acorn is considered to be an emblem of luck, prosperity, youthfulness and power. It also represents spiritual growth. The English carried dried acorns for protection during the Norman conquest.

The winged staff with two snakes twined around it is a familiar symbol to most people. It was used as a good luck symbol in Egypt, India, and ancient Greece. The wings were said to be those of Hermes, messenger to the gods, while the snakes represented the balance between good and evil. This emblem is reputed to ward off sickness and quarrels, and bring peace to any situation.

Four-leafed Shamrock and Clover:
Each leaf signifies luck for a different feature: 1. fame; 2. wealth; 3. love; 4. health. If you wear a lucky clover, your true love will come to you. If you possess one, it will ward away evil. If you dream of one you will live happily ever after.

There are two schools of thought about horseshoes. One is that the ends must point up to keep all the luck in, the other that the ends must point down to allow the luck to flow free.

The Greeks used a key as the symbol for knowledge and life, while a crossed gold and silver key is a papal symbol of authority - the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Three keys worn together unlock the doors of wealth, health, and love.

The skull holds the spirit and spark of a person's life. It is the seat of their intelligence. It's also the least resistant to decay, making it a symbol of strength. Many primitive cultures believed that wearing skulls would ward off evil influence or illness and insure protection and well-being.

It is claimed that Pythagoras designed the geometric shape of the star to represent perfection. It was worn on clothing in the Middle Ages as an emblem representing the mysteries of the universe. The Star is lucky because it is believed that good fortune is determined by the Stars.

Luck is believing you’re lucky - Tennessee Williams

Oct 2, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

Don't you just love the Autumn? The falling leaves, raking them up . . . ;-)

Oct 1, 2013

Major Arcana of the Tarot - Part XX

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress, IV - The Emperor
V - The Hierophant, VI - The Lovers, VII - The Chariot, VIII - Strength, IX - The Hermit,
X - The Wheel of Fortune, XI - Justice, XII - The Hanged Man, XIII - Death, XIV - Temperance,
XV - The Devil, XVI - The Tower, XVII - The Star, XVIII - The Moon, XIX - The Sun,

The twentieth card of the Major Arcana is Judgement. This is a card about change, leaving something old behind to step into something new. It's also a card symbolizing a rising up again, a rebirth or renewal. It generally means that there are decisions to be made. This is your opportunity to leave your sins behind you and start a new life. A second chance.

It's also a wake up call. It's the split second in which you're able to rise up and change for the better. It's coming to a new and improved realization after a period of confusion or misunderstanding. Judgement can also be about jumping to conclusions, or decisions that are too easily made. You may need to slow down and think things through better.

In the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, Judgement is a fatherly figure with a long white beard, dressed in a blue robe, holding a sword upright in his right hand while his left is held open. Below him are two angels, one on each side, hovering in place as they blow long blue trumpets. At the bottom center of the card are two women praying in what appears to be a an open grave while a bearded man is looking up from between them.

The Rosenwald deck calls this card the Angel for the angel dominating the upper half of the card. He has a circlet on his head and a circle behind, possibly indicating a halo. His wings are spread and he's blowing a trumpet. Below him are two figures, hands held in prayer. The Tarot de Marseille has Le Jugement, showing three naked people standing in an open grave, hands held in prayer. An angel appears through a cloud above them, wings outspread, holding a horn with a flag attached to it.

In the Etteilla Tarot this card is The Last Judgment and shows an angel sounding his trumpet while the dead arise. In the Mythic Tarot Judgement is depicted by Hermes, while in the Thoth Tarot it is referred to as The Aeon. The Rider-Waite Tarot shows the most detailed image for Judgement.

The Archangel Gabriel blows his horn from up high, its seven tones liberating man from his earthly limitations. The horn is also a symbol of clarity and divine intervention, as well as our inner calling. When we hear this horn it's time to change the direction of our lives to one more fulfilling to our purpose. The red cross on the white flag hanging from the horn is St. George's Cross. It, too, is a message to change as well as being a sign that a new day is dawning.

Beneath the angel, naked figures stand in open coffins, their arms outspread as they gaze upwards. Their bodies are grey, which is a sign of resurrection. The water the coffins appear to be floating on is thought to be a reference to the sea giving up its dead on the day of judgement, described in Revelations.

Judgements are a necessary part of life. When these times occur you need to consider the matter carefully before you decide, and then commit yourself without hesitation. If you're the one being judged, then you must take what you can from the experience and learn from it.

When Judgement appears it is time to heed our highest calling. We're at a crossroads and it's time to choose a direction. It's a pivotal time and we must be honest with ourselves in order to rise up to the challenges ahead of us before we embrace a new way of living.

When Judgement appears in a reading, it represents resurrection, not impending judgement. When Judgement is in the upright position, it indicates that a period of reflection and self-evaluation is called for. You are close to reaching a significant stage in your journey. You may have had an epiphany where you realize the changes you must make in order to live your life in such a way that you'll be true to yourself. Perhaps you've had a 'calling' in life and are getting closer to the point where you'll need to take action.

Judgement represents a much needed purging process that will leave you feeling ready to take on new challenges. Life changing decisions may be required. You could be at a point where any decision you make could bring about a significant change.

When Judgement is reversed it suggests that while you may not be able to control the initial events that happen to you, you can control how you react to these events. Don't allow yourself to indulge in doubt and self-judgement or you may miss new opportunities that are waiting for you. Don't be so hard on yourself; learn from your mistakes. Change is inevitable. Without change there is only stagnation instead of growth.

When Judgement appears in your past, it indicates that you made a decision to follow one way of thinking. This decision might have come days, weeks, or years ago and there's no guarantee the decision was the right one. Now is the time to take stock of where you and where you want to be because of that decision.

In the present, Judgement is a reflection of your inner turmoil about a big decision you need to make. You know that the choice is final, even though those around you may not see it. This is a life-altering decision and you need to make sure you're making the right choice.

If Judgement appears in your future it indicates that something is about to happen that will allow you to see all the possibilities in front of you. All the things clouding your vision are about to disappear and you will be left with a definite sense of purpose and a clear direction in which to go.