Apparently my cat’s been living a double life


We have a cat named Bari (pronounced Barry) which means ‘innocent.”  How we got him is a slightly complicated story.  We have a lot of strays in our neighborhood.  Some have been abandoned, and some are feral, but they are relatively friendly so we feed them.  We don’t generally adopt the strays, we just give them food and water, and love when they’re willing, and nature does what it will.  It’s made for sad moments, but also many happy ones too.  We have indoor cats, rescues, so we are generally careful about the mix we bring into the home.  Some cats will just never get along.  And we can’t adopt every homeless cat.  We just offer kindness and food for those who are willing.

So we had been feeding this feral cat, a tiny tiny black and white female we named “Miss Kitty” because she was so tiny, and so prim, and everything had to be ‘just so’ before she felt comfortable enough to let us pet her.  On Christmas Eve 2008 we found out she was a mama, because she brought her kitten with her to introduce him to us.   He was weaned already, but he was so tiny, and so young, and it was so cold outside that we kidnapped him.  There’s no other way to put it.  We stole him from her, because we knew he wouldn’t survive the winter if we didn’t.  In fact, Miss Kitty didn’t survive, we didn’t see her after the end of January and we assume she got eaten by a coyote or something.

https://thetinfoilhatsociety.com/2009/01/09/my-new-spinning-assistant/ if you scroll down you will see photos of him when he had grown quite a bit – mom’s love and milk might be good, but if there’s not enough babies just can’t grow.  We got him neutered when he was old enough, because the last thing we want are more kittens in the neighborhood.

So anyway, he peed all over everything for months and months.  I was ready to take him to the local cat rescue because it was so out of control.  In desperation, my husband started letting him out.  Well, that’s what he wanted because he quit.  So every since, he’s been an indoor outdoor cat (our only one), and when he’s ready to come back in he’s learned to knock on the window (really!) and meow until we let him in.  We call it ‘going on patrol’ and sometimes, in summer, he’s gone for a day and a half before he comes back.  We just assume it’s because it’s nice out and he’s got things to do; he comes when I whistle, usually, he’s never far.

Last week, though, he was gone for 3 days.  We were a little worried, but he always comes back, he’s a big strong cat and he can take care of himself.  Well, when he came back it looked like his belly had been shaved.  He wouldn’t let me pick him up to look and Mr. TF told me I was crazy.  The night before last though, he came to bed with us and I pointed it out again.  Sure enough, his belly had been shaved!

Apparently our cat has been leading a double life, because *someone* took him in to have him spayed….we are now wondering what his other name is and who the family is that has also adopted him 🙂

Still waiting.


Our camping trip was amazing.  We met some people, including someone (who shall remain nameless) that I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined meeting at a little tiny camp out in Northern Arizona!  We also met several Arizona heathen families, some wonderful New Mexico heathens, along with a fellow mead maker/brewer, and lots of other people, all of whom were talented and giving of their time and skill.  It was, all in all, a lovely weekend.

We got an incredible amount of rain!  Mr. TF and I were married in Grand Caymen during Hurricane Michelle in 2001.  I don’t think I’ve experienced sustained rain with winds like what we had on Friday since we were in the hurricane!  People’s tents got filled with 2 feet of water!  A few tents collapsed!  We were luckier – we were camped out farther from the common ramada, but on not such a steep slope and thus avoided some of the problems others had (and that was purely by chance, I assure you).  We did get water in the tent, but it was because the wind was blowing the rain horizontally and it lifted the rain shield, allowing rain into the tent.  Not so bad, though.  Only one half was actually wet (with about an inch of standing water in places) but most of our stuff was still in the plastic totes and thus dry.  Most importantly, our bedding remained mostly dry (yay wool!) and we were cozy every night.

I took not a single picture.  In fact, our phones remained either in the truck’s glove box or charging with the solar charger on the hood.  We were pretty much technology free during our 3 days there.  I didn’t miss it much either.  I did notice I had missed a phone call from someone very important when I finally picked up my phone around 10pm on Friday night – luckily said person also sent an email and I spent an agonizing 15 minutes trying to sign into my email and waiting for his letter to load…but it was good news and well worth waiting for.  Mr. TF and I drank two drams of scotch each (LaPhroaig) to celebrate, and sat outside in the beautifully clear night, watching the meteor shower and the stars.  Other than sharing the good news with family and close friends the next day though, no phones for either of us.

I did NOT win the antler handled, hand forged skean dhu I had hoped to bid on….I was too busy running my mouth visiting and missed the auction for it entirely!  Ah well, not meant to be I guess.  There will be others.

All the crap that has gone on since January…if it all hadn’t gone down the way it did I never would have met any of these people, at a time and a place in my life when I really NEEDED to meet them.  I humbly apologize to the Universe.  Things do in fact happen for a reason.  And sometimes wyrd/karma takes really some really strange twists to get us where we are supposed to be and in contact with those we are supposed to know.

But now, home for nearly a week, I am like a caged panther.  I’m not particularly good at waiting.  But wait I must.  I guess the Powers are making sure I get some actual rest time in before I start my new job with its associated stress and all consuming lifestyle (if my fellow workers are any judge, that is).

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Maybe some time to knit while I pet the cat….

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Or knit while I chat with friends….

 

A'Knittin' while you work

A’Knittin’ while you work

Or knit while I get this amazing craphole of a dirty house back into shape 🙂  Are you sensing a pattern here?  Of course, I also have wool tweed on the loom I need to weave off to make a vest with, and POUNDS of alpaca and wool to spin up – including a commission for lace weight suri yarn.

I’m behind on holiday gifts too…

Yep, waiting is hard, but I think I might be able to fill my time.

 

Hidden Beauty in the Desert


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ETA All of these pictures will open in Flickr and embiggen if you click on them.

This is on public land near my house.  Once, you could literally drive down into the creek bottom and to the other side; the state put up steel fencing and a sort of gate system that one can only walk through and the site has recovered in the years since.  The water runs year round, an unusual thing in the desert – this is not as low as it gets, but it’s lower than it was when we were getting storms daily.

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The roots of one of the Arizona Walnut trees near the water line.  You can see the erosion from when the water gets high in the spring.  All of the trees have fruit this year; I plan to come back and do some harvesting for our own stores soon.

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Branches:  you lose some, you grow some more.  Lightning is a thing here in the desert, as I’ll show you.

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If you look closely at the top half of this limb you can see the black from the fire the lightning started.

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The remains of a honeycomb that fell out after being burned.  The entire creekbed had a low hum from the thousands of bees busily gathering pollen and nectar from the riot of flowers everywhere.  The sunchokes were taller than we are, and the peppery smell of the nitrogen fixing plants’ blooms permeated the air.  ETA One was vetch, a desert variety that seeds everywhere it can get a little moisture.

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A lovely flash of color among the greens

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Mr. TF for comparison of some of the trees’ size.  I love our desert home.  Unlike the Midwest, our greens are mainly subtle, and oases like this are hidden unless you know they are there.  It’s a truly magical place filled with life of all sorts.

Just hanging there…


ATU12That would be me, currently.  Just hanging there.  Waiting for a decision.

Time is running out, I have been in this limbo for six months now.  I need a decision soon.  Events have conspired to force a decision.  Hopefully it’s a positive one, or at least a neutral one.  Anyone who feels motivated, please light a candle/say a prayer/send energy to the Universe.  Closure is hopefully coming soon.

Community, Personal Responsibility, The World Isn’t Fair, Gods.


Atheist alert: this has a lot to do with spirituality and yes, religion. Deal. In my mind science and ‘woo’ co-exist in a dynamic relationship that causes occasional cognitive dissonance, but forces me to continually re-evaluate my worldview. In my view this is healthy and necessary.

Pagan alert: Not Politically Correct Commentary on our community. Deal. If it angers you, perhaps you need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

I’ve been through the wringer for the past six months. In that time I have been places that boggle the imagination. I’ve been a specimen under a microscope. I’ve been betrayed on a fundamental level by those closest to me, and by some of the very systems our society is predicated on as well. And. The truck was stolen, trashed, totaled, rebuilt. I lost a job. I spent money I didn’t have (thanks FIL for the help, more grateful than you’ll ever know) and am in debt to the tune of thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it. I have a degree for a career I can’t work in. And I’m becoming more and more convinced I don’t want to work in it anyway, the way things are moving (see going places one doesn’t want to go, or my previous post). I have discovered, the hard way, that standing up for right doesn’t always mean you will be protected, or that things will work out. Sometimes you will be punished in the worst ways imaginable, and evil WILL prevail in spite of an individual’s or a community’s best efforts.

I’ve maintained a minimal level of spiritual practice through this, even if it has been nothing more than a simple acknowledgement of Deity and thanks for getting through another day. It has been nothing approaching the level of an actual devotional practice though, and I’ve felt that lack ever more keenly as I approached the end of my degree program. Once I finished, and had nothing else to occupy my mind but the drama and tragedies of life, it became a yawning chasm that contributed to my ennui and depression.  I literally couldn’t summon the energy to pray, let alone believe it would work.  I felt as though I just wasn’t worth it, that the Gods had better things to do than deal with me.

I believe in synchronicity. I believe in the fractal nature of the universe – As Above, So Below. I do believe that there are other entities, other dimensions, other realities than our own see/taste/touch/hear/smell reality, and that sometimes we reach out to those other entities/realities – and other times they reach out to us. I believe that things often happen for a reason, and that reason sometimes isn’t readily apparent for a very long time, if ever.  This faith was seriously shaken as a result of the happenings since January.

My children are fundamentalist Christians. Two, at least, were Pagan/anarchists earlier in teenaged life. I believe that they became Christians not because of the actual religion, but because of the structure and community it offers. This is something that very little of modern NeoPaganism offers, and I have seen that over and over and over again in the nearly 20 years I’ve been a Pagan.

In nearly 20 years as a Pagan, I’ve met more people who are trying to get on disability than I ever thought possible. I’ve met people ON disability who constantly cried about how poor they were, and who were no more disabled than I am, who ran side businesses based on cash to augment their disability payments and who actually had nicer things than Mr. TF and I do. I’ve met people who can’t keep a job, who can’t keep a relationship, who can’t keep an apartment, who can’t keep a car, who are using/abusing illegal drugs – and I’m not talking about marijuana here people – or who are abusing prescription drugs. When I worked in the ER I saw more than one person – significantly more than one – I knew from the local Pagan community come into the ER for problems directly related to prescription or illegal drug abuse or as “seekers.” It made for uncomfortable questions from fellow staff members, at the very least.

Many people who are drawn to the Pagan path often tend, in my experience, to be less than reliable on a personal level and tend to make very bad choices. These bad choices are ones for which they tend to not take responsibility. They misuse magick, in my opinion, as a tool to overcome lack of personal responsibility for bad choices rather than as a tool for self-development. Or they use it as a substitute for an actual spiritual relationship with Deity. Magick does NOT substitute for spirituality. And one does NOT need to do magick to enter into a relationship with Deity. Magick is a tool, it can sometimes be a vehicle, but it’s not the object (unless you are a Ceremonial Magician which is another conversation entirely). It’s as though they are drawn to Paganism because they perceive it as the one religion/practice for which they have to take no responsibility, and they can espouse beliefs that NO ONE can tell them are wrong. Cuz personal gnosis, you know.

Because of my experience (and that of my husband as well, I am writing this as an individual but we have shared this conversation many times between ourselves) we have mostly withdrawn from participation in and organization of Pagan events, particularly events like Pagan Pride, public Pagan holidays, Pagan meetups….you get the idea. The embarrassment of being associated with the crazies just simply began to outweigh the benefits of the participation.

And yes, I know there are those in the Christian community as well. However, they tend to be reined in by those who are around them, and either drawn into the fold or shunned. They are self-selecting in their long term participation.

As a side effect of withdrawing from public gatherings, my own spiritual practice has suffered – it’s not just the business of life/school/work/stressors, it’s been that I no longer go to events where I can get my spiritual batteries somewhat recharged because I’m participating in a community of believers. The very thing my children currently have. The thing I envy, even though I do not think a patriarchal herding religion from a desert region from 2000 years ago has any relevance for them – or for me, for that matter. I do ‘get’ why they turned away from a religious practice that *did* and *does* have relevance for them (and me). Because community. It’s important.

I have suspected for quite some time that the Pagans who were serious about their practice, at least in our area, were very secretive, or at the least insular, mainly because of the above. They are responsible adults and take their religion and spirituality very seriously, and they don’t want to associate with people who don’t. So, while believing firmly they’re out there, it also makes it very hard to find or connect with them. Friends of course excepted, but because of school/work commitments it’s made it hard for us to connect with them as well. When we’re all on different schedules and none of them coincide for all of us….you get the idea.

So why am I going on and on about this? Because I am going to a Pagan event for the first time in nearly a decade next month. I’m terrified. And excited. I don’t know if Mr. TF will come or not. He’s much more laid back about his spirituality, and doesn’t feel the need to actually connect the way I do – at least to hear him tell it.  And the way I found out about this event is nothing less than synchronicity.  It’s a Rube Goldberg nest of interconnected coincidences that defy logical explanation.

It’s not just any event though. It’s a Heathen event. I’ve shied away from heathenry for my entire time as a Pagan due to bad press about skin heads and racists who identify as heathen. I didn’t, and don’t, want to be associated with those who think the color of one’s skin denotes one’s worthiness to worship the Old Gods. When I first became a Pagan (or more realistically, realized that my spiritual beliefs were Pagan and I just didn’t know it) I was strongly advised against my interest in Norse spirituality by a Pagan friend who had recently spent 10 years in prison. His experiences there didn’t encourage me to try to follow up.

But recently I’ve been forced to rethink my blanket painting of this community thanks to blogs and websites devoted to heathens, as well as books I’ve had (and read previously) in my library. A recent re-reading of them revealed nothing that actually allows for this view, regardless of the views of a certain vocal percentage of heathens. And as far as I’ve read (which isn’t a lot, but also not nothing), there’s nothing in the lore that allows for this view either. As I stated earlier, I believe in synchronicity. And I believe the Gods call who They call. Regardless of skin color.

What I do know, is that the values Heathens espouse:

Nine Noble Virtues

are the same values I live my life by, and I want to associate with people who share my spiritual outlook as well as my ethics.  ETA:  because it doesn’t embiggen:  Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self Reliance, Industriousness, Perserverance.

Illustration courtesy of   My Journey into Midgardr

I am hopeful that I can find a group of people with which to share community and spirituality. Gods know I’m ready after the half year I’ve had.

Makkin Belt


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In the Shetland Islands, knitting is known as ‘makkin.’  Hence the name for my belt.  You see, most production knitting used ergonomic methods that allowed women (and men, and children) to knit quite quickly, with even tension, and allow knitting while walking or caring for family tasks.  In the Shetlands, this involved a knitting, or makkin belt.  It’s worn with the large part on the side, and a double pointed knitting needle (pin, as they’re known in the UK) is inserted into the belt at an angle that allows the needle to remain stationary and enables the hands to maintain a more ergonomic position for a longer period of time.  It also keeps the wrists more or less out of the motion of knitting, which greatly reduces the risk of over use injury.

I purchased the leather, the awl set, the leather needle, and rivets at my local leather shop.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I could only get one of the rivets to stay and “grab” the belt so it’s sewn at the other end.  It was a lesson for next time.  The belt was already made, purchased at the thrift store for something like 50 cents.  It’s stuffed with a surprisingly large amount of tulle, as horsehair – the traditional stuffing, while available – was extremely expensive.  I know, it’s not especially pretty, but I’m hoping it will be functional.  ETA:  I used graph paper to sketch out the basic shape and traced it onto the leather.  It’s approximately 8″ long, and 3″ wide.  I used the 1/8″ diameter awl bit to make the holes for the lacing.  I ‘eyeballed’ the holes both for the lacing and for the needles; I didn’t have a tiny awl for small diameter needles so I used a T pin and made those holes; the larger ones are made with a hand punch awl of an unknown diameter.  They are randomly placed on the surface.

I have noticed lately that knitting causes me to have pain at the base of my thumb near where it joins the wrist whenever I knit for more than an hour or two – even if I am a good doobee and get up and stretch every hour.  I currently have a very large collection of circular needles that I’ve accumulated, because I find they are easier to carry around and use wherever I go. The alteration in my style when I use them, however, causes the pain due to my wrists turning more to flick off the stitches.

I have decided that if I am ever going to be a production knitter I need to become MUCH faster than I am.  I’m no slouch right now, but I really want speed without sacrificing quality.  When I knit with single point needles, I have always naturally braced one against the crease of my thigh or into a pillow next to me, which allows me to knit faster and more ergonomically.  I have no idea where I first learned this, but my paternal grandparents were from Ireland so I may have seen Irish style knitting at a very young age and simply copied my grandmother without realizing it (she passed away a long time ago, I have no real memory of her other than her asking me if I understood – in Gaelic).  Using a knitting belt is a natural extension of my instinct, that will allow me to knit in other places than my couch – and to take it with me anywhere I go.  I did try lever knitting, where the needle is held under the arm, and that hurt my wrists very badly very quickly.

This is a video of Isolda Teague using a knitting belt.  It is probably the most clear in the placement of the belt and the use of the needles that I have seen.

I haven’t tried it out yet, but I am anxious to do so on some sort of project that can be appropriately hidden (like socks) until I get the hang of it.

I suspect that in times to come, when hand made becomes a necessity once again, this will be a good skill to know and to pass along.  And I have enough leather left over to make another belt as well.

What do two wrongs make?


Every religion has its behavioral standards. Some of these include behaviors of the mind; the Ten Commandments for instance include physical behaviors – thou shalt not steal – as well as mental behaviors – thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s … Buddhism has its Eight fold Noble Path, Asatru has its Nine Noble Virtues, Wicca has its Rede; all deal in part with making sure motivations and actions are for the betterment of oneself and/or one’s community. Of course, some of these also deal with rules for approaching ones’ God(s) and with proper worship and sacrifice, it IS religion after all, but in the main these, to me at least, deal with proper mental orientation producing proper physical behavior.

I’ve been thinking about this recently and trying to examine motivations vs. actions in whether an action can be wrong in the lens of religion, morality/ethics or the law even when the motivation was pure. Is it in fact possible to act from pure motivations and still err in behavior? Meaning, can one do the ‘wrong’ thing for the ‘right’ reasons? And is it acceptable to be punished for one’s wrong action even when the motivation was pure? If one does act from pure motivation and commits a wrong action, is the punishment that ensues just? Or is it always that wrong actions come from mixed or impure motivations? Is it error that produces the wrong action, or lack of knowledge?

And what about the other person(s) who were involved and the fact that they were committing wrong (and possibly illegal) actions with patently wrong motivations: does this person deserve karmic retribution? Justice? Punishment? Or is their wrong action ‘cancelled out’ by the wrong action of another?

Consider for instance telling a lie. In Christianity, this is always considered wrong. I was brought up not as a Christian, but I was involved in it when I was younger. I was brought up in a family that valued honesty for the simple reason that even poor people can possess honesty as a form of wealth that cannot be taken away. In Asatru however, this doesn’t necessarily apply, if another person has lied (and been caught in it) to you. There’s a standard of behavior one is expected to uphold, as a general rule, but if the other person violates it, one can choose to behave honorably or not based on one’s own assessment of one’s situation. Now, I’m not Asatru, but this is how I interpret it.  And I believe that telling the truth, being honest, is a value that is central to my life.  I may be many unpleasant things, but a habitual liar is not one of them.

Take Thor for instance. He dressed up as a woman, as a bride, to be wed to a giant. He went through with the ceremony. This is a pretty big lie!! But he did it to get his hammer back, and to prevent a larger wrong. His wrong actions were in response to another’s wrong actions, and the motivation was at least in part pure: to save another from a bad marriage, and to get back what was his and wrongly kept from him. Does that mean two wrongs make a right? Or have they cancelled each other out? Does the fact that Thor is a God mean the same rules do not apply? Or is this to be taken as an example for the people of Asatru in dealing with others who do not have the same standards?

I know there are many questions in this post. I have recently been through a great deal due to a ‘wrong’ action that arose from pure motivation. My motives, I believe, were pure, but I let my frustration with the other person’s illegal and unethical behavior, and apparent immunity from consequences get the better of me. Not only that, but I acted from incomplete knowledge and this in itself was critical to what followed. Does allowing emotions to be involved mean I did not have pure motivation? Or was it that I had incomplete knowledge and therefore could *not* have pure motivation? How does one go about making sure motivation is pure before acting?

I have been punished physically, mentally, legally, financially. The punishment continues for a currently unknown amount of time; it may be up to a year before my punishment will end. All of this because someone stuffed a ballot box, repeatedly denied the right to free speech at public meetings, and intimidated people. The back story is that this same person cost a neighborhood association their non-profit status from illegal activities and has a pattern of rights violating behavior. In addition, there have been irregularities in the financial accounting, the potential use of the association for illegal land transfers or zoning changes, and more. Nevertheless, this person and this board remain in power to do what they will, and I remain the one punished. I have been questioning my motivation as a result and have spent a lot of time pondering these questions.

This is a poor way to end a post, but I welcome thoughts on this subject.

It’s almost like the longest gestation in history.


I have completed my clinicals.

I will complete my paperwork today.

I take my final exam for my final class tonight.

I began this journey 37 months ago.

After all this time to be done, to have only the board certification exam to stress about, seems very very odd.  I’ve been so stressed for so very long now.

I guess it’s time to clean house and get the garden ready for spring…

8 knitting days until Christmas…


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That is a cat. Really. Four Knitted Cats by Kath Dalmeny
I lost interest when it got to the seaming part. For a weaver I surely do hate sewing. BUT. It MUST BE DONE by 9am Christmas Eve, so I can wrap it, because it is being given later in the morning!

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Gratuitous photo of Shetland singles for weaving. Not enough to make anything but a scarf, so it shall sit in my stash until I buy another Shetland fleece and spin more. I read in a Starmore book that Shetland is too fragile for weaving; I plan to challenge that statement and report back.

ETA: click on the photos for a better look.