Friday, 31 December 2010

Fast Away the Old Year Passes


Happy New Year's Eve! Got plans? We're going out for dinner with a bunch of friends. Then afterward, we thought we'd go downtown to the outdoor First Night celebrations. But the temperature here is so bloody cold right now, I think I'll pass on that. Especially since my ear muffs broke yesterday.


So have a safe, fun and happy New Year's Eve, everyone, and good luck in my giveaway draw tomorrow!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Am I Annoying You Yet?


Hahahahaha! Just ONE LAST REMINDER that if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, please click here and do so!

I won't be blogging for a few days as I'm heading off to visit my Mom. See you New Year's Eve!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

What did YOU get?


[Reminder: if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, click here and do so!]

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas 2.0



Have a wonderful, peaceful day, everyone!

[Reminder: if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, click here and do so!]

Friday, 24 December 2010

Never Piss Off Santa


I hope Santa is good to all of you! I know everyone has made the NICE list! Haven't you?

[Reminder: if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, click here and do so!]

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Happy Festivus!

Hooray! Today is Festivus for the rest of us! And I'm all ready for it. The Festivus Pole is up:


The Festivus cards have been sent and the pretend donations to fake charities have been made:



Tonight's dinner will be the traditional Festivus meal of meatloaf with all the trimmings. For my guests I've also got a couple of special cakes decorated in the spirit of the holiday:



During dinner, we'll begin The Airing of Grievances -- always a special time in any family! I've been saving up my petty resentments and toxic feelings all year long! I will commence The Airing of Grievances ritual with the time-honoured Festivus words: I got a lot of problems with you people. And now, you're gonna hear about it.


And finally, Festivus concludes with everyone's favourite ritual -- the Feats of Strength -- when the Head of the Household is pinned to the floor, signifying that Festivus is officially over. Around here, the Head of the Household is Her Royal Highness, of course. But she's pretty tough to wrestle with, so our Festivus may continue for days!


[Reminder: if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, click here and do so!]

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Caroling Fun!

My Rare One sends you her best holiday wishes and asks you to click here. Request your favourite carols and see what happens! Be sure to try Jingle Bell Rock, Angels We Have Heard on High and Hallelujah Chorus!

Her Royal Highness also sends you her best holiday wishes. She asked me to post this "critter carol" video of Deck the Halls for your enjoyment!



Can't get enough of teh kyootness? Here's Jingle Bells too!


[Reminder: if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, click here and do so!]

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Winter Solstice


Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.

--Joan Chittister, Uncommon Gratitude

As we celebrate the return of the Light, may we nevertheless continue to benefit from the peace and nurturing to be found in the Darkness.

Deep peace of the midwinter stars to you, my Solstice friends.

Monday, 20 December 2010

200+ Followers! Time for a Giveaway!


I had my last giveaway when my Followers List reached 100 and now, thanks to all of you wonderful readers, it has reached 200+! So I'm celebrating with another giveaway!

Because of everyone's great response to my Labyrinth Series, I thought that a labyrinth-themed giveaway might be a good idea. (By the way, I'm not finished with that series and will be posting about more labyrinths in January, so stay tuned!)

The Sand Labyrinth is a finger labyrinth that you create over and over again! The kit comes with a shallow 10-inch square wooden box, two labyrinth templates for tracing (both the pagan Cretan and christian Chartres designs), a bag of fine white sand, and a little book with instructions and inspirational quotations. You simply put the sand in the box, choose a template, place it on top, trace the unicursal path with your finger, remove the template and voilà! A beautiful sand labyrinth for display or further meditation! (A word of caution: keep out of reach of cats . . . .)

The rules for entering are straightforward:

1. You must be an official Follower to enter. Old, new or just signed up in order to enter the contest, it's all good. And it doesn't matter where you're from in the world, I'll mail the prize anywhere!

2. In addition to being a Follower, you must leave me a comment on THIS post that you want to enter the contest.

3. One entry per person (leaving 10 comments will still only result in 1 entry!)

4. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time) on Friday, December 31, 2010.

5. The winning entry will be chosen by random draw on Saturday, January 1, 2011 and the result posted here on Sunday, January 2, 2011.

As you can see, I'm leaving the contest open for the rest of the month because people are busy with the holidays and it may take some of you a while to read this post.

Good luck!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Show Some Holiday Spirit at Work!


You don't want to be the Office Grinch, do you? Go on -- pull out all the stops! You know you want to!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Gingerbread House Chronicles -- Our Triumph!


For this gingerbread house, we decided to restrict our colour palette to red, white, brown/black and just a touch of green on the trees. Those peppermint stripe candy trees were purchased "as is." All we did was glue them down with a ton of icing. And, as you can see, our fence was made of half-Oreos with an occasional marshmallow post.

The difficult thing about this house was the #@$%!!! roof. We shingled it with those very thin chocolate wafer cookies. They inevitably broke when applied to the roof. For every whole shingle that we managed to get on, there were at least six broken cookies. It took the entire box to finish the job and, believe me, that's a lot of cookies! And someone had to eat all the broken ones . . . .

But we were very pleased with the end result. It will be hard in the future to top this house for sheer magnificence, I think, but we will try. That's how it is for true artistes.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Gingerbread House Chronicles -- Gettin' Fancier!


Look at the fancy-shmancy work on this gingerbread house! We used uncooked rice for snow so it would cover up the aluminum foil base. Of course, then you need a secure fence around the perimeter to keep the rice in. Hence, all the marshmallows.

My favourite features of this house are the pine trees, made out of inverted ice cream cones covered in green icing and green froot loops. Guess who picked every green froot loop out of the friggin' cereal box? Note as well the Jersey Milk chocolate front door and the sprinkles 'n twizzlers sidewalk. Also, our snowman was smaller and more sober than before, with a jaunty peppermint and gumdrop hat.

This series concludes tomorrow with Our. Best. Gingerbread. House. EVER!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Gingerbread House Chronicles -- The Early Years


My Rare One likes to decorate a gingerbread house at Christmas, so it's something we often do. We have fun and enjoy doing it. We don't eat the candy house though. After Christmas, we give it to friends across the street whose athletic kids can burn off all that sugar without any problem.

This blurry photo represents one of our very first joint efforts. Pretty unremarkable, if truth be told. Isn't the glare coming off that aluminum foil base positively blinding? And our marshmallow snowman with the chocolate drop hat has a dangerous, drunken lean to him. Nice peppermint finials on the roof though.

Tomorrow -- a photo of one of our better gingerbread houses!

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Light Returns With Sankta Lucia


Today is the feast day of Sankta Lucia (St. Lucy), the superficially Christianized rendition of the Nordic Goddess of the Winter Solstice. I've written about Her before (click here and here, if you're interested) but this year I want to focus on the beautiful Maidens who attend Her. Dressed all in white like the winter snow, they are often accessorized with tinsel crowns and sashes as in these photos from various Lucia pageants. The Maidens and their candles assist the Goddess as She brings the Solstice light to brighten the midwinter darkness. Shine on, Maidens, shine on!



Saturday, 11 December 2010

BASTARDS!


On the night of December 8, a vandal or vandals unknown cut down and destroyed the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury on Wearyall Hill. BASTARDS! Earlier that day, the Mayor of Glastonbury, accompanied by a vicar and schoolchildren, had just cut the traditional sprig of flowering thorn to send to the Queen for Christmas. Now the tree is no more.

My Rare One took this photo of the Holy Thorn when we visited it a couple of years ago (you can read my blog post about it here). Now the tree has been destroyed -- all its limbs and branches were brutally cut off and just left scattered on the ground. Its protective metal fence (still covered in ribbons and strips of cloth left by pilgrims) was yanked up almost to the top of the remaining stump. Here are some photos of the carnage:




It is heartbreaking to see crime scene tape around the sacred tree. Police are investigating but so far have no suspects or motive for this crime.

There is hope that the tree, in time, may be able to regenerate new growth from the stump. Cuttings could also be taken from other Holy Thorns which are descendants of the original tree -- for example, there is another Holy Thorn on the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey. But, either way, it will be years before the tree on Wearyall Hill can be fully restored.

To me, this dreadful story is like hearing that an old friend has died suddenly and tragically in a senseless act of violence. I grieve for the Holy Thorn.

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Weekend's Here!


Run right out and get yourself some sweet beta-carotene! Or any kind of fruit or vegetable, really. I'm not judgmental.

[Cartoon lifted from www.shoeboxblog.com]

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

John Lennon (1940-1980)


Thirty years ago today, John Lennon was murdered. When it happened, it was so shocking and hard to believe that he was dead. Now, it's just hard to believe that it was so long ago.


It was John Lennon's great blessing and great curse to be the Voice of His Generation. For better or for worse, he will always be a legend.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Gift Wrapping 101

Now that all the gifts are purchased, it's time to wrap them! Oh look -- what's this? A tutorial?



In the best tradition of Queen Victoria, my cat (Her Royal Highness) is Not Amused. Not Amused At All.


Monday, 6 December 2010

Merry Cashmas!


As defined by Urban Dictionary, Cashmas (also know as $mas) is the:

primary holiday celebrated in capitalist cultures. Generally observed around the winter solstice, Cashmas is a celebration of materialism in which its celebrants attempt to flatter or impress relatives, friends, and acquaintances with the extent of their purchasing power (the "power to get"). Cashmas co-opts signs, symbols, and sympathies from other religious holidays of the winter season to mask its foundation of conspicuous consumption.

Woo hoo! Who cares? Screw analysis and insight -- my Christmas shopping is done!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Winter Solstice Singalong Offer


Judging by the comments on yesterday's post about "reclaimed Christmas carols," it seems that some of you are quite intrigued by the idea of singing Goddessy or pagany lyrics to old seasonal favourites. If you like, I'd gladly mail you a copy of my Circle's Winter Solstice Singalong booklet ("free and gratis" of course, so the price is right!) It's about 12 pages long and contains a good selection of other reclaimed carols. Just leave a comment on this post and tell me your mailing address. Since I moderate all comments, I won't publish it -- don't worry! I'll send the booklet off in the mail this weekend so hopefully, you will receive it by the Winter Solstice. And then away we go, a-caroling!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Reclaimed Christmas Carols


Last night, my Women's Drumming and Goddess Chanting Circle met for our annual Winter Solstice celebration. (The Circle meets on the first Wednesday evening of every month, which is why our festive partying seems so early!) Anyway, we had our usual singalong of Solstice songs and chants, including several "reclaimed" Christmas carols. Lyrics for such reclaimed carols are widely available on the Internet.

I thought I'd share one with you today which is a particular Circle favourite:

God Rest Ye Merry, Pagan Folk

God rest ye merry, pagan folk,
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember that the sun returns
Upon this Solstice day.
The growing dark is ending now
And Spring is on its way!

Chorus
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

The Goddess rest ye merry, too,
And keep you safe from harm.
Remember that we live within
The circle of Her arms.
And may Her love give years to come
A very special charm!

Chorus


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Happy Hanukkah!


Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah and the lighting of the first candle. I've always loved the beautiful symbolism of the Festival of Lights. The sacred eternal flame of the Temple in Jerusalem did not flicker out, as it should have done for lack of oil, but miraculously burned for eight days until more consecrated oil could be prepared.

Similarly, the sacred flame within ourselves is not easily extinguished. May everyone's special inner light burn brightly and help illuminate the world!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

It's Never Too Late for an Image Makeover


And he's showing heartfelt thanks to all his supporters:



It's the start of a whole new life! Good luck, big fella!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Grey Cup Heartache


There is no joy in Gopherville. The mighty Riders have crapped out.

Montreal 21, Saskatchewan 18. We Westerners must now slink away, bind up our wounds and bide our time . . . .

Next year! *shakes fist* The Cup, it will be ours.

Friday, 26 November 2010

It's Grey Cup Weekend!


The Canadian Football League championship game is being played this Sunday in Edmonton and apparently we're all Hot to Huddle! Because that's the only way to keep warm at the outdoor game . . . well, apart from lots of booze and 10 layers of winter clothing. In 2002, the last time Edmonton hosted the Grey Cup, the slogan was Party in Your Parka! Heh heh heh.

Actually, the weather forecast for Sunday afternoon's game is a balmy -5°C, which is pretty darn good considering that it was -28°C just a couple of nights ago.

This year the Big Game is between the Montreal Alouettes (Eastern Canada Champions) and the Saskatchewan Roughriders (Western Canada Champions) -- the same teams as last year. And it'll be a real grudge match too. Being a Westerner, I must (of course) cheer for Saskatchewan. Go Riders Go!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Monty Python's Lion Tamer Sketch

Well, of course, yesterday's post reminded me of one of my favourite Monty Python sketches:



*sigh* Absolutely brilliant!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Lion Tamer

Does this guy have the best job in the world or what?



And a tip o' my hat to A Rose Is A Rose at ravings of a semi-sane madwoman where I first saw this video (together with the Cuteness Overload Kitty on Monday)! She always posts interesting stuff, so be sure to go check out her blog!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

License Plate Hijinks


Last week, Brahm at alfred lives here had a funny post about vanity plates, including a link to photos of some "best" and "worst" ones. His post reminded me of an infamous license plate that was issued in Winnipeg about 30 years ago when I was in university, so I thought I would share that story today.

Here in Canada, all license plates (regular and vanity) are pre-screened by the province to ensure that they do not contain swear words, sexual imagery, discriminatory insults or prejudicial slurs. But one such license plate slipped by Manitoba officials. And it wasn't even a vanity plate -- it was just a regular alphanumeric licence plate. It read: 69 AAH

Everyone heard of and laughed about that plate. I thought it was just an urban legend until one day when I actually saw it for myself! The plate was on a car driven by an older, sweet-looking, white-haired couple who probably had no idea of their license plate's double entendre. Or maybe they knew exactly what it meant and thought it was hilarious!

Never underestimate the elderly.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Monday Morning Overdose of CUTE!

Start your week off right by watching this!



Oh, those big black eyes and that crazy tail! Who knew a McDonald's bag could be so much fun?

Friday, 19 November 2010

Helloooo Winter!


So, winter has finally descended on us here in Edmonton. We had a nice long autumn with some beautiful weather, but the past couple of days has swept that away. Now we have lots of snow, painfully slow driving conditions and frigid temperatures. The kind of weather that makes you yearn for a vacation in warmer climes . . . now that's the real Canadian Dream!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Oh, Four Tuna

One of my favourite modern classical cantatas is Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. He composed the music in mid-1930s Germany, using for the libretto a series of secular medieval poems written in Latin which largely concern boozing, gluttony, gambling and lust -- things which never go out of style! The best known movement is O Fortuna concerning the fickleness of fate.

Last weekend over at PENolan's blog Menopausal Stoners, I saw an absolutely hilarious video of O Fortuna's misheard lyrics. Here it is for your listening pleasure but I warn you -- you'll never hear O Fortuna quite the same way again!



To see O Fortuna's real lyrics in Latin and English, click here.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Louis Riel, Canadian Folk Hero

On today's date 125 years ago -- November 16, 1885 -- Louis Riel was hanged in Regina, Saskatchewan after being convicted of treason. On behalf of his dispossessed and beleaguered Métis people, he led the unsuccessful North-West Rebellion against the Canadian government. Most English Canadians supported his execution and most French Canadians opposed it. His death continues to be controversial in Canada, even after all these years.


Sixteen years earlier in 1869, Louis Riel led the Red River Uprising in Lower Fort Garry (Winnipeg) during which he negotiated more favourable terms for the creation of Manitoba as a Canadian province. He is quite rightly regarded as Manitoba's Father of Confederation. However, once the province was established in 1870, Riel became a wanted man for the murder of Thomas Scott, an Ontario Orangeman who had been executed on Riel's orders during the Uprising. Riel disappeared and went underground in the United States for years, although defiant Manitoba francophones and Métis persisted in electing him as their Member of Parliament three times in his absence.


Following his execution, Riel was buried on the grounds of St. Boniface Cathedral in the French part of Winnipeg. Today, there are a number of Riel statues in Winnipeg plus several buildings, a school division and a bridge named in his memory. The St. Boniface Museum contains a wonderful display of Riel artifacts.

Riel's death is marked each year in Manitoba with ceremony and honour.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Nuts to nuts


Looks like they've been ordering it for a while, judging from the size of their bums! Hey, save me a piece!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Christmas Rush


My busiest time of year is at hand -- the Christmas rush! I hate crowds, so I always try to get my Christmas shopping done early -- by the end of November, if possible. Then there's sending cards, putting up the tree, decorating, wrapping gifts. All the holiday socializing in December. Places to go, people to see. Plus this year we're having company for Christmas as well. Phew, a lot to do!

So my blogging will be a bit sporadic until the New Year, I'm afraid. But I'll still pop up when you least expect me.

And now -- to the mall!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Remembrance Day


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

--from "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon

LEST WE FORGET

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Virtual On-line Labyrinths

Another great way to walk a labyrinth is to use one of the many virtual labyrinths available on teh interwebz. Here are my two favourites:


Labyrinth Online (click here) gives you a choice of designs and "carries" you through the labyrinth, so you don't need to use your cursor. The walk is silent but you can play your own choice of music on a headset or other device if it would enhance the meditation for you. The "button" which travels the labyrinth changes colours as each circuit is completed. It goes through each rainbow colour of the seven chakras. If you want, you can pause the button and then resume the walk at your convenience. You'll enjoy reaching the centre of the labyrinth!


A virtual Chartres labyrinth is available at Gratefulness.org (click here), source of the cute labyrinth-walking cat photo that everyone liked so much the last time I posted it. This site gives you a choice of being carried through the labyrinth or moving the cursor yourself (click and drag -- not conducive to optimal meditation, in my experience). You also get to choose whether you want photos, text or both to periodically appear during the course of your walk. There's no music though -- this virtual labyrinth is also silent. And you'll enjoy reaching the centre of this one too.

So dare I say it? Of course. Let Your Eyes Do the Walking!