Saturday, October 27, 2007

My Wacky Wiccan Ways

After much contemplation, I feel I have to come clean about something. I am a "religious" person. This is not so much an admission as an affirmation, or perhaps a more narrowly defined definition of what my "belief" system amounts to. Now, I am being rather ironic with the term "belief", considering the fact that I rely very little on faith and much more on facts as I discover them. Facts are tricky things. Sometimes they can self-destruct on you, depending on where they originated in the first place. Take female hormones for example. Once, it was a "fact" that hormone replacement therapy could solve a whole host of problems that cropped up when a woman entered menopause. Later, low and behold, it was discovered that those same hormones could cause a whole host of new problems. The once touted "fact" that women should take hormones and avoid those hot flashes now became a hotly debated controversy that kinda ruined the value of any "fact" that was arrived at without all the necessary data to make such an assertion a "fact" to begin with. Thus, science, the new religion that promised to send superstition the way of the Dodo bird, has come under scrutiny for it's own faulty dogmas that make religion the mess that it is.

So, have I abandoned science like I abandoned Catholicism? Not hardly. Most of what science has given us has stood the test of time and scrutiny and cannot be contested by any new system of belief or discovery. Rock solid facts, one example being that granite is solid and will hurt you badly if you fall on it or run into it hard enough, have not nor will not ever be disputed by sane sentient beings. Yes, we will always be plagued by theories and assumptions based on math and physics as we understand them, leaving us vulnerable to challenge from the wackos who are determined to bow down to invisible men and point at demons whenever things go wrong, but that need not mean that we surrender to one extreme or the other. No, I will not give up the comfort of knowledge in exchange for the warm fuzzies of monotheism. However, I will not abandon my belief that via the spiritual I can know the science and vice versa. I "believe" the two coexist hand in hand, as long as one is not used to suppress the value of the other.

I could have claimed that as a Wiccan, one that does not believe in a invisible white male supreme being with a bad habit of staying out of sight and never taking responsibility for his works, I do not practice a religion. However, when it gets right down to it, even atheism is a religion. Atheists are as rabid about their facts and disbelief in ANY thing as any fundamentalist Baptists are about their Jesus. Perhaps the ONLY humans you could accuse of not being religious are those that are so self-centered and disinterested in their surroundings that the idea of believing in anything in particular is really beyond their comprehension, period. You can usually spot these people by the dead eyes in their blank faces.

So, does this "religion" of mine allow for good and evil? Well, yes, but not in the way a Christian would harness such concepts. Evil, in my opinion, is the controlled application of suffering and bad things by humans, nothing more, nothing less. Bad things happen in this world, be they accidents, storms, fires, drought, or anything that hurts and saddens us. But bad things happening are not by design nor are they personal. No one or no thing, God or Devil, wished these things upon us nor did they perpetrate them with malice and forethought. Bad things DO happen to us at the behest of our fellow man, however, that IS brought upon us with malice or malignant neglect. THAT, my fellow man, is evil. Bad behaviors that are perpetuated by bad people need not be attributed to some sort of demon or devil, for we need no assistance in that regard. Hitler was simply good at spreading the hate, and his followers were more than primed to revel in it. No, the devil did NOT make them do it. There IS no devil. Who the hell needs one?

The Church does. Not long after the word spread about the guy who got nailed to a cross and whose body came up missing, a mystical story was constructed about hope and transcendence that attracted a population long oppressed and bereft of any good feelings about life, the universe, or anything. Then came those who saw this as a way to control people through superstition and fear, and ran with it. Now the profession that paved the way to glory was the priesthood, and judeo-christianity was the perfect vehicle to control the masses without necessarily perfecting the police state. All you had to do was associate whatever behaviors you wished to control or eliminate with Evil, an evil specifically spawned by the opponent of God himself, the Devil, and you had whatever justification you needed to stamp it out, be it with the threat of excommunication, or burning at the stake, if need be. Of course, it never occurred to most people that the behaviors of those seeking to destroy evil reeked of evil itself, but as always, one man's evil was another man's seeking salvation.

Until rationality and the ability to question authority was made possibly by such atmospheres as the renaissance and democratic governments, the ability to think freely without the taint of religious dogma was fraught with danger, and was best done in the shadows. Thus, such pagan respect for nature and "the gods" that influenced human behaviors continued on out of sight of mainstream discussion, and is only now being brought out where it can be compared to what has bedeviled mankind for centuries. And, just like any religion which started out however innocently and with the best of intentions, many pagan belief systems have devolved into dogmas that challenge Christianity or any of the other "mainstream" world religions for a spot in the silly top ten. Wicca, as is practiced by myself and many others, is practiced carefully and with as much respect for the rational as is possible when one seeks to play with the forces of the universe. When we invoke "the gods", we do so with metaphysical tongue in cheek, for we are in fact addressing, thru metaphor and tools of focus, those processes in nature which have an impact on our lives. Some of us, like my wife, claim to have the sensitivity to detect and interact with other plains of existence (such as our dearly departed in the afterlife), while others, like myself, make no such claims, but have a measured respect for those that do. An atheist would "excommunicate" me for even suggesting that my wife might possibly be able to sense these things, which is why I consider him to be as much a fundamentalist as Jerry Falwell. I merely entertain the possibilities when enough anecdotal evidence exists to give such things the benefit of the doubt. Even now I still think UFO's might exist, despite the fact that I have yet to spot one. Yet, the only miracle I have ever witnessed is the fact that we haven't already killed each other off, so good at genocide as we are.

As a fictional character once quipped, "Nothing is impossible, only highly improbable." So, according to probability, I have no real fear of ending up in eternal damnation for daring to suggest the Pope go fuck himself. Likewise, chances are good that I can live a good life if I don't waste hours of it in church listening to fairy tales so I can go out and judge other people.

"Evil is as Evil does", and DUBYA, by that measure, you are downright fucking EVIL, no thanks to Satan. Same goes for you, Donald, Dick, and Carl. So where are the inquisitors when you need them?

That's MY religion and I'm sticking to it. Blessed be!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

One Last Wish

To see the stars before I die.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Deep Impact

I don't understand this but it's the way it is. I have very few friends out here in the real world that I am close to enough to miss very much when out of their presence. Perhaps it's my stellar social skills at work, who knows. All I know is that for some reason, I DO happen to have some very close friends, or at least people I am very fond of, thanks to the internet. Now, I do want to assure you that I do not claim that these "relationships" are mutual; simply suffice it to say that there are people out there in the universe whom I never would have met otherwise that bring great pleasure to my life simply being who they are, even though I have never laid eyes upon them. Yes, I know it sounds like someone with sue me.

I and the love of my life have lived on the edge of lower-middle class, one bad day away from dirt poor, and yet I can honestly say that perhaps I might prefer it here in this rarified atmosphere than in the fast lane where people loose themselves and all perspective. I think perhaps it is because I know people like Buffalo Brown, a comrade-in-arms who understands many of the foibles of patriotism versus common sense and how nary the two seem to meet. Or Don Coppins, the "Homo-escapiens", a most brilliant "observationist" who has entertained myself and legions of fans all across the globe. Then there's the Whitesnake, a crusty old Aussie with the pure touch of the common man who tells it like it is and can still laugh about it. One man who serves my soul most deeply is Paul, whose "Wondering" fills me with wonder and makes me thirst to meet him and share an evening in the desert beneath the stars untainted by the glow of excess electricity.
One sweet woman we know of as "Kindness" is the sister we all wish we had. And as a Pagan, I know of no one who has provided me with a better grounding in seeking answers than Deo (of Deo's Shadow), a fellow pagan who like me dares not assume to know the mind of Gods.

Many of you, especially my fellow bloggers whom I visit on a regular basis, will come and go thru the corridors of my life, and I dare suggest that my life will have been richer for you having done so. Some of you have pissed me off and I have let you go, but nonetheless, you effected me in your own way and for even that I am grateful. Some of you have walked away of your own accord and I do not say goodbye to you, but wish you well till we meet again, even if it be on some other plain of existence, like a Grateful Dead Concert. And until we part ways in whatever fashion the fates deem appropriate, I will consider all of you, my "virtual" friends, a most vital and rewarding part of my life.

That's my view of a life somewhat well lived and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Leopard on the Loose.......

(Due to Blogger's Technical difficulties this night, the pic I had hoped to include with this post will not be posted. Thank you for your understanding. Please feel free to riot in the streets.)

Life has reached a sort of equilibrium here at Pendragon Hold; no looming disasters, no impending overwhelmingly good fortune. Life simply is......good.

I do have to admit to a certain restlessness when things have gotten rather static. Like any rational human, I am rather allergic to problems that crop up and threaten the stability of my world, but I also suffer somewhat when I have nothing really good to look forward to, such as some kind of monetary windfall or trip I get to take to somewhere I haven't yet been. Well, there is no money headed this way and as usual I am pretty much nailed down to the homestead here, but I DO have ONE thing I am looking forward to which is a rather narrow pleasure that only a select few get to enjoy.

I am a Mac Addict and OSX 10.5, Code Name 'LEOPARD" is about to be released and I pre-ordered a copy. If you are not a computer geek and/or you have the misfortune of being stuck in the Windows world, you probably have no earthly idea what I just said, but suffice it to say, the anticipation I am experiencing is somewhat akin to digital nirvana. OSX is the operating system of the premiere personal computer system ever devised, the Apple Mac (which comprises the Power Macs, the iMacs, the Mac Mini's, and the Apple notebooks). Any Microsoft Windows PC devotee who would have a bad word to say about this computer only is able to due to not having owned and used one, especially within the last five years. The company that Michael Dell once suggested should fold and return all it's money to it's investors now far surpasses Dell AND Gateway in yearly earnings and continues to grow in leaps and bounds thanks to the iPhone, the iPod, AND, yes, the desktop computers it is most famous (or) infamous for. Now, I realize that most of you, my otherwise wonderful and intelligent readers, happen to somehow find your way through the internet on a PC, but I don't hold it against you. As long as you can get your beige box to avoid a bug, virus, or "windows has encountered a FATAL error and must close now" long enough to read my post, I'm happy.

In the meantime, I have a three day stretch of shifts to work and then I am off for the week of Samhain, known to you gentiles as Halloween. THE Wife and I shall be making our pilgrimage to Cassadega, the Spiritualist town halfway down the Florida peninsula that hosts a pretty cool halloween walk. We'll be meeting the offspring there for the day. THE Wife is hoping to conduct a circle behind this one shop whose owner happens to practice the craft. I will be sending good thoughts out to all my blogging friends while the others connect with our dead ancestors and loved ones. Me, I am still somewhat unable to make that connection, but if the others REALLY can, then more power to them.

Tonight, we are taking advantage of a rain-free sky to sit out in the shade garden next to a nice fire and listening to nature and some music, the glow of a half-moon upon our shoulders. We will break out a bottle of red that is made in St Augustine, sweet enough to suit my palette, restrained enough to suit THE Wife's. We have this fold-out love seat that was given us as a housewarming gift way back in 2000 when we bought this place that still gives us great pleasure, and hopefully will for many a year to come. Aside from the fact that we can't afford much entertainment wise anyway, we really do have simple tastes, and enjoying a fire is one of them.

OK, we are back from the fire, and bedtime looms. I want to thank those few hardy souls who for whatever reason continue to follow the exploits of myself and those who call this acre of sand home. I know I don't have much to offer in the line of entertainment, but you can be rest assured that what you DO read here is the genuine article; 100% unadulterated life as we know it, without the fillers or the fluff.
We could jazz it up, but that would be sooooooooo Paris Hilton, now wouldn't it?

Blessed be.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Back to Blogging and All That Entails.......

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing........AFTER they've tried everything else. A nice quote to start out my post with............

In order to handle the legal stuff and get our floor laid, I had taken the last week off of work, and tomorrow it's back to the grind. For almost the entire time off, it's been more like Bombay around here than Jacksonville. It has rained so hard and so steady that several times different places throughout the area have been flooded out, and several times I was worried about making it out of my own dirt road. All this water has really messed this dirt road up, putting deep ruts and potholes in it which make driving on it a real pain. It sure would be nice if the county would once and for all PAVE this damn road......sigh.

Once again the house looks like something habitable rather than the aftermath of a disaster. We are getting used to walking around on this new surface, and we do NOT miss that old moldy carpet in the least. We still have the carpet in the bedrooms, but they never suffered the outrages the carpet in the main room did, so it is in much better shape. All in all we are very happy with our make-over. I just wish our central air hadn't crapped out on us.

Since Shiloh, THE Dog, doesn't have the soft carpet to sleep and rub his hair off on, THE Wife made him a nice bed to sleep on. Shiloh has long nails that he prefers to chew on himself, so you can hear him "click-click-click" across the floor, and it's funny to see him try to get some traction on the new slick surface when he gets startled or tries to run in the house. The outside cat got startled once and I swear he was burning paws in one place for a full 5 seconds before he finally got moving!

It has actually begun to start cooling down a bit around here, especially with all the rain we've been having. I think we might actually see something resembling a Fall show up eventually, although the jury is out on wether or not Winter will really show up. As long as my cooling bill is driven down, I'm happy.

I'm watching a segment on World News Tonight about volunteers who are picking up the trash and garbage that tourists have been leaving, in of all places, Yosemite National Park. HUH? What in the FUCK are you people thinking, bringing your crap into this beautiful work of nature's art? You pack it in, you can damn well pack it back out again! I don't get it; when I hiked thru Denali National Park back in the 70's and 80's, the rules required that you bring back out anything you packed in. Anyway, I salute you folks who have given your time to help clean back up the mess that only humans seem able to commit. The world is indeed better for you having been here.

OK, but as of this paragraph it is the next day and obviously I have not posted yet. I worked yesterday and have today and tomorrow off before having to return for a three day marathon. I dread that. I bought a new pair of jeans today with an extra inch in the waist (sigh) and it fits, at least until such time that they might shrink in the wash. I am hoping that my expanded waist does not require any more surrender from me on this point....sheesh.

The wife is at work for a half day (she has to work 6 days a week but gets two of them as "half-days". Me, I'm just recovering from the "milk-maids" knees that I acquired from laying down this laminate flooring. I'm just fine walking around, but if I put ANY weight on my knees right now, I get a searing pain. A Doc at work assures me that it's a kind of tendonitis that should resolve itself with time.

I'm now out of stuff to cram into this post so I shall now go ahead and submit it for your approval. Blessed Be!

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Return of House Pendragon (or Zen and the Art of Septic System Maintenance)

"Where should I start?", I ask myself, and sure enough, I reply, "How about at the beginning....."


Lessee........"It was a dark and stormy night........."


It all began I suppose with the letter from the collection agency informing us we were being sued for some ungodly amount of money that had built up over time, years upon years of time, and lots of interest charges and fees and who knows what. Once I had honest debt, honest debt that I was managing quite well, thank you very much, but it was that kind of debt that is only managed during the good times, not during those times when income suddenly gets bitch-slapped by unexpected expenses. Hell, it's been so long now I can't even remember what exactly precipitated our downfall, whether it was the well pump going out or the car breaking down or whatever, all I know is that I went from paying WAY more than the minimum monthly due on each card to trying to figure out which Peter to rob for the benefit of which Paul, until it all fell to far behind to matter. My attempts to get some sort of cooperation from the credit card companies was, of course, if you've ever had to deal with these bozos, met with stern "pay it all and pay it now" rebuffs, until it got to the point that I no longer answered the phone. No, I wasn't going to sell an organ or borrow money from grandchildren I don't even have in order to pay the increasing mounting interest and penalty charges. I asked to work it out; it wasn't until collection agency number 57 bought the debt that any deal was offered, and even that demanded HUGE hunks of change. FUCK ME? FUCK YOU!!!!

So, I grab the phone book, and while looking for a lawyer I knew I couldn't afford, I came across CREDIT COUNSELING. The promise is to work out payment deals with your creditors so that some day in the next mellenia your descendants can somehow pay off your debt and you can scrub your horrible credit squeaky clean. We got an appointment, we went, he looked at what we had coming in, going out, and laughed. You could never hope to pay all this off, he says, and tells us our only real alternative is bankruptcy. I was surprised, assuming that our fine legislatures in congress had made it all but impossible for the working man to declare bankruptcy anymore, but he assured us that even under the new guidelines we were a basket case and could easily qualify to get a fresh start. So...........

Around that time, THE Wife finally, FINALLY, found a way out of her retail job from hell, having been offered a job at an opticians shop, an offer that initially had been given to another younger (uh-huh) and more "experienced" girl who lasted all of a few days before disappearing. He agreed to her wage demand and more or less BEGGED her to accept the job....hehe. Let me tell you, THE Wife's tenure at her last job, selling shoes, was more like a sentence for crimes against humanity than any way to make a living. So, anyway, this segways into how we suddenly came upon the funds necessary to hire a lawyer to file bankruptcy.........

Of course, the wife conducts a circle under a full moon and casts a spell to somehow come up with the money we'd need for a lawyer...........

THE Wife had been at the department store long enough to be fully vested in her pension and 401K. According to the rules, since the amount vested in her pension fund exceeding $5 grand, she was required to receive the money in monthly payments, which only amount to just over $100 a month, so THAT wasn't going to be the financial windfall we really needed right now. HOWEVER........we didn't even think about the 401K, which was a different animal altogether, and when we found out she HAD one and that we COULD access the funds instead of rolling them over (just pay the taxes and penalties and it's yours), well, thank the Gods, we had the money we needed for the lawyer AND taking care of some festering wounds here at the hold, namely our broken down septic system and an old carpet that was promising to incubate the next deadly plague.

So, finally, at long last, we are getting a major monkey off our backs, and although this will not make us financially independent, at least the threat to our home and hearth has been overcome. This has sworn us off of any kind of credit cards forever, and the only borrowing we ever do again is for transportation. If we don't have the cash, we simply will have to do without. I would have much preferred to pay ALL these bills off, but they never attempted to work with us, instead inflating the amount we owed to the point we NEVER could have caught up with it. The cost of living continues to go up, but our wages barely advance at all, so now we are in subsistence mode, and the idea of having credit cards to deal with......forget about it!

In addition to the lawyer fees and infrastructure repairs, we also managed to have enough left over to purchase the laminate flooring we have wanted so badly to replace this awful carpet that's been growing how knows what beneath our feet. It took me almost a week moving furniture, ripping out cat-urine stained carpet and pad and pulling staples, but I managed to get the floor installed and now all I have remaining is to install the quarter rounds and transitions all around the perimeter of the room. This house looked like a hurricane passed through it, but it was worth the mess to get this done. It looks so WONDERFUL, don't you agree?

Of course, the universe demands balance in all things, so of COURSE, the central air conditioner decided to just crap out for good. The stopgap recharge of freon leaked right back out within a few weeks of putting it in so that's that. SO, in addition to all the other expenses we've incurred, I had to go out and grab as many window air conditioners as I could afford and put them in before the humidity destroyed everything inside the house. No, we didn't have the 5 to 7 big ones they wanted for a new system. The FIRST time the air conditioner crapped out the laminate on the countertops started to peel off. Humidity is the great killer of all things wood and electronic in a house, so it has nothing to do so much with comfort as for simply trying to keep things dry. Luckily, it's getting towards Fall now so the air conditioners were all on sale, so I got some really great deals. The caveat to all this is that I am dreading my next electric bill, as these window units do seem to be running all the time trying to keep up with the cooling load. I have every finger I have crossed three times over. If you all could spare a few fingers to cross for us I would certainly appreciate it.

I haven't had a cigarette since I quit a few months ago.

ANYWAY......THE Wife's new job has proven to be fantastic. Already she has commanded immense respect for her personality and work ethic. The ONE thing we DID fear was when and if her employers and the coworkers were going to discover that she was a witch, and how they might react to it. THIS is what happened..........

Her office manager pulls her to the side. Wife thinks, uh-oh, what did she do wrong? Office manager asks her if anyone had been giving her any trouble concerning her religion. Wife says no, not that she had noticed. Manager says "good, because you don't have to put up with any of that, and if anybody says anything to you, you come tell me!"


THE Wife, unlike SOME people we've known, does not prosteletyze (even spell-check is having trouble with this word, so don't laugh if it's badly misspelled) her practice of Wicca, for we don't do that. If you are curious, just ask, but we have no interest in "converting" people. You can either check it out and accept it if it suits you or not, no skin off our ass. So, a few of the girls make minor little inquiries about it but the Christians give her a wide birth and don't give her any grief about it. In return, the wife doesn't cast any spells to turn them into goats or frogs or anything. He he. Just kidding. We don't, and couldn't do that, either.

No cats, dogs, goats, or lizards were harmed or sacrificed in the magik cast to get through all this.

While we have been dealing with heaps of issues here on the home front, out there in blogville two of my favorite bloggers (one of whom I consider a brother) decided they didn't want to blog anymore. Yes, folks, they DARED deprive me of the salve my soul has relied on to keep me sane while the fates were fating all over me. I'm sure they have their reasons, but I'm sorry, but once you achieve the heights of fame and glory these two have amongst us commoners out here in the real world, you can't just drop us cold turkey like that. We will hunt you down. We will kiss you on the lips or seek some other fashion of revenge. Because we miss you. Merry met, Gentlemen, Merry met indeed. We await your encore.

LIfe at Pendragon Hold has always been interesting, to say the least. It's always been two steps forward, one step back, but lately we managed to leap just a few steps ahead for once. The stress has been immense and how I managed NOT to seek solace in a fresh carton of cigarettes is beyond me, but I've stayed clean. We have gotten used to the fact that life is going to throw us curve after curve, and the best we can hope for is to stay ahead of it.....the curve, that is. Thankfully, I have a witch for a wife who is a natural at working some powerful magic. But, the most important thing is that despite everything, this witch still loves me. What more could a pagan ask for?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cosmic Pie Filling

This is soooooo wrong. You could have been an amazement in my life; instead, you are far removed and I do not really know you. I never will know you. But aside from that, I am not the amazement I perceived myself to be this year, as seen from a yesteryear. Back then I was excited at the prospect of having that Dick Tracy wristwatch on my wrist, but instead, I have a casio nerd watch which simply tells the world that I am no slave to fashion, a fact that does not shame me in the least. What DOES shame me is that $12 an hour is now a subsistence wage and that's what it seems I will be making from here on out. How I am affording my existence is beyond me.

So, instead of you, I have her, and she is damn glad to have me, for reasons I have yet to fully understand. Anybody could have done much better than being in my presence or even knowing me as opposed to knowing someone much more interesting or perhaps famous for having been important for some worthless reason. If ever I were to become famous I can promise the cosmos it would be for a NOBLE reason. Otherwise it isn't worth the hassle. Yes, as far as I can see, fame is nothing BUT a hassle. I'd rather be dead than be Brittany. Or Dubya.

I'm rather good at writing crap like this. I would much rather be good at writing profitable things so that I don't have to get up at 6 AM for a twelve hour shift smelling other people's shit but there you have it. Would you pay to read what I just wrote? I didn't think so. You'd pay John Grishom or Stephen King handsomely to read exactly what I have just said, which is similar to the fact that people pay a premium to carry around a designer handbag which if truth be told is flat out ugly. But what I write is either too ugly or not ugly enough to the right people so I give you this for free, and you will value it accordingly. No, you will not be telling that guy who knows that guy at Random House of this brilliant unpublished author that needs to be corralled before someone else nails him; no, you will read this, knowing full well in the back of your mind you'd have paid dearly to read this as long as it was sitting there under the New York Times Best Seller LIst at Barnes and Noble. Instead you found it here at the better than bargain rack in Blogville.
You get what you pay for.

On that note, I am going to cease and desist. This has been THE Michael talking to you. Because you're special.