There is no “sam” in Samhain.

Halloween is my favorite.  I know, it’s basically everyone’s favorite, but still.  I love seeing the clever, creative and often ridiculously artistic things that people come up with for costumes.  Also, I think it’s nice that there’s at least one guaranteed day a year where everyone can let their freak flag fly if they want to without being judged.  Want to roll up to work made up like a mermaid with a shark eating your head and not have anyone even raise an eyebrow?  Halloween’s your day!

 

Halloween also marks something more important in my personal calendar, which is the festival of Samhain.  I won’t bore you with a history lesson on how most Christian holidays and a great many of their most sacred rituals were copied directly from or closely based on those of the pagan peoples that they then went on to subjugate, but there’s plenty of information available if it’s something you’re interested in reading up on.

Anyway.

Samhain was thought to be, at its earliest root, a festival to mark the bringing in of the cattle for the winter by the herdsmen of ancient Celtic tribes.  During this time of year the herdsmen slaughtered animals to feed their tribes through the winter. They were getting the last of the plant-based food gathered as well, and getting ready for the long, cold season ahead. It was considered the beginning of winter, of the dark and unproductive (crop-wise) time of the year.

The transition period between summer and winter, the light season and the dark season, was also thought to be a time when the world of the living and the world of the dead drew near to each other.  This is, of course, the origin of the “spooky” themes of our modern Halloween, but in ancient times this drawing closer of the two worlds was far more serious business. There were spirits that needed to be appeased in order for herds, food stores and families to make it through the winter, and dead kin who were thought to come back to re-visit their families for honoring and celebrating.

I am drawn to Celtic and Germanic pagan traditions in general, partially because that’s where my ancestry lies.  My family came to what was then still “the colonies” from the British Isles, Germany and France, and were subsistence farmers for many, many generations on both sides of the Atlantic.  I’m not a farmer myself and probably never will be, but that generations-deep synchronization with the seasons is something I still strongly feel and relate to.  It probably also helps that I live in a very rural area where these seasonal cycles are to a certain degree inescapable whether one bases their livelihood on them or not. It’s a lot harder to lose touch with the change in seasons and what those changes mean for both man and beast when one lives in farm country.

Samhain, in particular, is also important to me spiritually because it affords me an opportunity to feel closer to lost loved ones.  I’m not generally big into the “woo”.  I don’t believe that I can light a candle and ask my dead grandfather to step through the veil for a nice chat, for example (although if you think YOU can do it, I’m willing to invite you over to try because I think that would be AWESOME).  But, I do believe that this time of year, the spirits of the dead are closer to our own world and may have a better chance of hearing us if we speak to them.  And really, who doesn’t speak to a dead loved one now and then anyway?  It’s not actually that weird, if you think about it.

Whether you spend it getting your goats in from the summer pasture, passing out candy to trick-or-treaters, keeping an ear open for the voice of a loved one long passed, carving jack-o-lanterns, or even sitting inside with all the lights out pretending you’re not home, I hope your Samhain is happy and safe!

And for fuck’s sake, stop pronouncing it “sam-hane”, “sam-in” or SAM-anything. It’s saw-win. Or sow-in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sock-mergency

The weather app on my phone lied to me again this morning.

It claimed that the temperature was supposed to be around 55 degrees and there was supposed to be sunshine.

Currently, it’s 46 degrees, overcast, and gusting wind.  Which, to be fair, is a lot more common weather for Vermont this time of year than the whole “55 and sunny” scenario.

Unfortunately, rather than listening to my realist brain this morning, I listened to the weather app, and dressed for 55 and sunny.

And now I’m fucking freezing.

Now granted, I do work in an office so it’s not like I’m not sheltered from the elements, but my office is in a very old farmhouse so the term “sheltered” is used…somewhat conditionally.  There are, for instance, 3/4″ gaps between the window casings and the frames of the crappy old removable plate-glass windows.  You can see a sizable strip of daylight between the two, and wind certainly has no problem gusting right in as well.  More than a couple times in the past eight years I’ve actually seen rain or snow driven through these gaps when the wind has wheeled in just the right direction.

I do have a small cache of knitted goods in my office for exactly this reason.  There’s a pair of finger-less mitts and a big fuzzy stole / scarf / lap-blanket thing currently, and supplemental scarves will be added as winter grinds on.

What I do NOT have, which I clearly need if today is any indication, is a pair of emergency socks for the days when my idiot self listens to the weather app.

Sock-Saturday-Pile-RGB

Hi, I’m Shelby and I like to torture myself.

this is payback for something, I’m sure of it.

My dog wants to go out for a walk.  Normally this wouldn’t pose much of a problem, except I currently look like this:

 

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Fetching…

It’s not even so much that I give a fuck what my neighbors think of how I look – it’s more that my hair isn’t dry yet and it’s really blustery out. Also, I am utter shit at putting my hair in rollers, so literally ANY application of force via air movement is going to make this delicate balance of hope and fuckery all come crashing down.

But…I can’t let the dog piss on the floor (not that he would anyway, he’s a good boy). So fucked-up hair, here I come!

on bears and unattainable meat and somehow also my brain? I’m not sure. This one might have gotten away from me a little.

There are two major versions of my brain – Brave Me and Scared Me.  I used to think that balancing Brave Me and Scared Me would solve all my problems.  If I could just get to that magical fulcrum point on the seesaw, everything would level out and I could live a functional, well-adjusted life.  In reality, the only thing I got out of all that scooting back and forth on the seesaw trying to find that balance was splinters in my ass.

There is no perfect balance.  There is no PERFECT.  There is instead a vast and colorful spectrum of moments between radiant joy and utter despair.  Being able to experience that spectrum is a large part of what makes us human.  Mind you I’m not trying to feed anyone a cliche about how you can’t appreciate the good times if you never have any bad ones because that’s SO not helpful when you’re depressed.  At least, not to me.  If it works for you then by all means embrace that shit.

My point is more that you don’t HAVE to be balanced.  Would it maybe make life easier sometimes?  Sure.  But are you a failure if you can’t manage it?  Nope.  Not one bit.

We get this idea of perfection and balance shoved down our throats at every bloody fucking turn nowadays, and it’s bullshit.  Worse than it being bullshit, it’s largely unattainable.  It’s like dangling a piece of meat just out of reach in front of a bear for a really long time.  The bear is eventually going to get sick of chasing meat it can’t get and will fuck off to find something more productive to do.  (NOTE: I am NOT an actual bear expert. I have not tested this theory. Please do not try this experiment at home. Or in the woods. Just…maybe stay away from hungry bears in general. Good life rule there, kids).  The bear’s not going to quit life and throw itself off a cliff or anything, but it knows there’s plenty of other nourishment to be had besides that one damn dangle-y piece of meat that looks so appealing but is causing all sorts of problems.

Take-away: it’s ok to be the bear who stops chasing the unattainable meat.

It’s also ok to pretend to be a bear sometimes, as long as you’re not going around biting people.  Biting people is dangerous.

Even for non-pretend bears.

 

WTF is this bitch talking even talking about?

WTF is this bitch talking even talking about?

la la la, can’t hear you

My office-mate has this Pandora station that he listens to every single work day.  It started out as a Led Zeppelin station, which I was definitely A-OK with because I very much enjoy the Zep.  There were a bunch of other classic rock staples on the station too – Grateful Dead, The Doors, Pink Floyd – all good bands that I enjoy listening to of my own accord.

Now, if you’ve been living under a rock for many years and are unfamiliar with the way Pandora works, here’s a quick run-down: you search for an artist you like and then Pandora plays you a song by that artist.  You can either thumbs-up the song to tell Pandora you liked it and would like to hear more of that type of music, or you can thumbs-down it to tell Pandora it’s on the wrong track for your tastes.  Pandora then uses some fancy algorithms and like, I don’t know, fucking internet gnomes with ESP to build a radio station for you based on your musical tastes / preferences.  As such, it’s entirely possible to start out with a very specific genre (say, classic rock, for example) and, through thumbs up / thumbs down-ing songs, manage to make your playlist drift in some spectacularly odd directions.

Which brings me back to office-mate’s Pandora station.

Like I said, it started out as your basic classic rock station.  Over time, I started to notice that a lot of the same songs were being played over and over again.  That’s not uncommon with Pandora – basically, it tries to stick to what it thinks you’ll like, even if that means playing different versions of the same song over and over.  We went through a phase for a while where we’d hear three versions of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and at least two different versions of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” every day without fail.  Which, while annoying to my weird OCD brain, was still bearable.

That was about six months ago.  Apparently office-mate has spent the last six months thumbs-upping every Jimmy Buffett, Bob Marley, Steely Dan, and steel-drum instrumental track that Pandora has spit at him because today, I can predict with frightening accuracy at least twenty-five songs that I’ll be guaranteed to hear over the course of the seven hours we’re usually in the office together.  Probably more than twenty-five if I really tried, honestly…the first twenty-five are just super easy ones I could come up with off the top of my head.  On days when I don’t listen to my own music over my headphones, I end up going home with songs stuck my head that I would never willingly listen to on my own – mostly Steely Dan. I fucking detest Steely Dan.

So, this morning, after an entire weekend of not having to hear office-mate’s classic rock cum island getaway Pandora station, you can’t even imagine my annoyance at waking up to “Kid Charlemange” by STEELY NUT-SUCKING DAN running on loop in my head.

I had to sing “Bohemian Rhaphsody” to the dog just to break the cycle so that I could function again.

smurf ass

So, the thing about brightly colored hair is, it bleeds. The darker colors especially have very large pigment molecules, lots of which don’t actually penetrate the hair shaft, but rather just sit on the cuticle (the surface of each hair) until they are eventually dislodged by washing or what have you. As a result, the first few showers I take after a dye job are pretty spectacular visually: mountains of purple suds when I shampoo, rivulets of purple water running across my skin, and swirls of purple circling the drain at my feet.

The color doesn’t just come off in the shower though. I try to wear my hair up for the first few nights after a fresh dye because otherwise I’ll end up with a disturbingly bruised-looking neck and shoulders:

dyeneck

The purple really adds depth to my neck rolls, doesn’t it?

When the dye gets onto my skin like this, it’s quite hard to get off, even with soap. Almost like it’s, you know, MADE to stain. I’ve never had it transfer to my clothing or other surfaces from my skin, though – only ever from my hair itself.

Until today, anyway…when I stained the toilet seat blue at work.

Yes, that’s right, not only do I apparently have Smurf Ass, but it appears to be catching. Or at least, transferable to other surfaces, porous and non-porous alike.

I mean, I’m PRETTY sure the toilet seat wasn’t blue-ish before I sat down on it. It’s not like I was on it all that long or like my ass was especially sweaty while I WAS on it. But, when I stood up and looked down at the toilet, there was definitely a faint blue ass-print there.

All I can figure is that the sheer amount of extra dye being rinsed out of my hair this time stained my ass. I checked out my ass in the mirror after I noticed the toilet seat, but the lighting in the bathroom is terrible and who can actually twist around enough to see their whole ass anyway, you know? It maybe looked a LITTLE blue, but not like…”Jesus, what’s wrong with your ASS?” blue.

So I don’t know. Maybe the toilet seat really did have a weird faint blue butt-print on it before I got in there. Or maybe the cleaning ladies that come in this weekend are going to be SUPER confused.

I’m honestly kind of hoping it’s the latter.

This is my truest self.

mermaid hair, etc.

This afternoon I had a hair appointment.  It was extra long because I was getting some extensive bleaching and dying done.  There were several other women in the salon at the same time, one of who had a gaggle of daughters with her.  The youngest of the girls gave me the side-eye a few times while the stylist was applying the bleach and foils to my hair.  I smiled at her when she made eye contact, assuming she was fascinated with the dying process, especially since she had seen that I had bright purple streaks in my hair when I first came in.

As the stylist was finishing up with my foil packets the little girl sidled over to me and, in a surprisingly earnest tone for an 11 year old said, “You’re very pretty”.  I was momentarily taken aback but also quite charmed (hey, I never said I wasn’t shallow…heh).  Smiling again, I replied with, “Well thank you! So are you!”.

I hope she believed me, because it’s true.  I also hope she holds onto her own incredible generosity of spirit as she grows up.  I hope she doesn’t have it bullied and shamed out of her by asshole kids and a shitty society that tries to convince girls that their worth is determined by their clothing size.

The little girl had to head out when her mom’s hair was done, long before I was out from under the foils and hood dryer.  She was disappointed that she wasn’t going to get to see what my hair came out looking like, and I was a little sad that I didn’t get to see her eyes go wide in wonder at the swirls of bright green, blue and purple that emerged from under my stylist’s talented hands.  I think she would have liked it:

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mermaid-y!

meat-stagram

Some people send their spouse or significant other sexy pictures of themselves. I send my husband pictures of meat:

2015-10-12_16.09.23His reply to this was, “Holy crap. Can we move to Utah so I can marry that too?”

The world didn’t end so I guess I have to write more blog posts.

Well, here we are, so I suppose the world didn’t end.  Again. The most hilarious part to me is that the wing-nuts who make these predictions don’t ever seem all that embarrassed that they continue to be wrong. It’s almost like a lottery drawing, you know?

“Aww, SO CLOSE, only one number away from the End Times! Sorry, Revered Wing-Nut Steve…better luck next time!”

 

Time for another stamp!

Anyway – it’s been a busy week here around HBCIG Headquarters. I guess. I mean, that would explain the sink overflowing with dirty dishes and the living room floor strewn with socks, right?

Actually, that’s pretty much business as usual around here:

Notice the desperation of the stuffed alligator stage left, and the "who, me?" look on the small white demon in the upper right.

You thought I was joking. Look at the dog’s face. He’s like, “This shit is GDFR, folks”.

It HAS been busy, though. Since the world didn’t end on Wednesday, my super awesome husband reserved me a space in a cooking class at our favorite local restaurant. I’ve been to four or five classes there and it’s always interesting. It’s demo-style, so it’s not like Chef is letting us have knives or anything. It’s really more “edu-tainment” than education, but I’ve definitely learned from every class I’ve gone to. Plus, there’s something to be said for spending time in a place where you feel like you belong, and for me, that’s kitchens. And, you know, I’m not ever going to bitch about anywhere that not only actually WANTS me to drink wine, but keeps bringing it to me when my glass mysteriously empties.

Thursday was full of fuckery, plain and simple. There was work fuckery that had me feeling like I embarrassed myself, which is always good fodder for a subsequent round of self-loathing. There was also small appliance fuckery in the form of the crock pot refusing to turn on for me after I had peeled, cored and sliced seven pounds of apples in preparation for making apple butter. In the crock pot. That wouldn’t turn on. After a mild panic about what my options were for dealing with a huge pile of peeled apples at 9pm, (for context: I’m usually in bed by 9, so the idea of trying to fuck around and make pie crust or even wait for the apples to cook down into sauce at 9pm was like, nearly cause for crying. Hormones may have also played a part), and some especially creative and descriptive cursing, the crock pot finally deigned to turn on for me. I loaded that sumbitch with apples, brown sugar and a boatload of spices and was rewarded in the morning with this:

Wow, so brown, much apple.

Wow, so brown, much apple.

It actually didn’t look like that at first – that was after a judicious thrashing with the stick blender. I can’t lie to you – this shit tastes amazing. It’s like the inside of apple pie but without the chunks to get in the way, basically. I had a couple spoonfuls of it mixed into some plain 2% Fage greek yogurt for lunch just now and it was like eating all the non-pastry parts of an apple danish but without all the weird feelings that may or may not bring up…

And, finally and most terrifyingly, Friday I applied for spring semester at my local community college. It’s not that I’m afraid of being rejected – it’s a community college, for fuck’s sake. I don’t think they’re actually ALLOWED to not accept anyone who wants to take classes. No, the terror is more along the lines of, “shit, why am I volunteering to write essays again?!”. I always liked school in that my friends could be found there, there was usually chocolate milk available at some point and music class was pretty awesome, but I could never quite get the hang of writing essays. Funny from someone who likes to write, I know, but notice how most of my posts just ramble on and contain a lot of cursing and made-up words and I don’t usually have a point or the ability to edit myself? Yeah. That approach doesn’t really work for school essays, and that’s…the only approach I have, basically. The upside is, I’ll be studying accounting so hopefully there won’t be too much call for essay writing. I’m also harboring the hope that, since I’ve been doing accounting and bookkeeping professionally for more than ten years now, I might actually be able to test out of a bunch of classes. That would save me a lot of time, money and sleepless nights staring at a blank computer screen.

if the world is going to end, I need to tell you some things

Crazy people think the world is ending tomorrow.  They’ve never been right before, but I figure, why waste a perfectly good opportunity to tell secrets and air grievances, right?  RIGHT. So pour yourself an adult beverage and let’s begin. Try not to judge me too harshly, ok?

Let’s start out with some easy ones:

  • I love canned whipped cream.  The actual whipped cream part, not the nitrous oxide, I swear. A can of whipped cream lasts maaaaaybe 36 hours in my house. MAYBE. I will continually wander over to the fridge, up-end the can and spray sugary processed white joy into my mouth with utter abandon. There is no bad time for canned whipped cream. Which is exactly why I don’t buy it except on rare occasions.
  • I would eat pizza once a day, every day, and twice a day on weekends, if I could. Standards apply, of course. I’m not talking like $3.99 frozen pizzas. But decent gas-station pizza? Oh, it’s ON.
  • I talk to my dog constantly. That in and of itself isn’t so bad, but I also do the dog’s part of the conversation back to me in dog-voice. If my husband and I are both home, we take turns doing dog-voice. If the dog ever grows thumbs, we’re totally done for.

Now, some less easy ones:

  • I’m pretty sure most people that say they like me really just feel sorry for me. I don’t feel like I’m a particularly pitiable case or anything, but for some reason I just can’t ever quite believe that most of my friends would actually want to talk to me or hang out with me if given another alternative.
  • I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m almost 36, so this one is starting to become kind of a problem.
  • I am super duper afraid that I’m wasting my life.  I struggle with feeling like nothing I do is ever enough to live up to the fact that this is IT, you know? This is the only time I’m going to get. Am I using it well enough? It’s a scary question, at least for me.

And finally, here’s a video of my dog licking almond butter off a spoon as a bit of a palate cleanser for anyone who made it this far: