Dec. 22nd, 2009 10:02 am
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The solstice was yesterday. I woke up feeling very bleh and not remotely celebratory. I had a duck to roast (actually, two) but not much to go with it and I wasn't sure I could be bothered to go out into the cold and snow to get more.

So Pol took me and Radnom to Bolton Market, where we all picked delicious noms for the next three days or so. Then Pol asked if he should/could invite people over, and I said yes, as long as he was prepared to do the host thing.

After that, I got cooking the duck, pausing now and then to attend to my bonfire-in-a-pot outside. Pol led the solstice service, despite being irreligious, because he'd just been to a celebration and could remember how the toasts worked. I toasted the sun, and Pol toasted the sun, and Random toasted the sun. The pot looked pretty good - a black iron cauldron on a white snowy wall, carrying warm yellow flames into the cold blue dusk, spreading wood smoke and sweet fumes of burnt mead and rosemary.

So I had a big roast duck dinner, with Random, then a buffet with Simon and ChrisC, Random, Pol and ppx. I hadn't met ppx before. She turned out to be lovely, although I think slightly overwhelmed.

I went with Pol to drop ppx off after the evening and defrosted in a hot bath before going to sleep at about 2am. I have woken up hungover but happy.

Thank you, Pol, Random, Simon, ChrisC and ppx for making winter solstice 2009 a special day.
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I'm getting a leeeedle too practised at pulling my sleeping pattern round after an all-nighter. Usually it's insomnia, but last night was so I would be awake in time to do my Pagan thang in time for The Solstice which was at about five past five this morning.

In contrast to nearly every other midsummer I've encountered, it was pleasant out and I didn't mind sitting in the long grass in the small copse by the side of the playing field. The traffic sounds were already loud by the time I packed up and came back, only to find out that it was still only just past 4am! The main thing is, the solstice *was* greeted, and now the sun is past its prime and winding down towards winter. Boo.

Happy winter solstice to any southerners reading.

I have no profound thoughts to share. There's an advert on TV for a cooking sauce with lots of white people cooking very slowly in mock tai-chi style, on dark wood stands with something written on them in Chinese in gold. There's a Peugeot advert that's selling the same tired old stereotype of A Woman Being Nuts For Shoes. Woo. Stay classy, advertisers.

Genghis Khan gets a decent amount of air-time on The History Channel. Apparently, if he's not horsing around in your back garden, there's a great deal to admire. Technical innovation, mainly. ...And that's the first time I've heard of someone having molten silver poured into their ears and eyes. It seems an awful waste of silver.
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It's been a while since I last updated. I spent the last however long (since my last entry) more or less in bed with my head between two pillows, surfacing only briefly to eat, take drugs, read linkspam and occasionally shop.

I started to recover and went down to London to visit ccooke and ruthi, which turned out to be one of the best visits yet, even though I didn't stay long enough for a cream puff run to happen. We went to see Waiting for Godot at the Haymarket, an historical building with probably zero disabled access, given all the narrow corridors and stairs and crowded rooms. The set of the play was fantastic, I really liked it. It wasn't at all how I imagined it when I read the play as a kid, but it was.

I got to know the play when stuck in the house for a while and having read everything I owned to death. My mum, bless her, made no distinction between books for children and books for adults, so by the age of twelve, I had read George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984, Gulliver's Travels unexpurgated (there are *four* islands that Gulliver lands on, did you know? Liliputia is only one of them. Brobdingnagia is the second and I forget the names of the last pair, but the yahoos were scary) and, of course, Samuel Becket's play, which I picked up out of boredom and ended up sitting in place reading until it was finished. It wasn't that the play is stirring, it isn't. It was just that each line led me on to the next, in an effortless journey through the days of waiting.

The version at the Haymarket has had line changes, I am pretty sure of it, so I feel a need now to read the play again and see how different it is, now that my eyes and brain are not twelve, but thirty-four.

I ate at Yo Sushi for the first time and loved it. Raw squid in kimchee doesn't at first sound like a must-have dish, but it was absolutely delicious. I like the way you eat as much or as little as you want, without the hurry-up-and-wait of table service, although that said, I did order a plate of soft-shelled crab. Which was also delicious and I wouldn't have previously thought I'd enjoy crab with all the shell and legs still on either. The pumpkin croquettes, alas, had a salty-sour sauce which somehow mingled with the sweetness of the pumpkin to make an exact flavour of egg mayonnaise, despite neither of the two halves tasting remotely like egg or mayonnaise when apart. I found out that, even though I love fried edamame, I hate it when steamed.

I played Dwarf Fortress again and am now hooked. Having ccooke sit beside me and comment on each aspect of building as I did it, broke the bewildering array of commands and choices into a more orderly procession of obvious moves. My next move on the new game at home is to build an army, which he's also explained well enough that I am confident I can do it.

It's the Solstice this weekend. There will be Pagan doings afoot, although I am not in good enough shape to have made it down to Cambridgeshire for a blot.
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I am looking forward to going to see Waiting for Godot, a play the script of which I really enjoyed reading as a kid. Not as much as Animal Farm, but nearly. The lines flowed effortlessly one to the next, so I never put it down and read right through to the end. Now I want to see how it is to watch, and ruthi has made it happen.

The Pagan Moot went well! Or I thought so. Four people there, all nice, in a real ale pub that also serves food during the day. All four have an interest in permaculture, the first permaculturalists I've found in Bolton so far. I also learned there's a Frog Parade at Moss Park where they dunk a Frog King dressed as a frog, to help promote conservation and breeding of frogs. Not pagan at *all*, no. Oh, and they're handing my number on to geographically closer pagans, which would be cool.

Geographical boundaries and paganism is something I think about. Another post came up, on bipolypagangeeks, about cultural appropriation and mix-and-match paganism, a subject which is thorny at best, given the whole 'individual self-sought paths' aspect to a lot of the faith. New Agers are the quintessential stealer-of-parts but there's a really, really fuzzy line between New Age and Pagan. I'm uneasy about yoga these days, having not realised before that it was originally part of religious expression, rather than, say, a useful set of keep-fit exercises. The closest I'd come was to wondering why Sun Salutation was so called. Pilates does the same thing, but without ripping off a colonised people's religion to do it. The use of 'chakras' also makes me uncomfortable, for the same reason. (Speaking of which, Norse runes: they're not random pretty marks. And Thor's hammer is *not* a healing symbol. It's a hammer. Thor uses it to hit things. I do not think He has ever used it to give CPR.)

The Nethernet. There's a class there called Benefactors, who spend their whole time giving away the DP points that the site gives as prizes. Where other people are searching out crates and loot, Benefactors are quietly giving away said crates and loot. You have to get those DP from somewhere, and the way to do it is missions. So... one of the Benefactors has put up a mission, of all the sites where you click and real people get freebies. Things like Free Rice and the like. I thought this was an awesome use of a game ethic to help real people and to still be within the spirit of the game. I just... it's neat, somehow.

Mafia. My head is fuzzy. Bah. I am not giving good value as a player.

I got complimented yesterday on a poem I wrote as a riff off Litany by Billy Collins, a poet who does good things.
This is my riff. It's about being a special snowflake:

You are the pen and the strife
the crystal teardrops and the whine.
You are the slump in the morning bed
and the burning pain of the heart.
You are the wide yearning of the acher

and the harsh words suddenly in fight.

However, you are not the mind in torment
the words in the poem
or the house of hearts.
And you are certainly not the pine-wasted love.

There is just no way that you are the pine-wasted love.

It is possible that you are the waters under the bridge
maybe even the worries in the general head,
but you are not even close

to being the yield of nostalgia at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the slave in the corner

or the waif asleep in its poorhouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the sound of pain on the hoof.

I also happen to be the special star
and the evening pauper cowering down an alley,

and the basket-case of madness on the surgeon's table.

I am also the loon in the trees,
and the mind woman's crackpot.
But don't worry, I am not the pen and the strife.
You are still the pen and the strife.
You will always be the pen and the strife,
not to mention the crystal teardrops and - somehow - the whine.


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