Friday, September 30, 2005


Today I'm going in for a particularly nasty test which involves many large needles and lots of unpleasant sensations. It's a test that will help them determine exactly where they need to operate.

However, be on the lookout for The Group Story tomorrow (which will run through the weekend). What would you like to write about?

Afternoon Update

Well, it was worse (psychologically) but better (pain-wise) than I had thought it would be. It's a test called a discography which involves them taking a very long needle and going in through the front of your throat, going all the way through, and entering into the back of your spine.

I had been originally told they'd be going in through the back of my neck instead. I told them if they'd told me this, I would've been miraculously cured!

This is a test to determine where the pain originates from and where they'll need to fuse my neck.

I hesitated to share this with you, for fear of being in danger of sounding like my grandmother! I'm 30-something and wasn't thrilled about it. Perhaps people who are older have experienced more weird tests than I have, but it didn't sound at all good. However, it actually wasn't as bad as it sounds. I have sore muscles in my throat and don't enjoy yawning, but other than that I'm fine!

Thanks for your prayers and well-wishes.

Now, let's discuss a series of story ideas. I can come up with my own, but if you have any suggestions; I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Double Check Your Prescriptions

I'm happy to see that there's nothing in the news that makes me sit up and say "WOW~ I've gotta write about THIS!" Instead, I get to write about something that interests me more.

Double check your prescriptions. I'll tell you why.

A friend of mine (let's call her Sandy Beach) had an ailing father who suffered from a variety of ailments. Let's call him Salty. One of the problems Salty had was diabetes. Because Sandy was the one who was his legal guardian (she's my age but her father had her late in his life) Sandy was in charge of all his medical needs.

One day Sandy dropped off a prescription for Salty's diabetes. She picked it up, brought it to her father, and he took the meds. A couple hours later he was in convulsions. She called 911 and an ambulance hauled him away. A couple hours after that, he was in a coma. Miraculously, he survived (although he was never the same).

While the doctors were trying to decide what happened to Salty, they did the usual tests and found their surprise... that Salty was taking exactly the opposite of what he should've been taking.

When they looked at his newest prescription bottle, they found that the pharmacy had dispensed not just any mistaken medication, but the medication that would've been the worst for Salty to ingest. May I add that this is a major, national chain of pharmacies that supposedly doesn't make mistakes.

What happened?

It turned out that Salty had the same name as another individual that was actually on that medication. And, the pharmacy mistook Salty for him.

The case never made it to court, because the pharmacy was eager to keep it quiet. When it was all over, Sandy was quite a bit richer for their mistake, and Salty got to spend his final days in relative comfort. However, it definately was the situation which pushed him closer to death's door.

So, the moral of the story is: Double Check Your Prescriptions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Senator Bob Graham

I tried posting this yesterday but my computer kept crashing, so my apologies for no posts yesterday. I was too busy to sit in front of the computer forever.

Senator Bob Graham has been in Florida politics for a long time. He is seen as a beloved fixture in the political arena by many. But I happen to know something about him that doesn't rest easy with me.

In 1985/86, when his daughter first entered college at the University of Florida, her grades were so bad that she could only get into college as a minority student. The problem, of course, was that she wasn't a minority. However, that didn't stop Bob Graham. He pulled a few strings and voila! She got in via an illegal (and unethical) way. Now, this was all very hush-hush unless you happened to work for the University of Florida at that time (and even then, this was only 'Need To Know'). Still, there is enough evidence there, and there were enough people that knew this, that I am amazed that Bob Graham has been able to keep it covered up for as long as he has. After all, it seems to be a stunning example of a lack of ethics.

Or, does anyone really care?

P.S. Great job on the story, guys! If you laughed as much as I did over it, it was worth it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Torrid Romance Story


I despise romance novels. Firstly, they all have the same plot: girl meets boy, they fall in love. Girl and boy get in a misunderstanding and have a huge, angry breakup. Girl and/or boy realizes it is all a mistake and they get back together again. Barf.

Secondly, my philosophy about romance novels (you get this for free, lucky you!): If you've got it, why read about it? If you don't have it, why read about it???

But, knowing that there are a lot of frilly females out there, the industry churns them out like porn movies. So, in keeping with industry standards (but let's limit the language, please) let's write our own Torrid Romance Story!

Madison pulled up outside the sprawling beach house that she was going to call home for the next 2 weeks. She needed this, she told herself. She needed a break after a long year as a famous attorney with a caseload the size of Texas.

She checked her rearview mirror and checked to make sure that her lipgloss was shinier than Donald Trump's teeth. She never went anywhere without lipgloss.

Getting out of the car, she tossed her long, blond hair carelessly aside as she reached for her suitcase.

"Look, it's Malibu Barbie!" someone drawled.

Madison looked up to see a man standing there, grinning indolently as he picked his teeth...

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Pain

I don't blog about it, because there is no point. I don't talk about it to many people (until recently, that is). When people have discovered that I live perpetually in pain, they are astounded. I'm always cheerful, and have a kind word for everyone, and work the hardest of anyone. But I believe that, as my grandmother once said: "What we cannot cure, we must endure." I try to be positive and happy, and I try to enrich others' lives. There is little time left for me to feel sorry for myself, and it's counterproductive. But the pain is sometimes close to unbearable.

I have three bulging disks in my neck, and at this point my condition has worsened. I go in for a test next Friday where they will be able to decide just where they need to operate. It will be painful, too, and I am a little scared. They'll be injecting dye into three areas in my neck and I'll have an epidural, but even then I'll still be able to feel the pain (so that they can identify where the source of the problem is). After that, I'll schedule another review with my doctor and I'll bring The Scientist (my brilliant and beloved scientist relative) to meet with the doctor as well. Then about two weeks after that, I'll have the surgery done. They'll basically be screwing a metal plate into the back of my neck.

Some people are appalled to find that I'm going in for surgery, until I tell them that it will probably bring welcome relief. My mom is worried. She has always had a wary distrust of all doctors and avoids them assiduously. Her hopes are always that the problem will just go away. Sadly, I've been living with increasing amounts of pain for over 5 years. I had to tell her that, gently, and let her know that I haven't been burdening her or dad with it because there was nothing they could do.

I've refused to take pain killers or muscle relaxants. I like my brain too much, and hate the disconnected feeling those meds give me. So, it's either surgery, or a lifetime of sleeping on ice and popping tylenol. I think it will need to be surgery. When it's all over, I can get my life back and get back to doing all the things I love so much. I am a little scared, but I am also a little relieved.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

President Bush

They say George Bush is going down even further in the polls and has a 40% approval rating. Gee, there's a shocker. I would've figured 30% at the most...

You see, I voted for George Bush, both times, because he was Better-Than-Kerry and Not-Gore. Am I proud of it? No, but I'm not ashamed either. I still feel he's Better-Than-Kerry and Not-Gore. But that doesn't mean that he's presidential material, and it doesn't mean that I respect him. I just respect him a little more than the alternatives. Which means he's right up there with possum poop (I've been cleaning up a lot of that lately).

I was a Reagan Republican, and still am. The problem, as I see it, is that I'm the last of a dying breed. You either have the Democrats or the Neocons, but there's never a classic Republican to be found. Oh sure, there are rumors of sightings. In fact, I heard one had been spotted in a nearby Publix, but I doubt it.

I believe in government spending with responsibility. I don't believe in passing debts on to the next generation. I believe that we need to help others, but I don't believe in enabling deadbeats. In other words, I'm open-minded; but not so open-minded that my brains fall out.

And so I watch the polls, and am truly amazed that a man with an IQ equivalent to my larger possum is able to be President of the United States. I am also amazed that anyone ever bought the claim that he was a born-again Christian. He's about as born-again as Madelaine O'Hara was. Yet, there were enough people that swallowed that - hook, line, and sinker.

Finally people are seeing him for what he is; Better-Than-Kerry and Not-Gore.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Man in the Wheelchair

Today as I was driving, I saw a thin young man in an electric wheelchair, scooting across the road with a gorgeous girl on his lap. It just goes to show you that love sees no restrictions, and no infirmities. It also goes to show you that a man in a motorized wheelchair is a lot more fun to hang out with than a man with a sports car. After all, sports cars are a dime a dozen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Drama Teacher

Fred (see his blog listed to the right) recently asked for teacher stories. I posted a minor one, but started thinking of all the teachers I'd been through; good and bad, and how they affected me.

One I thought of was my drama teacher (let's call him Shakespeare). He was marvellously inspirational and resembled nothing more than a puckish brownie. He was full of nervous energy and was always leaping about, throwing out long, skinny arms and legs. Shakespeare was a comical character, and yet everyone took him very seriously. He was one of those teachers that knew how to earn respect. He taught us to act well (Shakespearean actors) and was unstinting in both his praise and criticism.

Shakespeare was finally sacked by the high school principal when he refused to put on a play that was going to look like hell because his students weren't up to snuff. He continued to teach English Lit there, however. I ran into him years later. I got the opportunity then to tell him how much he meant to so many of us (including me). I had gone on to be in a couple low-budget films (no, not the X-rated kind!) and also acted in some college training films and TV ads. My goal had never been acting, but he gave me the desire to do it well when I wanted to do it. My ability to sell is probably somewhat due to that early training, as well.

Shakespeare was replaced by an idiot. This new drama teacher (a woman) resembled Shelley Duvall with a bad, tight, short perm. She was very uptight, but perpetually attempted to show she was 'hip' to us. She was always eager to try anything new that wouldn't work. This woman believed in 'method acting' which, in my humble opinion, is a bunch of horsesh*t. She would have us go up on stage, and then would take us through various moronic scenarios. "You're a tree!" she would say enthusiastically. "Now be a tree! Be a treeeee!"

We would look at each other and roll our eyes. Then we'd throw our hands in the air and wave them around. To go from being trained by a strong drama coach to getting an idiot savant was pretty tough to deal with.

Her standards were much lower, as well. She was determined to put a play through, no matter how badly some of the players were doing. Many of us would secretly go to Shakespeare, who would give us acting tips but would refuse to coach us. "I'm not a coach any more," he'd say. Oh how we grew to hate the school principal!

I ended up with the lead in all the plays in my junior and senior year (I imagine by default since I was one of the remaining few that could act). One play we did in my senior year was a classic. She should never have picked a classic. The guy she picked as the male lead was a horrible actor, but he was cute (let's call him Steve). Because he was easy on the eyes, she figured he'd be a sure bet on stage. Nope. Weeks went by with him forgetting his lines. He was prompted constantly. A week before the play, we were running through rehearsal and he forgot his lines. Again. Now, I should share with you that I am never impressed by cute. Brains, yes. Humor, yes. Cute, no.

So this time, when he forgot his lines, I lost it. I don't remember what I said, but I remember going to the edge of the stage, staring down Shelley Duvall, and telling her exactly what I thought of her lack of coaching ability. I also mentioned that her choice of male lead was less than desirable and commented on his lack of intelligence. And I didn't say it diplomatically. I also said it very loudly, and it carried through the entire auditorium. By the time I came to my senses, everyone was frozen in place, with their mouths open.

But by god, Steve learned his lines. The play was a success. And Shelley Duvall quit the following year.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Stormy Weather

A hurricane is about to hit the Florida Keys (these are a series of small islands at the tip of Florida). If there is devastation, will the same fundraisers be held and will the same percentage of funds get raised as were raised for Louisianna and Mississippi? Will there be as many concerts? And what if there is devastation, but it isn't as shocking as the storm that wrecked Louisianna and Missippi? Will the Keys get much notice at all?

Hurricanes have been a part of my life since I was a baby. I remember my parents shaking me awake so that I could bail out the family living room. I remember going for days without electricity but we were used to not having air conditioning back then, so it seemed more like an adventure (and we got to use candles!)

I have collected candles and canned goods all my life. My larder is always full, just in case. I never discovered how much these storms affected me until I realized that not everyone keeps such a stock of supplies on hand. But, it's always been second nature to me. And it should have been second nature to the citizens in Louisianna and Mississippi. I didn't need the government to keep reminding me to be prepared. However, others probably need that reminder. I feel the governments of Louisianna and Mississippi did their citizens a great disservice. This neglect will probably result in many lawsuits.

In the meantime, I continue to wonder: If the Keys are affected by this coming hurricane, will they receive the same hysterical reaction?

P.S. Everyone should give themselves a nice pat on the back. Your story turned out marvellously! I tacked on a short ending which summed it up, but you are the ones that created it.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Murder of Crabby Crenshaw

Due to popular demand, we are going to do another 'mutual' story like we did on September 5th. I want each of you to contribute something to the story, please. I'll start out, the next person will pick up where I left off, and so on. Let's see where we end up! Please, keep any blue language to a minimum unless it's absolutely necessary. There are kids that will be reading this. ;o)

The air was thick and hot, and shimmered like quicksilver in the midday sun. In front of me stood Dot's Diner; an old-fashioned stand-alone metal restaurant that looked like Paul Bunyan's trailer.

I was investigating the murder of Crabby Crenshaw, the circus performer. Crabby was a nickname. His real name had been Archibald, so I kinda understood why he preferred to be called Crabby. His other nickname had been Lobster Boy, due to his being born with a strange birth defect that had formed his hands into claws. But Crabby was just one of many strange denizens down here in this little, steamy town in Florida. This is where all the retired circus folk came to live. You could walk down the street and pass a retired Bearded Lady, a Wolfman, and there were dwarves everywhere (we're supposed to call them Little People now, but I feel silly doing so).

Crabby had made many enemies down here. I suspected that the murderer w0uld be one of these sideshow performers. I was beginning my investigation at the hub of the town. Everyone came to Dot's Diner for breakfast. Everyone who was anyone, that is.

I squared my shoulders, and walked toward the diner.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Walking Lawsuit

My friend's boss is A Walking Lawsuit Waiting to Happen. She is black, and is earthy and funny and a joy to be around. She's battled cancer in the past, although she's quite young for that (early 40s).

She recently had a severe medical complication. While she was out, everyone worried about her and missed her terribly. When she came back, she was on a new drug. This drug has all sorts of side effects. One of the side effects is slurred speech. She generally doesn't show that, though she talks slower than she used to. When she gets nervous or excited, she then slurs or stammers slightly. I love her dearly and feel it keenly. The doctor has told her that she will adjust to it eventually.

But the other day, the Walking Lawsuit suddenly vomited up this treasure as she was stammering through a difficult phrase: "I hope you don't talk to customers like that!" he told her.

She was greatly impacted by that. She retold it to me later, fighting back tears. I almost marched into his office to confront him but she begged me to say nothing. He's lucky she's such a fair person. She's not the kind of person that looks for lawsuits. She's cheery and loving and tries to forgive and see the good in everything and everyone. But if he ever runs into someone who is looking for a lawsuit, they won't have to look far.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Apartment Living

My friend Eddo is discussing neighbors in his blog, and I started to comment, then realized that I had too much to post in a comments section. So, let me share it with you:

Many years ago, I had no money whatsoever and lived paycheck to paycheck. I ended up having to take a small one bedroom apartment in a relatively decent neighborhood, but the actual apartment complex was ... questionable. Although there were some decent people that were as poor as I was, there were also a couple low-end dealers, a junkie, a couple alcoholics, and a hooker. Since there were only 16 apartments total, and I don’t do drugs or sell my body, I was in the minority.

The hooker lived two doors down from me. Although she had a 2 year old daughter, she had her evenings when her male visitors came by and she just kept her daughter in the back room. She created her own little ‘red light district’ by screwing in a red lightbulb into the light socket over her door when she was accepting 'visitors'. I did always wonder why she couldn't seem to make up her mind about the color of her outside light. Being a naive innocent, I didn't catch on to that until another neighbor clued me in.

The woman who lived above me was an alcoholic with a boyfriend who was a junkie. He shot up every night, she got drunk, and they had riotous fights. When she was sober, she was pretty nice, though. For a highly dysfunctional person, that is. They broke up and reunited so many times that I could never keep it straight. One day she frantically started banging on my front door. I ran to the door and she thrust a purse into my hands. “Here,” she said, “take this, quick! You can look inside if you like, keep it or throw it away, I don’t care. Just don’t let my boyfriend know I have it and get rid of the purse too.”

Bemused, I took the purse from her. Going back inside, I opened it up to see a sex toy that looked exactly like a cactus, but the spikes didn’t look to be as painfully sharp. I chucked the whole thing the first chance I got. She explained later that he didn’t approve of sex toys and since they had just got back together that day, she didn’t want anything that might mess up her chances with him that night. Gee, thanks for giving me the privilege of disposing of your used vibrators.

Still another time I was taking out the garbage and a shirtless guy walked by me. On his back, in huge letters, tattooed between his shoulder blades, was the name “Seymour.”

“Hey Seymour!” I said cheerfully.

“Whoa,” gasped Seymour, looking nervous. “How did you know my name???”

“I, um, read it on your back…” I said slowly.

“Oh, dude!” he said, “I forgot I had that tattooed there!” I kid you not. And yes, his name was really Seymour. I usually change the names to protect the not-so-innocent but what really struck me in all this was:

1. If your name is Seymour, why would you tattoo it ANYwhere? And…
2. That is a mighty long name to tattoo in 2” high ugly gothic-style letters across your back.

I didn’t live among mental giants at that time, but I certainly collected many stories from there; and that made much of it worthwhile. When we were gathered around the watercooler at work, I had better stories than anyone else. It made me quite popular!

C. 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Much Needed Funds Leaving Florida

I continue to see money pouring out of the State of Florida to help those less fortunate in Louisianna and Mississippi. That is very commendable, and I've sent money myself. However, I've not sent more than I could spare!

In other words, I fully realize that virtually the same disaster could hit here at any time and I have money set aside for it. But, I know of people who are sending any and all of their extra cash to others in other states. This concerns me, because I believe that we are getting close to tapped out. Additionally, other states are growing psychologically weary of the disaster. This means that when and if it becomes Florida's turn, there will not be as much money to go around. Sympathies will be worn out. Hey, don't shoot the messenger! I'm just stating a fact of human nature.

We have been brought up to have an entitlement mentality, but don't forget: the government's funds aren't limitless. Remember how we've been hearing for years that "The Big One" in California could happen at any time? Say that there is a huge earthquake on the other coast. Now the Feds have to worry about Louisianna, Mississippi, and California. If you add Florida to the mix, there will be little-to-no help left for us.

They were ill-prepared in Louisianna because their governments chose to be. Additionally, there was a misuse of Federal funds (Federal funds were sent to help Lousianna with the levees and dams, but weren't spent on them and people are asking: where did those monies go?) Because their politicians and businesses were ill-prepared at best or corrupt at worst, we are all now having to pony up additional money - either through voluntary contributions or future taxation due to Federal tax dollars being spent currently.

The Lousianna politicians need to be held responsible. Their lack of accountability allowed them to coast for too long and now we and their constituents all suffering as a result of it. In the meantime, we need to pull back on the fundraising and re-evaluate the situation. Can we truly to afford to give as much as we are giving?

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Customer From Hell Apologizes

About a month ago I brought on a new client. There were two partners, both female. Let's call them Astarte and Belial (because I can!). I was working with Astarte 95% of the time and had spoken briefly to Belial once. Astarte signed all the documents, etc., and was my main contact person. Or so I thought.

Then one day Belial called me in the morning and again in the early afternoon on a Friday. Fridays are insane for me. So by the time I got the chance to call her back she was on the phone with my boss, complaining that she wanted a new salesperson and that she couldn't get me to call her back. HUH? I hate that sort of client. You know the type: the kind that will happily throw you under the bus for $1. My boss, going on what this fruitcake was saying, told me he was taking me off the account until I persuasively argued that I never worked with Belial, hadn't been given an opportunity, and would like to make it right.

I kissed Belial's butt and got the account back. She graciously and patronizingly told my boss that 'beginners' need second chances (I've been with the company for many years but OK! I let her wallow in ignorance there). It will turn out to be a big account so what's a little degradation? I can do some serious brown-nosing for big bucks.

They've been on for over a month and it's been smooth sailing. Astarte just called me for something and at the end of the conversation, she said "Uh, I want to tell you something. I know it's not standard to apologize for a partner's behavior, but I think I really owe you an apology for Belial." I was almost speechless. I had never held Astarte accountable for Belial, but I've also rarely run into anyone that is honorable like that (let's face it, most people are just plain ugly to other people and will happily kick you the curb and pee on you too).

I thanked Astarte very sweetly, and she continued "I mean it. I told Belial to lay off, but she gets on tangents and ran with it. She's very high maintenance..." (Yeah, no kidding!) "And she gets that way sometimes. I really am very sorry."

I told Astarte that I truly appreciated her kindness and that what she said meant a great deal to me, and it does. I'm still reeling!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Candle Making at Home

You read about the history and uses of candles in yesterday's post. Today, let me try to communicate some of the satisfaction that comes from making your own candles. Perhaps I'll make a convert out of you!

As I mentioned yesterday, many faiths use candle magick. Interestingly, those faiths also believe that if you make your own candles, the potency is increased. But even if you aren't inclined to believe in candle magick, you can create a little 'magick' of your own in your kitchen. And if you'd rather make 'tarts' for melting in a burner, it's even easier (just pour the hot wax into little pans that have been sprayed with vegetable oil; no wick involved).

Making candles in your kitchen fills your entire home with the aroma of candles twice; the first time as you craft them, the second as you burn and enjoy them. I also get enjoyment from working with warm wax. It reminds me of the time that I was a 'candy striper' in a local hospital, and how fun it was to plunge your hands into warm wax (it's used as an arthritis treatment). Note: I am not recommending you plunge your hands into the hot wax! The only effect you'll get from that is 3rd degree burns.

So Let's Get Started

(My friend who's an attorney tells me to state a standard disclaimer: I am not responsible for any injuries or other misfortunes that may come to you if you choose to use my directions to make candles. I'm just an amateur, so feel free to browse other sites for further information)

Let's begin with the standard wax candle (I don't work with gel, it doesn't interest me in the least). You'll want to get together a bunch of wax. Now, if it's just for the pure pleasure of candle making, it doesn't matter if you recycle used bits of wax. If you're using the candles for magickal purposes, you can't recycle any used candles; although you can use candles that were never burnt.

Where do you get this wax? You can go to your local craft store and buy paraffin by the slab. Or, you can buy the more expensive beeswax or bayberry wax online (if you want to know the cheapest sources for these, let me know and I'll post it). Most candles are paraffin, and there's nothing wrong with starting with paraffin since it's the easiest wax to work with for beginners.

You can also go to your local thrift stores and find baskets full of discarded candles that no one thought about re-crafting. If you buy these, wipe them down and break the candles up and sort them by color. It makes it easier for you later on. I keep them in ziploc sandwich baggies so I can easily grab what I want when I want it.

You can also find slightly abused but wonderfully scented candles in close-out sections. They're great for recycling as well.

In my case, I use all the waxes above.

So, let's start you out making a chunk candle. These are actually the easiest ones to make, in my opinion. First you need to go shopping. Buy a metal pitcher (or use an old metal coffee pot with a pour spout). You can get those pitchers at your local craft stores for about $20.

You'll also need a candle mold which you can get at the craft store or buy on ebay (they have some great ones at fantastic prices there). You can use a homemade mold as well. Take a can or a carboard juice box that's rinsed well. Use a nail to put a hole in the middle of the bottom. Voila! You have a mold!

Incidentally, most candlemaking sources tell you that you need a thermometer. Well, I have one I've never used, so don't bother. After all, candles were made without them for hundreds of years. You'll also need:

  • Scent, if you wish (you can buy this at the craft store or online)
  • Wicks (you can buy them at the craft store or online)
  • Unscented / unflavored cooking spray or the more expensive Candle Release Silicone Spray
  • Mold Sealer (which is a type of grey putty)
  • A larger pot that the wax kettle can rest in
  • A large spoon, scissors, a strong knife, and a long pencil
Chop up enough colored wax to fill your mold, or buy the pre-chopped colored wax (shown in the picture) from your local craft store or online. You can use one color, or many.

In the picture shown above, the candle actually went through six pours. You'll actually only pour one color over the chunks, so your candle will look more like this:

Take wax of a contrasting color and place it in your pot. Put the pot into another, larger pot and fill that larger pot with water. The wax kettle will rest inside that pot of water. Turn your burner to a low-medium to medium setting and keep an eye on this while it heats up. (Don't let any kids or pets get too close to this, of course).

While your wax is melting, prepare your mold. Cut a piece of wick that is 4" longer than your mold. Thread it through the hole in your mold, leaving 2" outside the hole. Use your mold sealer to seal the hole so that no wax will be able to seep through (if a little wax does get through, it's no big deal). On the open side of the mold, take the pencil and rest it on the top of the mold, and tie the wick around it, so that the wick is centered on the mold and is secured. Spray your non-stick coating on the inside of the mold (you'll regret it if you don't do this). I recommend placing your mold on a dinner plate, in case there's any leakage. It's much easier to clean that way.

Take the chunks and heap them up inside the mold, around the wick. Get as many as you can in there but don't fill them to the top of the mold. Leave about 1/4" to 1/2" from the top.

If you wish to add scent, then stir it in when your wax is completely melted; just before you pour it. (Hint: Wipe the spoon down immediatly after, while it's still hot. It makes it so much easier to clean later)

Pour the wax (carefully) into the mold, over the chunks and leave about a 1/4 C of wax in reserve. Try to cover the chunks completely. Let the candle cool for at least a couple hours. Your candle may form a depression as it cools. If it does, heat up the leftover wax again and pour it into the depression. You may have to do that more than once. When the candle is complete, pour any leftover wax into a plate to cool. You can then break it up and store it easily. Wipe out your wax kettle with paper towels while it's still hot and the wax is liquid (be careful). Again, it's much easier to clean that way.

Once the candle is fully cooled and is finished, pick the mold sealer from the wick and untie the wick from the pencil. Your candle should slide out easily. The top of the candle was once the bottom (where the sealer was). If the bottom is uneaven, you can heat up a plate in the microwave and slide it around on the plate until it's nice and flat.

OK, you've read about it. Now try it!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Candles: Their History and Usage (it's not as boring as it sounds!)

This is the weekend. Being a free-spirit, I always go where the winds (or whims) take me. I do a variety of things that interest me, but might not interest others so it's sometimes hard to explain. For instance, last night we went to a bar to listen to this great local heavy metal band (they're friends of ours). We had a good time, but I still prefer to be in the solitude of my home, relaxing and doing different crafts. One of the things I love to do is putter around my kitchen, making candles.

It's Ozma's birthday soon, so I took her to dinner last night at her favorite Thai restaurant and tonight a bunch of us are going dancing, so I'm finding my peace and solitude while I may.

There is something mystical about candles. One of my friends (who is Wiccan) says that we have always practiced primitive candle magick from the time that we were children and blew out our first candles on our birthday cake and made a wish.

The earliest candles were actually oil lamps made of pottery, with a reed or a piece of twine used as a wick. The oil was usually animal oil of some sort. Later they used hardened fat (have you ever drained the fat from bacon and watched it harden?). Still later (in the 1700s and 1800s) the poor mixed fat with a small amount of wax to create (foul-smelling) candles. The wealthy, who could afford beeswax or bayberry candles, had candles that were smokeless and pleasant to smell. Just as we give our workers benefits if we wish to keep them, the better households also offered benefits to their servants. For instance, all servants got one day out a week. Many also were allowed to take any left-over candle stubs for their own use.

Candle magick has been observed for thousands of years. For instance, historians say that the Catholic church initially began the tradition of burning candles for the dead, or for favors, because many of their parishioners came from pagan backgrounds and used candles for the same reasons. The Catholic church was notorious for compromise in order to strengthen their numbers (my apologies to my Catholic friends; this is not a slam on Catholicism by any means).

Practioners of Hoodoo, Voodoo, Wicca, Satanism, New Age, and other faiths also use candles ritualistically. (Note: I'm not necessarily endorsing any of these faiths, I'm just reciting facts). The Jews also use candles in traditional ceremonies (the Menorah, for instance) but they don't use them in a magickal context (i.e. to create or get something). Instead, they use them for symbolism.

In the 1800s, many slaves brought certain traditions and beliefs to America with them. This involved the belief that certain colors were effective when asking the spirits or God(s) for certain favors. Black was used either for evil or to repel evil, white for purity or as a substitute for any other color, orange for money or strength of purpose, green for success or healing, brown to win court cases or improve a pet's health, red was used for evil or to create passion or to work healing, pink for romance, blue for fidelity and health, yellow for happiness or attraction, and purple for domination. Figural candles also enhanced the spell. Some figural candles used are (and were) of cats, people, genitalia, celestial signs, and more. Each one serves a symbolic purpose and not always in the way someone would guess.

But why are candles so wildly popular today, even though many people don't use candles to practice their religious beliefs?

Candles are homey and warm. Candles are the psychic equivalent to comfort food. For me, it's so relaxing to settle down with a good book and a hot cuppa tea, next to a fragrant lit candle. Some of my friends love taking a long, hot bath by candlelight. The fragrance is a welcome bonus, but it's the atmosphere that the candle creates which makes candles welcome in every home.

Why make your own? Because you can. And it's so very easy to do. I'll tell you more about how to go about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Bodies Exhibit at MOSI

We went to 'Bodies' today at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. Click on the link to see some of what we saw. My daughter saw more penises than I hope she will ever see again in a lifetime, but it was very informative. She wants to become a doctor, and had been begging to see it for weeks. I wanted to wait until the crowds lessened somewhat.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, this exhibit is of plastic-permeated corpses, skinned and dissected and displayed so that you can see the entire human anatomy in various forms.

It was very impressive and somewhat eerie. I heard many people say it was marvellous but I have a famous scientist in the family and grew up seeing much that was similar. Despite the fact that I was steeped in Human Anatomy & Physiology, I was still impressed. I was also shocked that if I'd wanted to, I could've reached out and touched the corpses on display. They were very accessible. That actually gave it more impact than it would've had otherwise.

If you live in the area, I highly recommend you see it. If it's coming to a town near you, it's worth the travel.

P.S. You can even donate your body if you're so inclined to have your nude, flayed body on display for the rest of eternity.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Thank you, everyone, for contributing to the story yesterday. I appreciated the creativity!

And now, here are some updates on the various sagas I continue to report that influence or affect my life on a regular basis:

Ozma is doing well. She has recently been offered a good job, and seems to be putting the past behind her. Her daughter has decided to join the Marines and is sticking to her guns. Ozma is terrified that she'll go immediately into the war, and I don't know what to tell her. The more she tries to dissuade her, the more gung-ho her daughter gets. Of course, Ozma realizes that someone has to be over there fighting, but she's not too thrilled with our presence over there to begin with, and doesn't feel like sacrificing her child either. The war has suddenly become intensely personal.

The possums are doing well, also. It's interesting to see how their personalities are so different. Peanut (our little boy) has grown slightly. I can't quite figure him out. I think he's a con artist, though. He will act very sweet and passive until he thinks your back is turned and then he'll bolt for it. Last night he tried that, and when I caught him, he began growling ferociously and tried to nip me repeatedly. It's pretty funny, until you start thinking that something the size of a teacup could become quite a threat when it's the size of a housecat. Hopefully we'll get him past this quickly.

Pie (our girl) is growing rapidly and is now the size of a large kitten. She has never growled or bit, but continues to sit there idiotically, with her mouth askew, drooling, when threatened. It's actually quite comical, and will be a conversation piece in the family Christmas cards if this continues. Pics of both possums are forthcoming in the next few days.

Julie, mother of Elvira Mistress of the Dark, decided to stop talking to me over a month ago. That's fine with me, except that she owes me lots of money. So, eventually we will have to talk. In the meantime, she has her space.

The problem that occurred: Elvira has 19 year old sister with the attitude of Lil Kim and the brains of Britney Spears (let's call her Lil Brim). We were all supposed to get together one evening and The Other Half told me outright that if he had to sit with Lil Brim, he would finally tell her exactly what he thought of her (he's not big on diplomacy). So, I cried off (claiming I wasn't feeling well - and I truly wasn't) and Julie hasn't forgiven me yet. I figured at the time that discretion was the better part of valour, but perhaps I was wrong. (I must admit that my friendship with Julie is not entirely unselfish on my part: she gives me good material and makes me feel that my life has never been that screwed up, which is a reward in itself.)

And, of course, I am staying busy with work, hobbies, and home life as always.

Monday, September 05, 2005

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night

Let's relax today (it is Labor Day, after all) and do a little artistic writing since I'm betting that most of you aren't travelling this weekend with the cost of gasoline shooting through the roof.

I want each of you to contribute something to the story, please. I'll start out, the next person will pick up where I left off, and so on. Let's see where we end up! Please, keep any blue language to a minimum unless it's absolutely necessary. There are kids that will be reading this. ;o)

It was a dark and stormy night. Ben had just finished the last stroke of silver paint on his spaceship model and had placed it carefully toward the back of his desk to dry. As he turned toward his computer, a flash of lightning lit up his backyard and he thought he saw something that wasn't normally there.

He turned off his desk light, and peered out his window into the darkness. The only sound he heard was the staccatto tapping of the rain on his window and the gusts of wind through the willow tree outside...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Why Didn't the Bus Drivers Say?

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I think that the human race is often too ready to look for exciting, interesting reasons for things that happen when reality is just too mundane.

However, CNN just reported that the city of New Orleans is now virtually a ghost town, due to the mass of evacuations that occurred yesterday. Many of the evacuees went by bus. But when they, or the CNN reporter, asked where they were going, the bus drivers wouldn't say. That's right, wouldn't - not couldn't.

Not much was made of that by CNN. But, it is creepy.

It is reminiscent of the Nazi evacuations of the Jewish people during WWII. Normally, in America, there is always accountability due to the press, if nothing else. But who was following those buses? They admitted that there were no logs of the people leaving, so we also have no record of who was in those buses. If one of those buses 'disappeared', would we know of it?

I'm pretty sure that everything was above board. I mean, why would the government want to dispose of a busful of people anyway? But, if nothing else, a little courtesy would have been welcome by these survivors. They, at least, deserved to know where they were going.

P.S. Please read Michelle's story at the end of my 'Devastation' blog. It's a positive story that gives me hope.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Pottery Purgatory

My friend, Michelle, and I took our kids to a place to paint pottery this morning. Michelle, being the wise and intelligent woman that she is, encouraged her kids to pick out small items. I picked out a big one, my son picked out a medium one, and my boyfriend's daughter picked a very intricate, detailed mermaid. Michelle was out in an hour. I was out in five.

By the end of it, my vision was blurred, my neck ached, and I was grumpy. We all were starving. I think this was the equivalent to tubing down a river. It's fun for the first couple of hours, but by the time that you decide you've had enough, you are only halfway there.

We get the projects back next Saturday. I'll post the pics then. What are you doing this lovely Saturday afternoon?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Traffic Court Scam

OK, I am posting this not as a 'how to' but as an example of a classic scam that I never would've thought about before!

I went to traffic court the other night (I got out of the ticket, thankfully! I really didn't deserve it. Um, no really. Oh, that's what they all say, isn't it?).

While I was waiting my turn, I saw quite the collection of characters pass in front of the judge. Traffic Court has a certain process they go through each time, apparently. First the judge hears all the people who were busted for parking illegally in a handicapped zone. Then he gets to the more 'serious' cases.

During the 'handicapped zone' situations, one old lady shuffled up to the podium. "Victoria White," the bailiff intoned. "No sir," said the old lady. "I was driving my daughter's car and it was registered in her name, so they must've gotten me all mixed up. My name is Victoria Plunkett. My daughter is Lekeesha White." (The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent).

After his initial confusion, the judge then asked her to continue. She claimed that she had been parked in the handicapped zone legally, and produced her tag and registration for the handicapped parking. She claimed she'd been there with her grandkids, wasn't feeling well, and couldn't find the tag to produce it when the police officer had asked for it. The judge bought the story, issued her a $7.50 fine, and sent her on her way.

That's when a friend of mine (who knows a great deal about law and the court system and was with me that night) leaned over and whispered to me that the woman had just pulled a classic con. "When someone is caught repeatedly parking in a handicapped zone, it becomes criminal," he explained. "So, her daughter probably got caught again and gave a name that was just wrong enough to cause confusion so that her mom - who is handicapped - could step in and take the fall for her. That way her mom doesn't get in any trouble, and neither does she."

And the judge bought it; hook, line and sinker.