2012 in review

English: Snowy forest track. The tree cover ha...

English: Snowy forest track. The tree cover had insulated the late snow from melting, so the snow was deeper here than outside the wood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2012 has been a rough year.  I have been broken and rebuilt in ways that have stunned me, and I feel like I need to record it all here.  Maybe that will make it all seem less surreal, less like a movie of someone else’s life.

January: Lost my job.  I trained throughout November and part of December to do tech support from home, but because of various factors, it was too stressful.  So stressful, in fact, that I got very, very sick.  So sick, in fact, that I couldn’t talk on the phone, and was therefore useless for this particular job.  Also, J moved here to be with us in a romantic triad.

February: Found my current job and realized how difficult it is on my body.  It’s very low pay, very low skill, and very physical.  It’s certainly not where I thought I would work at this age, but it’s getting me by.  Also, my aunt (stepmom’s sister) passed away.  I went to the funeral and saw my stepmom for the first time in over a year.  She’s pretty much made it clear that she’s not interested in me or my life, (she thinks I need saving *eyeroll*) so it was a bit strained.

April: We began to realize that things weren’t working out with J, despite the fact that we all care a lot for each other.

May: In early May, Bear’s aunt (whom he was very close to) passed away.  We went to Md for the funeral, and that killed us a bit financially.  Also, when we returned, we realized that it was time to part ways with J.  Bear and I had been trying so hard to make things work that we had lost touch with  each other.  Ironically, we reconnected during our time in Md.  We had ‘the talk’, and J admitted to just not feeling it with us.  It was devastating at the time, but ultimately the best thing for all of us.

Later May: Bear just started feeling poorly.  REALLY poorly.  He just wasn’t himself.  He was pale, tired, splotchy, and the final straw was when he couldn’t hold a conversation without falling asleep in the middle.  He had also been having some serious sleep apnea, which he’d never really shown any signs of before.  It was terrifying.  So I dragged him to the hospital.  He was having a heart attack.  A very serious, very severe heart attack.  It just didn’t look like what you would think of as a typical heart attack because he’s so young.

It was the single most horrible thing that’s ever happened to me.  I had to face the possibility that he wouldn’t be with me, and just typing that makes me want to cry.  He had 4 blockages in the 3 main arteries into the heart.  There were 3 100% blockages and 1 95%  blockage.  The reality is that he’s extremely lucky to be alive right now, 4 stents later.

June: We began to radically change how we eat.  It was great, and I wish we had the $$ to eat as healthy as we were.  It’s our goal to get back to that.  We also learned to deal with the reality of Bear’s diabetes, high blood pressure, and all the piles of pills he would need to take from now on.  Things were still difficult with J, as I was a bit confused about what exactly had gone wrong.  I doubted myself a lot.

August: Worries about losing our house.  It’s a long story, and I think that we’ve pretty much gotten through it, but it caused SO many sleepless nights.

September: Our Dragon*Con wedding and a visit from Bear’s dad and uncle.  This was all GOOD stress, but stress nonetheless.  Continued worries about losing the house and worries about Bear losing his job.

October: My ex had a massive stroke and passed away a few days before Samhain.  It was devastating.  We grew up together.  We were together for 7 years, engaged for 5, and though I didn’t get a chance to talk to him much, I always knew that we could pick up the conversation right where we left off at any time.  He knew me from a time before I knew myself, and being with him helped shape me into who I am now.  I still can’t believe he’s gone.  😦

Second week of October, I came down with what seemed to be a small cold, and which I’m still suffering from now.  Twice now it’s moved into pneumonia territory, and I think that’s where I’m at right now.  Lots of middle-of-the-night coughing fits resulting in sleeping upright on the couch.  Lots of worrying about how to deal with it with no insurance.  😦

November: We finally met someone that we wanted to date, but she turned out to be crazy.  It was very disappointing, but obviously we just weren’t suited for each other.  Also, a catastrophic fight with my mother which confirmed that she is someone that I can’t rely on and that any little thing I say to her will be used against me in the future.  She can’t support me as an adult, and doesn’t even understand what my life is about.  She always sees the very worst in me.  I can’t talk to my sister, either, because anything I say to her will immediately get back to my mother.  Continued sickness, continued house worries, still fighting fleas.

Also, my uncle passed.  He was the last person left on that side of the family.  Now there are assorted cousins I really don’t have anything to do with, but my Dad and his family are all gone now.

December: The month of working.  And being sick.  And money worries.  And failing at Xmas.  And exhaustion.  I’m beginning to believe that Xmas is designed to make me feel completely inadequate in every way.

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There were good things that happened this year as well.

  • I appreciate my husband even more than I ever thought possible.  He’s the solid, good thing in my life, and I get to keep him.  I also got to marry him.  I’m a lucky bitch.
  • We found out who our friends are.  Some people who we thought were our best friends, couldn’t be bothered to show up for Bear when he was in the hospital.  Some friends who we thought were good friends were actually GREAT friends.  They showed up for him.  We learned the difference.  One friend even got ordained so that she could marry us.
  • We found the most amazing friend in J.  He was there for us in a way that means he’ll be in our lives and hearts forever.  He could have cut and run at any time, but he helped me through the worst time in our lives.
  • We learned a lot about health and lost about 25 lbs each.  We had to start eating cheap, and put a LITTLE of that back on, but we’re ready to get healthier and feel better in 2013.
  • Bear began his voice acting career in earnest.  He did a radio play in December, and he’s been auditioning for audio books and radio plays online.
  • Things seem good with someone that we’ve recently started seeing.  She’s sexy, sweet, honest, and seems interested in building something lasting with us.  I’m feeling VERY positive about having a lot of fun and new experiences with her.
  • I found my spirituality again.  It’s kind of one of those things that ebbs and flows, but it’s flowed back in a big way.  In addition, Bear and I have started talking seriously about starting an incense business.

Sadly, I didn’t get the writing done that I wanted to do.  I honestly just couldn’t drum up the energy for it.  I was spending so much time in survival mode, that everything else took a back seat.  I also just settled into my job.  I need to find something else, but again, survival mode.

As much as I went through in 2012, I really do have higher hopes for 2013.  I have goals, and I’ll be writing them in a separate post.

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Yule Lads, Julbock, and Liquer recipes

So, a few weeks ago, I decided that we were going to have a damn good Yule, dammit.  And so far, it’s been pretty good.  I decided to make gifts, which has consisted of making liquers and baking goodies.  I also made my mom and sister some scrying incense and scrying candles.

THE LIQUERS

I made 3.  The first, and the one I was most excited about, was a pumpkin butterscotch liquer.  I used a 20 oz bag of Werther’s Original candies and 3/4 of a medium sized pumpkin.  I cleaned, cut, and peeled the pumpkin, then roasted it at 450 for about an hour.  I then added both the pumpkin and candies to 2 gallons of vodka.  After about 2 weeks, I strained the liquid and squeezed the holy fuck out of the bag of pumpkin pulp.  The liquid left was a bit on the fatty side, since the butterscotch uses, you know, butter.  It separates, which looks a little interesting, but we’ll just put ‘shake before serving’ on the label.  I added another 3/4 of a medium pumpkin, and let it go for another 2 weeks.

Honestly?  It was better before I added the second batch of pumpkin.  The second batch kind of overpowered the butterscotch that was so strong in the beginning.  Next time, I probably won’t use the Werthers again, even though the flavor is fabulous.  It’s just a bit strange having a fatty liquer.  Next time, I’ll probably use brown sugar and some spices.  The color is kind of a murky tan.  Not terribly pretty, actually.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin

The second used about a 8 oz of elderberries and 4 cans of mandarin orange segments.  I added them  and about 3 cups of sugar to 2 gallons of vodka.  I let them steep for about 2 weeks, and then strained.  The elderberry flavor was really strong, and I wanted more orange to come out.  So I added a splash of orange extract we had laying around.  I also added more elderberries just to make sure it was flavored really well, and let it go for another 2 weeks.

It turned out really well, though the orange may be a bit TOO strong now.  It’s not my favorite of the 3, maybe because I thought the elderberries would have a lighter flavor.  They’re kind of raisiny, which is its own kind of good, just not exactly what I thought it would be.  The color is such a dark burgundy that it looks black unless you get a really strong light behind it.

Elderberries and mandarin oranges

Elderberries and mandarin oranges

The third is absolutely my surprising favorite.  I used a bag of lemons (like 8 I think), and cut the yellow zest off.  I then juiced all of the lemons and added them to the bucket.  I added about 3 cups of sugar and 2 gallons of vodka.  I then sprinkled on about 4 oz of lavender.  After 2 weeks, the lavender flavor was strong, but not too much.  I strained it and added some more lemons and a vanilla bean, which I cut in 1/2 lengthwise.

This one is soooooo good.  Bear loves it too.  It’s fresh and crisp from the lemon but with a strong lavender scent. The vanilla kind of mellows everything.  And the color is the most beautiful amber.  The flavor, scent, and color are all wonderful.

Lemon leavings

Lemon leavings

We still haven’t given any of these away, but I’ll report back once we find out what people think.

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Overall, our Yule was good.  We had a low-key day, as we all had the day off.  So we watched some movies, ate lasagne, and Bear and I had a new friend over.  Remember when I decided to stop playing with boys (and girly boys, and girls who were born boys) a few months ago?  Yeah, me too.  That never works.  We met someone fabulous, and she came over to hang out with us for Yule.  It was lovely.  🙂

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I learned about two great things this Yule, however.  The Julbock is a Scandinavian tradition that is RIGHT up my alley.  There’s some speculation that the Julbock (Yule goat) was tied to Thor’s goats, Teeth Barer, and Teeth Grinder.  More recently, however, the Julbock has been transformed into a Santa Claus figure, delivering presents, and sometimes Santa Claus is even portrayed as riding a goat to deliver presents in Scandinavian countries.

The Julbock shows up in homes now as a goat made of straw used to symbolize Christmas.  Here’s another lovely blog about the Julbock.

en: Yule Goat - a scandinavian christmas symbol

en: Yule Goat – a scandinavian christmas symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other new thing I learned about is the Icelandic  Yule Lads.

Stekkjastaur- Sheep-Cote Clod
Giljaguar- Gully Gawk
Stufar- Stubby
Pvorusleikir- Spoon Licker
Pottaskefill- Pot Scraper
Askasleikir- Bowl Licker
Hurdaskellir- Door Slammer
Skyrgamur- Skyr Gobbler
Bjugnakraekir- Sausage Swiper
Gluggagaegir- Window Peeper
Gattapefur- Doorway Sniffer
Ketkrokur- Meat Hook
Kertasnikir- Candle Sniffer

They do various mischevious things, usually stealing food or harassing goats (nasty buggers).  They’re fun, though, and a different one comes to town each of the 13 nights before Xmas.  Tonight, for example, is the day of Gattapefur (Doorway Sniffer).  According to Wikipedia, he “Has an abnormally large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate laufabrauð.”

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir (Photo credit: rwhgould)

I’ve also been trying to put together a good playlist of Norse-inspired pagan Yule carols, but no such luck.  At some point over the next week or so, I’ll publish what I have found as a playlist.

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Introduction to Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

    This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,--
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.

    Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion,
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on the Isle of Wigh...

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on the Isle of Wight, England in 1868 by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Yule and mistletoe

So, yeah.  We’re making a go of this incense thing.  I’ve been making incense for the sabbats anyways, and one of my favorite parts is gathering the ingredients.  For Samhain, we gathered fresh cypress needles from a cemetery.  They were LOVELY.  They really made the incense pop.

For Yule, we began scanning the landscape for mistletoe.  I’ve gathered some in the past, but this was Bear’s first go.  He scouted out the perfect candidates, and we collected quite the haul on the full moon.

Mistletoe haul

Mistletoe haul

This was another instance where it’s good to have the tall husband.  And it really does add a great green note to the incense.  Again, I’m not going to reveal my full recipe, but we did use colophony pine resin from Portugal and some great spices.

Attached to an ornamental pear tree of some sort

Attached to an ornamental pear tree of some sort

The ingredients for the kyphi are coming together nicely too.  We made a trip to the international market, and I found beautiful golden raisins and dried dates to use.  I was looking for galangal root, but all I found was galangal powder.  So I’ll be doing some looking.

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On the home front, my uncle passed away.  It seems like people are dropping like flies, and it’s happening faster and faster.  That makes 7 in 2.5 years.  It sucks, and I’m feeling kind of disconnected right now.  I’m focusing on incense and Yule, and trying to make this a good Yule for myself, Bear, and J.  Hopefully it will be great.

I’m going within, and it’s nice.

Please pay special attention to Abercrombie boy.  He’s my favorite.  🙂