New Locations Now Open

With all the talk of Twitter moving to an algorithmic system that promotes “popular” posts (read: things that make the company more money) I’m preparing to either abandon it, or use it less. In any event, I’ve started a Tumblog which can be found here. Not much there yet since I just started it today. I expect it will evolve as these things do.

I also resuscitated my Ello site, just barely, but it has a pulse now. I’m still not sure what I’ll be doing over there. But if you happen to be on either of those services, let’s connect. If you’re on Facebook I’m there as well (also here) but I don’t log in often.

Don’t be a stranger!

Feb 5, 2016 sunrise

2-5-16 pond2

WellREAD and The Wonder of Witches

Last weekend I was sick with a cold, and because I was sick I turned on the tv and thereby caught this program about books, WellREAD, on OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting).  I’m always excited to find a show about books, and it was doubly exciting to come in on a show discussing books on witches with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff. She was talking about her latest, The Witches: Salem, 1692, which is another exploration of the witch trials.

Schiff clearly has a real passion for her subject. I also liked that she said she can’t seem to write a book in less than four or five years when authors now are pressured to crank out a book every few months to keep up momentum (although this likely applies solely to fiction. I can’t see any sort of respectably researched historical book being done well in less than a couple of years). As much as I’ve read over the years on the witch trials I will consider adding Ms. Schiff’s book to my TBR pile. The reviews on Amazon are split pretty evenly between those who loved it and those who thought it was a ‘tedious slog’ so my expectations are tempered.

Be that as it may, the show itself was going great until about the last five minutes when Mary Ann Gwinn, who gives further reading suggestions, excitedly talked about Alex Mar’s “Witches of America.” Mar’s book has been roundly criticized by the pagan/witchcraft community, and you can read one take on that here. It’s obvious Gwinn knows absolutely nothing about modern witchcraft, or was even aware of its existence. I got the impression neither of the show’s hosts has ever met anyone who didn’t believe exactly what they do; they both seemed amazed that there are people today who call themselves witches. Gwinn went on to mockingly describe modern witches saying, “In one way you want to make fun of these subjects: the weird tattoos, the costumes, blue hair, the free-form sex, the witches’ convention at a Doubletree Inn. Really?” Nice. She openly wants to make fun of them. Ok, I admit the Doubletree Inn is a little weird seeing as how my coven always meets in Lucifer’s penthouse. But what the hell.

Maybe she thinks we should all look as bland and asexual as she does. Finally, the show’s host Terry Tazioli gives a shudder and says “I’m done with witches.” Good for you, buddy. Very disappointing to see such a derisive dismissal of alternative spirituality in this day and age. Their way or the highway, it would seem. They might be interested to know witchcraft practitioners and practices are as varied as any segment of the population, and many hold advanced degrees, including PhDs, and careers in the sciences and academia. I, for one, look more like a Sunday school teacher. My hair is not blue (although I really like the look) because I need to fit in in Corporate America. But not everyone does, and this is not the 1950s. You can watch the show here.

I shudder to think of the judgment the two of them sit in towards other marginalized population groups.

And for your edification and enlightenment, here are some reading suggestions if you really want to learn about paganism and/or Witchcraft in the modern world:

Margot Adler, “Drawing Down the Moon”

Scott Cunningham, “The Truth About Witchcraft Today”

Scott Cunningham, “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner”

Pauline Campanelli, “The Wheel of the Year”

Starhawk, “The Spiral Dance”

For real basics, The Witches’ Voice website has “Witchcraft 101: So You Wanna Be a Witch?”

If nothing else, Mar’s book introduced people at The New York Times to the idea that there are practicing witches today. We may not fly on brooms (the old joke is we ride Hoovers now) but we have been known to dance under a full moon.

Full moon

Early January Photos

Just a few recent pics.

Moon and Venus, 7AM, Jan. 6, 2016

1-6-15 Moon Venus

Sunrise over Farksolia, Jan. 6, 2016. The roads were total ice, so traffic was doing about 20mph through this stretch.

1-6-16 Sunrise Farksolia

And without the wires

1-6-16 sunrise no wires

Snow earlier in the week (January 3) so I got to work from home that Monday (Jan. 4). It didn’t amount to much, only about an inch and a half, but it stuck around in my area for several days. My backyard was still snowy on Thursday (the 7th) when it was gone from just about everywhere else in the area. The hills of course had it worse.

1-4-16 Varied Thrush

1-3-16 snow on grass

 

1-3-16 snowy grasses

 

1-3-16 snowy road

Daffodils aren’t afraid of a little snow.

1-3-16 daffodils snow

 

 

 

Russia’s Open Book

Having an insomniac night, and find reading to be of no help in settling my mind, I switched on the tv at 4 o’clock in the morning. After flipping through the handful of channels I get on the antenna (I don’t have tv cable) I ran across this on OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting). It’s a 2-year-old documentary hosted by the actor Stephen Fry about a handful of contemporary Russian authors. Russia kind of fascinates me after being closed off to the West for so long. It makes me wonder what we in the West have missed. The documentary website is here. I do have a couple of books by Russian contemporary writers, one fantasy (Nightwatch, by Sergei Lukyanenko, and The Stranger, by Max Frei) but haven’t gotten to them in the TBR pile.

If it makes you curious for more, and aren’t the type to read the comments, I found this guy’s blog which has much more on Russian writing and writers.

 

2016, We’re Counting on You

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions years ago. Generally, it seems a week into the new year most are already forgotten. It’s not that I don’t have goals, but sometimes the resolutions I’ve made were not all that intrinsic to my interests or that important in the long term. Lose weight? Sure. Exercise more? Sure. Who doesn’t want to do those things?

Who sticks with any of that past January? Hmm? Raise your hand. Yeah, that’s what I thought. (Ok you, in the back: pipe down. You’re an anomaly)

Still, for the first time in years, I actually have three things I am resolved on for the coming year:

  1. Read more. I signed up for the Goodreads reading challenge thingie last year, and hilariously said I was going to try to read 3o books in 2015. Counting a re-read of “Sense and Sensibility” I appear to have read seven. That’s pathetic. I stand here before you to confess my shame. I really need to make more of an effort.
  2. Write more. Gotta get on the stick there and finish the first draft of  “Revenants Within,”  sequel to “Revenants Abroad.” I also have several other projects half-begun so I need to get with it.
  3. Spend less time on Twitter and get back to posting more regularly here on the blog. Maybe even get my other website, ddsyrdal.com back up and functional. I still own the domain name, but let the site slide.

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy, happy, prosperous new year!

Here are a few recent photos:

November Collection

I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since I posted anything.

I threw in the towel on NaNoWriMo again. I’ve been sick for a week and it sort of took the wind out of my sails. I’m about 10,000 words into a new thing, my first attempt at a YA novel. But fear not, the vampires are never far from my mind and plan to get back to them ASAP because I miss my fanged friends.

Here are a few shots from this month, and I still have more to process and upload.

Super Blood Moon – September 27, 2015

SO. I had all these grand plans of driving up a local mountain to watch the eclipsed moon rise behind Mount Hood across the valley, and this was the view:

Mount Hood through haze????????????????????????????????????

Grrr. Argh.

Unbelievable haze. It was kind of a circus up there, too. I passed one area that must have had 100 cars parked in a field. I went much further up, by the substation, which wasn’t nearly as crowded. The only thing I objected to were the two teen boys kicking a soccer ball around all the people who had cameras up on tripods. But what did they care? And dogs. Oh my god, people. Leave your dogs at home when there are going to be crowds.

Anyway, eventually, close to 7:30 local time, we were able to barely make out one side of the moon. Here it is at 7:27

Super Blood Moon september 27 2015

Moon over Hood

Yeah, pretty disappointing. Darker moon over Hood

I gave up around 8:00 or so and drove home. Naturally by then it had cleared the trees, and the sky was crystal clear.

Super Blood Moon 9-27-15

And here are some shots of it setting this morning and one of Venus, aka Lucifer, star of the morning. Hail Lucifer.

(Venus) Lucifer, the Morning Star
(Venus) Lucifer, the Morning Star