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helwen: (Due Consideration)
Today is Chinese New Year's Eve. Still have some cleaning to do in the kitchen and a little tidying in the bedroom. House still looks pretty good overall, so not going to stress it too much, esp. with my left shoulder continuing to be a problem. Got some mending done and a little of new sewing.

For the most part I'm pretty patient about working on improving physically, but this shoulder thing is getting "old".

Talking about songs from the old SCA days on FB, and it brought to mind that I'd been trying to get the words to The Swan Harper some years ago. That was a couple of computers ago, so I don't know if I succeeded in getting it or not, but I certainly don't have it now. *sigh*

Weather's supposed to get a little more normal "seasonal" soon, which is good because pretty soon I'm going to dig out every comforter and pillow I have and line the inside of a couple of rooms with them and hide...

Hit menopause sometime in the past year. Working on figuring out what that means health-wise this year. I might want to pick up some panax ginseng for cold weather, and am working on weeding out food sources that can contain endocrine disruptors, among other things.

[EDIT] Adding for clarity -- am all done with menopause, except still have to work on brain fog and hopefully improving my memory. Fortunately I never had much in the way of hot flashes. Thanks to a friend's private post to me, it seems my diet changes (low sugar, low caffeine, no wheat) saved me a lot of aggravation on that front.
helwen: (Default)
Usually I'm offline on the first day, but L's working today and it's a busy time for us, so we're not being completely observant this year.

Saturday we tested for our green sashes and passed. I continue to be amazed that we're still going, and see some changes in my life/activities coming up...

We will not be going to the kung fu seminar in Florida however -- it was an iffy thing anyway, but between my crown and getting the 2007 Honda, definitely out. I am not completely displeased by this... I enjoy the people and learning new things, but hate the travel.

Home treatment is ongoing -- too soon to say how much effect it will have, we'll just have to see.

More tomorrow, I hope. For now, I need to go do some more offline things.

Be well!
helwen: (Tower)
Happy New Year :)

It's the Year of the Golden Hare!

(Metal, that is)

The Hare or Rabbit is often considered a lucky animal in Chinese Astrology, but I think one of the reasons for that is that a couple of the sign's characteristics is adaptability and being open to new possibilities. To do well in the coming year, we may all need to be ready to adapt to new circumstances. Willingness to accept or make changes may lead to a better way of living. It may not be easy, but hopefully it will be worth it.
helwen: (Default)
Of course we aren't going to be rulers of all we survey, but I'm happy to say that the valances for the living room are finally done and up! And the topper for the wardrobe in the bedroom too, although that could have come out better... sigh. Nothing some strategically placed weights and some duct tape won't fix :D

The most important rooms to have really nice for CNY eve are the bedroom and kitchen, but I'm aiming higher than that this year.

Even mended a pair of socks today, almost done hemming MIL's pants, and this evening will be washing eggs. Yes, the chickens are laying, and the younger crowd are ramping up in size and number of eggs. Time to wash, size and box them, with some of them going up to Elmer's for sale. No kung fu tonight, as work (and hopefully a nap!) come first.

Although I don't think that last bit will happen until Sunday, as the Mass Maple Producers Association (MMPA) meeting is tomorrow. It's too bad that it conflicts with EK Rapier Champions, which Bergental is hosting, but one can't have everything. Hm.... the lunch provided should be interesting... I might want to bring a small bag of dried fruits and nuts just in case...

Tired today. Fitzw's tired too, and he has even more reason to be -- he's been outside most of the day, plowing and de-icing. Comes in for a short break and to get a little work done (you know, his real job?), and then back out again. I only worked on building up the snowbank against one wall of the chicken rooms, to keep the wind from blowing in underneath their floor.

So... aside from the neverending tasks, work continues on trying to sort things out, re-organize things, and get rid of stuff. I found out last week that our bank is collecting stuff not only for soldiers but their families as well, which is great because I have a few things kids would like but I wasn't sure where to take them.

We managed to get to our personal trainer session yesterday for most of the time we were scheduled for -- it's really funny doing an exercise that's essentially learning to sit and stand up again, but the core and hamstrings development is good. And we got another one that works on realigning the spine to do. My hip still bothers me, but the exercises seem to help alleviate it some.

Then it was race back to the farm, change vehicles, get the dog, and race back down to the vet's.

Multiple things going on here -- we've been getting my FIL William's old car fixed up so it could pass inspection, getting insurance, getting the plates/ownership/insurance switched... It's a Honda Civic, so we'll use a lot less gas by using that car when possible instead of the minivan.

Duke, the farm dog, has been doing poorly, so we've been taking him to the vet, going to pick up meds, etc. Duke has been responding to the pain meds but not as well as the doc would like, so L picked up another one today (after he got the Honda inspected). It's too soon to tell if the antibiotics are working, but at least the meds don't disagree with Duke, so that's good. He tested weakly for Lyme's disease, so assuming he doesn't have an adverse reaction, he'll get the full treatment. Meantime, we'll see if the second pain med helps with reducing the swelling in D's right foreleg. If it isn't reduced by Monday, we'll be taking him down on Tuesday for an x-ray.

And soon, probably starting Sunday or Monday, we'll be trying to eat mostly grain-free/fast-carb-free for 30 days, as part of the training program. Yes, both of us. Whee!

The shoes from Fugawee look great, but I have to arrange to exchange for slightly different sizes. Next week. Can't deal this week. Nerf. Better make that Monday, since Tuesday could be shot, eh?

Oh, and I need to order seeds! Aaaaaaaa! Okay, next week for that too, I think...

Is something besides choir practice happening on Sunday? I sure hope not...
helwen: (Default)
February 3 in China, and so celebrated by most folks on that day. But by the clock, it starts on Feb. 2 here.

In either case, there is much cleaning to do!!

It will be the Year of the Rabbit (or Hare). Element is Metal.
helwen: (Steam)
CNY went pretty well overall. We got most everything done except no decorations. Oh well. I did do a bit of housework, sort of. L was trying to find a disk (which I never did find), so I went out to the barn and poked through some boxes and found some other useful things. Getting more organized is one of the things I'd like to be this year, so I think that was a good first-day activity. Ate healthy foods, exercised, took a nap (because of staying up so late for CNY Eve), and got some artwork done. Didn't get to playing a musical instrument, but maybe sometime today. Definitely more artwork today. I have a headache, so maybe today will be a not-so-busy day.

L had a dental appt. this morning, so we got a few things done while we were out -- more snow on the way so I'm glad we had the chance to get more cat food.

The Steampunk Workshop site has some useful stuff, how-to's and what-nots. Today he posted a link to a brass accessories supplier, Whitechapel, Ltd. in Jackson, Wyoming. All sorts of nifty hardware for doors, windows, kitchens, and furniture. Wide price range, depending on what you're looking at.

Check out the pretty box feet!

Useful site not just for people interested in Steam- or Diesel- punk, but doing home restorations, Victorian, etc.

[EDIT] They have things in some other metals to, like iron.
helwen: (Default)
... with getting ready for Chinese New Year, that is. Things are stashed in the fiber room again, but it isn't as scary-looking as before, and some of it is even organized. Hallway is cleared outside the office -- it had become a way station for things we were working on organizing but I couldn't deal with going around it anymore. Stuff is now all sorted and/or in correct area to be further sorted.

L has been cleaning in the kitchen, which is one of the most important rooms to have clean for CNY Eve and First Day. The kitties have all their things here, so it's a more challenging room than it was in Holyoke. It's coming along well.

The bedroom, the other most important room, is ready for vacuuming finally -- been moving things and rearranging things but I guess I'm almost done for now.

The living room is looking pretty spiff too, although that's just because.

Why are the kitchen and bedroom(s) the most important rooms at Chinese New Year? Well, the kitchen is where the food is prepared, and a kitchen that is clean and well-stocked is a kitchen that can provide good healthy food so that people can work hard, enjoy life, and live a long time -- security, happiness and prosperity. The bedroom is important, in particular the head of household's room, because they are the primary providers for the family so they need a restful place to restore themselves for the next day. The kitchen/dining room and the bedroom are the places where all the family comes together, so they are the places where relationships are sustained and deepened.

On another note, one of the reasons to make sure the kitchen is clean is that it is the Kitchen God who goes up to Heaven each year to report on the family -- how they're doing, behaving, etc. There is even a tradition, if one isn't sure of how good that report will be, of smearing honey on the lips of the kitchen god statue so that only sweet things will be said. I don't have a statue myself, although I did have a mask hanging in the old kitchen for a while, an old Mexican one from my eldest brother. I think it's a pretty funny custom, to think something so simple could make a difference. Best to keep a decent kitchen and get along with one another year-round, yes?

But I have made up red envelopes for Z and my niece A, which will go into the mailbox later today -- that way I don't have to go outside tomorrow if I'd rather not. And I have a pair of envelopes with my statues of three immortals. Once I've vacuumed in the living room I have to see about setting up pictures of family (supposed to be past ancestors, but I don't have a good photo of just my dad, so my mom ends up with the group too). Then when we get home tonight I can light some incense and say thank you before midnight. CNY is when we give thanks (more than usual) for our family, because for better or worse, without them we wouldn't be here.

Some years we are more observant than others, like the year we were merchanting at Birka and CNY was the same weekend.

Cleaning for CNY can be hard work and quite tiring, but then on the first day you can just relax and enjoy a beautiful home and quiet time. I suppose if we were really "traditional", we'd be flying out to California, to share the time with my mom, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, just as people are traveling all over China to go to their family homes, but we don't do a lot of long-distance traveling. So instead I'll call and/or email family to wish them well.

Happy New Year!
helwen: (Default)
Many, many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] hengruh, who's put up an excellent post on Chinese New Year HERE.

Some nice pics and info on preparation, does and don'ts. First day of the New Year is Monday, but there's plenty to do beforehand.

Hm, our traditional CNY Eve dinner won't be traditional this year... we have choir practice on Sunday so dinner will probably be at Friendly's. Oh well. Maybe we can get some takeout tomorrow, for re-heating on Monday (we like to make cooking on First Day as easy as possible).

There's also a saying that whatever you're doing on the first day is what you'll be doing the rest of the year. Most folks I know will be working Monday, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing -- wouldn't it be nice if working that day meant you'd still have a job a year from now? Don't know as it's a true saying or just something that helps one focus on what one wants to be doing (self-fulfilling prophecy), but I do remember that one year we were at Birka as merchants and we did indeed spend the rest of the year traveling and merchanting. What a tiring year!

So, more cleaning to do!
helwen: (me1)
Following the astrological timing for Chinese New Year, the first day in the U.S. is tomorrow, February 6. In Europe and China, it's February 7. Being in the U.S., we'll be starting the new year tomorrow :)

So, a bit more cleaning up to do here before then...

We did make it to a Chinese store, the one in Amherst. There used to be one in Hadley, but it moved and we don't know where. Got some decorative good luck/happiness couplets to put up outside our apartment door, some new red envelopes, a pommelo grapefruit (really large) and a tangerine to balance on top of it, various and sundry dumplings and buns, as well as some treats like sesame seed candies (those flat rectangles that come stacked in a package).

No really fancy meal tonight, not with still recovering a bit from the strange hours we've been keeping. But the cats and everyone are feeling better and we have a roof over our heads and all the truly needful things like food and clothing, friends and family, so what more do we really need for celebrating?

One of the traditions of the first day of Chinese New Year is that what you do on that day will be a reflection of the sorts of things you'll be doing for the rest of the year. I haven't kept track of that, but some years it seems to be true. So tomorrow I'll make sure to do my exercises (because I want to be fit), some artwork, a bit of studying, take a walk outside if the weather allow, and no doubt other things as well. Without horribly overdoing it, as I'd rather not _ask_ to be any more busy than I usually am :D

I'll be offline tomorrow. L doesn't have a choice, as he's working tomorrow, but First Day is supposed to be celebrated quietly at home, so we'll do the best we can.

Happy New Year, Everyone!
helwen: (Tower)
Time off is good... didn't go out (too cold), and didn't nap, but did have hot chocolate and then tea, while reading some of Spiritual Mentoring: A Pagan Guide by Judy Harrow.

So, I didn't describe when the Chinese new year starts correctly; it's the second new moon after the Winter Solstice.

Also, although I guess it was implied, I said the new year starts on the new moon, which may not seem usual for a celebration. But because it goes on for 15 days, the culmination of the holiday is on a full moon. It's like how the growth/germination of plants/seeds are hidden in winter, then appear visibly to our eyes in the spring, or a creature is pregnant and then gives birth to that which has been hidden from direct sight. So the tradition is to clear out the old and no longer needed, prepare the way for the new, going into seeming darkness, only to bring forth the new year into the light.
helwen: (Tower)
This site seems to be a pretty good one for learning more about the general character for each animal in the zodiac:

Also, I learned here today that the moon phases are divided into 4 parts by the Chinese, that each have their own names -- and also names for each part of each phase. Kind of cool, actually... the phases go through the seasons, so each moon cycle is like a mini-year. Also, now I know more about a Chinese Tarot deck I was given several years ago, but mostly only look at for the pretty pictures. The four suits in the deck are the same as the four animals of the 4 phases of the moon. Neat! Maybe I'll actually start to use the deck this year...

But, probably not right now. Need to walk around, and then maybe take a nap.
helwen: (me2)
If you want to really know what your sign is, go here: Your Sign. This site will walk you through your sign, lucky elements, etc.

I'm a water rabbit, myself. And the color for water in the Chinese system is black...

That makes me....

The Black Rabbit of Inlay! Bwahahaha!!

[EDIT: For more detailed info, go here: http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/LE.htm . NOTE: the clock hours are on European/Military time, so if you were born after noon, go further down the hours to get to the correct time]
helwen: (me1)
My mom asked about this, so since I had to look up the info anyway....

Chinese New Year starts on February 7 in China and Europe, but on February 6 in the U.S. (from coast to coast). Although Hawaii might be on the 7th, I don't know.

More info on Chinese New Year here: http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2008.htm

It's a little confusing, because if you look further down the page it says the new year starts on February 4. This is because the Chinese astrological months are not in sync with the western calendar and there are weirdnesses in the system.

The new year is the Year of the Earth (brown) Rat. We are leaving the Fire element and entering the Earth element this year. Rat's base element is water, and water and earth don't always mix well, so this may lead to some interesting things happening. Things may appear more stable than they are, in some cases (although at least one web site says that Earth's influence may lead to fewer scandals - one can only hope).

There are 12 signs and 5 elements in the Chinese calendar. Each element is dominant for two years in a row, and it takes 60 years to go completely through the entire cycle of animals and elements. The Rat is the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac cycle. Some western people object to being born in the year of the rat, also the years of the snake, pig, etc. Each animal has its good and not-so-good points though, even the mighty dragon.

In general, the new year starts on the first new moon after the first full moon after the Winter Solstice. The Chinese Calendar is a combination of Solar and Lunar influences. Why start on a new moon? Many holidays in many cultures are celebrated on full moons, so maybe this seems like a strange thing to some people.

But the Chinese new year is observed over a period of two weeks (15 days). And in fact, preparations must start before the new year is ushered in! Much cleaning must be done, food gathered in, debts must be paid off (or in this day and age of revolving credit and mortgages, at least paid up for the month), decorations put up, and New Year's Eve food prepared.

We usually buy some of the food and decorations, if we're able. In fact, we really should go shopping either this week or early next week, because otherwise some things will be sold out at the local Asian markets. I also have some decorations I re-use from year to year of course. But the couplets are really supposed to be new for each year. Since we are in a new home, I hope to do something about that this year -- either buy new ones, or copy the old ones out myself. I'm not very good with Chinese calligraphy, but I get by.

I think it would be good to be more observant this year in general, although we'll have to make exceptions for my PT, of course.

Ideally, one has a nice clean house, and all inhabited rooms have light in them on new year's eve. We compromise and make sure the lights are on within an hour of midnight, so we don't use lots of electricity all night. The feast is just for the immediate family living in the home (just the two of us, since only we celebrate it), with some offered to the ancestors of course, because they are a part of your immediate family.

Traditional Chinese families burn incense and also paper money, which is 'sent' over to the ancestors to help make the afterlife more comfortable. Don't know if anyone believes that or not these days, but they still do it -- just in case, you know.

At midnight you are supposed to open the doors and windows and say "Happy New Year!". This welcomes in the new good luck. This is also easier to do if you live in a small home.... we opt for the doors only usually, although I might be willing to add in the window at the end of the hall way, since there aren't any outer doors at that end of the apartment.

Then you close the doors and windows and put red paper over the doorways, to keep the luck sealed in overnight. Families stay indoors the first day of new year especially, and then over the next week start visiting with close family and then gradually more people. On the tenth day you can have a big party with friends and such, and by the 15th day is the biggest celebrations (community events).

Also on the first day, as well as no travelling or receiving visitors, there is supposed to be no cooking or cleaning. There is plenty of food left over from the late night feast anyway, and sweeping isn't allowed because you might sweep the new good luck out the door. I think this at least partly was included because if you have been up all night preparing and then having a small feast, you are too tired to do anything the next day anyway ;)

The belief is that whatever you do on the first day is what you'll be doing for the rest of the year. One year we were working at Birka on the first day, and for sure we were working and travelling a lot for the rest of the year!

Traditional Feast Foods for the Eve. We don't observe everything to do with this, but maybe this year I'll try a little more, not sure. Usually we go to a favored restaurant and order up favorite dishes, and I cook up some of the easier stuff. But most restaurants cut everything up into small pieces, and you're supposed to serve the bird whole this night (something about cutting up the luck into small pieces if it's done the other way). I don't think many people observe the whole bird thing much anymore though. Well, we'll see what we have time and energy for this year.
helwen: (MacGyver)
Yesterday we slept in a little, having stayed up late for New Year's Eve. Then some puttering, weight training, and reading of books followed. [livejournal.com profile] fitzw wound the warp for the barn loom and I tried out an experiment with the twill setup on the table loom. I'll try to post a pic of what I have so far, later on.

Then [livejournal.com profile] fitzw starting putting the warp on the big loom and I tried to start on my floor loom, but couldn't figure out how to do it from back to front -- my loom design is a little different from modern looms, including have an extra bar that neither of us know what it's for. I may take a picture of it and send it to my mom to see if she remembers what it is, and if she doesn't, then maybe one of the older weavers at Webs might know. Anyway, he suggested I go from front to back, as I had single warp not grouped warp (warp wound from a single cone, not from several cones at once).

We stopped work in the studiolo and went to Webs. I wanted to get lease sticks for my loom but they didn't have two in the correct size, so I'm using a couple of [livejournal.com profile] fitzw's for now (resting on the frame of my loom). We got more carpet thread for the barn loom, some more bobbins for the small shuttles, and a couple of large spools of Shetland wool (grey/white "pearl" and a light grassy green "birch"). Let's just say there's no doubt we qualified for the large purchase discount.

Then back home to work on warping the looms until I was starving and had to stop. In for dinner and for the evening. I finally turned on my PC, checked a few things online, tried to catch up on some of the news at energybulletin.net. Some of it's a bit on the dry side, and some of it I just can't get all the interested in. I did note that there has been an increase in defaulting on mortgages, to the point that another mortgage company has filed Chapter 11. Most of the defaults are happening in the Midwest, where there have been car mfg. plant closings. But looking at some towns in this area, I noted that there are more houses in pre-foreclosure than usual, and our unemployment rate isn't too bad... but people may not be making enough to keep up with the increased cost of living.

After a bit of time on the PCs, we had tea, I worked on handsewing one of the linen tops I cut out last week, and [livejournal.com profile] fitzw read aloud from _The Protector's War_. I also finished up my weight training for the day during that time.

[livejournal.com profile] fitzw and I have been talking about a couple of do-it-yourself passive solar ideas I saw at MotherEarthNews.com. If we could make them, they could help us save on oil use in the house and make the print shop and studiolo more usable in the winter. The space heater is doing well enough right now, but when the sub-zero temps hit it simply isn't worth the strain on the poor thing.

This morning we'll be working a bit more on warping the looms, then [livejournal.com profile] fitzw's mom Marian and sister Doris will be coming for a tour of the workshops, and then lunch together. Then possibly some more warping and maybe even weaving! No Concentus today, as two members are travelling. They're two of the more experienced folks, so it wouldn't be fair to the newer folks to put the stress on them of having to carry the parts. The fiddler is actually a pretty quick study, but she's still rusty on choral singing. And with the cold weather it's just as well not to expose people to the extreme temps if we can avoid it. Like as not, whatever we get done on the looms today will be it for the week, between the incoming cold weather and prep for Novice Schola.

All in all, not a bad start to the new year :)
helwen: (Default)
I should be cleaning and getting ready for the new year, but I needed a break so I sat down and did the Heroes meme, which [livejournal.com profile] ladypeyton had posted:

Heroes meme )

And now, it's time to go back to work...

Very likely I won't be online much tomorrow, so Happy New Year to everyone!

Snow Day

Feb. 13th, 2007 08:27 pm
helwen: (Default)
It's a snow day for many folks I know. [livejournal.com profile] fitzw started the shoveling and I joined in, so the sidewalks and driveway have been cleared once. It is of course still precipitating -- sleety stuff right now. But even the earlier stuff was a bit on the heavy side, so taking a trip out now makes for a lighter burden on the next trip out.

Also, snow shoveling can tax many people beyond their safe, healthy limit for exercise. Very few people bother to warm up/stretch first, and because it's cool outside it takes longer for them to notice that they've been working hard. Also, it's an unaccustomed physical activity for most people. Because of these things, many injuries occur and older folks have had heart attacks and such. Shoveling is best done in short increments. There are no rules that say you have to do it all at once. Also, remember to drink fluids when you come in from working out there :)

[livejournal.com profile] fitzw is working today of course, but what he does for work may be affected by the weather, as some of the servers he needs access to for some of his work are in Ohio, and they are having problems there. Fortunately he has other work he can do.

We did go out one last time yesterday afternoon because the cats had suddenly decided that they didn't want to eat anything except turkey, which we'd just run out of. While we were out we went to the mall as well (it's just a minute away from the pet place), went for a walk and a quick shop for Valentine's things. [livejournal.com profile] fitzw thought it would be nice if we did a little more of something for it than we've done in recent years. We are also planning on baking today -- probably chocolate chip cookies, and maybe crackers. [livejournal.com profile] fitzw really likes crackers -- I'm a little more choosy possibly, but I really like the homemade ones. They are hard to make, not because of the ingredients, but because the dough doesn't like to be rolled so you have to press the rolling pin very firmly. Still, they are some of the best crackers ever :)

Today I'll spend some time finishing a wool top and maybe one of the linen tops I started last week. Also, more cleaning. Chinese New Year is just a few days away and the house needs to be much cleaner than it currently is, including washing the kitchen floor, because the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house. The bedroom is one of the other important rooms, but we are doing pretty well with that.
helwen: (Default)
So I've done my annual search on the web to find out when Chinese New Year will begin, and discovered that it will be much later than usual this year. Apparently there was an extra month last year, a "leap month". More here: http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2007.htm if you want all the details.

Usually it is in January or early February, but this time the new year starts February 17, 2007. Please note this date is for the U.S. -- in China it will start on February 18. The upcoming year will be the Year of the Fire Boar (or Red Pig, if you prefer). On reading more about this year, there is apparently a difference between when the calendar year starts for everyday things and when the calendar year starts for Chinese astrology -- for the latter, the year will start on Feb. 4.... oy.

Anyway, we usually host a Chinese New Year party at the house, so now I have to choose a date for the party. I'm thinking maybe March 4 (a Sunday), but could possibly go for March 3 instead. Technically we could have it on Feb. 25th, but that's the day after Novice Schola, and I expect all the local folks (myself and [personal profile] fitzw included), will be quite exhausted.


helwen: (Default)

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