Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blessings Abound

Well, my friends, my navel is here under the costume somewhere, and I have a lot of gazing to do, but Samhain is still ongoing, and there are jack-o-lanterns to attend. I hope all of you had a fabulous day. To me, this is the most wonderful time of the year.

Will write more soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Beneath the Sugar-Coating

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Have a seat! I'll see if there's any pie left in the pantry.

If any of you are wondering why I'm not attending Saturday's March for Sanity, when it's just a little Amtrak hop from Philly, let me just say this: My application was denied.

That's okay. I don't want to be away from home on Samhain. Let's not sugar-coat things. There's a reason for the "spooky" traditions associated with Halloween.

Somewhere I read a snarky remark about the "superstitious Celts," who lit bonfires on Samhain because they were afraid of ghosts.

Just goes to show you that the way you word something can either make it sound brilliant or ridiculous.

So let's re-phrase.

Samhain marks the moment when the veil between the living and the dead grows thin. We wish to commune with Spirits, if those Spirits are loved ones or friends on the other side of the veil. But the existence of those Spirits presupposes that there are other, far less benign Spirits who we'd rather not have crashing around in the spare room.

You can call it superstition if you like, but I would prefer to say that we ought to be frightened of some energy. Not everyone goes peaceful into that long night. So at this time of the year, in addition to feeling my dear friend Tom in my kitchen, helping me tease the parrot, I also protect my home from the evil dead.

(Stop whistling Stevie Wonder! If you don't take Spirits seriously, you deserve their misguided wrath.)

You might ask: How does one protect a home from the evil dead? Well, what do you think that jack-o-lantern is for? And the funny thing is, the Celts didn't have pumpkins! Pumpkins are a New World food. The Celts carved turnips and hung them outside the door. They would have loved pumpkins!

Samhain is a good evening on which to smudge your home with a sage stick. Light the fragrant incense outside for your Ancestors and smudge the interior to keep unwelcome Guests out. There's a darker side to Samhain, under all that sugar-coating. It's the eerie awareness of death, the acceptance of a long tunnel of winter, a submission to the bored God Cernunnos -- He who knows both the bounty and the savagery of the forest. It's time to dance, but choose your partners carefully.

If any of this sounds "backward," then I have a question for you: How is it different from being told, by a guy in a long fancy robe, that some deity is going to come out of the sky and call your loved one up out of the grave ... but only if your loved one followed that deity while alive?

When you get right down to it, any engagement with death can be called "superstitious." None of it is, though. None of it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crazy Halloween Houses!

Oh my goodness, readers! What can be said about the commercialization of Halloween? The picture above is not of Snobville, but it might as well be. This whole borough is lit up in orange and purple! Big giant spiders in the yards, ghosts hanging from the trees! People are doing up their houses with gaudy decorations!

My three readers will know that I adore crazy Christmas houses. But if this yard-decorating trend continues, I'll just foam at the mouth with glee! Will my golden years include crazy Halloween house crawls? Catch me, I'm fainting!

Monday, October 25, 2010


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" at the height of fall colors! I could never live in a place where the seasons don't change. Could you?

Today a substitute teacher who is new to the school walked up to me and said, "I've been thinking about you. You made an impression on me." (We had lunch together once.)

Laughing, I said, "I'm memorable!"

Truth is, I bewitched him.

You read so much about what witches aren't, but very little about what they are, with the notable exception of my friend Hecate and some other serious bloggers.

See? I used the term "bewitched," and perhaps your mind already goes toward something sexual or dark. Actually, it's quite easy to bewitch people, and it is not done to harm them. I do it for mutual aid in almost all cases. In the other cases I do it for self-protection.

As I said, it's very easy to bewitch someone. All you need to do is listen to them talk and be genuinely interested in what they have to say. In the case of mutual aid, the person will trust you and have positive feelings about you. In the case of self-protection, the person will think you find them interesting, and that will deflect negativity.

What did I do to bewitch this substitute teacher? I listened to him tell his life story. It was an interesting story, told with verve and satisfaction, and I rewarded him for it by frankly telling him what a fascinating life he has led. I said very little about myself in the conversation. I concentrated on him.

Before you level the criticism that he might have been flirting, let me whack that idea down with the palm of my hand. I can bewitch a woman as easily, or more easily, than a man. Who ever listens to a woman, in our modern society? I do. And let me tell you, I have any number of women friends who find me "memorable."

I know some men who are quite adept at bewitching. (Again you start on the sex thing, again I smack you silly.) My husband's best friend has the charming ability to make anyone and everyone seem uniquely special. No matter how dull you think your life is, he will ask questions until he finds something in you that you are proud of, and then he celebrates it with you. Once he visited here when The Spare was nine. He spent an hour talking to her ... and she has never forgotten that, or him. And he is like that with everyone. He would not see himself as a witch, because our culture has been taught to hate and fear witches. But what he does is bewitch people. Thoroughly, without thought to personal gain.

What happens to a man who can bewitch people without conscious knowledge that he's doing so? Well, he grows up poor in Chicago, works his way into the journalism business without a college degree, becomes a famous columnist in Chicago, Detroit, and L.A., and winds up living in Palm Springs, married to Dean Martin's daughter. Unconscious magick! You've got to love it. This man deserves all the blessings he has received, and more.

Every day I face the daunting task of bewitching 115 students, age 14 and 15. Wow. Talk about a challenge! It is possible to do it, though. Rather exhausting, but doable.

If you strip the concept of bewitching of its sexual and romantic overtones, it becomes simply this: deep engagement with another person. If you are genuinely interested in other people's lives, a strange thing happens. They start liking you.

Yes, this power can be abused. I'll admit I've used it for my own ends at times. But never, never for sexual or romantic power over another. That would be harmful to myself and the other person. I recently bewitched someone because he has the power to get me fired, and he's a young, immature fellow. Trust me, I am not flirting with this man. I'm trying to alter the power grid.

Like Hecate, I'm tired of reading about what witches don't do. So here's something I actually practice, and do, and believe in. I mean no harm. This is a holy thing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Year's End

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Samhain 2010 edition! Just think: It's been five years since we posted our first thoughts on Samhain. For those of you who are new here, you can find them in the archives.

Yes, over the years, we at "The Gods Are Bored" have had plenty to say about witches, pumpkins, black cats, Chick tracts, on and on. True to our maxim never to take anything seriously, we've generally made light of the waning of the light.

As this year draws to an end, we don't see much of a change on the horizon, vis a vis "Gods Are Bored" and its inability to maintain a respectful demeanor. So, for my new followers, please be aware that the following sermon is uncharacteristically modest.

With that in mind, let's look at the New Year mindset of the Celts and the Romans.

The Celts celebrated the beginning of the New Year on what is now November 1. By this date all the crops were in, and it was good weather for outdoor bonfires.

The Romans celebrated the beginning of the New Year on January 1. I wanted to ask the Roman deities why that date was chosen, and you know what? Since Percy Jackson happened onto the best seller list, those deities are hard to get on the phone! Busy again! Yowsa yowsa yowsa!

Therefore I will speculate. I think the Romans chose January 1 because by that time the amount of daylight is just noticeably greater. The Romans were big on the sun. The Celts were big on the moon.

You know what I say? I go with the Celts on this one. It's a close call, though. Two good lawyers could put on quite a show making a case for solar vs. lunar.

I would take lunar because, as the descendant of farmer after farmer after farmer, I know how important it is to bring in the crops and to take stock to see if there's enough to get through the winter, and seeing that there is, to celebrate that fact. I remember the frenetic sessions of canning in my grandparents' kitchen, and I remember as well how beautiful those jars looked, sorted and stored on shelves, each with its own kind. Yellow peaches, red tomatoes, green beans, white corn, jelly. And when Grandma opened those peaches in the dead of winter -- oh, they tasted so good!

Bring in your harvest. Arrange it on the shelves and count. Do you have enough of everything to get through the long, cold winter?

I speak in metaphors, of course. Nevertheless, winter is coming. It will be cold and dark for months. Light a fire of gratitude to your deities if you feel grateful for what they have given you since the world grew warm.

In conclusion, I intend to teach transition words in composition class this week. Last week I taught rhetorical questions. Indeed, would you ever have guessed?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

May He Have Found the Summerlands

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where as of today we have 100 followers! I thank you, my faeries thank you, and the bored gods thank you! There is yet hope of returning the whole wide world to polytheism! Our operators are standing by to take your call.

Via Facebook I learned of the passing of one of my favorite high school teachers. His name was Nick Scallion.

And yes, he lived to a ripe old age! He was 81. That would have put him in his mid-40s when I had him for driver's education.

We did not have driver's education online at my Appalachian high school. And Mr. Scallion did not teach by today's model, which is basically let the students teach the class while you stand back and watch. Oh no. Mr. Scallion was an ex-Marine, and as a driver's ed teacher, he had you just where he wanted you. No backtalk to the guy who stands between you and the open road!

Sometimes I think of Mr. Scallion when I'm teaching. Sometimes I think of him when I'm driving.

I remember him when I am observed by an administrator who chides me for "too much teacher talk." All Mr. Scallion did was talk. He talked for 45 minutes, day after day. We listened and took notes. Ah, well, there were days when he didn't talk. Those were the days when he showed instructional movies like "Mechanized Death" and "Your Car, Your Coffin." I guess I don't need to share the plots of those films, except to say that I sometimes recall them when in heavy moving traffic on I-95.

Actually, Mr. Scallion was a good model of talking teacher. Yes, he lectured and harangued. But he did it with pizazz. Personality. He had vim and vigor, created by competitive tennis and being a basketball coach. Lady readers, I am not exaggerating. He looked like Paul Newman, right down to the blue eyes.

So, who is not going to listen to an engaging and energetic (albeit stern) lecturer who looks like Paul Newman? Dude could have been teaching bog biology, I still would have been riveted.

But what he taught was driving. He taught it well. If you screwed up behind the wheel, he yelled at you. Everyone knew it and tried hard not to screw up. (Another teacher faux-pas these days: yelling. You have to maintain a safe and secure learning environment. Scallion would have quit before doing that.)

This is the kind of bragging that I hardly dare to do, especially given the fact that I live in, and drive in, a major metropolitan area. But it's the truth. As of today, October 21, 2010, I have never been in a serious automobile accident. I have zero points on my license.

Yes, that could change tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that. If you see this blog post, and nothing but, for the next three months, just figure that I tempted fate by bragging on my driving abilities.

But am I really doing that? How much of my driving was influenced by stern Mr. Scallion, who lectured, yelled, and flunked anyone who didn't do so much as one homework assignment?

Mr. Nicholas Scallion, may you have found the Summerlands. May you have found a high-octane dragon and highly competitive tennis faeries. Put it in drive and head home. Blue eyes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Junior Health Class

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where every day's a gnu day! Yak, yak, yak. How are ewe?

Okay, that's enough now, Puck. You can go back to poking the parrot with a stick.

As the veil thins I continue to find myself in this odd state of insouciance where nothing seems to matter anymore. Things that would have bothered me or worried me in times hence are just making me laugh and shrug. I think perhaps that I am edging toward the veil myself, and I realize that the time to be happy is now. Not tomorrow, now.

An addendum to yesterday's post: I do not mind when my students come in to chat me up after school. I'm honored.  The whole reason I'm there is to try to make a difference in peoples' lives. I try to do that by genuinely caring about my students. Ask me if they can tell who cares about them and who doesn't. They have extraordinary sniff-out skills.

But that's beside the point! Today's sermon is entitled JUNIOR HEALTH CLASS AND THE DAUGHTER IN YOUR LIFE!

Last night I came slogging upstairs to go to bed, and I found my daughter The Spare at an online website that sells home pregnancy tests. She was studying the site carefully.

The conversation went something like this:

Anne: Doing a little shopping online?

Spare: He expects me to go into the pharmacy and look at these. And even ask the pharmacist about them.

Anne: Who is HE?????? *anguish*

Spare: The health teacher. The assignment says to go into a pharmacy and compare the cost of home pregnancy test kits. And to read the box and figure out how they work. And then to find out which one is most accurate.

Anne: This is for health class. For real. Like, looking and not buying .... oh pleeeeeeeze!

Spare: Mom. Are you serious? Of course it's for health class! And I'm not going into any pharmacy to look at this stuff. Can you imagine me standing in the Snobville Family Drugstore, looking at these? What if Wanda saw me? What if Celeste saw me? What if the cross-country team saw me? Like, could anything be more embarrassing than that?

Anne: Well, yeah. Does every junior at Snobville High have this assignment?

Spare: Yep. It's online.

Anne: So the boys have to go do this too.

Spare: As if. Get real. No one is going to study home pregnancy tests at a drugstore!

Anne: One would think that the teacher might ask the boys to study the condoms instead of the home pregnancy tests.

Spare: EWWWWWW! Go away! This online health class is making me gag as it is! Don't make it worse!

Readers, it's true. It's true! Spare had to write a report on home pregnancy tests for her junior health class. I went to the school e-board, and the assignment was there. Spare doesn't even have a boyfriend right now, and she has dumped two who tried to get fresh.

But my curiosity was piqued.

The Snobville High School online health class (there are no in-school classes, the course is all done online) has videos about puberty, sexual reproduction, gestation and childbirth, parenting, and relationships.

There is nothing about how to obtain sensible family planning. The word "condom" does not appear anywhere.

There's an assignment for home pregnancy kits, but none about birth control pills or devices.

I have never seen anything more ridiculous in my life. This is New Jersey! This is not Kansas! These are college-bound, high-performance teenagers, brimming with libido! Damn it, I want my kid to know where to get The Pill!

Honestly, this is no joking matter. Spare may not be sexually active, but a number of her friends are -- and who am I kidding, she could be in a matter of weeks, if the right scruffy, guitar-playing skinnyboy came along. Any junior high health class on sexuality, pregnancy, and parenting that does not mention birth control is worse than useless. It's counter-productive. Literally, my kid has been asked to price pregnancy tests rather than to investigate HOW NOT TO BECOME PREGNANT.

Good thing Heir and Spare have me in their corner. I may not be a doctor, but I know how to teach high school health. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I guess in next week's health class they'll be pricing multi-symptom cough syrups after not having learned to wash their hands before eating. It makes that much sense.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's Just How I Am

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" "Know thyself," I always say. Focus that inner mirror. Figure out what makes you tick. Or what makes you a tick. Grammar trick!

Are you the kind of person who, given a job to do, just wants to dig in and get it done? I am. When I have something to do, and someone's trying to chat me up, I get annoyed.

A busy high school is not the optimal working environment for me.

I get mildly annoyed when students come in my room to chat me up. But I get intensely annoyed when other teachers come gabbing at me when all I really want to do is get the doggone essays graded and get my butt home to the warm hearth.

This week I actually clocked how much time other people wasted for me by chit-chatting. Two-and-a-half hours! Why did I bother clocking this? Well, it just so happens that my daughter The Heir was home from college this week, and I wanted to get home early enough to enjoy her company.

I know this is a "Dear Abby" question, but what do I do about these pesky teachers who just want to gab? The Teacher Creature is the worst offender, but he's only in my room one afternoon a week. There are two lady teachers about my age who pester me every day. And this is how well the one knows me: She tells me all the latest gossip from her church choir. *hack up fur ball*

I know I would be hurt if someone told me, "Sorry, I would love to hear about your Druid Grove, but right now I have to get these forms filled out in triplicate so I can go home and see my daughter." I'd feel like a chump. I don't want to make anyone feel like a chump, but I would like to have some benign way to dismiss the pests.

If you can think of anything, please share. Alas, I have already tried telling Gabbing Methodist Teacher that I'm a Pagan. Any space that might have put between us was canceled when she discovered that I own a parrot. (She does too.)

When I'm at work, I just want to work. I'm all business. It's just how I am. Most of the teachers at my school are that way too. I just seem to be a magnet for the ones who aren't.

I am open to spell suggestions, so long as no one gets hurt and the furniture doesn't get stained.

Oh, wait! The only upholstered furniture in my classroom is my teacher chair, and I sit in that! So bring on the grape juice ... I fear it not!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shameless Plea for Self-Promotion

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," founded in 2005 to celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of deities who deserve our devotion! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. Here today with my hat in my hand.

I have 24,856 profile views. I have 96 followers. So close, and yet so far.

My shameless plea is to you, my 96 readers. Would you please talk me up just four more notches? If I can get 100 followers, that's enough to convince the Snobville Fire Department to shut off the street for a block party.

Then all of you would be able to come to a vulture-themed block party on Sunday, October 31! We'll have people all dressed up in costumes, a bonfire, carved pumpkins, and pie pie pie! And we'll have mead! (Well, that is if you bring it. I stand alone among my friends in not knowing how to make, or where to purchase, good mead.)

I'm very grateful to have 96 followers, and I do hope I entertain you. If so, please phone a friend and ask them to join our "Gods Are Bored" family!

If I could be serious for a minute...

Wait. Who am I kidding? I'm never serious for a minute! I once made it through 46 seconds of seriousness, but that was as far as I got. And that was at my mom's funeral. You can't ask my mom to die again so that I'll be serious for a true 60 seconds.

Tell your friends that this is the place to visit for people and deities who want to dance, sing, grab all the beatnik madness of life and wring it joyfully across the abyss of despair!

Or just tell them about the block party. Whatever it takes. My goal is to have 100 followers by Samhain, and none of them relations or neighbors. Can you help this worthy cause?

Follow me, and I'll tell you how to become happy, sexy, rich, and famous!

Oh, wait. Too many religious blogs already make that claim.

Follow me, and I'll try to make you chuckle a few times a week.

The world may be all f****** up, but we're living through it anyway. Might as well laugh about it.
The way I see it, things work like this: If only the Bible is true, we're one and all screwed -- so let's be screwed with reckless abandon! And if there's more true than just the Bible, our gods will stand solid with us -- so let's engage deeply in life, so long as no one gets hurt and the furniture doesn't get stained.

Follow me! Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!

Thank you, and may the bored gods find you and lead you, and by leading you, so may they restore their worth!

PS: You might want to bring a pair of sensible shoes. I hate it when people show up for a hike wearing flip flops.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Saturday Navel Gaze

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Ah, the veil grows thin! Can't you feel it? Thinking of lost loved ones? They're thinking of you too. They're making their reservations for dinner with you in two weeks. I'll bet you already have them penciled in on your calendar. Am I right?

Every now and then, we at "The Gods Are Bored" do a little navel-gazing here. It's a diary that everyone can read! (I edit out the dirty parts.) Today is one of those days, so if you're looking for wisdom ... hey, wait. There's never any wisdom here! You might as well stay.

Today was one of those breezy and crisp autumn Saturdays when you just want to kiss the sky, like Hendricks without the haze. And let me tell you, I was feeling the love!

At breakfast time, Spare, Mr. J and I went to the farmer's market in the neighboring borough of Not Snobville. The sun was out, but it was breezy and cold. Spare kept asking for hugs! Do I care if it was because she was cold? A hug is a hug.

No sooner did we get there than we saw the Monkey Man with his monkey! It was the first time I had seen him to talk to him in a long time -- not since well before his Fringe Festival show. He thanked me for the part I played in getting him publicity in the high and mighty Philadelphia Inquirer. Spare and I told him how much we enjoyed the show. Then he talked a little Phillies baseball with Mr. J. We all went off to shop together.  (Even the monkey, who was wearing little bells on his paws.)

Somehow Spare and I found ourselves standing in front of a table brimming with a half dozen varieties of apple. I couldn't pry her arms from around my waist (not that I was trying). Talk about the veil: I could feel my great-grandfather standing there with us, scrutinizing the apples. Apples were his cash crop. So I told Spare that, and I told her how my grandfather would ride the farm wagon into Cumberland with the autumn apples, and once the apples were all sold, the family would have money to buy shoes and sugar and coffee and fabric. Spare is very interested in these stories. I'm glad.

As for my great-grandfather, I think he was confounded by the variety of apples, their worm-free perfection -- and the El, rumbling right over our heads.

Once we had bought cider and apples and broccoli, it was time for me to go to Recovery, Inc. Here is my incredible lucky autumn Saturday ... Heir was home, and when she's home, she goes to Recovery with me! (I'll talk more about Recovery some other time. Basically it's a free behavior mod program for nervous people.) Heir and I went to Recovery, and then ... and then ...

Heir, Spare, and I bought some plastic jack-o-lanterns and went to Woodstock Trading Company to help them decorate their front lawn for Halloween! If you click on my sidebar and go to their blog, you'll read all about it.

I love going to Woodstock. It's been a haven ever since I first walked into the door. All of my faeries followed me home from there. Nowadays it's more fun than ever, since I fostered a kitten for them and he now lives in the store. Whenever I go there, he gets all batty over me. Pinky swear that cat knows I saved his life when he was just a gerbil-sized sick kitten.

Woodstock looks awesome. Who would ever have thought of using a Maypole as the center pole for a gigantic spider web? There are some creative people down there, readers. We tied our jack-o-lanterns in the trees, petted the pussy cat, admired the huge spider that we didn't make, and then bid our farewells.

When we got home from Woodstock, I took some sun on the back porch with my cat, Alpha, on my lap. Then I baked a pie and made a pot of stew in the kitchen. Decibel the parrot kept me company, but he got a little nervous when I started humming "Sing a Song of Sixpence."

Oh yes, and we decorated the house for Samhain. My favorite holy day, and always has been.

Just now Heir, Spare, and I are back from the debut performance of a new local band that contains some friends of the Spare. The band is named Big Folkin Deal. It was such a gorgeous autumn evening that even Snobville seemed friendly, at least for an hour or so. (I will reserve judgment on Big Folkin Deal for now.)

Now it's evening. There's a cheery fire and hot stew. Decibel is clucking contentedly in his cage, Alpha is snug on my lap, and my two wonderful daughters, Heir and Spare, are upstairs looking at "College Humor" videos. The Monkey Man is studying Chinese at his rowhouse in Camden, and Monstro the cat is sleeping in his cat bed at Woodstock.

Great-granddad is out in the kitchen, staring at the apples. I won't burst his ghost bubble by telling him that they look better than they taste.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stonewall and Me

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" How much do you know about the American Civil War? All I'll say is that it was the only time I rooted for the Yankees.

When I was a little shaver, I used to ride my bike all the time on a road called "Stonewall Jackson's Way." The road was the route Jackson and his troops took to Antietam Battlefield.

Stonewall is a pretty interesting person to read about. Any biography will do. They all end the same way. He dies. Shot by his own troops when he became disoriented while wandering alone at night.

Stonewall Jackson's fatal failing was going without sleep. In battle-ready situations, he would stay awake three or four full days at a time ... or he would settle down to a one-hour nap and then be awake for 48 hours. Needless to say, he made many errors due to sleep deprivation. Including the one that got him shot.

I thought of Stonewall this morning.

You see, Wednesday evening was Back-to-School Night at the Vo-Tech. We teachers were there meeting and greeting parents and kids until 9:00 p.m.

 I don't know about you, but when I'm closely engaged with something into the evening hours, I have trouble getting to sleep when I get home. Exhausted as I was, I tossed and turned a bit.

Thursday morning I got up at 5:30 as usual. Except I had to be perky right away, because Spare had to get to school by 6:00 for a field trip (counting shore birds and razor blades at the Jersey beach).

So I dragged my desperately fatigued carcass to work. I opened my school email, and there was a cheery little missive from the superintendent: I would be getting a walk-through by the School Leadership Committee some time that morning.

Isn't that the way the world works, my friends? The minute you get a little worn-out, your boss sends six administrators to observe your class.

Whew. I saddled up Little Sorrel and rode straight into the breach.

At least I think I did. Truly I can't remember enough about this morning to say for certain how well I did.

Good night.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Goldilocks Planet

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," scanning the skies and baking fresh pies! No lies.

A few years ago, my daughter The Heir came home and told me that her science teacher stood in front of the class and categorically ruled out any chance of biological life on any other planet in the universe.

Granted, this was a biology teacher, but get real! Heir wasn't attending some crazy private religious school. Seems to me that your average high school biology teacher ought to have a basic grasp of the size of the universe and the statistics that go with it.

You read it here first, friends. We are not alone in the universe. I'm grabbing a number out of a hat when I say there are probably more than 10 million planets with fully diverse ecosystems, including sentient beings. Universe is a big place, yo. Whole lotta stars out there.

I'm a little late getting to this, but last week an astronomy journal published news of the discovery of a planet revolving around a star just a few trillion miles from here. The planet has ideal conditions for liquid water, which is, of course, a prerequisite for life. One of the scientists called the planet a "Goldilocks planet" because it isn't too hot or too cold. It's just right.

Within a hundred years we'll have identified a bevvy of Goldilocks planets. They're out there in droves.

Of  course, what we do with this map of great planets will say a lot about us and our deities. Have we made any progress on our penchant for conquest, or will we send a Columbus in a spacesuit to check out Goldilocks IV and take note of what can be pillaged or "settled?" Or will we behave like intelligent life ... leave the planet alone, entirely alone, just like we would want to be free of aliens who would drink our water and suck our brains out through our noses?

I won't be around for the "take me to your leader" phase of Earth history, but I tell you this: It's coming. Whole lotta planets out there. Let's show them some respect, eh?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Prresidential Motorcade

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," coming to you from a major metropolitan area smack in the middle of Eastern America's megalopolis! I'm your host, Anne Johnson, just another anonymous honeybee in the colony known as the Delaware Valley.

I've had a great weekend bonding with my daughters. On Saturday, The Spare and I took the El into Philadelphia and cruised the consignment shops on South Street. On Sunday I drove out to Valley Forge to see The Heir at her college. A wonderful time was had by all!

If you have never visited Philadelphia, the City of Buzzardly Love, let me acquaint you with the infrastructure. Why? Because it's essential for today's sermon.

Philadelphia  has exactly one freeway running into it from the west. This roadway is the Schuykill Expressway ... lovingly known hereabouts as the Sure-kill Expressway. The Sure-kill has baffling lane-changes and is, in some cases, two lanes going one way, two the other, with a concrete barrier between the eastbound and the westbound lanes. The southern side of the Sure-kill is a cliff, and the northern side is the Schuykill River, down a steep bluff. In other words, there's no way to expand this nail-biter of a deathtrap highway.

The Sure-kill is always packed with traffic. Always. Three in the morning, it's jammed. Sunday afternoon  (even when the teams are away), it's jammed. If the radio announcer calls the mess a "rolling backup," that's good news. At least we're rolling. The snail on the bank of the Schuykill River's gaining ground on us, but yo ... we're in motion.

Whenever I set out for Valley Forge from Snobville, I always check the traffic report before I get on the Sure-kill. Today's report was ominous. President Obama and Vice President Biden were going to be at a rally in Germantown.

The rally was already in progress when I set out for Valley Forge, so I took the Sure-kill and flowed out to the western suburbs like semi-warm molasses.

Heir and I spent a lovely afternoon together watching the steam rise from the cooling towers at the Limerick nuclear power plant. Good times, good times. Then I got her some groceries and toiletries, slipped her fifty bucks, and bid her adieu with a warm maternal hug.

Time to go back to New Jersey on the Sure-kill Expressway.

Except there was a problem. A snag, so to speak.

President Obama needed to use the Sure-kill Expressway and its north-south cousin, Interstate 95, to get to Philadelphia International Airport.

You know what they do in these cases, reader? They close down the friggin freeway to all traffic, so that the presidential motorcade can proceed without impediment.

Both of Philadelphia's major arteries, closed completely for 40 minutes. Wow, what a mess.

Luckily, I checked the traffic report before leaving Valley Forge and thus was given a heads-up on our Fearless Leader's freeway use.

I know a round-about route that takes me down 476 almost to Wilmington, crosses the Delaware on an obscure bridge, and winds back north through the wilds of Jersey to Snobville. It's miles and miles out of the way, but you know what? I'm home now. If I had tried to get from Point B to Point A the same time that President Obama wanted to get from Point C to Point D, I would still be sitting in traffic on the Sure-kill Expressway. How do I know? As I was closing in on Snobville I checked the traffic report again. Sure enough, the traffic was bumper to bumper from Valley Forge right into Center City. Snails, tortoises, and sloths were making quicker progress than automobiles.

So this is my question. Why do presidents get to shut down freeways?

Seems to me that presidents could have bullet-proof SUVs that would proceed anonymously through major metropolitan traffic. Windows you couldn't see through. A few companion vehicles just in case there's a fender-bender.

Why should our president go to some urban neighborhood and pretend to be just an ordinary joe, then snarl traffic in a major city so he can get to the airport to his big ol' jet? This does not compute. Especially since there are Air Force bases in the vicinity, and he could get to Philly in a helicopter if he wanted to.

 I wasn't inconvenienced by Fearless Leader today, because I checked the traffic report. But what about the other travelers on the Sure-kill Expressway on Sunday afternoon at 6:00? What if there was a woman in labor, stuck in that shut-down? What about the day-tripper returning from the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire with not much gas in the tank?

Causing inconvenience to the American public is business as usual for our country's leadership. Obama is not the first to require sacrifices of ordinary commuters. Lots and lots of presidents have done it before him. I guess I just thought that he would be a little different. He said it was time for a change. Couldn't that have included the way he moves between Points A and B?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Glen Rock Fae Trailer

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Well, let's see. What's new in the world? One percent of Americans control about half of the wealth, the Westboro Baptist Church is standing before the Supreme Court defending its right to shout at grieving military families (in person and online), Mr. Bigwand is still a six-foot spout of gushing ego, and I'm dead beat from another day of teaching!

Time for a little re-adjustment.

Some time in 2011 a film producer will be releasing a documentary about the Spoutwood Fairie Festival. Here is the trailer. If you live anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard, and you watch this and think, "Oh, I don't want to go to that," then where do you want to go?

Faeries. Lots and lots of faeries. Enough said.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Big, Broad, and Flexible

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," spreading joy as if it were Jif and the bread was the size of Texas! Tra la la!

Ah, sheesh. I'm exhausted. Being a second-year teacher is no easier than being a first-year teacher.

Below I posted a link to a rant by a British right-winger who excoriated Druids and the recent government decision in the UK to grant charitable trust status to Druids. You'll see there are comments under my link, and some of them are terrific.

Here's what I think about getting a tax-free status as a faith.

If you've got loosely-associated people in parts of your country who are communicating and doing similar Rituals to similar deities, and all those people opt to be called Druids, or Wiccans, or Pastafarians, then to me, that's a religion. Some people object to the word "religion," seeing it as weighted and freighted with baggage and expectations. Well, by the same light we ought to object to the word Pagan, as its original meaning is "backward."

Let us put all semantics aside, all quarrels and woes, and join with our UK Druid kindred in blessing the Great Celtic Deities and honoring the sanctity of the Earth!

When it came to warfare, the Celts were not pansies. They could smite with force. But within their society, the Druids were the lawgivers, the poets, the teachers, the composers, the singers, and the historians. A very fine group to make a comeback, if you ask me.

As we Pagans step out into the light, remember that Druid gatherings are open to anyone who doesn't sneer, and they are egalitarian as far as they can be. (Deference is usually paid to the person who knows the most Craft, so long as that person doesn't get carried away by ego.) I'm preaching to the choir here, but if you want to see what Druidry is all about, seek out your nearest OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) or ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin) by way of websites.

We may be a religion, but you don't need to bring a casserole. See you there!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Don't talk to me tonight...

Read this and let the author know what you think. Then copy your comment to her and paste it in a comment here at "The Gods Are Bored." Then pass this link on to every Pagan friend you have so they can let the author know what they think too.

Go ahead. Vent your spleen. She sure did, and got paid for it too.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

My Guest Blog Stint for "You, Me & Religion"

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" If you are coming here from "You, Me & Religion," howdy! I hope you brought your deities with you, so long as they're polite and don't spill anything on my upholstery.

"You, Me & Religion" is a questionnaire blog that invites people from various paths to answer a specific set of questions. Some of the questions do not apply to some of the respondents.  However, most of them are general enough that they fit a variety of faiths. I've been reading "You, Me & Religion" for awhile, and it gets a hearty "Gods Are Bored" endorsement for the big, broad, flexible outlook.

If you want to read my post there, and you already know me, Godsspeed. Here's the link again:

Friday, October 01, 2010

My Favorite Month, Bar None!

Don't you just love October? Even if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you must love October. October rules, reigns, and rises above! Give me autumn, or give me death. Or both. I'm cool with that.

I'm going to start this post with a shout-out to the incredible Mrs. B, over at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom. 

Every year between October1 and October 31, Mrs. B throws every ounce of energy into providing Pagans with enjoyable giveaways, guest blogs on thoughtful topics, and haunted blog tours. (I did a guest and a tour last year.) If you don't already have Mrs. B. on your radar, go and visit!

Now, on to today's sermon: WHAT A WACKY DAY!

When you live in New Jersey, it's almost a given that September brings some kind of tropical storm. We just had one, Nicole by name. She didn't look like a beast until yesterday after dark, when the sky opened up and it poured like God had reneged on the rainbow thing.

By this morning, there was water, water everywhere, and still it fell from the sky. Off I went to school, wiper blades doing double shift.

(Funny aside: I still have the same teacher parking space that I had last year. My space ends at a chain-link fence, behind which live four big, loud German Shepherds and two yappy canines of some other breed. Last year before I achieved wisdom, the sinister barking and snarling of these hounds added to my misery. Now that I'm enlightened, I get out of my car -- 6:45 a.m. -- and sweetly call, "HERE, KITTY KITTY KITTY..." You should just see and hear the rage! Starts me off laughing every day.)

Back to the sermon.

I went into the school. In the mornings I have cafeteria duty, meaning that I stand in the cafeteria while the kids get their breakfast (your tax dollars at work). Today, the cafeteria was under a few inches of water. No breakfast. And pandemonium as we tried to explain that fact to 600 kids.

Finally settled into the morning routine, and -- ZAP! -- out goes the power. And it stays out. And stays out. And stays out.

WHIRRRRRR! On comes the emergency generator. Enough juice for the principal to make an announcement over the intercom: "Please keep all students in their second period classes."

Am I lucky, or what? My second period class only has nine students, and two were absent. The rest were working on computers, but when the juice ran dry, they switched to paper and pen and kept right on working. Yeah. I'm flabbergasted too. But size (or lack thererof) does matter in this case. It's not hard to keep seven kids on task.

You won't believe me, but it's true. School is more boring when you don't have something to do than when you do. Students don't understand this, but teachers do.

The power was out for more than a half hour, but when it came up again, school resumed and the bell schedule was adjusted. Excitement enough for a month of Sundays!

October. In like a lion, out like a lion. Don't give me that lamb stuff. I'm a cat person.

 So anyway, it was another long day. On Fridays I like to get my lesson plans done for the following week, and my room tidy, before I come home.

By the time I did get home, around 6:25, the sky had cleared, and beautiful cool autumn weather was descending. Better yet, I discovered that The Spare was going out with her gal pals, and Mr. Johnson was biffing off to do research for his book. Home with nothing to do on a Friday night!

Snobville has these puffy affairs called "First Friday," where all the boutiques and restaurants are open, and there's live music on main street.

BAMP! I would rather swallow a chicken bone.

Beautiful autumn evening, a home football game ... right across the pond ... an 8-minute walk ...

BAMP! Had to buy cat food. And supper. By that time it was dark.

So, what's a happy Druid to do with an evening alone? I got a little supper, some tonic on the rocks, and went to enjoy the solitude of my back porch and a little candle-light from the Shrine of the Mists.

Shrine was fine, but wouldn't you know ... I plopped into a patio chair ... Tropical Storm Nicole ...

So here I am, blogging in my home office, listening to the roar of the crowd in the stadium (next block), with a moistened tooshy to keep me company.

I love October. Don't you?