Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

We took the hungry dragon to the mall to trick or treat. Okay, he didn't really trick or treat, he just played and watched all the people. Our mall has a kids area and he got to play with several other little kids.

Right now he's sacked out in his pack-n play. I need to wake him up soon to eat and go to bed. But you know the saying, never wake a sleeping dragon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ghostly ghosts

Do you believe in ghosts? In the western world we don’t believe in all the creatures that go bump in the night that we used to. Our ancestors once believed strongly in vampires, werewolves, ghouls zombies, and other dwellers in the darkness. Now of days, though many people do believe in angels and demons, the belief in most other creatures has gone away.

But many still believe in ghosts and that belief has grown more and more a part of pop culture. Several television shows now tout true “ghost hunters” and claim to investigate locations that are believed to be haunted.

I live in the Atlanta, GA area. Almost everywhere in the metro area was at one time the site of a battlefield. The city is very old and many places here are considered to be haunted. We even have our own “ghost hunters” who collect EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) and recordings of foot steps and other evidence of ghostly activity.

In fact, a local morning radio station, Q100, is planning on spending tomorrow night taping an entire four hour show in an undisclosed location that is supposedly the site of tremendous paranormal activity. They will run that in place of their live show on Friday morning. All this week, they have been featuring “evidence” collected by the Atlanta Ghost Hunters. Scroll down on this page, to listen to some of the EVP’s they’ve collected. Or go here. You have to hear the “He panicked” one. There were no women on their investigation that night.

I have to admit that I do, in some ways believe in ghosts. I’m not sure they are the souls of those people who have died, but I do believe that some people see or hear things that are best described as ghosts. I do tend to take a more science oriented approach. I do wonder if, based on the theories of time put forth by Einstein and Hawking, if we are seeing overlaps in time.

You see science now believes that time isn’t a straight line, but exists in waves like many other forces in our universe. If that’s so, perhaps some of these waves touch, allowing us to peek into another time. To me this explains those hauntings that are called residuals, ghosts are seen doing things they may have done in life. It also makes me wonder if it couldn’t explain UFO sightings as well. After all, if time warps and we can see the past, perhaps we can see the future as well.

Far out, I know. Odd, I know. But it’s one of those weird things that floats through my mind on my hour and a half long commute in the predawn hours of the morning.

And speaking of ghostly things, don't forget to play Sam Cheever and Friends Halloween contest. It's easy, all you have to do is go trick or treating. Click on the link and get started filling your treat bag.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween Contest

Once again the exceptional Sam Cheever is sponsoring a Halloween contest and I'm thrilled to participate this year. The contest runs the entire last week of October.

In addition to a Kindle ereader, (yes, I said a Kindle ereader) the winner will also get a black, leather Kindle case, a short-sleeved Finn t-shirt and a long sleeved Purple Prose t-shirt. A free download of a Linda Mooney book, a gorgeous scarf, a handmade book thong, and a personal size photo album from Lizzie T. Leaf , a signed copy of Ghost Lover from Christopher Newman, and assorted other goodies!

All you have to do is go trick or treating. Yep, it's that simple. Visit each of the authors' houses on our "street" and select one item from our goodie bags. Email the author with your choice and winners will be drawn from all the entries. Then click on the trick or treat icon on each page and move on to the next house.

You must be 18 to play and only one trip down the lane each.

So get started at the first stop on our street by visiting Sam Cheever's house. Have fun.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Don't Call Me a Gypsy

Did you realize the term “gypsy” was a pejorative term? In many languages it was synonymous with the term thief, demon, or whore. Millions of people were tortured, enslaved and killed because of the connotations of that word. To many of the Romani, or Roma, it is as offensive as the “n” word is to an African-American.

My great-grandmother immigrated to the United States in 1908. She was 8 years old. Her family came here for two reasons. First was to seek treatment for her older sister who had accidentally ingested a mixture of lye and water thinking it was milk. A bit of the mixture was inhaled as she coughed and gasped. The doctors in Hungary told my great-great-grandfather to take her on a sea voyage and the sea air would help her lungs. (The second reason had to do with the rumors of pogroms spreading across Eastern Europe-a place that had just, within the last 30 years, outlawed slavery for those known as “gypsies”.)

So my grandpa Karl, a widower with six small children, did the only thing he knew. He sold everything they had and booked passage for his family to join family members in America. There were several complications, one of which led to my great-grandmother Anna staying behind for a year with her oldest brother Josef (later Anglicanized to Joseph at Ellis Island) and her grandmother Maria. When Anna arrived in the United States she found her sister healthy and her family living a secret.

No one knew they were Romani. What people call gypsies. But in 1908 the United States and the people of that country weren’t thrilled to welcome “gypsies” into their midst. So they hid who they were. They became simple Hungarians, active in the Hungarian community. I found out later while researching, that this isn’t uncommon. The Romani who entered the country at the previous turn of the century either clung doggedly to their traditions, or shamefully hid them.

My great-grandmother took her secret to her grave. We only found out because her sister did not keep her secret. She told her children. At my great-grandmother’s funeral, her nephew told our branch of the family the truth. They had never spoken of it to any of us out of respect.

What causes someone to be so afraid of who they are that they would hide it for their entire lives?

*Rumors were spread in medieval times that the Roma were
descended from a sexual encounter between a Roma woman and Satan.
*Another belief was that Roma forged the nails used in Christ's

*The Christian genocide against Witches during the late
Middle Ages and Renaissance was also directed against the Roma. The courts seized and imprisoned them in Witches' prisons, often without even bothering to record their names.

*The Diet of Augsburg ruled that Christians could legally kill Roma. Meanwhile, the courts were closed to Roma who were injured by

*In 1721, Emperor Karl VI of what is now Germany ordered total
genocide of the Roma. "Gypsy Hunts" were organized to track down and exterminate them.

*Roma were rounded up and imprisoned in Spain during 1749. They
were considered a danger to society.

*In 1792, 45 Roma were tortured and executed for the murder of some Hungarians, who were in fact alive and who observed the executions.

*During the 17th century many gypsies were forced to become slaves in Hungary and Romania, where their final liberation did not take place until 1855. It is believed that as much as half of the Roma in Europe were enslaved, from the 14th century until Romani slavery was abolished in the mid-19th century. In some parts of Europe it took even longer for slavery to be forbidden.

*In many places Christianity closed its doors completely to the Romani. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches refused to baptize “gypsy” infants.

Though it was after the fact, let us not forget that the oppression didn't end in the 19th century. Two million of the Nazi Holocaust victims were “gypsies” including these child victims. They were considered even lower on the hierarchy of hate than the Jews and the criminally insane.

The Romani or Roma are still considered one of the most oppressed people in the world. With these stories in her ears and fear for her family, a frightened little girl hid the truth of her identity to the day she died.

I ask that you consider this the next time you toss about the term gypsy, incorporate it in a title or use the term to make your heroine or hero seem more mysterious.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two Books Down

My To Be Read list has grown smaller by two books over the last two days.

Yesterday evening I finished Dan Brown's latest, The Lost Symbol. (A couple of minor -and cryptic-spoilers follow, so read on at your peril) It was a perfectly respectable read that seemed to take me forever. Not because of it's length or complexity, or even because of quality. I would just set it down and find something else I needed to do and forget to come back to it. Well, I finally finished it, tucked up in bed with my cold medicine and it was good. I still think Angels and Demons was his best effort. The Lost Symbol continues the rather preachy tone that really reved itself in The Da Vinci Code. The lead character in this trilogy, Robert Langdon keeps getting bitch-slapped with Christianity. First he goes along with a church cover-up in A&D, then he ends up kneeling at the tomb of the "Holy Grail" after saving Jesus' great, great, great (on and on great) granddaughter, and now he ends up nearly dead because someone buried a bible in the corner stone of a building in Washington, D.C.

Sorry, but if I were Langdon I'd either become a contemplative monk in the mountains and take a vow of silence, or I'd slap the next person who showed me a Judeo-Christian-Islamic artifact until they begged for mercy and promised to leave me alone.

The second book I read today. I started it this afternoon and read straight through, even as my son used me for a jungle gym. He didn't mind, it seemed my only needed participation in the game was to sit still and not complain too much when he used my hair to pull himself up. This absolute page turner was Cindy Spencer Pape's Crazy for the Cowboy. And quite frankly folks, I enjoyed it a lot more than the above.

I've never been one for cowboys. The clack of cowboy boots and the smell of sweaty horses and dust just doesn't do a thing for me. That having been said, I find myself loving this series by Pape. The Cowboy's Christmas Bride is book one and all three books are available in either electronic or print formats.

The Love at the Crazy H series is filled with all the best parts of romance. Sexy, intelligent, gentle, alpha males who know how to make you swoon; strong, very believable and identifiable heroines who are not too good to be true; and hot, toe-curling, heart melting romance. And this is why I'm up, still coughing my head off, but unable to wait to buy the third book.

Now what to read until it arrives?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Empty Nest?

I’m suffering from an artificial empty nest syndrome. My SO and Z are visiting Grandma in Florida.

Now I admit the first day it was sort of nice. I came home from work, tended to my dogs and then lay down and took a long nap. It was glorious. But now, several days in on a Saturday I feel sort of lost. And a bit guilty. The SO has come down with a bug while on vacation and Grandma is having to step up and take extra care of Z.

The good part of the visit is that Z is loving Grandma’s swimming pool. The SO and Grandma have been letting him play in it every day. I hear he’s a bit pink, not burned, but getting some nice Florida coloring.

If only Grandma’s doggy was as enthusiastic. She is less than happy about this toddling little fellow who chases her around, sits on Grandma’s lap, plays in her water bowl and tries to take her toys. Lazy’s reaction? Run from the baby, try to push him off Grandma’s lap and take the baby’s toys, too.

Well, I’m off. Today is a busy day. I have an eye appointment and then an appointment with the local movie theater. The SO doesn’t like movies, so I’m planning a film festival. I hope your Saturday is as *cough**cough* productive.

UPDATE: Will NOT be having film festival except in front of own television. Must have new glasses and was floored by how much they will cost. YIKES!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You have to love Aussies

This video is making the rounds of You Tube and Facebook. But as a teacher, I fully believe it is time someone said these things. I don't know if it's true, but I do know the school it supposedly comes from is a real school in Queensland, Australia.

You see, a new policy making parents responsible for their children's absences and homework has not gone over well in Queensland, according to the story. In fact, the school is supposedly being sued to force teachers to change failing grades for students who missed excessive amounts of school and didn't complete enough course work to pass. If so, I hope this is real and I hope it really pissed off exactly the parents it was aimed at.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hanging Out

The last couple of days have been lovely cool down here in Georgia. It feels a lot like autumn, which isn’t usual for this early in the year. K and I were able to enjoy today doing some of the things we did pre Z due to a dear friend, D, who kept him for us today. She and her son kept him today and a good time was had by all. D’s son is 16 and he is a pretty awesome kid. So Z got to have a big kid to play with for the afternoon.

K and I went to one of our favorite places in Atlanta, Little Five Points. This intersection of Euclid, McClendon and Moreland is Atlanta’s mini version of New York’s Village. It’s filled with dozens of fascinating shops and little restaurants and eateries that are amazing. There are several vintage clothing shops, some edgy little boutiques, tattoo parlors, piercing places, used book stores, the oldest feminist book store it the South, new age shops and lots of shops with hand crafted jewelry, vintage and hard to find music, and a farmer’s co-op with organic and hard to find raw and bulk foods.

We started at Savage Pizza. This is without a doubt the best pizza ever. The place itself is fun. Superhero action figures hang over your head and comic book style murals adorn the brightly colored walls. The variety of sauces is terrific and the staff are definitely as interesting as the décor.

After lunch we took a walks around. We stopped at Wax-n-Facts. This little hole in the wall sells records. Yes, records. They have some second hand cd’s as well, but the focus is that you can buy almost any vintage record album you might be searching for by any artist.

Vintage and artist are the key words for Little Five Points. The plaza is filled with musicians and artists displaying their skills. Shops selling vintage clothing line the small piazza along with stores that offer original jewelry. And then there are the more edgy places such as “Le Petite Mort”. Let’s face it, any store named for an orgasm will get your attention.

We spent sometime in Crystal Blue, the new age store. I love to browse the crystals, stones, incense and beautiful jewelry on display. They sell reference books, spell kits, meditation aids and all things relaxing and enlightening. After roaming about we headed to Charis book store, the oldest feminist book store in the South. The lavender colored house has been converted to a book store dedicated to the feminine. Books by women and for women adorn the wall and the Charis Circle community holds workshops and events intended to empower women.

Then back to the car past the Vortex where the smell of grilling burgers teases even a full stomach. The Vortex, whose grinning skull entrance turns heads and whose menu bears the words “If it ain’t on the menu, you can’t have it.”

It was a great day. We haven’t had the opportunity to just hang out there for some time. When Z’s a little older, we’ll have to take him with.