Mar 172012
 

Good morning everyone (or should I say Top O’ the Mornin’? hehe!) and happy Saturday once again! It’s March 17th once again, the day where homes all across the United States smell like ass from the boiling of cabbage, and I for one wouldn’t miss it for the world. I take my boiled veggies with red wine vinaigrette dressing, pepper and a little butter, which I know isn’t all that Irish, but hey – I’m American, and my taste buds are as diverse as the neighborhoods I’ve lived in over the years. Besides, it’s just plain good like that – try it! However you celebrate today, be it as a day for celebrating Irish heritage, honoring Saint Patrick, or even if it’s like at our home where it’s all about the food (and beer!), I hope it’s a great day for you all!

This morning for me is an especially invigorating one, as last night, I conducted my first lease signing as an apartment leasing agent! I’m still high from the experience, and at noon today, I’m conducting another one, and via e/mail, I have another coming through. I cannot remember the last time I have felt so accomplished, so independent, and so fulfilled all at the same time. Ron tells me everyday he’s proud of me, and that really means a lot to have him backing me like this. And now that we’re both seeing my hard work come to fruition, it makes it that much easier to see that working from home, driving around town (with the windows down! In March, no less!) and talking to people about a topic I know a lot about (Chicago apartments, coming from a person who’s lived in at least twenty since birth!) is an awesome job career to have! And hey, I see what the other agent makes, and it’s not even moving season yet, so I have faith we will be able to knock down some of these lingering debts.

Granted, that independence comes with a great deal of hard work and responsibility, and yeah, I have to put aside some of my commissions toward taxes for next year, but it’s all good. The thing I truly like is the fact I am directly helping people obtain a basic need – shelter, and not having a tyrant of a boss micromanage my every move is a pretty sweet deal as well. I also passed my first of five unit tests last Sunday, moving me up another notch toward being a full-fledged agent (I’m on a student license now you see). And since I’m talking about it, if anyone in the area is looking for an apartment, feel free to give me a jingle.

And it has me thinking too – what I do isn’t all that hard. If one were to really think about it, all I’m doing is taking pictures, writing up an article, booking appointments, unlocking a door and letting people see an apartment. (And yeah, there’s some paperwork involved. Doesn’t every job have that?) Sure, there’s a lot of fancy words I’m learning, and I do have to maintain a schedule, and yes, this is the kind of work that really requires a great deal of dedication and organization, but it’s not really something many people couldn’t do. I know there’s a leap of faith involved, especially since it’s going to cost me about $400 and a couple months of education to get my license, and the income is never guaranteed, but in comparison to the (hundreds of!) thousands of dollars and hours people invest in themselves for college, what I’m paying in time and money is a drop in the bucket – or in some cases, a reservoir!

Therefore, what I’m doing may very well be something our troops may want to consider when they come home. The job market for vets is supposedly getting better, but I think having a few alternatives to a standard day job is a good idea. (And too, I actually worked with a Wiccan woman last week. It’s pretty cool to make a new friend who shares some of my beliefs through work!) And even if it’s not your cuppa, there are quite a few jobs and careers out there that perhaps aren’t being considered for whatever reason. I know I’m not all that fond of the medical profession, as the scent of rubbing alcohol brings back quite a few bad memories. However, not all positions in that industry are out of the question. If something came along in administration, as long as it wasn’t where people were getting stuck with needles, I as a job hunter would certainly take it. Keep an open mind and maintain a positive attitude when hunting! Just like working magick, the key phrase is I WILL, not I hope.

Getting back to last week, I wrote about the movement toward introducing Pagans to the ranks of the military chaplaincy, and it was pretty cool Selena Fox gave me a shout-out on the Pagan Warrior Radio show, now aired on Saturday nights. Thanks, Selena! See ya at PSG! But what I wanted to get at was one of the comments left after last week’s article. If you didn’t catch it, click back; it’s a real eye-opener and is in stark contrast to what some Pagans in the military are now experiencing.

After reading this vet’s comment, it’s painfully obvious how valuable a chaplain who “gets us” can be, especially for those who are open about their beliefs. As I’ve said a million times over, it seems to be par to course when the military starts making changes, so goes the rest of the country, though it’s we civilians who get the ball rolling, many times via grass roots efforts. Hand in hand, changes for the better are being made, but we must be vigilant there is going to be a push-back by those who don’t like change. So how do we go about it? Do we demand, or do we request? While it’s true gentle ways are often stronger than hard ones, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. (Or more recently for me, it’s the squeaky car door that gets the WD-40.) Please share your thoughts so we can get the ball rolling.

Well, that about does it for me this week. As always, I like to remind folks about the Clip for the Troops campaign that’s going stronger than ever! Please visit the Facebook page, Like! it, and share generously. And also, I hope you and yours have a wonderful and blessed Ostara! I love hard-boiled eggs, and I love coloring them even more! (This link has some adorable egg holders you can print out and color!) It’s already very Summer-y here, to where I was able to get ice cream off the truck yesterday, though I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll get socked with snow at least once more before Nature is done with us. Nothing this good lasts forever!

Blessings to you and yours!

Mar 102012
 

Good morning everyone and Happy Saturday once again! It’s been another crazy week around here, and one that has been quite fruitful. I suppose that’s a good way to work into the looming Mercury retrograde come Monday, right after setting the clocks ahead and throwing people off – natch! I’m getting everything situated and doubling my bets. My calendar is booked solid Monday, doing showings at a single unit one after another. I’m counting on at least one cancellation, which will give me an opportunity to grab some lunch, but I’ll be packing some granola bars and a few oranges just in case. With my luck, I’ll put that bag on the counter but forget to take it, so I guess I better make a checklist.

There have been a couple gorgeous days this past week, offering a glimpse of warm days ahead. For me, there is nothing more invigorating than to drive around with the windows down and my tunes jammin’, with one exception: To walk around the neighborhood and listen to the first songs belted out by the robins. That definitely is tops. It’s funny because every year, I go through the same ritual of being taken completely by surprise. It simply never ceases to amaze me how much I miss hearing the birds sing until I hear those familiar chirps and whistles. I’ll just be running an errand, scooping up the paper, something… and then I have to pause – stop dead in my tracks even – just to listen to their song.

This year, that surprise happened yesterday while I was sitting in the car waiting for my next appointment, minding my own business and checking my emails. The street was quiet, the wind had died down, the sun was setting, and that’s when I heard it. tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet Needless to say, I totally had my game face on when I showed the apartment, which just happened to be one of my favorites, therefore making the entire experience that much sweeter. While my favorite songbird is the fiery red northern cardinal with its boastful “Hey you! Hey you! I’m so purty-purty-purty-purty-purty!” pickup line, its the song of the more subdued robins that truly draws my attention. I guess it’s the same way I like my men: I love the Rawk Stah types, and the more hair the better, but for anything meaningful, I prefer the quiet cool.

I’d like to believe this mentality is not all that different than from most folks, that while we whole love excitement from our sometimes seemingly vapid lives, its the little things that truly draw our attention. It’s no wonder then the evening news is played out in just that sort of way. Call it dark or even a bit morbid, but when I flip over to the local news, I utter the running joke,

“Let’s see who died today!” And unless it’s a truly slow news day, the first segment is one of three things:

- Someone died (or is missing and perhaps presumed dead, especially if that person is attractive and/or important)
- Someone got busted (the bigger the corruption, the better!)
- Impending doom (will it affect YOU?! Dum dum duuuuum!)

And of those three things, it’s the first one, “someone died”, that draws the biggest amount of attention, especially if it was due to a murder, a tragedy or the person was a celebrity or politician (especially under less than natural causes). If it’s a very big news day, the second and even third segments will be inundated with these stories, luring you in deeper so you won’t click over to another channel during a commercial break. “2 dead, 20 wounded in gang crossfire!”, “5-Alarm fire kills 3 children, 12 families homeless!”, “Rock Star found dead in hotel room!”, and of course, our collective favorite, “Governor sentenced to prison for corruption”, with some of us hoping to hear later, “Disgraced governor commits suicide”.

When that commercial break is over, which attempts to stimulate you into buying something you probably don’t need, you’ll be rewarded with the weather. Then, an exclusive investigation story will come up that usually makes you feel better about yourself via Schadenfreude (or a scary-sounding health segment), the sports wrap-up and finally, finally, a human interest story – one that will stick with you as you wind down for the evening. That is what I usually stick around to see – the human interest story. While I like to shake my fist at the TV, and I like to shake my head even more, I truly love to learn how people have done good for others… and usually for complete strangers at that. “Man donates kidney to grocery store clerk”, “Lottery winner gives prize money to charity”, “Girl grows garden for food pantry and feeds hundreds” – that sort of thing.

We haz a happee when we learn of such stories, and we cheerfully pass them along to our connections online. What I’ve noticed too is of all of the news stories I’ve seen passed around, it’s these that garner the fewest comments. Why? Because there’s nothing to argue about. People did good unconditionally, which gives us nothing to flex our virtual muscles. That’s why they’re at the end of the news segments, because there’s usually no follow-up – nothing controversial. Cynics and trolls can (and often do) say selfless people are either stupid or somehow out for themselves, but hey – haterz gonna hate. But what’s lacking in most of these stories is the back story – how they got to that point, other than a sentence or two. Nevertheless, they inspire us to do good in our own way, and one budding human interest story is this:

“U.S. Military inducts Pagan Chaplain” It hasn’t happened yet, but you can call your bookie on it, because it will happen, and my bet is on the table for this news segment to appear in the next two years. So my wager is on the table for March, 2014. Where is your money riding? If you would like to learn how YOU can become a part of this sensational future human interest and international news story, your first steps should be to listen to tonight’s podcast on Pagan Warrior Radio:

Join the hosts and special guest, Rev. Selena Fox, senior minister of Circle Sanctuary, as we discuss the history of the on-going Quest to have a Pagan U.S. Military Chaplain. We will also discuss the requirements for those interested and answer questions regarding efforts to have Pagans serving in the US Military as Chaplains.

Ah-haaa… so that’s what I was getting at with this week’s ramblings! But seriously folks, this is a monumental task at hand! And knowing full well it took almost a decade to get the pentacle on military headstones, I’m still betting on two years for this. Why? Because that happened – literally set in stone! We already have trained Pagan clergy, and I personally know of people who also already have military backgrounds, so I really don’t see how this could not happen in two years’ time. Our brothers and sisters who are serving need someone to confide in who truly gets them on a spiritual level, and to become a chaplain is a calling like no other. You, as a military chaplain, would be there for our troops at their most trying and joyous times when you are needed most – deaths, injuries, illnesses and indeed celebrations – and you would be serving your Deities fully in a way that hasn’t been done in hundreds if not thousands of years. It would truly be a revitalizing of the Gods themselves!

Welp that’s about it for to…

WAIT! Before I run off for the weekend… you folks are probably wondering about February’s final coupon total for the Clip for the Troops campaign! (Thought I forgot, didn’t you?) Well ladies and gentlemen, February’s total is $28,453.96! I gotta tell ya, I almost didn’t get to finishing the count, especially with this leasing agent stuff and studying for my license tests. (I’m running on a student license right now!) But yep, another NEW record! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I’m going to try to get these packets mailed next week, somewhere between showings and other errands, and by try, that means I tend to do. I rarely fail on my efforts.

Thanks again everyone for reading my weekly postings and for your continued support. It’s very much appreciated! Blessings!

Mar 032012
 
Army National Guard deployed after deadly tornadoes rip across the Midwest

Army National Guard deployed after deadly tornadoes rip across the Midwest

Good morning everyone and Happy Saturday once again! And wow – what a week, huh? I guess that whole March coming in line a lion thing has proven to be true once again, and my heart goes out to all the people who have suffered through the many tornadoes this week. In Missouri, the National Guard was deployed to assist those in need alongside several local authorities and countless volunteers, as was also done in Kentucky and in Indiana. I know southern Illinois was hit terribly hard as well as in Kansas, Alabama and Ohio, though I don’t believe the governors of those states had put out the call.

Some folks refer to those who serve in the National Guard as “weekend warriors”, as if to somehow discredit their service. For shame! To me, that’s like saying all firefighters do is sit around playing cards and making chili. But just like when your house is burning down you come to greatly appreciate the service of those who save your lives and your home, when your whole town or even state is decimated by a natural disaster, you really are grateful there are men and women out there who jump at a moment’s notice, no matter what they’re doing, to help you recover. And yes, there are our Pagan brothers and sisters actively serving in the National Guard as well – make no mistake about that. And, many who serve aren’t just here at home; their mission is dual-based, which means there are those deployed overseas, leaving their jobs and their civilian lives behind. It is therefore a very noble and courageous calling – indeed! Thank you!

Now for me, it’s been a pretty busy week, as not only has my new career as a leasing agent been kicking my butt (in a good way!), but it was also my birthday. I haven’t closed an apartment yet, but hey, I just got my student license, so cut me some slack, Jack! I have a lot to study, and I’ve already been given a batch of apartments to advertise and show, so the dual position I’m in right now is pretty intense. Today, I have four showings, three in a row at the same unit, so between them, I intend on reading over my section to take the first of five tests this week.

And since it was my birthday, many of the gifts revolve around my new career. Ron got me a very cute travel mug plus had a VoiP phone installed, and I bought a bunch of “new” clothes at the thrift store. I also got a bigger tote bag, since the Coach bag isn’t big enough to carry my folders, tape measure, camera and a roll of TP (many units don’t come with paper!). And too, I found a very pretty sterling silver ring at 75% off that covers my wedding band tattoo very well. (Some people judge, doncha know!) While I’ve been working long hours at this as I really am anxious to get my first closing, I have been experiencing a freedom unlike at any job I’ve ever had before. Between ad postings, I can chat with folks online. Between showings, I can get grocery shopping done, all lookin’ good and feeling confident while taking advantage of various sales.

But what I really like more than anything is the fact I am in charge of my own work life – good and bad. It’s all me. And for this independent extreme extrovert with a crazy amount of skill sets and experiences, loves to drive and knows the city like the back of her hand, this career is something that suits me very well. The broker I work for is very driven, and he balances his tenacity with his character and demeanor. He’s been nothing but supportive and helpful – not at all like what I’m used to, guiding me every step of the way. And hey, leasing is the one section of real estate that’s booming in major cities, since (for better or worse) more people are renting these days. I’m seeing what the other agents make, who also started out not too long ago not knowing a thing about the business, and who have similar listings on their pipeline, so I know I’ll do very well financially. So yeah, knocking down some back debt would be pretty sweet. So if you’re looking for an apartment or don’t want to deal with the leasing aspect of being a landlord or property manager, feel free to hit me up!

One thing that’s nice too about my position is I again have found myself having some down time between showings and ad postings, which has helped tremendously with the coupon sorting and counting for our Clip for the Troops campaign. Remember I said I asked the Gods to help me out with getting some time? Well They haven’t let me down at all, and boy howdy do I need every second I can get! For February’s contributions, I would like to thank Earlville, IL, Frederick, MD and oh my yes – Addison, IL and the retirement community contributing! And no kidding, February was our biggest haul ever with at least $27,000 worth of coupons! Two large Priority boxes arrived from Addison completely packed! That total is about half our entire haul for 2011 – in one month! THANK YOU!!!! And, I also wanted to share with you another thank you letter from Germany – take a look!

I will say though this is really starting to add up in postage, so if you or anyone you know could please offer a monetary donation toward the postage, I would very greatly appreciate it. At the rate things are increasing, I will have no other option but to scale back on the amount of mailings (and thus risk coupons becoming unusable for the families!) if I can no longer afford to cover it. So I ask you and anyone you know to PLEASE drop a buck or two toward postage, either by mail (well-hidden cash or a check written out to me) or via PayPal. (Please email me at doom diva [at] ya hoo [dot] com for the PayPal address, as it’s my husband’s verified business account.)

Again, thank you all so much for your generosity, support and love. I, and the hundreds if not thousands of military family members we help, thank you so very much.

Well, I do need to get ready for my showings today. Wish me luck at least one person fills out an application today!

Feb 252012
 

Good morning everyone, and Happy Saturday once again! The time really flew this past week and now it’s almost March! Then again, February always goes by quickly, just because it’s the shortest month of the year – even with the extra day this time around. And you know, I’m happy for this month to be over, because one of my favorite holidays is right around the corner (well, besides my birthday next week LOL): Ostara! Even when I was a kid, I loved the secular Easter just as much as I did Christmas and Halloween. Dying and finding eggs, biting the ears off chocolate bunnies, and freaking out when we watched the Angel of Death creep through town killing the first born. (I’m the first born you see, but it never dawned on me that angel was only going after the first born sons. My attitude would have been totally different if I got the second part of that memo LOL!)

And of course, when Easter came along, that meant Spring was on its way. Here in Chicago, we don’t get honestly good weather until mid/late April, at least my idea of good weather, and with Easter changing its date around so much, very rarely has it ever nice out. But there’s the promise still, that once we started getting involved in buying several dozen eggs for the primary purpose of dying and finding them (many of them did not get eaten, as they were found weeks later in places like a sofa cushion!), Spring was indeed coming. (As an aside, the saying around my house was to just keep digging, because we needed to find all those eggs!)

It’s no wonder then why I love Ostara so much! And now that it’s almost March, I can start getting giddy again! I’m curious though – how do you celebrate Ostara? Are you in a warmer climate where you can celebrate outdoors? Does the holiday conjure up too many kid- and/or church-oriented activities from the past that now make you feel uncomfortable? And for our troops still fighting in the desert, is March 21st just another day on the calendar – one day closer to going back home? I love learning how other people feel about the significance of the holiday, so I hope to hear from you all in the very near future!

Since my article last week, where I couldn’t believe what ol’ girl said, I was both shocked and tickled pink in regards to the follow-up. As I’ve said before, when I’m clipping coupons on Sunday morning, I tend to have Fox News on in the background, as there isn’t a whole lot on. Some of the segments interest me, for better or worse, and last Sunday – good gravy, it was definitely on the WTF side.

Seriously?! She said *what*?

Seriously?! She said *what*?

Not only did she put her foot squarely in her mouth, but she then followed up buy digging herself that much deeper last Sunday:

Oh Liz, Liz, Liz. When you’re beat, fess up to it. Apologize. Publicly donate some serious money to a cause; you know, like one of those giant checks with a row of microphones in front of ya. Do something that makes you look a little less like an asshat. Then again, I do enjoy a good train wreck every so often. Nevermind then – continue! I look forward to her being on Fox News Sunday again tomorrow morning just to see how much deeper of a hole she can dig herself in.

And speaking of which, yes, I will be busy clipping coupons tomorrow, as there will be two inserts in the Sunday paper. Last Sunday, even though there was only one insert, and many of them were ones I had no need for, I came across over ten free papers tossed in the courtyard. They’re the ones written in Spanish no one in my building ever reads (meaning the papers otherwise become garbage), so it was a bounty for our Clip for the Troops campaign! And, with today being the last Saturday of the month, Ron and I will be heading downtown in a little while to check the box and see what you lovely people have mailed in! I know it’s a short month, so I don’t know if we’ll beat last month’s harvest, but hey, I’ve been more than surprised before! Who knows, maybe we have a new newspaper delivery person again who drops off whatever is left in the car, since it’s obvious to me our address is the end of the route.

So, for those of you new to W&K and don’t know what I’m talking about, let me list for you what we do and how you can get involved:

The Clip for the Troops campaign is a Pagan-run charity I started here almost a year ago (Memorial Day weekend, 2011), which stems from the fact crazy coupon ladies such as myself tend to have more coupons than even we can use. The commissaries overseas can accept coupons up to six months expired, so we send our extras to them. Now while it’s true active military personnel and their families only pay about 5% over wholesale with no sales tax, and they get benes like free healthcare and free/reduced housing costs, those serving earn a mere pittance what we civilians would consider to be a decent income.

A Private, for example, only earns about $14k a year, and a Sergeant brings home about $23-26k. Not bad for a single person who has no bills, but for a family to live on that? No way, especially one with young children! And, spouses oftentimes cannot get a job to help support his or her family, as many employers do not want to hire someone who may leave at a moment’s notice, and many of the jobs on the installations are already spoken for. Not to mention, jobs overseas are especially hard to get when one doesn’t know the language! Therefore, it’s no surprise when these people who sacrifice so much for our country are increasingly dependent on food stamps and pantries.

By us sending them manufacturer coupons, even ones that are expired, we are helping these very same families maintain more of their independence by buying what they need, even perhaps in conjunction with food stamps. And, when the coupons you send me are sent to all these bases and posts, they see they came from “Pagan Newswire Collective”, which gently promotes positive Pagan awareness in a grass roots sort of way.

If you would like to get involved, here’s what you can do:

1) Like! the Facebook page and let your friends and family know what’s going on! This is an exciting venture that more people need to know about! Share early and often!

2) Help me spread the word by mentioning the campaign in your blogs and posts. If you do a podcast or are running a festival, please feel free to contact me (doom diva [at] yahoo [dot] com). I can go on all day about how couponing not only helps ourselves to great deals (including savings on organic fare and fresh and frozen fruits, veggies, dairy and meats!), but again, it actively helps those whose mission it is to serve and defend our country.

3) Send coupons! This is a campaign that is national, meaning you don’t need to even live near a coven or group to get involved, and you don’t need any real ability or skill. Kids can do this. Disabled people can do this. Our Elders can do this. All it takes is a little time and a stamped envelope. Mail your unwanted/expired manufacturer coupons to:

PNC Military – Clip for the Troops
Attn: Lori Dake
PO Box 306
Chicago, IL 60690-0306

I check the post office box downtown on the last Saturday of each month.

4) Drop a buck or two into the pot. So far, I’ve received $104 towards the postage, which is greatly appreciated. THANK YOU!!!! Mailing little slips of paper doesn’t seem like much, but paper is heavy, even newsprint, and each package now costs $5.15 to send. If you would like to donate via PayPal, please email me so I can provide you with the email account (my husband’s verified business account, so you know it’s safe!). Again, my email address is doom diva (at) yahoo (dot) com (I’ve had that address since ’98).

5) If you’re local, contact me about stopping by for a sorting party! We continue to grow, and I am having a harder and harder time doing this by myself. I live in the Logan Square area of Chicago right off the boulevard (by the “Christmas House“!), right by the expressway, with ample free street parking and plenty of nearby public transportation. I’m an awesome cook and would be more than happy to share a meal for your efforts. (Psst! We always have beer in the fridge and herbal tea on the kettle!)

Well, I need to tidy up around here and get down to the post office. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Feb 112012
 

See? Even his tag says he's awesome!

Good morning everyone and Happy Saturday once again! So, do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day? We’re not going out to eat anywhere, as Ron and I have discovered it’s just not worth it. All of the restaurants are booked, and even if we were to score a reservation, many of them run on a limited/themed menu that may not be what we want to order. And, because they’re so busy, we tend to get poor, rushed service. Sit down, eat up and GTFO. Not exactly romantic, and our pocketbook suffers as well. I get why the restaurants are in such a tizzy to get those booths filled; February is generally the slowest month in the industry, so they’re getting what they can while they can get it. But for us, it just isn’t what we want to do, so we’re staying in and making our own fabulous dinner and probably watching a good, classic movie. Hmmm… should we watch Dawn of the Dead? Goodfellas? Conan the Barbarian? Or, ooh! I know! Maybe even Pulp Fiction! Those are my ideas of good movies! I know the lines by heart.

I can’t imagine how hard it must be for those whose loved ones are a million miles away. What makes the separation a little less painful? These days, we have Skype and email to bring each other closer, but it is in the written form that truly speaks from the heart and resonates the greatest magick of all – love. Love is such a powerful emotion, and yet it is perhaps the most underrated magick in existence – a power that can be harnessed for the greatest good and can travel across time and space. Almost every story ever told, the great and the forgotten, has been themed around a love story, because storytellers know it is a power and an emotion that affects us all in some way. Great love stories involve a strong degree of sadness, struggle or tragedy, with or without the happy ending, because it is these stories that feel the most real.

I recently came across a series of Civil War era love letters are very touching and poignant. They offer us a glimpse into what their lives were like so long ago and yet how similar their lives are to ours. These letters from a Soldier, left on his laptop for his wife and infant daughter to discover, brought tears to my eyes. This series of letters, written by a young Soldier in Afghanistan to his mother and family, had me smiling and laughing out loud due to his choice of words, his misspellings and the obvious shift from boy to man. And the letter captured in this article, written during World War II and published during Vietnam, has me wondering what became of these star-crossed lovers. Did they meet again afterward? Did they build a life together? What happened to them?

For the ones you love this Valentine’s Day, consider giving the gift of your written words alongside the chocolates, jewelry, tickets or teddy bears. Even if you’re not exactly the poetic type and rely on a store-bought card to say how you feel, add a line your special someone will know comes from your heart. I like humorous cards, as they reflect my personality, though sometimes I will select a card that is somewhat more heartfelt. And when I write to people, usually via Word these days, I try to find an image that lessens the seriousness of my message. When I wrote to Ryan each day he was away, I closed the letters with funny pictures. There was the one about when I was sick, with Dr. House saying “It’s NOT lupus”. There was the encouragement letter that included the KISS Army scrubbing latrines. And one I’m particularly proud of, when I wrote about Ron and me going to his favorite restaurant on a date night, I included a taunt/tease in the form of a picture of their specialty hamburger – the one he loves, of course. Yes, this mom is an Evil Mom! That one apparently made the rounds in his platoon, with all the guys both salivating and saying just how wicked I can be. Muhahaha!

Now before I close, I know many of you have been waiting anxiously about the coupon count for the Clip for the Troops campaign. I finished up last night, and once again, we broke another record! $22,136.52! Holy Savings, Batman! And yes, we get another adoption out of the deal, so please welcome the U.S. Army post in Grafenwoehr, Germany! If you’re interested in helping out with the campaign, visit the site and feel free to ask any additional questions you may have. Again, the address is:

PNC Military – Clip for the Troops
Attn: Lori Dake
PO Box 306
Chicago, IL 60690-0306

I check the post office box downtown on the last Saturday of each month.

As some of you know, postage has gone up to $5.15, so if you can spare a buck to toss in with the coupons, or just want to help out in that department, I’d really appreciate it. In last month’s batch, a promised check for $80.00 came in from Addison, IL which I greatly appreciated, and it helped tremendously with covering that. THANK YOU!

Well, I do need to wrap things up. Have a great weekend and a wonderful Valentine’s Day – however you wish to celebrate it!

Jan 282012
 

Good morning everyone and Happy Saturday once again! And yes it is happy for me, because some of the frigidness has passed. Yesterday afternoon, it was warm enough to walk without buttoning my trench coat, which seems awful funny for this time of year. After all, next Thursday is Imbolc, also called Candlemas, usually the coldest time of the year, so to not be complaining is a good thing.

How will you be celebrating? Will you be honoring Brigid? Will you be attending a gathering? What special meal do you have planned? Will you be making candles? I have heard it mentioned candles are a precious commodity for our active troops out in the desert, even the flameless variety. So, I’m genuinely curious how someone celebrates a holiday – one that celebrates the promise of light returning and is symbolized with candles – when there aren’t (m)any available, and making them is pretty much out of the question. I suppose one would have to be even more creative if he or she was in prison, unless there was perhaps a visiting chaplain who was permitted to bring them in.

While it’s true ritual items like candles aren’t necessary for practicing our various and collective faiths, but to me at least, not having candles for Imbolc is like not having a tree for Yule. It just seems… incomplete. Lacking. Missing that certain, special… something. It is for reasons, even simple ones, such as this, it is important for our Warriors, and equally for those paying back their debt to society, we have clergy available for them. As many of us know, there are currently no Pagan chaplains in the military and very few are working in the prisons in comparison to other faiths represented. While I get it we as Neopagans as a whole are a minority in this and every other country around the world, and thus the demand for chaplains of our own are much less than for those for other faiths, they are still needed. Pagans have children. Pagans get married. Pagans die. And, Pagans celebrate their lives and collective faiths between those times. Therefore, yes, there is a demand, and our brothers and sisters shouldn’t have to rely upon, say a Christian chaplain, to minister to them.

So who has taken up the call to champion this cause and serve? One such lovely woman, Kidril Telrunya, has spoken with me on the topic, and I’d like to share her works with you. Her duty as a Wisconsin representative for the American Pagans n’ Witches Association, founded in 1973, is to update the information on Pagans referenced by the military and prisons for their chaplains. She is seeking volunteers to help with the collection of information throughout all of the counties in Wisconsin and will be collecting all of the gathered info and will create a database. She will submit that information to the proper authorities to get it placed into the system.

The local volunteers she is seeking will be in charge of two to three Wisconsin counties each, to gather info and create a database of all federal, state and county government departments. Most information can be found in the local telephone book the rest of the information shall be found online, especially the jails and prisons.

Example:
- Business names, complete addresses and contact information.
- All city/town/village/township facilities.
- All county facilities, including the local jails.
- All state government facilities.
- All united states federal government facilities, in each volunteer’s area, including local jails.

Ms. Telrunya notates there are only a few people who run the main association, and there is one representative per state, with volunteers helping gather the necessary information. Should anyone wish to contact her who is interested to be a volunteer for Wisconsin or would like further information, her email address is lady kidril at gmail dot com.

Ms. Telrunya also states,

…as far as the Pagan military chaplains go, there is no set guideline on how active they have to be, but it would make sense that they would want to be active. It’s not going to be easy being a Pagan chaplain, lots of downs, but lots of ups, and to change the face of what Paganism is and can be in the military, it’s going to take a lot of hard work. Laying low on the back burner and letting people come to you wouldn’t really be the best method.

I applaud these efforts tremendously, and I trust the rest of our Community does as well!

Now as far as the efforts we have going on here with our Clip for the Troops campaign goes, this month is going to be yet another bell ringer! I have word there is another huge package of coupons waiting for today’s monthly pickup at the post office of over $20,000 worth! HOOAH! Those totals will be made available hopefully by next Saturday, and yes, I have someone who stated she would be volunteering to help with the sort. THANK YOU! I’m definitely going to need it! And too, tomorrow’s paper will have four inserts, which is a huge bonus. (I certainly do love those weeks, especially when there’s promise of plenty of food coupons! Show me the savings!)

So allow me to wrap up our housekeeping so we can high tail it to the post office and get to work. I hope you all have a wonderful Imbolc, watch those flames around curtains, little fingers and whiskers, and I’ll be back next week! Blessings to you and yours!

Jan 212012
 

Good morning everyone and Happy Saturday once again! Winter has finally arrived here in Chicago, blanketing the city in several inches of the white stuff and reigniting our annual dibs tradition. I’m going to be honest here and say outright I’m not a fan of the cold and snow, as I would rather broil than freeze. Plus, we’re pretty notorious for that “rip your face off!” wind chills, which would have some people assuming as a native, I’d be more used to it than I am. Nope! Mostly, it’s due to my feet; once my feet get cold, my day is completely ruined. I cannot warm up without taking a scalding hot shower, dealing with a shiver that will not go away, and that hot shower will not happen during my workaday schedule. Dad used to make fun of me by calling me cold-blooded, and sometimes, I think perhaps he wasn’t all that far off the mark. Could it be I’m more reptilian in nature than most? RAWR!

Are you like me and don’t fare well in colder climates? How do you handle it? I’m well-versed in the skills of layering up and plugging up the gaps in the window panes with silicone and anything lying around – adhered with duct tape. (That plastic stuff you use a hair dryer on? Naw, our cat tears right through that with a few indignant swats!) It’s no surprise then I find myself longing for summer: Camping, picnics, driving with the windows down and cute sandals. I will say though, little things like my comfort factor have me appreciating what I have that much more, even if we’re not all that well off than many others.

I think of those folks scraping by at this time of year, propping open the oven and flipping on all the burners just to add a little extra heat. Been there, done that, and without much thought behind the resulting insane gas bills. “They can’t turn off the gas until Spring!” is the reasoning, kicking the can further down the road. But what about the people who don’t even have that luxury? Some folks had their gas shut off last year (or the year before!), and now they’re taking the next step, becoming reliant on several space heaters, jacking up the electric bill. And what of those who already used up that? I remember running a kerosene heater in our apartment as a kid, having to crack open a window periodically to let the carbon monoxide escape and shutting it off at night while we slept beneath several layers of blankets.

But what of the folks who don’t even have a home as a luxury? Huddling around a kerosene heater, wrapped in the aforementioned layers, doesn’t sound all that bad. Sometimes, you can tell who’s homeless from a mile away, but there are others who are pretty hard to distinguish. Homeless people aren’t all “dirty bums sleeping on the sidewalk”; many look just like you and me, many times with their families in tow. They live in seedy motel rooms week to week. They couch surf from one place to another until their welcomes are worn out. They sleep in their cars, using public facilities to clean up. They go “camping” for several weeks at a time. And they ride the trains all night, switching at platforms so as not to get kicked out of the stations. I’ve been through varying degrees of homelessness throughout my life, so when I say “I get it”, I really do mean it.

Many of our vets are in varying degrees of homelessness, and I have actually heard some people say,
“Why didn’t they re-up or get a job?” as an easy answer to a complex issue. That answer only applies to those who have a network to fall back on and the mental/physical capacity to move on. What about all the other vets who don’t have that going for them, also known as luck? When I hear those types of comments, it makes me both disgusted and befuddled. Talk about your privilege showing! And when I hear comments like that, when a “warm day” is in double digits, and those same people have the privilege of being in a warm home sipping something hot and comforting, it tells me they really don’t have a soul – or a clue.

As an optimist, I’m going with the latter, that they just don’t know any better and perhaps need to be smacked with a clue-by-four. Okay, so there are options out there, such as the VA’s hotline (toll-free: 1-877-424-3838). And there are shelters, both for individuals as well as for whole families. And, many vets have kept in touch with friends and family willing to help until they can find their way. But again, these answers do not solve the underlying problem of homelessness. While there are some who say they prefer to be homeless than having to live and work like the rest of us, I can’t possibly believe the majority of homeless vets, which account for 15% of the homeless population, choose to “be bums”. And 15% of 23,000 vets counted means surely some of them are our Warriors from our Community.

So what is the answer then, especially now that it’s absolutely frigid outside? More shelters? More targeted jobs? More healthcare? More workshops and networking? More praying? I say it’s all of the above and then some. But the job is so big – what can we do? I was asked once at a job interview,

“How do you eat an elephant?” and my simple response was,
“One bite at a time – with a little seasoning.”

Besides the obvious and direct way by volunteering at a VA hospital, perhaps for counseling or honing job skills, if we’re employers, we can opt to give a vet with few civilian skills a crack at a basic position. If you’re concerned he or she won’t work out, start them off with jobs that won’t take too much time out of your day training them, like filing or basic janitorial work. (Let’s face it, no one likes [re]training!) When I started as a receptionist at a law firm, I was asked to go to court one day and see how I do. And guess what? I did so well at it I ended up becoming their paralegal and worked there for nearly seven years. Someone gave me a chance. When I applied for college, I didn’t pass their ACT requirements (my advanced math always sucked, even though I’m great at crunching numbers!), but they accepted me anyway, as I had seventeen letters of recommendation. Someone gave me a chance. And when I had no formal writing skills, I still managed to score several paid writing gigs, interviewing some of my favorite bands and fulfilling one of my several life goals. Why? Because someone gave me a chance there, too.

I have a Rawk Stah resume, but I didn’t write it all by myself; I had lots of people help me! If you’re good at writing resumes, perhaps you wouldn’t mind doing a freebie side project or two and helping a vet have a nice resume, maybe even going the extra mile and giving him or her a nice outfit you don’t care for anymore. And, after writing the resume, bless it and teach him or her how to handle an interview. At the window washing company, I have seen so many people coming in who obviously had no clue as to how to fill out an application, dress or present themselves, and it really saddened me. Our guys are blue collar workers, so we don’t expect them to come in wearing a suit and tie, but when I see grown men who struggle to fill out a basic application, similar to the types you can buy at an office supply store, I wonder why. Not being snarky here but rather frank and concerned: Didn’t anyone teach these guys?

If you know of a vet who is homeless and wants to dig themselves out, they may need even more than a chance, a resume and some clothes. They may very well need an address and phone number, and perhaps even a state ID and social security card. Hardly anyone is going to hire someone on the spot anymore, and even day labor companies need those basics. Everyone knows someone going through a hard time, and those of us who believe in Karma know very well how even a small extension of our time will come right back to us. Set them up online for an email account and voicemail retrieval number (they’ll need that on their resumes anyway) so they can check on their messages at the library. And, if you’re okay with someone stopping by periodically and don’t mind going the extra mile, accept their incoming mail until they secure their own place. Sure, you can always get a “street address” from private mail box companies, but they cost money.

And of course, we can always put in some time at a soup kitchen and donate clothes. If you’re donating non-perishable food for the homeless, keep in mind they may not have a lot of access to food prep stations, so try to keep your items toward the processed/ready to eat side. I know, it’s not the best food, and some of us wouldn’t even call it food at all, but when someone is truly hungry, a can of ringed pasta is better than nothing. Think cheap, quick and basic! When they get their own kitchens, even if it’s at a tent city, we can work on better quality food preparation. (Oh and too, if you’re donating to a tent city, they’re also in great demand for firewood!)

On that notion, here is yet another way our Clip for the Troops campaign helps! As I’ve said, when you’re clipping away, I don’t expect you to send me every coupon in the paper. (Tomorrow’s paper will have two inserts by the way!) Keep what you can use and send me the rest. This includes retaining coupons for that aforementioned canned, ringed pasta and buying some of that up when it goes on sale and donating it to your local food pantry. I know for some of us who are lucky enough to have those double coupon stores, that can mean (nearly) free donations! And, if you have the capacity, you can even go the extra mile and start your own food pantry, perhaps with handouts on how to move on to the next level. Start with your friends, family and coven members, then spiral outward. If you go to that length, cheerfully accept coupons in addition to everything else so you can keep building up your donations. We all give at the Pagan Pride events, and many of us are also very charitable around the holidays. But what about the rest of the year, especially now that it’s so bitterly cold?

Just thought I’d put out some more ideas into your heads on this super chilly day. Stay warm, help where you can, and pray to your Gods and Goddesses that even one vet will find their way today.

Jan 142012
 

Good morning everyone, and Happy Saturday once again! And before I get to those year-end numbers for you all, I again wanted to thank you profusely for supporting our Clip for the Troops campaign. Really, there is simply no way I can possibly thank each and every one of you enough for your love, support and generosity, but I do hope it not only continues but grows! As you may recall, we launched over Memorial Day weekend, and that first batch was pretty much lil ole me tossing in some extra coupons I had lying around. Soon enough, my visits to the post office box became my giddy little thrill, finding all kinds of packets in there from all across the country, as well as wonderful little thank you notes and letters from the military installations. And with 2012 now here, I can only imagine how much further we will continue to grow.

So maestro – drum roll please… (and yes, you have to watch all the YouTube clips before reading on…)
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In 2011, we have adopted the following posts and bases, covering the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines:

Alconbury, UK
Ansbach, Germany (That’s right, another NEW adoption occurred in December! HOOAH! Woot-woot!)
Bamburg, Germany
Gaeta, Italy
Illesheim, Germany
Incirlik, Turkey
Iwakuni, Japan
Lakenheath, UK
Okinawa, Japan (Army)
Okinawa, Japan (Air Force)
Sasebo, Japan
Wiesbaden, Germany
Vicenza, Italy

Yes, the Pagan Newswire Collective now directly contacts thirteen (13) military installations overseas via the campaign, helping hundreds and perhaps even thousands of people in our own way – without preaching or guilt-tripping anyone. As I’ve stated before, it’s my hope and vision we will be able to directly, gently and positively touch the lives of every family out there, helping them help themselves put food on the table and get the sundries and other needs met, without as great of a reliance on food pantries and/or food stamps. I know what it’s like not having the basics covered, and having to use those services, while greatly appreciated, is a humbling experience, sometimes humiliating. (I remember having to endure a day-long revival dealie just to get a bag of groceries, with a Bible included and pestering follow-ups – natch.) The people who risk their lives for ours should not have to be subjected to that, so sending out coupons we either don’t need or can’t use really helps these folks maintain their independence, pride and dignity. So let’s keep it up!

For December, our coupon collection total came to…

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$15,993.23! Yes! Another banner month for us and new record! Awesome!

And throughout the year, we have collected a total of…

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(no scrolling now… that’s cheating!)

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$50,121.41!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Over FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS collected in a little more than half a year! WOW! And again, that was done in about half a year, so for sure we can double that in 2012 and probably surpass it! How? Well, just by keep on doing what we’re doing, as well as to push the envelope further. Please pass on the message to your friends, family, coven mates, community organizers and hey, even your online buddies, what we’re doing, and see if they can’t contribute as well. All it takes is a little time and a stamp or two, or in the case of our good friends in Addison, IL, a giant priority box by getting an entire retirement community involved!

And yes, postage to all these places cost money, so here’s the total on that:
- $163.35, which includes the packs I need to ship out today! But that’s cool, because thanks to you fine folks, a total of $24.00 has come in ($3 I found just last night mixed up in some coupons while doing the final count! Thanks!), and Addison has a $80 check for me in the mail. No problem, I can wait. I’m the queen of patience. After all, I’m the one who took the time to find all those YouTube clips I asked you all to suffer through! Ha! Every penny collected toward postage is seriously, greatly, totally appreciated, because as you can see, we’re definitely growing, and I can’t handle it all by myself anymore. So if you send a pack of coupons, please toss a buck in the mix. I’ll find it (eventually? hehe!).

Welp, it’s been a long week for me, so I’m going to wrap things up, get in a couple hours of sleep and head down to the post office. Thanks again everyone, and keep on sending those coupons! It’s so incredibly appreciated! And by the way, I’ll go ahead and post the details for you so more folks can join in and help our military families overseas!

1) Like! the Facebook page and let your friends and family know what’s going on! This is an exciting venture that more people need to know about! Share early and often!

2) Help me spread the word by mentioning the campaign in your blogs and posts. If you do a podcast or are running a festival, please feel free to contact me (doom diva [at] yahoo [dot] com). I can go on all day about how couponing not only helps ourselves to great deals (including savings on organic fare and fresh and frozen fruits, veggies, dairy and meats!), but again, it actively helps those whose mission it is to serve and defend our country.

3) Send coupons! This is a campaign that is national, meaning you don’t need to even live near a coven or group to get involved, and you don’t need any real ability or skill. Kids can do this. Disabled people can do this. Our Elders can do this. All it takes is a little time and a stamped envelope. Mail your unwanted/expired manufacturer coupons to:

PNC Military – Clip for the Troops
Attn: Lori Dake
PO Box 306
Chicago, IL 60690-0306

I check the post office box downtown on the last Saturday of each month.

4) Drop a buck or two into the pot. So far, I’ve received $24 towards the postage, which is greatly appreciated, and I have received word a check for $80 is on the way. THANK YOU!!!! Mailing little slips of paper doesn’t seem like much, but paper is heavy, even newsprint, and each package has been costing me $4.95 to send. If you would like to donate via PayPal, please email me so I can provide you with the email account (my husband’s verified business account, so you know it’s safe!). Again, my email address is doom diva (at) yahoo (dot) com (I’ve had that address since ’98).

5) If you’re local, contact me about stopping by for a sorting party! We continue to grow, and I am having a harder and harder time doing this by myself. I live in the Logan Square area of Chicago right off the boulevard (by the “Christmas House“!), right by the expressway, with ample free street parking and plenty of nearby public transportation. I’m an awesome cook and would be more than happy to share a meal for your efforts. (Psst! We always have beer in the fridge and herbal tea on the kettle!)

Jan 072012
 

Good morning everyone, and Happy Saturday once again! So how was your New Year’s? 2012 is already gearing up to be an interesting one (be it good or bad), and with it a Presidential election this year, it’s sure to be one of many ups and downs – with a lot of dirty laundry being aired out. So I’m sure the blogs and news articles will be filled with political slants and views, W&K included. Just puttin’ it out there, as they say.

So many people have said their one-word description of 2011 is “sucked”, and there’s a topper that came on New Year’s Eve: The potential for indefinite detention of U.S. citizens. I’m pretty indifferent to our President for the most part, as I voted against Palin when I cast my ballot for Obama. Among other things, I’m one of those crazy people who think people should only be hired if they have prior experience instead of “learning as you go” or relying on book-smarts or others. Therefore, I wasn’t cool with voting for someone without any military experience to become the Commander-in-Chief. Some days, I think he’s a pretty awesome guy, like the repeal of DADT, and other days, I wonder what the heck he was thinking. Yes, yes, he needed to get some funding for our military, but at the cost of our freedom? Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

An article that appeared yesterday in conjunction with the cutbacks he made in signing the National Defense Authorization Act points out concerns a smaller military will put us in jeopardy. I’m all for a leaner, meaner military, but is it really feasible this late in the game? Reminders have been posted for Soldiers considering re-upping there will be fewer opportunities after January 31st due to some of these cuts. Again, just puttin’ it out there.

Now as far as a couple good changes for this year, I did want to share these:

- New law will expedite Soldiers thru airport security: This will include a family member as well, to the best extension possible, so yeah, I think this counts as not only a good thing, but one of common sense. My only hope is more common sense will be extended for everyone, because frisking Grandma is ridiculous.

- 2% increase to BAH: Good! Excellent! Fab-U-Lous! The increase is on an average, but most families should see some help coming down the pipeline very soon, if not already. As I’ve posted before, many folks are under the assumption the military takes care of every need, with the paycheck being almost like bonus cash. Ummm… errrr… not so much. Yes, Tri-Care provides free medical care, the commissary (grocery store) costs are slightly above wholesale with no sales tax, and BAH helps a good deal on housing costs, but ask any young family on a tight budget how much diapers and peanut butter costs. And as I’ve pointed out too, a spouse trying to get a job is extremely difficult due to all the moving around. Many employers don’t want to hire someone they worry will up and leave on a whim, because hey – no one likes training new people. (I’m sure the folks training me, while they do seem to like me, get annoyed with me constantly asking “dumb questions” and hope I’ll be out of my honeymoon period soon.)

- And lest I forget to mention, a new friend I’ve made at last year’s Pagan Spirit Gathering (which is now OPEN for registration!), Kidril Telrunya, announced she is “…now leading the State of Wisconsin in revising United States Military/Prison Chaplains Manual”. This is awesome news, especially for our military, because it sure would be nice for our Warriors to have a chaplain to confide in who truly gets them. I asked her to provide further details on her mission, which she was more than obliged to do once the dust settles. I’ll keep you all posted.

Have you been alerted to any new changes for 2012? Please do share!

And now onto couponing news!

Coupon Haul for December, 2011

Coupon Haul for December, 2011

Well folks, fiscal fourth quarter is officially over, and I’ve been very busy here at home getting up December’s coupon count for you all. I have everything sorted and separated, but I will need a few more days to count everything up. My canvas bags overfloweth! Just judging by my sorting and eyeballing, I can safely say we’ve at least come close to matching November’s totals of over $13k if not surpassing it, and I really thought it wasn’t going to happen. There were two weeks without any newspaper inserts, so my portion was on the slim side by comparison. Therefore, I’m counting on our end-of-year total to be around $50,000 worth of coupons! How cool is that?! It was our first year, and we didn’t even start until Memorial Day weekend, so I can only imagine what 2012 will be like!

I want to take a moment to thank the following who’ve generously donated for December: Leadville, CO, Frederick, MD, Westminster, CO, Gardena, CA, and of course Addison, IL (including the retirement community contributing to those batches!). In the batches, there was also $11.00 in cash, which I greatly appreciate, as it helps defer the cost of the packages I send out. I also wanted to share with you a thank you letter *we* received from the Army post in Wiesbaden, Germany. I scanned it into PDF format, which you can read by clicking here. (I Haz a Happee they addressed us as “Pagan Newswire” – proof our generosity does indeed garner some positive Pagan awareness without proselytizing in any way. We’re just ordinary, good people out to do good.)

I hope we’re able to make another new adoption! But what I’d really like to know is if U.S. commissaries accept coupons up to six months expired. The FAQ reads it’s true for overseas, but it does not specifically state what the policy is within the U.S. When it comes to coupon policies, I’ve come to find ambiguity means me winning at the register!

And I’ll go ahead and post again how YOU can get involved!

1) Like! the Facebook page and let your friends and family know what’s going on! This is an exciting venture that more people need to know about!

2) Help me spread the word by mentioning the campaign in your blogs and posts. If you do a podcast or are running a festival, please feel free to contact me (doom diva [at] yahoo [dot] com). I can go on all day about how couponing not only helps ourselves to great deals (including savings on organic fare and fresh and frozen fruits, veggies, dairy and meats!), but again, it actively helps those whose mission it is to serve and defend our country.

3) Send coupons! This is a campaign that is national, meaning you don’t need to even live near a coven or group to get involved, and you don’t need any real ability or skill. Kids can do this. Disabled people can do this. Our Elders can do this. All it takes is a little time and a stamped envelope. Mail your unwanted/expired manufacturer coupons to:

PNC Military – Clip for the Troops
Attn: Lori Dake
PO Box 306
Chicago, IL 60690-0306

I check the post office box downtown on the last Saturday of each month.

4) Drop a buck or two into the pot. So far, I’ve received $21 towards the postage, which is greatly appreciated, and I have received word a check for $80 is on the way. THANK YOU!!!! Mailing little slips of paper doesn’t seem like much, but paper is heavy, even newsprint, and each package has been costing me $4.95 to send. If you would like to donate via PayPal, please email me so I can provide you with the email account (my husband’s verified business account, so you know it’s safe!). Again, my email address is doom diva (at) yahoo (dot) com (I’ve had that address since ’98).

5) If you’re local, contact me about stopping by for a sorting party! We continue to grow, and I am having a harder and harder time doing this by myself. I live in the Logan Square area of Chicago right off the boulevard (by the “Christmas House“!), right by the expressway, with ample free street parking and plenty of nearby public transportation. I’m an awesome cook and would be more than happy to share a meal for your efforts. (Psst! We always have beer in the fridge and herbal tea on the kettle!)

And now, before I forget to mention too, since this always makes me happy, I received a couple more thank-yous from military folk in private emails. This is for another charity I’m involved in, Operation: eBook Drop, which provides free eBooks to military personnel. To date, over 100 free downloads of my book have been received, which is more of a light-hearted, how-to book on festivals. I hope more Pagan authors sign up for the program, because it’s another great way to gently promote positive Pagan awareness as well as provide something for our Warriors to read. If you want to sign up for free eBooks or want to donate your works, check out the site!

Have a great week everyone and until next Saturday, take care!

Dec 312011
 

Good morning everyone, and happy Saturday once again! So who’s got plans tonight? For us, not anything extravagant. I’m making some split pea soup for luck, letting it simmer s-l-o-w-l-y so all the flavors come through, and we’ll probably chillax on the sofa while watching the tube. (Is Dick Clark still around?) And yeah, I’m sure come Sunday, I’ll be putting in some overtime on the Kinect trying to drop a few pounds… especially after baking all those cookies last week! (Pssst! Did you find the recipes I hid in there? If not – look again!)

Do you have any resolutions? The old standbys are to lose weight and kick an addiction or vice, but perhaps you have a different goal in mind. Maybe you want to find a (better) job. Or go (back) to school. Or pay down/off a debt or three. Or master a new skill. Or travel someplace spiritually meaningful and fulfilling. Whatever you resolve to do this year, remember you have a whole year to do it. That’s 366 days – an extra day due to the leap year!

Whatever you choose to resolve, choose a goal that is hard but not impossible, and tell supportive people in your life about your resolution. If you’re significantly overweight, resolve to become healthier – not a supermodel. If you want to quit smoking, don’t beat yourself up if you cave in on a nic fit two days in. (I hear it takes many people seven tries.) And if you want to finally make that pilgrimage, reserve the time off and then start pinching pennies. And what if you “fail”? So what – there’s always next year, when you’re that much more determined to reach that goal.

Now for Ron and I, New Year’s Eve is a special night indeed, even if we tend to keep things low-key these days. You see, it’s our other anniversary. We met at a Meat Puppets show on New Year’s Eve sixteen years ago, beneath a full moon no less, and have been exclusive ever since. (Who says you can’t meet a nice guy at a bar?) Needless to say, “Backwater” has a special place in my heart, even if the song’s about heroin addiction, which is not at all romantic or beautiful. I vividly remember that night – the band’s lineup, that beautiful moon outside, what we were wearing and the conversations we had, and it doesn’t seem like all that long ago. Funny how time flies!

What does New Year’s Eve mean to you? Besides the obvious, to me it means a fresh start, and for many of us, a clean slate is definitely needed. I know so many members of my family and friends have been struggling to hold on to even the basics, where the light at the end of the tunnel seems to keep getting pushed back further and further. So many have begun to give up hope, falling off the rails that barely held them before. I say not to give up hope, to push that much harder, because I know from experience what it’s like to struggle.

Where I am now is certainly a far cry from the newspaper job I had when Ron and I met that very magickal night. It was so bitterly cold – my hair turned white, and the soles of my feet split in two, and all for mere $140 a week. But it was work, so I limped through it. And when I think of where I’ve come from, as a poor kid from a broken home in the inner city, with no car and oftentimes no phone, whose only friends were kids in sitcom families, where I am now is a huge change.

I can safely say I know what it’s like to struggle – to wonder if the food pantry will be generous enough, if the roaches will get into the food that wasn’t expired, if even used clothes can be afforded, and if rent and utilities will be paid. It’s because of that and more, I truly appreciate all the blessings the Gods have bestowed upon us. And too, it’s because of that I know there has to be something better down the road for my family and friends who need a leg up. It’s a new year – change is coming. Believe it! Faith not a four-lettered word.

To further illustrate the change for the better we’ve all collectively experienced, let’s look at some important pieces of news within the military this year:

- Death of Osama bin Laden: Whether you rejoiced or felt a quiet calm, one has to admit the world certainly did feel a little bit safer that day. Of course, it was pretty tense right before the President’s announcement; I was shitting bricks thinking the worst when all the channels went to that pending special report!

- Openly gay service member appointed to West Point board: Just a couple months after a former lesbian cadet was denied re-entry to West Point due to DADT still being on the books, our President made this appointment. Whether or not it was a token gesture, I feel this certainly made an impact on how our military views those who wish to serve as they are.

- DADT officially repealed: It took what seems to be a lifetime, but it happened nonetheless. Here’s hoping DOMA is next on the chopping block!

- Air Force Academy’s Pagan Circle news coverage went *positively* mainstream: What can I say? I’m so proud of our friend here at the PNC, Cara Schulz, for garnering some much-needed attention!

- Pagan Warrior Radio launched: If you haven’t tuned in to the podcasts live, be sure to download the archives.

- Orthodox Jewish Rabbi sworn in as military chaplain: When I saw this article, in addition to a Sikh Soldier completing basic training a little over a year ago, it had me thinking it won’t be long until a Pagan chaplain is sworn in as well.

- Iraq war officially ended: The troops are coming home in droves! Thank the Gods! A lot of people, including myself, are rather pissed there is no celebratory homecoming for them, but at least we’re out of that hot mess. There’s still Afghanistan, and Libya, and a host of other battles out there, but at least Iraq is over.

- Two women share first kiss upon Navy ship’s return: And speaking of homecomings, this beautiful moment was made possible thanks to the DADT repeal.

Do you have any points you want to share? Please do tell!

And before I wrap up for 2011, I wanted to make a special mention about our lil ole campaign we got going on – Clip for the Troops! We’ll be heading downtown for this month’s haul, which I’m not sure what will be there. December had the last two weeks with no inserts due to the holidays, so that may have put a kink in our totals for this month. But BAH! We’ve already amassed over $35,000 in coupon contributions since Memorial Day weekend, which is no small feat! THANK YOU! Please continue to contribute however you can; there are many ways:

1) Like! the Facebook page and let your friends and family know what’s going on! This is an exciting venture that more people need to know about!

2) Help me spread the word by mentioning the campaign in your blogs and posts. If you do a podcast or are running a festival, please feel free to contact me (doom diva [at] yahoo [dot] com). I can go on all day about how couponing not only helps ourselves to great deals (including savings on organic fare and fresh and frozen fruits, veggies, dairy and meats!), but again, it actively helps those whose mission it is to serve and defend our country.

3) Send coupons! This is a campaign that is national, meaning you don’t need to even live near a coven or group to get involved, and you don’t need any real ability or skill. Kids can do this. Disabled people can do this. Our Elders can do this. All it takes is a little time and a stamped envelope. Mail your unwanted/expired manufacturer coupons to:

PNC Military – Clip for the Troops
Attn: Lori Dake
PO Box 306
Chicago, IL 60690-0306

I check the post office box downtown on the last Saturday of each month.

4) Drop a buck or two into the pot. For November, I received $10 towards the postage, which is greatly appreciated, and I have received word a check for $80 is on the way. THANK YOU!!!! Mailing little slips of paper doesn’t seem like much, but paper is heavy, even newsprint, and each package has been costing me $4.95 to send. If you would like to donate via PayPal, please email me so I can provide you with the email account (my husband’s verified business account, so you know it’s safe!). Again, my email address is doom diva (at) yahoo (dot) com (I’ve had that address since ’98).

5) If you’re local, contact me about stopping by for a sorting party! We continue to grow, and I am having a harder and harder time doing this by myself. I live in the Logan Square area of Chicago right off the boulevard (by the “Christmas House“!), right by the expressway, with ample free street parking and plenty of nearby public transportation. I’m an awesome cook and would be more than happy to share a meal for your efforts. (Psst! We always have beer in the fridge and herbal tea on the kettle!)

So once again, HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s a fresh start!