Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

Yay the votes are in! And "Wild, Wonderful" won!

The back story: Our governor changed all the Welcome to West Virginia signs to change the "slogan" on the signs from "Almost Heaven" to "Open for Business". Everybody hated it! To his credit, he let the public decide. Everyone was invited to submit a slogan, and the top 3 submitted were the finalists, I think. Then we voted for the winner. Finalists were "Almost Heaven", "Wild, Wonderful" and "The Mountain State". I think I voted for Almost Heaven, but I had a hard time choosing between Almost Heaven and Wild, Wonderful, so I'm happy with the result. As long as we get that stupid "Open for Business" off the signs.

Happy Samhain

According to my calendar, today is the Pagan/Wiccan holiday known as "Samhain" (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne). It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st.

According to Wikipedia, Samhain is the word for November in the Gaelic languages and was used for a month in the ancient Celtic calendar. According to another website, Samhain (Scots Gaelic: Samhuinn) literally means "summer's end."

The ancient Celts divided the year into 2 seasons: the light and the dark. The New Year was celebrated on November 1st, marking the end of the "season of the sun" and the beginning of "the season of darkness and cold."

At the end of the day on October 31, cooking fires in homes would be extinguished. The Druids (Celtic priests) would meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest (oak trees were considered sacred) and light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals. In the morning, the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family to take home to start their new cooking fires, which would also keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits. The festival would last for 3 days. Many people would parade in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals. This festival would become the first Halloween.

Samhain was the traditional time for slaughter, for preparing stores of meat and grain to last through the coming winter. The word 'bonfire', or 'bonefire' is a direct translation of the Gaelic tine cnámh. Sometimes two bonfires would be built side by side, and the people would walk between the fires as a ritual of purification. Sometimes cattle and other livestock would be driven between the fires as well.

Samhain was a significant time for divination. Divination customs and games frequently featured apples and nuts from the recent harvest. Children would also chase crows and divine things from the direction the birds flew. Stones were marked with peoples names and thrown into the fire, then retrieved in the morning and used to foretell the person's fortune for the coming year. In Scotland, a child born at Samhain was said to be gifted with "second sight" or clairvoyance.

According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and world of the dead become thinner, at times even fading away completely, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between worlds to socialize with humans. Some customs included leaving food on altars or burying it for wandering spirits, lighting candles to guide the spirits of ancestors home, and extra chairs set at the table. Turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like protective spirits. People dressed in white (like ghosts), wore disguises made of straw, or dressed as the opposite gender in order to fool the spirits.

Samhain is observed by Neopagans in various ways, some with elaborate rituals to honor the dead and deities associated with the dead in their particular tradition. Some celebrate as close as possible to the Ancient Celts. Some observe the holiday with rituals culled from numerous other unrelated sources.

In Wicca, Samhain is one of the eight annual holidays ('Sabbats'). It is considered by most Wiccans as a celebration of death and of the dead, and often involves paying respect to ancestors and loved ones who have died. In some rituals spirits of the departed are invited to attend the festivities.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Top Office Pet Peeves

A Harris Interactive poll on biggest pet peeves in the workplace found:

60% - Gossip
54% - Poor time management, which included people making personal phones calls at work or surfing the Internet during work time
45% - Messiness in communal spaces, such as unwashed dishes in the kitchen sinks
42% - Potent smells like perfume, food, or smoke
41% - Loud noises such as speaker phones, loud talking and loud phone ring tones at
28% - Overuse of electronic personal communications devices in meetings
22% - Misuse of e-mail

But people are not so willing to take action against offending coworkers. 42% said they would say something directly to a person being too loud but only 34% would raise their concerns about gossiping and only 25% address a person directly about misuse of e-mail.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


""More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones." -- Mother Teresa

If we are prompted to ask for spiritual blessings for ourselves or others, how do we best do this?

Speaker Kimberly Herkert offers that it is best to simply ask the divine for health and help. As human beings, we are not capable of seeing the big picture for anyone’s situation. As a result, we are not able to judge what is best for anyone, including ourselves.

The Higher Power always knows best, and the general prayer for ‘health and help’ acknowledges the wisdom that exists there and our faith in divine will.

"God answers prayer in His own way, not ours." -- Mohandas Gandhi "

Franki the Wonder Dog


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Thursday, October 25, 2007

I love the color of fall


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Crockpot Casseroles

Last week I made hashbrown casserole in a crockpot instead of the oven since I was taking it to a pot-luck luncheon at work. I figured that way I wouldn't have to reheat it. I didn't change anything ingredient-wise. I cooked it about 4 hours on high.

For Thanksgiving I'm going to try broccoli casserole. I don't think it will take as long though, maybe 2 or 2 1/2 hours.

I need to think of some others to try before then. I used to make casseroles all the time and now I never do unless I'm taking it somewhere or having company.

A lion in West Virginia??

A hunter in Greenbrier County spotted a full-grown lion on his property! He estimates it was 250-300 pounds. People from Tiger Mountain Refuge, an exotic wildlife sanctuary in Nicholas County, is looking for it and hoping to capture it. They say if it was an abandoned pet, it probably has has been declawed and defanged and will have a hard time surviving. Rumor has it that a group of hunters wants to try to hunt it and kill it. So I hope the sanctuary people find it first.

You can read the whole story here: A jungle out there? Hunter says lion in woods

Meditation downloads

Colette Baron-Reid has some free meditation downloads on her website.

Go to:

Sign up for the member's lounge (free)

Once you are logged into or have entered the member's lounge, look for the "RTF Booksite" section, which is the third box from the top. Click ENTER over on the right.

On the left are all the meditations. To get to them you have to actually click on the video link - Hi or Low. Then on the right you'll see the video and underneath it is a link to download the meditation in MP3 format.

(I post these instructions in detail because I had a really hard time finding them!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Get some sleep

"MONDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Ever get a little testy after a bad night's sleep? Scientists may now know why.

A new study finds that a lack of sleep causes the brain's emotional centers to dramatically overreact to negative experiences.

A shutdown of the prefrontal lobe -- a brain region that normally keeps emotions under control -- is the reason for heightened emotional response in sleep-deprived people, said the researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Berkeley."

More here: Mind's emotion centers less controlled when weary, MRI study shows


I mentioning the changing of the seasons and seasonal affective disorder in another post. This year I am more in tune with my body and my spirit, and the earth as well I think. I recognize the signs, and I understand that this is a natural cycle. Spring is a time of planting seeds and awakening. Summer is a time of sunshine and growth. Fall is a time of harvest. And winter is a time of dormancy, of slowing down, of retreating, of going within. It is a good time to reflect on the year behind and to prepare for the year ahead.

By recognizing this, I can be easier on myself, knowing that it is just a cycle and must run its course. I don't mourn the fact that summer is gone. I appreciate the beauty of autumn and enjoy the spectacular show of colors Mother Nature gives us as her farewell before she rests. I look forward to the quietness of winter. The trees and flowers may appear to be dead, but I know they are just dormant, and they will be reborn again in the spring. It doesn't have to be a depressing time.

We also have celebrations to look forward to. At Thanksgiving and Christmas we will spend time with our families and celebrate our connections. We will break bread together and exchange gifts as tokens of our affection. We will spend time with people we don't see as often as we'd like. I know that my husband doesn't like the holidays because we rush around to visit everyone over a few days. But I am grateful we have so many people who love us and who want to spend time with us. They won't always be here. Some day it might be just the two of us sitting alone and thinking wistfully of the gatherings of the past, hectic though they may have been. I choose to enjoy this time and make the most of it.

So although I recognize that the change of the season affects me, this year I resolve to be aware of it, to accept it for what it is, and to stay in the flow of the natural cycles of the earth without resistance. And I think overall I will be better off psychologically and physically for this.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Recently I bought some art supplies from Michael's with a gift card I received. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted. I didn't know particulars, I just knew I wanted to paint something. There were so many things to choose from, and the good supplies are expensive when you get everything you need, and I wasn't sure what medium I wanted to play with, so I ended up getting a $20 kit from the kid section that included colored pencils, watercolors and oil pastels. I will certainly never be an artist, but I've had a lot of fun with it and have enjoyed being creative. I like learning to do new things. I need to get some acrylics to play with now.

S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder)

The past few weeks I have been feeling "off." I am pretty sure it is the changing of the season, the shortening days. I feel like this every year but I don't usually recognize it this soon. I don't feel that bad, but I don't have any energy and I don't want to do anything but hibernate. I haven't been meditating much or reading. I just want to sleep. I am not worried about it, I know it will pass. Just noting it. Even though the weather hasn't been cold, I can definitely feel the change.

Sunday, October 21, 2007
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?


Here's a great eBates promotion!

If you aren't already on eBates check it out, especially with holiday shopping season upon us. It's a great site where you get cash back for shopping online. There are hundreds of online stores in the program. Amazon and eBay don't participate, but lots of others do, including iTunes, Avon,, Target, Home Shopping Network, Discovery Channel Store, and many many many more. You just use their links before you shop and you get a percentage back on your purchase (the percentage depends on the store). If I'm going to shop online, I always go there first to see if the store I want is there. Then every 3 months you get a check (or you can have it deposited in PayPal or paid to a charity) as long as you have at least $5 in your account. I think I have around $20 in mine right now.

So the promotion is, if you sign up now when you make your first purchase you and I will each get $10 put in our account (usually it's $5 for referrals). Offer ends November 15. Just use this link!

Or you can just use my email address jamieannharman @ when you sign up.

Rock & Gem Show

I go off and on with posting here and I'm going to try to start doing it more regularly, aside from just posting pictures and posts.

Yesterday Mom and I went to the Kanawha Rock and Gem Club's Mineral, Rock & Gem Show in South Charleston, WV. Here's what I came away with:

The big white thing is a selenite tea light candle holder that glows when you have the candle lit. Selenite is a type of gypsum. It is the colorless and transparent variety that shows a pearl like luster and has been described as having a moon-like glow. The word "selenite" comes from the greek for Moon and means moon rock. It looks so cool when it's lit!!

The other things are a large piece of crystal quartz (kind of wand-shaped), a green amber ring, a peridot ring, a slice of blue agate, an Orthoceras fossil, a piece of beautiful teal colored Chalcopyrite (copper pyrite), and a piece of aragonite from Peru.

Roscoe & Stubby Playing

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Birth of the Báb

Well here is a religion I know absolutely nothing about: Bahá'í. Baha'is believe in the unity of all humankind, and therefore the unity of all religions. They reject prejudice and stress ethical teachings such as world peace, education, and sexual equality. They believe that God is unknowable, but that God's presence and works are evident in the creation of the world and existence of prophets such as Adam, Jesus and Muhammed. The faith founded in Iran in the mid 1800's by Mirza Husayn Ali (1817-1892), better known as Baha'ullah.

"Birth of the Báb" is one of the 11 Holy Days for the Bahá'í faith, celebrated every October 20.

The Báb (meaning "the gate") was a religious leader and prophet who was a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad. As John the Baptist did for Jesus, the Báb prepared the way for Bahá'u'lláh. Both the Báb are viewed as manifestations of God, although the Báb himself said his mission was subordinate to Bahá'u'lláh's.

The Báb was born Siyyid 'Alí-Muhammad on October 20, 1819 in Persia (Iran). When he was young, he showed great intuitive knowledge of the Spirit and astonished his teachers. When he was 25, he declared his mission to his first disciple. He preached social and religious reform, and foretold the coming of a new age of human development. He had many followers but was persecuted by the dominant Muslim clergy. He was arrested more than once, imprisoned, and eventually publicly executed by firing squad.

On this holiday, work is suspended and joyous meetings are held that include prayers and devotional readings.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lailatul Qadr or Laylat al-Qadr

Today is the Islamic holiday Lailatul Qadr or Laylat al-Qadr, which means "Night of Power" or "Night of Decree" (a/k/a Shab-e-Qadr). This is one of the holiest days of the year for Muslims and one of the reasons the month of Ramadan is so important. This holiday commemmorates the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammad by the Angel Gabriel.

Although Muslims are already fasting, reciting the Quran, giving to charity, praying, etc., during the whole month of Ramadan, because this is such an important holiday, they try even harder during the last 10 days. As I understand it, there is uncertainty and/or disagreement as to which day exactly this falls and it could be any of the odd-numbered days in these last 10.

Extra prayers are said on these days, particularly the night prayer. Those who can afford to devote their time may stay in the mosque for the last 10 days. This worship is called "atekaaf", meaning retreat. Worship on this night is worth more than a thousand months of worship, according to the Quran:

In the name of God, the Benevolent, the Merciful.
1 Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Predestination.
2 Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Night of Power is!
3 The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
4 The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees.
5 (The night is) Peace until the rising of the dawn.

(Qur'an 97, 1-5)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Nick the Soccer Boy


My nephew (left) playing for St. Albans High School.

Go Red Dragons!

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