Shaking Off the Dust

So  had started this in March and, well, somehow never got back to finish. This was the post COVID-19 ate.

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Wow, it has been a long time. The last “state of Teh Project post was now over a years and a half ago (ETA: now almost two years exactly). And….not a lot progressed on that front.

In fact, regressed. My computer crashed and I lost a lot of my writing, the most recent stuff but then it turned out what I had backed up ….was screwed up. Of course, a lot can be rehashed from the already published material, which was safely in my email. Techphobe me didn’t use cloud back up for other stuff. I’ve learned too late on that.

There is some hope we can find someone to retrieve the files ….we just need enough money to pay them. That the animals aren’t eating.

But the animals have been centering themselves in my life more than the work has. Although they, especially the dogs, are always part of the work on this path, of course. We adopted another Greyhound in October 2018, Ruadhan (the Little Red One in the photo). We wanted another hound as Gleann‘s (the black ball of fuzz lying down) age caught up with him, neurologically, and he developed Canine Cognitive Disorder and physical neurological problems we knew he wasn’t going to be with us too much longer at that point. We wanted him to have a female hound around, as he always bonded with the girls more, and we wanted Cairbre (the big blond dude with the white face) to have another packmate so he’d not be alone when we lost Gleann.  Which happened one year and nine days later. The photo here is of the pack at his last ritual in August. He was tired, he lied down for much of it, he wanted to go out to the border offering but I had to carry him (fortunately my shoulder has healed).  I still can’t grok that he’s really gone from this body.

Our goat Elína developed an infection in her joints during the summer, which we thought we were getting under control with antibiotics but it went to her lungs and she died of pneumonia. Unfortunately, I think the extreme humidity that we now have here was just too much. I keep feeling we could have done something better than we did and save her.

(that’s where I got to….yeah, needed a pause after writing about death and then….pandemic hit…..)

 

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I spent a lot of time last year just being with Gleann. And also obsessing over the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate and most of my writing was blogging and creating new pages for The Sarah Connor Charm School. My plans to get my business started again were on hold, but I had decided to study for the American College of Sports Medicine personal trainer certification as the organization I am certified with got bought out by another organization and has abandoned the CPTs. It took me a few years to finally call it quits as I had been with them since 1992.

Ironically, I had decided during the winter that I would focus on online training, for various reasons I just don’t want to train much around here.  Of course, I didn’t get this started and I’m still not ready to, while the pandemic has had many trainers turning to online training. I could have been ahead of the game. Now I’m behind.  It doesn’t help that I’m debating with myself about bothering with the ACSM certification, I am considering not getting back into the field. There are various reasons for this, which I won’t go into here, at least right now. One, of course, being hating to spend the money when I am in debate about it, which is sort of a circular thing.  They do now have a proctored online test, which would require a somewhat more reliable computer than I have now. And some work to have a room that will meet their requirement….this place is like a series of open concepts parts, I basically will need to do it in a bedroom or bathroom to have closed doors and all. 😩

In most ways the COVID-19 pandemic has made things more the same than they might have been, rather than actually change things. That is, I had intended to make an effort to get down off our mountain at least once a week just before it hit. And that isn’t happening. Nor will it for awhile. The only people I have seen in months are my husband, Aaron, and a few drivers who have insisted on stopping to tell me my dogs are beautiful or that there’s a bear where I’m not even heading (as if I haven’t met up with a bear twice this summer, that I know of …as they usually try not to be seen, much closer to home).   I really do wish people would stop stopping to try to talk to me when I’m out running or walking the hounds. Therefore we’re working on cleaning up our trails enough for the delicate-skinned beasts as well as make new trails.  I’d much rather just have Aaron the only person I deal with in person right now.

I’m not sure how much this helps me stay safe as a person with multiple risk factors, as Aaron currently works at a store. This might even, at least right now, be more dangerous than when he was an EMT, as he’s more likely to come in contact with tourists who don’t know they have symptoms. He’s doing all the “clean up” he can when home, avoiding people especially if they don’t wear masks (and many do not) at work unless he’s at the cash behind the plastic shield. And, while this is a relatively safe place as far as recorded infection rates go, we don’t really know how many non-residents have been here because it’s recorded where people live. Folk up here are not taking this seriously, which I know is true for most of the country, and we have neighbors who have been traveling, including some who are as I write this on their way back from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, It’s unlikely we’ll be as “safe” as we have been, we’ve never been as safe as many here think.
Aaron did take one, very careful (limited stops and avoiding contact with anyone, including at the kennel), trip to Dover to pick up our newest Greyhound. We had planned to adopt this summer, the pandemic meant that the planned closing of Florida tracks was early so that dogs expected this summer landed there in March, but at the same time getting dogs vetted was sparsed out longer. So after seeing posts about him on the Greyhound Placement Service, NH FB group for weeks, we technically adopted Trúghadh (the brindle on the left) the first week of May but brought him home the end of June, two weeks after his first birthday. He is a spooky boy, very shy of strangers, who needed a home with other Greyhounds.  He’s doing great! Still working things out. He has gotten bold enough to be in the “asshole” stage of settling in, where he’s testing boundaries and establishing himself in the pack. This is a good thing, btw, it’s part of the process. He’s a sweet, lovable boy. The youngest hound we’ve ever adopted.

Aside from hanging out with the dogs, horses and cats, I’ve been very focused on exercise. Okay, I guess while hanging out with the dogs (when running) and cats (they hang out in our home gym almost a the time I’m in there) and the horses create a lot of additional physical activity even when I’m not hanging out with them (although, now that I think about it, they all seem to like to keep getting in the way while we clean up after them).

My strength recovery from my shoulder surgery got slowed down when I developed a very painful case of De Quervan’s tenosynovitis in the same wrist last summer, just as I started to catch up my strength again. PT helped a lot, although not really until I decided to take a couple of months off from lifting, because it just hurt too much. While it’s going to be a sort of constant battle the wrist is functional and relatively pain free. I still keep up my PT exercises, now doing both writs as I have noticed symptoms in my left one as well. But then, I am also noticing issues with my left shoulder that are similar to what started in my right back in the winter of 2009/2010 that go misdiagnosed. However, at this point my strength has improved greatly.  It might help that for the past five months I haven’t had a single cold or stomach bug or anything that might take me out for a few days. The COVID-19 protocols are at least helping with that. I just hope it will be enough to help prevent us getting this virus.

So, Teh Project. Lost files are still not recovered and I’m not sure if we can ever find someone. Especially as they’d have to be close enough to hand the bricked hard-drive off ourselves as we don’t want to physically lose it, too! And we were paranoid about any shipping long before Trump’s full-blown attack on the USPS.  And currently not likely to travel very far or want to be close enough to someone to hand it to. So I am poking away at the previously published stuff, to try to expand it for the manuscript, still hoping to retrieve and work in what I had already for that that wasn’t published. We’ll see.

I’ve also played a little with video, although I really need a new computer if not a camcoder instead of using the webcam if I want to put together my seriously delayed workshops together that way. Given that any chance of live presentations is going to likely mean delay is just so much worse…. So that’s kind of a “watch this space.”

Oh, speaking of which, I do have half a mind to move this blog to the website, possibly because there is so much fixing needed (at least in my experience with the SCCS blog) when exporting a blog from Blogger to WP that it would be a huge way to keep me from writing. 😐 So….it might not be the space to watch? *ETA: Obviously, if you are reading this, you know I did go through with this threat. Well, threat only to me, exporting/importing a blog from Blogspot to WP was rather time consuming. And some links and picture might still not work and there are some posts which formatting got funny and I can’t seem to straighten it out)
We’ll see.

Excerpt from: The Hounds Betwixt and Between: Cú Chulainn and Finn as Liminal Heroes

Published in Air n-Aithesc,Volume  4, Issue 2 Lugnasadh 2017. An earlier version, titled The Hero Betwixt and Between, appeared in Keltria Journal #43,”Heroes & Heroines,” 2013. 


Cú Chulainn of the Ulster Cycle and Finn Mac Cumhail of the Fenian Cycle are the two early Irish warriors that are most familiar, who have the greatest number of stories told. Many other warriors in the literature boast heroic quests of their own, including the warrior-kings; however, these make up a smaller amount of known literature. There are other warriors known only for their relationships with Cú Chulainn or Finn, as fighting beside them or dying at their hands, while many warriors are only names in long lists. There are also many villains and semi-villains and a, sadly, small number of warrior-women, either protagonist or antagonist.[1]These two heroes have large bodies of material focused on them and what makes them such important heroes compared to the others is of interest. 
When they are brought up together, it is often to describe Cú Chulainn and Finn as very different, even opposites. This may have originated from Marie Louise Sjoestedt’s declaration that Cú Chulainn was a “Hero of the Tribe”[2]while Finn was a “Hero Outside the Tribe.”[3]The distinctions Sjoestedt noted may be useful in exploring each of these heroes individually,[4]  and they certainly are individuals; however, her designation of Cú Chulainn as a “tribal” insider and assertion that the two warriors’ stories were “irreconcilable” are questionable. [5]Both of these heroes were liminal and quite dangerous to the culture they defended, but were outsiders of. In the different times their tales were recorded, they represent views of those warriors who stood between society and the wilderness, being never fully part of either. 
It is difficult in a casual study such as this to sort out what might be similarities due to the nature of the tales and what might be influences of the earlier stories.  Cú Chulainn’s tales were written centuries before Finn’s. We do not have evidence that Cú Chulainn’s stories truly come from oral traditions or whether they were told orally after they were written. Both seem likely, at least to some extent. Finn’s stories continued in oral tradition, which gives us even more variations. While knowledge of Cú Chulainn’s stories may have influenced the tellers and writers of Finn’s, the latter are clearly not reproductions. This may be influences of the time, but also may be a hint that they were seen as warriors of a certain nature and place, similar but not identical. Therefore, I believe the comparisons where we find the similarities yet note the differences help us understand the archetype of the Outlaw Warrior in this literature, without losing sight of the individual nature of both Cú Chulainn and Finn.
To read more you can purchase a copy of Air n-Aithesc,Volume  4, Issue 2 Lugnasadh 2017 or a PDF from me via the website 


[1] I have written about some of these female warriors  in “‘By Force in the Battlefield’: Finding the Irish Female Hero,” Air n-Aithesc Volume 1 Issue 1 Imbolc 2014; “Muimmecha naFiann: Foster-mothers of the heroes,” Air n-Aithesc Volume 1 Issue 2 Lughnasadh 2014; “The War Goddess’s Bitch,” Air n-Aithesc Volume 3 Issue 1 Imbolc/Beltaine 2016;  “There Was Not Found a Man to Withstand Her,” Air n-Aithesc Volume 3 Issue 2 Lughnasadh/Samhain 2016.
[2]Marie-Louise Sjoestedt, Celtic Gods and Heroes, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola 2000, pg. 57-80.
[3]Sjoestedt, Celtic Gods and Heroes, pg. 81-91.
[4]As is noted by Joseph Falaky Nagy. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition,Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, pg. 10.
[5]Kim McCone, “Werewolves, Cyclopes, Díberga and Fíanna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland” Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, issue 12, 1986, pg. 8.

Save a Celtic hound

**UPDATE: I realized I should update that we were unable to save our Gráinne. The lymphoma was just too aggressive, she went down hill very quickly and had some sort of episode involving either a lesion or a blood-clot to the brain. She regained her ability to walk after the first one, but the vet was clear that nothing could be done. We planned to take her for her last trip a few days later, but she had another similar episode and we took her to an emergency vet in the middle of the night. We probably do not have to mention that we are devastated as is Gleann. **

It been a hell of a year. We lost Sachairi just over a year ago, then found out both Gleann and Gráinne had serious health problems.  Gráinne was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) but her blood count numbers were real low, so during the summer it was a matter of just keeping track while we concentrated on saving Gleann who had a tumor in his parathyroid.  We were able to get surgery for Gleann thanks to fund raising, auctioning off some Sarah Connor related stuff, some eBay auctions, help from a dear friend and totally maxing out CareCredit.  And then Gráinne’s numbers got higher, not OMG start chemo NOW higher, but high enough we were starting to get her evaluated the first of this year.

And then two things happened. First she developed skin lesions, upping our worry even with the current blood counts.  And then my husband Aaron broke his leg. Oh, on top of that at New Years just 12 days before his accident, he had also had his status changed at work from covering stations to only being on-call for transfers, so no disability benefits at all. This leaves us with no real income at all, except for a bit here and there from eBay sales.

Just days before we finally got her to the oncologist for another examination and for more testing, her nose became hugely swollen. It turns out that as well as the CLL she has cutaneous lymphoma, which is the more aggressive of the two.

This means that the chemotherapy we were looking at, Prednisone and Leukeran, is not going to be effective. Instead we need a more expensive chemo, CCNU. She would get this every three weeks at $695 each time and require blood work at her regular vet in the weeks in between.  AND this needs to start immediately, before the very quick changing lymphoma has a chance to get to the point of no return!

We could see managing if Aaron were working and getting a lot of shifts….but not until then.  Which is April! And we have to stat this week!  We have raised not quite as much as we have spent in getting her tested and we are struggling to also feed her and the other animals, so we have almost nothing left to our names at all, let alone enough to start this! We really need help!

She could have years more with this, it is devastating that we may have to lose her just because Aaron broke his leg!

Gráinne is our sixth Greyhound, adopted from Greyhound Placement Services, NH as a special needs dog due to having epilepsy.  She is beautiful, as you can see, but also quirky and comical. She is not always the easiest hound to deal with, her previous owner has returned her due to her singing in her crate. Honestly, it really is singing, it’s like having a coywolf in your living room.  She can be very vocal at anytime she feels she’s not being understood. Not everyone appreciates that as much as we do.

She has had a stressful year, losing Sach was a blow to her, I know. She was stressed as we took care of Gleann’s situation. I feel like we had just gotten to the point where we could all relax and enjoy time together when she got really sick.  I don’t want this to have been her last year! I want her to get better, which she has a very good chance of if we start treatment this week, and have a couple of relatively happy years. She just turned 7, she needs more time!

And Gleann needs more time with her. He adores her, he’s lost so many packmates in his lifetime.

Please share the campaign and please help with what ever you can! 

My articles and workshop vouchers are available as perks.

The Celtic Hound reference is….because they are!

 

Saving Ritual Dog Gleann! and some stuff on future workshops

 In my last post I asked for help getting Gleann’s high calcium issue diagnosed. We got the diagnosis and it is primary hyperparathyroidism caused by a nodule in one of his parathyroid glands. So now we need to get the surgery as soon as we can! So we have another fundraiser to get his surgery. It was supposed to end this past weekend, we had hoped to be scheduling the surgery yesterday, aiming for the 14th.  But we are still far short of the $3,500 we need.

 

Just before heading out for Samhuinn 2015

Gleann is by far our Chief Ritual Dog. I have written about canines in ritual  and all our dogs have participated with us. The Greyhounds have been happy to do so, there is food after all, dear little Sachairi I think found it kind of odd as he came to live with us when hew as set in his ways from a probably more Zen background than our wild Heathen ways and he would often lie a little way from us …until the shortbread started being distributed.  But Gleann loves ritual!

He was just weeks old when he came to live with us, all teeth and growls and unruliness, and a few weeks later we did our Lùnasdal/Là Fhéill Mhacha.  Almost as soon as we got there Gleann started running as fast as his little legs could take him deiseal around the fire pit.  We would get him to stop, but as soon as let go he’d just start running again. Through the whole ritual. With a break for shortbread.

By Samhuinn that year he was a bit calmer, and he began to figure out his role. We go up to the site, he patrols the area for any problems. He then hangs nearby, and keeps a look out around. When we make our treaty offerings to those we do not worship, he goes out near the edge of the land with me (he did at first venture to the neighbors but we convinced him that was too much and he no longer does. When the ritual is done and the other dogs and stuff has been packed up and mostly taken home, he and I usually sit alone to vigil with the fire to be sure it is safely out.  He had always done this lying right against my back, but as we lost more of the pack and they are buried there he now divides his time lying by their graves and at my back.

I have written a lot about the importance of canines on my path; the history of dogs in Celtic, especially Gaelic, cultures and a growing body of work on fénnidecht and the connection between warriors and canines. This is also my life.  This is my pack. Those who have left their bodies are still in my life.

But I am not ready for Gleann to leave his and he shows no sign of being ready either.  With this surgery he will not develop the kidney damage that awaits him without it.  He can remain as bouncy as he is now for a few more years…..and many rituals.  He is supposed to have surgery later this month. If all goes well he should be able to happily resume his ritual duties by Samhuinn (which is about mid November for us).

And so, we fundraise and I’m auctioning off some Sarah Connor/Linda Hamilton items with the help of another fan. And we eBay and we apply to funds and we have maxed out CareCredit and we are trying to figure out how to put a business together with no real funds to do so and I have my fitness business on permanent hold due to what it would cost to get insurance again and to get my CEUs in time (which will mean it will cost much more to start all over again if I don’t manage after a very short period after my certification is up).

And the fénnidecht related workshops planned for this winter are on hold mostly due to my absolute lack of concentration..  The syllabi are only partially finished and I have done none of the more daunting work of figuring out how to present online, given that I live in a geographically isolated area and those interested are so spread out.

However, I intend to have these started by this time next year and therefore am offering vouchers for cost off of future workshops on the fundraiser.

These workshops are, after all, directly related to the sort of connections that my relationship with Gleann and my other dogs represent.  I have one that is very basic for those just starting out and that might be of interest to those not on the Outlaw warrior path to help understand where it can fit in modern Gaelic Reconstructionist Paganism and maybe open their own traditions to those on this one. I have varying degrees of exploration for those on the path, including a deeper look at being wolf. I also have a broader look at animals in the cultures that goes beyond the usual symbolic focus most resort to into where practicality, actually living and relying on these animals, led to the symbolism and how it can lead back to real relationships with living animals. And a fitness one (provided I am able to renew my certification in time).

So if you are interested in these worshops, please consider making a donation and taking a voucher!  And if you are not but just want to see a beautiful dog have a few more happy years, please just donate. And there are some pieces of jewelry and a bag for perks…and more things may be added.

 

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Trying to heal the pack

Crossposted in Dùn Sgàthan blog

So, I’ve not been blogging. I’ve not been writing much, although four days before deadline I decided to whip something together for Air n-Aithesc coming out next week. I’ve not done a lot of the things I hoped to do this summer, including writing and getting my business put back together. Mostly I have hung out with my dogs, either hiding from the heat inside or wandering around or running outside.Sure, I could write while I hide from the burning daystar, but what I’m also not doing is sleeping so concentration isn’t there. It’s been a tough year so far.

Sachairi

Last February we lost our 15 year-old boy Sachairi. We had a good two year stretch, after losing our hounds Cù and Òrlaith close together.  Sach had liver failure, we tried to stem it with meds but we were told there wasn’t anything else we could do. As he lost interest in life, we let him go. Free of his body, he visits often but can also visit his beloved first human who now lives on an island where dogs cannot be brought in.  No physical body, no laws.  But it was a rough loss, even if we had adopted him as a senior knowing he would never be with us very long. He made himself very central to our lives, making sure we all were doing what was supposed to be done. He was the dog that when you were upset he’d come over and pat your shoulder and then go get a toy to shove at you to make you feel better. When I needed that this time, well…..

Just a few weeks later – with all of us, pup, human and, yes, the cat still devastated- we took our remaining dogs, Gleann and Gráinne for their yearly shots and checkups. The vet suggested a “wellness” blood work for Gleann as he was about to turn 12. And one for Gráinne as she had displayed symptoms months earlier that indicated a possible autoimmune issue.  And…

Me with Gleann and Gráinne heading to vet

Gleann has hypercalcemia, high blood calcium of unknown origin, possibly cancer somewhere, but even if not can cause kidney failure.  Gráinne has leukemia. Which seemed scarier at first, but really is less of an issue right now, as it is chronic lymphocytic leukemia and currently asymptomatic.   The regular vet put her right on Prednisone, which the oncologist (much to the regular vet’s chagrin) had us wean her right off….for some reason our regular vet is insisting she was symptomatic when we brought her in although that had been months before…if she has no symptoms she should not be under treatment for levels she has. We’ll be monitoring her lymphocyte levels monthly and watching her for symptoms.

With Gleann, the oncologist (we should have been referred to an intern, although it probably is cancer) also noted he has a neurological disorder (then the regular vet later taking blood and lymph node samples for test the oncologist ordered, as the regular vet was cheaper and closer for them, also insisted he did not have said eye symptom of it,while then admitting that his head muscles are atrophied from the same disorder.  At this, point we have no idea what is causing either of these conditions or how they may relate.

So, those tests were inconclusive, at least according to the regular vet. We need to do ultrasounds and x-rays the regular vet can’t do at the referral vet and to get a consultation from someone there for both sets of tests.  We’re broke. Especially after the vet bills for Sach and the horse ones added up last year (and we need to get a vet here for the horses soon too).  So we have been fundraising at the page hopefully linked at this widget. I am hoping readers might be willing to help as they can (lots of small donations do add up) and will share this around. If my work has had meaning to you, please consider that this is work and I do not get regular pay for it, so now might be a good time to compensate (an important factor in Gaelic culture, after all) a bit.  We need to get answers, we need to treat the cause of theses issues as we can. Chances are, with the possible causes, it is treatable...if we can figure it out in time, but time may be running out fast.

I am hoping that we can get these answers and get Gleann treated. I am hoping to be able to refocus on my writing and get back to taking fitness clients as well as get out to teach some workshops again.  (I will likely give a discount to anyone who donates should they wish to do a future workshop or hire me as a trainer…and I am looking at long-distance options).  Right now, I’m spending as much time as I can with my pups.  Looking forward to our next ritual, as Gleann is our star ritual dog, having participated since he was a couple of months old and absolutely loving it.

 

 

Me with Gráinne, Gleann and Sach just before going out to the hill las Samhuinn