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She’s the little old lady of the house, at least 10 years old. She is also the most picked on, especially when I’m not in the room to protect her. Little Aku, sweet until you piss her off, is part Scottish fold. Her name comes from the villain from “Samurai Jack” and when she was young, she lived up to that name. The buddy with her in the picture is Bert the Farting Hippo. Yep, that one. 🙂 I think Abby wouldn’t mind sharing with such a cute face.

Amanda-n-RyanHow do you truly enjoy a family holiday when a member has been tragically taken? Memories are forever marked as before and after the loss. At first I wasn’t sure why this year might be harder than others that came after, why I try to be thankful for the good things and can’t quite feel it. Then I figured it out. This will be the first holiday since my niece’s death that we know for certain the fate of the one who took her. The young man who killed her, who chose to tempt fate and drive drunk, is free to be with his family. He’ll have the turkey and fixings, watch the big game, and certainly be thankful that the judge chose not to ruin his life with jail time. He gets a second chance at life, at a family. My family gatherings will always seem not quite complete, missing a laugh, a smile, and many goofy faces. Missing a daughter, a big sister, a friend. But, thankfully, the killer’s life wasn’t ruined.

The one thing from my childhood that had the biggest impact would be the female role models, though I didn’t know it at the time. My maternal grandmother, called Gram by the grandkids (and great-grandkids), was a major force in my life. She was strong, opinionated, and funny as hell. My mom (the little one on the left) raised three kids, who mostly turned out okay, on her own without losing her mind. She also impressed upon me a love of animals in all the strays we saved, cats and dogs, over the years. While doing genealogy research, I discovered a long tradition of strong women on my mom’s side going back generations. These women made me the independent (also opinionated) person I am today. I hope to return that favor to my nieces.


The beauty of the different forms of Paganism is that the beliefs are open to interpretation by the individual. Disagreeing doesn’t make the believer wrong. Unfortunately, it also leaves us open to interpretations from those who don’t follow Pagan ways. The Wiccan Rede is a prime example of a belief that means one thing to the Pagans that follow it and something else entirely to many monotheistic followers. The long version of the Rede talks of ways to celebrate nature and its many cycles. Here are a few lines to illustrate:

Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane,
and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.

When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart’s desire seek.

Though most of the discussion about the Rede come from the final line, eight small words that inspire a not-so-small debate.

If it harms none, do what you will.

For many Christians, this is interpreted to mean that we have free reign to do whatever we want regardless of what others think. I recently came across an article at that at first glance, and in the interest of religious tolerance, talked of how the line compares to the Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Though that tolerance only lasted for so long. The author came to the conclusion that where the Golden Rule was an active choice to treat others well, the Rede only says not to harm. We supposedly have no obligation to others.

“The act of merely doing whatever you please, but making sure
you don’t hurt anyone in the process, is certainly not a negative concept in itself.
But it also doesn’t spur anyone to do unselfish deeds for others.”

What this author fails to recognize is that inaction that causes harm is no different than actions that harm. If I see someone in need and know I can help, but choose to do nothing, that is harm as well. Harming none encompasses so much more than choosing not to do something harmful. Though we don’t need a rule or law to tell us this. Everyone with a compassionate heart, regardless of their faith, recognizes that we should treat everyone and everything with respect.

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