Author Archives: Owldaughter

Service Industry People Who Help And Hinder

It had to happen. I should have known.

Today is the day that my husband’s health benefits plan kicks in. Three months of employment (and paying into the plan of course) and congratulations, you now only have to pay a 20% deductible for prescription drugs and other fun stuff.

I’ve been holding on to a recent prescription slip for a week or so, waiting for this day. So after three hours of work at the computer this morning (aren’t I good?) I put on my coat and off I went to the pharmacy, to fill my first month of prescription, hurrah!

I handed in the slip, along with my shiny new benefits card, and hung around waiting for my name to be called. Now, if the truth must be told, I was a bit nervous. I’ve had problems with benefit cards before. What if they didn’t flip the switch or unflag the account or whatever it is that they do at the health insurance office? What if there’s some kind of problem? No, no, I said to myself; stop creating things to worry about. You checked online yesterday, and everything was fine. Plus your husband verified with Human Resources at work to make sure everything would be operational as of April 8.

Well, the pharmacist called me over and said, “Your claim has been refused.”

Heart plummets into stomach. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.


“They say you’re not listed under this policy.”


“We checked this yesterday. I’m on the plan.”

She must have seen me gritting my teeth, because she said, “Well, we’ll try again.” She called the insurance people and talked to them for about five minutes before they discovered together that I’m the second person listed on the plan (duh – my husband is the first), so they had to type in a 02 somewhere instead of a 01. (I’d like to take this moment to point out that the 02 is plainly printed on my card. I know, because I looked when she gave it back to me.)

At this point I stopped listening as relief washed over me. Everything was going to be fine. I’d get my prescription and go home.

Except it wasn’t fine. The pharmacist came back to me and said, “The insurance people tried to run the claim through while I was on the phone, but the network went down, so we can’t do it right now. Can you come back later?”

Heck, why not. I’m having so much fun here that I can’t wait to come back for more.

“I’ll call you when their system is back up and we’ve completed the claim,” she said. “I’ll let you know the moment it’s ready.”

“Why not,” I said, “I’m in the neighbourhood tonight anyway.”

Then I took the bus to another pharmacy to pick up a parcel, and got flak from a supercilious postal worker because my slip said I could pick up my parcel after one o’clock, and it was twelve forty-five. (How was I supposed to know what time it was? I don’t wear a watch, and there wasn’t a clock anywhere around. All I knew was that I had left home a long time ago and spent much too long in a pharmacy in west NDG before trekking into Westmount for this damned parcel.)

He’d look much more attractive as a rock. Or a hatstand. He had that kind of personality.

It seems to be that kind of day. I can take great comfort in the three hours of work I did this morning, though. Yep. Something to be proud of.

On Misfiling And Missing The Point

I’m collecting information on the books that are coming out within the next few months within one of my fields of specialisation, and at Amazon I made a sickening discovery.

Out of all the decent books out there on witchcraft and the occult, I am horrified — no, that’s not quite right; shocked? dismayed? spitting mad? — that the top-selling book in that category is The Book of Shadows: The Unofficial Charmed Companion.

So help me Gods.

You know, in every interview I do, I’m asked my opinion on shows like Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My response? “Hey, I’m a huge Buffy fan. But Willow’s not Wiccan, and what she does isn’t real magic.” If they press me about Charmed, I usually say something about Wicca 90210 and heavily stress the 90210 part, because Charmed has even less Wicca in it than Buffy does.

These shows, and films like The Craft and Practical Magic, are double-edged blades. On one hand, they introduce a whole new crop of people to the idea that people who practice a discipline like magic aren’t, by definition, automatically evil, which is great. On the other hand, they’re an incredibly inaccurate portrayal of the path. Wicca’s about spirituality and responsibility, not spells, demons, and warlocks (don’t even get me started on that inaccuracy).

This is why I still do interviews with students, for newspapers and on radio, and why I continually write articles. I’m trying to raise the general level of awareness out there. And most of the time, people walk away with a better idea of what it’s all about. Sometimes, though, you just can’t get through to them, and they walk away determined to find “a real witch” who will teach them how to change their hair colour without the aid of L’Oreal.

It’s not easy. I’ve chosen to teach and educate on this path, though, and if this is how I’m being called to serve, then this is what I’ll keep on doing. However, if you ever feel inspired to do a bit of reading on Wicca, please, please ignore the sales ranks at Amazon. Read anything by Doreen Valiente, and Vivianne Crowley, and Gerald Gardner. Or read something like Essential Wicca by Paul Tuitlean and Estelle Daniels, or Scott Cunningham’s Wicca- A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. But for the sake of all that’s intelligent, stay away from books that purport to be about spirituality and use pop TV shows as source material.

My skin feels all crawly. I’m going to go make more tea.

Too Much To Expect?

There was a knock on my door yesterday morning at about eleven-thirty. I opened it to find a young woman with a dog standing in the hall.

“Hi,” she said with a smile. “I used to live in this apartment. I don’t suppose you have any mail for me?”

Now, we moved in thirty-eight days ago. The apartment was empty for a month before that for renovations.

“Er, no,” I said. “We’ve been writing `Return to Sender – Moved- No Forwarding Address’ on them all.”

“Did you get any mail today?”

“Well, I’ll put some shoes on and I’ll check,” I said. We went downstairs, and sure enough, there was a GST cheque for her in my mailbox.

“Oh, great!” she said. “Listen, if you get any more of may mail, can you just give it to Dale in apartment one? I’ll stop by for it every once in a while. I’ll be changing my address soon, I promise.”

Thirty-eight days, plus a month. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I move, I use that handy-dandy mail forwarding service which the Post Office provides for a nominal fee. The previous tenant’s mail that we have rejected included several government forms, parcel pick-up slips, school documentation marked `Time-Sensitive’, and personal letters.

I so do not understand people like this. Call me crazy, but I see it as my responsibility to ensure that I still receive my mail, to let the various organisations and offices know that I’ve moved. My husband says that some people don’t want their mail to follow them, that it’s an easy way out of responsibility for them. Granted, there have been times I’ve changed my phone number and deliberately not given certain people my new number, but that’s a slightly different matter.

I just don’t get it.

Writing Through The Argh

I’ve been reading Caitlin R. Kiernan’s blog on writing Low Red Moon journal every day for a while now, ever since Ceri posted the first reference to it a couple of months ago. It’s interesting to see how a published author feels about the day-to-day process of writing, editing, proof-reading, and the other minutiae of the writing life.

Today, on the craft of writing, she says, “[T]o put it another way, yes Samm, it is always difficult.

Except, sometimes, it’s really difficult.

When it’s easy, it’s only because you’re not doing it right.”

Sigh. You know, there are those days when things flow. Then, there are the days where you feel like you’re hacking your way through a textual jungle of snarled storylines and crossed characters, and you have absolutely not a single spark of imagination, and it’s work.

Damn it, though, it’s work you’d rather be doing more than anything else in the world. Even when you cry, and growl, and tear up notes, and re-write an entire day’s pages. It’s work you must do; you don’t have the choice. You write, or you shrivel up and blow away in the wind.

Some days, that makes me cranky. Actually, it makes me cranky most days. If I ignore it, it gets worse. So if I make myself pound words out, then at least I’ll have the grudging satisfaction of having a word count to write down in my log book, which does much to stave off the snarl-inducing feelings of guilt if I defiantly ignore my laptop.

Almost Home

I’ve been going through an avoid-the-phone phase, but today all three times when the phone rang, I picked it up. I managed to have an hour-long chat with Elim, and another hour-long chat with t! later on, and in between I spoke to my husband for a total of seven minutes. And then, tonight, my oldest friend came over for tea and a chat about art, which sort of evolved into a general talk about life and love and dreams. It’s been a good day.

The only vaguely bad thing so far has been my discovery that I cannot burn ten-inch tapers on the lower shelf of our new mantel. At least, not until they’ve been reduced to seven-inch tapers by being burned somewhere else first. I’ve covered the smell of barely-scorched paint by burning frankincense resin. Otherwise, the candles look lovely in front of the huge mirror (which I had to polish again today – how do so many fingerprints end up on it?), which reflects the candleflames beautifully, creating a lovely glow in the living room.

I spent today unpacking the fragile things I own, like my irreplaceable signed Royal Doulton Coalport figures, our masks, and the tiny also-irreplaceable collectibles passed on to me throughout my life. We now have things hanging on the walls of the bedroom, so it doesn’t feel so sterile any more, which is a relief. We’re almost there; it’s almost home.