Happy Inktober!

Heavens! I have really let this go. I hope you didn’t worry. October 2nd, 2019

I have had this in draft form, and worked on it intermittently- I’ll try to edit and pull it all together, so it’s less disjointed.

Color has started in the trees since I wrote last. Well technically it was late summer then, and it’s early fall now, so that makes sense. All the flowers in my garden and yard (well, except the goldenrod and asters in the back) are gone. The lonely mallow held out for quite a while with a couple pink blossoms, but I’m thinking it’s time to mow back what’s left to much and wait for spring. We’ve had cooler weather, which I like, and hot weather which Willow appreciated, and it’s cooler currently. We’ve still got the screen door on- I expect there will be at least one hot week yet to come.

Having missed sending the letter off for weeks, the subject line went from Paw Paw day to Binge Day, (which I thought I’d tie in with reading), but it’s gone beyond that, and the girls have started doing the “ones drawing a day” project of Inktober. I keep thinking I’ll do that, then don’t allocate the time. I should try again. I could take the time from the excessive reading. While I have had days when I got something done, there were too many days when I didn’t do much except read. It’s a downward spiral. The lack of having done much has contributed to my lack of motivation to actually write the letter, but the amount of reading I’ve been doing certainly suggests that the lack of motivation is profound. Occasionally faulty perception suggests that what I might do wouldn’t matter. The things I find I get to (other than putting food on the table and making sure there’s a clean area for food prep) consists of supervising our schedules and budgets (depressing), and the stuff I do for events- like CTCW, Pagan Pride Days, and Twilight Covening.

I do manage to post the holidays on the Facebook page HTMGO (Holidays that might get overlooked).  I’m convinced that there are people whose days are brightened by seeing the holidays- the way fb tracks it suggests that 13 thousand people have seen it this week (although I suppose it’s more like 2 thousand each day who come back). It’s actually been sort of a pain in the butt recently. FB changed something a week ago, so I can’t just clock the schedule button at the bottom of the post, but have to go into “publishing tools” and create a draft, then schedule that! And more half the time or more it drops the pictures or the scheduling, and I have to go back and do it over, which is making it take more like two hours a day than the one I was willing to give it. I keep hoping they’ll fix whatever the problem is so I can cut back as it’s basically unpaid office work. Not that I don’t like looking at holidays. There are what I’d consider REAL holidays, like Halloween, Rosh Hashana, Durga Puja, or Thanksgiving, and reasonable ones like anniversaries of some historical event. But there are also “awareness days”; I think the bulk of the ones listed are made up to get people aware of a cause, or associations or businesses pushing their product (i.e.. American Cheese Day or Pet Obesity Awareness Day).

This year someone has created Paw Paw Day (third Thursday of September), and for several days after I tripped over that one I had the really dumb ‘action song’ “Paw Paw Patch” going through my head. As I recall it consists of “where oh where is dear little- fill in a name-“ (three times), followed by “come on boys, let’s go find her” 3x, and “picking up paw paws put’m in your pocket” 3x. Each verse (although it irks me to honor it with that designation) finished with the line “Way down yonder in the paw paw patch”, I never had any idea what a paw paw was, and still don’t, although there’s a picture, and it is described as “a creamy mango-banana and sometimes pineapple flavored” custard-like fruit. Not a description that would lead me to seek it out! Nor does the information that the skin is an emetic (makes you vomit)!

I remember there were actions that went with the verses, although I only remember leaning over to pick up an imaginary ‘paw paw’ (from the ground) and putting it in your pocket, beckoning, etc..  I expect that, like Grandmother’s song “Here comes the old lady from Baltimore”, it went through several rounds with different kids names, although I would hope they didn’t repeat it until everyone in a Girl Scout troop had been so favored. I also discovered in the internet that the lyrics specify “put it in a basket”, which certainly makes more sense for a soft, custardy fruit. I expect the mistake can be explained by our scout leaders being from New England where paw paws do not grow, and they didn’t know anything about them.

It’s also National Ask An Atheist Day, which started on college campuses. They wear badges say I’m an Atheist, ask me anything. Good lord, if there is anyone more full of him or herself than a college student, it would be an atheist, and combining the two is a horrifying thought. I can only hope that they mellow into Agnostics as they age! Holidays should be for celebrating things. I suppose if one has a paw paw patch, one might like the fruit (apparently many founding fathers did), and I know that atheists I have met are certainly gleeful about informing anyone with religious beliefs how wrong and stupid they are, although they generally cherry pick examples of religious errors from arguments that have been thrown at them by a few monotheists. It’s always so much easier to argue against something if you are willing to declare any direct experience the other person has had was a delusion.

Well, pardon me for being so cranky about that. Generally I enjoy holidays a lot. I started writing this on Talk (and Meow) Like a Pirate Day- one that came directly from some people being silly and sharing it on the internet and it catching on because people have fun with it. I think the internet is the source of a great deal of the proliferation of holidays.

Speaking of real holidays, we are sliding into the Halloween season, and last week we went out to get ‘bread and milk’ and stopped at the craft store Michael’s and the seasonal Halloween store next to them to enjoy the decorations. I would LOVE to put those cute gravestones in my yard- with the animatronic Cerebus, and a fog machine.… I understand how people can get excited over Halloween (it’s now the second largest grossing holiday). As I remember in the 50s, it used to be just home-made costumes for us kids and really cheap candy, augmented by apples, popcorn, and sometimes cookies or donuts. Decorations? Carved Jack o’lanterns. I was jonesing over a bunch of bottles and jars with “Eye of Newt” and “Wing of Bat” labels, and unlike the people who actually get them, I’d probably put stuff in them and leave them out all year. I have had things like that off and on over the years- mostly home-made. But these days you can just go and buy them! I give myself the stern warning that I need to actually clean the house before I get any decorations for it- same as for Christmas decorations.

Having been to several Pagan Pride Days now, I can clump them together and compare them. Western Mass PPD was in Northampton the first weekend, (Southern) NH PPD was the 14th, Eastern Mass PPD was the 22nd, and RI PPD was the 28th. (We missed reserving for Southeastern MA, and I’m still negotiating with VT 9-20.) Maine has theirs in August, while we’re still at Pennsic. We also didn’t sign up for NH, but that’s where a lot of my friends are, so I simply drove up and wandered around, got to go to the workshops, and look at the vendors. There’s a lot of local control over the PPDs. I noticed that this year there were only 5 classes at WMA, and four were introduction to Paganism, Wicca, Heathenry, and Druidry. At EMAPPD, all the classes were so New-Age-Spiritual-Growth-manifest-a-better-life subjects, and there wasn’t one I was interested in attending. On the other hand, the workshops at NH were marvelous, and there were several I didn’t get to that I’d have loved to have attended. I taught two classes- Palmistry and History of the Occult, which meant I couldn’t go to the ones against mine, but I did get to one on Tao Healing, and got to hear Selena Fox of the Circle Sanctuary speak. Sadly, we didn’t make much money at any of them. Attendance seemed down to me, and there were a LOT of vendors (35 at EMA), which means we are competing for the shoppers attention (and money). I did see a lot of friends, and that’s nice. I got a sign (in the Halloween decorations) for Fortune Telling; it was only $6 and I figured maybe I could read a few palms and make more money. Again, I think there was too much competition. I was quite surprised to see Larry and EmKat at our PPD, since they live in Maryland. They were up for a wedding, which was good. So many friends on Facebook have been mentioning losing loved ones recently. I am relieved to report that Lyon recovered his lost daughter! (and as he said, would now be able to sleep!) What a nightmare! I know sixteen year olds do want to make the people they leave worry, but I doubt they have any idea the level of worry they cause when they go missing!

Because I was booked at the RIPPD I missed the last meeting for the leaders of Twilight Covering (the first was when I was still at Pennsic), and I am trying to keep up through email and social media. It was a relief to finally hear that the Snowy Owl Clan is running this year. Now I need to decide what I’m taking with me. It’s about Soothsaying, and I do want to give a basic introduction to Palmistry, Scrying, Dowsing, Tea Leaf Reading, and Casting, as well as cover things like ethics, and predestination, empowering the client, and the role of the diviner in the community, … the sort of thing that isn’t how to do a specific technique, but what to do and not to do. When I was working up the History of the Occult workshop, I realized it was too huge a subject for an hour, and frankly, this is too much for the fifteen hours or so I’ll get of ‘clan time’ at Twilight. So I have to try to edit it down to just the core material.

When the Fall equinox came I switched out the colorful dishes we’d been using during the summer for a fall set- they are red, orange, gold and black, and I have (and got a few more) glasses from the dollar store with fall leaves on them. It would be a pity not to have at least one meal a day together.

I’ve been trying to make simple food so Kat can stomach it; sometimes it helps, sometimes not. She can eat ramen, although that’s one of the exceptions to the ‘only organic’ wheat products I aim at. But spaghetti usually works, meat loaf, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, pot roast, chicken fettuccini, occasionally we have a pizza- Kat can eat it and John can make it. Plain meat and potatoes or rice seem to not set her off. She’s really at the mercy of the stress. Recently she theorized that she could be considered to have an ‘eating disorder’ since it seems to be about stress not allergies. Roasts are good for Willow, because while Kat seems to do better with carbs, Willow needs more meat than most of us. She does better when she gets it, and she hasn’t been doing well recently. What with the commute, she’s only going to Keene twice a week, but she is wiped by that. We have been looking forward to the next appointment with the Dr. Gunning, since Willow was hoping to change medications that might help her sleep cycle, and Kat is hoping something will reduce the stress based nausea- but then we all slept through the appointment, and the next isn’t for another three months! In theory therapy helps, but I suspect that’s only when you are in a city where there are more mental health practitioners available, and you can pay the full rates.

On the other hand, Liz is doing much better. She tells me she’d forgotten what feeling happy felt like, and she sounds a lot better! She has had a really bad year between the cancer, the heart attack, and the hospitalization. I’m so glad things are looking up! This weekend she went down to a “Gender Reveal” Party at Erin’s. I was confused, I remember Erin having a gorgeous man on her arm at Kate’s wedding, and thought “gender reveal” must be a party letting your friends know that you were coming out Trans. I was totally wrong, apparently it’s a thing this generation does to let friends know the gender of their expected baby when they’re pregnant! My girls explained to me that this is a fairly normal thing for people in this generation to do, as ours had showers. Oh, and the reveal was it’s a boy. (Unless they got it wrong. I still figure it’s not perfect.)

I actually saw a news story about Farmington last week(?)- a building blew up while the firemen were checking a disturbing smell of leaking gas. I think two died and about half the Farmington FD were hospitalized. Splinters and insulation and other stuff rained down for a long time- it looked like pictures of 9-11.  The building that exploded was only a couple of lots from where Dad’s house was. They closed the fairgrounds for a day, the Fair was going at the time.  Liz said that people out in Industry could hear it if they were outdoors. It’s another reminder of the heroism of people who choose to become firefighters- they run in when everyone else is running out. I’m sure there are lots of wives and family members are reminded that they might not come home from a call.

While I have to confess to reading too much, I think I can just about cover it by saying mostly I’ve been reading the paranormal romance mysteries. Steve recommended the series by Amanda Lee: the Wicked Witches of the Midwest, and I basically read through them. They do follow the usual ‘psychic girl who falls in love with a cop’ formula, but the characters make that series special. There are 14 of the books, plus collections with 15 short stories (told from different characters point of view, which allows you to get a better understanding of them), plus another five with fantasy elements, because Lee thinks some people who like paranormal romance don’t like fantasy. (Go fig!) Then there was a cross-over: the first book in another series by the same author. The Charlie Rhodes series is a telekinetic who’s hiding in a group that is looking for proof of the paranormal. They all are gorgeous, and have hot boy friends who don’t believe in this stuff, so they keep it secret to avoid scaring them off. Since it’s written in first person you can see the Charlie misinterpreting things the romantic interest is saying through the lens of her insecurity. It seems real, even when you know she’s going to end up with him. That series only had five books in it, but in the third book,  they ran into another set of fun  characters. They seemed so well developed that I suspected another cross-over and am now reading the Covenant College series. Let’s face it, they are fluff. Like potato chips for the mind. In one book they were at a writers convention and I think Lee inserted her friends into the story because Lily Harper Hart is the name of the author of the series I was reading this spring. Some of these authors seem to churn out a book a month (probably writing like Dickens) they are amusing enough that I’m willing to keep reading them. Like a soap opera, you want to see what happens to the characters next.

I was rather amused when in one of the chapters in The Sociopath next Door, (I am reading some non-fiction!) one of the sociopaths described was a woman named Tillie- since the outrageous older witch is called Tillie and does as she pleases. On the other hand, the book (written by a therapist who spent 25 years treating the victims of sociopaths) says that they have no guilt or conscience. The fictional Tillie does. I cannot imagine being interested in a character who isn’t basically good. The sad part is that you can’t really tell who’s a sociopath because they are good at faking emotions. The big hint the doctor gives is that they try to make you feel sorry for them (think abusive husbands). It bugs me that there’s a lot of “self- help” advice out there that tells you to get away from toxic relationships. Not that I don’t think that that’s important, but it does seem to give greedy people permission be self centered. It’s a balancing act. We have to be nice to each other, and nice to ourselves too. If you put yourself first, you run the risk of not recognizing that others also need respect and consideration; I’m sure that that’s not what is intended, but as with anything, if taken to extremes, it’s not going to be healthy. I’m starting another book by the same doctor: The Myth of Sanity. On a lighter note, I’m reading a book on the history of seltzer.

I’m also reading more Agatha Christie Poirot mysteries, such as The Mysterious Affair at Styles: Poirot’s First Case. I love the movies, but I also love the books. The movies always reflect the period in which they were made, which I find interesting, but the stories hold up simply as good writing, with great characters (so many it’s often hard to keep track of them!).  I can’t quite remember whether I tripped over them or the movies first this go-around, but this past few weeks I watched 12 at dinner, Death in the clouds,  Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, and Evil under the Sun. I love Peter Ustinov’s Poirot, but even more than his portrayal, I love the score (a lot of Cole Porter), costuming, and masses of stars (from my generation). I realized I hadn’t yet seen the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie: Dead Men Tell no Tales, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I suppose I missed it because I tend to put off seeing movies until they come out on disc. Kat and I had fun “watching” (in a very loose sense), the second Mask movie. There was an earnestness in Jim Carry’s ‘frustrated romantic’ that pulled off the silliness, and didn’t work for the lead of the sequel. The reason we watched it was we knew that Alan Cumming played Loki in it, which sounded like a wonderful role for him. So we simply fast forwarded through the rest of the movie (lots of silliness with a dog and a baby), and just watched Loki’s scenes. Another good afternoon we had together was putting together a small jigsaw puzzle that the Sierra Club sent. Sometimes socialization simply requires something to do with your eyes and hands while you chat. Another movie I watched was called Fast Color. It was about a family with psychic abilities hiding from government guys who want to use those abilities in a climate change post-apocalyptic world. It’s a decent premise, but I want a happier ending.

I would like to think that I had more interesting experiences in the past three weeks than those I’ve just mentioned, but I can’t think of any. That’s depressing. It occurs to me that depending on how busy I am, I might not write next week either, as the clan leaders go to Twilight on Thursday (so if I go a day late, it’ll be a week late). You have been warned.

Tchipakkan

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean.” Keanu Reeve

Upcoming holidays that might amuse you:

 

Tchipakkan

The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life, and you must accept regret.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel, 1821 – 1881