Happy Dog Days of Summer!

The weather has been gorgeous! We have turned on the air conditioning a few times downstairs. (We only do if it goes over 80.) I think Kat uses the one in her room more.
The July flowers have come out- we have daisies and day lilies, roses, and mallows, sweet william, and a few stubborn pansies. I fear I neglected to go out for nasturtiums in time, so we won’t have those this year. I did pick up some lettuce and chard, but I fear they may have died before I got them in. I’m still nervous about ticks, and hesitant to go outside. There are lovely elderberry bushes and yarrow (and day lilies) blooming all over; a lot of white flowers just now. Campion.

I’ve been out a bit more than usual this week. We popped out yesterday to pick up corn on the cob and flea drops for the cats. (I never want to go through another summer with the poor cats dealing with fleas as they did before we decided to use the insecticide you put on their shoulders (so they can’t lick it), and lasts a month. On the way back home Willow pointed out a downed birch tree she passes every day and asked if we could see the writing. Well yes, it clearly says cat. I think it’s a “wonder” or anomaly rather than an omen though. After all, it’s right out where everyone who drives Center Road will see it, and most of us have cats. Cool, though. Our cats continue to be having dominance conflicts with the pretty “ossicat” patterned strange cat. While intellectually I know that cats don’t care much about human property lines, I find it offensive that this very pretty cat (who lives where?) comes into OUR driveway and growls at and intimidates OUR cats.  The other day Zoloft and Cera (I call her that, short for Cerebus, which in Greek means Spot, and she’s spotted) were mixing it up, fur actually flying, and Willow went out and told them to behave, and they stopped, and Willow picked up Zoloft and brought her inside. One would not generally recommend reaching into a cat fight! Willow has a good “intimidation” roll.
Yesterday I advanced the “pocket calendar”. This is not a calendar that fits in a pocket, but one made of cloth with pockets, each of which holds a 3×5 card, and shows 12 weeks at a time. We can put appointment cards in it, or the cat’s flea treatments. and about once a month I move all the cards up so that the current week is at the top. I suddenly realized that I think of the Great Northeastern War (GNEW) as the week after the 4th of July, but since this week the weekend bled over until Tuesday, and GNEW now wants the merchants to set up Thursday because the events are all on Friday and Saturday (Sunday is just for getting the heck out), that only today was between us and packing. Eep! So while doing the usual Wednesday letter writing, and podcast, I’m trying to finish the class handouts and pack garb, plan food, and all that as well. And I have to get the videos back to the library- I forgot to send them with Willow when she left.
Traditionally we also put up a “Pennsic Panic Calendar”. This goes back to the old house, and when the printer was dot matrix. We put up a sheet of printer paper (do you remember when it had the little holes down the side that you ripped off after printing?) and put stickers (because we could pick them up free at the recycling center, because Labelart tossed out misprints and ends of rolls there) on with the tasks we needed to do. These days we tend to use “stickies” for each task, which means that often they get moved from day to day (until the gum doesn’t work). On the other hand, we have a nail on which we spike the task stickies as they get done, and that’s really satisfying. We used to put it mid July, a month before Pennsic started. Then Pennsic crept earlier and earlier, but still, I tend not to think of it as being needed in June. Suddenly realizing yesterday that we were leaving for GNEW tomorrow, and I hadn’t done the handouts yet has me a bit purturbed. Avi has a business trip next week, so we’re planning to pack up as much as we can on Saturday night, so we can bug out as quickly as possible. The site REALLY wants everyone out by noon (or maybe they say noon to get us out by one), and that’s about when we usually leave, and although Mapquest and Googlemaps say that it’s a 3 hour drive, I know that when we get to the NH turnoff the sun is usually setting into our eyes. Since the sun sets at 8:30, that implies that it takes us eight hours (from noon to eight) for the first two hours of that trip. Gosh I hope I’m remembering that wrong- maybe I’m conflating GNEW with getting back from Clearwater having left around two. Still, I know that holiday traffic really slows things down. Then Willow’s going to be staying over with the kids while Avi’s away, so Pennsic Prep will be from when we get back from GNEW (and a week after that for Willow) until July 28th. Once again, Willow’s Birthday is the first day of Pennsic. We will have to try to do something earlier in the week because 14 hours of driving with a trailer isn’t much of a celebration.
Just to complicate things, I have a toothache. I’d been embarassed by how long it took me to pay Dr. Roy (our local dentist), so we switched a few years ago to Dr. Edwards, who has a larger more modern office, with lots of staff. (Cindy, Dr. Roy’s dental assistant doubles as his receptionist). But after a few repairs, I’ve come to the conclusion that Dr. Roy is actually better- his reconstructions are fit more tightly, and shaped more comfortably. So I’ve called him, and I’ll have to admit my foolishness. And, as with most of America, I had to chose between having my car checked and my tooth checked. Luckily, Willow’s car is lovely.
Well, not entirely. The air conditioning and radio weren’t working (not surprising in an older car), and she took it in to get new freon put in, but it turned out that the part that holds the freon is cracked. Replacing it would be $800 because he’d have to take the whole engine out to get at it, and even just some sort of cluge/ patch/ work-around would cost $300. The sound system is equally un-fixable. Willow’s dealing with that by putting in a couple of headphones (or speakers, I’m not sure) that go with an MP3 player, taped to the dashboard.
On the other hand, she’s put on the Rose decals Dan sent her, and the car is now findable in a parking lot. Apparently car decals are not expensive. I may get one to help me with mine. I think 90% of cars are Silver, White, or black, which is not only dull, but makes parking lots even harder in which to find a silver car!
Willow’s been going over to Avi’s from about noon to 5-6 since it’s summer. She says she hadn’t realized how totally “in the boonies” we are until she tried to keep two kids occupied and out of their mother’s hair for five hours a day. It was easier when it was just after school and Avi wasn’t working from home. She’s actually hoping to buy a house with a separate office (with a door between her and the kids), which I’m sure would help. I remember a writer who told her kids (like Avi’s old enough to not require in-the-same-room oversight) that when she was working, she wasn’t going to come out unless the house was on fire, or blood was flowing under the door. She’d made her office out of an unused bedroom at the top of the stairs, and one day heard a terrible sustained crashing. Rushing out, she found her sone calmly eating an ice-cream cone at the top of the stairs. He’d pushed a chair down the stairs to see what she’d do if she heard a crash. I totally wouldn’t put that past Bianca (and I’m not telling her- to give her any ideas!).
I was also amused to hear that Avi told Bianca that she cannot come along on house inspections because she knows that Bianca might “see a spider and declare that they couldn’t buy that house”. Willow was amused that Bianca did not argue this point with her mother.
Avi brought her kids over here on Saturday so that she could go to Canobie Con for at least a few hours. It was no trouble to me because they are much entranced with our wii system and played it for hours on end. Caylen also played with Lego, and Bianca played games on her phone until it lost battery, at which point she plugged it in and kept playing. (and Avi says, she called her and asked her when she’d get back. Oh well, I’d have tried to give her more time if I’d noticed that.) I have to admit that John did most of the interacting with them. He was very patient, although eventually he got frustrated because they don’t play the games the way one would expect. Well, why not? When I was using it daily, I would “bike” all over their virtual landscape just to see what was there. Since I’m not going out much, I should probably start again.
 The girls had headed for Canobie Con first thing. Since Willow won the costume contest last year, she got in free this year. This year she was another pokemon trainer (and I haven’t gotten a picture of her), but this is what she was going for. She chose longer white shorts- since who needs chafing, but made the hat, and had the socks, the shirt, all the accessories. She used “shrinks-dinks” to make the pendant and earrings, and she found some white sneakers. Not only were they cool for this outfit, but they also light up! Ever since they started making the shoes with the lights in them, we’ve wanted them, but couldn’t find them in adult sizes. They didn’t think that adults would want colored lights on their shoes?
They come with settings for picking what color or pattern of colors to use, and an off button, and a recharging wire! How cool is that! I am seriously considering getting some for myself. Willow has a long tradition of picking Cos-play outfits that will work in the running around an amusement park all day venue.
Kat opted to wear her skirt made with the fabric with 12 Doctor’s on it. Apparently the current Doctor is about to regenerate again, so it will be “obsolete” as soon as the new regeneration is aired. She had an extremely bouphant petticoat on, and looked adorable. I was surprised that it even stood up to the water rides. (The girls were more pleased that both of their white shirts stayed opaque when wet.)
John and I went over to Mark’s to help him with his locker again. We (by which you really must understand that I mean John) carried up about 10-12 boxes of books up to his apartment. He’s been bringing them up from his storage locker himself one box at a time, using the office space we cleared during the winter. It is now positively awash with books! I think he’s decided that if he hasn’t used stuff in years, he might as well get rid of it. It’s still hard, when it’s still good stuff. Lots of books, lots of little lead gaming figures, who knows what? It’s really hard to have 2-3 boxes of Analogues (it’s a Science Fiction magazine), which have the same value of containing really good stories, but how do you find someone who wants them? One hates to chuck them- but then, Mark doesn’t want to continue paying to store them either! What a pity there’s no SF club to which he could donate them.
We saw Mark again on Sunday. He came back for another game of Scrabble and supper. We grilled some steaks and had corn on the cob, which I knew he liked. (He’s old enough that he sees no reason to eat anything he doesn’t like anymore. The sirloin and London Broil were the same price this week, so I got one of each and we were able to do a side-by side test. We decided that they taste almost exactly the same, but that the sirloin was a bit more tender. Fine- whichever is cheaper then! Now we know. Sadly, I also tried to get a bottle of Diet Pepsi for Mark, because that’s what he drinks at restaurants. There were so many varieties: Pepsi with and without caffiene, with and without sugar, with and without cherry, Pepsi Zero, … when I finally located the plain Diet Pepsi, I apparently just grabbed one and put it in my cart, and when I got home, it turned out to be a Diet Cherry Pepsi. I don’t know anyone who’ll drink that. If I took it to the dump would someone take it? Mark suggests GNEW.
Steve came up on Monday, and we had German Potato Salad, and hot dogs (and mixed melon fruit salad). After we ate we watched some of the Secret Agent/Danger Man dvds Mark had loaned me. I continue to be flattered that people are willing to drive over an hour just to spend time with me/us. I do think Steve is amused by the family activity. Kat was having trouble while he was there. I have continued making the rolled flatbread sandwiches for lunching convenience. (It gets real food in when hunger gets stronger than heat induced lethargy.) I had put tomatoes in some- I figured people would be able to see them, and indeed Kat (who cannot eat them) did, although she thought she’d be alright if she removed the bits. Apparently that wasn’t enough, and she lost her whole lunch, poor thing. I am SO glad I don’t have that problem. Although when I was young, I used to be car sick at the least distance. I’d barf between Farmington and the lake, which is only 7 miles. Guaranteed to vomit on any long trip. Well, Kat and I got into an exchange of regurgitation stories- including the sad one about mozzerella sticks (I’ll leave that to your imagination), and one back when she used to mix herself up “toxic waste”- a sort of salad dressing that had so much capsicum in it that it was red, and no one else in the house could eat it. One time she managed to get some in her sinuses, and worse, some of the lettuce up there with it, trapping it in all its incandescent glory, so it was hard to get rid of for quite some time. Frankly, I could easily imagine some stand-up comic doing this up-chucking routine for a paying audience because she is quite a good story teller. And Steve seemed amused. I’m sure it helps that he lives alone and only get’s this sort of interaction at our house.
 On the fourth, we had burgers (and corn, and potato salad again), and we set off a few fireworks fountains around 9 when it was nearly dark. We went into the middle of the road (“aim at the moon!”) and each shot off a hand held wand. We discovered this year that they are actually labeled! I guess we didn’t have enough light to read them before. There were ones called “cracklers” and ones called “report”. I was lucky enough to get one that only shot colored balls without benefit of extra noise. We like the fountains. Color, sparks (“not over the car!”). Luckily the drought is over, and everything is green and moist. I still think fireworks are better suited to New Years Eve (with snow-cover!), or on the end of the dock so they go out into the lake. 
Cool trivia, one of my friends, Master Leiftameon in the SCA) was apparently among those ringing the bells for the Boston Pops 1812 Overture on the Esplanade this year. It wouldn’t be the same without the church bells ringing! We only went to that once- when we were in Malden. SCAers took their banners so we could find each other!
Other things- we got a large container of blueberries, and Willow expressed interest in a blueberry pound cake when the blueberry pancakes turned out to be not safe for Kat. (Did you know that blueberries and tomatoes are related closely enough that someone allergic to one is probably allergic to the other?) As with her father, Kat can eat both cooked, and neither raw. Although John quipped “If a pound cake is a pound of each ingredient, why isn’t a cup cake a cup of each ingredient?” (too much shortening, I think) I opted for a half pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs. I waited until nearly midnight so it would cool off, and then put the batter in small loaf pans, hoping that it would speed up the cooking (and the time the oven was on).  In theory it made two pounds of cake (spread over 4 pans, so half pound cakes). When you think about it, a traditional pound cake would be 4 pounds if it contains a pound each of four ingredients. I’ll make it for an event, but I didn’t think we needed that much. I put the thick batter in the bottom of the pans, and mixed the blueberries into the rest and put that on top, but when we took them out, I’m afraid that the blueberries had sunk to the bottom. I’ve heard several mechanisms for keeping the fruit up, but so far haven’t found one that worked.
I intended to take a picture, but the cake(s) didn’t last long enough. The good news is that Kat could eat it safely. Given that even in the small pans, it took the full 75 minutes that pound cake takes to bake, I should think so!

I’ve done a good bit of work on the CTCW website. Spent many hours with Thor on Friday generating Panel descriptions. The thing about panels is that they have several people who are sharing different perspectives on an issue. It’s easier to come up with ideas when talking to someone and bouncing things back and forth. I’ve been wanting to do this for two months, but this was the first time the two of us were available at the same time. Sadly, we only did about a dozen and we need twice that. We have, I think, time-slots  for 18 panels, but we post those and then speakers sign up to be panelists. We run the ones that get enough panelists first. I think my problem is that I don’t think like other people and if other people would contribute ideas, we’d have more variety. Both Thor and I have a “sociology is fascinating” world view, and I’m not sure that’s why people come to the con.
I’m still involved with the con, but I have to say that having Maryalyce and Kathy and the others taking so much of the work has left me feeling interested but not overwhelmed. Also, I think Maryalyce is much better at organizing than I am. I think the new site she’s found, although I don’t like that I’ll have to travel so far (to the Hudson Valley  sounds wonderful. Apparently it’s an old resort that’s just been bought by a new company, is undergoing renovations, and the staff is very excited about the con. She was there taking measurements (where are the windows, where are the outlets) for the vendors room on Sunday, and mentioned the drum circle and the staff asked if they could have it in the lobby so they could enjoy it. Usually the hotel staff don’t know anything about the event; we are just whichever one they are setting up for this week.  We have filled up the reader slots, we are soon going to have filled up all the class spots, and (typically) are beginning to get inquiries from people who want to speak this year. If we get any more vendors we may have to get another room (a bigger room, which would give us another set of rooms for classes, but they have convinced me that too many options are not as welcome as I’d have expected.) It also occurs to me that if I’m going to speak at Pagan Pride days this september, I’d better contact them. Since I was sick last year, I may have come off their lists.
I am trying not to pay too much attention to the politics on the internet. The goal is to be informed, and not distracted by the stupid stuff. Rachel Maddow offered a theory that the most provocative tweets may be intentional attempts to divert attention from important legislation- and the Russia scandal. It’s getting pretty damned clear that the Russians interfered in the election, and that many people in the Trump campaign were in contact with them, which is really, literally treason. It also seems that many of the Republicans in Congress are colluding in an attempt to pursue their agendas, although I cannot imagine what benefit they could expect from dismantling the school system, the EPA, the FDA, and so much else. Yes, there is a certain conservative platform that is White, Christian, and “it was better in the old days”, without recognizing that what seemed simpler was simply keeping how awful it was for women, minorities hidden and thus pretending that it wasn’t. Yes, much of it takes the form of benefits for the rich so they can make more money (why?, what do they want it for?). Selling off the public lands for exploitation? Why? What harm would it do the rich to have a few millions less hidden in the Camens, or one less yaught or jet? I’m pretty sure they don’t see money the way we do as a resource to make life better. I think they see it as a game or how to score a game they’re playing. There’s no advantage to trashing a natural site, except the thrill of having gotten hold of the resource for less than it is worth. I think it’s going to take many lifetimes for them to learn just what harm they caused.
I have much more sympathy for the guys who have believed the lies and are now resisting any evidence that they are wrong. They are longing for a mythic “golden age” that didn’t exist and that they have been told can return if they support the candidates. The candidates are simply going with whatever their sponsors want, because their goal is to maintain their seat- their power to do stuff. I’m fairly certain they initially started on this path in an effort to do some good, and have been convinced that they can’t do it without being elected, and that means doing what the corporate sponsors want. It’s so very close to selling your soul to the devil. At least the corporations are getting benefits we can understand, I never really understood what the devil wanted with souls. So they
So, much craziness on the internet. This week during a discussion about an article talking about a panel some Democrats are trying to form to use the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office if he was found to be incapacitated. Someone I don’t know (one assumes a friend of a friend- or maybe someone searching for keywords) said: “WHY DON’T YOU GO TO THE LIGHT AND STFU!! YOU’RE TOXIC AND A HAG!!” (and went downhill from there); she posted several anti-liberal, and anti-democratic images. Poor Cathy Kane tried to reason with her, giving links to evidence against some of her claims, but a troll doesn’t want to look at evidence, a troll wants to upset people. Luckily Cathy is pretty chill, but this is an indication that some people do feel this way, or are at least willing to say so.
I’d rather not get sucked into that sort of exchange. At the same time, one needs to stay aware. I’m sad when people who want to resist some of the attacks on the constitution by the current administration stoop to name calling and hyperbole. We don’t NEED hyperbole when congressment are having police eject elderly and handicapped protesters from their offices because they don’t want to talk to them- to attempt to push through a bill that last I heard has a 12% approval rating. When an executive order this week turned over (can it do that?) the Johnson Amendment, which is the one that says that church’s tax exempt status is dependent upon their staying out of politics. They WANT to be able to bribe churches into speaking for them. We don’t need hyperbole when the House Administration Committee voted to eliminate Election Assistance Commission, the one that moniters elections and keeps them honest. We don’t need hyperbole when Pence (who was head of the Trump Transition team) says he hadn’t heard about information that was sent to the transition team. They keep trying the “just keep lying with a straight face, and maybe the others will get tired before you do” technique. It’s taking us a long time because we’re doing fact checking, we’re doing things legally. It’s just frustrating that it takes so long, and they can keep doing harm while we are trying to stop them. This administration is like an oil or toxic waste spill. Cleaning it up is going to be a long expensive, painstaking, process that will take so much longer to finish than creating it took, and we’ll probably be too late for some of the victims. We want to move quickly to minimize the damage, but not enough that our attempts cause more problems.
Enough politics. I finally watched Moana, we’ll definitely get a copy so we can watch it again, (when it’s cheap enough). I also watched the Brides of Dracula (when “watching” Avi’s kids. When she arrived I told her I was traumatizing her kids.) It was a Peter Cushing as Van Helming from Hammer Horror, one of the first vampire films I ever saw. It was in the Hammer Horror collection. This also included Nightmare, no supernatural stuff, just a girl being gaslighted to think she was crazy so the executor of her parents estate could get her money. They sure made creepy films back then. In many ways they were much scarier than the blood and special effects soaked movies we have now. I also rewatched the Curse of the Werewolf. Oliver Reed plays a young man, Leon (because he was born on Christmas) who becomes a werewolf by that accident of his birth. Really, this film was more true to most werewolf lore than most. I also watched Werewolf of London, in which the dying werewolf says “thanks for the bullet”, because it’s based on the concept of losing control of your violent side and attacking those you love.
  I have pretty much finished the Lycanthropy Reader (lots of original (if translated) stories, and hope I can get a quick one-page handout done tonight. I’ve tried to read The White Devil, it has a lot of good illustrations, but seems to have been exposed to some chemical which is so smelly I haven’t been able to bring myself to read it.
 I finished the Good Fairies of New York a very funny story about fairies from many lands interacting with humans in the city (a few hung out in Central Park), looking for lost artifacts and innocently interfering in humans lives. They remind me of the Comedy Crib Drunk Fairies  although those seem smaller and more Victorian. Still, we don’t tend to think of Fairies in the city. I really enjoyed the book, but still wonder- did I miss the explanation of why all those homeless people were dying, or is that just a fact of urban homelessness that the Scottish fairies were commenting on because it was new to them, and it was just expected by city dwellers? If so, I would have hoped for some explanation, and I don’t remember one.
Gotta get going, I didn’t even find a guest for the New Normal this week, so I’m going to be blithering about Changing Times Changing Worlds- which should be easy because it seems to be coming along so well. I sure hope so. First make supper, then podcast, then class handout, post holidays, then pack my garb for this weekend.
In case you think it’s fun (as I do)
Tomorrow, July 8, is International Kissing Day, and Fried Chicken Day
7 Friday is Strawberry Sundae Day, Chocolate  Day, & Tell the Truth Day
8 Saturday is Chocolate with Almonds Day, Coca Cola Day, Body Painting Day
9 Sunday is sugar cookie day, Fashion Day, and Call of the Horizon Day
10 Monday, Pina Colada Day, Teddybears Picnic Day, International Town Criers Day
11 Tuesday is Blueberry Muffin Day and Cheer up the Lonely Day
12 next Wednesday is Pecan Pie Day, Different colored Eyes Day, & Etch a sketch Day
and yes, of the dozen or more holidays each day, I pick the food and fun ones.
“I only laugh to keep from weeping.” (from a Knights Tale but so appropriate for the way we are turning to satire to deal with the political situation.)
Sorry about that- I clicked the little paper airplane when I meant to click the paperclip (send not attach image), so you’ve already seen half of this. You also got a view of how I write the letter- collecting pictures and lists of things I want to remember to mention. You can ignore that. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”!