1-11-2017 Milk Day

dsc02727First, an apology and explanation: I didn’t write last week because I didn’t have a computer, and while I occasionally borrowed Willow’s, I didn’t want to deal with doing it on hers. I’ll go into that in more detail, but that’s the simple explanation.

We have had our expected bit of wicked cold weather this past week, and a couple snowstorms. Apparently Saturday was a big one in southern New England, Steve got 6 inches, we only got two. The big thing was that it was Joanie’s birthday Saturday, and the girls went down to celebrate with her and Raye, (the snow was just starting) and the driving was hard on the way back. The next day she was exhausted, and griped that in theory, driving shouldn’t be tiring. I knew that it was/is. Steve was still able to get dug out and come up on Sunday. She was lucky though, she hadn’t known that when there’s a snow emergency, she could easily have been towed. They theorize that she may have been protected by her handicapped tag. I don’t need the one I got when I had Lyme disease anymore, but she found it so useful that she finally got one. She doesn’t need it all the time, but sometimes just walking across a parking lot can be too much for her. Sadly, she shares with many folks with hidden handicaps the feeling that she is being judged by those who see her use the tag and don’t see a wheelchair or crutches. Phoeey on them! They should learn to accept that these are decisions only the person involved gets to make!

lizs-car-snow-2016So I guess the last time you heard from me was last year (December 28, “the unluckiest day of the year”), when I talked about Christmas, what we got for presents, our cookies this year, and getting the wood into the shed. It’s been really nice having the space for 3 cars out front again, and having wood in the shed.
Since there was a “storm coming” I scheduled posts for holidays for the next few days, and did some baking and reading. The computer started to stop running off and on, and I was very pleased that Steve had made sure the back up drive was working. (More so now). We didn’t lose power however. We got 8”, but Liz called, and she got 22”! (Plus, the berm is plowed right behind her car, so with drifting, her car was buried! (She did get it dug out eventually and with help.)

We didn’t get around to having Latkes during Hannuka, but we had them last weekend. Even though I only made two potatoes worth per person, there were still too many, and we just finished them today- which isn’t bad. In fact, as I understand it, it’s par for the course for Hannuka. Lisa used to make 50 pounds of potatoes into latkes for the three of them, and I suppose, whoever shared them as well. I guess I need to learn how to make a small batch of latkes because they really are too good to have only once a year. (On the other hand, I say that every year.)

feast-of-small-foodsWe had our usual “Feast of Small Foods”- basically hors d’oevres- for New Years Eve. Steve came up for that, but we all went right to bed after the New Year’s Hugs and attempts to eat 12 grapes. It was cold, and Willow was working the next day (because Avi was working the next day- WTF Verizon?) so we didn’t even try fireworks this year.  I will try to remember the foods we had: We still have at least a dozen types of cookies left (since they are in jars in the back hall, they are probably close to frozen) and mince pies, fudge and peanut clusters (I re-upped the brownies and Cinnamon horns). Hot ones included pizza pockets, boneless barbecue chicken lumps, baked brie, egg rolls, jalapeño pockets, bacon puffs; cold included shrimp cocktail, a huge bowl of fresh strawberries and grapes, stuffed celery, and a large tray of crudités, a selection of cheese and crackers, Cheetos and 2 kinds of chips. Tea, soda, cider, and sparkling cider for toasting. I think that’s it- it was certainly enough to keep us in nibbles for a few days.tayaki-2017
On New Years, rather than mother’s preferred Black Eyed Peas, we had Tayaki- fish shaped pastries filled with red bean paste. I made some black beans- but didn’t start them soaking soon enough and they weren’t ready before the third. And THEN, when I put a bit of red pepper in it, there was only a tiny bit left in the bottle, so I threw that in “why not?”. I’ll tell you why not: I’d carefully made only a tiny portion and that was too much capsicum for the amount of beans! The answer is LOTS of rice to go with the black beans!
Kat did a year end video, but isn’t as happy with this years as she has been in the past. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4DDzJw_br0
Another thing that kept my attention was this year’s pilgrimage by the historian Steven Payne  This year he had built a coracle (that tiny round boat on his back), and was going down the Wye river. steven-payne-and-wyeknotHe started in the mountains of Wales and walked where the river wasn’t coracle friendly, and he posts (posted) pictures and reports of his progress along the way. On the 29th he decided to try actually filming while in the coracle, and discovered that it was a boat that requires complete attention. He posted footage of the capsizing, managed to toss the camera phone onto the shore and get himself out, but the next footage was of the Wye Knot (full- basically it’s rim) floating downstream. As he turned it on himself he was surprised to note that some of the liquid running down his face was blood- where he’d found a rock in the river. He did manage to complete his pilgrimage- although on foot, and with many comments from his fb followers to take better care of himself. I was surprised that no one found the coracle- had we been in the area we’d sure have gone looking for it. Good thing he was wearing wool! And they think SCAers are nuts!

Oh, another share- the best documentary of the SCA that I’ve ever seen, it’s by Raiya Corsiglia who I assume is in the SCA.  https://vimeo.com/196029359  I think the thing I liked about it was that it shows lots of craftsmen and simple SCA activities, not just the usual fighting and belly dancing that are so often shown. One thing I did notice was that the bulk of those filmed were older- like me. When I joined the SCA it was wonderful, but it looked odd, because there were no graybeards, no pages, everyone was between 15 and 25 (except John of Canterbury who was 35 and we all worried he might be too old to fight!). Now I wonder if we’ve gotten to the point where it costs so much to play we aren’t going to attract enough young people to keep it going. I know I’d sure like to attract some young people to help me with the physical stuff in exchange for my teaching the skills I’ve learned (not that I don’t learn skills from people younger than me.) But while it’s good to have the gorgeous stuff we make, there must be a place for people who are just starting.

OK- now to the major disaster of the week, replacing the computer. It finally died and didn’t come back, so we packed it up and took it to the Apple Store in the Nashua (Pheasant Lane) Mall on Monday. BIG mistake. Apparently school was not yet back in session and everyone was there. We got there before noon, were given an appointment at 3. So we went to a restaurant, got them to give us a table far from the crowds, and ate a very intentionally extended meal- hors d’ouvres, sandwiches, we had planned on dessert (although full) but then Apple called and said they could take us a bit earlier. Yay. I went in and waited- again (I guess they were overly optimistic). When I saw them, the gentleman told me that it was a problem with my display, and it would cost ~$700 to fix, and we could replace it with a new one for about $1000. Sigh. Take it back to the car. Talk to the girls. I decided that I was already having trouble dealing with not having a computer, so since I’d need to replace it sooner or later, if I did it sooner, it would be less stressful emotionally, and no more stressful financially, so I should go for it. We wen’t back in, and got ANOTHER appointment. “Wait at that table, someone will come for you. It’ll be about 15 minutes.” It was so full I couldn’t get a stool. Kat was overstimulated and Willow was exhausted, so they waited in the stuffed chairs outside. And waited. After an hour- about 5, they came in to see how I was doing. Willow looked at the products around the store and couldn’t find anything like my iMac for less than $1200, and I started feeling lied to. This is not a good thing. I’d waited where I was told to, and no one had come. Willow asked one of the many employees who were scattered about the store with tablets trying to keep the customers happy. No, my name wasn’t on the cue, apparently it had come and gone. We figure someone had called my name and when I didn’t answer, assumed that I’d given up and gone home.  This bugged me so much that I was rather loud in my complaints, and embarrassed the girls. Sometimes when you do that, someone comes up to try to make you less cranky, but it didn’t work this time.
After I’d calmed down (Wednesday morning) I called the store and explained my distress to a manager. He apologized and offered me an “educators” discount, which took a fifty dollars off the machine, and fifty off the service plan, and I was good with that. I went in on Thursday and just got it.
I spent a great deal on money that Thursday because I’d also broken another tooth on New Years, and went in (twice) on Thursday (cleaning and inspection at 7:30, repair at 11:45). I am also starting the search for an oral surgeon to do the first part of the implant process. I hate getting old. It’s expensive.
On the other hand, while I didn’t feel up to writing the letter on Willow’s computer, I did manage to pull off the New Normal, and that show went pretty well. We were talking about how to pick what sort of divination for the question you need answered. Somethings were going OK. Bear and Jean came over, we’re talking about putting some of his blades and other metalwork out on the Cabochons at Pennsic. That probably calmed me down too. It was also pretty neat to have “a whole day” freed up by not writing the letter. In truth, writing it only takes a few hours, but I get distracted so often, functionally it does take the whole day (that and getting ready for the New Normal Podcast Wednesday nights). Last week I talked about how to figure out which system of divination was best for what sort of information you are looking for. Tonight I talked about the history of the Neo-pagan movement ,
joanies-bdOn Saturday we had the storm and the girls went down to Raye’s for Joanie’s birthday. Willow made Joanie a robe based on an anime character- the cool part is the stuffed collar, which is like a neck pillow (aside from looking like the original robe). Kat made her a necklace and lacy stockings. I think it’s great that in their circle everyone makes presents for each other- and they love them. This is what gift giving should be!

Steve got up and brought me some wires and do-hickeys and managed to get the backups from my backup drive into the new computer. I’d been worried since we brought it home and turned it on. Remember the last time I thought I was backed up and I wasn’t- that was awful. So until it was completed, I was still feeling insecure about whether my files, contacts, and pictures were actually saved. (Losing so much about CTCW has been a real handicap for us.)  In the five years since then, they’ve made a lot of changes, so even backed up, there’s a lot that’s different. They took out Microsoft Word and replaced it with “Pages”- which I’ll have to learn how to use, and may have to take my old Word files and reformat them. My mail program, which I stuck with because I understood it, has been reformatted, so now I don’t. I had to call up Apple Support again today- trying not to cry because I couldn’t find all my old letters.
Explain this one to me- to find them you have to hover your cursor over a blank space in order to make the word “show” appear, and then when you click that, the missing files are shown. HOW THE HELL are you supposed to know to do that?! It’s like an Easter egg!  There was a similar thing for my pictures. They’ve replaced iPhoto with Photos- and I used to be able to crop and enhance pictures on iPhoto, I find no way to do that on Photos.  Also it stores your pictures “on the cloud”. What if you don’t want your pictures on the cloud? (I was thinking it might make them safer, but yesterday a friend was complaining how not taking the options they want you to take screws up their whole system and she can’t do things she wants to do, just because she’s trying to keep her data secure.) Once your photos are on the cloud, you can’t get at them without their permission. I’m beginning to feel I should invest the time and materials into printing out copies of all the old pictures I want to keep. I lost all the pictures from when we went digital to the last computer crash and I don’t want to lose the ones I’ve taken since then.
All sorts of things went floppy. The mouse now scrolls up when I roll the wheel down (they showed me how to fix that- apparently that’s “natural”; I’m used to the PC format). The Photo Booth automatically flips your pictures so east is west and back is front- so in the picture of me it shows my left where my right should be…. Or maybe that’s for me looking in a mirror and not for everyone else. Still, it looks wrong to me and isn’t what I’m used to. It comes with safari not Firefox, and if you want to copy the URL, it doesn’t show, so how can you share a link?
I suppose I will gradually learn how to use the new programs and applications, but meanwhile I’m frustrated. (Tonight, when I went to the Blog-talk studio, my show wasn’t set up, someone else’s was, and I couldn’t get in touch with the producer (he had a power outage). So I did what Willow tells me I have to do, I poked around and tripped over how to set it up myself. (The words they use are so nebulous I’m never sure whether I’m going to “erase the entire internet” or something else important because what is clear to someone who knows what the link does is not necessarily clear to someone who’s never used it before. “Edit your show” seems to me more likely to mean that I’d be taking the other host’s show off the queue, not just inserting a new one for myself. STRESS!
They changed my address book so a lot of things didn’t show, and a LOT of pages close when you want to follow a link so you have to start over when you want to go back to where you were. I suppose I’ll get used to it. I CAN learn new things. I was so frustrated in the (not even a whole) week without a computer that I have pulled out the tablet that I got as a backup after the last crash and have been learning to use it. Yesterday it reminded me when it was time to go to my acupuncture appointment. (Of course, there are downsides. I had put reminders on my calendar to tell me to tell the girls to set the table and make salad, and apparently this time Kat and my computers are talking behind our backs, and Kat had to tell her computer to stop sharing my reminders, because she already had her computer reminding her.
I’m not sure (since we stuck the broken one in storage), but I think that my replacement computer may be slightly smaller than the old one. It doesn’t have the option to split the screen in four, only two, and that might simply be another difference, or it may be this is less computer. I don’t make movies, so I don’t think I need more- and the larger one was another several hundred dollars.

I spent Monday starting on the blog posts for the CTCW website for this year. We really need to lock a hotel in so we can start promoting it. The theme is Joy this year, and I think we need it.

This week the plumber was going to come and fix the shower- the part is in, but his car broke, he’ll be here tomorrow. We are all looking forward to being able to take showers without having to go into the closet and turn the water on. John and Willow are looking forward to baths, and I’m thinking the well may have recovered enough. We are now actually doing laundry- one load a day doesn’t worry me. Actually we did two on the day it went down to 0º just so that we could direct exhaust heat from the dryer into the cellar.

This morning there was much frustration as we tried to call our senator to express how very much we don’t like the senate trying to push the appointment confirmations through before the results are back on the background checks. I swear the list of things I feel worthy of calling about is growing, and (as happened this morning), the volume appears to be having a bad impact on trying to get through.
I was very pleased to read about the spike in calls that made the attempt of the new Congress to dismantle the Ethics office back off. I will hold this hope to me, that people WILL find the energy to keep calling and reminding their representatives that technically they are supposed to be representing our wishes and our good, not that of their contributors. Still, today I see that Paul Ryan (next in line after Pence) posted guards to keep Planned Parenthood from delivering the petitions they collected to his office. We are going to have to be VERY active to resist the dirty tricks that are being attempted this regime. Someone suggested techniques, and said that they’d only take an hour a day. That sort of estimate is going to scare people off. One phone call a day shouldn’t. (Of course, if the lines are always busy, one call COULD take an hour.)
dsc02725Sometime in the past week I heard about a project. Apparently the women’s march the day after the inauguration was started as a fb event by some old lady in Hawaii (I think that’s neat), and someone came up with the idea of them all wearing pink hats. People who can’t go, can send hats to help make the impact greater. So I have been knitting “Pink Pussy Hats”. They’re called that because they’re folded rectangles that when put on a (sort of) spherical head, leave the two corners sticking out like kitty ears. Of course we know why they’re being called pussy hats rather than kitty hats. I read today that there was a reason when I went back to get another skein of the fat pink yarn there wasn’t any. (Each made 1.5 hats!) Stores seem to be running out of pink yarn. I expect the overhead pictures of the march will be great! Of course, this may have as much truth to it as Trumps assertion that wedding shops are running out of formal inauguration gowns. I’m sure he hasn’t got a monopoly on fooling himself!dsc02726

Today Willow is spending the night with Avi. She went into the hospital today for surgery, and while her boyfriend drove her back, Willow decided to stay over and sleep on the couch to make sure that she takes it easy tonight. This gave me a chance to use the “sleepover” sticker on my calendar. I’m sure that it’s meant for Mothers with school kids as most the stickers are for practices, lessons, games, no-school days etc. But we can use the ones for doctor and dentist visits. I’ve been getting the Boyton Mom’s calendar for years now. Willow got me an almanac one for beside the computer, and I have one with big spaces where I write down what we had for dinner. This lets me check back when I find leftovers and see when we first had them before I decide whether it’s still good to eat! (Also what we haven’t had recently- I am very fond of variety.) Now that we’re into January we’re taking down the Christmas decorations (it ALWAYS takes longer than I expect!), and putting away the holly dishes, and bringing out the blue ones with snowflake patterns (except most of those have broken- pout).

john-and-prilMonday I learned that John Richman died. John Richman was one of the most wonderful men I have ever known. The Richman lived in NYC, but in the summer came up to Clearwater, as Pril had lived in Farmington (been friends with my mother) when they were girls. Cathy was my best friend and we walked (and swam) back and forth between the camps all summer, every summer when I was a kid. Unlike so many adults, John acted like he really enjoyed having us around- no condescension. I feel blessed by the time I spent with him as a child and am sort of kicking myself for not getting up to hang around with him more as an adult. Pril and John were some of my parents best friends. I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised when people in their 80s die, but it’s hard to lose someone who is one of the fixtures of your life, even if you’ve been taking their existence for granted. Go, contact your old friends and mentors, you’ll feel better for it. Thanks for everything John.
I guess that’s why I try to be friends with so many people on fb, I want to know what’s happening. I know John ap Wynn was in an accident and has been being put back together with multiple surgeries, on a more pleasant note, I am enjoying watching Rachel Werthimer’s twins grow. I am frustrated by vague booking- hearing that someone is hurting but not knowing why really bothers me. Sometimes I’ll read about it on one page, then go to the person’s page and they haven’t mentioned it at all! I expect they don’t want to seem like whiners. But, Frustrating!

photo-on-1-11-17-at-3-58-pmBest news- bit of a smile. While working on my new computer, I tried the Photo Booth and noticed just the beginning of movement on my right side- a bit of a smile. It’s a beginning. Probably the best news of the weeks. I also weighed myself on the wii, I’m back up to 260, but it could be worse. Personally I feel better with the leg workout I get from the log splitter my sisters got me last Christmas than running in place on the balance board!

Argh! It’s getting late! Quickly, I’ll say that I finished a Bujold’s World of 5 Gods series:  Paladin of Souls,  Hallowed Hunt, Penric’s Demon, Penric and the Shaman,and Penric’s Mission. It’s hardly surprising that they were wonderful, she’s a wonderful writer. I particularly liked Penric, he was a good and nice guy. I also a read book called The White Cat which was sort of a Godfather meets Sorcerers Apprentice thing- but mostly about family. At what point does when a family member screwing you over mean that it’s OK for you not to go along with what’s good for them? I’m not sure that magick changes that situation at all. I also read the first in the Beforever stories that came with the AG mini-doll Willow got this year: Maryellen is the American Girl from the 50s. I found it difficult to deal with the idea that the decade of MY youth is an “historical” period. (Shudder!) I suppose I’d have been more of an age with the younger brother, but still. I was alive then! It’s not history!
I am thinking better and have started a non-fiction book: Signals of Belief in Early England, Oh, there are few things more seductive than the bibliography of a wonderfully well researched book on a subject in which one is interested! I have put several expensive and hard to find books on my wish list. Sigh. People keep asking why I don’t write a book about Anglo-Saxons. It’s because I don’t know as much as the people who’s books I read (at least most of them). I suppose if I read more bad books, I’d think “I could do better than that”, and would try. But I’m neither digging nor reading original manuscripts in Old English, and that’s the level to which I aspire.
Two weeks ago I was still watching holiday movies (like The Holiday and Love Actually.) This week (mostly while knitting) I’ve been “watching” the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies. I did watch one movie with Ian McKellen called Never Was. It’s the sort of story I dislike, where it seems that maybe someone has been part of a magical slip through, but it turns out that they’re only dealing with mental illness. I loved the castle the King built- it was beautiful. Other than that, I’ve been turned onto another BBC TB show. It’s called Supersizers go WWII, or go some other period in British history. Sarah Collins shared it on fb, and I started watching the others. Two amusing people dress up in clothes from a certain period, live in that sort of house, and eat like they do in that period for a week. As in the Supersize me movie, they start each week with a medical check-up, which is supposed to show how horrible (or good) for you eating was in that period. So far I’ve seen them eat Restoration, Victorian, the 70s, and French Revolution. I am looking forward to Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages.
I may have forgotten something, but I am getting tired and need to send this along. I’m sure it’s long anyway, since it’s covering two weeks.
Until next week,

Fear is a strange soil. Mainly it grows obedience like corn, which grows in rows and makes weeding easy. But sometimes it grows the potatoes of defiance, which flourish underground. – Terry Pratchett Small Gods