10-16-2000 Hengist’s Day

October 16, 2000
Happy Hengist’s Day (commemorating the landing of the Anglo-Saxon’s in
England), also St. Audry’s Day- when they had the fair where cheap
trinkets were sold- hence the word “tawdry”:
Last week I mentioned that my hip or leg was giving me trouble, but I
expected that it would go away again as suddenly and inexplicably. It
did (and no hint of it since). Tuesday morning I woke up without a
twinge or hint that it had been giving me trouble. I jumped up and down
on it, swung it around. I giggled as I went down the stairs with my
usual agility. I giggled a lot all morning.
Until Willow came down and said that her radio station reported a fire
on Glass Factory Road – and someone had died. We know three (of the
eight) families on Glass Factory Road, the Pomers, the Levitts and the
Lords. I thought about calling the Pomers and asking them, but it seemed
somewhat morbid. I knew Kat could ask Alysa- who’s pretty much her best
friend- at school. Just the day before I’d dropped Alysa off at her
house when bringing Kat back from dance practice. They’d talked about
her mother’s new job- that’s why she didn’t know her mother’s work
number yet in order to call for a ride- and that her father had also
gotten a new job he was about to start. He was in the driveway putting
something in the car when we dropped her off.
It was a great relief to be able to get about normally again, so Willow
stayed home- she’d planned to come with me while I did jury selection-
and bring Fitz his lunch, wheel him outside for smokes, etc. (I’ll tell
you more about the jury selection process in a bit.) We figured with a
death in town, they generally offer a lot of grief crisis at school, and
Kat would be able to tell us who it was when she got home. On the way
home the sign outside the EMT garage said “Our prayers are with the
Pomers”, and it hit me like a blow to the gut. Terry Pomer was the girl
scout leader- and a good one. John was head of the school board for
several years. I could just see him running back into a fire to rescue
someone. I mostly hoped that it wasn’t Alysa, because that would be so
hard on Kat, and felt guilty because I was backed into hoping that it
was Colin, Alysa’s little brother, just because I didn’t know him as
well as the others. I started crying by the time I passed the school.
We had tickets to North Shore Music Theatre that night, so I picked up
Willow and then went over to pick up Kat after dance practice. Sure
enough, they weren’t dancing, they were discussing how fires sucked the
oxygen out of a building, and that’s why you don’t go back into a
burning building. The victim was Teresa- Alysa’s mother. Alysa wasn’t
there, she’d been sent to Vermont to her grandparents. They said that
the house wasn’t badly burned, because the fire department had gotten
there right away- but what Kat had heard was that after taking the kids
out, Terry had gone back in, either after the pets, or to fight the fire
(it was caused by an overturned Kerosene heater)- and had died of smoke
inhalation. The Cabinet said was that the firemen had found her, and
that she’d been in the house when the fire started, and that the kids
were across the street- now why would they have been across the street
at 8 in the evening unless they were sent there? But then, it’s the
Cabinet, and we know we can’t trust their reporting. But really, until
you deal with it, you don’t realize how fast a fire is. I’m sure if she
did go back in, or even if she stayed in to try to put it out, Terry
must be quite cross with herself right about now. I just hope the Alysa
and Colin don’t feel guilty- I expect John does. He was in California.
Kat says she heard that when he got back he just stood in front of the
house looking at it for a long time. How could he help but feel that if
he hadn’t been in California, his wife would still be alive? There is
nothing I can think of to say that could possibly help him.
For several days I continued to cry off and on, every few hours. This
really cuts into my world view that the worst stuff doesn’t happen to
good people. Of course, I know it does. Wally Holt certainly didn’t
deserve to have his wife torch his house. The Forbes had a house fire,
and we had one, and we are all good people. Some people think a
stillborn baby is a pretty traumatic event, but it really wasn’t for us.
You go on, because that’s what you do. But I still wish I could help. I
didn’t even go to the funeral because it was up near Burlington,
Vermont. I’ll go to the local memorial service. (I have wondered- I’d
feel a bit strange about cremating someone who died in a fire unless
they were already halfway there… I guess that peculiar thought
indicates that I am recovering.) I finally remembered the Bach’s Flower
remedy, and after dosing myself with Star of Bethlehem haven’t had the
weepy grief since. (I also took the opportunity to dose Willow with
beech, but she says it hasn’t been helping.)
So, that has rather shadowed most of this week, although there weren’t
many real shadows. The weather was gorgeous- Indian Summer (although
it’s probably politically incorrect to call it that- and what did they
call it in Europe before they’d discovered the New World?) The radio has
been saying that all the rain this summer should make for a brighter
foliage season, but personally, while I think the yellow’s and golds are
brighter this year, I think the reds are not quite as bright as they
have been some years. I may be simply being oppositional. But it has
been gorgeous.
The nasturtium and Echinacia are still blooming, as are Willow’s roses-
I think that may be because we keep cutting the blooms, so they keep
trying to make “fruits”. We mean to prune and cover them as soon as they
stop blooming, but it seems silly to cut off buds when we can wait a
couple of days and have another rose. The florabunda by the road is
covered with rose hips, and there’s that strange unidentified bush that
is covered with pure white berries (and no leaves) near it, so they look
very ornamental. And the Jerusalem artichokes are still blooming bright
and yellow out back, so we aren’t flowerless yet. And the bees are still
out, so we haven’t wrapped them up yet either.
Yesterday Aelfwine dug up a bucket of potatoes and brought in a shirt
full of corn. He hadn’t planned to harvest, so he hadn’t taken anything
with him to hold them. He was rather lumpy when he got in. So now we
have a big string of red and purple and yellow corn hanging from the
kitchen beams. And we’ve gotten a lot more pumpkins than we found
originally from the garden now that the leaves are dying back.
We’re up to over two dozen (sometimes three dozen) eggs a day now, so
selling them is a relief. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised with fifty
one chickens. The Hollands got a new freezer this weekend and are giving
us their old one, but they haven’t gotten it cleaned out yet. I still
want to just get the walk-in built and unplug all the others. Wolf says
it will only take three days- of course, that’s if you know what you are
doing, which Aelfwine doesn’t, and will Wolf have three days he can sell
us before they head for West Virginia? Their trip to buy land is
apparently immanent.
Now the usual news: I went up to the county court house for jury
selection. This is the second time I’ve gotten the call, the last time I
was dismissed because I was nursing Willow, so you can see it’s been a
while. Even Dan has gotten called for jury duty, so I was feeling
neglected. When Aelfwine went last year they had a little video about
the history of the jury system, full of historical inaccuracies. That
seems to have gone away; a judge just told us about being jurors. It was
a good thing my leg was better, there was a lot of “all rise” and “be
seated”-ing. Then we went through a lottery for the first available
trial. There were five, and there were about 140 of us there, divided
into two groups. They took fifteen for the first trial (which I
understand just started at that point) with about three people saying
that they knew one of the parties involved or having been through a
similar situation. After a short break they put the whole group (now
down to about a hundred twenty people) back together and said that three
of the five trials had settled, so they’d select for this last one, and
we could go home.
This was a medical trial. As opposed to the first, which had about five
witnesses and participants, this had a list of dozens: doctors, nurses,
relatives, lawyers, hospital administrators, etc. The plaintiff had had
a stroke following surgery, and blamed the doctor for not warning him of
the possibility of that as a side effect, and the hospital for poor
follow-up care. They suggested that this trial could take two or three
weeks. And not only did they ask if you knew anyone, or had had lumbar
surgery or a stroke, they also asked if you’d had any dissatisfaction
with medical care. How could someone reach age 18 in America and not
have SOME dissatisfaction with medical care? Let’s put it this way- only
five people were willing to say that they hadn’t. They got applauded.
(It did take a rather long time. We started at about 10:30, and at 12:30
(having gotten five jurors) the judge asked if we wanted to break for
lunch or just finish, and most people said press on, so we did. What she
didn’t tell us was that they were picking twenty-nine. It took until
almost three o’clock.
When they called my name, I was honest about my skepticism about
medical infallibility, but the judge sat me anyway. But I was eliminated
when the lawyers got to challenge, and pared the jury back down to the
usual fifteen (twelve and three alternates). I wouldn’t have minded
spending the three weeks- but then, I don’t have a job that I’d be
getting reimbursed only $20 a day for missing. One note though, when I
was actually in the jury box, the acoustics were such that I could
generally hear the conversations going on at the bench, and a whole lot
of people were excused because they had had bad experiences at Elliot
Hospital. I think that just hearing that has prejudiced me against
Elliot a bit. I think they went through about eighty or ninety of the
jury pool to get the twenty-nine possibles. I go back again in two
weeks. One of the things that really surprised me was that there were
only about a half dozen men in suits in the jury pool. They seem to have
been mostly lawyers and doctors. I had gotten the impression from my
father that most men wore suits most of the time. I guess I was wrong.
Afterall, Aelfwine doesn’t wear a jacket to work most days- I thought
that that was because computer programmers are geeks.
As I mentioned, the timing was tight, because besides coming from
Manchester- and I could have been there until five, in order to get to
the theater before seven, we pretty much have to pick Aelfwine up before
five, and Kat’s dance gets out at 4:45; so I was working on various
schedules in my head, depending upon when I was turned loose. Oh, yes,
and we were down one car because we’d dropped it off to be inspected
that day too. But it worked out, and we got to the theatre in plenty of
This month’s show was Sweet Charity, and I think it was an OK
production. The costumes were good, the dancing was flashy and pretty
tight- of course, it’s hard to follow Shirley Mclain, but I don’t think
anyone else in the family had seen her. There are several good songs.
But basically, the whole effect is spoiled because the basic plot is
Girl loses boy, girl gets boy, girl loses boy (“and she lived hopefully
ever after”). Yuck! Somehow I fail to see that as a happy ending, and I
have a STRONG preference for happy endings.
Monday night Steve Raskind dropped by for dinner- he’d taken a vacation
day because he had been planning to spend an extended long weekend in
Michigan, but Allyn, having gotten his license, had started Ti Quon Do
again, and had had another athletic accident and bunged up his other
knee, so Steve had to stay home with him. We had a nice supper, and
invited him up for his birthday on Friday, when he brought Allyn too.
Wednesday was Wolf’s birthday, and Sunday was Aelfwine’s birthday, and
today is Alex’s birthday, so it’s a rather birthday heavy week around
here. As a matter of fact, even though Ernie’s birthday is next month,
Willow took him out to buy him his present. Their bunch all went dancing
at Manrays on Friday night (it was a full moon and Friday the 13th, so
they figured you mustn’t miss it at their favorite Goth club).
Apparently Ernie has been seen in both of his fancy shirts, so he
“needed” a new outfit. I did get to see it on their way out- shiny black
pants, a black snakeskin patterned shirt, and a black fedora with a
white band. Actually, once the shock wore off, I thought he did look
pretty sharp. A bit dramatic for my taste, but I’m not sure I would have
thought so when I was younger.
The pick-up flunked inspection in a big way. There’s a new emissions
law that requires a fair amount of repairs for it to meet- even if we
get agricultural plates, which we figure we’ll do. The van passed
inspection, Charley didn’t think the ding in the windshield was in the
field of vision (neither did I, but it’s his call, and the window
replacement place told us it would be better to change the whole
windshield ($300) than to put the glue on it ($30). It hasn’t spread at
all in the last two weeks, so we’ll let it stay, and when and if it
spreads, then we’ll fix it. The Geo, on the other hand, has had a dying
clutch for a while now, and it finally expired on Wednesday night as we
tried to get to Star’s school teacher conference night. (We limped it
back home, changed cars and only missed the first meeting.) Aelfwine
spent a bit of time working on it over the weekend, and has been driving
the pick-up to work.
Star seems to be doing well in school. He’s not in the college track,
but as this is his first year of solo mainstreaming, that seems
reasonable. This semester he has weight training, art and English. Next
semester he’s getting some geography and Science- don’t know which yet.
His teachers like him, or at least are willing to tell his parents so-
but I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s a nice kid, and there are so many very
hostile teens out there, that he must be a nice change.
WLC also had parent teacher conference nights this week- Thursday,
luckily, since Mescenic was Wednesday. Mescenic had the parents
scedualled into ten minute blocks- it looked like each teacher had about
ten appointments. WLC parents seem to show up more. They put the
teachers around the cafeteria at desks, and the parents just went over
to which-ever teacher they wanted to catch when they spotted him or her
free. They also had a refreshment table out. I indulged my urge to bake
by sending over several types of cookies. The teachers got the
left-overs. I think there was some sort of conference the next day. I
hope so, because otherwise I’d think the cookies would be pretty stale
by today. I think there were three times as many parents there at the
WLC night as at Mescenic, which is a larger school. Populations differ.
Of course, the reports on Kat were pretty uniform too- she’s sweet,
she’s bright, she doesn’t turn in her homework.- but- she’s getting
better. Well, let’s hope she’s getting better. I am seriously thinking
about trying a homeopathic doctor to see if that could help at all.
Couldn’t hurt, anyway.
Kat’s been a bit under the weather all weekend. I think it’s the
baking- it’s been hard on both her and Star to see the apple pies Willow
made for Wolf and Steve, and Aelfwine and the birthday cakes and the
cookies, and we had a wonderful Rabbit Pie on Saturday. It could be the
occasional exposure to wheat- or it could be the frustration of seeing
it and not eating it. Then she had a migraine all yesterday afternoon. I
think it was the chinese food. Dan wanted to take her father out for his
birthday, and so we met her and Brad in Nashua at a restaurant called
the Grand Buffet. It is all buffet- there’s chinese food, and american
food and a sushi bar and a salad bar and a dessert bar and an ice-cream
bar and a mongolian stir fry bar. All you can eat, and a fairly wide
selection. I tried my first oyster, since it was a situation where you
could have one. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything I’d go out of my
way for to have again. Kat tried the crab legs too, and also wasn’t
impressed. We enjoyed watching the mongolian stir-fry being done. I
thought I should try the sushi, but Dan said I should wait and try it at
a place that does it well. Fitz says that while day old is OK for fish
you are going to cook, sushi should be made from fish taken live out of
a tank in the kitchen just before it is cut up. I wouldn’t know, but it
sounds reasonable. Anyway, chinese food is often implicated with
migraines, although since we make most of the chinese we eat, and I
don’t use MSG we tend to forget it; so I am guessing that that was the
cause of Kat’s migraine yesterday. And of course, she has the “migraine
hangover” today, which isn’t going to get much sympathy at school,
although it probably should.
I got Aelfwine a nail gun, similar to one of Wolfs he enjoyed so much
this summer, but we are sending it back, because he wants a different
model than I sent for. I also got him some books- the rest of the Terry
Goodkind series, and 1632, a cross-time book that looked good. Not much
of a birthday. Mostly we re-glazed the large window in the solar of the
mead hall. We found some horn bowls for the hall (well, Willow did) at
the Home Goods. Most of his family called- which impressed me more
before I noticed that there’s a birthday reminder function on the Taylor
web-page. I haven’t seen the web-page yet. Every time I try to get to it
it crashes our computer, and Aelfwine hasn’t figured out why yet. If I
had, we might have known that Vicki has just gotten back from a trip to
Amanda’s up again this weekend. She’s been included in the
Travis-Ernie-Willow game, so we’ve been seeing a lot of her. They got
VERY lost on the way back from Manrays. It’s about an hour and a half
drive, but it took them almost four hours. Willow realized where she was
when she saw that they were about to cross the bridge into Maine! After
that, she got home fine.
Of course, this ties in to our discovery with the car inspections that
the van clocked 18000 miles this year. That’s an average of 50 miles a
day. This is very impressive since I do my very best only to take it out
once a week. We are going to start a log to find out just where all that
mileage is coming from.
Probably the best food we had this week was the rabbit pie, but the new
recipe I tried was from my scandinavian baking book. Steve had said
“spice cake” when I asked what kind of cake he liked. So I made Aunt
Lucy’s spice cake from Food That Really Shmecks, but it looked very
small when I put it in the oven, so I also made the Kannelkake from my
Scandinavian baking book. They are very big on things to go with coffee-
apparently “Coffee” is a three course meal in Scandinavia, and the third
course traditionally includes a small but fancy filled cake. This spice
cake is done in three very thin layers, then when cooled is filled with
coffee flavored whipped cream, then melted dark chocolate is poured over
the top, and scattered with toasted almonds before it hardens. I would
never have thought of combining spice cake with chocolate, but it was
good enough that I will make it again. If you’d like the recipe, just
ask and I’ll send it to you.
Political discussion for the week: Well, looks like New Hampshire Chief
Justice Brock was found innocent. I don’t think he was totally innocent.
Sounds like he was a good judge, but he probably should have worked
harder to have cleaned up the system he was heading up. I’m certainly
glad that my life’s work isn’t put on the line over what details I can
remember from thirteen years ago.
I am cross with all those trouble makers in the mid-east. It doesn’t
take a lot of trouble makers to wreck things that all the people who
want peace have worked so hard for. I find it appalling that they let
the Palestinians teach their kids with books that show no Israel at all-
or give bounties to the parents for their wounded and killed children.
But it is equally reprehensible for the Jews who are burning Mosques and
attacking anyone who “looks like an arab”. How many Sephardic Jews have
they beaten because they think they can tell religion by looks? And I am
most annoyed with the American Media. Why do we have to go to European
news sources to find out about this? News reporters are not supposed to
“spin”, they are supposed to report- and that accurately.

31.  Don’t just listen to what someone is saying.  Listen to why they
are saying it.