10-31-2014 Disgusting Little Pumpkin Shaped Candies Day©Disgusting Little Pumpkin Shaped Candies Day©

This week we’ve had some gorgeous fall days, warm and it’s practically criminal we didn’t get out in them, and some nasty, chilly days with rain enough that I’m not worried about doing four loads of wash today.
Today is overcast, and you can really see how the rain has knocked down a lot of leaves if you compare it with two weeks ago. Not too cold though.

DSC01588 DSC01577[Still chill and overcast- they say there will be snow tomorrow at the Crown Tourney. Probably not, probably it’ll be just a scintch too warm for snow, but rainy, and we’ll all huddle around in our cloaks, and whoever has the most antifreeze in his blood will win.  We are going because Kat is the Mistress of the Gold Key. I hope there’s a indoor spot for her.
As you may note- it’s now Halloween, I didn’t get the letter out on Thursday, but more on that later.]

The kitchen may be warmer because I decided to pull the crock-pot out of the pantry to do the lard rendering. Monday Shema brought me down about “a ton” (ok, about 100 pounds of pig fat). I’m told that it’s not lard until it’s rendered. I told her just the leaf lard, but I’m not sure the butcher knew the difference. Chances are that modern leaner pigs don’t have enough leaf lard to collect. A lot of it is the subcutaneous fat- it still has the skin on (then an inch of fat) so it’s “fat back”, or at least not leaf lard- which is from inside the abdomen (is whiter, has a different texture and less taste) better for baking. I’ll be sharing some of it with Sarah who’s willing to take some. Shema and I are agreed that the point is not to have it go to waste. The outer lard is still good for frying and making crusts for meat pies.

I’ve spent most of the week (much of the last month) trying to get the schedule put together for the CTCW conference. I planned to do it as soon as I got back from Twilight Covening, but pretty much curled up in a ball and did nothing for two weeks. Many people (gym teachers leap to mind, but there are many others as well) seem to think that if you can motivate someone they’ll can do it. I will admit that when you’re allowed to use what we would consider extraordinary and inappropriate means (like beating or starving) someone you can get them to do a lot. But since we no longer have slaves, or child labor, or any of the other worst things humans have come up with to do to each other, “motivation” has a lot more to do with carrots than sticks. The problem is that one of the characteristics of depression is lack of motivation. “Who cares?” “Whatever” Nothing is going to make a difference. I think the key is hope. If you are convinced that nothing you do is going to make a difference, why do anything? Another aspect of the disease depression (as opposed to the mood), is that it is characterized by a lack of energy. Going up the stairs is too much work, standing up is too hard, chewing is not worth the effort. (Not to mention, although I am, although maybe I shouldn’t, the little insidious weaknesses of muscles we don’t usually think about: your throat: you choke on spit, the muscles that make you coordinated: you drop things and trip on nothing, your bladder… OK, not going there.) It’s a pity we use the same word for the feeling and for the illness. Perhaps we should start calling it Depression Syndrome. Anyway, as time to turn the information over to the lovely friend (Katherine Smith) who’s doing the program book this year, I did manage to try to drag the information from the dozens of places it was stored and put the schedule together.
Wednesday I figured “I’ll write the letter AFTER I finish the schedule.” When I got so tired I was making lots of mistakes, I went to bed. But yesterday I didn’t go to bed, I stayed up until three, when it was finally as good as I could make it, and sent it out to all the teachers. This morning I got up, as expected, to a long list of responses- a few “looks good”s, and a lot of “I can’t make it then”s. (including one “I gave you the information before, I’m not coming because you should have better organization.” Frankly, I agree with her, and her withdrawing gave me a space to move someone else into, which was a blessing.) There are a couple problems- the first is that the information came in through many media- email, facebook, yahoo, heavens knows! I lose track of who said what when where. In theory I could copy every damned thing that comes in (and I find) into one master file, but I don’t, and frankly, I’m spending far more time than I want to on this anyway. The second thing is that many of the people who used the form on the website didn’t recognize the question “Restrictions on when this may be scheduled” as wanting to know whether they’d be there Friday afternoon (when they were getting in, when they were leaving, if they don’t want early morning or late night slots, etc.)  If someone is working Friday and can’t get there until after 7, I need to know.
Then there was the usual problem of keeping track of not scheduling someone against themselves. I’m getting better about that, but I did manage to mess it up a couple of times. I will say that most people have been very polite and supportive about it. Sadly, supportive can also mean “they’re carrying me”. I need a lot more support than I feel I should need, and the people who are stepping up to help are really wonderful, but I do feel guilty. [Enough of that!]

So really, we haven’t done much this week. Sunday, Steve came up to dinner, and we had roast lamb, so yesterday we had curried lamb (my favorite!). He tells me Gwynn, who had moved from Texas to San Francisco, is now heading up to (I think) Seattle, because it’s really expensive to live in California. Then he forgot to take his keys back, so I think we’ll see him again soon.
Monday Shema came down to Milford, and I met her and got the pig fat, then afterwards we both went over to Lyrion’s and the three of us had tea and conversation. Shema had come down because the place where the IGA used to be is now a gambling house. But in NH, you can only gamble if you are underwritten by some charity. Shema was putting in for A Sacred Place to do the New Year’s Eve (and Day) some sort of Monty Carlo Night. She was doing all the paperwork, which is massive, and we can hope that they make some good money with it. ASP works with the homeless a lot. She mentioned that Concord is one of those cities that has passed a law criminalizing feeding the homeless. (Right up there with destroying their tents and throwing them in jail. What makes them think this is improving the situation any?!) We collect the unused sample shampoos and soaps at the con (and all year) and give them to her, the homeless REALLY love to get clean.  Now Shema is someone who’s really doing good in the world!
Tuesday I spent rendering some of the lard. Sadly the butcher didn’t seem to have known the difference between leaf lard and fatback, or maybe modern pigs just don’t have that much internal fat. But I did a bunch, and since we had to throw out some of last years, I’ll be taking a bunch of it to the tournament tomorrow to share so that other people can share the wealth. I also burned a batch from setting it on to render and getting back to the schedule.
Wednesday, the girls went up to Vermont for acupuncture. We figured that if Willow drives, she can get treatments at the same time. They also brought back the Chinese herbs that Kirk is prescribing, and I boiled those up. One day the house smells like lard, the next exotic herbal potions.
Wednesday evening, doing the New Normal show was rather bizarre because for some reason the studio wasn’t working in a very specific way: the buttons weren’t showing up on my screen. (Was it my computer or theirs? Who knows‽ Luckily, when I clicked the mouse in the general area of where they should have been, the links were still there, and I was able to activate the guests’ mics. On the other hand, there was a LOT of feedback- I suspect they are trying something new with a three second delay or something like that. Finally, when I wanted to speak, I’d just turn off my sound, say my piece, then turn it on again. It’s really very hard to speak when you’ve got that echo going over you. This show was simply Jane and Skwerl and me talking about some of the great speakers and workshops that are going to be on down at the con. I started doing the show to promote the conference, so once a year I figure we can be honest about it. Then back to the schedule.
Frankly, at this point the conference seem to me to be like an oncoming tidal wave. I can see it coming, and try to get ready, but it’ll come whether I do or not, then I can at least know that a week from now it’ll be all over except for the clean-up. This is not a really positive attitude, but it’s reassuring in it’s own way.
Today Willow, John and I loaded the van for tomorrow. There is some talk of snow, but I expect that it will be simply really cold rain (high thirties), so we’re setting out our warmest garb.
DSC01590Kat is out with other Whovians she met at cons. She’s dressed as Adric (a Dr. Who companion) and I went out to meet them when they picked her up- hoping that they’d be in costume as well. I was NOT disappointed. The tall fellow does a really good Tom Baker, and the other one has an incredibly excellent cosplay of Sylvester McCoy’s outfit- down to the jumper and shoes! I hope I do learn their names. And that they have a great time. Kat chose her Adric outfit because she could wear long-johns underneath. Good thinking. Also, Adric, being a teenage boy ate constantly, so she’ll have an excuse to eat as often as she likes, and they may enjoy feeding “him”.

Trish has done it, she’s sold the Davis Street house, and now we have to get it empty before December first so the new owners can move in. Some of the negotiations were a bit bizarre. She reported this negotiation:
Them: 145,000 with all furniture, rider mower and utility trailer
Us: 159,000 with curtains
Them: 150,000 w/ curtains
Us: 157,000 w/ curtains
Them: 152,000 with curtains and a roll of bubble wrap
Us: 156,000 with curtains and bubble wrap
Them: 153,000 with curtains, rider mower, utility trailer
Us: 154,000 with curtains and bubble wrap
Them: 153,000 with curtains and bubble wrap
Us: OK

What’s with the bubble wrap? Liz buys it in $40 rolls to wrap up her Nutcracker collection after Christmas and had left a roll in the barn. (Well, Kate hadn’t taken the riding more and trailer away either.) Sadly, I fear that since not only Mother’s portrait, but her desk, and the kitchen dining set fall to my lot, we will have to empty our trailer to bring it all down. This is going to be it. Once we’ve cleared the house, that’s the end of our time with Dad in Farmington. Another end of another era. I’ve got some of his pipe tobacco on our ancestor alter tonight.

Mark has come back, finished his contract out in Pennsylvania and is back in Nashua. He invited me to lunch but I don’t feel I can take time off until after the con. Maybe I can, once the program book no longer needs me to send information.

Meg seems to be doing OK, recovering and her hair’s growing back. I do love facebook for keeping up on my friends. Steffan and Elspeth had an anniversary, Kiaya shared pictures of Gideon’s Tree costume, Marieke is traveling in Iceland! Birthdays, operations, trips. Let’s face it, in the old days there were letter writers, and non-letter writers. There’s something really great about people including you in their lives, even if it’s “electronically”. Thank you to everyone who does.

Ah well, that’s 8 O’clock. No trick or treaters again this year. We’re not a heavily populated street, and it’s dark. I always would rather have my kids go where they could walk themselves. If someone came up Pinnacle, they’d probably hit 6 houses in the mile. We’re not worth the trouble. Also, when we went out to get the big pumpkin Kat and I picked the bottom had started to go. Mostly we want the seeds, but still, it’s rather hard to make a pretty transient artwork without the ability to stick a candle in the bottom. Hmm.
I haven’t made supper yet, so I’m signing off now to do that. Maybe I’ll talk about what I’m reading, and share pictures of our pumpkins next week. Or not. Since it’s really close to the con, if you don’t get a letter next week, assume I just got too busy.

Tchipakkan
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms: The Play

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