10/10/2010 Beat a path to your door

Surprisingly, the gorgeous fall color has continued to be fantastic- it’s really holding on. It’s seasonally chilly, although technically gorgeous. The other day, after having had the door open as the kids were emptying the hallway, while I sat at the computer, I not only put on a sweater, but closed my bedroom window and had them clear off the wood stove and start the first fire of the year.
In Milford they’ve painted the store windows around the oval for Halloween, and assuming that it was an art class that did it, this year’s batch is VERY talented. It’s reminiscent of Pleasantville, they’re that good. Shema wrote that her pullets have started to lay, and I’m so jealous! I know ours were laying this spring and probably all summer, and wonder where the heck they ARE laying. Perhaps when it gets cold enough they’ll have to stay inside and use the nests! (if we light the chicken room to force them to keep it up).

This week has mostly been about the refrigerator. Remember that we’d found a used refrigerator- a side by side with no ice dispenser- which would be pointless for us, since there’s no place in our kitchen for a refrigerator, so it lives in the keeping room. People in this house must have been keeping their refrigerators there for some while since there’s an alcove built into the keeping room that takes a piece out of the next room. As if to balance that, of course, they’ve taken a hunk out of the keeping room to create a china closet off of it. I figure that the room across the hallway may have originally been the dining room because of the built in dish cabinets in there. Who knows what the room next to the kitchen used to be. Originally, having only northern light, it must have been very dark, but it’s large. Now- not having many occasions to “dine” it is the room where we use the computer and sewing machines- the “dining room table” is our cutting table.
The kitchen is divided across the middle by a counter with the sink in it. I do like being able to wash dishes while looking at the people at the kitchen table, but there is only a couple of feet between the corner of that counter and the corner of the wood stove. Last time I think the delivery-men lifted the refrigerator over the counter, and so I warned them about it. This time the owner of the appliance store said that while we could do that if we liked, he wasn’t going to let his guys do it. He’d already had two back surgeries, and there had been six among them. I can hardly fault him for that- but still- how to get it in? Perhaps through the back door? I suggested this and he said he could reschedule it for NEXT Friday. (This was Friday- the day it was supposed to be delivered.) Meanwhile, Liz had asked why I hadn’t just come up and gotten Dad’s extra refrigerator, which has been sitting unused in his downstairs. I hadn’t known about it.
So I told the fellow to issue me a refund and called Dad to ask for his old one. It’s got a top freezer, but at least it hasn’t got a ice dispenser. And it’s free.

The girls had gone to Nashua for Another Anime Con. It is capitalized because that’s the name of that one. They didn’t get into artist’s alley this time, which left them a bit at loose ends. They might have stayed and gone to Tom Hart and Shannon’s wedding if they weren’t waiting to see if they got in on a cancellation. One has to show that one is cooperative. Willow got to wear her Maleficent (which is rather hard when she’s behind a table), and a couple other cosplays. Kat mentioned a few interactions when she was doing Blind Mab from Repo-man. I think that’s the best part of cos-play, when you are in character and run into another character from the same story or system. Kat’s Blind Mab is incredible, if not quite as spectacular as Willow’s Maleficent. Last year they had an absolutely incredible time at Another Anime Con, but what with Kat’s backache- which is still bothering her (she’s finally decided it’s time to have someone look at it), they thought after that perhaps they’d have better stayed and gone to the wedding.

I had stayed up working on stuff for the con until 2 Friday night, but when I woke up in the morning could not find my contacts. I put in last year’s pair, but it was so uncomfortable, that we turned back and called Dad to cancel coming up for the refrigerator. I found myself nodding off by noon, so I am now convinced that the contacts going missing was the universe preventing me from driving in that condition. I took a nap, and when I woke up- John had found them.
Sunday we got up and out by 8, got to Dad’s place- he called a local 18 year old to help us get it up the stairs (they couldn’t get it out the downstairs door because they couldn’t get the refrigerator doors off). We only stayed to get it onto Dad’s trailer. We used his trailer rather than ours because we figured it would be easier to strap it down, which it was, and got down not much after dark.
I’d like to say that we immediately switched in the refrigerator, but I’ve gone back to working on the con stuff (this week- press releases), and have left most of it to the kids. We’d allowed the back hall to get choked with accumulated stuff, and that had to be cleared out. They wrestled the beast across the yard, and up the stairs, into the house- and then discovered that the door was just too narrow unless the refrigerator doors were removed. I think the reason that my sister couldn’t take off the door was because they needed a Torx (rhymes with forks) screw driver. Rather than a cross or line, it has a star shaped head. So off we had to go to the hardware store, where, bless them, they had an array, and we were able to get one. I actually got one with four sizes in one in case the situation comes up again.
Once he had the right tool, John was able to swiftly take off the doors and push the refrigerator into the keeping room and into place- then put back on the refrigerator doors- and all the doors we’d taken off in order to get the fridge past them. Now we are left with the chaos that has been generated by pulling everything out from several shelves (in order to fold one door back so that it didn’t block, we had to remove a set of shelves from behind it- which had been screwed to the wall), and everything that had been “tucked away” and is now out and needs sorting, and putting away.
Since the refrigerator is a different configuration, we need to learn a new system for what goes where- and I’ve had my nose rubbed in the fact that there were several bottles and jars of things I had lost track of at the back. I remember when we built the barn, I carefully made the brooder only 16 inches deep so I could catch the chicks when we had to. I wonder how shallow one would have to make a refrigerator to avoid loosing stuff? Meanwhile I’m washing off bottles- sniffing contents and trying to decide what to just chuck, and what we will use. Sadly, with many kinds of food, you really, really want it for a while, then you lose your taste for it. I suppose many people would say to just chuck it, but that seems so wrong to me- something like roasting a turkey and not boiling down the bones for soup.
I have to look at each item that got put into a cooler chest and ask myself: “is this good?” Sometimes things don’t look bad- they don’t smell bad. I found some pecans (I have learned to keep nuts in the refrigerator to slow down their aging.) that looked fine and tasted fine- for nearly a minute. But then I could tell that the oil had started to go over. If it’s supposed to be making something taste delicious, having a bit of nasty at the edge of taste isn’t the intended effect. So off they go- what a waste! I should have used them while they were good. There was a tub of maple cream frosting I’d made with real maple syrup, and when there was extra saved it for “the next thing” that could use it. Sadly, the butter in the frosting had turned, so although the maple still smelled wonderful, I had to toss it. I think this is good for my soul.
Sometimes I have to ask “what is it?”. I’m coming to the conclusion that if I don’t know what it is, that it is unlikely that we will ever get to the point of wondering whether it’s good or not. I have decided that labels are wonderful things- especially on home canned stuff. Is it mustard? Is it marmalade? Home canned food is generally so much more delicious than commercial that I’ll often open a jar of jam, take a taste to savor, and a week later discover the jar empty, in the sink, waiting to be washed. Carpe deum. Don’t let the kids eat the good stuff, but don’t make them leave it alone until no one gets it either.
The keeping room looks like it’s been both shaken and stirred. We need to get rid of things that are from long ago. We used to send off three or four lunches full of food from home, now I occasionally send something home with Steve so he can get some home cooking, but we have a half dozen really good thermos bottles, and insulated lunch bags- and never use them. I think it’s time to let them go. We should keep anything we will use. But the “shelf life” has to be compared to how long it needs to be kept. Really good toys can stay in the attic waiting potential grandkids, but any old clothing I find won’t be wearable- the fashions have changed too much.
I hate getting rid of stuff- it’s like losing that part of my life. But I have to get rid of the stuff I don’t use in order to have room for what I want now. Ælfwine and I only ever bought two new things- the couch and the refrigerator. And they’re both gone now.
One of the autumn leaf mugs fell and broke- we can no longer put out a full setting for four. Should I put the set on the recycling table so that people with three people could use it? Decisions, decisions.

So I’ve been doing the press releases. The book on how to get publicity went into loving detail about how to write one so that newspapers would trim it to whatever length they wanted and use it like an article. But the lady who offered to help me with publicity (and told me to read the book) insisted that it should be no more than a couple of paragraphs containing the basic facts. I was confused and frustrated. How could I write it and do what the book said? Then Honour told me that the two paragraph thing is sent as an introduction, then you call them back and convince them to take the bigger one. I’d also hoped that the “expert” would help me figure out how to know where to send them. No, she offered to let me send her the press release I wrote and if I sent her all the addresses, she’d send them out. Why bother? With Honour’s help, I have been sending them off, although I’m using the same one, between looking up the papers contact info, and putting in the personalized request which is supposed to increase the chances of it not getting immediately chucked, it takes me at least 15 to 20 minutes each to get them off. I wish I could have sent something to bookstores to post. Thank goodness for Honour- and her army training.
She’s having to deal with an inspection from some social agency who is investigating her as a “hoarder”. It amazes me how the rich can have any amount of stuff, but the poor are told that they must get rid of everything that wouldn’t fit into a rich person’s life. There’s a huge difference between saving stacks of old newspapers, or bits of tinfoil you won’t use, and stocking up on food when it’s on sale in order to save money! Everyone wants to improve other people’s lives by trying to make them more like their own. Why is it so hard to understand that there’s a lot of difference between what creates each different life?

While we were in Maine Liz reminded me that today we are supposed to be wearing purple to show that we’re against Bullying. I think that the purple connection may be because this may have started against kids bullying kids they thought were gay in school, but who cares why the little snots are picking on other kids. Bullying is wrong!
Willow got off a really good rant this morning about how easy it is for people to wear purple, but how much better (and less likely) it would be if they all would actually step in when they saw bullying happening. I think the theory is that if one sees that a huge proportion of ones work or school environment is wearing a color that means that they’re anti-bullying, that the bullies will be less likely to dare do it. I think they know that no one steps in. Just like kids know that they can get away with anything, so they misbehave because they can.
Willow is sitting for Avi this week while Tom’s on his honeymoon, and she’s learning the way one has to learn to use different techniques to get different kids to do as their told. She’s discovered that explaining things to Bianca doesn’t help, but telling her- if you do that, I’m putting you in your room does. Sigh. I could have told her, but when you figure it out for yourself, it’s real. Of course, I couldn’t because I haven’t gotten to know Avi’s kids that well. When she called before leaving to see if we wanted her to pick anything up I could hear Bianca calling her Auntie Willow. CUTE!

I guess it must be fall- people around me are getting colds. Mark called, and he’s gotten one- which seems odd to me because I don’t see him getting out much- although I suppose he goes out to eat. Kerensa called and he’s gotten one. He has discovered that the friend who bequeathed him audio books (on disc) also included the digital ones- if he just gets himself one of those book reading devices, he can have something like fifteen thousand books. He’s trying to imagine how that would affect his life. I understand being pulled between book lust and wanting the actual books. On the one hand, the ability to have them there- available- SEARCHABLE! Not to need all the space books take up…. And at the same time, a book requires no technology- it always works. Without batteries. Without a device. I suggested he get the reader and get his dream library of research volumes on it, and just keep his fictions for reading. But that’s what I’d do if it were me- he’s got to figure out what’s good for him.

Due to having hit you with two weeks at once last week, I didn’t tell you what I’d been reading and watching, so this is rather more than one weeks worth- don’t get the impression I’m a fast reader.
I read the latest Sookie Stackhouse book Dead in the Family, which I enjoyed as usual, but couldn’t tell you what it was about. I think this is about the eighth or ninth book, and it’s just more of the same- romance, vampires, werewolves, etc. It’s like catching up on what a friend has been up to- except a lot more interesting than most of our lives (thank goodness!).
I did, a couple of weeks ago, finish the Dalemark Quartet: Drowneded Ammet and The Crown of Dalemark. The Crown was worth reading, and pulled together the characters from the first three books, but it really wasn’t as good as I’d hope from Diane Wynn Jones. I also read Carpe Jugulum by Terry Prachett- I really enjoy his disc world books, and feel he expresses how people- and systems- work better than most people. I rather hope I trip over a few more of his as I’m cleaning. (I still have to get the books I took to Twilight Covening back into the library.)
In the non-fiction area I’m having tastes from several books on magick and religion. I’m working on one, Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas, which is really frustrating. It was written- very well written and researched, in 1970, and in the very first paragraph the author says that all intelligent, educated people have distain for such subjects as magical healing, astrology, and such subjects. But the subject of the book is his coming up with explanations for why intelligent educated people in the past didn’t. The book is full of wonderful references to who wrote what about cunning folk and other magick users. He compares what we can know about the past with magical practices anthropologists saw when they visited Africa, New Zealand, and other “primitive” cultures in the early 20th century. This allowed him to draw conclusions about what modern man wasn’t able to observe, yet the modern observers clearly showed the same bias he had. If modern opinion is that magick cannot possibly work, they sought out how the cures were based on misdiagnosis, or placebo effect or fraud, and this is how he bolstered his assumptions of the same. The book is full of “may have”, “might have”, “must have” been, “probably was”, etc.. I doubt he even noticed. I can’t read it too long before bemusement gives way to annoyance, so I switch to another book. I’m really enjoying Animism by Graham Harvey. He shows that more than a way of seeing the world, it’s a way of relating to the world, that is very positive. So far I’m still in the historical background of how the term has been used in the past- but I must admit to sneaking peeks into the later part of the book. Charms, Charmers and Charming: International Research on Verbal Magic is a collection of research, so it doesn’t have much of a progression, but it is full of fascinating tidbits.
While John pursues his annual October “horror fest”, I’ve mostly been getting episodes of Picket Fences from Netflix. We first tuned in to it years ago- (early nineties?) when there was an episode with a witch “coming out of the broom closet”, but the characters kept us coming back. And the situations were absurd, but for someone who lives in a small town, they weren’t much more absurd than we get locally. (Obviously, the amount of weird stuff would have to be spread over dozens of small towns, but individually, it just seems familiar.) The characters are as appealing as I remember them.
I think when I last mentioned what I’d been watching, I’d started, but not finished Terry Jones Medieval Lives. (I had to get it after Barbarians was so good.) The series looked at various types of people and compared reality with modern perceptions and often where the misconceptions came from- the Victorians were usually to blame, but no more so than most. A culture, as a person, sees the past through a filter so that it sees what it needs to see. Of course Damsel was used as a way of talking about all women, and Outlaw an excuse to talk about the legal system, but if it was meant as a fun way to get some good history into people who don’t care, I think it must be called a success. I have to admit that it had the same problem I’m seeing in the books on magick- people don’t seem to differentiate much from one century to another. It’s something like saying that civil rights or technology was mostly the same from the 17th century onward. It’s a progression, sure, but not the same.
I occasionally catch a bit of one of the movie’s John’s watching. (the couple of minutes of Hellraiser he watched today were more than enough), but his recent version of The Phantom looked amusing and I rather wished I had time to have seen it all. Of course, the Phantom was one of my favorite comics when I was a kid. Last time Steve was up we watched Foul Play while I made supper- the part I liked best was that the plot was based around an attempt to assassinate the pope during the opera- but the opera turned out to be The Mikado, so while they were doing chases and all the usual spy bits, I could follow where they were in the first act and know what was supposed to be simultaneous. That was fun. On the other hand, I had a real pile of “OMG, did we actually dress like that?!” moments.

“Science is always discovering odd scraps of magical wisdom and making a tremendous fuss about its cleverness.” Aleister Crowley

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