10/16/2013 Hot Oatmeal Day

Dear folks:
Today is Oatmeal Day, tomorrow is Pasta Day, sometimes it feels like the calendar is mocking me! Yes, I know that it’s not all about me, and certainly not all about food. But I can’t help looking forward to including more delicious carbohydrates back into my diet again!
I think we’ve hit peak color for the trees, I certainly got a chance to enjoy them while driving this week. I also think we’ve had frost or close to it- the jewelweed is very dead. Since we covered the tomatoes and other “soft” vegetables, they’re alive, but I am a bit tempted to rig a light for them- how can they do with so little light? The Nasturtiums, bless them, are looking gorgeous, and there are still a few blossoms on the hollyhock and the phlox. No wonder they became popular! I may not be appreciating the marigolds in with the tomatoes properly, because I’m always frustrated to see how green the tomatoes and peppers are. At least we eat peppers green.

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Last week was a flurry of preparation as I was getting off to Twilight Covening, and Willow for her road trip, thus losing her the week before Another Anime Con. (That’s the name, think of it as AAC if it helps.) I had to generate booklets for my “clan members”, and make sure my graphics were good. Willow loaned me some makeup for the ritual, and there was the usual fall problem of bringing clothes (and bedding) for both hot and cold weather, as well as wet and dry.
I think I’ve mentioned I’m renegotiating my mortgage. I got a call in early September and they told me I could save SCADS of money if I renegotiated, so I checked, and they said changing to a lower rate would save me $5000, so I figured, why not? They were going to do all the work. As the process progressed, it turned out that about $3K of that would be eaten up in closing costs. Oh well, $2K less would be money I could spend elsewhere. But I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. Luckily, at 61 I’m not the meek little thing I used to be, and don’t just accept what they tell me. My trump card is telling them I’m perfectly willing to drop the whole deal if they make it difficult for me. Remember last week they were telling me there’d be a penalty for not being able to close on Friday because THEY were closed Monday and I was going to be out of town Thursday and Friday (something they didn’t even tell me until Wednesday morning). Eventually, the agent got back to me and told me the penalty would be nothing for me. Fine, we can proceed. I did have to drop everything, run down to the town and get the receipt for the taxes and fax it to them. With their cover sheet. Any faxes they get without THEIR cover sheet are automatically destroyed.
I told them I’d pre-pay the taxes to the town myself rather than let the title company hold the money (after all, the town keeps our road plowed, and the title company has already proven it ducks its work). I am pretty sure that the interest accrued on the money gets kept by the title company when they finally paid the tax bill (when it came in) and returned the excess to me (since the taxes aren’t billed yet, indeed, the rate hasn’t been set yet, so Trish couldn’t tell me what they’d be, they require the June bill plus 20%). On the scale they’re working at, the interest from about $3 to hold for a couple months is probably how they make their money (that and the fees for the work they don’t do). If anyone is going to get that interest on the over-pre-payment, let the town get it!
At any rate, while I was trying to get out by noon on Thursday, packing, printing, etc., I got a call saying that I had to fax them the receipt with the stamp proving it had been payed. I did that- Trish even made me an extra copy (with official seal) with the check on it. Lovely, faxed it (with their cover sheet), and tore out- only a bit late. When I got back Monday night I got a call from the Notary who does the closing, who’d apparently called a few times while I was gone), telling me I had to bring a check for the taxes to the closing. Tuesday, when they got back in the office, there were many calls about this. They wanted me to fax them the BACK of the check. When you’ve given someone a check, you don’t have it any more. The TOWN doesn’t have it anymore when they’ve put it in the bank! Also, gee, WHAT a surprise! The embossed seal didn’t show on the fax copy. Duh! I took the extra copy Trish made me and ran over it with a marker and faxed that. Also, they said they couldn’t find the faxes I’d sent Thursday. I sent again. THOSE didn’t get to them. They gave me a new number and that one worked. Not my fault if their machine isn’t working. I had to pull out the “I don’t care if this whole thing goes away” threat again. Meanwhile, the poor Notary keeps calling to find out if she’s supposed to come over. All her papers are dated the 15th, and will have to be redone because of this BS. I don’t think most people cause them as much trouble as I do. I expect if you have a mortgage for a half million dollars not just $50K, the numbers are larger. The agent also told me that people usually renegotiate their mortgages about every three years. Say what? I don’t think we’re living in the same world. When (according to the Pew research on the internet) less than 15% of people move each year, and I expect a lot of them are apartment dwellers, I figure her “everyone” may be everyone with mortgages with Bank America. Well, if, as happened with me, they call you up and sell you a renegotiated mortgage, maybe that’s true. (I pointed this out when she pulled the “you came to us for this loan” line; no, your company called me.)  Who knows what’s going on now. I am totally so tired of all this nitpicking that I AM willing to drop it all if they don’t get their act together. I’ve got other things to do.

The kids helped me get out to Twilight Covening. Willow packed my bag, John and she loaded the car, Kat made the Mabon bread I’d said I’d bring to the pot luck. There’s a food plan for the weekend, but the teachers come in the night before and have a potluck for supper and breakfast. I always bring my bread: saffron and honey, filled with nuts and fruit. This time we decided to make it in loaf pans to make it easier to cut and transport. I was going to start it Wednesday night, but we were out of yeast. This meant we didn’t have time to bake it, but I figured I could bake it when I got there. While it rose well at home, it didn’t rise on the trip- I think the vibration of the car makes the bubbles shake out- just as when we transported our goats milk, it usually had made cheese when we got to Pennsic (not a tragedy). But the bread came out a bit heavy.DSC00606
Twilight Covening is described as a four day ritual, starting Friday and ending Monday. Within it are many other rituals, opening to closing circles, trance dancing, visioning, labyrinths, attunements to mark the change of daily cycles, all making up the whole. Between these people are divided into clans (all named after animals- mine was the Forest Cat Clan) of people studying anything from astrology to music to weaving to yoga to being silent to dealing with death. Forest Cat was about RúnValdr, and I think we got about 14 hours of clan time to work on it. Other activities include leader meetings, most of which were for working on the big “Visioning Ritual”. This is an incredible project, different each year, where about 30-50 leaders and helpers set up images and situations to create spiritual experiences in the participants. The whole thing is supposed to be kept very hush-hush, so I can’t tell you much more. I, personally, think it’s silly to attempt to hide what we all know, that the roles of the archetypal beings seen in the ritual are played by the leaders putting it on. In theater, knowing that the role of Captain Jack Sparrow is played by Johnny Depp doesn’t take away from how one reacts to the character and story. But that’s how they want it, so I’ll go along. The occasional glimpses I have gotten of the scenes they set up are incredible, and I wish they could save some pictures of them so those who don’t get to see them can see how incredible they are. But it’s all ephemeral- like a meal. I suppose even if you take a picture of the meal, you won’t know how great it tasted.

I will say that their food is excellent. The understand how important food is to staying healthy and grounded, and each clan helps for one shift in the kitchen. I think this also helps bring each clan together. The beginning of the Visioning Ritual is sharing of a soup made from vegetables that each person brings and shares at the Opening Circle (if possible, something you’ve grown in your own garden). I brought celery this year. Some years the soup is really bland. SO many people bring a winter squash (they do travel well). During our shift we got to split the squash and scoop out the seeds. They are then oven roasted, and the meat of the squash scooped out to be put into the soup. This year there seems to have been an effort to bring more flavorful vegetables, because the soup was pretty good (still, under salted). I was a bit concerned with being able to stay on the low-carb regimen, but figured I’d just do my best and take the hit, when I couldn’t really avoid them. After all, I expect to have to avoid most carbohydrates, (if not quite this ardently) for the rest of my life. Now that I’m back, the scales show that I stayed about even, so it seemed to have worked.
One of the more amusing bits was that after the Visioning ritual (it starts with sharing the soup at Sunset and often ends six hours later, although it’s getting a bit earlier -as we age I think), and ends with a shared meal around midnight. Every year before this it’s been some sort of pasta dish, and I was expecting it so much I could smell, and even thought I saw pasta in the serving trays. When I got there it was “pot pie”- well, a stew, with biscuits you could put on top- or not. I bet that’s what happened to all the pork roasts! Saturday they had roast pork (for the omnivores- they always have incredible vegetarian dishes available that make me jealous of the vegetarians), and I noticed them putting away about five or six whole roasted loins after. Kiroac (the cook) always makes PLENTY of food, and Monday they put out all the leftovers for people to eat and take away (and I was surprised not to see those loins). He also incorporates some of the vegetables into the meals, partly because there are just so many, and partly because they carefully leave out anything that could cause allergic reactions, but they were still part of a religious offering, so they should be included and shared. They call him, Walter, and his helpers the Flamingo Clan and everyone loves them. The food is great! It’s all real food- they even have real butter, and when they make eggs, they take flats of eggs and break them. I highly approve.

DSC00609   Forest Cat was a bit smaller than expected- one person called the night before, she threw her back out and couldn’t make it, the other probably had an emergency too late to let us know. The ones who came took to RúnValdr like ducks to water. I think things were speeded up because four of the six already knew runes pretty well, and the others jumped right in. When the leaders are doing the pre-visioning prep, the clans interact, and our people offered to do healings for anyone who wanted it. There were lots of aches and pains, and lots of people really impressed at how quick and effective RúnValdr is. In the picture you can see my Forest Cat hoodie. Willow made that for me between 10 and 12:30 Thursday morning. It’s fully lined. (“Also cute and fluffy!”) and VERY warm. I thought I should wear it for the closing circle and it was really too hot for that. The weather was great- it did get cold at night but wasn’t bad the night of the ritual, so we were all happy. I was especially amused by Andy, who reminded me a great deal of Harry Dresden, including having a big leather coat that he put wards on with the RúnValdr. His wife was in Jane’s Ptarmigan Clan where they explored smithcraft. He used RúnValdr on her arm that had gone rubbery and sore after the day of pounding iron, and discovered that while he’d gotten her arm back to full strength, he’d forgotten to include “make it stop hurting” in his original working (so he added that, and it did). They were all marvelous, and I had a great time. Perhaps the funniest story was that I’d offered my sore foot as a practice piece, and Sunday it was pain free- I practically danced through kitchen shift, and then the big ritual it started hurting again. On the way out Andy told me Tragg (my troll) had told him that the problem was we’d tried to turn the pain into money (I’ve been worried about the con) and those aren’t compatible. Turn it into joy and it will work. It was so cool to have someone else be able to hear Tragg! Andy also carried all my stuff from the cabin to the car for me- wonderful man.

I got out by 3:08, not bad since I was aiming at 3, and would have gotten home by sunset except that I got lost (I forgot where I’d put the directions- into my clan folder) and lost a half hour, and a bit more time picking up a hitchhiker and dropping her at the soup kitchen in Keene. There’s nothing like hearing about how the rest of the world is coping to remind me how blessed I am! By the time I got home, I was so tired I could hardly chew my supper (waiting for me, bless you Willow!).
I was actually surprised to find her here, I thought she was leaving Friday. A friend of hers from California flew over to take a whirlwind tour of East coast tourist spots, mostly in NYC and Washington DC. Willow tried to explain to her that while the east coast looks small to someone from California, it still takes about 6 hours to get between those two cities, and you can’t do something in NY, then drive down and do something in DC. Maybe because the Smithsonian and Zoo and other things they’d had on their itinerary are closed because of the Shut-Down, they may just stay in New York. Willow says she’ll keep us updated on their progress by taking pictures with her phone and sending them to Facebook. Here’s the first:Times Square

She left first thing yesterday morning, and will be coming back straight to Another Anime Con, so Kat and I will be packing all that stuff up and loading it into the con ourselves. DSC00627
Kat is still finishing up her Edric costume. While I was gone they bought some new flux and soldering the pin she needed became much easier. Yesterday she enameled it, and that part of the costume is done. Kat is so meticulous things take much longer for her than for Willow or me. She’s done with the undertunic, and has pinned together the pants. As soon as I’m done with this, we’ll be going out for more of the right colored thread (as well as milk, eggs, and salad).
Oh, they also painted the hallway ceiling, re-hung the pictures, and moved the secretary out into the hallway again. Sadly, the masking tape didn’t work as well as we’d hoped and we’ll have to find replacement trim along the ceiling. Too bad, I liked that trim.


Chris CollinsEkke had an “adventure” so exciting that I have to share it. His motorcycle isn’t registered, so he’s been walking and hitching to work, even though he’s using a cane these days, and it’s quite a hike. Some local yokel’s apparently mis-took his hat (probably one he made for himself) for a turban and decided to give the “Muslim” a hard time, as he was getting ready to defend himself, a stranger (veteran judging from both clothes and attitude) offered to even the odds, and they ran off. It may have been the same ones who turned up later. He happened to spot a car hit a skunk, and he’d gone to put it out of it’s misery (and maybe, if he was careful and lucky, be able to get something salable from the corpse) when a car pulled up, where he was trapped against the guardrail and tried to grab him and pull him into the car (yelling insults). He was lucky in three ways: First, they swung what sounded like a metal bar against the back of his legs- trying to knock them out from under him, but whatever it was hit the cane instead. Second, he’s Ekke, so he was able to twist away from the grabbing arm. Third, he had his pocket knife out in his hand ready to deal with the skunk, so he slashed with that, and there was some blood, so his attacker was hurt. How much so is unknown.
But the best part of the story is that, being Ekke, he kept his head and had good reflexes, and he managed to flip the dying skunk into the car with his attackers with the end of his cane. This was the final straw for the poor skunk, who let loose. So there was gagging and vomiting and stinking as well as bleeding as they left. Oh yes, and fear, he yelled “Rabid” as he tossed it. The denouement of the tale is that when he got to a place where his phone had a signal, and called to report it (“if someone comes in for stitches smelling of skunk, be suspicious”) he was told that he shouldn’t have fought back, he was supposed to have called for the police and waited for them to handle it. (With no signal, and in what time frame?) Sure.
As he pointed out, these are the same police that responded that there would be no cars available for DAYS when his wife reported being threatened with rape. (Little wonder she decided it wasn’t worth living out there!) Ah, but they can harrass him for having an unregistered bike. He can’t register it because the state won’t release the VIN until he has insurance, and the insurance company won’t insure it without the VIN. Ah well, it is more fun thinking about flying, dying skunks, and human hyenas getting what they deserve.

I was thinking about throwing in some thoughts about the Shut Down (I am increasingly cranky about it as more and more evidence comes out that it was SO intentionally prepared), and things I’ve read and watched, but I didn’t manage to get the CTCW schedule done before leaving for TC, so I need to get back to that (and errands, and sending out advertising, and dinner and the New Normal). So I’ll say: until next week, keep thinking positive, bless all the wonderful things for which we are grateful, and the things that need help as well.

“The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients, and by parts.” Edmund Burke

Oh- here’s a picture of our rehung knocker:

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