10/23/2013 Food Day

Dear Family,
I have to enthuse a bit about the nasturtiums that are still burgeoning beside the front door! Also, the morning glories, bless them, seem to be going strong, and there’s still a patch of yellow pansies blooming. Some white stock came back for no reason I can tell, although the pink finally gave up this week. The color in the trees has, I think, peaked, although there are always splashes of intense color to be found- poison ivy on fences tends to be intensely red, and the ferns are brilliant gold under the trees. I love the bright colored maples, especially when they are mixed into dark conifers, and we noticed the someone has put some couches out beside the small pond at the bottom of Pinnacle Road. I would too if it were on my property- although the recent rain has denuded the tree that had such bright leaves right beside the pond.
There’s been a good breeze lately, so we’re losing leaves at a good clip. On the days when it’s not overcast they sparkle as they flip over in the sun, and are so beautiful! It’s a pity with all the commercialization of Halloween, that there isn’t a variant on Christmas cards that explores how gorgeous nature is in the fall the way many Christmas cards show beautiful snow scenes.
So, in short, it is gorgeous- although I’ll admit that it’s getting a bit nippy. Anjuli came by yesterday to return the Golden Key garb to Kat (she’d taken it to Baronial Birthday since Kat was busy) and we compared notes. We’re trying not to turn the heat on until Halloween, her family is trying for mid-November. Ah, New Englanders! We get competitive about the strangest things!

Willow had a lovely time last week with her friends from California. They did indeed go to New York City, and Washington DC (allocating far too much time to car travel between cities if you ask me), but went to a Spy Museum, went to a pirate bar and drank grog, went sight-seeing in Central Park at dusk (apparently she was the body-guard), and most of her updates seem to have been about places they went to eat. This is probably because it’s easier to post when you are seated, and she said their schedule was so tight they often forgot to eat. She’s so used to being with Kat who must eat every couple of hours (metabolism like her father’s), she’d really missed the chance to grab a bite when she got peckish. She didn’t get back until Friday, so I drove Kat and the goods up to the hotel to set up Friday morning. We took John with us to do heavy lifting and anything that required a tall person.

53518_300-1(That’s Kat in the red hat and Jon in grey setting up shelves on the right.)

Help was required because for some reason I suddenly developed a strange pain in my side on Thursday. My current best guess is a pulled muscle from sitting leaning too long, or perhaps from unconsciously resisting my bed clothes sliding off the bed during the night- between the feather comforter and furs, they are heavy. Anyway, my side and shoulder hurt, and was more frustrating because I had no idea why! I took aspirin, but didn’t notice much difference, then weirdly, during the night I noticed that my feet were cold, and figured that at least I could do something about THAT, and soaked them in the tub- and my side and shoulder stopped hurting. Go fig! The next day it was slightly better- but I was very glad to have John to port for us. Kat knew exactly how to set up. Sadly, we’d forgotten the PVC pipe display to hang a blanket behind them, which apparently serves for hanging more impressive blankets, muffling sound (and the Expo center really needs that!), and designating what’s their space. I think Kat was dressed as Dodo (a Dr. Who companion) the first day, and we left her to put out the art and refold blankets, after helping getting the tall stuff up.54175_600

Willow, I think, got there a few hours later. She had her suitcase full of cosplay in her car. I’d been a bit nervous when it wasn’t with the bales of blankets and other stuff. The Zodi-ack! girls were a few tables down from them, and they roomed together. Kat wore the Edric outfit she made, and her third doctor outfit, on the other days on the con. Willow wore Alexander the Great and Leonardo. I think she should wear Leonardo to Midnight Madness at the War and see if anyone recognizes it as other than garb.54502_60054656_600
When John and I got back from Manchester, we loaded up the van for Celebrate Samhain, the event *I* was going to. We generally make good money there, but not so much this year. I was still limping a little, but Jess’ daughters Willow and Meggi helped me unload and set up, and everyone helped me break down at the end. My pain was pretty much gone, thank goodness, since I’d agreed to be part of the closing ritual. This meant that at 5, when everyone is making their final purchases, I was out rehearsing. I like that we rehearsed, Lyrion and Raven make great (if somewhat long) rituals, and while they are content to read from their scripts, I feel that if you are in a performance, you memorize your lines! And moves- we all had several moves. I was one of four women who represented Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. I was in my Anglo-Saxon garb, Matooka wore her pow-wow costume, the black woman I only saw through the veil on the central tree, but her costume looked impressive too. (During rehearsals, which were outside, she was swathed in a cape, and had a green wig and lipstick on.) Lyrion’s sister, who is blonde, like Lyrion, didn’t look Asian, but spoke her part in fluent Mandarin (then translated). Lyrion told me that if I wanted to speak mine in Old English first I could, but I wouldn’t extend how long a ritual lasts even if I was sure I could do it. (While her sister was speaking the Mandarin I rather wished I had done it though, show-off that I am.) While in the ritual I just “channeled” the Idisi- or Mother Ancestors of the north, so spent most of my time probably looking stolid- until my queue music “the Ride of the Valkeries” came on, and Stone Riley started dancing right in front of me. I figured the ancestors would smile at that too, so it was OK.54976_600
Someone took pictures of the ritual, and I’m looking forward to seeing them, and took a lot of pictures from all over Celebrate Samhain. I haven’t yet seen my favorite image. Jess, who was organizing it, was wearing skates, so she glided around smoothly all day. It was so cool! For years Celebrate Samhain has been in the Peterboro UU church, but last year they moved to what had been the Armory. It’s a great big box, with nice flat floors, whereas the church had been multi-level. Another thing about the space is that they broke it up with “pipe and drape walls”, which meant that this year I could actually hear all the presentations: 55213_300Dorothy Morrison, Chris Penzak, and Raven Grimassi, although one must pay attention to the customers when they have questions. I like the picture they took of me- I was de-tangling the fine silver chains… again. Sigh. As usual, people loved the socks best.
55419_300In previous years they’ve had bake sales, and I’ve always taken them my cupcakes with these star and moon sprinkles on them. I did leave a few behind for Star because it would have been really unfair to have him help and not get any. But when I got there, it turns out they weren’t having it. (I hadn’t asked because, you know, it was a tradition.) So I gave some to the helpers and volunteers, and took some home to my kids. Willow was happy because she had been craving cake, and other than the sprinkles (the less one thinks about them the better, but they’re fun), the rest of the ingredients were real: butter, sugar, eggs, unbleached flour, organic raw sugar, cream, real vanilla. *I* think you can taste the difference- of course the only taste I got was when I forgot and licked my finger. But everyone assures me that they were marvelous!ritual at CelebrateSamhain13

After the ritual, as I said, everyone helped me break down, and as usual, I was reminded how wonderfully Willow, Kat and I work together because we are often among the first packed! I think most of the vendors packed down during the ritual, and I was only 1/3 of my usual team. I’m so glad I had help!
I also overcame my inner programming enough to go with everyone to a local tavern, Brady’s, for a post-revel supper. I was amazed to realize how even at my age I still have trouble trying to join groups of people in an activity. I seem to still have some vestiges of the shyness I had in school. Somehow being able to spot the problem doesn’t seem to help, any more than knowing that a phobia is illogical and doesn’t serve you makes it go away. Luckily, Deb Miller asked me which group I was going to be going with, so she could go to that one. What a relief! One doesn’t want to assume one is invited, but asking could result in a pity invitation. (If that isn’t school girl social-logic, what is?) We were a pretty rowdy bunch, but the staff and other guests dealt with us patiently. I had “steak salad” (steak tips served on top of salad. Odd, but at least it allowed me to get a portion of steak that was not too huge! Deb got one of those huge restaurant portions of cheesecake and about five of us helped her eat it. I started to ask the waitress to see if the carbs were listed but they gave me a hard time- “Do, or do not do, there is no” checking carbs when splurging. I did check when I got home, and as I figured (having made dozens of cheesecakes myself), the cheesecake is fine- about 3 grams of carb per piece, with the crust it’s 32 grams, so don’t eat the crust, and it’s OK.
Kat says she’s offended that the low carb diet seems to be working. Due to the modern popular demonization of fat, it seems counter-intuitive that cheesecake and bacon are OK, ranch dressing is a better choice than Italian, and putting cream in my tea is better than milk. Milk has ~12 g. carbohydrate in eight ounces, and heavy cream has only 6, although, of course, one uses only a few tablespoons of cream in a pot of tea, so it’s even better than that. Honey, sadly, has 17 g. per tablespoon, so I have cut it down as much as possible, although I haven’t completely stopped because I’m used to honey in my tea. I’m also drinking more coffee, because that, unsweetened, doesn’t taste as strange, although I am really not fond of it. Sadly, although I’ve always loved the idea of drinking broth with meals, I haven’t yet found one I like the taste of.
I expect I probably am having more than the recommended 20 grams of carbohydrate a day they suggest to kick-start the weight loss. When I do relax in social situations, and indulge (as moderately as possible), I have observed that I do regain a few pounds and have to lose them again back on the lower level. So the weight loss is far more gradual than it could theoretically be, and Dorothy warned me that this can reset your metabolism so that the low carb diet no longer works. That sounds odd, but oh well.

This week I continue the con paperwork. I’ve collected addresses for UUChurches and New Age and Occult stores, and sent out over a hundred posters about the conference. I’ve figured out as close as I can how long each class is, and am trying to work them into a schedule. It’s all very boring, (yet exciting- these people should really want to come). I’ve done the promote your post thing on Facebook, and lots of people are asking their groups to post pictures. I sent another ad- this one far more normal looking into Wisdom magazine. As far as I could tell we got no response to the one we sent out before, if this one gets response I guess people need more hype. I figured, tell them it’s a conference about what, when and where, and if they’re interested, they’ll go to the website and look for the price. I hate to think poorly of myself, but let’s just say I’m on a learning curve when it comes to advertising, and have a lot to learn. The new one looks tacky. But I can’t help hoping it works because we need the people to find out about it or how good it is will be a moot point.

55746_600Oh, the Bank America people got back to me, and I’ll be closing the new loan tomorrow. What a lot of foolishness. I’m sorry for the poor people who have to deal with it every day!

I just heard from Liz. Yesterday she had her wrist re-operated on because it wasn’t healing properly. I’m not sure which is worse, the chronic low-level plus occasional stabs of acute pain, or that the doctors wouldn’t pay any attention when she told them. She finally found new doctors and we’re hoping that this will fix it. Right now, obviously, she’s still well doped up, but the problem before was that while they were doing the usual weaning off, the pain didn’t wean off as expected. One assumes there was something weird going on inside. I know when she fell off the cliff, she really messed her wrist up. Let’s hope this does the trick. I am so pleased that Erin, her daughter, is going up to help her out this weekend. Right now she seems mostly concerned because her arm is wrapped up in so much padding she can’t fit anything over it but an extra large sweatshirt, and she only has one. Interestingly, this morning I was going through drawers, looking for more cold-weather clothing, and found a stash of XL sweatshirts that are too small for me. Sadly, I know they are nothing Liz would wear or I’d ship them right off to her. (I’d chuck them if the diet didn’t seem to be working.)

An update on Ekke’s adventure last week. As you may recall, some yokels hit him on the back of the legs and tried to drag him into their car while yelling threats. He slashed out at them and flipped a dying skunk into their car, and they drove off. Apparently the police told him that he should have called it in and waited for help. (Great idea, and they probably want the guy hobbling on a cane to run away from thugs in a car?) They haven’t found the attackers, but I doubt they are looking very hard.
Well, the story must have gotten around, at least locally, because some old lady stopped him and told him that he should have gotten in the car and reasoned with them. What a wealth of ignorance that shows! She stopped again as she passed him in the car and told him that she’d give him a ride, but doesn’t give rides to violent people! Another detail came out. When Ekke got home and checked his pants, they were sliced across the back- whatever they hit him with was sharp- they were trying to hamstring him; thank goodness his cane was there before his legs!
Also, I’d thought he was going for the pelt, but apparently a skunks scent glands are worth $75 if full. That must be hard to get hold of in either a live or dead skunk, no wonder Ekke was thinking of seeing if he could salvage it. (and, there may have been the challenge, as well as the very real putting it out of its misery bit.)55962_300

So, while that was going on up in Vermont, over in Nashua another of our friends, Bear Cochran has become a media celebrity. He worked for 10 years in a gas station, and had the very logical view that given a choice between loss of job, or loss of life/serious injury, he’d pick loss of job.

Last Monday around three a guy ran into his store, around the counter brandishing a knife and saying that he was going to kill him. Bear quietly pulled out his handgun, and the attacker immediately backed off and ran away. This is statistically the most likely response when a “victim” pulls a gun, although since such successful protection is often not reported. Bear however, dutifully called 911. (I suppose it WAS all on the security cameras) and was immediately fired. It’s the company policy. His manager didn’t want to fire him, the police said they were cool with it. His gun was legally carried, if against store policy, and there’s even been a protest to get Bear his job back. Personally, I’m hoping he gets a better one. I totally understand his logic. And the story has really spread! I understand they’re mentioning it in England. I guess people all over the world relate to being told that you shouldn’t be allowed to defend yourself when attacked!
I tell you, there’s nothing like looking at the interesting things going on in your friends lives to make you feel good about not having adventures yourself!

Right now I’ve been reading The Singing Sword, the sequel to the SkyStone, (I finished last week). It’s a series about the fall of Roman Britain and the Romano British trying to deal with Roman influence going away combined with the incursions of Saxons, Picts, Scots etc. Not surprisingly, what with Bear’s and Ekke’s stories in my mind, I’m thinking about the similarity between then and now. The long Pax Romana made the Roman world complacent. No one was supposed to be armed except the army, and they were supposed to provide all appropriate defense and peacekeeping- both foreign and domestic. Varrus, like Bear, slipped the edges of legality when he defended himself. It’s a hard thing to realize, as Bear and Ekke did, (and many discover when they are NOT as capable of defending themselves), that the police are there to arrest after the crime, not to protect you against the crime- not matter what their clever slogans say. From their point of view, anyone who’s armed is a potential threat. From our point of view, anyone who is not armed is a potential victim. Certainly criminals want you to be unarmed- it makes things much safer for them.
The audio course I’ve just finished is Evolutionary psychology. II the science of human nature, and one of the lectures was on criminality. The course is about how evolution makes humans prone toward war, religion, and other things. He points out that the only possible way that incarceration could reduce crime is to keep men between the ages of 16 and 36 out of circulation, and that, scientifically doesn’t serve. A traditional way to deal with the evolved tendencies toward violence is to put them in the army for that period and direct their urges. We’d do better to simply reduce the societal triggers like poverty, but we are also apparently programmed for vengeance, so that makes our laws not work according to science. It was a fascinating series, although I thought he leaned too hard on the “we are going to assume that everything is evolution and nothing is metaphysical” cant.
That done, I’ll be finishing You were always mom’s favorite [sisters in conversation throughout their lives], another science of communication course by Deborah Tannen. I’ve been listening to one in the car, and one in the bedroom when I’d dress and putter. Usually I can listen before I go to sleep, but I’ve been working until I start to make mistakes, and haven’t been able to listen much this past week.
I heard that Terry Pratchet liked Cosmos, so I took that out and have been listening to it- but I think it deserves watching, rather than having it on while I copy addresses onto cards. Sad. I watched an old classic Marty with Ernest Borgnine, a charming love story, well worth seeing even now. I “watched” a Jackie Chan film “Myth”, which was adventure enough to follow the story as an audio play- but one really should watch Jackie Chan’s stunts. When I looked up, it was very beautiful visually. The costumes were gorgeous.
I finally got around to watching Cabin in the Woods, a send-up of the old horror tropes, very cool. They even referred to the characters as The Athlete, the Virgin, the Fool, the Whore, and the Scholar. It’s that time of year- time to listen to all the old spooky movies, from Arsenic and Old Lace to Sleepy Hollow and the Corpse Bride. “Life’s no fun without a good scare!” Especially if it all comes out right in the end, and only the bad people get killed.

AS a final thought, I had an old Sinatra song “We’ll be together Again” going through my head when I woke up, including the line: “We both have a lifetime before us.”; and it struck me: that’s a lot harder when you’re over 60. When I could look back on my first 30 years, it’s not really “only”- you can fit a lot into 30 years. And it’s easy during those first thirty and even the second thirty to think of a “lifetime before you”. But the discipline of the next 30 is learning how to be productive and joyful while dealing with gradually diminishing resources.
Aside from the fiction, this fall I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction books about late antiquity. The people going through the transition from late Roman civilization to the next stage had many of the same problems this aging baby-boomer has. We’re the first generation that can’t expect to “do better than” our parents financially. (But we may do better spiritually.) The political and environmental issues are staggering, but we have a different perspective, we can use the tools and lessons of the past, as well as some new ones. I may not be as strong or fast, I may not have as much spending power, but in theory, my accumulated experience and knowledge will allow me to adapt to getting older and slower, and still have fun and contribute.
It’s hard not to respect the scope of another thirty years when I think of the first thirty, and the last thirty. I often wish that I could talk to my mother and grandmothers about how they dealt with aging, losing mobility and independence. I’m already thoroughly sick of having friends die on me! (Heck, I don’t even deal well with having a favorite piece of clothing get too worn to wear in public anymore!) Having built a wonderful life, I don’t want to have to keep tweaking it to keep it working, but I suppose I must. We are often asked if you only had a week or a month or a year what would you do in it? But there’s a whole different feel with “you have a lifetime before you- what are you going to do with it?”
I’ll go to sleep on that one, it’s not one that anyone can figure out in a few minutes.

I really need to get back to work. Tonights show: Crystals with Starwolf.

Until next week:

“Perhaps one has to be very old before one learns to be amused rather than shocked.” – Pearl S. Buck


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