10/5/2011 Eat Better Eat Together

Hello again
It’s been rather rainy this week- our wheelbarrow has about 8 inches of standing water in it. I remind myself that it is slightly flared, so we haven’t had eight inches of rain, but it’s still a good deal of water. One of the cats has been leaving a collection of chipmunk tails in front of the steps; Willow calls them Alvin, Theodore and Simon. I almost stepped out of the car onto what I thought was a dead frog yesterday, but it was simply a soaked and slicked down chipmunk (the whole thing, not just the tail). I prefer just the tail, thank you, cat- whichever one you are. Meanwhile, something took a bite out of one of the apples in the pantry. Admittedly, a rat can get into any hole as big as the diameter of a quarter, and the cats seem to need us to let them into the pantry, but really! They should kill everything that skitters around here, if not IN the pantry, before it can get there!
I haven’t had as much interest in observing the flora this week. I have noticed that we are still pretty much green, with only highlighting of red and gold, at least in the canopy. I have noticed that the sun doesn’t come up until seven or so, and when it’s rainy, it doesn’t “look” like morning light until, well, way past time to get up. I’ve looked up, seen it was just a bit white out, turned on my reading light and fallen into a book until one of the kids came to check on me far too often this week. (There’s a disadvantage of contacts- I can’t really read the clock until I put them in, or pick it up and put it near my nose.) I have been grooving on the amenities of modern life lately. It’s so very nice that we can have light by flicking a switch, have water without carrying it from the well, or even river, have heat without chopping wood, have contact with people without going to town, or even writing letters. It hasn’t been much more than a century since this sort of thing is considered normal, and it’s still not a given in much (most?) of the world. I don’t mind the idea of having to slide back a bit- more locally grown food would be good. Less travel, OK. I could even deal with rolling blackouts. But I’d miss the internet. I’m with Terry Pratchett’s Cohen the Barbarian that what is best in life is “Hot water, good dentistry, and soft toilet tissue.”
Pretty soon we’ll have to bring in the plants that are coming in- in April we got an Easter Lily. When the flower had finished, I set it on the steps (so I wouldn’t have to water it) until I could get to sticking it in the ground, on the theory that it would either rot, or come up again next year. To my surprise, it has put up a new plant, so I am figuring to bring it inside and see when and if it blooms again. We still have morning glories- although their foliage is beginning to look poorly, and hollyhocks- go fig.
I continue to read the book The Nature Principle. I think that it will be the book from this year that sticks with me the longest (like The BIg Necessity last year). I read just a bit each day- this morning I read about looking at your local environment. Many people go camping- go out to see incredible and unusual plants and animals. But we need to get to know our local areas. You need to know your local herbs, local plants and animals. I see wild turkeys nearly every time I go out- they are fearless of humans. I occasionally see deer, or more rarely coyotes. I get great joy from listening to the crows, and watching their family and groups grow. We may not be aware of being as much a part of the wild ecosystem as we are. I’m more likely to think about the local foxes and weasels when they kill my chickens, or chipmunks when the cats bring them into the house. Last night I was aware of skunk because I could smell that one sprayed somewhere nearby. But the chances are very good that there are wild animals that check out our compost heap, and as any gardener knows, the key to success is a good fence. We are part of the ecosystem, we just don’t think about it that much. Simply noticing what’s around makes us feel closer to the world we live in. That makes us healthier, smarter, happier, and has all sorts of other benefits, even if we are city dwellers, we interact with the weather, with some local flora and fauna. We just don’t pay as much attention.
We’ll need to first pay more attention to what’s around us, then in theory we will be better off. Of course, I’m wishing I could get either Louv, the author, or some of the people he’s writing about at my con. I tend to want to have a very cross disciplinary curiosity, and feel that by comparing history, religion, psychology, art, and everything else we’ll get a better idea of context.

This week I spent what seemed like too much time on the computer. They’ve changed facebook, which was disorienting. It’s still more than a month until Changing Times-Changing Worlds, but it’s taking me far more time than I think it should do. I still haven’t gotten the computer to upload images, so the website doesn’t look right. I’m frustrated because the website is pretty much our only advertising, and I wish it looked better. And the CTCW yahoo group is having dramas. Jane and I had to break down and put up some Guidelines; I’d have like to have just had it be “don’t be jerks”, but instead we had to specify- don’t disrespect other people’s religions and faiths. Does this really have to be said when we’re having an inter-faith conference? So I’m frustrated at the amount of time it uses up.
I find that  most of the “news” I get these days are articles that are forwarded to facebook (or by email) by friends. I’m sure that that is a huge filter. I do wonder what “normal” media looks like these days. The internet reminded us that Steve Jobs died today. (Duh!) I probably spent hours and hours over the weekend watching films of the protests in NY. According to talk on the internet, the mainstream press didn’t cover it. Since I don’t get a paper or TV, I have no idea. One thing I’m sure of, I get a lot more “crazy” or maybe “crazy-making” stories than I would otherwise. I got a version (but that was by email) of the misreading of you’re going to be charged $5 for each time you use your debit card- as opposed to $5 a month. I found out about a law that wants to have Wicca and pagan religions “second class religions” not covered by the first amendment, or the one trying to get Washington D.C.  renamed “the District of Christ”, so it wouldn’t be named after a pagan goddess. I guess they have a right to their religion, but their idea of “freedom of religion” is rather far from mine. I guess they want to tolerate Quakers and Mormons and maybe Jews, (people who worship God wrong), but not us polytheists. On the other hand, the more of that sort of stuff I see, the better I like the nature photos and jokes that people pass along.

Steve came up Sunday, and we had the “lava” (cheese stuffed) meatloaves again. He checked my computer to see if that was why I couldn’t upload images (he couldn’t find anything suspicious). His birthday is this weekend, but I’ll be off at Twilight Covening (from tomorrow morning until Monday night) so I won’t be able to have him up for cake, so I gave him the interesting Tarot cards I’d gotten for him at Harvest Gathering, and I guess he can come for cake while the girls are at Another Anime Con. (no, really, that’s the name of it). While he watched me cook (we had pie and mashed potatoes too), we watched Thor, as he hadn’t seen it yet. I really like the Marvel superhero movies. I didn’t think I would like Thor, but I did. The actor was driving me crazy until John pointed out that he was George Kirk from the Star Trek movie. He did Thor well, and Hopkins was a good All Father.
This last couple days were mostly on the computer again- the “clan leaders” from Twilight Covening are posting back and forth to try to get ready. This year Deirdre has actually got the outline of the main ritual done before we get there. I’m trying to collect everything I’m supposed to take. I’m going through my handouts, and displays- it’s not going to be as big a deal as the last couple of years with all the divination equipment, but I’m pretty much on my own this year, doing RúnValdr.

Kat’s working on a commission (kind of a sailor dress) for one of her on-line friends, and Willow’s been making her blankets, as the fall con season approaches. We made the reservations for Darkover, signed up for Birka, and got the tickets for the Staffordshire Horde. It’s coming to the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC this fall. It’s the only scheduled showing in the US, and I’m psyched that it’s going to be in our range. It’s at the far edge of our range, but since it’ll be there when we’re down in MD for Darkover, that’s only an hour further, so we will get to see it. We didn’t find an exhibit (like the bog mummies or the Tut exposition) after the War this year, so I guess this fills that blank. I’m so lucky my kids like museums. (We’re trying to meet Sue down at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts sometime this fall, but scheduling is always tricky.) Willow’s also finished up a blanket for Jane. Since we’re used to her “lap blankets” that are so popular at cons, and Jane wanted one to use as a bedspread it looks HUGE! But nice. Her big regret is that she’s not better at taking pictures of her work before she sends it off. Oh well.

Speaking of things taking longer than you’d think… After the PPD season we’d sold a bunch of socks, so this week we reorganized the the bins containing the socks. We now have all the socks in 2 bins instead of 3, which, as Willow says, will allow her to bring her workbox. I also put together one bin, so we can take socks in two directions if that happens. But we’re down a box now, which is good. I’ve also started organizing the library again- which it desperately needs.
We’ve also started the fall “apple pie” season. I’ve made four now. We looked up in the orchard over the house for drops, but for some reason they are small and green this year. We’ll look again in another week. It may be the weird weather this year, or maybe they haven’t been working the orchard (I haven’t seen any crews up there this year), so that’s why they’re smaller. I don’t know. But we’re buying local apples (when we get milk) over at Fitch’s corner.
I finally went up this week and crawled up onto the truck Wolf left behind, but I couldn’t find the Vehicle Identification Number- it’s not in the usual place. While it’s got good value (maybe a thousand dollars) as scrap metal, no one will tow it away without the VIN. So I called the DMV, and they told me to call the police, and THEY came up, and said they’d get the VIN from the plates, and get back to me. They haven’t yet, but it’s been years, so obviously I’m not in a huge hurry. Before it gets snowed in again would be good.

It’s cool enough that I expect that John will close the window in my room while I’m gone (I still like sleeping with it open), and the house feels snug when we come inside. We’re starting to think of comfort food. I baked some bread this weekend. Last night I sent John down to the cellar for some frozen vegetables, and he optimistically thawed about a pound of frozen corn. We ate what we could, but the rest I put into a batch of corn bread at tea-time. Apparently there was really too much for the amount of batter- it really overwhelmed the bread. NOT a successful experiment. On the other hand, I tried Chicken Tetrazini for the first time this week, and it wasn’t bad.

Kerensa has decided to come back to the SCA. Allen has decided that it would be fun to dress in Anglo-Saxon, and Kerensa, as a talented jeweler, wants to try to recreate some of the gorgeous gold Anglo-Saxon jewelry like from the Sutton Hoo burial and Staffordshire Horde. I’m loaning him my copy of The Art of the Anglo-Saxon Goldsmith. I am so looking forward to seeing what he comes up with. I guess I can’t help hoping he will make something I can afford as well as the special things he makes for himself and Allen.
Dana is still not moved into his house, and is not camping at the Mission anymore. Megan and Dennis will be going over to their canal boat in England before the end of the month. Honour will be watching Vito and their house for them. Because of facebook I know that up in northern Vermont they are expecting a hard freeze, because Eleanor told us that she’d spent the day harvesting and preserving the last of their vegetables.
Many of our merchant friends are getting ready for the big fair/event weekend- (as I am getting ready for Twilight Covening). I like knowing what my friends are up to. (This paragraph would be less fragmented, but some change they’ve made to the mail program has its own mind about editing, and it’s driving me nuts!)

This week I have done some sculpture- not as much as I’d hoped to get done, and what I’ve watched while doing that (and cooking, washing dishes etc.) includes The Mark of Zorro- with Tyrone Power, it was a good swashbuckler, and a lot of fun. The Lovely Bones, which I thought was going to be a ghost story mystery- and it sort of was, but mostly it was about how a murder can make a functional family into a dysfunctional family. I didn’t enjoy it much. It reminded me of the type of book for which the theme is “life sucks, deal with it”. I took out the recent remake of Charlotte’s Web. I’m thinking it was mostly because the CGI technology was now up to making the animals speak and do whatever the story called for- some of the images were right from the book. I enjoyed it very much, even the characterizations of the animals that weren’t straight from the book. It was certainly better than Rango, a more recent movie. Rango was somewhat witty, and the point that taking water from one place meant another place lost it was not bad- although it was trivialized. Of course. Kat and I watched one of John’s B movies Doll Graveyard, which was pretty good, whereas Hercules in the Haunted Realm (one of mine, I blush to admit) was just awful. It was VERY roughly based on the old story where Theseus tried to steal Persephone from Hades, I don’t remember Hercules helping, but it really wasn’t any closer than Hollywood B (C? D?) movies had to be. Sadly it seems to have been made in Italy and then dubbed, so we didn’t even get to hear Christopher Lee’s voice. (I’m pretty sure it was his presence in it that inspired me to check it out.) The had some weird little Italian comedian playing Telemachus (who should have been Odysseus’ son) as the comic relief. It was awful. Finally, I watched the first episodes of a weird English TV show called Being Human. A ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire walk into a bar… actually, that’s when one of them was depressed, usually they are just sharing an apartment, and trying to deal with life (or not having the one they’d like). It was pretty good, I may watch more discs- when I have time. I’ll always think of it when I look at the Hygia statue I was making while it was playing.
In my recreational reading I finished the last of the Libertus mysteries- not the most recent, only the most recently acquired- the Legatus Mystery. I’m bummed that they’re used up. I’ve started on the Medicus series again- Caveat Emptor has arrived from the library- out of sequence. I’m not as concerned about that as Willow is, but it does make more sense when you read series in order.
Ah well, I have gone on long enough. I’ve got a lot to do before I get off in the morning.
Tchipakkan

Edward Morgan: “A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.”

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