10/9/2013 Leif Eriksson Day

This week we put a couple of hoops up over the garden box that has the tomatoes, peppers and cukes in it. I don’t think we need one for the one with chard and brocolli. (but the lettuce is in there- hmm. wonder if it would transplant well.) The nasturtium and morning glories are blooming and there are still blooms on the hollyhock and phlox.

We’ve been getting lots of cucumbers, and little skinny celery. I recognized carrot leaves, but the carrot was incredibly tiny. There are tiny green peppers and some tomatoes (still green). I brought in and am drying stevia and comfrey.
Mouse has been dropping by more frequently. He and Smokey- I won’t say get along, but get along better since he pushed him over the cliff. I know all animals tend to be more comfortable once hierarchy has been established. Kat has observed that cats tend to be more hostile to others of the same color (unless litter-mates), and that may account for their antipathy.
We’ve had rain, and no leaks, so we’re pleased. Frankly, I didn’t notice, but Wally asked, so I guess whatever he found and patched was the problem. This week they came back and put the knobs on the cabinet doors. Also shelves under the upstairs bathroom sink, and doors on the cabinet in the living room, and on the downstairs bathroom sink. I like it.
I will say that having the cabinets in the pantry has changed a lot of the way we work around here. Johns got an area with a cutting board where he prepares the salad without having to move too far from the refrigerator. Frankly having only about 6 feet of counter space (I don’t count the part where it’s a corner and you can’t get at it) in the kitchen is really hard. We’ve traditionally balanced a cutting board on the edge of the sink, or the stove if we needed to work. Now we can go into the pantry and use the counter there. We can take the clothing right out of the dryer and sort and fold it there. Willow expects to do her herbal work in there from now on. (We’ve moved the limestone slab in there.) I don’t know whether we’ll do as much in there when it’s cold. I put up a refrigerator magnet so we can tell when it’s cool enough to use it as a refrigerator- this week it seems to be staying at around 60, cool enough for beer or salads, but not enough for meats.
Because we’re sorting laundry in there, I put a basket in there to toss rags into for convenience. When we changed the counter end for the gate-leg sideboard, we lost the cupboard and drawer under it. The tupperware was mostly tossed, and what we kept in in the pantry, but what to do with the contents of the “everything drawer/junk drawer”? We decided to move the towels to the “rag drawer”, the rags to the pantry, and the junk drawer stuff into what had ben the towel drawer. It’s taking some getting used to- but I think it’s going to work. Wally also fixed the door to the pantry. The latch didn’t work, so we have used a hook and eye for as long as I can remember, now we have to get used to actually turning the knob. We can also use the sink in the downstairs bathroom again. We celebrated by washing several windows. OK, they’re a bit smeary. It’s hard to get the outside when you’re on a ladder. I can remember sitting on a sill and washing the outside in my room in Winchester. But modern storm window frames make that very difficult. Sure you can (with a great deal of effort) remove the storms to wash them, but it’s hard to wash the normal windows now that the sill isn’t sit-able. I suppose it’s better than having to hang them and take them down each fall and spring. So I ignore the smears; it’s better than it was. Actually sweeping the bugs and leaves off the screen is the biggest improvement. I keep thinking I should be able to do that every year- but don’t get around to it.
Wally has puttied and painted the windows on the barn/great hall, but weather stripping on the front door, fixed the hinges on the back door, and all sorts of little jobs like that. They replaced and firmed up the on the stair balusters. We are close to finishing all the repairs, and getting to what we can do ourselves like painting. Willow just put up the Lion knocker, after Kat spent hours and hours with the   dremel tool and polish shining him up again, and Kat hung the toilet paper roll hanger.
She also spent a frustrating afternoon practicing soldering, and isn’t happy with the results. She feels it’s wasting materials. Practice always does, but although she can’t tell, I’m sure she must be getting better. At least she knows a few more things not to do. We do worry that the flux may be too old, or otherwise hard to work since it’s been sitting for over a decade. The torch I bought myself and never got to using doesn’t seem to have all the pieces, or I’m not reading the instructions properly. I wish we could find Ælfwine’s old one I used to use.DSC00603

This weekend we’d planned to go down to Coronation. I’d arranged to sell because I know the girls like to have a place to perch, and something to do, but Willow was feeling too tired, and even Kat wanted to sleep in her own bed; so we day tripped on Saturday rather than going down Friday and coming back on Sunday.

Kenric and Evilina are King and Queen again. They are late period Saxons, but I forgive them for that. Once again Steffan adapted a period coronation ceremony for them (taking out the religious parts). Kenric came in carried on his shield, and each of them mounted a huge boulder for the acclamation of the populous. I think they were anointed too, it looked like they were pouring something on their heads with a spoon. You really have to be into being authentic to put up with that.

Willow, being taller, took the pictures, and kept saying “He’s going to hit that tree”, and sure enough when he got that far, Svoi had to pull the branch out of the way. (Svoi is the 6’10” tall gentleman we met at Harpers.) Also, I was sitting. I’ve been on my foot far to much lately and it isn’t healing fast enough to suit me.DSC00580

There was a lovely “dayboard” or lunch, and I tried to take only the low carbohydrate parts, then felt guilty because toward the end they ran out of food, and I wished I’d taken less. Elspeth was working the kitchen, but she’d taken over last minute from the head cook who’d had a death in the family. I must say she looked exhausted (although always smiled when she saw me), and remarked how it had seemed so much easier when she was younger. I expect the same would be true for me too, if I tried to go back to running SCA kitchens. The evening feast was divided into “above the salt” and “below the salt”- the hall at this lovely place could only fit about 90 people, so they put the other sixty or so outside in a tent. The insiders got some more expensive foods besides what we got outside. I’d seen the workers carrying a spit with the trussed geese to the fire to cook. It looked like a scene from the Bayeux Tapestry! I could live without the goose, and I think venison. I will complain that I wouldn’t have called the first course “beef stew”, but beef soup. I think someone underestimated the amount of beef needed. Even in a three course meal you need three ounces of meat per person, and there were only odd shreds, and precious few vegetables. Nice broth, but it wasn’t stew. The last course was fish cooked in ale and it was wonderful! I was pleased to hear that it came from the cookbook I bought at the war this year.DSC00593

Between courts, Avelina and Kenrick sat in state, and many came to swear fealty and give gifts. I gave them a copy of the Art of the Dark Ages that I had been so impressed with when I borrowed it from the library that I immediately looked for a used copy on Amazon. I knew it was something they’d both enjoy. I SO admire them, and I think it’s mutual. As they passed out of court, the Queen stopped to give me a kiss as she went by. I hope they get a chance to read it- but they may not have time for the next six months.

Willow and Kat got to relax, and actually GO shopping. And Willow played a pub game with a young man who flirted with her even though, as she worked out, she was old enough to be his mother. But the game was cool, colored dowels were held together in a ring, and a dice told you which you had to remove, and they gambled carrots against nuts to make it more “interesting”.DSC00598

During the feast we shared the table with Sarant the Myopic, who I hadn’t seen in years, and Danamas Icarus showed up with his pomeraneans, (but only a cloak for garb- I think he’s been out of the SCA for a while).

During the day, Feral called those who were interested to a memorial for Lord El and another SCAer (I think a squire of his) who died recently. It was the kind of service I like: they passed a bottle of whiskey around and we all drank to their memories and spirits. This was followed by a bottle of “something Blood” which was much better than the whiskey, pity I’ve forgotten the name, mead I think. This is not a circumstance under which one counts carbohydrates. I did pass up the hazelnut biscuits after the feast, and since I don’t drive after dark, Willow had to pass up the home brewed ales. Still, we had a good time.

As expected, my weight loss to a slight hit after not being quite so careful at the feast, but it’s recovered since. Since my plan is not to lose as much as possible as fast as I can, but to avoid the carbs more stringently at home, and worry less when I’m out socially, I figure that will slow the weight loss. As long as the occasional lapse doesn’t totally counter the aggravation of having to avoid the starches and starchier vegetables, I can deal with slow loss. I do miss baked goods, but am still baking. I gave Paul and Don each a pie as a thank you for their work, and made the kids baked apples the other day when we had a lovely leg of lamb. (more curry in my future).DSC00601

I’m also dealing with some really frustrating BS from Bank America about my loan. The title company found the lien from when I was late with taxes, but not the document lifting the lien- which was properly filed with the department of records, right along with the lien, but they didn’t find it. The bank wanted our town tax collector to send them a copy of it, and I’m with her, if the title search company is getting $1000+ of MY money for doing this paperwork, they can actually do it, and not ask Trish to do extra work because they are incompetent. At one point the loan officer “axed” me (I wish I didn’t find her accent troubling, but I do, that dialect sounds lazy to my northern ears) for the number to call, and I mentioned that I was getting it by getting on my computer and googling Lyndeboro’, and looking it up, the very same thing that she could do to find the number. So she said “OK, I’ll do that for you.” and I corrected her on that- she was doing it for herself, not for me, she’d been asking me to do it for her. I am pretty ticked about them getting so much money “standard fees” and not doing the work. Just now she called and told me that because of the deadline they imposed that “had to be” between the 15th and the 30th, I have to be at the closing on Friday. Sorry, I’m out of State Friday. But they’re closed on Monday, so I’ll have to pay a fee for the extension. “How much?” “I can’t tell you.” “Well, let me know, when you know how much it is.” Good God! At every step they’ve been adding fees that eat up all the advantage reducing my interest rate is supposed to be giving me. Instead of 9.5 years, I’d be taking ten years, and I’d be “reducing” my monthly payments from about $535 to $508. This is not a huge difference. But it’s the assumption that I won’t read the fine print, or bother to worry about this BS that bothers me. I wouldn’t have their kind of jobs no matter how much it paid! Poor things.

On Facebook I’ve noticed that the government shutdown is having a polarizing influence. People who can usually accept differing points of view are beginning to name-call and use insults more than they used to do.  I am appalled that the congress would let the people who work for and are helped by government programs be hurt by this. Do what needs to be done and go back to arguing about ways and means. I understand that people don’t like the idea of being forced to do anything, but did the “do-gooders” who wanted to clean up the slums to reduce disease, and put in expensive sewer or lighting systems meet as much resistance from the taxpayers back in the 19th and 20th centuries? Some things you do because if everyone in the system is healthy and able to work better, the system works better. My heart goes out to those people who truly believe that abortion is murder. I don’t believe that, and I do believe that frakking and pollution are an offense against the Gods. But I can’t impose my religious beliefs on them, as much as I’d like to. Maybe if I were in the 1% I could have more impact on legislation. I figure that any time there is change it creates a resistance, and the bigger the change, and the closer it is, the greater the resistance. Certainly a significant portion of the white population in the south didn’t want to give equal rights and protection to the blacks, but eventually they had to get used to it. When they want to use force to “put them in their place” it is recognized as a criminal use of force. Eventually people will get used to almost any change. Living much closer to the bottom 10% than the top, I have seen how hard it is to live and break even, and feel that socially funded aid will be good for the whole society, even though in many ways I’m libertarian in my thinking. People should work for their own benefit, but when they are functioning in a system that prevents even the greatest efforts from achieving success, that is a huge disincentive. If working hard will not be rewarded, people will stop working. In order to create a functional society, it behooves us to make sure we don’t motivate people to not work.

Ah well, as Willow would say “Less politics, more pie.”

Fun thing, Wally showed me that he’s made some albums- I knew he had a band, but I didn’t know he also wrote music. I like country.  I listened on the internet and then bought a couple of his CDs Just Me.  I like “Lonely Guitar Man”, and also enjoy “I wish I was a Cowboy”. It’s a little disorienting when you discover another side of someone you’ve known for a long time.
This week we’ve had several volumes of Prince Valiant- being saved for Yule for Willow, but she doesn’t mind reading them, then having them set aside for later since she really doesn’t like surprises. I notice that when I’ve read them for awhile I tend to start narrating my own life in Hal Foster’s style. I’ve also been reading The Skystone, an historical novel about late Roman Britain. I’m also reading East Central and Eastern Europe in the Early Middle Ages, sadly, that’s due back at the library today, and I’m not quite finished with it. I wish the history we get in the USA covered more than just those parts of Europe that had been part of the Roman Empire. They just don’t cover central and eastern Europe, much less the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire. I’m enjoying it, but am a bit daunted that it seems to be the start of a rather long series. If the writing holds up as well as the first book, it should be fine- and it is building toward an Arthurian theme, for which I’ve long had a taste. I’ve started, but not gotten far into the new Terry Pratchet book Dodger, since I discovered it’s not a disc-world book,  but it still looks really fun. I am listening to two audio courses, in the car I’m listening to You were always mom’s favorite [sisters in conversation throughout their lives], and in the bedroom I’m listening to Evolutionary psychology II the science of human nature. I was fascinated to learn about chimpanzees raiding and having small wars on each other. Violence does seem to be built-in to humans. One book I tripped over, In search of Small Gods, turns out to be a poetry book, and I’m actually enjoying it. Even more, I like that there is still a market for books of poetry in the modern world.

I’ve watched a couple movies this week- Trance (a movie about hypnosis removing someone’s memory). It has the usual twists about it coming back bit by bit. It’s a bit like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or other memory movies. Sadly, I also wasted an hour and a half watching Office Space, a movie that was described as good, but seems a limp little guys get back at the powerful jerks story set in an office. It’s going to be a long time before I get the boss saying “Yeeeah, I’m gonna need you to come on and [do something]” The characterizations were so broad it was painful, and SO not funny. I suppose if you lived in that subculture it might be funner, just as Knightriders probably doesn’t reach people who aren’t in the SCA the way it does for those who are.

Well, I have a ton of stuff to do today, and probably should have kept this shorter. Until next week, keep ducking and blocking!
“The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means.”  George Bernanos

“Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government.”

Jeremy Bentham

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