Today while we passed the Emergency Services building (where the ambulances park) their sign said
“Zombies are grabbing my la
Great sense of humor guys! Wish I’d gotten a picture of it. (especially as the site seems to keep messing with the formatting!)
There’s still a lot more color than I’d have expected, given the dry summer, and rain recently. The good part, of course, is that the rain has raised the water table, and our water is back on! (more on this later) Interestingly, the Pennsic rosebush is budding, we are expecting five new blooms any day now. If it goes under 40º at night, we bring it inside. It’s on the front step, where the heat collects.
Daylight savings time has come and it is freaking dark WAY too soon for my tastes. I expect it’s nice to have it light when you’re getting up and getting ready to get out. We used to always get up at quarter to six, and it’s easier to get up when it’s light out, but I do miss the light in the afternoon. I look forward to February when the returning light begins to make itself felt! Meanwhile, hunkering down, making comfort foods. Dealing.
I am not going to let myself get depressed about the election. The people who voted for Trump were in many ways like the folks who supported Sanders, they wanted something different. We can now work for changes that will indeed help fix the parts of the system that are broken. I think that the President elect may find that building his wall, and doing other things he’s suggested may be harder than he’d expected. Many people are worried about hard won freedoms being rolled back, but I don’t think we will give them up that easily. The first reports of suicides of those who expect to have official support of those who hate them are coming in. For a while it is going to be harder for blacks, latinos, GBLT, women, Muslims, and others who have been targeted. Probably Pagans will be in the same boat as well, although I think we simply were “under the radar” of the media and politicos. Still, I don’t think that people who voted for Trump were all looking for support for being violent bigots, I think they were hoping for a return to what they saw as a simpler time, where they knew what to expect, and what was expected of them. Sadly, their message has always been very ambiguous, and we’ll need to wait to see what happens next. I am putting my faith in the majority who are basically good. They don’t want to hurt people, they just don’t want to be hurt any more. In order to get through this, we are going to have to be both brave and kind, and I think stubborn. We certainly are going to need to try to figure out what it is that the Trump supporters really want, because I don’t think that they really want the right to beat up people who make them feel uncomfortable, they simply want to not feel uncomfortable. We need to help them with their fear, but not let them act out on it. Look at all the southerners who over the last decades have gotten used to the idea that blacks are not whatever it was they thought, but are people. Admittedly, some feel that they are people who have been given more help than they’ve gotten, not recognizing that in cases where that was true it was attempting to counter balance a lot of old unfairness. But we are a multicultural nation, and we will eventually work it out. To be honest, I am rather worried about the upcoming administration. I try to reassure myself that we have checks and balances, and also that to give in to fear is to lose one’s own control, but inasmuch as I really have no idea what’s motivating the people who’ve supported Trump except the ones who appear to embrace public bigotry (I assume that they are only a tip of the iceberg) I feel very shakey. Cold feels like depression and fear, and I need to warm up.
This has been an eventful week- mostly weekend plus the decompression from that. Thursday we were getting ready for the conference. I’d originally planned to go down Thursday afternoon, but Willow was willing to come and she was sitting for Avi’s kids Thursday, so we decided to go down Friday morning instead. I met Brian (who was fighting in Crown Tournament this weekend, so couldn’t handle the tech stuff at the con for us) and picked up the recorders from him. Last year he’d taken them home to extract the recorded workshops so we could put them up on the website. Sadly after cleaning up the files, his computer was stolen, and he never managed to get the heart to take the files off the recorders and do it all over again. So Thursday night I downloaded all the recordings onto my computer, but didn’t figure out how to erase them after that to make room. Brian assured me that they said they’d do 24 hours of recordings, but I wish I’d figured it out anyway.
Up and out bright and early Friday, we were leaving town and stopped at Stoney’s to gas up around 8:30. The truck that fills their tank was there blocking the way out, which meant that each car had to back up and do a five point turn to get out again after filling. After about 10 minutes Willow got impatient and wished she’d gone to Irving as she’d intended. I told her to go ahead, and checking the side view, she started backing. Crump! right into the truck behind us (that apparently wasn’t visible in that mirror. His fender was at about the height of our back window, and it scattered crumbles of safety glass throughout the car. Kat, in the middle seat, brushed some out of her hair and cut her finger, but that (and the stress) were our only injuries.
So we pulled away and exchanged insurance info, waited until the police came and took our statements- took pictures for the insurance, and called them. Meanwhile, I was worrying because the conference was starting at noon, and time was passing. I asked if they had some cardboard we could use to cover the back of the car, and they didn’t so we headed for a car parts store to see if they had something. We called Winkles to see if they could help put the whatever on- Willow said she’d never successfully managed to tape plastic on a car such that it would stay on on the highway. Steve said to pick up some Gorilla tape and come over and he’d see what he could do.
When we got there it turned out that the back door wouldn’t open. Apparently the frame was bent enough to prevent that. Also, as Steve pointed out, the cover for the light was broken and it was illegal to be on the road until it was replaced. Willow called Enterprise and asked if they had a minivan sized car available immediately, and they started telling her the cars that they had- by name. We don’t know what size a Kamrey or other car is by name! What were they thinking? And they told her not to yell at them (which I hadn’t noticed her doing- yes, she sounded really stressed, but I don’t think it was yelling). The insurance people had asked if we needed a rental, but thinking that it was just the window, we’d said no. On the other hand, they’d cover $30 a day toward it, and I’m not sure how much that would cover. Luckily, the wonderful guys at Winkles loaned us another Caravan that Gary keeps around to drive his cub scout troop around. It needed a new tire, and we emptied our van (through the side door) while Steve put it on, then Willow managed to get everything into that car, even though it was a foot shorter than ours. Gary is fond of Caravans. I think he told me that he has about 35 in various conditions in his lot. Certainly that’s a lot of spare parts!
So we managed to be back on the road again not much past 11, which is a lot faster than if we’d waited for Enterprise! Bless Winkles and all the guys who work there! We got to the hotel at 2, and Doug and other volunteers were there at the door waiting to help us unload. My first workshop wasn’t until 3, and we checked into the hotel, and were mostly set up in the dealers room by then.
Since everyone else was working so hard to make sure I didn’t exert myself (at one point I’d just come up the stairs from the restroom- why don’t they have any on the same floor as the function rooms? They do, sort of, if you go up the stairs to the upper mezzanine, then downstairs, and another short flight to the ones by the pool. NOT handicapped friendly! To finish the story, the ladies at registration caught me being a little short of breath and wouldn’t let me take the recorders around to the rooms.) That was about what I managed to do this year, and more on that later. What I did do was sit in on several panels, and I love them!
My first class, to be honest, no one showed up for, so after a half hour I went next door and caught the second half of Mary Kimball’s 9 Noble Virtues workshop. At 4 I went to Sarah Livermore’s Paranormal Aftercare, which was brilliant (the link will take you to the workshop description page on the CTCW website). A lot of people don’t realize that after a haunting, or having your paradigm of what is real blown apart, you don’t go back to “business as usual”. For a lot of people it’s very much a Traumatic Stress, and leads to anxiety, depression, and for many people loss of job, health, and support network, as people seem willing to simply desert folks who have been through this sort of crisis. I really think it should be worked up into a book, but she has a child, and that makes it hard to find time to write.
I missed the 5 o’clock offerings, I had hoped to avail myself of the shower facilities in the hotel before the classes started, and took that opportunity to go wash my hair and get clean! Bad enough I look like a hag with my face twisted like this, without also having my hair dirty. Sadly, my hair is about half gone. I noticed recently that I have Beau Lines on my nails. These are dents that show where your nails stopped growing during some type of stress- chemo patients can end up with corregated nails because of alternating the chemo with recovery periods. Luckily, mine isn’t as bad as chemo, but clearly there was enough stress to make the dent, and I’d noticed that my brush was REALLY full of hair every day for the last few months (and my poor braid about half as thick!). I’m thinking that as with chemo causing the fast growing cells to stop, effecting hair and nails, this may have caused a period of non-growth or weakness at the base of my hair, so it’s been breaking off during brushing. I am hoping that now that I’m recovering, my hair will be healthy again, but of course, hair only grows at about six inches a year, so it will take three years or more to have my hair grow back again- if it does. After all, I will soon be over 65, and at this age we don’t absorb nutrients as well as when we’re younger. Ah, learning experiences. I am discovering just how vain I am! I had been quite proud of my lovely long thick hair, and enjoying watching it silver. Perhaps as it grows in it will be all silver- that would be lovely, as long as it is healthy again!
But, back to the conference. Thursday night I’d made Tuna noodle casserole and Chicken Fiesta (the chicken, cheese, rice and salsa dish Willow invented). I brought them in disposable dishes to Hospitality so that there would be some real food, so the folks running the con wouldn’t have to leave the hotel to find restaurants. I popped up and had some, but the girls were going out in the evening to pick some stuff up at Target, (Kat spent the weekend in the hotel room working on Damsels, and needed snacks), and I think they grabbed something while they were out. This year the Vendors room closed at 8, so they weren’t trapped until all the classes were over. Around noon on Saturday, Willow was getting quite hungry, so I watched the table while she went out after breakfast, and Sunday morning she pre-emptively went back to Dunkin Donuts and got breakfast sandwiches before things started. When I’d eaten Friday night I could only find a bit of the fiesta chicken, and Mary said that people had eaten both sorts, so Saturday we ordered a delivery of Chinese. So much for my brilliant plan. Actually on Sunday I found some of the Chicken Fiesta left, so I may have just missed it. The idea for hospitality has always been to provide enough healthy food to keep people grounded.
Anyway, after supper on Friday things really get going. I went to Cathy Kane’s Let’s do Science! which was a series of psi experiments in two parts- the second being on Sunday so we could check in and see how things had gone. Starwolf did a workshop on Everyday Carry Kit- the things a metaphysical practitioner might want to carry around- from useful herbs, stones and potions to tools- and the best places to find them or how to make them. I call Starwolf not a Metaphysician, but a metaphysicist, because the way he does magic is very practical and scientific. (He calls himself a metaphysical Soldier of Fortune.) I’d brought down a box of about 20 assorted Tarot card decks, but forgot to get them out of the dealers room before it was locked up, so I didn’t take it to the “Favorite Tarot” round table, but instead enjoyed Larry’s Otherworld Relationships class. I am always surprised at how many people don’t really get that there are other beings that can come into our world, or we can go to theirs and how (duh!) manners and etiquette can be different in different cultures, and you need to be respectful, and also learn what they think is appropriate behavior to show respect.
Saturday morning I was on the panel House Sharers at 9 am, Money and Metaphysics at 10 am, and Rites of Passage at 11. House Sharers was about ghosts, and brownies, and pixies, and other beings with whom we share our space. I really wanted to be on that having had several experiences with different ones. The next was mostly about the ethics of getting paid for what we do, and my feeling is why the heck not? If you are putting time into the activity (like doing a reading) or have special training or talents (like shaman or mediums) why shouldn’t you get paid for your work? At the same time, we do want to not have people think we are tricking people out of unfair amounts of money. Sadly, as with art, when you only work occasionally, if people look at the rate you charge (like $25 for a 15 minute reading), they think you’re getting paid as much as a lawyer or doctor. Sure, if I was getting it 40 hours a week, it would be good money, but I don’t know anyone who does that- AND there are expenses. The more hours you do, the more expenses (like a shop). Also we delved into the topic that people don’t want to pay you if they don’t like what you told them. There’s not much you can do about that except have a good bedside manner- and do your best to empower the client. At lunch I ate the sandwich Willow got me- Dunkin’s bacon and cheese is a fine grilled cheese sandwich, IMO, and I got a chance to look around the vendors. One of them had several tarot decks I hadn’t seen before, and (although I admit I called him so he could check his database), I managed to find two that Steve didn’t already have, so his Yule and birthday gifts are covered. There was also a lady selling clothing (she had a tiny tent for people to change in, looked like a privy cover), but sadly, while I thought I’d have time to get back to her, in the middle of the afternoon I saw her stuff being packed away. Her son had gone into the hospital suddenly! I hope to hear that he’s OK.
In the afternoon my class Divination without Tools went well. Sadly, it was at the same time as the Pagan Sociology Panel which I’d really hoped to be on- I hope the recorder worked because I’m very interested in that one. The recorders kept turning themselves off. Someone worked out it was because they were full, and found the erase button, but first we had to take off any workshops we had managed to catch from this year. Willow had brought her laptop and let me transfer the contents of the recorders into that, so we could empty them, and start from scratch. Until we check them out and sort last year’s from this (and those may be partials) we won’t know what we managed to get. Sigh. I didn’t get to Jeff Cerneson’s class- sadly he was only able to come down just for his class as his son was also sick. I watched the Cabochons table 2-3 while Willow moderated the Invisible Illnesses panel. Sadly, it seems to be about the same situation in the pagan community as in the world at large, people are not kind to people who don’t “look” sick enough to them (as if they’d be happier if the people who are constantly in pain and exhausted let everyone around them know about it all the time). Frustrating! After that I was on the Cultural Appropriation panel- it’s really hard to find a good balance where we can show respect for another culture and have them comfortable with it. I think the big problem is that how our parent culture has been so abysmally horrible to most other cultures- treating them as conditions to be cured so that they can be like us. It’s hardly surprising that victims of that behavior resent our use of their art and other achievements. I caught part of Cathy Kane’s Reading for Children. She is really very good! After the dinner break I went to the Open Healing session, where Cathy, Maryalyce and Adam all worked on my Bell’s Palsy. I’d like to say that it magickally went away, but no such luck. After that I went to the Norseworking- which lasted the rest of the evening. Again, while they may have accelerated nerve regeneration I’m still sagging on one side. I will say that I appreciated the candor when I first saw Ray Taylor and he said “What happened to your face?!” While many people have followed my problems on facebook, clearly not everyone knows, and I certainly wouldn’t want to spend all my time reminding people. I have a feeling everyone who didn’t know has the same reaction when they first see me. At this point it looks like my nose is pulled sideways. I am so looking forward to the end of this!
I got a chance to see Josh briefly when he dropped Raven off. Raven has been a core speaker for CTCW since the beginning, but was only able to give us one day this year, and then “inconveniently”, someone died and he had to do a funeral Saturday afternoon. We got enough warning that Kathy Smith (who once again did the program booklet and donated the printing) was able to move his classes around to Saturday evening and Sunday morning, and I paid for him to stay overnight. Josh was working and couldn’t stay, and Kathy offered to drop him back at Cauldron Farm after the con. What marvelous people I know who are all working so hard for this enterprise!
Daylight Savings did the switch over Sunday night, and thank goodness for the computerized clocks in our phones, because once again I was messed up with the standard clock. I saw that it was almost eight, got up, and discovered that it was 7. Apparently several other people had similar responses. We don’t start until 10 on Sunday to give the people who are in the hotel time to pack and check out. At 10 I was on the Raising Children with Magick panel, at 11 was Licensing for Spiritual Practitioners. In an attempt to become respectable some groups have been trying to create criteria to test whether someone is a “proper” soothsayer, or healer or clergy person. Certainly we all suffer when someone does something like this badly, but at the same time, some of these abilities are pretty damned hard to test. We don’t only pay doctors when they successfully cure us, but for the time they put in. They are licensed not by how successful they are, but by how they were trained. Sure we can document how someone was trained, but is that going to tell you how good they are at what they do? And who gets to decide? This is not something that’s going to be settled any time soon, although legal challenges have been coming up with increasing frequency. After that I was on the Elders Panel. Over the last 40 years, what an “elder” is has changed a lot. (Starwolf pointed out that the Mormon Elders are generally in their early 20s.) My favorite panel of the day was Ritual Trainwrecks. I’d urged Raven to be on that one, and he had some great examples: like when they accidentally opened a doorway to hell, when they’d only meant to be doing powerful ritual theater. oops. Luckily they caught it. Another example was a group that thought giving children butterflies to release was a great idea- but they had the ritual at dusk, and most of the butterflies just fell down on the ground, whereas the ones that flew were immediately eaten by bats. Most of the mistakes in rituals were of the “do your research first!” (idiots) variety.
We finished up with the feedback session. I was thrilled that Maryalyce is willing to take over as full Chair next year, and that people were eager to continue working on it. Maybe it’s ego, but I was worried that when I couldn’t keep doing “everything” myself, it was going to fail. Looks like we’re going on. And frankly, it’s probably good to get someone better at several things that Jane and I aren’t good at in charge. I remember Jane securing the hotel this spring telling us that we had the Governor’s suite, and I looked at the contract and saw it there. But when we got there, the hotel informed us that all they’d agreed to was the board room off the governor’s suite, and we got hit with an extra $900! A question is, did they do that on purpose as a slick trick, or was it an honest mistake on their part. Either way, Jane and I didn’t spot the problem in the contract, and I’m hoping those who take our places will be better at that sort of thing.
The vendors room closed at two, and Willow and Kat were waiting for me. We could have spent the night in the hotel, but we were eager for our own beds and headed out right after the feedback session, leaving Jane pretty much on her own. (Thor might have stayed.) Willow pulled the car up to the door for me, and as I was getting in, the people who smoke out front (since hotels don’t let you do that anymore) pointed out that one of our tires was flat. (Mary, who ran Hospitality, also had her car die, and I think it’s still at the hotel even now!) We called AAA, which was frustrating, because they use the area code of the phone you’re calling from to direct the call – in our case to the NH branch, so we had to get transferred to Connecticut. Then they asked us where we were, which we didn’t really know. I used the GPS on my phone to get the address for them- obviously Willow couldn’t do it while she was talking on her phone. How do they expect people who are driving, often through unfamiliar territory, to know the address of wherever they break down? Then the guy they sent out didn’t make the “I’m on my way, expect me in X minutes” call. It came in when we were calling them back to check on him 45 minutes later, and he arrived 3 minutes after that. But he was so helpful, and friendly once he got there, we soon forgave him. He put air in the tire and checked to see if it was holding, and as a matter of fact, it still is fine. Who knows why it went flat except that it was just that sort of weekend. He suggested stopping half way home at a rest station with air to check it. We stopped at Friendly’s and had sandwiches and ice cream, and it was still fine, and were home by 10. (Before I went to bed I checked the contract, and found that it sure looked like we had the Governor’s suite).
Monday, to be honest, was spent in what I call “the Spiritual Bends”. You know the bends are when pressure gets lighter suddenly and makes you ill? When you’ve been under a lot of emotional stress, I have found that I (and others) tend to fall apart for a bit. The girls went off to see their therapists. (I think it’s terribly convenient to schedule both appointments in the same office at the same time!) I cried on and off all day, often for no reason or a reason that wouldn’t ordinarily result in tears. I know the triggers ranged from noticing that Dad’s birthday was coming up, and missing him terribly, to seeing that Willow had bought a box of Christmas Chai- and I have no idea why that turned on the faucets! I made mac and cheese (with bacon) for supper, and a pineapple upside down cake. I think I’ll be doing a lot of comfort foods for the next week or so. I bake as therapy. This time I tried increasing the batter, as so many upside down cakes seem rather small- they don’t even fill the pan. This one did, but it threw off the balance between cake and glazed fruit, and seemed dry. So I won’t do that again.
Tuesday Wally came over with a compressor and blew out the line between the spring head and the cistern. The rain has helped the water table- I’d been thinking that maybe their cutting down the orchard above us had caused the underground water to shift. Certainly if they’d started putting in water systems and wells above us that might have an impact on our water supply down “stream” as it were. But the water is now coming in at a more normal rate. Then around noon the plumber came in and got the pump going again. He also changed the flapper in the toilet and decided that it wasn’t the flapper, but the toilet is so old that modern flappers can’t go into it. So we had to buy a new toilet. We also went out and voted. And we heard from the insurance company, who is waiting for the estimate from Winkles. They say we’ll hear from them by the end of the week. I’m happily not familiar with this system, and hope that my rates are not going to go up. Also the estimate is about what the blue book value of the car is, so is that going to be a complication? I don’t know, but will assuredly share the story with you when I find out.
Today we went out and bought the new toilet. We got the one that has two flushes for solid and liquid (one uses only one gallon, the other one and a half). That should save water. It’s also a bit higher, which I don’t like, but the “elongated” seat as opposed to the round one. When we were taking it out the cashier noticed that Willow was pale. I hadn’t noticed until it was pointed out, but she was as pale as Kat. While we weren’t talking about it, I think she’d heard about the election results. I tried not to worry once it was a fait accompli, and frankly since I have heard, I’m fairly depressed. How could we go down this path? I really, really wish I knew what it was that the people who supported Trump think he is going to do to improve their lives! The man cannot put three sentences together to make a coherent paragraph. He knows nothing about government, he’s not bright. The only thing he’s really said is that he’s going to build a wall, which would be prohibitively expensive as well as useless, and make Mexico pay for it, which is impossible. Pence wants to make laws based on Christian theology- his version, of course. Many Republicans probably hope that they can direct him, and may for a bit, to get their own pet projects supported, but I fear they will find that this horse cannot be led. My great hope is that we have become used to the hard won freedoms for women, for religion, for sexual preference, and that the constitution will help us stand up against trying to take them away again. Sadly, many of the supporters that have come in front of the cameras have shown that they intend to be bullies and use violence to get their way. Many of us have been sad and scared and it’s hard to avoid it. It’s also bloody hard to reassure the people who are. What hopeful things can we cite: that congress managed to keep Obama from doing as much as he wanted? Sadly the Republicans are still controlling the congress. I fear that they would like to criminalize abortion again. I know their reasoning, but I disagree with their interpretation of what a person is. A collection of cells is not a person. Whether the soul is put into a body by a divine agency or whether we go in ourselves, I am sure that it doesn’t happen until the fetus is going to survive. It doesn’t make sense otherwise. But I digress. (It’s really easy today. BTW this is the anniversary of Kristallknacht- a good reminder of what could happen if we allow bigots to unleash their hatred without restraint.)
I am through the military part of Daily Life in WW1. It was a hard read. Trench warfare seems to me so much worse than other kinds about which I’ve read. The gas attacks, the introduction of machine guns and tanks, living in the mud. One account told about soldiers watching a friend sinking into mud asking his friends to shoot him rather than let him drown in it, and of course the infections from those living conditions. I have always found the helmets rather odd since they were so flat, but apparently they were meant to protect from the artillery- only from above. I suppose without any sort of body armor, it’s rather silly to worry about attempting to protect the head from bullets. The seven pound coats they were issued became 30 pounds when wet and caked in mud. I was surprised and put off (as a modern person can be) by discovery of the difference in treatment between officers and enlisted men, especially when captured- the officers still had servants (not to mention better food, and no work). That’s hard to wrap a modern mind around, but I suppose they were transitioning from the middle ages. When it got too hard to deal with, I’d switch over to Victorian America (from the Everyday Life in America Series)
I watched Cocoon the Return, which was as sweet as the original, and Krampus, which was pretty good. I would have been happier without the “it was only a dream” bit at the end- and less of the special-effects battles with mutant toys. I took the first season of the Vikings TV show out, but while I’d been sad to miss it because we had no TV, when I actually started watching it just didn’t grab me. I may go back and try to watch it again some time. Monday I finished the last of the Miss Fisher Mysteries. Once I got used to the idea that they weren’t following the book, they were good on their own terms. I am casting about for another fiction to read, but am enjoying the everyday life in series. I’ve just got a copy of Words, Stones, and Herbs: The Healing Word in Medieval and Early Modern England. That’s different enough from the history books that it will make a break.
I really have to get back to getting something done. Washing dishes is going to be easier with running water again. It’s running a bit brown (rusty) having sat for a couple of months, so I’m using the Monadock water for drinking and cooking until it’s looking better, and it’ll probably be a while before we do the laundry here, or fill the tub, but things are looking up. I hope I don’t get depressed- some of it is choice, but some is chemical, and I’m not sure I’m in control of that part. The more I recover, the more I notice how messy the house has become and the thought of getting it caught up is depressing! Oh well. That’s better than thinking about what mess Trump could make. But avoiding thinking about things that are uncomfortable is probably what got us here in the first place.
Let’s hope there’s something better to report next week!
“There is nothing more uglifying than a mixture of malice and ignorance.” (1976) Thomas Burnett Swann in Will-o-the-Wisp
Calendar full of inktober drawings: