11-11-2015 Veteran’s Day

DSC02183The Rain last week knocked most of the leaves down- we are seeing a lot more sky, and what is left is mostly bronze, not gold or scarlet. It’s also been a bit chillier, which may account for Willow being so tired. She’s had a bad month. She actually went to the doctor Friday. It would be so great if there were actually something that could help. She did get out once- Joannes had a major fleece sale, and she bought a bolt each of red, black and white (plus some smaller lengths); and yes, it was that good a sale.
Another sure sign of fall- rats have come in again, and the stupid cats are NOT killing them fast enough to suit me! We’ve put them on  short rations to inspire them, but mostly they seem to be just confused. It’s possible that they just don’t want to deal with killing rats- mice, chipmunks, flying squirrels and other small things may be more fun/less danger. Time to go buy traps and /or poison. I just hate putting those out in cast the cats get into them (or eat a poisoned rat).
The girls have moved smoothly from Inktober to NoNowrimo: National Novel Writing Month. I think it’s helpful to know other people are out there sweating over their keypads, trying to put together something worth reading. I think Kat’s working on her “damsels” book- a sort of Steampunk fantasy with some fun characters. I hope she finishes it and finds somewhere to get it printed. I’ve loved hearing the bits she’s shared with me.

We did have one little victory of sorts this week. Sunday Kat was reminded that we used to have a lot of songs on our itunes that we don’t have now. We spent most of Sunday on the phone with tech support, ranging from the stupidest TDS tech support I’ve ever encountered to some helpful and competent ones. Eventually Kat managed to manage to do what he suggested- although it wasn’t easy. In case you have itunes I’ll share our experience. It seems that each itunes account is linked to an email address. I know lots of people have several. I have a hard enough time with one, so while I have been required to get a gmail account, I only use this one: Tchipakkan@tds.net. My first email account was set up by Allen back when he was probably 15 or 16 (maybe I had another set up by Ælfwine, but that was antediluvian, and there are no living survivors who can remember that far back), so the domain name was eternalviper.net. Just the sort of name one would expect from a teenager. I went from amused to embarrassed when I had to share that for many years, and so wasn’t unhappy to switch to TDS instead. Well, apparently that was a different account and you can’t merge two accounts. However, I could make a “family plan” and people within the plan can share music. I could if my computer could download the app that would allow me to do that. Apparently my Mac OSX 10.6.8 is too primitive or not big enough to handle it. Luckily, Kat’s mac is a few months younger, and she was able to get hers to handle it. Not that it didn’t take her a lot of cleverness and hard work to do it. Still, after Kat, Steve, and I having worked on this for about 10 hours, as we sat down to dinner, the old music started to download. Around 8 pm. It finished around 1:30 am. This is not how slow the computer is, but rather that there were well over a thousand songs! At some point during the winter I hope to be able to go through and eliminate duplicates and chuck the ones I don’t care for as much. I think Steve has transferred all of his CDs to MP3s, and has thousands in his player. (We had turkey a la king for supper, and I think next time we’ll try it with popovers rather than the puff pastry things Mother always used. I may be getting fussy in my old age, but I like a fresh popover that tastes like egg and butter better than whatever the oil is in the frozen pastry shells.)
Technology continues to be annoying today as Kat is helping me with making a new skirt. I’ve been buying fabric (black with gold prints) for about a year, since I can’t find any more of the lovely dark blue with gold celestial prints that I made a skirt of back in the nineties. This will be the same style- in tiers. Kat offered because she’s become quite good with the shirring and pleating feet on her machine, which should speed up the process considerably. Well, enough to make it possible. Sadly- just as she was starting on the waistband, the bobbin case broke. We called our local repair place and the gentleman was about to leave, but waited for us to run over and get a replacement. It continued to be recalcitrant, but eventually, Kat seems to have gotten it to cooperate. I don’t know if the delays will prevent it from being done before I have to leave tomorrow, but we’ll see. Either way, I’ll have a lovely new skirt to wear this winter, and for the next few years.

We set off two fountains for Guy Fawkes Day. It hadn’t rained yet, but the leaves were in great drifts along the road, so we didn’t think it appropriate. Megan is back in England and her reports make me think that it’s become more of a season over there, rather than a night (like the way Thanksgiving has dragged out from Thursday to the end of the weekend.) That was Thursday and John and I had spent the day at Mark’s locker- we’re really getting close to done. We tried to give an old working TV away, but Goodwill won’t take the big ones anymore, and the recycling center won’t put them out for people to take either.

We also had a grand and glorious pie experiment this weekend. Did you ever wonder what was the best way to cut up apples for a pie? We’ve done slicing with the spiral slicer (which you can press down to get it really tight). Then there’s putting in wedges (such as you can get with the press down coring wedger), and  there’s “chunk” method- common when using utility apples that one needs to cut a lot of bruises off of. The best part of making small pieces is that you can toss the pieces in the cinnamon sugar, to get even coverage.  Anyway, I made a big batch of crust, and carefully weighed the apples and measured the cinnamon sugar, so each pie had exactly the same amount of each, and we found out that the biggest difference is even distribution of the sugar. Now I want to try a cortland and a mac pie side by side and see how they compare. These were with cortlands. Corts are good for large batches of pies like Mother used to make (and freeze) because they don’t oxidize as quickly. But I think they’re softer. I expect since macs are sweeter, they would require less sugar. I wish I could get spies around here. Sadly, with all the orchards sold and broken up into house lots, my ability to find “specialty” apples has been severely curtailed!

I wrote an essay on the silliness of the most recent flap on facebook- Some self-proclaimed internet pastor came up with the idea of forcing Starbucks to say Merry Christmas by telling them that that was your name (which they write on cups so the right “mochachino soy latte grande whatever” gets to the right person. Like they care! He suggested that plain cups meant they were taking the Christ out of Christmas. One year I decided to use plain colored wrapping paper with decorated ribbons (mostly because I found a bunch of cool decorated ribbons), and I thought it would make our tree look more “traditional”. Why would the deer and penguins and trees they’ve had in previous years be more Christmasy? Big deal! I think it’s all about the joy of forcing an end-run on a large corporation. The more obnoxious you are, the more likely your video with “go viral”. Feh! I half wish I hadn’t mentioned it.

We continue to get a lot of phone polls (probably because we TAKE them). Todays was mostly about environmental issues, and that made me very happy! Sorry about how disjointed this letter is, but that’s sort of how the week has been.

Mostly this week has been about CTCW prep. Last night we had the final planning committee meeting, tomorrow we pack the van and I head down. (I’d have started packing today, but it was raining. Sadly, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be better tomorrow. Today I’ve pulled the reg list off the weird database on the website to make one we can use quickly at registration.
I’ve been creating a rather large pile of “stuff” to take to the con: all the bits one must have at registration- the badges and stickers, the ribbons, (the box with the ones that say “speaker, vendor, performer, volunteer”, etc. are missing. Probably in a “wrong box” somewhere. I wish I’d checked earlier, I could have sent for more, but part of me is glad that I didn’t because I did that LAST year; I remember because I had them and sent to the hotel. It seems an odd thing to loose, as the other ribbons are right where I expected them to be), the recorders and CD burner, and box of old workshops on CDs, the tickets and bags for the raffles, raffle donations, stapler, scissors, markers, door signs, special tape for use on hotel walls. I suppose the special tape is not as important since they’re closing the hotel the day we leave. We have the microwave Mark gave us from his locker, the printer to go with my computer, the handouts and posters for my classes, our goods (which is generally enough to fill the car, the eight or so boxes of sf books for Ed and Morwena. I’m hoping taking the third seat out will help. If not, the sf books will go in Willow’s car, and we’re hoping she’ll have enough energy to day-trip for one day.
Tonight Jane joined me on the New Normal and we talked about the philosophy behind why we’re doing CTCW. We really do think the world would be better if people would stop pretending that psychic talents didn’t exist. If we can make them useful and non-threatening, in a generation things should be a lot better!

I continue reading Pern books, the 20th c. Environment book (this week, chapters about the Bomb, and DDT. I had no idea how many millions of people died annually from malaria before DDT, but now, since we’ve discovered how DDT causes other diseases, malaria deaths are rising again.) Also Edwardian England- I was amused to read how every year Edward went to a spa, dropped about 20 pounds, then went and gained it back with his comfortable living. The descriptions of the super rich and the desperately poor sound similar to today- but in those days there was no safety net. People just died of starvation and disease, and lived 10 to a room. Perspective. In the Modern Scholar Great Books course, I’m up to the Enlightenment- not my favorite period, but fills in holes in my understanding. I’ve been listening to Daily Life in the Ancient World as I go to sleep, but it’s slow going because I DO go to sleep. (Kat is also sleeping more soundly with the new med Dr. Gunning prescribed; sadly, so soundly she often wakes up stiff because she didn’t move around in her sleep.) Sadly, it seems to make her digestion even worse, so we’ll probably head back to her primary again. I wish that their reaction didn’t seem to be “let’s add another drug to counteract the side effects” rather than “let’s see if we can find something more effective with fewer side effects”. Or maybe they’re just doing tests to make sure they aren’t doing damage. I wish that weren’t a credible option.

goslingsOne fun thing I did this week was go backward through Ruadh’s nature photographs. He usually posts one every day and a couple of days ago he posted this one:  He’s really very talented. This one of the goose family is so lovely!

Anyway, I’d better get to sleep. Tomorrow I have to do a quick dump run (to discourage the vermin), pack, make something yummy for the potluck, fill the vitamin boxes, and get out in time to be at the hotel before dark. (2 pm) Wish me luck!

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” Norwegian saying