It’s getting dark and it’s 4:30 as I write. I know that it’s just over a little month until Winter Solstice, but I rather feel like hibernating more than I think I should intellectually.
Mostly what I did this past week was split between doing CTCW and recovering from it. I suppose that would be what Kat did too. Willow has been recovering from the flu- slowly. Apparently whichever one she got was a doozey! I made her some chicken soup by the expedient of pulling off the breast and thigh meat from a pre-cooked chicken from the store, and boiling the rest with an onion. After that cooked for a couple of hours, I strained it, chopped up the meat and put that back in with some noodles. Fast, easy and rather good. I could have started with a raw chicken, but it was about the same price, and I figured- why not?
As I’d planned to go down on Thursday, we started packing the car, (I was getting stressed by the things we couldn’t find that I “knew right where they were”- and weren’t), and about being down there alone. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate eating alone, and still tend to read myself to sleep so that I don’t experience “sleeping alone”. (It’s very reassuring to me to hear the footsteps down the hall as other people in the house head to the bathroom, or snore.) Late in the morning, Kat had pity on me and threw her bag together and came along. I’m not sure whether that “kept me sane”, but I know it helped a lot. I have theorized that it may have come from eating alone in cafeterias in school, as I wasn’t in any cliques. I was anti-clique, but at this point, I’m not sure whether that’s because I wasn’t in any. Still, I nearly tear up when I see someone eating alone in a restaurant it seems so awful to me. So I am very grateful to Kat for coming.
I figured that if it took 2 hours 23 minutes (according to Google maps- I figured around 3 hours), if I left by three I’d avoid driving in the dark. I forgot to take two other things into account: Daylight Savings changeover, and it was heavily clouded. We also had to stop for gas, food, to go to the library, and I stopped at the drug store for face masks. We knew Willow was had the flu, so symptoms or no symptoms, (and feeling stressed has many symptoms in common with “coming down with something”) I figured I could be “pre-symptomatic but contagious”. Of all the things I wanted to share with the conference attendees, a nasty virus was not among them! The internet suggests that while wearing one of those disposable masks doesn’t stop small particulates, it does prevent any bodily fluids escaping the mouth and nose, and so it does help those around you, which was my intent. I also washed my hands a lot.
Sadly, I didn’t get down until seven or later (I’m not sure because the car clock wasn’t reset for DST.) Jane and her helpers had already set up the hospitality and the vendors room, and things were pretty well in hand. Kat and I had a room right near the con suite, very convenient, and checked in easily. The big problem I was worried about was that when we found the CD burner, the recorders we’d packed with it weren’t there. I remembered putting them in there, Willow remembered putting them in there, Brian remembered us putting them there. I think I probably opened that box and looked at least a half dozen times, hoping that somehow I’d missed them.
So in the morning, Kat and I headed out to Staples to print out 15 copies of the program booklet (Katherine Smith had made it, and was bringing down 100 copies) to hold us until she got there. She’d emailed me the master, and I had it on flash drive. We dropped it off, then went to breakfast. Luckily there was a nice diner: the Athenian, in the parking lot, where we got breakfast, went over, picked up the program booklets, and I saw there was a Radio Shack in the same lot, so I figured I’d price how much it would be to get even three recorders. We’d hoped and planned to simply leave a recorder in each room, but since some workshops are not appropriate for recording (having a large experiential or visual element) I thought it was worth checking. I wasn’t ready to drop $79 @ plus tax for 6 of them, so I picked up one of the $59 ones for Brian to tell me if it would work (turned out later that it wouldn’t). I think I may have been thinking that I was “hemorrhaging money” too loudly, because when we got back to the van the engine just wouldn’t turn over. Thanks to modern technology I called triple A, and got the hotel to run a message to Jane (where-ever she was, trying to get everything done without me). A pleasant young man called Kyron came and diagnosed a fuel pump problem, which he tried to fix by banging on the tank with a plastic mallet. This didn’t work, so he called a tow truck. The Reader’s Digest version of the story is that I agreed to the price for the diagnostic, and they gave us a ride back to the hotel. (missing, I noted, the driveway just as I had done already- even knowing approximately where it was. Later I pointed out to the desk clerk that their Ornamental Grass completely obscured the sign, and it was very irritating to people trying to find their driveway. As we left Monday morning I saw that it had been cut down, I guess they had no grounds crew on over the weekend.
I think it was Lois who described the day as “Technology Hates the Con Day.” but we somehow managed to get through it. I’d brought my computer from home, and spent Friday and Saturday trying to catch up with the things I hadn’t gotten done before the con that really should have been ready to go- like the schedules for the teachers, door signs, and lots of the other little things that make a con work well. We did a great deal of “getting along without” this year, which is something one expects the first year, not the fifth. I added this to the proofs that Jane and I really need more help to put on a conference, we can’t to it ourselves, even with the help of two or three really committed volunteers.
Cathy Kane, once again, taught several classes (and offered to fill in on anything we needed) after having managed the blog brilliantly all year, while her husband Starwolf presided over about half the panels. (His combination of broad knowledge and calm temprament makes him an ideal moderator!) Maryalyce once again offered the Reiki II and III (for free, although those usually run several hundred dollars each), added Sound healing workshop, and added the healing room to managing the quiet room. Stephanie Seger took over Colleen’s class when she couldn’t make it bringing her total up to an amazing nine workshops, mostly over in the Nutmeg room. You’d probably get bored if I mentioned everyone, but I am floored by the amount of work that people donated. I can’t resist mentioning Doug Yeager, a friend Cathy knew from the Renn Faire. Doug jumped right in, took over Security, which he interpreted as doing everything helping load in the vendors, to watching the tables, to watching registration, or doing any go-for-ing that needed doing. He was a charming gentleman, and says he enjoys helping. All I can say is thank the gods for that!
I think the total hours of panels and workshops totaled nearly 100 hours (and given that there are multiple people on panels, represents even more work-hours), although any attendee could only attend 25 hours, because we sometimes were running 6 things at once. That’s why the recordings were so important. Brian got there and brought a recorder of his, and recorded some sessions on his smart phone. Then, when he unpacked the recording machine, he discovered the missing recorders- somehow they had slipped down under the packing styrofoam- although it looked too tight for that to happen. At least they turned up, but boy did I feel foolish.
Jane had recruited Lydushka to actually run the Hospitality, although she’d taken over last year- thank goodness, between classes, panels, vending, and being co-chair it’s surprising she had time to eat and sleep! Lyd will be doing it herself next year. Ed and Morwenna had agreed to watch the author’s table, and Jane’s table as well as theirs, and when we didn’t manage to get any other “trinket” sellers, Jane said he could keep an eye on Cabochons as well (although apparently they didn’t find that out until they got there, big communication failure there!). Doug mostly was floating around and if he saw someone who wanted to buy something from us he got me.
I spent most of my time at Registration, although I sat in on three panels, did three RúnValdr classes, and the Norseworking. (There are now another ten more healers out there! Starwolf also came to those and helped, which was good because I spaced the beginning of one of them.) Lois, Doug and other folks took over as needed, but I’m really hoping that next year we get the schedule worked out so that we know who’s going to be on in advance! Stone Riley, who’s moved down to CT came over to help on Sunday.
Chris and Katie LaFond came in Saturday evening to do classes Sunday morning and a concert Saturday night. It was wonderful, but woefully under attended. With 6 things running at once, and only 75 people there, I should have expected it (and planned better!). As well as his gorgeous harp and Katie’s flute music, Chris also a couple of my favorites (one at my request) “I can see your Aura and it’s Ugly“, which I thought would be perfect for our group, and “Love Song with Metaphor“, which is incredibly funny, but part of the fun is watching the reactions of those who are hearing it for the first time! It was also fun watching their young son Dexter, who’d never been to a hotel before. He also played an old Steeleye Span song “Shaking of the Sheets” which has always confused me. I tend to think sheet shaking is sexual innuendo, and it being a Samhain song maybe they’re saying Shaking the sheaves, but they aren’t.
We had only a couple of crisises. One was predictable in a generic way, but not specifically. A woman came into the hospitality claiming to be the second coming of Jesus “You’re spiritual so you’ll understand me!” Luckily she didn’t stay long and the next morning someone spotted the police escorting her away. An improper balance of recreational pharmaceuticals is suspected by those who saw her. Far worse in my opinion was the problem caused by insufficient communication. We’d asked Adam Latin, who’s organized Psychic Fairs in the past to run our readers. Sadly, not being able to promise them that we’d have attendance sufficient for them to make money (my closest count is 75 this year, the least we’ve ever had), he was the only reader we had. So Jane recruited a couple of the teachers and Lyd to fill in occasionally so we’d have some readers. Sadly, Adam couldn’t reconcile the idea of reading for donation with being fair when some people read professionally. We’d told him to get a consensus among the readers about a fair pricing policy, and he was insisting that not requiring a base level payment would undercut those who felt they should be getting at least $20 per reading. I could see both sides, and especially wanted to let the department head handle it his way, but at the same time, Jane had recruited friends who were essentially doing us a favor at the last minute. It was a no win situation, and I hated it. Poor Adam had to withdraw, and I feel that I should have been able to figure something better out. Can’t blame that on technology!
The repair shop did manage to get the fuel pump fixed and my car back to me by Friday night, thank goodness. Sadly, it did cost nearly a thousand dollars. I was a bit worried because we still weren’t sure whether Jane and I were going to end up paying for empty rooms to meet our room-night commitment, but they didn’t ask me for more than I’d expected, and Jane hasn’t mentioned it either. We REALLY need to get someone who can handle promotion because clearly neither of us is good at it. (Also, I don’t think we’ll be signing any new contracts without having a friend who knows more than we do look at them first!)
Sha Blackburn was offering aura photographs, and I took it into my head to get a “before and after” set, to see it there would be a big difference. The most interesting thing on mine was a spot in around my lungs which Sha interpreted as looking like mucus- right about my lungs. I’ll admit that I was not thrilled with wearing the surgical mask, and kept wondering if it was really necessary. Yes, in theory, it was the responsible thing to do, but maybe I wasn’t a carrier. Also, lots of healers were working on me. Lela and her husband fed me several doses of oregano oil. Starwolf hit me with RúnValdr (just before the photo, and it apparently showed up as a blue ring around the yellowish ball). That photo inspired me to keep the darned mask on all weekend. (You can see the mask slipped to the back of my head in the group photo like a little white hat.) I planned to include the aura photo in this letter, but can’t remember where I stuck it for safekeeping! Rats! I also missed getting the “after” photo, because Sha had to leave early- she flew to Hong Kong first thing Monday!
One thing for sure, it takes a lot of work to put on this conference, and the more people we have to spread it across, the better we’ll be. Ariel and Claire come up as a husband/wife team, but Starwolf expressed that he wasn’t happy with the amount of time Cathy was putting in it, Maryalyce’s husband complained to her, Morgan had to leave her child, and I don’t actually know how many of the other teachers also neglect their families for the sake of the conference. My kids are adamant that I cut back, and I know the stress has caused problems for everyone here. In theory, we’re trying to make an improvement in the world, but I don’t want to let ego get in the way- I don’t want to hurt the people who are trying to help others. I keep hoping if we can spread the work across more people it will not be so bad, but I am seeing people really putting in a LOT of time, and I can’t possibly make it up to them.
Raven did I think three classes and a panel or two. I’d planned to drop him off at Cauldron Farm on the way home Sunday night- Josh had to work Sunday, then supervise construction going on there, and I don’t feel the need to relax after; or rather, I relax best at home. But by the time we’d finished the feedback session, packed up the dealers room and registration area, and gotten some supper into Kat, it was fairly late, and Raven got Josh to come get him, bless them both! Jane had gotten Quinton a room for all four nights, and he’d had to leave Sunday morning, so Jane let us stay there.
In the morning, Kat and I dashed out as quickly as we could (I think I lost one of the recorders), stopped and returned the one I’d bought to Radio Shack and headed home. When we got home I did check my email but didn’t even stay up to eat, and slept for about 14 hours. On the plus side, I didn’t seem to get the flu, score one for the good guys. It is a rare event that is not followed by a “crash and burn”. (I have had a mild, but draining case of what I think is probably food poisoning, from eating the leftovers in the “doggie bags” we accumulated eating out over the weekend.)
At the Norseworking I told people that I had scheduled down time “I’m planning on spending the week in bed with Terry Pratchett”, and while that isn’t quite true, I have re-read Snuff (my brain wasn’t quite up to fresh reading), then Eric. My “projects” are on the order of “advance the calendar”, “refill the vitamin boxes”, catch up on my journal (I was so tired at the hotel I just went to bed). Bigger projects included “go to lunch with Mark” and “Go to the bank, and get the Limited Power of Attorney notarized”. (This is so we don’t have to all be there for the closing of Dad’s house, and Trish can do all the work for the rest of us.) I am looking ahead to next week when (I hope) I’ll have more energy, and investigating the possibility of renting a trailer up in Farmington to bring down my share of the furniture. I’m doing mental geometry to figure out what size to get. I need room for mother’s desk, the kitchen table and chairs, a stuffed chair, glassed book case, and incidentals like books, tableware, photo albums, and of course, the most important thing: mother’s portrait. I’ll also be getting two of the Royal Daulton figurines Mother had, to pass on to my girls. Guess I’d also better buy some bubble wrap. And, it occurs to me, I’ll need to get rid of the old kitchen table from Winchester that I’ve been using, and whatever else I need to get out of the way to fit the desk and chair in. (Willow’s actually pretty excited about getting rid of the old chair we’ve had since we moved here.)
Willow’s spent this week getting ready for Bakuretsu Con. She was still recovering from the flu, but has made a new product- shoulder capes in fleece. She made a red one with the hood lined with assorted coordinated fleece roses- like the ones she uses for wreaths, also one based on the white mage, and another one in a patterned fleece. These are tests to see if the product looks like it will sell. Sadly, her sewing machine and mine both got recalcitrant (looked like the tension, but I wasn’t able to get it to stop breaking the thread). SO frustrating!
Kat was going to go to the blood drive with me today, but they figured as long as they were driving right by, they’d stop at Kirk’s and see him in person ( and get acupuncture) rather than using skype this week.
Speaking of Skype, last night I was NOT looking forward to my podcast because I had no guest. My plan was to basically do one of my workshops-on palmistry. But when I logged into the studio, the Skype button was gone. The studio had been “upgraded” so I had the choice of loading some new app the group administrators didn’t know about, or calling in as if I were a guest (which I finally did after 20 minutes on the “help line”) and had to hold the phone to my ear, which makes it hard to participate in the chat room. I was NOT happy. Now I feel like dumping the show, but wonder if it’s the fatigue/depression talking. It would be stupid to do it then feel better and have to start over.
Ah well, I should post this and go to bed. I’m still tired.
Tonight, I tried Indian Pudding: Boil corn meal in milk with molasses, then when it’s thickened, add more milk, some eggs, and bake it. Modern recipes add spices, which I think would help, and the pilgrims may have had some, and all the images have vanilla ice-cream on it- which I very much doubt they had. Without the spices and ice-cream it’s pretty boring, but I could see it as a comfort food. Nourishing and warm. It reminds me of slightly chewy pumpkin pie filling. I wonder if they ever added pumpkin? (or apples?) Of course, it is called “pudding” which means dessert in England, and they did invest the sweetening.
Last thing I can think to mention is I watched the movie Chaplin. It’s 22 years old so Robert Downey Jr, and the other actors look REALLY young. (Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks- cool) His song, Smile, played around subtly in the background, although they never actually used it, or mentioned that he wrote it. It was also cool that Geraldine Chaplin played his mother. Cool stuff.
The baby boomers are getting older, and will stay older for longer. And they will run right into the dementia firing range. How will a society cope? Especially a society that can’t so readily rely on those stable family relationships that traditionally provided the backbone of care?