11-15-2007 Book Week BakaretsuCon

The weather has been wonderful for November- cold, but not really freezing (like I know, as I don’t get out enough). I’m still psyched whenever it rains because we have no leaks.
I was talking about the letter with someone recently, and mentioned the time I’d written a “Can’t tell the players without a program” addition. I’d meant to update that annually, but as I recall, I stalled out because I was so depressed that Lisa had died, and I think she died something like seven years ago, so it’s high time I did it again. Maybe- would you want one?

November 14: American Teddy Bear Day, Fruit Juice and Guacamole Days, Diabetes Day

November 15: America Recycles Day, Asclepius Day,International G.I.S. Day, Philanthropy Day, The Great American Smoke Out (because it’s the 3rd Thursday of November- just in time to have everyone in a really foul mood for Thanksgiving!); also Bundt, Cabbage, Guacamole, Spicy Hermit Days AND it’s Sadie Hawkins Day – the official one (it’s celebrated the first saturday after November 9th, so there are a lot of days that say Sadie Hawkins Day on them).

November 16: Have a Party With Your Bear Day, Button Day, International Day for Tolerance, Fast Food and Hush Puppy Days, also National Moms and Dads Day (I guess that’s for the people who are not thrilled with the formality of “Mother” and “Father” – what next, separate Ma and Pa’s Day? Mama and Papas? What the heck, if every manufacturer can claim a day for his own product…)

November 17: Baklava and Homemade Bread Days, World Peace Day National Survivors of Suicide Day (the Saturday before Thanksgiving)

November 18: World Fellowship Day, French Vichyssoise and Oatmeal Days, Occult Day, Ned Ludd Memorial Machine-Smashing Festival (yes, a festival for Luddites! aptly the same day as) Push-button Phone Day, Mickey Mouse Day

November 19: Alligator Wrestling Day, Ham and Cheese Sandwich Day and National Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day (how generic can you get!), Equal Opportunity Day Play Monopoly Day, Remembrance Day,Thrift Day. Warlock Day, and Have a Bad Day Day (this was instituted for the people who hate being told “have a nice day”)

November 20: Absurdity Day, Adoption Day, Bean Burrito and Peanut Butter Fudge Days, Name your PC Day (doesn’t everyone do that when they get it?), Transgender Day of Remembrance, World Children’s Day (since 1954)

One of the sites I visit has a list of “dumb laws”, I wonder if I could get NH to make a law that says it’s ILLEGAL too file a lawsuit for getting hurt during the commission of a crime (within reasonable limits):

“In the state of Michigan there is a law that states: It is legal for a robber to file a law suit, if he or she got hurt in your house.”

Bakaratsu Con

Willow and Kat went up to Bakaratsu Con which is an anime con in Vermont this weekend. It went very well. They liked their room-mates and made almost enough in Artists Alley to cover all their expenses. Kat got a couple of commissions, and some interest in her Re-animator’s Dance. (Willow says she had a “bad art” weekend- something like a bad hair day, only different.) But they had a really good time, and

The Con requested that she have a separate folder for all her “adult theme” art- anything with nudity, violence, implied sexual relationships, etc. so now she has her occasional naughty picture in the folder- along with a bunch of others that were put in because otherwise she’d have a folder with something like three or four “adult” pictures. Mostly the problem is nipples and blood.

The costumes were a big hit. Willow’s costume with the big pink scythe and fake leather coat and pink wig was cool. Another thing about that character was that whenever he throws back his hood, rose petals are scattered out of it, and she did that too- with cloth rose petals of course. People loved it. When she came home she was wearing her Seras Victoria outfit she made last year.

Kat had done Elda from Chobits (doesn’t mean anything to me either), but the big hit for her was the Sadako (from Ringu) costume. If you’ve ever seen The Grudge, or The Ring or any of a number of Japanese ghost stories you’ve probably seen the image of the pale girl with long black hair and red eyes and a white dress. That type of ghost is called a “Yurei”. Willow sewed her a white dress for it Thursday morning.

As a cool thing, they were doing a version of a dating game and needed another person, and chose her to do it. They had a theme which was “Yuri” (which means girl&girl romance, boy&boy is “Yoai”- you’re learning a lot of new words this letter!). Willow was doing Marluxia from Kingdom Hearts, for the Yoai (I always thought it was yoy) so when they were looking for a last minute replacement, she passed on that Kat was willing, and they loved her. Some of the question and answers were:

“How do you feel about Death?” “You get used to it.”

“Would you give up half your life for me?” “Toooo laaaate.”

And she was the “bacheloret” picked. She also freaked out some people by rattling in the elevator (those Yurai ghosts are pretty scary). She spent a great deal of time last week practicing the creepy weird rattle in the throat that they have in the movies. This week she has a sore throat and I wonder if that isn’t part of the reason. Sadly, they didn’t get a picture of her coming out of the swimming pool in character (in the Ring, the ghost is generally shown wet). Sadly, I think the USB port on my computer is broken, so I can’t get any of the pictures they did get for you- maybe next week.

She entered her first AMV contest with the one she did with the images from Howls Moving Castle. (Her lip-synching is very good.) She didn’t win, but was cool with it because the competition was so good. Last week they spent a lot of time trying to get it into a format that the contest people could read- it was very frustrating. I think it was mostly a problem of not enough space on my computer.

Willow participated in a Family Feud type game with other artists from Artist’s Alley, and they won. They have asked her to get to the Boston Anime convention. Gradually the way people like her in the SCA, at Renn Faires, at Cons, etc. is chipping its way through the wall of certainty that nobody likes her that was built in High School. I wish it was gone already, it’s so frustrating seeing how just about everyone likes her, but she thinks they are just being polite. I suppose that comes from advisors in school telling her that if she pretended to like the people who were treating her badly they’d stop, combined with the problem that when she’s selling she has to be nice to total idiots and jerks who put down our stuff and go on at length about horrible things, and in order to sell, you have to not tell them that they are being obnoxious. So she figures that if she does it to them, how can she know whether anyone else is just “being nice” to her.

For example, Willow was one of the speakers on a panel of web comic artists. At one point someone asked about starting his own comic, and she joked- “Don’t start your own, read mine!” and worries that that means she’s a jerk. She was also the Bachelor in the Yaoi (yowee?) dating game, and had the job of creating straight lines for the others to make jokes from. Again I wish I had pictures of her cool costumes to show you.

Pictures of Bacaratsu con
Kat put together this from the pictures they took at the con, it’s very fun (she posted it on her LJ)


They came home tired but happy. And so did I.

Teaching weekend

Actually, I think it might be misleading to say I came home tired. I actually feel energized by teaching, and I taught 7 workshops over the weekend, and came home practically floating!

Raven hosts classes down at Cauldron Farm “all the time” (well, a LOT of weekends) and because it’s a 80 minute drive for me, he clumped several of the ones I do together to reduce the driving I’d have to do to teach them.

I headed down Friday afternoon (hoping to avoid driving in the dark, but I forgot that I had to gas up, so it was dark by the time I got there, and I overshot the last turn a bit). They fed me some Chinese, and the first was the Soothsaying Ethics workshop. Having a half dozen soothsayers there, I feel much more confident about doing the same class down at Ecumenicon. . They put me up in the guest bed in the sewing room- very comfortable, and then Saturday I did four classes. Started with the class on Feast and Fast- feasting is valuable, and pretty well understood, but most pagans don’t seem to use fasting as much. Fasting, by the way, isn’t just not eating or drinking at all, it’s all sorts of intentional abstentions of food and/or drink for spiritual (or health) purposes. It’s kind of like the whole deal in the health arena that one shouldn’t think of a diet as a temporary thing, but one should make a life long change of eating habits. Well, fasting is kind of the opposite. Fasting is a temporary intentional change of eating habit to create a certain effect. Like not eating meat on Fridays or giving stuff up for Lent or some kinds of vegetarianism. It’s really hard to separate out the health effects from the spiritual effects of fasting because of how much effect what we eat has on our moods.

The next classes were also about food- cooking for the allergic, which both covers why and how, and the magic of food. Again, it’s hard to separate out the effects food has on people whether it’s aspects of allergy (atypical personal responses) or magick. So many allergies are based on a psychosomatic component, but even if you know it goes back to childhood traumas, the physical reaction can still make you very sick or even kill you. Some components of food (like the theobromine in chocolate or effects that the nightshade family, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc. or sugars create in the human body/mind) are probably what led to the magickal interpretations of food, so we talked about those- plus the way we can add energy patterns in how we prepare the food. Part of this was making dinner, which was colcannon (potatoes, kale, onions and butter), some spiced meat, and a pumpkin pie and a pear pie. Delicious! After dinner I did the workshop on dreams and omens, and then we hung out.

Raven was busy wood burning a longish poem into a God Pole which was to be erected in the back field at 4 on Sunday. The already have some god poles out there, I got a chance to go out and look. I think the labyrinth was done last time I was there, but not the standing stones or the God poles. Also they’ve finished their sauna, although the greenhouse that’s going over the hot tub attached to the sauna isn’t done yet. The pathway to the back has been finished beautifully- although it’s gravel and will continue to present some problems for the mobility impaired. It’s really becoming a very impressive gathering site. Darned pity that there is so much accumulated stuff in the front where you come in- I’m sure lots of people judge them harshly about that. I was incredibly impressed by the energies that are so intense out there. It makes me very sympathetic about Willow’s problems with people doing magick near her. I couldn’t bring myself to go into the labyrinth, it was too buzzy. I did like the Frey pole and stone. (Raven says that some heathens have Frey poles that don’t have phalli- odd thought.). The one Raven was working on this weekend was for Odin. Bella had carved a face on it, and there was a spear sticking out from it (with a rubber hose keeping it from sticking anyone during the preparation).

The first Sunday workshop was the history of Neo-paganism, (I really want to make a chronological chart showing all the people and events and books and groups that contributed to it. People tend to think it sprang like Athena full grown from Zeus’s head- only from the head of Gerald Gardner.) I was a little intimidated at the number of new people who showed up for the last workshop on dealing with children and parents. It’s an important topic- we have to cover both how you deal with the needs of children and parents in a community where those needs are often inconvenient. Of course, in recent years, many groups have just decided to not allow in minors to avoid any legal problems (even though during the early years many of the movers and shakers were minors), and that was a good segue into the problems of teens trying to learn, and the legal problems that can arise from being pagan and having children, and how to deal with schools and other people who don’t understand pagans. You can see how such topics can generate really stimulating conversations! Because they were about to have the pole ceremony, I was able to get out and get home by twilight.

I also threw the silver trays and a stocking bin in the back of the van and sold more than a hundred dollars of stuff, which really balanced out the lack of profit for the girls. Also, the students paid me $15 each, so I came home in the black, which was good. It’s a bit hard for me to get used to the idea of charging for teaching, although I have a theoretical understanding that it’s valuable. I figure I can work my way up so that eventually I can live on it. Actually, I’m fairly comfortable with $15 each.

The silver bought was mostly by Raven who’s been making bead festoons (the bead swags that are suspended between the double brooches worn by women in most heathen cultures) It kind of threw me off that he calls them “bracteates”. Bracteates are pendants (and I suppose these are suspended), but are traditionally the small metal round pieces derived from pierced gold coins. But Raven’s festoons are frigging gorgeous! and each is designed for and consecrated to a specific goddess (or god). He needed some pendants for the swags that were appropriate to the various gods- for example, he got an anchor with a skull on it for Ran, the sea goddess who welcomes the souls of those drowned at sea. The cool thing is that many of these sets are going to some museums in Europe who have commissioned them!

On the way home I called home, and the girls, and then Megan and Dennis who have arrived home, although they are still in the “catch-up” chaos. I hope to see them tomorrow! I’m kind of in that myself. I would really love to use the start of the house repairs as impetus to keep cleaning and clearing until the house is in the kind of shape I’d like to live in. I just keep getting distracted…

Before the weekend- well, the girls were working on their costumes for the con, and I was fighting with the computer. I took out almost all the pictures and put them on discs (over 1600) because we were down to only a gigabyte of space, and apparently we’re supposed to maintain 7-8 GB. that didn’t seem to help so Steve found a place where they were backed up, and took THOSE out, so I now have 2 GB, and we’re going to look for more things using up space to get rid of. I personally suspect Kat’s movies, especially as she kept putting them into different formats, so probably those are backed up in some hidden corner of the computer that’s hard to dig them out of. Movies are like music and pictures, which I’m told are the two big eaters of space. I hope we can get her a computer that she can do her movie work on, and get her out of mine.

As I mentioned before, the little thing that has the ports on it that lets me take pictures off the camera and put them in the computer is not working, so I called the computer store to see what getting it checked would entail. Apparently I’d have to drive the whole computer into Nashua and leave it there, and they’d let me know in 3 days to a week (first come first served, but definitely I’d be computer-less for days just for diagnostics), and just the diagnostics is a guaranteed $90. Since a replacement unit (for the thingee with the ports) is $30, I can see why people throw things out so much. I HATE the way the modern world is set up!

I’m trying to get more exercise- trying to remember to walk daily again. When I sit down to watch TV at night I grab some clay and make Donis (goddess images). I’m trying to work on the book, but keep getting distracted making class notes for workshops I teach. I also spent way to much time talking on-line. This week’s issue was with Heathens, the perennial favorite whether personal experiences with Deity trump old writings. Personally, I figure that everyone’s personal interaction is more valid than anything written, and the only reason for writing about such things is to compare personal experiences, and maybe suggest areas other people might find fruitful in their own explorations. Of course, some people think that if something was written down a long time ago- especially if it’s something someone says they heard directly from God- whether the Ten Commandments or the Eddas, we’re supposed to assume that anything we experience that doesn’t support that is wrong. As you can probably tell, I don’t agree with that and somehow feel compelled (I’m working on it!) to let other people “benefit from my wisdom”. (really, I’m working on it!) One of the results of that was that I didn’t get the handouts I’d been working on finished and printed. Feh. I just packed, showered and got out.

The floor in the bathroom still hasn’t been finished. Bob seems to have fallen off the earth. (Chris, the electrician, did come in to fix the electricity going to the barn. He says it was a leak in the barn roof from when the tree did fall on it that caused the short, so we have to fix that. I wonder how one fixes tin roofs?) I’m not really too disturbed about the bathroom floor. We’re still getting leaking- I THINK it may be the caulking between the tub and walls, and want to fix that and see if it still leaks out under the shower stall. If not, there may be a leaky pipe in there, and we might as well get that fixed before doing the floor. The only delay on that is doing a proper cleaning of the old stuff before we re-caulk. It’s such an inconvenient angle!

What I’ve read this week

I finished Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert. I think I mentioned it before- it took a little longer to read than most of the books I read, partly because of the science, partly because it is covering fairly deep topics that I often read and reread and stopped to think about. I can really recommend it to just anyone who has a good attention span and isn’t intimidated by having to add some new vocabulary (or already understands such words as ligands, peptides, and uptake receptors). Given my recent workshops on food, it was quite immediately applicable, and once again I’m rethinking the way I (and the kids) eat. But also, one has to look at the way we think because not only do your chemicals create your mood- but your moods direct the creation of the chemicals in your brain. Of course, I shouldn’t say brain, because the most exciting aspect of Pert’s work is that these peptides: endorphins, seratonin, etc. exist even originate not only in the brain, but also in the immune system, in the digestive system, in the nervous system. No wonder so many of these anti-depression drugs that we use with such optimism often have wide ranging side-effects! I think her big point is that we have to see the human body/mind as an interconnected, unified system, and stop trying to separate out mind, body and soul.

Now I’m re-reading Potatoes not Prozac, Natural Prozac, and Healing with Depression Naturally. Of course authors seem to focus on the things that help them, so Potatoes I find over concentrates on the sugar/carb effects. Yes, I do think that it’s a heck of a lot easier for our bodies to deal with natural foods, and sugar is really, highly processed and throws off the glucose balance in our brains. It’s not going to hurt anything to restrict our use of white flour and sugar- especially if we are showing reactions. On the other hand, there are so many other things that also have effects, and I think that Natural Prozac has a more balanced approach. We need to exercise, drink water, meditate, socialize…. and laugh more dammit!

This last week or so I’ve been pulling a random single tarot card, and a scarab, and a rune each day (fun to see whether and how they relate to each other) and recording them in my live journal. A side effect of this is that I’ve been reading more of my friends pages. One had a meme (quizzes designed to get us to describe/think about ourselves) with the question “when was the last time you laughed?” and the answer given was “yesterday morning”. Good heavens, that’s horrible! Since then I’ve been kind of watching how often I laugh. I don’t think I generally go more than an hour or two without an audible laugh. (Maybe I’m easily amused- maybe I’m just not depressed.) Sadly the joke that’s been cracking me up most the last day was one Kat shared with me. It describes a Iranian Suicide Hotline. Hello, is this the Suicide Hotline? Yes, are you depressed? Yes, I am. Are you feeling suicidal? Yes, I want to die. Can you fly an airplane? I understand that humor is based on surprise (obviously, a suicide hotline isn’t supposed to encourage people to commit suicide) and helping us process things that make us feel uncomfortable (just how differently do the terrorists think?). But the response is still there. So I laugh. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because of my sense of humor that I tell jokes so poorly. (I cut to the chase, and jokes need a build up.)

Reading about depression has generated several tangental thoughts as well. I’m thinking of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. There’s a woman who can’t even get up- and this is precipitated by her confrontation with the pressures of adulthood (women’s work/role- represented by the spindle) who retreats into total passivity. Her rescuer must reach her through massive amounts of prickles, seeing her value as a person despite her total lack of initiative and ability to function, and loving her anyway. (Pretty low expectations on his part- no wonder they lived happily ever after.)

I was also thinking about my reactions. One of the diagnostic questions in Potatoes was “You aren’t hungry, but you come into your house and there are warm chocolate chip cookies, fresh out of the oven. No one else is there. Do you have a cookie?” In theory, someone with sugar sensitivity would eat a cookie whether they were hungry or not, whereas a person who isn’t would not. My response was- if they are warm out of the oven, where’s the person who took them out so recently? I’d search the house. I may like warm cookies, but my curiosity is bigger than my appetite.

There was another book (I think it was Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach) in which one of the exercises was to imagine all your favorite foods- price is no object, availability is no problem, no one is judging you, it’s a guided imagery session, and at each juncture you are supposed to note how you feel about the image of you and all your favorite foods. Then they got to one line: This food is all for you, no one gets any but you. I literally burst into tears. The very idea that I would have food and not be able to share it with anyone was the most emotionally challenging (and instructive) part of the exercise. Food means social sharing for me. This means my food neuroses are different than many other peoples. I still have a hard time with the idea. I wonder when and how I got that “add on” to the idea of food. I suppose since we all need food that there are probably nearly infinite numbers of attitudes toward it.

I’ve also been thinking about touching. Think about it. It’s been so very well established that humans need to touch. We crave it. Babies fail to thrive when they aren’t cuddled. Old people in homes stay stronger and healthier when they are hugged by people dressed in Teddy Bear suits. And yet… Since we have decided as a culture that almost any touch can be sexual (since so much of it is in the mind of the persons involved), we have restricted touching. The unintended result is that we have pretty much defined sexual touch as the only acceptable touch, which probably has a lot to do why little kids work so hard to get to sexual touching as quickly as possible. OK- obviously, parents can touch their kids in necessary child care- although it becomes suspect nearly as soon as the kids no longer need physical help for feeding, grooming, etc. Sports has maintained the possibility of platonic touching. (I guess it would be hard to continue playing without touching.) Medically doctors have to be pretty careful not to touch unless a procedure requires it. Massage is probably growing as a therapy because people need to be touched to maintain their health, but they have to be very careful- many people assume that massage has a sexual component. Of course part of this is because touch is known to release repressed emotions; when emotions are present, people think sex. It’s no coincidence that the holistic health movement is associated with hugging. I keep thinking about how we keep reducing acceptable touching and the far reaching effects it’s having on our culture.


Of course these days we are getting a lot of ads and calls from candidates looking for money and support. I really love that they are talking to us, but on the other hand I’m not sure that I believe any of what I consider advertising.

Kerensa pointed out that while Ron Paul says the government should get out of all of our medical matters, how can he at the same time say that Roe vs. Wade should be over turned. He doesn’t seem to see choice whether to have an abortion as a medical matter. Odd.

At this point, I’m liking McCain. I was surprised that he seems to be pretty good on environmental problems. For me the environment is the big issue. What I’m not seeing is more than concern about the global warning issue. What about all the other aspects of environmentalism.

I’ve decided that I think that any candidate who says “we should get out of Iran immediately” obviously doesn’t understand the complexity of the situation.

I have come to the conclusion that it may be true what Socrates is said to have said at his trial: that in a democracy all politicians are corrupt. Think about it- in a democracy all the representatives have to make compromises with the other reps- if I care about something I may have to support something I’m not happy with in order to get them to support something I care a lot about. I think the vast majority of politicians are really good guys are working to do good in some area, and looking aside in other areas in order to do what they are focused on. It doesn’t take too many people who don’t care about morals to manipulate the fact that the good guys are willing to make compromises in order to get their own projects supported. I have to wonder how long anyone would last if they did try to refuse to make deals.

Another thing we were talking about was hunting. The other morning I heard a shot in the woods outside my window in the morning, so I figured it was hunting season. Kerensa told me about a neighbor of his who had her horse shot out from under her, and when she sued the idiot hunter (who actually threatened her, and told her to get away from his deer as she tried to save her pregnant horse), while she was able to collect the value of his horse from the insurance company, he got off on the criminal charges because he really thought that the horse was a deer! He also told me about when he stopped hunting. He’d been in the store when some out of state hunters came in for coffee and sandwiches, and when asked they said they hadn’t seen anything, but they had got off a few “sound shots”. What’s a sound shot? Not one that you had a sound reason to shoot at- but one where you hear a sound, so you shoot at it in case there’s something in that direction. Not only did he stop going hunting after that, so did his family, several friends, the shop keeper, and probably several friends. He said that the local deer tags were $20, but the out of state licenses were $800. But as he said, that showed that the Vermont considered a local life worth $800. He also told me a story about how he knew that if they actually shot you they wouldn’t report it. One of the guys from his school when he’d been married two years got shot. His wife had been out shopping, and when she came back she found the baby out in the crib, and him on the lawn with his rake. There were tracks that came up to the edge of the yard, so obviously the guy had come to find his turkey and saw what he’d done, and left. He had no way of knowing that there was someone else coming, so the baby could well have died of starvation/dehydration (or out there been grabbed by a coydog or other wild animal). They never found that guy. I find it difficult there was no hunter safety requirement. At least you’d think they’d know what a deer looked like!

What we’ve watched this week

Willow hadn’t watched Halloween Resurrection and H2O until she got back from the con- I think she was watching it as I did for the cultural literacy. We finally watched Meet the Robinsons. I was surprised that I really liked it; the commercials were so dumb. I think I identify with the very eccentric family, whereas for a lot of people the movie is about the issues of adopted kids/kids who’ve been given up. I will probably be looking for a cheap copy some time. I watched License to Wed, the recent Robin Williams movie. It was mildly amusing, not really worth watching. Star got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2007 which I watched with him, and after we watched the 1990 movie which was much better. I enjoyed it, and of course got nostalgic for those days back when Star was a TMNT freak. (Ælfwine and I were making the life we wanted, the kids were young and we still hoped for so much.) I even liked the Pizza Hut ad (really a “short movie”) that was before the movie. It’s this little kid makes a winning catch with this is a little song over it. I’d forgotten about the little ad, and it was so sweet it used to make me cry- and it still made me mist up. So sweet.

Off in the distance the game’s dragging on

There’s strikes on the batter, some runners are on,

Then suddenly everyone’s looking at me

My mind has been wandering what do I see

They point to the sky, and I look up above

And a baseball drops into my glove.

I play right field. It’s important you know.

You’ve got to know how to catch, you’ve got to know how to throw.

That’s why I play in right field, way out where the dandelions grow.

I guess that’s it for this week. I hope I get the ability to do pictures again next week.


“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Helen Keller

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