11-15-2017 Bundt (pan/cake) Day

Tomorrow will be the Great American Smokeout, which always scheduled for one week before Thanksgiving. Really? Who’s idea was that? Get one week into nicotine withdrawals before what for many is a really stressful day- with travel, dealing with people you think you are obligated to like, but who push your buttons, who may still be smoking themselves? Bad timing! Why not the day AFTER Thanksgiving? Give people a month before they have to see everyone at Christmas and New Years?

Health-wise, we are getting better- a bit. Kat, John and I all have residual coughs. (John’s just finished up his “week”.) I’m not sure that one can really tell how long a cold goes on. You can tell how long you don’t really feel up to getting out of bed, or doing your normal level of work. We really missed John’s contribution because he was the one that took the compost to the back yard, and carries heavy loads for me. I’ve been back to cooking, cleaning, painting, knitting, reading… I really don’t do much that’s very high energy anyway. But I still have to loosen collected phlegm from my lungs periodically- that’s really unattractive. Kat’s dragged me out of the house for a short walk once. We’d better get to it before the weather makes walking problematic. I haven’t felt up to loading the latest load of firewood into the woodshed yet, and we did get our first snow.

Not accumulation, but it was coming down pretty hard for a while the other day. “Previews of coming attractions.” Will we hae a hard winter or not? I don’t know. The woodstove feels good when we fire it up, but it’s really on it’s last legs. (the metal is warping, the grill in the firebox has gone away, the knobs off the vent, so we can’t adjust it- that’s the worst problem.) The wood Robert has for us is mostly hardwood, so it burns very hot. I’d love to be able to choke it back. I hope we can find another nice small wood cookstove soon.

The pantry is now in “winter mode”- basically a walk-in refrigerator. NOT so good for going into to make salads as it was during the summer, but convenient for keeping drinks cold or cooling leftovers before putting them into the fridge.

Tomorrow is “Clean out your Fridge Day”, which I think is trying to get people ready for Thanksgiving. The stores are having bagged stuffing, frozen turkeys, canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce on sale, which I can understand- those can be stored. But they also are pushing the non-frozen turkeys and vegetables too, and those don’t hold as well. Personally, I love Thanksgiving, but it does seem to generate a lot of stress for most people. I miss my family (parents and sibs), but we don’t have the tradition of getting together now that Dad’s gone. We’ll have us and the bachelors (Mark and Steve) for dinner, but that’s not a huge deal. Steve was here Sunday, and Mark’s been over twice this week. Bless him, he comes and reads to me while I paint! I’m not sure why, but it really helps me concentrate.

This week I’ve spent painting, and I have the two portraits (for this year) done, now to catch up on the ones I’ve let slide. First, though, I have another paid order- the book cover for Lynn. Let’s see if I can get that one done quickly so she can get her manuscript to the publishers. I think her beta’s are reading it. I know I had a sketch of the Viking fighting the bear done earlier this year, but now I can’t find that, and will be starting over. The last we talked about it she wanted more blood anyway, and I said “I can do more blood”. I am trying not to get caught up in the whole I don’t think there were grizzly bears in the northeast issue, and just give her what she wants. It’s a fantasy book and I want her to be pleased with it. This time it will be a vertical image, since last time they took the “wrap around” cover I’d carefully composed and shrunk it to fit on the front cover. Sigh.

So these are the finished portraits- I am satisfied with them. The customer (the man’s mother) is picking them up next week.  I’m still happier when I can work from life. and I hope to get better images before they bo away forever. I think I should try to create a portfolio of my work. (BTW, thanks are due to Kat for helping me get the pictures out of the camera and onto the letter. My computer is being most uncooperative in anything that has to do with it’s ports.)

Willow sent off another blanket this week. I’m not sure whether this is it (although I suspect not). The one she sent was a full bed sized blanket, and since this has fringe, I’m thinking this is a standard one. She’s working on a pair of capes now. Last night she put a sheet of plastic over the fabric on the dining room table to protect it from cats. This morning she found it pushed back- and a hole sucked into the plastic, although, thank goodness, the fabric was OK. I think the brothers (we can’t really call them kittens any more) have issues. They weren’t taken away from their mother too early- we got them at 4 months, but maybe she weaned them early anyway.

Kat’s been working on her Damsels book in leiu of Nonorimo.

My current cooking “project” is trying to come up with a version of hot pockets I can keep around for Willow. Closest thing I’ve come up with is those bread with spinach or ham in the middle (Stromboli?) we’d have for breakfast at Pennsic. Willow’s had about all she can take of Nestle’s, and I’m trying to keep us away from non-organically grown wheat products. Easy when I’m baking anyway- just use “organic flour”, but harder when there are products we’d ordinarily buy pre-made, like bagels. Not that I can’t do bagels, but most batches are too big. Today I made some loaves with cubed ham and cheese inside. I also made some of the dough into cinnamon rolls, and at the last minute added thinly sliced apples- not bad. The other night we had Toad-in-the-hole. (We’d had mashed potatoes the night before, so I didn’t want to do “Sausage and Mash”.)

We also picked our theme for this year’s Solstice Open House: 50’s Christmas. The girls were surprised since I generally don’t care to have the time that I was a kid referred to as an “historical period.” But since the theme is usually reflected in food and clothing, it sounded like a fun time period to inspire us. Certainly my images of the Christmases of my childhood are pretty idyllic. The fifties may have been a white middle class fantasy, but it was a pretty one.

I posted an event on facebook, because most of my friends are there, but it’s an open house, and we hope anyone who gets in range (yes, you) will drop by at some point. We find it’s easier to get people to stop by for an hour or so on the way past to their major stops than to ask them to rework their entire holiday schedule to fit us in. This year’s especially bad since the Solstice is on the 21st- a Thursday this year (Mother Night Wednesday); those are OUR religious holidays. This puts the closest weekend on Friday through Sunday: the 22nd through 24th, which is Christmas Eve. Even our pagan freinds are often going to visit Christian relatives (“see, we aren’t baby-eating monsters!”) so that’s a bit hard. Hanukkah runs from the 12th through the 20th, so we’ll probably do our latke party the weekend before.  St. Nicholas Day is the 6th, and St. Lucy’s is the 13th- both on Wednesdays this year. Those consist of putting out shoes for any seasonal gifts, and making Saffron Buns. (Nice!) I wish there were some Krampus night things going on locally. (The Baronial Yule is the 2nd.) I really wish we were still seeing extended family at some point during the season. It’s a great excuse for it.

The girls and I went out to Michaels this weekend and got more yarn- I’m making Kat some fingerless mitts, and repairing a sweater one of the cats chewed. I’m also working on a sweater vest for myself (seduced by the shiny and colorful side).

Another thing I did this week was read a couple of research papers for an SCA competition. Even if I can’t drive to events as much, it was good to be able to participate at difference by judging the papers. One was on how using a target is similar to using an off-hand dagger in fencing, and the other on dark-ages fiber arts.

I’ve been reading more fiction, although I’m still enjoying Healing Children. I started a new series the Magical Bakery mysteries, with Brownies and Broomsticks. It’s about a girl who opens a bakery with her aunt and uncle, and discovers that her family are hedgewitches, but her parents hid this from her in an attempt to keep her from being considered weird. Her aunt and her (spell)bookclub are witches and help her learn the craft- her aunt’s good with herbs, another knows moon phases and Tarot, another comes from a Voodoo background. It’s fun, and I like the recipes. Sadly, it has in common with so many mysteries, the trumped up reasons why a civilian “needs” to solve a murder, and not leave it to the police (I find those excuses so limp- it really calls the intelligence of the hero/ine into question.) I’m reading the second book: Bewitched, Bothered and Biscotti, sadly this one seems to have a bunch of so called druids as the nefarious bad guys. One of the librarians has also read it, and helped me find the third book in the series, which I could only find in audio- although that might be OK while I’m painting. I read Last Scene Alive another Aurora Teagarden mystery. It’s nice to have someone who’s neither really good looking nor terribly exceptional- but I am getting sick of her being overwhelmed by a sexually attractive man. She’s supposed to be bright for goodness sakes! The library website also says they shipped the DVD of when they put some of them on TV, so that should be fun.

I’ve also read more Charles de Lint stories: Dog BoysCrow RoadsThe Butter Spirit’s Tithe, Dharma,  and I’ve started re-reading the Earth’s Children series again, although I doubt I’ll read it straight through.

More courtroom dramas (when Mark wasn’t reading to me), I watched A Few Good Men again, (“You can’t handle the truth!” Nicholson was great in that role! and the point that those who keep us safe deserve respect is well made). Breaker Morant was depressing- and also talked about how being in a war changes a man. This was apparently based on an historical case. I hated watching the men, not entirely innocent, but not more guilty than most, get railroaded because the politicians needed to sacrifice some of their own to create a peace that would save more lives. When they showed that being arranged at the beginning of the movie, we still hoped that the defense could find some way around it. We like to think life can be fair- especially in courtroom trials. The Life of Emile Zola is another example of a dramatisation of an historical trial exploring the unfairness of politics and how it can subvert the courts. I finished the fifth season of the West Wing. Rather cross that they’d leave Donna in surgery over the summer- was it negotiations with the actress or creating tension?

Steve and I watched The Innocents– apparently made from The Turn of the Screw, and while it was an excellent mood piece, and didn’t quite suggest that the ghosts were imagined, Deborah Kerr’s performance made it seem that she was not entirely mentally or emotionally stable either. I understand that there are some for whom all supernatural is “Evil”, and also the implication that the ghost lovers were going to possess the children creating an incestuous situation would certainly add a bit of naughtiness to an otherwise simple ghost story. The Governess WAS a daughter of a clergyman, who might have given her an over-developed fear of the supernatural. I’m really not certain what logic led to the child dying. I guess that’s a huge difference between real supernatural stories and those written to be creepy. Another leftover Halloween movie was The Uninvited, a less scary, but more satisfying classic ghost movie.

Time to get off and get ready for my podcast. Now that the con is over (debriefing continues and plans begin for next year- theme Change) I am increasingly tired of the technical difficulties and should find a different venue to do the podcast. Or give it up. I would really rather not. (Whine, whine, bitch, moan. Apologize. Rinse, repeat.)

I hope the upcoming holidays and colder weather aren’t getting you down too much.


Many people mean no harm

When they tease others at table;

But still, tempers will begin to flare

And a brawl soon breaks out

Among the guests.

-Havamal 32-33

Some holidays next week:

15 W Spicy Hermit cookie Day, Clean out your Fridge Day, Raisin Bran Day, Philanthropy Day

16 Þ Fast Food Day, Use Less Stuff Day, Button Day, Tolerance Day, and Philosophy Day

17 F Homemade Bread Day, Stand up to Bullying Day, Baklava Day, Unfriend Day, Peace Day

18 S Vichyssoise Day, Occult Day, International Games Day, Princess Day, William Tell Day

19 ⨀ Macchiato Day, Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day, Monopoly Day, Toilet Day, Men’s Day

20 M Peanutbutter Fudge Day, Absurdity Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Name your PC Day

21 T Cranberry Day, Stuffing Day, Pumpkin Pie Day, Gingerbread Day,  World TV Day, Hello Day

22 W Cashew Day, Cranrelish Day, Tie one On Day, Stop Violence Day, Start your own Country Day