11-16-2016 Button Day

dsc02656The leaves came down this week, (and are blowing up on our doorstep), but buds on the rosebush continues to grow. We are watching to see if it will manage to get them to bloom before the season change gets it. It’s amazing, last week there were still lots of gold leaves on the trees, and this week- you can see the branches!
The cats keep getting ticks- I wonder why the drops aren’t working. I am pretty sure that they come from when the cats roll in the leaves and the ticks are attracted by the warmth. We still get a kick out of it when the cats want to go outside and suddenly stop halfway when we open the door and see that it’s raining. They do go out- I think that they prefer a quick visit to the leaves to using the litter box. Usually they decide that snow is not an acceptable alternative, but until then we are probably going to have to continue using the flea treatments.
I have bought a bunch of grocery store flowers- it’s time for brightening the kitchen. I have gotten enough energy to start cleaning up, but it’s a gradual process. The other day I actually sat down in front of the refrigerator and scrubbed for the first time since the Great Northeastern War (July). As one might expect, it was disgusting! Some mystery messes in tupperware in the back. I’m thinking refrigerators shouldn’t be so deep because things get lost “behind”, but I expect the closer to spherical they are, the more efficient the cooling will be.  Spherical is not a good shape for storing things, compromises must be made.photo-on-2016-11-13-at-18-00I think the most important news I have is that I can now curl my tongue! This was the first thing that confirmed the Bell’s Palsy (although at that moment I was worried that it might be a stroke). When I discovered I couldn’t roll my tongue, I called Mark for transport to the hospital. As of Sunday I now have an indication that this is not going to be permanent.  I am not recovered, I still can’t smile, use my eyebrow, and sadly, my nose looks really crooked. But after 77 days (and about a thousand dollars worth of acupuncture) there’s improvement. Oddly, I can do it on the off side, but not the good side. I will have to check when I’m better to see if maybe one can only curl one’s tongue in the middle (which is actually where it is sitting) not on the sides.  Still, I am psyched! dsc02652

Also important, perhaps not as exciting as getting water back last week, but we got the new toilet put in. The plumber, Mr. Wight (I thought it was Wright, I stand corrected) came over yesterday and put the new toilet in. Apparently the previous toilet was installed over the old linoleum tiles- I’d forgotten that pattern. I also forgot to take a before picture. I like before and after pictures, but keep forgetting to get them. So I got a during and after picture.
The new toilet should be water-saving. It’s got a double handle. The main handle does the usual flush with 1.6 gallons. I think our old one used 3.5 gallons per flush. But if you just depress the tip, you get a 1 gallon flush (for liquid only). That should help the well.
dsc02654Last time John checked we have a good two and a half feet of water in the cistern, so it is recovering as we’d expected it to do. Willow took the first shower. At this point we are sticking to one per day, and still taking the laundry to Milford. The water is running clear and we’re cooking it again. I am washing dishes without basins, although sometimes I still bale out the dishwater to flush the toilets (can’t hurt to be frugal). I tell you, after a week, flushing still hasn’t gotten old! dsc02655

Another weird thing about this toilet (Mr. Wight showed me) is that it has a “self closing lid”. Having used it for a few days, what I think it means is not that it will close the lid automatically. I have been closing before flushing since reading The Big Necessity, in which it was pointed out that when you flush, particles of what’s in the bowl go into the air, and if you keep your toothbrush in that room, well, ick. So I shut. Sadly, this doesn’t automatically shut, if you start to close it, it gradually lowers either the seat or lid or both. I think what it’s supposed to do is stop the loud clatter of the falling seat or lid. What it will do is slow the closing so that you’d have to wait around for the lid to go down before flushing, or break the damned thing, which is what I suspect will happen.
It’s also a bit taller than the classic- people are getting weaker and finding it harder to stand up- this probably accounts for the need for squatty potties. Not a “raised” seat for invalids, but still, a bit higher than it was. I didn’t want that, but can live with it. The big problem was that the hole in the floor was 11.5 inches from the wall, not the standard 12 inches- but he made it work. (Phew! I’d hate to have had to have him replumb the whole system!) But there will be no dusting behind the toilet until it’s changed again (as if I did before!).
And I do like the cute dual flushing system.

I am not up to full speed, but I am also beginning to catch up on the cleaning. We are finding stuff that’s been left around since Pennsic. John just took a chest out to the hall that has been under the kitchen table since then. I do get tired more quickly, but cleaning feels good. I am trying to catch up on paperwork, but I’m not so good at that. Do you remember that just before we left for Pennsic I had my identity stolen and had to get a new card? Two months later I think I’ve updated the number on all my automatic bill paying, but the card the bank gave me at the last minute still says Preferred Customer. They sent me a replacement, probably while we were at Pennsic, but I’m guessing it was in a very anonymous envelope, because I didn’t find it when I went through the two weeks of back mail (which I also didn’t do until it was nearly two months of back mail because of coming home sick). I finally ‘fessed up and they say they can send me a new one     without changing the numbers again. Whew! I will be watching for it this time (I’m curious to see what it comes in.)
Although the insurance company called on Thursday and told me that they were sending a check for the car window, I still haven’t seen it and am wondering about that. Seems a long time. It was especially frustrating opening those ads for loans that are disguised as checks. On the other hand, the tire that deflated has stayed inflated. Who knows why it went down at CTCW. It’s not like someone can siphon some off to put in their own tire! Mysteries!
We did see the Super Moon this week. It was nice, but I’m not sure I could really tell that it was any different than the other full moons I’ve seen over the years.

We are gradually recovering from the shock of the election returns. Given that Election Stress Disorder was a recognized syndrome since this summer, it’s hardly surprising that many of us are feeling worse as the hate crimes numbers rise. I tell myself that even if the crimes are reported, and the cops can catch the people who have committed assault and battery, the chances are it will be many months before the cases go through the court system, and I daresay that the police feel that assholes being themselves is not worth wasting their time pursuing. Sadly ignoring bullies always empowers them and makes them feel that their behavior is acceptable. Facebook is full of people suggesting that these stories are made up, but when they are reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center and FBI records that reports of attacks are up (although the FBI says they are focused on Muslims), and I’m reading about specific instances known to my friends, I think that we are dealing more with a reporting issue than one of making things up. Unless the response is supportive, who’s going to bother reporting, especially if the victim gets away with “only” psychological damage.
Kat herself dealt with some guy who sat down beside her in the doctor’s waiting room and started making rude remarks about Obama. My guess is that he only hangs around with other Trump supporters and saw himself as opening a friendly chat with something they’d have in common. Except that for us, Trump is the guy who probably wants my eldest son dead. Pence certainly wants to put him into electric shock therapy. Many of my gay friends are married- just how far will the Republicans be able to push their anti-gay agenda? People seem to interpret Trumps win as automatically changing the rules “You’re not allowed to wear (a hijab) anymore, go hang yourself with it.” For one thing, they’re wrong, for another that’s a death threat. But despite the illegality of such assaults, I’m not seeing a lot of enforcement of the laws that are supposed to protect us. I fear that as with school bullying, all the administration cares about is that they aren’t bothered by it. If the new administration takes the position that people should just “deal with it” themselves, I fear that things may get violent, as that may be the only response that will be accepted. And then, as in school, the authorities will simply put the blame on the weaker party.
dsc02657My reaction, after the shock wore off, has been to turn to baking. I’ve made apple pie, coke cake, gingerbread, squash custard, and I fear if something doesn’t change, we’re going to get really fat. I turned to playing solitaire because that allowed me to turn my brain off. (Kat turned to playing Sims and has made a new Victorian town.) Finally I took it off the computer in an attempt to stop “wasting time”, only when I read facebook I tend to see more information that makes me more depressed. So I clean and bake. I was the only one (other than Steve) who appreciated the really dark gingerbread. How dark? Darker than the coke cake, which is a rich dark chocolate. It was 1/2 cup mollasses, 1/2 cup honey, and 1/2 cup brown sugar (plus eggs, flour and spices). I’d never gotten around to making a parkin for Guy Fawkes Day, so I was glad to do it.
I’m really leaning on the “comfort food”- made a meatloaf the other day 1/3 beef, 1/3 pork, and 1/3 spicy sausage meat. That was good, even though we ran out of garlic. (who’d have thought that could happen?) But I’ve also made mac and cheese, and turkey and mashed potatoes, and spaghetti, and curried lamb. (Also discovered I was out of pimentos- I really have to clean up the pantry so I know what I have!)
Bear and Lee went up to help Shema reduce her goat herd, and they brought me a chopped up goat, as Shema remembered that we liked and missed chevon. We’ll be having some of that soon.
My thought is that there is no greater denial of rights, of personhood, than to have the authorities refuse to recognize a complaint. This has been happening to women, to people of color, to gays, to those of alternative religions, consistently since forever. The reason for the “Black lives matter” movement is because when it comes to the law, they haven’t been treated that way. Now we are looking at a POTUS and a cabinet that reject science, religious freedom, women’s rights, … in short human rights except for them and their friends. We desperately need to have the police come out and say that they won’t play into this crap, but frankly, their record sucks. I know that they are stressed, but I’m thinking that maybe they might learn how to defuse situations better if they weren’t allowed to carry weapons for the first five years they serve. OK, so yes, I did finally admit that the news scares me.
The stress is hard, but at the same time, I think that the feeling of that portion of the Trump supporters who actually are bigots will be surprised that they aren’t the majority. I think that reversing Roe v Wade and turning back the clock on civil rights legislation may be harder than they expect, even with a Republican congress and President. What  makes anyone think that the people who have worked so hard for achieving these civil rights are just going to hop back into the closet, or say “yes boss” just because some jackasses scream at and threaten them? Bullies in school may get away with it (until the parents step in), but on the streets, and the “forum”, too many people have worked too hard to back down. There are too many allies, too many children of “mixed marriages”, it’s just that the people who have achieved this work by non-violent means, and this is not as good theatre for the media to cover. But I could be just believing what I want to believe. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, Willow’s chosen therapy is to send wool socks to Standing Rock. Winter is coming and the other day Willow’s feet were cold, and she put on a pair of her merino wool socks and they warmed up again. The people living out there in tents are going to need help staying warm. (I am particularly irate that the pipeline company seems to have corralled the Buffalo herd that appeared and is not caring for them except to fence them away from the Water protectors and their equipment.) I have always read that actively do something useful is the best way to deal with stress. Humor is another way, and I must admit that I am amused by the memes showing Biden preparing practical jokes for Trump. I heard Trump doesn’t want to live in the White House and I would be happy if it turns out to be true. I really don’t want it redecorated like his personal space in New York. I probably would have liked that style when I was ten, but it’s too fussy for me now.
I think I was pretty much in shock for most of the week. I think it took me until Friday before I admitted that I was actually scared. I was pretty appalled to read that half of potential voters didn’t show up.  Sunday I seemed to snap out of it- we went to the dump, got groceries and vitamins, cleaned the refrigerator, went to Lyrion’s and returned her 5 gallon water barrel, and chemical toilet. She gave me a cutting from her succulent to try to keep alive. And of course, I rolled my tongue, which was pretty damned exciting for me.
galavant-castAnother thing I did was binge watch Galavant, the medieval musical they had on TV a few years ago. And I picked up a book from my fiction pile Semper Fidelis, one of the Medicus series (the hero is a Roman doctor in Roman Britain). In this one, Marcus uncovers the corruption of a centurion who likes to abuse the British recruits, but he’s about to retire, so no one wants to blacken the Roman reputation by admitting it, so there’s a big cover-up. This is complicated by a visit from Hadrian. It wasn’t special, but it was distracting. It’s nice to simply follow the “what happens next” in both the show and the book. While cooking I watched a Johnny Depp and Frank Langela The Ninth Gate. Frankly, that one was pretty boring even with the intrigue and occult theme (the rich man was trying to locate a grimoire with a rite that would  allow him become immortal. Ho hum). I forgot to mention last week that I’d read Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. That’s the latest book in the Vorkosigan series. The paperback version came out on the first and I’d read it by the third. Willow had read it last year by getting the kindle version, which I would certainly have borrowed had I been aware. When you’ve started reading a series, you tend to want to keep reading it. From the Harry Potter books to the Harry Dresden books, from the Marcus Falco series to the Miss Fisher books, as I add more series, that creates more books I have to keep my eyes out for. Some series do end- like the Falco books, or the Sookie Stackouse novels. And, of course, sometimes authors die, like Terry Pratchett. But what a world to live in with such wonderful authors in it!
Both Steve and Mark came to visit on Armistice Day; they just missed each other. I think that was the day I finished reading the book Daily Life during World War I. I found it a bit confusing because the book is organized by topic, and they’d hop from 1915 to 1918, and from Britain to France to German so it didn’t unfold. At the same time, it was horrifyingly depressing- machine guns, poison gas, trench foot, tanks, bombardment, shell shock (PTSD) and that terribly misunderstood, so that men with it were shot for cowardice. It was horrible. I can understand why they thought no one would ever want to fight a war again. What they forgot was what drives people to the point where they would rather die than go on as they are. So sad.

Having finished that, I gladly turned to Victorian America (same series), which more appropriately would be called Postbellum America, as it covers about 1865 to 1915. I was fascinated to read about Railroad time. On the 18th of November 1883 Standard Railway Time was instituted. Before the railways, there was no real reason that each city shouldn’t set their clocks to noon being when the sun was directly overhead. The railways had to coordinate different times in different cities. Many places objected to this, but in 1918 Standard Time was instituted by the government. I’m only about a third of the way through the book, but it always seems easier to understand something when you see what has gone before, and I’d pretty much ignored recent history. (Once men wore trousers and no longer carried swords, I lost interest.)
The other day Robert Vaughn- who played Napoleon Solo in the Man from Uncle- died. I was thinking how our lives are made up of bits and pieces that go together: here a TV show, there a class, here a conversation, there an observation of what’s going on around us, or a song, or a food, or a piece of clothing. I’m thinking about how Mother had us learn songs when we were young- all four verses of the National Anthem, the song Aura Lee (I remember learning when I was five), and poems like Stevenson’s “Under the wide and starry sky, Dig the grave and et me lie”. (We didn’t tend to learn the titles). Are parents too exhausted, too strapped for time that they can’t do that any more? I know that Avi is, that’s why she needs Willow to come help. How does anyone manage a single parent household? Sounds impossible! (When Willow saw the doctor this week, she got a flu shot because she’s exposed to Avi’s kids. Due to the weirdness of CFS, her arm is still hurting.)
I have been doing a lot of thinking (and, I guess, writing it in my journal so I remember it) this week. One of the things I was thinking about is What makes us Uncomfortable? Clearly the people who I feel are behaving badly- accosting strangers on the street because they are a different race or religion and berating them- what motivates that? What part of yelling at a stranger makes you feel better? What makes people not want to have gays in their awareness? Are they insecure about their own sexuality? Are they being abused by their own family or boss and feel “better” when they feel that they’ve been on the attacking end? I also fear, as the “safety pin” movement gets started, that people may be afraid of coming out as allies because they are rebuffed by people who say “you don’t understand” (which may be true), but others would like to have a little support. “Once burned, twice shy” they say. You don’t have to be yelled at often before you start to look for anyone who reminds you of the person who threatened you and want to avoid them. Have these folks been traumatized earlier? Is there any way to help them? My best guess is that what makes them so insecure is the feeling that they can’t predict how people are going to react. If you start with the assumption that everyone feels the way you do, then discover that there are people who don’t, that throws off your feeling of equilibrium, of security that you know how the world works. If you were brought up thinking that the woman is meant to be subservient to the man, even if you don’t like it, you can tell yourself that there’s something wrong with you, not all the people who told you that. The “truth” hasn’t changed. But people who deny it DO threaten your world. If you have been told black people are inferior, and the folks around you have pointed out all sorts of supporting data, you can ignore the data that doesn’t agree- until it piles up too far. Can you change your view? If you do, what else changes? You will not be welcome in your own home, your own family and community. No, it’s easier to believe what others believe, and not admit your doubts. That’s my theory, but I haven’t taken it far enough to figure out how to help those people who are threatened by change. I feel threatened by some change. I can’t fault them for that.

I feel better this week than last week, and expect to feel better next week, so I suppose that’s good enough. I am sure I’ll share my meandering thoughts again. (I would love to have you share yours with me.)
“The tusks which clashed in mighty brawls
Of mastodons, are billiard balls.
The sword of Charlemagne the Just
Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust.
The grizzly bear, whose potent hug,
Was feared by all, is now a rug.
Great Caesar’s bust is on the shelf,
And I don’t feel so well myself.”  Arthur Guiterman