11-22-2017 Jukebox Day

It’s gotten to that grey part of November when the bright accents of pumpkins and mums on people’s porches are a great relief to the eye. The back yard is a study in beiges- tan plants, brown in the shadows, with occasional patches of cream where some herb or other fades differently, and the bronze of the knotweed and sumac are the only other contrasts. The last few days it’s been overcast and warmer, with the result that I tend to sleep in, thinking it hasn’t gotten light yet. Oops.
Last week Willow started a new med. I figure we should give it a week or two to see if it’s an improvement. More immediately, Dr Gunning recommended that Willow should reduce Stress (argh!, do you know anyone who can actually DO that?) Are there people who actually continue doing things that are stressful that they don’t want or need to do? 
One stress I’m having is that the washer seems to have gotten more sensitive to imbalance. When it thinks the load isn’t balanced, it stops and plays a soft bee bee Beep, which I’m sure I could hear IF the washer was in the same room with me, but I certainly can’t when it’s in the next room with the door closed. Luckily John usually hears it. But sadly, it’s so sensitive, it often needs us to rearrange the load four or five times, and since each time it stops, it drains, I am concerned about how much water we may be using on on these refills. On the other hand, would a repairman know why it was doing this even if we called one? We had one positive experience. Kat discovered that the outlet into which she plugs her room heater wasn’t working, so we called the local electrician. Very pleasantly, he came that evening, discovered that it was the outlet and replaced it, for $30. Hurray! If most fixes were that affordable, I’d find it easier to call repairmen.
This week Willow got herself a new winter coat- one of the puffy ones with a nipped waist and fur around the hood. She also had to get the tires replaced on her car. I’m afraid that caused a bit of sticker shock. Or maybe it’s just that her car requires more expensive tires than mine.
Tuesday the lady who bought the paintings came by and picked them up. She seemed pleased with them, and will let me know if her son and daughter-in-law decide they’d like a final live sitting after she surprises them with the paintings for Christmas. Suprises are nice, I suppose, but doing a painting from photos (especially as modern photos are generally of smiling people) doesn’t give as good a likeness as live sittings. But the cool thing is that she’d gotten one painting in the public TV auction, and paid me for the second. Having passed those to the customer, I sketched in the next (late) portrait, and am working on the composition for the next book cover. If I don’t pay attention, I’m going to end up actually being a “real” artist. Thinking about that I have been looking through the computer, trying to find images of portraits I’ve done in the past. (and book covers ; sadly, I haven’t had much luck. Not only do I need to remember to get pictures of artwork before I pass it on, I have to not lose it when I do! At this point, most of the ones I still have are on the website (I just have to figure out how to get them off to put them in the folder!).
I also got distracted and spent several hours adding copys of old letters from the mail to the Letter Menu. This is going to be my 1180th letter, aproximately. Since I started writing on whatever computer we had in 1995, and printing them on the dot matrix printer we got from Aristotle, I don’t have many of the ones from the first years. The first one on the website is from 2001. Many were saved in the LiveJournal once I started that, but that was only in 2005. I have letters in my mail file from 2011. I would really love to get hold of some of those old ones. I know some people saved them, because they gave their collections to me after the fire, and I have NO idea where those are now! It would be lovely to read some going back to when Ælfwine was still alive.
I do write, even when I probably should be getting other stuff done. On facebook Mogan asked why people often don’t say that their magic is effective, and people posted lots of neat stuff about how we are trying to look smart and be reasonable. My take is that we’ve all seen (or, wince, been) the young person who claims huge magickal ability, and we “don’t want to be that guy”. It occurs to me since that discussion (they go by so quickly on facebook) that it may be like any skill. When you’re a kid you’re always learning new stuff- how to whistle, how to do a cartwheel, ride a bike, shuffle cards, and later cooking, driving a car, or whatever.  When you begin learning many of the skills we often refer to as magick, we are probably excited to discover that they work. But when you’ve been doing them for years, we get used to it. We dowse, tap, shield, call, or cast, and don’t even think about it. Do you tell all your friends that you’re great and powerful, or effective because you know how to drive, or use your computer? Well, I do get sort of excited when I learn a new function on my phone… but that’s probably just me. It’s just another way of doing things. We talk about it when it’s new- like a new diet, or a new recipe, but when you’ve been doing it for years, you don’t tend to talk about it much.
THAT got me thinking about when I was a kid learning new things. I have been getting wonderful responses to this question:
What games did you play when you were young? I remember Swing Statue, Red Light, Hide and Seek, Red Rover, Tag, Blindman’s Bluff, Hot Potato, Simon Says, Telephone, Red Light, Hopscotch, who’s got the button, Cat’s Cradle, Tug o war, jumping rope, marbles, and jacks. I’m mostly thinking yard games- what you’d play at home, by choice, not games they organized us in, in the school yard. I’m also not really talking about “store bought” games- although we had checkers and chinese checkers, Parchesi, Snakes and Ladders, and Candyland, before we got old enough for Monopoly, Risk, and Memory. (The Roberts had Cootie, which I loved, and when we got Mousetrap, that was my favorite!) I still remember the joy of learning to shuffle, and playing Old Maid, Crazy 8, Hearts, Go Fish, and War.
We rarely spend much time remembering our early years, but I think that’s when we became who we are.
I’ll admit that I spent time scurryfunging to try to get the house better picked up before the portrait customer got here, then also trying to get the diningroom clear enough to have Thanksgiving dinner in. John managed to get enough wood out of the driveway that I hope we’ll be able to fit all four cars in. We also ganged up on the wood closet. We’d decided that this year before we filled it, we’d clean out all the old bits of bark and leaves (and cat poop) that fall between the pieces of wood. It was a nasty job (and I say this having recently cleaned out the produce drawers in the refrigerator!), more dusty than slimy, but gross enough, and I get great joy from looking at how tidy it is now. I wish I had a picture for you.
Looking back on the week, and thinking of things I wish I had pictures of (still haven’t located my camera!), I would love to show you my progress on the sweater vest I’ve been knitting. When I get tired, I throw in a DVD and knit. I have finished both front panels, and started on the back. Sadly I knit far more than I should have done. I am not using a pattern (except for a rough scetch on the back of an envelope that says 7 inches across the shoulders, 15 inches across the back, 5 inches between underarm and waist… that level of “precision”. I changed the way I increased past the hips on the second front side, and liked that better, so pulled it out and reknit it the same. After I’d finished and lay out the two to make sure they matched (they did) I discovered that half on one row was purled, not knit (I’m doing stockinet), so I had to pull all that out and do it over- again! Oh well. I really am pushing to get it finished; I hate the number of half finished projects I have around the house. The point of this is to have something to keep my core warm this winter, and I hope it’s going to look as good as it feels.
Willow mailed off some capes she’d made Monday, and then cut out some new blankets. She’s decided to go to the Nor’geekster Geek Holiday Fair in a couple of weeks. It’s hard to make money as an artist. After that she moved her fleece out of the dining room and up to her room. (Kat sent out some socks. She’s spending a LOT of time working on her novel. Did I mention she’d gotten her finger crushed when a window closed on it last week? It’s better.) I’m afraid having the table in the dining room makes it a convenient sewing room, as well as laundry sorting area, and things tend to collect in there. I’m going to have to get a lot of garb out of there in the morning (after I stuff the turkey) before we can eat in there comfortably. One lovely thing to look forward to: Kat finds polishing the silver meditative (also we like doing jobs where the result is so beautiful), so that’s all gleaming now.
This week I made some “cornish pasties”. Handpies are easy and convenient, and I don’t find pie-crust difficult. I’d love to make more to freeze for quick meals, but I tend to use leftover dinner meat and gravy, and that’s not conducive to large batches. I did have one “cooking malfunction” this week. They had the crunchy onions that go on top of green bean casserole on sale with the other holiday goodies, but it’s not one of our family traditions. (We’re more into root veggies- potatoes, and peas.)  I decided to make one because I like them. But they hadn’t browned by the time we were ready to eat, so I turned the broiler on low and figured it would be ready in two minutes. I figured wrong. After two minutes John opened the oven door and they were blazing merrily. “Dinner Inferno”! Oh well, live and learn. I’ll have to try it again and give them enough time to brown. (Just in case you thought I was a whiz in the kitchen! I am, but not infallible by a long shot!)


What else? Are you up for political musings? (If not, skip the next 5 paragraphs.) Thinking about the nasty side of America that seems to have been empowered lately. Trump realized that there are a lot of people who are scared about whether they not only will not be able to improve on their parents lifestyle, not even equal it, but whether they will be able to survive at all. I admit that our idea of “survival” is warped. We seem to think that we require indoor plumbing, central heating, artificial lighting, telephones, computers, and yes, health care to survive. We don’t like to think of less that that, and the media works hard to reinforce those images. Will we lose our jobs and homes, and if we do, where and how will we live? We’ve built a fantasy- a Norman Rockwell, if you will- image of America, where we are the good guys who save the world, and get rich doing it.
But even that image was an Us and Them division. We were the favored people. Now we are feeling less favored and that seems “unfair”. All we wanted was what our parents hoped for us. To say we don’t deserve it is not only to insult our hopes, but our parents. Our society is built on adversarial relationships. From school sports to the legal system, we always seem to need someone to be at fault. Xenophobia isn’t new, and is natural. From the level of microbes up to herds, it’s fairly natural for an organism to identify what’s different and get rid of it.
So now we have to recognize that while we’ve been telling ourselves how wonderful and tolerant we are, a lot of us aren’t. It’s easy to be tolerant while you are well off, but when you have a choice between feeling that your inability to support yourself is your fault and someone else’s, our suspicion of otherness pushes to the front. We shouldn’t be surprised, it’s easy to share when you have more than you need. When you are working two jobs and still have to choose between fixing the roof and needed dental work, and the TV continues to assure you that all you need to be able to afford everything they are advertising is to work hard(er), it’s hard to want to give part of what you’ve got to strangers. If you don’t see them, you can convince yourself that they are doing as well as fiction assures you that “everyone else” is doing, so why should you help them?
In the old days, people would go out to watch nobles ride by- parades were entertainment for “commoners”. It’s nice to fantasize about how the rich live, but in the modern world, it’s not just stories told around the fire, it comes into our livingroom daily, and are constantly told that if we haven’t got that life, there’s something wrong with us. No wonder it’s so easy to want to blame someone else, especially knowing how hard you have tried.
We should feel sorry for Trump’s followers. If we want to be angry at someone, be angry with the people who exploit them, and try to help them understand that blaming others won’t help them at all.
This week I think I’ve finished up watching the courtroom dramas. I watched Thin Blue Line, Kramer vs Kramer, Cry in the Dark, In Cold Blood, Capote, Primal Fear, the Verdict, & Justice for All. One of the things I noticed was how many of the films look like they are old home movies. I guess what kind of film they use does make a difference. Then there’s the clothing. Was there a period where people seemed to harder to look cool than the 70s? At least the guys had hair! Cry in the Dark was a powerful representation of “trial by media”. It’s horrible that the media is able and willing to intrude on people’s lives like that, and that they feed an encourage the worst in the audience. I was struck by the “the jurors can’t understand scientific evidence, so they just ignore it” phenomenon. I sure hope that’s not generally the case. I wrote a blog post covering more of my ruminations (link here), I don’t think you need to have me go on and on about it. I think my basic point is that we harm our culture by supporting and encouraging the idea of “vengeance”, even when it’s “sanitized” by being done at government hands rather than by a person. It’s not who’s doing it that’s the issue, it’s presenting it as a good idea.
If we didn’t embrace the concept of vengeance, we wouldn’t have (as in the Thin Blue Line), the police pursuing an adult because the guilty teen wouldn’t be prosecuted. I guess it’s not surprising that many of the “plot twists” have to do with legal principals being badly applied. In Primal Fear, the point was that even if new evidence comes to light during a trial the initial plea can’t be changed. That seems odd to me. I wasn’t really interested in Capote, but it came in the same case as In Cold Blood. I did watch it, and it was mostly about how studying the crime and trial wrecked the author’s life.  The culimnation of this collection of movies (and if you haven’t watched it, I encourage you to do so) was Justice for All, showing how trying to make the law serve justice was making the good lawyers crazy, by breaking their hearts. It was surprising for those of us in the modern world to see a judge pull a gun out of his robe and shoot into the ceiling (let’s hope he was on the top floor) when the court got out of line.
As I was doing lots of knitting this week, I also watched more of Season 6 of West Wing, and Crimson Peak, characterized by the girls as Gothic Romance ghost story with Tom Hiddleson in period dress, what more does it need? What indeed? It was rather well done. I also watched Men in Black as a mood lifter, and the made for TV movie of the Aurora Teagarden mystery: Real murders. It was as bad- or good- as I expected. Allow me to say that it satisfied my curiosity, but I am not motivated to seek any more of the series. I am reading Poppy done to Death, the eighth book in the series, and it holds up. So far the Bailey Cates Magical Bakery series is holding up. I’m midway through Charms and Chocolate Chips (having finished Bewitchedm Bothered, and Biscotti last week, second and third of seven so far), I enjoy her generic witchcraft and more, her recipes. I think I’m going to try her Imbolc bannock recipe. I enjoy the way she treats the familiars. I have also tripped over anther series “Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries”, (I’ve read a sample on my kindle of Pies and Prejudice) which seems far too close to the Magical Bakery series. This one has another woman who’s been recently dumped, moving and getting into a baking business, living in a carriage house, and having natural but unrealized magickal talent. Two chapters doesn’t give me much of an idea of how they might be different, and if this one will also have recipes.
I have to admit that I’ve spent more time re-reading more of the Earth’s Children book- now into Valley of Horses– than my library books. Auel wrote a great story (at least the first few books). I have so many favorite parts they just keep pulling me on. I suppose that might support my recent thoughts about our ability to survive. We have created a society and culture that makes our lives so easy that we have many skills that would do us little good outside of it. At this point, I figure that if we lose infrastructure for more than a few months, I’d be one of the many to die. I keep thinking of the story of the Reindeer people who lived for centuries with their traditional skills, but then were given firearms so they could bring more hides to the market. This went on for a few generations, and when the whites no longer wanted the hides, the people had forgotten the skills that allowed them to live on the land. They couldn’t hunt without firearms, they couldn’t build homes with natural resources, and those who knew how had died, unrespected. I think about the people in India now, trying to make money to pay for food by trying to grow and sell the crops the market wants, and not being able to feed themselves anymore. No one is going to argue that having light and sanitation is a bad thing, but not being able to feed your family is also a bad thing, and I’m not sure whether poor packaged food is keeping them less healthy than the food they grew themselves. One thing is certain, most modern people can’t even conceive of a world in which you have to harvest and store a year’s worth of whatever you are growing/gathering. But that’s how it’s been for most of human history.
I wish I had some pictures for this week, but maybe I’ll finish the knitting and have it for next. Until then, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Nice meal, and good company!
Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.’” Mark Twain
Holidays next week
Tomorrow: 23 Thanksgiving/ Day of Mourning for Native Americans, Cashew Day, Espresso Day, Fibonacci Day
Friday: 24 Black Friday/ Buy Nothing Day, You’re Welcome-giving Day,  Leftovers Day, DB Cooper Day, Sardines Day, Evolution Day
Saturday: 25 Parfait Day, International Aura Awareness Day, Small Business Saturday,
Sunday: 26 National Cake Day, National Cookie Day,  Good Grief Day, Aura Awareness Day?
Monday: 27 Bavarian Cream Pie Day, Cyber Monday, Pins and Needles Day, Electric Guitar Day, Pie in the Face Day
Tuesday: 28 Giving Tuesday, French Toast Day, Letter Writing Day, Red Planet Day, Turkey Leftover Day(AAD)
Wednesday: 29 Lemon Creme Pie Day, Chocolates Day, Square Dance Day, Throw out Leftovers Day