11-25-2015 Parfait Day

Whether you count Martinmas or Catterntide the start of winter, it’s started. At this point the pantry is 40º so it’s a walk-in refrigerator, and while that’s true, I figure it’s winter time.
I’ve discovered the problem with my idea of shooting my “this is what it looks like this week” images downhill instead of uphill: downhill is south- right into the sun! The camera seems to have survived, though.
It’s the Full Beaver or Frost Moon, and so round and yellow when John and I saw it tonight!

I took Dennis down to pick up his Thanksgiving Turkey (ordered fresh from whole foods) yesterday, and he commiserated with me about the rats. He understands, having lived in this house. “People say “you must be leaving food around, no, it’s just that in the winter it gets cold, and they come inside to stay warm.” Then they look around for food, and chew into the garbage bags! We may have dealt with it- we put some rat poison in the space between the upstairs floor and downstairs ceiling, as well as putting out rat traps in the back hall.
Sadly even though I was REALLY careful, I closed one on myself, and it still hurts almost a week later. Willow says she can see the mark- “the corner shows!” The bruise shows, even though I took arnica, and it hurts if I fold my fingers together. I hope I haven’t done permanent damage. I tend to think of aging as simply an accumulation of all the various injuries that didn’t quite heal and diseases that weakened you. The old quote “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is BS. If it doesn’t kill you, it probably softens you up for the next hit! OK, yes, one can learn coping techniques, and ways of dealing with problems (like vaccinations teaching your body how to deal with a certain microbe). Still, I think the poison may have done it- I’m hearing less scurrying overhead, and when Willow goes into the back hall, she hasn’t recently heard them hiding when she opens the door. (She has been telling them to leave. Wouldn’t it be nice if that worked?)
The cats have started fighting for some reason- they had a real Donnybrook on the weekend with all three of them, but even the two ladies- Zoloft will ask to go out, but when I open the door, if Peri is there, first they snarl and swat at each other, then Zoloft goes in to make sure Peri isn’t getting more than her share of food. Mouse comes in occasionally for a snack, but still prefers his independent lifestyle, and it’s hard to keep Peripegelium inside overnight. She always tries to slip out while I’m checking to see if all the cats are in. While I still have my bedroom window open a crack (I like that until it dips below freezing), I do wonder where they hole up at night to stay warm. I suppose for the entire history of the world animals have found or made dens to stay warm.

I’m going to try to make this brief because I do want to get some cleaning done for tomorrow. Steve and Mark will be coming by for dinner. Dennis has 10 friends coming in, although Megan is stuck in London. She has had pneumonia and they are very strict about letting anyone fly who might possibly have a medical emergency mid-flight; she told Den not to cancel because it’s last minute and where would they go. I guess she’ll be someone’s “Thanksgiving guest” over there- but it’s not Thanksgiving in England. They have Harvest Day, which is not a big deal, but they have embraced the sales of Black Friday (in this world of international commerce). I admit that I have some “psychological issues” about people eating alone, whether on a holiday or not. But, I also like cooking for people, and if I’m going to put the extra panel in the table, we’ll need to clean the dining room a bit. Right now it’s full of sewing stuff!

We’ve mostly got Mark’s second locker empty- what’s left is the shelving. I keep thinking that if I could get the extra dead appliances out of our cellar we’d have room for them and it would help organize the space down there. But I don’t have the time and muscle to get that out. I blush to admit that I’d told Mark we could finish it up this Tuesday, forgetting I’d promised to drive Dennis, as his binocular vision hasn’t yet returned. Maybe this weekend. Chip was also going to swing by here on one of his business travels and pick up the pile of books Mark set aside for him, but as happens with work- it ran late and he didn’t make it. Darn, I’d have loved to have had him here for dinner (as well as clearing those books out. We also still have a few boxes of gaming stuff, the Mensans haven’t picked up yet. I would SO like to clean and reorganize the great hall (barn), but that probably won’t happen until spring when it warms up.

Among the books I took from Mark’s discards were some old Dark Shadow’s and Tarzan books (I lost the whole series in the house fire). Mother always thought that Tarzan was something you took from the library, not owned- and she’s probably right. Still, there’s a seduction of replacing something you lost, even if you don’t need it anymore. I read one of the old (60¢) Dark Shadows paperbacks, then spent far too long watching old Dark Shadows clips on youtube- and then watched the recent movie. Yes, it was kind of stupid, the specials were pathetic by today’s standards, the actors fumbled their lines- they probably had almost no time to learn them day to day. But it was marvelously entertaining! Both the love, jealousy, competitions of normal soap operas, plus vampires, werewolves, gypsies, curses, mad scientists, time travel… all a growing nerd needs (except I suppose sugar and caffeine)! The movie played up that “joie de mourir” and campiness, and I was even getting nostalgic about the horrible fashions!
Brian came over (bringing steak, wonderful man, as I’d made liver), on Friday and showed me how to upload the recordings we’ve made in previous cons. So this week I’ve spent more time than I think I probably should have done uploading the recorded workshops and panels to the website so that people can just download MP3s (as soon as Brian fixes the plug-in so people can pay for them). I’ve listened to several as I work, and there are some really good ones! It does seem to take about 20 minutes to upload one workshop, (or about an hour and a half if I do five at a time, but that lets me leave the computer alone longer).
I’ve also spent more time than I feel comfortable with posting holidays again. I missed them and hoped it wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes a day, but I keep “falling into” the interesting stories. That’s the basic truth of my character- I am easily distracted into plunging into almost any activity and forgetting everything else I want to get done! Over the weekend, for instance, I watched thirteen TED talks, one at a time. Someone had posted a collection link to my facebook page. This collection was about amazing things about the human body. One was about how learning to cook made our brains possible because cooking pre-digests the food so we can eat less and get more out of it. Another was 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm, What We Didn’t Know About Male Anatomy (how does a penis manage to do both the relax and the erect things?), male and female medicine, growing new organs, how the brain makes new cells, how one person can control someone else’s movement with their brain (really cool!), how the brain can translate stimulus into something it can understand so that with new high tech vests, blind people can “see” well enough to be able to play basketball. I love the concept of Umwelt. WAY COOL stuff. This is brain candy for me, and frankly, looking for those links has led me to a half dozen more that I really, really want to see!
Mark’s birthday was Saturday, so I made him a Coke Cake, cut it in two and sent half home with him, saved half for the girls, who were in the mood for it. Given a choice between apple pie and gooey chocolate cake, I’ll go for the pie anytime. (anytime it’s got a butter crust and real fruit, and not too much sugar in it- OK, I’m fussy.) Willow was out- spent the day with Avi and her kids. Mark suggested I watch Miss Fisher Mysteries, and I watched the first. It’s about a lady detective in the 20s in Australia I think. I also watched the first episode of a new Marvel Comics based series about a lady private investigator Jessica Jones, who is a retired super-hero who doesn’t want to deal with that scene. (Boy, I’ve missed a lot of comics since I stopped getting them.) I’ll also admit that since the villain is played by David Tennant, although he didn’t appear in the pilot.
I finally got around to chopping up the first pumpkin. The roasted seeds were delicious and maybe I’ll do another tomorrow, but probably won’t boil this one down. It took days! There’s a lot of liquid in a pumpkin- much more than a nice winter squash! No wonder people use canned pumpkin for pies. Do they cook it down or drain it?  I tried to make Willow’s “baked potato salad” but put in too much cheese (who’d have thought there was such an amount?) and it came out like a casserole. I made coq au vin the other night, and that was lovely. I didn’t have wine though, it was more coq au vinegar (that was what the old wine I found was) and mostly stock. (I’m still fuming about the rats chewing into my boxes of soup stock! I had to use boullion paste. And I blame them for my finger hurting!)

Kat got another type of no Aspartame gum this week: Yum Yum Gum- in soda flavors: Cola, Rootbeer, Cherry and Vanilla Coke, and Gingerale. The listing talked about the Xylitol, but didn’t mention the sorbitol, and sucralose. The initial flavor of the Root Beer was good, but then I started tasting the sorbitol and a half hour later was still feeling it on my tongue. I’m not going to try the other flavors as it made my heart race, and I wouldn’t want to risk a reaction becoming more severe with repeated exposure. Sugar is arguably bad for us, but it’s negative effects are better understood. I only wish there was more gum available that had sugar instead of these new chemical ingredients. Oh well.
I’ve been reading a book called Lights out, I’d heard Ted Kopple talk about his book by the same name on NPR, so I went to the library website to see if they have it (there are multiple copies, all out just now). Koppels is about how a cyber attack on our electrical distribution system would have a devastating effect on our country, and it’s “likely”, and what to do about it. You can see why I’d want to read that. But the other one is about how electrical lights are screwing up our health, and we would be healthier if we slept when it’s dark and were awake in the light. (Interesting juxtaposition, suppose we did go three months without electricity and everyone who didn’t die of it felt better?) It’s a fascinating proposition, but despite the fact that the author (TS Wiley) tosses around a lot of scientific terms, I’d like to read more about the studies supporting it. I’m going in predisposed to believe it, and among the health claims he makes is that our bodies weight regulation is effected, so that if we slept 9 and a half hours a night, we’d get thin without dieting. Oh, I SO would love for that to be true! But to not stay up after dark? I don’t know how to manage that. And he suggests that we’ve only done so for the last century after electrification. Hey bozo, ever heard the story of Cinderella? That Antioch, Cordova and other Arab cities had them from the 9th century? That Greeks had symposia where they’d party all night (by oil lamps, yes, but they were up all night)? I am eager, but dubious. Also, I haven’t finished the book.
Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook, which I’ve been wanting to get for years turned up as a free offer on Kindle via Book Bub. I read that, as it was rather funny, and now want to do a Discworld themed party! I’ve also been reading Christmas cookbooks- getting ideas. My idea of Christmas celebration is food, a few decorations (tree, colored lights), and carols. Presents are nice, but not a big deal. We’ve announced our Solstice Open House, which sadly is on the weekend (as we desperately hope someone will find time to come visit in such a crowded period). The Solstice is on the 22nd, and it’s hardly likely anyone will be available on a Thursday night. (If you are, we’d love to see you.) After Christmas is fine too- I tripped over a word for post yule visiting in Norway but have forgotten it. I hate the way you’re supposed to build up to a fever pitch starting December first (or worse before Thanksgiving), and then drop everything on Boxing Day as if it never happened! What happened to the 12 days? Far better to have people drop in a few at a time so we can actually talk! I wish we knew enough locals to go caroling! I wish they had Krampus night festivities in the US (although I hear there’s going to be a Krampus movie this year.)
I am certainly spending too much time on the computer. The justification is uploading the files to the website. The activity is mostly reading articles- (I like the Washington Post) and film clips Sci-Show, TED talks, radio shows. But I need to get away from sitting down all the time. I’m halfway through the 4th Odyssey of the West. They’ve now covered Voltaire, Kant, Hume, Rousseau, and Adam Smith. Onward to Marx and Darwin!  Quite frankly, it’s not as interesting as I’d hoped. (I mostly listen while I make dinner.) As one of the kids remarked “Did they get paid to come up with this?” I know they’re Philosophers, but I don’t really think people pay you to write this, I think you do it on your own and people talk about the ideas and decide whether they think you’re full of it or if you make sense. As expected, with the Enlightenment, they tried to factor anything religious or spiritual out, and that makes much of the world problematic. The belief that things don’t have spirits is just as much a belief system is that they do, and the claim that we only imagine that the world functions with no intention is no more supportable than the opposite view. Both sides pick and choose which evidence they want to site, and design their rules for decision making in order to make their position win.
I am appalled by the reactions I’m seeing on the internet to the Syrian refugees. As someone pointed out, you are more likely to be killed by being crushed by furniture than you are by a terrorist. Some of them went on to flog their own agenda “and look how many people are killed by guns!”, yeah, well, as I pointed out, that’s way less than are killed by cars, and even that is much less than those killed by medical error. No one is suggesting we give up cars or hospitals. One analogy that was made was “Why help refugees when we aren’t taking care of our veterans?”
as if it was an either-or situation. So Bernie tried to pass a veteran’s aid bill and it was shot down- only two Republicans voted for it. I am getting so SICK of this partisan politics. And Trump scares me, but that he has followers scares me more. If I could understand this, maybe I could understand how Hitler took over in Germany, but I don’t understand. We aren’t in a depression, we aren burdened with unfair punitive restrictions as they were. The only thing I can think of is that the world is changing so fast that it scares people. It’s the way we’re moving toward civil rights for women and minorities that makes people wonder where it will end and glamorizes the old ways- that really weren’t that good, but seem that way by filtering them through nostalgia. As the white man said in the movie In the Heat of the Night, “There was a time when I could have had you shot!” (for returning a slap).  He missed being able to hit a black man without fear of reprisal. It never occurred to him that for the black man, it was a better world when they couldn’t be beaten or lynched with impunity. It is a better world now for black men, for women, for gays, for a lot of people. But this requires that those who used to assume that they were superior, that they could get away with abusing other people, from date rape to taking advantage of illegal immigrants, or using human workers as if they were interchangeable machine parts to be used up and thrown away, that that’s not OK, and this changes their world. Some are getting around it by finding workers in other countries who don’t demand the same rights for their people, they are so anxious to get some money. And since it’s not our country, we can’t make them. But the people are people just the same, even if they do speak another language and live in other countries. They have rights not because a country chooses to enforce them, but because humans have rights to be treated equally, not based on our ability to fight back. That’s what it comes down to, there are still people in the world who think they have a right to do anything they can get away with. And that’s not true. They have the ability to get away with it- but they don’t have the right to do so, and that’s a huge mental change to make. Those people may need to have that change forced on them, because they don’t want to be at the same level as the people they are taking advantage of. They are scared that if they are forced to accept the others as “equal” to them, they’ll be treated the way they treat others, and that would indeed be a scary thing. Somewhere along the line when these people saw people hurting others, they decided that it would be better to be the ones hurting, than the hurt, not stopping to think that it wasn’t necessary for anyone to hurt each other at all. They come to accept degrading women, and using force and intimidation to make others do what they want, and to come to the realization that that acceptance was wrong is a hard thing. I hope not impossible, but it takes firmness but not force- force generates resistance, and if we want to convince them, we need to take away their fear, not increase it by proving it. We need to show our best selves to the world, and the strength to not do the maximum possible harm.
Oh well, that’s enough of that. I do think sleeping is what I need to do now. Tomorrow I get to cook.

I found out our neighbor down the street Don Lorvig died, and Josh who’s been sick for a long while is in the hospital, and I finally figured out what happened to Sue (cancer- she seems to be recovering). I’ve been sending healing energy to three or four people a day, and it seems like so many people are having such a hard time right now. Is it that I know a lot of people so it’s the same percentage, but I’m pushing the envelope of how many people I can keep track of? On the other hand, Lyrion and Raven are taking a Cruise, so that’s wonderful!

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.― Søren Kierkegaard