11-29-2017 Square Dancing Day

As I was driving home last night I saw that many houses already have their Christmas lights up and on. Well, I suppose we never took ours down, so having them up may not be so amazing. Still, if you can’t wait for Advent, could you at least wait until December?  Trees are mostly bare, our pumpkins need seeding, but they aren’t rotten yet- although I expect that they’re soft. It’s gone below freezing a couple of times. John has been making the fire in the wood stove when it gets chilly, and it feels really good!

This week I’ve searched for reference images for the new book cover- the sequel to Frey’s Saga, and am working on the composition. (Covers are hard because you need space for the writing.  I’m pretty sure I can beat this image from the Vikings TV show. (Doesn’t that bear look too big to you?)

To keep my spirits up I’ve blocked in the next portrait- the client gave me a marvelous composition all ready to go, but I’d like to get Lynn’s done and off to her. I think her book is in the proofreading stage.

I spent a good deal of time this week knitting. I finished up the yarn, and now simply have to put the sweater-vest together. Having spent money on the yarn, I’d like to get to wearing it, but I fear I may have to pull out and re-do it if I can’t get one more matching scein as the back doesn’t seem to be as long as the front. Oh well. I’m also not pleased that while there’s clearly a “create a pattern” thing going, it doesn’t seem to match on both side (even though they have the same number of stitches. Perhaps if I’d thought about it, I could have started the yarn at the same color on both shoulders, but I didn’t even think of it until both sides were done.  If it’s going to be that regular a pattern, it should be really REGULAR so the two  sides could match- also it’s not as shiny as a garment as it was in sceins. And it looked like there was more jewel tone, and less OD green. It had better be warm. Frankly, I’m tempted to pull it all out and make something where the pattern won’t show that much. If I spend that much on yarn, I would like to actually LIKE the way the sweater looks. Next project- fix the hole one of the cats chewed in one of Kat’s sweaters.

When I’ve done that I’ll be finishing a scarf- (where did I put the one I wore last year?)

I guess last week was Thanksgiving. In my opinioin we did it right. We had a small turkey with stuffing and gravy, with mashed potatoes, peas, & squash, fresh baked rolls, and apple and pumpkin pie when we were up for it. We also had that punch with cranberry juice and gingerale, as well as cider and sparklig cider. Mark and Steve came, although Mark didn’t stay long. Kat shined up the silver and cleaned up the dining room, which looked lovely.  Oh, and I made the traditional Russian Balls, (still in the pumpkin shaped jar on the table). I’m not sure they are traditional to any other family, but I think of them as traditional for Thanksgiving. We had a “reheated leftover night” a few days later, and that was it. Not a whole lot of leftovers. I’d hoped for enough to make a Turkey a la King, but we only had two meals worth. Well, it was only a 14 pound turkey. To me, that’s a good holiday- good healthy food shared with family and friends. What’s not to like? (OK, when I was a kid I didn’t like the turnip and squash. Frankly, when I was a kid, I couldn’t tell the difference between them- rutabaga are orange, and they were both mushy, and I didn’t seem to grasp that one was bitter and one was sweet. I just didn’t like them.) Now I do. Sadly, I burned the turnip. Luckily, I’d only cooked half of it.

Also pie for breakfast is a good thing.

Tonight we had a lovely pork roast- and the first sweet potatoes of the season. I baked 3 types (couldn’t remember which ones people liked) and people got to eat the ones they did. Willow likes the deep dark sweet orange ones (traditional yam type), Kat likes the garnet colored Japanese sweet potatoes with white flesh (tastes a lot like chestnuts. I don’t think anyone likes the tan ones that are beige inside. I hope I can remember than when I’m shopping.

Yesterday Kat and I went out to St. Marys and got her a new bank account. We’ve been meaning to find a credit union, and apparently even though it says bank, it is one. I will probably move my account to there, although transferring all my automatic payments will be a pain and a half. We’re applying for a credit card for her, so she can start building a credit history. Willow put her tires on hers so she can pay them off and start building hers. My kids are grown ups. Sigh. (Although Kat didn’t feel like it when I stopped on the way home and picked up a Happy Meal- she wanted fries and I wanted to eat something (anything). When you go to Ocean State Job Lots and the weird foods they have their all look delicious, you know you’re hungry, and the last stop was Market Basket, so I’d probably have spent far too much if I hadn’t eaten first. Mostly we needed butter (used up on Thanksgiving) and toothpicks. (I wonder if there are any pictures in the old albums?)

Since we have picked the theme of “50’s Christmas” for the Solstice Open House this year, I remembered something we did back then- a toothpick tree.  It was probably in the early sixties, but there was a craft craze to make Christmas Trees out of toothpicks stuck in styrofoam balls, and sprayed with “snow” foam. We had one, of course, as did most of our friends. Since Dad worked at Forster’s Manufacturing, I assume we got our toothpicks for free. (The other thing they made was those wooden spoons that came in Hoodsie cups. We also got our summer firewood from there- the birch cores from which they peeled strips of wood to turn into toothpics, clothes pins, and disposable tableware. Apparently they closed 8 years ago.) When I picture toothpick trees, I always remember my father standing beside a six or eight foot version on TV. He was on one of the non-celebrity segments of “What’s my Line?” as they had to guess that he was a toothpick salesman. I assume that they got it, I don’t remember anything about any prizes. (For those reading this under 50, What’s my line? was a TV game show on a yes/no questions format.) One of the side effects of this project was my cleaning out one of the kitchen drawers- the one in which I keep the toothpicks, apparenlty long overdue. Also long overdue was taking down and cleaning the various jars, behind which I found a couple of tiny mouse mummies. I think they may have slipped down in search of spilled four or sugar, and not been able to scramble back up the glass to wherever they got in. Meanwhile the cats have been quite ambitious in their hunting, although not particularly interested in eating their prey. There were 3.5 mouse corpses near the front door when we headed for the bank yesterday. I blame the cold. They are spending more and more time inside, and last week, I think, we had our first “don’t you bring that flying squirrel in here, it’s still alive!” episode of the year. They like to play with their living prey, but prefer to do it in when it’s warm, so in this weather we have to watch carefully to make sure that they aren’t carrying anything!

Cleaning is continuing. Kat made a huge dent on the living room over the weekend. We really have too much furniture and need to get rid of some of it. Sigh. We found boxes of coats we’d put together for Standing Rock, then couldn’t afford to mail there, I’ll be dropping those at the local Share.

Last week I blew off the podcast, but this week I did another solo one. I really have to have either something on which to rant or to pontificate to fill fifty minutes without a guest. This week I ran into the usual “Blame it on Mercury Retrograde” foolishness that crops up three times a year. I had (the usual) tech issues, and got on a little late, but I’m not blaming ☿℞, first, because it isn’t starting until Saturday, and second, because the tech issues are perennial, not associated. But I will make the effort to find a new venue for the podcast- just as I’ll get the bank accounts switched. Change isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. BTW, the point of the show was that Mercury Ret isn’t a scapegoat, even though miscommunication and problems with travel and communication do seem to cluster during these periods, they are times when we can benefit from revising, returning, relaxing, and redoing things. It’s a time for finishing, rather than starting new things. That’s not bad. Sadly, every time I think about the show the song “Blame it on the Bosa Nova” gets stuck in my head again.

Willow continues to make blankets, and go over and watch Avi’s kids in the afternoons. Bianca is now in a special program that seems to be helping, but Willow is feeling poorly (although it’s hard to tell with the usual assortment of CFS symptoms), but having her visit school kids (aka ‘plague monkeys’) daily, does make one suspicious, especially as Bianca was sick last week. She isn’t gaming for a while- the dungeonmaster is doing holiday packing for Amazon, and has no time until after the holiday rush. He thinks his co-workers may be leaving him “special” orders- he packed up a case of dildos the other day, and another day it was (I think she said) porn. Or maybe they are just leaving the problematic stuff to the temp.

Kat has continued to work on her novel, Damsels, occasionally sharing humorous passages. She’s also working on a video blog on products that may help people with mild palsy put on makeup better. She also tried a trick where you take patterned tissue paper and put it on your nails between to layers of clear polish. Sadly, the tissue she used had a pattern so large it was hard to see on her dainty nails. I look forward to seeing it one something with a smaller scale.

Between dinner and pie on Thanksgiving Steve and I watched Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages  a Danish silent film from 1922.They had English subtitles, so we were fine. I’d meant to watch it for weeks, but since it’s silent, one has to actually watch it. For part of the time I was disassembling the turkey, part of the time I was washing dishes, and Steve read the text to me. They really tried to have an accurate portrayal of the wretched way people went out of control, and a couple of the reels concluded that the witches were probably what we would consider mental patients in the 20th century- cleptomaniacs, or delusional people. They seem to recognize that both are at the mercy of the law or the church. I was quite impressed with the 1920s special effects.

While knitting I mostly watched the sixth season of the West Wing TV show. I wasn’t thrilled that they diverted most of the episodes to the campaign for the next president. It’s the characters we’d come to know I wanted to watch. Not that I am not jealous of their having set up Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits as the very appealing candidates- both the most honorable and honest their parties had to offer- those are usually eliminated in the first months. It’s sort of the opposite of last year’s election. I find myself less excited about the last season since it’s got so much about the campaigning and less about them trying to get good stuff done. I have sent for it from the library anyway.

On Friday (D.B. Cooper Day) John and I watched Without a Paddle, and I watched the 70s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, including the commentary. They talked about how the wondering if you were imagining the things you worried about was a common fear, which I expect it is. It was fun to see Donald Southerland, Leonard Nemoy and Jeff Goldblum, and the special appearance of Kevin McCarthy (from the 1956 original). I found it hard to imagine that there was no type of sympathy for the pod creatures who were simply trying to find a place to live, and didn’t feel that they were taking much away from those who’s lives they stole. I’d have thought there’d be at least a hint of that.

 

This week I read Magic and Macaroons, Charms and Chocolate Chips, and Some Enchanted Eclair. They are snackable (enjoyable, quick-reading) mysteries, and I was inspired to ask friends if they’d like to form a (spell) book and baking club to meet once a month. I have a half dozen nibbles, so it may be a go! I tried one of the recipes in one of the books- the heroine added bacon and orange peel to Imbolc bannocks (also baked instead of frying them). I think I put in too much orange peel- it dominated. I’ll try it again with bacon and onion, that should be good. While putting those on the library queue, I tripped over Spells, Charms, Talismans and Amulets: a complete Guide to Magical Enchantment. I’m not thrilled with it, it seems to be a standard Wiccan collection. It will be nice to have others to talk to about books I’m reading. Sadly, the fluff has distracted me from most of the non-fiction I’m reading. I’ve also continued with the Earth’s Children book. I’m up to the Mammoth Hunters. I don’t find that knowing what’s going to happen next reduces my enjoyment any, I always look forward to my favorite scene. I DO find myself even more cross than when first reading it at the behavior of the main characters. On the one hand, I recognize the importance of exploring the theme that just because you THINK you’ve worked through your culturally imposed prejudices, you probably really haven’t. I think that’s a real thing and worth exploring. But on the other hand, TALK to each other when you’re feeling miserable and want to know how the person you love is feeling! Back in the 80s when we were reading it, Katya and I agreed “Dondelah is a dork.”, and I really still get quite annoyed with him! I should go back to reading medical books and be cross with the US medical system.

Well, that’s about it. It’s past midnight and I’m beginning to “typo” a lot.

Tchipakkan

Beware of any enterprise that requires new clothes.

— Henry David Thoreau

Holidays this week: Guess we are now entering “the season”

Thursday 11-30 Mousse Day, Stay home because you’re well day, Mason Jar Day, St. Andrew’s Day

Friday 12-1 Pie Day/Fried Pie Day, A Day without Art, Christmas Lights Day,

Saturday 12-2 Fritters Day, Chester Greenwood Day, Mutt Day, Intnl. Abolition of Slavery Day

Sunday 12-3 Make a Gift Day, Advent Sunday, Peppermint Latte Day, Apple Pie Day, Green Bean Casserole

Monday 12-4 Cookie Day, Dice Day, Kitten Day, Santa’s List Day, Wear Brown Shoes Day

Tuesday 12-5 St. Nick Eve/Krampusnacht, Comfort Food Day, Sachertorte Day, Ninja Day, Soil Day

Wednesday 12-6 Gazpacho Day, St. Nicholas Day, Microwave Day, Miners’ Day, Pawnbrokers Day/St Nicks