Do not even imagine that I could possibly run out of holidays to use for subject lines! Not only do I only need one of 7 each week, but most days average between 6 to 12 holidays each, and I could dip into weekly and monthly holidays. Next week we can look forward to on the 1st Basketball Day and a Day with/out Art, 2nd Mutt Day and Faux Fur Friday, 3rd/ the First Saturday in December is Chester Greenwood Day and Rhubarb Vodka Day, (I am NOT making these up!), the 4th National Cookie Day & Dice Day, the 5th is the International Day of the Ninja and Bathtub Party Day , the 6th is St Nicholas Day/Krampus Night and Pawnbrokers Day. A never-ending stream of causes for celebration!
Right now the weather is rainy, chilly (not as chilly as it could be, but the rain makes it feel worse), damp and grey (as I write moving more into black). Since we’re still being careful with the water (although I think we’re good now), that’s not bad. The rose bush still goes out on the stoop during the day as it tends to stay warm there. It’s made new buds this week. Last week we put the 5 roses in a vase, and 5 more promptly started looking viable. What a rose bush! (Still, it’s a bit inconvenient to have it right by the front door in the evenings.)
I did tell you about our Thanksgiving last week, since I finished the letter late, so I don’t need to go through that again. Except I didn’t mention that the gravy cup cracked when I poured the pan juices into it. Since it is SOLD as a grease separator, one would expect that the materials would be suitable to take the heat of hot fat coming out of a roaster (when else would you be separating fat from juices?) We’ve bought another and will have to see how it survives. Someday perhaps I’ll find one of tempered glass.
We’ve done the usual snarking about how Americans don’t get that Advent is for quiet preparation, not uncontrolled spending and stressful hilarity. We’re deciding what things we like and how we’re going to do the holidays ourselves this year. Tomorrow the holly dishes come out, and we are thinking of getting a tree by Krampus night. I’m trying to get some people over to sing carols some day in December. I’ll try to make fewer cookies, but i LIKE making cookies. There were still a few leftover Russian Balls from last year, and while not as good as when they’re fresh, they’re still quite good to our surprise. Willow has put up a facebook event page for our Solstice open-house Stormgard Solstice: Attack of the Lack of Theme, and I put up a “what’s your favorite cookie” poll there.
Between having the leftovers from a 20 pound turkey and the weather, we’ve had a bunch of leftovers and soup dinners a lot. Last night we had the tortellini soup- a great quick supper. I’ll tell you the recipe again since I don’t remember if I have, and if I did it was years ago. Brown some sausages- I like the provolone/garlic ones, and cut them into bite size chunks. While they brown, chop up one or two onions and sweet peppers. (Last night I used one and tossed in a cup of frozen pearl onions.) The process is speeded up if you get pre-chopped vegetables. I like keeping a packet of frozen green and red peppers for “pepper emergencies”. I got the pre sliced baby bella mushrooms and those went into the pot too. Once the meat is cooked you just put everything into the soup pot- the stock is a can or jar of spaghetti sauce, with another can of water. It being us, I add a good spoonful of chopped garlic (and/or whole garlics when they have them available) to taste, of course. And, as the name suggests, a package of tortellini. I tried the frozen and dried, but really, the fresh is best. Once that’s cooked, the soups ready. It takes a half hour- tops. Barely time to make a salad to go with it. Last night I discovered I was out of the black olives I like to put in, oh well. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top and let it cool a bit. I have several times burned myself by not waiting long enough- it WAS just simmering. We’ve also had simple “leftover” meals- which aren’t bad, but I have to pick soon whether to do Turkey à là king, or Turkey Tetrazini. A few days ago we had potato soup, and tonight we’re having ramen, so yes, we’re on a soup binge. It’s still “Comfort food”.
Friday John and I went down to feed Steve’s cats. I found Diana on a comfy chair watching Star Trek. Apparently Steve left the TV on to amuse them. Not a bad idea. On the way down we got gas- for under $2, and on the way up picked up a few more gallons of water at Monadnock- after all we still have the containers, and the water still looks a bit yellow in our cat watering container. I am pretty confident that it’s safe, but it’s certainly good for washing and flushing. (And no, that doesn’t get old. I still smile when I flush!)
We’re being very domestic. Willow changed the light fixture in the living room- the bulb got broken and we couldn’t find a replacement, only a replacement fixture. Well, it was flickering anyway (and we don’t know why). We also put an insulating fiberglass blanket around the water tank, and some foam insulation around the water pipes, and picked up some bar and chain oil for the little chainsaw, to try to cut some of the overly long wood down. I’m very proud of us. I’m still hoping to find someone to hire to put up the christmas lights. None of us is good on ladders.
I continue to work on the mixup with the Mass sales taxes. The last time I called the gentleman assured me that the bills do go away once the returns are in and processed, it’s just that they are “upgrading” their computer system, so the computers are slow and uncooperative right now. I expressed sympathy. I only have to deal with them occasionally. They have to all day every day! I also got a notice from NH Health and Human Services that I’d missed an appointment. When I got in touch they said that I don’t need one, that’s simply the way they remind themselves to finish processing my application- which was apparently put in for me by the hospital (without them mentioning it). I suppose he DID say “I want you on Medicaid.”) OK. I also worked on scheduling the holidays I post, and updated the page on my website where I keep the archives for the New Normal.
Willow worked at Avi’s a lot last week and is pretty tired. Also in the morning she was working on blankets and cloaks for this weekend’s conference. Luckily she finds working with fleece soothing. She and Kat went out on Sunday (which she had free) to the sales at JoAnn (and Target, Michaels, Harbor Freight, Goodwill (looking for wool sweaters), and Staples- as you might imagine she was exhausted after that!) John and I went out to the dump and laundomat Sunday morning, and we all met at McDonalds for lunch, then we went to Big Lots together. We found Willow a heater for her room. She totally organized and inventoried all her fleece stash last week, but still wants to create a good clear space before taking the heater up to her room.
She sent another box of wool socks and sweaters out to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. Not having a television, and since my friends on facebook are aware of the situation and share stories about it there, I have no idea whether the rest of the world knows. Except that there are people joining them from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and South America. But do the people in the USA who should know about it know? Willow spent a half hour on hold with the White House today, and Kat called them too, but the call kept getting dropped, so someone is trying to get in touch with the White House. (I wrote, I’m old fashioned.) Every day I keep think it can’t get worse, and then it does. As of today there is a blizzard out there, and the police are asking local stores not to sell anything to people who look like they might be protesters. (Um, do you mean, non whites? That’s sort of illegal you know.) I haven’t heard more about the herd of buffalo they fenced off and weren’t allowing to get at water. They keep talking about “rubber bullets”. You do know that those are “rubber coated” and only marginally less lethal, but because they are promoted as safer for riot control, they are more likely to be actually used against the protestors. It’s appalling. They are SO on the wrong side of history! I keep having the voice of Mu-shu from Mulan repeating: “Dishonor! Dishonor on you, dishonor on your family! Dishonor on your cow!” Dishonor on your Governor, dishonor on your police, dishonor on your National Guard! You can’t treat prisoners like this! You don’t treat people like this! This is just wrong! OooKay, deep breath. I can worry about this later. (and I will) (Heck, the other night I woke up from a dream about Special Ed and went over “should have saids” in my head for hours.) Another thought I had this week was that Ghandi would be proud of the Water Protectors. But will non-violent protest work when the people who you are trying to get to see you feel r point are not embarrass-able? It worked in India because the British really didn’t want to be the bad guys. These guys seem to that “the only good injun is a dead injun” and seem capable of feeling right about shooting and freezing and maiming non-violent protestors. That makes them very dangerous.
Funny story- last week when I went out in the rain in my red boots, I noticed they were leaking (dried them and forgot about it. I wore them again this week to my acupuncture appointment and when I took off my shoes there, looked at the bottom (to see why my stockings were wet), and low and behold there was a hole about 3 square inches! The tread was sort of grid like and had split and squares had fallen out. Not real Uggs, but I am sad to lose them.
Remember I mentioned I’d lost a contact? I found it the other day in the case. I’m wondering if I had simply forgotten that I hadn’t put it in in the morning, then noticed that eye was blurry and assumed it had fallen out. I hate not being able to trust my memory.
Tonight my New Normal show is on the Wild Hunt (a class I did at Pennsic). I find that if it’s something I’ve done often before, it’s easier to get by without a guest.
Other random thoughts from this week. I was thinking about pets. My friend Corbie has Maine Coons- official ones that have pedigrees. I’ve always wanted a Maine Coon, but have always thought of them as barn cats- you get them when someone has more than they want and have a sign by the road. I find that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of buying a pet. Yes, it does cost money to care for them, so if you’re raising them to sell, you want to cover the vet bills, food, housing and book keeping costs, but still. Somehow the idea of buying them puts me off. Pets are room mates, (however dependent), not possessions or accessories. Buying them feels wrong to me. At the same time, I don’t want people to think I’m dissing them when they choose to buy pedigreed animals. It’s a choice other people can make. It just wouldn’t be a good one for me.
Late night thoughts this week included the traditional saying that “When God closes a door, He opens a window”, which I have thought about before. Sometimes if you are still looking at the door, you don’t see other options in the hall. I think it’s such a great analogy because it just keeps working, you can just keep playing with it. If it’s a window that’s opened, not a door, do you get wings to fly out it? Is the window even somewhere where you could see it? (I know, the looking is supposed to be good for you.) I’ve also heard it that he opens another door somewhere else. That’s nice, but presumably you knew what was on the other side of the previously opened door, do you know what’s behind “Door #3”? This week’s thought was “What sort of God plays the lady and the tiger with his followers?” You don’t know what’s behind that door, and sometimes that not knowing causes horrible stress. Frankly when people try to make you afraid, that’s gaslighting, that’s crazy-making, that’s manipulative. Only horrible people do that to someone else. I don’t want to think of an all powerful god messing with people like that.
(This is probably why they invented sleep aids.)
What have I watched this week? I am continuing with the Roman Empire: Reign of Blood. The more I watch it, the more Commodus reminds me of Trump. He was spoiled as a child to the point he can’t recognize normal behavior. I reread Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, and in that one the Fairy Queen stole a child (Wentworth, Tiffanie’s brother) and Pratchett describes her as giving him whatever he wanted, thus turning him into a horrible child. He described the world of Fairie like a tick, the world produced nothing, so it had to suck anything it wanted from other worlds where the worlds touched (like children, or food, or musicians). It’s an horrible idea- but the more we import, the more we are turning our own country into a tick, a parasite, a vampire. We must begin to produce again or we will become horrible. (if you want to hear more in this vein, I even wrote a blog post on it- here.)
What else am I reading this week? I finished Magnus Chase and the the Hammer of Thor the day after Thanksgiving. This is the second book in the new series from the author of the Percy Jackson books. I was frustrated when I finished because I thought I’d go get the next one on kindle, to discover that the next one in the series won’t be out until next October! So bummed! I’d seen that it was being released in October, but didn’t notice the year was 2017! I loved Riordan’s Olympians series, I liked the Egyptian series, and I really like this one so far. Like the others, the main character is a teen who discovers that one of his parents was an ancient god. Actually, Magnus turns out to be a cousin of Annabeth Chase from the Olympians books. Riordan has no problem with various pantheons co-existing. Indeed as Olympus has relocated to right above the Empire State building, Boston seems to be the locus of Norse activity. Among the characters is a Valkerie who is Muslim, a deaf elf, and another einherji who is gender fluid (also a shape-shifter, which must be convenient if you are gender fluid). I loved that she explained that she’s not neither, she’s just one or the other just not at the same time. I have to hand it to Riordan, because he’s tackling some pretty big and pertinent themes in these books- like the importance of family, but if someone in your family is horrible, when is the right time to stop helping them and cut them loose for your own protection? These are not small issues. But they are wrapped up in some very funny humor, and very exciting action. I will admit that some of the situations are a bit too derivative of the original Norse stories for my taste, but other than that, I can recommend the books.
I’m continuing to read Victorian America– it is pretty much a text book. It’s full of information though, for example, in the 1890s down south there were an average of 3 lynchings a week. At the same time, they were really well meaning, they came up with Physical Education and Sunday Schools, orphanages and old folks homes and lunatic asylums (rather than putting orphans, lunatics and elderly all in the poor house together), and worked hard to eliminate child labor, unsafe working and living conditions. Self improvement was a bit thing. They have a lot about Chautauguas- an adult education movement. I’ve heard the word before, but never really knew what it meant. One speaker taught “get rich young man, for money is power and power ought to be in the hands of good people. I say you have no right to be poor.” Oh really? Apparently the envisioning of America as a “Christian nation” was from this period. I suppose anything that’s over a hundred years old can be thought to have “always” been like that. I still think calling it Victorian is a misnomer, especially as they’re pretty much sticking to the period between the Civil War and WWI. Still I’m learning a lot about the period. Apparently Carnagie spent $39 million on building almost 2 thousand libraries. (That’s about $2,000 each, but a nice house cost $500 at the time.) On the other hand, he required the towns to buy the books when he built the library. It gives me a bit of perspective on the Music Man.
I’m nearly done with that book- what period shall I investigate next?
Mark suggested another series like Miss Fisher: Girl Waits with Gun. It’s from the first decade of the 20th century. I got confused and picked up the second book Lady Cop Makes Trouble, it was a quick and fun read, and I look forward to reading the first- and any others in the series.
Not many pictures this week- my camera ran out of battery and we couldn’t find the charger. Finally, I ordered one, and as Kat predicted, Willow immediately found it- soon enough that I was able to cancel the order, so that’s good. But I didn’t take pictures this week.
Here’s a new word for you I hope you won’t need:
kakistocracy [kak-uh-stok-ruh-see] noun, plural kakistocracies.
1. government by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power.