We have now entered the brown part of autumn. It’s growing colder; there’s been rain (knocking the last of the leaves off the trees, which is probably good for them), and I still haven’t gotten the window in my bedroom fixed. I did put another feather-bed between me and the waterbed mattress, since I don’t heat it, and I’ve picked up some insulated curtains to hang (as soon as I get to it). We picked up a new winter jacket for John, and a hoodie, since he doesn’t seem to get cold easily. We are not yet burning things in the wood-stove- we’ll have to have Robert build me a new piece to replace the one that has died, and I think I’m going to have to get him over here to see how to do it himself.
As I write, I hear scurrying in the ceiling over my head. Has a cat found it’s way into where the rats are, or are the rats fighting among themselves? I hate putting out poison because what if a cat killed a poisoned rat and ate it? But I think I need more than the traps they are now avoiding. Grrr.
Most of this week was taken up with the trip to Changing Times-Changing Worlds. Last Wednesday Willow met Kathy Smith in Milford and picked up the program books she’d put together and gotten printed, as they weren’t coming down until Friday and we went Thurday. She also had updates to staple onto them as during the last week speakers seemed to be dropping out nearly daily, and we contacted others and got other classes to fill in, so the schedule was still good- but chaotic. She also made big posters with the schedules on them where we put up corrections as they happened. “Change” has been a hard theme for this year’s conference, as it manifested strongly. And yes, it is possible that we are simply looking for examples of change, but I am pretty darned sure that even without the change of venue a month before we had a lot more changes to deal with this year than in other years. Frankly, I’m looking forward to “Getting (or Recognizing) what you need” for next year. We haven’t nailed it down yet.
Thursday morning we finished packing our clothing ( I spent FAR too much time looking for my new favorite skirt before remembering that it was down in the kitchen in process of having a smaller waistband being put in. I stuffed it in a bag and hand sewed it on when not driving. Willow packed the goods, Kat helped pack the food, and we got out by 12:30, which was pretty good. We had to go through Nashua to stop at Costco to pick up some prescriptions, and they got me a lovely sausage with peppers and onions (they had standard fast food). I drove to the first rest stop in Connecticut, a traditional driver-changing place, only to discover that for some reason it was closed from 3-7. Is there a logic there‽ Willow took over and I sewed, but the theoretical 5 hours took longer- probably because we were in slowdowns for at least four accidents (one of which had a tractor trailer backwards across the road!). We did get in about 7:30, which was fine. We’d talked about eating at the Pizza place in the resort complex, but it was closed. I wish we’d known about the Cafe 84 then!
Let me describe our new hotel. The Villa Roma seems to be an upscale resort- it’s got a golf course, two ski runs, bridle paths, multiple pools, playgrounds, and a great deal of other stuff we never saw. There are deer totally fearless all over the grounds. The hotel was full when we contacted them, but they put all of us in their Time-Share apartments, which was actually pretty cool, because it meant that we could bring food and use the galley kitchens, which is a lot more convenient than trying to live out of a tiny hotel room refrigerator and/or invest in restaurant meals. On the first floor of the building we were in, they put all the venders who were selling out of their rooms, and the hospitality room which had snacks, and the raffle. The kitchen was probably better than we’ve had many years, and each unit had two bedrooms, one with a “queen sized” bed, and one with 2 queens, and the living room had a fold out couch. As convenient as that was, I doubt we’ll go back because they gave the rooms to us for the rate we had at the old hotel, which was $119 a night, and I think that it’s more like $400 at their usual rates. I think that the staff did their best, but I could see the usual problems with the sales department promising us anything, and the staff not being able to keep up with their wild promises. The hotel was full because there was a Celtic Festival going on. We didn’t see much of them, although we occasionally heard Celtic music or dancing. But our check in table was in the lobby, and in the upper lobby they had live country music amplified to what I’d guess (looking at a Noise Level Chart) was about 120 to 130 decibels from about 11 until 8 or 9. This made trying to sign people in very challenging. Another ‘change’ was that Niffer’s car died and she couldn’t make it, so we had to rotate different people at the table. I tried to do it once during one of those “concerts” and people kept asking me if I was OK, because the noise was so loud I kept flinching (during the occasional spike to 150 dBs). I really have no idea why they would do that much amplification, people who are deaf usually are pretty careful about losing more of their hearing, and people trying to have a good time with friends usually want to hear what they are saying. I don’t think I’m wrong if I suggest that it was in the dangerous to your hearing range!
Anyway, we got in, checked in (found out about the pizza place), and got our keys, and headed off to find Building 22- “at the top the hill and around” they said. People who know the way are often not good at giving directions. At the top of the hill what looked like the road may have been a bridle path, and we scraped bottom. Our car IS notoriously low to the ground. There was more nasty metal scraping noise the rest of the way, and when we stopped Willow looked underneath and there was a dragging pipe. Ouch. We went up to the room- fix it in the morning. Luckily, they had given us room keys that opened the main door and the outer door to the 2 bed room, since the kitchen and living room door was with the single bed room, so we were able to put the food away, eat something and go to bed. Since it was still early I went downstairs and chatted with Jane, Mary and Chris for awhile, then crammed for my class the next day.
Willow decided that since the pull out bed was available she’d use that rather than sharing Kat’s bed (I am not sure they were really queens. A King size bed is 72″-76” wide, a queen 60”, a double or full size 54” (exactly twice the width of a crib mattress), and a twin is 39” wide. Or maybe I just have a more generous idea of how wide a queen bed should be. My single waterbed is 48, which is 9 inches wider than a standard single. Anyway, when she opened it up, the top third (you know how they fold) collapsed. She could get it to lock up- like a hospital bed raised, but it wouldn’t go flat. If not raised, it slanted down. She gave up and lay diagonally, I think. Having been stung by a time share before, I took pictures of everything, and made a list of every defect!
I hadn’t quite finished the new waistband, but Kat said she’d fix it for me, opening one of her suitcases, she had her sewing machine in it. No wonder it was so heavy! She apparently was quite happy, eager even, to spend the weekend alone in the room, working on her latest commission, her Nanorimo, and cooking supper for us. I would have felt lonely and abandoned, but this is another example of NOT doing unto others as you would have done to you. Do as the others would have done to them! We aren’t all the same. The dealers room closed at 9 Friday and theoretically 11 on Saturday, but they didn’t have any workshops or panels after 8, so around 9, most of the vendors simply covered their wares and we closed up around 9 again (good to know for next year).
Friday was the first day of the conference, but unsurprisingly is sparsely attended before supper. We try to schedule classes of the speakers (like me and Jane) we know will be there early, so my History of Vampires workshop was in the first block. Over the years we’ve changed many things, putting more open time between the classes, so people can chat and go to the vendors. Of course the first thing we did was call around (and ask the valets, one of whom was local, and directed us) to a local repair place. So she tied the pipe up with a leather thong and drove it into town, where they welded it back together for about $200. (So much for making money this weekend.) I looked around to find the class rooms. The vendors room was on the second floor, luckily there was an elevator. Two of the function rooms were down at the end of that corridor- on the way to the normal hotel rooms. The third function room was downstairs, down another corridor by the gift shop. The panels were going to be in the “OTB Lounge” (I’m guessing over the balcony), essentially where the live music was coming from, but they sent us to a room down the hallway past the gift shop toward the swimming pool complex. It was a large L shaped hotel room with 16 folding chairs set up in one side of the L, and a couch and couple arm chairs. Luckily there was a bathroom attached, which was useful. I don’t think we had more than 8-10 people in any panel anyway, but I doubt we’d have been able to hear if we were in the upper level over the lobby, so that was a good change. I set up our tables in the vendors room, and Willow didn’t seem to move anything I set up when she got back, so I guess it was OK.
Maryalyce got there about 9 (when we got down from Building 22). There were shuttle buses running around the resort, from the room I’d call and one would be there pretty much by the time I’d get downstairs, and it took about 5 minutes to get from the hotel to the timeshares (except in the evening when there were people getting dropped off at so many buildings it took longer). That was a lot less inconvenient than I’d expected. We got the check in setup, I did my Vampire class, and the panel on how symbols change. Since Thor had to cancel (death in the family), it wasn’t quite what we’d expected it to be about, but in truth, the panels rarely were. You come up with a topic. Three or four people sign up to be on the panel since they are interested, and then when we start talking, pretty much all bets are off. I suppose some moderators do keep folks on track, but we allow the various moderators to do it whatever way they want, whether having each panelist answer the same question, timing the answers, or just letting it be a conversation. I’m sure if we grow and have panels with 50 people in the audience and microphones, things will change, but right now, it’s like a casual but fascinating conversation on various esoteric subjects that really need being brought out in the open. Where else are you going to be able to talk about whether the broken armed cross- originally a sun symbol, but now a hate symbol, can be used as it was for millennia again, and how different symbols have changed over the years. For goodness sakes, think about what a crucifixion looks like to anyone who doesn’t understand the Christian story and how it’s used as a symbol. Horrible torture and death! Yuck!
Maryalyce printed nametags for everyone who was pre-registered, and has really streamlined the check in process. I confused things at first because I found the wrong box, containing the (leftover) printed tags for a different event she’d run. In my defense, some of the names were the same. She found the right ones, and that was good. She also got each of the staff pretty tag halyards that looked like the auroras that we use as a symbol for the con. I ordered the “speaker”, “dealer”, “panelist”, “volunteer” ribbons that go on the nametags. I also got another $25 pack of (100) fun ribbons. This year I worked out the cost- we use about a hundred twenty of the the “role” ribbons, which comes to about$20. The funny ribbons we sell at 75 cents each or 3/$2, so every 3 we sell, we make about a dollar and a half, so we pay for the ones we “need” with the first ~40 funny ribbons we sell, and the rest is gravy. (Well, if we sell them all.) Some of the ones in the new batch I got include “CAUTION: May contain random Movie Quotes”, “Danger Mouth Operates Faster Than Brain”, “Caution May Burst into Show Tunes”, “Beware of… Well… Just Beware”. The “Attention If Malfunctioning Insert Caffeine” and “Warning Spontaneous Sarcasm” were popular. I enjoy them.
When I was taking a turn at Reg (mostly I was sorting the ribbons into alphabetical order- most people got in Friday night and Saturday morning) the Duchess Paranormal folks arrived. They were doing a ghost hunt from 9 pm to 1 am that night. Yet another “plot twist”, the room they’d been told they’d have in the Lodge (the older part of the hotel) was given to another group. Chaos. I went up to the room and changed into some garb and 7 to 9 took part in the Norseworking , a healing circle. That was followed by the Social- a pot luck dessert and tea in costume gathering. Since Willow’s friend Raye was there (Lee, her mother, and Lee’s new husband came to CTCW for their honeymoon!) the girls pulled out the cosplay they’d made for Canobie Con- Thor and Loki. Kat convinced me garb was good enough for me. We brought 5 kinds of cookies- I made our traditional candy canes into spirals, and the wishing stars I cut out with various leaf cutters, and frosted them garishly with gold, red, orange, and magenta! Raye brought some cupcakes, and there were pies, and brownies, and other treats, as well as teas. Also balloons, and decorations. I didn’t chat with as many people as I’d have liked to as once I sat down, I stayed there. One woman (the one who I got a chocolate covered sugar geode from last year) brought a cotton candy maker- and the wands had twinkle lights in them! On the way to the room, Raye got lost in the hotel, and arrived a half hour late. Later when I went to collect the leftover cookies from hospitality (all leftovers from the social were sent there), *I* got lost and began to understand what happened to her. Apparently when they expand they just create enclosed corridors between the old buildings and new ones, so there are long, sometimes twisting corridors, with dead ends, and ramps and stairs and misleading signs. I was very confused!
When we went back to the room (eager for some protein after all that sweet!) Raven and Josh had arrived, and we got to talk a little. I also talked with Sofia, an artist who’s spent a lot of the previous years at Stones Rising, a group where monolithic stones are being raised by man power- lots of people hauling on ropes, one per year at Four Quarters Farm Sadly, recently the landowner has either gone a bit nuts, or gotten seduced by opportunities to make more money from other groups, and has been blackmailing and kicking people out of the group. It happened to Sophia a couple of months ago, and since it was something she’d been doing for so long she was pretty bummed, but since then so many people have come round to tell her how much they love her, she has decided that it may have been a positive change. Once again, change is the theme of the year.
Saturday for me was a day of many panels: Healers and Personal Responsibility, Elders panel, Death Plans panel, a panel on how to tell when it’s not supernatural or an omen. “Sometimes a stick is just a stick”, Defense against the Dark Arts Panel. This is my happy place! People who have “been there, done that”, who have used magic and gotten stuff done, talking about keeping yourself safe, or getting your head back together when you’ve seen some bizarre stuff, how to step back and cope with issues as a healer or a soothsayer, what can happen if you don’t get it all down on paper, (or tell enough people where your passwords are) so that when you die your family won’t have all that BS to deal with on top of losing you. What learning and techniques do we want to pass on before we die, and how do we as elders get what we need in exchange for teaching whatever it is they want to learn? The one workshop I went to Soul and your Practice, was a follow-up to a previous workshop (I was teaching against) with Tom Blosky, who’d flown in from Seattle! He ran this much like a panel- as a discussion among the people who came, and he’s great. His basic position is what I’d call animism- everything has a soul and we can communicate with it. Always for “The best and highest good.” Since the Ghost chasing was going on after 9, we, and most of the other vendors, decided to cover our goods and get the vending room closed up shortly thereafter. When there are still classes going on, people wander in, but there weren’t, so no customers. We went back to the room. Kat had made tortellini and sausage soup, which was delicious, and we went to bed- VERY glad that it was the DST switch where we gained an hour of sleep.
Oh yes, there’s a fund raising raffle of donated items aimed at our folk, tarot cards, jewelry, candles, some clothes- Willow put in an embroidered top she’d gotten on the internet that didn’t fit, and there was a black velvet cloak I tried for (also a soda stream machine, and a power screwdriver- things more of the “this is expensive but I don’t want it anymore” type). I got the usual six tickets for $5, and got a deck of tarot cards that Steve actually didn’t have yet (I called him up and had him check his database on the ones in the raffle), and the cutest little spirit board! So that’s pretty cool.
Hospitality is where you can go chat and relax, and get drinks and snacks (when we started we tried to have real food for the vendors and speakers, but that didn’t work). As I said the leftover desserts went there, and it was complicated by the hotel wanting everyone out of the building. Maryalyce got a late checkout, but they still had to move hospitality over to the main hotel before they wanted us gone, but after the guests in the rooms they moved us to had checked out and the rooms cleaned. So all the food, coffee urns etc. had to be packed up, (about 10-12) then moved over to the lodge (hence my getting lost when I went looking for the new location). A few people stayed over on Sunday- Jane, for example, cannot drive after dark, so she always has to schedule her driving for daylight hours. There but for the grace of Willow go I.
Daylight Savings benefit was especially important to us since the hotel had signs everywhere saying “checkout by 10, no exceptions!”, and since I was on a 9 am. panel on ghosts, (Raven also had a class he wanted to go to as well), so we all stepped smartly and were checked out by 9 am, with everything in the cars. The challenge for us was what to do with Kat, but since the panels had been put in a hotel room- there was a bedroom on the other side of the bathroom that no one was using, so she went there with her snacks and laptop. At 10:30 I did my class on Tapping which was fairly well attended, but they had no questions, so a bit after 11 we were done, and I went down and caught end of the shaman panel, which ran until 12 because the time was available. During lunch break we packed the reg table, and there was only one block after lunch. I went to the “Self care in magical world” panel, which finished at 2. The Ghost panel had several of the ghost hunters at it (on 6 hours sleep?) talking about what they found and recorded and perceived the night before. I was very pleased to hear them mentioning different sorts of ghost phenomenon, and how the observer changes the situation, and may impact the spirit behavior. I am so pleased that we are beginning to spread out into other communities than just the Neo-pagans. The last “change”, or typical hotel problem we had was that when Raven went to his last class, the hotel had already closed his room, and we had to get it opened again.
By three we had the goods packed down and in the car- and we were the next to last (the rock shop with four tables was still packing when we left.) We collected Kat and the leftovers, and were actually on the way by 3:30. I drove until it got dark- about the time we hit Route 84, and since the GPS said there was a slowdown area ahead, we looked for food and discovered the 84 Diner It has lots of chrome on the outside which we have found to be a hopeful sign. Since it was a Diner and in NY, I had a reuben, and cheesecake and a ice cream soda, the girls also had sandwiches, and split a piece of raspberry cake. (Waiting for the meal is easier when you have dessert delivered first, because it’s usually cold and ready, while the food has to be cooked. Also, it doesn’t “doggy bag” as well as leftover sandwiches do.) Each of us could only get through half our sandwiches. Portions were way too large for anyone but someone who works in mines or the fields. But it was all good! If you are ever in that area, I can recommend it heartily! We got home by 10:30, I put the laundry in the drier, and I think we all went straight to our computers.
Monday was rainy, and mostly used for catching up. Much of the baking wear that I hadn’t gotten to before I left still needed washing. John tells me Mark came and took him out to lunch on Sunday, which was nice. We looked around and were out of fireworks, so we went out and got a few at the local shop. When it came down to it, it was raining, so we only set off a couple of fountains. I didn’t even make toffee. But John did watch V for Vendetta.
Tuesday was voting day. We got stickers, although Walt says the state doesn’t provide them, he bought the ones for our town (like me and the vendor/speaker ribbons I guess). Of COURSE we vote. And although I tried to wait until morning, I did stay up for the returns on the computer. I’m not unhappy with the result. OK, I am unhappy about the gerrymandering, and voter suppression, and other nasty tricks we heard about, but given that, the results are even more impressive. Am I surprised the Trump cannot see this as a rejection of his policies? Not at all, he surrounds himself with sycophants and gets rid of any that stop pandering to his ego. I expect him to be delusional until the end. Frankly, the reason this letter is late is because I kept reading updates on the various outcomes across the country. I really look forward to a time when no one feels it’s worthy to comment on a new legislators gender, race or sexuality. But from some of the stories, there’s still a good way for us to go
Today (Thursday) I spotted a post mentioning the marches in support of Mueller- “No one is above the law”, there was one nearby (Wilton) from 5-6, so we all went. I think John only went because he wanted to drive me back after dark, and Willow got out of work early to attend, but we held signs and candles and waved.
That’s about it. Clearly I didn’t do a lot of reading this week. I did finish the first book of House of Darkness House of Light, which has some problems but is such a balanced presentation (it should be as a memoir thirty years later) that I am thinking about writing a full blog review of it, and I’ve started the second book in the series. It’s a bit frustrating that the first book (section) is only out as a printed book, while the second and third are available as e books. It’s a slow read since there’s a lot of thinking about what was going on. Also, most of the activities are the basic, run of the mill, things moving around, cold spots, smells, animals reacting, as well as sightings- over a ten year period. Hardly the stuff of horror films, but very believable. I read the short story The Ghost and Mrs. Muir on which the movie and TV show were based. There was a lot more discussion about the afterlife, and I liked it. I’m still reading White Trash– about class in America; I am still pre-revolutionary war. I’m afraid some of the politicians are right, the Pilgrims, at least, DID come to create a Christian culture- at least their idea of Christian, where they got to totally tell every other person how to worship. Luckily, lots of different groups came with the same idea, and they had to negotiate. Of course the European Crowns were happy to “hand out” the rights to land that wasn’t theirs, for a bit of baksheesh, so mostly it was given to the rich. It’s rather disturbing reading. I also watched a few episodes the Ghost and Mrs. Muir on youtube, and want to go back and watch the old movie. I started the Chilling Tales of Sabrina on Netflix, and oddly there don’t seem to be episodes of the old show on the youtube, just some out-takes with Salem. While I was baking I watched Life with Father a lovely old comedy showing an irreligious but clearly very good man being bullied into getting baptized by his wife. It was very frustrating. I suppose if you actually believed that a good man would not get into heaven without the church’s blessing, you’d side with the wife, but frankly, it bothered me. I watched the old Bruce Cambell film Bubba Ho-tep a spooky horror comedy about a very old Elvis saving his fellow pensioners from a mummy sucking the life out of them. I liked that they never really settled whether he was really Elvis, or was delusional. I think I’ve used up the Civil War films in the library system with Civil War: America Divided, three discs of documentary. Mostly about the fighting, but they didn’t have the detail I wanted on Sherman’s march through Georgia. Mark loaned me Sergeants 3, an old western starring the Rat Pack. I remembered enjoying their movies as a teen, and thought it would be fun. But it kept seeming very familiar, and I suddenly realized it was a reboot of Gunga Din, with the Ghost Dancers subbing for the cult of Kali, and Sammy Davis Jr. for Gunga Din. Once I did, I was embarrassed how long it took me. I also watched The Wolfman, a pretty good reboot of the original Lon Chaney/ Claude Raines picture. This one had Anthony Hopkins as the father, and I was very impressed by how Del Toro reflected the same feel that Chaney Jr. did in the character of Larry Talbot. We watched the fifth Jurrassic Park movie, and discovered that somewhere along the line there had been a fourth that we missed, and watched that too. All I can say is that if business doesn’t want to be portrayed as always the bad guys because they put profit ahead of safety, they shouldn’t make themselves such easy targets.
That’s about it. I am pretty sure I got some pictures at the con to put in the letter, but can’t locate my camera to get them out of it. I’ll add them to a later letter if I remember when I find it.
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Maya Angelou (what a perfect explanation of why the chestnut that `those who don’t study history are condemned to repeat it is important!)
Holidays this week:
Thursday 8 Cook Something Bold & Pungent Day, Abet & Aid Punsters Day, Diwali, Cappuccino Day, Harvey Wallbanger Day
Friday 9 World Freedom Day, Greek Yogurt Day, Go to an Art Museum Day, Chaos Never Dies Day, Kristallnacht
Saturday 10 Vanilla Cupcake Day, Area Code Day, Sesame Street Day, World Science Day for Peace & Development
Sunday 11 Armistice Day, Sundae Day, International Tongue Twister Day, Origami Day, Singles Day
Monday 12 Veterans Day, Pizza with the Works (no Anchovies) Day, Happy Hour Day, Chicken Soup for the Soul
Tuesday 13 World Kindness Day, Indian Pudding Day, Actors Day, Start a Rumor Day, Mom’s and Dad’s Day
Wednesday 14 Intnl. Girls Day, Pickle Day, Spicy Guacamole Day, Teddy Bear Day, Loosen up-lighten up Day
(The Great American Smokeout starts one week before Thanksgiving, putting people at one week into nicotine withdrawals just in time for Thanks giving. Whose brilliant idea was that‽, I suggest starting the day AFTER.)