1/11/2012 Oatmeal Hot Toddy Day

The weather remains surprisingly snow free. This last week might have been the January thaw, had there only been some snow to melt…. I found a min-max thermometer and it arrived last week. Sadly, it doesn’t even seem to be a good thermometer. It runs on a spring and has two needles that sit above and below the main needle. As it moves up and down between daytime highs and nighttime lows, it pushes those needles along and leaves them there when it changes directions. This means they must be light and easy to push, and they are so tenuously set that just the act of moving the other one tends to joggle them off where they’d been set; and the temperature responsive needle gets pushed aside as well, so I don’t trust it at all. It looks very like the old one, but is quite disappointing as it doesn’t function. So I can report that the temperature has probably gone down into the 20s at night this week, and that the device should not be set in the doorway, as it serves as a solar collector, and so is warmer than most of the surrounding air. The cats like that, and like to dose on the front step, but the thermometer tells us that it’s gotten up to the seventies and eighties, and that I simply do not credit. Unfortunately, it would probably cost me more in shipping to return the blasted thing than it cost, so I will put up with it. I’ve put a more expensive one on my wish list, so maybe someone will humor me with a better one. Who knows, it might work fine on the lee side of the house.
It’s currently reading 38º, and the sun just set. I find that I miss turning on the christmas lights when it gets dark. I feel that one should only indulge in holiday decorations and occupations during the (correct) holiday, so we are now in the Winter Resting time of the year; between the Yule festivities (the Anglo-Saxons called this month ÆfterraGeola or AfterYule) and the earliest signs of spring celebrations of early spring (in SOME parts of the world)- the Celts called it Imbolc. *I* call it Midwinter. I shall be very surprised if there isn’t snow then!
Our friend down in Slippery Rock, Dana Stewart, who’s renovating his major “fixer upper” house, apparently got so cold there that he had to go back to the mission where he was sleeping before he was allowed to live in it to get his core temperature back up into a safe range. It’s a disturbing thought that so many of my friends are spread across the world, and while we know and care about each other, we really don’t have that community feeling that used to exist. If Dana had frozen, I’d have wondered why he stopped writing, but might never have found out about it. I am not sure what we can do about that. I suppose one could send a message to everyone on someone’s email list- IF you could get to it, and if the carrier didn’t block mass mailings, announcing the death (along with contact information for whoever was organizing services). I’m reminded of the incident in Michener’s Hawaii when Jerusha get’s a letter that had taken six months to get there, informing her that her sister had died- and reminding her how far she was from them. Because of internet and phone we feel that we are close to each other. But this reminds me that this is somewhat illusory. The weakest link is the fact that those who know us don’t know who else knows us.
Rosemary, our sick goat, is still alive, and still sick. Raven has told me that due to consistent de-worming in the modern world, there are “super” parasites out there, so I’m going to try and see if I can find something to address that possibility. That would mean dosing all the goats, which will be a problem as the ones who have not been in milk are pretty feral. I really need to kill them. (I suppose an internal examination would be one way of diagnosing the problem.)
We’re going along about normally for this time of the year (although with less shoveling). It’s quiet. Willow has started putting her silks, as well as her blankets, up on etsy. Of course, she really needs to add more of the silks.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/WillowThewanderer?ref=seller_info   This week she hasn’t been working on blankets because she’s been embroidering a new obi- this one with morning glories (vines and blossoms). Friday, 12th night, was Avi /Avalon/ Michelle’s birthday, so Willow took her out for a not-mommy evening. One can so easily become totally involved in that identity that one forgets one was ever anything else. Frankly, getting out and spending time with an old friend is practically the same thing for Willow.
Kat’s sewing a blouse with a whole lot of lace, and spending about an hour a day refinishing an old cupboard that was used for toys by her father when he was a boy, and then by Dan and Kat too. I think it’s been in the cellar since we moved to this house. She’s going to sand it, paint it white, put on new hardware and make into a desk that will match her room. Since the fumes are so bad when she takes off many layers of old paint (my layer was red), we agree that an hour a day is the most exposure she’d want.
I’m doing a half dozen things at once, as usual.
At some point this week we’d just finished watching the last of the Regency House party, and I went back and watched a few versions of Pride and Prejudice again. I also tripped over Lost in Austen, where the heroine is a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, and switches places with Elizabeth Bennet, and must work very hard to avoid messing up the story as it is “supposed to” happen. In this, as a pleasant surprise, Wickham and several of the others were not the losers they seem in the original, but a slight twist of the plot makes them not so odious. It was nice to see Mrs. Bennet not so foolish, although I do like the way that Mr. Bennet is developed in the most recent (Knightly) version. I feel that there are enough misunderstandings and differences of perspective that we don’t need villains to create conflict. I have to admit that Pride and Prejudice is a guilty pleasure. I especially like that climactic scene where Katherine de Burgh challenges Elizabeth. While the whole book shows Elizabeth gradually coming to a realization about her feelings for Darcy, her feelings require challenge and opposition to solidify. I don’t think she would have come to see her feelings as acceptable without having Lady KdB’s clearly repugnant insistence that they were UNacceptable. There is a delight, a lifting of the heart, as we watch the new discovery that what she feels when what she THINKS she should feel, as programmed into her by culture, is swept away when she rejects Lady Katherine’s clearly unreasonable demands. There is something liberating by being force to see that what is culturally considered not only normal, but required, is actually arbitrary. Of course, if everyone saw it at once it would be chaos- better to have a few people start a movement in some direction and let the mass follow gradually (as long as it’s in a good direction).
Saturday, perhaps somewhat delayed by staying up way too late watching the Bennets, we went down to Kitty’s house in Taunton. She lives on Lake Sabbatia, at the bottom of a long flight of stairs because her house is built on the actual shore of the lake rather than back nearer the road level. She must have really healthy legs making that climb every time she goes out. Even in her house she’s got several levels. When we got there Paul showed us how he’d just put in a heated floor in the section he expanded for her. She’d called him in a couple years ago because the foundation was failing, so he poured new foundations, and has been fixing and expanding ever since. He got some lovely tongue and groove wood that he used to make a gorgeous wood ceiling over that section- what used to be a tiny dining room. Having noticed that the “tile” in our front hall had warn through first the surface color and then the under color and down to the wooden floor in places (and I’d pointed out the oak flooring Ælfwine had picked up to put in there- ten years ago), he suggested that he could put that in instead. Over the last decade the oak has gotten dark from mildew and he thinks it would be way too much effort to try to reclaim it. Anyway, Kitty had piles of this lovely stuff left- in her exercise room, which isn’t that big to begin with, so if we would come down to get it, they’d give it to us, and they did. The long pieces the kids valiantly carried up the long stairs, and Paul cut them down to fit into the back of the van. (Luckily it was a gorgeous day- probably in the 60s or 70s.) There were more, shorter pieces in Kitty’s cellar. Rather than carry those up through the house and then up the stairs, we drove across the pond and Paul drove those pieces over in his Zodiac (inflatable power boat). He also gave John and Willow rides in it. They buzzed the seagulls who were standing on then skin of ice out in the middle of the lake. So we’ve got those still in the van- rather than start another pile somewhere in the great hall.
Paul broke out the grill, and Kitty made us a lovely lunch with hamburgers, franks and some sort of spicy sausage. I hadn’t realized but hamburgers are about Kitty’s favorite food. They are good. She also had a fun computer game that we all tried. It’s called a Wii from Nintendo. You stand on a balance board, and it detects your movements and that controls the image on the screen. We all took turns as a little bird that was flying from spot to spot. You wave your arms to “flap your wings” and go higher, and lean to direct whether you go forward, backward or to the side, and stop “flapping” to go down. The idea is to hit the target. It was fun. My arms ached after one run, but they didn’t ache in the morning, so I figure that’s the perfect level of exercise. Now I just need to find (check that- let Willow find) one that someone got and discovered they weren’t using and is willing to sell cheap enough for us to afford one. It was great fun! I did well as a first timer, but then, I fly a lot in my dreams, so that may have helped. Who knows?
Sunday I spent working on the basic sketches for the cover of the Birka booklet. This took me into the library to find reference pictures- this may or may not have been a mistake, as seeing all those piles of books in desperate need to be organized grabs me. I’ve been back a few times, but I know it’s a huge project and that’s just what I don’t need right now (although I’d love to have all my books where I could find them when I want to). I also have spent probably too much time on the computer this week. On facebook not only do people share jokes and what they’re up to, they share articles they think may be of interest. I can spend hours reading articles.
This week of course, we were building up to the New Hampshire primary. Oh my goodness am I glad that’s over! It’s not that I don’t appreciate the full range of choices- much greater than later states get. And I like answering the phone calls that ask what I care about- although they rarely include the things I find important, like the environment, and education, as well as human rights. They often asked about whether I believed in upholding “family values”. I certainly do, but what a loaded question? I am sure they meant “Do you think that marriage consists of one man and one woman and their offspring?” not do you believe in making it possible for people to spend time together taking care of each other? Among the articles I’ve read this week (and video clips watched) were one of Rick Santorum saying that it was better to have a parent in prison or who’d deserted the family than a gay parent, while on the other side a 17 year study showed that gay couples have a rate of child abuse that is near null. Why? Are the parents that participated in this study behaving better because they’re being watched? Or maybe do people who’ve braved the odds, and faced down public opinion, to come to terms with who they really are just better able to nurture and care for children? (Another finding of that study was that almost none of the kids seem to have “caught” being gay from their parents. Actually, I think that percentage is lower than in the general population, so if the aim is to get more straight adults, maybe Santorum should have all kids raised by gay parents.) It was disturbing though- almost all the Republican candidates have come out not just anti-abortion, but anti-gay. That worries me. They wouldn’t do that if they didn’t think it would help them get elected, and I just don’t encounter that many people who are anti-gay. Where are they? In the heart-land? It must suck to be gay in the heartland. (Your life sucks, so you abuse your kids….) I am all for fiscal responsibility and gun rights and many of the other things that the Republicans stand for. I just don’t like all the hate, and the “Christian Nation” stuff they’re grafting onto it.
So we went down and voted, John bought lunch at the Lafayette Artillery fund raiser table. We admired some of the displays about the Glass Factory in the town hall, and noticed that they had spelled the town name Lyndeboro’. That makes sense. I knew that they’d made adding the ugh optional, but if you drop off part of a word, using an apostrophe to indicate that you have, makes sense. I like it. As the kids said “It’s pretentious”, and I’m all over pretension.  That may be why we like the Regency manners.
We took down the Christmas tree and chopped it up and put it in bags to use as firestarter. I still need to get the ornaments back upstairs. I hate to send them up until I think I’ve collected them all, and I know I haven’t yet.
Honour’s sister came up to check her apartment, and Honour called. She’ll be coming back to settle things, but she’s moving back to Michigan. Alex’s wife, Zon, has pretty much taken to her bed, and Alex isn’t really able to care for both her and Nicky, so Honour’s going to step into the breach again. She says that she does like the SCA and Quaker communities out there, and I’m afraid I hadn’t gotten to see her as much as I’d hoped I would while she was there, so I will just have to miss her.
I was kind of expecting Steve to come visit- next week I’ll be at Arisia, and he likes to come up on the weekends we aren’t out. He called around sunset to say that he’d just woken up. His system must have been fighting off something.
Yesterday the CDs with the various workshops at Changing Times-Changing Worlds finally arrived. Inasmuch as they should have been here by December 5th, I am a bit put out. But there’s not much I can do- except to listen to them, which I expect to thoroughly enjoy. I’ll see if I can sell them off the various websites I’m supposed to be updating regularly. If I only listen to one a day, it’s still enough to last me two months!
Today I got a package with Jam from Jean/Maria of Oxenford. She has sent me one most years for the last decade or so. I am jealous that she gets to make them, because I feel that I’m supposed to be the rural farm-y one, and she makes these lovely jams and jelly’s and sends them to me. I also got Oranges from Trish, who’s holiday gift this year was pretentious fruit. These oranges actually came with instructions about how to eat them. I suppose that might be necessary, as I still had one of the gorgeous pears that came last month- I’d kept “saving it for later” because it was so special. (So I had it today, and while it was probably too soft, it was still pretty good.) These are Honey Bell Oranges- they are kind of soft and tender. That’s probably what makes them hard to ship and rare up here.
I got reminded to send in the proposal for the on-line radio show (I’m sure there’s a word for it, but I’m spacing it) for the Live Paranormal group. I am more familiar with them now having been interviewed for CTCW, and that certainly gives me a good pool of people to interview- and could help advertise the con. I need to come up with a theme that will catch the imagination of the producer, and listeners. I am thinking the same as the convention, integrating the psychic potential all humans have into normal life. How does “The New Normal” sound? Sure you’re empathic, or psychic, or telepathic, but so what? You’ve still got to pay the bills, maintain relationships, put on your pants one leg at a time, etc. . It may be able to help you run parts of your life a little more easily- as long as you don’t freak out every time your ability manifests.
I also have been working up new workshops for Feast of Lights, and getting ready for panels at Arisia. I have to find out about the Mensa RG too. Luckily I don’t have to do anything for Birka but finish the coat I’ve been working on since last year. (blush- I am SO distractible!)
So as I talk to friends on the computer, write, update websites, make grandiose plans, I’ve finished Epochs of History, and started Yao to Mao, a history of China (in only 24 hours of lectures). I’m pretty sure I’ve started this one before, because the first few lectures seemed really familiar. I especially loved the one about the earliest writing: Oracle Bones. Some are bones- scapula of beef, others are the front plastron of turtles. They’re dried out, then a hot pin touched to it so it cracks and the cracks interpreted. The cool part of it is that they also scratched the question on the shell, AND the interpretation of the answer, and then later what really happened so they could track the accuracy of the readings. That’s pretty cool I think. I’m up to Confucius and Lao Tsu now, a lot of history to go. I’m looking at the German dictionary occasionally now- trying to add the vocabulary that I’m not going to get in something aimed at tourists and businessmen, but if I’m going to do research with the language, I’d better learn some of the vocabulary of mysticism and magic I’m going to have to learn that vocabulary on my own. I listen to those CDs in my room. I’m alternating German lessons (in the morning, as I get dressed) with Myth in Human History in the evening as I go to sleep. Sometimes it takes a couple of days because I fall asleep.
Mostly I’ve been reading The Demon Under the Microscope until I feel like going to sleep. It is fascinating. It’s about the development of sulfa drugs- what they called chemotherapy at the time, because it was medicine that wasn’t based on plants, but on chemicals. Actually it came out of coal tar dyes. As I read about how they were developed I began to understand why the Regency dresses were the colors they were- they really didn’t have that many colorfast dyes back then, because those dyes were developed during the second half of the 19th century. The first time I ever heard about Sulfa drugs was reading Sargent Rock comics, when he was talking some new recruit through dealing with a friends injury. Apparently it was a fairly accurate description of how it was done. The American soldiers had little packets to sprinkle on wounds that could be used one handed, the German soldiers were given little canisters with shaker tops. Then of course, when I had the cellulitis this summer, it was a sulfa compound that was used to treat it. Apparently before sulfa, it was likely to have killed me. The book is fascinating as it follows the lives of all the men who worked to develop these drugs, and the luck, good and bad, that was involved. It was strange to hear about all the business going on in the late thirties when one would think that it would be all about the war, but people still had to work, and did. I’m nearly to the end, and will probably miss it, but will no doubt, get into something else. When downstairs, and not watching something else I’m watching the DVD course on Daily Life in Pompeii- we’re planning on hitting the special exhibit at the Science Museum- maybe before the girls drop me off at Arisia. I got a book on the Treasures of Pompeii and Herculaneum to get ready for that.
I’m two discs into the first season of The Borgias. It’s gotten more sex in it than at the start, but still not as much as the Tudors, and the story is compelling. Jeremy Irons as the Pope is excellent. I love the way they manage to combine both their love of God AND their ambition.
Ah well if I stop now, I can send this off tonight- sorry about no pictures. I really need to start carrying a camera.
 Allodoxaphobia is the fear of opinions.

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” George Bernard Shaw

“Now that it’s all over,  what did you really do yesterday that’s worth mentioning?” Coleman Cox

“There is, I think, nothing in the world more futile than the attempt to find out how a task should be done when one has not yet decided what the task is.” Alexander Meiklejohn

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