11/24/2012 Start Your Own Country Day

Sorry, the letter’s late again- I wasn’t here near my computer Wednesday when I like to write it. We were off to Maine to spend Thanksgiving and Dad’s birthday with the family- made much easier because they were the same day this year.

This week has been what I’d consider “life back to normal”. Problems small, but irritating. Having bragged in the letter that by intentionally resting after the con

I had avoided getting sick, the next morning I woke up with a tickle in my throat and stuffy head. That only lasted a day- I slept in until nearly noon, and  then spent the rest of the day vegging out and watching a string of old movies, and that seems to have done the trick.

Then Kat, while doing laundry, somehow got her hand closed in a rat-trap. Our washer and dryer are in the keeping room, and once again, rats have returned to attack our ramen noodles! Last year we put out poison, and had to suffer through a week of the smell of the dead rats rotting inside the walls, so this year we got traps again. When the kids were small we always gave them a warning about rat traps by poking one with a pencil so they could watch it snap. Let’s face it, the point behind a rat trap is to break the creature’s neck. Kat was carefully avoiding it, and still has no idea how it may have gotten her. My guess is that some bottle of cleaner nudged another and that nudged the trap which fell onto her hand from the shelf. I believe her when she says she’d put her hand no where near it. Poor thing, she was in considerable discomfort. More than over the counter pain killers could help, so she tried Willow’s hoarded Tylenol with codeine. Codeine, as she found last year after her wisdom teeth were extracted, doesn’t make her feel less pain, but she just doesn’t care any more.

When she was still hurting the next morning, we took her in to the Doctor. He was able to reassure us that her knuckle’s weren’t broken, although he said her bones were almost certainly bruised and would show that damage for the next 3 months, and the pain should be gone in two weeks. Two weeks?! That night she tried one of the Percoset’s leftover from her extraction.One thing is for sure, everyone doesn’t react to drugs the same way, and she’s very sensitive. Her face went numb, and she sat beside me watching Get Smart (I think), later she admitted that she didn’t want to watch, but couldn’t quite stand up to leave the room.

Ordinarily, in the “jobs rotation”, I cook because I’m good at it and enjoy it. Kat washes the dishes, and John empties the dish-rack. Given her injury, I have taken over the dishes for the next couple of weeks, and she’s doing table setting and we’re looking for other things to fill in the gaps. Personally, I like doing the dishes because I do them after dinner, whereas she’s almost always mid-project and doesn’t get to them until morning. But the good news is, that she is recovering nicely. Mostly she forgets about it until she moves her hand or bumps it into something the wrong way.


On the same outing, John got his hair cut. He’s been unhappy with it recently, because he’d started thinning. Luckily, on the way to check out the local barber, (the internet had his cuts at $12), I stopped at the Post Office where I always chat with Joe, the Post Master. He told me how he’d taken his son in for a haircut, and he’d come out white knuckled because the guy only uses clippers, and only does ultra short cuts. So we went to the Magic Mirror hairdressers, and while $20, did a very nice “gentleman’s cut” for John. As a surprise to all of us, his hair looks thicker where it was thinning. I’m not sure how that works, but we all agree it does, and he’s happy with it too.

John and I went out on errands, and managed to lock ourselves out of the car. So the next time we went out we got a spare key, so in theory we won’t have to call AAA again (meanwhile, thank goodness for them!). And it was cold enough that we didn’t have to worry about the food that was locked inside.

Oh, remember I wondered last week about Daylight savings time and  how do they deal with having two of the same hour in businesses that have night shifts? I heard a story on the radio- some bozo got two tickets for DWI- an hour apart, both at “the same time”. Great story!


Saturday I celebrated getting back in the swing of things by cleaning the `fridge. Actually, I figure to be spending most of this week cleaning. While selling in the summer, and speaking in the fall, the house has gotten pretty wretched looking. (So of course, this was when the town assessor came by. He taught me a new term: “deferred maintenance” yes, we’ve got that.) I’m actually looking forward to getting the place looking better, and it’s kind of traditional before the Yule season. (My sisters assure me that putting in wooden flooring is easy, and I should just do it myself. I’ve had the leftover flooring Kitty gave me since spring, but haven’t felt up to tackling the job, but I sure would like to have back the space it’s taking up!) We’ve taken two loads to the dump this week- and did I mention? The “yard sale” table is open again!

Having a clean refrigerator is great! and I’d love to get the whole keeping room gone through- go over all the shelves, throw up anything that’s too old or otherwise inedible, but now that it’s gotten cold again, I fear that’s not going to happen until spring.

In a fit of domestic bliss I made (for later) a tray of stuffed shells, pork stash, and a batch of Russian balls. I talked to Liz about Thanksgiving plans- as the one sharing the house she was not looking forward to the extra work, and Kitty and Trish assured her they’d “do it all”, and she didn’t have to do anything. Meanwhile, to make things easier on her I booked a couple of rooms at the Farmington Motel which is, conveniently, only a half mile from Dad’s house, and $55 a night. I also ordered three cords of firewood, and paid an extra $25 per cord to get them at 12″ instead of the 16″ standard. (14″ would have done, but that was my option.) I got one unseasoned, one semi-seasoned, and one seasoned. If we use them in order, they should all be dry when we burn them. Willow pointed out that some of the boards on the floor of the woodshed are rotten and they need to be fixed before we fill it up again. Since the weather has turned cold, John starts a fire around 4 each day so the kitchen is warm for dinner. I’m enjoying that.

Lois offered at the con to help me with the stuff we need computers for for CTCW. It would be good to get the registration process more streamlined. Then I got her to be my guest for the New Normal on  Wednesday, and spent possibly too much time putting graphics up on my website for people to follow along the discussion. I really need to use my website better. Cathy keeps making suggestions and I never seem to follow up on them, although getting the website in the first place was at her urging.


Because we were going up Wednesday (as soon as the wood was delivered and we could hand the fellow his check), I made the pies on Tuesday: Apple and pumpkin of course. Liz requested cranberry/blueberry pie, of which I hadn’t heard before, but was able to get a recipe off the web and it was rather good. I made a cherry, because I like them and like the look of a lattice crust. (I just put a scattering of pastry leaves across the top of the cran-blueberry.) Then, as my standard crust recipe (4 oz butter, 4 oz cream cheese, 2 cups flour, pinch of salt and 1/4 cup sugar) makes two crusts, I had an extra, and baked it as a shell- with leaves around the edge. I hadn’t finished whatever I was watching, so I made a batch of chocolate custard and put it in the shell. The other thing I was going to bring was the rolls, and I usually made them up to forming the rolls in the morning, then brought them up to bake after the turkey came out (while Mother made the gravy). Then it occurred to me that we were going up Wednesday, to be there first thing Thursday morning, so that wouldn’t work. I’d have to make them there- which I did. But that’s a week of news, and I’ll talk about Thanksgiving when I get back on schedule Wednesday.

It’s become a bit more difficult to write on Wednesdays since I’m also doing the talk show Wednesdays. This week Liz loaned me her computer so I could do it from their kitchen table instead of here. Very frustrating not to have all my bookmarks, but Lois was fascinating. Liz called in and I didn’t recognize her voice. She talked about a reading she’d gotten (from me!) and I told her that I didn’t think much of a reader who left the client feeling threatened and worried. Looks like I need to work on my technique! Meanwhile, the girls were busy polishing the silver (the flatware, Liz had already polished all the rest of it) and apparently they recognized her voice and were doing their best not to laugh, as well as not letting the silver clink!


I spent a lot of time going through my back email- unsubscribing from a lot of groups, block deleting whole batches of things I’d hoped to have time to read by have now accepted that I won’t. Also editing my friends list on Facebook, it’s nice to have lots of “friends”, but when I’m getting so much stuff I can’t get through it all, I’m still missing the fun things about their lives my friends post. I rather wish they’d sort by “cute pictures of baby animals or inspirational image” vs. “this is what I’m up to”.

I do post things I like- like images of great libraries, or this week I “shared” a poster about the huge percentage of  Walmart employees on food-stamps. My goodness didn’t that generate a storm of rather vituperative comments‽ The reason I shared it was because I’m always interested in making sure people see the hidden costs of things. If computers are cheap because people in the factories where they are produced are exposed to poisons, that’s not cheap. If gas is cheap because of fracking, the cost should include how much it’s going to clean up the environment after, and if people need food stamps if they work as many hours as they can get from Walmart, that’s our tax dollars subsidizing Walmart’s profits. It seems as if passing part of the costs on to someone else means that the costs aren’t counted. But then, we do that a lot. The reason housewives don’t get the respect deserved for all they do is because there isn’t a dollar amount hung on it. It’s something like the story of the man who dropped his house key by his door, but was looking for it out under the street lamp because the light was better out there. We don’t see what we’re not looking for, and can’t see it if we don’t look in the right place. I suppose accountants do it all the time- put it on a different line, in another heading and it doesn’t count.


I had another strange thought. It must be strange for my father having a tumor growing inside him, that could cut off his life at any moment. Perhaps it’s not that much different than having a heart condition, although currently we tend to think that there are life-style changes we can make to reduce the risk of heart problems. But statistically it seems more immediate: “3-6 months”. Just time to get your affairs in order- if you don’t dilly dally. How is this different from Mom or Bob’s diagnosis? Bob said “What has my esophagus got against me‽ I never did anything to the little guy!” Just warning him that he wasn’t going to live forever. That’s not really a bad thing. All this cancer that everyone’s getting, the result of each small addition of a poison or stress to our environments, individually and collectively, rarely big enough (as with cigarettes) to be able to point to one product and say “your fault!”, no it’s a bit here, a bit there, outgassing from insulating our buildings and making them stronger and more affordable, putting preservatives and flavorings in our foods, fire-proofing our children’s clothing, none of this is evil, but when we don’t LOOK FOR problems it could contribute to, we are avoiding looking at what we’re doing to ourselves. Cancer is a wake-up call: “Your time isn’t infinite. This is the amount of time you have left, do something with it!” If we could sort out the pain, the medical side effects and the time that treatment takes from patients, cancer could be seen as a blessing, a reminder to use our time well. If we had more time to live, what would we do with it?


Mark sent us a copy of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. Willow reads much faster than I, and grabbed it first, I managed to make it last most of a week- which is hard when one page leads to another and it’s hard to put down, but one also doesn’t want it to end. This is the latest in the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold. It was as good as the rest of the series and I very much enjoyed it, on the other hand, I got annoyed every time I picked it up and saw the cover. The blue girl is supposed to look like lapis lazuli, and they’ve done her in turquoise. There’s a possibility that the artist did it right, and the publishers or printers changed it- wanted the title to stand out more, so they made it blue and “fixed” the painted skin to match. When one goes to science fiction cons, one hears about that sort of thing. I remember how I my last cover was designed as a wrap around, but when printed they put the damned thing shrunk down all on the front (nothing but words on the back) and frankly, there are great open spaces in the composition that wouldn’t be there if they weren’t meant to have writing over them. It’s not balanced the way they did it, so I’m not going to “pass judgement” on the artist… until I get a chance to ask about it. The writing is marvelous, as usual. Now I’m back to my non-fiction books, but when one is under the weather, fiction goes down better.

I told you that I’d watched a LOT of movies this week; so many in fact that I won’t talk about each of them. They included: Riverworld, Get Smart, The Barefoot Contessa, the Human Stain, Immortals, Hot Tub Time Machine, 12 O’clock High, Mr. Deeds goes to Town, You can’t take it with you, IN the Heat of the Night, It happened one night,  Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer, Snow White and the Huntsman,  and the Amazing Spiderman.

I have a vague memory of putting a bunch of old movies on the request list from the library after seeing a documentary about movies, and now they’re coming in. I look upon seeing these as an aspect of “cultural literacy”, not unlike learning foreign languages. I was struck by how similar Mr. Deeds goes to Town and You can’t take it with you, reminded me of It’s a Wonderful Life, all by Frank Capra. I suppose it’s nice to know it’s going to be a feel good movie when you head out to the theater. Mr. Deeds also reminded me of Miracle on 34th Street, in the “sanity hearing”, which I contrasted to the modern movie Laws of Attraction. Both movies decried the modern cynical view of the world although they were made almost 70 years apart. It makes me wonder whether back in the middle ages they were telling stories about how wretched the world had become, and how wonderful the people who hadn’t become cynical were.

The recent ones, Vampire Slayer Lincoln, Snow White, & Spiderman were fun, no brain required, lovely visuals, but made me pleased that renting was an option. The Hot Tub Time Machine was incredibly predictable, but at the same time explored the common theme of what would you do if you had a chance for a “do over”? As usual, given that option, people generally are a bit nicer, a bit more brave, take a few more risks. A few more sex and fart jokes than I think is necessary. Actually, I resent the amount of sex they portray as normal in modern movies, but considering how much other stuff they choose to get “wrong” to further the plot, I suppose we should just accept it.

Occasionally the girls watch some of the movies I take out- Willow enjoyed In the Heat of the Night, and Kat’s currently watching the Herriot All things Great and Small series. I expect that now that my week of “rest” is becoming my week of cleaning, I won’t get as much watching in.

You shall have to wait with bated breath the next letter for the stories of Thanksgiving Day.


The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time. —Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

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