11/3/2010 Novel Writing Month

Well, I’ve done it again- let two weeks go by. Luckily for you, what has kept me tied up is so boring that the letter shouldn’t be too long. Luckily for me as well, since I hate to take time off to write, if it means I won’t get something done that I should have done.
As the days inexorably slip by, I realize that in three weeks, two weeks, a few days…, the con will be here. Some people will be arriving- whether I have gotten the schedule done or not, whether I have printed the program or not. There will be more people- and I will, perhaps, have money that will make everything easier next year- if I can figure out a way to advertise. But no matter how quickly or slowly I get done the various things I think need doing, the time passes anyway. The speakers, vendors and attendees will arrive, we’ll do each class, we’ll get through each crisis, we’ll pick up and go home, and it will be over. I don’t know if that thought is reassuring or terrifying. If I get a choice, I’m going with reassuring.
Other people are involved in other things: Megan decorated her house for a fun Halloween- kids do come by her house, so she can. No one came by our place- as usual. That could change if people with kids moved into the neighborhood. SCA groups are gearing up for which ever event they are doing this weekend (I did the Carolingian Cooks event- more on that below, but the Mensa folk never got back to me, so I didn’t have to hit two groups in the same day as I’d been planing). Dennis Windsinger got married Sunday, and went to his first day of work Monday. Kerensa is recovering from being ill having finally discovered that his “flu” was a bacterial infection, and has gotten anti-biotics. Josh is recovering from his surprise appendectomy. Honour is trying to get her place clean before she goes in for her knee replacement surgery. A lot of people were wound up in the pre-election clamor, as the vast piles of junk mail proves (I only wish it contained useful information!). People in Haiti (remember Haiti?) are dying of Cholora. I suppose other people elsewhere are dying of other things. We are all involved in our own lives. My worries about the con are my worries. I can only hope to get it organized enough that when people go home from it, they’ve gotten information that will enhance their lives.
The fall color lasted all the way through the month. Even over the weekend the leaves were rich bronzes and bright yellows, against the dark evergreens and only occasional naked branches. It’s gotten cold enough that I closed my window at night- then warmed up and I opened it again for a while. We cleared off the wood-stove, and have fired it up a couple of times, but not regularly enough that we don’t keep stacking dirty dishes on it and setting laundry baskets on it, while we turn back to latch shut the keeping-room door. The keeping room is still not as organized as I like- and I probably won’t have a chance to get to it until after the con. Worse- we have mice! I feel like tossing the cats in and leaving them there overnight- but I’m sure the mice can get into wherever they hide and the cats wouldn’t be able to follow. SO frustrating! At least they mostly seemed enamored of the ramen, which isn’t expensive. But I “hates those mises to pieces”! Sadly, I’d set traps for them- they go into the oven at night to see what crumbs may have dropped- or maybe they like the leftover heat. And we forgot to remove them once while pre-heating and burned up the wooden bases. I smelled something while it was happening, but identified it as burning paper, and didn’t check until it was too late.
We are eating more “comfort food”- mac and cheese, chili and rice, grilled cheese and ham sandwiches, spare ribs.

As I predicted, once the weather got cold, the chickens started laying their eggs in the nest boxes. Who knows where they laid them when the weather was warm, but we are getting eggs again, thank goodness! It’s so frustrating to be paying to feed chickens AND paying for eggs at the same time!

The girls went up to Bakaretsu Con on Thursday. Willow did a workshop on body language which was fairly early in the day- noon. She took the less favorable side on the debate Anime debate Dubs vs. Subs. There was a Star Trek vs. Star Wars debate, the funny thing in that one was that the person arguing for Star Trek was wearing a Star Wars shirt. Willow took part in the Anime Wheel of Fortune. One round had a theme was Things that get blown up in Anime, and the answer was Tokyo Tower. The organizer tracked her down to get her to be in the Dating Game as Tsnade because she was so good last time. They won the Iron Cos-play (pick up costumes) by dressing a boy as a girl- they were required to only use the provided scraps and uncooked lasagna (I wish they’d gotten a picture.) They came back and declared that they’d never come away from a Bakaretsu con miserable. It’s “the little con with the big heart”.
Not having been there, I’ve got most of what happened at Bakucon and Another Anime Con the week before, but they’ve just come over and sorted At AnotherAnimeCon, the week before, Willow had been on a panel how to survive a con (remember to eat stuff with nutrition in it, you idiots!). She was the expert on artists alley. They took a basket of assorted inexpensive snacks and played food fairy to the artists (who get stuck behind their tables) just to make people smile, even though she didn’t get in this year. She hates to see people hungry. (I brought them up right!) Kat wore her Mary Jensen cos-play (from Kingdom Hospital) and was recognized. She also got compliments on her Blind Mag- which is not surprising. Sadly, they had so much fun they forgot to take pictures both cons. They played Rock Band, which was fun, and they really want to get a copy at home to go with the Dance Dance Revolution and Karaoke machines for Yule this year.

While they were at that, I went over to Peterboro to the Celebrate Samhain fair. Because I don’t feel like a great saleswoman, I got Honour to come with me and we did well, and had a good time. I’d planned to make them some wheat free cookies for their bake sale, but ran out of time and energy and just made a double batch of spice cupcakes with butter cream frosting. I think I was mostly motivated by having tripped over the huge backstock of assorted colorful cake sprinkles (they don’t go bad, consisting as they do of nothing but sugar and food coloring). I made the butter cream yellow, and used up the last of my purple and orange and some other non-pariels- and did the rest with blue and gold stars and moons. When I went in to grab a snack, I noticed all the stars and moons decorated ones were gone. People DO like the unusual. This time I didn’t speak so I could stay at the table, and frankly, Honour and I had all we could do to keep taking money in. It was a good crowd. I saw lots of friends, but didn’t wander much. We passed out a lot of cards for the con, and went home around six. I did see Raven Grimassi and give him a hard time for not getting back to me- apparently they wanted to come, but had family conflicts and had been trying to figure out how to do both. I totally understand, but wish they’d let me know even if it was bad news. Knowing one way or another is easier on the nerves.
The big news of the day was that Honour’s knee replacement surgery has finally (we hope, this is the third time) been scheduled. Sadly- for just before the con. Since then they moved it to after the con- which is better for us. She’d offered to ask, but since they’ve put it off so often I didn’t want her to. It will be so much better when she can walk easily.
BTW- my knee has been feeling better too.
Sadly, the kids came home with “con plague”- colds passed around between people who are stressed and haven’t seen each other.

I’ve been stressing for months because what my program records us having taken in doesn’t match what’s in the bank account. Apparently, the paypal payments have been going into a special pay-pal account we didn’t know about. Whew! That allowed us to send in the check for the balance against the function rooms. Now let’s just hope we don’t get an early ice storm or something, and we should be OK. I’d still like to have done some advertising, but I hope we make enough on the walk-ins to put some aside for next year.
I made another data base, and more lists- panels, presentors, most of the last week I spent on making the schedule. I had no idea it would take so long. My technique was to make a grid and put the classes on 2×2 stickies- different colors for different tracks, so I wouldn’t end up putting two healing classes against each other- or two divination classes, etc. . Of course, there’s nothing that says that people will all want to stick with the same track- but at least we can avoid anything obvious like putting two different speakers on runes against each other- they probably want to go to each other’s workshops. I also had told all our wonderful friends who are working for free that I’d ask them what they wanted to see and try to take that into account. I also had forgotten the complication of “I’m getting there late, or leaving early, or can only day-trip” Oh, then there was trying to guess the size of the classes, and put the ones that would be bigger in the bigger rooms. Then we remembered how awful it is when there’s a class with drumming on the other side of a thin wall from one where people are meditating. I also had to deal with (which I hadn’t recorded in any particular spot) which classes were longer than others.
I’d meant to have the schedule done at the end of September so I could spend October working on the program. Now I have only a week to do the program, and I’ve probably added in 8 new workshops in the last 3 days as people write to see if they can still get in. Hey, sure, it’s mostly the speakers that are reserved. (Name tags, I’ve got to figure out how to do name tags!) Anyway, that took a long time to organize- especially as stickies start to flutter away after being moved a few times. Then I had to put them into the website- which occasioned more problems as I kept messing it up and Josh had to fix it for me a few times. I spent a whole day (yesterday) fixing the mistakes I’d made- as the presenters and vendors who watch the site found mistakes.
Part of the delay was that I as spending a few hours in the morning, because I had something both Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday I was teaching a couple of classes at the Carolingian Cooks Schola. I taught, big surprise, Anglo-Saxon Cooking; and also animal dressing. I really lucked out- Cassandra Boel had offered to provide them (she had a few extras- mine are, I hope, pregnant now). Not only that, she’d was teaching a class on eggs (she keeps birds as well as bunnies), and and brought them down for us. Both classes were well attended, and everyone seemed to think it was a good lesson. Cassandra took home the cut up carcasses and fur, so I didn’t have to deal with them- not that I’d have minded the meat. But no one else had ever tasted rabbit liver, so she fried it up. Sadly, she’d grabbed butter to fry it from the day-board, and it turned out to have been honey butter. Oops. Honour rode down with me, as she was teaching her frugal feast class. It was in Waltham- down below Boston, but luckily the directions were really clear.

While we were gone the girls went to the recycling center, and they scored a vanity for Kat. They went to the hardware store for some new knobs and white paint, and she finished cleaning it up today, and has it in her room. Interestingly, she found a scrap of paper in one of the drawers, the bit that you tear off when you get your SCA membership card. If we knew the local SCAers better, we probably would know who tossed it out.
Sunday was Halloween. We don’t get kids coming by out here, but we got a bag of candy just in case, and John carved a jackolantern. Kat made a batch of soul cakes so we’d have done something to acknowledge the holiday. When she’d got it done, she noticed that it was a fairly boring recipe- sweet yeast dough with spices and currants. She wondered if it would be OK to mess with a “traditional” recipe. I think so since every housewife probably had her own variation, so she added dried cranberries and some other spices, and hers were better than mine. I hope she kept track of her changes. It actually seems fairly similar to hot cross buns- without the frosting, of course.
They also celebrated by picnicking picturesquely in a graveyard. Kat wore her victorian looking white dress and curled her hair. I rather hope someone saw them. I, meanwhile, had meant to get out around noon, one or two at the latest. It was supposed to be a three hour drive, and I was supposed to get there around sunset. Honour and I had noticed the sun going down around six the night before, so I kept putting it off, since I’d spent all week working on the schedule and was finally getting it posted on the website. I finally got out about 3.
I think that the estimate was about right. Sadly, I didn’t get there until about six thirty, and missed the actual wedding. There was a snowstorm about six (heavy flurries anyway), and I figured that the wedding must have been about then. Later they told me that the snow had hit them then. The wedding was a small, private affair in their back yard. When I got there the bonfire was still going, but no one was around. I checked my directions again (thank goodness he’d given me good ones and I had no trouble finding the house), and saw that he’d mentioned that the dinner was going to be at the community center a mile down the road. A mile down the road I found a general store, and they told me that that was probably the hall on the side of the post office, and told me how to get there- and yes, that was where it was. I found them and got there in time for the cake. Also to meet Alice, his bride, who I liked very much- they seem very well suited, as well as both his mother and her parents. The only other people I knew there were Anjuli and her family. Most people headed back to their houses- his mother had a five hour drive- ouch. But as I don’t drive well after dark, they put me up on their couch.
I’d have felt a bit uncomfortable about “interrupting” their wedding night- but he was starting a new job in the morning, and actually, she seemed mostly eager to reclaim her kitchen. Since they’d done most of the cooking themselves, it was a bit chaotic. I was pleased to be able to help clean up. Poor thing, Alice was practically dead on her feet, and mostly we were eager to get to sleep. (They discovered where the pot roast that they hadn’t been able to find at the hall went- it was still home in the crock pot. I had some for breakfast.) I also snagged some of the wedding cake for the kids. Her sister had made it- it was a delicious zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting. I’d have never have thought I’d like zucchini cake, but it was great.
So we got up and out in the morning, and by 11:30 I was home getting the rest of the schedule posted. And that’s what I’ve been doing.
Oh, and Kat and I went to the Chiropractor. She was in great discomfort/pain, for the last couple of weeks, since she started making that pair of Columbia pajamas for Zepher’s production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Actually, it was two pair- because he had two Columbias.) I finally broke down and called around and found a chiropractor who could see her soon. I took her and the doctor was pleasant and after the intake visit, it was only $30 for an adjustment. My back had been hurting a bit for the last month, so when I made good money at the Celebrate Samhain, it occurred to me that there would be enough so I could get my back seen as well, so yesterday I had my first visit. Kat, meanwhile, has not been in pain since last week- the day after she sent off the finished commission. She seems to have gotten pretty immediate help. I figure my problem comes from walking crooked because of limping on my knee all summer.
Today I felt well enough to take a short walk for the first time since spring, so that’s a good step. We passed the upper acres and I remembered that I still haven’t gotten the VIN off of Wulf’s old truck so we can get rid of that. One more thing to do, but most of the stuff is gone- at least the metal part. The fellow who took it dropped by to tell me he was done and say he’d drop off a check for my share, but we haven’t seen him since. At least he took the old refrigerator with him, and most of the metal stuff is gone.
So at least I’ve written the letter again, (interspersed with working on the con). I am afraid I am not going to be able to go help Mark until it’s over. It occurred to me today that I’ll be going down a week from tomorrow. I hope the program goes faster than the schedule- and I can get another set of press releases out.
Willow’s still kind of tired from the last two cons (and cold). She’s also depressed- her friends have a combined Halloween and Christmas party to avoid the scheduling difficulties of the major seasons, and she’s been looking forward to it. Yesterday she discovered that it’s the same weekend as my con- and I really do need her help, so she’s going to miss it. Bummer.
We all went and voted yesterday, although we felt terribly under-informed. It’s not like we haven’t been inundated in junk mail and spam, and didn’t check websites, but it’s very hard to find any real perspective on the issues under all the selling of the candidates. Kat and I did make some home-made peanut butter cookies for the Artillery to sell at the polls. Willow and John dropped them off, and they were gone before Kat and I got there.

I haven’t had much time to read or watch things (mostly while taking my turn at dishes or cooking) recently. I finished up the first season of Picket Fences, only to discover that the other three seasons aren’t available on Netflix yet. Phooey! We saw some “horror” movies- John likes to watch them for October- he watched Halloween, Poltergeist I- III (with many of the same stars as Picket Fences); he tried to watch Nightmare on Elm Street, but it wasn’t worth watching all the way through. I actually did watch Manitou- an old Tony Curtis movie. It was less bad than it could have been. An old Indian shaman was becoming incarnated using his manitou (spirit), and they channeled the manitou of the machines in the hospital to defeat him. It was relatively original, and at the same time pleasantly respectful to the native Americans. I also took out True Grit to remind myself of the great old classic- since apparently they’ve recently remade it. It was as good as I remembered. I read a Terry Prachett novel, Sourcery- the usual fun, as well as a couple books that Kerensa recommended: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (a prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), and Little Vampire Women. Dawn was probably better that P&P&Z, but lacked the enjoyable play on the original book, which the Little Women take off had. I have to say I was charmed when I opened it and the first line was “Christmas won’t seem like Christmas without any corpses!” and it followed the original through- although the Marches were all vampires. As in the True Blood books, Vampires were “out”, and mostly fed off animals or animal blood. Sometimes it’s just nice to read something simple and fun.
I recently picked up Anthropology of Religion, Magic and Witchcraft, yes, it’s a textbook, and inspires me to want to read lots of other books it references. It’s great fun in its own way. I’m also continuing with the Decline of Magic, and Witchcraft and Magic in Contemporary America- you know how I read several books at once. I also want to see if I’ve got a copy of Hesiod around somewhere. On the way up to Dennis’, I listened to Ancient Greek Civilization (the audio course)- it was so fascinating I never put on my German discs, shame on me.
I guess that’s it. I have to check my mail again and go to bed!

“A desperate disease requires a desperate remedy” -Guy Fawkes

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