Sorry about forgetting to condense the letter for so long-oops.
It continued being cold- I’m dreading the next fuel delivery, but at least we are, if not cozy and warm (except on the days, and in the rooms where the wood stoves are), we aren’t freezing. And the roads are clear. Star is feeling better. I was surprised how long it lasted, so I was nervous when I would wake up with a tickle in my throat. Could be because my room is unheated, but one doesn’t want to take chances, so if I do, I roll over and go back to sleep. (I have the freedom to do that.) I’m holding it off fine so far- I think sleep is the most therapeutic thing you can do. I also take vitamin C and zinc, and drink hot lemonade with garlic and honey. (I haven’t in the last couple days in case people can smell it at Arisia.)
Mostly this week we’re spending all our time this week getting ready for the upcoming events: Arisia, Birka, Feast of Lights, the Wicked Fair, the Mensa RG, and Ecumenicon; the amount of time spent on emails organizing involvement seems to dwarf the time spent making product and at the events. We’ve had dozens of emails back and forth about the food plan we’re doing for Arisia. It started with Jane and us both figuring it was cheaper to bring real food in coolers, and a micro-wave than to live out of hotel restaurants. Then more and more people joined- it wouldn’t be such a big deal, if we weren’t the kind of people who want to take other people’s allergies and preferences into account. And Jane has put a good word for us to get into Boskone, but at this point I’m not sure we have the energy to attempt it- and the risk is always higher at events at hotels because the cost of doing business is higher. It’s one thing if you are actually participating in the event, but Willow and Kat pretty much stay at the table selling from the time they wake up to the time we go to sleep (after the last customers stop coming) and on Boskone weekend, I’m speaking at the Mensa Regional Gathering. I’m now such a popular speaker that they’re comping me a room on Friday.
In order to counter the cold I picked up some quilted fabric and curtain rots and we made some drapes for Kat’s windows. Got them up in just a few days, evading my usual problem of not getting around to projects I’ve bought materials for. As I write this it occurs to me that part of that was that my transcripts from BU came in, reminding me of how many incompletes I’d accumulated. Admittedly, part of that was from my “mystery illness”. In the spring of `74 I think it was, I started sleeping 22 hours a day. You can’t get much done when you do that, so I ended up crying for most of the other two hours. The BU doctors first figured it was mono, and put me through two runs of antibiotics, and when that didn’t work they were stumped. Mom’s doctor couldn’t find anything and told me that 4 out of 5 of the women he saw had nothing wrong with them (that he could find) and all they “really wanted” in his view was someone to tell their troubles to. I tried the psychologists at BU seem to actually have been Freudians who figured anything wrong with me had to result from my relationships with my parents. And that’s when I started accumulating all the stories of how doctors are really human and often can’t figure out what’s going wrong. In May, I think, Alva, my father-in-law-to-be hypnotized me, and I went back to my normal sleep schedule. We never found out what it was. But that kind of blew that semester. The next year was entirely my fault- I didn’t finish papers and have no excuses. I’m pretty appalled- as ashamed as it’s within my constitution to be, but shame, blame, etc. aren’t a big part of my repertory. Sometimes we screw up, and we move on.
After 12th night we changed the Yule (holly pattern) plates out, and are now eating on the lovely blue glass plates my sister Trish gave me a few years ago, and white complementary dishes and salad plates with snowflakes on them. We’ve been taking down lights and decorations- we left the tree up so Megan could see it. I love looking at other people’s trees, and seeing all the different ways people decorate them. On Sunday we had a fairly exciting day; Megan/Linda and Claus/Dennis came over, admired our tree, exchanged gifts and had some great conversations. And Honour also came by in the morning, and Steve in the evening, so, as they say in Sims, our “Social” score moved way up. I made some gumbo, which was pretty good, although the shrimp I used were so small they got lost in the gravy.
As I have been catching up with paperwork that got neglected during the holidays I discovered a note from a collection agency from the hospital, called them and started a payment plan for my hernia operation. If I don’t start making more money and speed up the payments, I’ll be payed off in about thirty years, but at least I’m an honest woman again. I’ve been dreading this and expecting it. I’m hoping to really get more organized with our papers and finances- the credit card company decided, as they are allowed to do, to go from about 22% to 23% interest, so I’m thinking as soon as I can find my mortgage papers (they’re around here somewhere), I’m going to get a home loan and pay them off. The difference between what we’re spending on interest at 23% and what we’d be spending at 4%, if put to the principle would pay it all off in 5 years, so that seems like the way to go. At the same time, I’m wondering whether there’s a difference about where your debt is sitting when applying for school loans- should I do that before or after applying? Carreinne reminded me that she’d offered to help me figure out the taxes, and Morgan, bless him, has been helping me start build a resume from the things I’ve done in the SCA.
This week has been SO domestic, it’s the usual thing where I get up, go to the pantry to get some tea, notice that the pantry needs cleaning and sorting out, start refilling the gallon jars of flour (white, whole wheat, rye, corn) and such, go looking for whole wheat flour in the freezer and discover that it’s had ice accumulation, knock that off and inventory that, notice the apples in the root cellar need sorting, make applesauce with the ones that are beginning to turn, see that the utensil drawer needs organizing, find something in there that leads to starting some sprouts, something else leads to pickling some carrots and cabbage for dinner in a few days, clean out and have Jon refill the wood closet, put away more christmas stuff, do more bills, bake some bread, do a dump run, scrub the bathroom floor…. These are the things that can fill a day or a week and suddenly, the time has passed and I’ve “done nothing” (but make curtains, start four paintings, exchange dozens of e-mails, and improved the way the house looks. (I also managed to slice into my thumb while cutting some bread- embarrassing at my age!)
As the Wells Fargo Wagon was a big event in the lives of “Rivercity-ians” (in the Music Man), the mail is our big excitement most days. We got our 5 pounds of Sparrow chocolate, so I’ll be able to make brownies and cakes again. I’m so spoiled I am not interested in the Hershey’s brand cocoa anymore. We used to get it at C.S.Wood’s in Manchester, but they closed- but luckily I found the people they got it from who were able to figure out which type of chocolate Woods used to buy for resale. Chocolate prices have, like silver prices, skyrocketed this past year- more than doubling. But buying wholesale improves not only the quality, but the price of what I use.
The new language tapes, excuse me- CDs arrived: I am now four lessons into the German. I am afraid I tend to slip into the Norwegian I did the 15 lesson “Conversational” run of last fall, but expect that by the time I’ve done as many, I’ll have gotten into the rhythm of it (and the rhythm is a big difference). I’m already having to deal with masculine and feminine forms of words. In Japanese they often don’t even bother with the article, and I expect I’m going to begin to miss that. I’m going to try to remember to keep reviewing the Japanese, and maybe I’ll find someone to practice with me sometime.
Then today the “Yudo Machine” arrived while Willow and Kat were out doing the errands (a day early because tomorrow we’re packing and cooking for Arisia). This evening they began learning how to use it. It’s a silk screen machine, and while when we were kids it meant very carefully cutting out your stencils to use with it- these days the computer will transfer your design and a reactive emulsion creates it for you. All the artist needs to do is get the design right in the computer, and Kat’s good at that.
While they were fighting with that, I went over to Megan’s and she helped me design a flyer to put up at the art show at Arisia, and pick which pictures to display. She did the writing- and boy, it’s better to have someone else write it for you. I have trouble writing things like: “She has that special ability to capture a likeness.” It’s not that I don’t think so, but it seems wrong somehow to say it about yourself- what if you’re wrong? I brought that home (on disk as my flashdrive was not in my purse for some reason- I guess I am slowly slipping into the 21st century- it only took me a decade), and Kat helped me scan and plug sample images into the flyer form. Sadly, while the concept of digital pictures is wonderful, somehow about two years of pictures have disappeared from the computer, which I’d suspected, but now know because I’ve found some of them that I’d printed out copies of- which I rescanned tonight, but how does that happen?
Kerensa called, and he told me how he used to do wedding and anniversary portraits that his agent got him contracts for, generally through wedding planners. Maybe I’ll rework the flyer and send it to every wedding planner I can find on the net. Kerensa is far more happy blowing glass and cutting gems and setting them. Portraits are something I enjoy. I have, however, started (too late for Arisia, but I hope ready for Feast of Lights) my first “incidental” art- not portraits, just images from my mind. It’s strange to me, and I’m not sure how they’ll turn out yet. Kerensa is also just wonderful to chat with. The obligatory remarks about weather led to from plowing to trash, and he told me some incredible stories about Rochester, which is apparently so corrupt that they did some very weird things to raise money. They set up special offices just to pass out fines- he had to spend $600 dollars getting university trained botanists to testify in court that the plants in his yard were roses and irises, not “tall weeds”, which they’d assessed him $6,000 in fines over. Amazing. You know that the idiots who wrote the tickets could probably tell they weren’t weeds, but that the majority of people just pay fines and don’t fight back.
I haven’t done much reading this week between sleeping and bustling about, but I’ve watched the first four lectures in the Classical Archaeology of Ancient Greece & Rome, covering excavation of Pompeii and Troy, and the birth of Archaeology, I’m up to the 24th lecture on the Vikings, and, as I said, the 4th in the German lessons.
I watched the movie Platoon. As the generation that sat glued to their TV sets watching draft numbers being drawn, and experienced the ambivalence generated by the war which played out in the lives of the men (or boys) who served over there, I understood why it took so long before we were ready to have movies about it, and why they tend not to glorify the experience the way movies about earlier conflicts did. Vicki’s letters about their adventures in Lebanon occasionally make reference to the difficulties experienced by the people over there who try to live their lives despite the conflicts that are so old no one knows how to stop them. We can only deplore that people can use what start as higher motivations to get people into a position where they are so scared, frustrated, tired, confused, worried, and angry that they can actually kill each other. Platoon showed how all those things combined to push men beyond their ability to think the way we expect human beings to do. I think earlier war movies glorified how special men, in extremis, can push beyond their stresses and do that which we’d like to think we should do. But sadly, reality is that most men are ground down by it, as they are by poverty, and isolation. Surely the answer is to reduce, as far as possible, all those things which eat away at the human body-mind-spirit, so that we can be the people we’d like to be. I suppose the reason Platoon became a “classic” was because it’s the kind of film that inspires such ruminations.
Far more enjoyable was the movie My Life in Ruins. It tells the story of a history professor who after moving to Greece to teach, loses her university job and ends up as a tour guide. As it’s a romantic comedy what it shows is how your life can be what you think it is- she hated her life, and it stunk, and when she learned to see the good parts, she began to like it. The one thing I didn’t really like in the movie was that the character played by William Dryfus, a widower traveling for the first time without his wife, had his wife’s spirit show up, he was very happy, and then the rest of the tour noticed that he’d “died”, and ran him to a hospital, so he survived. I suppose it would have ruined the trip for them (as they hadn’t seen how happy he was when his wife showed up for him), but it struck me as sad that someone who’d achieved the perfect death was forced to return to a sad life because it would bother other people if he died.
Somehow that reminds me of Terry Pratchett’s battle with Alsheimers. I would so like to hope that my body does not out live my ability to think- dementia is much scarier for me than something even as vile as dealing with cancer. Rather than try to talk about it, I’ll direct you to a wonderful essay he wrote about his dealing with it, here:
Another movie I watched was called Adam, about a young man with high functioning Asperger’s, learning to deal with life after his father, who’d been supporting him. I can’t help wondering about my own son, and what not being able to read social clues is going to mean to him over the next 50 years. What about all the other people who have various levels of Autism? As our society had to learn to deal with the baby boom, we’re also going to have to learn to deal with the huge numbers of Autistics we’ve generated. Maybe it will teach the rest of us to be more direct and clear (and honest) in our communication- and that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
There’s an old western called The Professionals that came up (I’ve stopped fiddling with my Netflix queue so much and am getting a more random selection). It starred Lee Marvin, and Bert Lancaster, and was, as one might expect, a pretty decent “cowboy” movie- although of course, no cowboys. It’s one of those that never gets remembered, and maybe it should be.
Skinwalkers seems to have been a made-for-tv mystery. It’s about two detectives, both Navaho, solving a series of murders in the Navaho nation. One’s more oriented toward the modern world, the other is trying to walk both paths- he’s a detective, and studying to be a medicine man and healer. The entire story is pervaded with the issues of how the Navaho are trying to integrate such divergent influences on their lives. I thought it was marvelous, and immediately wondered if there was a book. Megan not only knew that there are several about this pair of detectives, but owns them and is going to loan them to me. She says they are even better than the movie. I thought the movie was darned good.
And I finally watched the sequel to Night in the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian which we got for Christmas. It was fun, as the first one was. Boy, I’d like to spend a few weeks in the Smithsonian. I hadn’t realized that the Lincoln Memorial was that close- I guess when we went we didn’t have time to do more than peek into the museums (I think I was about 6- I mostly remember a whale (?) hanging from the ceiling of one of the buildings. I remember more about the Washington Zoo- but then, I got lost there, and that was exciting. I don’t think that herding a large group of children through a museum is liable to give any of them the chance to really get excited about the exhibits.
14 Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day, Clean off your Desk Day (yeah, right!)
15 Fresh Squeezed Juice Day, Second Carmentalia
16 Fig Newton Day, (National Nothing Day) Concordia
17 Hot Buttered Rum Day, Pickled Peppers Day, Felicitas, World Religion Day
18 Peking Duck day, Winnie the Pooh Day, (Civil Rights Day)
19 Champagne Day, Popcorn Day, Artist as Outlaw Day, Thorrablottar
20 Buttercrunch Day, Cheese Day, Grandmother’s Day
21 Blond Brownies Day, Festival of the Muses,
Well, I didn’t leave myself enough time to really have fun with the letter this week, but next week I hope to have lots of stuff to tell you about Aresia, so I’ll go to bed and hit send now.
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. –Harper Lee
(“untll one has had a bad bout of bronchitis, same reason” me)