12-1-2010 Cookie Cutter Week

December 1, 2010
It’s the International Year of Chemistry and Forests, it’s Spiritual Literacy Month, and Mark tells me that it’s the first night of Hanukkah. The fourth is national cookie day; the fifth is international Ninja Day. And of course, on the 6th is St. Nicholas Day- the first day of the Yule Season- in our household, and traditionally at least.
We actually began to see Christmas decorations (and some lovely ones) on the trip down to Darkover on Thanksgiving Day, and more on the way back. There was an especially lovely valley in Connecticut just south of Hartford- we were on the highway that goes around Hartford to the south- in theory it’s supposed to make it faster. You drive faster than you do through Hartford because of the traffic, but I don’t think you save any time due to the greater distance- still it was hard to regret passing this scene. It was dark, and there were many of the expected white lights in shapes like deer and other things all over the floor of the valley, but there were also lighted snowflakes in the trees that lined the highway. I didn’t get a chance to see much more than the snowflakes in the trees and that there was more below- but the girls got a good look.

Thanksgiving Day was somewhat rushed. I got up and stuffed the turkey and put it in, then took time to write the quick note I sent out last week. (As I said, luckily, there wasn’t much to say, as the girls had been sick.) Did I mention that I’d picked up some dry ice and put out a “bed bug trap” at Honour’s, last thing Wednesday night? In the morning I went over to check it- and it was clean, but that did take a half hour.
Because I’d picked up a one of those pre-mad crescent rolls earlier, I decided not to worry about rolls, and just peeled a great deal of potatoes to mash (both Steve and Kat were preferring soft food). I also made a pumpkin pie and apple pie- and discovered- AGAIN- the reason we usually end up with three pies. I can make pie crust on auto-pilot, but it’s for a two crust pie, and as usual, I ended up with a leftover crust- so opened a can of raspberry filling, and voila- three pies. I also HAD to make a small batch of Russian balls- most of which we took down to the con with us, and most of those we brought back. We don’t eat as much sweets as we used to.
Willow was feeling better, so we were headed down. John and I had packed the van- pretty well I think- leaving a space for our three suitcases in the back; and by the time we’d added the snack basket, the pencil boxes and other art supplies, the stuffed animals and various other “carry on” bundles, the back seat was also filled- leaving just enough space for Kat.
Mark and Steve arrived, as requested, at noon, but we really didn’t get a chance to eat until 1- there was the mashing of the potatoes and squash (this year I tried a pr- peeled and cut-up squash, it was nasty- so much for “convenience”), and heating the onions and pas. Hard as it is to believe, we rally did scale back this year.
Kat did the hors durries. We had to have the celery stuffed with cream cheese- it’s tradition. And she split the crescent roll dough in two and wrapped half of it around the mini-smoked sausage wieners we had, and half became the ones where you spread the dough with cream cheese, and minced scallion and bacon, roll it up, slice the roll, dust the bits with parmesan cheese and bake it. Sadly, these clever things cam out after the turkey. We also had the cranberry juice and gingerale punch, but mostly I think we drank the sparkling cider.
W chased the poor “boys” away (Steve took a slice of pie) just as soon as we were don eating. (about 2) I dashed upstairs and packed my bag- not too badly, although I was rushed. And off we went- laving most of the dishes to poor John.

Googlemaps says that the trip is supposed to take 8 hours. In theory we should have gotten there by 1, but it took more like 10- probably because we kept stopping. Every couple of hours I wanted to change drivers if only to have my opposite leg propped up on the rise over wheel well. And we had to look for snacks Kat could eat. We’d opted to leave so early (previous years we’ve left around six and stopped halfway at a cheap motel) but this year the note to the vendors had said that table positions were first come first pick- be there at 10. So we got up and down to the atrium about 10:10- having slept as soon as we got in~ two.

We had been placed right in front, next to Jane’s tables. This year they’d crowded people in tighter- less space inside the squares of tables. As last year, we had three tables, turning a corner, and had to put the rack with Willow’s painted silks into the area across from our tables. We don’t want people coming into the inner areas.
Jane had to drive down from CT by herself- no relief driver, and got there about 4 o’clock as the vendors opened. We’d had time to go out and have a lovely brunch at Bob Evans, a lovely restaurant, unfortunately they don’t come this far north. The closest I spotted on their map was Wilkes Barre, but they have one in Timonium, not far from the hotel, and I think we ate there about 4 times. They have wonderful breakfasts, and most of their quality is based on simple home style quality food.
I didn’t go to as many workshops at Darkover as I generally attend at most cons. Instead I get sucked into fascinating conversations with old and new acquaintances. I’m not sure I can call them friends when they live so far away, but the conversations were good. I remember one especially with a lady marine whose job is moving the Navy into a more eco-friendly culture. What a worthy occupation, and challenge! I got to chat with Elspeth and Nybor- she’s trying to reclaim the word “crone” which she says is from the same root as “crown” and means woman of power. Like the sentiment, distrust hr sources.
The workshops I did attend were mostly in the esoteric track. There was a medium who mentioned that she got the impression of 54 or 5 4 around me- but it may have been only that we were in room 354, not apropos of anything else. That’s what messages from mediums are like. They also had a whole Steampunk track, and I hope the girls got to go to anything that appealed to them. I think I watched the tables once so they could, but thy may have been going to the game room or art show. Willow had a couple pieces in the Art show- and I never even got that far to look at it. Meant to, but didn’t.
{ http://www.darkovercon.org/ if you want to know more }
Saturday night everything else stops. The vendors close at 6 (so we were able to go out and eat again), and the Clam Chowder concert was 9-11. They played some old favorites, and some new folk music (new to me, anyway). At midnight we sang the Hallelujah Chorus in the atrium, and then I went to bed. Jane did her usual game, and I was invited, but declined- I dropped in for a while waiting for the concert to start (even they break for the concert, although I think they come back during the break and right after, but I nodded off at about 8:30, confirming my feeling that I was too wiped to stay up late and game.
Financially we didn’t do as well as we’d hoped. Rather than bringing money back home, we simply subsidized our trip to see the Clams. And that’s not bad, but I do like it when we make money. My sense of self worth is closely bound up in my ability (or lack thereof) to make a living.
Since the selling goes until 4 (and we stay open hoping for that final sale), we opted to pack up, rest, and drive home Monday. Jane usually games Sunday night too, and I waited for her to get back from going out to eat, but nodded off again, so gave up and went to bed.
Our big adventure on the way back was heading up 91 from Hartford hoping to stop at the Clarion to pick up our microwave. Sadly, housekeeping (where it’s locked up) had gone home for the night, so that merely added to the time on the road. On the up side, Willow finished a new blanket.
Kat did not finish her NaNoWriMo, but she did get a good start on her book. She worked on it a lot in the car (and probably at the con, but I was wandering), and shared some bits with us. Very amusing. Hope she finishes it.

We got home about 8 and immediately dispersed to our various computers. Fires to put out on the various groups. There had been a work day scheduled for the Cathedral of the Pines project, and so many of the people who’d said they’d come didn’t there was a great deal of frustration. Let’s face it, each of us only has the occasional hour available to spend on the various worthy causes we want to support. If we have to try to coordinate those hours with the available hours of other people, there’s a lot less over-lap, and less work gets done. There are only a few of us so far, and I’m afraid that by the time there are a lot of people aware of the project, most of the hard nasty work will have been done, and those who were in at the beginning will feel like the Little Red Hen- that those who didn’t show up for the shoveling manure and only want to design the garden plant the flowers and herbs will be resented by those who were in from the beginning. I really don’t want this project to be divisive of a community that always seems to find something about which to argue. We decided that a phone tree would help, and someone volunteered to make a database, and I had to make them a moderator so she could do that. And the CTCW list got invaded by a spammer- I had to ban them and delete all the “what are we going to do about this?” posts.
Tuesday I spent probably too much time entering the collected questions from the Esoteric Family Feud survey that we’d gotten down at Darkover. If you’d be interested in filling one out, we don’t want them all to be pagans, so we’d love to have a variety of responses. Write me and I’ll email you one. Then I started looking for an hotel for next year. Phooey! I thought I wouldn’t have to do this again. But I’ve been convinced that we really do need more time between workshops, and if we take out 15 minutes, that’s an hour out of every five hours, or 8 hours per room we use over the weekend- 20+ hours of programming gone- we need to add a room, and the Clarion is getting rid of one. So back to the phone, and I’ve learned two new words: Breakaway room, and “airwalls” (those are those folding walls they use to break up ballrooms into smaller “breakaway” meeting rooms). Sadly, they have to “get back to me” about the prices. They start with huge prices we can no way afford, then discount to the point where you may be able to- but of course they’d like to get the full asking price.
This reminds me of another situation I’m dealing with now- I’d hoped to get some Chiropractic work done- even started the process. But the X-rays from the last Chiropractor got lost in the mail, and to get new ones would cost $500 because I don’t have insurance. I try to remind myself that insurance is simply pre-payment. I don’t have any because it was costing us $5000 a year, and that was just for “catastrophic”, we were paying 80-100% for everything up until the deductible, which we never reached. (would have been good for the hernia operation). I think most of us could afford to pay what an item or service cost with a reasonable pay for the work put in- if we weren’t in a culture where the cost of anything includes shares to cover very expensive (and quickly obsolete) machinery, and costs to cover liability insurance, and costs for many many office workers needed to keep track of the service provider’s appointments and paperwork, etc.
In my opinion true health care reform would allow doctors to work without the fear of lawsuits based on unreasonable expectations of their omnipotence, and would allow them to give the level of care where they could keep track of which drugs they are giving their patients that are causing side effects, and adjust them to the right levels, advise their patients about life choices, instead of just throwing drugs and procedures at them following “standards of care” and rather- explore what might be the best for the individual patient. This would require an entire sea-change in the way we think about medical care and personal responsibility, but I feel that it must come, because it is impossible to create a “one size fits all” plan that can be applied to all people. There’s just too much variation in the human organism.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to making myself a few new wool skirts- getting the house cleaned again (before our Yule open house- to which, of course, anyone in range is invited- the 17th through the 19th- this year we’re doing a Hogswatch theme), and, I hope, getting back to our lives. When we got home we discovered while I concentrated on Changing Times, we’d missed the deadlines for Birka, Arisia, and who knows what else. Luckily we’re on the waiting list for Birka, and the one Yule fair we’d tried has held a space for us (in Dover), but I think I need a secretary.

I’ve read a Ice Cold Grave, one of Charlaine Harris’s books in the Harper Connolly series Honour suggested, and am now about to try a fantasy book recommended by Morgan Kuberry (Elric- stealer of souls). The kids have got me watching Glee. I’ve always liked musicals, how neat to have a “Musical” TV show.
I watched the original movie Gamers that inspired Gamers: the Dorkness Rising. It was different- it lacked a plot. I saw an old movie The Trouble with Harry – charming, 1955 Alfred Hitchcock comedy about small town people having to deal with an unexpected body. Agora, I think I’m going to buy. We are now coming up on the Christmas buying season and trying to figure out which if any DVDs were so good that we’d want to watch them frequently enough that getting them through Netflix is not a better option. Somehow putting things I wanted this spring off until now so that we could get the better version has left me wondering if I really do need a copy of Avatar or the last Harry Potter or Shrek film. Of course, over the last few months I haven’t really watched much because I’ve been working on the con. I SO look forward to getting back to the rest of my life.
(But first, I need to generate some Christmas ornaments to sell.)

Someone shared with me this “funny” product- Underclothes That Display The 4th Amendment When X-Rayed (aimed at the Transportational Security Administration). I should hope that anyone they actually X-ray they have probable cause to do so.

There may be some weirdness in the letter that’s come from the keyboard. It’s better, but the e key still sticks, and in order to keep up with my stream of consciousness, I just wrote and went back to try to catch all the missing e’s. If it’s a real word, it didn’t catch it, and there are a few other ways it doesn’t quite work- but I’m even worse at proofreading, so this is probably as good as it gets. I’m blaming it on the stuck e key. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Tchipakkan
Thaes ofereode, thisses swa maeg! (That was overcome, so may this be!) –Deor (an old English song- that is the refrain)

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