1/22/2014 Ukraine Reunion Day and Blonde Brownie Day

Greetings All!

Despite the dire storm warnings, we got almost no snow, and it is gloriously sunny. I suppose the places where they got snow are full of roads that needed clearing, where people will go about their business whether they are or not, so I sit here, with my feet on the hot flower pot, typing and drinking gallons of tea. We have discovered that one can heat the flower pots up just fine by sitting them on the wood-stove for a few minutes, thus bringing some of the kitchen warmth in her by the computer. The carcass of the chicken we had for dinner last night is on the stove, turning into soup, and if I can get this done quickly, I can finish up the scroll I’m working on. Before this most recent cold snap we had some major melting, it was quite comfortable out, but now we’re back in the deep freeze.

weather    Once again we’ve had a quiet week. We did get some snow Saturday night- of course. Chris Lafond came up on Sunday to bring us our Astrology charts. I was hoping that there might be something in them that could give us a hint about our strengths and weaknesses that we could exploit to make our lives easier, you know, paddle with the current, rather than against it. Sadly, most of what we heard was what we already knew: My chart is pretty much set up for art and studying the occult. I am a “knowledge hoarder” (and he hadn’t even looked at the library!). And lucky. I’ve got luck all over my chart. Willow and Kat’s charts are full of predilections to art, and having artist friends. Kat’s got Saturn and Mars arguing for dominance, which leaves her unfocused. Willow has Virgo (the critic), positioned to turn up her “I-suc-o-meter”; this is something she’s going to have to work on hard to take back. Kat’s chart suggests she could do well in writing. John is got great signs for smart, but really bad for communication- a natural way to explain autism. I wonder if maybe that indicates a pre-disposition which isn’t triggered in people who have charts with more fortunate signs.
One thing I wish I didn’t have to say, but probably should, is that Astrology is not the stars forcing you to do something, they are like a map that tells you what the overall picture is, what the conditions are, so you can understand and deal with them better if you have that knowledge. Chris had a lot to say about the way your personality is defined by your rising sign, not your Sun sign, as most newspaper horoscopes use. The thing is, it’s easy for people to figure out if they were born on this day or that (at least in the modern world), but fewer people have any real idea what time they were born. (They should ask their mothers if they’re still around, I don’t know a woman who won’t go on and on about each of the birth experiences she’s had!) I was really hoping for more insights, and I wish I’d found a tape recorder because although I took notes, I can hardly understand them now, even a few days later. Phooey!
Still, it was fun to see Chris, he and his wife were visiting family in Lowell this weekend, so he popped up to explain our charts to us. I fed him lunch, and he told us that you need different insurance for a house that is not occupied for more than a month. His parents moved to their new house before they sold their old one, and one day when they checked it, he and his brother discovered that someone had come in, turned off the water, and taken all the copper pipes! They had to put new pipes throughout the house (and not copper!).

Last night we had the Planning Committee Meeting for CTCW. It was on Facebook chat, and I dearly dislike chats. Some people speak/think/type more slowly than others, and you can end up with three or more exchanges going on at once. This can have an answer to a post five or ten posts ago look like it’s responding to the most recent, and we spend far too much time trying to work out which response is directed to which previous post. The meeting was scheduled for 7-10, and we didn’t get started until 7:30, we finished on time, then I too until about 1:30 trying to collect all the pertinent comments, sort them by subject, and put them into a sort of meeting minutes. NOT the kind of thing I enjoy or thought I’d be doing when I started a conference for metaphysical stuff!

In this weather I feel compelled to bake. It makes me feel good (and warms up the kitchen). Wally assured me that the house is insulated, but cold air comes in through the vent under the stove hood, and falls out of the cupboards every time I open the doors, and seeps out from the oven when it’s not on. So I put it on. I’ve made gingerbread, carrot cake, and pineapple upside down cake, and pumpkin custard. The kids are loving it, but while I enjoy making it, I can’t eat it because I’m still trying to lose weight by avoiding carbs. I miss the noodles, rice, and potatoes more than the baked goods though.
I am rather put out with the wii exercise system. I still enjoy the exercise games, and don’t mind weighing myself every day, but it is constantly making perky, “helpful” suggestions that I’d much rather skip. For example, almost every day it reminds me that “your weight fluctuates 2-3 pounds during the day, so you should weigh yourself at the same time every day!” (and did I mention that it was perky?). Yet, when my weight fluctuates 2 pounds up, it asks “Think about why you gained weight” and requires me to pick one of its options before I can move on. It offers “eating too much”, or “not exercising enough”, even “I don’t know”, any of which triggers another cascade of unwanted, inappropriate, and perky advice, and it doesn’t include “weighed at a different time”. Another thing it asks every day is “how much your clothes weigh today?”…like I WEIGH my clothes before I put them on. Kat actually did make two or three various outfits to weigh them. They ranged between four and ten pounds (the one with boots). Their options don’t go up to ten pounds. I just ignore the clothing question and figure I’ll ignore minor fluctuations, but boy, does it irritate me. (First world problems, I know.)

Willow took Smokey to the vet this week to get his shots re-upped, but his eye is still infected, so they are trying again to shoot it down. This time they have added oral antibiotics along with the eye drops. They suggested that there’s granulation (scar tissue) and they might want to remove his eye. We’d have loved to have known WHY, but since we aren’t the cat’s owner, they told us they’d contact Mark and tell him. I think it’s important to know two things: first, is it cosmetic or is it hurting him, and second, how much is this surgery going to cost? Mark will let us know what he decides I’m sure. Meanwhile his eye looks a little better, but he’s started sulking in corners. He doesn’t come out as much, because he knows he’s going to be dosed if we can catch him. After some blood-letting, we now make a towel burrito (purrito) out of him before we get to the eye drops.

DSC00908   With January being National Soup Month, and more to the point, with the wood stove going, I’ve been making soup. One of my favorites is Krupnik, a mushroom barley soup. A batch is two each onions, carrots, potatoes, stalks of celery, parsnips, little turnips, a bunch of mushrooms, half cup of barley. I THOUGHT it had a bit of cabbage in it too, and added about a 1/4 cup of red cabbage. Well, my goodness, didn’t it turn purple! Everything turned purple except the garlic. For some reason, the garlic didn’t take the color from the cabbage, although the rest of it did: purple carrots, purple mushrooms, purple potatoes and parsnips, purple barley. With the occasional white bud of garlic. And, even though I’d remembered to pick the smallest of each vegetable, next time I think I should go for one each, because it was huge. It filled the two gallon pan. It was very nice, if an odd color, but after a couple of days, the cabbage kept getting stronger, and I had to toss it out before it took over the whole kitchen. Also, I figured it had too much carbs in it for me just now.
In this weather I MUST bake- I’ve made gingerbread, carrot cake, and pineapple upside down cake, and pumpkin custard. The sad part is that I can’t eat it because I’m still trying to lose weight.
Let’s see, what else? This year my goal is to do more art, so I’ve been working on scrolls for the barony, and so has Willow. She’s also practicing calligraphy as one is supposed to do- pages of a’s c’s, S’s D’s and whatever. When she gets bored, she writes very strange comments in the midst of the rows of letters. I’m also getting to work on Jane’s book cover and have come to the conclusion that I just don’t like the composition. “If the wine is bad, throw it out!” as Michaelangelo said in the Agony and the Ecstasy. So I’m back to trying to come up with a composition I like- quickly because Jane is doing the final edit on her book!
We ordered Girl Scout cookies from an adorable Brownie who lives down on Herrick. It’s been so long since we’ve actually seen one coming door to door. I was charmed! Liz and I chat, we talk about our health and the weather, just like two old women, but then last weekend she organized a charity ball and sent me a picture of her in her golden jeweled mask with matching necklace and earrings and velvet gown, and there goes the “old lady” image down the tubes! And she has another fundraising function at Sugarloaf this coming weekend! She’s raised and entire doctor’s salary for the hospital, I hope they appreciate her. Lizjan14
On a more sobering note, Bob Flick has been moved down to Boston for long term care. It’s such a pity because it’s going to make it really hard for his family to visit him during this final time. There should be more respect for the process of dying. But to lift the mood, Liz told me a story about going to get more stuff out of the house and finding the key they keep hidden near the door so everyone who needs to can get in had become frozen in a block of ice! They had to pour hot water over it and chip it out! This is the stuff of which life is made.

Computer, electronic exercise game, and yes, I’ve even started reading on the Kindle. I am thrilled to discover that it’s not difficult, although you can’t skip around as easily as in real books. I have managed to get over 500 books in this little electronic wafer. Many of the classics are available for free, and there are many collections, like Poe, Lang’s Colored Fairy Tale books, the Little Colonel series, Sherlock Holmes, & Tarzan that are available for only $3 for the set. I’ve got Homer, Shakespeare, Austin, Dickens, Dante, Mark Twain, Marcus Aurelius, Saxo Gramaticus, Gibbon, Livy, Darwin, Tesla, Freud, Chaucer, Kipling, Conan Doyle, as well as The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Common Sense, The Art of War, Don Quixote, The Book of the Dead, The Book of the Damned, lots of really lovely books. In one way it seems like an incredible treasure, in another it’s like a diamond. It seems like something really valuable, but in a time of crisis, you can’t eat it or wear it or live in it, and the kindle is only a battery charge away from being fairly worthless. I can imagine if it lost its charge and there were no way to recharge it, how frustrating it would be to think about all the potential in there!
I’m still reading children’s books, American Girl and Little Colonel. One, Shadow in the Glasshouse was about a girl in very early Jamestown. I’d just been reading about the Julie, the girl from 1975, who felt her parents divorcing was the end of the world, and Merry was orphaned, kidnapped off the street where she was stealing scraps from seagulls to live, sold into indenture in the colonies, starved, frozen, abused and just dealt with it.
I’d only gotten about half way through Tales of the Gold Monkey when I had to return it. Boy, I like that show! They found an island with a Watusi kraal and the diamonds from King Solomon’s mines, and one with a pyramid and village of ancient Egyptians (with a mummies curse of course).  I’ll have to take it out again next month. I did get some episodes of the Shirley Temple Story Hour– probably one of my favorite shows as a kid. One of my first fairy tale books was from that show. Sadly, I seem to have grown up and they are not as perfect as I’d remembered. The Princess and the Goblin was pretty awful. The Princess and Curdy were supposed to be kids, not romantically entangled! (of course, the show led me to read the book, so that’s good.) I think the film had deteriorated, because every so often it would go to audio only which I didn’t mind as I mostly listen while I’m working in the kitchen.  What they did to McDonald’s plot and theme was criminal! But it was not different than I remembered- I’ve just changed. Or maybe I was just as opinionated then as now, but had less to go on when I was six. The one with Kim was about as good as you could do on a soundstage in an hour. Very respectful of the Kipling! Madeline was close to the book too, but my favorites were always the fairy tales.
Another library film I watched this week was Food Matters. It has a lot of good information, but nothing too surprising: food grown in depleted soil has fewer nutrients, when you don’t get enough nutrients, supplementing can help with all sorts of chronic conditions. Doctors don’t know much about nutrition and its effects on health. The medical industry often suppresses information that would reduce their profit. Same old same old.  I was interested in the way niacin (B3) helps with alcohol and depression. But Willow said that having experienced the “Niacin flush” she’d rather be depressed- she didn’t feel hot, she felt itchy. People must make their own decisions. It’s annoying that it’s so hard to figure out what information is good. One thing one of the folk on Food Matters said was that you should eat 51% of your daily food raw. How would one even figure that out?! Susun Weed says you shouldn’t use supplements, only foods and herbs, but then she only eats health food. When you choose to eat some food that isn’t so good for you because you like the taste, I think supplementing is a good idea. I seem to have passed some milestone, I discovered I have begun to ache when it gets cold enough. Suddenly I understand why Grammie went to Florida for the winters. It’s hard not to be crabby if you ache.
The Wild Hunt was disturbing. It’s a story of a bunch of live action role players getting carried away by their feelings and the game. The people creeped me out, and at the same time, it reminded me a lot of the SCA. It made me wonder if that’s what other people think the SCA is like. The problems were not based in the game, but in lovers jealousy, and people who like to play with other people’s minds, and questions of identity, and stress, and when you throw some violent play in with it, one could see things getting carried away.
There’s a poster with many variants going around facebook, where some activity or other is described in six pictures. The labels are all the same: What my friends think I do, What My Mom thinks I do, What Society Thinks I do, What I think I do, What I actually do, and usually there’s a What (someone else: my Boss/my kids/my wife/the government) thinks I do… whichever is different enough to make the set interesting.
I could plug-in images from Gamers the Dorkness Rising for “What my friends think I do”, Don Quixote for “What My Mom thinks I do”, from The Wild Hunt for “What Society Thinks I do, Knight Riders for “What I think I do”, a huge library (from National Treasure?) or Hermione searching the Hogwarts Library for “What I’d like to think I do”, and a picture of me at an event or sewing or cooking for “What I actually do”. It does go back to the point I’ve tried to make for years, the SCA is a social group where you go to hang out with your friends, but your friends are romantics who like to see the world as a place of beauty and honour. (Other people’s friends may see it as Valhalla where you can fight all day, and drink and watch belly dancers all night, it’s very flexible!) I tend to be friends with people who want to learn how to do things, to understand the human reasons behind what happened in history, and to provide stuff that enables SCA to be more authentic.

I didn’t get this done before the New Normal today- at least part of which is because I spent way too much time trying to update the website. Tonights show was with a friend from CTCW who has started a service to help people figure out and find which alternative or complementary therapy will best help them.Skwerl fire Her name is Skwerl and she is finally someone who speaks and thinks at the same rate I do. It was fun! I’ve also been writing animal shelters looking for a new kitten, but having the usual problem of so many of them wanting you to promise to keep the cats inside. I figure that this is like emergency room doctors who decide that feeding your toddler either popcorn or peanuts is risking their life (depending upon whether they’ve pulled out more of one or the other from their patients throats). The cats shelters see are more likely to have suffered adverse effects of going out that the ones who live in houses like ours, and go in and out safely all the time. Those will never be seen at shelters. Still, it’s frustrating.

For my SCA friends who aren’t on Facebook, I’ll pass along that Feral is working is way out of coma, and seems to be on the long road to recovery. Mostly sleeping, but occasional eye contact, squeezing doctors hands, wiggling toes, that sort of thing. Friends are looking up brain trauma to get some sort of idea what to expect. Watching and waiting is hard.
Ah well, wishing you all a warm and cozy week, much soup and tea, and not much shoveling.
Tchipakkan/Virginia

Several quotes this week:
“As far as her mom was concerned, tea fixed everything. Have a cold? Have some tea. Broken bones? There’s a tea for that too. Somewhere in her mother’s pantry, Laurel suspected, was a box of tea that said, ‘In case of Armageddon, steep three to five minutes’.”
― Aprilynne Pike, Illusions

“Being soaked alone is cold. Being soaked with your best friend is an adventure.”
― Emily Wing Smith, Back When You Were Easier to Love

“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” Anton Chekhov

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.
Anton Chekhov

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.
Anton Chekhov

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