12/31/2008 Happy New Year

I have to say that I haven’t been too terribly eager to re-cap this year, so haven’t been listening to the radio, or watching TV. Of course, we really don’t have any reception now- perhaps something happened to the antenna during the ice storm. Looking back on the year there was the election (too long) and the up and down gas prices. Our year was characterized by baby steps of progress in our artistic endeavors, and of course, my hernia operation. Big woops. Hoping for better next year.

Numerologically 2008 was a 1 year (2+0+0+8=10 1+0=1) and 2009 reduces to 11 or 2. 11 is a pretty powerful number, one of the few they don’t reduce. Two is usually balance and stability- maybe 11 is different because it’s two ones competing instead of complementing each other. We’ll see. I would have hoped for new beginnings this year, but if they happened, I didn’t notice. On the other hand, not many one year olds show much of where their headed with their lives at that age.
It’s New Year’s Eve. Willow and Kat went out to get a few supplies (and deal with cabin fever I expect) and Star and I also went out because he’d promised to cash his check from his Grandfather within a week, and hadn’t gotten to it yet. (Last year he let it go stale.) Sadly, the bank closed early (about 20 minutes before we got there. Maybe Friday. We’d spent a good deal of time digging out the cars. It was light fluffy snow, but what takes time is walking the shovels full of snow over to the side. Plowing is faster, but we stopped signing up for it (it was frustrating to pay the same for an inch as 15 inches), tried the snow blower, but while it would be OK for a one car width driveway, it blows the snow about 6 feet over, then you have to blow both layers over another six feet, then all three layers anther six feet, etc. Snow blowers are not designed to be used on big wide driveways.  So we shovel.
We’ve got a minor spread out- shrimp and herring in sour cream, raw veggies, crackers and popcorn, and we had pizza.  It would be better with friends, but with the snow, the road conditions aren’t good for travel. I explained to Star the magickal concept of at a transitional time like the turning of the year, people want to be doing something symbolic of how they want to spend the next year. Odd how many people apparently want to spend the next year drunk.
We hardly had time to recover from the enforced quiet of the power outage before the holidays were upon us. Actually, as I mentioned in the last letter, we had the Solstice party during the blackout. The power came on on Sunday a few hours after Hannigan and Ben left. (and I slept in). It took quite a while to adapt to having the power back. For days I’d still see images of candle flames on the inside of my eyelids when I went to sleep. I’m still finding wax drips everywhere. The house smelled of oil and candle until there was a really warm day (in the fifties) and I was able to let some air in. We had a foot of snow- shoveled, and then it rained and most of it melted away. Then today we got another 6 inches.
Out in the barn we had big news- Sweetie, our Alpine goat died. I’m not sure why. I was going to look up how old she was (I think she was six when we got her so she was probably at least 10.) But to counter that, we had a new kid on Christmas, and another two last night. Next week we should have milk again. YAY!
` Christmas Eve we went down to Nancy’s in Reading to spend with my side of the family. While we’d agreed not to exchange gifts there were still some- after all, some of us bargain hunt all year long. Kitty found me some gorgeous red goblets- probably at one of the antique shops she haunts. Liz generated the highlight of the evening. During the traditional reading of A.A.Milne’s “King John was Not a Good Man” * she brought out and distributed a bag of nerf balls, so whenever the line “big read india rubber ball” came up, Willow (who was reading it this year) got pelted with balls from all sides. Dad is looking very tired- I suppose he’s entitled at 84, but in my mind he’s always about mid thirties, so it takes me aback when I see him in real life.
Christmas was our usual- leisurely breakfast of bacon, eggs, OJ, cocoa, and fattigman bakkels, followed by opening the gifts. This year I think we can say we did keep it down. We were able to fit most of the gifts under the tree this year, instead of spreading out around it. My big gift was the Touchstone Tarot- one that most of the images are from renaissance portrait paintings. Willow’s big one was the copek marker airbrush attachment. Kat’s was a gorgeous dress coat from Hot Topic, and Star got manga. As a family we got several videos. They, like most of the “gifts” were things we’d probably have gotten anyway, but were held and wrapped for Christmas. I have to wonder for how many other people this is true.
Still, we had fun watching Hellboy II, the Mummy III, Indiana Jones IV, Prince Caspian (Narnia II), the new Batman (x?), and Kung Fu Panda. I have to admit that grouped like that it focused in on the problem with the new Mummy movie- Maria Bello is not Rachel Weisz, so she didn’t seem like Evie, even after I’d gotten used to her. I suppose she was having a baby, so it makes sense that she turned the role down, but I’d rather they’d have put off filming for a year. The defining moment for the movie was the first time you see her face and her line is “I can honestly say I’m not the same woman…” whereas the great moment in the 4th Indiana Jones movie was when Marian comes out of the tent. You have to have the same actors doing the parts or it doesn’t work (I’ll point out the second Aladdin movie without Robin Williams- yuck! Of course, 007 fans may disagree with me, and I suppose Batman has run through a half dozen actors too.) They do run together a little- I kept expecting the colossus in the Mummy to move around like the stone giant in Hellboy. And why, I have to ask, other than “it looks cool” are the final battles in both the Hellboy and Mummy movies in rooms full of gears? Shades of The Great Mouse Detective! I really liked the second Hellboy. It was exciting and sweet. Caspian was wonderful. Loved Reepicheep, although I loved him so much in the books that as good at it was, it wasn’t good enough. Eddie Izzard for his voice? Sorry, I would have expected Antonio Banderas or maybe Gerard Depardieu (or at least Jean Reno). Reepicheep isn’t comic relief, he’s a romantic lead!
Once the power got back Netflix came in again, and we saw Alvin and the Chipmunks- which was really better than I expected. Finished the only season of Roar. I can see why it only lasted one season. Heath Ledger was pretty good, and I really liked the characters Fergus (his friend and mentor) and Longinus (the villain). I think Shaun Cassidy wanted to do Asterix and couldn’t get the rights to it, so he has this historical fantasy where a lone tribe is trying to hold off the Roman’s from invading Ireland. The problem is that the audience for any historical show has got to be drawn from people who like history, and the so called history in this practically made my brain bleed. For one thing, the Romans never even bothered to go to Ireland, and by 400 AD (we are often reminded that Longinus who was the centurion who stuck Christ with a spear is in Ireland searching for the Spear of Destiny which he believes will allow him to finally die), the Romans were leaving Britannia. One of the Irish villagers was black (pulled from a shipwreck by a Druid), and it gets worse. Star watched the Loch Ness Horror, which has a crypto-zoologist who’s father was killed by Nessie hunting her (and her new hatching of dinosaurs) down in Lake Superior. Frankly I found it easier to take than Roar.
Maybe I got the theory about Asterix from reading an article about a living history iron age village in Wales that was the brain-child of a man who’d wanted to do an Asterix theme park- instead he built this Celtic reconstruction, which was taken over by the government after his death. Apparently reinactors go there to play. A cool thing about it is that it is built ON the site of an original iron age village. The round houses are built with their posts where the post holes of the originals were found. All the buildings are basically where the originals were- this is different than any other living history site. The buildings are correct in relationship to the land and each other- whatever other flaws they may have. (I’m making a concerted effort to read all the articles I copied at the last Mithracon before the next one.)
Another thing I was realizing from Cunning-Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic (yes, I’m still reading that- I bounce back and forth from book to book). The chapter I just read was examining how western religious historians and anthropologists often have a hard time understanding animistic or shamanic thought because western religious thought is so strongly based on a “contemplative” model. Well, of course it is! Thinking back to my studies of early Christians- they worked incredibly hard not to have any of their practices resemble those of the other current religions. So they had to avoid anything that could be considered a religious practice in the general pagan venue. This included theater, sports, music, most of the arts, parties, most public gatherings, indeed almost everything. There was really nothing left for them except “navel gazing”. Of COURSE Christianity is contemplative, there was nothing else for it to be once they’d rejected all the experiential religious activities as “too pagan”. Maybe that thought isn’t so brilliant- it may be that in the academic circles where anyone cares about such things it’s a given. In fiction, I finished Monstrous Regiment, and started Making Money, both Terry Prachett books. I really enjoy Prachett’s writing.
But back to our holiday excesses.
Steve came up for the usual Christmas dinner of Roast Beef (we had popovers instead of Yorkshire Pudding so we could have gravy for the mashed potatoes).
As the blackout had cut down on our Solstice party, we’d invited people for a post-holiday party on the next weekend where we brought down all ten bins of playmobil and played with it as adults. We had hoped for more people but only three showed up- and I’m spacing their names. One was one of the ladies who took the pottery class with me, and other I know in the SCA but I’m still hoping I’ll remember her name before I’m done with the letter, and they brought a new friend. It was great fun building huge castles- although embarrassing that I couldn’t remember how many of them went together. I was working on the Viking stuff. They fell in love with one of the grey tabby kittens and took him home. But I didn’t get rid of as many cookies as I’d hoped because — is allergic to wheat!
On Christmas eve the kids told me that the Taylors were indeed having their traditional “St. Stepnen’s Day” gathering, but apparently not on the day after Christmas, but on the Saturday. I had been somewhat ambiguous about telling people when to come to our playmobile party, and worried that they might show up when we were at the Taylors, so we pooped out and didn’t go down. It seems to me that much of life is choosing between the things you want to do, and the things you have to do even though you don’t want to, and it also seems to me that I spend most of my time not doing either but just doing things I can do while I’m trying to decide what I should be doing. Sorting through bills, going to the dump, or on other errands, doing maintenance on the house, doing catch up… If I were going to write a novel I think I’d have the master showing the student how much more efficient maintenance is than catching up- both in time and materials. Of course, I can know this and still not get around to doing the maintenance we have to do. Housework is such a great analogy for so many things. Of course, most lifestyles provide analogies- you can find them in sports, in cooking, in business, in art or love. Some fit better than others. I think we all see through our own filters, and never realize how much they define our world.
Ah well, I should do as much as I can to create the pattern for the next year with what’s left of the evening. (we did pull crackers and put on paper crowns). check out our pictures on my flikr page: http://flickr.com/photos/22256634@N08/
Tchipakkan
* King John was not a good man by AA Milne http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/Dell/4500/ppc_redball.htm

 “It is not only what do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” Moliere 

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