2-10-2016 Umbrella Day

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Hi again. We are now well into February and the snow has finally started coming on a regular and reasonable basis. We’ve had the driveway plowed twice, only 4-5 inches each time. At least Steve waits until it’s over before coming to plow.  I used to hate it when the plowman would come by at the beginning and the end of the storm and want to be paid for both times. I could understand it, but still didn’t like it. At this point I have no idea if it’s going to be a “mild” winter or not. February and March are generally the two big snow months. Friday we got a “real” snow- sadly, Steve didn’t make it over before we had to go to the blood drive.

At least now that there is snow, we can throw the kittens into the snowbank when they get up on the table. This is our traditional training tool, and until now we’ve only been able to fling them gently to try to get their attention. I am not totally convinced that we are teaching them anything except “don’t get caught”. But I think we are getting them to understand that they are not allowed on table-type surfaces.
The first time Pyewacket hit the snowbank he just “froze”. He’d probably never had the sensation of chill on his underside before, and he looked appropriately aghast. Next year, of course, once they are used to going in and out, they will probably get to like playing in the snow, but right now, it’s an attention getter.

There weren’t that many people at the blood drive, heck even the volunteers didn’t make it, which was frustrating because we went to Peterboro instead of Milford because they had such nice home-made soup and sandwiches last time. I was able to give, Willow was .1 g.dL (hemoglobin) below the 12.5 you need to be allowed to donate, but when they tried her other hand, that came out .5 below, so she didn’t get to. Kat had enough iron, but once again slowed down too much- I think she clots too fast. They tried to finish the bag on the other side, but that stopped up too. And it left horrible bruising on her arms. Not a good session. There were so few people there that at one point one of the nurses said “It’s too quiet! Someone sing something!” So Kat sang her My Chemical Romance song: “Blood, blood, gallons of the stuff.” Ah well. Because there was almost no one there, one nurse was going between the privacy screens between us. Willow and I could hear Kat pointing out one of the many ways the Red Cross uses stupid phrasing on their screening. At one point we both joined in, (because, really a lot of those questions are very poorly designed) and the nurse shot back “Pipe down 51 and 52, we know where you live!”  It’s bothered me for years that they ask whether you’ve exchanged money for sex. That has no impact on whether diseases are passed. They have a string of questions that all start with “In the last 12 months have you had sexual contact even once with…” (a drug user, a prostitute, a monkey, a household appliance… no, I’m making that up, but just as silly), and I should think they’d be able to speed the process up by starting with “have you have sex in the last year?”, and skip the next questions if you haven’t. They ask “Have you been in contact with anyone who’s been exposed to malaria?” How the heck would I know? People don’t volunteer that information to everyone with whom they share a room or even elevator. Anyway, you have to answer all those questions before donating, even though they test all the blood anyway. They’ve come up with a new system that’s supposed to speed things up (for them) if you answer those questions at home before coming in. It’s called “Rapid pass” and when you get there, they are supposed to be able to scan the form you print out after you do it, or get it from your cell phone. I spent about an hour trying to, and when we got there they had not computers available to read it, and it hadn’t printed out right anyway. I think I’ll wait another year or so until they get the snags out of the system. Considering how badly they need blood, they sure do make it hard for us to give it to them!
While we were out we also mailed another blanket off from Willow’s etsy store.

We mailed another yesterday. Willow had gotten the order in on Monday and managed to make the whole blanket to try to get it there by Valentines. Her poor “embroidery finger” is hurting.  I’ve been knitting- Kerensa sent me a knitting pattern called Spanish Lace and it seems to be working fairly well with the bulky yarn we got to go with the green loopy yarn Tyra sent Willow. Looks like two skeins wasn’t enough so we picked up a couple more after voting yesterday. I was a good girl, surrounded by lots of lovely skeins of yarn, some of it on sale, I thought about all the yarn I had  at home and didn’t buy more.

Thursday we picked up Willow’s car. There were $1600 in repairs which sounds awful, but we bought the car for a thousand dollars more than two years ago, and this will probably get another couple of years out of it. And now her heater works again, so that’s a very good thing.  Frankly, having only one car made me a bit nervous since we are no longer in the center of town, so if the girls go off, I’m alone, and if I leave, there’s no transportation for those at home. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it sure feels better to have two cars. I tend to figure spending about a thousand dollars per year per car- maybe a hundred dollars a month (sale price- of course there’s more for insurance, registration, etc.). When maintenance begins to add more than what you’d pay for a new one, that’s when you give up.

We had no events this weekend. Steve came up for dinner, so I made my usual pineapple and strawberry stuffed angelfood cake Sunday instead of Monday. It’s not like I don’t tell “the world” that my birthday is the 7th because so many places use your birthdate as an ID I figure I can block the most clumsy of the bots. If people wish me happy birthday a day early on Facebook, there’s no reduction in the joy it gives me, and it’s just about right anyway. I think I had about 240 birthday greetings this year, which would be more impressive if I knew that it wasn’t in response to automatic prompts. I feel a bit guilty for forgetting to wish my friends happy birthdays. I DID spend two or three hours going through and looking at each one- often trying to figure out who the person was because I know so many people by other names! Anyway, with Steve up, we did have the traditional lamb roast Mother used to make before my birthday so I could have my favorite curried lamb for my birthday. We combined that with our semi-traditional Anti-Superbowl party, when we usually use up the “hot hors douvres” we bought for the “feast of Small Foods” for New Years. It’s sort of a pain in the butt during January since the boxes take up space in the upstairs freezer, displacing “real” food. We enjoy the occasional treat, but it’s a thing Avi and Willow came up with before Avi had kids, and she hasn’t been able to come do it for the last few years, so I’m not sure we’ll bother again. We’ll have to be careful not to get too many at New Years. Still, snacks are the only aspect of the Superbowl I get.

Monday was really my birthday, and I discovered as we approached it, that I really didn’t want anything. (OK, I’d like a grain grinder, and a generator for blackouts, but nothing in the Birthday Present range of expenses!) I got a balloon, and we had my favorite cake. This year it coincided with Chinese New Year, which it hasn’t since I was 7. Willow and Kat went out and did the Gold Key Birka laundry, and brought home Chinese food, and a balloon. I am inordinately fond of balloons- I have no idea why. I’m also fond of Chinese food, so that was good.
Yesterday was the Primary so of course we voted. It is really wonderful to be in NH where we get the full selection of people to choose from. And I am SO excited about the end of nightly phone polls, and being inundated with glossy flyers, although I suppose the ads on the internet will continue. But I think we get a break until after the conventions now.  Sanders won with 60% of the votes, but Clinton will still get more electoral votes because of the way the electoral college system works. It’s complicated. I think the Democratic Committee prefers Clinton because she plays the political game, as Sanders does not. Trump, another outsider, won the Republican side. It’s pretty obvious that people do not want things to go on as they have been doing- and this has got to worry those who are tied into the current system. They’re going to do everything they can to maintain it so they don’t lose the control they’ve enjoyed.  The idea that Trump has that many supporters terrifies me. More and more I feel like we’re replaying 30s Germany and I am hoping we can learn from that catastrophe the dangers of hate.
Aside from being Primary Day (here in New Hampshire) it was also Pancake Day/ Donut Day/ Fashing/ Carnival/ Fat Tuesday. (Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent for those that practice that sort of Christianity.) While we don’t do Lent, we do take the opportunity to enjoy pancakes, and I decided I’d use the pancake molds I hadn’t gotten around to using yet. You can see in the picture on the right, my usual pancake technique- one 5″ pan which I flip into the 7″ pan.  I used the 9″ pan for the shapes (heart, asterisk and sun). I was surprised at how well they worked.

Last week Willow called the number for intake interview for a therapist and the interviewer asked sympathetically: “You’ve been feeling like this for two years?” Willow told me that her unvoiced response was: “You, of all people, should know how hard it is to get access to therapy!”.  I wonder what the world would be like if people actually said the things that they think. I read an article by a woman who had gone to an emergency room because she thought she might be having a heart attack, described her symptoms and the doctor explained to his intern “this is clearly anxiety, because a normal person (read a male) would wait until Monday to see their regular physician” and she was thinking “That’s the opposite of logical. If you think you can wait, you do, and if you are willing to put up with the BS of going to the ER, it’s because you think you need immediate medical care!” But she didn’t say it, of course. They sent her home, where she collapsed, and had to have a bypass operation, and she wrote this when she got home. Because she did NOT correct the doctor. We don’t. I don’t think it’s just because they’re doctors or we’re women. No one wants to point out to another human being (especially in front of someone else) how stupid they are being.
I finished the book What Doctors Feel, and started The Patient from Hell. I am ambivalent about the new book- it is by a guy who went through the “cancer dance” about the same time as Ælfwine did, and a lot of it feels very familiar. I’m not sure I really want to get that close to it emotionally again. On the other hand, he writes about how his work on trying to get climate change acknowledged by governments informed his dealing with the medical system, and I find both sides of that fascinating. As I expected (but isn’t in the book which came out in 2005), he died in 2010. Still, if it gave him the time to get more of what he wanted to do done, I’m sure his efforts were worth it. I have pretty much finished the Pern books, although if I get withdrawals, I might go back and re-read Moreta and Nerilka’s stories, which I don’t recall liking much. On the other hand, I’ve just started a new Michael Crighton book Micro, because I’ve yet to read one of his I didn’t like. I’m assuming it’s going to follow his usual pattern of having something going terribly wrong with nano technology. I’m also starting the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, kind of steam-punky magicky, which sounds promising, but I think I’ll be finishing Micro first.
Tonight’s podcast was with Thor Halvorson on Divination, Symbology, Culture and Identity. I know him from CTCW, but not well, and was impressed by his perspectives on divination and identity. Like the Climate Studies/cancer patient author- Thor has perspectives on divination that derive from his extensive travels, his work with the deaf, and many other areas. I have always felt that bringing expertise from diverse fields the best way to study anything. He manages to utilize information from many sources together without dipping into cultural appropriation.

This week I wrote a blog post about some new Silly holidays I tripped over. Pretty much anyone can decide something is a holiday, and if it catches people’s attention, it will take off. If it doesn’t it fades into obscurity. At some point some gift shop came up with a list of “traditional gifts” for various numbered anniversaries. Really, when have you ever given anyone an anniversary present? Someone (probably sites that sell ecards and gifts) has come up with holidays for every day the week before and after Valentines. No one in our house has a sweetheart, so our Valentines involvement mostly consists of waiting for Half-Priced Chocolate Day (the 15th). Kat is actively bothered by the stress some people are putting on it, probably because of the way those who get into romance and sex keep pushing it on people who aren’t interested. It’s rude. I don’t care whether it’s sports, art, food, or whatever, people should be left to make their own decisions, based on their lives. MY perspective has, at least in part, been created by my SCA experiences, where folks are liable to press alcohol on people who don’t want it, or foods on people with allergies with a cavalier disregard for the potential danger of doing so. It reminds me of the political posting about the blatant disregard many Right-to-Lifers display for children once they’ve been born. My mind jumps again- if Trump wants to “Make America Great Again” he should embrace the “give us your tired, your poor, your wretched refuse yearning to be free” as opposed to trying to keep out the many who are desperate to find asylum here. Our compassion made us great, not our selfishness.

I think I mentioned that the kittens are now being thrown into the snowbanks. They have reached the kitten version of “The Terrible Twos”. They are napping less, but full of energy, and testing what they’re allowed to do. Xanex is fond of going under skirts, and playing with anything that dangles. He has chewed through BOTH of Willow’s Power adapter cords. Ambien seems to be a “wool sucker” although so far he has restricted himself to Willow’s blanket. We need to teach them where they are allowed to sit, sleep and walk, and on what they are allowed to chew. They like baskets and boxes, of course, and enjoy reaching between bars or spaces to snag things through- like laundry through the slots in laundry baskets, or more annoyingly, toilet paper, through the side of the storage rack. We woke the other morning to a “snow storm” on the bathroom floor, and several rolls that had been shredded on the outer layers. Ah the joys of kitten rearing. (Still, it’s cute to watch them play football with small round things- like the gum eyeball left over from Halloween.) Willow and I have to remind ourselves that while Ambian (who will be a great lap cat) thinks our bosoms are wonderful cat shelves, we must not allow him to make a habit of this, as he will someday way more than a few pounds.
That’s it for this week. I did try the Cholent again- adjusting seasoning to our family taste- a few less beans, a bit more barley, onions and garlic. I like it, and the kids said this one was better.

“And how shall I think of you?’ He considered a moment and then laughed. ‘Think of me with my nose in a book!”
― Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell