2-12-2001 Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day:                             February 12, 2001
We had a pretty good snow storm last Monday. The kids were home from
school Tuesday, which was good because we needed help with the
shoveling. The berm thrown up by the plows was about five feet deep,
although the driveway was “only” up to my thighs. As I think I mentioned
last week- Dr. Quirbach had referred us to the Chiropractor, Dr. Weir,
and Aelfwine had an appointment at 8:45 in the morning. Usually this
would be great- get in before work… but sadly it took us over an hour
just to get a path from the door to and around my van, so we could
squeak out through a cut through the berm, and obviously, AElfwine
wasn’t shoveling with us. Luckily, between the Chiropractic and the
meds, he was feeling good enough to go to work. I used the instruction
that he wasn’t supposed to be driving while on those meds as an excuse
not to dig out Aelfwine’s car, and it had sunk to only a couple of feet
high by this weekend when we finally dug him out. Tuesday the berm was a
foot deeper than his car roof!
Anyway, it was a respectable storm- both kids got early releases from
school on Monday, and we used it to fill up the wood closet and the
storage beside fireplace. The free space around the barn (which the
birds generally use for shelter during the day) was pretty much buried;
the ramp was covered half way up. We lost the outside feeding trough
until Saturday morning. Sadly, in collecting wood, I forgot to close the
barn doors, and when we went out in the evening, there was snow
everywhere! In the chicken room, in the goat room, about a half inch on
the backs of the turkeys and goats. (We swept it out, and brushed them
off.) I also learned a valuable lesson (which shouldn’t need learning):
if you get snow down your boots, and stop to dump it out, and get it off
your stockings, don’t get it off your toes by kicking the doorframe.
That is only a good plan when you are wearing hard shoes.
There was a LOT of snow. The plows didn’t even plow Holt Road until
mid-afternoon on Tuesday, and of course when that happened, Wolf and
Tree were then barricaded into their camper by an equally high berm. We
had a couple days of warm weather Friday and Saturday, which melted the
snow level back down a couple of feet. I must say though, that while I
generally don’t get to see the roads, while I’ve been driving Aelfwine
to work and appointments I have been VERY impressed. At nine Tuesday
morning, Pinnacle (our semi dead-end but bus route street) was safe for
driving, Center (the main loop through the ‘back of Lyndeborough’) was
good, Rt. 31 (about as minor as state roads get) was totally clear, and
Rte. 101 (the major east-west state road) was even dry. Our road crews
were fantastic. On Saturday when the front was going through with the
current below zero weather pushing the warm (melting) weather out, there
were a lot of downed branches and power outages. But the guys in the
trucks got them fixed very quickly.
We have started in on breeding baby bunnies for Easter sales, but I am
worried. Our buck doesn’t seem as vigorous as he has been for the last
few years, and I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have had another waiting.
But none of my books give ANY indication of how long a rabbit lives or
one should expect to breed one.
On the goat front, on Friday night, when we were feeding the goats,
there was one too few, and when I checked outside, it was dead in the
yard. Just lying there- no indication of what it died of. I am going to
have to thaw it to autopsy it, and I wouldn’t dare eat it. But I do feel
I should check and see if there is anything the others might sicken
from. Actually my best guess at this point is that the two with horns
butted it to death. I’ve see them butting, and just figured that it must
be normal goat hierarchy establishing behavior, and shouldn’t harm them.
If I can’t find any other reason, I’m going to have to stick with that.
In the meanwhile, I’ll just worm them again- it won’t hurt. The two
milkers are down to a quart and two quarts a day- enough to get by on
for now- especially as AElfwine was avoiding milk while he was sick.
Bella and Raven report that they are up to their ears in baby kids and
lambs- and thus milk as well, and are turning it into ice-cream which
freezes well, and will be welcome come summer. Raven looked it up and
says that all the OLD traditions have Candlemas as a Fire/hearth
Holiday, all the ones with the spring connotations were written
recently- in California. Figures. On the other hand, he also says that
the Ewes milk connection works down on their farm!
The price of shavings has nearly doubled in the last month (going from
$3 a bale to $4.50) and is often unavailable. Butch (at Agway) says that
it’s because the shavings people are in competition with the pellet
stove people for the wood they use to make their products. Whatever-
it’s still annoying at this point when the goats and chickens are
spending so much more time inside. We’ll have to get some more sawdust

from Wally- if he has any.

Monica’s trial is in full swing and is front page headlines around
here. Sadly, you can’t really trust anything you read in the Cabinet.
When they had pictures of the jury visiting the site, they misidentified
her lawyer! Of course, she claims she didn’t do it. But I remember after
our fire how she told everyone, including us, that she’d saved all our
lives by calling us. But we only got one phone call and it was from the
Pidgeons. The thing is, I think she really believed it. I don’t think
she really knows what the truth is. At this point she may actually have
convinced herself that she didn’t do it, that Charley did, and that the
whole town is just against her. Well, she may be right about the last
part. (Her lawyer is calling our town “Lynchboro” because she’s managed
to alienate just about everyone in town. If the prosecution can’t nail
her, he is just inept. As far as I can tell, her defense is simply to
deny everything and claim since it’s word against word, that’s
reasonable doubt- and make sure that no one can mention all the other
things she’s done, because that’s not THIS case. In THIS case, she’s
just a poor innocent woman who everyone in town hates. Think the jury
will wonder why?
Another local story you may have heard about is that a computer check
found that some guy who’s been living here quietly for some years walked
away from a prison in 1974 (to go to his mother’s funeral- and never
went back). I was thinking of filking Tom Lehrer’s song My Home Town
with local stories- that idiot Spencer Moon, Monica, the commuting bank
robbers, our old police chief, that body that was dug up and identified
by tattoos. I wonder if all towns have this much news if you take a long
period of time (six or seven years)?
I got a neat call from Dan. Over the weekend Brad had an unloading job
that he got in from at about 4 A.M. She had to get up at around six, and
when she quietly snuck into the bathroom, she found the bathroom sink
full of roses! Still, she didn’t want to wake him after two hours of
sleep just to say thank you. Then when she went into the kitchen, the
kitchen table was covered with roses too. And then when she went out to
her truck, there were more roses in there. Since she didn’t want to wake
him up, she had to call Someone! Very Romantic! She also let me know
that she’s finished her bartending course, but that is SO overshadowed
by the roses!
Willow got a call-back from the Maine Faire people Monday night. As she
had thought, they loved her. She’s got the part of Tavern Cook, Avalon
has the part of a nun- which is somewhat odd, as it’s supposed to be an
Elizabethan Faire, and at that point England was very protestant.
Workshops and rehearsals would have started this weekend except for the
snow. But that was good because now SHE is sick. She was going to go
dancing on Friday, but by the time I got back from picking Aelfwine up
with the car, it was too late, especially as none of her friends were
going to be going with her. We were all so pleased when Amanda and Ernie
fell in love, because they both deserve someone nice; but now they are
in the first blush of young love and have no time for anyone else, and
on top of it, Travis has a new girlfriend too, so Willow has almost no
one who isn’t long distance to talk to. If there were someone else in
the car to say- “hey, let’s pull over at Dennys and have some coffee”, I
might have let her go, but not alone. And it’s a good thing, because she
would be even more sick if she’d pushed herself. It’s awfully hard to
tell if she’s got the flu or is having a bad CFIDS spell because the
symptoms are so similar- fever and chills, headaches and body aches,
sore throat and nausea, etc. So far no coughing. And Kat’s recovered.
Kat had the flu all week. It started Monday afternoon, and lasted
through yesterday. Luckily one of the days she missed was a snow day, so
that should help with school make-up. Boy she is a pathetic little thing
when she’s sick. She’s so pale and wan ordinarily, and just lying there
in bed moaning and coughing and throwing up, she looks so much sicker
than anyone else it’s really pathetic. We picked her up some “funny”
videos to amuse her. Sadly, it turned out that we own most of the funny
videos in the world, or at least this batch didn’t amuse her much. I
personally liked Drowning Mona, the only recent one. It starred Danny
DeVito as a small town police chief who was trying to figure out who’d
killed Bette Midler’s character, when everyone in town hated her. Kind
of twisted, but amusing in a sick, demented sort of way. We also saw The
Hollow Man- a remake of The Invisible Man. It starred Special Effects
and (oh, yes) Kevin Bacon. Once again they ignored the whole problem of
humans being covered with dead skin cells and most of our hair is
essentially dead and so won’t absorb anything injected, and what about
the food the guy eats, until he assimilates it, and the rest of the
content of the digestive tract. I’m sure there must be other things that
won’t absorb either chemicals or radiation at anywhere near a useful
rate- like bones. But I somehow doubt that anyone really wants to watch
a movie like “The Evil Floating Colon”. Frankly, although it’s worth
watching once just to see the specials, it was a pretty ho-hum standard
horror movie. Kat’s selections included Twins, Tootsie, Start the
Revolution without Me, Wholly Moses, Support Your Local Sheriff, and the
Telephone. I guess I should have just read to her (in my copious free
time). Due to that, I haven’t even started reading any of the books we
got at Birka. When I had a few minutes, I’ve been trying to get through
The Regulators, an old Bachman book, but really don’t have time. Oh, and
remember the dragging herrings procession (BTW, it was Maundy Thursday,
not Good Friday), another thing in that book I thought was funny was the
authors assertion that washing hands before the meal was a nicety, but
washing after was a necessity because they’d been eating with their
fingers. Hel-LO-oh! I should think it pretty obvious that if you are
going to eat with your fingers washing them FIRST is much more than a

So far Star is healthy. He’s been absolutely wonderful. And when not
helping me he’s been writing stories. He’s discovered the interesting
effect that if he lets his sister, Kat, edit his writing, he will get
someone to actually read it. One of these days I’m going to have to read
one of the pieces myself.
I’ve been having symptoms coming and going- the first bits of sore
throat and congestion one gets before coming down with something. But I
blitz them with Vitamins and try to take naps during the day when I can
fit it in. It’s kind of hard to tell the difference between flu fatigue
and taking-care-of- everyone-else-and-do-their-jobs-too fatigue. (This
is where I take a bow for my wonderful performance as mother-martyr!) As
I mentioned we’ve had to take Aelfwine to and from work. (Luckily he’s
off the meds now!) I’ve found the cell phones very useful this week. For
example when I pick Aelfwine up at 6 P.M., the doors are locked, so
instead of waiting for him to guess that I must be down there, I can
call up and tell him. I think that’s pretty cool. I hate waiting. And
again, I have to say that the kids have been great about helping fill
in. Whenever they were well enough. It’s VERY frustrating to be as much
of a natural health “nut” as I am, and still have people get sick, and
have nothing I can do about it. Of course, I can take comfort in keeping
my own sickness at bay- so far, but I get a good solid cold every year
or two. So obviously there’s no magic pill.
AElfwine started to get chills and cough again Friday, around 4 (of
course, does anyone ever get sick DURING the week, or only when the
doctors are out?) But he rested as much as he could over the weekend,
and managed to lose the cough. This, even though he had to go in and put
in a normal workday on Saturday. Well, I suppose it kept him from
feeling he should be catching up on the farm work which would have been
much more vigorous.

Obviously he didn’t give blood on Thursday, but I felt well enough to.
Willow and I were discussing the pros and cons- would one more stress
push us over the edge into getting sick, would that be offset by the
lifesaving good blood can do, would the viruses we might- or might not-
have in our bloodstreams make the blood dangerous to potential
recipients, etc. Then when we stopped at Aelfwine’s for lunch, Dan was
there. She wanted to surprise me for my birthday (of course she would
come on the one day we’d decided to be cheap and just bring a burger
apiece, so we had nothing to share with her!) with flowers and a
balloon. When she heard that there was a blood drive that afternoon, she
offered to come with us. She and Willow got couches together, and I did
my usual zippy bleeding, and went over and sat with them while they
bled. I am always especially proud of Willow because she has these tiny
little veins and it hurts when she gives blood, not just at the
insertion, but the whole time. When the nurse told her “You’ll feel
better in a minute.” she said, “I’ll feel better when you stick my
sister.” So when Dan got stuck, she said “OK, you feel better now?” I
think they enjoyed having us there. Willow asked about the little gallon
donor pins Aelfwine has, and apparently she asked the right person (or
maybe they were amused by the family or it being my birthday or
something) but they went out back and got us pins. She got a gallon pin,
and I got a three gallon pin! I got their last gold plated one, the new
ones are shinier but not real gold.
I made a non-wheat angelfood cake and had strawberries with it for
dinner. (Honour found a brand which is, while more expensive, quite as
good as the standard angelfood mixes.) I had planned to do the whipped
cream and pineapple thing with it, but by the time we’d finished the
errands (and giving blood DOES take a couple of hours) and unloaded the
car and put everything away, we didn’t have time. So it was a pretty
low-key birthday. Still, I got cards from most of my family, and felt
remembered. (Poor Dad called while I was still out and apparently sang
Happy Birthday before he realized Fitz had answered the phone.) Aelfwine
found me a nice new salad bowl and Star got me some pilzner glasses, and
Willow got me a chopping bowl to go with the curved knife Alva gave us

from his collection. So I felt very remembered. Next year I’ll be 50,

and I’m inviting you now: I’m going to have a BIG party (barring
sickness). Everyone else gave me one (two actually) for my 40th, so I’m
going to give one for my 50th. You have been warned.
We’re finally seeing Wolf again occasionally- he hasn’t been up while
AElfwine was sick. Not having any insurance (or sick days) he has been
afraid of coming near us. Apparently sometime during the last couple of
weeks Treelady’s father died. Somewhere in the mid-west, and of course,
they didn’t have the ability to just grab a plane and go out for the
funeral. Also, since they couldn’t afford the several thousands of
dollars that Tufts wanted to fix Tree’s teeth, she’s had to just have
them pulled. That is just infuriating. It seems to me that if they were
going to hit her with that kind of bill, they should have told her up
front before they started to work and left her in the middle with no
viable options. When we went to the Tufts Dental School, it was a good
deal for us. Sure you had to sit for two hours to get a half hour
procedure done because the student was going slowly, and having
everything checked along the way, but in exchange for letting the
students work on you, you paid almost nothing- basically as we
understood it, the materials cost. Tree got stuck again. Why is it that
that always seems to happen to people without enough money to fight
Fitz’s night brace FINALLY arrived from the craftsman who made it. His
doctor ordered it in December so he could wear it on his foot while he
slept. I don’t know if you remember but we thought at the time that
maybe he could spend the Christmas holidays in the hospital? But he had
to stretch his tendons (or ligaments?) first with this night brace. It
seems there is only one provider of this service in the area, and so he
sees no reason to hurry with his orders. He brought it over in January,
it didn’t fit, so he took it back and it finally came in the mail this
week- WITHOUT the wrench needed to make the adjustments as the tendons
stretch. Please insert the rant at the end of the last paragraph here
again. Sigh.
It’s looking like we are going to get a sales tax in New Hampshire. I’m
a bit dubious about that. In theory it’s supposed to be a fairer way to
pay for school funding. I somehow doubt it’s going to work like that. I
expect most of the money is going to go to the state bureaucracy for
collecting and distributing it, and the schools will get almost nothing.
I’m feeling a bit guilty about it too. This time last year, I was
getting a call from a pollster two or three times a week, and when they
asked what I was interested in, I said education, knowing full well that
education isn’t a national issue in which the federal government is, or
should be, involved. But apparently enough people said it was important
to them that Bush has decided he SHOULD do something about it. Bad juju.
I have no objection to the tax cuts, as long as they cut back spending
along with them. I’ve heard the democrats complaining that the poorest
people aren’t benefiting from them- well, heck, the poorest people
aren’t paying much by way of taxes anyway! Why should they? I think I’d
prefer that they simply go to a statewide property evaluation as they
have in Maryland and Montana. There’d be an initial cost to switching
over, but for those states it’s saved money in the long run.
I also had a stray (Tax) thought when the radio reminded me that
inheritance taxes can reach 50% in some states. I started thinking about
those old puzzles (how much do you get if you double a grain of wheat
each day for a month); if they take half when someone dies- since the
set of people who die is 100% of the population, at that rate in one
generation, the government is going to have 50% of the movable wealth,
in two generations they are going to have 75%, in three generations
it’ll be 87.5%, in four generations it’ll be 93%+, and so on. Basically,
within a hundred years, the government would own just about everything.
Well, not really, because of course, this doesn’t take into account
“created wealth” between deaths, or in other words, the theory would go
that they could take 50% of your father’s wealth, but then you could
build that up to where it was when he died by the time you died, and
they could keep doing it again and again, forever. A much better
scenario than the first, which sure had diminishing returns for the
government. Except of course, the very concept that one COULD do that.
It sure doesn’t work that way with land. If they take 50% of your land
(or, you sell that half to pay the death taxes on the other half), you
are going to find it pretty darned hard to grow as much on 80 acres as
your father grew on 160! I suppose it doesn’t matter to them, as long as
they still end up with all of it. I should think that more people would
object to this. Of course, I heard this week that Vermont is raising its
liquor taxes to combat the “ballooning” drug problem. Does this sound
odd to anyone but me?
Well, have a nice Valentine’s Day, and enjoy the cold and snow while it
lasts- remember, the next season is Mud, followed ever so closely by
Black Flies! (Pollyanna is alive and well and living in Lynch, excuse
me, Lyndeboro!)


The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.
~ Woodrow Wilson