2-15-2017 Lupercalia!

It’s snowing again. (I guess it must be February in New England.) It’s not the snow I mind, it’s the shoveling, and how that cuts into my time (and getting plowed cuts into money). Snow itself is not a bad thing- just going out in it. (There will be more on this later.)
Sadly the girls will have to go out into it today.
My birthday was very low key because I was still mostly sick. (Mostly sick is not ALL sick, it’s partly well. You know the part where you feel so much better than you did, so you are likely to push too hard?) Actually, if truth be told, I am STILL partly sick- it’s going away on a curve. I am still blowing my nose a lot and coughing occasionally.
I got the two things that are traditional- Willow got me balloons. Usually it’s just one, but she got me one that said happy birthday, and three shaped like flowers. The happy birthday one is over my bed now so I can see it when I wake up. The other thing is the stuffed cake. Kat made the angel food cake, but she doesn’t like whipped cream, so generally she gets the part I carve out of the inside so I can put in the strawberries and pineapple, and whipped cream. It’s great for breakfast! (I had the last piece today.) She also made dinner, a great blessing when I was dragging around.
My big present was a new Kindle fire. The plan is to divide my ebooks across the two of them, one for fiction and one for non-fiction, I just haven’t decided which should be which yet. My first thought is that this one lights up, so I could read at night without a light, so fiction, but on the other hand, Willow says it’s pretty much a small tablet, and maybe I should put my research books on it. I suppose I have time to decide.
She also got me a tray of 30 sharpies and a coloring book to use them on. It’s a journal called “Shut up, I’m coloring”, and has a lot of space for journalling, except that I tend to do that in my journal, so I’m not sure what I’ll write. So far it has totally nonsense like “I have 30 colors of sharpies and 23 colors of flair markers- one is missing”. I do wonder if I’ll be as open to coloring when I have finally recovered and can think easily again. And bustle around. I miss bustling.
Kat is feeling better today, oh yes, I guess I should say that she came down with the cold on Thursday. She has been so pitiful. She stays in her room- it has a heater- but every so often calls on the intercom for a hug (or juice, or chicken soup). Willow is soldiering on. With all the snow last week, I think there were three snow days, and I know she wasn’t totally recovered from the cold yet. On the other hand, it’s hard to tell with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome whether it’s the cold or the disease- except for the phlegm. That’s special. She made some special honey by putting slivers of fresh ginger and lemon slices in it that the girls have been using in their tea. So we are all at some stage or another of a cold. I actually broke down and bought Kat a couple boxes of tissues since she was going through cloth hankies so fast. She’s often coughed so hard she’d throw up. I did that once this time around, and it’s not pleasant. There are just some times the coughing urge hits so hard it squeezes everything out of the lungs and then doesn’t let you inhale again, and then starts to suck your stomach up to fill the space, squeezing it too. I have wondered afterwards if you passed out from not inhaling, if that would loosen the diaphragm enough that you’d start breathing again. I hope so. Not breathing is one of the scariest things that can happen to you.
(Speaking of scary stuff- I’m not going to talk about politics this week. I am just disgusted, and don’t want to deal with it anymore. I intend to keep resisting – as they say “resist persist assist”, but I’m sure you can think about the list of scary stuff that’s happening on your own.)

Thursday, (thank goodness!) while it was a snow day for the kids, Avi’s store closed too, so Willow was able to come help me drive Mark to his procedure. This is something he’d arranged a couple of months ago, so rescheduling wasn’t an option. We headed out a bit early because of the snow, picked him up and headed down Route 3 toward the Layhe Clinic, where it was scheduled. Willow and I had been talking about how the wipers probably should be replaced, and just about when we hit the Mass border, hers flew off! Luckily the snow had lightened up, and we used her phone search to find an auto-parts store. (There was a Walmart in the same lot, so we went there and I picked up more cough drops while she got it.) Even though it was theoretically an easy fix, it took a good 15 or 20 minutes (and, again, luckily the snow was very light for that time) to get it to stay on. That ate up our leeway, so Mark got there 5 minutes late. I think it wasn’t a huge issue. We went to wait the couple of hours over at the Burlington Mall.
I have never seen a mall so empty! I sort of expected to see zombies banging on the glass doors it was so “dead”! We thought about looking around, giving the poor folks who’d actually come in to work a thrill, but decided to eat first. Legal Seafood was open, and I hadn’t been to one since we lived in Cambridge. Possibly the reason is the prices- a bit above my usual pay-grade I think. I had chowder and the fried clam hors d’curves. Willow had a cup of chowder and a vegetable side and it was still over $50. We felt sorry for the poor waitstaff who have to get by on tips, (and were generous). When we got out and were about to start wandering to see what was left open, a security guy came and told us they were closing the mall. Oh, well.
We went back to the clinic and waited there. Since I was still coughing, I wore one of those masks so as not to concern people- even though I think one is generally more contagious in the period before the symptoms start to show than on the way out. They called us up to the waiting room about an hour before Mark was ready to go. I suppose that’s supposed to allow the driver to get to the hospital if they’re waiting at home. There was a HUGE TV on in the (nearly empty) waiting room. (Apparently some people had rescheduled!) It was Storm Center 5, all weather, all the time. I found myself thinking about the blizzard of `78, and Don Kent and Shelby Scott (although I think they were channel 4), and how she always was out doing the human interest shots in the snow, and almost never wore a hat. I guess fluffy hair was in in the 70s. They had another not-quite-as-big screen like the arrivals/departures screens at the airport, that tracked who was in, and what stage they were in. I think that’s pretty brilliant- soothing for those waiting, and reduces the number of interruptions for the staff. After about an hour, Mark’s name disappeared from Recovery and wasn’t there. There was a phone under the screen and we called and they said he was being discharged and would be right out. I’m guessing that means he was in that process, because we didn’t see him for another ten minutes or so, but still, I admire the system.
Since he’d obviously not eaten since the night before, he was hungry, but they told him only soft foods- like soup. So Willow plugged in the ‘restaurant search-along-route’ function, and the nearest one was over at the mall. We followed the GPS, it was  almost impossible to tell the roads from what we assumed must have been sidewalks or barriers at the ends of parking rows. It was all just glaring white, and I was VERY glad that Willow was driving. In the vast expanse of white parking lot with nothing but the occasional, very large, plow, we saw a cluster of cars beside the Cheesecake Factory. That’s a nice restaurant, but I offered to go check and see if they had soup. After chasing my hat in what must have been an amusing image, I got to the door to be greeted by the manager, who’d just gotten the call to shut it down. He apologized profusely, and asked if I could do take out. I asked if he had soup (Mark had said almost anything would be OK), and he said that the Soup of the Day was mushroom, and he’d happily give me some free, and would I like bread with that, and please come in out of the storm. I would happily have eaten some of their cheesecake, but hadn’t brought my purse since I was only on a fact-finding mission. Shortly they brought a bag with two containers of soup and hot bread wrapped in insulating foil. Sadly, mushroom was not one of the soups Mark likes. But he ate the bread. So we searched for Friendlies and Denny’s and anything that might have soup- and be open. But we couldn’t find anything that was still open- as we crawled up Route 3 at about thirty miles an hour.
We dropped poor Mark off at his place in Nashua and headed home. (He tells me that the next time he went out to his car, after the more recent storm, it had two feet of snow on the roof.) We did stop at Walmart as we passed to pick up more oranges, chicken soup, and juice. (We knew Walmart doesn’t give a shit about their employees, so they’d be open.) We also got a yarn needle so I could finish the pink pussy hat I’d made for Willow. I have no idea where those go, but they do disappear with great alacrity. The next day was a rest day- even just riding out in the snow was exhausting. But after resting I made the curried lamb I’d planned for my Birthday dinner. Kat couldn’t eat it- she’s hardly been able to eat a thing all week, poor thing. (And I just heard John coughing! His birthday is next week, I hope he either doesn’t get it, or is over it by then!)
I had ordered Coltsfoot (I KNOW I have some around, but not in any of the logical places!) as soon as I got sick, and it was supposed to be here last Wednesday, but apparently it got damaged on the way, and they sent it back, and told me to contact Amazon. Why wouldn’t they just send another and revise the delivery date? I was so cross. The replacement order finally arrived yesterday. I love coltsfoot since it’s SO good at stopping post-nasal drip! I also started to take Jiaogulan Tea aka: “Herb of Immortality”. Oh, my! The description on the bag is SO overblown that I wouldn’t have bought it if THAT was what I’d read. It’s an adaptogen, and is supposed to help with a lot of things, including metabolism. Given the amount of “comfort foods” we’ve been eating lately, I don’t even want to know what I weigh until I’ve cut back a bit.

The mushroom soup was REALLY mushroomy, so I made a casserole with it and some beef and noodles. It was based on the tuna noodle casserole theory, but the mushroom soup was so tasteful, it needed a stronger flavored meat. It worked well, I’ll try it again, this time with added onions.

On a happy note, I can actually see that I can smile, and I’m able to spit better. I can even see my eyebrow wiggle a little. I’m not quite so crooked anymore!

Over the weekend I didn’t do much but read and knit. Some wicked cat photo-on-2-15-17-at-9-56-amhad gnawed a hole in the arm of Willow’s sweater that was a good 5-6 inches across. For that one I knit a round piece with some yarn Willow had bought that matched really well, and sewed that into the hole.
I also worked on the CTCW website. I don’t want to do too much since someone else is doing an over-haul, but Maryalyce was running another event this weekend (although she had to cancel Sunday because of the snow), and there was a lot of interest in the discounted vendor spaces. So we wanted to have forms so people could send money. (The hotel was nice enough to give us a week to send the deposit.) And they have jumped on it. It is so great to watch things come together and while I do enjoy doing the blog and tweaking the website (at least the parts I know how to do), it’s going on without us, and that’s wonderful. Marion of Edwinstowe said that if you start something and it doesn’t keep going after you stop pushing, you really didn’t get it going at all, you were just doing it yourself. I guess I took that to heart. It’s taken Jane and I a bit longer than we’d planned to pass it on, but it’s working. (I did another tweak today- I found a place in the innards of the website where there was something that still said 2016 and was coming up when people paid, indicating that they’d paid for 2016 not 2017. It was a page I’d never seen before, and I’m so thrilled with myself for finding it.)
Let’s face it, while not a Luddite, I don’t quite get the new technology without a lot of work. I am still working out my phone, my tablet, my kindle, my computer… but I have them, and I’m working on it. OK, today I saw a “Star Trek” communicator badge that has a built in bluetooth, and I think it’s Very cool. I’ve always thought a cell phone that looked like the first season communicators would be neat, as would a blue tooth that looked like the thing Uhura put in her ear, or a tablet that looked (and acted) like a tricorder. But in my opinion, it’s not inherently obvious that you’d activate the communicator in the badge by tapping it- and frankly, does tapping it on one side do something different than another side? Does a double tap do something else? These are reasonable questions! One of the biggest problems people have with kids is expecting them to know things without being taught, and that is probably the same with all age groups. I have noticed that we tend to assume that “everyone knows” the thing we have just learned. (Sometimes it feels that way.)
I will be honest. As I’ve been reading the Rabbi series, I have had a chance to handle books from the 60s and 70s, and I really love the thick pages in the old books. I love that the pages don’t fall out the way they do with many modern books where they’re held in with glue. I really don’t like the smell of the new books with the skinny pages- although I do like reading a lighter book when I’m in bed.

Since I am what I count as “better”, I’ve been trying to catch up on the chores I let slide while I was sick. I guess I’d say I’m just low energy with residual coughing. Catching up on laundry and dishes and general cleaning. I have observed that if I push it, I have less energy the next day, so I’m trying not to push, but it’s hard. As you probably noticed, I’m afraid that I even put off finishing the letter… one day at a time. Once dinner was over, nothing seemed quite as important as going to bed. And in the morning, nothing seemed more important than getting more sleep (I am a great believer in the healing powers of sleep), or rest- which means reading, although I wasn’t really able to read complicated stuff. In all honesty, I was often nodding off at the computer.  I picked up and read an old Roman mystery Dark Omens, first, because it didn’t have the sticker I put on the spine to show I’ve finished a book, and then, even though I recognized that I’d read it before, because the story was about murders where they were finding the bodies frozen in ponds etc. which felt about right while we were happily “snowed in”. Which we weren’t really. While we were out Thursday, Steve LaPlante came by and sort of plowed. It turns out he was the mysterious someone who’d plowed at the beginning of the month. I don’t count it when the cars aren’t moved, and of course, we weren’t here to move Willow’s car. Luckily we WERE here Monday night, so it looks pretty good now.
Sunday the hot water didn’t work again, so today the furnace guy came by to do a diagnostic. I am NOT eager to spend a lot of money trying to find something that works most of the time, but not always, but if they think they can fix it, OK. I recognize that when something only kicks out randomly, it’s nearly impossible to diagnose. I am afraid that having hot water that comes out of the taps MOST of the time still hasn’t gotten old!

I finished Tuesday the Rabbi saw Red. This is one in which he teaches a class at the local library, and discovers that being a rabbi is harder than teaching, but more rewarding. As usual, I could remember being in college at about this time, and easily picture the characters. I spotted several of the important clues. On the other hand I didn’t work out the crime exactly right. I am enjoying these and sad to see the week coming to an end. I have gotten back to the Daily Life in America 20s and 30s book. The intersection of developing technologies- cars and buses, radios and movies, with social pressures, the prohibition, and coming out of the “Great” War, and race relations. (That’s damned depressing.)
I downloaded a few books into my new kindle and took it down with me (to read while we waited) and am very excited about Talking About the Elephant: An Anthology of Neopagan Perspectives on Cultural Appropriation. I think it’s wonderful to look at these things that we often don’t talk about. So far I’ve read chapters on  I also just started Dark Age America: Climate Change, Cultural Collapse, and the Hard Future Ahead, by the environmentalist and Druid John Michael Greer. That looks to be really dark.
I noticed that the second Alice movie Through the Looking glass, was viewable on Netflix, so I went back and watched the first, because I couldn’t remember enough about it to be sure I’d seen it. (I probably was cooking or doing something at the same time.) The special effects were charming, but I didn’t care for it much. The second was in the same vein. It totally went it’s own way with some of the characters from the first movie. To a certain extent, that made this one better, because clearly it wasn’t trying to be Carrol’s book, only a spin off. I did enjoy the personification of time, and all the interlocking gear things were cute. It reminded me of the original Wizard of Oz movie inasmuch as it was saying I could have told you this, but you wouldn’t have believed me, you had to learn it yourself through experience, and that’s a pretty timeless lesson.
Kat was trying to watch funny things to help her heal and saw something billed as a horror comedy with Simon Pegg called A Fantastic Fear of Everything. I’ve just started it, and it does look pretty funny. It’s about a children’s author who’s thoroughly sick of it, and is researching a book on Victorian serial killers, only he’s become paranoid (although with some self awareness). Kat found it not funny to someone who has to deal with mental illness. Really, people act like having mental illness is like when those of us who don’t get a little loose and act crazy sometimes. It’s NOT the same thing. The lack of ability to control it makes you feel out of control, and that feels bad. I have noticed recently people on Facebook telling each other to breath or to calm down. WHEN has having someone tell you that EVER helped?! It just shows you that they have no clue what you’re going through and makes you feel more isolated. I expect that I shall enjoy Fear of Everything, but then, I’m not mentally ill. I know it’s on a curve and day to day you can be higher or lower, but still, you don’t go on about how crutches are bad when someone has a broken leg, or yell at someone for being “dependent” on their glasses to (for example) drive. You may, if you’re close, make sure that they have a spare pair if they are going somewhere and losing them could be an issue. That’s the way people should be about prescription meds. Yes, some may be over prescribed, or have dangerous side-effects, but you have to have respect for a person and their relationship with their doctor and assume that they’re doing what’s best for them. Personally, I could wish that whatever Kat’s using worked better for her. But I’d never tell her that what she’s taking or what she’s taking it for is a fault of hers in some way. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

Time to go have some chili and get ready for tonight’s show. I have Cathy Kane coming on to talk about dealing with “Living in Interesting Times”. It’s hard enough for empaths in normal times, and Cathy is so good at helping people cope that she should have some good advice for all of us who are getting stress-sick during these challenging times.  Last week it was marvelous having Corbie on- until the modem gave up the ghost a quarter of the way through and it took me about a half hour to get back on. I hope I can have her back. I really like her new book Clean Out Your Life Closet. Of course, it is talking you through your way to your personal solutions, but what else works?

Well, that’s it for today, and yay, this week I got it done in time! Until next week, Resist, Persist, Assist!