2-19-2001 President’s Day

Happy Presidents Day:                                 February 19, 2001
It’s been pretty cold recently. The rabbit’s water bottles are generally
frozen when we replace them twice a day, so we fill them with warm water
so that they will stay thawed as long as possible. I don’t know what the
rabbits think about drinking warm water, but they don’t seem to object.
I am dubious about whether we managed to get any of the does
impregnated- Wolf says his friend Sondra (Sonya?) will be able to sell
us a new buck which will add new blood into the line, but the timing is
so close (the rabbits have to be at that really cute stage which only
lasts about a week) for the Easter market, and any rabbit that wasn’t
bred last week isn’t going to have babies ready in time.
We’ve had a couple of flurries of snow which have done little more than
soften the curves of the footprints out to the barn and the berms along
the side of the road. Meanwhile the snow is slowly sinking back into the
earth. A sprinkler that I neglected to take out of the garden last fall
has resurfaced to embarrass me. And the driveway is becoming a sheet of
ice anywhere we don’t toss ash on it.

At this point, no one is (badly) sick. Willow was last week- she had
total laryngitis for three days and had to communicate by writing notes.
Some of them were rather odd:
I feel like a bad mime.
The world is not point and click.
Those monkeys are scary anyway.
Antihistamines! Please stop my runny nose.
Shut up, please.
I miss singing. (ok, that wasn’t funny)

Sue and Alva called, to check up on Aelfwine. They commiserated about
lack of energy. Sue mentioned that her mother had been a wonderful
pianist, and now had arthritis in her hands and could no longer play. A
bit later in the conversation, Alva said that one has to pick out what
was important when one’s budget of energy is more limited than one’s
budget of money. Yet, as with money, there are things beyond reach.
Sue’s mother cannot choose to spend her available energy on playing the
piano anymore. What’s important is sometimes not among the options.
My Uncle Dewey sent a series of e-mails to me this week, letting us
know about my Aunt Shirley. She was the youngest of my father’s
siblings, and the last I’d heard she’d had a pleasant visit with him at
the cottage last summer. I’m afraid I didn’t get along with her well
because everyone always told me that I was a lot like her- which is not
something a kid wants to hear unless their older relative is a movie
star or a genius or something obviously superior to the general run of
human beings. I think Shirley was the imaginative, emotional one in her
family. (Me, I was working hard to be “the artistic one”- pretty hard
when you look at the amount of talent collected in that group!) Anyway,
last week Shirley went through her final sickness, and died in the
hospital with her family around her. Now I’ll never have a chance to
find out what more we might have had in common.
I expect Dad will go down for her funeral, but perhaps not- Trish says
he’s doing another run of chemotherapy for his prostate cancer, and
while he says he’s doing fine, it could be just his Yankee stubbornness.
I don’t think Dad would complain if he had a bullet in him.
I’ve been, if not complaining, at least making faces that no one wants
to look at this week- I got new caps put on three of my back teeth, and
I think there might be just a touch of malocclusion because every time I
eat the teeth opposite the new caps hurt for about a half an hour. I’ve
been waiting for it to go away, but it hasn’t so I guess I’d better tell
the dentist.

In local news, Monica Holt’s trial is over- until her lawyer starts the
appeals process. He claims to be “Shocked!” (“Shocked to find that there
is gambling going on in this establishment!” Oops, wrong movie!) that
the jury would find Monica guilty! After all, her daughter had pointed
out that when she asked the kids (while putting their birth certificates
in their school backpacks) if there was one thing in their room that
they’d want to keep, she was only looking for Christmas present ideas.
And the reason so much of her personal belongings were untouched by the
fire (or smoke, or water) was not that they were at her sisters, where
they were found, but that they were in a cedar closet, which the firemen
and investigating fire marshall apparently overlooked when searching the
house.
Aelfwine points out that since arson and insurance fraud only carry
seven to fifteen year sentences, she could get off with five, and be out
on good behavior in three (if they let her serve them concurrently and
don’t go after her on any of the other charges). At which point, I think
the eighty-seven people, several from her own family, who testified
against her, had better start being really careful about what they eat
and drink, and where they drive. She’s a pretty whacko person, and while
they never were able to prove that she had Nancy Jo (Wally’s ex) killed,
she’s not someone I’d trust very far. After all, she doesn’t seem to
have the brains to be a criminal. When she sold the bracelet that had
“disappeared” from the house that she cleans, and didn’t think that
she’d gotten enough for it (after all, the lady had told her that it was
worth $1500) she added a one in front of the 500 on the check she was
paid by the auction house. Like they wouldn’t notice! Well, we have a
couple of years to relax anyway. I hope Wally is able to rebuild the
farm house.

We really haven’t done much this week- lack of energy has led to lack
of activity. Steve came up and had supper with us this weekend. He was
thinking of going to the Milford Library’s Acoustic Cafe, but stayed the
evening with us, just sitting around and talking. On Sunday the big
“excitement” was Avalon coming over (as Willow’s voice had finally come
back) and we played Risk.

Earlier in the week Kat had done a entrepreneurial project- she took
those ubiquitous little “Conversation Hearts” that are always around for
Valentines, sanded the messages off of them, then used her father’s
Dremmel tool to engrave them with messages to order from her friends.
For this service she charged only 10 cents a heart, which I think
undervalued her time considerably, but she enjoyed it.

I experimented with the Black Magic Cake recipe, and substituted the
non-wheat flour mix (rice, potato and tapioca) for the usual flour. It
was not bad- Kat and Star liked it, but really, it wasn’t as good as
usual. I also tried a couple of frookie (sugar free cookie) recipes with
the non-wheat mix. The date nut cookies weren’t bad. When you take out
sugar, you have to replace the sugar with fruit juice concentrate or
fruit sauce to counteract the lack of sugar. I suppose if one can never
have wheat again, one would get used to alternative flours, but it’s
really not as good as wheat.

Star’s Birthday will be Wednesday. He’s going to be seventeen, and is
mourning his “lost youth” already. Well, lost childhood, I expect. Among
the videos I took out of the Library this week was the first of the TV
Horatio Hornblower series. I was struck by the fact that the hero was
basically my son’s age. How would Star deal with being out in the world
on his own?

We also saw As Good as it Gets, not a bad movie (of course, it did get
the best picture Oscar, didn’t it?), and Three Amigos which WAS a bad
movie (similar premise to GalaxyQuest actors mistaken by people even
stupider than themselves as their hero characters (shudder!). Willow,
while sick, watched a pile of cowboy and Japanese Animation movies. I
actually watched Draw with Kirk Douglas and James Colburn, which was
pretty funny, and Shanghai Noon a recent western with Jackie Chan, which
was VERY funny. “What’s your name?” “Chiang Wang.””John Wayne? What kind
of stupid name is that for a cowboy?” I noticed that one of the stunts,
(a fight on a loose load of lumber on a moving train) was very similar
to a scene filmed back in 1962 in How the West was Won. “The more things
change….”

More interesting were the books we were reading this week. Both
Aelfwine and I read (or skimmed) a book I picked up at Birka on medieval
food in Poland. It was written by a polish lady in the 70s and edited by
a writer whose last book was on growing heirloom vegetables- so when he
tested his recipes, he actually used skirrets (a root, like parsnips)
and Good King Henry (a green) and other medieval vegetables. Especially
on the heels of Fast and Feast it was very exciting. I wrote the Barony
e-group to see if I could get any excitement stirred up for actually
putting on a medieval feast (now doesn’t that sound silly in the SCA)
but only two old members (Briana and Olaf) and one relatively new one
(Katherine Peacock, Alizaunde’s old apprentice) were interested. Oh
well. Such a project would need at least a dozen dedicated (crazed?)
people. Megan (who I don’t think subscribes to the barony list, but I
mentioned it on the phone) was also interested, but not in a position to
plunge in right now. Well, right NOW she’s got pneumonia (although I
hope she’s over it by the time I’m writing, obviously), and currently
she’s finishing on her book- on her adventures Canal boating in England.
They actually have a canal boat- it’s 55 feet long and only 7 feet wide!
And she’s done a lot of lovely water color paintings of it, and the
scenes one sees along the canal. A new passion every few years, has
Megan. Of course Megan liked the idea of a proper medieval feast (but
warned that it takes an hour to pluck a sparrow if I wanted to serve
those.) I don’t.
Other books we’ve begun reading are Life in a Medieval Village and
Medieval Village. I’d be more sanguine about it if right off the bat
they hadn’t put in an illustration from an old manuscript of “driving
the geese out of the corn with a horn and a stick”. They were good
pictures of geese, and I could see the stick, but I looked all over and
couldn’t find the horn anywhere. Then I realized that the author had
identified the goose driver’s hood (which he was swinging over head in
his other hand) as a horn. Well, I suppose it was almost cone shaped,
but what did he think the face hole was? And these are the people we are
turning to for our information? Yikes!

The internet has been a great source of amusement and information this
week. I have received a very graphic story about the death of a man who
worked in a warehouse who contracted the Hanta virus when he was
cleaning, and came in contact with mouse and rat turds. This posting
suggested that as all our food comes through warehouses, one should wash
every can before opening it to avoid Hanta virus contamination. Another
warned of the dangers of using Canola oil, as it is derived from Rape
seeds, which are poisonous. (Well, isn’t tapioca in its unprocessed
form?) It claimed that the rape seeds used for making Canola oil were
genetically modified- which I suppose you could claim for anything that
has been in a breeding program, but one usually uses that term for
plants where scientists have actually been tinkering with the genes.
Canola oil has been used for at least ten years- I remember it being
touted as being high in mono-unsaturated fats way back when I was first
married (and that would be twenty plus years). This posting suggested
all sorts of horrible health effects from using it. Oh, and another book
suggests that it is the lack of seeds (like, perhaps nuts and grains?)
in our diet is the cause of all the sexual perversion in modern society.
It is eating seedless grapes and oranges and watermelons that has caused
widespread homosexuality! There is a nut in every day’s e-mail, and I’m
never sure whether or not I’m one of them.
It’s possible that there is something in rapeseed oil that is not good
for your health. It’s possible that it would be worth while to wipe off
your cans before opening them- although my observation in stores is that
when the guys are stocking the shelves, most of the cans come from cases
that were covered in plastic, if not closed cartons. This, of course,
does not protect from the possibility of mouse contamination in one’s
own home. I have to admit that while I think my eggs are healthier than
most commercially produced eggs, the fact that my birds free range, does
leave them open to possible contamination by any disease that the wild
birds around here might be carrying. It’s all trade offs. You pays your
money and you takes your chances. And everyone can try to learn as much
as they can about possible risks in our lives. Al, one of Fitz’s
friends, has suggested that Aelfwine’s backache and weakness is a side
effect of some antibiotics he’s heard about. We could check this out,
but people DO have to check these things themselves, not expect doctors
to be able to keep up with everything.

Mark sent me a story this week about a new industry: Sick Care Centers.
Apparently these are facilities you can take a sick child to, so you
don’t have to stay home from work and take care of them. At $90 a day, I
very much doubt that they are an option for the people who only work
because they have to. What a sad thing to happen to our society.

Philosophical musing of the week:
When we put a stick on the fire, we know where the heat is coming from-
the sun grew the trees, we burn the wood to release that energy. When we
eat we know where the food came from- animals that lived and died by our
hands and for our purpose, who required food and shelter and water.
Plants that grew in the soil and flourished or withered by our neglect
as well as the vicissitudes of sun and rain. It occurred to me that when
people think that their food comes from a store, that their heat or
light comes from the power company, that their water comes as long as
they pay their water bill, that, in essence, the source of all things is
where they buy it- then it follows, as night follows the day, that the
source of everything is money. And if money is the source of all that
they need, then obviously earning money is the way to meet all of their
needs. I have often wondered why someone would look at a job simply as a
way to a paycheck, rather than the thing one does with one’s life, but
when seen in this perspective, it becomes more clear. The pursuit of
money is the natural result of seeing money as the source of those
things one needs. If we wish to teach the young about the value of
things other than money, we will have to show them where things really
come from. Not just that there are actors and writers and costumers
producing the TV show that they watch, but that someone has to make the
plastic and metal into a TV, and someone has to get that metal from the
earth and refine it, and get oil from the earth and turn it into plastic
before the THING can be made. How many people freeze when the power goes
out because they are unaware of the possibility of simply insulating
themselves? We mustn’t let people think that the reason California is
“out of power” is because we haven’t built enough power plants. Where
does the power come from? Where does it go? The WTO may have as its goal
to maximize the amount of money changing hands, but that doesn’t create
one more thing. Plants grow. Animals live. People take things and form
them and combine them and create new things. We have to teach everyone
where things REALLY come from.

Tchipakkan

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.