This week the weather has been lovely! Apparently the snow wanted to come all at once the previous week, and now it’s just melting. We had a dusting (about 2 inches), but John had just come down with the cold, and I didn’t get to dealing with it, and it melted away in a day or so. A foot one must shift, a couple inches, “God put it there, let him deal with it.” I will say that the heap of snow over on the corner makes backing out a bit more chancey. But it’s shrinking, so no complaints. Today the driveway is totally bare.
Last Wednesday I got the letter out on time- I guess I’m recovering. Sadly, the podcast had technical difficulties- for some reason the mic wasn’t working. We got it fixed about 20 minutes in, and then Cathy took off like a ball of fire. I’d asked her to do an interview advising people how to deal with current stress. (Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see references to some sort of study showing how current stress levels have spiked and are making us sick.) She’s already done a book called The Practical Empath, which gives a lot of useful advice for those who pick up too easily on the emotions around them. So I asked her to come on and share advice with dealing with that stress. I used the old joke about the curse “may you live in interesting times” for the title, and she got so excited about the subject that she’s now writing a book about it with Living in Interesting Times as the working title. I think that’s cool. It occurred to her that the techniques that you use to get through the current stresses will work for us for other personal stress as well. If you want to listen- skip the first 7 minutes. (I also notice that, to my ear, I still sound like I have a stuffy nose. Perhaps I always sound like that.) As I said, the mic wasn’t picking me up. At around 7 minutes we started her typing and me reading what she wrote, but then around 23 minutes I tried signing out and signing in again, and we could continue normally. She’s really got a lot of good stuff and I really look forward to the book. Tonight I’ll be talking to Thor Halvorsen finishing the conversation that we started in January on ethics and magick and witchcraft. Gods I hope the tech works tonight. I am getting SO sick of these tech problems, but I enjoy the interviews so much I don’t want to give the show up. (Once again we had someone call in for “Channeling Erik”, another show from Blog Talk Radio, apparently on at the same time.)
Oh, and it didn’t. I lost my mic at the beginning, and Thor lost his at the end. Luckily, he’d been working on his presentation and I didn’t need to say anything until his mic went dead, then I just sort of threw in all the things I’d thought of while he was being so well organized and doing great. I really need to find another venue!
Kat is mostly well now, John admitted that he was sick on Friday, and spent most of the week either napping on the couch or sitting at his computer- not much different than usual, except we lost his help with chores. And is mostly recovered. I still have a bit of post nasal drip- but that could be because my eyelid is still loose, and thus waters a lot. When I blow my nose, I feel it in my ears, and I worry about that a little. When I got sick, not being able to find the coltsfoot (I know I harvested a bunch of it last fall!) I ordered some and it was supposed to get here in two days. But it apparently made it almost all the way here, got damaged and they sent it back. I had to ordered it all over again, and by the time it got here I was mostly well, but then I could feed it to Kat. John doesn’t seem to need it, but he’s always been stoic about being sick. He has been consuming nothing but chicken soup and orange juice and vitamins until last night.
When Kat got enough better to check her easy after a week, there was a cranky customer letter. “Why haven’t you written me back? It’s been a week!” I think they calmed down when she wrote back that she’d been sick, but it’s still not a nice thing to have greeting you when you are still not up to full strength.
Saturday morning I went to Milford to join an anti-pipeline demonstration, the first one I’ve been in since the shooting at Kent state. I’m not entirely sure what demonstrations are supposed to do except keep the topic in the public mind. We held signs and smiled and waved, and people honked. The theory that if banks do feel that their customers don’t want them to invest in something, and they do pull their money out, it will make the projects not profitable (or maybe impossible) for the corporations. Really, it’s understandable that the corporations feel responsible to their shareholders, and making money for them. If the shareholders told them they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t do it. But the shareholders are mostly banks, who are trying to maximize interest for THEIR customers. So if the customers had more awareness, they could have more impact. While the USA had a civil war over slavery, in Great Britain they ended slavery by adding more and more regulations on how you could treat slaves, making it so expensive that slave owning was no longer worth it. We really need to remember that lesson when dealing with corporations.
When I got home I’d just missed the girls. Their friend Joanie’s father died this week, and they went down to his funeral. I don’t know much about it, but they said that her parents were apparently like their own and she and her mother are heartbroken.
That was when I discovered that it’s hard to see around the snow pile at the corner. Willow continues to go out to watch Avi’s kids after school. But Sunday Trevor had the kids, so she and Avi went out to have mani-pedis.
Willow loved it, says she’ll definitely do it again. She picked an irridescent green polish for both her toes and hands. It apparently included a foot soak, polishing off the callusses and dead skin on her lower legs, and a half an hour in a massage chair as well as shaping and painting the nails.
Liz has been telling me how nice it is to have your toenails done, especially when you’re old (like me) and have to fold up like a pretzel to trim them yourself. I must say it sounds appealing.
Monday was “Presidents Day” (sorry, for us old folks, today is Washington’s Birthday) and while Willow hasn’t yet found a replacement website for Stupidity and Magic, she still did the President’s Day “Less Politics, more Pie” cartoon.
Sadly, I have NOT made a cherry pie yet, either Monday or today. I did get around to making carrot cake. Since John was sick and functionally not eating anything, and I put nuts (and crushed pineapple and currents) in it, the girls were not interested, so I ate most of it, gradually, myself. I DID make Sticky buns yesterday. (I continue to post holidays, and it was “the Festival of Sticky Buns”. Looking the term up, I discovered that sticky buns (as opposed to, say, simple cinnamon rolls) are when you put an extra layer of sugar and butter (and sometimes nuts) on the bottom of the pan, so that, after baking, when you invert the pan, the extra caramel is on the top (as with an upside-down cake). I hadn’t known that before. It occurred to me then, that since I like nuts and the girls don’t, if I put the nuts on the top/bottom, they could easily remove them before eating, so I could get the nuts I like. (and their share of candied pecans as well). So clearly, then I had to make some.
Poor old John was still a bit ill on his birthday, so we didn’t do the usual eating out and going to a movie thing. However he consoled himself, as most of the movies he’s looking forward to seeing in the theatre are coming out in March, so he’s “rain checked” them. He was even dubious about eating, and wouldn’t suggest a meal I could make, or a cake. So when Willow was on her way home from Avi’s she picked up a Cheesecake and strawberries. I made a roast beef, and mashed potatoes, and had strawberries. Willow gave him an ipod, Kat gave him Pokemon Omega Ruby (a game), and I got him the Young Indiana Jones chronicles, in which I think he’d expressed interest, and he’d enjoy. (If not, I will.) We found him a replacement used computer that’s not as old as the one he’s using. (He’s using one that one of the girls had- it looks like the one Sabrina used on the Sabrina the Teenage Witch show. That’ll give you an idea how old it is!) Willow also found him a spherical balloon that looks like a Pokeball, as well as his traditional Star.
<pardon me while I sulk> Before I got the new computer, I had the ability to put diacritical marks on letters so I could write Pokémon without having to go to the internet and copying it to get the é ! Mail also used to show me words it thought I’d mis-spelled so I could fix them. I really liked that because I don’t spell well. On the other hand, now my options are ignore the spelling, or auto-correct. When they autocorrect, they change what word I intended to write about two or three times a paragraph, and I have to go back and retype it- sometimes several times before the annoying program gives up!> <but NOW it has a huge range of emojis for me not to use! <sulk>
I will admit that I’m still getting some “birthday presents” in. I’m not sure they really count as mostly they are things I ordered for myself. Was I more vunerable because it was my birthday, or because I was sick? Probably. I also feel that a replacement you get for something you already had that broke is not a great present- unless someone else gets it for you because they know you miss it. I replaced the broken wire whip on the kitchen aid, got a timer shaped like a hedgehog, and ordered several new books by authors that I like- like Rosemary Rowe, Linsey Davis, Ruth Downie, Rick Riordan, John Michael Greer, and Claude Lecouteaux. Kat has been trying to help me get my kindle (and my i phone) set up, but I confess that this tends to result in my crying. This is not to say that I don’t try the on-line help first. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. About half the time, they’ll provide directions that work for a few steps, then they tell you to click something that’s not on the screen. Sometimes Kat shows me an icon that I would have no idea meant whatever they think it stands for, or use a term I don’t understand, and of course, since they do, they wonder why I have no idea what they’re talking about. After 20 or thirty minutes of this, I send Kat away to work on a new bonnet or something that’s not as frustrating as I am.
Willow’s working on a new blanket. Last week she said that Jo Ann Fabrics sends her “booty calls”. (Tells her to come over to do something she’d like to do- buy more fleece on sale!) She’s also been playing a game that her freind (Jake, I think) sent her. She finished the first three of the Rabbi Small books. We both enjoy the characters and the depiction of the earlier culture (she doesn’t have my nostalgia for the period), and agree that the Rabbi’s congregation are mostly obnoxious.
On the way home the other day a bird flew into the front of her car and broke one of her headlights! I have been coloring in the books she gave me (whenever I got tired, which is less often, thank goodness). I also finished another pink pussyhat (one has to use up the yarn!), then I started trying to make Willow a brown cloche of the rest of the brown yarn she got to finish the sweater I fixed last week. The thing is, that I’m crochetting it, and I don’t crochet. OK, I am pretty sure that what I’m doing is crochet. I’ve been trying to learn how for years, but as with knitting, I don’t know the proper terms, so I can’t follow patterns or take instructions. I was able to observe demonstrations on you-tube and get the motion right, but mostly, I’m faking it. We’ll see how it comes out. I’m hoping that Avi, who crochets very well indeed, will come over so she can give me some direct advice.
If you were wondering about “Wear Pink Day”, it’s an anti-bullying awareness day, started by some kids in Nova Scotia who noticed some bullies giving some kid who wore a pink shirt a hard time, so they decided to wear pink shirts to try to get the bullies off his back. A teacher liked the idea and bought a bunch of pink sleeveless tanks and passed them out- and then it took off. My observation is that bullying is a serious problem. (The latest Mother Jones cover has Trump as a school bully probably because of the way they’re taking free lunches away from poor kids- and DeVos.) Certainly it’s not going to help when corporations and political leaders act like it’s OK to do whatever you can get away with if you have the power.
On this day I share the speech at the end of the Revenge of the Nerds as an anti-bullying paean.
“All our lives we’ve been laughed at, and made to feel inferior. … Why? because we’re smart? Because we look different? Well, we’re not. I’m a nerd, and I’m pretty proud of it. … We have news for the beautiful people, there’s a lot more of us than there are of you. … Any of you that have ever felt stepped on, left out, put down, picked on, … Join us because, no one is going to be safe until nerd persecution ends.”
I’m not saying that the way they pick on nerds is on the same scale as the abuse that Blacks, First Nation people, Jews, and others have to deal with, but damnit, really, no one is going to be safe until people make sure that the jerks of the world don’t feel entitled to abuse people who can’t stop them.
Bullies are small time “terrorists”. They make people suffer- getting as close to the edge of getting punished as they can get away with- in order to control the actions and emotions of others.
All my life, as a kid I was told to “ignore them”, my kids were told to not be an appealing target. We are told that they are abused themselves, as if that justifies their actions. It doesn’t. Yes, we should get them some treatment, but we should also STOP them. BEFORE it accelerates to the point of violence.
When the Muslims raised money to repair a recently trashed Jewish cemetery, that did show pretty clearly that they weren’t the culprits, but at the same time it gave the vandals a “two-for” win, they got to hurt both Jews and Muslims. The police do not like to waste their time tracking down people who are not going to be punished. The chances are quite good that if the jerks who did the damage were found, that they couldn’t afford to pay for the repairs, so what is the answer? I don’t know, other than holding them responsible. Reparations and therapy. Making it very clear that they are alone and that not many people approve of what they did.
When I rememver people I remember what they feel like otherwise I remember pictures drawn or
The other day, the weather was so fine that Willow left her coat behind, and the keys were in her coat pocket, so when the kids got off the bus, they couldn’t get into the apartment, so I had to take her coat to her. On the way home I stopped and picked up bread and milk and salad, and hit the dented rack. There was a bunch of half price rigatoni, so I got 4 boxes, then I had to come home and look up recipes for it, as it’s not a shape I’ve used before. There was a great recipe for Rogantoni Florentine that used Rigatoni, chicken breasts (which I had picked up, since it was $2 a pound), and spinach, which I also had most of a pound left, because no one felt like eating it the night before (also lots of garlic, cream and cheese). That certainly sounded worth trying! So I get it almost to the end, and go to get the spinach from the pantry, and it had disappeared. At this point, days later, we’ve looked, WILLOW has looked, and it’s totally disappeared. I have no idea how. I suspect something got put on top of it- or maybe the actions of some malicious fairies. Sadly, I didn’t have a back-up box of frozen spinach, so I shall have to try the recipe again another time when I do. It was rather boring without the spinach, and certainly wasn’t Florentine! When the mysteriously missing vegetable turns up, I’m sure to let you know.
The country is settling in. Two thirds of the cabinet posts are filled, the Republicans are probably looking forward to doing things they’ve wanted to do for the last 8 years. I am pleased that the courts are successfully defending the constitution (if he hadn’t picked people nearly as unqualified as himself, I’m sure someone would have told him that a lot of the things he’s tried to do are unconstitutional.) I’m probably spending too much time watching political commentary on you tube Rachel Maddow, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Steven Colber (even John Stewart). It’s not all commentary, Rachel Maddow talked about the problem in the Oroville Dam with a good deal of background as the story was just breaking. (By the way, the current bit on that is that workers have been fired for posting pictures of the problem. Welcome to the wonderful world of Corporatocracy!) I also spend hours watching interviews with John Michal Greer.
Chances are you’ve never heard of him. He’s an author, historian, pagan, and philosopher. I probably have a dozen of his books. Backing up, progress is being made on CTCW: Maryalyce has taken over the treasury, new vendors are signing on, Jenn is revamping the website, and all I’m doing is the blog and helping with the programming. At this stage that means we organizers are supposedly writing the speakers on our “wish list” of one’s we’d love to have come speak- and John Michal Greer is one of mine. It all started with my trying to search the internet for a way to get in contact with him (and oh, dear, I have about ten more to try to find. Isn’t everyone supposed to have a website these days?) I tripped over some interviews with him, and want him even more! I’m also mentally taking notes on how to interview people.
This week I watched many movies- I’m not sure you’d call Lost Hollywood treasures 1 & 2 movies as such, but they were collections on DVDs, of some of the best musical theatre- from the Grammys. Apparently when they started televising the awards show that’s the source of some of the only records of these great musicals. Some keep going through my head (and not always the ones you’d want) like the ones from Annie, but others were fantastic. There was a great clip with Kathryn Hepburn as Coco de Channel. Damn she was good!
On the other hand, I watched Z for Zebidiah . The trailer showed it as a post apocalyptic story- a genre I’ve liked since reading Alas Babylon. This one was post nuclear war, and there was a small uncontaminated valley where one woman survived, and one at a time two men came in and were sort of competing for her. When I was done, I rewound to see if I’d missed something because they seem to have left something out. Then I went to wikipedia and read the plot (and read the plot of the book on which it was based). Nope, they just left it hanging unresolved. Characters and theme are important, so is lighting and other stuff, but a story is supposed to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It reminds me of The Road, except that the road was darker and more depressing. We can hope that these people survive and can work out their interpersonal difficulties. I was not unhappy that they’d left the part of the book out where the scientist was rather abusive and tried to dominate the last woman. If they’d left that in, everyone would have been rooting for the other guy. Personally, I’d be saying- hey guys, I like both of you, but to maximize the gene pool, I’m going to have to have kids with both of you, deal with it. (That wasn’t anything they talked about, just my reaction to the situation.)
Since Kat had mentioned it, I watched A Fantastic Fear of Everything with Simon Pegg. When she was recovering she was looking for things to watch. Simon Pegg movies are usually pretty funny, and this was described as a horror comedy. But it was about paranoia, and since she has to deal with irrational fears, she didn’t find it funny. I watched it and I noticed that the lighting, and artwork was very reminiscent of horror movies. It’s just that the story was sort of lame. It falls short of most of his other work. When that was done, Netflix offered Finding Dory. Why yes, thank you. Don’t mind if I do! It was probably as good as Finding Nemo– perhaps a bit sweeter. I loved that they showed how her coping mechanisms proved useful. I enjoyed the bits where they harkened back to the first movie. I’m not entirely sure it would stand on its own, but I’m glad to have seen it.
Curiousity motivated me to borrow the recent remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles out. I’m afraid that while it was OK, it wasn’t as amusing as the one from the 80s. It was grittier, and I don’t think the TMNT need that. They should be lighthearted and self aware. Even though I had several movies borrowed from the library and Netflix, I watched several old movies from our library (and that’s not a bad thing) because while I’m interested in dramatic and meaningful movies, sometimes I just want a comedy, musical, or adventure! Among these was Dave (wouldn’t it be nice to see the good guys win?).
I usually read about 3-4 hours a day. This week I finished Wednesday the Rabbi got Wet, which was not significantly different than the others. I had to warn Willow that no, he keeps putting up with the group of bozos who like to jerk him around, even when he keeps pulling their fat out of the fire. The motivations are so normal, so very like what we see every day in our friends and neighbors, it’s a bit depressing, but very compelling.
I read The Fateful Day, almost straight through. It’s the latest in the series about Libertas, the Roman pavement maker in Roman Britain. At this point, his patron has gone to Rome to advise Pertinax, the new Emperor, after Commodus was assassinated.. I am afraid that Commodus feels rather like Trump, so narcissistic, so unaware of the affects he was creating.. You may remember him as the son of Marcus Aurelius in the movie The Fall of the Roman Empire. (Generally I don’t expect most people to keep track of Roman history, but maybe movies.) More recently there’s a Netflix series: Roman Empire: Reign of Blood about him. I’ve just begun it, so don’t know how the history is. In The Fateful Day, there is much chaos because of the change of rulers. The story does pretty much all take place in one day, and leaves me, as usual, eager for the next book in the series. (Luckily, the latest book in the Flavia Alba series and the next in the Medicus series have just arrived, so I’m good for Roman historical novels.)
After reading Year of the Flood, the dystopian novel about a future with a group of eco-cultists surviving a (possibly engineered) pandemic, I decided to read Oryx and Crake, the novel that came before it. While Year of the Flood was confusing because of the vaccilating point of view, Oryx and Crake is hard to follow because it both jumps back and forth between the present and past (of the protagonist), but also because he’s losing his mind, which the author conveys pretty well. He is self aware, but knows that he’s seriously nutrient depleted and can’t remember the things he wants to- and also the world presented is in some ways more similar to ours, and in some ways less, than the one in the second book. He’d spent his life in the well-to-do enclaves, whereas the people in God’s Gardeners were in the poor, urban population. I haven’t yet finished it, but keep looking forward to reaching the point where Jimmy meets the characters I got to know in the other book, from their youth. I get the feeling he’s going to be more involved in the creation of the events that overwhelm those who only felt the effects in the other book (and there’s another book after that).
Even so, I started Retrotopia, another, possibly dystopian novel about a future of America. This one is by John Michael Greer (I didn’t know he wrote fiction), and it may only be a thin veneer of fiction because I’m about half way through and so far most of it is talking about the cultures of the future that the characters are working within. I mentioned last week that I was reading Greers Dark Ages America, a book about what could happen if we don’t clean up our act. This may be a fictionalized, possibly idealized version of that. You may have heard of the 11 Nations of America? This is the theory that there are essentially 11 very separate cultures that have different goals, and different ways of looking at the world, which makes them not react the same way. Admittedly this is not the same breakdown Greer uses in Retrotopia. His hero is from the east coast, and they still have internet (“meganet”) and much of the culture looks very familiar, but heading over to the area around the great lakes, he discovers a land where they give each county the choice to vote on what level of technology they want- 1830s, to 1950s. In this way they choose what level of services they want to be taxed for- low taxes, nothing but dirt roads and basic police, to electricity and cars. But all the taxes take into account the total costs of what technology offers. In a way it’s very hopeful. The protagonist comes in expecting it to not work, but it does. Of course it’s fiction, but the arguements are fairly convincing.
I finally got back to and finished the Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940: How Americans Lived Through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression book I started a couple months ago. (After I read the one on the 40-59 period, and the one on “Victorian America” 1876-1815, and one on the War years – not just the American POV, and now I get to decide if I’m ready for the 60s through the 90s.) I have to admit that when I was in school I pretty much ignored any history after men started wearing trousers and using swords. Now, 40 years in the SCA has taught me that any period is interesting if you look at the people in it. And in order to understand what goes on in one period, you need to find out what happened to lead up to it. I’m wondering what an historical view of what I lived through will look like. About what was I oblivious while lapping up the pop-culture? Or shall I go back and read Daily Life in the time of Chaucer or Elizabeth, or the Vikings? Those periods seem less threatening somehow. Let’s face it, while the 20s were what happened after the Victorian period, once you get to the 30s, it’s hard for me not to remember that my parents lived through it (and my grand mothers were young women during the first decades). I remember my Grandmother talking about “Normal School”, and when I asked her what that was, she couldn’t explain. It was Normal School, and that’s what it was. Now, of course, we have the internet, and I can find out that it was teacher training for high school graduates so that they could teach grade school. We’d probabaly call it teachers college today, but to Grammie, it’s just where she went before she taught in a one room school house with a small pot bellied stove. Grandmother told us stories of driving to Canada to get real whiskey, and that they did make gin in their bathtub. My mother lived in Chicago, and her aunt had an electric car, but coudn’t drive it much because they didn’t make tires for them anymore. My grandfather was a millionaire, back when that was rich, and Mother says he never used Roosevelts name, but only called him “that man in the White House.” I still know some jingles from radio shows that got stuck in Mother’s head from her childhood and passed them on to me. So it doesn’t FEEL like history, just my family background. But it was history.
I learned things I hadn’t realized: before the Depression, the work week was 5 and a half days, not five. During the depression about a quarter of the families had no breadwinner, and many other businesses cut people’s hours back to three or four days just so they could keep working. The thing about selling apples? Apparently there was a bumper crop, so the people in Oregon made the surplus available to people who wanted to try to sell them at 1.75 a crate. At five cents an apple, they could bring in $3 (60 apples), and have $1.25 to bring home. I’d always wondered about that. I’d heard that women got the vote and voted in Prohibition, but they happend in the other order. I didn’t realize that making and drinking wine and beer for your family was legal, it was only selling it and making it for sale that was illegal. I’d heard of the Dust Bowl, but didn’t know that the dust reached Washington DC. I read about race riots, and the resistance to immigration is sounding too familiar, and the Saco and Vanzetti case seems just another verse of an ongoing sad song of prejudice. I finally have a basic understanding of the New Deal (other than grandfathers), and how radio and movies, but even more than that, advertising led to cultural homogination. I hadn’t considered that the depression increased kids staying in school, since they couldn’t get jobs to help their families anyway. All of these things I find fascinating now, I’m sure I woudn’t have cared a fig about when I was in school. (My signature quote this week is from this book.) I also think I will probably seek out some movies from the 30s, because fictional as they were, they were still an expression of the culture. It’s just important to remember that there was no real single culture- movies, radio, and advertising notwithstanding. Each community had subcultures, devided by income, race, and religion (as I can see in the Rabbi Small books).
Everything I read seems to relate to the other things: I am now about half way through Talking about the Elephant. I read the chapter on the Asatru, and how culture is learned, the same day as I read about the KKK and lynchings in Everyday Life in America. It is a fantastic read, one chapter was on how Druidry relates to Hindu practice, oters were from the perspective of Catholics, Middle Eastern Religionists, Celtic Reconstructionists, another talked about the shift in sociological thought. When Frazer wrote the Golden Bough, it was accepted that Magic came first and Religion derived from it, and that developed into Science. Current thought is that Religion was first, and Magic derives from Religion- that people appropriated the bits of religion that helped the community for personal use, and that was magic. I’m not sure that’s true. Magic is simply what we call the way we influence the world with our mind/energies, and that’s no more separate from any part of life than gravity or any other part of physics. I’m sure people applied it wherever and for whatever reasons it would work to their benefit, whether group or personal. But I’m really enjoying it. The first half was on Specific Cultural Concerns, and the second, which I’m about to start is “General Approaches and other Perspectives”. I am fairly quivering in anticipation.
Oh my, it’s gotten late, and I need to go to bed! Until next week, I’d love to hear from you too! (What are YOU reading?)
“The myth of the American Dream helped account for the failure of middle and lower income Americans to perceive themselves as permanent members of an economic underclass with the distinctive needs at odds with the well to do”