2-24-2016 Therapeutic Recreation Month

Today we have snow, although the last few days have been springlike- in the fifties. This was a lovely contrast to the end of last week where it was in the 20ºs and I was rather chilled most of the time. I will admit that I did like having the pre-mature warming. We did see one household out there putting up sugaring buckets- it seems early, but I suppose it follows the weather, whenever it comes.samba-metro-west-hibachi-sushi-dining_Hibachi-Entertainment-4
This Sunday was John’s birthday. He is contented enough that we did not make much of a deal of it. We took him out to the local Habachi place in Milford. I assume it was a standard “show”. The gentleman did some impressive tricks with the sharp fork and spatula and spinning eggs. He made a volcano with stacked onion rings, and he squirted sake into Willow’s mouth (when the rest of us declined). He also tossed pieces of vegetable at us- mostly they bounced off our noses. I believe that in this case it’s his aim not our catching ability that is the key. I actually caught one in my mouth, but if the piece hit’s your nose or forehead, it doesn’t matter what position your mouth is in. At some point he probably heard us call John “the birthday boy”, and at the end he came out with something fried with a candle in it- which turned out to be fried ice-cream. John says it was good.DSC02423.jpg
That was at one, and we picked up a cheesecake for him in the way home. For supper I made him Shepherd’s pie (with beef), and we got him a birthday balloon. (Mine finally sank the day before- they last longer if you have them made fresh.) Willow found a TMNT 1984 Tshirt for him. It’s rather cool that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out in his birth year. I suppose they didn’t get big until he was old enough to enjoy them (the movie came out in 90 when he was 6, and the cartoon started when he was 3 or 4). Certainly they were a part of his childhood/ our child raising experience (along with Ghostbusters, and Back to the Future). So I’m thinking this is a nostalgia thing. Cheesecake is just good to eat.

I guess I’ve been doing a lot of looking back this week. I wrote a blog post about  reading to your kids,  and asking on facebook people about what their favorite picks for good kids books were, got more response to that than any “meaningful” post. Top responses included Alice in Wonderland, The Little Prince, The Hobbit and Winnie the Pooh. Dr. Suess and Shel Silverstein also were contenders.  I think I got over a hundred suggestions of best books for kids. There was, of course, the difference in ages- picture books are different than chapter books, and what they now call “Juvenile” or “young adult” are different than Dr. Seuss.  I still remember great portions of Fox in Socks, and There’s a Monster at the End of this Book.  This brought to mind a small book 12 elves we used to read to Diana. I remember some of it “One elf, only one, Two elves have some fun, Three Elves eat some cheese, four elves have to sneeze, Five elves look they’re flying… ends up with the elves all asleep in a egg carton, and I thought I’d NEVER forget those lines, but it seems that I have. I do remember the book falling apart, and can’t track it down on the internet. Great books like Little Black Sambo, may survive, but just because they were are part of our lives doesn’t make it worth lasting. I have to deal with that.fb reaction images.jpg
Today Facebook seems to have added “reaction” icons- so you can respond to bad new with something other than liking it. I was one of those a few years ago who was given the option of Like or Dislike, and I missed that when it went away.  It’s nice sometimes to be in a test area, but then you end up knowing what you’re missing when it doesn’t sell well enough (like the McDonalds Grilled Onions on Rye option which didn’t last, or the coffee stuffed Oreos). I think they should add a I’m sorry to hear that option, and take a tip from Pixar and have a “disgust” icon. As they said, having disgust keeps you safe. Of course, I should probably avoid the whole issue of using the same word “sorry” for apologies and sympathy, like the abuse of the word “friend”. (I think I feel another blog coming on.)

The Kittens continue to grow- we are trying to train them, but I fear we have hit that point where the problem is consistency is inadequate because they do things when and where we can’t see them and respond (like getting on tables at night when we’re in bed). Cruckshanks continues to suck fur- we’ve put a sheepskin on Willow’s bed because we feel sucking on that may not be as bad for him if he detaches any as fake fur would be. Pyewacket (we guess) has chewed the cord of my circular knitting needles. That doesn’t seem as bad as the cords for electronics, but actually it’s worse. I have a lovely set with assorted lengths of cord and assorted sizes of needle ends, that clip together. It does not appear that you can order replacement pieces for lost bits of these sets. I suppose it’s possible, but my internet searching has failed about that so far. At least the phone cord could be replaced for under $10 and in a few days. They are now cat shaped, no longer round with big ears and short tails, but still small, so they look “normal” when alone or with each other, or tiny when with Zoloft or Peripigelium. Peri seems to have adopted Pyewacket.
Kat may or may not have been sick earlier this week. It is SO hard to tell when the medications make her constantly nauseous and vomiting almost every day. Willow has  not seen much effect yet (only a couple weeks in), although she thinks there’s a new sort of lethargy on top of her usual fatigue, yet no sleepiness. She thinks she might be sleeping a little better, but I have to wonder if this is actual improvement or she’s trying to see it. It is proven that people respond to drugs both to the chemicals and to what they expect to happen, which is why doctors are trained to always give positive suggestions. There are chemically driven responses, and we hope for the good ones. Sadly, I am pretty sure that we have more depression and anxiety now than we had a century ago, and it seems more likely that it results from the many, many different things to which we are exposing ourselves- artificial ingredients, far too much sugar and other stimulants, crowding stress, lack of sleep from artificial lighting, lack of exercise, adrenal fatigue, nutritional challenges from depleted soils, and who knows what mixture of toxins. We discover new ones all the time and do our best to remove them- from DDT to asbestos to aspartame to X-rays to GMOs. All introduced for the best motives, and generally doing wonderful things, until we discover the side effects. Who knows whether floride or other things we now consider safe will turn out not to be.  One at a time we always make our best guess, and try to remove them when we decide the benefits don’t outweigh the risks, but cumulatively we are having problems that we are trying to deal with by adding more chemicals- the antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds that so many of us now require to deal with “daily life”. I cannot help but feel that to continue allowing things like frakking and allowing pollution of various sorts to continue, and then just trying to medicate our stress away is just “frosting shit” in an attempt to fool ourselves about what it is that we are consuming. I hear about Flint Michigan, or the burning trash heap in St. Louis that’s so close to a nuclear waste dump that the EPA is saying they can’t fix it because it would be dangerous at this point. At what point would it not have been dangerous? What does it take to get us to clean up our messes before they get dangerous?
{Should I mention politics? We in NH are happily out of it, but the stories of tampering with the results of caucuses is incredibly disturbing. This should not happen. Someone pointed out how school budgets have been cut so much for the last several decades, and now we have an electorate who can’t seem to tell facts from spin. Frankly Sanders and Trump have much in common- they both reach out to people who are thoroughly sick of how the government is not working. They appeal to emotion (Sanders appeals to peoples better selves, and Trump to their worse). If you add all the disaffected together, it’s clearly a large majority. I do hope that people will rise to their best selves. We’ve seen what happens when we go the other way.}
I suppose the    reason Willow (in Stupidity in Magic) responds to political discussions with the suggestion to eat pie rather than discuss politics is that it’s more pleasant and possibly more productive. While she hasn’t yet found a replacement website to use (since the one where she used to post stopped working and moving several years of archives to a new one would be a huge time investment) she did make a new one for this year. It looks sort of small, so I’ll tell you what it says:Politics Pie 16.jpeg
“Happy President’s Day” “You’re late.”
“Pie is never late.” “No, I mean President’s Day was last week.”
“But it’s the 21st of February.” “No, that’s Washington’s Birthday.”
“Oh, right. I keep forgetting because that’s when it was when I was a kid.
Man, if I lived any more on the past, I’d be in the GOP.”
“I’m going to eat this pie, though, okay?”
(interestingly he was born on February 11, 1731, but when the Gregorian calendar was adopted, his birthday became February 22, 1732. Bizarre! no wonder we’re confused)

DSC02425I did, indeed, make a cherry pie for the 22nd. Since we now know that the story of the cherry tree was first known in the 1840s, it is not really necessary to associate it with Washington, but like Willow, I am a product of my childhood. Some fondant cutters shaped like snowflakes arrived that I’d sent for for Yule, and so there were pastry snowflakes on the crust. Very pretty.  I also made a batch of sticky buns. I continue to “waste time” on holidays- tonight I’m actually going to be talking about them on my podcast- that and rites of passage. (no guest again), and the twentyfirst was the “Festival of Sticky Buns”.  (Having just talked about old books, I was amused when I noticed that yesterday was Pinnoccio day.) Sunday was the Full Snow Moon, but I didn’t go out and look at it. I rather like the name ” “Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon” that the Wishram called it. I also made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, most of which are now on the cookie shelf in the back hall. Baking warms the kitchen and makes me feel good about myself. I think I got that programmed into me back when I was a kid.

Aside from that, the girls are sewing this week. Kat got two commissions this week, and Willow is also doing a cosplay for her friend Frank, who she and Kat did a room share with at Anime Boston last year. He and Evil (she has a real name, but I don’t remember it, all I remember that her internet nickname is “evil-author”) came up on Thursday so she could get his measurements.  Friday they went down to hang at the mall with Joanie and Raye. Right now Willow is making bound off strips to weave to make a “garter belt”. I think it’s more properly called a “tasset” (which in armor parlance is sort of an apron that covers the juncture between lower abdomen and upper thigh). It is so easy to draw cool outfits than to actually make them! But it’s because Willow and Kat take time and care that people want them to make garb for them. I think Willow, like me, is a draper, not a drafter, so it’s easier to work on a body than from measurements, so this is frustrating for her.

I’ve been reading a lot. Maybe too much. I think it started with the cold days- my bed is very comfy. I finished Micro by Michael Chrichton; I’m sorry to hear that he’s dead and so won’t write any more. It really read like a movie and I hope they make it into one. I also broke down and re-read Moreta, and Nerilka’s Story to complete the re-reading of all the Pern books. I think I liked it better this time, but still, how many stories can one tell about dealing with epidemics. The issue in the Pern books is that they are so freaking dependent on the dragons to keep their planet from being left barren (although since it wasn’t barren for the exploratory team, there is a question about whether or not they might survive without the dragons, just not at a level they’d want to.) I guess Anne McCaffrey just saw dealing with the issues of ecological balance as fascinating. She certainly created a marvelous world. I hope Todd keeps using it.
The suggestions about good books for kids included the series Fablehaven, which I immediately put on my library list, and am enjoying immensely. (The first and third came in the other day, and now the second, fourth and fifth are in. The question in my mind is now whether to get copies to re-read.) Since when I’m actually getting something done I am sorting the books in the library with an eye to reducing the volume as well as organizing it so that I can find books when I want them, I am resisting obtaining copies- even used, but I can recommend it. I’m also reading Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norell, although I sort of stopped when the mini-series came in and I started watching it. I have started Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, another juvenile book with magick.
I love that there are so many books with magick in them these days- Willow says she’s just finished re-reading one about an Early America with magick, and now I want to read that. Most of these are on the kindle or from the Library, which reflects my urge to reduce my library, but doesn’t help me finish reading the massive amount of books I’ve bought but not yet finished.DSC02426.JPG
While I do love lying in my comfy cocoon and falling into alternate universes, I prefer to actually “accomplish something”, although baking and knitting fit the bill psychologically if not mentally or in actuality. I like knitting, it also indulges my urge to learn new things. Willow has been loving her shawl and I’m trying one for myself with red yarn using the same pattern. I am not experienced with lacy knitting and it’s not working really well. I keep pulling it out and starting over.  I can watch dvds while cooking, or knitting, or doing other stuff in the kitchen, and I’ve watched a LOT of those this week. Mark came over to pick up his mail and brought some DVDs which we watched together: The Longest Day, & Tora Tora Tora. I have to say that there were a whole lot of good lines in the longest day. I had known that there were a lot of stars, but hadn’t realized that this was put together with lots of consultation from people who’d gone through the invasion of Normandy, and it reminded me a lot of Love, Actually, by consisting of a collection of vignettes that combined to tell an over-all story. This was, of course, historical. Tora Tora Tora was, I think, the same in the Pacific (and earlier). Mark, unlike myself, actually knows a lot of the history from this period, and was able to tell me about it. I noticed how complex it seemed and he told me that it was probably the most complex military campaign in world history. I think he said it involved a quarter of a million men. Both movie showed how little things played out- “the battle was lost,… all for the lack of a two penny nail” sort of thing. Having it set up so that the panzers couldn’t be sent in back up without waking Hitler, and he’d made it too dangerous to displease him, clearly contributed to the success of the venture. I think it would be an excellent film for history classes, because it couches the over all history in moments that show the human side of the historical events. I will always remember the poor lookout spotting the invasion fleet and calling his officers to tell them

Maj. Pluskat: “You know those five thousand ships you say the Allies haven’t got? Well, they’ve got them!”

Ocker: “And just where, my dear Pluskat, are those ships going?”

Pluskat: “Straight for me!”

(as Pluskat was one of the consultants for the movie, I expect that exchange happened.) I’d already been thinking how the hell did they hide that many ships? Because if the Germans had known they were there, they’d have bombed them. Just go to show that any period of history becomes interesting when you look closely at it. My favorite bit in Tora Tora Tora was the lady teaching a young man how to fly and all the Japanese planes fly past, just paying no attention to her and her plane. Both movies showed a great deal of what we worry about so much- how miscommunication and delays for stupid reasons can have major effects. He also came back to get something printed out that wasn’t printing properly anywhere else, and watched Battle Los Angeles– which seemed very like Independence Day to me. There was an alien invasion, and in this case a bunch of Marines were evacuating civilians from Santa Monica, and come up with a way to stop the invasion. I also think this was clearly a movie for baby-boomers because the hero was an older guy who’d been about to retire. Yes, experience and wisdom can beat youthful speed and strength, we’re old but we’ve still got it.
As I said, I’ve started the British mini-series Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norell, and it’s very good. I really identify with and feel for poor Mr. Norell who is trying so hard to make magick modern and practical and respectable. That’s so much like what I’m trying to do! And while he as studied enough to have moderate practical skills, his progress in his goal is being unintentionally thwarted by the Strange, who’s got more talent, and far more interest in experimentation. And the minute they go public, people want to take advantage of their abilities, politically, militarily, and financially- none of which is going to advance the cause of magick. They also are working to repress any other magick so that it won’t make theirs seem disreputable (and they can’t control what the others do).  Oh, yes, I identify with poor book loving Mr. Norell, and also with Strange, the explorer, and with all the people who have talents and have been and continue to be repressed by both those who are pro and anti magick. I’m only a chapter into the book, but half way through the mini-series. I can say that the movie follows the book pretty well stylistically, and from the little I’ve read, but also includes more, as books do. I do hope that the author will write more using this world! (Willow told me recently that she owns a copy of the book… somewhere.)
I haven’t watched as much NCIS this week, but I did watch The Forgotten Plague, a documentary about Tuberculosis.  I had hoped for more of the social effects. They did mention that once they had recognized that “consumption” wasn’t just something that happened to unfortunate people, but was the result of a bacteria and was contagious, suddenly the people they’d been sorry for, were now ostracized as dangerous. They did say that beards went out of fashion because they could harbor germs, and skirts got shorter, so they wouldn’t bring in potentially dangerous germs from the street. They also didn’t cover the premature burial concerns that I’ve heard elsewhere were associated with consumption. I watched The Stanford Prison Experiment 2015  (not the fictionalized version The Experiment 2010) that I watched last week. I guess they both expressed the same thing, but they made more of an effort in the 2010 movie to make you feel for the people whose heads got screwed up. I also liked the remarks the participants made afterwards, one in particular who’d really gone over the top- even to affecting a southern drawl, who expressed that he felt that there should have been some restraints put on him, and that made him feel so insecure that he just kept acting worse and worse trying to find the level where he’d be stopped. This is something we see so much in child-rearing, people need to know what is acceptable to feel safe.  {Perhaps that’s what’s bothering the Evangelical Christians who figured that “everyone” accepts that the Bible (as they were taught it) provided those limits, and if those are removed, does that mean that there are no limits? This was portrayed very amusingly in the movie Paul.) I’m not sure why, but I watched a couple of episodes of The  West Wing which I heard good things about but never watched while it was on the air. I like many of the characters, and would like to think that the show was more fictional than I’d want it to be in the more seedy dealings.
Finally, I caught another old Gene Wilder film:Quackster Fortune has a Cousin in the Bronx, from 1972. Wilder, as usual, plays a gentle free spirit. He’s a working class man who can’t deal with working in a factory so instead wanders the streets, picking up horse manure and selling it to gardeners. He has a brief romance with an educated young lady who opens his eyes to history and architecture and the joys not conceived of by those of his background. Unsurprisingly, she tires of the relationship, and leaves, and at the same time, horses are banned from the city. This seemed like the usual “life sucks, deal with it” story, but at the end, the “Cousin from the Bronx” enables him to create a new life for himself (without horse dung) incorporating his new awareness of the greater world. I was very relieved, as I hate the “gritty” “realistic” shows where everything ends badly. As Miss Prism said in the Importance of Being Ernest: “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means..”  If I wanted hopelessness and depressing stuff, I’d pay more attention to politics.
Well, time to go do the podcast.

“Life is like a play: it’s not the length, but the excellence of the acting that matters.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca