The snow has started. Maybe I’ll get a picture of some accumulation before I finish the letter. The ground was pretty much clear yesterday. There was a scattering of snow this morning, like powdered sugar on a cake, but most of it melted off the roads. Mark’s car is in the shop, so I drove him to his appointment today (and did the “pre-nor’easter” shopping), but I got home before the snow started. Most schools around here had early closings, so Willow went over to Avi’s early, but she headed back early too- Avi didn’t want her taking any risks on the road. I’ve heard some dire predictions from a foot to two feet (don’t forget the “sharks in the lake!”) but basically I figure it’s going to snow, and we’re going to have to dig out. We’ll deal.
Friday, the last day of school vacation in Milford, Willow took Bianca and Kalen down to the museum of Science. Having extra adults to watch them allowed them to wander a bit more, and look at the things they wanted to see- and that’s really the only way to see it. At one point they were so involved in some exhibit, I was able to go look at the stuffed birds and dioramas. I would have liked to have seen the Mysteries of China, but we didn’t think the kids would sit for it. I did get to sit near the show on Coral reefs while they were looking at some video-game like display. The highlight was the Mirror Maze. It was fun, but I’m not sure what science thing it taught. I wish I’d gotten a picture of it. Willow got a couple of cute pictures of Kat there- adorable as always. If
her hair was still blonde she’d look like Alice going down the rabbit hole!
I feel like I’m getting old. We had the furnace guy in to clean the furnace and change the filters, etc. last week, then this week I have called the appliance repairman. The washer had started screaming. No, really, that’s the best way to describe it. Actually, I called the two local places. The first- where I thought I’d gotten the washer, said that they couldn’t find record of selling it to me so they wouldn’t work on it. We’ve been buying stuff from Brennan & McKay for years- ever since the old local radio station promotion where you’d go to different businesses and get $25 “dollars” for $20, that you could use at local businesses. That was in the 90s. I know we got our stove there. I’m trying to remember whether we got the pump we installed last time from them, or just the panel that went into the stove. By and large they seem to sell appliances and parts, then say “look on youtube and install it yourself”. How do they make money? So I’ll go with Scott’s from now on. Scott use to sell (where the eye doctor’s is now) but only repairs. Since I have a vague memory of having the washer turned over and both Willow and I working on putting the new pump in, and figure it was within a few years, I think I’ll just have him come do it, and be sure that it’s done right, and it wasn’t me messing up the installation. Or it may be that people are simply expected to buy a new washer every 5-10 years. I am old fashioned, I expect appliances to last several decades, like Mothers did. Oh, well. I remember mocking my parents for not keeping up with modern prices. When you’re young you just keep poking. When you’re old you pay someone to deal with it.
I’m also rather cranky with the whole way we deal with “Stuff”. Since the Religion of America is Business (to misquote Coolidge), buying things is virtue, and repairing things is not looked upon well. People seen eager to exchange new cars (2 years old) for Newer ones, toss out clothing when it’s out of fashion, or stained, even tear down old buildings rather than retrofit them. I keep clothes to work in- why would I wear something new and get that stained when I already have a functional, comfortable garment (that’s stained)? And especially as I am fat, it’s not easy to replace those pieces in my wardrobe that finish ensembles. TRY to find a simple, red, long sleeved, cotton shirt in size 24! It’s not available. Everything has to be different, have a unique neck treatment or sleeve or hem. This makes them very hard to use with other garments. (Gripe, grumble!) I don’t really mind making skirts, and I have noticed that my favorites are beginning to be in such bad shape that they do need to be replaced), but I don’t want to have to make every darned blouse. On the other hand, Ambien is doing his bit to convince me to throw out old clothes… he’s still chewing holes in them if we don’t put the clean laundry away immediately.
I wish I had something fun to tell you but it’s been a quiet week. It’s amazing how time consuming the normal stuff is. It takes a good hour to fill the vitamin boxes every week, a while (but maybe not an hour) to advance the pocket calendar (the one I made with a dozen rows that hold 7 cards, and into which we can put appointment cards, or holiday markers). I think it took me two hours this week to clean off the stove- taking it apart to get under every piece and get it properly clean. My fingernails were totally trashed! In the back of my head, I feel that I should get it clean every day, but that’s not going to happen. We have to just live at whatever level of clean we can manage. I suppose that’s why so few people write letters these days- no time.
I spent a day working on CTCW website this week. Sadly, I must have done something wrong, a lot of the stuff I was working on went missing. Just when I think I have figured out how to use a program, it throws me for a loop! Yup, I have all the signs of getting old.
Highlights of the week for me are that the other night we took a bath. You have to remember that Paul, Kitty’s friend, put in a HUGE tub for us, and we don’t dare use it in the summer and fall because I think it takes half the cistern’s worth of water. (Thank goodness we have a “on-demand” water heater!) Let’s just say that Willow turned on the hot water, we had dinner, and then she went up and took her bath. We also use the Japanese system of showering first to get clean before soaking, so we don’t really mind sharing the tub (serially, of course). For my turn I took about an hour, read, soaked, then used my replica Roman strigil to remove dead skin. It’s a treat! As another treat, knowing there was a snowstorm coming, I didn’t resist when I saw hyacinths in the store. The first hyacinth of the year!
I did make a poundcake this week with sesame seeds. It was good, but not very exciting. (I have a LOT more sesame seeds than I can se without effort. I think it was one of those times when I got it in my head I needed more and bought them twice!) Anise in poundcake is lovely, but the sesame work better on a cracker I think. I could hardly taste them. Maybe lemon next time I make a pound cake.
The sad news of the week is that my Plantar Faciitis has recurred. A few days ago my feet started aching, feeling bruised. This morning it was a full blown pain, and I remembered where I’d felt it before. Last time I had it for about two years since I couldn’t really take any time off my feet (when Ælfwine was doing the cancer dance). I’m actually not sure what might have done it- too much driving? Sitting in my computer chair wrong? This time I hope to avoid eventually going for injecting steroids. I’m taking homeopathic Thuja Occ., Rhus Tox, and Symphytum Officialus. I’ll let you know how that works. I’m also taking Turmeric which is supposed to be an anti-inflammatory. (and staying off my feet as much as I can. So much for my spring urge to start exercising. Well, I can start by lifting weights.) I’m continuing with the Italian lessons. If I keep this up, I’d better come up with a reason to travel.
I was thinking about how much time we spend just getting to where we want to do something- the years we experimented with the 2 hour commute (because it was better money); I always told the kids to factor the commute into the wage analysis, the more travel time added on, the less, per hour, the pay really is. But it’s not just commuting. I remember being told that I had to go for my stapedectomy (which they assured me was a straightforward procedure) but I had to go down to Boston rather than Nashua so I could go to the specialist who did nothing else. I think of the people I’ve read about who research the best place to get treatment, and somehow fly there, and stay in hotels (how long before one goes broke doing that?, and if not, I guess you just die or live with disability.) Then I thought about how it’s always been that way: we read about Laura Inglall’s Pa walking 200 miles to find work. Even now there are women who will walk 2 hours each way to get that day’s water for the family (and what are the men who are drinking this water doing while they do that?) We always seem to spend a great deal of time going to wherever we need to be. The tribes who would go to the coast to fish, then to the mountains to hunt. Is this part of our adaptability that we can turn the labor and time involved in travel into an actual benefit? This kind of travel isn’t the same sort that takes you to new places where you learn new things, this is just expending labor to get to a goal. I’m still chewing on this one.
I was thinking this week that part of what may be off in our culture could be remedied by better history taught in schools, especially world history. When I was in school, we never got beyond Europe: Greece and Rome, then England France and Germany, then the USA. The books had stuff on Africa and China, but we never got to it. And I was in the “advanced classes” in the “good schools”. If a more balanced presentation of the many great civilizations around the world in China, India, Africa and the Americas was presented, I think this would lead to less bigotry. The way it’s presented makes it seem that only Greece and Rome had any civilization which Western Europe kept going with the Christian Church, then they spread the only civilization out through out the world- lucky them- and if it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t have any civilization. No, it’s not as flattering to say that countries, including ours, fought for supremacy, and forced their cultures on those they conquered, but it’s a lot more honest, and perhaps we could include a bit more of the cultural synthesis that is reality, and maybe even some of what women contributed. As long as the stories we tell are all about how all these white men created everything good in the world, how can kids help but look down at other cultures (and women)? Yes, it’s important to know about your local background, but we need to know more about the rest of the world before we can understand how we got where we are.
As you might guess, I am continuing with American History Revised, I think the most interesting bit I learned this week was that Abraham Lincoln only won by 39.8% of the popular vote. This was because the North and the South each put forward Republican and Democratic candidates, and because of this split, Lincoln beat Douglas (@29%) because Brekenridge and Bell took the other 31%. More than one party splitting votes makes it far more complex! I was also fascinated by the “Gunter’s chains” (22 yards long) they used for measuring land in the early years (because they folded up), used to mark acres and square miles etc. I hadn’t noticed that the 27th Amendment- requiring that there always be a Vice President was so recent (1967) and why it was put in.
I am now trying to finish The money pit
the story of the treasure hunt on Oak Island up in Nova Scotia. I remember hearing about it as a kid, and how there were rumors of a huge treasure and many booby traps that have kept people looking for over 200 years, and apparently, it’s still there, and no one has managed to get to the bottom of it yet. In theory it’s pirate treasure- but why would pirates sail up from the Caribbean and spend months or years making these elaborate constructions (the pit is about 200 foot deep with side tunnels to let in ocean water, and many levels of traps). This book is from the late 70s, but the internet tells me that it’s still not been solved.
I finished watching the movie about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Unrest
. I had to watch in segments because it was too familiar. At least we didn’t have to go through the bit where some patients in Scandinavia were taken away from their family because some prominent psychologist theorized that it was all psychosomatic and it was their family helping them that “enabled” them, but if removed from these “abusive” people, they’d get well. It took them three years to get out! It’s bad enough to not be able to do what you want to do, and be in nearly constant pain. Beyond that there’s the psychological issues dealing with something for which there is no treatment, and often for years, with no diagnosis. People wonder if the people who say “you’re imagining it” are right. Actually, Willow sometimes still wonders that, even though she knows. We hadn’t twigged to the fact that the light sensitivity is part o the syndrome until it was mentioned in the movie. If you have a friend with CFS, ME, FM or a related “invisible illness”, please watch it. It will help you understand. (We watched on Netflix)
In fiction I read A Second Chance, Trail Through Time, and am reading The Long and Short of It, two books and a book of short stories from the Chronicles of St. Mary’s. With the combination of SF, history and general disrespect for authority, I am loving this series!
My new word this week is Froonce “To go about in an active, bustling manner. To move in an energetic or noisy fashion.” Mother used to say I was “slatting around” when I moved fast. I didn’t care for that, but I’ll take froonce.
Clearly this week I’m doing much more thinking than I am more exciting stuff.
(Having trouble getting the pictures to the computer- maybe I’ll get them in next week’s letter, which will have the advantage of having the after as well as the before of the snowfall!)
“Educate the masses, elevate their standard of intelligence and you will certainly have a successful nation.” Alexander Graham Bell
Holidays next week:
W 7 Cereal Day, Crown Pork Roast Day, Discover what your name Means Day, Be heard Day (I’d like to think that this is because it’s Alexander Graham Bell Day)
Þ 8 Peanut Clusters Day, Popcorn Lovers Day, Nametag Day, Woman’s Day, Be Nasty Day
F 9 Meatball Day, Middle Name Pride Day, Day of Unplugging, Panic Day, Barbie Day
S 10 Blueberry Popover Day, Genealogy Day, Bagpipe Day, Skirt Day, Day of Awesomeness
⨀ 11 Daylight Savings Starts, Worship of Tools Day, Mothering Sunday, Debunking Day
M 12 Baked Scallops Day, Napping Day, GirlScouts Day, Plant a flower Day
T 13 Cocoanut Torte Day, Earmuff Day, Jewel Day, Donald Duck Day, Ken Day
W 14 Potato Chip Day, π Pi Day, Genius Day, Ask a question Day, Moth/butterflies Day