4/11/2018 Cheese Fondue Day

We didn’t get out much this week. The weather was all over the place, as one expects of a New England spring. The snow is mostly gone although we did get about an inch on Thursday- on our new crocus. The next day it melted. There are new shoots that I’m sure will be daffodils when the ground thaws. When it does we’ll add the old pot of hyacinth that’s passed now. We were mourning it, when Willow went down to Costco and saw a flat of four for $13.99. Now we have one in the living room, one in the upstairs bath, and Kat and I each have one in our room. I tend to prefer medicinal herbs, but the older I get the more I appreciate flowers.  In the spring when we are SO anxious for new growth, the ones that can survive being snowed on are a great blessing!
I am trying to get the book cover done. (Did I mention last week I hate backgrounds?). Mark, bless him, has been coming over and reading to me so that I can focus on the painting. He cam over Thursday and Saturday, and stayed for supper once. Sunday Kat brought down her little artists posable mannikins. She has a horse, a cat, and two people. One is missing his stand, and first we stuck it in a block of foam, but then I remembered a piece of wood I got to repair the wind-chime and I put it in that. It helped with showing where the shadows would go, however I don’t think that the either the horse or the cat is a really good stand in for a bear (and I doubt they have, or Id need a bear much anyway). I could use a human, but I really think there should be some manikin available between the SFBT (Special Fullaction Body Type) quality  a ball jointed doll for several hundred dollars, and  the little $8 ones that have a very limited range and fall apart easily. Most of them can’t get into most of the poses I want, so they’re frustrating. (Did I mention that I don’t like doing backgrounds? I really don’t.)
Willow continues to work on her huge StarTrek blanket, and go over to babysit afternoons.
Kat got 2 new commissions, so Thursday we went out for a quick trip to the store, she bought the fabric, she pre-washed it, and is cutting it out. Yesterday I went into the dining room to help her work out how to get the maximum width in the fabric available, and managed to frustrate her to the point where she fled back upstairs. Since then I’ve been staying away. Things seem so clear to me, but I can’t seem to express what I’m seeing to her.
While we were out we stopped at Big Lots where I found glass jars for storing the organic pasta we get now Sadly, unlike the normal stuff, it tends to come in bags, not in boxes. It’s hard to put. Bag in the cupboard, but even worse when it’s been opened. I also found a new set of red glasses in bright red, and we switched out the blue and snowflake plats for the red and green glass ones.
I made a huge pot of Gumbo (I found okra at the store, and I’ve been thinking Gumbo since we rewatched the Princess and the Frog.) It may have been closer to Jumbalaya, what would I know, I’m a northerner! Kat’s been having a lot of stress-belly this week, and I’m pushing (since the gumbo) bland, comfort foolish things- Mac and cheese, beans and hot dogs. I’m thinking Liver and Onions tonight.
My foot is mostly better, although it still starts hurting when I think so and spend too much time standing washing dishes, sorting clothes or cooking, so I need to be careful. I am fairly convinced it’s the too short chair and have been avoiding spending too much time on the computer, but that’s been problematic.
This week I’ve gotten distracted from the painting and worked on the CTCW website possibly too much (for my foot). Not for the site, I am getting more variety of posts on the  blog, I’ve plugged in the  Speakers, and posted descriptions of the workshops we’ve accepted. Thor and I have started brainstorming on the panels. We are clearly doing better than we have in previous years on getting things out early, but somehow I still feel we should be doing better. Maryalyce has made us a poster for this year: CTCW Poster 2018 pdf
My computer is ailing, and although I’ve been resisting, I may have to take it in for Apple to look at it. I am afraid that they’ll wipe it again and never secure that the back up is working. (I THOUGHT it was backed up last time!)  But yesterday I stopped being able to get audio, and it’s been having more trouble with a great many programs. I sometimes wonder if it’s just the greater demand for internet, as it often seems to slow down around suppertime- when people are getting home from work and starting to have a computer going in every room, but I have no way of knowing. NOT my area of expertise!
I’ve mostly stopped reading the news articles, I see the headlines go by and I am not in the position to do anything. Trump is trying to start a war with Russia (How else can we interpret telling them to get ready for US missiles in Syria?) and “I keep thinking Can’t anyone stop this man?” Clearly he’s unqualified and dangerous, but he has supporters. I assume they think they can control him, I can’t imagine that anyone (maybe Halliburton) wants a war. So I may miss something if it does happen. I did hear about them going for his lawyers evidence. It is good to see that no one is above the law. Wish it didn’t take so long.
I have also been working on the Vampire Workshop/booklet. I have finally finished going through every entry in the Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology. I have made a basic outline of what I want to say- how I’m going to define the concept. I’ll lean heavily on historical stuff for the SCA and include more modern stuff for CTCW. The hard part is cutting it down to only an hour, there’s so much interesting lore. Just from the Encyclopedia entries, I have figured out that all over the world there is some sort of connection between Vampires and water- so often they are near water. What’s up with that? Maybe that’s like their association with crossroads- it’s how people traveled before trains and cars. The are definitely associated with spreading disease, and people become suspicious when several people in a family die. (The first must have been a Vampire coming back to kill the others.)  I think they fall into the category of ghosts who come back because they are cross about something, and usually it appears to be either because their family messed up the burial rites, or because they were already a nasty piece of work (a heretic, excommunicated, a suicide). It seems to me that the Christian Church has a lot to answer for by making it so important that people come back from the other side to complain about how their body was handled. Waking up dead is enough of a challenge without that stress added on top! I’ve read about Vampire Bats, and New Orlean’s Vampires, and have started on Monsters. Greer points out that vampire traditions tend to coincide with places where the elite were put in mounds, and that earth is a good insulator for etheric energy, so it helps keep the etheric body from dissipating. It can keep “recharging” by drawing energy off people- especially if the person was an “energy vampire” before they died. He also says that garlic dissipates etheric energy, and seeds contain a lot of it. This would explain the world wide compulsion for vampires to count scattered seeds. I’ve also begun reading The Vampire Book (3d ed), Vampire: His Kith and Kin (a classic),  History and Folklore of Vampires, Encyclopedia of the Undead, and Secret History of Vampires,The Return of the Dead, (those two I’ve already read, I’m just skimming my notes). I seem to have sent for one I already had- so I’ve sent it off to my SCA apprentice. What an added benefit!
Unsurprisingly, I haven’t finished book 8 in the St. Mary’s series (with all that Vampire reading) And the Rest is History although I expect to do so soon, tonight if I finish the letter soon. I’m about half way through The Culture Code. I hope it will teach me how to work in a group better. I don’t think that’s one of my natural talents. I’ve peeked into the Doomsday Book, (to figure out why I sent for that one). It’s another one about time travel. They have a fairly clever hack in that one- the way they hide taking notes is putting the hands together as if you were praying. Perhaps not as useful in some cultures, but in 11th century England, I think it would reduce people being surprised. It’s the way in the Haunting Danielle series, if there’s a ghost that wants to talk to her, she puts her mobile to her ear, and no one worries about to whom she’s talking.
I got SO MANY books from the library this week! Some I requested back in January and February, some more recently. I hope I can get to them.
This week we watched The Shape of Water. I thought it was charming. Mark mentioned that he’d read reviews and it seemed to be all about sex. No, it was very much in the line of the early Universal Monsters movies. (I HAVE seen all four of the Creature from the Black Lagoon movies.) At one point she drops her robe and steps into the bathtub with him then closes the curtain, the next day she’s smiling so much her friend at work gets suspicious. “You didn’t!” “But does he even have a …?” “Never trust a man!” All done with innuendo, although there’s some nudity. Sadly, at one point, we’ve heard he’s on a strict “raw protein” diet, he eats a neighbors cat. I thought to warn Kat about the sexual component, I forgot to warn her about the cat. I reacted like the neighbor “we can’t expect him not to be wild” (although he is not happy with him playing with the cats later). Kat was triggered. I feel so badly; I should have thought about that. But really, it’s visually lovely, a nice love story. The villain is creepy, the gill man is gorgeous, and the sub plots give a great brooding atmosphere. At one point a black couple enters an almost empty restaurant and is told they can have take-out only, all the seats are reserved. What shall we not realize that we do that is horrible fifty years from now that we take for granted as normal? I hope we’ll have gotten past the casual misogeny and classism.
We got Jumanji, Welcome to the Jungle, and it was a lot of fun! Like the Robin Williams version, they’re playing the game, but somehow it’s attached itself to a video game, and four random kids in detention try it. The nerd get’s thrown into the character played by The Rock, the football player gets into the little nerdy character, the nerdy girl gets put into the badass fighting girl, and the privileged princess is thrown into the professor, brilliantly played by Jack Black. You can believe that he really is a 17 year old girl in a middle aged man’s body. The plot, such as it is, is straightforward, the theme ever so standard as they learn to work together, trust each other and get outside their personal comfort zones. But the acting makes it so much more than I’d expected. No, it’s not great drama, but it’s a lively comedy. I sent for The Revenant because I wanted to see a Grizzly attack in action. It was brutal, it was grim, I think it was historically accurate, but damn! it was depressing and violent. Everyone’s motive was greed and revenge and self preservation (except the natives looking for a stolen tribe member). A guy is mauled by a bear, left behind because waiting for him is liable to get the guys waiting for him to die killed, and he drags himself after to get revenge. NOT edifying. Well done, but yuck.
Aside from that I watched most of “season one (2006) of Dr Who. (Why the heck did they start renumbering the seasons?) There were some great episodes, and great characters. I enjoyed watching the specials and commentaries. (Well, listening to them because I like to listen to something I’ve already seen while I’m painting.) Once I’ve caught up on my vampire stuff, I’ll probably re-watch the next season as well.
Another thing I have thought about this week is that we often (I often) disparage the Enlightenment since it tried so hard to make everything physical and explicable and just get rid of all the superstition and spectral evidence and such. Since I believe that there are multiple energetic levels to reality, I think that pretending that anything you don’t yet understand and can’t measure with current technology is being very short sighted and unscientific. But I have realized that there was a Vampire Hysteria, right along with and at the same time as the Witchcraft Hysteria. This probably can be at least partly attributed to the Protestant v Catholic schism, and all the insecurities and stupid accusations about each other that they were tossing around, but having just gotten through that, I can see why the world would seem safer if you put all religion and mystical stuff in a little box and try to ignore it. The trick, of course, is to always leave open the possibility that we don’t know everything and are open to learning new stuff. And that’s hard.
Ah well, sending fond regards. Thinking of my Mother on her birthday, and hoping to maintain contact with as many people as possible.  Until next week,

“Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen, even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.”  Leonardo Da Vinci
Holidays next week
Þ 12 Milky Way Day, Grill Cheese Sandwich Day, Licorice Day, Drop Everything and Read Day,
F 13 Chicken Noodle Soup Day, Peach Cobbler Day, Scrabble Day, Skeptics Day (first Friday the 13th of the year) as well as Blame Someone Else Day,
S 14 Potato Chip Day, Dolphin Day, Look up at the Sky Day, Moment of Laughter Day, Ex Spouse Day
⨀ 15 Peanut Lover’s Day, Spiral Ham Day, Gripers/ Rubber Eraser/ That Sucks/Wild Guess Day. ASL Day
M 16 Artichoke Heart Day, Eggs Benedict Day, Day of the Mushroom, Boston Marathon Day, Wear your Pajama’s to Work Day/Bean Counter Day
T 17 “Eat like an Irishman” Day, Cheeseball Day, Blah, Blah, Blah Day, Haiku Day, Bat Appreciation, Tax Pay Day
W 18 Sloppy Joe Day, Banana Day, Animal Crackers Day, Stress Day, Velociraptor Awareness Day