Dear Dad: April 12, 2012
Once again I find myself finishing this letter on Thursday morning, although I have allocated it to Wednesdays (because Wednesday is ruled by Mercury or Odin, gods of communication), but I have this idea that I can write it in a couple of hours, so I keep putting off getting started on it. Worse, the first thing I do when I start is to review the previous week, and looking back in my journal, in the “reading history” at the Library, or the “viewing history” at Netflix and Facebook “activity history”, I get distracted. Not that it isn’t easy enough for me to get distracted by Facebook anyway. Someone put up a poster this week that said “Great people talk about ideas, Average people talk about things, small people talk about other people”. I disagree- I think that almost the only thing worth talking about is people, but of course, people are the ones who have ideas and implement them. On the other hand, as you may have noticed, I’ll talk about everything, given the chance.
This week we’ve had what I’d consider normal April weather. It’s cool enough that one wants a sweater, and it’s begun to rain. Considering how long it’s been since we’ve had a good rain, and how little snow we got over winter, I’m rather hoping we have a good rainy April. Luckily there is rain in the forecast (but it should be dry to pack the van for Coronation tomorrow).
I’ve been thinking a lot about pets this week (probably since Demyx died). Freya is still not doing well, and she disappeared while the girls were at the con, which made me very nervous. Luckily she seems to be gaining some weight, but she’s still incontinent. I saw her standing beside the litter box once, probably trying to figure out if she could get over the lip without leaking. Kat saw her leap down from the bed and “explode” once, and she looked so shocked that Kat couldn’t be cross. Sadly, you can’t diaper a cat, but then, one doesn’t consider putting down a human if they get incontinent. Luckily, we don’t have carpets, and our floors aren’t in such shape that they’re being damaged. Poor thing. Many of my friends this week have been posting about their aging and ailing pets. We do care for them so.
This week I can’t blame being late on getting ready for the New Normal show, I just got distracted. Thursday we were getting the girls off for Anime Boston. It’s the largest Anime convention in the east (I think). Willow said she heard it was fifteen hundred or thousand attendees. She’s not good with large numbers. I figured probably five thousand, after all Arisia is 3K and Pennsic is 10-12K. They hold it at the Hynes convention center; Wikipedia has 22K(+) registration numbers at 22K(+). Willow said the crowds were scary. I got to follow along via smart phone because with it Willow was able to maintain a constant commentary. For instance at 3:24 she posted about collecting things to pack, and then at 6:13 posted that they were waiting in line at registration. I suppose it gives you something to do while you wait, as well as letting others know where you are.
Sadly, I got a call from them just before four. Kat wanted to know if she’d left behind the box of lace cravats she’d made to sell, and she had. But I checked with the Post Office, and next day mailing them down would only cost $20, and they’d be there before noon, so I got them down before 4, and off they went. Since the cravats sell for $20 each, and Kat had spent the last week making them, I figured they should have them to go on the table. Joe, our postmaster, said that they’d probably be in the hotel first thing in the morning, and I was thinking they could pick them up on the way to Artist Alley.
This should have worked. I told Kat that all she’d need to do was ask at the front desk- of course, I had no idea how huge the conference was. Apparently mail sent there has to be picked up at the Business Center, and there’s a charge on that end too, moreover, when they checked it “wasn’t there”. They told me about it Friday evening, and I called the hotel, where they told me that there wasn’t any such package. Somehow over the last forty years the non-assertive girl I was turned into an old lady who is willing to ask people to try harder, and I waited about ten minutes while the business center rep went to look for it. (I probably spent 5 minutes negotiating voice mails to get to him!) Finally, he admitted that he’d found it in their storage room. Perhaps it went there when it wasn’t picked up by noon, who knows? Anyway, they were able to get it the next day. Not having had them out, they did only sell two, sigh. But at least they didn’t charge the pick-up fee. If they had, I might well have called and demanded it be refunded, even days later. I was cross! At least, now that I know how many people were there, I am not surprised that Kat stayed behind the table all day, and Willow went out to get food for her.
So John and I were home alone all weekend. I read, watched movies and scrolled and clicked on the computer until my mouse hand started aching. (Talk about first world problems!) Because we were going to be alone so long, I invited Steve and Amaya up. (Amaya used to be Allen, Steve’s son, but is Trans, so she’s now god-daughter instead of godson.) I know that girl now or not, Amaya doesn’t make a passover seder for them, not that either of them is terribly religious, but sometimes having traditional foods for a holiday is pleasant, so I figured I could do it. I found a wee little boneless lamb (since there were only four of us), and also picked up some parsley, pesach grape juice, macaroons, and a package of Matzos. It was a lovely meal, although I am still not used to making mashed potatoes without butter and milk. I had some nice oniony schmaltz (chicken fat) left from making the roast chicken earlier, but after dinner I left the dish unguarded, and the cat got it! (grrr!) (We aren’t particularly used to using alternate “shmirs” anyway. Luckily, when you are skipping wheat, you haven’t got toast or bagels to spread it on, so it’s usually not an issue.) Lisa used to buy the 10 packs of Matzos for Passover, but now it’s just the two of them, and Steve hadn’t gotten any yet. I sent it back down with them, since we couldn’t eat it anyway. Sadly, the stores had run out of the Coke with sugar (not corn syrup) when I went shopping for nostalgic seder food. I should have gotten more than four when I spotted it last week in the Passover display.
Steve also brought up a copy of his latest acquisition: the Steam-punk Tarot. He left it so Kat could see it, and when they got home I got to watch her an commiserate at the some of the wretched costuming. As usual with most tarot sets, there were some really excellent images that suggested new nuances of meaning that were thought provoking, and some that were just beautiful and probably inspired the deck’s creation. There were others that were clearly traditional images with “gears glued on” to finish filling out the deck. Oh well.
Kat says she spent most of the weekend working on Dr. Who fan art. She’s done a set of images of “Hello Kitty” as the various s (Hello Doctor), VERY cute, and I think the kind of thing that would sell to fans. Mostly they sold Willow’s blankets. As it’s large, she made sure she had a good stock; she took, I think, 35 blankets and came home with about 15. As you can see from the picture of their table, she can’t display them anymore, just pictures of them, while the blankets are in stacked crates, and their art is on the table. (and sometimes Kat’s cravats- doing her bit to make Steam-punk wearers more attractive.
Aside from making many, many blankets (35 may not sound like that many, but consider that they are each appliqued with a unique image that’s hand stitched), she also made a cos-play for Yuna, from Final Fantasy. The thing with Cosplay is that the people in the group generally pick characters from the same game or story to do at the same time so they can interact with each other. Sadly, Willow’s friend playing the other character is far smaller and more delicate than Willow, so the scale was a bit off- but the cosplay was incredible. The skirt flowed just right, and she found the perfect shoes and even the right bra that you can see in the game. Sadly, the fantasy top was somewhat problematic, but Willow was adorable as a brunette, and once again made an incredible duct-tape accessory. And that hand embroidered obi? Wow. (although Willow has decided that she didn’t shape it quite right. Artists!)
On the day before they left, she also threw together a quick costume/cape for Kat who’d made nothing new this time. She’s a moogal (with my history background, I kept thinking Mugal), and she wore it over her “White Queen” dress, for when everyone was wearing something from Dissedia. (which I may not have right, since I don’t know the genre). Aside from the Yuna cosplay, Willow was Jem (from the 80s cartoon) one day, and Samurai Applejack (a mixture of Samurai Jack and Applejack the My Little Pony). Kat wore various “Lolies” all weekend.
Most of their friends are artists, so when Artists alley closes, they go out together for dinner. They went to the Cheesecake Factory- possibly because it was still open at that point. Their friend Seraphita always reserves a couple of rooms, and Willow and Kat were in the other room with people they hadn’t met before. She’d put them with them because this pair is always foot-dragging in the morning, and Willow and Kat get up briskly, and she hoped they’d be a good influence. Kat says they were, but it was a bit annoying when they stayed up watching anime until two. They were also so (I don’t want to say) stupid, but, they didn’t know how to brush their own hair. Having someone else braid it is one thing, but the girls had to teach them that brushing works better if you start from the tips. I was very amused at one mid-day post she made about being reminded how warm cosplays can be. Well, sure, because they almost all have wigs!
Here’s another one of her phone posts:
“Awesome cosplay moments at con: Singing ‘Twilight in Paris’ while waiting for the elevator as Jem. 2) trying to cheer Tidus up when he realized he was nothing but the dream of the Fayth. If they were real, Tidus, I’m sure they couldn’t win the championship without you! Think of it this way- you get to bring -this- Spira’s Blitzball up to that level of greatness! 3) I’m pretty sure it was a Snake cosplayer asking why Samurai Applejack wasn’t drinking apple-juice at breakfast. 4) pausing to talk to Pinkiepie and Rainbow Dash.”
Willow actually managed to stay on the no wheat no dairy diet all weekend, even when they went out to the restaurant (Cheesecake Factory), although, luckily for her, they didn’t all meet up at the noodle restaurant as their artist friends had tentatively planned. I’m sure that would have been hard- or maybe she’d have found some rice noodles. I was impressed.
My big news of the week was visiting Deb Miller. She too has a cat who’s dying, and she wants to stay near him to help with the transition. I went to the dump on the way. Big week. I did have fun talking with Deb, we talked about dozens of things- and it turns out that her daughter was at Anime Boston too. She knew about Willow having one of her blankets she’d bought years ago at a Bakuretsu con.
Because the con wanted a Certificate from the Mass. Dept. of Revenue, I did go through all my records to go back and catch up on filing. It’s hard to remember to file monthly when we only sell there a couple months a year. I’ve also begun to make the reservations for selling and speaking for the summer and fall. I am actually behind on doing this, and have missed opportunities for several shows by not getting to it. Time to come out of hibernation and get cracking!
Willow says she’s doing her usual “post-con depression”, a combination of fatigue and the difference between seeing friends in person as opposed to on-line contact. It’s better than no contact, but not as good as actual interacting. I’m waiting to see how she’s feeling after it passes because most of the reason we are giving up wheat and dairy is to see if the “comfort food” we were doing last month was actually making her feel worse. We are trying to eat things that are familiar, as opposed to putting in replacements with different ingredients. I have picked up some alternate milks- almond milk, coconut milk, coconut/almond milk, soy (for cooking with or when the others are too sweet) even chocolate almond milk- which is pretty good. I had coconut milk on cereal for breakfast this morning. Frankly, it proved the point. When your mouth is expecting something familiar, the replacement is obvious. So I aim at foods we’d eat anyway. John and I had cottage pie (like shepherds pie, but that’s with lamb, with beef it’s technically cottage pie). There was enough lamb from our mini-roast that we were able to have curried lamb, and I was relieved that the rice flour thickened the gravy beautifully. I love curried lamb so much that my eyes roll up with pleasure when I eat it. When I roasted the chicken I just used rice with onions and celery for the stuffing. The gravy I made with corn starch- it was delicious, but the texture was too smooth- it was liked canned gravy, ick.
So, we’re getting by with the “weird” diet. If it does make Willow feel better, I guess we’ll get used to it. Kerensa had to go off wheat and dairy and not only did he lose physical pain, his depression went away too, so we know that diet CAN cause/or alleviate both physical and emotional symptoms. But to be honest, I would miss wheat, and part of me wouldn’t mind there being no effect- except, of course, that that would mean that Willow continued to be so miserable that she was willing to try this!
Speaking of miserable, my poor sister really hurt herself last week when Dad lost balance and she caught him. At first it was her bruised breast, but the next day her back and knee hurt so much she went for X-rays. Luckily her kneecap is not broken, only compressed, but she’s still getting therapy, medication and can hardly move. An amusing side effect of this is that she’s stuck only able to play on the computer, and by some glitch, although I blocked all games last year (and it mostly works) I’m getting announcements of all of her farmville achievements in my email. Weird. (about 90 yesterday alone!) We’ve checked the settings, and it shouldn’t be coming through, but there is no such thing as a computer that has no glitches. Or, as she says, they keep changing things, which may affect old settings. I’ve been playing around with the Facebook settings attempting to only forward things to people who I think would like them instead of posting them for the world to see. I figure we all may spend more time than we like on Facebook. Certainly now with this new organization- Timeline they call it, it takes me an hour to get through about two to three hours of people’s posts, so if I check in the morning, I won’t see what people posted in the evening, and vice versa, so I’m tempted to keep checking, and that’s more time than I have to put into it.
I also started sharing my collection of holidays, which shouldn’t take too much time, except that I do google each to see if they still exist (I made the collection a few years ago). Many holidays that are lunar based tend to wander around the calendar a bit, and others are just created by interest groups, and may go away. People who enjoy holidays do like the idea of ones like Drop Everything and Read Day, or Blame Somebody Else Day (the first Friday the 13th of any year), but they are not that important. Also things like California Pistachio or Florida Tomato Month are clearly promotions. Fun anyway. When I check them, I get caught reading the fun stuff- for instance this week there have been some fascinating Hocktide (post Easter) customs. I also “get caught” reading articles, links people post. I don’t listen to as much news as I’d like, and people tend to share things in which they, and often I, are interested.
I also enjoy some of the discussions that get started. This week Corbie (who I used to know in the SCA as Tamara Fitzgloster and who’s now a famous psychic) asked people their opinions about paying psychics. My habits on charging for readings were developed in the SCA, where we are basically trying to recreate images of activities for fun. I remember challenging the directors of King Richard’s Faire when they told me to charge more to reduce the number of people waiting. My feeling was that they should get more readers to read cheaply because the more people who were able to get readings would have a better “medieval faire” experience. But that’s an SCA view. The readers are providing a service, and when one goes all the way to the people who do hour long consultations, this is a service that is wanted and is how they make their living. Whether you’re a psychic, or a bus driver, a lawyer, an artist or a politician, you should be able to support yourself by providing the service people get from you. My mother argued back in the 70s with her friends that a bus driver should be able to own a home and send his kids through college. It bugged Ælfwine that he made more at computing than our friend the emergency room nurse who saved peoples lives regularly made. I’m making the same arguments- there isn’t an activity or set of people that is unworthy of being able to support oneself doing it, unless it really is something that is unworthy of getting supported. (I’ll leave you to try to think of that kind of activity- sadly, I keep coming up with things I do like making art, and yet, when I stop to think about it, I think that creating something that puts people in touch with beauty is probably more valuable than the art that sells products that people probably don’t need anyway.)
As usual, I noticed that most of the disagreements were based on using words differently. I use “professional” to mean not amateur- getting paid for it. Corbie used it to mean acting in the manner of a professional- respectful of self, client and the others doing it. In thinking about that, I realized that the older usage of professional was designating Doctors, Lawyers, Clergy and military officers, and these days the usage is for any well educated highly paid position- usually salaried rather than wage earners. That old definition basically meant men who because they needed to keep their minds busy did “work” even though they were upper class enough to not need the money. (…so they get to charge more?) I guess my biggest point was that what is charged is so often a reflection of cultural expectation, it’s hard to use a dollar amount to gauge quality- it was more a reflection of the expectations of the client than the quality of the reader.
See why I can get lost in the internet? So much to think about!
Even better, I get to keep track of friends. This week I changed my “icon” to the picture we call “The Kiss”, the one of Aelfwine and me at an SCA demo down at Brown before we were married. Lots of people reminisced about that.
We had a fun discussion about the Food List Challenge (google it), that listed 100 foods you probably won’t eat most of before you die (I hadn’t heard of some of them, but had eaten 56. (I’d forgotten some that I had eaten.) Cathy has started a new job, and her article on how to “do” Renaissance Faires with kids won some sort of contest. I’m looking forward to the next in the series of doing Renn Faires with special food needs. Lugh’s daughter Cierra has just started walking. Heather and Robert’s son Nick is signing up for kindergarten, and she’s going to start running a library kids program. Lyrion got a cold and had to cancel this month’s “salon”. Darn, I get to go to so few because so many weekends we’re working. Still, one doesn’t want to give a cold to one’s guests. Megan and Dennis (and Tito the Wonder Dog) are having fun in England on their canal boat. Megan keeps posting wonderful pictures of the boat as they get it ready for the season. A couple days ago she put in a view of a bridge that is SO gorgeous! I hope she makes a painting of it. She says it’s because smart phones make it easy. Chris Lafond posted a new term I loved- one of his younger relatives referred to him as an “indult” as opposed to an “adult”- apparently if you are cool you are an “indult” (something to which we may all aspire). I am not opposed to the creation of new words.
I haven’t heard from Honour since she called from the homeless shelter because they wanted to send her to a hospital because her blood sugar had gone down. (Like the hospital could do more than feed her.) I am SO looking forward to her getting a place so we can be in touch again!. Someone posted an image of a stairway decorated with hanging teapots full of flowers. I have to admit that my first thought was “ooh, but how do you have tea when your teapots are full?” I expect it is a clever idea of someone who had a lifetime collection of teapots each of which had a ding or chip and thus couldn’t be used any more re-purposing them. I know that I have a large collection of clothes that I happily wear and love when I’m home, but don’t feel comfortable wearing outside the house because of a stain or other small defect that I think shouldn’t matter. I am afraid that I get very cross at our modern attitude that anything that causes money to change hands is good. Better fewer and better quality things- even if they don’t look new. Other things that caught my attention was the Easter Dust Bunny image, (I’m enjoying that I can grab thumbnail images). One was a 45 record adaptor. The post was expecting that many people wouldn’t even know what it was. OK, I’ll admit that it does look like some of the triscelion ornaments from the Dark Ages.
This week I’ve been listening to the Anthropology course Peoples and Cultures of the World, and have been surprised at how interested I have been in the lectures on economic systems. Discussions of barter and reciprocation and gift seemed more like anthropology because they used examples of exchanging yams and shell necklaces, or of potlatch ceremonies. But he also covered capitalism and modern market economies (I guess you need to understand other forms), and it’s led me to reflect on our culture (as well it should). Since most of the current Global Economy is based on capitalism, we’ve started defining value by the means we use to measure it. Labor has become a commodity, rather than the physical materials used to make things. We judge value not by beauty or utility, or appropriateness, but by how much it costs, or how long it took to make. Art (my area) is supposed to be the opposite of commodity because it’s so hard to commodify. I begin to understand why nurturing occupations, and other things that are hard to commodify become devalued in a world where money is the way we measure value. One of the things he said was that in modern capitalism we define ourselves by what we consume rather than what we produce. How much can we show that we can or have bought, rather than what we’ve made. Certainly if “capital”, the land, or currency or whatever we are using to subsidize a business, has become theoretical, we’d have to come up with some other way of showing our status than what we produce, since we’ve produced nothing tangible. (But then, one can see that the original “professions” were those who likewise produced nothing tangible- the doctors, lawyers, military strategists, academics, clergy… none of them produced anything but ideas- one can see that they’d want to make sure the system didn’t judge worth by what one produced.)
Our forefathers may have been right, it may be dangerous to give women educations!
What other strange thoughts have I had this week. I finally found out about the Florida “Stand your Ground” Self Defense Law that is why Zimmerman wasn’t charged (until now), over shooting Martin. I am personally not sure that “stand your ground” means “follow into a dark alley”. I’m all for giving people the right to defend themselves, but any law has to stand the test of how it is administered, and I think this one may have been badly crafted, or maybe Florida just wasn’t administering it appropriately. I am concerned about these various State laws that are consistent with local cultural attitudes, but inconsistent with National ones. There’s a question in my mind about how appropriate it is when we’ve created an economy that is nationwide, to require people to move, with all the job changing and loss of support networks that entails in order to be able to get laws consistent with the expectations of the parent culture.
We, as a nation, support freedom of speech, of religion and assembly, but when it comes down to something like abortion- based as far as I can tell on a religious belief that the law differentiates people from animals, so it’s OK to make laws taking rights from some people to protect others who are theoretically “people” because some religious beliefs say they are, we want the right to say that in our area, our state, we can make laws preventing people from aborting a fetus. They want to define marriage- traditionally a relationship based on an economic contract between two families or individuals, as being allowed only within the constraints of one cultures religious definitions. I don’t mind there being differences from one state to another, but I do understand that federal laws should cover anything that is covered by what the Constitution says is for everyone within the UNITED States.
I guess that’s also why I’m somewhat relieved that Santorum is out of the presidential race; he was willing to publicly say what I’m sure a lot of Americans think- that only Christianity is right, so no other system of values should determine laws. If you’re Christian, I suppose that may make sense. But a lot of what was very important to those who drafted the Constitution was religious freedom. What still bothers me is that I think Romney feels the same way, but is just to smart to say it publicly.
It was only in 1829 that the British Parliament granted freedom of religion to Roman Catholics, and 1952 that they gave it to Witches. Freedom of Religion is one of the core beliefs of the US. It will NEVER be easy to let people who’s religion differs from ours practice because we will find it alien and even repugnant. Religion is how we describe how the world works in a pervasive, spiritual sense. If they’re “doing it wrong”, that’s intrinsically going to challenge our belief system, which is why freedom of religion is exceptionally rare in the history of the world.
I continue to read about Anthropology of Religion, Witchcraft and Magic, and this week have read about the conflict between the monasteries in Tibet and the Chinese government, and the spread of Islam through Africa. I was amazed at how recently Islam actually spread there except within the upper classes. It was during the uprisings of the jihad period (which I’d only peripherally seen in movies like Khartoum), that it really became pervasive. It mostly spread during the colonial period after the European powers had put an end to slavery in Africa, because before that, the people had associated Islam with the (mostly Islamic) slavers. Fascinating. Another article talked about the similarities between UFO abductees experiences and mystical and shamanic experiences.
Other than that my reading has been pretty light- The Borrowers Aloft, and The Mysterious Benedict Society books: Perilous Journey and Prisoner’s Dilemma. I like the characters, gifted kids trying to deal in a world that doesn’t credit children with brains. I like that they have to deal with bullying, both from nasty kids and from adults who may not even know they are doing it. I like the lessons they are dealing with about working together and how to make decisions. I like that occasionally they are not reasonable themselves, and that people can get seriously hurt (but they still have a happy ending. I do like happy endings!). I really like that they don’t shy away from big words.
I’m still waiting for the next disk of Fringe– neither the beginning of the second season or the end of the first has come in; but I got Altered States in which Blair Brown starred (she plays Nina Sharp in Fringe) which was commented on probably because of the sensory deprivation tank in both the first season of Fringe and in Altered States. It was a pretty visually exciting movie.
OK, I’ll be honest, I probably goofed off way too much and watched “dumb stuff”: I watched Blood: the Last Vampire, a forgettable movie based on either anime or manga, I’m not sure which. The story wasn’t exceptional, but it had some very well choreographed fight scenes. I got The Snow Queen done by the BBC in 2007. It had some really incredible visuals- like shooting the background with the light coming from a different direction on the people to make it look like it was bluescreened, and other weirdness. I actually watched Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules after watching Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which were, sadly, basically only average juvenile movies, about a kid trying to be popular, and yet true to himself, and in the sequel, learning to get along with his brother. I was very disappointed in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. I’ve liked a lot of Simon Pegg movies (I think he’s best in the ones where he teams up with Nick Frost like Shaun of the Dead and Paul), but the problem is that in a romantic comedy, there’s a formula. You have some poor person who hasn’t got a romantic partner, and usually there’s some quirk that makes them less attractive despite the fact that they (usually) look like a gorgeous movie star! But in this one, Pegg played a jerk. Not only was he funny looking, he acted like an ass, and as the film went on, while he did get more pathetic, he really didn’t get any nicer. Eventually, his father came to visit and let’s slip that he’s not just a writer who likes to do hatchet jobs on people, he’s a doctor of philosophy who chooses to be nasty. The woman he loves gives up on him, he starts playing the corporate game in order to get a head and get some tail, and at the last minute, he’s reminded that his long lost mother would have been unhappy, gives it all up and goes and finds the girl, who, for some reason, is willing to take him back. I know that that’s a spoiler, but this movie is not worth watching. Trust me on this. Go watch Paul again, or Hot Fuzz, or if you want a bit less humor, Run Fat Boy Run. But How to Lose Friends is just not that funny. But sometimes one wants brain-candy, not Shakespere. I figure it’s a good idea to watch a variety of movies, read a variety of books, think about both practical and esoteric stuff, important and silly stuff.
Well rounded, that’s me. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
Until next week, Tchipakkan
“Talent is God-given. Be humble.
Fame is man-given. Be grateful.
View From the Debdale Wharf, April 10, Linda Anfuso/Megan ni Laine