4-26-2007 Cuckoo Day (three weeks)

Let’s see if I can cover everything I’ve done in the last couple of weeks! When last we checked in on our merry bunch of misfits, it was April 6th, and as expected, I was too involved in getting ready for my trip to Maryland on the 11th or the 18th.
Morgan came up to talk about the Wolf Argent company coming to camp here in May- I kept thinking IF it warms up. We showed him Ælfwine’s old knife collection that had been his grandfathers I think, and Alva mounted. Very cool
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Do to the chaos in our records, we put in for an extension on the taxes- not until I’d spend a great deal of time on the phone with the IRS trying to figure out how to deal with things. For example, they figure that all our different things we do to make money should be kept as separate businesses. But, as I asked, what do I do about when I get my table fee reduced for selling because I’m speaking? It’s supposed to be income as a speaker, AND a discount for selling? I don’t want to be taxed twice. Also none of the kids make enough money to do taxes, but none of them seem to be dependents, although we all live together. It’s terribly confusing. I wish I could afford an accountant who could figure it out, but when I got it done professionally before, he just grouped everything together. I will have to work it out eventually, but I am not sure how.

While working on this we tried to get a proper inventory for Cabochons (forget trying to figure out which materials and tools belong to which business if we have to separate them). Sadly, it seems way off what we did last year, but we don’t really know because we lost all of last year’s inventory in the computer crash. Now that we are backing up, that shouldn’t happen again, but it sure is stressful.

The publisher still has the painting I did for the cover of Jane’s book, so Jane couldn’t bring that down to Ecumenicon as she’d hoped to, so we took Megan’s suggestion and made some gift cards and boxes with pictures of Thor and the other thunder gods on them. Jane bought a box and one of each of the cards, but I don’t think we sold any to anyone else- although they are really cool looking. The decoupage came out really well. Willow matched the color and painted clouds and lightning on the side of the boxes, and even put glitter on one. Very neat looking.
So Thursday I packed, while the weather reports talked about the big storm coming across the country (remember that?). Would the airport be closed? It was fine. We did lose power for a bit, the couple of storms that week had very heavy, sticky snow, which weighed down branches (and power-lines), but our local crews are VERY good. I shipped the visual aides ahead to the Manneheim MidAtlantic, and on the way back from dropping me at the airport, Willow shipped the painting to Joannas. I’d hoped to get the costume detail totally done before I sent it so I’d only need to do the faces, but talking to the IRS took up so much time it still had lots to finish- at least I’ve discovered a fast drying medium. When I got there they were cool with carrying the paint, but not the linseed oil or paint cleaner, so Willow had to pocket them (and I got more down there). They also consider mascara a “bottle of liquid”, although they pass it, it has to be removed so they can visually inspect it as it goes by.
The flight was delayed, so my arrival kept getting delayed. Originally I had been supposed to leave Manchester at about 11, and get into NY about 12, then leave NY about 90 minutes later, and get to Baltimore around 2:30. Bit by bit, I got shifted back and arrived around 6. What I remember most is that my flight (a small turboprop- about 27 passengers on both flights) came down to the totally last gate and I think I had to walk about a mile down one corridor, then another, and another before finally finding the baggage claim place (and my ride). This is cemented into my recollection because my suitcase was too heavy, so I had to take out the books and put them into my carry-on (already full of books). Actually, most of it wasn’t books, but notebooks, but there were a couple on runes. I had discovered just before leaving that one of the workshops I was doing at Ecumenicon was on Rune Magic as part of the Norse Intensive. Charles Butler, who organizes it, is trying hard to get it accepted as an accredited educational function, so I was scrambling to actually find the academic references so my workshop would be “worthy”. It may have been unneccessary, and it was fun, but I spent most of the flights and the waiting time highlighting citations, and copying them into my notes.
I broke down and actually bought lunch at Laguardia. A small meat roll-up, a large water (from Iceland, as long as I had to spend $3 for a bottle of water, I wanted something exotic. Somehow Rejavik water tastes a lot like NH water.), and 8 oz. of grapes. I first started to get what I thought was apple slices, but on noticing that it was $4, I looked again and saw that most of it was “caramel dipping sauce”. Eeuw! At least the grapes were just grapes. Of course, ever since then I’ve been craving and eating apples like crazy.
Kyle picked me up at the airport, (thank goodness for cell phones to let them know about the delays!), and then we all went out to a Chinese Buffet, where I ate heroic amounts of sushi and all sorts of other yummy foods, and started learning names. The people I stayed with are Burt and Stephanie. Burt has a office supplies business, and he has set aside some of the rooms in his warehouse for their “hof”- which is like a Norse temple. We gathered in a large area in the office section, and they have smaller rooms set aside for a library, a childrens’ room, and what would be a sanctuary in a Christian church. Odd, isn’t it, that he’d had to take down the “Heathens Against Hate” banner when the landlord had come through. A children’s room won’t raise eyebrows, but anti-hatred stuff will? Weird world.
I must say I had a great time! It was fantastic not to have to rush through teaching the RunValdr. I was able to have them practice, and felt confident that they really were able to use the techniques by the time I left. I hope I get more chances to do it that way again. They brought pot luck food (there’s a small kitchen), and one of the ladies had boxes of stuff her daughter was giving away. (She’d decided to stay home with her baby, and they figured they could manage on one income if they cut expenses by $700 a month, so they moved to a smaller house, and were dumping as much as they could. How brilliant! How good for their kids!) I meant to take pictures there- took the palm pilot for it, but brought the wrong charger with me. Darn.
One of the girls who came lived down in Dale City, not far from Joanna’s. This is cool: The city is organized in blocks, and all the names of the roads in one block start with Bs, and then the next block has C roads, and the next D roads, etc. So you can tell approximately how far you live from someone by the name of your street! It’s kind of hard to get my mind wrapped around, but it’s a neat idea.
Burt showed and gave me some neat things- sheets of plastic which cling to the wall by static and you can write on them with dry erase markers, and they are reusable for a while and really portable. I think they are very neat. (Not too good at Pennsic I expect they wouldn’t stick to the wall of a tent.)

Joanna and Scott live in a town house. She’s got the front all planted with daffodils and tulips and hyacinth, and they have this adorable little dog named Buddy. Apparently Elizabeth doesn’t live there any more, so I got her room. Joanna’s in the middle of jumping through hoops to get her degree in Art Therapy. She’s been an art teacher for years, but wants this further degree, but isn’t going the usual get your bachelors, get your advanced degree, then go to work progression, so she’s confusing them, and they are not being very cooperative. She’s actually doing some non-professional counseling for some of the young people she meets in multi-player games like World of Warcraft and others. There’s a technology I didn’t know about- she’s got a headset and can actually talk to others who have the technology- like phones, but it bypasses phones and goes over the internet. So she can talk to these kids in Canada and Australia or wherever (and tell them to get their homework done), and such. She was working on a portrait of one of those kids while I was their- it made me wonder why she was paying me to paint her- but our styles are different.
I’d expected the painting to have arrived Saturday- Willow paid for “next day” from UPS or Fedex or whichever. But apparently they had a problem with their truck, and it didn’t get to the pick-up spot, so it doesn’t count when we dropped it off, only when they pick it up, and didn’t get there until Tuesday morning! Feh! So Monday we went out to the art store for my “flammable” medium and cleaner, and I painted Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning.
The painting came out fairly well, although I forgot to put in Buddy where I’d meant to put him in the background. It actually turned out well that I’d not finished the clothing because Joanna had lost weight and her face was changed when she got major dental surgery, so I changed her from looking forward to looking toward Scott, which showed more of the pearls and hat details. I copied the feather style from a Cranach painting, the collars- both hers and Scotts (although the embroidery on his cuff is actually hers).
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The painting is actually much brighter- I think the light may be reflecting off the paint too much, but I’m fairly pleased. I’m also pleased that Joanna’s going to be bringing it to the war this year so I can do a last few touch ups (and add in Buddy) before I varnish it.
The other thing I should mention is that Joanna wanted a bit a of a smile on their faces, and I argued that people didn’t smile in period portraits, so they could have a “little” smile, so she played me a whole lot of Tom Smith, who is apparently a mighty filker- of whom I’d never heard before, but now I’m really fond of him (came home and downloaded lots of his music that was free).
So that was the painting project- while I was there the news was all about the Virginia Tech Massacre. When will they learn to let people carry weapons so that they’ll be able to defend themselves? It’s all very well and good to have officers in kevlar with sniper skills arrive after dozens of people are already dead. You’d have to be a lot more psycho than is currently required to be willing to start killing people if you knew any one of them could shoot back. And even if you were that psycho, you’d be stopped more quickly. Maybe not immediately, but probably as soon as you’d shown that you were dangerous.

I tried to get together with Mark while I was down there, as he’s working in MD just now, but he was totally on the wrong side of Washington DC, so I had to give up on adding that extra project to my trip.

Meanwhile, back at Four Oaks Farm, Kat and Willow went to the Blakes Brothers open house, bought some new silver, added it to the inventory, and priced it, all without me. After the heavy snows (while I was down in Virginia grooving on violets and dandilions), rain hit NH. There was flooding. It didn’t hit us too badly- after all, we are halfway up a mountain, but there was a lot of road damage. Apparently parts of Center Road and Herrick were closed, and water across part of Pinnacle. The rocks that were supposed to hold back erosion by the new housing development on 101 washed away (you need tree roots bozos!), and that’s still not repaired yet. I have no idea how they get in and out. All the traffic from 101 is detoured through Main Street in Wilton (they’ve put up a temporary traffic light), and they are probably going to have to rebuild it because it’s not built for that load. But I missed all that.
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Kat just snapped me this one of the top of Herrick where it meets Pinnacle. Apparently there’s no sign at the other side of Herrick (so the people who live on it can get home?) but there is just barely enough pavement for the Jeep to get by- if they bump the Wosniak’s trees. Looks fairly spooky. Well, there goes the roads budget.

Thursday Willow drove down to Baltimore by herself (in her Jeep rather than the van), while Jo was driving me up from Dale City. Mapquest took her through NYC- over the George Washington Bridge, and although she slowed down, she never stopped. I guess because it was mid-day Thursday. The last time I’d been over the GWB, Ælfwine and I had been sent that way by Mapquest and figured “It’s Sunday night- the traffic should be light” and took about three hours to go ten miles. That’s why I always get directions to the Tappan Zee bridge and come down the Garden State Parkway- but she lucked out.
Ecumenicon started Thursday evening, and Friday and Saturday were the two real days of classes. Sunday just had one set plus the closing ceremonies. Friday I went to classes, and Saturday I spent pretty much most of the time teaching. I tended to go to healing classes (duh, ya think?) although I also hit some on group dynamics. In the evening we did the Norse Working- which is a healing circle. We got the message that Debbie Sheeley, who does Etheracon, had a tentative diagnosis of cancer, so we sent her healing energy. (It always works best before the diagnosis is secure.) She’s got her first tests back and it doesn’t seem to be cancer on her ovaries, but something else, in three weeks she gets another test. Waiting is a bitch. I’m feeling it especially hard as I spent so much time and energy developing my workshop on cancer this spring, but Debbie apparently has a really great doctor, and I’ll be sending her Essiac, as well as more prayers.
First thing Saturday morning I taught the class on Rune Magick, and I feel I did a credible job, although I’m far more familiar with the Anglo-Saxon than the Norse. The workshop, although in the Norse Intensive, wasn’t specifically about Norse runes, but about runes and magic, and I covered them over the whole region and history. I was please with the job I did. After that was Jane’s class on Norse Herbs which I went to and contributed back up information about using them. Then was the Living and Dying with Cancer workshop- only one lady came to that. The Norse Medicine class was against it, and I think that drew off most of the people who’d have been interested. I’m still kind of focused on it. One thing I learned while researching cancer while Ælfwine had it was that things changed all the time, so I read up on developments since then; I didn’t want to give anyone any bad information. Sadly, things haven’t improved much. Money is still power, and doctors and patients are still kept from being able to choose safer more effective therapies. In the past few years there have been actual cases where minors were forced to have chemotherapy against their will and that of their parents by the state, despite the fact that except in a few specific cases, chemotherapy does not cure cancer, extend life, nor improve the quality of life. Actually, people live longer without chemo, surgery and radiation. Not much longer, but probably, except for palliative care, better. This has been show several times, and covered up. More depressingly, safe, effective treatments are repressed by the medical system. (But wait, I hear people think: “Of course, the National Institute of Health, and Food and Drug Administration, and the American Cancer Society, and American Medical Association have our best interests at heart! There couldn’t be a REAL conspiracy to supress effective safer cancer cures!” I used to think that. I wish I could again. If it were just one or two of the alternative therapies, maybe it would be that there was something wrong with them, but not the repeated repression of so many.
Oh, and, once again the FDA is trying to expand it’s control over natural therapies. They’ve come up with a document defining everything from vitamins to energy healing to herbs as something that should be under their management. I’m VERY behind the idea that doctors should know about this stuff- but that’s not what they are going after. They are trying to define anything that’s potentially therapeutic as “medicine” so they get more control over it. Historically, as soon as they have that control they try to suppress its use. (Your interpretation may be different than mine- check it out yourself. http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/06d-0480-gld0001.pdf ) Most of this is directed at “industry”- the market. But since the vast majority of people don’t have either the will nor the ability to go out and harvest and prepare these things for themselves, it is good for people to be able to buy herbs and supplements that will help them. Not only do I not want to reduce our ability to choose care for ourselves, but I don’t even want to think about the sort of system that would be required to administrate such draconian control. Yes, they say that this is only a guidance, not a law, but it’s the first step to a law, and I don’t like the idea of laws that are only enforced at “need”, that gives the enforcers much to much leeway. But I’m ranting again. Back to what we did. (BTW, let me know if you want to see any of the class handouts I wrote up.

After lunch was the Herbalism for Children class. There was only one child, but two adults, and they asked me afterwards if I’d be doing a class on herbalism for adults next year, which was flattering. One of the aspects of the kids class is that not only to I show them how kids can use herbs safely, but the herbs I talk about are aimed at things kids would want to use things for: bug bites, poison ivy, tummy troubles etc. The next morning I did the RunValdr again and was gratified because some of the people told me they’d come to Ecumenicon because I taught it last year and it had worked so well that only the people who’d been were allowed to do certain things in their group, so they went to “get” it too. Now, I sent them back with clear instructions to pass it on to anyone who wanted it not send them to me, and will be concentrating more in future RunValdr classes on making sure they feel ready to do that.
Willow spent most of Ecumenicon selling, and yes, we made money (whew!), even though we had to get another table when we got there. We’d been thinking I would be flying down myself, so we could save all the transport, and I would sell just what I could carry or ship, but what I really thought would go was the ceramics- which doesn’t really want to go either way, and besides, if I was teaching, I wouldn’t be able to watch the table- and even when I do, I’m not as good a sales person as Willow is, so it’s good she came.
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Last year Registration was in the hall leading in to the Con floor, but this year he put Jane in the hallway so that people would be hit by her fudge selection right off. (She carries fudge- plain and with nuts, dark chocolate and white, with sugar and with that fake sugar that’s so popular now, maple walnut, butter pecan, peanut butter, mint, mocha, jalapeno, just about fudge flavor you can imagine. People stock up on it and save it in their freezers, and come looking for it. I picked up a couple of jars of her herb blends, which we love.
Another lady was opening a photography studio this summer, and offering her services without the sitting fees, and the pictures were about the same as school pictures or Walmart, so I finally got a head-shot to use for speaking and book cover. The day we took it I had my hair down. I look better with my hair down, but I feel that I should try to look respectable- and it keeps it out of my way, so I hardly ever wear it down. I was allowed to get more shots in different clothes and with my hair up, but by the time I got back to her I was so frigging tired, I just chose my favorites, and let it go at that. She’ll be sending them up shortly.
One of the events Friday night was New Orleans Conjure Dancing. You may or may not have heard about how in Voudon the worshippers often let the loas/spirits “ride” them, so they can dance and smoke and drink and enjoy the benefits of having bodies. Willow likes to hit the dance workshops, and she went to it, and danced for about two hours straight. She’d think “I’ll rest now”, and whatever was running her body would say, “I don’t think so”, and would keep dancing. She says a lot of the others actually fell down in the middle of the dance floor. She has more experience with exhaustion and was able to drop relatively un-painfully, and in out of the way corners when she felt it coming on.
About half way through one woman came out looking for band-aides, because she’d danced her feet to bleeding on the carpet. Willow ONLY had swollen feet for the next several days. And was exhausted- well, big surprise. She did have a great time and remembers it fondly. Personally, when it comes to dance, I don’t see that kind. I like waltzes, polkas, that sort of thing.
The girls spotted a graveyard across from the hotel last year but never got around to visiting, so she got up early that morning and got a bunch of pictures of it for Kat before the classes started. It had really good tombstones- angels, and cherubs, and cool crosses and urns and scrolls, and plinths and it was all overgrown in a romantic way.
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(Did I mention she took Xander with her? I expect she has several pictures of him in the tombs on her LJ)
So that was Ecumenicon, we were wiped by the time we left at about 4, but figured four hours of driving each would get us home. I’d forgotten about the directions over the George Washington Bridge. We drove right up the NJ Turnpike, figuring to get gas at the last stop in NJ (where it’s “only” $2.70), and then NYC loomed ahead of us. Could I find a connector to the Garden State Parkway? No map in the car! We stopped and got gas and a map, but it was too late! We were trapped! Willow’s stint at driving came at 8, and we had just barely made it across the bridge on the other side of Manhatten at 11:15. And we’d been SO looking forward to supper at a real restaurant. (I’m not dissing the hospitality suite at Ecumenicon- they were most excellent- lots of soup, and fruit, and cheese, and real food type snacks, but real dinner with vegetables would have been SO nice. But by the time we hit Connecticut everything but McDonalds was closed. Oh, well. We got home about 4, and I slept more than 12 hours (although I know Willow got up to update her comic).
Since then I’ve been catching up on laundry, and my e-mail, which can really build up when you’re gone 10 days (even though I turned off all my groups before I left). Oy, the spam! And I got several responses to my recent requests for interviews for the book. I really want to get it done. I was also starting to brush up my presentation for MithraCon this weekend, but it’s so small that when a couple people couldn’t make it because of another trip, and some got flooded (not just inches but feet of water in their basements) so it was cancelled for this year, so I get to rest.
Or maybe not. Some of those kids are looking rather big and the milk production is dwindling- if I eat one I can get cheese again. It’s a theory.
It’s so strange- I left in blizzards, and came back to 80 degrees, daffodils (apparently I missed the crocuses), hyacinths and forsythia. It is GORGEOUS! I loved hanging out the laundry.
Megan (who doesn’t have time to read this letter) called and chatted- filled me in on the flooding and other local stuff. (She’s got mono again, but shouldn’t she know how to kick it after so many times?) And one of the emails tells us Lyrion and Raven got married. I thought they already were.
Last night Avi and Trevor came by and I got to hold Bianca. She’s a month old now, but still so tiny and sweet and she smells good. Avi is nearly out of maternity leave and not looking forward to leaving her. I may get to babysit occasionally. (hee hee) I made a carrot cake and we did a really short dungeon with Trevors new dungeon tiles. Neat.
My eyes are crossing and that’s all I can think of. I hate it when I let it go more than a week.


Don’t forget that we have only a few days to respond to the FDA request for comments on the proposed guidance defining

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