Dear Charlotte: April 7, 2010
The weather has been marvelous- OK, a couple of days it was cooler and cloudy, but by and large it seemed to me that Nature was apologizing for the long rainy bit. And with the warmth after the rain, the spring bulbs have fairly exploded out of the earth. It started with the snowdrops and crocus, and then the daffodils came up in profusion (I really need to separate them) and so did the hyacinth, and I can see where the iris are sending up their spears and the bleeding hearts are beginning to leaf out- giving promise of greater beauty to come. (I’m just a sucker for the bleeding hearts!) Last week we had nothing but snowdrops- the first daf opened last Thursday! Now I’ll be able to replace the hyacinth in my room. (Willow got a potted one, and I put one in a bud vase in my room, which it has perfumed beautifully for a week.)
The pond at the bottom of Pinnacle is as full as it can get- I think there may be a sluice gate in order to keep it full for the fire department to fill their tanks when the water’s not so plentiful, but it’s flowing over the top of whatever the flat egress is now.
And our farm is once again teeming with life. Honour found out about a “chicken swap”, where the small animal raisers were bringing their excess chickens and rabbits and kids etc. and invited me to come. I declined, as I was in a mood to curl up and read in my comfy bed (what with the girls being off). But she found a trio of Californian meat rabbits, and my rabbits have gotten unfortunately old due to my being too busy with other things to cycle through them properly, so I told her to get them for me,and I’d come down. I stopped by the Agway on the way, as during the winter the bottoms of our rabbit cages had rotted out, and needed replacing, but they were out of the right hardware cloth. (As Jon does the milking so the goats can have familiar hands, I don’t go out there much, and haven’t kept the dropping trays clean. Mea culpa.)
She’d also told me that there were laying pullets available, and since something (a fox I’m guessing) appears to have carried off our last hen, I thought it would be good to get a few. In the fall the hens stop laying, and start again in spring, and I’d assumed that Star would tell me when he started finding eggs, but he didn’t tell me until I asked him that the hen house was not as secure as we’d hoped. I’m sure that I had seen the last hen pecking at the compost heap fairly recently- but I suppose that this is as much the time when mother foxes are feeding their kits as it is time for the birds to start hatching their eggs, so I probably should have locked her in for this month. Live and learn. (At least I can, the chicken on the other hand, has joined the great cycle of life.) Honour had found me four hens, but we needed to find something to carry them in. I found a chicken tractor (it’s a cage without a bottom and you move it around the yard, so the chickens can scratch at different bits of it and not denude any- unless you are careless), and got that, and a couple of rabbit cages all ready to go, so I got those. Sadly, then I discovered someone selling auracona (the blue egg layers) pullets, and got five of those (and Honour bought me the last two as a present), and someone had an Auracana rooster they were giving away, so I popped them into my new rabbit cages, and headed home happy.
You may have noticed the problem with this already. Yes, we got home and unloaded the rabbits and chickens, and I looked around and asked Honour where the laying hens were. We’d both forgotten them. She drove right back, but the chicken swop was over, and we have no idea who they were, because it was just a lot of people selling out of the back of their cars in the parking lot of the Tractor Sales. Oh well. I continued to try to get the barn back into a semblance of the way I prefer to have it kept- Jon just isn’t that interested, although he is willing to go through the motions. Until I get the old cages re-floored we are still low on cages- so I put one of the new Californian does in the same cage with the buck, and he immediately leapt on her, as rabbits do. The next day I took her out and put her in the cage with my other bread doe as a temporary measure- and she immediately leapt upon that doe. What? Either my bunnies are “bi” (or oversexed?)- which I have seen before- or the people who created the trio hadn’t sexed them properly. My investigations seem to indicate the later- although I’m not 100% confident. We’ll know in a month. Ah, the joys of farm life.
It’s been a fairly slow week, for me anyway. We got the girls out on Thursday (Kat hadn’t quite finished the Lolita style outfit she was making for Willow, so she took the pieces and the sewing machine with her. She had been sewing on that for about 18 hours a day for a week- she’s very careful, but that means she takes a long time- with her sewing as with her art. I’m going to try to get one of them to give me a description of their adventures at Anime Boston. All I remember is that when the arrived, they couldn’t yet set up, and that they had a great time, sold a lot of Willow’s blankets, and the parking garage cost $40 a night, which was nearly as much as one room-share. (The room shares were lowered because they had so much trouble with the keys that the hotel took $150 off the bill, which meant $30 for each of them.) Also the huge blanket with a life-sized (over 6 foot) Sepherof character sold the first night. For what I think must have been a full and long weekend, that’s not much information, but they came home and collapsed. Remember, Kat had been sewing, and Willow was still recovering from the trip to Ecumenicon (reinforcing my decision not to travel that far again).
So Jon and I did the errands Thursday, getting a lot of books and films out of the library- frankly, I was still recovering from Ecu too, and looked forward to a weekend off. First though, we spent Friday morning helping Mark who’s got to clean out all of Bruce’s old stuff. He went down to speak to Bruce’s father last week, to settle what he wanted done with it, and there is much clearing out to do. Friday we did the most critical stuff: the food. Only that which was in the refrigerator and freezer was really time-critical. I was amazed at how well it lasted- it’s clear that our refrigerator is well inoculated with various mold cultures that attack our food more quickly. Since Bruce drank Coke, and Mark does (I think) Diet-Pepsi, we got several flats of Coke. I was so glad I’d taken Jon along to do the heavy lifting! There was actually a mysterious package in the freezer that I couldn’t identify. “Is it meat? Is it cake? Meat-cake?” I guessed either bacon or tiramisu since it had stripes. When I thawed it, it turned out to be some sort of cookie, ready to back- rather nice, and now I’ll never be able to ask Bruce what it’s called or what the recipe is. Not being able to talk to your friends is the worst part of having them die. Even worse than having to figure out what to do with their stuff, although on an immediate basis, that is certainly attention grabbing. I’ve told Mark I’ll continue helping him as he gradually works his way through the apartment. When we’d quite emptied Bruce’s stuff from the kitchen Mark took us over to T-bones for a very nice lunch. It was nice to talk to him, but I prefer gaming.
The rest of what I’ve been doing this week has been at the computer. I’ve been trying to promote Shema’s A Sacred Place Beltane:Turning the Wheel. We’ve pretty much got all the vendors we’d planned for- so my part as vendor coordinator is done until we get there and I need to lay out the spots. But we need attendees, and how do you reach a population that’s a tiny part hidden in the rest of everyone? We can mention it on websites, but the ones I’m on almost all are having their own Beltane celebration. I looked up and wrote as many Unitarian Universalist Churches as I could find and asked them to put up posters for us.
And I discovered that the class descriptions I’d sent for the Connecticut Beltaine (Pagan Odyssey) hadn’t gotten through, although I’d done it several times. Some peculiarity of computer interaction- it may have had something to do with the way PCs and Macs can have problems or it may have to do with switching from my eternalviper email to my tds one, but finally yesterday it got through. That sounds trivial when I write it, but it really took a lot of time and generated a lot of stress.
Also Jane and I have been working on our plans for the convention we had talked about down at Ecumenicon. It looks like we may not be able to have it be an offshoot of Ecu because the logistics of going through a Maryland bank account and using their website and having to meet various guidelines of the Ecumenicon Fellowship could add more drawbacks than building on what they’ve done offers advantages. We are still trying to figure everything out. But Jane has found a hotel and date (the Clarion in Northampton MA) on November 12-14. Now we need a name. What we want to do is create the convention we’d like to attend- lots of great classes on more advanced topics giving practical, useful information. We are planning four tracks, one for healing, one for divination, one for religious exploration (even if it’s not Ecumenicon), and one for energy work/magick (although I think Jane will want me to leave the k off incase it scares people away). Raven is going to be invaluable as he’s made a lot of contacts in the ecumenical communities in his speaking engagements. I think he’s now at 22 (or maybe 25) books.
We are going to try to reach out beyond simply the pagan population to all the people who work with angels and study holistic healing, and psychic phenomena. I think it’s time we got beyond the whole “us-them” mentality and just got down to healing ourselves and taking responsibility for our own lives. And THAT has taken more hours than I’d have thought possible. We do want to get the first fliers ready to start distributing in the next week so we can start getting speakers. We’re aiming at at least 100 attendees, and that means we are going to have to learn what we don’t know about advertising and promoting. I am hoping to find someone to run “Ops” for us (operations), and I’d be pleased as punch if I could find someone to do the paperwork, but unless I can come up with a better spell than I think I can to make that happen, I think I’m going to have to learn to keep the books myself. Since we’re just starting up, we’re going to be hitting up our friends and acquaintances to help (to speak and sell), and we’re going to try to keep it in about a 100 mile radius -hence the location. One edge of our 100 mile circle hits Boston, and Providence, RI; one edge goes past Schenectady, NY; it goes north, about halfway up VT, or to Lebanon (or Lyndeboro) in NH, and south over most of Connecticut- it’ll reach Danbury, CT, but not the NYC area- maybe in future years we can expand our range. It’s a good central location for New England. But I have to admit, the challenge is to get people to want to come. We have to describe it in an appealing way, and I do really want to make bridges between the pagans and the mainstream- if one can call those who deal in psychic stuff mainstream. I think each little piece is becoming more so.
Meanwhile, I also turned on all my yahoo groups, so I could post about the new con on them- so I now am getting over 70 digests to delete every day. I need all my self-discipline to avoid peeking into them.
On the first I filled out my census form. It’s really rather boring- it only asks who lives in the house and what their race is. I rather resent that they ask if you’re hispanic- that’s not a race. If they wanted to ask something useful, ask what language is your primary language. This invented “race” is ridiculous. not to mention that so few people are of any one race anyway. If they put “mixed” on there, that would be the vast majority. Who cares anyway?Pharaoh
I found a couple of Nova programs in the library on Egypt, one on some modern folks making a small pyramid (over beside the Great Pyramid of Giza) using the low-tech techniques available to the ancient Egyptians. I seem to have achieved the level of dilettante. I can now when I see a picture of a mummy spot Rameses (he’s got a distinctive nose), as most people can recognize Tutankamon’s mask, I can recognize Tutmoses, I have learned the basics of Khufu, Imhotep, Seti, and many of the others. I figure I now know enough to make a complete fool of myself with anyone who really knows ancient Egypt (and impress people who haven’t studied since Junior High). At the library this week I found a couple of tapes of old Nova shows called Secrets of Lost Empires: Pyramid and Obelisk. These were projects where a team including a stonemason from Massachusetts and a couple of Egyptologists got a chance to try to in the one case, make a 9 foot tall pyramid, and in the other raise a 20 foot obelisk- using only the methods available to the ancient Egyptians. They made the usual “discoveries” that the techniques mentioned by the ancients actually worked very well, and that to use those techniques took skill acquired by more time than they had to put into it. I was amused that after much model building and planning, they eventually deferred to the expertise of their Egyptian labor overseer. I was also appalled that the mason, who seemed to have twice the brains of the Egyptologists, who only grudgingly gave his abilities respect, seem to have made no effort to acquire language to communicate to his workers. I’d have assumed he’d at least try. The pyramid, I noticed, was unfinished on the back, and they never did get the obelisk up. I hope that they may have found a way to finish them after the documentaries were done, but if that had happened, I’d think that pictures would have been added into the documentaries as “postscripts”. They may still be standing there as monuments to the ego and short attention spans of modern man.
I’ve started reading the Amelia Peabody series which Laurel Mendes recommended to me. It is a series of mysteries in the Egyptian archeological circles at the turn of the last century, and is written (under the name of Elizabeth Peters) by Barbara Mertz, an Egyptologist who wrote Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt, which I’m also reading, as well as the novels. The “detective” is a clever but opinionated woman, with an equally clever husband- I’m not sure you can call him an archeologist since the job description was just being created, however the setting is their excavations. Apparently the series progresses for quite a while, until their son (named Rameses after the Pharaoh) is grown. The first two books were Crocodile on the Sandbank, and The Curse of the Pharaoh were, as expected, pleasant brain candy, which do, however encourage me to keep studying Ancient Egypt. (I’m not quite sure that the term “obsessed” works with me, as that seems to be my most common setting.) I’m currently switching back and forth between the third book The Mummy Case, in which the heroine brings her son to Egypt for the first time, and Alexandria, the latest in the Marcus Didius Falco series, in which he brings his family to Egypt to do his “detecting” in (I think) 79 of the current era. This time I remembered to use the library rather than buying the books, and am feeling smug about that. Aside from enjoying the ancient Roman mysteries, I’m trying to redirect my attention from Egypt to Rome in honour of Mithracon, to which I’ll be going this weekend. When I’m done with the letter today, my plan is to send in requests to the Yale library for articles I’ve drooled over in bibliographies, but are not available through Inter-library Loan or any other method I know about.
I’ve also started Women’s Voices in Magic– which, as it sounds, is a collection of writing by women, in the vein of so many books that feel that women’s voices have been intentionally and unintentionally excised from history creating an unbalanced presentation. I was amused that the first chapter was a biography of an Victorian woman involved in the ceremonial magickal movement of that time- very much wrapped up in the mystique of ancient Egypt. Apparently much of what she “knew” about Ancient Egypt came not from studying the new discoveries of the archeologists and philologists, but from channeled materials from spirits contacted by meditating on mummies in the British Museum. One “Chantress of Amun” with whom she communicated at length, seems to have neglected to point out to her that the mummy in the sarcophagus (which had given her name and titles fairly accurately) contained a replacement mummy from the Roman period- and he turns out to have been, for some reason, a man whose wrappings were padded artificially to make the mummy appear to be that of a woman. I am looking forward to finishing the rest of the book, although I am somewhat ambivalent about the “politics”. I don’t think it’s reasonable to deny that women have been denied appropriate recognition over the past couple millennia, but I always worry about any attempts to re-establish balance by going too far in the other direction.
The kids went to Anime Boston and came back exhausted. They said that it felt like a week; they headed down Thursday afternoon and got back Sunday night. Kat immediately lost her voice, and Willow may also be coming down with a cold. They both enthusiastically have embraced the advice that it was appropriate to rest up after such exertion, and we’d saved them the other movies we had gotten from Netflix and at the library, so they could just “veg out”, and, if possible, laugh. Laughter is very restorative. The library had the whole first season of the Big Bang Theory. I must admit that since the antenna came loose, only that and NCIS (and maybe Nova) are over-the-air shows I miss watching. Obviously, I am able to fill any time available by watching movies and TV on disc. I thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s Princess and the Frog, it seems quite as good as many of the old Disney fairy tales. We took out Coraline, which I remembered getting once, but John hadn’t watched it, so I took it out again, and discovered that I’d only seen bits of it in passing. I probably still have missed many of the visuals since I’m always doing something else while “watching”. but I’ve caught more of it now, and really admire the bizarre stop-motion images. We also watched Astroboy (we went for more light amusing films this week, good for “resting up” to). It was charming, and true to the original, as I remember it. What fun!
Not fun but totally fascinating is the audio course Religion, Myth and Magic the Anthropology of Religion from the Modern Scholar Series. I cannot recommend listening to these audio courses too much! If you haven’t checked them out at your local library, try one or two. As opposed to movies, you can listen to them while doing something else- if it isn’t something you have to think about. I have discovered that if I do have to think about what I’m doing, I miss important content, but for a commuting drive or cooking and other household chores (unless you have to decide where this thing that needs to be put away but doesn’t have a place goes, or something equally challenging), this is great. In this course the professor, Susan Johnson, covers what is religion? what is symbol? what is ritual? what’s the non-human world about? What do religious specialists do (the range between shaman and priest), death, magic, religion and gender issues. I’m having a blast listening to it, and of course, coming out of Ecumenicon, and going into Mithracon as well as working on the upcoming convention, everything I’m hearing seems relevant.
I haven’t yet gotten to watching Ponyo– the latest from Studio Ghibli, or Where the Wild Things Are. Unlike the old days, now that everyone has a TV in his or her room (except Johnathan who watches in the living room, and I watch in the kitchen anyway) it seems that each person watches each movie on his own. It reduces the amount of negotiation over a convenient time to watch, and certainly reduces the amount of comments from other people when you’re trying to hear- but I’m not sure that’s always a good thing. At least we do talk about them afterwards. Our family has developed a very strong ethic about asking if everyone’s seen a movie before we talk about it so we don’t accidentally spoil it for someone else. On the other hand, I know that the girls watched at least some of the Big Bang Theory together, and maybe some of the Bones (as we’re moving into season 2, and I discover I missed episodes because it didn’t occur to me that there would be some on the other side of the disc! oops). But generally, the films Jonathan watches are not usually anything the rest of us want to see, so he gets his in, watches it, sends it back, and probably cycles through two or more movies a week. Kat forgets to watch the ones she sends for and may only get to one every ten days or so. I often choose those I think everyone would like to see, so we have to pass them around, and wait until others get to it.
This week Johnathan got Anaconda, & Total Recall out of the library. He also got a pile of manga: Legendz Volume 1-4, and Rosario and Vampire volumes 4-9. I know this because we went to the library together. Although he is careful to ask me if I want to watch his selections, our tastes rarely are similar enough that I do (unless he’s gotten some old movie that I have a nostalgic craving to see), I often can’t remember what he’s been watching. I did notice that he, of all of us, remembered to send his Grandmother Charlotte a birthday card. He is so nice. I just wish he’d smile more.
News about friends: Bettina/Katja and Arthur have got a house! Kerensa is now up to having three heifers of various breeds, two highland bulls, four sows, 3 milch does, and as you may guess that’s keeping him quite busy- and then he fell and hurt himself yesterday. Today is Claus/Dennis’ birthday- I expect they’re celebrating. Monday was my mother-in-law Charlotte’s birthday. Steve and Vicki (Ælfwine’s brother) are in Lebanon on a Fulbright Scholarship and Jenny (their daughter) and family all visited them this week. Vicki writes letters home every week- much more exotic than mine, and I’m going to miss them when they come back in a few months. Len/Black Lotus is between chemos and back in the home, griping about the food, which I take as a good sign. I am having a devil of a time connecting with El, although he’s now on facebook. Morgan Kuberry is working at the Higgins Armory, which I think is pretty darn cool. Brian’s been meeting with a possible backer for getting his business selling the Vapes (electronic cigarettes) going. Moose, Vinnie and Bella, bless their souls, are going to come up at the end of the month to help clear away the Wolf and Treelady clutter. I am blown away by how wonderful some people are. Raven’s been helping me edit Anglo-Saxon Magick to get it turned into a “real” (small) book on Lulu. There seems to be a new barony (SCA) archery practice only two towns from here now- Honour went in search of it Saturday afternoon, but I haven’t heard from her since to see if she found it.
The pictures of the girls at Anime Boston are on my Flikr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/22256634@N08/ (Willow’s got the pictures of all her blankets on her computer- and intends to put them up on her Deviant Art site,)
The reason Willow’s dress is too long for the Loli style is that Kat was just scaling up from the patterns she’d bought for her own Lolita outfits, then pinned and cut them down to Willow’s shape at each stage. When it was time to go, the skirt was yet to be finished, and she didn’t bother with a fitting on the skirt, figuring that it was supposed to be big and fluffy. But it was still “scaled up”. (Apparently mostly what she did there other than attaching skirt to bodice was sew on lace. Lots of lace. Enough that their roommates commented.) When she’s feeling better she’ll be cutting it down. This is what Willow wrote about the con on her Deviant Art site:
So yeah. That con felt like it lasted forever. Not in a good way either. the days just seemed so long!
Roommates were fascinating, a Doll Elitist and a Kimono Elitist. XD And my sister, of course, the Lolelitist. I felt very low key, with my minor ‘detail elitist’ tendency.
Remarkably Friday was the best day for sales. I should have brought the knuckle buster. Live and learn.
Someone asked me how my blankets would sell once it got warmer. Blankets are always awesome. They’re polar-fleece, so you can sit on them, and Cons often have bizarre horribly cold patches, just as often as they get over heated. I got so many ideas, I thought I’d share.
This is followed by a list of designs she plans to do- personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures of the 20+ she’s done posted. Before the con she hung each on her display rack and took a shot, so knowing that I could see them that way, I didn’t get in the way. Now they are mostly sold, and I STILL haven’t seen them. They did say that due to her clever display that allowed them to hang one of her blankets behind them (until it sold) they had one of the best looking displays in Artists Alley. (above)
Once the girls are on their feet again, we’re going to get new cell phones- don’t worry we think the numbers will stay the same. Shannon and Kim Hart are at the local Verizon store and they showed me a bunch of cameras that would probably be good for us (a GPS for Kat, messaging for Willow, no frills for me). Willow’s phone is dead, but she says it’s been four or five years since we got them, so it’s not surprising. One thing we are going to try for is that all the phones use the same blasted accessories- chargers and connectors to the computers. Some of those phones have more memory than computers we’ve had!
Kat interviewed another shrink this week- which must have been difficult what with having lost her voice. Because of having pushed it during that hour, she hasn’t told us what she thought about this one yet.
Well, that’s covered the weather, my and the kids activities, and our in-activities, (what we watched and read) as well as some gossip. No diatribes on the world scene- I’m so out of touch.
Te nisi oblectas, perperam facis.
(If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.) – Sir Ernst