Dear Family, April 3 (should be 2), 2014
This is a dangerous part of of the year. Especially in mid-afternoon the sun’s coming down, thawing everything, it feels warm on your skin, and then you step into a shadow and wow! you get it by the cold. I don’t THINK I’m wearing less because I’m optimistic, I think I’m still in my flannel slips, and quilted skirts and sweaters, but we aren’t always firing up the wood-stove every day now, and boy do I miss it! Liz told me that the other day she decided to wash all her bedding and it was still a bit damp when she had to go to bed, and was chilling her. And people make fun of me for having a water bed! If I didn’t have layers of wool and two feather beds between me and it, I daresay it would be sucking the heat out of me! (I use it for that intentionally in the summer.)
But I’ve been watching as the melting happens. Last week there were dark circles in the white snow around the tree trunks, then dark patches of ground started to show where the runoff is creating spring run-off rills. Then on the south facing slopes we started to get whole patches of clear ground. When you drive you can still see huge (if gray and disgusting looking) snow berms on the south sides of east/west roads, but on the north side, where the sun hits, they are almost gone.
Sadly, because the plow has to put the snow somewhere (we don’t want to park), most of the snow that’s left is on the gardens- the herb garden and the raised beds they made last year. Due to reflecting off the house, the strip with the spring bulbs is pretty much clear and in desperate need of a raking. Once the bulbs thrust up through the leaves, they grow like crazy, and the daffodils (or maybe hyacinth) are beginning. We also seem to have neglected to remove one pumpkin from the steps last fall, it looks pretty funny. We weren’t quite sure what it was until we spotted the stem!
I have discovered that the little candle spinners mostly associated with Christmas, also come with other shapes- so I can watch them all year long. I got one with little clusters of “cherry blossoms” as I understand that it’s about the time they bloom (in Japan or DC maybe!).
I’d still been enjoying the candle holders with snowflakes. Last week I suddenly got the idea that we’ve been eating off the snowflake patterned dishes and drinking out of the snowflake cups, so while I doubt there is any causal connection, I put those away and brought out the green glass plates. Since there are no bowls in that set, we have the red glass dishes, and gold glass bowls, and have red, blue, and green glasses and cups, so our dinner tables are very brightly colored just now. Also the affordable flowers are the “crazy daisies” that have been dyed. Soon, soon we shall have flowers from the yard! The other day I looked out and noticed that it was seven o’clock and still light out. How exciting! We found some column candles at the store and I found that one of the candle spindles can sit on a column candle of the sort we like to keep in the window, so now we have sparkles running around the kitchen ceiling as if we were a disco parlor- at least while the sun is shining.
It doesn’t go down below freezing at night, and it does get to an honest 60º during the day. The door-well thermometer goes up to 80º when the sun is directly on it, but we know it’s misleading!
I suppose I should mention that we tried the squashed sandwich again- this time without leaving the sides on the round loaf. I think it was a more successful sandwich. The sides didn’t seem to be good for anything. This time we remembered to put in the pickled banana peppers, so it was very tasty! I must admit that I’m more likely to try something new, as I’ve been enjoying the Everyday Gourmet video course. Even though I’m a pretty good cook, I don’t think there’s a lesson where I haven’t learned something. And I love that the chef is frugal! He keeps saying “don’t throw X away! You can use it in Y later!” That’s my kind of cook! I’d never thought of making spicy oil by cooking peppers in it (or mushroom flavored oil, or whatever), but it’s a lovely idea. I am tempted by the idea of sauces, which I never have been before, but mostly they seem to be using the flavors left in the bottom of the pan suspended in some liquid and with their seasoning punched up in some way. The other night I made a stir-fry with a new brand of sausage and maybe I should have poured off the oil to use for something else, because it was quite hot! Each of us made an amusing face when we took our first bite of the sausage. We added sour cream, and cheese on top- which isn’t traditional for stir-fry, but worked really well to meld all the flavors so that it wasn’t painful to eat, just pleasantly spicy.
I’ve started banting (avoiding carbohydrates) again, and sadly, or happily, the weight is coming back off, as it had crept up when I stopped. Feh. I am glad to get rid of it, but I hope I’ll be able to find a stable place where it won’t come back. I admit that during the cold months potatoes, pastas, breads, and rices are wonderful for warming your spirit as well as your body.
I have spent the last week updating the websites, both Tchipakkan and CTCW. Honour called last week and told me that some lady out in the Midrealm was looking for cabochons for a new coronet, so I went out to the trailer and pulled the right size, scanned them, and put the image on the Cabochons section of the site, then I started putting in old pictures. It was meant to be a description of the history of the business- but I had to put in pictures of our various house and tents! Kathryn Goodwyn has been posting lovely old shots of all of us when we were young and pretty on Facebook, and that probably inspired me. Wasn’t she gorgeous? This is the way I always see her in my mind, even now that we’re old ladies exchanging recipes and patterns over the internet.
Honour has also learned the results of the custody hearing. Little Nicky, Alex and Zon’s son, has been awarded to Zon’s parents, so it’s going to be up to them how much Honour and Alex get to see him. I was aware that they were having trouble getting along, but I hadn’t realized that they were really splitting up. It’s always hard on everyone. I feel so out of touch!
The check came from the insurance for the repairs from the broken pipe in Dad’s (our) house. Sadly because it belongs to all of us, Trish has had to send special forms that we’re going to have to get notarized in order for the contracter who fixed the house to be able to cash it. Oh, and there are two (for two aspects of the repair) and they sent one of them not to Trish, but to the house, where Liz had to pick it up, mail it to Trish, so that another set of forms can go out and get notarized. Trish is NOT happy with the insurance company. I thought she was with an insurance company, so find that a bit ironic.
Oh, my new license came. I am looking forward to the new one in four years. Remind me to check my hair and put on makeup. Argh! I thought the black and white was bad, the color version is worse!
I’ve also been updating the New Normal part of the website, the directory of Podcasts. I used to put the description of the show and the link on the website each week, and stopped sometime last spring, and have been trying to get that caught up. The biggest problem is I don’t know how people would want to find them, by the name of the guest, by the topic, by the date? Live Paranormal just records them and sticks them onto their archive site by date, with the unhelpful tag New Normal. Very occasionally it will mention who the guest is, but not often, so not only do you have to scroll through about 20 shows per page looking for the New Normal, you don’t really know if you’ve got the right one until you start listening. And you have to listen to the first 90 seconds of that awful “anthem” before you get to the introduction of the guest. I’ve asked the producer for some way to tag them, but he never gets back to me. So I’ve gone through the first 60 pages or so, and gotten links for the most recent 30, but still have to get about another 30 more to get back to where I lost track of it.
I have also been adding more old letters to the letter page. I’m now posting backwards and forwards- adding one letter per week as I write them, and trying for adding an old letter a day to the archives, as I remember to copy them in. The oldest one I have posted at this point is from May in 2009, which just doesn’t seem that long ago to me! I’m also supposed to keep the “where I’ll be when” page updated, and I should put in more of my work from the SCA. It seems that the SCA requires people to have web-pages to showcase their medieval skills these days! That’s a mind blower for me. In theory my website should cover all the aspects of what I do, but I haven’t got time to put in a small percentage of it.
I did get to a real “blog post” this week. There was a rather well known pagan who got charged with pornography this week, and it sort of echoed in my mind with when a guy in the SCA was charged with it. Of course at that point the focus was on how to protect the SCA corporation from being sued because they hadn’t prevented it. That would be like suing all pagans for this fellow, or a science fiction or anime convention because one of their attendees or authors assaulted someone. This is, of course, why a few years ago Jane and I made CTCW an LLC, so that sort of ridiculous thing couldn’t happen to us. There are jerks out there who hurt people, and there are people of good will out there who always hope that their unease is just in their minds. I’d say that usually it is, but when it isn’t, we all feel so freaking guilty that we didn’t act on a niggling suspicion, and “stop it before it happened”. Except haven’t we all been accused of something we didn’t do, and doesn’t that feel awful? We don’t want to do that either. So we all struggle along the best we can and sometimes err on one side, and sometimes on the other. Let’s forgive ourselves, recognize that it’s too complex to come up with a “one size fits all” solution, and get on with our lives! That’s the short form, of course, and you can read the whole thing if you want. Probably because of the many exciting tags, I’ve garnered another handful of readers this week.
I enjoy writing these essays, and I’m flattered, but always surprised when someone reads them. I wonder what the phenomenon of blogging is doing to our culture. I equate it in my mind with the collected letters of Augustine, or Marcus Aurelius, or collected sermons, which I seem to remember being published in the 19th century. I fear that it rather more self indulgent than that. We are using it instead of soap boxes (like the “Unibomber”). When you are writing, there’s no friend to stop you from nattering on, or editor to tell you to tighten it up.
On the CTCW website I’m adding classes and presenters, and new pages (I just added one for the readers, who last year were in with the vendors.) I’ve had a lot of trouble from expecting things to be instantaneous- I’ve gotten blocked from the site for “trying to access a page that isn’t there”, which I think may mean that I was using the back button to reach the menu instead of waiting for the menu to reload and have to search for the right spot in it again.
Today the hotel page disappeared. I spent all morning trying to figure out why it wasn’t showing up, finally reloaded it, and then there were two copies of it (and I don’t know how to get rid of the extra one). I have no idea why it went away, but sadly, someone wanted it, reported it, and it ate up a whole lot of my time and stressed me out. This is just one of those mysteries, like why sometimes the yeast rises and sometimes it doesn’t. Did you know that adding the salt at the beginning slows the action of the yeast? Add it after the dough has started rising. If you don’t know this, I doubt that you think of asking if it would have an effect.
Last night on the New Normal we were talking about Crystals. Starwolf knows so much that last fall he only covered quartz crystals, and so I had him back to talk about tektites and calcite. Tektites are bits of moon rock that were knocked off the moon by asteroid strikes, then fused into a glass like substance falling to earth. There are even some that are gemstone quality, like Moldavite. Very cool. Calcites, on the other hand, come in lots of colors and are fairly soft. You have to be careful to not put them in a sack with others or wash them or they could melt. Apparently Starwolf’s energy has melted the corners of some of the ones put on his body! It’s actually the mineral for 3 on the Moh hardness scale (you know 10 for diamond, 1 for chalk) so it’s really soft. You also have to be careful or you can wash it away like a raccoon washing the cake mix he wanted to eat. Now who would think of worrying about a rock melting‽ There are so many things that never occur to us to question?
One of the things I did last week was lose the whole blog page on CTCW. This is the page where speakers contribute guest posts, and Cathy puts up inspirational thoughts, and I advertise New Normal shows and tell people what new classes I’ve put up, and speakers who’ve joined us, etc. But while scheduling (you can put a post in to come onto the website later!) a future post, I noticed a page that was empty, it just said blog, so I figured it was a draft that hadn’t been finished and deleted it. Apparently you need an empty page to make the blog work. Thank goodness Brian was able to figure it out! I’m sure the hotel page snafu is something similar.
Very little else happened this week. On Friday night, Corwyn Blackthorn (the newest member of Stormgard) came by. He was going to the Fencing Champions Tourney on Saturday, and a friend of his from Maine wanted some new stockings, so he picked them up to take down to him. We were having one of the little turkeys I stock up on in November, and I called Brian, who’d originally introduced him to us, that dinner was being late (some problem with the oven thermostat), so he was able to come too. We had a lovely time. Corwyn is my kind of new member- he plunged in, doing everything he could and is now the Regional Chancellor Minor- that’s the guy who organizes children’s activities. He feels that it shouldn’t be a baby sitting service, but where kids get to experience cool medieval activities. I’ve always felt that way. I know some people brought their kids peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and whatever foods were familiar, let them run around in modern clothing, and play with their electronics because the kids don’t want to participate in SCA activities. Well, heck, if I was given boring stuff to do, I wouldn’t like it either. Because of worries about litigiousness, the kids have been allowed to do less and less. Why do they think kids are idiots? In the middle ages kids the age of these were cooking, cleaning, building, and putting in a full days work- as apprentices rather than master craftsmen, sure, but we should let them to whatever they can- as far as modern restrictions will allow us. So I made sure they got out fairly early because Corwyn had to drive to Connecticut in the morning.
Brian was heading off to the Magickal Marketplace first thing in the morning, because on staff. A few years ago, about the time Jane and I were starting CTCW, our friend Mike Dolan decided to run a psychic fair, and since at the time we were just coming down from Lunacon, AnimeBoston, and gearing up for Mithracon, we decided to not get involved. I figured it was just merchants and readers, with a very few workshops, and some entertainment? (Mike’s in a band Featherscale, and knows the other musicians on the pagan circuit, so of course there’s entertainment.) Well, blow me down! It is so much bigger than CTCW already. I am SO going to pick his brain!
Remember last week Kat and I spent hours up in the attic digging through the cloth bins to create order? Mostly it was in order to make Corwyn a new outfit because he’s too busy doing other stuff to get himself garb. And we made an outfit for Frostalf, so we figured, we should keep doing it for new members. Kat kept his favorite Gold Key outfit to copy so it would fit, and we were looking for fabric that would be about the same color, because, clearly, he liked it. Well, we didn’t get it made in two days, but she did cut out the copies, and was able to hand over the loaner garb for him to wear over the weekend. But there I was with two bins of cloth that I’d decided I’d never use, and what to do with it? It turns out the Shema, at A Sacred Place is working again for the homeless, this time making quilts. So even though we weren’t working there, we decided to meet her at the Magical Marketplace and hand over the bins (or rather sacks) of cloth. The downside of the popularity was that it was crammed. REALLY crowded, and very loud. Kat opted not to go in at all, and both Willow and I were very happy we weren’t spending 8 hours in that mob. We took a few minutes to drop off the cloth, say hi to a few friends, and then, frankly, fled. It would probably have been better in the room with the workshops, or readers, but the vendors were in the same room as the entertainers, so the shoppers were yelling over the music, and it wasn’t pleasant. I’d been thinking of maybe getting some entertainment for CTCW, but not if it’s in the same room as the vendors, that’s for sure!
On the other hand, Jane and I both looked at the hotel (the Raddison in Nashua) and liked it. I still think of it as the Sharaton Tara, which is what it was when we moved up to NH in 1979! I shall have to find out if they have what we need for CTCW, it will probably be cheaper. I was also shocked to discover that it’s right across from Mark’s place. We were combining three errands, check Mark’s place, drop off the fabric, and check out the Nashua pet shelter. All these years I’ve been going to Marks and not realizing it was the same exit. I knew, separately that they were both on exit one, but didn’t connect them and was VERY disoriented when I saw that there was the Tara behind trees that had grown up in the last 20 years.
Leaving the hotel we spent an hour in the shelter. Sadly, they had no cats in yellow, white or black, so we left without one. I went to look at the dogs and ended up crying because I want a dog, and because those dogs need owners. It’s so sad when someone has to give up his dog. I think the playing with kittens helped, but not as much as if you could actually handle them. We were all stressed, Kat most of all.
Back home it was back to my computer, we paid for our Pennsic Merchant registration, and I worked on the websites. I heard from Quinton, he may have figured out how to raise the roof! Tracy also called- next weekend is Charlotte’s memorial service- on what would have been her birthday. It’s down in Long Island, and he generously offered to pay for us to take the ferry and greatly reduce the amount of driving to get there! I was so happy to take him up on his generous offer! Such a sweet guy! And we’ll get to talk on the ferry. The only question was would Kat be able to be somewhere she wouldn’t have to look at the water. Water she “can’t walk out of” makes her nervous. Given that she’s so dense she sinks, this is hardly surprising. Today I got a lovely letter about her and her life from I think a cousin who knew her as a kid, and again when she was living in Tucson. I am so happy to have that, and was amused to note that they lived in a house with privy, no indoor plumbing but a pump beside the sink going to a well under the house. My god, people think you are deprived if you haven’t got TV these days!
I don’t know if you were aware but 8:30 to 9:30 (eastern time) was “Earth Hour”. Everyone was supposed to turn off all unnecessary lights. I think they wanted to see if they could get enough people to do it that you could tell the difference. Not a big deal, I figure you turn off everything but your computer or TV, and it’ll be no inconvenience. Probably not much change either. Sadly, I was so wrapped up in my computer stuff I forgot dinner, and Kat got hungry. She generally eats every couple of hours (as her father did at her age.) We’ve gotten used to this.
But she’d gotten headachy and unsteady. I figured it was hunger and the stress of the day. But she felt the same or worse the next day, and the next. Yesterday we decided it was a migraine. They do run in my family, and it looked about the same, except that she also developed a toothache. OK, I figured, her immune system is shot and she’s having total systems shut down. Finally today her lymph nodes started to swell, and Willow took her to the doctor. Now she’s on an antibiotic, and the doctor suggested she get her teeth looked at, so it’s not something we need to worry about taking to the funeral. I do hope she’s feeling better before the long drive though.
Willows coming up on a month since she started taking the steroids for her medial epichonditius, and splinting her arm straight while she sleeps. It’s better, but not well. Now she has to negotiate the rocky terrain of how to get them to understand what she’s asking. Money is an consideration. So are risks, but if this gentle treatment isn’t fixing it after a month, she’s ready to have them stick the honking big painful needle into her elbow in order to have the tingling and numbness finally go away. There seem to be far too man layers of them trying to guess what she wants when she’s actually saying it.
Sunday when Steve came up Kat didn’t feel like eating dinner with us. Steve brought us some matzohs (they come in bundles of 5 boxes). We watched the new Lone Ranger because he hadn’t seen it. Willow wasn’t there either because she’d gone out gaming. I miss gaming, but while I’m not able to drive after dark, I’m not any more liable to do gaming again than I am to get a dog while we’re on this road. I made madelaines for afters, and realized why mine may puff when I don’t do a lot of beating. My technique is much the same as for cream puffs, the eggs are going into a hot mixture. That’s probably what does it! Mystery solved after 20 some years. (I’m still watching the cooking course- although it does NOT include baking.)
Monday morning we woke up to find everything sheeted with ice, and hail all over the driveway, but by afternoon it was all gone. So both “Liony” and “Lamby”, who knows what will happen? Welcome to New England! I bet you didn’t hear about the latest (20th) Climate Change Conference. They don’t make a big deal out of it any more because no one wants to hear it. The scientists report confirmed that the risks are extreme and that there are real opportunities to reduce them. They’re hoping that if we shape up and commit to fixing problems, we’ll be able to reduce the temperature rise from 4º to 2º up, and reduce the worst of the impact, but frankly, their report is scary and seems to be being ignored, which is scarier.
Looking at my journal the most exciting things that have happened this week is John got a haircut for the funeral, and Willow mailed out three more blankets (one to Virginia, one to Texas and one to California). Other than that, all my time has been spent on the freaking computer!
It reminds me when it’s time to get up and exercise, but I have such a dislike for the annoying character they have given to the animated “wii”. Even though it regularly reminds me that your weight fluxuates several pounds across the day, if I weigh more than last time, it says “Now let’s think about why you’ve gained weight” and you are supposed to click one from “eating too much” “not exercising enough” “eating too late”, do they offer you “weighed myself at a different time than usual”? No! and if you pick one, it then goes through a series of “suggestions” that you have to click to get past in order to get to the exercise games. I am so annoyed by this I often just turn the freaking machine off and don’t bother playing, rather than jump through their inappropriately thought out hoops.
And yes, I have often told the Red Cross that their questions asking “have you had sex with anyone who has had sex with another man” is both impossible to answer accurately (how would I know?) except that they don’t allow you to skip that series of 12 questions that all start “in the last year have you had sex with…?” by just saying “no, I haven’t had sex in the last year”, and getting to skip them. And I’ve told their representatives (who have no control over the questions) that money changing hands has NO impact on germs being passed. I am an arguer. I hate logic errors. And yes, that does mean that Facebook drives me nuts too.
What am I reading? I just got my copy of Morgan Daimler’s Fairy Witchcraft book. I’d pre-ordered it, it was supposed to come out at the end of the month, and I have her as a guest on the New Normal on Walpergis Night (May Eve). I thought I’d have to rush through it, but I won’t. Have I explained my mixed reading method? Each night I read one section of several books. The Encyclopedia of Magic and Witchcraft at about two pages a day I should finish by June. I’m reading about one Artist a day in Artist to Artist a book made for kids who love art by working illustrators. It shows their studio, a self portrait and some art they did as a kid, and a picture of them as a kid. There’s about 30 of them. I’ve just finished a highly illustrated book about the Ancient Mediterranean called Mysterious Places. I knew most of it, but hadn’t encountered Tarxien before and wasn’t up on Leptis Magna a Roman City in modern Lybia that was protected (covered) by drifting sand. I’m pretty sure we visited Mistra when we were in Greece, but I didn’t appreciate it as much at 18 as I would now. I read a fairy tale from A Book of Enchantments and Curses, and try to read a page or two in Spanish or German, then I read about 20 pages or chapters up to that amount of whatever non-fiction I’m working on. Right now I have 5 books on white slavery out. I’ve read the first few chapters of each but am thinking to finish them singly now, as it begins to run together. I am totally appalled by how the English treated the Irish. It was just as bad as anything the “whites” did to the “blacks” in the Americas, and went on much longer. They have a lot to be proud of, and I’m rather glad most of them seem to have given up anything more than an habit of anger at the wrongs done their ancestors. Thinking about it makes me angry. But then, why would it make someone with Irish blood more angry? It happened to other people, long ago. It was wrong, and anyone who hears about it agrees on that. The books include White Cargo: the forgotten history of Britain’s White Slaves in America, (The American Girl story got it right, they did steal healthy poor teens off the street and made them slaves in the colonies.), the Famine Plot, To Hell or Barbados (a take off of Cromwell’s saying that the Irish could go “to Hell or to Connaught” Connaught was basically a reservation for the indigenous Irish, so the English could take all the good land), Colonists for Sale, and They Were White and They were Slaves. I’ve got The Irish Slaves, on my kindle, but haven’t got to it yet. Instead I have been reading Little Colonel’s holiday. Also the last of the True Blood series (I can’t keep the names straight). I love the characters and the writing in that series. She may be a telepath with a fairy godmother, but she still has to do her laundry and worries about shaving her legs. Even the vampires have to get their lawns mowed somehow. It’s a lovely level of complexity, and humanity. It’s a very comfortable book to read, even though there’s something happening every chapter. After raising my blood pressure with the white slavery stuff (and yes, usually they called them indentured servants, but it’s not like they didn’t sell them, work them to death, and treat them as badly as the ones from Africa, but also they were honestly called slaves sometimes), it’s good to read a fantasy romance.
Well, I’ve sure written a lot about a week where nothing happened.
Until next week, all my best, let me know if there’s anything I can do for you
*Why Fish Fingers and Custard Day? It seems to have something to do with Doctor Who.
and his regeneration. Fish don’t have fingers, it just seems to be what the British call breaded fish sticks.