5-15-2000 Mother’s Day Week

What a beautiful day!  Hi,there!                           May 15, 2000

Spring is back- we’ve had some rain (including thunderstorms), some
sun, and a range of temperatures. But it hasn’t gone under 38 degrees at
night, nor over 80. We have roses and lilac and violets and pansies and
the lily-of-the-valley are on the way! This is the best smelling time of
year! (of course, not having pigs out back may help that a lot) I have
an embarrassment of flowers- my favorite Rembrant tulips- gold and
scarlet- are still around, and a few hyacinth, the apple and cherry
trees are blooming, the columbine and bleeding hearts are blooming too.
Blooming, blooming everywhere. Sadly, it was a bad year for bees, and I
didn’t get my dibs in soon enough. Doc Roy has a line on a bee keeper
who MAY have some Nucs (bee colony nucleus) for sale in June- if they
propagate vigorously. I am hoping to get some, but may have to wait
until next year.

We now have six almost identical white kids- the size between the week
olds and the three week olds is not immediately apparent. They do self
sort though- the three week olds are on bottles and come mobbing us when
we show up. I hope to switch the other three (Titania, Oberon, and Puck)
onto bottles this week. Once again, Kat is campaigning to have us save a
pair of weathers she can train to pull a cart. I don’t know if she would
be able to invest the time to do such training. A natural goat is NOT
cooperative- and the last thing you need when you are seated in a cart
attached to a goat, is for it/them to start giving goaty attitude! If
you do a good job with the training, it is supposed to be able to work.
I expect it depends on the trainer and the individual goat. All we can
do is let her try, and eat the failures.

We are trying a new tactic with the goslings- having gotten them to two
weeks old (the ones that the adult geese didn’t already lose) in the
brooder, we have put them into the main chicken house, and opened a
window through which the chickens can go in and out; and we have left
one of the adult geese (a volunteer)in with the mixed duckling and
gosling flock  so they can get used to each other. After another week or
two, we think we may be able to let them go outside together. Or the
goose may lose interest before then. Either way, it doesn’t cost us much
effort. Or goslings. And there is a goose sitting the other nest of
goose eggs- but inasmuch as they let the turkey sit them for the first
two weeks or so, and turkeys don’t automatically wet their eggs- which I
understand geese and ducks need to do- I don’t know if they are still
viable. On the other hand, at this point we have six surviving goslings-
that’s a roast goose every two months- and I think that’s plenty.

The playmobil is still out in the diningroom- castle, palace, enchanted
woods… I expect I’ll put most of it away sometime this week.

I took out the video version of The Pirates of Penzance so the kids
could understand why I was singing it since seeing the show. Then this
week I got a copy of the most recent version of A Midsummers Night Dream
(with Kevin Klein as Bottom). I thoroughly enjoyed this interpretation
of the play within a play at the end of it. But then, I also can enjoy
Noises Off despite repeated viewings.

Willow auditioned for the Nashua Theatre Guild’s Shakespeare in the
Park this summer. She says that although she was pretty sure she
wouldn’t be able to get a part, she knows that she’s going to have to
practice auditioning or she’ll never get any. How courageous that seems
to me. (I hated auditioning- I was such a wimp!)

I finished the sequel to the Natuckett Time Travel Book _Against the
Tide of the Years_ (modern Nantucket folk in Homeric Greece and Babylon),
and have started _Seasonal Magick_, a non-fiction book of small town
traditional witchcraft in England. I am pleased when someone from the
older traditions decides that they might as well write something to
counter all the “fluff bunny paganism” books out there.

Fitz’s computer died again. This time not revivably. Since it’s only
been a month or so since he had to put $100 into reviving it, it’s
doubly disappointing. Mark and Bruce have helped him out with getting a
new one, though. This time it’s a laptop- I think he said eight pounds
total. Much more compact. He did consider an I-Mac, which would have
driven Kat off the deep end, she is so convinced that she needs one.

And it’s bad enough, because Star has gotten his computer installed in
his room. Friday night we assembled and installed the shelves in his
room, and moved the new desk in. The rest of the weekend he spent
filling the shelves. He has a rather appalling number of videos- which I
was only too happy to have him take out of my video area, since my
storage capacity has been exceeded long ago. He’s got Pokemon movies,
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Movies, LOTS of Saturday Morning and Friday
Evening shows on tape, Mary Kate and Ashley videos, … And, I am happy
to say, he didn’t seem to have tried to run off with too many of our
family videos. We spent Sunday afternoon sorting through the bins of old
toys, art supplies, lost clothing and shoes, and other mixed kid-mess,
deciding which to keep -out, which to keep in storage (“After I’ve paid
that much for it, if you don’t want it anymore, I’m keeping it for my
grandchildren!”), which to trash, and which to put into a box for a yard
sale. As usual, it has been hard to explain to the kids that one
shouldn’t expect to make much money at a yard sale, since people go to
them to get bargains. Basically, you get only token amounts, and don’t
have to haul the stuff to the recycling center yourself. If you like the
doll, toy, or whatever (that some adult probably paid $10-20 for) keep
it, because you are not going to get more than 50 cents for it.

On the other hand, having had Kat and Willow clean their rooms, and
having Star do his is inspiring me to try to do the same to the house. I
don’t need to keep high heeled shoes I don’t wear, or clothes that are
“still good” but too stained to be caught wearing, or pencils that are
too short to use comfortably. I won’t save broken crayons any more. This
may sound silly, but it’s a big change for me. We did send two large
bags of cloth scraps to the dump- and I sorted the best out to be cut
into cleaning scraps first.
I expect this week Aelfwine will get a computer into Kat’s room too,
and he’s talking about making all the computers “network”- sounds
useful- but I’m not REALLY sure I know what it means.

I’ve been thinking about hoarding. (probably from watching Honour try
to weed out what she’s going to pack, and what she’s going to dump- as
well as the kids cleaning their rooms.) Hoarding “sounds” bad. Saving
for the future “sounds” good. How do you know when enough is enough? One
popular theory is that you should get rid of anything you haven’t used
within a year. Now how far would that have gotten Joseph and the
Egyptians? How many (and who) is it reasonable to save for? I think it’s
reasonable to buy stuff on sale for later use- but not so much it will
go bad before you use it. I have collected tools and materials for
hundreds of projects- but there is only a limited amount of time to get
to them. I want to learn to weave- but when am I going to fit the time
in to warp the loom? I’d like to paint every week, to practice the piano
and the harp, if not daily, frequently. I want to have peaches, pears,
plums, apricots, nuts, berries, etc. but if I don’t have time to harvest
and preserve them, is it wasteful to plant them? Am I putting in enough
orchard to support a household of fifteen, when in a few years it will
be just me and Aelfwine? Or, will the set-up induce some of the kids to
be able to deal with a multi-generational household as has been the norm
with humans, even if it isn’t common in modern America?

It doesn’t take too much for even the most practical question to become
philosophical- and then circle back to the practical again once I start
examining it.

Thursday during errands, we picked up Chinese food and met Dan, and
descended upon Aelfwine at work and all had lunch together. It was a lot
of fun, although I’m not sure what the co-worker and “boss” (company
president) who saw us laughing in his two table cafeteria thought. We
will have to try to do it again.

I tuned into the Channel 11 auction several nights this week, but
didn’t catch my paintings being sold. The last day it occurred to me to
try their website preview section, but my paintings weren’t there. Sigh.
I would have liked to have heard them going on about how wonderful my
stuff was the way they were doing for the paintings I did see. Oh, well.
I wish they could have told me what day my paintings were going to be
up. They said it was going to be Wednesday- but it wasn’t, unless they
did them after 10 (I went to bed).

Dad called this week to tell me that one of our family friends- Pat
Roberts, had had a kidney transplant from one of her daughters- Sarah, I
think he said. Pat had had a kidney transplant long ago from back when
they were doing donors from dead donors. I understand that hers lasted
much longer than any other cadaver kidney, but after well over 20 years,
it failed, and they went for the more popular relative donation. Way
Beth, her daughter, was one of my best friends when we were living
in Farmington. It’s hard to find other kids who think spending the
afternoon drawing and reading is reasonable. The Roberts girls (Beth,
Jan, Megan and Sarah), pretty much matched up by ages with me, Liz and
Kitty, so Pat and my Mother could visit without having to run too much
interference. I remember one story about when they had all eight or nine
of us in Waterville (the nearby “big city”) for back-to-school clothes
buying, and one of the saleswomen commented that she could usually tell
which kids belonged to which mother, but since both of them disciplined
any and all of us she couldn’t figure it out! Pat is also the one who
came up with the fantastic idea of flouring rather than moistening the
juncture between top and bottom crusts on your apple pie, so that when
it had cooked (leaving that empty space where the apples shrank out of)
you could lift the top crust and fill it with whipped cream just before

I’ve been thinking (brooding would be a bit over-dramatic) about
something I read this week. In theory the first rule of Buddhist thought
is that “All life is suffering”, and, if I understand it right, (which I
have to assume that I don’t, since it doesn’t make much sense) that we
humans waste our lives trying to avoid pain and get pleasure. There are
a lot of Buddhists in the world, and that makes so little sense to me
that I have to assume I am just totally misinterpreting it. I tend to
think that we live in the physical world- for whatever reason. The
physical world provides us with both the tools and the materials with
which and on which to create effects, to learn, to interact with the
world and each other. I see pain and pleasure as tools, as ways of
knowing whether you’ve made mistakes. You grab a nettle plant without
gloves on- it stings. You say something someone else doesn’t want to
hear, you have to live with their fear, anger, or other response. Look
how not having (physical) pain responses complicates the lives of
lepers. Feedback is good. Without it we can’t learn from the world
around us.
I kind of wonder if what they mean is that you shouldn’t hate/fear pain
and add other emotional baggage TO it, but just use it as a feedback
tool for learning. That would make sense. But I still bump up against
the “Life is suffering” idea. I wonder if it isn’t a mistranslation.
Maybe it should come out to “life is struggle”. After all, the Bible
translators renders the same word where Adam had to bring food from the
soil by his “sweat” and Eve had to bring forth children through “pain”,
when both could well be rendered “labor”. (Once again, Mother’s
suggestion that the most important aspect of learning a foreign language
is realizing that there are concepts that are not possible to express in
different languages.) The author of the article I just read had accepted
the “suffering” translation, as she had always figured that suffering
was a punishment for not living right- if you got enlightened, (ate
vegetarian, didn’t pollute, meditated every day, recycled, etc.) you
wouldn’t suffer anymore. And since she kept suffering, she was convinced
that she was doing something wrong. `Scuse me lady, you can be
enlightened as all get out, but if you drop a can on your toe, it’s
still going to hurt. Learning is feedback, feedback is positive AND
negative, and when you aren’t learning, you’re dead. (Actually, I don’t
think we stop learning after we die either, but that’s a different
Anyway, at this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s good to
have both pleasure and pain available, and trying to get pleasure and
avoid pain is a good idea. If it wasn’t wrong- it wouldn’t hurt.
Awareness can help one deal with pain- a sharp object breaching the skin
is not good- therefore your body sends you a pain signal. However,
donating blood is good, so your brain can accept the pain, and goes beyond
it. Anyway, that’s as far as I’ve gotten with that bit of philosophy.
Feedback would be wonderful.

Merlin and Krystal came up to visit this weekend. We didn’t get to see
much of them (duh! they are Willow’s age, AND we tend to be rather busy)
but it was nice to see them again. I keep forgetting that Aelfwine and I
aren’t just out of college. I have to assume that my parents felt the
same way when our friends were around. Krystal had never been to a
drive-in movie, so they went. Of course Willow and I had made a HUGE
batch of chili for the crowd- five pounds of ground beef, a pound of dry
red beans put on Friday morning which swelled up mightily, pepperoni,
eight assorted cans of tomato sauces and pastes, the last of last years
oregano, several of our chili peppers, a cup of garlic, six cups of
onions, it was fantastic! Then, they ate out. So we have leftovers.
Dang! 😉
(of course, part of the reason we made so much is that the last
half dozen times we made large batches of chili, no matter how huge a
batch we made, there was never any left over.)

Another funny thing is when Willow took them over to Missy’s Cafe for
breakfast. (they drink coffee, and so tend to go out for breakfast- I
did manage to force some blueberry waffles on them Sunday morning before
they left). We have discovered the Missy’s has really good food, and
reasonable portions at reasonable prices, so when people are going out,
we recommend it to them. Apparently at breakfast, the chef has a
“challenge” breakfast. If you can eat three of his “dinner plate”
pancakes in 20 minutes or less, your party gets 50% off their bill.
Willow figured that she was hungry, and it was worth a shot. Well, maybe
the batter is dinner plate sized when he pours it on the griddle- but
they were hanging over the edges of the plate when they brought it- and
the pancakes were easily an inch thick each. She got through a half of
one. (She says they also use REAL maple syrup- I know they use real
corned beef for their ruben sandwiches). They brought home the two and a
half leftovers- it over filled a medium pizza box! It could have fed a
small Bedouin tribe, if you’d added a lamb and some garlic hummus! The
chef says he can eat it. Right.

I have to sic Dennis on them when he gets back from England. He and
Megan have e-mailed a few times and are having a great time (he tells me
that their friend Motto was first violin at Pirates). They’ve gotten a
copy of Mrs. Beetons cookbook, and are eating their way up and down the
canals. Megan sent me a postcard of a manor house kitchen with over 100
copper pots and bowls! We’ve been invited to join them for a week, and
are going to have to try and figure out the logistics. This one is too
good to pass up. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, (whilst and at the same time as putting the garden in) I am
trying to do a sweep of the house and get rid of everything that can go
into a yard sale- We figure we can combine with Honour, with anything
she thinks she can get rid of. But we are talking packrats here. It’s
hard to get rid of something when you try and figure out how you would
replace it in the future.

23.  Spend some time alone.