5-21-14 Memo Day

DSC01236Dear Liz,
Spring is sprung, the grass is riz! Also violets and dandelions, the bleeding hearts, and in Milford (off the mountain) the lilacs are beginning to open. The peas seem to be coming up well in the first bed, although the snow peas I put in a month ago seem not to be showing as much enthusiasm, as the “bush” peas I put in two weeks ago. I picked up a bunch of seedlings of lettuce and put them in the second bed, along with four cucumber seedlings (by an old target for them to grow up), red and yellow cherry tomatoes, and some beets, chard and spinach. I also put in a nice mix of lettuce, scallion, and radish seeds which should be showing as I harvest the lettuce from the flats.

We (Jon) put one flat of strawberry seeds in the strawberry planter, and I put a row of lettuce “between” the two sides of the peas. Well, if the snow peas don’t grow, I’ll have space to put something else in- maybe pepper plants when I give up on them. Oh, and we found a garden cart for under $150! I have no idea what happened to our old wheelbarrow- I fear it may have been taken away as “scrap” by the people we paid to clean the yard last year. Sigh.
I still haven’t given up on my plan to move the pop-up over by the woodshed and set up the potters wheel under it, but I also haven’t gotten around to doing it. A neighbor came by and relieved us of the old propane can we hadn’t hauled off yet (we still need to get rid of the old TV antenna). We also haven’t been able to cut up the tree Raven took down for us. We dropped the chainsaw off to be sharpened and when we picked it up the fuel cap was missing. (It wasn’t the last I saw it!), so we are awaiting a replacement. Meanwhile I’m trying to figure out which other trees are worth cutting up. I think the one Wally took down last year by the barn will still burn well. It’ll be a pain to get it up over the stone wall. The other day I was hanging clothes on the line- the one they put up out back on a pulley, and noticed it. We also have put a ladder down over the wall because I will drop the occasional stocking! I now use 5 pins on a pair of jeans- just in case! We must put a set of stairs down there so I won’t have to call John to fetch them for me.
I must admit to favoring my knees these days. Yesterday we figured it was cool enough that it would be a good day to bring down the bins of cloth from the attic. The “Project” is to go through them all and get rid of the pieces we will no longer use. Since the fire we’ve collected (apparently) 28 bins full of fabric, and we’d like to get it down to under 20 by passing along any fabric we can identify as something we’ll never get around to using. I only personally carried about 2 or three bins down the two flights of stairs; mostly I took them from the south side of the attic, around to the top of the cellar stairs where Jon took them, or Willow took them and passed them to Jon. It would have been ridiculous to try to pass each other on the stairs with a huge bin, so passing off seemed a better idea. I got warm, although we have now opened the attic windows, and Jon and Willow got exhausted, although Willow stopped when she felt she should.
The bins are now down filling the living-room. At this point Willow has sorted through eight of them, and so we now have six new bins started properly sorted: Wool, Linen, Silk, Brocades and Velvets, muslin, cotton shirting, also piles started for flannel, quilting fabric, ticking, and fake fur. She puts the “discards” in a bin and I go through and decide which I’m willing to let go. (there’s not enough room in there for both of us at this point!) I have, indeed, chosen to keep a couple that Willow would have chucked, but I also plan to go through and see if I’m willing to get rid of any she thought I’d want to keep. She praises me extravagantly when I put something in, knowing how hard it is for me. After all, most of these pieces are ones I’ve bought myself because I liked them- at least at the time. We expect that we will find many projects that we had simply forgotten. For example, Willow has found the pink wool that I’d meant to make into a “musketeer” style cape for her, lined with grey velvet. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find a good grey velvet, so we have about six yards of stretch grey velvet in the “get rid of it” pile, and she’s going to make herself a Saxon Coat tripped with the moss green rabbit fur I found at the war last year, then embroider it with green embroidery. I am finding so many lovely pieces of fabric I want to use them ALL! Right now. Darn.
Another thing that could distract me from things I need to do first is that I’d like a written inventory as long as we’re at it. Clearly I can no longer keep it in my head (although Willow is better at it). I also would like to measure each piece and pin the amount of cloth on each piece so they don’t have to be unfolded and measured when I’m digging through looking for a piece to use. Yesterday Willow found a long piece of linen (most of a bolt, I think), and Kat’s already spent two hours ironing it today, and isn’t done. It apparently wrinkled so much when it was pre-washed that ironing is required so that it won’t fill up an entire bin by itself. Lovely stuff though…. Willow’s going to make herself an undergown with the trim we got at Birka.
Sadly, I will note that the picture is one Willow took. I took one as well (the living-room is QUITE impressive) after she’d been working on it for a while- we think we may end up with three bins of linen, one for Kat, one for Willow and one for me. My card reader seems to have died. Well, phoeey! I have taken several pictures of flower arrangements I wanted to share. The forsythia passed, but the quince blossomed (I REALLY need to trim that bush back, having been crushed by snow every year it’s really flat. I hope I can get it to be a better shape and let it live. I hope. I also picked up another lilac bush and need to put that in. (I’d really like to cut down the maple that grew up INSIDE the other clump of lilac, but I’m not sure it’s possible.) So we have an arrangement of blooming quince in the Zen vase from the Taylor family, and one in the upstairs bathroom, and one in my mother’s big vase in which she used to put her forsythia. And I have an arrangement of violets, bleeding hearts and daffodils on the kitchen table!
Remember I said there was a large swath of violets in the back yard? I went out the other day and picked a huge bunch (Willow helped), and candied them. I knew I didn’t really have time, but I gave myself one movie’s worth. I’d watched Saving Mr. Banks the night before, so went back to re-watch Mary Poppins. It is one of my LEAST favorite Disney movies. It was a great representation of the cultural differences between those who are more comfortable with the formal and the familiar. But I totally agreed with P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins certainly never cavorted nor sang. Whether she was on a carousel horse or a kite string, she was always dignified. Mary Poppins was one of the foundation myths of my childhood. She allowed Jane and Michael to deeper into fantasy than most children do, because she was powerful enough to get them out when it got dangerous. There was a security in her fierceness that didn’t come out in the film. I didn’t care for it, and still don’t. Although I accept the logic of using animation to enter a chalk drawing, the singing and dancing are SO inappropriate. At one point Diana wanted to grow up to be a television producer so she could make a Mary Poppins TV show with one chapter per episode that actually followed the book. I still think that’s the way to do it. Anyway, I listened to it again, while painting violets with egg white and sprinkling them with sugar. I now have some candied violets, although I have been told they only really last a month or so. Other sources say a year, and since mostly I want them for when there is an holiday where violets are traditional (but not up in New Hampshire), I’m hoping they last until then. In theory violets are viola odorata, but I don’t think these are, they have almost no odor. I wonder what they are supposed to smell like?

Friday the girls met their friends for “KatCon”, their annual gathering at the Karaoke place in costume and with food. Kat had designed her costume back in April and it included her flower eye patch. Willow did her hair up in dozens of tiny braids to make what we call “mermaid hair”, which was then so fluffy that she really did have to clip it aside. She made a sun-dress out of the curtains I’d bought for her room at the old house (by cutting around stains), and she was adorable. John and I felt included because they kept sending pictures from their phones.
Mark came by, he’s headed back to Pennsylvania to work again. We’ll probably see him at Pennsic. Steve came up for supper on Sunday.
Saturday I wanted to go down to the Schola (a class oriented SCA event in Quintavia- that’s central Massachusetts). It was only an hour away, but the girls were exhausted from their Friday festivities, and I dithered about going myself. It occurs to me that I haven’t really gone to SCA events by myself since “ever”. Even when I started back in college, Mother let me use her car, and there were always people who wanted rides, so we always went in groups, then after college I was married. I’ve never really been “single” and it’s disorienting. Eventually I managed to pack a basket and collect garb, and had a fun time chatting with Eleanor (who’s changing her name to something Roman, but I can’t remember what) and Sunnifa Heinreksdottir (another 6th c. Anglo-Saxon lady). I got there so late I didn’t have to buy in, and I missed most of the classes, but got to help them wind up the yarn she’d dyed a lovely indigo! (Got a little smurched but it washed off!)    I have also absolutely fallen in love with the Great Pyrenees breed of dog. There was one there, brought by a gentleman who works rescuing Great Pyrenees. What beautiful dogs!
On the way down I listened to Wait, Wait don’t tell me! and some other NPR stuff. It was the last episode with Carl Kasell, and as everyone said goodbye I had flashbacks to when Clarabell said “Goodbye Kids” on the last Howdie Doody show (1960). Bobby had been teasing me that it was the last one, but I didn’t believe him until Clarabell spoke, then I cried and went to tell Mom on him. I also heard lots of other fascinating stories- Radio Lab had a series of stories about mistakes, or “unintended consequences”, which was incredible, dead Canada geese lead the way to cleaning up toxins, an historian kills the “oldest living thing”, and other weird stories. I don’t think I’d heard Radio Lab before, but now will have to look for it (like Science Friday, and Wait Wait). The segment I enjoyed most was about how auto-correctors made some really great horrible “corrections” with “Search and Replace” functions. I also heard that NPR is dropping shows and firing people because they can’t afford them. It makes me wish I’d sent them more money.
There was a sad story this weekend: the weather reports had said it was going to be rainy, so my sister cancelled her big out-door fund raiser, then the sun shone. She had to go over and let anyone who showed up know that it had been cancelled. The weather had been rainy during the week, so the ground would have been muddy, but how frustrating for all the people who worked on it. Luckily the SCA event- also outside, although they had a fairground cover in case of rain, got the good side of the sunny weather.

I THINK my spate of books coming in for my summer workshops has finally stopped. The piles on the head of my bed now worry even me, but I’m having such a good time reading them. Today I got The Origins of the Anglo-Saxons. I think that’s the end of them. During the week  The Earliest English Kings , and Barbarian Tides: The Migration Age and the Later Roman Empire arrived. (Also Drawing Down the Sun: Rekindle the Magick of the Solar Goddesses , the book about which I’ll be talking on the New Normal tonight.) As usual, as I start to read, I’m getting excited about Anglo-Saxons again. Combined with the fabric sorting, there are several outfits I want to make, and I’ve already come up with the workshops I want to do for Pennsic NEXT year. So much of what happens is context, so next year I think I’ll do workshops on the Anglo-Saxons and the Franks, the Anglo-Saxons and the Scandinavians, the Anglo-Saxons and the Celts, and the Anglo-Saxons and the Mediterranean world. I’m also finding myself eager to do a workshop on Anglo-Saxon Saints- they sure had some interesting ones!

For fiction I’m still reading the Young Wizards series, this week Wizard Abroad and The Wizard’s Dilemma, I also finally got out of the section of the Encyclopedia of Magic and Witchcraft (I’ve been reading two pages a day since february) that deals with the Witch Trials, my least favorite subject on the supernatural. I can heartily recommend the young wizards series even to adults. My only problem with it is that I’m NOT convinced that entropy and death are the worst thing in the creation; I think they have a very positive place, but it works in the series. They use Christian mythology a lot, but it’s very well handled. (I’m using the Wizards Oath as this week’s Signature quote.)
A few weeks ago I was invited to contribute to a facebook page “Holidays that might get overlooked”, and I’m afraid I’m spending more time than I should on it. I have to figure out a way to pull back on that. There is SO much to do between now and the end of summer: 3 paintings at least, pottery, sewing, gardening, preparing workshops and writing booklets, promoting Changing Times-Changing Worlds and doing the podcasts, not to mention the usual cooking and cleaning (at the level I do).
This week I wondered (when Devilsfood Cake Day went by) what the difference was between Devilsfood and other cake recipes. So I made one- usually I do the Black Magic Cake that was one of the layers of our wedding cake. Apparently it’s a bit richer, and not quite as dark. As Willow put it, it’s like the difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. I’m still having a hard time getting the fudge frosting to work (I did it once and it was perfect, but have forgotten how I did it!) I also made Cheese Souffle on Sunday because it was Cheese Souffle Day. I used to make them but hadn’t done one in a while. I’m guessing I broke my souffle dish that I got for my wedding, because I couldn’t find it. I had to make them in some smaller souffle dishes I found. As with sundials “I only mark the hours that shine” and probably just forgot it because it wasn’t a happy memory. The souffle was REALLY good, I’d forgotten how nice they are. Last night we had asparagus (for which apparently the kids are not fond) with hollandaise sauce- which separated, but was still delicious! It’s been too long since I made that too! Today, BTW, is Strawberries and Cream day, and we are without strawberries. This is probably because although yesterday was Pick Strawberries Day, they do not come ripe in New Hampshire until June. When we were picking violets we found a lot of strawberries blooming, but it is the wrong time of year for strawberries in New Hampshire. Phooey on them! Those of you who live in the balmy south may eat strawberries and cream today, but we will not!

Until next week!
“In Life’s name and for Life’s sake, I say that I will use the Art for nothing but the service of that Life. I will guard growth and ease pain. I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way; and I will change no object or creature unless its growth and life, or that of the system of which it is part, are threatened. To these ends, in the practice of my Art, I will put aside fear for courage, and death for life, when it is right to do so — till Universe’s end.”
-The Wizard’s Oath


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