5/12/2016 Mocha Torte Day


(Given that I will probably spend the day on errands, writing the letter and the podcast, the chances are not good that I’m going to make a Mocha Torte today. Oh well.)
I am delighted to report warm sunny weather! The past week was chilly and cloudy, I haven’t taken a picture of Pinnacle Road since April, so the month passing makes a huge difference in the leaves coming out. (I really should have gotten one when the maples were blossoming.)

The knotweed (Japanese bamboo) has sprung up, as well as trees and bushes leafing out. We have an occasional tulip, and narcissus, and the bleeding hearts have started blooming! Our old lilac is looking quite ill. I wish I’d thought to take out the maple that grew up in the middle of the bush back when it was little. I expect it’s starving it as well as shading it (the knotweed has no problem with proximity), however the bushes we put in last year look healthy, so maybe they will start blooming this year or next. The quince bush is bright, but still really flat. I don’t think it likes having all the snow from the driveway on it all winter- and a ladder.
John put up the screen door on Friday, when the sun came out for an hour or so. A bit optimistic. But yesterday was first full sun. I took advantage by hanging several loads of laundry. Sheets smell so good when they’ve hung in the sun.

The kittens have recovered from surgery and been anti-flea and trick treated, so they are now allowed outside. Pyewacket is still a bit dubious about it. He was the one who was thrown in snowbanks for getting up on tables the most often, so he may think of it as a punishment. Still he adores chasing bugs! He’s very fond of going after the moths who flutter around the windows. Willow had to hang up the last potted hyacinth that I’d put in the bathroom windowsill to prevent accidents. Today- like the laundry- they lay in the sun and came back in smelling wonderfully. Ambien was immediately thrilled to go out, but Pye would approach the screen door, but dash away if we opened it for him. Finally he has decided it’s OK. I think he’s going to be a mighty hunter.

Last week John and I went to over to Mark’s again. We helped clear stuff out of Bruce’s office. He had a lot of electronic stuff- some, sadly, still in the bags with receipts, but now, off to the recycling center. I kept some tape and string, but not much else. There were also some very cool looking clamps which I’m sure Ælfwine would have recognized. I put pictures of them up on the internet, and they are for making frames. Given the pile of framing stock in the Great Hall, and the idea that I am an artist (I got the call today from the winner of the portrait I donated to the Channel 11 PBS auction), I decided to keep those.
Mark took us to Longhorn for lunch, and mostly we talked about Westerns. We ventured near the shoals of politics enough for him to express that Socialism was using other people’s money to help the poor. Having listened to an NPR story about the Cultural Revolution in China on the way over, and how when put into collectives, the farmers stopped working, but started working again when given their own plots of land, I am willing to acknowledge that communism- at least on a large scale, is dangerous. But so is any system when it gets too big. At a large scale, those who rise to the top have enough power to force people to go along with bad decisions, and that often leads to trouble. After lunch we picked up some boxes at Marketbasket (they are so nice about sharing discarded boxes! It used to be you’d go to liquor stores for strong boxes, and you nearly had to beg, and they doled them out as if they were precious!), and went back and he went through the kitchen cabinets getting rid of everything he hasn’t used since Bruce died. Also Bruce was the one who cooked.
I held a couple of Corelle pieces that I think match Honour’s dishes- which may be silly. She lives alone, so probably only needs two of anything, and a nearly complete set of Farberware cookware. Lisa used to use it, and I understand it’s really good. (Mark kept a fry pan and saucepan.) I am, however, so fond of the ceramic covered cast iron that I will keep using it as long as I can lift it. We kept what looked like large glass tea mugs, but they cracked when I put hot water in them, (maybe that’s why there were 3 not four). They looked like they should have been good, but I suppose because the bottoms were thick, and the sides thin, that led to unbalanced expansion. Too bad.
That evening the CTCW planning committee met again. I think we did better this time with the “chat” format- less talking over each other, and finished with a list of things to get done.

Willow and Kat at the GardenerFriday was the day before Kat’s birthday, Stewart Gardenbut she’d decided to go to the Gardner Museum to celebrate, and it’s not open on Saturdays. They saw how my eyes lit up when they mentioned it, so they let me come along. Willow drove because I was having  trouble with my contacts. We met Joanie and Raye, about the time it opened, and sometimes stayed together, sometimes wandered apart. I was drawn to the tiles this visit, and took more pictures with my phone than I’ve done before. Kat just showed me how to post them to facebook, but I doubt anyone would want to see all of them. We spent time in the garden and hot house, left when we got tired. Then we were hungry, so we went over to a Ramen place at Pru Center that they knew from going to Anime Boston.Ramen house
The face of the land has changed since I went to BU in the 70s. (Duh!) I recognized a lot of things I’d walked by: I used to walk down Mass Ave to Huntington to get to the BU Theatre school (still there). I knew Symphony, but while the dome of Christ Scientist was familiar, it used to be behind a wall and surrounded with lawn. I always meant to go see inside sometime, but never did. Now it’s surrounded by pavement, and there’s a reflecting pool, a walking space that clears out all the stuff that was between Symphony and Copley. Having only gone from the Library to Symphony underground, I had no idea it was so close!  After lunch we went to bakery near there where we saw another friend of theirs: Rue. We had cupcakes, and she had made a special one for Kat, which she brought home.

DSC02518Her actual Birthday was very low-key. Willow was babysitting for Avi’s kids, and left before I woke up. I got Kat a makeup kit for conturing, John got her an adorable bento box, and Willow got her some patches for her clothing. While I was quite content with a small birthday for myself, I figured Kat hasn’t had six decades to accumulate more stuff than she might need, and took her out shopping. We found the ribbon rack Willow has been looking for for months, some pencils, and got her a balloon. DSC02520I made a lemon cake in one of my bundt pans, and we had her order some more Dr. Who audio plays.  Rather than put assorted holes in the “cottage” roof, I put a bundle of candles together in the central bundt hole which forms the chimney. The roast beef and yorkshire pudding were lovely.

Mother’s Day the kids went to the dump before I even got up.DSC02535 I got my usual pansies, (although I still need to plant them) and a new windchime- now hung from the eves of the woodshed. I spent the day puttering- checked my silly, sparkly nail polishes to see if they still were viable, and put a different one on each nail. This looked dumb but they started to flake the next day, so I took it off again. A waste of time I guess, but I am amused by sparkly nail polish.  We changed out the green plates we were using since the equinox, and now are dining off an assortment of glass plates of different colors from different sets.  They aren’t all the same size and depth, but it’s very colorful.

Frankly, we are not doing too well. When they were out the other day, some weird person yelled at Kat and Willow. When she’d opened her car door it had touched their car by accident. Willow checked and made sure that there was no damage and went in, but apparently there was someone in the car, and they came in and yelled that she’d dented the car (delusional or trying to blame her for something that happened before?), and why had she parked beside their car when the rest of the lot was empty? (because it was the space nearest the door that wasn’t handicapped?) That she’d done it on purpose and laughed about it. Willow figures she WAS laughing at something unrelated. Threatened to call the police, which Willow invited her to do. That happened to me once too years ago, but I’m not fighting depression and anxiety. And it freaked me out anyway. What is up with these people that they’ll follow someone into a store to pick a fight? It was just a Horrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Day for my poor girls- and they had no energy to deal with it, poor things.

So I tried a new Mac and Cheese recipe, which was pretty good. Comfort food is a good thing. It called for Panko, which I’d never heard of before, but then discovered in the store. So I tried it. Apparently it’s supposed to be like bread crumbs- only with larger crumbs for more crisping. Meh. The sun finally came out so I caught up on the laundry, I really love line drying the clothing. I made a strawberry Rhubarb Pie, and it is SO good!DSC02536

This week I’d failed to find a guest for the New Normal, so I decided to talk about Tarot by myself. Then Kirsten Houseknect joined me which was very lucky. I’d asked Liz if I could do her traditional one card per month reading on air, grabbed a tarot deck, but while I’d shuffled it, discovered that I hadn’t shuffled as well as I’d thought- she was getting: The Lovers, the Tower, The Devil, Temperance, Death, Hanged Man (which are pretty much sequential in a sorted deck) so clearly I’d grabbed a sorted one and not gotten it well mixed. oops. But Kirsten, who has taught tarot herself, took over while Liz and I ducked into the “screening room” and I re-shuffled and quickly did the reading, although we’ll probably have to talk about it more later.  Anyway, that was great, and we just talked about all sorts of stuff for the rest of the hour, and she’s going to come back next week and talk about the minor arcana- and come speak at CTCW. So I’m pleased about that. (If you want to hear me babble- here’s the link. I’m afraid I was babbling a bit at the beginning- I’d suggested googling Tarot spread images, and had done so, and they kept distracting me. Then I noticed and closed them off. After that it went pretty well.

Kat solved a mystery for me- for as long as I can remember, the cursor won’t move on my computer when I turn it on until I wiggle the wire going into the back of the computer, the one attached to the keyboard. For the last few weeks, every time I turn it on (and periodically throughout the day) a pop-up window informs me that the flashdrive was improperly removed, and needs to be ejected before being physically taken out. Given that I hadn’t had one in in days, and when I do, am good about ejecting it properly (the warning that I could lose data is something I take seriously) this was annoying. I don’t care for warnings about something that isn’t wrong, when it isn’t. I especially dislike it with electronics. As I say, I’m not going to trust electronically driven cars (I know they are testing them already), until spellchecking and voice recognition is much better than it is these days. We are making wonderful advances, but still have a long way to go.  Anyway, what Kat said was that what’s going on with that warning is that the keyboard, mouse, printer, and several other things are all plugged into one USB splitter (since the computer has 3 holes, and requires several more than that for the back-up drive, and other accessories). Every time that USB is moved, it reads it as a “removal” and puts up the warning. I have since noticed this; I can intentionally trigger it by tapping the splitter, but apparently answering the phone, or someone walking by can cause enough tremor in the desk to trigger it. Mystery solved. Annoyance continues because I can’t make that warning window go away without the cursor, which requires wiggling in order to connect! I wonder if it’s something a new wire would fix.
(Recently, I’ve noticed that particular form of expression. Clearly the statement that I wonder something is not a question, yet, I think that it is normal to punctuate it with a question mark. I wonder why. And, I tell you, that not doing so, even though I’ve decided that wondering statements shouldn’t logically get an eroteme/question mark! )

So, what have I been reading and watching this week? On the internet I watched Severus Snape and the Marauders. (linked here– don’t worry it’s only 25 minutes long. But  like a short story not needing to be a novel, it does what it needs to do.) If you liked the Harry Potter movies, they did an amazing job of making the actors in this look like younger versions of the ones in the movies, and it doesn’t break canon that I could see. Indeed, it clarifies the point that Snape really was in love with Lily, and bullied by James.
I watched the movies: OK Corral, (Mark had suggested that as a great western) Tombstone, The Searchers (which was supposed to have been John Wayne’s favorite Western). It was about a couple of men looking for a girl who’d been taken off and adopted by Indians- when they found her she’d been pretty well acclimated, and Wayne’s character hated Indians so much he thought she’d be better off dead. When the movie started it was 3 years after the Civil War and he still felt oath-bound to the Confederacy. I think the story was mostly about his growth, and figure the book would probably have been better.
I also watched A Few Good Men– (not in the western theme, but often I put a movie in the queue and have forgotten why I put it on by the time it comes in.) Actually it was funny, when I started I had in my mind that it was the one with Will Geer (an Officer and a Gentleman), rather than the one with all the stars- Jack Nicholson saying “You can’t handle the truth!” There was a lot about the main character growing up, and learning to deal with how he felt about his father in that one. I figure that you become an adult when you take responsibility for what you do, (which is a lot of what this movie is about), but what do you call it when you take the next step, and learn to accept that sometimes there are unintended consequences of your actions? I think that’s another level of maturity, although some people never reach it. In some ways it may be harder for people to let their kids become adults- recognize that they will be responsible for their own actions, than it is for the young adults to embrace that themselves. But the next step, taking responsibility for the unintended consequences of your actions, and then forgiving yourself because you are human and that happens. Which come first? Can you forgive your parents for being human and making mistakes before you learn that you make mistakes?  Can you forgive yourself before you accept your parents fallible humanity? Parents are about as close to God as exists for a small child, and gradually each of us has to come to terms with the fact that they aren’t always right. That’s a hard one. It was a good movie, and I recommend seeing it if you haven’t.
I have now finished the last of the Hillerman books. His last: Shape Shifter, and his daughter’s addition to the series SpiderWoman’s Daughter. I could tell in the first sentence that it was written by someone else, but by the end of the first page I was into the mystery, and it held up to a satisfying conclusion, referring back to previous adventures. (I’m always surprised when they don’t do that in a series, because normal people talk about things they’ve done when it relates to what they’re doing.) That done, I should start reading up for my Pennsic classes- but I restarted Hunt for the Skinwalker, a book about inexplicable phenomena at a farm in Utah. It was written by a reporter who once covered, and was forever associated with UFOs. Come on! What do UFOs and skinwalkers have in common? As far as I can tell, it’s that anything unknown is scary. There’s a huge area/areas where when something isn’t supposed to be true, and evidence comes up that it’s happening anyway, everybody gets scared, and denies it as hard as they can, rather than trying to find out more about it. They make fun of people who look into it to get the facts. They categorize it all as “spooky” “occult” stuff. OK, as I like all this stuff, I can see that quantum physics sort of explains psychic phenomena- the whole idea of dark matter and multiple universes sounds about right to me. Is ‘other dimensions’ that different from the way fairy realms coexist with our own? I think it’s bad science to simply reject any conclusion that comes up that you don’t like.
I picked up a kids book on the Navajo for a bit of context. It was good, but they brag about replacing hoogans (apparently hogan is a common mis-spelling) with frame houses, but while they’re cheaper to build, I think hoogans were designed to be better insulated- an adaptation rather than just switch-over seems better. They talk about the difficulty in getting running water to all their houses, but does that environment support modern plumbing? I should think they’d be wanting to get sanitary, but water-sparing technology instead. I don’t think it’s a benefit to try to make them like us, we aren’t doing that well that it’s justified. They mentioned they have twelve times the diabetes of the general US population. Pardon me, but if our diet isn’t good for them, I should think we should encourage them to eat what IS. What do they need? Neither environment nor genetics is one size fits all. We shouldn’t try to make them into us.
That reminds me of the recent news report that the third leading cause of death is treatments prescribed by physicians, not just malpractice, it does include all deaths directly attributable to medical treatments. Once again, it’s a case of being willing to accept the evidence and deal with the reality, not what we’d like to be true. Good intentions are good, but good results are probably more important.
Oh well, you know I can go on and on about any subject. But I need to stop for now.
Let me know how you’re doing if you have time; I’d like that.

Man is the only critter who feels the need to label things as flowers or weeds.