3-24-2016 Chia Day

DSC02438 Weather has been fun- we got a bit of snow on DSC02446the weekend- a fluffy three inches. It buried our crocus, but most of it had melted off by afternoon. The maples are beginning to bloom, but so far that’s just a haze of pink creeping over the treetops. Most of the woods are studies in grey and black still, but the air smells springlike.

Steve came up on Saturday instead of Sunday because of the forecast of Snow. I hadn’t even heard about it, since TV and radio are almost phased out of our lives, and not planning any errands, I hadn’t checked. My goodness! That was some storm! Apparently while we got the tail end, Boston got buried, and Providence (to where he usually commutes) got worse. And the maps show that it started in the Rockies and caused trouble all across the continent. Impressive!DSC02445 Luckily it eventually didn’t dump as much as they’d been predicting- probably because of a route change. Originally we were supposed to get missed. But we got a lovely visit. It’s nice to talk to someone my own age who gets the disgust I have for losing abilities.
I have been quite brain fogged and enervatedDSC02441

We’d hoped to get the kittens their shots so they could  go outside, but we ran out of money this month and now they are becoming increasingly difficult to contain, especially as Peripegilium and Zoloft go out when they like. They have become amazingly adept at slipping in under our feet when they want to get into any room- mostly I notice it in my room and the pantry- the two rooms in the house with open windows. I think they are drawn by the smell of the outdoors more than the chill. I was talking about them with Megan, and she was telling me about when red squirrels infested their attic and poor Vito would launch himself at the ceiling, driven by instincts a modern pet doesn’t know what to do with. I asked why they didn’t let him up there to shake a few of them as he does his stuffed animals. I bet he’d do some serious damage. They explained that they would be worried about rabies, the squirrels were, after all, wild. While NH squirrels don’t carry rabies, technically they could get it, and one doesn’t risk a beloved pet. I suppose they may also have bins of attic treasures too that would be risked by the mad dash in the meeting of a natural prey and predator. In situations like that it is usually the one item you really can’t replace that is the casualty, and even if the squirrel population as a whole is not rabid, there’s always the first time. Megan has too much experience with being the “outlier” in a statistical spread to discount the same possibilities that I would. I think that is “Healthy Privilege” (like White Privilege only more invisible), and I remind myself to have gratitude for blessings I take for granted.
We are still working on training. We are at that difficult moment where I think they know what we want, and they are testing to find out how far we’re willing to go to enforce our preferences. They know they aren’t allowed on tables and counters, but there’s a question about whether that includes only paws, or noses or tails. Or worse, when we are out of the room. This morning as I was sweeping up a broken candle holder that we’d kept the tacks in (when the tablecloths just barely reach the edge of the table, tacks help hold them in place). We weren’t around when that “fell off the counter”, but I’m pretty sure it was Pyewacket. When I took the dustpan over to the bin, I heard a crash and saw them running away from the fallen broom. I left it again and this time caught them in the act. If the broom is standing up, they tackle it. I’m not certain they aren’t trying to recover their “dignity” from running away while I was using it. (oh, and the other day they turned the vacuum on by leaping upon/across it hard enough to push the button. I had to laugh, but sadly modern vaccums aren’t loud enough to terrify them, I think they hate the broom more.)
They are also training us. Ambian (we’ve decided Cruckshanks is too “naughty” a name that might give him ideas we would prefer not) likes to get kisses. He runs up your shoulder and pushes his face near your cheek, and if you give him a kiss he hops down again. And they have trained me to lock up my knitting. we shall eventually reach a place where we can share living space happily.

Saint Patricks Day we thought we might have Avi and kids over, so this year we didn’t add food coloring to the corned beef and cabbage. By the time Avi gave up on the idea, it wouldn’t have had time to sink into the food properly- except for the potatoes. It was incredibly good though. John and I broke training to have a potato each with our corned beef, cabbage, carrots and onion. It did stall the weight loss out, but it was worth it, and we are recovering. I think John’s lost 10 pounds now. When we went back to Mark’s, he re-checked on Mark’s scale that had given him his initial scare.  On the other hand, if the wii can be trusted, (because since it’s electronic rather than using springs, it “must” be more accurate!), Mark’s scale us set a bit high. On the other hand, nearing 300 scared John, and my weighing 271 when my (much taller) son weighs 279 alarms me! I hope I can teach him how to stay on a diet just accepting occasional lapses as “that’s real life”, and maintain a gradual but significant weight loss.

Friday “Evil” (Jen) and Frank came over to pick up his cosplay, and the blanket for her teddy bear (she’s got it a little passport and will be taking it to Iceland with her.) She showed me pictures of taking her bear to disneyland, and the bear in his Goofy hat being hugged by Goofy. It’s not like I don’t know other bears who’ve been to Disneyland. (and I haven’t- pout!) Frank also bought another of Willow’s blankets- it matches Evil’s cos-play and she was worried that she was going to be cold in the con. What a nice guy!
I listened to Science Friday (“like ya do”), and the next thing that led to was watching the congressional hearings with the Governor of Michigan about the Flint water supply. Boy! Those committee members were ticced off!  So I guess I am not TOTALLY out of the news loop. I did hear about the bombings in Brussels. Under what weird twisted logic can anyone think that blowing up airports/ hurting and killing other people is going to fix problems? It makes people angry- at them! It makes their religion look bad. I try to make analogies.
Today I weighed in on a post about school bullying, and how many other mothers, like me, have taught their daughters to hit back when boys snap their bras or otherwise assault them. Other parents try to teach their children non-violence and negotiation. These kids (in my observation) continue to get bullied. Worse, the kids (because in this case we are talking about kids) who are trying to figure out what is acceptable limits to acting out, are being taught that making girls feel bad is acceptable, and no one is going to make them stop.  They need a significant and immediate response- a wake-up call that bra snapping, hair pulling, remark making is NOT acceptable, and won’t be “ignored”.
I don’t believe that terrorism is that much like school bullying. Admittedly, the ages of the perpetrators may be similar. They do seem to tend to be young, and that may have something to do with why they are willing to die to make a great symbolic act. In either case the lesson doesn’t come unless the response is immediate. No one is particularly good at picking up on gradual trends and sporadic negative results. Immediate cause and effect are the best training techniques. On the other hand, I doubt that logic is involved when someone is angry about a widespread an general misery with no immediate scapegoat. One must then be created.  It’s a sad world we live in sometimes.

But it’s also spring. Steve pointed out that while Ostara took place on the 20th at the point where they measure Universal Standard Time, and here in the Eastern Time Zone (around 12:30), for three quarters of the world- including the western US, the 19th was the day on which the equinox fell. We did turn our lights off for Earth Hour 8:30-9:30 Saturday, but we watched TV, so I’m not sure if that really counts. I had a disc of St. Elsewhere (from Season one) and we were doing the Nostalgia thing. Excellent writing, acting, characters, themes, plots, just marvelous TV. Oddly, while Season one is available, the other seasons are not- to buy or get through Netflix. I hope I can find some place I can stream them on line. Sometimes there is excellent TV, and this was a prime example.
We didn’t do much for Ostara this year, since it would be really frustrating to have even a small amount of favorite candies (I usually get one set of the *real* chocolate covered DSC02436marshmallow eggs for myself, and a bag of gourmet jelly beans for the family. Each of us has a favorite Easter candy, but we didn’t even have hot cross buns this year. I suppose it says something that I could pass up the lovely sweet bread, but not the potato with the boiled dinner. I did make a set of colored eggs, hard boiled eggs being a fine lo-carb snack. This year I tried decorating them with “temporary tattoos”, which work as well on eggs as they do on my skin- pretty well.
We hit “Day 1000” of the wii. I still resent both the inane comments it’s programmed to give, and after three years, we’ve heard all their “fitness tips”, and the “words of encouragement” sound very hollow after so many repetitions.  I resent how long it takes to get the program going. I wish I could find a good sturdy scale I could just step on. All the ones I’ve bought in the last 30 years have died within a month. When we got a really expensive one and tried to return it, they told us that since that model wasn’t being made any more, they couldn’t exchange it or refund it, so at that point I gave up. When I was a kid, my grandfather’s scale that he’d bought in the 20s still worked beautifully. “They don’t make them like that any more.” Well why not?!DSC02443
(I had a thought, the “Great America” that people seem to want to bring back where we made huge scientific strides, and build bridges and dams and roads etc. seems to be a really weird memory of the New Deal. Wasn’t that when all those projects were happening? Maybe what we need is a Newer Deal – I think it may have been called Fair Deal once- to both repair the various structures, the bridges, the dams, the power grid, etc. and also make paying jobs for people.)
On Sunday the Chevon Leg that Shema had given us was thawed (which is why we didn’t eat it on Saturday), and we had that- oh my! I miss chevon! Today we get the curried chevon as it comes around again!

Tuesday John and I went over to help Mark clear Bruce’s office. I’m not entirely certain I’m more than a cheering section. John is invaluable for carrying the heavy loads down the stairs, however! Mark found and gave up another 6 bins of books and several more boxes of stuff. I really need to get back to doing that.
Yesterday I drove Megan up to Manchester to get her sturdiest walker serviced before going to England next month. Claus is still one-eyed and not driving, and this week she fell and broke a rib. Since the pneumonia isn’t yet gone, the combination of coughing and a broken rib is NOT a good one. But she has a wonderful guy who will be fixing the wheels and breaks. He kept apologizing for what the repairs would cost, and it would be awful to need it and not be able to afford it. Guys like that are pure gold! At this point she really knows her walker, and says this is a great one- as long as it’s got the wide wheels she prefers.star_trek_gnomes

I was also able to FINALLY get her the birthday present I got her last fall the day before she left for England, so I missed giving it to her then, and we never got together for Christmas. It occurs to me, that I should get a jump on Claus’ birthday because they’ll probably be gone again by then. I saw this Star Trek Red Shirt at Cornerstone Creations at a Pagan Pride DAy, and knew it needed to be in her yard. (A previous occasion I had given Dennis one that was mooning whatever it was aimed at.) I also love the “Gnomeland Security” gun toting gnomes, and the zombie gnomes, especially the ones chewing on the pink flamingo. Pete has some of the weirdest gnomes you can imagine!

As I said, I’ve been slowed down this week. When my brain would stop I would knit and watch DVDs. I am now knitting off the circular shawl- I opted to put points on each section, which means moving that section of stitches to the other needles as I decrease to form a point. Someone who knew what they were doing could probably tell me if that’s right or not. I really do learn better from people than from a book! I am still trying to switch my sleep schedule to wake up in the morning (hence not finishing this last night).
My podcast this week was less “spooky foo” than usual. I had on Mike Dolan, who’s running Magickal Marketplace and Psychic Fair (the New Normal). I’m rather frustrated, because it’s the same day as Mithracon, the weekend where people into Roman stuff (and more interested in research) go down to use the Yale Library for a weekend. Jane already moved it once to avoid conflicting with Coronation (the next weekend) which is Brennan and Caeoilfhionn are passing the Crown on to Kenric and Avelina (Saxons!) and it’s being held at Higgins Armory, and I didn’t want to miss that! There are way to many wonderful things happening at once. I am coming to the conclusion that we probably are not going to get to the SCA 50 year Celebration in June, and am sort of bummed about that. I’ve spent so much of my life on the SCA, and don’t  regret that; I would like to be part of this anniversary, but it’s in Indiana (I daresay the people from the West don’t think of that as central), and it’s nearly a thousand miles each way, or two days of driving. That’s a lot of stress and expense I’m not sure we can invest. So: bummed. Trying not to think about it.

I did get the application for Pennsic in (I’d better go look and see if there’s a response.) One project I’m “in the middle of” is picking what classes I’ll be doing this year. So far I’ve decided on Anglo-Saxon Saints and the Forest Law after the Norman Conquest. I got interested after reading the Medieval Forest, (I’m now reading Medieval Village).  Pennsic classes always seem to be chosen from what I’m reading in late winter. But I finally know the difference between a Fallow Deer and a Roe Deer, and think anyone else who loved Robin Hood (in all the glorious permutations) will also enjoy learning about it.
I’ve been reading lots of lovely books. , The Ladies of Grace Adieu, is a collection of short stories in the world of and by the author of Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Since the language is florid, it’s a bit easier to take in smaller bits.  Why liberals win the culture wars (even when they lose elections) is fascinating! The author, Stephen Prothero,  was interested in Culture Wars, not unlike the way I keep looking at the history of the Neo-pagan movement, he just kept going back further and further in time to try and figure out when we started this fighting over what American Culture is “supposed to be”.  Looks like that would be ever since there was an America. He defines Culture Wars as “disputes moral and religious that address the meaning of America.” Just as in the SCA we can have hugely disagreements on what “The Dream” is, or why so many modern Pagans reject the umbrella term (which would really help point out to the Christian Majority just how many of us there really are), because we can’t figure out what it is that we have in common, except that we aren’t all the other categories they offer for us to choose, so there are huge variations in what people think (feel) America is, and who get cross when others disagree.
Apparently the election of 1800 pitted the Jeffersonians against the Federalists, and there was risk of armed fighting over it then. Because Jefferson felt that religion was very personal and wouldn’t talk about his (most of his writings about it weren’t published until after he was dead), people claimed that he was everything from an atheist to a “Mohammedan”. Then as now, the question remains- when you put a wall between Church and State, it’s nobody’s business but your own. But many people felt that there can be no virtue if it isn’t based in Religion. (Actually, I find that rather disturbing, that people are out there who only are good, not because if feels right and good, but because they’re afraid of being punished in the afterlife?) So I get to look forward to reading about the Protestants vs. the Catholics, and the anti-Mormon crusade, and other disagreements. The introduction seemed to suggest that they lose because they tend to start fighting when they realize that the culture has changed and they try to make the clock turn backward, and that’s always impossible. I always like historical background for what’s happening now. Another point he makes is that Americans, having no ancient history, have had to invent one to feel that they are building on something, and again, that reminds me of the myths of the neo-Pagan movement.
I just finished Medicine in Translation, another book by Danielle Ofri who wrote What Doctors Feel, and it was wonderful. I was hoping it was going to be about the challenges of dealing with the different ways  different cultures communicate, and it was, sort of. But it doesn’t address that theme as a sociological study, but is rather a series of anecdotes illustrating what it’s like working in a hospital like Belview with a range of patients like the United Nations. The challenges go beyond the many languages needed just to communicate, but also trying to wrap ones mind around the massively different experiences and expectations of those people. Many of her patients were immigrants some of whom had had horrific experiences in Africa, in Iraq, in Central America. There’s a reason they come here, even illegally, because often to stay is to be killed, maimed or watch your family die horribly. We don’t have that in our mind-set. I read a post on facebook this week where young mothers were asked in their pre-birth class what their “worst case scenario” would be, and they answered with things like “have to get an epidural” or “episiotomy” or “C-section”, and this woman (an historian) said “the baby or I, or both could die”. This horrified the other mothers, but the teacher congratulated her. Current statistics are about .6 deaths per 100 live births, that’s good odds (should be better), but certainly these women are not taking the reality that about one in every two hundred births doesn’t come out the way they assume it will. It reminds me of all those people who were completely gobsmacked after 911 because “it couldn’t happen here”. I was confused- I’d been hearing reports for years saying that it was nearly inevitable. I really do not want to ever have the situation I live in to include the sort of genocide I’ve seen dimly, at a distance, through reports of these distant countries. Dr. Ofri has to deal with them every day, while, and at the same time dealing with making sure her kids get to school on time, practice their music, do their homework, and she gets her paperwork filled out. Reading this was as gentle a reminder as I can imagine of how we need to be more aware of the many different situations there are in the world, and what we really need to worry about.
One of the clips that circulates periodically on Facebook is Jeff Daniels playing someone talking about how “America isn’t the greatest, but it used to be.” I finally decided I’d like to see what the context of that was, and sent for the DVD of The Newsroom. I didn’t realize until the second episode came on that this was a TV show, not a movie. It was pretty good. (We may gripe about what a wasteland TV is, but there is some good stuff on there!) I’ll have to try to see more of it. Apparently they fictionalized some lovely characters and plot lines around a station covering news that had recently happened, so it has that touch of veracity, and the characters are appealing.  Even though a recent discussion here was about while racism is a real problem, we can’t blame everything on it because (even setting aside that race is a pretty artificial construct), people are likely to fight with each other even when they are “the same race”. Different country or tribe is enough. Look at the “blacks” in Rwanda, look at the “brown” people in the Middle East, and how they have been fighting since history began, or “red” Native American tribes, or “white” Europeans, or “yellow” Asians. Frankly, humans are probably doing better than in most of history before this, and that’s freaking terrifying!
Between the Newsroom and the Culture Wars book, I’m reminded that  we are more likely to see people arguing about horrible stuff on the news than we are at the dinner table, because on the news they are looking for something that will raise people’s blood pressure (to sell ads), while at the table we are looking for something interesting and pleasant to talk about. They look for people we haven’t seen before and we may never see again, while here we are speaking with people we have known for a long time so we understand the context, and who we expect to continue to know, so we must stay civil. Once again, this leads me to suspect that there is too much show biz in modern media, which harms its aspect of News. One of the biggest things I notice in politics is the difficulty of compromise. When you feel your position is absolute, any compromise at all is seen as a loss, and this makes it very difficult. One point (and I can’t remember where I saw it) was that Slavery has in common with corporate structure the building of an economy based on the labor of those deemed unfit to share in the fruits of their labor. I wish I remembered where I saw that. I love being informed, but it would be helpful to keep track of my sources!

Oh well, sorry to have let it go this week. I’m really still quite foggy- I’d like to call it spring fever, not anything more dismal.
Until next week!
“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
― Thomas Jefferson