3-30-2017 Borrowed Days

In Scotland or Ireland (I’m not sure which, maybe both) they used to say that March borrowed it’s last three days from the beginning of the month, thus explaining why you’d sometimes get some lovely warm spring weather in early march, but then get some days that were very like winter at the end. It’s only been a little over a week since the equinox, we can’t expect robins and daffodils all the time. First we have to have “mud month”. This week has been cold enough that the snow hasn’t melted conspicuously since last week. The berms along the road are grey and black, but there’s still white under the trees.

The girls are off to see their therapists. Willow hopes to change to a different one. He was good with the practical matters about communication styles and such, but doesn’t get the idea that simply knowing that a feeling is irrational doesn’t make it go away, so he’s not good with the feeling part of therapy. They also doing the paperwork for switching prescriptions to Costco from Walmart. What a pity we have to chase the best deals like this. I read today about the problems from a doctor’s perspective, how reasonable tests are refused until challenged. Really, it’s not a good system to simply have employees who aren’t medically trained deal with these questions by refusing everything on the assumption that if it’s important the patient and doctor will put in the effort to demand it. How about having people who understand do it? I can see why they don’t want to just “trust the doctor”. The current system is set up so that doctors are paid for selling products and services. No wonder they can over-presribe opioids. At the same time, some people who need pain relief don’t get it. We need to fix the system. I went to my last acupuncture appointment this week. I’d told him that I’d go until I was better, or the money ran out. I am NOT recovered from the Bells Palsy, but I am thinking that perhaps the acupuncture has done all it could do. (We’d been using the credit card at the end of the month to pay bills, and it reached the limit.) I am left wondering if I should go to Doctor Quirbach and see if he knows something that would help, but frankly, I hesitate to go pay for someone to look at me and say “I got nothin’.”, which is what doctors (who are honest) have to do sometime. Other doctors will give you something just so you know that they want to help (or to sell product). Personally, I prefer the ones who are honest enough not to give you something that won’t help, but might harm you. (I am STILL cross that that ear surgeon didn’t think that the possibility of losing my sense of taste was worth mentioning. That should be my choice, not his to dismiss as unimportant.) I am still not tasting things well, but on the plus side, I can (mostly) spit, which makes brushing my teeth a lot less messy! At this point those who’ve also had to deal with it are saying that it can take a year to clear up, or may never get better. I suppose I can smile a bit with both sides of my mouth, and spit, and that’s a huge improvement.

We have been working on getting our Pennsic Merchant registration in. Luckily, since it’s got to be paid by the end of the month, we got a check from Massachusetts. This disturbed me because we don’t live in Massachusetts, but apparently two years ago (I remember how annoying it was, but not a lot of details), they decided that we owed them $800 in back taxes, and sucked it out of the bank account. They can do that because we pay the occasional sales tax we collect electronically. It seems that they finally believed us and sent most of it back- by check of course. Sigh. At least it gives us money to reserve our space at Pennsic.
And that’s why I decided to actually ask for my Social Security widow’s benefits to start now, rather than in a year or two. I hope this will make the difference between going into the hole each month and not. I will also be getting Medicare, which is a relief, although apparently I still have to “pick a plan”. Unlike Paul Ryan, I understand how health insurance works, so if I don’t need it, my payments pay for the system. I don’t begrudge that, only huge profits or excess bureaucracy. I got my first set of quotes today, and it looks like what I must pay for the extra parts of the insurance when it’s all added together will be aproximately a third of what I’ll be getting. I expect that’s why they separate out the various bits, doctor, hospital, drugs, dental, supplemental… “this one is ONLY another $17 a Month, this part is ONLY $116…” I guess I wouldn’t mind quite so much if they didn’t decide which things are covered by which things are standard practice. We’ll pay for drugs, but not vitamins, we’ll pay for surgery but not acupuncture. That way people can pay for whatever they want to do- but even if you say “no thank you” to the possibly harmful stuff, they’ll still get their money. Let’s face it, medicine or healing is an art form. The same treatment will work for some people, and won’t work for others. This is true for herbs, for medicine, for any kind of therapy. If people were willing to accept that, there’d be a lot less malpractice suits, and costs would be lower, less unnecessariy tests and procedures would be done. Oh well.

    I was very embarrassed, I lost track of where we were on the calendar, and missed Town Meeting. But this weekend was the Magical Marketplace in Nashua. Lots of great people there, the only problem in my mind is that the stage is at the end of the vendors room, (huge vendors room), so it can get very loud. Willow was feeling too tired to go, so I was planning on going alone, but I thought of Ed & Carol Huot who I’ve seen there before, and asked if I could snag a ride with them. He said yes, although Carol was going to stay home to save her strength for Sunday (grandkids coming to visit). When he got there though, she was with him, had decided to just bring her wheelchair and stay until she felt tired. It was great chatting with them on the way. When we got there the first place I saw was Auntie Arwen’s, although I didn’t recognize the girl running it. Apparently Lyd and Coll had gone to Gulf wars last weekend and were still recovering from that trip! I offered to watch the shop for her while she ran out to the car for some bags, and when she got back she let me stash my coat under the table. Good deal! Ed and Carol went one way and I went another. I couldn’t go more than a few steps without seeing a friend! Most of the conversations were very close to “Tchipakkan! How are you doing?” “I’m great! recovering well, very glad not to have Chronic Lyme!” “You look really good!” “Yes, I can smile on both sides and can spit again!”
   That was pretty much it! I’d forgotten to bring CTCW cards, but this year it’s going to be not 2.5 hours away from Nashua, but 4 hours, so it might not have been a good venue. Still, it was huge! Mike and Beth sure know how to do a good event! (I saw each of them on the fly.) Eventually I bumped into Carol and Ed again, and they were ready to go home, so I collected my coat. It had started to snow. I hope it stopped before folks had to pack out. Carol offered to buy us lunch and we went to Applebys. These pictures are from them- they often share pictures of their lunches and lovely scenery on Facebook. I do notice that when I smile, you can see my broken off tooth, and want to get that fixed as soon as possible. I am SO vain! We had a lovely lunch, and on the way home, they took me past Fitch’s so I could pick up milk. I have to have them over!
When I got back home, Kat was worked up- she’d heard me leave and John had only told her that “a man had come and taken me away”. I guess I hadn’t told him about the Magical Marketplace. She was worried I’d been arrested for something, and hadn’t eaten or taken her pills. She hadn’t asked Willow, because she assumed that she had gone to Avis- although she hadn’t. I should have made sure she’d eaten before I left. So Willow and I fed her, and things calmed down again. One thing about those meds, you have to take them regularly.

Willow had John put the other seats in the car and used it to take Avi and the kids and their friend and Avi’s mother up to Manchester to Celebrate Bianca’s birthday. They went to some place with wall to wall trampolines- I rather like that design, I was always afraid of falling off. Willow said she’d gotten a picture of herself on the trampoline., but it was a film, so I can’t really include it. Looked like fun though. After that they went somewhere else for pizza. She came home even more exhausted than usual. She’s been going over every day to help the kids with their homework. Avi is working from home now, and Willow’s job is to keep them away from their mother until quitting time. Since she’s no longer coming in from the store, Willow has been getting home earlier- but still, it’s draining. Once tis week Kaylen had 15 pages of “homework”. He’d had a recalcitrant day at school, and they sent all his work back with him to do at home. Willow figures that if they had six hours to get him to do that much work, how was she supposed to do it in 3? I was shocked to discover he hasn’t got an IEP.
At some point this week the mouse on my computer stopped working. We just couldn’t get the computer to recognize it, and although Willow found an old one, it was such a pain to use, I mostly gave up on the computor and watched movies and colored. Yesterday, I think, I called apple support and we got it going again. Embarassingly the thing that did the trick was turning the computer on and off again. I should have tried that first. Then I called Amazon (as long as I was spending a day on hold), one of those rare problems- they sent me someone else’s book. They sent me a link to print a lable to return it. Just one of those things.
Doug and Phillip came over on Monday afternoon. Kat’s been taking in the shoulders on a Dr. Who coat he’s going to be wearing this weekend.  He’s dropped over a hundred pounds over the last year, and enough since he bought it that it hung on him strangely. So she had to reset the shoulders- and the coat is lined. She also had to put tucks in the waistcoat. He had to come get a fitting, and they stayed for supper. That was nice. (All except for when a glass tipped on the shelf and I tried to catch it- while holding another glass in my hand. I managed to break both of them, and cut the back of my hand. I couldn’t have done that on purpose!
Saturday evening Kat reminded me when it was Earth Hour. If you didn’t hear about it, it’s an event where people are supposed to turn off their lights for an hour between 8:30 and 9:30, and they check with sattelites to see if enough people are doing it that they can tell from space.  To be honest, we didn’t just “sit in the dark”, we turned all the lights off, but left the movie I was watching on. It was Annie, and Kat and I had a very pleasant time discussing the dancers underpinnings. Some (especially the kids and Miss Hannigan’s) were quite authentic looking, but we think that the dancers had more modern underwear so they would look more elegant to the modern eye. Maybe to keep the audience from being distracted from the dancing. I can compare the dark we generated (John also had his computer or kindle on) with yesterday when we had a blackout. It happened right after supper, so we just went to bed. We did look outside and the neighbors were also out, so we knew it wasn’t us. It was profoundly dark. And I noticed that when you’ve had that level of darkness, a single candle looks a lot brighter. I will also admit that when I went to bed, I pulled out by kindle, because it is self lighting. I discovered (with no surprise) that lacking a modem to power the wifi, I couldn’t watch Netflix on it, but I could still read just fine!
When I got up I discovered that the power company had been sending me emails on the progress of their repairs just about hourly. What good are emails going to do when one doesn’t have power?!
Tonight the New Normal was about Cultural Appropriation. It’s a complex and fascinating subject, and Thor and Jane both called in. Thank goodness for that, because at some point my mic apparently stopped working. The studio screen  didn’t show it, but they couldn’t hear me, and I couldn’t hear them. I figured they’d been cut off, and talked until the end of the show. Then I called them, and they let me know that they hadn’t heard anything from me, so they’d just kept going until suddenly the show dropped their calls (when I’d ended it). I am frustrated that the hardwear doesn’t work well, because the shows are great. We covered a lot- for example, is it necessary to accept someone else’s perception in order to respect them? If one respects, praises and attempts to uphold another culture, need we validate their feelings of disrespect, insult and degredation that they may have because they are prejudiced against us? I am not going to argue that the blacks and Native Americans don’t have a perfect reason to expect the worst from whites. Coming right up to the current unbalanced police response to blacks and the DAPL pipeline, as a group, we’ve treated them badly. But one one to one, no matter how well founded that prejudice, I’m not sure I need to just do whatever they want because of it, just to prove I’m “reasonable”. I think the thing to do is to really be reasonable. (Sadly, I think that was part of what didn’t record. Nor did my mention of the book Talking about the Elephant.)
I have come up with a new theory this week. It’s thatthe level at which people are defensive is in proportion to what they’ve had to give up themselves. We all have to decide whether what society says we should do matches what we think we should do. The more often you go with the external choice (if it’s in opposition to your inner urgings), the more you think everyone else should have to follow those same rules too. So if you are towing the party line even though you know it means you’re actling like a rat bastard, you are going to be a lot more disturbed by someone telling you that they don’t agree, than if you actually felt that way yourself. I theorize that it’s the internal conflict that results in amount of resistance that they feel to being disagreed with. I shall have to chew on it a while and look for flaws.
Another thing I have been thinking about is arranged marriages, the importance of having family, and how modern people seem to have forgotten that for most of human history, getting enough to eat was a real issue- that may be true of many other places in the world. It’s lovely to talk about medical care being a right, but that is contingent upon having so much wealth that it would be possible. For most people, since their were people, if you got sick or hurt, you could die, and probably would unless you were rich and lucky. Since this is an artificial construct, I can see that the 1% figures that since we are planning to get that medical care (and housing, and food) for those who would otherwise die out of the excess, and they’ve claimed the excess, that it’s only an artificial construct, so they can define it just as easily as we can. I don’t understand how they can justify that their having more expensive stuff than they can use is more important than millions of other people having a basic minimum (defined in my mind as enough that you aren’t hungry, cold, hurting, and scared except occasionally). I’m guessing it’s because they are in the habit of getting and keeping it away from the other 1%, so they just accept “getting and keeping” as normal, and probably don’t have any idea just what it’s like to be in the other 99%. Once you have a world view, it’s really hard to change it.

And yes, this does remind me of the latest political doings. Compassion fatigue/ outrage fatigue are setting in, because we’re scrambling to keep up with each new problem. The careless nepotism- Trump bringing in his daughter and son-in-law, and continuing to make money off the office of POTUS, his team colluding with the Russians. As with what I was saying in general about the wealthy, they may not even think that they’re doing anything wrong, it’s just “business as usual”. Taking away the environmental protections is my personal pick for the worst thing he’s done (until he starts a nuclear war, which isn’t impossible). I think it was today or yesterday he used the CRA (Congressional Review Act) to legalize the government buying and selling our personal information, and given that the Trump administration has been deleting on-line evidence for Climate Change in order to back up their anti-environmental legislation, this is going to be another problem for anyone who uses the internet to collect information. he’s also canceled a lot of federal regulations protecting workers from wage theft, allows land use rules to be local (go ahead, shoot wolves and bears in their sleep). His only motivation is promoting whatever lets businesses maximize their profits, no matter what effect it has on the world.  He really doesn’t seem to get that there’s anything wrong with that, and apparently neither does the Republican Congress. Or at least they’re too afraid of what the Democrats would do if they got into power, that they are all following the party line.
My theory is this: it’s too much. So pick one or two things, whatever you can handle, and work on those. Just don’t stop resisting and never accept this as normal. It’s not normal. It’s horrible.

Remember I said that I’d just sat and watched movies and colored? Look at this list! I watched three of the “Greatest” Westerns: Winchester 73, the OxBow Incident, and The Unforgiven. Winchester 72 was with Jimmy Stewart and had a lovely complex plot as this magnificent rifle passed from hand to hand. The Oxbow Incident stared Henry Fonda and was really depressing. It was about some folks deciding that they should not wait for a trial, but lynch cattle rustlers who’d moved up to murder, but at the end it turned out that their evidence was not good and they’d hanged innocent men. The Unforgiven had Bert Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn. I’m not sure who the unforgiven were supposed to have been. I think it may have been the crazy man who’d had one of his kids stolen by the Indians, and wanted to trade back an Indian baby that a white man had adopted rather than kill in some massacre or other, but the family had been raising her as white and refused to give her in trade. So he went nuts, and later exposed her as red, told the Kiowa who came to get her back, but her family defended her. She ended up killing her natural brother, and the “silver lining” was that knowing she wasn’t related, she could fall in love with her adopted brother. The whole thing was pretty messed up. If she was as prejudiced (thinking her whole life that she was white), as all the white people around her, she probably would have had a lot of self loathing after the movie ended. This is yet another example of how the movies we grew up on weren’t just “indians bad, cowboys good”, but presented complecated human dramas.
You want uncomplicated? (Well, at least at a thematic level), I watched Suicide Squad, another movie from the comics. This one was one of those where they offer prisoners with special skills time off their sentences in exchange for fighting a super villain (which they probably won’t survive). If there’s a theme, it’s that the people who use these tactics are as bad as the ones on whom they use them, whether they think they’re doing it for the greater good or not. Lots of action and some fun lines.
I found the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel made me depressed even though it was another great movie (like the first) with great performances. It makes it seem that there’s always someone somewhere to love you, even if you are old. And I don’t like the whole “I can live better until I die here, than I could on what I’ve got left back at home.” I was left feeling that they still had a pile more money than I do, and that it wouldn’t take much looking to find their Indian agemates dying in squalor just around the corner.
I got another 30s movie: Wilke Collins: The Moonstone, which came with a B movie I can’t remember the name of that had a murder during charades, with people being cleverly killed (for example by a projectile coming out of a rigged telephone) and a will hidden in the bag of a vacuum cleaner. I’m sure it was very cutting edge when it was made. I also watched a couple of Gene Kelly movies: Invitation to the Dance, and On the Town. I’m not sure I’d seen Invitation to the Dance before.  There was no dialogue- it was practically ballet. As I said, we watched Annie during Earth Hour, I’d had “Easy Street” going through my head. Now I’ve got “Little Girls”. John borrowed Liscence to Kill with Timothy Dalton as James Bond. They way they usually do Bond, he couldn’t be a spy because he’s too good looking, (one version of Jane Eyre had Dalton as Rochester, really?!) but it was fun, as Bond movies are meant to be. After that I re-watched True Lies, because, why not? I don’t expect to watch that much again any time soon.
This is not to say that I didn’t also (having discovered that my Kindle plays Netflix movies) also watch some episodes of The Last Kingdom, from the story of Utred in the period of King Alfred. I think they’ve got a good Alfred. I stopped reading that series because Utred was a jerk, but I’m enjoying the dramatization. I do think they would have had more color in their clothes though- and am not sure where they got the side buttoning jackets they’ve put on almost everyone.  I also stopped to watch an episode of The Guild which is about some pathetic obsessed gamers. It’s funnier than I expected, and I had to go back and watch some West Wing just to remind myself that it is possible to have an intelligent, good man and team in the White House. Also, sadly, I now understand the jobs a bit better. Sigh.

I finished Dark Ages America. The bottom line for that one is that history shows that all empires fall, and current events show that we’ve reached that point. Final suggestion: it’s going to be incremental, so your best bet is to make sure that whatever your job is, you get paid by the people you do it for, not some third party who can disapear and leave you hanging. That’s nice, but if anything dire happens, I’m just going to die. I am not self supporting, and I know it. I am finishing the Drunken Botanist It was fairly interesting, I actually enjoyed the second part with herbs and spices used for flavorings more than the first part talking about all the plants they ferment to make booze. They only had a sidebar on mead, I suppose because it is an animal product not a plant, but it seems to me there should have been more.
The library won’t let me renew Born a Crime and I haven’t finished it, so I think I’ll take it out again some time to finish it. I find it disturbing, yet fascinating, to see how people set up apartheid when it is so totally bizarre. People are people. (Meanwhile, I’ve requeted several South African movies from Mandela to Zulu, as I try to figure out this strange melange of cultures.) I continue reading American Nations. Yes, I see how cultural attitudes shape our regional behaviors, but I’m more struck with how strangely this account differs from the standard stories we were told in school. A also continue with Traveling Between the Worlds, perspectives from spirit workers of many cultures. And I’ve started Beyond the Occult. a sort of sequel to The Occult (the Ultimate Guide for those who would Walk with the Gods) by Colin Wilson. That was a classic from back in 1971, and this was written in 1991, after he’d spent a career researching and writting books on these subjects. It occurs to me as I read this, and it takes me back to those days, that while I read piles of books on the occult in the 60s and 70s, I always heard from Neo pagans that “there weren’t any books back then”. I always found more books than I could get my hands on- on they occult, on the history of witchcraft and sorcery, on divination, on mythology. I now realize that they meant that there weren’t books on Wicca, because it hadn’t been developed yet! Poor babies! What book was it that I read back in high school in which I found the historic spells for giving someone warts and giving someone the farts? I must have taken it from the library. I know that the wart spell worked, and I’d love to go through it again and see what else was in there. I also dipped into the Encyclopedia of Secret Societies, which has references to a lot of modern (the last 200 years) secret societies that I’d never heard of, because my interest in history generally waned once men use guns instead of swords and wear trousers.
Once again, I have gone past midnight, but I console myself because I can still hear Willow gaming upstairs.

“Fearful as reality is, it is less fearful than evasions of reality … Look steadfastly into the slit, pinpointed malignant eyes of reality as an old-hand trainer dominates his wild beasts.” Caitlin Thomas