7/10/2013 Garlic Month

Sorry about missing last week- I still haven’t figured out out to get the mail program working on my laptop. I was able to do the radio show, so that’s the important thing, now I’m just hoping I can find a wi-fi connection for the shows while I’m at the war.
It’s continued to rain a lot- but then, sometimes that meant there was a sunny day- or an overcast day like today- and then there was one ten or fifteen minute shower. OK, it rained. Big deal. The fourth of July weekend was gorgeous- at least at the lake, which is where I was. Otherwise known as heaven. Sadly, I tried playing with the settings on my camera and messed up somehow, but I got *some* pictures.
(The front strip where I put flowers is blooming like crazy- Jane gave me some gold lilies last year- I rather expect the orange ones that are feral around here, but they sure are bright! The morning glories are climbing up the door- but may not survive the installation of the railings. This year I seem to have picked up purple ones, because they started blooming last week. We also have daisies, and lots of herbs. I’m a bit worried about the plantings- more because of the chips of paint from scraping before painting than the ladders, but the guys are being as careful as they can be. And the flowers I have tend to be hardy transplanted wild-flowers.)
We are incredibly busy, and I’m telling myself I should write a very brief letter, but SO much has happened (not to mention that it’s two weeks to cover not just one). First I’ll cover the house improvements. I am thrilled with Wally Holt, who’s managing it. He’s a yankee like me- frugal with a great respect for old homes and maintaining their feel. He doesn’t want to just modernize everything. I am so pleased to have someone I trust handling this.

They finished doing the roof last Wednesday, (that was when it was over 90º most days, go fig!) and since it’s been over-cast or raining much of what they do depends on the weather. When it’s OK, they work outside, when it’s not inside. The next project was the front hall. They ripped out the old worn plastic flooring, and discovered that the lovely flooring that Paul had given us was not straight enough to use. I’m guessing Paul used the straightest while putting it Kitty’s heated floor. But the original boards underneath looked good- if you like old houses. So they got a sander to just smooth it up- sadly the rental sander kept tossing it’s sandpaper. So Monday a fellow came in and sanded it beautifully. This gave us the opportunity to paint the floors walls and ceiling before the floor was done. Mother always told me start from the top. We’d been planning to paint the stairs before we left for Maine- give it time to dry while we were out, but they wanted us not to do that. They got to put on several coats of polyurathane- and that was dry when we got back. I think it looks great. We still have to finish painting the trim and stairs. (We’re thinking before we go to GNEW.)

While the sander was in the front hall, they fixed the back hall. It was pretty awful. When we bought the house, the door hung in mid-air, so we told the bank that we wanted stairs under it. They did, but didn’t flash it- so every time it rained or snowed all the moisture went into the sill, which was rotted away. Luckily they didn’t have to replace the foundation. I did, however have to clear all the stuff I’ve just been sticking in the back hall for the last 20 years. I got rather melancholy- Ælfwine’s reloading stuff is back there, and there were lots of papers and stuff, old pictures, and other stuff that send me right down memory lane. I still have to go through lots of boxes of papers. But I got it clear enough that they could work. After fixing the floor and foundation, this week they checked to make sure that the walls were OK. There’d been a lot of water damage. I think it was the sink in the studio, but worry that it could have been the roof. They’ve pulled the pipes to the sink- I don’t use it, so that’s fine. I’ll have to get the sink taken out at some point (but that will require cleaning the studio!). They used Paul’s flooring to make a lovely sill. And you can bet the new steps are properly flashed!
Now they are painting the house- forest green with brown trim. I noticed that they do it all at the same time as long as the ladder is up there, not in two jobs, as we’d tried to do. They also opened the walls (there were many clapboards that needed replacing) and said I don’t need to reinsulate. I’d worried about that. Today they leveled the front steps, and are putting in railings. It’s not quite as pretty as it used to be- but it’s going to be great to have something to grab onto! And it goes on- as they move around the house they will also fix rotting sills and any other problems they find. They’re talking about ripping up the half done tile floor in the bathroom so we can choose something we like and have the whole floor done- and finish the walls from when Paul gave us the new sink and tub. They’re also able to some electric work. This is going MUCH faster than I’d expected, and less expensively too.
Wally did make me a frame for a raised bed, and when we got back the dirt had been delivered. I dug in lots of kelp powder and peatmoss to lighten it, and have planted it with lettus, radish, scallion, and carrot seeds. I’d like to also get a few cucumbers, but it may be too late. There was still a lot of dirt, so I had him make me another- I’ll have to try to get that in, I have a tray I started with 12 corn stalks- corn I’m not afraid is GMO-and maybe some beans, but we’re going up to GNEW tomorrow, and I don’t think I have time today!

Did I tell you we got a wii? It’s supposed to keep me exercising. It’s like Garfield’s “voice chip with a cruel streak”. Sometimes when I get on the platform it says “Ow!”, and always reminds me when I haven’t exercised every day. I do enjoy it, but actually only got on long enough for it to weigh me (I figure once a week isn’t too much), and I have actually lost 5 pounds (swimming up in Maine I’m guessing). We’ll see if it comes back on, or keeps going down at Pennsic.

We are not only doing the renovation stuff (Kat’s painting the stair risers as I write), the girls also had Canobie Con to go to (the 7th I believe). Kat made a costume of a Dr. Who companion named Dodo. She was from the 60s, and Kat went so far as to paint the fabric with the sixties irregular rings to make it just right. Willow gave up on her plan because we got too busy, She made herself a fabulous hat! Anyway they had fun, and it didn’t rain. This year, that’s an achievement.

There were thunderclouds overhead at Dad’s internment, but we got through it pretty dry. OK, as expected when the military honors- folding the flag and playing taps happened, even I got a bit teary. We sang “I’ll Fly Away” in a reasonably up-beat tempo, and the Rev. John Tolman didn’t go on any longer than expected- (albeit longer than scheduled). Trish spoke too, and then we all went down to the camp and ate. We’d spent the day before getting ready- we made about 5 gallons of fruit salad, three large trays of “strata” layer of bread w/o crust, egg and milk, chopped onions and cheese. There was some discussion about any other ingredients. I threw mixed colors of peppers over the top of the smallest one, and hid a layer of bacon under the cheese in the other two. Liz checked, and Mother’s original recipe didn’t call for meat, but we both remember her adding bacon as it became a favorite. Trish spent a couple of very hot hours broiling five pounds of bacon, five packs of sausages, and one can of sliced Spam. She heroically did NOT share the Spam story at the interment, but I’ll share it now.
A few years ago Dad had expressed the intent to get healthier- eat more vegetables, and shortly thereafter she came upon him in the kitchen with a large Vidalia Onion and a knife, cutting off slices and eating it. OK, an onion is a vegetable. No big deal. The next time she came into the kitchen he had a block of Spam and was cutting off slices of THAT and eating it. “Really?” Dad looked up and said: “What‽ It’s Spam Light!”
The graveyard is just a mile up from the Henderson’s Cove Road to Clearwater, and it’s on a REALLY steep hill. Lovely view, hard to walk up! Dana and Trish dug the hole themselves- four feet deep, and they’d been told to make it deeper, but they hit ledge! They went back after the gathering and filled in the hole. Liz had passed out roses and we nearly filled the hole with them.
Most of the people who came to the burial were the “Lake Crowd” we’d seen at the Richman’s party on Independence Day, plus Patty, Dad’s sister, and Alonzo, Dad’s brother. It’s kind of depressing to watch a family dwindle like that, but I suppose they are in their seventies and eighties. It’s not how long you live, it’s how much joy you have while you’re alive, and I think we’re doing pretty well on that.
After the crowd left, Kitty and Ed Flick brought in the big boat. Dana had already put in the “little boat”, and Willow and Kitty brought down the kayak. We discovered that the downed tree that Kitty always uses to “dock” her kayak had rubbed against rocks long enough that there’s a lovely seat there now (well, we turned it upside down while re-setting it). And that’s why you don’t allow the kayak to bob on the rocks!

It has been a changing of the guard, Dad was very clear that he wanted us all to share the camp, and we seem to be negotiating things we’d like to do with it pretty well. Looks like we are going to make the bathroom a bit bigger. And we’re going to investigate a composting toilet as a possible adjunct. We don’t often have the 40 guests, and 10 people living there that we had this weekend, but it happens occasionally, and a second sink or hopper would be welcome! We had me and my kids, Jay came with his lady, Christine, and their kids, Breana and Brendan, amd Trish and Dana in the main camp. Over in Grandmother’s camp Cate had her boys Conner, Tyler and Jacob, along with Alex (I’m not sure about his name), her mother-in-law, and another guest. Chuck and some of his family were over in West View (the original camp of the enclave). It was very reassuring to hear the children playing. The first night I was feeling melancholy because there are “supposed to be” kids there. I felt much more normal when there were.
I also had a heck of a good time swimming with Duke- the boxer. Abby is apparently made of brown sugar, and will not get wet, but Duke is a great swimmer! The picture is Duke with Kat, who was loving the new “seat” in the shade. And bless Liz, when John got over-stimulated, she took him over to her place to chill out. Sometimes we want people, and sometimes we want to be alone, and she understands.

She also let me come over to her place on Wednesday to do the New Normal. In theory the Murrays have wi-fi, but often I couldn’t get at it. The new laptop came through though- I didn’t get dropped once, and that’s a first for the last few months. Fourth of July proper was fairly low-key. We had steak, because it was on special at $3.99, and the hamburger was $4.79! There were also burgers, of course, and german potato salad. We managed not to make too much for once. In the evening, after the party we set off our cache of fireworks on the end of the dock. In previous years when they were legal in NH, but not ME, we carefully lit enough that it would be fun, but the game-wardens wouldn’t come and fine us. Now it’s legal, and many, many people were shooting rockets off their docks. One place across the lake actually shot off a good bunch on the third, more on the fourth, and another set on the fifth. To my surprise, I began to actually not be excited about them any more. The Flicks had an incredible amount- I heard that they had a PALLET of fireworks!. We watched for about an hour and a half as there were “dueling displays” around the lake. Not quite as good as New Years in Germany (although I’m sure that shooting them off a dock is much safer than off a city balcony), but now that they’re legal, I expect that more people will get and shoot off a few every year. Because of the rain, the town fireworks had been cancelled. (The field where they were going to be held couldn’t be mowed because it never got dry enough.) This was good though- watch without having to go anywhere.

I’d forgotten one thing as I headed home- traffic on Sunday afternoon after the big weekend. What usually takes four hours took eight. We were actually stopped several times! The girls had gone down Friday, so they missed it. This meant we had two cars- luckily, on the way up I went through a strange gate by the toll booth that didn’t seem to be labeled, and it turned out to have been an EZ pass gate. Since the girls were behind me, they got the number for me to call to pay the toll the next day. There was a billboard, but I was passing it too fast (and I was flustered) to write down the number. OK, the technology has been around for several years now. I’m going to break down and get an EZ pass. I don’t know if we’ll have it for Pennsic, but we’ll get one. And I apparently tidied my phone into a drawer and left it behind, but they found it and mailed it back already. Isn’t the post office amazing‽ And my sisters, of course, are amazing as well.

Now we are in full Pennsic Prep mode- complicated this year by having lost a week because of the Coopers pushing it up, so there are only four days, not twelve between the Great NorthEastern War and Pennsic. We’ve made jerky, we’ve brewed mead, we’ve gone through the garb and are busy repairing and filling holes in our wardrobes. (I think I need a couple new undergowns, and I’m so annoyed, while doing the goldwork embroidery on my gown- I got too big for it! Phoeey!) Kat’s put together a travel mix for us to listen to on the way down, and we are trying to decide how far we can get before we need to sleep, and reserve a motel room ahead. (The last few years we haven’t been able to get one.) Willow spent yesterday making several kinds of herbal ointments that we sell to Jane (or she sells for us, depending on how you look at it). Willow’s gone through the Mirror box, and the first aid Kit, and I’m trying to get my booklets for my classes done (handouts- no way I have time to write booklets this year!) I hope to fire the kiln tonight- it’s raining so I hope it won’t be too hot, while printing out the handouts for the four classes I’m doing at GNEW.
I am actually thinking about skipping writing the letter next week. Things just keep coming up- things we have to clear away in front of the men so they can fix things, or the hour John and I spent knocking ice off the walls of the chest freezer. THAT wasn’t on the main schedule, but it had to be done! I hope you take this as I mean it- not whining, but as an admission that my life is as crazy as I’m sure yours is. I think this is the way life is. Tomorrow, Kat and I have appointments to give blood at 2, on the way up to GNEW, and I have a dentist appointment next week, and I scratched the heck out of my legs while going through the bushes, and now I’m worried about getting cellulitis again. At what point do you stop thinking you’re paranoid, and get it checked? I do think I’m hyper-vigilant about it, since last Pennsic when everyone told me all their cellulitis horror stories.
I’m also trying to get the latest book cover painting done before we go, Kat (thank goodness) is making ads for the conference. As she said, she’s worked for years to develop this skill set, and is pretty good at it. Some of the questions she asks me I don’t even understand, but are important depending on whether it’s an ad for a magazine or on line. She also spent a good deal of time last week trying to make the lap-top be as close to my computer as it could be. When we work together we get an amazing amount done!

Well, I must stop and get ready for supper and the show. I must stop because every time I think I’ve finished, I think of some other interesting thing that’s happened. Tonight I’ve got Starwolf talking about Crystals on the show, and Oberon Zell on the 24th. He’s a “big name” in pagan circles, but I don’t know that anyone else will have heard of him. I’m psyched tho’.

Darn- pictures aren’t loading. Oh well.

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca