4-26-2017 Hug a Friend

I like hugging. An article I saw says that a hug needs to be 20 seconds long to get the endorphin trigger that they can generate, so probably the quick “hello” hugs don’t count. After 20 seconds I think it’s getting into cuddling range. Just saying. One good thing about fat is that it makes me more huggable- nothing poky!
This has been a rather rainy week, and cooler to go along with that. It gave us the opportunity to burn off the accumulated trash. I guess we’re moving into the summer months when we never want to burn in the kitchen and have to haul it to the recycling center. Ugh. The garden is full of hyacinth- sadly, the rain is keeping the scent from spreading as it does when the sun is on it. Our forsithia are blooming, and daffodils, and the coltsfoot is flowering out back. It’s a golden time of year. It smells good, but the cats are inconvenienced by having two doors to open to go in or out. In the summer when the solid door is usually open, it’s not a big issue, but when both are involbed, the cats often find themselves on the hinge end of the door, when they meant to be on the latch edge. This means they may have to hop down off the front stoop (out into the rain) to go around and come in the opening.
I was thinking of getting a picture of the rainy street, but the computer isn’t talking to the camera this week. Also yesterday, the mouse worked but the keyboard didn’t. So I changed ports it was plugged into and it said it didn’t recognize it (I’ve been using it for three months now) and when I followed the steps they gave for introducing them, “Mr. Computer, I am pleased to introduce miss keyboard”) suddenly  the buttons didn’t do the usual things- the “increase volume” button sweeps me over to the other screen! I’m going to have to call tech support, again. (Deep, dramatic sigh!)

Thursday I was supposed to drive Mark down to the clinic (because they don’t like people driving themselves), but I discovered that this was the date I would finally get to see the eye doctor. So Willow took Mark down (and still got back up in time to supervise the kids after school), while I went to the optometrist (rescheduling would have added another two month wait). My eyes have not deteriorated, and new contacts have been ordered; they should arrive sometime this week. I am so looking forward to being able to see with both eyes again. I hope my eye lid has firmed up enough that it won’t fall out again. I have some return of motion to my right eyebrow, but I’m concerned that my facial muscles are atrophying. They seem to be stiffening up into a smile- which looks a lot better than hanging in a scowl- but it doesn’t look like I’m going to completely recover. Luckily my friends still think I look good (or say so). I Photoboothed this picture to get a “face front” image for a game that was supposed to tell you how symmetrical your features were. They said I was 98%. the eyes and lips sure aren’t, and I cheated on the mouth, smiling with the left until it matched the right. But if I can continue to do that, I won’t look so bad for the next 25-30 years (however much I have left).

This week is school vacation, so WIllow has to be at Avi’s all day- although there’s no homework, which is nice. And today Avi had off, so Willow could stay home and cut out some blankets.
Friday was a “girls day out” with Joanie and Raye. Sadly, on the way home they got pulled over because one of Willow’s headlights had gone out. It seems pointless to fix it at this point- the sheer accumulation of things that are going wrong with the car mean it’s time for a new one. She’d like to get one that’s not quite so old and problematic, and went to the bank to check out a car loan. Unfortunately, they only make loans on cars less than ten years old. It’s not that she wouldn’t love to have a car that would last longer, but hates the idea of taking longer to pay it off. But add that to the list of requirements. She’s thinking of getting a truck, preferably with an inclosed back, definitely with an extended cab so we call fit all of us in if we need to, and with towing capacity. She took me out looking at them on the way back from the dump. Oh well. If she gets a truck, I’ll probably get a smaller car when mine gives up the ghost.
I’d meant to go up to one of the Earth Day Science Marches, but didn’t get my act in gear. I’ve been staying up too late reading, and I still sleep until I wake up, so I’m still getting 8 hours of sleep, but too much of it is wasting daylight. I need to go to bed earlier. Since then I’ve been enjoying the posters people carried- I particularly liked the one comparing how often the Professor saved everyone on Gilligans Island as opposed to the Millionaire, but there were many funny ones. Still, the truth is that people are going to distrust science when it won’t give them the answers they want. Mostly, both sides want certainty, and the Science side just as much as the others. The problem is that science is good for some things, but when seen objectively only gives likelihoods. Some pretty solid likelyhoods in many cases, but when they ignore the biases and variations and margins for error, they throw themselves into the same area as their opponents. And they make it easier for people to attack science. For example, if you mention the word Vaccination on the internet, the only response is from the “Vaccines do/n’t cause autism” folks. The many other types of diseases, and reasons for their reduction are ignored, the risks and benefits are ignored, it all gets very shrill, and there’s a lot of insulting of the others arguements, but not much looking at them. Sadly, because Science, and it’s child medicine, are tied to the need for funding, and because it’s become an “Establishment”, it accepts change very slowly and with much difficulty. This makes people frustrated since it can be decades before Science as a group accepts what has been proven by scientific method, and is recognized by many “fringe” groups. At the same time, other groups at the edge are full of balogne- and it’s hard for those in the middle to guess which are which. So they want the Establishment to tell them “for sure”, and when they are wrong, it tarnishes the reputation of science.
We also want science to, like the Professor (Hinkley) on Gilligan’s Island, to solve all of our problems (with available resources like coconuts and bamboo). Preferably, like the Professor, it should also be fairly good looking and totally non-threatening, and never fail. Well, guess what guys, nothing, even science solves all problems and explains everything! And if Science doesn’t stop promising to have all the answers, it’s going to destroy it’s credibility with the masses who don’t quite understand it, because so much of the science they teach in school is done so badly that it doesn’t stick in people’s minds.

Instead I’ve been working up to the paintings I’m doing. This past week has been the latest NH Public TV auction, and once again, I couldn’t watch, since I don’t get over-the-air programming. I’d like to get the paintings I owe from previous years done before the new one comes in. I like painting, but the lead up is hard. I spent most of a day just getting everything out from under the drawing table in the kitchen. For probabaly a year we have been tucking things that were on the table under there when clearing it for dinner, and there were art supplies, knitting and embroidery materials, maps and other things from the last time we cleaned out a car, lots of papers- to be handled immediately, “The usual suspects”. Well, it’s clear now, finally.
So is the back hall, finally. It had gotten terribly clogged during the winter when we didn’t like to go back in the cold to organize it, and sadly, we don’t like to spend top dollar for trash bags, so several had exploded. Yuck! So two trips later it’s mostly clear. I still want to get it all the way. Shema said they’ve gone through their pantry and composted everything past date, which is really impressive. Shelley has been chronicaling her “dehoarding” efforts- which is also inspiring. I look at the library and my bedroom and know that if I can reduce the number of books, I’ll be able to get at the ones I have more easily. In fiction I can sort the books into the ones I’ve read and may want to loan or re-read and the ones I have read once and know I won’t read again or have decided that they are low priority for getting to. In non-fiction, I have to sort books into whether I will want to reference them again or not. The days when I got anything that was “occult” because there wasn’t much of it available are long gone! Sadly, as an historian I know that some of the old books that don’t report the best knowledge, are still great references for what people thought back when it was written. I have one book on Anglo-Saxon Medicine which was a give-away at an AMA convention in 1912. (The endpapers are a map of Atlantic city with a “your hotel is here” finger.) I was so cross when it arrived because half of the book was ads for Wellcome, the pharmecutitcal company that provided it; then I realized that since it was about 100 years old, it too was history- just not Anglo-Saxon history. This makes it deucedly hard for me to decide a book has no value for me any more. It’s become an issue of time management. Will I get to it? I think the same could said for many of the tools and materials in my studio. One thing is certain, life would be easier with more space.
I wonder whether I’m still recovering from the Lyme disease, or just aging, or have some other problem that I haven’t identified. Last year I had a lot more hair (it sort of got weak and a lot broke off while I was sick), and while I lost weight while I was actively sick, I gained most of it back, but don’t have the strength I used to have. I keep thinking of the line from 12th Warrior: “Grow Stronger!”, but if I try to exercise, my hands hurt, and I don’t have the energy I feel I should have. I am having a hard time lifting my cast iron pans. (OK, maybe I shouldn’t stack them several deep.) Sometimes it seems worth just having John open jars for me. Am I wussing out, or am I really weak? I fear that if I don’t push it, I will never recover, but worry that recovery might not be an option. Could be that even without getting sick I’d have lost strength. I hate to think so. Perhaps it’s like my favorite clothes, I don’t even notice that they are threadbare and stained because I know that they are “beautiful”, until suddenly I realize that I’ve loved this skirt or blouse for ten years, and it isn’t what it used to be. I’m afraid Ambien is helping with that- in his recent’ anxiety, he has chewed holes in several shirts. We’re still not sure if it’s him or Pyewacket, as we haven’t caught either of them in flagrante delicto. Both continue to be excellent, cuddlesome, affectionate cats, and we love them dearly. But I sure would love to not have holes turn up in our flannel shirts and sheets. (whichever of them it is, has a marked preference for fuzzy fabric. Since there’s always a hole, not just a tear, I have to assume that it’s been eaten, totally disolved, and think that CAN’T be good for them. We are pretty sure it’s started happening again because Ambien has been acting stressed lately. (Also irritating is that the tiny black ants have started their summer invasion. Darn. I guess the ones we see may be scouts as the colonies eggs hatch and look for places to expand, but dammit- do it outside!)
Steve took his cat, Diana to the Vet this weekend, and she squirmed so much that she dislocated her leg. They stuck it back in, but told him to “make sure she doesn’t jump” for a week. Really? How? So he had to stay down and try to tell her not to jump up and down from his lap, etc. Right.

What else have we done? The big excitement on Sunday was putting up a new clothesline. Last year it had broken, so we bought a new one, and replaced the old line. We are still not thrilled with the pulley system- it’s too easy for the line to go over the edge and get caught on the axil- I’m not quite sure how. We are also in the period before we do a tight knot and tape it down, because the line stretches with use, and we are going to wait until after we’ve hung a few heavy loads before we tighten it up. I do love my “solar/wind power clothes dryer”. The clothes smell better, and it’s a pleasant job. On the other hand, I do tend to throw the towels back in the dryer to tumble for a bit- that softens them up. Line dried they sometimes come out a bit “board-like”. Sadly, the knot gave just after I’d sent out most of the first load, so poor John had to clamber up the ladder and re-thread it (after I’d pulled it back in and taken the clothes off again). We use the big ladder to reach the back pulley- Willow helped him wrestle that into place. It’s hard- the ladder is unweildy, and heavy, and the ground is uneven and overgrown, and the sun was in his eyes as he was trying to work. Not a pleasant job.
We also picked up some (surprise!) sweet peppers at the dump. I figure someone had gotten a deal on a case of them- maybe they were bought for some event and they couldn’t use them all. So I brought home a basket of red, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers. I’ve done a stir fry, they went into tortellini soup (Willow’d found some with multi-colored pasta- it was doubly colorful), and some will go in the lamb curry we’re having tomorrow.
I wrote a post on holidays and rituals  I still spend about an hour a night posting what holidays are going coming up on the facebook page Holidays that Might get Overlooked. It occurred to me that holidays celebrate things we want to be aware of, commemorate things we want to remember, and build community by shared forcus and activity, but these days most of them are for communities working for a similar goal (like professions, or causes), or shared experience of fandoms, more than the traditional holy days that gave them the name.
I made a big goof this week. Jane and I had talked about planting magicks and rituals and how that would make a good topic for the New Normal- on the other hand, I forgot she was heading down to Fertile Ground this week, and announced it for this week’s show. Oops. Thor jumped in and he and I are going to be talking about the sociology of religion and Religious Colonization  which should be great, but anyone who tunes in expecting planting folklore is going to be confused!
I was thinking about songs this week. When I was a kid we learned songs, and I have to assume that modern kids are as likely to pick up whatever is on the tube as we did (or Mom got off the radio- like the Jack Armstrong Wheaties jingle). I remember she told us about horrible little ditties the kids sang at each other. I remember:
Tittle, tattle tattle tale, shame shame shame!
Tittle tattle tattle tale, that’s your name
Always been the teachers pet,
Never kept a secret yet!
Tittle, tattle tattle tale, shame on you!

Smartie Smartie Smartie,
Thought you had a party.
Don’t forget what the teacher taught,
You’ll be sorry when you get caught.
I’m going to tell your mother,
So say that you don’t care.
You’re just a great be smarty pants,
So there, there there!
I was thinking about those when Willow told me how the neighborhood kids are constantly telling on each other. Clearly they expect the adults to handle the situation. I can’t help thinking, no matter how horrible the little brats were, it seems better to have them handling it themselves than expecting the adults to handle everything for them.
But when I was a kid we learned songs. I still remember Semper Peratis and Deep in the heart of Texas from when I was in fourth grade. (I even remember that was on page 44 – or maybe it was song 44. We really liked it, I think, because it had the clapping in it, or maybe because when we asked for it, it made Mrs. Violet cringe.) Do kids learn songs these days? Maybe if they have them on the internet.
Another song I was thinking about was Michael Longcors song: Rhinoteleximania, because earlier this week it was Nose Picking Day. I kid you not!  (And no, I’ve never bothered to learn the words to that one.) Music and holidays. I thought I loved music, but today there was a thing going around the internet where everyone gave a list of ten bands or concerts they’d attended 9 out of 10 of, and have people guess which one they lied about. My goodness my friends have seen a lot of great concerts! I was amazed! I could name some of the acts at some pagan cons, and some SCA performers (like Moonwolf), but wow. I console myself that most of them have had a half century to accumulate these great experiences. More, I could easily mention dozens of musical theater shows I’d attended. It just never occurred to me to go to a music concert, as much as I like live music. I’m sure many of them would never think of going to a musical (maybe Hamilton). I also wouldn’t consider going to a sports event (except tournaments), and yet this week I learned that more people attend baseball games than go to church regularly (when I was doing that blog post on holidays and rituals).
I’m not sure whether it’s the rain or having to watch the kids full time, but Willow and Kat are not doing well this week. I have suggest we try a run of the Bach Flower Remedies, on the theory of “can’t hurt, might help”, and it’s easy. I sure hope it does help. I’m not sure that there’s anything harder for a parent than watching their kids suffer.

We never got to watching it in theaters, but finally have a copy of Fabulous Beasts and Where to Find Them. We’d have had to get it anyway, because there is so much amazing detail I’m sure we’ll have to watch it dozens of times before we catch even most of them. I was so relieved to discover that it worked with, and didn’t wreck, the Potter universe. I was unaware that Rowlings had been working closely with them on this movie as well. I look forward to more in this earlier time frame.  I watched a bit more West Wing, and some NCIS (I’m now up to the 12th season), I started Grimm. It’s another supernatural TV show, apparently still going on. In it the hero Nick is introduced suddenly to his legacy of fighting monsters as his family tradition. Part of the show- at least in the first bits I’ve watched- is the story of someone with insufficient preparation scrambling to catch up, but it also covers the problems of the various creatures who seem like normal humans, trying to live normal lives with THEIR family traits and problems. For them, HE’s the monster parents used to scare their kids. I like that his partner (he’s a cop) is competent, gets the clues, and isn’t just a clueless sidekick. The “sidekick”, Monrow, who explains this previously unknown world to Nick, is a vegetarian clockmaker, and so far is my favorite. So far it’s fun.
The only book I finished this week is a short one by Linsey Davis, Vesuvius by Night. It’s her coverage of the events of the destruction of Pompeii, which she had decided to skip when she wound up the stories about Marcus Didius Falco. That series ran from `89 to 2010, and if we got to know and love the characters, how much more she must have done so. I believe that I read that about that time the freind who’d traveled with her on her researching trips died, and she considered stopping writing. She also said somewhere that she just couldn’t deal with that much misery- these books are historical detective novels, read for fun. But she started a new series a couple of years later, centering around Falco’s daughter Albia, and is four into that series now. It starts after Vesuvius, and I think she wrote it this year, probably after she’d settled in her mind what happened to the characters in the dark times she skipped. It fills in a few holes, and answers questions those of us who’d read the whole series wondered about. It is only on kindle, so that’s where I read it.
Well, I have already blown my intention to get to bed earlier tonight, and if I’m lucky, next week the major thing I’ll have to report will be progress on my painting.

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Frederich Nietzsche