Dear El: June 8, 2009
I know this is two letters one right after the other- last week I lost track of the printing until Friday when it was too late, and then this week I have had problems with the printer. Like the last one, it’s little electronic brains says that it must not do anything if the ink is low. I had low yellow ink, and it wouldn’t even scan anything- which requires no ink at all! Anyway, I finally got them printed out yesterday, and in envelopes this morning. I’ll try to better this week.
The time is running by so fast- I feel like I’m trying to catch a stream of sand in a sieve- some stays, but the effect on the stream is negligible. Yesterday while we were out, I noticed that the queen Ann’s lace has started to bloom, and our black and red hollyhocks are blooming. It’s a good thing, they got taller than Willow this year before they started blooming (the purple one fell down, and I had to tie it to the house so it will stand up again. The red yarrow I put in is gorgeous (although the yellow died), I hope it comes back. The mallow I brought down from the back is having a hard time in its delicate pinkness to compete with the hollyhocks over at the other end. I haven’t seen the morning glories- although they MAY be climbing the hollyhock. The nasturtium are blooming on both sides of the door- very bright (the orange clashes with the pinks and purples), and we haven’t picked any for salads yet. And finally, I have some daisies blooming in front of the house. Now I just need to see if I can get some Black Eyed Susans and some day lilies- then I will have all the wild (feral?) field flowers that grow around here. The second run of bleeding hearts has passed, as have the wild roses. (I think the white flowered bushes in the back yard may be elder, but I haven’t gotten back there to check.) The pansies and sweet williams that were so bright all last month have passed on too, and the leaves from the violets have been chewed up something fierce!
I must be in a sour mood, I am noticing more the plants that are passing (I think I feel guilty for not getting out to appreciate them), rather than the thrill I feel that a new variety has started blooming. We have a bee balm just outside the front door, and this year I’ve been able to watch the red flowers open petal by petal- that’s pretty cool. It’s continued raining- and the forecast suggests that it will keep on raining for the foreseeable future- we get occasional hours of sun (the chickens immediately spread themselves out on the ramp to the barn- there aren’t any other bare spots where they can take sand baths, and I tell myself- quick, get outside! “Just as soon as I finish this…” I think, and when I look up, it’s raining again. Phooey!
Thursday night or Friday the girls were contacted by their friends from anime cons, and invited to a 4th of July party. We figured that it would be more restful if they went down early- so they left Friday. Star and I didn’t want to spend a traditional family day alone, even with burgers and hot-dogs, so we called Dad, and he said he’d love to see us, although he’d be going to a party at the Richmans’ at 6. No problem, we’d have to leave by then to get home to milk.
So we left at 8, and got up to the lake just after noon. We chatted with Dad, Liz, Kitty, Trish and Dana until almost 6, and headed back down here again. I got to swim once, and Star did twice- it was incredibly wonderful. We did get some rain- but it came with Trish and Dana, and most of the day was sunny. The big “event” was Kitty and Eddie Flick putting the power boat into the water for the season. Apparently it did not want to work, and when they got it to camp, the boat-lift wasn’t working as expected (and when the rain started, the cover had lost a lot of its snaps). So when that was over, she was quite ready to take a long walk with Liz’s daughter Ali.
I hated that I’d come up and wasn’t even going to see the lake folk, but when the Richmans were getting ready to have a party for around 50 people, dropping in seemed fairly inappropriate too, so I just called and said hi. Also my sisters had warned me that if I went over there and stood still for long, I would probably be wrapped in Prosciutto, and that was too good a joke for me to pass on to Pril. She admitted that it was likely!
I also got a chance to see my cousins Chuck and Cris, and their families, who were moving into the middle camp for the week. Basically, what I call “camp” is the summer cottage my father built when I was three. I can still remember standing on the side steps watching my brother who was old enough to jump from stud to stud in the floor while my father and another man nailed down the floor-boards. I was so jealous that he could do that- he was probably 4 or 5 (18 months older than me). Our camp was on the plot next to that of the cottage my Grandmother (with Mother and Uncle Charley) had had for years. After Charley got married, Grandmother built a camp between ours and her old one (now Charley’s), and since she died, both families have shared it for guests (and our families and kids) so we could come up to Clearwater. Who knows what’s going to happen when Dad and Charley die- we assume we’ll figure out a way to keep sharing it. But my memories of childhood are of us and Charley and Amanda with their kids in our brown camps, and grandmother in the red camp in the middle.
There was also the small bunkhouse that had been Charley’s when he was in college- “Little West View”, which reminds us that Grandmothers original camp was “West View” (the sunsets over the lakes were incredible, but the sun rising in the east only reached end of the dock to begin to warming the water around 10 in the morning. We’d tried several names for our cottages, but it mostly is “Camp” to us. (The one on the other side of Charley’s was Ka-Do-Ma because those were the first syllables of their kids’ names, but while we were considering Bo-gi-li-ki, Trish came along, and that was just too much of a mouthful!) There’s also the white bunkhouse which had been Dad and Mom’s first place- it had been the original lodge from the Farmington Ski Slope, which Dad bought, and brought to the land next to grandmothers’ across the frozen lake, but was too small once they started having kids. As we got older, most of us cycled through the bunk-houses as teenagers when we needed more privacy.
My memories of summers at the lake are pretty damned idyllic. I still went all through school, when I was in college, I started going up in the spring before the “camp season” started, so I could enjoy the lake (cold as it was- it’s spring fed and the ice is often not gone until May), in it’s quiet glory before all the powerboats- water skiers, etc. arrive. When I started having kids, we’d go up the last week of June after school, and before the huge crush of people. We’d leave Ælfwine behind because he couldn’t skip work. (Every time it looked like he’d been somewhere long enough to get another week of vacation, the companies would get sold.) Even those visits stopped once we had animals and someone had to stay to milk. Now the girls go up, occasionally, still preferring the spring and fall times because they’ve never gotten to know the lake folk. My parents crowd were fun- they had bridge parties (still do, I think) and costume parties, played charades. At different times we had floats out on the water, and sailboats, and power boats- I have to admit I’ve missed it. Even the water tasted “right”.
Although we’d each had a burger at the cottage, we were hungry again by the time we hit Lewiston, and stopped at Dennys for supper. That meant that we hit the border between Maine and NH at 9:30, just as towns started to have fireworks. Lots of towns around here had just struck the fireworks off town budgets in an attempt to deal with the current economic crunch. Milford had a big bon-fire instead. But we saw our first “sky blossom” while on the bridge crossing into NH, and saw about a dozen others over the next hour or so, between there and Manchester. We got home around 11 (we’d been planning on getting there by 10 to milk), and milked and went to bed.
The girls got back on Sunday, having had a wonderful time. The theme of the party was Freedom Con- as they mostly know each other from conventions, and besides the normal party eating, and swimming, etc.; they had panel discussions on topics like on-line-comics and story characters, and played rock band, and they had a rave.
Sadly, the greatest legacy of the weekend is that Willow sprained her ankle there- fairly severely. (and she did it while doing some sort of gymnastic trick on the lawn, adding embarrassment to injury). And, guilt, of course, because we’ve got all our pre-war prep to do.
I’ve put up the pre-war calendar. We take the day’s page down each morning, and move over any job slips we didn’t finish the day before. Willow’s added a new permutation- a “Done” page to put the finished slips on, so we can have some sense of accomplishment as the later pages get more and more crowded with jobs that we keep thinking to add, or moving over because they took more time than we’d hoped.
Today we’ve pretty much decided to skip the usual trip to the “Dragon’s Horde” (although I’d really like to get more of those brass cuffs) because her car inspection has shown that she needs four new tires. Ouch. And it takes a whole day- and people aren’t buying that many jewels to put on garb recently.
Monday night Tim turned up again, and he’s helping Honour with her pre-Pennsic preparations. (I’m hoping to get a little work out of him too in exchange for charging his power while he parks in our driveway.) Poor Honour’s garden plot has been horribly ravaged by the slugs the rainy month has encouraged. I gave her some of the seeds I’d bought but not gotten to planting, but I don’t know if she’s going to have time to plant them. I’m not sure that gardening and selling are combinable occupations.
Sunday was such a sad story for Honour I have to share it with you so we can all feel blessed in comparison. She has another “inspection” this week, so she wanted to make sure she got to Meeting (she’s a Quaker) on time to see her friends. Noticing she was late, she skipped breakfast, but in the car she noticed that her brake fluid light was on, so she was going to stop and buy some, but she noticed that her purse was missing, so she headed over here to see if she’d left it here (her sister who she’d thought to spend the holiday with was off on a trip) so she spent the fourth here, reading old e-mail- as she hasn’t got her computer on-line yet. We didn’t find it here, but I had time to feed her, as she locked her car after her (by habit), and locked herself out of it, so we had to call (and wait for) Triple A to open it up for her. After that she headed back home to see if she could call her friends as meeting was well over, and look for her purse in her apartment. And that was just the first few hours! But I think we’ve all had days like that.
I think Willow’s morning was like that between having her ankle hurting, and her car needing so much work to pass inspection. She misses Charley (at C&W auto), who, as she said, never felt a need to point out the things that needed fixing, just did them for us. There are few greater blessings than a mechanic who is honest, frugal and fast. I miss Charley too.
Mostly what I’ve been spending my time on is reissuing the Stormgard Camping booklet. I tripped over it when I was searching for things before the Midsummer event, and it still looks pretty good, so I decided to put it out again. I did it in 1984- twenty five years ago, so it’s in dot matrix printing, and that made it a bit hard to transcribe. I should be able to reuse a lot of the pictures (which is a bit depressing) but I am satisfied that I write a bit better now. At least I know to take out the various prefatory phrases like “of course,” (or “at least”?) which are true to the way that I speak, and make the original sound very chatty, but will probably make the writing better if I remove them. There are also a few things that have changed since then enough to be updated- for example, the ubiquitousness of cell phones has changed our ability to get in touch with each other.
The kittens are driving me nuts- they are always underfoot, sometimes it seems like they are trying to kill themselves and us! I’ve stepped on them, and then shifted my weight off of them often enough that I’ve twisted my ankle too, and make it worse again each time they do it again, which is more than daily. Kuberry is considering taking one, but he already has a calico, and I fear I may need to dump them all at the shelter, and their mother. I also want to get rid of the others- Prozak and maybe even Zymbalta, although I think we can deal with five cats (at most), but not as many as we have now (which I am carefully not counting).
It’s a bit harder to steel myself to get rid of them having just read Six Modern Plagues and How We are Causing Them. They include Hanta virus, SARS, anti-biotic resistant bacteria, AIDS, and Mad Cow. I like that he points out that while people keep talking about bio-terrorist engineered disease, that mostly what we are dealing with is normal diseases which are spreading so broadly because we’ve messed with the environment so much. Anyway, several, like Lyme disease, have mice as a vector, and suddenly having the cats catching and eating rodents seems like a good thing. Still, it gives me pause- no, I don’t feed my chickens anything strange, and they aren’t exposed to the stuff big commercial flocks are- but they are free range, which means that my birds could catch West Nile virus are in contact with from the wild bird population. That was a fairly quick read (and is now available for lending, if you’re interested).
I’ve also been reading chapters of the Dodson book on Anglo-Saxon Art (it’s all about the bling- BOY were they into bling! In the fabric chapter he gives fascinating arguments that the fabric called purpure was actually silk shot taffeta, and apparently one reason that the Bayeux Tapestry survived was because it was unusual in having not had gold work on it- possibly because it was made so quickly.). Also reading Through the Earth Darkly on women’s spirituality; I’m about half way through that one. I’ve read more on Chinese, and about to start Native American chapters. The Deities are Many was faster, but Paper is a good writer. I am toying with the idea of maybe writing to him.
I actually got my first fan letter today- a lady from Glastonbury, England read my article in Sage Woman and googled me and wrote me to tell me she liked it. I can’t help but feeling flattered and pleased. This weekend I’ll be doing my workshop of How to dress like a Prostitute, so I’m reviewing my books on that (Medieval Prostitution) and also reading Put What Where? which is a collection of bits of advice from sex manuals through history (they start a loooong way back!). And I’m looking at the books on trade fairs (can’t find some of the ones I thought I knew where they lived in the library). And I have to go through my box of booklets and print out those I’ve run out of- there are so many that it’s kind of a good sign, but I only generate them 3-6 at a time, as I’m not sure how many people would want.
This year I’ll be doing booklets for Costuming and Food for the war workshops (I’m still put out that they’ve only assigned me one session for each instead of the two I’m used to doing. It’s a lot of work, and experience has shown that both sessions fill.) Those should be the hardest I’ve done so far- and I’ve less than three weeks. Yikes!
I read the book Coraline, by Neil Gaimon- a kids book, but well written (no surprise), so it didn’t take long. I’ve put the film on my Netflix queue for when it comes out. I think I liked the Graveyard Book better, but I’ve always enjoyed books about people who have to deal with a world that doesn’t make sense (more blatantly than we usually have to deal with). Obviously, they couldn’t have made this into a movie before we got so good with computers and animation.
This week mostly I watched more original Star Trek, YIJ and the Dead Zone (which just keeps getting better). Actually, it’s Willow watching the Star Trek (she’s gotten to the third season), I just keep getting caught when I go to talk to her and see it on. I must say, visuals excepted, it holds up well. I’m enjoying that the ongoing “bad guy”, Stillson, on the Dead Zone is played by the actor who played the young Indiana Jones on the series. Star’s been watching the second season of Heros. (Will we ever watch over-the-air TV again?)
Star pulled out our traditional Independence Day, 1776, and Music Man movies to watch, and I saw bits of them as I bustled around. Kat sent for The Eye 2, but had nothing to do with the first Eye movie, except that it was done by the same people and had the same quality. I thought that was good, because the end of the Eye was good, and sometimes sequels really have to mess with the plot. This one was about how a pregnant woman kept seeing the dead wife of her ex (married) lover who’d killed herself when she’d learned about his infidelity, and kept haunting “the other woman”. I liked it.
After watching the Horseman, I saw ads for the movie The Last Valley, in which Omar Sharif and Michael Caine are men who trip over an isolated valley that has somehow managed to not yet get ravaged by the 30 years war, (Caine is the head of a band of mercenaries) and there’s a lot of human conflict (and the costumes and sets are well done too). The Haunting in Connecticut movie which we saw in the theaters is coming out this week, and we sent for a documentary on the case upon which the movie was (loosely) based, which was interesting to see what they chose to use, and where they chose to just run away and do their own thing. We also watched Persipolis which was a biographical animated movie about a girl who grew up in Iran during the revolution and war. Frankly, it looked like it was wretched, but the art in the movie was simple, but effective, and the story well told, but unlike fiction, it lacked a satisfying conclusion- presumably because the woman is still alive.
Early July is a really empty time for fun calendar stuff:
8 Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day, Video Games Day
1654 First recorded Jew arrived in America
9 Sugar Cookie Day, Fashion Day, POW/MIA Day
1893 first successful closure of a heart wound
10 Pina Colada Day, Don’t Step on a Bee Day, Holda/Hela/Skadi feast
1985 Coca Cola Classic introduced
11 Blueberry Muffin Day, World Population Day
1945 napalm first used, 1962 first satellite transmission
12 Pecan Pie Day, Steel Days
1771 NY Hospital chartered 1933, 1st minimum wage law (33¢/hr)
13 Ice Cream and French Fries Days, Embrace your Geekness Day
776 BCE first Olympics held. 1930 first World Cup
14 Grand Marnier Day, Town Criers Day, Nude Day, Bastille Day
1867 Nobel first demonstrates dynamite
15 Gummi Worm and Tapioca Pudding Days, Dog Days End
1099 Crusaders take Jerusalem (briefly)
Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. ~George Claude Lorimer