871 8/31/2011 Self University

Well, Irene came and went. Not too much damage around here that we noticed. I’ve seen some images of some serious damage over in Keene and Brattleboro, but when the worst hits somewhere else it’s easy to put the “get ready” warnings as “Sharks in the Lake” type panicking. We did lose power for a day and a half.  That certainly renewed our appreciation of having power at our whim. It’s so much the lights, as the water pump. We’d prepared for it, but every bit of water we drank came from filled bottles, not the tap, and I think we drank less because of that. Every time we wanted to wash, or flush a toilet meant a trip to the cistern with a bucket (let me be honest- by John). There was always the question in the back of our minds(having lost power for 11 days during the 2008 blackout) how long until the power would be back. That time made the point rather powerfully that we are Not high up on the list of high-priority streets. We may be one of the first streets plowed, as we’re on a school bus route, but I think they decide which “twigs” on the “branches” of the power lines get worked on first by how many people are served, and if there are any important public functions on that branch. I think we may have 10 houses uphill from us. If you choose to live in the boonies, you’d better be ready to rough it occasionally.

The weather has been marvelous. I feel for the poor lady who canceled her psychic party on Saturday because Saturday was lovely too, and so was Monday. Around here, on Sunday we had rain and intermittent wind. That was about it. We went out- at least partly to see how far the power outage reached, and saw that there was power in Wilton, and there certainly was in Milford. 
We noticed that McDonald’s had all closed. I suppose that’s a decision made at their corporate- or at least a regional level- but the Burger Kings were open. The fire stations (usually staffed by volunteers around here) were open with their crews on standby. We guessed they just wanted to be a few minutes closer if they got called out. Or maybe some of them had no power and the stations had generators. Or maybe they were afraid of getting caught somewhere with a tree down keeping them from responding. I have no idea if they actually got called out.
We did have an evening of playing Zombie Fluxx and other games by Colman lantern- a “no power” tradition around here. In the summer we don’t have to worry about keeping the fires going for heat, but we do worry more about the contents of the freezers. At one point we all had rather too much too soft ice cream until we couldn’t bring ourselves to have more. Kat said “I’ve eaten my ice-cream, may I have my vegetables now, please?” 
The temperature, even during Irene, remained pleasantly in the 70s, (50s at night). The back yard is a mass of green. I am keeping an eye on the Elder bushes. I didn’t get out to get flowers this spring, and I’d like to get a batch of the berries this fall. You can see them forming from the house, so there should be a good crop this year. We have a bouquet of Purple Cone flowers and Ladies Thumb on the dining room table. I think I mentioned that the hollyhock came back for a second blooming- most of them got knocked down, so we see the occasional blossom lower than I’d expect. I didn’t get the morning glory strings up, so they aren’t climbing, but also spreading along the ground. (blush). 
Irene coincided with my getting the first batch of inter-library loan requests after the war. I got the most recent books from Jim Butcher (Ghost Story), Terry Prachett (I Shall Wear Midnight), and Charlaine Harris’s Tru Blood series. Actually, it turns out that it’s the next to last, the most recent is on it’s way. I generally do buy the books in the series- but not until they come out in paperback, and it occurred to me this year that I can read them sooner by requesting the library’s hard cover version. Ghost Story was pretty much what I’d expected, Butcher would have had to be very sure that his fans would forgive him before he actually killed Dresden off (“mostly dead is still partly alive” as Miracle Max said in Princess Bride). I wasn’t sure what mechanism he was going to use, but as Murphy clung to- they hadn’t found a body, and I was with her on that. I was not particularly surprised by anything in the book, except maybe Butters turning out more active in Murphy’s Scooby Crew than I’d have expected. 
I Shall Wear Midnight was as good as I expected. While I have favorites, I’ve yet to find a Prachett book that stinks, and I’m very fond of the Tiffany Aching line. I am jealous of book characters who have great talents without which they couldn’t manage to pull off their great adventures, but I still prefer that to stories about people who are more ordinary and whose adventures aren’t as exciting because of it. The Story is the important thing. I was very pleased that I could not detect Prachett’s failing health in the writing at all.
I did re-read Dead in the Family, even though I’d read it before. I worry a bit about my memory. I’m used to not remembering people’s names, but I only had a vague feeling that I’d read it before, even up to the end. It makes it easier to be interested in reading, but at the same time, many of the things I read are non-fiction, what if I’m losing important bits of those as well? Or maybe the stories get sent to a different area of my brain? Harris is pretty much brain candy. As with the excessive ice-cream, I couldn’t deal with too much at a time, but I do enjoy it as part of my reading diet. And I remember the characters enough to want to know what happens to them next. I suppose that’s the reason for going back and watching most of the TV and other “junk” we watch.
I’d also asked for the last in Elizabeth Wein’s Post- Arthurian series The Empty Kingdom, but none of the libraries in our system had it, but it was on Amazon for $3, so I sent for it. It’s always good to finish a series. But the book was disturbingly free of any indication that it was a discarded library book- as far as I could tell, it was still current, and since it only came out in 2008, I am afraid it should go back to the library from which it came. I’d intended, after reading it, to donate it to the local library so they’d have the full series (and other readers wouldn’t be left hanging as I was), but I feel badly for library that loaned it out. Rather than contacting them directly, I may ask if our local library can get it back to them, and save me the double expense. I’m willing to be a do-gooder, but I hate it when it costs me extra- so I am not THAT virtuous.
So while the power was out I had a huge reading spree. We did steak tips on the grill, and on Sunday we actually went out to the local chinese buffet restaurant. Profligate really, but washing dishes is so much more of a chore when you don’t have water. At Pennsic we at least had a hose.
Steve had come up on Saturday and he and I and Honour went to the movies and saw the second half of the  Deathly Hallows(H P 7.1)  I was quite pleased with it, although people were surprised when I laughed out loud at the beginning. Even before the credits they show Voldemort shooting magick into the sky and it forms the big WB logo. Since I’d been expecting Voldemort’s “Dark Mark”, I was amused that Warner Brothers were willing to make their symbol the equivalent of his. Willow declined to come with- the last book was so full of teen angst that she didn’t feel like it. “I like lots of explosions.” While HP7.0, (the first “half” certainly WAS as close to the book as they could get away with in a movie (yes, that kind of made it rather slow and boring) the second movie was pretty much all action. At this point though, most people who’d want to see it have. We had to find it in a matinee- apparently the recent ones are shown at night, and they have the month old offerings as matinees- sadly, for me, that meant I was still paying $7 for a matinee. The small popcorn Steve got was $4.50, and the candy is $3.75 (no one got that, I just noticed). 
We talked about it- my head being stuck in 60s prices, and figured that back then a movie was about 35 cents, a gallon of gas was about 38/39 cents, a loaf of bread was about 30 cents or so. The gas and bread are about the same still- but they’re about $4 each. So how does the movie industry get to double the increase everyone else made? Maybe because of the cost of special effects these days. It seems that half the movies in the theater were “3D”. I haven’t seen a 3D movie in years, Willow says “they make me yak”, which is, no doubt, why most of them seem to be offered both in 3 D and normal versions. Still, the technology must be paid for, which is why every hospital has to have its own MRI machine and we have to pay for whatever it cost them divided over how many uses they figure they can get out of it, plus paying for the technicians etc.  We can’t deny the world is better. We love our modern medicine and movies, and the internet, but we don’t love having to pay for it.
I especially dislike having the options reduced. I have gas appliances, but they have electric regulators, so I can’t use them when the power’s out. I wonder if we got a generator if that would deal with that problem, or create a new set? Well, there are no generators available in New England just now- nor do we have the money,  but maybe after the fall fair season we’ll price them.
When we got bored enough, we went out to the movies Monday evening and watched Captain America. There were a lot of movies I was looking forward to this summer (I guess I like the summer movies best): Thor, the new Pirates of the Caribbean, X Men, Green Lantern, Captain America, Conan, hmmm, most of them seem to be comic book movies. I did enjoy the Captain America movie. We stayed until the end, for the teaser scene after the credits where they are promoting the Avengers movie. You can tell who the real geeks are by who stays for that.  I’m also looking forward to the next Ghost Rider and Sherlock Holmes movies. As with Willow, I like adventure (also comedies, musicals, romances and a well done mystery with supernatural aspects- explosions are optional).
Willow had to go to the dentist on Monday. Actually, she had to go to the dentist last year, but by last week her teeth were reminding her that she was way overdue, and Monday was as soon as she could be seen. We theorize that the changes in air pressure may have contributed to the sensitivity, but that’s just a theory.
Kathryne sent a picture in to Pikestaff, the East Kingdom magazine. This last few months the covers have been embarrassingly crude. Way back when I joined, Tournaments Illuminated had used a picture drawn by a small child as a cover once because it was cute. Each month recently I’ve thought that this was a similar one-shot, but when enough of them accumulated I suggested to Kat that she should offer them something better, and helped her find the release form to send it in. Today she heard back from them- and they say they’ve got covers booked until March. I hope that other artists around the kingdom also saw what they’ve been using and flooded their office with submissions, because otherwise I have no idea what criteria they use. Actually, from what I’d heard they are trying to move Pikestaff to an electronic format- except for people who specifically need a physical copy. (The power outage reminds me it might not be a bad idea to have as a back-up.) 
Sadly, once again I have to admit I have done “nothing” this week. I can really only blame myself.  I’ve continued with the incredibly boring process of lining up selling and speaking gigs for us. 
Jane and I have also been looking at advertising for Changing Times Changing Worlds. Since it’s the end of the month, I have to get on with making the schedule of classes, and we don’t have enough. Last year about half came in in the last two months and I’d hoped to avoid that this year, but apparently I didn’t. I’d hoped it would have gone more smoothly this year, easier having done it once, but frankly, I’ve just lost the “first flush” of excitement, and am being bogged down in the difference between what I’d hoped for and what’s possible.
Josh continues to work on my website- I really hope it’s up soon.
I’m throwing things out again, clothes I don’t like, and things I don’t think I’ll get to using. It’s hard for me. Accumulating is easier than divesting myself. I’m afraid that my major motivation is to get enough space to keep everything left in better organization- which is very appealing. I love books, I really do.
Willow’s getting ready to do another batch of dyeing, and I’ve got another batch of sculpture to get done this next week.
Mouse deigned to turn up last night. Came in, had some kibble, and went out again. I hadn’t seen him since we got back from Pennsic, so I’d thought we might have lost another cat. But no- perhaps he just is waiting for Smoky to go home so that he’ll be the only grey cat again. Smoky has acclimated enough so that he feels that the first floor is his territory and actually chases Freya back upstairs if he catches her coming down to eat. Zoloft mostly ignores him, but I have seen them fight. He leaves Wisteria alone- she’s so innocuous I guess she’s not a threat to anyone. 
This week’s letter was not as well written as I’d like.
Sorry. This weekend will be Harpers Retreat, so maybe I’ll have something more interesting to report next time.
Always do the right thing. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
– Mark Twain