9/04/2006 Labor Day/Waffle Week

It’s Bake Month (by which I assume they mean that it’s finally cooled off enough to bake), it’s also Biscuit, Chicken, Honey, Mushroom, and Rice Month.

The Goldenrod is dominating the backyard, and the morning glories have finally started to bloom. The goats have accepted the buck, so I expect we’ll have kids next spring- yay- milk and goat meat.

On the other hand, I have pretty much come to the conclusion that we can’t keep doing what we have been doing- selling almost every weekend and making stuff during the week. I am so exhausted that I am frequently close to tears, and Willow is holding on by a thread- you can practically see it fray. Not good. She’s thinking that maybe taking some time for herself would help, so she’s going to go down to the Museum of Fine Arts with Catsama this week (if she can get the energy up), and rather than me going up to see Dad this weekend, she’s going to go up with Avi. I’ll go up mid-week later in the month- maybe I’ll take Star with me so he can get out of the house. I have been feeling really badly about not getting up to help while Dad needed it- the other girls (if I can still call my sisters that- I still think of them that way even though we really don’t “look” it anymore) have been helping him, while I’ve been chasing my tail- figuratively of course. I’d like to get up, see that he’s OK, and do something useful like helping him close camp. Of course, it would be nice to see camp again. It’s been a couple of years since we went up- maybe since Ælfwine got sick (before that we had a tradition that he’d watch the animals while I took the kids up for a week at the end of school).
It feels very strange to have school starting and not have that make a difference in our lives. Kat is doing a bit better and has started investigating what art schools offer animation. She figures maybe she can start on-line and when she’s less jumpy move to a campus situation. The big problem is that these days mostly what they are offering is computer animation, and she wants to do traditional animation. So far mostly she’s finding the ones that offer the programs she wants in California. I figure a bit more search will turn up something closer. And, since we will be starting with home study, distance doesn’t matter as long as the credit is transferable.

Kat’s therapist had a speech therapist in last week to evaluate Kat’s voice problems. The specialist told Kat that she had “two voices”, the soft mumbly one, and a higher pitched, faster, but more intelligible one when she got excited about what she was talking about. I remember a couple of years ago when Kat decided to make an effort to start speaking more slowly so she’d sound less “annoying”. Darn! Once more something that sounded like a good idea turns out to be a blow to her self esteem. I swear sometimes I feel like I can’t say “hi” to her without her taking it as an accusation that she’s not good enough. I hope SOME of that is in my imagination- I know her feelings that I disapprove of her is in hers. (OK, occasionally, I wish she’d help me with whatever I’m doing, but who doesn’t?)

Every morning since we’ve gotten back from the war we wake to trucks going by. The Hagers (the rich people who own the top of the hill) got permission this spring to subdivide their property five ways, and so trucks go up with equipment, and come down with huge loads of logs- I’m assuming some of the less open trucks are carrying the branches that go with the logs in shredded form. After that come cement trucks for foundations and septic systems I guess, and then we’ll have more rich neighbors. I suspect it would be hard to get richer than the Hagers. As I understand it, he invented the dialysis machine, and gets a cut every time one is used.

I’ve been reading a new book on Slavery in Anglo-Saxon England, which I find fascinating, but am not sure most other people would. A lot of slavery is based on the whole “us them” situation, and that changed as the society changed. In the beginning, slaves were mostly the Celts they had fought when they got in, and phrases describing slaves were synonymous with British. Gradually as the two peoples stopped fighting, slaves tended to be either those born to slavery, or those who sold themselves into slavery for debts. When the Normans came in, slavery pretty much went away as the system of feudalism dominated and a serf belonged to the land- there was no need to differentiate between whether a man was “free” or not if his obligations to the land would not allow him to leave it- and this seems to have been a gradual process during the 9th and 10th centuries. I keep relating it in my mind to the modern world- at what point do your modern contractual obligations make you essentially “unfree” although you are technically? Certainly any father whose child support is coming right out of his paycheck is in a similar situation. Could we slip into a similar situation where the state can decide who has what rights and obligations that result in a technically “free” population who still do not have the rights to run their own lives? So far we are doing pretty well.
One of the movies I watched this week was the Hunt for Red October. I had been curious, one wants to watch any movie that “most people have seen” to know what they are talking about. It was a heck of a good adventure, although oddly, the kids were uninterested. I also consumed another bit of “mind candy”. I saw a recent Steven King book, Cell, on discount at Building 19, and read it (in two evenings). The premise is that some weird thing gets sent over cell phones and everyone on a cell phone at that point goes nuts- which causes predictable car and plane crashes, and other mayhem. The hero is an artist in Boston who immediately starts walking to his home in Maine to find out if his wife and 12 year old son used their cell phone, dodging the “phone crazies” on the way. I’d like to think that emergency services would do a better job than that taking care of even that many crises at once.
Actually, that’s what I worry about- not any one big crisis, but the effect of piggy-backing crises. Sure congress can vote for extra money to rebuild after Katrina. But how often can they vote to raise that kind of money? I’m not going to argue that the country isn’t better off getting things working again faster. But there is only so much money available. I think most people are pretty strapped as it is, and how much can we be taxed if there are two or three natural disasters- a hurricane here, an earthquake there? Until the ocean temperature goes down, the hurricanes are going to be more frequent and more powerful. It comes back to the “entitlement” concept. If people are “entitled” to have food, shelter, medical care, then that means someone is “required” to generate it- and people don’t talk about that part. I don’t feel required to pay to rebuild houses of people who chose to live on flood plains. Even if the formulas that compute storms indicate a certain frequency, they miss the big ones. It’s not going to help anyone to have insurance if the insurance company goes under due to an unexpected number of claims. Sometimes we just have to deal with “stercus accidit”, and get on with it.
We were also talking about this at Harpers this weekend and the personal anecdotes reinforced my belief that help works best locally. Ekke was telling us about what happened during flooding up his way (in `96, I think) where someone who was good with cars managed to get one over to “steal” some drugs to bring back to stranded old folks who needed their prescriptions and couldn’t get out for them, and other people who made sure neighbors got food and their other needs met. Neighbors are what holds America together. If we ever lose our contact with those who live around us, I despair for us.
Other brain candy we’ve been watching is a couple of old horror flics. Since Kat had read Lovecraft, we got Reanimator and Bride of Reanimator from Netflixs. Amusing, but it couldn’t compete with Red October in my opinion.
Star has been wrestling with writers block. I only know because he told me. Of course he does spend a lot of time writing at the computer. I haven’t read any of his stuff so I don’t know whether it’s any good. Today he asked me if there really was no such thing as creativity, or it was all people trying to out-do the other guy (a comment he’d heard in a Lethal Weapon movie). I told him I thought that was the kind of thinking that came out of gym teachers; and pointed out that he writes because he wants to- not to beat anyone. I certainly don’t sculpt or write to compete with anyone, although I won’t deny that I compare myself with other artists, and when one compares oneself with the “greats”, one always feels like it’s a pointless exercise to continue. So then I have to look on the internet and see what the competition is like, and I feel better. Actually, I generally feel cross. “Why are they selling their stuff when I’m better and charge less?!” I suppose that just because they are advertising it, doesn’t mean it’s selling. But I do think that marketing is an important skill.

This weekend we were at Harper’s Retreat, an SCA event. I spent all of Saturday organizing the “fire pit” classes. In previous years there had been classes at the fire pit, but it takes a while for a fire to get going, and then the teacher would have to put it out before they left, and the next teacher would have to start all over. I suggested that a series of classes that went all day would be more practical, and so they suggested- “do it”, and I did. First thing Guinness started with “how to start a fire” (which I left him to, and went off to help Willow and Kat set up), which was followed by Brian teaching starting fire with flint and steel- which I’d picked up a bunch of flints for at the war. You can’t teach someone flint and steel fire starting without one. They did wish I’d also picked up some steels, but flints cost 75¢ each, and steels $3-5, and I can and will eventually use up any extra flints, but a steel lasts a lifetime, and I didn’t want to invest a whole lot when I didn’t know how many would be needed. I also spent a few hours on Friday dumping out some last years poison ivy ointment from the flat cans we sell it in, washing the cans, and making char-cloth. The key to starting fires with flint and steel is having good tinder- char-cloth being what I like best. After the fire was going I did camp cooking, and Kris Spinster did dyeing, then I did baking. The biggest problem was that I had to keep running from activity to activity- if you only are cooking one or two dishes at a time it’s much less chaotic- but I was showing lots of techniques at once, which was insane. I was checking the bread as it rose, boiling here, frying there, turning the rabbit that was grilling periodically, turning the ceramic pots- which crack if they heat unevenly, trying to keep the fires going (and the wood was nasty- good for singing around, bad for cooking). I hope I inspired them and didn’t scare them off.
Luckily Avi came up with Tom and Hannigan, and Tom and Hannigan split the firewood for me. I’d hoped they could get qualified for fighting, but they haven’t padded their armor yet, and still need helmets. It’s very cool having fighters (almost) in the household again. Willow was so wiped that she went home with Avi after the bardic competition.
I am also pleased to report that it did not rain on Saturday- so all the fire-pit workshops didn’t have to deal with that. On the other hand, we woke to rain on Sunday, so we, as well as all the other merchants I noticed, packed up and left, although the event does go on until Monday. Someone said he was going to stay in hopes of drying out before packing, and I think it would have worked, because this morning we had sun, during which we set up the tent and put out almost everything else to dry. But in truth, by late afternoon, rain was coming through the roof of the pop-up, and Kat and I were getting chilled. We’d planned to eat with Cathy and Sean, but we decided together that we’d both rather do it later, and go home then. When we got home I made “Glop”- tuna, Velvetta and rice casserole- the ultimate comfort food, and crawled into our own snug beds. With cats.
It would have been easier to take, but we are still awaiting delivery of the new washer (day after tomorrow), and the new door for the dryer. We also discovered that the freezer compartment under the refrigerator was totally covered with ice crystals- I’m guessing that it was left ajar a bit during Pennsic. So we had to totally clean that out. This is not a horribly bad thing, since I don’t think I’d done that in years, but it did take most of Thursday. Luckily I have a stack of the insulated bags to carry frozen groceries in to keep the food in while I defrosted. Steve came up and visited Thursday too- he’s having his gutters worked on. Oh the joys of home owning!
While we were out buying the new washer (it shouldn’t be so easy to spend $600) I saw a beautiful table at Bldg. #19. It mostly looks like a dining room table- but both table and the chairs that go with it have extra long legs. So the table is counter-top height, and one can get up and down from the chairs with very little trouble at all. “We wants it, my precious, yessss we does!” (and in case you are wondering where the plural comes from- in this case it’s my aging knees)!
That’s all I can think of for now. Feel free to write and ask questions if I’ve lost track of something.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle