9-10-2001 Last Golden Days of Summer

Dear Folks:                                   September 10, 2001

The  pond  at  the bottom of Pinnacle Road  is  almost  dry-

despite  the rain last week. The streams rose, then  fell  again.

All  summer  the  golden “heads” of the water  lilies  have  been

sticking  up  out of the water- they apparently formed  when  the

pond was full in the spring- looking too heavy for their  exposed

stem  “necks”. Now they are fallen over- there is just  too  much

stem  to support. Every where it’s very dusty, and  I  understand

that the ragweed pollen is very bad this year.

We  made  mead for coronation this week- had to  go  to  the

local  honey  seller to get enough to fill a carboy as I  am  too

fond of our “private stock” of honey to use it to brew with until

we  are  making  over five gallons a year  (our  eventual  goal).

Looking  at my books again, I am struck (again) with a desire  to

make  some  new  varieties  of  mead-  melomels  (with   fruits),

rhodamels (with flowers) rhizamels (with vegetables),  methaglins

(with  herbs  and  spices). There’s  one  suggestion  which  uses

raspberries- perhaps some year we will get enough of a  raspberry

harvest that I will be willing to invest some of it into a  batch

of mead.

We  went to the Hillsboro County Fair this weekend. Kat  and

Dan went with us Friday night, and we watched the fireworks,  ate

onion  blossoms and blue slush and fried dough, got  our  picture

taken  in “old west” costume, and rode the rides. We were on  the

ferris  wheel during the fireworks, and the kids (kids!) did  the

bumpercars and “stomach-challenging-rides”. There was an inflated

slide  “ride” that was the back half of the sinking Titanic.  The

stairs  to  the top (so the kids can slide down the deck)  has  a

sign saying “first class passengers only”. Sick!

Saturday  Aelfwine  and  I went back alone to  look  at  the

animals  and  4H exhibits, the 800 pound pumpkins, 18  foot  tall

sunflowers, and such. Last years 4H exhibits were better, I think

it varies a lot from year to year. When looking at the produce we

were  very jealous- “I can’t do that! How can they do that?”  How

can they grow anything this year when there was so little  water?

The stem going into the huge pumpkin was normal sized- there must

have been such moisture flow through it that you’d have been able

to  set up some sort of a mill, if one could figure out  how!  We

like looking at those things, but understand that the kids don’t.

We also got contact information to get an Icelandic Sheep. I

know  sheep are stupid- but this is a fairly smart breed (for  a

sheep).  They don’t need shelter. They don’t need to  have  their

tails  docked. They don’t need grain, just browse.  They  produce

wool,  meat AND milk. Perfect! All we need now is to put  up  the

fence and get one. Probably next spring.

We  also  got a number to get a recipe for  whitewash  –  so

we’ll be able to make whitewash for our milkroom and root cellar.

Whitewash (from UNH Cooperative Extension)

Mix in this order:

1 gallon of goat milk

6 pounds of slaked lime

1/2 cup linseed oil

3 ounces calcium carbonate

(can be colored with powdered pigment if you want)

They say it’s good for interior or exterior, has a  pleasant

smell,  and  repels  flies. Aelfwine says  that  whitewash  sucks

carbon  dioxide out of the air, and turns into rock-  hence  it’s

popularity  in the old days. Probably doesn’t hurt that the  main

ingredient is not expensive on the farm.

We  continue  to do small projects around  the  house  while

waiting  for Aelfwine’s brain to “come back on-line”. His  energy

level is improving, but he still has problems with long and short

term memory, and doesn’t quite feel up to being a computer wizard

yet.  On the other hand, he continues to follow up  possible  job

leads.  We  are  a bit concerned with  the  “brain  damage”  side

effects. Everyone seems to be of the opinion that who cares about

his not being able to think as long as he’s alive, but dying is a

non-issue  at this point, and working is. Is this  leftover  side

effect  of  chemo residue which is gradually flushing? Or  is  it

actual damage? And if so, is it repairable damage (as we saw with

his  kidneys  and liver) or is it permanent- in  which  case,  he

should  be  looking into alternative types of  employment.  I  am

actually  getting sick of the sentiment “well, at least he’s  not

dead”.  Of  course we are all THRILLED that he’s  not  dead.  But

let’s  not  trivialize the inability to think well enough  to  be


I finally got an appointment with the orthopedist on Friday.

He prescribed yet another NSAI (non-steroidal  anti-inflammatory)

and  gave  me  inserts for my shoes, as apparently  I  have  high

arches.  I always thought high arches were good,  but  apparently

not.  They  felt  funny  at first- but  seem  to  spread  my  not

inconsiderable  weight over the back half of my foot rather  than

the  back third- and I haven’t had as much discomfort since.  I’m

pretty  sure it wasn’t the new anti-inflammatory, because I  lost

the bottle for a couple days and just started it. If Dr. Quirbach

is  right  about  all  we need to do is to  break  the  cycle  of

inflammation, it may be going to happen. I sure wouldn’t mind.  I

wouldn’t say I had pain, but the discomfort has been enough  that

I  do avoid exercise- and at my weight, I can’t afford to  become


The kids are back in school. Star is getting weekly progress

reports  and  they say he’s doing “great”.  Personally,  I  don’t

think  C’s are great, but since they seem to expect him to be  an

out  patient for the rest of his life, I think I know the  source

of our disagreement. There’s a new nurse at Mescenic. She  called

so I could explain Star’s allergies to her. Actually, I think  he

may have developed new ones, so I have to find another allergist,

now that Dr. Moore has retired. He seems to be settling into  his

Technical  Drawing  class-  but  he  continues  to  be   assigned

homework  questions for history that require answers that  aren’t

in  the book. Luckily, anything about American History that  Fitz

doesn’t  know  off the top of his head, he can find  faster  than

most  people could remember it. But Star is terrified  that  Fitz

may  find another place to live before Star finishes this  class.

Also, he doesn’t seem to find geometry as inherently obvious as I

did,  so what I thought would be a gut course for him isn’t.  Oh,


I  decided  to call the school rather than  wait  until  the

teacher conferences next month. Mrs. Tyler, who runs the  special

ed  room, thinks he’s doing fine. She called back while  we  were

out once and talked to Fitz (once she realized he was a  teacher)

and  they  came  up with the idea that maybe he  could  tape  the

classes.  At very least we could review them and find out if  the

information  required in the homework turned up in  the  lecture.

We’ve been trying to find a small effective tape recorder Star is

willing  to  use.  (He wants to use it to sing  into,  and  seems

uncomfortable  about  taping the teacher although we  assure  him

that he would have permission to do so.

Since it’s been a week of bus riding, Friday I checked Kat’s

hair for lice- didn’t find any, but I spotted (and removed) a few

nits, and talked to her school nurse about it this morning.  Lice

IS  considered a disease, and if the school bus is a vector,  the

bus  company MUST fix it. In order to do that, I’m going to  have

to convince people who has some pull to get on the bus  companies

case. Also, that they can’t just fill the bus with poison. But if

we  have  to drive Kat to school everyday, that’s 1800  miles  of

driving, and 180 hours of someone’s time. I may not get paid  for

housework, but when I’m working, doing fortune telling,  painting

portraits,  or catering, I get $60 an hour. Taking my  time  like

that is like taking $10800 out of my pocket. I wonder what they’d

do  if I submitted a bill? (Of course, another way of looking  at

it, is that if I CAN make that kind of money by investing an hour

a day, I should get off my butt and DO SO.) And that doesn’t even

figure  in  time spent delousing… I don’t know how,  but  I  am

going to get them to de-louse those buses!

I have to correct a mistake I made last week- Raph’s  wife’s

name  is  Katrina-  oops! You’d think  I  would  have  remembered

another Kathrine variant.

Megan  is  trying  to get a harping  circle  going  here  in

Stonemarche-  I  tried a session with her, and  tomorrow  there’s

supposed  to be the first practice session that may have four  of

us  in it. As a raw beginner I cannot keep up yet, but we’ll  see

what happens if I can manage to keep practicing everyday. (right,

like  I read my history everyday, draw everyday,  practice  piano

every  day,  weed  every day, clean the  kitchen  every  day,  do

laundry everyday… I think the only thing I do everyday is  feed

people  or  animals  who  need  to  be  fed  to  stay  alive  and

comfortable. Still, it’s a goal.)

Willow  is still recovering. She’d rather hoped that a  week

or so of intense rest would take care of it- I predicted that  it

would  take  a month, and I’m sticking with  that.  She’s  making

plans  to visit Jenny in October. Jenny had had such a lousy  day

the  other day that she was talking about giving her  notice  and

coming  back  with  Willow- we are all pretty  agreed  (isn’t  it

wonderful  how everyone else knows just how to run our lives  for

us?) that she should get out of the pet store. I wonder  whatever

happened  to that application she sent LableArt? The big  problem

is  that  she really loves her family, and can’t stand  to  leave

them.  This  is  good. I like people who  get  along  with  their

families.  And, of course, Willow doesn’t want to leave  us,  and

Michigan  and  New Hampshire are far apart enough  that  if  they

moved  into the middle, they’d both be separated  from  wonderful

us.  So  the  phone companies make  money,  and  incredibly  huge

packets  are exchanged by mail. Heaven’s knows how much  they  e-

mail  each  other! Willow has finished the third chapter  of  her

graphic  novel (I think she said she’s 49 pages in now)  and  has

been  talking to one of the women she games with  (still  another

Kathrine!) about starting a business together.

We finished up the staples box- I told you about covering it

with  black leather and brass, and we finished the  exposed  wood

with a greed stain and polyurethane. Aelfwine put feet on it, and

it  came  out so well, we picked up another one to  finish  in  a

matching  way (depending on what color leather we find)  to  keep

our dishes in, instead of in the box we’ve been using.

The  stained glass looks great, and I’ve repainted the  front

stairs and stripped off the wall paper beside them. WHY the  cats

thought  that the stair wall was a scratching post is beyond  me,

but  they seem to have. We’ve picked up wallpaper at building  19

that  will  match the front hall. Actually, it’s for  the  dining

room,  so  we will probably empty and re-paper  the  dining  room

before putting up the half roll the hall will need. I would  have

rather  found another roll of the wallpaper we’d originally  used

in  the  hall, but it seems to have gone out of  production,  and

this  new wallpaper matches pretty well. Still, with  the  stairs

freshly painted, the floor looks worse than ever. We THINK we may

have  enough of the salvaged oak flooring Aelfwine’s been  saving

in  the shop to do just the front hall. I’m hoping we don’t  have

to  wait  until spring to fix it- but then,  the  bathroom  floor

comes first. So, we are not idle, it’s just that everything takes

so  much  longer than we feel that it ought to. I’m sure  we  can

scrub and wallpaper the dining room without too much trouble- but

I would really rather sand and refinish the diningroom floor (and

paint the ceiling) before we paper, and THAT seems like JUST  TOO

MUCH to do. (not to mention, we should build in some  bookshelves

on the north wall). All these project just seem to feed into each

other  like  little  streams combining into  brooks  and  finally

mighty rivers.

The  mill store is a huge source of temptation for me.  They

have  armoire  type  cupboards to hold your  computer  or  TV/VCR

system.  I  want those (especially if we are going  to  have  the

computer  in the dining room). I think I may have been  convinced

that we don’t really NEED to have a dining room table that  seats

twelve. Maybe. It didn’t use to be that rare that we had the  six

Taylors,  three Raskinds and two Jaruks just as a normal  weekend

meal.  We haven’t had that many that often lately- but then,  how

many years until I have son/daughter in-laws and grandchildren? I

have been planning a twelve foot table for years. Maybe we  could

live  with just ten feet. We figure we’ll go down to  Gardener to

the chair factory and see what windsor chairs cost there. I can’t

seem  to find any that look like they’d last more than ten  years

for  under $200 each! And then there are kitchen  and  diningroom

hutches,  and sideboards…  Not to mention stuff for  the  mead-

hall (as soon as it’s empty again). I have major furniture  lust!

On  the  other hand, AElfwine has found some plans in a  book  on

building furniture that he thinks he can adapt to the loveseat we

want for the library.

Other  projects have been less exciting. We came in one  day

to  find the kitchen floor flooded- part of the drain  under  the

sink had rotted away and had to be replaced. And AElfwine had  to

go  get his replacement drivers license. We saw Megan and  Denise

there,  getting  a  new  registration (+  TOTO  2)  and  her  new

license.  They got to play the “who had the worse picture”  game.

We  all  have  the  worst picture! We all  don’t  look  like  the

gorgeous  person  we see in our heads and our friends  assure  us

that we are. Another thing my clever husband did was to  generate

a  new harp key to replace the one I’d lost from  hardware  store

parts. Now we have decided that he must make me an harp stand, as

Megan says that that’s why my shoulders hurt after practicing for

only  thirty  minutes.  We  also had  to  replace  parts  in  the

refrigerator door for the second time since we got back from  the

war!  (And about the fifth time since we got the refrigerator!  I

really hate the cheap plastic parts they build refrigerators  out

of   these  days-  next  time  I’m  getting  a  used   commercial

refrigerator, maybe THAT will last!)

We saw an sign for free guinea fowl at Agway and called  and

the  lady  was out, so Aelfwine cleaned out the peacock  pen  for

them,  but  when we called back, she’d already promised  them  to

someone else. He also buried the last of last years potatoes from

the  root  cellar  in  the compost heap.  I’ve  been  working  on

cleaning  the studio and attic- very intermittently as  the  heat

drives me down stairs.

This  week’s  library  books are mostly  on  upholstery  and

furniture making. Willow’s reading American Gods which she  likes

so  much I hope to get to it soon. Aelfwine is re-reading  Sarum.

We  took  out  the  videos The Hound  of  the  Baskervilles,  The

Canterville  Ghost,  Bridges  of Madison  County,  and  Sanctuary

Sparrow. We may not get to watching them, but as we don’t PAY for

library  videos, it doesn’t seem that horrible; we can take  them

out  some  other day. I actually don’t get to SEE  much  of  them

anyway.  I tend to put them on while I’m working in the  kitchen,

so  I  only  get  the audio part of  the  story  with  occasional

glimpses of the visual part. Still, it’s a great way to introduce

the  kids to old movie classics- last week we watched The  Thing.

Star  tends  to  watch  from the next room  so  as  to  give  the

appearance  (I  am guessing) of not being interested in  our  old

movies, but he does generally end up watching them again later to

fill  in any bits he missed. “Watch the skies!” I  like  watching

the  old  ones  occasionally  just  to  remind  myself  of   what

ridiculous attitudes we just took for granted a few decades ago!

I  listened  to  the news  about  the  International  Racism

Conference with what approached despair. They really should  have

started  by defining the term BEFORE they had the conference.  If

they  wanted  to  have a conference on  any  group  treating  any

members  of  another group badly, they should have  called  it  a

conference on Prejudice. Arabs and Israelis are the same race- if

they hate and kill each other, it’s bad, but it isn’t racism.  If

the  Indians have a caste system, it’s unfair and out dated,  but

it’s  not  racism. If the Moslems of the  world  have  Mohammed’s

permission  to kill anyone else of a different religion, even  if

they  kill people of other races- it’s still not racism.  If  the

Hutus  and Tutsis chop each other up with machetes,  it  has  the

same  horrible consequences as racism, but it’s not  racism.  (Of

course,  if the blacks kill the white farmers in Zimbabwe, so  no

crops get planted and the whole continent starves, that’s racism,

but  it’s also so stupid no one wanted to mention it.) Why  don’t

we  just  drop  the race issue and take a  united  stand  against

prejudice, unfairness, genocide, torture and all the things  that

the  victims  and  their supporters are against?  It  seems  that

everyone  is so anxious to be on the victim of racism side,  that

they  don’t see that often both sides are racist- it’s  just  who

has the power that determines who is the victim. It’s not  racism

they  are  against, so much as being the victim.  So  let’s  stop

pretending that the motive is the problem and address the  crimes

themselves.   There   isn’t  one  racist  activity   that   isn’t

“justified” by the childish cry “he hit me first!”. We don’t  put

up  with it from our three year olds, we certainly shouldn’t  put

up with it from our diplomats!

Until next week,

“Find out just what the people will submit to and you will have found out
the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them;
and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or
blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of
those whom they oppress.” –Frederick Douglass