9/21/2011 Honey Month

It is a gorgeous day and it’s been a gorgeous week! The back yard is blue with New England Asters again, and when I took the mail out I got to enjoy watching Zoloft come bounding in with her bouncy way of moving, past the red hollyhocks and pink stock- which having been so disturbed by the June rains are STILL blooming (if not standing tall as usual), disturbing a golden butterfly. It’s good to live out in the green lands.
And this week we had our first fall cider!
The last week of summer (technical summer) has gone by so quickly, it seems like a few days. Or maybe it’s just that when I write the letter, I bring down my journal, and I forgot to take it up to my room again, and if you’ll believe it, I couldn’t remember what I’d done the day before. (Today I looked through it, jotted down notes, and sent it upstairs immediately.) I know I’ve been doing a lot of doing emailing, contacting potential speakers, trying to to think of ways of promoting this. I checked face book ads- you pay by the click, about a buck for everyone who checks you out, and even if 10% actually came, that’s too expensive. It would be easier to target the advertising if we weren’t hitting so many different areas. The idea is to bring them all together- but how do I reach “them all”?
Kerensa called- he’s still doing college, but was home sick that day, so we could chat. Dana’s got his first floor windows in (I did mention that he’d bought a house that had had all the window’s broken, didn’t I?) Honour’s sister came up and drove her around to all the places we’d visited when we went out for errands. I’d taken her with me last week, and when we got back to our house, and her car, her keys had gone missing. They had apparently fallen out of her pocket in the Staples parking lot. Good thing she checked at Staples- I’d gone into Staples, while she’d gone to the store next to it, but apparently the keys had been turned into Staples. How wonderful that she found them- ALL her keys were on it. Of course, that was the last of a long string of stores they checked at. Soon, she should be taking her trailer away again.
We didn’t unload the van from last weekend because we were going to Eastern Mass PPD, and it seemed silly, so all our errands were done in Willow’s car this week.
Friday I finished putting bios and workshop descriptions on the website (the ones I could find). I did a count of our speakers, we have 40 now, and almost 50 hours of programming, although I’m wanting over 100, and we want to have the schedule done by the end of the month. So I’ve got a lot more to do. Plus promotion. I wish I were better at that.
Willow cut out the pieces for ten new polar fleece blankets. This batch is mostly inspired by the new My little Pony show (and I finally watched one), and she also did a lovely one for Jane, and one with a pentagram to offer at Pagan events. Meanwhile upstairs we fired the kiln- the new pieces I’d done over the week. (One I hoped was done drying wasn’t, and broke, but luckily didn’t knock anything else over.)
The PPD was Sunday, but Saturday was the birthday celebration for the Barony of Stonemarche, up in Concord, and Honour and I went up there. No one had showed up for the Golden Sword at Midsummers, so they offered them another chance at this event (the first organized by House Strangeways), and again there were no novices. Some years there’s a crowd, sometimes there are none. It was just a day event, and the food was potluck. I decided to make cornucopias- I make them by making Krumkakes, rolled into cones, and fill them with chopped seasonal fruit. I could find an apple, and a peach and I stretched it out with apricots, golden raisins and currents, with just a drizzle of honey to stick them into the cones. Since it was the SCA I used the while whole wheat flour which threw the recipe off a bit- it’s more absorbent than all purpose flour and I had to add more liquid to make it spread on the iron properly. I did get into the rhythm, and it went much faster once John came and did the rolling for me. One can’t really roll it straight off the pan AND spread batter at the same time.
Since the van was already packed, I unloaded a popup and put out the silver and socks, and sold a little. I also found a lovely piece of summer-weight wool for next year’s Pennsic garb. One of the other ladies has decided to sell off her excess accumulated fabric. It’s rather heartbreaking- She paid $18 a yard for it, and sold it to me for $10 a yard. There was a post revel, but Honour and I don’t drive well after dark, and besides, we were planning on leaving at 6 Sunday morning, so we didn’t go to it.
Sunday morning, sadly I woke up at 5:15, too early, but too late to go back to sleep. Not enough sleep is NOT good for my mood. Sadly, I had also forgotten that I had not checked to make sure that our canvas tent was in the trailer. I thought we only had to hook it up, but I was wrong. Carol, the organizer of Eastern Mass PPD had written that she needed to borrow pop-ups, and I’d offered ours, since she’d allocated us extra space for the big tent (and her husband to pound stakes for us). So we had to load it in, and we were all pretty cross about it. I’m going to have to remind myself that when I hear other people quarreling during set-up how insufficient sleep and stress can make people cranky. Most people blame it on “not having had their coffee yet”, but I think it’s just not having had enough sleep, and not being up long enough. We got there late, but we are incredible and got it erected and set up in time anyway. And Carol fed us from the food vendors to thank  us for loaning our pop-ups. One was for the children’s/family area and they didn’t mind that it said NO Smoking. I was also able to step over 10 feet and oversee it’s erection. I thought it was easy, and pretty self evident to put up a pop-up, but apparently one gets used to it, and they’re each slightly different. I begin to understand why there are so many broken ones around. While I was coaching them on not twisting the legs, Willow was explaining the theory of how one places tent stakes to best advantage, and how to swing a hammer. As she said, she sounded a lot like the PBS children’s shows about physics. “the stake should be in line with the edge of the tent”. A couple of children came by halfway through and helped as well- learning even faster than the “strongman” we’d been loaned.
Once the tent was up, the day was great. The weather couldn’t have been better. OK, we were put up at the front, because we were gorgeous, but that put us next to the band tent. Not bad when it was Chris LaFond and his harp or guitar, but when Featherscale was rocking out, it was rather hard to make ourselves heard over them.  (Good thing we like their music!) Sadly, it was during their performance that I was doing my RunValdr class in the family area- again, a bit too loud for ease of communication. Next year we’ll be across the circle.  My other class was “I’m not a witch!” (not all Pagans are witches/not all withes are pagan). When not teaching, I was promoting the con. passing out posters and cards, I got to meet Pastor Phil who’s a minister in Salem, and he’ll be coming to speak.  Willow found a pink knife pocket knife (she’s been looking for one), and I got a silly jar that says “wool of bat”. It’s incredibly ugly, but will go well beside my “eye of newt” bottle. By the time we got home (it’s one of those New England “ya cahnt get theyah from heyah” deals- not that far, but it takes two hours), I was exhausted. I think I was asleep by 9:30.
I only stopped to google the words for “The Freshmen down at Yale get no tail”, a rather naughty college song we used to sing, and on the way home I discovered that I’d forgotten about half of the verses. Having been reminded, I am now satisfied. I’m not going to share them here, it’s a family letter, but if you are curious, just ask. Thanks to google I’m now aware of several variations, that it is also known as “The freshman UP at Yale”- probably depending upon where the singer’s college is located. After 1969 of course, they had to add a verse for “the co-eds up at Yale”, and probably allowing women in has led to the song being largely forgotten. Or not. Those who get the least “tail” are probably the ones most likely to sing about it. One shares a lot less communicable diseases by singing than that alternative at least.
I opted not to have John unpack the van yet- I want to reorganize the great hall for the season before he does. Yes, in my “copious free time”. That and re-stringing the electric fence. The goats are getting into the orchard again.
Monday I got in touch with Lori Bruno and stayed up to call into her talk show to promote the con, but then one of her relatives died, and she suggested I wait until the next show so she could be there when I called in. Yesterday was more of the same- planning for upcoming events, also sculpting. We got the business cards for the con we’d sent for a bit over a week ago (had hoped that we’d get them before PPD, but oh, well), and I’m mailing them out to as many people as I can to distribute them. It’s about our only advertising, although I’m hoping I can get onto some of these pod-cast shows, and figure out the other ways of using the internet.
The political telephone polls have geared up again. One I answered last week seemed to be trying to figure out where people got their information about candidates. I realized as I answered it that I DON’T read newspapers anymore, and few magazines; nor do we watch TV since we don’t have dish or cable- so it all comes in through the computer. If others are like me- I should be doing my advertising on the computer. It occurred to me a while ago that most of the “newspaper” articles I read are ones that friends have put links to on facebook. I have to wonder about how biased that means what I read is. Luckily, I have friends from the right wing to the left (and a LOT who totally defy definition).
Today I spent WAY too much time on facebook griping and watching other people gripe about the change they put in today- rather than listing the posts your friends have made sequentially, they have a program that sends what they feel would be your “top stories” to the top. I don’t trust those- especially having seen what they picked for me as my “top stories”, but who knows- maybe it could be tweaked into working.
Willow and I were just talking about how quickly new technologies get integrated into our lives. I still remember how weird it felt when we first started using debit cards instead of checks. In the last year I’ve learned about Skyping (still not thrilled to see what I look like), and how to watch “streaming”- watching movies on TV. (I recently watched Steven King’s The Stand while doing something else on the computer, Gaia I guess, because I can’t really think while watching a movie.) I told her how when I was younger, rather than watching whatever you wanted (from the available pool) whenever you wanted, we checked the paper to find out what was going to be on (on 3-4 channels). She commented that Dad’s generation must have had a similar confusion in adapting to catching movies on TV. I imagine that the change from wondering what was going to be on the radio wasn’t that much different than what was going to be on TV. (I also imagine people MY grandparent’s ages who lived through the 20th century show incredible flexibility to adapt to all those changes.) It has seemed to me like most of our progress are simply the logical outgrowth or completion of earlier advances. While I was in high-school I wrote a play that was supposed to take place in the early 21st century in which there was a large (larger than most flat screen TVs admittedly) in the living-room, and the character called up and ordered what movie he wanted on it by calling in his number and the movie’s number. That’s not quite streaming- but it’s not far from it.  I think part of the speed of advancing technology is also softened by the framework of “affordability”. No one is particularly surprised that people who can pay a premium for new technologies have them first.
No- I think that the biggest change in culture is the adaptations we are going to have to make since we’ve used up over half the available fossil fuel, and so much of our culture is designed around everything being made possible because it’s cheap. (I watched Collapse, which reminded me of what I already knew.) It was cheap when the paradigm was created- but there are more of us now, and we use more, and there’s less of it. I expect that we will manage to change, because we must, but resistance is inevitable. I personally don’t care for change. I don’t mind growing food- I think it tastes better and is better for you, but I sure do want to keep my computer. And at this point we travel to sell our stuff. We’ll have to figure out how to sell without spending money on gas, tires, etc. Darn, we were talking about the benefits of public transportation back when I was in college, how could we have been so short-sighted as to forget what we knew back then? I guess we were just focused on our own jobs, families and joys. Advertising on the internet, and shipping things may well be one part of the solution. If we can figure out how- we can reach so many more people via the internet.
So I’m sculpting a lot. At least I can “watch” a lot while I sculpt. Somehow I’ve messed up my putting in requests on inter library loan, and have ended up with five different Great Courses here at once. As soon as I’m done with the letter I’ll go back to “Emerson Thoreau and the Transcendentalist Movement”. This is one that I am less excited about than others. It’s just that I feel that I *should* understand how the way the nature-based thinkers of the 19th century led to nature-based religions of the 20th century. I don’t think we could have gotten here without that happening first.
I finished the first installment of “Books that Have made history- Books that can change your life”, including Mark, the Koran, Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Job, and the Oresteia and Bacchae. While each of them does carry weight and meaning down through the ages, they underscore how each culture seems to have its own take on what is important. I’ve started listening to Classical Mythology, which is going well with some of the articles I’ve been reading in the Anthropology of Magic, Witchcraft and Religion. I’m reading one of those articles a day. To lighten things up I got the History Channel’s version: “Clash of the Gods”. Their facts are not much off- although the professor of history in the recorded lectures gets far more detailed. While I think we’ve all heard that Kronos cut off his father’s genitals, I had not heard before that he’d done it from inside his mother’s womb. Many of her details are fascinating, and I wonder, given how many versions of most myths there are, if she doesn’t pick the most interesting to make her points.
Depending upon how much sculpture I can get to, I’ve still got waiting The Origin of Civilization, Peoples and Cultures of the World, Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age- at about six hours of lectures each, so really, probably not more than I want to be putting into the sculpting, but it seems greedy to have all these great courses home at the same time. And to be frank, after a few hours of lectures, I like to watch a little fiction, romance, adventure.
I got Solaris, because it seemed to be a ghost story in outer space which seemed a unique combination- sadly, they got too much into the cool photography and metaphysics. Basically, it’s on a space station, and the planet seems to “create” the beloved dead of the people for them to deal with. Sadly, they they were too weirded out by what was happening to deal with it well. The most appealing character is Gordon, whose position is, ‘I don’t know what they are, but they aren’t human, and I want the humans to survive’. In order to protect their sanity, they must defend their understanding of reality, so they can’t accept the gift that the planet is giving them. So they generate a Higgs field- something I’d just encountered reading The Subtle Body,- which seems to make the “visitors” disappear; I have no idea if that would work that way scientifically, but that wasn’t the point of the movie. One of the saddest parts of the movie was Rhea, the visitor that was created out of the memories of the heros dead wife, realizing that she was a construct, and that she was depressed and suicidal because he thought of her as depressed and suicidal. “The world is what you think it is” is a basic precept of metaphysics, but when so immediate it becomes scary.
Another weird movie I saw was Iceman, in which a scientific team digs up and reanimates a Neanderthal man. They want to know why he was revivable so they can use that technology in cryonics, but it turns out that it comes from his shamanic practices, and the anthropologist on the team has to deal with the common question about whether the harm you do to an individual is more important than the possible benefits others can get from what you learn by it. The one line I remember is “I thought he’d be more hairy.”, which points out that our idea that they must have been hairy is probably based on our wanting them to look more like monkeys than us, so they can be proper missing links.
I saw, or listened to parts of movies Kat and John had taken out- Big Bang Theory, and a Dr. Who movie, Sands of Mars, I think. Kat’s streaming Voyager– fourth season now. I rib her because the kids resisted watching Star Trek so much when I’d suggested it.  John took out The Alien Saga– a “making of” documentary that reminded me just how good Alien was. I actually haven’t seen the later movies, and probably will have to take them out now. (when I’ve caught up on my courses). When I wanted something for pure enjoyment, I watched more of the third season of True Blood. It’s got a lot in common with the first few books- but at the same time, it’s gone its own way. I was thrilled that they’ve really built up the characters of Tara and Lafayette, and love what they’ve done with them. I guess it’s like “fan fiction”, when someone writes a new novel using the world of Star Trek or Peter Pan, and explores something new. No, it’s not the same, but it’s still good, and I enjoy those differences. I was a little concerned when Netflix wrote me and told me that they’re splitting their business in two- one will do the streaming, and one will mail the discs. Luckily, so far, they just split what we were already paying between them, so it doesn’t change much for us, although I expect they’ll have two websites and two queues eventually.
The very idea of “owning” movies and watching them at home is odd, if I look at it from a 60’s/70’s perspective. I remember our first friends who had VHS tapes of various movies. We got our VHS recorder to tape the really excellent shows they made to show in school because I strongly suspected the kids were saying that they were sick when they weren’t in order to stay home to watch them. So we recorded them, and by-passed that. Then we could record shows or movies when we weren’t there, and then I spent $24.95 for a copy of ET when it came out. I probably started buying used videos from the Village Store, next door, and then we got used to having them. I got Disney movies new. Decades later, we started getting DVDs, even replacing some we had on VHS with DVD when it was cheap enough. At this point I refuse to replace them with blue ray, and as for the new 3D technology, I can just fall back on “it makes Willow yack”, and “it’s too expensive”. Someday they may get good enough that it doesn’t make Willow yack. But if streaming becomes more common, why would we need the library (over 1000 titles) I’ve got now? And how useless will they be if the players aren’t available to read them? I know how many 3″ floppy disks I’ve thrown out that probably had stuff on it I’d have liked to save, but we don’t have the ability to read them anymore. Books. Books you can depend upon.
When I go to bed I’ve been reading those Libertas (Romano British) mysteries: Pattern of Blood, and Murder in the Forum. I enjoy them, and reading them makes me wonder what obvious clues are available in the simple conversations in which I participate, that I totally miss.
Ah well, books, movies or whatever, we still need to eat. So I shall go cook.
Until next week, I leave you with great affection,

Ethical axioms are found and tested not very differently from the axioms of science. Truth is what stands the test of experience.  – Albert Einstein