*9-23-2002 getting ready for the funeral

Dear ones,

September 23, 2002

 

Life  continues  to be good, although I know  my  saying  so leaves many

people wondering just how deep in denial I am. OK, so do I, but I cry with

some regularity, so I expect this is just my variation on coping and that

everyone does it their own way,  and this  is  mine.  Everyone around us has

been  SO  wonderful  and supportive, and all my memories (well, most- the

ones I choose to recall)  are happy ones. As I was driving home from  the

dentist today  there  was a beautiful fall of golden leaves  against  the

green mass of trees which have only the first scattered  branches of  color-

I have no idea where those leaves came from  (OK,  up, but…) but it was SO

beautiful!

 

I  have been able to chat with friends over tea and  cookies at the kitchen

table this week, and that’s good too. (By the way, this  letter went REALLY

long, you might want to get  yourself  a cup of tea right now- or put off

reading it until you’ve got some good  free time. Sorry.) People have sent

firewood, and  dinners, and  money…  Actually,  even better,  the  guy

delivering  the firewood was willing to bring it later so I didn’t have to

stack it  from  the  driveway  into the woodshed  the  day before  the

funeral,  and  the ladies from the fireman’s auxiliary  who  made dinners

were willing to keep them until I generated more  freezer room. As I said,

everyone has been wonderful.

 

 

ALMANAC

There  was a full moon on Friday, and I think  the  Autumnal Equinox was

Saturday, although Star said that today was the first day of fall- first

full day, maybe. The Building 19 calendar said that the Equinox was today at

12:55 AM. Could be. I know most  of the pagan folk were celebrating it

(Mabon) this weekend.

In  theory the Woodchucks start hibernating on the 24th.  On the other hand,

there’s a skunk around us that is definitely  not hibernating  yet. I am

trying to figure out what to do about  it- have a heart trap or shoot it,

and get it over with. I’m  leaning toward  shooting it. Scotland Yard was

founded on September  29th in 1829. If the Ember day theory works, the next

three months (in our  area) will be good weather, which means not enough

rain,  I expect.

Remember  I  mentioned the odd thunderstorm we  saw  in  the direction   of

the  town?  It  turns  out  that  it   wasn’t   a thunderstorm,   one  of

the  local  pony  farms  was  having   a celebration  with  fireworks. I

THOUGHT it didn’t look  or  sound like thunder.

 

FARM

The roses came and went but the hollyhock is still blooming. And  so  are

the  geranium, the day  flowers,  the  borage,  the echnacia- all sorts of

flowers seem to have just taken a rest and have  come  back with enthusiasm.

The  jerusalem  artichokes  are blooming-  I keep thinking I should go

harvest some,  but  first, I’m not sure they taste as good once they have

bloomed, and  more importantly- they are growing in the middle of a

raspberry patch, and I’m not THAT motivated. So I’ll enjoy looking at their

bright yellow 7 foot high flowers. The goldenrod is passing though, I am

fond  of  it in bouquets, now I’ll have to wait until  next  year again.

The  apples in the orchard are being picked  again,  Macs now,  Cortlands

in  a week or two. The  buses  full  of  migrant workers  go by early in the

morning and again around  four.  Some times we see them in the stores and I

can hardly understand their patois- I’d like to be friendly with them, how

lucky it is for us that  someone  is willing to do this work when the

locals  don’t want  to.  When they won’t come any more, the orchards  will

all become  condo  developments, and where is everyone going  to  get their

apples  then? They don’t think about it, but food  has  to come from

somewhere, doesn’t it?

I’ve  been  examining all my financial stuff  lately.  We’ve been getting

about 5-6 dozen eggs a week, which I complain to the chickens  about-  I

should think that they could do  better.  (Of course now that Mabon has come

I’m going to turn on the light  at night  and see if that helps). That gives

us 2 dozen for us,  and three  or  four  to sell, which we sell at $1.50  a

dozen.  That pretty  much  covers the bag of chicken feed they  go  through

a week,  so  we aren’t losing money on that. The  goats  are  still

producing about a gallon a day between them, and if I make cheese

occasionally,  that’s about what we need. At a dollar a  day  per goat, for

feed and hay, that’s $14 for 7 gallons, or $2 a gallon. That’s  about half

of what goats milk costs at the store, and  it tastes  better.  Of course,

we also are putting about $7  a  week into  the other goats, who should be

turned into meat to  justify their  existence. The geese cost almost

nothing, and I’m  willing to call them pets, although in the spring we get

eggs, and that’s very  valuable when you’ve got an allergic person in  the

house. (It’s the same with the goats milk. If we didn’t have goats, we’d

have to find the milk somewhere.) By and large the farm is paying for

itself, and that’s what I’m looking for, not a profit.

 

Festus and Robin’s tails are growing new feathers, and  they are beginning

to display again. They are very pretty.

 

 

NASTY PAPERWORK & PHONE CALLS

Most  of  the week was spent between getting ready  for  the funeral,  and

getting ready for the rest of my life. Actually,  I figure  that  most women

who’ve opted to stay home and  care  for their children full time who hit my

age have to do what I’m doing now  and  get back into the work force- or

perhaps, in  my  case, enter it for the first time would be a more accurate

description. Most  of them don’t have the support I’m getting, so I  think

it will  probably  be easier for me because of all  the  help  being

offered.  And  my motto for the next year is “If  someone  offers help,  I’m

going to accept it.”

The most physical problem  I had  to deal with was cleaning the house- and

Raven came up  with his  intern  Joe to help with that on Monday, Sandy came

up  and cleaned on Thursday and Friday, and Dan came up Monday,  Thursday

and  Friday. Friday she mostly spent working on the program,  but by that

time we’d managed to get almost all the clutter put  into bins  and boxes,

and (admittedly) hidden in Kat’s room.  Kat  was looking  forward to being

able to take her cousin  Charlotte  and her friends to her room, but I

insisted. It was already too messy to  clean anyway, so she lost. This week

we get to pull the  bins down  and  sort  them and get things REALLY  put

away  properly.  That’s going to be a lot harder. (We did put Fitz’s stuff

in  the cellar so he’ll be able to pick it up easily when he gets a place

and moves.)

 

I got myself a new notebook- I’d started to use the back  of the fourth

volume of AElfwine’s medical notebooks, but I  decided to start a new one

because the issues are all different. So  each day I start through the lists

of people to call, and things to do and  just  do them. One benefit is that

I’m getting a  lot  done.

Another  is  that  I tend to cry only when  I’m  between  getting things

done-  like driving down the road, or maybe  when  I  get surprised by

something. Although I WILL admit that I do sometimes cry  in  frustration

and fatigue when I have to deal  with  voice mail. Do you realize that the

Social Security Administration  has about a three minute voice mail system

which they then follow  up with “We want to tell you about some of our

services” and tack on another  two or three minutes of stuff in which I’m

betting  most callers  are not interested- especially if you have to call

them more  than  once  and have already heard it. What  do  they  have

against  their  own employees that they would set  them  up  like that? I

can’t imagine that most people aren’t ready to jump  down the  throat of

anyone who finally picks up the phone  after  that much  delay.  If  they

aren’t doing it  to  purposely  get  their employees  yelled  at,  they  are

missing  some  really  obvious responses.

So I’ve called the Social Security Administration, and gotten us switched

from  disability to survivor- I get 5 months,  and  kat gets  two years.

Star they wouldn’t tell me about,  and  insisted that the only way I could

find out about his stuff is to get  him declared  incompetent. Other people

have since told me that  this is not true, all he has to do is designate me

his representative. I suppose it’s not surprising that everyone working

there doesn’t know  everything. I had Star call and gave him a script  to

read from, to get the information, and stood there and wrote new lines for

him  as needed. Actually, that was probably  good  for  him. Eventually

he’ll be able to handle it himself. I was  especially cross  though when the

guy seemed to think I should  be  grateful for  his  telling  me that I’d be

getting a  “one  time  survivor benefit”  of  $235. Funeral expenses? It

will  just  about  cover getting  the multiple death certificates. “And your

benefits  are going up!” he gleefully told me- yeah, between what  AElfwine,

the  kids  and I were getting, the Disability total  from  Social Security

was about $2500, now we will total about $1800- because, of  course, there’s

nothing for AElfwine. That’s sure “gone  up”. What  expenses do they think

are going down that much because  we don’t  have him here now? How much do

they think he ate? Do  they expect  me to rent out the other half of the

bed? OK,  I’m  being sarcastic, but it just irked me that he seemed to think

I  should be happy about it.

 

I also had to arrange for the disposition of the body, order death

certificates (“Start with six, you’ll need more  later.”), contact  the

insurance people… Now that was stressful.  I  was able  to find Equitable

easily- AElfwine got that policy when  we decided  to get married to show my

father what a responsible  guy he  was.  We’d  also  talked  about  another

insurance,  through Granite,  but since Granite was dissolved, and we

weren’t  paying the premiums I had no idea where to look for it. Finally

found it today-  whew!  So  I have the financial pad to  be  able  to  get

through the next few years until I DO get my own income coming in regularly.

I was VERY pleased to discover that I can continue  to get the Blue Cross

Health Insurance through his Cobra for another months- that should give me

time to find another  independent health  insurance.  The social worker from

the  agency  that  was sending the OT, PT, nurse, etc. finally came, and he

told me  all about  Medicaid. I think NOT. Apparently they put a lien on

your house,  and if you go off again, as I would have planned  to  do, they

don’t take it off until you’ve paid back everything they put out.  Hey,  if

I’m going to pay for it anyway,  I’ll  handle  the bills  myself  as they

come, and keep your sticky  hands  off  MY HOUSE!

This  is the same type thing that Fitz is so  worried  about being  sent to

a nursing home over. Supposing he does get put  in one  even  temporarily,

they’d take his  $500  pension.  So  the government allocates say, $1000 a

month for them to take care  of him,  and they figure they charge other

patients $4000, so IF  he managed  to get out after say, 8 months, they’d

figure  he  still owed  them $2500 per month, and they’d keep his pension

for  the next  three  and a half years to pay  themselves  back,  probably

adding on a few months for book-keeping, and leaving him  nothing to  buy

food,  housing, insurance or anything  else  with.  Once they’ve  got  it,

you are in trouble. I’ve seen  it  happen  with Honour  and  her child

support once the state  started  “helping” collect  it. It’s horrible. I’m

going to avoid anything with  any strings attached as long as there are any

alternatives.

 

 

LONG RANGE PLANS

Anyway,  the  long  range plan is to  spend  the  next  year working  on

getting  a career in art. I  promised  AElfwine  and Willow  that  I  would

last month. Indeed, I  told  him  I’d  be starting in October no matter what

his status was with the  mini-transplant. I said: “I’m not waiting until the

end of the crisis, there’s always another crisis.” So, as promised, I’m

going to  be starting working on illustrations for children’s books. I

figure that  at one painting a week, (which in theory should  only  take

about  two days) a forty page book should be done in a  year-  it will  even

leave  a few weeks for  various  other  delays-  like Pennsic.  I’ll also

be advertising for my portrait painting,  and (finally) getting the web-site

up, so maybe I’ll get orders  from around  the  country. You won’t (or maybe

you will)  believe  how many  people  have  told  me that there’s  good

money  in  doing portraits of people’s pets! OK, I’ve done that before too.

Megan and  Dennis  are the only professional artists I know,  and  they

suggest doing the Christmas Crafts Fairs- sounds hokey to me, but who am I

to argue with people who’ve made it work? Sandy, who has done  TV

producing,  is going to help film  the  pilot  for  the cooking show we’ve

been talking about, and Raven is going to help me  find a publisher for the

Cookie Book. All I need to  do  with that  is  reformat it and put in the

illustrations.  Why  Raven? Because Llewellyn just published Raven’s latest

book Urban Pagan, EARLY because there were over 10,000 pre-orders for it!

And  they are “very excited” about his next manuscripts. And, depending  on

how  those projects go, I may try editing a book and or  articles out  of my

old letters and submitting them to magazines or  other publishers.

Basically, I know that the odds are  against  anyone trying  to make a

living with writing and art, but I’m also  sure that you can’t do it by

dipping your toes in and hoping. You have to plunge in over your head and

give it a full effort if you have any chance of making it work.

If I haven’t started seeing some real solid possibilities of making  it work

by this time next year, I’ll look into  something more “respectable” like

becoming a doctor of Naturopathy. As soon as I have time to breathe (which

will probably not be in the next year)  I’ll look into any old surviving

credits at BU,  and  what kind  of  college  credits  I can  get  through

testing  through courses.  I’m betting that I can just test past  several

history courses. Of course, what one can do with those credits depends on

what degree one is going for, but we’ll see. Meanwhile, I  figure I  can

probably take in over $300 profit a month by  selling  the cabochons stuff

at events- while maintaining my social  contacts; I know better than to get

isolated this year. The mortgage  money from  the Strubes, the inheritance

from my mother, a bit here,  a bit there, we’ll be just making it without

adding my new  income, so  let’s see how quickly I can do very well.  (I

hope  you  find this  reassuring rather than scary. I am confident,  while

still accepting  the likelihood of mishaps on the way.) It occurred  to me

yesterday that Star and I are going through the same thing  at the  same

time- trying to decide what to do with the rest of  our lives,  and  having

to pick what to do with the  next  couple  of years between education and

working to make that happen.

 

FUNERAL PLANS

Back  to funeral stuff. All week long e-mails shot back  and forth  between

Alva and Sue and here, fine  tuning  the  service until  I was thoroughly

sick of it. We’d thought to have all  the singing  be accapella, but Steve

Taylor wanted to do a  solo  and hired a pianist who he knew to play for the

service. Before  that I’d asked Steve Raskind to make a CD of the songs we’d

chosen  so we  could play them before people sang as an intro, and  he  did,

but eventually we didn’t need it. He also made me a tape of  some of

AElfwine’s  favorite songs, and others that we  thought  were appropriate-

starting with The Impossible Dream, and at the  end, a  couple of hours in,

the Timewarp, because we thought  AElfwine would have liked it. He brought

it up Thursday so we could listen to it, and we did change a few things;

then he came back Saturday morning again. We did play the CD, as planned, in

the  background during  the reception afterwards. There were a few other

changes in  the  program;  it’s one of those things- you  can’t  make  it

perfect for everyone, as hard as you try- but you try anyway.

I  had decided that I wanted to put pictures of AElfwine  on the  program-

I know people tend to save them,  like  matchbooks from weddings, and I

figured that with some good pictures,  there would  be  a real reason to

save them. Alva had asked to  have  a copy  of  the picture of AElfwine and

I that was taken  at  Brown back  in 1975 be brought to sit at the front

during the  service, so  I  thought  that would be a good picture and put

it  on  the front.  Thursday  night  Leslie sent me  a  picture  of

AElfwine standing  on his shield with the Branswatch Army, and  I  decided

that  would  be the perfect accent to  including  the  Impossible Dream

(which I’d decided not to include in the service because it would  be  too

hard on the audience). But  as  an  inspirational quote,  I thought it

worked. I also found a great picture of  him grinning, and another of him

sitting down after a battle, looking tired but happy, and that seemed

terribly apropos too. Dan really worked  hard  to  get  them scanned and

laid  out-  late  in  the afternoon  Leslie  brought over a copy of the

picture  with  the words already on it, and we gave up and tried to get it

printed. Sadly,  our local shop would have had to charge a dollar  a  side

for the color pictures, so Dan took it to Kinkos, where they  did it

overnight, and she was able to bring them to the  service  in the morning.

 

When  I  first started looking for the pictures I  got  VERY stressed,

because  the bin that I’ve been putting  all  pictures into  while cleaning

the house for the last couple of  years  had almost  no  good pictures. A

lot of pictures had  stuck  together from  humidity. It was awful. I guess I

kind of thought that  I’d always have AElfwine with me- that we’d both live

about the  same amount of time; and when he died, well, I had all those

pictures I  remembered,  and  suddenly, I had to assume that  the  ones  I

couldn’t find were the ones that were charred or stuck  together. It  was

like losing him again. I sent a request for pictures  out on the internet

(hence the picture that Leslie found for me), and then while complaining

about it to Willow, a bunch of albums  I’d not  noticed before appeared,

with the pictures in them.  What  a relief. More than that, while selecting

the pictures and mounting them  on  the  mat  boards, my memories  of

AElfwine  in  health returned  (after  a  year of seeing him bald and

sick).  What  a blessing that was! Then Tracy found pictures from the

fifties and sixties  of the young Nick, and brought several of those. I

only wish that AElfwine had been able to see them before he died.  How very

much he looks like Johnathan, and Lief!

 

Charlotte,  sadly, being in the midst of her own chemo,  was not  up  to

coming to the service, but a friend  in  town,  John Pomer,  who had made

videos of Kat at talent shows and such  when AElfwine  was in the hospital

so he wouldn’t miss them agreed  to film the funeral so Charlotte will be

able to see it.

 

People were very nice about not sending flowers- we only got three

arrangements, one from Jon’s teachers, who apparently  sent it  immediately

after he told them about it, another  arrangement that showed up at the

church, which had an enigmatic name on the card- I didn’t realize it was for

us, and one of the church ladies will be bringing the card up to us, I think

she said it was from  some Tree  Foundation (I’m very confused about that),

and the  Mikelas sent  one.

 

A MIRACLE

Then  the  next  day,  Mike  Mikela  came  over   and apologized for

everything, he even apologized to Kat for  yelling at her, and she

apologized for muttering “Butthead” as she walked away from him. I had spent

several hours writing a letter to  the selectmen (to give to them before the

weekly meeting Monday)  but I guess it will never be needed now. I pray that

the healing they seem to be experiencing is real and lasting.

 

MORE HELP

Other  people in town have also been great- Dr. Roy  sent  a load  of

firewood- and when the truck arrived Friday morning  and expressed

trepidation because I was going to need the parking  on Saturday,  they

agreed to bring it this week  instead.  And  the ladies of the firemens

auxiliary made us several frozen  dinners, and  agreed  to hold them until I

had  freezer  space.  (Thursday Nadine  Preftakes  sent over a 25 pound

turkey  all  roasted  and gorgeous- organically raised by Linda Buttrick-

hence of  course, the  lack of freezer space.) Mrs. Harwood brought by

fresh  warm date nut and banana bread, she’s fighting uterine cancer

herself. And  the head of the local Girl Scouts came over to see  if  we’d

like the girls to clean the barn- I’m going to see if I can  find something

less  gross  for  them to  do  since  they  are  being volunteered for it by

someone else. I also think Kat should  join the  Girl Scouts again because

about the only ones left  are  her best friends.  It’s very reminiscent of

when the  house  burned- people are being so helpful.

Lorraine  told me that Caroline Otto had some  kittens  just ready to go,

and even though (at this time of year) she’s able to sell them for $20 each,

she saved one for Kathryne. It’s a little long  haired kitten six weeks old-

she brought it over on  Sunday night  while  headed  up  to do chores  for

someone  up  on  the mountain. Kat has named her Stheno (after one of

Medusa’s  sister gorgons) Velcro (after her claws) Pigwidgeon (after Ron’s

owl  in the  Harry Potter books). We’ll see what she is called  when  she

gets more size on her- at this point she weighs about 20  ounces. We  did

call the local shelters and vets, I am afraid  Freya  is gone for good, but

Kat thinks she’s still alive somewhere and  is being taken care of by

someone.

 

THE FUNERAL

Between getting clean, and doing all the paperwork and stuff that  needs to

be done, I didn’t have too much time to  just  sit around  and be sad. As I

told Ki-lin at the funeral “I’m in  full autocratting  mode.” Luckily,

having run many events I  knew  the basic   coping  strategies-  delegate,

prioritize,   give   good directions, get plenty of sleep and remember to

eat, if you can’t do  what  you want to be doing at some point, just  do

something else useful until the situation is changed so you can do what you

wanted to do first… I got a lot done.

We  were still finishing up the cleaning (cleaning is  NEVER done)  Saturday

morning. Gary and Steve and Allyn showed up  here and  helped. I think it

looked pretty good. Of course, when  it’s all clean, the library and the

living room both look like  living areas, so I’m thinking that maybe I’ll

adapt one of them. I won’t be  feeding  12 at a time, as I used to do nearly

twice  a  month (the Raskinds, the Jaruks, the Taylors and a spare bachelor)

so I figure  I  can put the dining room table in what was  the  living room,

and  give over the dining room to projects.  They’ve  been trying  to

take it over for some time anyway-  the  loom,  three computers,  two sewing

machines, the piano- these things are  not normally in a dining room. It

will be good not to have to pack up sewing projects in the middle in order

to eat.

 

At quarter to 11, the kids and I all changed (Kat had gotten dressed in her

church clothes first thing and we had to run  them through  the washer and

dryer between her first bit  of  cleaning and 10:45); we grabbed the food,

the CD player, the pictures  and headed  down  to the church, getting there

at  just  11.  (“Don’t worry,”  I told the kids, “they can’t start without

US!”) I  took the  pictures, memory books, etc. down to the sunday school,

and then went upstairs. As we were leaving I’d gotten a call from  my

sister- they had found the Congregational Church in Wilton rather than the

Church in Lyndeboro- good thing I hadn’t left yet.  Then the  contingent

from Farmington, Maine got there  about  fifteen minutes in (so much for my

thinking I’d given good  directions!), and I wished I’d been later for their

sakes. I bet Steve was glad he’d  hired the organist, as people were sitting

and waiting  for me.

 

Alva purposely kept most of the service brief so there would be lots of time

for remembrances- and there were many. Steve  and Claudia told stories about

their brother both as an adult and  as a  child. (He didn’t seem to have

changed much.)  Then  Johnathan got  up and spoke. He HATES crowds- I was

totally blown  away,  I had no idea that he was going to do that, and

neither did he,  so I think he did very well for thinking on his feet. He

got a small laugh  as  he paraphrased Bilbo’s comment from the  Lord  of

the Rings about “not liking half of you half as well as you deserve”. Due

to the movie, I think they recognized a reference to one  of his  father’s

favorite books. When he sat down he asked “how’d  I do?”  and  got  a round

of applause. Kat  spoke  briefly,  saying simply  that she someday intended

to have children- “and  they’ll never believe these stories about their

grandfather!”.  Guilliaum spoke   of  AElfwine’s  nobility.  Walt  Holland

spoke  of   his patriotism.  I felt called to tell everyone that we  really

both felt very blessed- and confident that even this will turn out  to be a

blessing, albeit one we would not have chosen. Liz spoke  of his  helping

her into her wedding gown (when everyone  else  had disappeared  in  the

pre-wedding  chaos).  It  was  a  wonderful celebration of his life.

After  the service the Lafayette Artillery, who had come  in uniform, formed

on the common and gave him a salute. I would have appreciated it more if I

hadn’t noticed at that moment one of his nurses from 6C. I “knew” that she

had always said that he was her favorite, but I guess I really didn’t really

know it until I  saw her  there.  The Artillery men couldn’t stay  for  the

reception because they had another funeral for another artillery member  in

a half hour in Wilton. This was not a good day for the Artillery.We didn’t

have a receiving line, so I’m fairly sure that I didn’t get  a chance to

speak to a lot of people who came. I moved  from person  to  person as I

noticed people who’d come a long  way  to join  us. I never liked receiving

lines, but I guess I  now  know what they are for.

 

AFTER

Of  course, this did save people one bit of evil  ness  we’d come up with.

At one point last week Kat asked me if I were going to wear a black veil as

she’d seen in pictures- I explained  that no, women wore those in the

periods when women wore veils anyway- the  black veil was useful to hide the

swollen red eyes and  nose from crying. These days people use dark glasses

instead- which, I pointed  out,  tend to accent rather than hide  the

swollen  red nose. So Kat suggested I could wear one of those Groucho

glasses with the nose to cover mine. “AElfwine would have loved that!” We

spoke  about it, and the more we did, the more we were  convinced that it

would be a good thing. Dan got six pair, one for each  of the family

(AElfwine’s is sitting on the zen vase on the altar in lieu  of a funeral

urn). We rehearsed putting them on in  unison, and  agreed to make sure

there’d be no one around who’d get  hurt feelings  if we did. We did pull

them out, but didn’t get  to  do the unison donning in the receiving line

since there wasn’t one. The  crowds  actually dispersed before two I think,

and  we headed  back up to the house. Just as I got in I got a  political

pollster  on the phone who asked for Nichole Taylor. I thought  I could

give  it  a  few minutes, but this  poor  bastard  was  so illiterate  that

it probably took about 25 minutes.  He  had  to spell most of the names for

me because he couldn’t read them, and I had to help him with a lot of the

two and three syllable words. It  made the questions about public school in

New Hampshire  very sad.  While  I was limping him through the questions,

Steve  and Vicki, Jenny and Niles, and the others left. I meant to chat with

them, but one always figures that it’s got to be almost over- and I guess

they thought I was blowing them off. Oops.

 

Dan and Darth and Steve and several of the others, who  were going  to be

coming for the pagan circle at 7, also left for  the afternoon. Anjoli and

Llew and their families stayed to help  get ready for the circle. Llew

helped mow the circle in the back  and we  put  a pallet in the middle, and

we put the dragon  grill  on that.  We  put a ring of candles in jars around

that,  because  I figured that it would start to be dark by then, and we

could  use the  illumination.  I really preferred the candles  in  glass  in

these dry conditions. We’d made various grave goods to burn  with him,

pictures of things he’d like to have. And we  put  together the  Gokstad

ship  paper model that he’s had for  years.  So  he wasn’t a Viking- Sutton

Hoo is evidence that the Saxons had  boat burials.  Kat  was  going to

handle that, but  Kia  and  she  got permission  for Kia to stay with Kat

while Chris and Jeanne  went to  their  other Saturday things- an event and

a  soccer  game  I think-  so Kia and Kat spent all day on the computer

doing  Syms. Anjoli  put  the ship together. (this was complicated  by

having cleaned the house and not being able to find scissors for a  very

long time!).

Joanna  of the Singing Threads had come up  from  Washington DC,  and had to

leave at 6 to catch her train. At 7, just  as  we were about to go out and

start the circle she called: her wallet, with  all her ID, tickets, money,

etc. was missing. We spent  the next bit calling all the places she’d been

during the  afternoon, when  she located it fallen behind the seat of her

rental car.  I think  she must have made her train because we didn’t  hear

from her again. So by the time we actually started it was quite dark. As

AElfwine  and  I had planned, we burned  all  the  paper cranes  in  the

grill as well as the grave goods. We  weren’t  so much  sending their

spirits to him as we were setting  them  free with  thanks  for all their

help.

 

I saw some comments in  a  chat room where people were wondering what was

the use of the stitches and the prayers and the cranes and all the things we

did for him. I  think  they helped. I also heard someone asking  why  all

the vitamins, and organic food, and exercise, and clean living if you are

going to die anyway. And people ask why someone as  genuinely good as

AElfwine would die so young. But I think that that’s  the wrong  question to

ask. Lots of people die young. Lots of  people die  hard.  Here in America

we are very isolated  from  that-  we think  of it as a rare thing- worthy

of being on the  news.  It’s not.  It’s common. And fairness has nothing to

do with it.  There is  nothing MORE fair than Death. Death is a blessing

that  comes to all, the deserving and the undeserving, those who long for

it as well as those who dread it. The point is not the death but the life.

AElfwine lived a good life, helping people and having  joy of  them, and

they helped him and us and others for his sake  and by  his example. This

makes his life good. The vitamins  he  took clearly  helped  him  heal

faster from the  Guilliam  Barre,  and helped  keep  the  damaging side

effects  of  chemotherapy  to  a minimum  while  he was dealing with it. The

things we do,  we  do because they are good things- they carry their own

blessings with them. I truly hope that in seeing how good our lives were,

other people  learn  that this is a fruitful way to live. And  if  not,

well,  we reap benefits ourselves enough to justify  living  like this.

But, as so often, I wax philosophical. The circle gave  me another

opportunity  to do so, and I took advantage  of  it.  We spoke  to

AElfwine,  and of him.  I  distributed  white  peacock feathers  to  each

of the people in the circle,  and  we  shared apples and goats milk cheese

and limeade. We burned scenes of the Pennsic House, and tools and food and

silver. We burned jerky and cheese and apples, and milk and honey. We’ll

have another  circle at  the SCA Funeral games, and another at Samhain. Then

I  think we’ll  leave him alone except for Samains in the future.  I  miss

him terribly, but he’s got other things to do now.

 

FUNERAL GAMES

We  chose  the  day and started  telling  people  about  the Funeral  Games

and Feast on the weekend of the 19th  on  Monday. Within  36  hours we

already had 36 people who’d said  they  were coming.  I figure we can seat

40 people comfortably, 50  tightly, up  to 75 if we do a buffet, and if we

go over 100 I’m  going  to have  to  get another hall. James and Janice are

coming  in  from California,  Maria and Charlie coming from Ohio,  Kami,

Michael, Honor  and Alex from Michigan, and Maven is trying to get I  ride

up  from Virginia. Who knows who else may be coming. Luckily  Ian says that

there will be overflow crash space in the Barony. We’ll do  another burning,

and have fighting, and singing, and we  plan to distribute a lot of

AElfwine’s stuff. I’d rather have it go to someone  who  wants it as a

remembrance, than just  go  into  the recycling  or  Golden  Key. Of course,

we are only  going  to  be giving away the things the family doesn’t want to

keep. I  figure I’ll provide a basic feast- about half what I’d usually

cook, you can’t keep people from bringing food to a funeral, and mead,  and

we’ll put out tape recorders and see how many stories of AElfwine we an

collect. I have promised faithfully to have all my part  of the  cooking

done by the beginning of the event so  that  I  can participate.  (This is

going to be a challenge.) But  I’m  really looking forward to it.

 

NON FUNERAL STUFF

What else did we do this week? Well, I went to the  dentist- twice,

actually. Dr. Roy’s office hasn’t had a dental  hygienist for months, and he

finally got one (and she’s trying to work  her way  through  the backlog)

and of course, she found  some  decay. Luckily  they  were able to get me in

again on Monday,  and  I’ve finally got Dr. Roy trained so he’s willing to

work on me without anesthesia.  (He doesn’t like it though.) But it really

enhances the period after.

I got a message from a company called TDS who are apparently the  people who

got to take over Tellink after Draper got  caught and  lost Wilton Telephone

Company. The message was, you have  to do  the  conversion  thing  we sent

you or  you  will  lose  your internet  access by the end of the week. EEK!

Bad enough to  lose it at all, but not that week! So I called them, and they

switched me  over-  and  at least half of everything I  sent  out  started

bouncing.  Luckily, Steve and Allyn came up on Thursday and  dove into  the

innards of how the program worked and bailed  me  out. I’ve  talked to other

people in town and a lot of them  say  that once  they switched to TDS,

their service got slower. I may  have to  look for another internet server.

Darn. Tangent woman that  I am  I couldn’t help noticing that TDS sounds

like “tedious”  when their rep says it over the phone: “This is Tedious

Internet,  how can we help you?”

I  also got to try my hand at plumbing. When AElfwine  died, he apparently

left some psychic residue in the bathroom. I didn’t notice- I guess since

I’ve been going to the hospital so much  my shields are on high, but Kat

found the bathroom too uncomfortable to go in. I noticed this when I found

her washing her hair in the upstairs  since-  in cold water (the hot water

has  been  off  up there  for  a year, waiting for AElfwine to get  well.)

So  when Raven  was  here  on  Monday, I asked if  he  knew  any  clearing

rituals,  and he did one with the stuff we had on hand, and  both he and Kat

felt whatever it was left there go. At the same  time, he  found himself

sitting in a puddle. I’ve read about this  sort of  thing and it’s not at

all unusual for a departing  spirit  to break a mirror or window or clock,

but I never heard of one going for  the plumbing before. Come to think of

it, I have heard of  a LOT of haunted bathrooms- which makes sense in light

of what I’ve heard recently about the majority of people who die at home

dying in the bathroom. Llew says that as an EMT he’s had to take a LOT of

people out of bathrooms.

With  a fair number of people coming on Saturday,  I  wanted the  sink  to

be  working so I called  plumbers.  Most  of  them couldn’t  come on such

short notice, and one that said  he  could said that it would be $36 just to

have a guy come out and give me an  estimate. “OK”, I asked, “give me a HINT

as to what  kind  of money  we  are talking about once he gets here? Over

an  hundred dollars?”  “Well,  you can’t get ANYTHING repaired  for  under

a hundred.”  “Then don’t bother coming.” says I, and crawled  under the sink

to try and see what was going on. What was going on  was that  someone-

probably my dear husband, had somehow made a  pipe that  really was two

inches shorter than it needed to be  stretch by being at a precarious angle.

I went out and bought a new  trap for $7, and fixed it myself. (I hope.)When

Raven and Joe were here I also dumped a whole  lot  of the leftover

medical supplies on them. They told me stories about some  of the dumb

people tricks they’ve seen at the events  Raven hosts  on his land. (I

wonder what sort of insurance HE  has  for those  events?) I think it will

be useful for them to  have  some extra  gauze  pads  and  tape  and

alcohol  wipes  and   gloves. Apparently  the average modern american

shouldn’t be  allowed  to camp without a babysitter.

 

I’ve  been  talking  to Willow every few  days-  she’s  been having  a

pretty good time, considering. The other  day  she  e-mailed me that she’d

fallen overboard in three layers of wool and her  leather boots, and when

she managed to climb back in  again, the  first  thing Megan did was to take

her  picture  (in  thirty pounds  of  wet  wool)  rather than helping  her

out  of  it.  I sympathize,  but  I can understand the motivation.  They

thought about  going  to  Stonehendge  for the  Equinox,  but  the  train

connections  were  against  them so they decided  against  it.  I figure

that that was lucky, because I think the High  Holy  Days are  NOT  the days

to go visit Stonehendge. I think  the  inmates would be running the asylum

those days.

 

POLITICS

Finally,  I’m going to say it again. I know that  the  polls say  that Bush

has an approval rating around 80%, but I flat  out don’t   believe  it.

While  most  people  are  concerned   about terrorism,  and  believe  the

Middle  East  to  be  a  dangerous situation  that could easily become a

threat to us, I  think  the people  designing  the polls are asking the

questions  in  a  way designed  to get positive but not accurate responses.

I have  yet to  speak  to anyone who really supports the Bush  Doctrine.

I’d like to see someone try to make that fly in a court of law. “Your

Honour,  I  knew the guy was armed and he didn’t like  me,  so  I killed

him.  It was self defense.” Yeah, sure. And we’ve  got  a great  country

with a carefully designed system  of  checks  and balances- the congress is

supposed to hold the purse strings.  No WAY  should the president be given

that power- I don’t care  what the   circumstances  are.  PLEASE,  write

your  senators,   your representatives,  whoever-  let them know that not

everyone  who loves  America and hates terrorists thinks that this  gives

Bush the  right to turn America into the Amerika that  the  terrorists have

been claiming that we are. I am waiting for the ground swell of  resistance

from  the  Americans  who  really  do  understand freedom.  I don’t think

we’ve gotten so fat and lazy that we  are ready  to  give away our rights in

exchange for  the  promise  of safety.  One of the last things that AElfwine

did was to vote,  I believe that there are enough good people out there to

make  this happen,  but  we can’t wait for other people to do it.  It  seems

hard,  but it’s so much easier for us to just write  and  utilize the

freedom we have than to have to sneak out in the  middle  of  the  night  to

secretly try to claim freedom  that  other  people don’t  and only wish they

had. I don’t think we could  have  lost that much in so few years.

 

 

 

PHILOSOPHY

When  I  wake up in the morning I try to start  the  day  by thinking  of

good things. (So recently I’ve  stopped  using  the radio  as  an  alarm

clock- the way  that  news  concentrates  on problems makes it hard to look

at the good parts of life.) It  is easy  for  me to think of good things

from the sound of  my  farm outside to the feel of my wonderful bed beneath

me, to the  sight of  my beautiful daughter beside me. I’ve been trying to

get  her to try to think good things when she wakes up too.

 

I am happy. Life is good.

I feel blessed. I will get what I need.

 

These  are not affirmations that I say to make them  happen, these are

descriptions of how my life works. People compliment me for  doing well

under stress, and say I’m virtuous. I don’t  feel virtuous,  I feel lucky.

Virtue you have to work at. (Is  THAT  a yankee work ethic, or what!) Yet,

even when I work on being good, I  know  I only succeed because I have been

given  the  gifts  of understanding, empathy and internal strength- which in

turn arise from gifts of a happy home life and education my parents gave me,

and  intelligence,  health, and talent, which I  was  born  with- things I

certainly didn’t work to get; so taking credit for  them seems

inappropriate. These gifts are not a reason to  complement me, but are

rather obligations upon me to use them well. I  guess I  shouldn’t focus too

much on THAT part while trying to get  Kat to see the good things. Let her

get to that part later.

 

 

 

 

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