9-30-2015 Hobbit Week

It is raining. The rain started Tuesday, and I understand that it’s going to keep raining for a week. The weather has been lovely, bright and cool, although I haven’t gotten out nearly enough to enjoy it. I expect that this is going to be the week after which we begin to see the color really come out in the trees. Then I expect a week of hot Indian Summer weather, after which we will take the screen door down and take the cover of of the woodstove. Until then, I guess we’ll wear sweaters this week.  Sadly, the rain started before the cooler weather came in and the first day it was really hot and sticky. Of course that was when I realized I’d gotten behind on the laundry, had I collected it the day before, I could have hung the clothes out.
Last Thursday John and I went to over to Marks, where we decided to start by taking some of the stuff out of his inner locker, because I don’t think we can fit much more in from the outer locker until we do. He decided that a lot of the old electronic equipment, computers, printers, etc. (mostly Bruces) while they may have been functional when put into storage, probably won’t integrate with any current stuff, so might as well go. He also had saved several boxes in which TVs, and computers were packed- with the right foam protection. There’s a logic to that, it’s the best way to protect them if you ever move, but since he will probably not ever leave his condo, he decided to chuck those. Luckily they are light, unluckily they are big, and took up a lot of space. On the other hand, we called the locker consolidation off early as he wasn’t feeling well (although he felt better after sleeping for a while). That’s good, because he was going down to a birthday party  for his uncle who was turning 90 on Saturday. I assume he did make that. The only other thing we cleared out was a metal lathe Bruce had had. Ælfwine would have loved it, but I was also stopping at Dennis’ on the way home to pick up a book and Sussy was there. She’s a jeweler, and had always wanted a metal lathe, so getting it to someone who’d actually use it seemed to me a very good thing, and we passed it along to her.
Friday I continued trying to get the schedule for the con done before the end of Doug yeagerSeptember. I started working on that more than a week before. I keep forgetting how hard it is. Then Willow pointed out that the car was full of electronics and boxes, and we had to pack the car for the Western Mass Pagan Pride Day. She and John took out the stuff, just stacked it in the driveway because it was good weather and packed for the event. Meanwhile I tried to make a new poster for the Con that let people know that we are going to have a concert. This PPD is actually in the same town as the con’s going to be in, and I think there may be interest. Doug, who’ll be doing Security and operations for us, offered to take 50 posters and put them up for us. Wonderful, but I thought we should have ones with the concert info on it. Kat came to my rescue and put together the new Poster. When I’d been trying to do it, the printer was being recalcitrant, so I took Kat’s advice and we ran off to Staples as soon as she was done and had 100 copies run off- I think they look fantastic! If people don’t come for the concert I’ll be surprised!2015CTCW concertposter
This freed me up to get to the part where I wrote the name of each class and speaker on 2×2 stickies, different colors for classes on healing, on divination, on spiritual practice, on manifestation and magick. The next step was to look in the Database and see how long each class was (the chart is 2 inches per hour, so I add stickies to show whether the class goes an hour or 90 minutes or whatever. The last bit is when I take rulers and put them across each row for each of the speakers to make sure I haven’t scheduled them against themselves. But that comes later. I also did about five loads of laundry at the same time. Have you stopped recently to consider how wonderful it is that you don’t have to scrub your clothes on a board by hand and boil them the way our grandmothers did? Hurray for washing machines!
Nicely prepped, we got up at oh dark thirty  (OK, 7:30) and headed down toward Northampton Massachusetts. I’d been thinking if we gave ourselves a bit over two hours, we’d be there by 10. But I forgot the hour to set up. Thank goodness Willow remembered!  I have been having more trouble with memory and concentration lately, and it’s very inconvenient!
We have done better at Western Mass PPD before, apparently the vendor organizer switched in mid project and they ended up with too many. I’m jealous because we are having trouble getting enough for the con. A lot of it probably has to do with $30 per space vs $130 per table (and reg). This time our back was to the road which was a bit uncomfortable for the girls. Since it wasn’t going to rain, we didn’t bother with the second pop-up so we ended up sitting outside the tent- luckily there was a tree, and Kat always carries a huge sunhat in her bag.DSC02134

I had a workshop at 1 on Heathenry. They’ve decided that since it’s a PPD, rather than just random esoteric workshops, they’re going to have at least one workshop each on Wicca, Heathenry and Paganism. They also had buttons identifying people who were willing to talk about what it means to be a pagan, a heathen or witch (which they collected at the end to reissue next year). I spent almost all the time wandering from booth to booth, passing out posters and business cards to every one and urging them to come to the con. Next to us was Sha Stafford, who won’t be making it this year as she’ll be in Hong Kong! (wooo!) So I didn’t get to talk to her much. I felt like just about everyone knew me. I’d just seen on fb that Mary Leavitt, one of the ladies who served on ambulance for decades here in Lyndeborough (I think who came when Willow was born) died, and her memorial service was Saturday. Maybe I’m like her. I have been trying to speak more slowly when I teach, but I get excited and not only speak too fast, but also too often forget to finish my sentences- or thoughts as I constantly go off on tangents. People seem to enjoy it though.
So I passed out a LOT of business cards and posters, and it sechris lafondems like a lot of people have heard of the con, so I’m hopeful that we’ll get more folks to come this year. Remembering the letter, I had packed the camera, but totally forgot to use it until we were mostly done packing out! So the picture is of a nearly empty pop-up and stacks of bins. But that’s a view you’ve rarely seen, so why not? Chris and Katie LaFond performed at this one too, and they’ve agreed to come and do a concert on Friday, so we have TWO concerts this year! (Psyched!) He dedicated the song Dumb ways to Die to the “lovely ladies at Cabochons”, since he’d noticed them rocking out to it at Southeastern Mass Pagan Pride, and he must have great vision because he noticed Willow wince when he changed the words from “Dress up a like a moose during hunting season” to “rutting season” (I winced too). He and Katie also sang the Lava song (from the short before Inside Out), with the result that it has been going through my head EVER SINCE THEN!DSC02135
On the way home, we stopped for supper at Friendly’s, then got gas, and saw a really interesting atm. For no apparent reason it’s imbedded in a large, fantastic tree. We have no idea why.

Sunday John emptied the van, and refilled it with Marks stuff, and because he’s more organized than I am, we managed to get there before they closed (11:30 on Sundays). Mark got away with only having $40 to recycle all those electronics.  The rest of the day was eaten up with little things, like refilling the vitamin boxes, advancing the pocket Calendar, and, well starting on cleaning the fridge. I am afraid it got away from me, and there was rather more slime in the produce drawers than I should admit to. I fear I was blaming it on John because he makes the salad every night, and I think he prefers to just grab some spring mix rather than investigating what needs to be used up. So I wanted him to do it, and kept putting it off. Finally Kat got disgusted and she took them out to the compost. I suppose everyone has to find time to attend to these little housekeeping chores. I hate how much time these little jobs take. While doing them I watched the end of Orlando- yup, nice costumes, no noticeable plot, and Black Death, a rather depressing historical piece with not even costumes to recommend it.
Aside from the refrigerator, it’s not like the jobs are onerous. I actually think that most of the reason I don’t care for them is that they take me away from getting things done. I spent way too much time transferring the media library from old Changing Times-Changing Worlds site to the new CTCW site. A couple times recently I haven’t been able to get to the old site and I’m really worried that we’ll lose a lot of information if it ever goes away permanently. I grabbed all the ones that I’m sure are OK to use. I didn’t bother with the ones where the usage rights aren’t open.
This week I also transferred a LOT of the class descriptions for the workshops we’ve had over the past five years. I’d already lifted the whole pages for Speakers, Workshops, Panels, and Vendors, but a lot of the descriptions were abbreviated on the combined pages, and the links on those copied pages won’t work because they link to the “closed” site. So it’s a lot of stupid secretarial stuff, but if the site is going to have the information it’s supposed to have, it must be done. Brian is the web master, but he’s there to tell me HOW to do the stuff, not do the scut work. I have to admit this page-by-page copying is a pain in the butt. The theory is that this style of site has features that are better for what we need than the old one. For example this one will, in theory, let us post and sell mp3s of our recorded workshops. But I still don’t know how to do that, and Brian is so busy he hasn’t had time to show me.DSC02139
As I think I mentioned last week, Sunday night was the Full Blood Super Moon with eclipse! (Maybe Full Super Harvest Blood Moon, but I think the Harvest goes with the September full moon, and the Blood is because of the eclipse, and the Super is when it’s at it’s closest to the Earth.) Anyway, we were really psyched because although lunar eclipses are a lot more frequent than solar eclipses, over the last several times, we’ve always had cloud cover and missed them. This time it was clear, so we got to see it. From around 8:30 to midnight we kept going out and looking and it was as cool as we’d hoped. As the eclipse neared total, the moon did start looking red! It was really cool, just like the movies (where I’d always assumed the special effects were exaggerated). DSC02141On the other hand, even at its closest, the moon is really just a small spot in the sky. I discovered that when you zoom in the smallest movements of the camera are very noticeable- so no good pictures. This first is not zoomed, so you can imagine how small it is when it shrunk farther. The second I zoomed- and got a reddish smear. My memory will have to serve. (As the next one isn’t due for another 18 years!) A lot of other people got really good pictures though- even if you missed it. Because of the internet we know a lot of people did have clouds.
And we got some good news- Gillian has her first grand child! I am so happy for her and my old lady hormones are all jealous! On the other hand- all those vitamins I’ve been taking have had an effect. The nail that’s been splitting at the bed for the past four years isn’t doing that any longer. I didn’t mention it because I was sort of afraid to jinx it, but it seems to have healed. Yay. Also, my hair’s longer than it’s ever been, but the nails were what was bothering me. I also got a call from Kitty- she was up at the lake closing up. I’m glad the girls got up in August, I didn’t make it at all this year.

Monday I worked harder to get the con schedule done before the end of the month, and got distracted by new classes coming in. This always happens. I am not surprised, but I REALLY wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. The biggest problem is the panels. I can’t make sure that a speaker isn’t against something else he or she is doing until I know everything she’s doing, and they don’t sign up for the panels until the descriptions are posted and excite them. Except that sometimes, the description doesn’t attract any panelists, so I come up with different ideas, and keep trying until we have at least three on each panel. We are aiming at fifteen and currently have about 8, and a like number with one person who has asked to be on it (and a dozen other options with no one). With Arisia, people are competing to get on panels, but then they’ve got thousands of attendees. We have dozens (so far). And it’s true that a lot of people really are more interested in being audience than the person talking. So far I have yet to come up with a way to convince myself to just post panel descriptions and hope that someone shows up to be on them.  I’d personally love to be on a discussion about how our beliefs about what life and death are result in things like opposition to abortion or whether you can know what God wants results in Kim Davis and Dylann Roof. I worry that some flakey group might find the panel description then and flood the internet with stupid stories about us. I personally don’t believe that all publicity is good publicity. Once on the internet, mistakes stay there forever and no one seems to recognize the difference between the truth and a mistake, only whether it fits into their own world view.
Tuesday I heard from Jane. After chasing the hotel manager and sales/events representative for about ten days, she caught them and they admitted that the desk clerks were indeed telling our people that they couldn’t get rooms around the C atrium where they’d promised us they’d put our block. They’ve decided to renovate the rooms, and are gutting that block during the weekend we are there.
Oh, swell. I am, of course, reminded of the last time we were at the Clarion, where on the day we arrived we were told that our vendor room was going to be renovated, so they were putting us in the ballroom instead. It was SO frustrating to pass this empty and unused (right sized) room that they “couldn’t” let us use, while a handful of vendors rattled around the ball room looking pathetic. And they didn’t tell us until that day. When did they find out? I am sure that’s why Jane couldn’t get in touch with them. They’ll give us the rooms UPSTAIRS, and the ones already booked. Darn. Jane has been telling me to book ours all summer and I figured a couple months in advance would be enough. I am just trying not to generate any negative energy that will attract worse outcome.
She also discovered that while she had called them (in July?) to cancel the ball room- when we decided to have a smaller con this year, they didn’t cancel the rooms- except for one they rented to a church group for Sunday. I am not sure how they can claim that they didn’t cancel it when they rented it out, or that they can claim that they did but now tell us we’ve still got it. I told Jane to get a copy of the new agreement so we can check it over! I understand that a lot of it is simply that probably corporate doesn’t talk to local, and sales doesn’t talk to staff, but damn! I am finding trusting them very difficult!
Wednesday I got a treat. Morgan brought Ruby up again. If she takes her morning nap and her early afternoon nape in the car, she sleeps better, and her waking hour and a half I get to talk to him and make stupid faces at her. In the last couple of weeks she has gotten her first two teeth! It is such a joy to talk to Morgan about almost everything. He actually does research and is into history, science, psychology, and just about everything.
When he left, I talked to Jane about the hotel again, wrote down everything I thought she should confirm, and then was about to call and reserve my room when the power went out. We never found out why, and it came on again in about an hour. Luckily it was the middle of the day and I was able to work on the stickies chart, and cleaning the bathroom. The girls were gone all day- up to VT to get acupunctured. On the way home they stopped for some “fuzz therapy” at the animal shelter. Still no black, white or yellow kitten for us. When the power came back I dove into the database to try to extract the information of when the speakers were arriving (important for scheduling their classes). The problem is that the db is a chart 34 classes deep, and 25 columns of “important” information wide. The bar that lets you slide the rows side-to-side disappears off the bottom when I go up 7 rows, so I have to expand the window beyond the edges of the computer and try to slide it over- without losing my place so I know who said what. I got in touch with Brian while he was on his commute. There he was on a bus with only a tablet trying to figure out what I was describing in messages, when I don’t really speak computer, and don’t know what to look for when he tells me. It was really pathetic. He said to print it out, but one way I tried it, it came out with all the information divided by commas, with no way to tell which column the yeses and nos were in. Even when I figured out how to print it in a chart, it was still spread across 8 pages- and even those didn’t print the whole contents of each cell. I assume that with some combination of hardware, software and expertise, one can get the information out of this database, but I really have no idea how *I* am going to manage it! What is the point of collecting all the information if you can’t get at it‽
Clearly, you saw part of the result of my frustration- I didn’t get to writing this letter. (I was still trying to get the schedule done by the end of the month!) I’m afraid that I’m also skating a bit too close to being stressed into depression again. There are physical clues aside from mood and mental symptoms. Here I am, trying to put on a conference all about spiritual health and mind/body connection, and I feel that I am supposed to know how to deal with stress like this, but like just about all my other friends, I’m just getting by. One thing facebook does is to let me know how many of my friends are dealing with even worse stuff than I’ve got to handle- parents and husbands dying, loss of jobs, major diseases, I wouldn’t really feel comfortable venting to someone who had it so much worse. Folks over on the west coast have lost homes to the forest fires, coming back to ashes and one or two savable statuettes. I am so lucky in so many ways, I don’t want to gripe- (except about people who are being nasty. I’m comfortable griping about them.)ISIS I AM
My guest on the New Normal last night was Genise White who had three funerals to go to last week. We briefly talked about funeral and grieving customs, but then went into a much nicer discussion about the Fellowship of Isis and the neo-Khemetic (Egyptian) spiritual movement.  I was a bit nervous about asking her about Rick Riordan (who wrote the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) Kane series about kids linked to Egyptian Gods and magick. Luckily, she didn’t think it was too frivolous, she liked it too! And while using the internet to look up the character names, I discovered the first book in his new series with the Northern pantheon is coming out this month (and pre ordered it!). I also found a short story with a cross-over between the Greek and Egyptian series- which I’ll be reading just as soon as I send this off!

I am reading the book Megan suggested. Since I’d hoped for more than I got in the Then and There book Roads and Canals, I am thoroughly enjoying Ramlin Rose. This is the story of a canal boat woman from the start of the 20th century named Rose Ramlin- there were apparently a lot of Roses in her circle of relatives. I picture her as a contemporary of my Grandmothers. I’m really enjoying it, and drawing it out by only reading a chapter a day- except when the story compels me to keep reading, like when her father had a stroke. There’s a lot of dialect, as I think the author interviewed a lot of boat women and this is sort of a very realistic composite fictional biography. Fascinating culture, I can see why Megan is drawn to it. (Currently Megan seems to be collecting wheelchairs for Syrian refugees.)
I’m also reading The Earth the Gods and the Soul: a history of Pagan Philosophy, from the Iron Age to the 21st Century. I’ve spent a great deal of my life avoiding Philosophy because it seemed pretentious, but now that I’m learning about it, it’s fascinating. I’m also listening to the audio course Odyssey of the West a classic education through the Great Books: II From Athens to Rome to the Gospels.  In the first, I’m up to Thales of Miletus a pre-Socratic mathematician, and in the latter, I’m up to Plato. It goes really well with washing dishes. I don’t have to try to catch what’s going on on the video, and it’s a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. Although I’m getting the impression that if I spent much time with Socrates, I’d want him to drink hemlock too. He sounds like a real jerk. I’ve dipped into Witchcraft Historiography, which, as it sounds, is a book about what’s been written about the history of witchcraft. While many people in the neo-pagan movement were SO fascinated by the early modern witch trials/witch craze, they were so clearly NOT about witches, but about social problems and religious weirdness, it’s another thing I’ve actively avoided. Let me read about witches and magick across history and cultures, don’t bother me with who got their neighbors burned at the stake for whatever stupid petty reasons stupid petty churchmen gave them excuses. Still, there almost certainly were magick users caught up in such a broad dragnet, and there may be something to be learned from it. I read the Then and There books on Ancient Rome and Roman Britain. It’s a great little series, I first encountered it in College in one on the Golden Age of Northumbria. I can’t say it’s as good as the Short Introduction series, but both are good to quickly learn the basics. These are just aimed at younger people and also, the series is old enough that I get a bit of nostalgia from some of the cultural assumptions being made. Free range kids for example. One of the things I liked was that when the cohort got to the Wall, the first thing the centurion did was to ask “What are the gods of this place?”. That’s a pretty huge concept to be teaching a bunch of 10 year old Church of England kids. Not only are they NOT assumed to be Christian, but the author seems to get the polytheistic world view. Of course, one would, taking the information from inscriptions that were left. But there’s no “of course, we know better, those poor damned souls” overlay either. I guess they figured either the kids or their parents could add that themselves at home if they wanted.
I STILL have that Lava song going through my head. According to the kids there are people out there who find it inappropriate because “why are they making it one male one female?” People will take their own crusade and find an excuse to be cross at anything!  I read one thing where a woman objected to the dead volcano regrowing. “What are we teaching our kids?” It should be enough that she heard his song and he inspired her, he shouldn’t NEED to be with her!  On the other hand, I probably graft my own craziness onto things I see. I have been following the connections that keep popping into my head as the song percolates, wondering if ukeleles are anywhere near to what the hawaiians made for themselves. We know darn well that the mumu, that we associate with the islands was not part of their culture, but forced on them by the missionaries, any more than fry-bread (no matter how delicious it may be) is a natural part of the Native American culture. It was done to them, and is a sign rather of the poverty into which they were forced. On the other hand, the horses (not originally part of plains indian, or ANY indigenous American culture became a part of the culture after the Columbian Exchange. Because of having been separated for millennia from the domestic large animals, at any point they came together there would be death- but then the culture that did develop is real. It is the way it has developed. It’s rather pointless to guess what might have happened if we’d been separated longer. (and why didn’t the Viking contact start the die off centuries earlier?) So many thoughts flow one to the next.
I am a fan of this Pope. I know a lot of Native Americans are cross because he made the Spanish Missionary into a saint, but I don’t think that if he didn’t directly subjugate the natives, you can hold him responsible for the fact that his culture was bad for them. I’ll have to look deeper, but I don’t think you can hold sharing his faith with them as repression. It’s hard to say when I don’t know the story, but I’m not going to automatically assume the worst because he founded missions and by and large missions were very bad for the Natives. We’re all psyched about them finding water on Mars. We’ve been talking about Banned Books, because it’s Banned Book Week. I love the conversations we have around our table- no sports and TV, but books, politics, philosophy, history, fashion, all sorts of stuff. My kids are smart. This week I watched the TED talk- Emotional Hygiene. I love the concept that we don’t teach emotional hygiene- what’s good for us, what we shouldn’t do, how to take care of our emotional health, etc. the same way we teach the basics of physical hygiene to kids. I guess it’s time to remediate ourselves (see the “sigline quote” I chose this week?) Finally, I really liked one of the Grandiloquent words this week: “Clinomania- excessive desire to lie down or to remain in bed”,  It occurs to me that like Johnny Five I am always seeking “input”.
Finally, this week the giggle on fb was that someone had circulated a warning that facebook was going to start charging, and not honour basic privacy protocols anymore. Yesterday my feed was full of various spoofs of this from “If you don’t copy and paste (not share) this, the Earth will fall into the sun, Zombies will eat your brains,…” and my personal favorite: “I HEREBY GIVE MY PERMISSION to the Police, CSIS, the FBI and CIA, the RCMP, the Swiss Guard, the Priory of Scion, the inhabitants of Middle Earth, Agents Mulder and Scully, the Goonies, S.H.I.E.L.D, The Avengers, The Illuminati, The Men in Black, Ghost Busters, The Justice League, Dr. Who, and even Mystery inc. (Scooby Doo gang), to view all the amazing and interesting things I publish on Facebook. I’M AWARE that my PRIVACY ENDED the very day that I created a profile on Facebook, I know that whatever I post can (and usually does) get shared, tagged, copied, and posted elsewhere because I’m THAT fascinating. If I don’t want anyone else to have it, then I don’t post it! DO NOT SHARE. YOU GOTTA COPY AND PASTE”

Ah well, the schedule stickies are still scattered on the sides of the boards- maybe tomorrow I’ll get it done. At least I got the letter out. Emotional Hygiene requires I do things (thinks) that make me feel good and successful. Maybe I’ll try doing Inktober again. No pressure.
(I just liked this image of the morning glories growing out through the shed roof over at Fitch’s.)DSC02132

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first. (if you know who said that, let me know)