Dear Family, September 11, 2013
Most of this week has been fairly cool- I’ve put the big “bear blanket” back on my bed, and been looking forward to baking again (as soon as the pantry is re-organized!), but today it’s hot again. It’s nearly seven pm and it’s over 80º outside! Welcome to Fall in New England!
My mini garden is looking as if it were the end of summer- there are ears of corn swelling on my dozen plants, the rainbow chard has been providing us with at least one vegetable a week for over a month, and is delicious. I should have planted the radish and lettuce seeds deeper- the radishes have suffered from it, although they survived- the lettuce didn’t. The tomatoes and peppers are flowering. The squash and melons are spilling out over the margins and running across the area around them- as planned, but it is a pain to try to avoid stepping on them. Who know’s if any of them will produce before frosts come. I am not surprised that I’m seeing the results of planting late, and I’m seeing very clearly that I should have weeded more consistently. Now that I can recognize the datura, I see that there was a lot of it in the dirt I had delivered. The grass and lambs quarters I already recognized. Well, it’s doing its job of giving me some growing things to play with.
Surprise- the hollyhocks have bloomed. They were badly knocked about by the ladders and such getting the house painted, and have come in horizontally- leaning across the edge of the nasturtiums. At least I know they survived. I hope they’ll come back next year. (I seem to remember something about them being biennial- are they an older perennial variety or have they been coming back from dropped seeds?) The morning glories- the purple ones, have survived and continue to expand. If we had a trellis I think they would have crossed over the door. Flowers make me happy (when I don’t kill them, then I feel guilty).
This weekend we went to our first two Pagan Pride Days of the fall: Saturday was Manchester (Southern New Hampshire PPD), and Sunday was down by the cape (SEMAPPD). Willow packed up the van on Friday with John’s help, and we haven’t bothered emptying it this week as next Saturday is Eastern Mass PPD.
Friday night Willow went to a concert with some of her friends. They saw Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, and 21 Pilots. Raye had a handicap pass to be let in the side door so they didn’t have to wait through the long lines. Willow says that the 21 Pilots were good, and is going to look for their music from now on. I suppose that’s how concerts are supposed to work. Not surprisingly, she was a bit tired for selling the next day.
Luckily NHPPD is only in Manchester, only an hour away, and we only take an hour to set up, so we could leave at the luxurious hour of eight. Sadly, it turns out that they wanted to open at 9:30, not the usual 10, so we were late. Apparently Charles, who was organizing this year, likes electronic communication, so having posted this change on the Facebook page, he figured he was covered. Sorry. I’d also toyed with advertising CTCW with them, but am glad I didn’t because he decided not to have printed programs. I guess advertising would have all been on the website- but, … well, I’m glad I didn’t. Not having programs meant that everything (like the workshops) was announced on the broadcast system along with the performances. For example: “Deb Miller is in A under those trees, Kirk White will be over there in B by that building, and Tchipakkan is in C over under the trees on that side, and Kelliana is coming on at 11!”
Sadly, there were no signs showing where the areas were, much less seating. As you might guess, many people didn’t find us. After my 4 o’clock I came back to the shop and announced to the girls that no one had shown up, and a couple people who were shopping said “There was a workshop? Where was it? We couldn’t find it!”. (That one was especially confusing since the organizers had given me a list when we got there saying I was in C, but announced me in B.) They needed signs, and they needed programs. Poor Charles ran himself ragged, but it just didn’t work. This year the vendor fees went up to $50 per pop-up, and he’s talking about raising the prices again next year because he “has to” add a policeman.
This was our third year on the Manchester common, and I think now they know we are coming and we are being targeted by thieves. Several were caught- who knows how many weren’t. Also, they’re caught in a bad cycle- Veteran’s park is far more expensive than the UUChurch and other smaller, less out-there sites, so they put the price up. It’s very good to be out in public. The whole point of a Pagan Pride Day is not to get together with the other pagans, but to be out in public where other people can see us and learn not to be threatened. But last year there were two rows of vendors, this year there was one. They did put some across the front of the stage, but at the same time, this meant that with all that shared frontage on the grass in front of the stage, the backs of all the booths were exposed to the outer parts of the park. Last year we were back to back with outer facing vendors, and no one got in between.
There was also a small group of Christian kids telling everyone who went to the public toilets that they were going to burn, and did they know they were going to Hell (“yes, I like Hel”), etc. This is what happens when you are in a public place. I also don’t think that any thieves are going to be deterred by one officer wandering around a whole park. I do, however, think that we are going to lose vendors if the fees go up to $70-80 each. Willow already doesn’t want to go. Usually a public venue means more money, but we didn’t even make our average amount, and while I like to support the project, this may not be the best way. I do want to mention one new and very cool thing they did this year. There was a panel discussion about paganism. The participants were the local UU Chaplain (who’s name I missed), Kirk White (Wiccan priest, Mason), Deb Miller (medium, background Catholic), Cei Serith (scholar of Indo-European religious history, and Mike Smith (Heathen). This gave a lot of different perspectives, and was very much in line with what I think PPDs should be about.
My scheduled classes were on Dowsing, Herbalism, and Sacred Art. The first two were put in the children’s area- the Herbalism WAS aimed at kids and their parents, and I did attract one lady who was interested. Frankly, the kids were far more interested in gluing glitter and colored feathers on wooden “wands” than listening to anything I had to say. The kids area was set up for pre-schoolers, not the young people my talks are designed to reach. I think Dowsing got put there because it was called Dowsing Games, which is my attempt at making a new skill un-threatening. I showed the pendula and bobbers and other toys I’d brought to the nice folk running the kids area, but I was rather depressed that I hadn’t gotten much by way of audience. We also got a bit dehydrated, so we stopped on the way home and got a lot of drinks so that the next day we had enough.
Southeastern Mass PPD is down near the cape, and so we had to be out at 7, ouch. It was a lovely day, and I had a wonderful time, and well attended workshop (what kind of divination is best for what kind of question?). I also had some lovely talks with several people, and SEMAPPD provided me with at voucher for lunch. The food vendor was the same at both PPDs- Asad I think- wonderful all natural middle eastern food. I hope to see more of him. We missed hearing Featherscale playing, but Chris LaFond played and Keliana, and I was very pleased that they didn’t set the volume up so that the vendors couldn’t talk to their customers. Willow went around both markets, as the merchant liaison, asking people to come sell at CTCW. She’s probably not as excited about it as I am, but then again, she’s probably also less likely to warn them off. I’m always worried that vendors might not make good money at my event. We really like Southeastern Mass PPD, even though it’s at a camp and not out in public. Last year the restrooms in the clubhouse were being renovated and we had to shlep all the way out to the football field to use those privies. This year there were the lovely new ones. Yay! They also had a playground behind us (the swings squeeking sounded like some odd bird-cry), and we took a moment to play on their “jungle gym” before leaving.
On the way back home we stopped at a Chinese Buffet and had a lovely meal, (we didn’t get out until after six, and I’m not sure the girls actually ate anything but a hot-dog each). Buffet’s are tricky, you have to watch carefully to make sure you don’t over-eat “to make sure you get your money’s worth”. Willow filled up on sushi, and I like to try anything I haven’t seen before. This time they had some shrimp stuffed peppers- very pretty, and tasty, but the peppers were not jalepeños as I was expecting, they were MUCH hotter. I had one bite, Kat had one bite, and we left the final bite on the plate. I was SO happy that I had a couple of the crab rangoons (filled with cream cheese) ready to put my mouth out!
It was long weekend! Willow was also finishing two blanket commissions (she sent one off this morning). Monday and Tuesday we spent mostly recovering- although Willow did finish the second blanket, and cut out more pieces. Sadly, Monday was marred by a stressful email conversation between Willow and a customer. At NH PPD someone who’d bought Willow’s dresses and scarves before came up from behind and grabbed Willow by the shoulders to say hi. I’m sure she had no clue that there was anything wrong with it. But as I’d mentioned, we were all feeling like our backs were exposed, and Willow has spent years explaining to people that you don’t touch Kat without permission, so this “surprise touch” was not welcome. Willow screamed, and told her that it was inappropriate, but that seems to have hurt her feelings. She wrote Willow to tell her that she’s never going to buy from us again, and going to ask all her friends not to as well. I think it was made worse because Willow didn’t recognize her, and she felt that she should have been recognized. One has to wonder why someone would write to tell you that they are upset enough to try to harm you financially. What was it that hurt her so much that she had to “strike back” like that? I know I hate it when people don’t remember me (although it doesn’t happen as often as I don’t remember others). All I know is that Willow cried a lot, and we all felt awful about it. There is no good advice you can give in a situation like that. Then Tuesday I know I felt headachy and hungover, and could hardly drag myself around. Then at 10 pm I checked my email and discovered I’d totally missed a speaking engagement I’d made back at the Dowser’s Conference. I was supposed to speak at a chapter meeting, and they even sent me a reminder on Sunday, but I didn’t check my email until Tuesday night. I feel awful about that! I guess I’ve just taken on too much and should try to divest myself of some of the stuff I’m trying to do, but that’s not a skill set I have!
I’ve been sorting the dishes into the new pantry shelves. Actually it’s a lot of fun. Now that I’ve got so much in there, I spend a LOT of time re-arranging. “The serving dishes need to go above the plates and glasses, so we have to move these things to make room for this latest batch I’ve found.” I’ve got a large collection of “I guess I can part with this” pieces. When you have 7 cake stands, you can give one up without much pain. I rarely make multiple cakes at a time any more. I’m sorting out my tupperware/plastic storage dishes, and getting rid of a lot of them. I am thinking about getting rid of some of my flatware- I have four sets, none of them full. It would be nice to have one full matching set, but I don’t think that’s in the cards. It’s not like you can turn what’s left of one set in for another pattern.
We are loving the new organization I’m making. It’s wonderful to be able to go in and know that pitchers are here, and condiment dishes are there, etc. Because the refrigerator is in there, it’s easy to grab a glass and get a drink without taking the entire pitcher or bottle of whatever out. I think the same will be true with leftovers and plates. I’m thinking of putting the microwave in there to make grabbing lunch would be easier without wandering around to assemble it. Because of the available counter-space and many plugs, when we made pulled pork last week, I had the crock-pot on the counter in the pantry. I can see several of our counter-top appliances migrating in there. If we got a small sink put in there as well, it would make it easy to prepare salads, and other things that come from the `fridge. Willow already suggested that she work in there where the limestone slab is when doing herbals- all she’d need is a hotplate. A common macro that goes around fb is a picture of the hobbits Pippin and Merry saying “We’ve had one, certainly, but what about second -breakfast-?” with breakfast replaced by weekend or whatever other thing people crave. Every time I see that, I think of the pantry and think: “… but what about second kitchen?” It would be frightfully useful for some things. Meanwhile, I’m ALMOST done sorting all the bins and boxes from the living-room, and expect to have it unburied soon. I’m not really sure I’m going to be able to get the back hall emptied any time in the near future, and it is very disorienting to not have it sorted out yet.
It’s like the old pantry and new pantry are superimposed on my mind both taking up the same space. I go to put something away and either it’s a great joy to have a place for it- or a great pain to not know where it’s going to go yet. Same when I’m looking for something, I know where it WAS, but not where it is now. I cannot tell you how often I’ve headed for the china-closet to get something or put something away, only to spot the wall where the door used to be, and isn’t any more. Very disorienting!
Friday, Kat designed new business cards to pass out for CTCW, and helped me with that, and other computer stuff. Tried to watch Witch Hunter Gretl (since the new Hansel and Gretel Witchhunters was fun) but it was so bad I couldn’t watch more than a half hour. I am still working my way through Babylon 5 again. What an excellent show it was!
This week I watched what I expected to be a silly zombie movie called The Revenant. The first part was as the trailer had suggested, a couple of “ordinary guys” dealing with one of them having come back from the dead. Since he was already dead, and was a nice guy, he became a vigilante, fighting the street criminals who get away with it because they shoot people. Toward the end though, they dealt with more serious questions like what he missed not being alive, food, and having a nice hot shower, and being up during the day. (They went along with the usual vampire type rules. He had to drink blood to keep from decomposing.) Sadly, it turned out that that passed on the problem, and at the end he was just looking for a way to kill himself for good. Also, at the end the military rounded up all the “infected” victims and dropped them in the Middle East to go kill whoever were the bad guys this time. BRILLIANT idea, make the bad guys into unstoppable killing machines. What genius came up with that one? I was looking for something funny, and ended up with something depressing. Feh.
It went along with the material in The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind by Claude Lecouteux, which I just finished, and his next book Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages, that I’m reading now. I think I “fan girled” about him last week, so I don’t have to go on here. I’m also reading E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout, although it’s not as much fun. I like the “try this” approach, although in one of the exercises, in trying to prove that you are more likely to notice what you’re looking for (duh!) she suggests you look for “sunset beige” cars. This would have been a heck of a lot easier if I had any idea what color “sunset beige” was. Eventually, I looked it up. It seems to be a term for the muted gold colored cars that are popular these days (if it’s a car, if not, it’s a warm pink. Go fig.) More and more I am finding myself to be a very opinionated old biddy.
You may not have quite gotten how very much a Dr. Who fan Kat is from my letters, but she is. Some of the older episodes haven’t survived except in audio, and Kat got one The Lady of Mercia, to which I’ve been listening. It is, as one would expect, a fun story, and since it’s audio only, there is no problem with the early and inexpensive special effects that are a mark of early Dr. Who shows. Sadly, it’s not unlike watching some History Channel shows- they refer to the Lady of Mercia (daughter of Ælfred the Great, and one of my favorite English leaders) as Æthelfrid, and I know her as Æthelflæd, so that dissonance throws me off every time they say it. They also keep referring to her as a queen, which she wasn’t- that’s WHY she was “The Lady of Mercia”. It would also be easier for me if I had a clear idea of what Tegan, Nyssa, and Turlough looked like, but I haven’t seen much of the fifth Doctor.
We used the “drop on the back of the neck” flea treatment on the cats again last week. I am a bit nervous about anything so strong, but I remember the misery of the last flea infestation while we were resisting it, and have to hope it’s not doing any damage to their immune systems. We’re also using eyebright on Smokey’s eye,
Looking back at last week, I’ll say that Willow came through her two root canals with far less stress than we’d expected. I spent the week trying to make soft foods so she wouldn’t have to chew, but chewing wasn’t so much a problem as just opening her mouth was. Having had it open so long, the stretched muscles were sore. I think using the arnica helped too.
You may remember my sister Liz fell down a stone wall several months ago. Her injured hand isn’t healing as well as it should, and I suggested she might try arnica against the swelling, and she found a version of it that does seem to be helping. Now she’s on the “let’s see what we have to do to fix the stuff that didn’t heal right after the first operation” ride, as well as the “insurance companies don’t like it when you actually file claims” bit. I’ve often said, all I need to do to feel lucky is look at other people’s lives!
It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil.” ~ Friedrich A. Hayek