9/26/2013 Comic Day

It’s been a quiet week. The weather has been crisp and cool. When I went out I discovered that the fall color has appeared as if overnight (did I not go out last week?). No it’s not “everything is gold and red”, but there are red and yellow trees glowing among the green, not just the occasional branch (I suspect those are damaged). I still haven’t gotten around to tying up the hollyhocks, so they are still blooming at ankle level. The morning glories are going strong, and the blue aster are blooming in the parts of the back yard that weren’t mowed this spring.
The apples are in, to the point that Dave over at the farm stand sometimes doesn’t get to collecting eggs. He can’t get or afford more help and is doing everything himself. I wish I could get John to go help him.
I have decided to try the low carb diet- not too extremely, I have an emotional need for that bit of potato beside my meat and salad, and when we had the Mabon Bread to celebrate the equinox, I had one (sacramental) slice. As I understand the theory, the carbs in your blood stream trigger the flow of insulin, and that processes fatty acids in your bloodstream into your fat cells, fat and protein don’t trigger that reaction, so that energy gets burned for food. (but then again, THINKING about food seems to trigger it too, which hardly seems fair. On the other hand, it would explain why when you let someone else feed you, you can lose weight, because you aren’t thinking about it.) It’s not too difficult, I can eat meat, most vegetables (avoiding peas, corn, and the other high starch ones) and I’m allowing myself enough carbs to have the occasional carrot, or tiny potato. DSC00562
To be honest, I do miss the sweets. Yesterday Kat was craving chocolate, so I made her a Coke Cake. It was the weirdest thing I can remember baking: you mix flour, sugar and marshmallows, then pour boiling coke, butter, and oil over them. They didn’t quite melt- I wonder if they were supposed to. And the recipe had me frost the cake while warm, which made a smooth covering (also chocolate- with coke in it). Before I frosted it, the top was covered with tan dots, where the unmelted marshmallows had browned. I was worried, but there doesn’t seem to have been holes created where the cake formed around them and they melted in. The kids tell me that it is very moist- and rich enough that it needs a scoop of vanilla ice-cream to cut it.DSC00563
On the other hand, I’ve never tried the Steel Magnolia’s cuppacuppacuppa cake (where the idea of ice-cream to cut the sweet came from) either. Willow and I discussed the people who “worship at the altar of sweets”. I like baking. People like my baking, and I aim at rich rather than sweet. I’m appalled when people put a cup of sugar in an apple pie. Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon sugar and call it good. Since it’s apple season they are tempting me. However, since a medium apple (I figure they mean what I’d call small, since I’m used to Cortlands), is down as 25 grams of carbohydrate, I may allow myself one slice a day, but not more. DSC00565
Drinking is harder to deal with, I’m good with soda water, but on a cold day, I like tea, and sadly I like it sweet, and 1 tsp has 6 g carbohydrate. A cup of milk has 12 g (more than half my daily allowance), juice, even watered, is also very “carby”, so I’m trying to figure out a way to make broth palatable.
I’m going at this as calmly as possible, not counting carbs so much as checking to see if something I want is going to use up the amount I’m aiming at for a day in one serving. I can have unlimited greens and salad, so it’s the stuff we usually use to fill us up- potatoes, rice, noodles, that have to be skipped. A potato or cup of rice or noodles is about 40 grams of carbohydrates, and I’m aiming for about half that to start, although I’m hoping to eventually be able to have that much occasionally. If I haven’t “broken” my metabolism by eating too much over my lifetime, the occasional indulgence (eating stew with potatoes in it, for example), may not cause me to gain the weight again. I was impressed by the honesty of the author who indicated that for some people, a lifetime of eating too many carbs had destroyed their metabolism and they really couldn’t ever hope to slim down. If that turns out to be the case for me, I’ll just switch to eating for nutrition and deal with it. At least I haven’t gotten diabetic, as so many of my friends have.
Great news, Mike has gotten out of the hospital! Someone posted the last scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, where the Chief triumphantly escaped. I’m sure after almost a month, he feels like that! I also heard from my friend Barak, we were talking about the old East Kingdom Songbook, (he has copies of all of them and is sending me scans, yay!); as he said, “it’s been ten years, let’s not wait that long again”.  It was great to talk to him. He’s managed to get his diabetes down to being controlled by diet, which I think is a win. I guess that’s the thing about having a lot of friends, they are just as dear to you, but you don’t have as much time to spend with them as you would if you only had two or three, even though you’d like to do it. Not enough hours in the day or days in the year!

This was an “off” weekend for us- the only commitment I had was to go to the leaders meeting for the Twilight Covening (coming up Columbus Day Weekend). They call it a 4 day ritual; I think it’s more like living in a monastery- you participate in a series or rituals, and the work you do between is designed to keep you in a spiritual headspace all the time. I like it because I get to teach things that take a long time to teach. I first did the “Moose Clan” with Jane, on herbs, then Snowy Owl, on Divination. I did Dolphin last year (with Sue), and this year I’m doing Forest Cat, on RúnValdr, again. When I do a RúnValdr weekend I plan 17 hours- but because of all the rituals included in TC, I “only” get about 10 hours to teach my thing, and have to slant it to work for the theme of that year. (I am bound to deep secrecy about what that theme is before it happens to maximize the impact for the people going through the ritual.) I am a little concerned that it’s held in a 4-H camp, and I’m still limping a little on my foot. Last year was SO magickal, I understand why they go to all that trouble.
But I can’t help resenting driving 3 hours each way to go to a three hour meeting. Yes, one does need to coordinate when there are 20 or more people working on one large project, but sometimes I get the feeling that the face to face meetings are simply so we can hold hands and “feel the circle”, rather than the logistics, which is pretty much handled via internet, or brainstorming, which may be what it’s really about. The woman sitting next to me had actually driven down from Maine the night before to attend, and I know people gather from NJ and even farther, but maybe it’s different if you’re combining the meeting with seeing old and dear friends. I like them enough, but we aren’t close, the way one gets with people you work closely with over long amounts of time.
It did give me six hours of listening to my latest audio course on human pre-history. Further on, we’ll get to the major pre-literate civilizations, but so far we’re talking evolution and cavemen. Did you know it’s banned book week? Yesterday on a list of banned books I discovered one that was banned because it talks about evolution. Horrors!
My observation is that when someone is convinced of something, whether it’s the “calories in-calories out” theory of weight management, or economic or political theory, or whatever, you can give them all the supporting arguments you want, and they still aren’t going to believe it if they aren’t open to it. So I don’t see that preventing kids from hearing about alternate religious or thought systems is going to be much of a risk. I think their insecurity shows a weakness in their certainty.

Sunday was the official fall Equinox (at 4:44). I don’t usually know when exactly it is, and it didn’t make a big difference for me. Our celebration is to have the Mabon bread (sweet saffron bread with almonds, apples, cherries, raisins, and apricots rolled in), and to blow the hunting horn out the door to welcome the Spirit of Fall/Winter. So many people make such a big to-do about Spring/summer coming, I’m not sure it isn’t simple perversity that leads me to do this to balance their excitement.

Last Thursday was Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I watched, or listened to, both the Treasure Island with Charlton Heston as Long John Silver (Christopher Lee as Blind Pew, Christian Bale as Jim, and Oliver Reed as Billy Bones; WONDERFUL cast!) and Muppet Treasure Island, also good. I also learned that there’s a version with Eddie Izzard as Silver, and while available to stream on Netflix, I’ve only watched the first few minutes. (It also has Donald Sutherland as a very evil Captain Flint, and Elijah Wood as Ben Gunn.) I am very much looking forward to watching it. Talk Like a Pirate Day may be silly, but it’s fun.
Kat black bustle skirt
Kat spent the week making a new skirt with miles (well, certainly yards and yards) of ruffles as a bustle. If you click on the link it should take you to her blog, which is mostly fashion. I was surprised that it was knee length, but she pointed out that it’s a loli. I tend to think of lolis as pink and lacy with cupcakes and bows, and that sort of decoration. I suppose this is goth loli. I was very pleased that she didn’t cripple herself making all that ruffle, and putting it on the skirt. Wow.tumblr_mtelqy15M11rrya97o3_250
Willow’s been making blankets, something she does a lot before a con. This year she is losing the 4 days preceding on a road trip with friends, so there’s a bit more pressure. She also went to the dentist again, as did I. He put a permanent filling over the root canal. Willow apparently has at least five visits to go before her teeth are caught up. Sigh.
John has been working on getting the barn ready for winter- off and on, anyway. I think he’s put more time on the wii. The living room isn’t really clear yet, but at least there’s room to get at the wii again. Willow does the yoga, I like the games- especially the flying bird one. John does the games too. I am REALLY tempted to get the Disney add on so I can have a Sully avatar.
I’ve been spending far too much time on the computer working on CTCW. I’ve been trying to drag the descriptions of their workshops out of my speakers so that I can make the schedule. Also, we have to choose which panels to do, and write up the descriptions, and find out who wants to be on them, because otherwise I could schedule them against themselves in two different things they’re doing. Big sigh. I also have to fight with the website, and while I’m getting better, I’m still not good at that sort of technology, and am constantly finding things I did badly (although this usually leads to improvement).
Another thing that makes this annoying is that one of the wheels on my chair is broken and keeps falling off. Very irritating. I don’t want to replace the whole chair just because one little piece is broken, but the modern world isn’t made to fix things.
But I can’t blame all the time I sit in the chair on CTCW, I get distracted, by Facebook, and the articles people share there, by trying to track my own life. Saturday I went through our Prince Valiant comic collection, most of which we acquired when we got Mark’s comics years ago, but we’ve been adding to them since, whenever a used one gets cheap enough. They have, I believe, 50 volumes and we have 30 of them. Not bad. I also (with help from John, thank goodness), updated my list of the DVDs we have. I’m not even going to try and list the VHS- at least until I have a lap-top to do it into directly. We’ve got about a thousand movies- this is not counting the TV shows, and I know we have about that many of the VHS, although I know there’s some overlap because we replace the ones we can when they become available.
I love movies. I love theater. There’s something about a dramatization that takes you out of yourself, and results in that  catharsis that the Greeks considered so sacred that attending the theater and participating in it was considered religious service. I get that. There are movies in our lives that make their point so well that it changes who we are. There are movies that mark various points in our lives, and call them back for us. I’m not saying that books don’t do that just as much. Theater, on the other hand, is available to the non-literate, and is so much an art form. Art moves our emotions, and movies make their point in 90 to 120 minutes (usually- I’m not entirely certain that that isn’t because people’s bladders last about that long.)
I won’t say that all of those movies are my favorites, sometimes I’ve gotten something that looked really good, but when I watched it it didn’t do anything for me. I can probably get rid of those. I’m in a “getting rid of” mood this year. Space is more important than keeping things around, and I’m getting good at chucking stuff that’s been kept so long that it’s not good anymore.
I mostly made the list to check, to avoid buying a second copy by accident if my copy was loaned out or in one of the kids rooms. (First world problem! Think about the idea not only of being able to watch your favorite movie whenever you want, at home, but that each person has the ability to watch it in his or her own room? Do we lose something by not sharing our enjoyment?) I also know that there are movies I keep for just one scene- the Town Hall scene in Field of Dreams, or Lemmon’s speech in It Happened to Jane. Sometimes people say things so well- Shakespere has a lot of those speeches- that you are uplifted each time you hear them.
So it’s worth the $5-$15 dollars to me (while our first movie was ET, back in 1984, and I paid $24 for it, most of this collection was acquired used or on discount). I have them to listen again, and again, when I want to catch that note of defiance, or joy, or hope. The exuberance of the “With Catlike Tread”  scene in Pirates of Penzance, or the scenes in musicals where everyone  in the street spontaneously burst into song and dancing. While it may not be up to “soft toilet tissue and good dental care”, movies are one of the best things in life. If you’re a psychological profiler, I bet you can tell a lot about me by the movies I have on my shelf, which is possible, because I put it on my Tchipakkan website.

Yesterday was Register to Vote Day, and I wasn’t surprised to get a phone survey (although I was a bit annoyed to be called at 9:30 at night- I think that’s too late). I also wasn’t surprised to have a hard time understanding the caller- so many of these surveys are outsourced to India and Pakistan where it’s cheaper, and I don’t feel I should give them a hard time about their English when I can’t speak any of their languages. But I did have to ask him to repeat questions several times. It bugged me a lot that he slipped a Ma’am into about every sentence. The weird thing about this survey was that after running through the  usual what do you think of the governor, senator, representative… they then went to a series of questions which they did inform you “may or may not be true”, to which you were supposed to respond whether it would make you more or less likely to vote for the person if you heard it. I don’t pay nearly enough attention to politics, but I could spot several huge fabrications “Obamacare will force people into bankruptcy”, “Charley Bass has championed the cause of the environment”, or “Kelly Ayotte defended a woman’s right to choose”, and how do you respond to that? If I heard them lying, wouldn’t that make me less, rather than more, likely to vote for them? But they wanted to know which way it would motivate you and whether it would be strongly or a little.
It sounded to me like they were asking “What lies should we tell to get your vote?” Or maybe they were just using this as a forum to plant these lies in people’s heads, to niggle at them in an unconscious way so they drift into the “I don’t know where I heard it, but I heard that….” and be able to tell lies directly without having to take responsibility for their being lies. After all, the tele-survey man did tell you that “this may or may not be true”. I was appalled. There is no way that it isn’t horrible.
I was thrilled this week when the Pope said that the Church shouldn’t worry about people being gay, and am more pleased that it looks like there’s a good chance that the Senate has gotten the word that people don’t want Monsanto protected, and took that bit out of the government funding bill. Considering how many people want to know what’s in their food, it would be hard for the senators to go home and try to explain why they were protecting the manufacturers. I’d like to think change is in the air and that the government and business will become more transparent. And Medicine. I heard wonderful things about a book Unaccountable, but when I took it out, it turned out I’d read it last year. It’s the one about how transparency can transform medicine and reduce the huge level of unnecessary damage. This is hardly surprising. When cover-ups are SOP, of course there will be more malpractice.
Any wonder I prefer history? I read Charlemagne and the Early Middle Ages, also Becoming Charlemagne. This was the first time I’d put together the idea of Karl essentially running terrorizing campaigns in Northern Germany from the mid 770s, and then suddenly BAM “for no reason” the Vikings start sailing against his country (and England) in 792? Admittedly, he was trying to build an Empire “to rival Rome”, and wiped out the Avars even more than the Saxons, but I wonder if there’s a connection I missed there. Why haven’t I heard anyone else exploring it? (Maybe because the Saxons were too busy defending themselves, and it was their friends and extended family beyond them who felt threatened?)

Another great story was about the pope who crowned him. He’d been attacked by a rival faction, thrown on the ground, beaten, had his eyes gouged out, his tongue cut off, TWICE, then when he’d healed -yes, he could see and speak again- sounds miraculous to me, or the guys who thought they’d done it were really incompetent. (That they’d done it twice does indicate they weren’t sure of their workmanship.) Anyway, he ran to Karl for support. Karl went back to Rome with him, and presided over the Pope’s  trial against charges of adultery, and after he was cleared, the Pope crowned him. This stuff is GREAT! Becoming Charlemagne talked about his family, and the Empress of Byzantium, and Haroun Al’ Rachid (who sent him an elephant), and how good it was for Jews in Europe at that point, not much about Offa, but it’s hard to find anything about Offa. PR was in the hands of the church at that point, and if you weren’t dumping a lot of money on the church, you didn’t get written up.

I guess that’s it for this week-

Until next week,!


Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.
Rudyard Kipling

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