No, really, that’s the name of one of the November 20th holidays! Actually it’s really cold and drizzly. I am SO happy about having the wood stove up and running. The pumpkins froze, so they went soft very quickly this year, and we don’t have the little ones I’d hoped would last until Thanksgiving. Oh well. We got our first snow that stuck this week- well, at least it stuck until around noon. I’m not a fan of shoveling, but cold seems easier to take when there’s a layer of snow on the ground.
“When last we saw our merry band of travelers…” we were getting ready to install the new wood stove. Robert, the lovely mechanic from Winkles, who sells us wood on the side, and a friend of his said they could make it Saturday, so Kat and I went out and got a piece of plywood to make a ramp up over the front stairs. Robert hurt his back last year and has to be careful. I like to have a sheet of plywood around the house ‘just in case’ anyway. One doesn’t want to have to run out to get one. We did have 2x4s to put under it.
On Saturday Robert and Leo came over and installed the stove. The old one is still in the driveway- we need to take it to the dump. Metal scrap is only $30 a ton just now, so no one’s going to come pick it up for us. The “new” stove is just a bit smaller than the old one- takes up about the same amount of space. When we moved the old one out, we found 3 pot lifters, and lots of boxes of tea that had fallen down behind it. One of the odder bits was that the door over the cleaning access was being held on by velcro. We take this to mean that it hadn’t been in use recently. We got some hinges and installed them, but they were the wrong kind, and we have to find different ones to get the door hung on. Robert also had to make a new ash pan as this one didn’t have one, he brought it over this week. We had to put in fire brick around the fire box, which required a trip to Tractor Supply, and one to the County Stores for pipe- some of which needs to be returned.
As I said we are really enjoying having the wood stove in the kitchen again. I’d bought some steak tips to grill for supper- but we didn’t get it hot enough and finished them off in the gas stove. It was really cold that week and I am loving the warm spot in the kitchen. I think I may have missed my opportunity to dig up the roots of the Knotweed to make anti-Lyme tincture.
Steve came up that Sunday, and today (Saturday), which we always enjoy. We spent the first half of the week getting ready for the con, doing laundry, looking for outfits and packing them, collecting the stuff we were taking with us, getting food for us to snack on, and easy meals for John while we were gone. I had to pre-schedule the holidays for Holidays that Might Get Overlooked. This is made more difficult because recently TDS has offered high speed internet in Lyndeboro, and since then it seems our normal internet service (not that cheap anyway IMO) has gotten worse. It seems we have to reboot the modem two or three times a day.
As I said, we got off in good time on Thursday so we could be all settled in for Willow’s gaming. While that didn’t work out, we did get there just after dark. Honor’s Haven seems to think it’s a luxury resort, but the rooms are small, and not particularly well-appointed. Ours did have an alcove between the closet and vanity where they put the roll-away bed we got for Kat. They price the room weirdly, by the number of people in it, for example, saying that if you have three people in your room, your room rate is only $85 a person (which does NOT include the roll-away) but it includes the food plan- breakfast and dinner. Admittedly, it’s really convenient not to have to go out for food, and the quality was good. It was also wonderful to eat with the friends we see so rarely twice a day. I was a little sad as I accidentally left Tragg, my stuffed troll, behind, and I missed him.
Jane came in Thursday night, along with Mary and Chris Kimball, who were running Hospitality. Patty and Ray Taylor, who’ve been coming since the first year, also came in early. He has a collection of interesting hats, and had brought all the new ones that he’d gotten since last year. These included a clown fish, a shark, a potted plant, more than one jester’s cap, and several others that he changed over the four days.
Maryalyce arrived around noon to set up the registration table, and Ashley ran it this year. At some point I dropped by room card key and it turned up in Maryalyce’s luggage when she unloaded- no idea how that happened! This year as well as ribbons to mark our speakers, vendors, panelists, etc. we had ribbons to mark those who’d been five years, ten years (since this was our tenth year) and first time ribbons. It made me feel good every time I saw a first timer! We also had some that just said “old timer” for those who’d been more than five, but not every year! We also had a small thank-you ceremony for the long time participants on Saturday night, just before the fundraising auction. We didn’t start classes until about 3:30, as few people can get there that early (we are talking about perhaps doing a full day on Friday next year). As one of the people in early, my History of the Occult class was in the first block. Once again I learned that I do much better when I make an outline (I though I had, but I couldn’t find it while packing). Luckily the class was small- it included Raye and Lee, although Jerry couldn’t make it this year as he had a sudden death in his family.
The next block I was on the panel for Crafts and Arts as a Spiritual Practice- there are several artists and crafts people, and most of us seem to find a connection between our work and our faith. I also enjoyed a workshop on Funeral Rites for Pagans, I think that was Thor’s mentor, who was pointing out we don’t have to do it the same way others do it, but there is greater freedom these days to do what feels right for the individual. After supper Gretchen Schork came, and she was doing her workshop of the Abcedrian System. I’d planned to go to the Norseworking healing circle with Jane, but I’ve done that many times before, and this is the first time we’ve been able to get Gretchen to CTCW, so I went to hers instead.
She brought lots of her ceremonial props: table top, altar, banner, lots of posters. I took a bunch of pictures, tried to get everything. She was fine with that since she meant to get them and was busy talking, and I sent her the ones I took. I don’t think you need to see all of them, but they’re really cool. I’d gone to one of hers over ten years ago at Etheracon, and it was simply a system exploring that if we can cast runes for divination, using their phonetic symbols as magical ones, why couldn’t we use the “English” ones the same way. In the years since, she’s expanded the system far beyond that into the realms of ceremonial magick. As she put it, a magical system that may be used on a space ship can’t be bound by the four quarters: North, South, East and West, So instead the altar will go near the banner for whichever planet is ruling the day, and… OK, if your interested, just ask and I’ll tell you more, but it was amazing!
Saturday, the many wonderful people and classes overcame my stressing about money. (I fear I was not in a good mood Friday, allowing stress to make me cranky.) Since I’ve offered RunValdr every year before this, I offered Building on RunValdr this year, but only Starwolf showed up. I’m sure that was at least partly because the class was up against some other really great classes I was sort of sorry to miss, but I had a great time talking to Starwolf. I went to a class on Sigil Magick, clarifying some of the things I’ve learned before but not quite understood about magical squares. I also loved the Somatic Prayer workshop, although I zoned out during the guided meditation- I’m not good at that. I did enjoy the discussion part though. I was on the Plant Spirit Panel and the Weatherworking Panels, and I went to the Modern Myths panel with Sara, Raven, Starwolf, and Coyote Skywoman (not in the picture as she’s a school teacher and sees no reason to look for trouble). I love panels because they allow practitioners from diverse backgrounds to discuss and compare experiences and perspectives on these things we do. In this case, are Comic Books or Oz and Wonderland the myths modern people use to express common ideas? How do you decide whether something is a myth, a legend or simply a folk tale? I’m afraid I tend to go with Deb when she falls back on academic definitions, but that’s certainly not the only valid viewpoint.
Sunday we had to get up early (which we sort of didn’t. I’d stayed up past midnight talking to Sara, and set the alarm for 8. When it went off I though I could roll over for another 15 minutes, but when I woke up again it was 8:50! (Breakfast ran from 8 to 9:30, my first class was at 9:30.) We had to pack out of the room by 11, and the vending room closed at 1. I admit that the girls did the vast majority of that work. The 9:30 panel was on Objectivity- how do we know what we know? What stories are we telling ourselves about ourselves? This is not too far from what Metaphysics means in Philosophy (which I’ve been reading about recently), but more about how we create our new paths. I went to a workshop by a fellow who designs games, Dan Cassar, on Cards and Carotmancy. Oh my goodness, he knew so much! I took a ton of notes and want to document his sources and put them into the Complete Anachronist the Soothsayers Guild is working on! Between classes I was trying to talk to everyone, quick before we all left. I got a chance to talk to Steve about trying to rebuild the website and get the Youtube channel active, but I totally missed Ariel!
I decided it was silly for us to take home the bin of stuff we usually do- I just pulled out the tablet we loaned the con so they could take square charges at registration and the long necked stapler, leaving the rest for Maryalyce so that it would all be together. I did take home the leftover discs of classes no one wants to buy- they all want MP3s now. I saw Saturday morning that Thor was using his phone to tape one of the classes, and he managed to get three of them. Sacred Owl showed me how to do it with my phone, but one class just about killed my battery. (I’d left my charger behind, along with Tragg.) My last panel was How does Magick Work?, and by that time the girls had packed up the tables and put everything in the car. I have to admit we did not make much money this year. I am seriously thinking that if I went by myself, and found a room-mate, maybe that would save expenses. I didn’t spend much time in the vendors hall and don’t know how the other vendors did, but it looked fairly slow to me for everyone. I could be wrong, I don’t want to be a negative person, but sometimes feel like I am. I know I have horrible guilt because we didn’t make enough to reimburse the conference for the girls share of the rooms. (I’ve put enough money into it over the years that I’m willing to have the con spot me a room, but think we should at least pay for the girls. At the same time, Willow was hoping we’d make enough to pay her credit card down some. I’m so bummed.)
One of the events at the con had been a ritual in the Maze Honor’s Haven has, but they’d brought it inside (or skipped it, I’m not sure) since it was in the 20ºs, but it had warmed up by Sunday afternoon, so on the way out Kat and I stopped and checked it out before we headed home. It was fun. We also got a picture of the girls singing about adulating as we left.
The GPS took us over Hogback on the way home (we’d gone down through Keene and down Rt 91. Oddly, Vermont was clear, but we got some snow as we went over Dublin Mountain, a bit closer to home. As soon as we got in, we split like a broken set of billiard balls, and each went to our computers. Although they are great for helping keep us in touch with friends, I have to say they are great time grabbers. I only caught up on going through all my back email (even though most of it is spam) by Thursday!
Willow has a pink ‘witches’ hat that’s very cute, and I admired, it, and when we got back the one she got for me had arrived. It’s adorable (wine colored). Entirely honestly, I spent half the day catching up on my sleep, and the rest of it reading- recovering from the excitement of the conference.
Tuesday I finally tacked the unpacking, dishes, laundry, email, and trump to figure out what I do for a living again.I’d really like to think of something I could do to make money, but I really can’t. Frankly, my energy isn’t what I expect it to be, although I think I’ve recovered from the Lyme disease. It occurred to me the other day that both my Grandmother and Mother died young, and I never really had any woman to talk to at 67. This may be totally normal, and I just don’t realize it. (If so, it stinks. I believe I’m just out of shape and need to get outside and exercise more, and definitely spend less time on the computer!)
Thursday was Mark’s birthday and John and I went over to his place, had lunch with him, and did some light cleaning (as we do), but while he’d planned to come out to our house for a birthday dinner, he wasn’t feeling up to it, so will be taking a rain-check tomorrow. I think we’ll also be seeing him (and Steve) for Thanksgiving. (My bachelors!) The girls have asked me to cut down for Thanksgiving, so far our compromise is that I’ll only make cinnamon rolls, no plain ones, and only two pies. I may not stick to that, I need those pies for emotional support.
I’m also trying to whittle my Yule Cookie list down to only a dozen. Can it be done?
Our wonderful friend and mechanic Gary who’s loaned me his car all summer had to have it back this weekend. He and his family are going to see the TransSiberian Orchestra, and that’s his only car that seats six. (Since I’ve been driving it since February, I figured I should finally get a picture of it,) Gary has, however, found a car to get tuned up for me. Then I just have to get a loan to buy it.
I guess that’s about it for the last couple of weeks. I am still reading as much as the news as my mental health will take, including several Conservative as well as the Liberal perspectives: The Conservative Minute, Capitol Hill News, Political Planet. What strikes me mostly about them is how they report the same speeches and events as PBS and CNN, but they say that they prove how stupid the Democrats are, and how popular the Republicans are. I fear for the country if we can’t stop fighting with each other so harshly.
Mostly recently I’ve been re-reading the Vorkosigan books, which were in the Nook Mark passed off to us. I’ll be sending it out to Honour Monday, as she’s going to probably be in the VA for a month after her knee replacement. Since her house seems to only have one bathroom, upstairs, she’s looking forward to being more mobile again! Before the con she went in for her lumpectomy, and it had disappeared. This is not a bad thing, I think, although a pain in the butt for her.
I’m waiting to hear back from Tufts, I got an appointment with a local dentist who specializes in transplants to have a second opinion before moving on to getting a partial denture. Removing five teeth (or what’s left of them) just seems to be too irreversible a step to take without getting a second opinion first. It’s not surprising that that practice wants to see my X rays, and there are hoops to jump through to get even modern digital ones sent up.
I’m also fighting with some company who keeps sending me diet supplements. Last spring I was curious and checked out their website, talking about how various herbs help with your metabolism. Sounded like a reasonably safe thing to try, but after a while they got to the part where it said only $84, at which point I said ’nope’ and closed the window. Apparently I didn’t need to actually click on the buy button, because they started sending it to me. I must have put in my credit card, thinking it wouldn’t do anything until I clicked to confirm the purchase. Sadly, the packages have NO information on the company and neither does the debit on the bank statement. I finally called the bank, and they are going to help me dispute the charges, but it is so frustrating. The bank found a number they give, but it’s not a working number. Another number goes to voicemail, and we had to wait 48 hours. Meanwhile the bank is cancelling and replacing my card. I’ll have to try to figure out what other bills I have on that card that have regular payments. Be warned by my mistake. I thought I was being cautious enough, but clearly not.
The local library called, they are doing a take off on the Icelandic Bookflood, and thought I’d make a good speaker for it. How sad that people don’t seem to realize that all Dark Ages Northern Europeans aren’t Viking, and that everything Icelandic isn’t Viking either! I told her I’d happily speak on cookies or many of the other things I DO know about. We are also beginning to plan for our Solstice Open House. This year I think the theme will be Time Travel- which should allow food and dress and decorations from any period in history. That should be fun!
Brian is out of the hospital, and rehab and is hopping around on crutches- they are letting him ‘work from home’, although at this point he’s actually working from a friend’s house. She wants to keep an eye on him, and feed him. Since the first weekend he was out he went to see the armor exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, I think maybe he may be pushing it a bit, and having a ‘keeper’ is a good idea. On the other hand his new “legs” (armor) seem to be lost- last seen somewhere around Moscow I think. Don’t I have interesting friends?
Megan and Dennis are back from Vienna- left just ahead of the flooding!
I made a mistake in my last letter- Jane wasn’t having cataract surgery, but thyroid surgery. Her gland was too big, so they cut it down to normal size, and she seems to have come through it well, although at the con she was not allowed to lift anything over 10 pounds.
The other things I’ve been reading are mostly books on Conjure- American magick systems from the south, Appalachia, etc. It’s all very practical, and has nothing to do with Neo-paganism. One of them is called Crossroads Conjure, There was also a new book in the Ivy Morgan series: Wicked Decisions, which came out at the beginning of the month and took me all of an evening to read, and Witchin’ Around the Clock from the Wicked Witches of the Midwest series. I’m sort of done with the cozy mysteries for a while I think.
Tonight Steve and I watched Winchester, the movie about the Winchester House. We agreed that that’s one place we’d both like to visit! I watched a documentary called Reel Injun about how Native Americans have been portrayed in movies- it was fascinating.
Well, that’s it for this “week”. It’s taken me long enough (and I have few enough things going on) that I will probably not write again on Wednesday. I am unconvinced that the details of my life and opinions are as fascinating as they used to be- or maybe it was just more interesting when there were animals.
Have a good Thanksgiving Week!
Many people mean no harm
When they tease others at table;
But still, tempers will begin to flare
And a brawl soon breaks out
Among the guests.
-Havamal 32-33 Still useful
This is the weird pot lifter that came in the oven of the new stove.
Holidays coming up
þ21 Gingerbread Day, Television Day, Use less stuff Day
F22 Cranberry Relish Day, Go for a Ride Day, Start your own Country Day
S23 Cashew Day, Espresso Day, Aura Awareness Day, Wolfnoot
⨀24 Sardines Day, Celebrate your unique talent Day, Use even if the seal is broken Day
M25 Parfait Day, Blasé Day, Shopping Reminder Day
T26 Cake Day, Good Grief Day
W27 Bavarian Cream Pie Day, Jukebox Day, Tie One On Day, Blackout Wednesday
þ28 Thanksgiving Day, French Toast Day, Letter Writing Day
F29 Chocolates Day, Maize Day, Buy Nothing Day, Day of Listening, Square Dance Day
S30 Mousse Day, Small Business Saturday, Stay at Home because you’re well Day
⨀1 Pie Day, Advent Sunday, Wear a Dress Day, Day without Art, Christmas Lights Day,
M2 Fritters Day, Cider Monday, Cyber Monday, Mutt Day
T3 Apple Pie Day, Green Bean Casserole Day, Make a Gift Day, Giving Tuesday,
W4 Cookie Day, Dice Day, Sock Day, Wear Brown Shoes Day