Cheese Doodle Day

Greetings from the thawing north! March 5. 2020
Spring, or as we call it in NH, Mudseason, has sprung, the snow is melted, except for the berms made by plows, and the ground is starting to get soft again. The maple trees are “garlanded” with blue hoses- sapping season. How soon until crocuses? It’s getting up into the 50s regularly, and we are feeling like that’s sweater weather. Remember in the fall when the same temperature was really cold?
I feel like I’m sort of coming awake again after the winter hibernation. If I started with more energy it would be “spring fever”, but I’m just coming up to what I expect. Oh well. I have begun doing art again, I still have portraits owing I need to get to, so good thing the energy is coming back.
Last week’s big news was Erin (my niece)’s baby- the first in this generation. There have, of course, been more pictures, but the one I like best is this one where Liz put the image of little Julian beside a baby picture of Erin at the same age. I guess we know which side he looks like! That’s great because Liz’s kids are all great looking! (smart, talented…) I am, of course, very jealous of her for having a grandchild.
Having finished the last letter on last Thursday, Friday I was gearing up for the SCA event on Saturday. (This is why I must finish this one tonight, I’m heading north for another event tomorrow.)
Also, I have rather filled my schedule.  I had planned to go to an event in Delaware the weekend before last, but got to rest since the lady I was riding had the flu, which turned into pneumonia! Tomorrow I will be driving myself, so I have to leave in time to get there before dark. (Yesterday  I took a “how good is your color vision” test, and only got 2 out of 10. That’s scary as an artist, especially as the kids have been pointing out that I’m not matching colors well recently.)
Friday, Mark came over, and I fixed his favorite coat. Frankly, it looks almost new, but it’s the fatigue jacket he was issued in the 70s! So it’s about 50 years old, but the stitching had perforated the fabric a bit on one of the shoulder seams- luckily on the lining, so I put an iron on patch under to bind it all together, then stitched it shut. Not quite an invisible repair, but it is inside where no one will see. After that he took Kat, John and I out to China Star to eat. Willow didn’t feel up to coming, so we brought her some General Tso’s back.  I wonder if Mark realizes how special eating out is!
After Mark left I checked my email one more time, and discovered a new requirement for the Soothsayers guild charter. We’ve been trying to get it right, and luckily we discovered in time that current requirements need to include what the purpose of the Guild is (which we had), and what the structure is (which we did not). A quick messaging back and forth between me and the deputies, and we settled on a wording. I put the first season of Fantasy Island (John gave it to me last year), and started copying it. I am not as fast, or as good, as I remembered. I’m probably out of practice. They say it’s like riding a horse/bicycle, you never forget how. But you can get out of practice! Muscle memory is a real thing. Luckily I still have a passable hand, although I must not compare it to the really amazing work of the ones who provide many of the scrolls for courts. I am NOT the only SCAdian who’s been in for decades. Also I tend to collect assorted skills rather than getting really good at any one. Luckily the other Soothsayer’s Guild members were satisfied.
It was plain compared to most of the scrolls we saw given out at court; only an ornamental initial with the guild badge in it (Book of Kelly style), and no gold leaf. But as an historian, I feel a charter (or diploma as they are often called academically) is a business document. What’s important is the words on it, and who signed it. And now the charter is signed by the Royal Hand, and we are back to being an official Royal Guild. Sadly, I got through more than one disk of the Ricardo Montalban. Somewhere during the wee hours, I managed to get confused in my copying and put an extra word in that I couldn’t figure out how to take out or mask, so I had to start over. (I had done the marking the lines while Mark was here.) I also note with relief that the second was more regular and attractive than the first draft, so I wasn’t really unhappy about having done it over. Sadly, I finished at 5 am. Eek! I haven’t pulled an ‘all-nighter’ in several years.
 It wasn’t technically “all night”, we didn’t leave until 9, so I got a couple of hours of sleep. Willow drove me down (thank goodness), since we knew the return trip would be after dark. The event was an arts competition for the Crown to pick the new Champion of Arts and Sciences. Had I offered to judge (which I thought about) we’d have had to be there by 9, so I’m glad I didn’t. The event was in Dragonship Haven, also know as New Haven, CT, and took about 3 hours each way. Bless Willow!
When I got there, after dropping off the scroll, I hung up the Guild banner, and we all found each other. I immediately started talking shop with Amy and Shae, the deputies, and when I suddenly realized it was 3 and I should do my duty as a Laurel go look at the art display, they were packing it up. I’m sure that was good for my ego since the SCA artist’s skill has gotten so incredible at this point. That was when I discovered that the site was a Masonic Hall. They have three ritual rooms: the Roman Room, the Greek Room, and the Egyptian Room. The morning court (which we missed) was in the Egyptian room. Egyptian and Greek are side by side, and the Roman takes up the third floor, large as both combined.  (I overheard one woman check her Fitbit, and discover she’d climbed 21 flights of stairs already, going up and down!) The ceiling of the Roman room was not simply painted and domed like the sky, I heard that they have lights to make it look like sunset or sunrise, make the stars show on it, and other effects.
There were also Royal rooms, and small rooms for vigils for those who were going to be elevated to the peerage in court that day.  As I didn’t know any of them personally, I didn’t go “share my wisdom” with them. I think it would have been presumptuous of me. It does mean I didn’t get to meet them, which would have been nice, and current tradition dictates that their friends and sponsors put out a sumptuous buffet for people waiting their turn to speak to the candidate.
That could have been a fall-back for me, but wasn’t necessary. The “Day board” (as they call buffet meals) was down on the lower level, and may have been the best I’ve seen in 50 years of the SCA. There was hot beef, chicken, pork, and sausage with sauerkraut, as well as a vegetarian lasagna. There was also the usual array of cheeses, cold meats, breads, various spreads, boiled eggs, quiche, salads, soups, all in great plenty. OK, the presentation was modern, but the food was delicious. The dessert and drinks were unexceptional (tea, and lemonade), but given that there was so much savory food, I’m not going to fault that choice by the cooks. I was very impressed, also glad that Willow didn’t starve from doing me the favor.
 There was also some art on display on one side of the dining salon- either overflow from the competition, or perhaps those who wanted to exhibit, but not try to be champions. They were impressive- I especially liked the Pythagoras cup, a trick cup that you could drink from if you only filled it about a quarter of the way, but if you filled it all the way, it created a syphon that caused it to empty itself. That artist had other cool pottery and sculpture but that one enchanted me.
At four court was called, and the guild members sat together watching and waiting (and getting up occasionally) for two and a half hours. We’d originally intended to present the charter at Birka court. Our plan had been rather than to gather all the Soothsayers (there are over a hundred, although we are still trying to get a better idea of who and where they are), but on Sunday after Birka we had a guild meeting and over 30 showed up for that, so there could well have been fifty at court. Rather than have everyone squeeze out past other people’s knees to gather by the throne, our plan was to have me go up and say “I am a soothsayer”, and then have the others get up and say “I am a soothsayer”, like “I am Spartacus” in the movie. To give everyone an idea how many we are, without slowing court down. Sadly, this was a smaller event, and there were only six of us there, so we all went up. Since we were the next to last item on the schedule, we just presented the charter, said thank you and left. I think we confused the Queen who figured we were going to do SOMETHING. But after two and a half hours we were pretty “shell shocked”. (We clearly couldn’t compete with the stuff that had gone before!)
  It’s hard to be Royalty these days, and they have to be MUCH more organized than we were! I was delighted as they processed in. First the Queen, who is reigning by herself as the King disappeared mysteriously shortly after the reign started. There was a bit of “vague booking”, but very quickly a statement was made by the business officers that no one was allowed talk about it for legal reasons, so everyone should support the queen, and not spread rumors. And they didn’t! So I am totally clueless about what happened, but I admire what seems a beautifully appropriate response. After the Royal Retinue, came the heirs: the Princes. Yes, two men fought for each other, so we have two male heirs, Romans. They were followed in by the Baronesses of Dragonship- yes, two ladies. This is less surprising since Stonemarche also has two baronesses at the moment- Dierdre and her daughter Kiaya, both delightful. I’m afraid I hardly know anyone outside the barony anymore, as we don’t travel much. To be honest, I avoid courts, almost religiously.
Court was long, but it was impressive. I’d have love to have been able to see the artwork better, luckily these days it’s all (mostly) put on the internet so you can see it afterwards. One scroll I was sure someone had put lace edges on. (We have people who make gorgeous knotted lace.) But later on Facebook, I discovered that it was actually cutwork, the artist had cut the parchment into delicate lace. Wow, just Wow! The art in the SCA certainly keeps me humble! Heaven knows what I missed by not looking at the display!
We had dropped the scroll off at the Royal Room when we arrived, and also the names and membership numbers of five guild-members (from at least 3 groups, another thing we found out the night before), and sat through creation of (I think) three new Companions of the Laurel, three new Companions of the Pelican, and many new Silver Crescents, Maunches, Silver Wheels, Brooches, Tygers Cubs and other awards. (And the running of the children, which I didn’t realize they did in halls!) The simple truth is that you don’t have several thousand talented people participating in this multifaceted hobby without a whole lot of them needing to be commended for their various contributions. The job of royalty is to provide ceremony, and recognize those who have earned commendation. That’s SO MUCH to ask the royalty to do! Admittedly, they do ask the Orders advice (they can’t know everyone!), which is why during the ceremonies, all those in whichever order are called forward to participate in the elevation. I go up with Laurels, Crescents and Maunches. At least it kept my butt from going to sleep. (Also, thank the gods, the Masons had pretty comfortable seating!) I also enjoyed watching the lady herald who was doing interpretation for the deaf. (She’s the one in green on the left of the picture of the retinue.) I thanked her specifically as she slowed down when she was spelling the names of the recipients. Some of us are novices at American Sign Language and usually when those who use it a lot spell words, they move so fast I can’t catch it at all. If I knew my signs better, I could have caught hers.
One final lovely last joy for the day was that when we got home around 9:30, John had put one of the frozen lasagnas from the Mensa event in the oven, and so we could have supper. Good day. Good family.
I have come to the conclusion that I simply don’t want Grammie’s rug enough to put in the work to repair it, although I hate to have something that’s still good, (and a family heirloom) go to waste. Luckily, I remembered Sarah Collins, who, with Ekke, has been rebuilding their small rustic house in Maine, and when I asked, she said that she’d be happy to take it, that she’d been thinking of making one for their place herself. This will save her a lot of looking for the wool and making the braided ropes (although cost some creative control). But although the thread has become so fragile that picking it up wrong breaks the thread (the rug is quite heavy), the wool is still good. I expect she’ have to disassemble it completely, and start in the middle and work out again. But then it’ll be good again. Now I only have to find a time to get it to her. (Quick, before she’s off on another voyage!) I have been wanting to get up to see the place since they got it. I am so relieved to have found the rug a good home, but feel a bit as if I’ve placed a handicapped child. (A fifty something year old child!) It’s going to be a lot of work to get it fixed! It only recently occurred to me that Grammie was probably in her fifties when she made it.
Sunday we pretty much vegged out- I slept 13 hours straight, which, if you average it with the two I got the night before, only comes out to seven and a half, so that doesn’t seem like so long. The big note in my journal that day was that Mike, from across the street, brought us over a pint of syrup. Last month we told him that he could tap our trees since we weren’t doing it, so we get free syrup without slogging through the mud or boiling it off, which I think is a pretty good deal.
I spent much of the day working out the templates for the March holidays for the Holidays that Might get Overlooked page. I am not sure why, when I started doing it, it only took me an hour, now it takes about two hours, and extra work at the beginning of the month to organize the information. I think most of it is that so many days are “the first Friday of March” (Dress in Blue Day) or “the first Friday the Thirteenth of the year” (Blame Someone Else Day), or the Full moon before the Spring Equinox (Holi). (Don’t get me started about not just the first week but the first full week!) So many websites simply figure if it was on March 14th last year, it’s always on March 14th (Pi Day), and don’t check. If I pass along what is on other sites, it could be wrong. It’s the checking that takes so long. But I don’t want to be one of the ones who are wrong! I don’t always check unless I see two other sites disagreeing, but I’m pretty good. Maybe Willow’s right and I should write a book about it.
Frustratingly, Facebook put in a new “improvement” which took several days to get the glitches out of, and made it even take longer.
What actually got me out of bed on Sunday was Gary LaPlant coming over to put a new registration on the car he’s loaned me. What a sweetheart he is! I think I mentioned in the last letter that Willow’s car died on the way home from Keene Thursday night. It turned out to be the transmission dying. The wonderful guys at Winkles put in a new one in, fixed her brakes (also shot), and we picked it up on Tuesday. She had been so happy that she had paid it off last month, and was now going to be able to pay down her credit card, instead it’s up again. Oh well.
Gary and Rober are finishing up the silver (loaded they tell me, with leather seats!) car Gary found for me, so after picking Willow’s up, I went over to the Co-op bank to apply for a car loan again. I got one easily last year when the old one failed inspection, but the paperwork expired while they were looking for a replacement car. When they found it last fall, I tried again, but my credit had gone bad when I thought that the mortgage was on an automatic payment, and suddenly it wasn’t. (I suspect some sort of computer glitch, or change in policy that I missed the notification for.) So they put overhauling mine on low priority, bless them. In February I was thrilled to have caught up, and figured I was going to be fine again, but nope. Today I discovered that I’d mixed up my credit card payments to Citibank with the mortgage to Bank America because they are almost the same amount, and had simply given an extra mortgage sized payment to the wrong bank! Well, at least it wasn’t a scammer and the money went to someone it was owed to- but I still need to catch up on the mortgage and repair my credit.Not remembering people’s names is embarrassing. Not remembering which bank is which has repercussions. This is why I try to have everything on automatic payment so I don’t fall behind. I guess we’ll be eating out of the freezer this month!
Monday and Tuesday I spent “adulting”. I hate adulting. I went to the tax websites to fill returns for nothing since we don’t leave the state often, but they get so cross with you if you don’t tell them you didn’t come to sell stuff in their state. I advanced calendars, filled vitamin boxes, caught up on dishes and laundry- but I discovered that the hot water wasn’t coming up through the pipes. I had a corned beef on the wood stove, so I just heated water on that (fine for dishes, but the laundry backed up). Wednesday we had checked everything we knew to do, and called the repairman. Some electronic sensor in the furnace had fried. We have hot water again, and didn’t need a new water heater, so I’m thrilled.
Tuesday was, of course, Super Tuesday, and Biden pulled ahead of Sanders, and most of the others dropped out. Advertising money shouldn’t be so important in elections. It shouldn’t be there at all IMO. I am distressed that people are so willing to play dirty tricks to get their own way (like closing polling places so poor people can’t get to them, or making face websites promulgating lies about opponents). That’s why I support Sanders, he is honest and moral. He does what’s right. That may seem extreme these days, but it’s simply extremely different from those who are willing to compromise. When the other side doesn’t compromise in good faith, the middle ground isn’t a fair result, it’s manipulation by the one who is trying to game the system. You must draw the line and say that it’s WRONG for people to suffer unnecessarily so that others can get more money than they can use. I don’t want to wait for them to be punished in some afterlife, we need to work for justice now. Most people are good. Laws are to protect the majority from the minority that want to take advantage of them. Laws are for the General Welfare.
The non-science based, delusional ravings of “that man in the White House” (to use my grandfather’s phrase) about the Coronavirus is terrifying. It’s rather a more immediate threat than many of his other BS, but almost everything he does is dangerous for the people and the land. Had you heard that he actually said that the Coronavirus is doing good for the country because the borders are closed without having to work at it, and people are staying at American hotels and spending money here. He dismisses the World Health Organizations findings, and has crippled our emergency response with his giving everything to his cronies. When Pelosi tried to come up with something positive to say, she said that we are at least getting better habits in hand washing. I hope the measures we take work, and the epidemic doesn’t become a lethal pandemic. Personally, we are hoping for the best, expecting Pennsic to happen (will be making some 4 Thieves Vinegar, which, if it can’t ward off the plague, as the stories suggest, is at least helpful, and tasty, and we will probably sell a bunch). At the same time, we are planning to keep a good buffer (I’ve heard 3 months) on the girls meds in case supplies become problematic. The world economy is SO global I can’t imagine how experts try to guess what can happen with too many to treat sick, and the well forced to stay home to avoid becoming sick (as in China). I remember during the budget standoff (was it two years ago?) Trump suggested people who weren’t getting paid could simply ask the stores to give them food on credit. He has no clue how the world works. How did we ever put him in a position of power?
To reach for some good news, New South Wales has been declared free of Bushfires. Yay?
Real good news, my friend Rose who’s now living near Brattleboro, Vermont, cane over to visit on Wednesday. We had a wonderful time, tried on my crowns and tiaras, talked about herbal and shamanic stuff. She’s gotten me excited about nutritional herbal teas. She was the one who gave me the recipe for the oat straw tea sweetened with cranberry juice that I like so much some years ago. Turns out that it’s actually full of nutrients! I told her how we were all having the mugwort tea because it volunteered in our garden, and it seems to help, and she told us some teas that she uses.  I’m going to try making some and we can each have a glass morning and evening (if not more, we’ll see how they taste), and if I can stay that organized. If she’s right, they contain enough nutrients in the natural form that we’d be able to ditch the vitamin supplements. I’ll have to look them up and see. When you get old (and have other conditions) sometimes you don’t absorb nutrients as well as when you’re young and healthy, but bodies do tend to prefer to get them from real food, rather than pills, so wouldn’t that be nice?
I hope Rose will still be able to visit occasionally. She doesn’t seem to think 75 minutes is too long to drive- I suppose when we were younger, we used to drive down to Myrkwood (Maryland) for tournaments because there weren’t any closer, so it’s probably perspective. She’s job hunting, which leaves her more driving and visiting time, she is (I think) a safety compliance engineer, and of course, businesses who need one would rather hire a younger person who might not know as much, but also costs less (also male). She told me some amazing stories about dealing with sink-holes, those are pretty scary. She’s amazing.
Today Kat and I drove out to Nashua for a Blood drive. I’d gotten a call because they want my blood, but the next Milford drive is the day Raven and Josh are coming up again, and I didn’t want to switch that, so I figured I could go to Nashua instead (maybe combine it with a stop at Costco). But the GPS took us to the address the Red Cross gave us, but no signs, no bloodmobile. Hmm. We called the Red Cross, and they insisted that that was the right address. There was a sign for the Elks lodge. We walked around the whole building. Nothing. A man at a loading bay said it wasn’t in that building, try the next one. (If it was in the next one, why was the sign in from of that one?) We drove over there, and at the back, behind some trees, we found the Red Cross truck. If they’d have parked it by the street, we’d have seen it. They had a sandwich board sign out in front of the entrance to the Elks- which was in a commercial type building with several doors, and that one was at the back. We suggested, when we got in, that they should put the truck by the road- but the volunteer responded that they are told to park ‘away from the building’. (If by the road isn’t away from the building, why isn’t it?) Sadly, after all that, neither of us had an hematocrit high enough to donate. I am not entirely certain that had I had that extra .1 they required that my blood pressure wouldn’t have kept me out anyway. Phooey! SO we’ll eat a lot of beef and liver and leafy greens and be ready for the next opportunity. I expect they really do need blood, and it’s the right thing to do.

Final cute thing- Kitty has been pet sitting for Trish while she’s in Florida, and found this picture of Dad there and shared it. We have good genes!
Virginia Fair Richards-Taylor/ Tchipakkan
Rather than a sig quote this week, how about a Word of the Week:
Tsundoku, it means buying more books than you can read.
Some fun (mostly food) holidays coming up:
F 6 National Oreo Day, Frozen Food Day, National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, Dress Day, Middle Name Day, National Day of Unplugging (try to not use your electronics)
S 8 National Peanut Cluster Day,  Daylight Saving Time, Be Nasty Day (does this come from losing sleep?)
M 9 National Meatball Day, National Crab DayNational Genealogy DayPanic Day*, National Get Over It DayNational Napping Day (this one IS because it’s the day after DST hour loss)

W 18 National Sloppy Joe DayNational Lacy Oatmeal Cookie DayNational Awkward Moments Day

*”Pan again!” said Dr. Bull irritably. “You seem to think Pan is everything.”

“So he is,” said the Professor, “in Greek. He means everything.”
“Don’t forget,” said the Secretary, looking down, “that he also means Panic.” G. K. Chesterton in The Man Who Was Thursday (1908),  (from this, I suppose, that we learn that if we try to take everything into account we will run mad.  I guess that sort of counts as a sig quote)