2/6/14: Happy World Nutella Day!

Dear Charlotte: DSC00980I just saw a snowmobile running down the road; we are in the middle of winter storm Nika. Luckily, we are above the freezing rain line. Also, luckily, we have no need to leave the house today. The wood-stove is pouring out the BTUs, and I am hoping to find the time to put on some soup or stew. For brunch I made pancakes and sausage. I am STILL loving the ridiculously huge frying pan that I got for Christmas. I can make 6 pancakes at once.* (pic at end)
Cities make sense when people can use public transportation to get to their jobs, but while a shop or manufactory has to open to fulfill it’s purpose, it seems to me that many businesses should be using as much telecommuting as possible. It must be worst for the places who aren’t used to dealing with a lot of snow. It’s a given up here in New England, so we have no excuse for now having coping mechanisms in place. Sadly, it seems like most of our coping mechanisms seem to be things like schools just accepting that there will be around 5-10 snow days a year, and closing schools “early” if they don’t happen. Meals-on-wheels have emergency “blizzard boxes” for their clients. I should think other groups should have similar plans in place. For example, some sort of homework that kids are supposed to do when there are snow days, or some plan for telecommuting for office workers. This may not have been an option in the past, but I think it is now, so we should start implementing it.
Because of Nika and not having found a guest for this week, I decided this week’s new Normal will be about Weather Magick. I have seen people interacting with the weather enough that I believe in it, whether it would convince a skeptic or not. So it should be an interesting show.

This weekend I went down to the Feast of Lights, an Earth Spirit event in Northampton. The girls have gone with me in the past but they didn’t feel up to it this time. Luckily, Jane was willing to share her room with me, so I didn’t have to take the cost of the hotel room out of my meager take. It was also pretty wonderful that my table was next to hers and she and Bacchus watched it for me when I went down to speak- and also they covered it so I could go to a couple of other people’s workshops. I covered for them when Jane was doing her classes and Bacchus wanted to go. There were some marvelous workshops I didn’t get to attend. It is so much easier for me when the girls are there to watch the table, but at least I got to go to one with Orion Foxwood about the connection between witches and fairies, and one with Andras, about indigenous religions. This was somewhat offset by Orion joining us for breakfast, so we got to have a lovely conversation. I asked him about the bottle trees that are such a lovely southern tradition.
The highlight of the event is the Stag’s Ball, at which there is a mystery play with a horn dance (I love that), followed by dancing. I feel like an old fuddy-duddy, but I really don’t like the level of music they play for dancing. I’m sure they are hurting their ears. Of course, I also don’t care for the loud drumming they do sometimes. I can recognize the virtuosity of some drumming, and know that the rhythmic pounding helps facilitate trance for some of them, but I still prefer a lower volume! Even with music I like, I’ve often spent concerts with my fingers in my ears because of the volume of amplification. In this case I left the ballroom and went over to the vendors room. It was quite well populated, so I think that indicates that there were people who felt the same way. Still, I even left the vendors room because I felt my throat get sore from trying to speak to people over the noise from the next room. It seems rude to refer to their music as noise, but I can’t remember what it was, other than loud. The next day Billy Bardo and another fellow were playing and singing folk music on a mandolin, banjo and guitar, over in one corner of the venders room and I was just loving that!
We only had one table, so I didn’t put out the sculpture, just the stockings and silver, and my books- but even though I brought some sample Imbolc Brownies (with cheese cake filling) I didn’t sell any. No silks either. I guess all the EarthSpirit people who want them already have them (you can always use MORE socks or rings!).  Willow also tossed in her bag of fleece rose garlands, I think there were about 10, and I sold all but three. They’d never seen those before.
I sat next to Velinda who makes Fairy Crowns. This was the first time she’d been there, and everyone went nuts for them. They are freaking gorgeous! there was one that had wings on the side and I tried it on and looked like a valkyrie, another “snow queen” set (mask, crown and wand) had a crystal unicorn horn. They were so gorgeous I was happy to see people buying them! Jane did wonderful sales in fudge and spices, Bacchus sold his potables from under the table. Winifred from Awen Tree was behind us, and Rachel Ginther across from Velinda. It was our usual cozy community of artists. Jane brought sandwich makings and salad and I brought casseroles- Tuna noodle, and Chicken Fiesta. I also tried a new recipe Marieke sent me for borsht- this one you left the veggies chunky and added sausage. The kids were not eager to try it, so I brought it along. It was GOOD! I am SO making it again!
I was also reassured that both Orion and Andras told me that they’d love to come speak at CTCW, but they have commitments with other events. I am reminded of the rubber bracelet I got at the NH Pagan Pride Day. I don’t wear rubber bracelets any more than I wear T shirts. But when I saw other people getting them, I wanted to be offered one. (I mentioned it, and they gave me one.) I now keep it prominently displayed to remind myself that I should be careful to examine my own motivations about things I want. Do I really WANT whatever it is? Or do I want the attention and respect that I see as going with it? I certainly cannot object to Andras going down to Guadalajara for the Parliament of World Religions as cool as I think CTCW is, it’s not THAT cool. These people are making peace and mutual respect, and part of why I want him to come speak is because he does such important work.

Like me, Jane doesn’t drive after dark, so she’d come down Thursday night (and stayed over Sunday); she’d hoped that I’d join her Thursday night so we could “party” (a slightly less dramatic activity for two women over sixty), but I wasn’t able to get away. The fifteen bins of Gold Key garb were still in the back of the van Thursday, so Kat and Willow took them over to the laundromat and did a massive washing. When they got back the 15 bins were taken up to Kat’s room (and my stuff packed for Feast of Lights). While I was gone, Kat when through all the bins, sorted, folded, and repaired all the garb. If this sounds like a huge accomplishment, it has to have been. Sadly, Monday morning she woke up and her wrist was really hurting.
The theory is that she did a bit of “repetitive motion” damage with the hours and hours of stitching. Maybe she was holding her hand in a strange position. Who knows? Anyway, she’s hurting. Luckily, I happened to be talking to one of our friends, Cathy, who’s a Occupational (or is it Physical?) Therapist in her professional life, when Kat came to ask me for help- and she was able to give us some good advice on dealing with it. Somehow I’ve managed to get to sixty-two (almost) without knowing that the reason you use a sling sometimes is to keep your wrist above your heart so that the blood doesn’t settle down into your hands because they are hanging down below it. We also, luckily, had a lovely “carpal tunnel” type brace for Kat to immobilize the wrist. I think we might have thought of that, but it was very nice to have someone who knew something about the problem to rattle off a bunch of useful ideas when we were stumbling around trying to figure out what we could or should do on our own.
So Kat is getting increasingly frustrated because she’s now doing everything one handed. I will note that she still dresses beautifully- with matching slings. And she’s getting better slowly. The first night I had to help her into her nightgown. She worries that we think she might be milking it, because I’m doing the washing up she usually does, but I can see how much she would rather have it not hurt and be available for all the things she’d like to do.
I’ve got her working on new graphics on the computer for CTCW- that she can do one handed, and at FoL I realized that I really should already have cards to hand-out. Jane may have also solved my printer problem. She suggested that it could be the drum that’s making it not print well, and that they are replaceable. I didn’t even know that printers had drums. I am eager to try this fix. It would be nice to be able to print things again. (I’d put some flyers on my flash drive to take with me and get copies for Jane on the way down, but misplaced the flash drive during packing chaos. That’s about the only problem with flash-drives, they’re so small!)
Willow’s computer had to go into the shop to get the viruses taken out again this weekend.  It’s very annoying for her because she’s very careful, does everything she’s supposed to to protect against it- doesn’t open emails or attachments from people she doesn’t know, doesn’t visit sites that aren’t supposed to be safe, regularly uses anti-virus programs to clean her computer, and she STILL gets the viruses, and has to take it in to get re-cleared every few months. She seems to be a virus magnet! And is there anything more frustrating than repeatedly being advised to do what you are already doing?
I also took Smokey over to our vet Friday morning, before leaving for Feast of Lights. They are so much easier for us to deal with, they don’t talk baby-talk to the cat, and they are always willing to explain things. It took a lot longer than it should have done because we had to wait for Smokey’s records to be faxed over to the new vet. I suppose it’s the equivalent of if you are traveling abroad and can’t find vaccination records proving that you have had whatever the required shots are, you have to have them again. Thank goodness the Nashua Animal Hospital was able to send them to the Wilton Animal Hospital! Smokey’s eye looks much better, but just in case he has cat herpes, (and since he’s gotten used to being treated) we stuff a garlic pill down his throat every day, since garlic is antiviral. He may end up going to the vet optometrist, but I haven’t made that appointment yet. I am so happy that his eye seems to be healing well.

Apparently the Superbowl was this past weekend, although I have no idea who won. At least on my corner of Facebook, all the conversations are about the people who got offended by the Coke commercial. Well, done Coke! That’s why they spend the big bucks to get themselves on that show! As Willow said, if people disapprove of what a few ignorant people are saying, they’d do better to ignore them than to keep talking about it for days! The other subject of conversation is The Groundhog. I have seen SO many posts threatening that little guy! My favorite is the groundhog protesting “I’m a rodent, not a prognosticator!” I think we’d like winter a lot better if the snow fell in away from the roads. I once wrote a scene for a SF story in which the town meeting was discussing whether to spend money to replace or repair the town plows, or extend the mechanisms that were being installed on roads that kept them clear of snow. I don’t need to know how such a mechanism would work to know that if it became available, it would cost money that would have to come from tax dollars, and that it would be a lot more feasible for cities, or interstates, but would have to be phased in gradually for less populated areas, and that people would argue over it. At this point I don’t even remember what the main story was about, but may insert it into something else some day.trek groundhog
I have read recently that it is natural for humans to nap mid-day. Apparently our bodies are set for a period of rest mid-day. I have read other studies that show that it’s natural for people to have a wakeful period for about an hour in the middle of the night, and rather than worrying about it, accepting it and using it for reading, prayer, study, or some other quiet activity (probably that doesn’t require you getting up and changing into different clothing), is better for you than lying there being stressed that you aren’t asleep. No one else seems to have linked these two bits of advice, but I find them reassuringly symmetrical.

This week I finished reading Salt, sugar, fat how the food giants hooked us by Michael Moss. It was not a easy read, one doesn’t want to be told that the stuff that one likes to eat is not really as good as it’s been advertised. There was a lot about advertising, and how the information has been manipulated to maximize profits, rather than public good. Intellectually, one should be able to legislate against things that are bad for us- that’s what the laws on drug purity and against medical malpractice are about. Sadly, as with the AMA dictating that any form of medicine, like chiropractic or Orthomolecular therapy are quackery (just because they don’t do them), every other type of practice has a real uphill battle to get accepted, even if it works. One of the issues he covered was whether advertising to kids should be legal because they aren’t equipped to deal with it the way adults are. I’m also appalled by the way companies buy up other companies so that they can exert pressure on the stores by controlling their access to such a broad range of products. Where’s Teddy Roosevelt and the Trust Busters I remember from my (admittedly poorly attended to) classes in 20th century civics? Why are these mega corporations allowed to exert so much control. Oh wait, because they have the best congressmen money can buy. No it’s not direct bribes, it’s just that if you want to do some good, you have to get elected, and to get elected, you have to finance your campaign, and to do that, you take corporate money. I’m not quite sure how that translates to you then do what they ask you to because I think congressmen and women are intelligent, determined and idealistic. I fear it’s because the corporations may have the ability to destroy them, and may do it occasionally in order to keep the others in line. From what I’ve heard, there’s huge amounts of money being tossed around to get the XL Pipeline permits. I wonder if it would be possible to handle environmentalism the same way Britain did Slavery, don’t outlaw what you don’t like, just make it too expensive to be profitable. But I digress.
The most direct effect of reading the book is that Willow and I are each tracking how much sugar (in her case, honey in mine) we are putting in our tea. We’re hoping it’s less than a pound a week, but aren’t sure. That’s why we’re checking. This last month we have been drinking a LOT of tea, and even if you put a teaspoon in per cup, it can add up after a couple of pots.

While puttering in the kitchen I watched the first episodes of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., an old TV show from the 80s. It’s kind of a combination cowboy and science fiction show- which could be steam-punk, but pre-dates steam-punk so it doesn’t have the same esthetic. It’s a lot of fun though. I also watched the old Pink Panther movies, and a bit of the new one. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the original had very little to do with the bumbling detective that it ended up launching, but was your basic farce, with people hiding under beds and in closets, chase scenes, mistaken identity due to a fancy dress/costume ball, and an extremely young Robert Wagner, and very dapper David Niven. I have no idea why anyone would want to see Clouseau again, but then, I also don’t get the Three Stooges, even though I watched them when I was a kid.
Are we trained into what we think is funny? Why is it funny (or endearing to be clumsy and fall down a lot?) I am still curious, but really don’t get it. The only thing I can think of is that we laugh to express our nervous relief that whoever we saw fall isn’t really as hurt as such a fall would ordinarily generate. This puts it in the same genre as horror movies and roller-coaster rides: generate adrenaline, then let relief take over. I wonder if I can make this analysis of humor include the general snarkiness that seems to pass for humor these days. Probably not worth the trouble.

Monday was “Carrot Cake Day”, and as the kids like eating cake, and I like baking, I made one, even though there were still several pieces from the last one I’d made last week (still good, as the pantry is practically a refrigerator). This one I put the carrots through the blender with the milk and butter and eggs, so that the cake was smooth and moist without the lovely bits of identifiable carrot (and nuts) I like. The kids seem to like it better though. In case you wonder if I make everything when it’s the “Day”, let me assure you that we didn’t have baked alaska, stuffed mushrooms, crepes, heavenly hash, Nutella, or chocolate fondue. We did have home-made soup, not on the day, and mostly because it’s a great time of the year for home-made soup. Tomorrow will be Maple Syrup and Frozen Yogurt Days, and I doubt we’ll have those either. We didn’t even use the Chinese New Year to have chinese food, although I haven’t given up on it yet- the holiday really does run between the new moon and the full moon. And I will probably use the excuse of President’s Day to make a Cherry Pie.  Also my DSC00907birthday to make a stuffed Angel food cake. We’d been talking about using the BIG pan to make an enormous Pineapple Upside Down Cake for my birthday, but since it doesn’t look like there will be more than four of us, that seems a poor plan.

Ah well, I am too easily distracted. I must make an end to this and send it off.
Until next week,
Tchipakkan

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait ’til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” – Thomas Edison (1847–1931)

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