This week has been rainy- off and on. We have had sun and some rain, which allows me to hang out laundry, but I have to watch for clouds coming in, and did miss it once. Also there’s a lot of oak catkins (I had to look up what they are called- they are “staminale (male) flowers”) that fall onto the hanging laundry, and even into the basket in the time it takes to hang the clothing. Luckily, this means it’s been cooler, but we still put up the fan in the window of the pantry to keep it cool. It cannot function as a walk in refrigerator, as it does in the winter, but it’s still cooler, and that’s good.
The Iris have come up- there is a huge variety of colors and patterns in gardens we past when we go out. The phlox have started blooming, but they are spindley. Perhaps they are too crowded, or need fertilizer. I don’t know much about flower gardening. The nasturtium, pansies and chives in the border are wonderful, and Kat sometimes puts the flowers in salads.
The moisture in the air makes it hard to tell if the clothing is dry yet (leading to finishing off in the dryer- which I don’t want to do, as it heats the pantry). When I come downstairs in the morning banister is sort of clammy. We open and shut the front door a lot to try to regulate the temperature (although not enough for the cats I suppose.) They have started occasionally staying out for the night. This may be only when it’s raining and they’ve found a place to hole up, and don’t want to wait on the front stoop until we think to check or hear them. I am waiting for it to get completely dry- I’ve bought a can of polyurethane (NOW they tell me that it’s only going to last a couple of years if it’s where you walk on it! Expect to keep re-coating it. I wonder if my mother could have told me that if she were still around.)
I’ve been trying to reorganize the pantry. We love having the “salad making station”, and the drink station”, and the “pie cooling” area in front of the window. We’ve started using the Iced Tea maker again. (I think we should bring down the slushie maker from the attic.) It makes 2-3 quarts at a time, so we can keep pitchers of mint, lemon, chai, or other flavors of iced tea around. I wish we had more room in the refrigerator at this time of year. It’s always hard to fit in all the drinks and salad supplies. At the same time, I wish they made refrigerators that were only half as deep (although perhaps twice as wide, so as not to lose the space). Things get lost behind other things, and then you’ve wasted food. I know that it’s more efficient to have a less distended space (I suppose spherical would be most efficient) but losing stuff in the back- even searching for stuff in the back is annoying. At this point I miss my old “freezer on the bottom” model, although if I think of it, I probably prefer looking for something in the freezer when it’s at eye level. When we replace this one, I’m going to look for another bottom freezer refrigerator.
Speaking of things you think are going to last longer, two nights ago while flossing a crown popped off my tooth. Tomorrow I’ll be going to find out if it can simply be glued back on, or if there’s decay that will require a new crown. One tends to think that they’ll last forever, and certainly the dentist doesn’t explain that they won’t any more than the surgeon tells you that they only expect a hernia repair to last a decade or so. I expect there’s a huge variation in how long any of these things last, and they always want to be hopeful. Still, it’s frustrating when you go in and they say “well, what did you expect? It lasted longer than most do.” I’d prefer knowing up front (along with suggestions for maximizing longevity).
Not much has happened this week. I’ve read and watched movies, knit, did household chores and errands, worked on the CTCW website… the usual stuff. Mark came over last Thursday, bringing dinner and DVDs. We watched movies- I think he is organizing his collection and finding the ones he had in common with Bruce, and ones from Bruce’s collection he hadn’t watched yet.
Steve came up on Sunday. I tried a recipe I saw on facebook where you combined sweetened cream cheese with fresh fruit and bits of puff pastry. Lacking sheets of puff paste, I used the easily obtainable crescent roll dough. It was pretty good. We tried it Saturday with strawberries, and Sunday with the raspberries Steve brought. I am left wondering when puff pastry was invented because I bet these would make easy desserts for the SCA. I’d estimate you can make 16 for less than $5 or say about 33cents each. That’s not bad.
Willow is watching Avalon’s kids part time this summer. Willow’s put our appointments and shows on her electronic calendar, and Avi can see when she is available to come over. I think this is incredibly helpful, and one of the good things about modern technology. There are SO many cool things I see on facebook, like really good prosthetics that work with your brain, and three d printing, and hover boards… I feel like I’m living in “the future”.
Sadly, depression has reared it’s almost invisible head again. Reduced energy, foggy brain, lost motivation, and I’ve been having too strong emotional reactions to everything from old pictures to “nothing identifiable”. Luckily, we know this opponent from of old, and know his dirty tricks. We are all supportive of each other, and mostly, we know it’s “him” not us, so we don’t have the downward spiral of self recrimination. Also many tricks like “small victories”, exercise, nutrition, etc. This too shall pass.
Marianne Pfeifle, a friend of our parents, has died. Her funeral will be in Farmington on Saturday, and we are going to the Stonemarche event this weekend, so I won’t be going up for it. There aren’t many of the old lake crowd left. The Pfeifles had a big log cabin over on the north side of Henderson’s cove. They had four boys, so I didn’t hang around with them much, but I can remember looking down from their loft during a party. Those more daring and coordinated than I could get from beam to beam- theirs were round logs, like the walls of the cabins, which was exceptionally cool. One of the twins had an accident with a fire-cracker (didn’t throw it fast enough) one fourth of July. As I think about it, most of that wonderful crowd seems to have passed, although I suppose that is not strange. I was in the “baby boom” generation of the sixties, so most of them are in their eighties now- or would be. I think Dad and Mother, Pril Richman, Pat Roberts, Carol Bowne, and Ellie Paradis all went to school together, so they raised their kids together, along with our cousins when Unc married Aunt Amanda. The Flicks, Ames, and Pfeifles were lake crowd, and that’s where we knew them. We swam, sailed, played cards and charades, and generally lived an idyllic life, although I suspect it wasn’t quite that for our parents. Most of the fathers commuted to spend weekends at the lake, and the mothers had to do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping and child supervision, as much at the lake as in town. Perhaps supervising us swimming was the closest they got to time off. We certainly didn’t realize at the time.
One of the few regrets I have in my life was that in my efforts to reconcile my husband with his family, I neglected taking the kids up to get to know mine. I guess I just assumed that since they were such an integral part of my life that they were for my kids, and that doesn’t happen without actually getting there! I wish they could have known them! A more kind, witty, intelligent, fun, well read bunch you’d never find! The mothers passed around paperbacks- writing their names in them so people could see who’d read them already (thus who you could talk to about them, and not pass them back to). Wonderful system! As most of my generation are now grandparents, I wonder who still goes to the lake- we now divey up the time in our camp, although Kitty, being a art teacher, has always spent her summers there. Liz lives nearby, which means she gets stuck with being our representative in town for maintenance (and, I fear, does the lion’s share herself).
It is not surprising that time passes and we age, but somehow we tend to be surprised by it anyway.
I’ll tell you one thing that is better than in the old days: cotton bathing suits took forever to dry and were incredibly cold and clammy to get back into! While most of the time, I prefer to wear modern fabrics, synthetics are better for bathing suits! I’m sure Marianne has left her mark on the culture at the lake, even though she’s gone. She was the first one I ever saw put dandelion greens in a salad. (Dad used to have us bring in a “mess of greens” when he noticed them in the lawn, but having bloomed, they were so bitter they weren’t really good to eat any more, raw or boiled!)
If there’s a lesson to be learned from this latest funeral, it’s the same one as always: ask the questions. Take the pictures of the things you may want to remember- or more importantly, show someone who wasn’t there. I have just spent “too long” looking through old pictures for one of Marianne- and found lots of wonderful memories, if not one of her. Bless the people who wrote names and dates on the back of photos, and who tag digital pictures!
I watched more Westerns this week. I think I liked Rio Bravo better than almost any of the westerns I’ve seen. I was surprised because besides John Wayne it starred Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson (and yes, they did sing a bit). But just about everyone in the movie was reasonable. Wayne played a sheriff who prefers a rifle and talk to a six gun, Martin was a recovering alcoholic, Nelson a kid with a fast gun, and no need to prove himself, even at the end old gimpy Walter Brennan saves the day by using his head during the final shoot out. Even the “bad-rich-guy” who was trying to save his locked up brother (who’d killed someone while drunk) tried not to kill people, and surrendered when bested. The supporting characters were fun, and not demeaning stereotypes. I think it illustrates much of the appeal of westerns; they portrayed an environment where men got to decide what they considered the most important, and if they could get enough power/money/influence they could do pretty much as they wanted. This comes in conflict with those who want the “rule of law”, to know what is acceptable behavior. It’s hardly surprising that when the government set the pattern of treating the Indians as if they didn’t count as people, that the people who settled on their land would follow suit.
Hondo was a John Wayne picture from 1953 and I was surprised to find that it was originally in 3-D. According to the special features at the end, toward the end of the 40s they seemed to think that all pictures would be done in 3-D, but by the time Hondo came out, the fad was passing. There wasn’t much for the special effects to play with- some stabs in the knife fight, and a few shots of guns and arrows aimed at the camera. Mostly it was a good story. Even the Indians were given a fair shake- as the movie ended Wayne commented that their way of life was ending, which was too bad because it was a good one. I particularly liked the chief who admired the courage of the woman and her son, and brought several of his tribe over for her to select a new husband since hers had left her, and she needed one. That was a generous offer. He was certainly willing to consider everyone people, no matter what their origin. I’m glad that they made normal as well as 3-D versions. (apparently those were only shown in a few big theatres that had the double projectors for it). Even more interesting to me that the first 3-D movie was made in 1915, pretty cool considering normal films were only developed in the 1890s. I also didn’t know that they used to have special cameras to make your own 3D pictures to use in your Viewmaster viewers. I sure loved mine and had a huge collection in high school.
I had heard of Shane before, and I’d got the impression that the farmers wife and the drifting gunfighter were attracted to each other, and being a good guy, he left. Apparently I heard wrong. The kid certainly was attracted to the “mysterious stranger”, but the farmer was the real hero of the piece, a man of strength and conviction, and no wonder Shane didn’t want to stay around and be idolized by the kid when his father was such a good man, but the kid wasn’t recognizing it, but it looked to me like the wife did. The conflict was between the “villain”, the cattleman who was trying to run off the homesteaders who kept fencing the land- keeping his cattle away from water and grazing. They feel justified because they were “given” the land legally and paid in sweat equity, whereas the rancher felt he had earned his way of life by “running off the Indians, paying in blood of fallen comrades. It also showed very clearly the friction that the various settlers brought with them from the war between the states. Indeed it was insult: “Yankee” that led to the climactic gunfight. Frankly, compared to the kid in Hondo, the kid in Shane was incredibly annoying.
I also watched The Long Riders and Young Guns about the James/Younger gang and Billy the Kid’s gang. Everyone in those movies was pretty reprehensible and I didn’t care much for either of them. The “gimmick” of using actual brothers to play the real life brothers didn’t enhance the movie much, and the point was pretty clear that they only didn’t get caught because they were related to just about everyone and relatives didn’t turn each other in. I think I am pretty much done with this theme of movies. I am probably more fascinated by the genre than I was before I started, but at the same time, I’m done with it.
I continue to be fascinated and distracted by the landscapes, something I’d never paid much attention to when I was a kid watching western adventure movies. There’s something weird to this New England native about a cluster of houses in a great flat expanse with farging huge mountains towering over them.
The films Mark brought over were not westerns. Never so Few Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronsen, Peter Lawford. It was a movie about the actions in Burma in WWII, Frank Sinatra’s part must have been like when we send “observers” in to lead native troops in actions in which we can’t officially participate. Captain Reynolds was leading Kachin natives against the Japanese, although another “front” included paying Chinese drug lords for their help. The story has some of them attacking US soldiers, and the government tries to hush it up, due to political requirements. Somehow Reynolds manages to not become a casualty of this political maneuvering, and gets the girl. Steve McQueen appears as a ingenious young soldier that the Captain gets attached to his unit, along with Lawford, a doctor who’d rather treat rich officers, out of harms way. Bronsen plays a Navajo code talker- although I’m not quite sure how they’d rate one. It reminded me of Air America, although I’m not sure whether that’s because of the local or the sneaky undercover deals done by the “good guys”.
(Classic) War of the Worlds– but not the one with Tom Cruise, apparently there were three versions made in 2005; this one was actually set in the period in which H. G. Wells wrote the story. I think it fairly low budget, but feel that this may have been an artistic decision. It followed the original book much more closely than any of the movies that attempt to update it. The costumes were great, (although I tended to see them reused in crowd scenes), and the inside sets wonderful. The walking Martian Tripods were excellent, and the rest of the special effects seemed to be from the beginning of the century. Sometimes the “artsiness” got in the way of the story, sometimes it made it more powerful. I would say it’s “campy”, but I liked it better than the blockbuster versions. (Nothing will hold the same place in my heart as the Gene Barry one from ’53- I doubt I ever saw it off the small screen, but it is a childhood memory, and therefore “the right version”.)
This week I read the books on Sioux, Huron, and Cherokee. Each tribe has its own story, but they have a whole lot in common. The Cherokee stand out because they assimilated so much with the Europeans who moved into their territory. But the basic heartbreaking story is the same: as soon as the Europeans wanted the land they were living on, they were kicked out of it. It parallels current history in that it seems to be the rich convincing the political to allow them to do whatever they want in order to get more money, not matter who it hurts. I am also seeing disturbing parallels to the way the Nazis treated the Jews- first demonizing them, seizing their property, putting them in small areas (ghetto/reservation), and finally just killing them. It’s taken longer, and the Native Americans have survived- somewhat, but it’s really disturbing to be on the “bad guys” side of it. (OK, in the SCA I play a Anglo-Saxon only a couple generations removed from being the ones King Arthur was trying to kick out, but it doesn’t feel like we’re playing invaders.) Last week one of the holidays that I posted about was Mabo Day in Australia. This is a day of Truth and Reconciliation, where the Europeans of Australia recognize that they did, rather violently, steal the land from the Aboriginals. Actually, not quite, it celebrates them overturning the legal fiction that Australia was “terra nullius” (nobody’s land) before the Europeans/Christians got there. (As Eddie Izzard put it “Do you have a flag?” “No flag, no country! We claim this land for England!”) Until we stop being in denial about what we’ve done, we can make no meaningful movement toward even recognizing what creating fair policy is.
OK, last week it was all about the stupid gorilla shooting, before that who gets to use what bathrooms, this week the internet has noticed that (what a surprise!) a white rapist gets a hand slap, and black rapists get huge long sentences, and the media even covers them differently. Really‽ And this is surprising to someone? I suspect that next week we’ll be fussing about the underhanded shenanagins in the primaries now that those are over. The US used to be the light of democracy for the rest of the world. Now it’s embarrassing. The conference isn’t over yet, though, and I am still hoping and expecting that the super delegates will decide that beating Trump is more important than supporting Clinton, even though they expected her to win all year. Sanders has the crowds. I am not sure though- some people are just so psyched by the idea of a (gasp) woman president that they’re supporting her, and some are convinced that we need someone who knows how to play the game. I think the wide support that both Sanders and Trump have shows that people DON’T want someone who plays the game, and frankly, if we don’t seriously fix what’s broken in the current system (overturn Citizens United, break up the monopolies, deal with climate change, etc.), we’re in deep shite. Even if Sanders becomes President there is only so much one can accomplish, it’s got to be gradual, but I don’t see Clinton working against her major financial contributors. And clearly, there are a LOT of people who are willing to ignore all facts in order to latch onto Trumps promises of a better world where you are allowed to be hateful publicly. I can only suppose that these are the people who have a bit of trouble reading and doing math and thinking for themselves, and want to just be told what to do, so that a “daddy figure” can “make everything all right”. I feel sorry for them, but we have to do what is right, not what makes the people who scream loudest shut up.
Tonight my podcast was was about Tarot with Kirsten Houseknect again. She was great and I pretty much only spoke to assert that it was MY show, mostly I took notes. Cool. AFTER a really hellish twenty minutes trying to get into the studio- it wasn’t working today. I kept getting instructions to call a number, where there’d be voice mail telling me that they were busy (yeah, because their programs weren’t working!) but please send them an email explaining my problem in detail (I need to be on the air in 2 minutes you non-helpful people!) I ended up with the studio on, but not my connection, so I called myself! Weird. Thank goodness the show- although a bit late- was good. Ah well. The midnight hour approaches!
See me write my letter. See me not talk about politics. Good girl. Have a biscuit.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinions; but everyone is not entitled to their own facts.” –Daniel Patrick Moynihan