Happy Canned Luncheon Meat Week!

Let’s hear it for Spam? (I seem to have already used Fried Chicken Day and Kissing Day, and since I often search for these by title on my website, I like mentioning different holidays in the subject line.)
It is hot today, and the kitchen is full of delicious smells since Willow is preparing the herbals that Jane sells for us. I’m smelling cinnamon and clove, although she says mostly she’s smelling the plantain oil that’s been infusing for the last few weeks. It’s very “happy” this year. Plantain is a wonderful healing plant and goes in almost everything, and grows around us, so that’s easy. She did just finish our tumeric- but mostly that’s there to make the drummer’s salve yellow (although it is good for skin, protects from dehydration, helps the body regulate temperature and other good stuff. There are so many benefits from so many herbs that Willow can add some simply to make each salve smell and look different from the others. Frankly, most herbal salves are “green goo”, so they need a bit of differentiation. Labels are also our friend.

DSC02615I thought that we had a hotplate in there to use for tasks like this, but apparently it died or got lost over the years, so we’re going to have to get another one. Then she won’t have to walk back and forth between the stove and the cooling slab. (it’s the station between the dryer and the salad making station in the pantry. I love the pantry!) Willow got herself a new, larger pan this year, which has pouring spouts on both sides. In the past we’ve made and passed on the herbals at Pennsic, but this year we’re going to pass them off at Great Northeastern War, so she had to do them earlier than usual. Luckily Jane didn’t want any anti-poison ivy ointment, because the Jewelweed is still quite small.

Last year GNEW decided to let the vendors come in and set up on Thursday, so between having the 4th of July on Monday (which ALWAYS throws me off) and having to leave for the weekend on Thursday as soon as the girls get out of their appointments (which means packing first), this has been essentially a two day, not five day week. Ouch! We also have decided to invest in renting a truck to go up there again.
Last month I did the pre-summer check on the car, and Steve found some “foot” or “shoe” or something like that that needed replacing before we took the trailer on any long hauls. Sadly, while Steve sent for the part, it didn’t get in before they took off this week for their annual vacation. Given that these days stress is a major thing we try to reduce, and I also trust Steve’s advice. And having broken down on the road to GNEW twice, (AAA doesn’t cover trailers, and our set-up is so bulky now that we can’t get by without it), we don’t want to go for a third time. We agree that it’s a good idea, but hate to spend money to rent when we have a “perfectly good” car. Except we don’t, obviously.

Last Friday we went down to Wolf E Myrow’s: “The Dragon’s Horde”. Last year I sent the girls down on their own, but Willow was hoping I could help drive. Actually, because it’s my “distance” contact that still hasn’t come in (they say things were slowed down because of the holiday weekend) I wasn’t much help there. Actually, I just called and it DID come in yesterday, but they didn’t CALL me, although they promised they would. Grrr! Now I have to manage to go get a “fitting” along with everything else tomorrow morning.
We didn’t get an early start, which we usually do, so got there after 1 and rushed around, trying to put together a small order. Willow had gone through the stock to make a list of what we were low on. Still, as usual when we rush, we bought more than we’d intended. Willow thinks it’s a case of “get it all and let God sort it out”. It happens at grocery stores and craft stores too- with the added motivation at Wolf’s that not only will it “not go bad”, but also the really good stuff we used to find there is beginning to not be there any more. So when we found some gorgeous glass pearls (as opposed to plastic) we got the bundle- which was $100, instead of the minimum. One of these years we’re going to go back and all of the really nice glass gems will be gone. It’s already almost impossible to find settings. Still, it was nice to see the people. Even though we only go down once a year, they remember us (as I recall, when we first went, Ælfwine used to have Willow on his back in a baby backpack). That feels good. I was pleased that my knees are still able to negotiate the stairs down to the sub basement.

Saturday was Canobie Con- where the girls gather with other friends in cosplay (costumes) at Canobie Amusement park. This was the 10th one, and some of the people at the park remembered them- like the band that plays old fashioned music. Kat dancing at Canobie. These cosplays are designed to be able to wear them on rides- although Kat’s looks rather fancy, it’s sturdy and capable of surviving the water rides, which is pretty cool. Willow was doing a lady Pokemon trainer, and Kat was doing a Lolita version of Adric from Dr. Who. Since I watched her make her Adric cosplay, I was able to see how the colors and layers and patterns came in. (The star motif around the skirt comes from Adric’s math award prize star.) For the anniversary year, they had a best cosplay prize, and Willow went to win. She got the right hat, the right sunglasses, everything down to the accessories and hairdo. She made that “utilikilt” (and it’s practical enough to wear again later).

DSC02604And she won. The trophy is a bit of useless clutter, but it acknowledges the work she put in. And Kat has another adorable loli to wear. I’m not sure, but I think she may have passed out more cards- as tends to happen when she wears her loli’s in public, people recognize the style and wonder where she gets them.

While they were gone (and they stayed late for the fireworks), Mark came over for supper and brought food, as he often does. But he hadn’t known that the girls were out, and had brought a whole steak for each of us (and corn on the cob, bread, carrots and cake- he really doesn’t want to be a burden). Rather than fire up the grill for only the three of us, he took John and me out to China Star, and came back over for the 4th where we had so much steak we could hardly move.DSC02607
As corn doesn’t age well (at least to old fussy folk like myself), we ate that corn on Sunday, and got new corn for Independence Day. Steve came up on Sunday, and we had lovely burgers (and corn). Before he got there, I spent (admittedly) too much time on facebook. I started thinking about how vets were treated after the Viet Nam War, and think it was shameful. The anti-war movement seemed to have been perfectly willing to embrace the bigotry of assuming that every poor boy who went over there became a baby-killing village burner, as though many of them only served because they were drafted. And beyond that, it’s just stupid to embrace the idea that because a few a**holes do horrible things and it gets press (I assume I don’t have to give examples of that!) that it’s reasonable to express the anger we have about those crimes against everyone in the same groups- whether ethnic, age, job, gender, or whatever. I’m sure it was pretty awful for the men who served in Viet Nam, and coming back to people spitting on them, calling them names, and then the government not taking as good care of them as we’d like to think it does for men (and women) who’ve given much of their lives- and psyche- for their country. We may disagree with the motivation of those who tell them what to do, but that doesn’t mean that the men who serve as the tools of the politicians aren’t doing their best in trying circumstances. So that was the happy thoughts that I was thinking on the fourth.
We worked very hard to avoid getting too much food (having Mark provide steaks helped- I’d never seen that much together outside of an event!). I have a problem because when we were kids, we always had tons of family and friends out at the lake, and there were hot-dogs, burgers, buns, many kids of chips, corn, baked beans, multiple potato and other salads, and occasionally other meats like chicken, steak, ribs, etc. When it comes to tradition, one tends to assume that if you’ve had it there before, it needs to be there again. This time I asked the kids what, if anything, they required to be emotionally satisfied that we’d properly celebrated. I realized that I really felt the need for potato salad (German), and Willow considered that she felt the day required barbecued chicken drumsticks (so we got a half dozen- and were so full we couldn’t eat them until the next day). That’s OK, leftovers are traditional too, and we didn’t make too many. Steve especially liked the melon salad. It’s something I make a lot when it’s hot, and he thought it was nice to have it with ripe, not crunchy melon, the way it is so often when it’s made in cafeterias. Sales were favorable this week, so we had one with watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and pineapple. Nice!
Part of this was that I lost track of what we had in the fridge (possibly because Mark provided two dinners) and I had to throw out some food that went over. I hate it when I do that! I actually got to mostly finished chicken and onions to discover that the chicken while it didn’t smell off, tasted off, and we don’t mess with that these days.
John watched Independence Day, The Music Man, and 1776. I was appalled by a humorous clip on facebook with man-on-the-street interviews where they found enough people who had no idea what Independence Day was about. (I will give them family, and barbecuing, but…) I’m sure they selected for the people who didn’t know, but still, one would assume that they’d know at least what country we fought, the year, a founding father or two. (Sorry, Jesse Ventura and John Wilkes Booth are wrong!) We REALLY need to revamp the educational system. Yes, History can be taught in such a way that it’s boring. I’ve been there- it’s awful. But it can also be done well, and there are certain basics everyone should know!
Interestingly, although we had meant to shoot off a firework or two, we actually went to bed before it was really dark. Willow and I have been waking up when it gets light (and that’s REALLY early!) and often can’t get back to sleep, so because of this, I’m ready to crash about the time it gets dark. I had been concerned that my schedule had crept too far into late night, but it seems to be fixing itself.

DSC02616Jobs are bigger than they sound. Willow was being happy that she’d finished decanting the burn balm, and I tried to congratulate her, but she pointed out that she still had to wipe all the jars off and put the labels on.  (which she has now done) That is true of almost every job I can think of. I find my day being eaten up with making meals, and base level cleaning, doing laundry (I do love hanging out the wash and bringing it in- it’s clean and pleasant), errands, and other basics. When you’re done with that, there’s so little time for other things. Or, as Willow notices when she’s at Avi’s, since Avalon is a working mother, by the time she gets home, she sometimes hasn’t the time or energy for the cooking, cleaning and parenting she wants very much to do. Willow has been gradually getting the kids to do things like help more (with the laundry, and yesterday they helped her with the recycling). Her next goal is to have them ask before leaving the table, and clear their places. I think by the end of the summer, they may be more helpful for Avi. There is a great truth that it is easier to just DO something than to try to show someone else how to do it.
We’ve hit that tipping point in the summer when there are flies in the kitchen. There weren’t any last week, but this week there are. So up with the fly strips, and now we’re trying to keep all the surfaces cleaner- sweeping the floor, wiping the table and counters and stovetop every day- putting the fruit in the screen covered basket instead of on the “fruit tree”. We also are very careful about making sure the cats have their monthly flea treatments. When Mark asked if we should bug bomb the house, it occurred to me that we used to do that fairly regularly when we got back from  Pennsic- we’d come in and discover that cats had imported “guests”, set the bombs, go out for dinner and fresh food, come back and clear the bodies (and cans) away. Since we’ve been using the monthly treatments (which I worried might be too poisonous), we haven’t had to do that. It became really important when we got to the point of bathing Zoloft every week. That was one miserable cat!
shower going inI’ve been chatting with Liz about the repairs on the camp. The latest complication was that the estimates she got for fixing it did NOT include fixing the walls and putting the toilet furniture back! While it’s nice to have the bathroom have a floor, I’d rather like it to have a sink and toilet as well! So we sent Willow’s money she’d made up to Liz, and they should finish re-installing the fixtures (and the cheapest panels for walls) before the crowds arrive this weekend. Poor Liz. Meanwhile Kitty has been trying to get the speed boat in the water and working, which seems to have some problems to which I am not privy. She shared one picture of it being towed with the comment “Not how I planned to launch the boat”. Well, when the sun is setting she’s usually pretty mellow.Kitty propella won't go down

I feel frustrated that I’m not getting up to camp much, and I know that it’s all my choosing priorities. But still, sometimes your choices are between two things you don’t want. (sigh, politics is intruding in my thoughts too often lately)

*Political rant* skip if you want:
By and large I prefer not to sink into politics- everyone has a right to his or her opinion, and I’m sure they are all based on life experiences. When I was little I totally believed my grandmother when she told me that “Negros are just more lazy than white people are.” After all, she was an adult and I was a kid, and she’d lived down south, and had more experience than I did (which was none). But in those years, and experiences, somehow she missed the bit where being exploited so badly led to this form of “passive aggression” (active aggression being seriously dangerous in the fifties). I got older, I learned more. I changed my position.  Currently my position is that we are at a turning point. The system has gotten so bad that it needs changing, even though change is uncomfortable and can sometimes get out of control. Certain things cannot be allowed to continue, like not doing what we must to reverse climate change, and ending the rule of corporate interests in everything from food to health care. Change is inevitable, all we can do is try to make it work in a positive way. Today’s example. FBI Director Comey said that Clinton, a Presidential candidate is “extremely careless” with state secrets, not a “reasonable person” (sort of a lowest common denominator legally), and that she lied several times on many different occasions, but that being an unreasonable, careless, liar doesn’t meet the criteria for a criminal case. (I rather suspect that it would for people with less high profiles.) Still, it’s possible. But it means I wouldn’t want her for President. Lying may be required of a president, but I sure don’t want someone careless with state secrets getting hold of more. This doesn’t say that Trump is a better choice. It says that there isn’t a choice between them. The system needs fixing, we NEED to stop accepting that we need to pick the lesser of two evils. There, I’ve said my piece for this week.

Still thinking about the internet, I have been ranting in my head about one article I read (I do read, but am not going to mention the political articles) on the link between clutter and depression. I’ve read about it before. There is a correlation. There is even some causation. Gee, ya think? If you are too tired, miserable and brain fogged, you tend to not be able to keep up with housework. I hoped that the article I saw would be suggesting that perhaps if you had a friend who was depressed and when you visit (which you should) you should empty their waste baskets and wash their dishes for them. I would resist urges to try to organize them. Yes, it’s hard when you are depressed to decide which items in your closet you’ll never wear again, or which nicknacks are clutter, and which are precious keepsakes when you can’t get up the focus to decide whether you should bother eating or just go back to bed. And I don’t know anyone who’s psychic enough to know what’s precious to someone else. Go ahead, do chores for them, free up their energy so they can spend it on something more pleasurable, but damnit, don’t given them ‘decluttering’ tips that would be useful for people who aren’t depressed. (Maybe- ‘put the dishes in the washer, not the sink’ is much more useful for people with dishwashers. While I recognize that living in a mess makes you feel worse, I’m loathe to let anyone come in and tell someone what they NEED to get rid of if it’s not actually moldy.) Another thing I remember from this week was our friend Steffan, who’s a pharmacist, reminding folks that Interns cycle in on July 1st, so one should avoid hospitals for a while if you can.)

I have REALLY been learning to appreciate having two cars and two contacts! I am SO looking forward to being able to go out if I need to and Willow is out. At curia Willow had noticed some liquid under her car, and then noticed that it wasn’t steering well. The fluid was gone. She added more, and it emptied immediately. This is like deciding “it’s not just a cold” Friday afternoon, so you can’t get in with the Doctor. So she’s been using the Caravan to get to Avi’s, go to the Dragon’s Horde, the dump, etc. I have tons of stuff to get done here anyway.
Jane had to call and remind me to get on for the CTCW planning meeting Thursday; I’d totally spaced it. I spent about a dozen hours since then working on the website. I really wish I were better at it. People are trying to register, but the system isn’t working.

Yesterday was just one of those days. Willow came home with mystery bruises, and a lemonade glass that had a crack suddenly gave way while John was washing it, and cut a nasty gash in his knuckle. This would not have been as much an issue, but John is one of those folks who tends to pass out at the sight of blood. Luckily, we knew this. He averted his eyes while I applied the steristrips and bandage, (washed off all the considerable leakage), and then he put pressure on it for fifteen minutes or so. I am so pleased that this seemed to do the trick, I wasn’t sure we weren’t going to have to take him for stitches, but so far so good.

I finished reading the latest Deryni book, King’s Deryni. It wasn’t that interesting, sadly. It’s the sort of thing that the author should know, but the readers don’t have to- just background. Oh well. Finished a couple more of the Native American books: Cheyenne and Apache; the unfairness and abuse they have in common is heartbreaking and infuriating, but the differences between the different cultures is fascinating! I had never heard of the highly polished mica bearing Jicarilla pottery they made. I can believe that the Spaniards could see it in passing and think they’d found a tribe who used gold for cooking pots (then when they found out preferring to pass on the tall tale than admit to being that foolish)! Beautiful!

jicarilla potteryI am now deeply into reading books to research for my Pennsic (and before that GNEW) classes. This weekend I’m also teaching kids to embroider (I sure hope my kids didn’t give me a totally unrealistic view of what’s possible.), the Evil Eye, the Wild Hunt, Marchen and Monsters (basically werewolves, witches, giants, fairies, vampires, etc.). At the war I’ll be doing Anglo-Saxon Otherworld, AS Saints, and Forest Law. Will I be able to make handouts for these? I don’t know. I’ve put up the Pre-pennsic planning calendar, but have barely put up any of the tasks on it yet.
Well, I’ve got an hour until the Podcast- tonight I’m talking to Deb Jarvis about Comics as Modern Mythology. I’m really looking forward to that. On the other hand, I’d better get some stuff done in the time before I have to sign in. We have opted to rent a truck rather than take the chance of breaking down on the way again. I hope we make enough money to cover that rental, but whether we do or not, it’s going to reduce stress. Still, we need to be all packed by 3, and we’ll be going out to pick up the truck in Manchester at 7, so I really can’t stay up late. We had “tea” late (fourish) so won’t try to eat before the show, maybe after at nine. I hope to have fun (not adventurous) stories to tell you next week about the great time we had at GNEW. Until then, take care of yourself!

Willow’s trophy
“Fear less, hope more;

whine less, breathe more;

talk less, say more;

hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.”         Swedish proverb