2-11-2015 Celebration of Love Week!

DSC01759 DSC01778Oh, yes, this week is full of references to Valentines, it’s called “Dump your significant Jerk Week”, and Sunday was World Marriage Day. They’ve got a lot of heart health days (weeks and months for everything from women to blacks), also I think some heart (morphing to organ) donor days. Friday is International Condom Day, also  “Desperation Day”, exorbitant price day (for those who figured you should buy flowers and sweets at the last minute so they’ll be fresh) as well as Satisfied Staying Single Day.  Saturday is  Singles Appreciation Day,and Quirky Alone Day as well as  National Have A Heart Day, and Valentines itself. More than half of Americans seem to spend money on Valentines, averaging about $133 (vs $75 on Halloween and $790 for Christmas).  I wonder does that figure average the dollar packets of cards for school kids who are forced to give them to everyone whether they like them or not with the diamond rings given along with proposals? Estimates range between $17 and $37 billion spent in total. I’ve picked up some dove truffles for Willow who’s fond of them, and they don’t seem to be available the rest of the year. Sadly, all I could find was the dark chocolate truffles, and she prefers the milk chocolate. Luckily, she found some milk chocolate ones and passed the darks to Avalon who does like them, so all is well. Kat apparently is not particularly fond of chocolate- maybe good white chocolate occasionally. I have pretty much given up on wishing we’d leave Valentines to the lovers, because what America loves is money changing hands, and will do whatever is necessary to get that to happen. Personally, I’ve always been in the camp of “any excuse for a holiday”, so I’ve got very little defense.

Speaking of my too-frequent rants, I’m sure you’re aware of mine about invalidism, how modern people don’t seem to get that you need to take it easy after they’re sick? Yeah, well, I seem to have over anticipated my returning strength and am back to being too weak to walk around much, with a dry cough that makes it worse; frankly the weakness is the annoying part. I was SO excited to be recovering, I’m sure that’s what did it. Now, every time I try to do “normal” activities, I find myself exhausted. I’ve spent most of the week sitting at the kitchen table doing mending and embroidery. I haven’t felt strong enough to stand for a half hour to use my new oreshki iron, although it’s staged and ready to go! So, not much has gone on this week, although I’m not sure much has gone on for other people as well, here in the Northeast except dealing with snow!
I rather like that they name the storms now.  Marcus was the last one we had to deal with. They were making dire predictions about accumulations, and how long it was going to last. The thing was it was going to last from Saturday to Tuesday. Maps had us in the Foot and a half range, and that is a lot of snow, even if you’re a New Englander. The biggest complication was that Steve was hoping to come up to share my birthday with me, and he usually comes on Sundays, but Saturday seemed a better bet. Willow pointed out that they were suggesting only about five inches on Saturday, most of the rest on Sunday and Monday, so Steve figured he could risk it. We’d talked a bit about going to Lyrions “Bardic Night” in Milford, but she actually cancelled it because so few people were coming and it costs $400 to rent the church hall. That seems a lot to me. Steve is fond of folk singing, but we were both just as happy to stay in.IMG_0728
As is traditional, I made curried lamb and a “Duchess Cake”- angel cake filled with whipped cream, strawberries and pineapple. It’s especially good the next day (for breakfast). Mark came over too, and brought me a plaque about chocolate. Steve had taken away our old collection of audio tapes and put them all (well, the ones that survived 15-20 years) on an MP3 file for me. It must have taken him a month, and I am tickled, although there are still a few songs I almost remember that apparently didn’t survive. We tend to assume things will last as long as we do.
DSC01764My other presents were Uggs from the girls- Willow found them on ebay, short red ones and medium purple ones, so I am now fashionable (by some definitions of fashionable) and have cozy feet. John gave me season one of Fantasy Island, and I got a waffle bowl maker, the oriski iron, a cake slicing gadget, and a mini crockpot (we tried using it for fondue).

IMG_0723I’m not sure you can see the purple boots in the background of the picture. I know I’ve taken pictures of this filled cake in the past, but those are lost with so many other pictures. What was odd though, was that I couldn’t find any pictures of this dessert which has been a staple of my childhood and adulthood, come to that, on the internet. In the usual way of people assuming that what is commonplace for them, I figured everyone knew this cake. It’s not like it’s hard.

Make an angel food cake. I use a box otherwise you have to find something to do with a dozen egg yolks. When cool, cut the top inch off the cooked angel cake and set it aside, then cut down to within an inch of the bottom in a ring around the central core of the cake, and carefully lift out a channel. Whip about 3-4 cups of cream (sweeten with powdered sugar, and vanilla), and drain WELL a half cup each of frozen strawberries and crushed pineapple. (While crushed pineapple is useful for many things, I wonder if it wasn’t a clever way to sell the trimmings of broken rings originally.) Mix those into a cup of cream, and also a half cup of mini or chopped marshmallows. I think the marshmallows are there to give some substance to the mixture- they melt in and disappear. I have also used fresh strawberries, but the frozen ones sort of melt into the whipped cream coloring it and making the sliced cake look better. Fill the channel in the cake with this fruit mixture, then put the top back on the cake and cover it with the rest of the whipped cream.  Decorate with strawberries.
I have also had a variation, which we call a Baroness Cake, the only difference is that you add some cocoa powder to the sweetened whipped cream, and fill it with the chocolate whipped cream with marshmallows and sliced almonds, and decorate it with almonds. I love them both and I think we’ve also tried it with raspberries. In our house we set aside the naked angel cake for Kat who doesn’t care for whipped cream.

I spent way too much time worrying about how many candles to put on for my 63rd birthday: 3? 6? 9 for 3+6? Finally I put on 8 because when sticking the strawberries on, 8 fit well, so the candles went between them. I got them out all with one breath without coughing, but I forgot to make a wish. Oh well. I’ve had lots of wishes in my life. Frankly, I’d have a hard time wishing for anything except to recover. (It’s what makes giving old people gifts hard, we’ve already gotten everything we want that’s feasible.
So my birthday was pleasant, in a low key way, and I was SO not up for more. I got, I think something like 140 birthday wishes on fb, which is a lot less impressive when you think that fb reminds people of their friends birthdays, and it represents only about 20% of mine.
I got a bit distracted by rereading old letters and journals, and being reminded how quickly a strange symptom can presage incoming mortality. Worked on a bucket list. Willow points out that it’s mostly obligations I don’t want to leave unmet, and I should put in things I want to do. But I’ve done just about everything I want to do. There was a list of questions going around to help people know each other. The first question was “if you could have anyone as a dinner guest, who would you want and why?” and all I could think was someone who enjoys my cooking and our families conversation, and I think Steve Raskind fits the bill perfectly.DSC01773
As expected we got about 5″ of snow on Saturday, another 5″ on Sunday, I think Monday morning we had another 9″, so the total came out to about a foot and a half. Sadly, while digging the car out to take it to Winkles on Thursday (inspections in the month of your birthday), I seem to have pushed myself too far, and Willow and Kat aren’t doing too well  either, so dear John is stuck with the digging mostly by himself.
DSC01780Our philosophy is “God put it there, he can get rid of it.” inasmuch as is possible. Sadly, we do have to get out occasionally. I think the most impressive bits are the icycles. We (read: John) knock them off, but they grow again. Willow says they grow faster if you knock them off, and I have no idea if that’s true or not, but they’re impressive. So far our favorite was one that developed a sideways fork. Really a 3″ piece coming out at a 90º angle, parallel to the ground, then turning 90º back down again. I assume some sort of wind involvement, and wish I’d gotten a picture.

As I said, I have pretty much sat and done handwork. I have been working on my new quilted skirt as my favorite old one needs repairs almost every time I wear it- it’s soft flannel and wearing out. Sigh. When that gets too heavy, I work on favors having DSC01776accepted kits I “thought” I was going to be able to do while chatting at Crown and Birka. Somewhere in the mists of time some queen (after my time, thank goodness!) gave all the fighters favors. Now it seems all queens have to do it even though the kingdoms are larger. It’s done by enlisting the help of the needleworkers of the kingdom, which is probably appropriate. I remember some movie in which ladies of the court were picking out the initials of one of Henry’s wives to put in anothers’, and they were doing this standing up! The idea of spending the entire day without sitting down is appalling to me as tired as I am recently.DSC01777

I also finished putting the border on my banner and think it looks much better now. All I need do at this point is put the hanging tabs and backing on again.

The day after my birthday I spent watching the first disc co Fantasy Island; I was surprised that even in the pilot they had Mr. Roarke commenting that people were so “human” when they came up with fantasies. I didn’t think they developed the “just what IS Mr. Roarke?” until the later seasons. I’ve also watched more Upstairs-Downstairs, (the old king just died, so it’s about 1910), and some old favorite robot movies like Short Circuit (Inspired by “Love your Robot Day“). I enjoyed thinking about all the wonderful robots we’ve seen in movies that I posted a reminiscence on my website. I finally watched The Iron Giant. We watched it when the kids were young, but I didn’t actually watch it, and didn’t realize that it was a send up of 50s monster movies. It’s actually rather well done.     Having watched the Hobbit films recently, I reread the Hobbit, resurrecting my  old discontents with what they left out of the movie. I didn’t mind their adding bits from the Silmarillion (good heavens! why does the spell checker recognize THAT!), and I understand adding some action sequences, although I think the movies wouldn’t be harmed by editing them out. (While we’re add it, let’s get rid of the pod racing scene in Star Wars, the quiddich scenes in Harry Potter, and a lot of the battle scenes and sex scenes in most movies. Yes, watching Legolas fight is like watching a dance, and us fun, but I wouldn’t watch it again and again (although, come to think of it, I have done that with the rescue scene in the Patriot, it was so well coordinated. It’s not so much putting useless stuff in the rankles, but what they left OUT (left out after having drawn it out into three movies)! They left out the thrush and ravens and the importance of Bilbo finding the the weak spot on Smaug for Bard to hit. They left out the spiders, and the development of Bilbo coming to rely on his luck and his own resources. In the whole cycle, they messed up the troll scene, they messed up the interaction with the eagles, they totally left out the wonderful way Gandalf introduced the dwarves gradually to Bjorn, they left out Bilbo’s miserable time skulking around the Elf King’s castle to find the river gate, and how awful it was for the dwarves to be shut up in the barrels. They gave up character development for action sequences and humor. I don’t care for that exchange.
I also note the difference between the elves (and possibly the orcs/goblins) as portrayed in the Hobbit as opposed to in the Lord of the Rings. They were more frivolous, more petty, and less awe inspiring. I think it was probably a combination of the Hobbit having been written as a children’s story, and the LotR being an adult epic, and that he hadn’t started the world building as much when he wrote the Hobbit. I was interested in his comments on the Elf king who turned out to be Legolas’ father. (Bloom pulled off Legolas, but I wish they’d done some CGI on his face to make it look as young, if not younger, than he looked in the moves that were supposed to be taking place 70 years later. They mentioned that Gimli was Gloin’s “wee lad”, and I know an elfin princeling can still be young while older than a young dwarf, but at the council of Elrond they were both essentially what would be human teens.) Not having read the Silmarillion since it came out, my personal way of justifying it in my own head (the kids have a useful term: head canon), I imagine that the wood elves are a lesser branch of elves than the high elves of Lothlorian. This may because of the Elfquest mythology in which the elves come to earth and interbreed with the locals through shape shifting. They are clearly relatives, not quite as mighty, but also quite happy with what they are. The hobbit movies simply superimpose the Middle Earth developed in the previous movies to be consistent, whereas in the books, consistency wasn’t as strong.
I also re-watched Gamers: the Dorkness Rising (it is SO funny if you do roleplaying games and know gamers, and probably fairly lame if you don’t.), and Futurama: Benders Game. I hadn’t seen that before and would have expected more Ender’s Game references.

I think I mentioned I was reading a biography of Yul Brynner, but after I got much past his youth (gypsies, circus, opium) I actually lost interest, and am sending the book back to the library. Frankly, while, in theory I’d love to read “everything”, there really isn’t time. In nearly all parts of our life we are like people who win the chance (was it a game show?) to run through a grocery store and can grab whatever they want from the shelves in a few minutes. It’s a great analogy for life- we have only so much time, and are tSnow- Marcusrying to get as much as we can in the time we have. If this means I have to skip certain things, I guess I’ll have to do that.
Tonight my podcast is going to be about Numerology, and I suppose I should get my notes in order. Really, I haven’t done much this week. We watched it snow. We did handwork. The cats seem to be getting cabin fever, and are playing more.
Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
John Ruskin

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