Happy Chestnut Week!

Late again- this time because I wasn’t really up to writing, I apologize, but worry that I flatter myself that anyone really notices if I am late. I certainly hope that this is not the high point of your week, even just in the category of email! My reason even sounds lame to me- I had a toothache. Actually I had just plunged into an intense effort to get the house clean when it hit, I wonder if my subconscious didn’t bring it on as an excuse to derail that brilliant plan! I sure hope not. We’ll see when I start up again!
 
I think that the Indian Summer has come and gone. We’ve taken down the Air Conditioners and the front door screen. I am thinking I may actually need to close my bedroom window this winter, although it’s not bad so far.
At this point we are calling the kitten Gretel, she still is hanging in Kat’s room, although we’d like to let her out.  Zoloft apparently prefers the kitten food- or maybe she’s simply trying to assert her right to eat Gretle’s food. She chases her around Kat’s room to the detriment of the furnishings, so Kat is trying to keep her out. Pyewacket doesn’t seem quite so obnoxious about putting her in her place. 
Road crews came along Pinnacle this week trimming the trees over the lines. We have excellent road crews. They seem to mulch everything they cut down, so there isn’t much to show they’ve been there, except the noise, which is considerable during the shredding. I was worried that they might want to take down the big tree across the way, but they seem to be concentrating on limbs over the lines.
 
The most exciting thing that happened this week was that Willow noticed some cars pulled over near the farmstead, and looking to see what they were watching saw a black bear running away from an overturned hive. We are used to the hives being there. Then she realized that the “brown thing” in its mouth was probably one of the frames. She went on and mentioned it to the ladies at the farmstead, and they knew whose hives they were, and called him to let him know. Apparently he’d just checked on them the day before. Small town gossip I guess.
 
I have actually accomplished little. Today I actually washed dishes for the first time in days, and cleared a lot of old Tupperware from the refrigerator, and made dinner. My toothache had come back and swelled up, I even had fever and chills, so I called the dentist and got an antibiotic prescription called in. Now the swelling’s down and I feel better, but I was not doing well. I didn’t want to deal with it (I had an appointment with the dentist in a week) but I remembered that they discovered in 2007 that Hatsheputset had probably died of an infected tooth, which reminded me that it should be taken seriously. In my reading I also noticed that hospitalizations from infected teeth have gone up 40% in the past few years. I can’t help think that reflects people putting off getting dentistry done because it’s no longer affordable on what the average person makes, until it gets life threatening. I can’t imagine why lawmakers don’t understand that keeping people healthy is cheaper than dealing with a population that lets things get worse. Anyway, for a while there I was not really doing well. 
I spent the down time repairing sheets that had holes in them and needed patches. I remember than in the old days people would cut old sheets down the middle and sew the edges together so that the worn bits in the middle were now the sides you tucked in, but we’re not quite that frugal. I was mostly dealing with the holes one of the cats sucked in the laundry when no one was looking. I’m not ready to chuck and replace a $50+ set of sheets when I can still patch a hole! I know some people think we should, but I don’t. At least it gave me something to do while I wasn’t up to moving around much. Or thinking. I also spent one evening sorting Kat’s false nails. She had a box of over a hundred, sorted by size, but the cats tipped over, and it was just the sort of no exertion/brainless activity I was able to handle. (I’m sure it would have been faster had I not been watching the movie at the same time.) 
Luckily Mark had come by, and he left me the Thin Man collection to watch. I have to admit that the characters are charming, and the costumes fun to watch. The mysteries are pleasantly complex as well. Personally my favorite William Powell movie is My Man Godfrey, but then, I haven’t seen that many. 
 
Last week the girls and I gave blood. Or rather I did, and Kat tried. Willow did on the way home. Oddly I flunked the hematocrit test on my left hand (11.9) but passed with flying colors on the right (13.9). That makes me a bit suspicious of the test. It’s not like the Red Cross is terribly science based anyhow. But they do make it easy for people to give blood, and people in hospitals need it.
Steve came up for his birthday- no present for him this year, the tarot cards I thought were new weren’t, but I sent him home with brownies and cinnamon horns, and past the age of 60, food treats are probably the best presents anyway. You don’t have to try to figure out where to keep them. As I was cooking, we watched The Heat because it was brainless and funny. Certainly nothing worth watching more than once, but frankly, being able to laugh and not think for a while is appealing sometimes. We had Swedish meatballs apple pie.
Frankly, I’ve gotten into baking. First- I like baking, it’s a therapeutic activity for me. Second, it heats the kitchen and makes the house smell good. The kids like it. No one objects. Third- I got a bushel of baking apples from Fitch’s and we didn’t like the first pie I made with them. Yes, they were firm, but they didn’t taste “right”. We’re used to the Cortlands, which I tend to use because you can make a LOT of them at a time and they don’t go brown as fast as most apples, and though they soften more than apples aimed at baking, we’re used to that, and that’s the flavor we expect. So since then, I’ve been doing other things to use up the rest of the bushel- I’ve made apple cobbler- (pretty good, actually), and apple upside down cake, . I’m thinking an apple tart, maybe trying different kinds of apple cake, maybe some whomentashen or apple strudel. I stopped when my toothache got bad, but I still want to use them up. I’ve also made popovers, and pretty much come to the conclusion that I can’t combine making popovers with cooking a roast, because I can’t get the temperatures controlled properly to make them pop when I’m also worried about having the roast cook properly.
 
I watched the Thin Man collection, it was charming, and I loved the fantasy of a happy couple with no financial worries, and a detective who was good friends with the men he sent to jail, and had no urge to do all the shooting and dangerous stuff in which detectives usually get involved in movies. They had short subjects in the specials- a really excellent “tell tale heart” for example. They had cartoons, one had some crows which I think were black stereotypes (chasing a worm), and yet another cartoon after another thin man had a raven also chasing a worm- this time a book worm, and both ended up saying “Ah who wants a worm anyway?”. They had to, once they’d made the worm cute, put it in clothing, they couldn’t let it get eaten. But I can really see that the crows did seem based on the then acceptable comic black stereotype, whereas the Raven wasn’t- he was more like the Lion that was scared by the mouse in another vintage cartoon. I wish they’d had newsreels, as they sometimes include with old movies. 
The Heat was a basic Odd Couple type/ buddy cop movie with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. That pretty much covers it. I was amused, but probably shouldn’t have been. I wish Jane Curtin’s part had been bigger. 
I started reading All the President’s Men (figured it was about time), but got bogged down- and just watched the movie. Boy! did it make me nostalgic for a time when reporters were respected. Yes, when politicians (or anyone) feels that what they are doing is so important that the rules don’t apply to them, things can get ugly, and if the press doesn’t bring this crap to light, who will? Yes, the press has a liberal bias. That’s because they have done the research and figured out that the conservatives are so wed to the status quo that they are willing to accept things being wrong just to maintain it. They may not start out that way, they get that way.
I finally saw Mathew Hopkins Witchfinder General, with Vincent Price. It was made in the 60s, and was really disturbing. I can see why it would be a cult classic, but as an aficionado of the happy ending, having the hero actually kill the bad guy wasn’t enough to counteract the heinous nature of the historical reality of the story. Much better was Won’t you be my Neighbor– the documentary on Mr. Rogers. I guess it started before I was paying attention, and I didn’t get to appreciate him until I had kids the right age. When I did I realized that he was as genuine as he seemed, which seems hard to believe. He’s a reminder that forces for good do exist in the world. I apparently missed all the most powerful bits where he dealt with assassination and other things. I did see him talking about divorce, and didn’t care for the “musicals” since they had little musical merit, but even that didn’t turn me off of it. The man was a saint.
I am getting tired of the Civil War run I’ve been on. There don’t seem to be answers, only questions- the big one: why do people do this to each other? seems to have no answer. This week I watched Gettysburg, and frankly don’t remember anything about it. I watched Gods and Generals. Yes, it showed the war from the southern perspective, but given that historical fiction often explores various points of view, I hardly think that’s a besetting sin. Clearly a lot of people have embraced “the lost cause” for whatever reason, and I think that we should try to figure out what it is that motivated them. I actually don’t think that this did that for me. But I hardly think that the film should be rejected because the hero were defending their right to slaveholding. That was wrong, but clearly that wasn’t why they were doing it. I like the idea that they considered themselves to be recreating the Roman Empire in it’s glory, and figured that if the Romans had slaves, it must have been OK. They didn’t really look at what caused the fall of Rome either, but there were some good things about Rome. Slavery and constant expansion through warfare weren’t among them.
I am not sure why I put Up in the Air on my queue. It was about a man discovering that maybe freedom from relationships wasn’t all he thought it was. Even having him figure that out didn’t make it a feel-good movie. On the other hand, I really loved Here comes Mr. Jordan, (who knows when I put that on my queue- I’ve got the top filled with “very long wait” films, and never know which will become available next). It was a gentle, sweet ghost story from the 40s, and I loved Claude Rains character.
John continues his October tradition of watching every horror film he can find- he even has watched the gruesome Friday the 13th/Halloween ones I won’t watch. I prefer the silly ones like Ghostbustersthe Frighteners and Transylvania Twist, although he watches those too. Kat prefers gothic ones like Crimson Peak, the Woman in Black, and the Others.   I expect I’ll pull out a couple like The HauntingSleepy Hollow now that I’m done with the Thin Man.
 
I finished reading Mitchner’s Tales of the South Pacific this week. It made me feel closer to my father. He didn’t like to talk about “what he did in the war”, and I suspect he felt a bit put out that he hadn’t be able to actually fight the way some men were. These stories conveyed the “hurry up and wait” aspects that he’d mentioned. He didn’t mention the fungus and disease and rashes from the heat, and I really hadn’t considered, although if you stop to think about it, it becomes apparent that it must be so, just how much STUFF had to be, not just produced at home,  but transported over across the ocean in order to wage the war. The men sure, but also all the food to feed them, uniforms, materials for housing, medical supplies, toilet paper and other hygienic necessaries, machines and materials for building air strips and bases, for repairing boats and planes and jeeps, … Mitchner said that at their depot there was one man who dealt with nothing but keeping track of and dispensing the manilla envelopes for the whole year for the orders and other papers that they needed to organize the huge bureaucracy. I guess we saw a little of that dramatized in M*A*S*H. I really wish he were still around so I could ask him about it.
I have mostly been re-reading the Little Colonel series, and it really holds up. People are still people, which is why Jane Austin and Shakespere and Chaucer are still read. Of course, as I re-read, I discover “oh, THAT’s where I got it!” about attitudes that no doubt came from reading those books while I was “young and impressionable”. As did my mother, and her mother- who would have been the generation for whom they were written. Grandmother was born in 1898 or 99, and grew up in Tennessee, so she would probably have started reading them when she was eight or nine. Since she had older sisters, the family probably got the books for them as we got the Harry Potter books as they came out. I’m guessing that Grandmother got Mother the ones we had when she got old enough- in the 30s. We read her copies, although one of my sisters got those, so I had to buy copies so my girls could read them (and they didn’t seem as taken with them as I was). The stories within the stories, the tales that motivated the girls in the books: the legend of the Bleeding Hearts, and the story of Three Weavers, and Ederyn’s “Keeping Tryst” all became built into my world view along with the Laws of the Jungle from Kipling, distain for the rich from Wind in the Willows, yet a sense of noblesse oblige from so many other stories, to deciding not to kiss until the third date from the Music Man. All of these were intents from when I was young, and it’s interesting to see where some come from. Now that I’m older, I realize that since my grandmother and mother read these at about the same points in their lives, many of the things we each got as a child from the same books. 
I also remember books my mother recommended to me that I found tedious, as books I recommended to others were so considered. Sometimes everyone in your group is raving about a book, and you read it and wonder why they like it. I think people have to be open to a book when they read it. I loved fairy tales, others didn’t. Some girls loved horse books, I found them tedious. I personally tried to read Dune three times when it first came out and couldn’t get past the first chapters, when I tried a fourth time a few years later, I couldn’t put it down, and read it straight through in a weekend. I think you have to be ready to read a book, and maybe the kids who just get through reading cliff notes are simply being asked to read book that they aren’t ready to read yet. But still, I’m enjoying thinking back and trying to get the view of the world written about in 1910 from the point of view of a girl of 12 at that point, or another girl of 12 knowing that it was her grandmother’s world (as if my girls read a book about teenagers in the sixties- would it give them perspective on me? Unlikely, I’m not the sort of person they wrote books about). 
I browsed through Thank you for Arguing. It was a book about the power of persuasion using examples ranging from Plato to Eddie Haskell to Lincoln. I think as much of it was aimed at knowing how people are trying to change your mind as it was to teach you how to change other people’s minds. I started a book on class prejudice in America (White Trash) which looks disturbingly powerful explaining our national identity. I expect I’ll write more as I get into it, but it’s not feeling like a comfortable read. Frankly, it was after starting it that I went back to re-read the Little Colonel and maybe find out some of the sources of my own perspectives. I figured that my grandmother, like Harriet Beecher Stowe, had more experience than I had, so must have known better, but as I got older, I realized that she was brought up with cultural filters just as much as anyone else. I’ve started House of Darkness House of Light, an account of the haunting on which they based the Conjuring. As the girls say, movies based on real hauntings all seem the same, and in my experience books do too. I think they pretty much follow the same pattern. In this case, they moved out into the country to get away from neighbors where the kid next door trashed their house and heath their cat to death. They lost all sense of safety. If you go anywhere with psychic energy and that sort of emotional stress, you are going to trigger something.  
I also read some graphic novels of Squirrel Girl whenWillow had brought home a stack. I liked them more than I expected, the characters were good, although she seems to have more power than one would expect. 

Tchipakkan

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” Darryl Anna