Happy Chocolate Souffle Day

Once upon a time…  (That’s always what I think when I sit down to write!) The time at the ARGH is March! Argh!
I wonder who noticed that I didn’t get to writing the letter last week. Last week was John’s birthday, and we left first thing in the morning to catch an early matinee of the Black Panther, and then went shopping, and I didn’t get my act together before it was time to make dinner. Hope no one worried.  Rather than writing twice as long, I’ll try to be twice as brief. Someone once apologized for writing a long letter, “I didn’t have time to write a short one.” It’s true that one has to be a better writer to edit things down to the core concepts.
My first thought is Where has the month gone? I’ve accomplished nothing! I’ve been trying to get to my paintings, but have been sucked into the black hole that is facebook when not doing useful things like cooking, cleaning, mending, errands, and the usual stuff of life. I will also confess to reading probably four hours a day, which I think a lot of people don’t do. I have been going to bed earlier, but then I wake up and see that it’s “early” and then read for a while.
I have also finally started using the Italian language course I got at Baronial Yule- only two lessons in. I can say Excuse me, and I don’t understand Italian! Having done several Pimsleur courses, they all seem to figure a traveler needs the same basic phrases. The sad part is that after I do them, I tend to forget them. I am assuming that if I ever travel where German, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish or Italian is being spoken, it will come back. It’s a theory.
Since it’s been two weeks, the weather has, of course, been varied. We’ve had some snow, two weeks ago we had a couple of days in the 70ºs (maybe 80ºs) which was really strange for February. Then we got more snow. Since I mostly stay inside, it doesn’t much impact me. I do like to have the fire going in the kitchen- it’s much more comfortable (if work for John). On the other hand, last weekend it was freezing rain and sleet (some snow, a bit of hail) and that did come to my attention as I was driving in it. NOT the best weather for driving. As I was approaching Montpelier, the traffic slowed to a stop- I saw flares, and when we crept up close enough I saw a big tractor trailer on the meridian, totally turned the back way. I am not sure with all the police and rescue vehicles whether there were other cars involved. If there weren’t I sure the ones close to it when it happened were full of adrenaline as they drove away! I will admit to finishing the trip at about 40 miles per hour, not 65. Luckily most of the people around me thought that this was a perfectly reasonable speed as well.
I have been enjoying my sealing wax (it’s a toy!). I have finally sent Steve (who gave me the Hogwarts house seals collection, a thank you note. Yes, wax seals cannot go through the sorting machines. They must be hand cancelled. But I looked it up on line. Hand cancelling is free, if you bring your letters (less than fifty- I think they are assuming wedding invitations), but they may tell you it’s going to cost extra, or not- you are advised to be polite, and persistent, and be willing to call around and find which post office in your town (!) is willing to do it. (I am thinking they mean city.) I think it’s reasonable to ask for them to hand cancel the occasional item. I am not even sure we have a machine in Lyndeboro. But we do send them to Manchester, and I wonder if they don’t go through a machine there. One thing I think the machine does is put the bar code on the bottom of the letter, which is why you don’t want it on a fancy invitation that you probably spent several dollars each to look so swank. Perhaps the hand cancelled ones go into a separate bag. Are they only “cancelled” that once? I’m sure they’re sorted each step of the way. Ah the mysteries of things you don’t do yourself!
Kat finished the dress she spent much of February making. It has a jacket and an underdress with puffy panels, and lace. I hope the lady likes it. How not when she designed it and sent the design to Kat? And yet Kat got her first review with only 4 stars (instead of 5) this week for the reticule she made another lady. She complained that it was smaller than she had pictured. When Kat has gone over fabrics, and clasp style and exact measurements in extensive on line discussions before making each item, you’d think that the customer could bother to actually look at a ruler and figure out how big X inches is!  I’m sure that all craftsmen and artists have similar experiences with customers. I always worry about the gowns, because when getting a gown of fluff and lace, made to order, I still prefer to think of myself as I was picturing myself in my head when I designed it- many pounds lighter. Kat had to deal with once customer who said “the measurements may not be exact…”  Kat did NOT say “I’m on the other side of the country! How am I supposed to guess your shape from here?!” She has more patience than I do, that’s why I don’t like selling.
She watched the TV musical Gallavant this week, and we got to compare our favorite bits from it.
Willow has been trying to get Steve’s Star Trek bed quilt done. His bed is bigger than the throws she usually makes, and I personally don’t think that the Voyager is as attractive a ship as the Enterprise. But she’s working on the design. Poor Steve didn’t feel up to coming up to visit either Sunday this week. Oh well.
This week is School Vacation Week, so Willow is having to go over earlier- especially as Avi is in the middle of a project and needs quiet. So Monday she took them out to the skating rink. To our surprise, they loved it, and simply got up again when they fell down. Friday we’ll be taking them to the museum of Science again. (I’m going because we can’t count on the kids to stick together.) She took Kalen to get his hair cut, and off to the play ground. She’s a saint.
Monday Jane and I were on someone else’s podcast- It was a Rune Round Table with Cinnamon Moon (the host, and Kelley Harrell, and Simon Prendergast, as well as us. All talking about Runes. Since they’d suggesting joining via Skype, Kat helped me set it up so I could tip the computer and show rune casting with staves (not tiles or stones). But apparently Skype is just how people who want to save money do it. My Skype wasn’t working- they seem to want money, which they didn’t before. Or maybe I was confused. I’m not sure. Still it was a fun conversation- two hours. When I saw the list of questions that each of four of us was going to be asked, I wondered how she was going to fit them all into an hour.  Luckily it was longer than I expected. (Poor Simon was calling in from Kent, in the UK, where it was 3 am by the time we were done!)
I’m afraid John’s Birthday snuck up on me. I keep thinking it’s the 22nd. I didn’t send for gifts until the beginning of the week, so they sort of drifted in a few at a time over the week. But on Wednesday (the 21st!) we got up early and went out to a matinee of the Black Panther. I’d been hearing good things about it by people who saw it as soon as it was released, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s REALLY good. We picked up a cheesecake for him (and a balloon) on the way home, and had a roast for dinner. Not too many presents: a Black Panther T-shirt, a few old movies, and an anime series: My Bride is.a Mermaid, the Lego LOTR game. Birthdays are more manageable when we don’t go overboard.
I went up to the SCA even Mimer’s Well, by myself. It was in Mountain Freehold which is Vermont. This required my driving myself (not a big deal if it’s daytime) and finding crash space both Friday and Saturday. I was very lucky, I was invited to stay with an old SCA friend Marieke, and that gave me the opportunity to shoot the breeze with her both Friday and Saturday night, which was great!
Friday I spent packing, and since Googlemaps insisted that Burlington was only 3 hours from Lyndeborough, I figured I could do it 2-5 pm, no problem. I should have been more suspicious. It always took us four hours to get to Mountain Freehold- I figured roads must have improved. Well, not so much. Remember that earlier in the week it had been in the seventies. When I hit New Road (in Lyndeboro) which is unpaved, the mud made that little shimmy that says the tires are not grabbing. I turned around and tried to find an alternate route. I should have simply gone over to Milford (where I eventually ended up, anyway) and headed up 101 to Manchester! Instead I let the GPS jerk me around and got very frustrated! Then, as I mentioned, I hit sleet, hail and freezing rain in the mountains, and to put it simply, I got in around 7. (Figure the traditional four hours, slowed down plus extra time for being jerked around. Let’s call it a learning experience!)
Marike, being wise, didn’t put on supper until I arrived. She also put out the SCA sign that the shire stores at her house, to mark the driveway, and sent me good directions with landmarks! Being old SCA she knows how to give directions! She made a lovely bunch of pirogues in a cream sauce with mushrooms, and sausages, and kraut. Delicious! Her living room (where I slept- as their couch is a futon) is hand painted as stone walls that sets off all their medieval gargoyles, weapons, etc. beautifully!  We talked until 11, because we had to get to the event right away. Although she’s no longer running things, she still has a lot of stuff to bring- like banners, the sign, dishes for the day board etc. Cenwulf wasn’t feeling well, and after dropping us off, went back home.
The event was great. It was a teaching event (Mimir is the Norse god of wisdom). I taught Palmistry, and another Soothsayer, Leo, taught Runestone casting. I went to a workshop on how to make oil lamps- he did show one of Arab Boy’s lamps, but then showed folks how to not only make the glass part of the lamp by taking the stem off inexpensive goblets and put on hanging chains. He also showed them how to make wick supports, and use wicks from all natural rag mops. The next class (or was that after the day board?) was on primitive lamps.
Really primitive lamps! While she explained about and showed soapstone and early clay lamps, she showed how to make a lamp by putting tallow in a shell (used sand to make the shells stable on a flat surface), and showed how to make a wick of cat-tail. She also let us have some flax to try making wicks of that. I spun and braided mine- I will probably use it for an oil lamp. I went to Marieke’s workshop on dark ages hoods, but people were busy cutting and sewing, so I moved over to the event planning class. I do enjoy learning new things! And in the middle was a lovely “day board”- buffet lunch. They had the BEST version of (oh darn, what is it called- humble?) tart I’ve had in all my years in the SCA! Also soup, salad, fruit, chicken and beef stews, comfits, and bread and spreads. And a few drinks- syrup based.

Marieke had told me the day before that they were having an arts display and I should Bring my banner, because it would inspire the new members she’s working with just now. (She’s made them a “free company” with a fictional ship. Given that theme, the tokens for entrance were eye patches- with runes on them! I suppose it may have been a reference to Odin giving up an eye to gain Wisdom from Mimir. Still, most of us didn’t wear them on our faces.)  But when I got there I discovered it wasn’t so much a display as a arts contest. I tend to avoid those. But having brought it,  I whipped up some “documentation” (it was my arms adapted to a 7th c. æsthetic, using a design from the Book of Kells). I put it in the “Dark Ages” section. There wasn’t much else there. There were Dark Ages, Middle Ages, and Anachronisms (which seemed to include a fencing foil where someone had crafted the period handle onto a modern blade- very impressive!) I could have easily put the banner there because it was a typical SCA kludge of periods- forcing heraldry where, or rather when, it doesn’t belong. Anyway, it was popular choice. Each of us got 3 beads to put into cups be each entry. I had an embarrassingly large pile of beads, and won the overall contest. This is the first time I’ve won something in many years. I rather like the little cat on the scroll. Luckily Marieke was there to spell Hlafdige for them and tell them it’s prounounced Lady. It bugged someone in the audience who thought I should use the SCA rank countess, and I suppose that might disorient a new member who really cares about such things, but I am more interested in authentic practice than SCA honors. I hope it doesn’t confuse them too much. (I have no idea why this section just turned italic.)

The event was only 10 to 5, so we helped clear the hall, until Cenwulf came to pick us up again. Then we and Daffyd all went to the local Chinese buffet and I stuffed myself. It’s very hard to not over eat when you want to try everything and there is so much! I remembered to try to get a picture, which wasn’t very successful until one of them thought to ask the server to get a picture of us. (My arms weren’t long enough for a selfie that could get all of us in it.) After dinner, Daffyd came back to their place and we talked until 11 again- over mead and cheese and crackers.  I’d brought some of the mead that’s been accumulating in our pantry- it wasn’t that good. But Cenwulf had some from Moonlight Meadery that was VERY good indeed!

  In the morning I slept until 9, and left around 11. After getting jerked around by the GPS again. (I have no idea why- it looked like I was going to go right down 89 to 93 to Milford and home, and I ignored it as it tried to turn me off at 10 and at 114, but got distracted and it sent me down through Bow, and Gods know where. I finally recognized Goffstown, and realized that it was once again trying to take me back through New Boston- and OVER NEW ROAD! No Way! I was driving in another “Winter mix” (I’d thought of stopping at a friend’s housewarming in Hanover, but didn’t dare deal with getting delayed and driving in the dark again, so begged off.) I had to divert to Bedford! To find 101 again, and finally was on main roads, avoiding unpaved roads, and back home. I find it one step more frustrating because the program warns you “some roads may not be open in winter” right when they give you the directions. Wouldn’t you think they’d make it more easy to go around those roads if you want that option?
That’s nearly it. Everyone’s health is better- although Willow is Chronically Fatigued, and we all have our handicapping conditions. As Marieke and I talked about- you lose some energy as you get older. I am not doing as much baking as I would like.  One night we had beans and hotdogs and I steamed a small brown bread in a metal cup with a lid I found- it worked pretty well, although you may be able to see that the batter rose up and filled the knob in the lid- which broke off of course.
I still put up the holidays on the Holidays that might get overlooked page on Facebook, but faching went by without making donuts, and the feast of sticky buns, passed un-sticky. I did fall for nostalgia and got a bag of old fashioned gum drops- the old flavors are spicy: Cinnamon, clove, anise, sassafrass, wintergreen and mint.  These days when one eats an orange colored sweet, one expects orange flavor- not clove, and yellow suggests lemon, not rootbeer.  Still, I do like the spicy flavors.
The furor from the Parkland shootings has died down somewhat in the last few weeks, but it did fill FB more than I’d have liked. I do think it’s good that people are so energized. One thing that surprised me was that I haven’t seen the crowds continuing to yell “We call Bullshit” and “Shame on You!” as we heard right after the shootings. It think “We call Bullshit” is actually an appropriate thing to introduce in this political climate. It’s the right response to the current (or any) incarnation of The Big Lie. (I got a short e-book Guns, by Stephen King, with some thoughts on our modern gun culture.)
  Meanwhile, CTCW is gearing up again. The registration forms are live, and Maryalyce is negotiation with some local
 Paranormal groups- you know, the ones who do ghost hunting? For an activities exchange. If they do an event at the hotel at the same time as us, we’ll let them attend our activities, if they let our folks come to theirs. Apparently people pay serious money to go look for spirits.  We need to get good civil conversations going between the groups, and I can tell just from my own responses, that this is not going to be easy. As I’ve been reading Witches in America I have realized that many people are seeking that “tingle”, that sense of connection with the Other, that I take for granted. There are those who interpret it in a religious or spiritual framework, and some who interpret it psychologically or even physically. We need to be able to speak about our experiences without disrespecting the way others experience- and want to experience them.
Other than that, these last couple of weeks I’ve read the first three books of the Chronicles of St. Mary’s series (I’m nearly done with the third): One Damned Thing after Another, Symphony of EchoesA Second Chance: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s. I do have to say that I relate strongly to the way the historians deal with going back to look at the past. Yes, you don’t dare change anything, because that could change what came after (and maybe make your own world impossible), but it’s hard not to want to help people in trouble. They think the way my friends and I think, about the library of Alexandria, the fall of Troy, Tudor intrigues… I continue to go back and forth between that and American History Revised: 200 Startling Facts That Never Made It into the Textbooks. There are some cool bits in there. I had no idea that Lincoln only took I think it was 38% of the popular vote, but that since there were four candidates running (Northern AND Southern Republican and Democratic candidates!) Douglas only got 28%, and the others were something in the teens each. This says a lot about a two party system. I also have been reading chapters in Life in a Medieval City, and stories from Lang’s Colored Fairy Books. To be honest, I’m also rereading some of the Haunting Danielle series. I really enjoyed it. Of course, I have enjoyed many series. I think I prefer series, because you can “get to know” the characters better.
I haven’t watched much movies recently. I did see one called About Time, which was really very good (from the creator of Love Actually), which is about a young man who is able to go back in time and “do over”, being cautious not to mess up his present that way. I kept feeling I’d seen it before, but couldn’t remember anything specific about it, and am quite confused as to how I could forget it. Willow shared a movie about FM/CFS that she found on Netflix, it’s called Unrest, and is too familiar. I had to watch it in doses because damnit, people shouldn’t have to live like that, and yet we do. We need to figure out what’s making us all sick. If you can’t do anything to change it, you have to put up with it, but it sucks. On a frivolous note, I seem to have requested a silly romantic comedy about a couple of spies with Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon called  This Means War. It was amusing, but not much content. I also have been watching the  BBC Musketeers series. I rather like Capaldi’s Cardinal Rochefort, and the musketeers are as one would expect- suitably filtered for modern expectations. Porthos is Afro-something (French one presumes), and Constance learns to shoot and fence, of course. The story must reflect the audience who is watching it. Aramis is still a womanizer. In one of the episodes he explains that “Telling a woman she’s beautiful is easy. Convincing her she’s beautiful, that’s hard.” There’s something to that.
That will do rather that a sig quote this week. And as a final image, here’s a picture of Marieke and Cenwulf as I see them, and will probably always see them. (Of course, he has a magnificent mustache now.) I guess that’s why it’s always such a surprise to not have as much energy- in our heads we don’t age.
Until next week!

Upcoming holidays (Full Moon is the 1st, 7 PM EST) The first full week of March is Name Week

þ 1 Peanut Lovers Day Fruit compote Day, St. Daffyds, Compliment Day, Pig Day,  wear yellow day
First Thursday is World Book Day, & because it’s the full moon: Purim, Holi, Lantern Festival
F 2 Banana Cream Pie Day, Dr. Seuss Day, Read across America Day, Old Stuff Day
first Friday is Wear Blue Day, and World Day of Prayer, Salesperson Day, Doodle Day
S 3 Mulled Wine Day, Cold Cuts Day, Irish Whiskey Day, Canadian Bacon Day, Soup it Forward Day, World Wildlife Day, Nat. Anthem Day, I Want you to Be Happy Day, Princess Day, What if cats and Dogs had Opposable Thumbs Day?
  first Saturday- Iditarod starts, Sock Monkey Day, and Frozen Food Day
⨀ 4 Snack Day, Poundcake Day, March Forth- Do Something Day, Marching Band Day, Scrapbooking Day, Toy Soldier Day,  Hug a GI Day,  Courageous Followers Day, Grammar Day, Int. GM (Game Master)’s Day, Dance the Waltz Day
first Sunday is Namesake Day,  Oscar Night, and Daughters and Sons Day
M 5 Poutine Day, Cheese Doodle Day, Absinthe Day, Tennis Day, Multiple Personality Day
Monday is Fun Facts about Names Day & Casimir Pulaski Day
T 6 White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, Oreo Cookie Day, Dress Day, Day of the Dude, Dentists Day,
Tuesday is Unique Names Day, Sportsmanship Day, and Peace Corps Day
W 7 Cereal Day, Crown Roast of Pork Day, Be Heard Day,
Wednesday- Discover what your Name means Day, and Stop Bad Service Day