1-18-2018 (1-21-18) Felicitas

It’s snowed again, which we like because that means it’s warmer.  It got really cold last weekend. We did put the heater on in the cellar once- but bought off one day by doing laundry. (In the winter I vent the dryer into the cellar. It may make it a bit damper, but the floor is already damp earth. As long as the temperature by the pump is over 40º, we don’t worry. We want it to be 40º in the pantry- makes it a walk in refrigerator. I do wonder if we should put more insulation on the doors between the pantry (and back hall) and the toasty kitchen.

We have now installed doorway fan to move heat from the woodstove to the living room. Last year I had a heater under the computer for the sake of my feet, but this year I haven’t got one there. It’s under my drawing table in the kitchen. I’m afraid that it’s at the far corner away from the wood stove, with the sink counter between, so it helps.  But mostly the wood stove (plus sheepskin boots and flannel slips) keeps me comfortable.

I suppose John may not like the snow, since he’s been doing the shoveling pretty much by himself. He also keeps the wood stove going. With that lovely fire, I haven’t cooked on the gas stove for three days. Why bother when there’s a hot stove already going?

[I realize this letter is late- I didn’t finish it on Wednesday, and didn’t get back to it until today. I shall explain later. But it’s nothing serious, just too many things going on at once. Probably the same reason most people don’t write letters at all these days.]

If you remember the many mistakes last week because I’d spilled juice on the keyboard, my poor keyboard has mostly recovered. I apparently moved the keys enough while “getting around to” replacing it that it’s working again. Still- don’t spill juice on your key board. Not a good idea. The space bar still sticks and if I type for more than an hour or so, my thumbs start to ache.


The big thing I remember from this week is sort of a news story I’ve been following on facebook. It started with “vague booking” on Friday afternoon: requests for prayers for Michael Perry. By Friday night I figured out that that was Kenric (a recent East Kingdom King for whom we had a special affection because he and his lady, Avelina, are Saxons), and he had, by way of a modern hobby, taken his kayak out about noon, and hadn’t yet returned. After five hours his lady reported it to the police, who called in the Coast Guard, as it was getting dark. A search was mounted all night. It must have been agonizing for her and their daughter. I watched fairly closely Saturday. At five on Saturday, the Coast Guard called off the search, indicating that they were switching from rescue to recovery mode. Sympathetic messages and eulogies poured in. I felt this was wrong, in absence of a body, kayak, even a paddle, I don’t think it’s the right energy to put into a situation. Sunday morning they discovered his kayak  and they announced a memorial service on Saturday. So Kenric is missing, and presumed dead. They are a generation younger than I, still in the fighting crowd, so I didn’t see them at events much;
And they live in Rhode Island.  This means I didn’t get see them enough become friends, although I think had we lived closer I would have. The girls have described Avelina and I as “fan girls” of each other. I’m not entirely certain that he wasn’t carried into his Coronation standing on a shield because Ælfwine was, and that they figured we must have done the research. (I actually think we got that from Asterix comic books- it does look cool though.) For stepping down, they did us one better. Since historically people didn’t usually “retire” from being king, but were replaced by dying, they staged Kenric’s death from a “hunting accident” at the event the weekend before, with Avelina posting reports on the King’s progress, and announcement of his death the night before coronation, and a lovely Anglo-Saxon style funeral at the coronation.
That’s just one way they were wonderful, but there were many. From fb posts I know Avelina and I do many of the same things- cook, knit, other crafts, and of course, it’s great to have someone else love Anglo-Saxons as much as I do!  To be honest, when I first connected the SCA face to the modern name on fb I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut.  When I realized that they had been married only 16 years, that really got to me. And we have both experienced the incredibly hard work that it is to be on the throne, with kids. I could go on, but have no heart for it.
Let me be honest. I refuse to give up hope unless they find his body. In sixty-five years I’ve seen too many miraculous survivals when it was “impossible” for someone to live in various conditions. Miracles are possible, and, I believe, more likely if expected. I’m picturing his being found and getting a chance to see all these praise posts. That would be wonderful. I don’t think I’m going to get down to the memorial service, as it’s three hours drive each way and I’m not sure I’d be back before dark. Also, personally, I prefer wakes to funerals. I am not sure how much physically being there helps the bereaved. I found Ælfwine’s funeral a social obligation to get through for the sake of his friends and family, it did nothing for me, although I liked the gathering a month later of his SCA friends. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have cooked for that- I could have talked to more people.
Emotionally, that’s taken up most of my attention this week. Time wise, I’ve spent it working on my latest commission. A gentleman on the internet was looking for someone to draw a picture of his wives gaming characters, and found me.  I’d sent him a quick sketch, and he liked it, and described her characters- a paladin, a technomancer, a badass bard with magic, and a baroness bard. One problem was that he didn’t really have any good pictures of her- I had to work with gleaning images – mostly selfies, from her fb page. He did remember/find that the sacred heraldry for the paladin was the sun on a black field. Religions aren’t generic! My biggest issue was that I thought I’d try it in pastels- do something like the book and magazine cover art by the fantasy artists I admire. I discovered that the oil pastels I got for Christmas are emphatically NOT the same as pastels, and I will have to learn them as a different medium. I found my pastels, but discovered that I am out of practice, and that I couldn’t get good detail in with pastels on this scale. Grr. Sadly I spent until Sunday trying that. This is sad, as I’d hoped to send a scan of it to him by then. Her birthday was the 20th, and I figured he should have it in hand a week before to reduce stress. I blew that one! So Monday I went back to pencil and pen, and, blush to admit, that I didn’t actually send it to him until Friday night! I’m also not thrilled with the background. The foreground was fun- I love details. But one key thing with portraits, is to make sure that the background is simple and won’t distract. I like the greyscale pens, but can’t make a nice even surface with the pens. You can probably see where the tape held the paper down and I went back to color it in after un-taping. I don’t figure that will show once it’s been framed, still. I also think we may be a bit spoiled by the lovely flat surfaces and even lines we can get with computer art. Oh well. At least he seemed to like it.
I have to be honest, I spent more time “futzing” around, cooking, doing dishes, laundry, etc. than I probably should have done in the lead up to the deadline. These activities  are necessary, and useful, but they sure do eat up time! Frankly, I spent all of Friday clearing up the area around the drawing table, (which buried the kitchen table in stuff that needed sorting and putting away), and too much of Saturday searching the studio for art supplies, and my shelves for reference books. [The short form is that I was pretty much done with the composition, and pencils  Monday, started inking Tuesday, but didn’t get much done Wednesday, Thursday I ran Mark down to the clinic, and got very little done, so finished it Friday.]
The previous Thursday Kat and I went out to the blood drive. Willow has been so draggy it wasn’t even a question for her. She even called in sick one day last week.  It’s very hard with CFS to tell if you have the flu, because you have most of the symptoms of it all the time. But her mouth tasted lie it, so she may have been fighting it off. She got tired of intestinal distress and got an assortment of different yogurts- Greek, Icelandic, French, and a less sweet variant of the one we’ve been having lately. Happily, it seems to have helped. I have also spent time on the internet and collected all the nutritional supplement that are supposed to help with CFS, and am reminding her to take them. I wish I really knew whether they helped or not.
I am overcome with feelings of convoluted (not the right word, muddled?) guilt and gluttony from discovering the surfeit of art supplies I have amassed and not yet used. I feel that if you get something, you have a duty to use it to its best potential, or at least as good as you can. Hoarding is right out. I don’t intend to hoard, only to have “anything I might need” handy, in case I want it. It’s sort of hard to tell that from hoarding, isn’t it?
Sunday Steve came up. He did manage to get dug out of his house, but the storm (or roof ice) knocked off his front gutter, and he spent the week contacting insurance, and contractors for bids etc. He also discovered that Michael Perry had worked with him. Not doing SCA any more, he didn’t  know. We had old fashioned Pork roast- with a bone . A bitch to carve, but tasted lovely. Steve and I looked through the Cozy Cookbook and picked a “cookie” that looked fast- Zombie Bites. They turned out to be a “no-bake” recipe- in fact it was fudge- with Nutella and a great deal of nuts added. Given that it was Nutella, Steve and I cracked a bunch of hazel-nuts (also threw in almonds and walnuts). They were incredibly sweet, OMG!
I should have just made a pie. I got a mini-cuisinart, and as I’d hoped, it speeds up pie crust making. I can, and have, made a quiche in 25 minute- not counting baking of course. I noticed (while chopping some spinach and onion together) that chop spins the blades in one direction, and grind spins them the other way. I guess that means leading with the sharp or the dull side of the blade.  I’d never noticed that before. But it does quickly chop cold butter into flower in a few seconds, and that’s wonderful! Sadly, as a mini- it can only do one crust at a time. I’m cool with that.
Another thing I sent for recently is Sugru “moldable glue”. I saw it on fb, and the suggestion that you could use it to replace the pull on a zipper convinced me to try it. I’m still wearing the leather coat I got from Lisa when she died, but for the last year, it’s been a pain in the butt because the pull fell off, and it was almost impossible to zip. A suggested, if you put a head duty paper clip (that’s what I’d been using, but they do eventually bend and break, and besides they look like what they are. Covered with this black plastic, it’s just a matching tab again. And I put a new handle on the pot lid when it had fallen off, and  I hadn’t been able to get it to stick back on again. So far so good! This is a good product I’m happy to let other people know about.
I also got some Sealing wax- not sticks, but the kind that comes in little pellets, and you melt in a spoon over a tea light candle. I used to do sealing wax a LOT when I was in High School, college and of course in the early SCA. The problem with the sticks with wicks embedded is that the wax often does start to burn, and you can end up with black streaks in it. This seems much better. Sadly, while I know I had a dozen or more assorted seals, I could only find 3 a T an R and a Sagittarius. (I have no idea why I have that.) Where did the others go? I wasted a pleasant hour looking at what’s currently available on Amazon, and put several on my wish list, but thinking about it- with my hoarding issues in mind, what I really want is one with my arms on it, or just an ouroboros. I do think some of brass spoons, spoon stands, and fancy wooden boxes are very cool though, and wouldn’t mind having them- as long as I don’t go overboard again. I don’t feel that I’m good at moderation.
I’ve also been trying to learn to use the kindle, apps and such. As a matter of fact the picture of the snow was taken with the kindle- on the other hand, because of the snow glareI couldn’t really see where I was aiming it- it was bright white, with the black rectangle of the kindle in front of it in my hands- heck I had to guess where the button was in order to push it. But I’d also tested the camera when I was going through Mother’s button box last week, but hadn’t figured out out to get the pictures out. Initially if I put a USB between the kindle and the computer, pictures transferred, but I can’t make it do that anymore. But Willow helped me set up a facebook connection, so I can send them to fb, and get them out of there. It’ a wonderful button collection.
The Gods bless Jane, who came on New Normal- on Wednesday night and talked about Mithraism, so I didn’t need to say much at all. (I was pretty “brain free” by that point.) I have actually started web surfing to try to find another venue to do the podcast. Sadly I sometimes don’t know what it is that I’m reading. I need internet remediation. I was pleased to see that the podcast on Magick and Ethics from December is on the Highlights page on LiveParanormal. My cynical side wonders if that’s because I told Rob I want to stop. He should love me- I many not be all ghost and spooky-foo stuff, but I’m regular and actually do the announcements and such the hosts are supposed to do.
What am I reading this week?
Most interesting- in Dad’s V mail, I have finally gotten to April 1944, when he was actually been posted- to the Pacific Theatre. First though, there was a heartbreaking one where he told                       them that he’d “washed out” or rather been confirmed that he wasn’t going to be allowed to be a pilot. I am fiercely curious about this possible head injury that got him disqualified. No one ever mentioned it happening, and it never came up in all the time I knew him. He mentioned finishing training, and at some point was moved from NC to Missouri. He commented on the people who built on the flood plain and had to be evacuated and sandbagged by the army. He mocked the southerners who turned their collars up when it snowed, creating a pocket that collected snow to melt down their backs.
But in April he was finally posted. This did require that he send home everything that didn’t fit in his duffle bag. He indicated that he thought most of the scenery they passed on the train didn’t look like much but wasteland to his farmer’s eye. But once on their way- his mail started being censored. One thing this meant was that he could only write on one side, so when they cut out the potentially dangerous ward or phrase, it wouldn’t take out anything on the back. One thing they cut out was the number of days it to them to get from the staging camp in Missouri to the port in California. I do wonder if the censors weren’t instructed to make sure they cut something out of everyone’s letters so they’d know they were serious. Saying it takes 5 days by train to the coast (or whatever) doesn’t seem that explicit (I suppose if it was 10 days and they were shipping them out of Washington State, but I doubt it.) The next couple of letters were on very small pieces of paper with even smaller writing (I’m going to guess about 7 point?) and the censors just painted words out in black ink. I’m not sure he knows where he is, and while he’d been writing back and forth a couple times a week before, there were only a couple of letters during the trip. As he pointed out- what is he going to say? There’s a lot of ocean out there. He did say he liked it when they let him sleep on deck. That’s taken him up to May `44.
While I was flipping through the Cozy Cookbook– a collection of recipes from the mystery books that have recipes they mention in the text (it occurs to me that the Miss Fischer mysteries I read last year did too), and they also contained bits from the books, although never enough to let me know whether I really wanted to read more (the recipes stood on their own), I came up with the system of seeing if something that looked good was on kindle. Kindle often offers the first 15-20 pages of a book as a free sample, which is enough to go by.
I checked out a couple of them: I think I may like Country Cooking School Mysteries, first book: If Fried Chicken could Fly. The heroine has returned to her home town to help her grandmother with a cooking school. The town sort of attracts tourists looking for “Old West” stuff.
Daisies for Innocence (An Enchanted Garden Mystery) did not excite me, even though it may be written by the author who wrote the Magical Bakery mysteries. (I think Bailey Cattrell may be another pen name of Bailey Cates.) I do want a bit of magick with my mystery, but the formula is getting to me. On the other hand, I now have Potions and Pastries, the last/latest of that series. On the other hand, as with the Zombie bites, I think I may be getting the mental equivalent of “sweeted out”, and should get back to nonfiction (solid protein).
On the other hand, Amazon has an “evil” technique of making suggestions after you’ve found what you want, and I tripped over another series- the Haunting Danielle series. This heroine (recovering from a bad romance, so se needs a fresh start, as usual) is starting a B&B in a house left to her by a distant relative. (Convenient that!) The twist is that she see’s ghosts, although she’s learned to keep that to herself. The first book is The Ghost of Marlow House, in which she discovers the house is haunted, and has a hidden treasure! (The nice thing about that was that the murder mystery was nearly one hundred years old. The second was The Ghost who Loved Diamonds, in which a cousin who used to tease her before she learned to hide her gift shows up, and I’m about to start the third book the Ghost who Wasn’t in which I think she meets a medium- although from the title, I’m guessing she may be a fake. It’s a lovely light-reading series, and so far no one in it (except her ex) seems to be an idiot about her talent. One of the fun things is her trying to deal with the distraction of trying  to   have two conversations at once- with the ghost, and friends (and others) also talking at the same time- while trying not to let the other people know about the ghost, and not missing important information he might contributing. I fear I may eventually end up reading this whole series, and our library doesn’t have it.
I broke down and read a summary of Sapiens- a brief History of Mankind since I’d gotten bogged down in the full book. I really liked it and hope to get back to the full book, but the summary condensed each chapter down to about three to five pages, and that let me see which parts I feel a need to get back to and examine in detail. I haven’t gotten much farther in  Fire and Fury (the Trump’s White House book), it is both fascinating and depressing. Much has been made of it having come out without proper proofreading/editing, but I don’t notice that. I often respond to fb gripes about stupid stuff he’s done with-so what he lies, is rude, has a potty mouth, is fat. We know that already, can we concentrate on his policies? I’ve also started Hard Magic  a  film noir style detective mystery- with magic, not too far from the Bright movie concept. So far so good, but enjoying Haunting Danielle.
Kat,darn her, has introduced me to a British series on Netflix: Land Girls. These are a group of young women going out to farms to keep them going while all the men are off in the military. It reminds me of Dad telling Dewey to stay on the farm for the war effort. People must eat.
I re-watched Planet of the Apes, and watched Escape from Planet of the Apes  for the first time. (No half naked Heston, I wasn’t interested.) Oh, lordy! What can I say? If the bad science in the original drove me nuts (language and writing hasn’t changed in 2000 years?), this sequel was torture! I  will restrict myself to one example. The story centers on the fear of a presidential science advisor that the sentient, speaking chimps from the future may interbreed with normal chimps and create the future with sentient chimps, orangoutangs, and gorillas- from one set of genes. Oh, the pain!
I also watched the latest Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Men Tell no Tales. It is much like the others, and, I am pleased to say, brings back the original stars to play Elizabeth and Will Turner for their small- but critical- roles. I have to say that the new dead pirates are creepy, but I don’t like them as much as Barbosa’s originals. I was worried the series might have gotten stale, but it really didn’t. I watched The Apartment, lovely little comedy, but Lemon was such a wuss and the other male characters were all so reprehensible, it was hard to enjoy. Except the doctor. I think that the story was about Lemon’s character finally becoming a Mensch, and doing what he knew was right. Kat had wandered few and seen a few scenes (I think as repelled as I was by the casual mysogeny), and at the end I yelled up to her “He grew a pair!”. It’s good to have someone with whom to share a happy ending.
As I mentioned before, I have decided not to include the stuff I did Thursday through today, otherwise I may not have anything to write about next Wednesday! Until then,
Resist, persist and assist!


Knowledge must come through action; you can have no test which is not fanciful, save by trial.  -Sophocles