Happy National Meatball Day!

It is warm out today- actually warm. Not-need-to-wear-a-coat warm. Seventies at least. It’s a bit hard to tell because the thermometer- placed by the front door so that we can read it, is in a protected spot that collects heat, so it lies. I’m sure it wasn’t in the 90ºs. Still, the air smells great, and I’d better rake the leaves off the garden so we can spot the crocus when they come up.
It doesn’t feel like we should be having spring yet, because, despite the nasty cold, there hasn’t been enough snow for it to feel like we’ve had winter. I expect we’ll get a bit more, but not any accumulation. I don’t want to clear the protective layer off too soon either.
This is not to say that it wasn’t cold enough to make an impression. We really love the woodstove. The kittens have taken to sitting (sleeping, wrestling) on top of the litter box because it’s apparently just the right distance from the stove to bask in the heat.
We really need to get the kittens to the vets. They have to have their shots a month before they get gelded, and they are VERY eager to go outside!  This next couple of months is going to be a challenge!DSC02433
I realized that I hadn’t taken the Christmas bins up to the attic yet (although I got everything down promptly this year) because there’s no space for them and it’s been too cold up there for me to go through what’s there and sort and organize it, to make space to bring the bins up. How could we have brought them down and not created enough room to put them back? I think there are a lot of ’empty’ boxes of paper that have been replaced by special bins. Got to get to that.
I have started clearing out the pantry. That’s not too cold, and has accumulated things “not in their proper place”. All the lovely counter space is full of things for which I need to find proper places. (Sigh) I discovered the last of our apples, beginning to shrivel, so over the weekend I went through all that were left and made two apple pies, and an Apple  Betty- which is basically sliced apples with a crumb topping. Last time it was too pale so this time I put in molasses to make sure that it was more like brown sugar, and it looked much better. I can now understand why it would be called Apple Brown Betty, which I know I’ve heard somewhere. It tasted better too- more personality.

DSC02434The biggest thing going on this week is that Thursday Kat picked up her contacts, and has been getting used to them. She has wanted for years to do cosplays with various contact lenses to make the eyes match the character, but you need to have a proper contact fitting by an eye doctor. She had that last month and it turns out that she actually could use contacts. “You’re supposed to be able to read road signs?” (If she drove, she’d probably have noticed that earlier.)
I expect that most of what she’s experiencing is what most people do when they’re getting used to contacts. Is it in? If it isn’t, you don’t want to go pinching the surface of your eye to try to pick it up. It’s hard to tell whether your eyes are uncomfortable because you’re not used to contacts or because you’ve poked yourself in the eye several times. One time one was lost and even after Willow helped her look it wasn’t anywhere near where she was putting it in- until she put her hands in the pocket of her cardigan and it was in there. How‽ Our best guess is playful pixies. Apparently these days they send you straight to the disposibles. I’m still in hard contacts because I got lucky and can wear them easily.

We’ve had quite a social week. On Friday Willow’s friends “Evil” and Frank came over for the final fitting for the cosplay Willow’s making for him. It looks good. Afterwards they stayed for a bit and we played Cards Against Humanity. Mark came over and brought a movie on Sunday, and we watched that together. Sunday Steve came up, we also watched a movie, and he stayed for dinner. Then yesterday, Willow watched Bianca for Avi during the day, and in the evening, she brought an egregious amount of sausages and strawberries, and we all had a pancake feast together. (It was Pancake Day at IHop, and the closest one was in Nashua, but the idea had been planted.) Avi loved the idea of “real sausages”, because normally she has to use the pre-cooked, microwavable ones to fit in the amount of time she has before dropping the kids at school and going to work. I am disoriented that Bianca is eight, and Caelin is in school, and it seems like she just had them! I am SO glad that I got to stay home with my kids, this trying to get out and have someone there for them outside of school hours seems so exhausting and crazy-making!

Most of what I’ve been doing is food oriented. We changed the red plates that we used for February out for green plates. The snowflake pattern cups and glasses we brought out for January have been lost to attrition. We’re down to two and three of each. Sigh. I wonder what other people do when they get down to the last couple of pieces? Chuck them out and get a new set? I like having lots of colors of dishes. Presentation is important.
I made buns last week because the potato water after I’d drained the mashed potatoes looked good, and the buns looked so nice that I made pulled pork to go on them. Luckily Willow is good at seasoning pulled pork because that’s one thing I’m never quite sure I have right. I keep adding stuff when I should stop. Other than that I’ve been spending money. I registered the car and trailer, got it inspected. It needed ANOTHER $850 in repairs (new struts). I’m going to also need new tires soon, and the flush mechanism in the toilet broke- so I’m going to try to fix that myself. I’ve done it myself before, although I haven’t checked yet which part is broken.  Calling the plumber would be at least $100 to get him into the house. The modem has been dying and needing to be turned off and on again nearly every day, so we had the TDS guy come in, and he brought us a new one because “they don’t make them like they used to”, and his tests indicated that the problem was in the house not outside. We are going to have to redo the settings on every piece of electronics in the house that’s hooked to the wifi. I am SO not looking forward to THAT.
That (and taxes and doctor bills, and getting the kittens fixed) probably is what inspired my most recent blog post: How Far are we from the Middle Ages?   As an historian, I know that we are much better off than our ancestors, but it’s still dramatic how much some simple financial security would reduce stress. What was it that Dickens said? “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.” There’s nothing like knowing you can pay for your taxes, car and home repairs, medical and other bills. If extra expenses in a month don’t constitute an emergency, I think that’s what differentiates the poor from the middle class. Part of me says that historically, most people have been poor, but the other part of me says that a more fair system of taxation would allow us to protect our human resources without harming the rich in any way. What, they aren’t going to be able to afford a third house? Another yacht? What damage would we be doing to them? I am more sympathetic when a farmer is prevented from using his land because of environmental restrictions. Not enough that I’d want to lift them, but I understand that it may make the difference between his being able to make a living or not. But sometimes situations change, when you’ve used something up, it’s gone. This is hard for fishermen or coal miners who don’t know what else to do- so we can help retrain them, create possibilities. These days it seems that that means “we’re sending the factory jobs out of country so we can make stuff for half price and sell it at Walmart” while at the same time the guys who used to make good stuff are unable to support themselves and told to work for minimum wage at McDonalds. A good job is something you can live on and be proud of doing. This is NOT too much to ask.
But I’m probably contaminated by all the political posts I see. Even though I’ve already voted, I am fascinated by the way the race is going this year. Some day people may ask me how it was like to live through it, and I don’t want to say “I wasn’t paying attention.” I’ve already done that. I spent the 70s in the Middle Ages- knew nothing about Cambodia or much that was 20th century (OK, maybe the home-birth movement). This is big, and I want to pay attention. On the other hand, the other day Kat started beeping every time someone said “Trump”. Let’s not just rant for the sake of saying “can you believe he actually said…?” Let’s face it, so much of what we see is picked because it is “interesting” (read: shocking), not because it’s new, true, or important. And there’s so much it’s hard to sift through for the good information.
I am getting tired of facebook because it is so filtered, but I’m not in control of the filters. My preferences don’t seem to be what they want to build in. I don’t want to see what people who agree with me think, I want to hear from those who don’t to try to understand how THEY think. On the other hand, I can’t help looking- there is so much cool stuff out there, from gorgeous pictures of nature to fascinating links to articles on history, science, art, medicine, and religion. And occasionally, what my friends are up to, which is what I got on facebook for.

What else- the kittens got into my knitting in an incredibly trite way- after posting the holidays the other night I discovered they’d gotten at the ball of yarn- unwound it across the kitchen floor, and tangled it all around the legs of the kitchen table and chairs. It took me 45 minutes to disentangle it and roll it up again, but in the morning, it was all over again- they’d gone on the table, opened the box I’d shut it in, and knocked it down to do it. I tried sealing the box, but they took it as a challenge. It’s now in a snap shut plastic box. Feh. I’m also trying a pattern that isn’t quite working out and have pulled it out and started over again twice. After the last tangle, I took some of the damaged yarn (John had cut it to get it disentangled) and made martenitsi. These are little yarn good luck charms Bulgarians make for Baba Marta (usually they give them out, and wear them or hang 3-1 bulgariathem in trees until first sign of spring).
I actually watched Pyewacket tossing the ball of yarn into the air, which explained how he’d managed to get it over the rungs. I think mostly they are sleeping in Willow’s room these days- they spent one night in mine, and I didn’t care for the way Ambian sucks on the fur. But they are turning into wonderful lap cats!

I haven’t been reading much non-fiction lately. I’m up to the last book in the Fablehaven books. REALLY good writing. I love that the kids actually act like kids, and while they have useful talents that make it impossible for the adults to keep them out of the dangerous situations, they DO need help, need to get rescued, and seem to have the attitudes I remember from when I was younger. We do change as we age, and the author catches that. Also, the adventure is imaginative and fast moving. I know I have read too much because I just want to see “what happens next” too often.
I have had the old song “Glorius, Victorius, one pint of beer for the four of us…” going through my head ever since Mark brought over the movie Guns of Batasi. I had never heard of it before and it was a wonderfully complex film. Right from the start the lead character, Sergeant Major Lauderdale, played by Richard Attenborough, looked like he was going to be the comic relief, but they surprised me. The Sgt. Major was a martinet who wanted to do everything by the book. The conflict takes in a British camp in Africa during a military coup in the 60s. The leadership is careful to play everything diplomatically, leaving the lower ranked folks to protect themselves and a couple of visiting women (required to make it a movie I guess). One, a visiting female MP, played by Flora Robson, discovers she is out of her depth as she realizes that the black man who she thought she knew in the drawing rooms of England is not as tame and cooperative as he’d seemed when he had to decide which side of a political struggle he was on. When they want to protect the lives of themselves and the men with them, it’s the Sgt. Major who knows just what to do, and won’t back down. He seems like a toy soldier, but in the end, it’s his passion for doing things right that saves everyone. For which, at the end, the politicians use him as a fall guy. It’s rare to see what seemed so clearly a clown turn out to be the hero. I was very impressed. The song, by the way, was part of a distraction they used when he was sneaking out to destroy the gun they were going to use to blow up the mess hall in which the English were barricaded. I’m sure a new ear worm will arrive in time to drive that one out.
What else? The political campaign has provided most of my entertainment this week- some people are sharing clips from foreign countries. One I hope is satire, from Finland, and refers to Trump as Business Wig, and Cruz as Greasy Rat, and deliver, pan faced, like ” Every Elephant Cowboy (Republican) own five guns.””Yes, it is known.” Democrats, on the other hand, are Hippie Donkeys”, characterized as “Mrs. Saxophone is doing well against the rich-hating Elder Jew.” There are others, but all are embarrassing. Clearly we need to clean up our act or the rest of the world will continue to see us as both threatening, and stupid. Another clip I discovered was something called Teens React (also Kids React)- where they show them things and film their reactions. I watched one where 14-17 year olds were confronted with encyclopedias (mixed reactions there, to trying to look things up in books instead of a search engine- especially as it was 10 years old, so they were affronted that they couldn’t be updated properly), and also old computers Windows 95.  The latter made me feel better because those computers (dating from five years before any of them was born) were as mysterious to them as gadgets from the 40s would be to me. Bianca had been helping me understand how to use my tablet. She says I need more apps. I also enjoyed watching little kids react to Donald Trump, Rotary Phones, and old computers. I could spend way too much time on you tube.
Meanwhile, Willow not only finished Franks cosplay, she did another blanket, cut out and started two more, and Kat continues working on her book, and the two loli’s and got an order for a hat in today. I need to accomplish something before I turn green with how productive they are! I’ve been trying to get the website for CTCW ready to make tons of people want to come, compose requests to people I don’t know but whose books I admire to come speak, and design a business card we can pass out to get people to look at our website.  None of that seems like accomplishing anything.  I have lined up guests for the New Normal for the rest of the month (although I had to do tonights on my own). That is, at least, one less stress for a while.
Well, that’s it until next week.
While I bitch and moan about how much time I spend on posting about the holidays, I have to say I still love learning about them. Even the awareness days are enlightening.  Yesterday, f3-8 Working women historyor example, was International Women’s Day, which has been going on for over a century, starting with suffragettes. We may think of them as the ones in this image:


but this one shows how long they’d been working at it before they managed to get the vote:3-8 Suffragettes-a-Londres
I discovered that they had to bring trainloads of snow to start the Iditarod because there wasn’t enough for the dogs to run on. The fourth was Benjamin Harrison Day, and I love this quote I found from him:3-4 Benjamin-Harrison-Quote