Hello again March 13-20, 2019
My “weekly” letter is late again, mostly because I didn’t get around to it. I’ve decided I’ve been “hibernating”. Sadly this is not because I was doing something fascinating, but because I felt unmotivated, so I read a lot. That’s not an excuse, but the reason. I did some stuff, and will tell you, but at the same time, I am ambivalent- do people read this because it’s the only thing in their inbox that’s not spam, or do they save it for later because it’s too long to read in a minute, and only has the occasional funny story.
I can start, as usual, with the weather, and because it’s spring in New England, it’s been below 20º, over 70º, snowed, rained, frozen, been sunny, and one day I was woken up by some spectacular thunder, so nothing usual for March in New England. I am still wearing flannel slips, quilted skirts and sweaters,… and still feeling chilly anyway much of the time. But I love New England, and don’t mind dressing like this, so it’s all good.
Ostara (the Spring Equinox) is coming up this week (is here), and tradition or superstition demands we should each have a new outfit, so I’ve been spending more time than I’d like to admit looking at a website I tripped over, (eShakti) that has a lot more dresses I like than I’m used to finding in one place, and you also get to customize them. You can get them to make the sleeves and skirt whatever length you say, and tell them what neckline you want (for an extra $9.95, but really, that’s reasonable). Not only do they have them in my size (and even bigger), but you can even plug your measurements in to customize the fit if you are a bit oddly shaped. The only thing they don’t have I’d like is the ability to tell them “big butt” because so often my skirts are higher at the back than the front, and I bet I’m not alone on that. So the chances are good that I’ve put in hours playing with their programs where you adapt their dresses to my taste, even though I know I’m not going to buy a dozen of the eShakti dresses. There are programs like that that are the equivalent of playing with paper dolls! It was fun! But aside from the possibility of getting a customized dress, the styles appealed to me more than many I’ve seen lately. I know that over the years I’ve learned that when I like current fashion, I should get several outfits because for the next 6-8 years I’m probably going to hate everything available. (Do you remember the year when lace appliquéd to leather was big? Shudder!) I also have the issues of stores not having huge selections in my size (which is probably good for the health of America). How does lack of clothes in my size and price range that I’d actually want to wear factor with my hating shopping for clothes: cause or effect? Who knows? It probably doesn’t hurt that I’d love to think I look as nice as their models in the clothes if I order them, which is flatly impossible. I may look “ great for your age”, but I’m not going to look like a 25 year old model.
It occurs to me that these customizable dresses are like “print on demand” books, and other items only made when ordered. It’s great that technology allows us to not put a lot of materials into making items that may or may not ever sell. It makes it easier for us to get what we want. And the internet lets producers reach customers all over! I spent a lot more on a dress suitable to wear for Kate’s wedding than I did on the present I got her and Alex, which made me feel a bit guilty. But shopping for a special occasion and last minute is aways problematic. Thank goodness for Torrid. But next time I’d probably go eShakti, if I remember to do it 3 weeks ahead of the occasion.
Speaking of weddings, I read this week that the average American wedding has jumped up to $35K. We were talking about funerals (because last weekend my friend Laska was at the SCA Gulf Wars event and got the call while there that her mother had died, so she had to fly home and is dealing with all that funeral chaos.) There’s a lot of crankiness about how funeral directors take advantage of people when they are vulnerable to get them to spend more than they want to, but American funerals/burials still cost between $7-10K. It’s a wretched thing to lose a parent or other loved one, but like the wedding, it’s still, as Mother said, ”just a party”, and will be over in a day.* I have a feeling that if we generally had a year to prepare for funerals, they might get as expensive as weddings, but you sort of have a time limit to deal with a dead body. Like the wedding planner, the funeral director simply is trying to leave you with a memory that you will look back on and not regret. Do we get cross with other sales people (who live on commission) for encouraging you to think about a more expensive dress, or house, or car, or mobile phone? (Come to think of it, yes, we do.) But I don’t think we should give the morticians a harder time because we are upset and confused. We COULD think about it ahead, and examine our options if we chose to do so. I rather wonder if the way we don’t want to think/know about it beforehand (plus the immediacy of the problem) is responsible for the way medical pricing is so out of control. We have no idea which med is new and better or old and proven, and have to trust our providers that what they suggest is better for us, and cost effective. With all sorts of goods we look at cost of materials too often and forget that so much more goes into just the materials we’re getting. I also like to remind myself that with weddings (funeral, and anything else for which they come up with an “average cost” figure), one expensive item bought by the 1% is going to totally throw off the “average” when factored into what most people spend. They usually use the “mean” (adding all the money spent and dividing by the number of purchasers) although I think they should use the “mode” (the value that occurs most frequently) for statistics of this sort, and I am afraid they do tend to use the mean to suggest that we shouldn’t mind spending that much. Certainly it makes it easier to justify spending an extra hundred on a bigger cake when you compare your wedding expenses to the “average”, even though the industry is throwing your gathering of friends at the local church hall in with occasions where the mother of bride’s dress costs what a mortgage runs.
End of economics rant. (Except for the “footnote”)
*The thing that does bug me is the “concrete vaults” they now recommend to put around the coffin, excuse me, casket. They sell them as a way to seal and protect the casket, which makes sense if you’ve just dropped $1-3K on a casket, you wouldn’t want to think about it getting squished, or dirty (for goodness sakes, it’s going in the ground!).They also talk about the vaults sealing, but they are also well known for filling with water. The thing the vaults are really for is that these days they use large machines in cemeteries (rather than grave diggers like in Hamlet), you know- suitable for carrying a concrete box out and dropping it into a hole made by a back hoe) and when a wooden box rots, as it must, the ground subsides into the hole, and the back hoes and tractors can sink into those holes when they drive over them. So the thing that bothers me is that the cemetery is simply getting the mourners to pay for something that’s basically a convenience for them. It’s right up there with the cemeteries who now will only allow grave makers that are flush so that the mower can drive right over them. I don’t mind paying for a service I want, but why should I pay for something that THEY want for their convenience?
I think the thing that dominated my attention last week was that I broke another temporary crown, which exposed a pointy corner that was ripping up my tongue (little irritating things like an infected hangnail or a paper cut can really grab your attention). After I went to the dentist, I had a swollen tastebud that drove me nuts for three or four days. Until it was time for my dentist appointment, I used Dent-temp, some stuff you can get at the drug or grocery store to go over a missing filling. Sadly, it didn’t stay in well. I’d brush, put it in, it would be fine, and then the next time I ate it came out.
Thank goodness I had the appointment made- actually two. Tuesday I went down to Tufts Dental, Thursday I had one with Doctor Roy’s office- and while they told me at Tufts that I should only see them, Dr. Roy did a quick sanding of the spiking bit so I don’t need to play with the temp stuff anymore.
When I was at Dr. Roy’s last time he suggested that I take the commuter bus down to Tufts, as it is only a 10 minute walk from South Station. (I figured I’d leave 15 minutes because I’m slow.) The parking is free at the Nashua bus station- sadly they are just about at capacity, but since my car failed registration last month, Willow dropped me off there. I’d bought my ticket on-line, and it was $12 each way. Dr. Roy reminded me last Thursday that if I buy it there, I can get a senior discount and get the round trip for $13, which I will certainly do next time! The seats were comfortable and the driver charming. Apparently he just loops from Logan to Manchester (through Nashua) around and around all day long. Apparently it’s about an hour each way (of course, it takes me about 40 minutes to get to the exit 8 bus station. The latest morning run dropped me there at 11:30 so I had plenty of time to locate and get to Tufts and sign in by one. I was a bit disoriented because the buses drop you off at the west end of South Station- right across from Chinatown, making it really close to the school of dentistry. I’ve only gone in the front door before, and started looking for it, and had made a mental map from there. Walking back I went straight and it was only a fifteen minute walk. Mostly what I noticed was how slanted the sidewalks were. They were often six to eight inches higher where they met the buildings than at the curb. (Are the streets subsiding? Do they slant them so people don’t have to step down over a foot at the curb?) I did enjoy looking at the buildings- let’s face it, they may give them facelifts, but most of the buildings have been there for hundreds of years. I got nostalgic when I saw the subway entrance. I wanted to go in and ride the trains I remembered from when I was in college. Then I realized that those trains I remember are from 40 years ago, they’ve been replaced, and the places I remember going are probably different too- I can’t go to BU, or Harvard Square, or North Station, and grab the train to Winchester and see my parents. It’s all been changed now, and only a magical subway would take me to those places. Ah, well.
Being early I got to listen to the security guard talk to another guy who was waiting about cars. They were discussing a new one that had come out recently for $240,000. They said it “2.4 hundred thousand dollars” as if a hundred thousand dollars is an acceptable price for a car. My mind boggled. No, I don’t remember what car it was. But this is the reason to get out into strange areas, to find out what the rest of the world is like.
My young dentist’a name is Chris Jung, and he’s really nice. He’s from Texas. I think the second year who was assisting him that day was called Wendle (from North Carolina), but I don’t know if he’s a permanent part of the team. I will be seeing Chris straight through. Tuesday took a full medical history, took two sorts of dental impressions, and a full set of x rays. The intake process is going to take 3-4 visits (I’m hoping we can get it done in the next round because they don’t actually start working on your teeth until they complete the plan. At that point I will get an estimate of what it’s going to cost- basically half what standard Boston prices are, so they’ll be better that what I haven’t been able to afford up here, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do everything I’d like anyway. I do want to have a full set of teeth, and resent the heck out of not being able to afford replacements. Having been brought up in the “upper middle class”, I feel entitled to good dentistry, and find it hard to wrap my mind around the idea of spending the rest of my life with missing teeth.
Getting old sux.
Anyway, the best news was that he’s perfectly willing to try to schedule my visits at the same time as Willows (she has a different student dentist), so we’d be able to drive down together. Sadly, when I called to check when her next scheduled appointment is, he already had someone in that block. But we’ll try. It would be convenient, and it’s nice that he’s willing to give it a shot. I am totally confident that Tufts will result in good dentistry. After the student has done his thing, the professor comes in to check, so we are essentially trading time invested against price. Full mouth worth of films was $88. Note- my phone worked fine at 3:25 when I called Willow. A bit later I stepped out of the building and looked at it to time myself and the walk to south station, and couldn’t read the screen. I figured I was just adjusting to the glare of outside light. But when I got to the station, the screen wouldn’t load- it sort of pulsed with a glowing light, like a ghost. (The phone died.) I’d planned to call Mark and tell him whether I made the 4 or 4:30 bus (interestingly, it was the same driver, Bob, again), because he’d agreed to pick me up. I kept trying, but got nothing. When I got to Nashua, I asked the people at the station if I could use their phone, and they let me plug mine in, and I called home, got Mark’s number (his was, of course, ON my mobile), and he came to get me. He’d been waiting, he even called, and while it rang, there was no way to pick up. Oh well. Anyway, he drove me home, and even got me dinner on the way.
Wednesday Gary called me and told me he had a car he’d loan me until he found a good car for me to buy. So Thursday I snuck the (now illegal) un-inspectable Caravan down to Winkles, and left it there, stopping at Dr. Roy’s where he took care of the exposed point that was hurting- and didn’t charge me. Gary loaned me his Town and Country- a very nice car, and higher than the Caravan so I like it better, it feels more normal to me. After that I went to the blood drive. I was curious to see how my blood pressure would be, it had been high at Tufts. It was still high- not dangerously, but a lot more than I expect. (90/160) I guess old age and fat are catching up to me. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a birthday, and I figure if she can work out every day, I can, so I plan to start. I’ve only just done a few bits of exercise so far, so I’ll let you know my progress. My iron was great.
Then I went to the library, and then Verizon. They diagnosed that the battery had exploded inside the phone (“you can tell because the screen bulges”). They tell me that that happens when you leave it on the charger. That doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s what she said. Anyway, I got another iPhone, although I’m toying with the idea of taking it back during the return period) and getting a simpler phone. I don’t use all the bells and whistles. What could tip the decision is that I got a case for it, and didn’t check the price first. It was $50! If I can’t return the case for one that fits the new phone, I may just keep the phone. In theory I know how to use this one because it’s just an “improved” version of the phone I’ve had for the last four or five years. There was a “discount” on the phone, but it’s still going to cost us extra money every month for a couple of years to pay for it. I should have been asking more about the prices. I felt rather disconnected when I had neither a phone, nor a car for a while there. Brian came up to supper on Sunday and he thinks I’d probably do better with an android. I think I got an iPhone again because I didn’t want to have to learn a new system, but that’s cowardly. After that I went to the store and got seven corned beef (they hadn’t had any the week before). Six went in the freezer so we can have them for the rest of the year.
Steve was supposed to come up for the corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day too, but he didn’t feel up to it. His cat, Diana, who was almost 18 died Friday and that sucked all his energy. It’s too bad- this year I opted NOT to put the green food coloring in the corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. The dinner was much more colorful- at least the colors were more appetizing. I find that I’m not as excited about cooking as I have been for most of my life, and that’s a little disturbing.
Random thought: There are fungus/microbes that can eat plastic. How soon before there are some that eat us to protect the rest of the planet?
Family gossip for the week, Willow is still dragging. I hope we can change something soon. Kat is now working on two commissions at once and waiting on the “yes, that looks good, send it” note from the one she finished last month. I spoke briefly to Liz today. Her ex-father in law (90) fell last night and had a hip replacement today. We talked about how hard it’s going to be for his wife. She’s still waiting for her energy to come back since the Chemo. She says Kitty is adjusting with difficulty to retirement, but doing what ex-art teachers do, and doing a lot of paintings. She sometimes puts them on fb, and she’s quite good with watercolor landscapes, something I have never been able to do.
Now that there’s a site, we’ve been getting on with the CTCW planning, with weekly meetings. We set prices; I looked up costs of other cons that seem to be doing what we do. I signed up for dowsers so I can pass out cards there, and will be doing it at the Magickal Marketplace this weekend. I got back to the CTCW blog plan, but at this point we don’t have speakers, vendors, panels, etc. to post about. For a while there’ll be nothing but me thinking about what I’d like the con to be. The first one was on the theme- Feeding our Fires in Time of Need
, followed that with one trying to drum up some feedback and volunteers. We narrowed the focus of the theme, which was going to be Getting what we Need. (Last year’s theme, Change, sort of hit us hard, so we want to make sure that this one will be positive, or at least harder to turn on us!) I know that a lot of screwing up whether in manifesting or shellwork is not being specific and getting what you asked for rather than what you wanted. Looking at what we need is a really good first step.
Meanwhile Lois is doing a fundraiser (we need capital) by making e-book; I sent her several things I’ve written over the years for her to use, quick and easy for me, but I think they’re good. I worry a little that I was showing off because I can cover so many topics, but at this point we are attracting speakers better than I am, so I know she doesn’t have to use all of mine.
I really miss doing the interviews on the New Normal. I hope I can figure out another venue. We are looking at how I could interview speakers and record them and put the recordings on youtube. I tend to think of that as visual and am not sure I’m up for that. Other people may be cool with my being a cool old lady, but I prefer to live in a fantasy world where I look as I think I do (as I used to).
Spring is creeping up. Zoloft is willingly going outside again. This is not to say that we haven’t had occasional snow, but I have to admit I spend most of my time on the computer and mostly only realize it’s snowing when I hear the plows passing. Daylight Savings time changed again, what a waste of effort (and it keeps throwing me off. We’ve had supper after nine several nights since then). We put away the snowflake bowls and cups, and brought out the green glass service.
Not only did I not get a new Ostara dress, I didn’t dye eggs this year!
So life consists of doing laundry, dishes, cooking- what everyone does. I think I may be baking more than I should. In the last couple of weeks I’ve made a coke cake, an apple pie, an upside down cake, and a mushroom couliabec (I had a craving for that, and in theory oyster mushrooms are supposed to lower blood pressure. I did wonder if the blood pressure might have been eating ham the day before). I am totally unmotivated to do the usual chores. We let the clean laundry pile up on the dining room table until Kat needed to use it to cut cloth. After clearing it, Kat and I went through the unmatched sock basket. They no longer fit in it. Now we have matched stockings again.
I’m even getting tired of posting the holidays for Holidays that Might Get Overlooked- mostly the job is checking accuracy, and that’s not exciting. No new discoveries, unless there’s a new holiday. Tomorrow is Rosie the Riveter Day, which they campaigned to get accepted for several years. It’s not bad on days when there are a half dozen to a dozen holidays, but with the equinox, it’s been 30+ a day. I wish they’d spread them out! I toy with the idea of only including the fun ones, but I like the idea of letting people know about the Day of Forests and Trees, of Day to Remember the Victims of All Mafias, etc. We should remember them. Last Thursday FB went down- it didn’t let people post or load stuff, which meant that when it came up again at 11 I was posting the holidays as fast as I could to get them up before midnight. My guess was that they were doing some sort of upgrade, and sure enough, when I checked the next day I was able to access the scheduled posts, which I hadn’t been able to do for a year.
I have gotten sick of the news. Floods and monsoons, massacres, Trump vetoing the block to his “state of emergency” (which I figure is his trying deflect attention from the Muller investigation). Trump is such
an embarrassment (and it doesn’t help that there are other leaders that may be worse out there)! Trumps appointees
all seem to be disassembling their departments, they’re trying to get rid of education, energy, the EPA, social security, everything but the military. He was freaking signing Bibles in a disaster zone! He blamed England for the Russians meddling in the campaign! He thinks airplanes are too complicated! This man should not be allowed out without a keeper! I tried briefly to not pass along any depressing posts. That didn’t last long. Oh well. I liked the children’s strike about Climate Change, and the way the courts keep blocking Trumps stupid attempts to just do whatever he feels like. I love that the truth of the danger of Round-up is coming out.
An acquaintance, the pagan author Raven Grimassi died of pancreatic cancer last week, and people are passing that around. I hope he died well, and hope Stephanie, his wife, will be able to continue teaching without him. It’s hard to continue without a partner. I did take up a Facebook challenge- to post a picture of the cover of a beloved book every day for a week. (I lost track by day 5), and I also started posting weird little superstitions from a book on them I sent for at some point, forgot about and it finally arrived. For example: “To insure that a newborn baby will be bucky, pass it through a hole cut in the center of the groaning cheese.” I actually think it’s a typo for lucky, and the editor said they didn’t know the source of the term “groaning”. The thing is that it was either a groaning cheese or cake, and a groaning cake was a cake baked to be served at a Christening. It seems obvious to me that “groaning” refers to the labor that produced the child to be Christened. But then, I have quite a store of historical trivia. Several people recently suggested that I should write a book on holidays, and I suppose I could. I’m not sure that the world needs another book on holidays, but someone might enjoy it.
OK, aside from reading too much, I also followed links and enjoyed articles and other short videos. I particularly enjoyed Randy Rainbow “They had it coming” (to the tune of the Cell block tango
), and John Oliver’s show on Robocalls
, calling them perhaps the only thing that everyone agrees on. (We all hate them.) I think it was Monday that I got hit with a phone scam, a junk mail (I hate trying to figure out what mail is really a bill and what’s just pretending to be), and a spam asking me to tell TDS that I didn’t want to have my internet turned off. (I twigged to it when they asked me to sign in with my password- TDS keeps making me change my password to use it, so I know that they don’t know it- it’s on a discrete program.) Gods! I hate that every form of communication is clogged with crap we don’t want! On the other hand, I don’t particularly dislike the ads they put on the internet- yet. Someone circulated a list of the top ten songs back on St. Patrick’s Day in 1958. (I was 6) I enjoyed listening to those, and have listened to the billboard top songs for years since, up to 1964 so far. I’ve noticed that a lot of the singing sounds very whiney to me. On the other hand, much of what has become “classic” rock and roll, like Chuck Berry still makes me want to dance. I expect I’ll keep running through the years- the music was in the background and brings back whisps of memories (and the occasional surprise: Why had I never head Dinner with Drac
on those silly Halloween collections? It’s right up there with Monster Mash and the other common ones.)