Well, my “clever” plan worked, by waiting, I am able to share a picture of the next generation,
my sister Liz has a grand baby! It’s exciting! He’s named Julian. At least he managed to avoid being born on Leap Year Day. That must be a pain for any kid who it happens to- although at my age, I would probably be fine saying “This is my seventeenth birthday, ha ha!” And parties are often put up or off a day to be on a weekend or other more convenient day.
Newborns can be really ugly, but this one is nice looking. They got lucky, although it’s probably also the genetics.
I usually start with mentioning our local weather. I think the main thing is that the weather has been wet. I have felt cold, but at the same time, the locals are sugaring. We see the blue tubes stretched between the trees, so it must be getting warmer during the day, but I’m not feeling it. But then, I don’t go out. When I woke up this morning there was almost no snow left. This doesn’t mean that March couldn’t slap us, but at least around here, it’s been a really wimpy winter, cold, but very little snow. On the other hand, this is the first year I haven’t been out almost every snow shoveling along with John, so I may have a warped view of the snowfall. I don’t think so.
It’s been a quiet week. This was my first weekend home this month (because my ride to the Delaware event last weekend had her flu turn into pneumonia, and she ended up in the hospital), so I told Steve, and he came up to visit. I got to make beignets for him, but we also had liver and onions. After catching up on news, we watched a comedy adventure Knight and Day (a Cameron Dias/ Tom Cruise spy flick). It was sweet and fun, I couldn’t believe they actually had a motorcycle ride through the “running the bulls” bit. My expectations we probably lowered because I’d watched There’s Something about Mary earlier in the week. Admittedly, I should have been suspicious when Ben Stiller was the co-star, and it was from the people who made Dumb and Dumber. It was awful! It seems to have been made for 12 year old boys. It’s not a “watch oncer”, or even a “I want my 90 minutes back!” But a “can I get brain cleaner to get every trace of it out of my memory” level of annoying non-humor. You’ve been warned. On the other hand, the spy film was fun.
While we recognize that we probably shouldn’t eat too much fried sweet food (although I point out that there is almost no sugar in the dough, except what we put in with the yeast to raise it; any sweetness comes from putting powdered sugar on top!) this is the third time I made them this month. (Is that like having donuts only on weekends?) On the other hand, Tuesday was Mardi-Gras, so we “had to have” fresh jelly doughnuts. This year, since I haven’t located our favorite recipe from before the fire, I looked up recipes for pączki (prounounced paunch key) the ‘polish’ version on line, and I will say they were a success. The downside is that the recipe is very egg yolk heavy. The one I used left me with five egg whites- so I made meringues- which the kids are slowly working their way through.
I noticed that there’s a distinct sound that I can recognize when the jelly finds it’s way out through the dough into the hot fat. This time I’d tried the “pinch it around the jelly’ technique. The one I used to use was take two REALLY thin circles and press them together carefully. Those pretty much always leaked. The pinch technique tended to result in most of the dough being on one side of the pastry, so that if it leaked it was because when it expanded in the fat, the dough got too thin- and even when it didn’t leak, they were unbalanced. I fell in love with the version made at a professional bakery (about 800 at a time) where they were just cut round, rose, were fried, then they had a filling machine that stuck a needle into the pastry to get the jam in. I am SO getting myself a filling tip and not having to worry about fried jam anymore! And I could use them for eclairs too. Willow likes eclairs. I plead guilty to have spent about 3 hours on youtube watching various people fry dough of various sorts. Is there a culture that doesn’t have some sort of fried dough?
Kat also showed me a youtube channel with a lady who debunks the various videos where they lie about “if you do this” what will happen. One was about dangerous suggestions, and others were telling you things you should realize they were lying about. The one where you make a candle by sticking a sunflower seed on top of a chocolate “candle” and the oil in the seed allows it to catch fire and melt the chocolate. It’s SO easy to get caught up watching those!
She also wrote a very funny bit with pictures (I think on her Tumblr) making fun of the people who come to the shop and tell her and Willow how wonderful I am. (Oh good, I can copy it to share so you don’t have to have a Tumblr account)
And then I remembered that about 90% of people who meet my mother decide she’s the coolest person in the world in their first meeting. The other 10% have already known her for years and decided she was the coolest person in the world sometime in the 1970s. I could just pick any random stock photo and have a good guess as to what they would tell me is so wonderful about my mother if they recognised me as her child.
“Hi! Remember me? I lived in your house for three months in the mid-ninties! Your mother saved my life, she’s the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met and I have no idea which child you are so I’m going to call you by your brother’s deadname.”
*picks a gif at random from Tumblr’s gif function*
“Hi! I just came from your mother’s class on energy healing using bread in the ninth century, and it’s changed my life! She is a wonderful woman and I wish she was my mother I’m sorry I’m crying I’m just reevaluating my life since I talked to her. Mind if I stand in your shop weeping about how awesome your mother is and not buying anything for the next hour?”
“Heeelllllluuuuu, you probably don’t remember me because you were a baby at the time (and I am definitely mistaking you for your older sister) but I was in love with your mother in the 1970s but I never told her because your father was a king among men and I would follow him into Valhalla given the chance. Anyway she still is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met and I need to run if I’m going to catch her class on making medicine from random plants I found in my driveway.”
All of these DO look like my friends, sigh. And it does sound like what the girls say they are told all the time. I don’t know whether to be flattered or appalled. I will say I laughed until I cried. My kids are witty and my friends are VERY complementary.
Also on Tuesday, just as I was about to start frying the pączki when Willow called. Halfway home from Keene her car stopped itself and she couldn’t get it to go again. She had to call AAA and have it towed to Winkles, and we went over there and picked her up (then went home and fried the dough). In the morning they called and let her know that it was the transmission. Sigh, well, as she says, $1800 is still cheaper than a new car. And she had finally paid it off. They also said they’re nearly done with the one they’ve been readying for me, so I’ll have to see if my credit has recovered enough for me to get a car loan to cover it. Willow has put up advertisements to do tarot and rune readings to supplement what she gets as a “governess”.
Speaking of friends, Raven and Josh came up again on Wednesday to help organize the library. Friends help you move books! I did have to explain to Josh that we have to mark the new boxes we’re making with a sign so we can tell them from the boxes already in the great hall that haven’t been scanned into the Librarything. I’m also going to have to create a system I can remember so that I can look in the computer to find out which books I remember owning but can’t find to figure out which box they are in. (i.e.: Children’s oversize fiction #2, or Herbals #5) In theory I will reduce the books to a point where I only keep what will fit on the shelves. That sounds like the kind of intent like “lose enough weight so that I’m not “morbidly obese” (get down to 222 lbs.) It’s a lovely goal, but can it happen? I suppose so, I have had lots of friends who “couldn’t lose weight” until they got diabetes, and suddenly they drop a pile. (When it’s give up the sweets versus deal with blindness and or amputations.) My motivator here is to get the house to the point where the kids don’t have to get rid of the books after I’m dead. That and, I’d truly love to be able to find any book I want to look something up in.
This time they chose the fiction corner. I hadn’t gotten over there in years. How many years? Well, let’s just say that behind the rug that Grammie made (in the 60s?) and I was supposed to be repairing for Dad (probably from around when he moved to Maine), and I had left sort of heaped in that corner, we found Smokey, who had disappeared around ten years ago. After Bruce died (early aughts?) Mark sent him to live with us, and he went in and out, as our cats do, and then one day he didn’t come back in. We figured that he’d messed with a bigger animal or car. That happens with cats that go outside sometimes. Apparently he just lay down under the bottom shelf by the heater and went to sleep. At this point he was quite mummified. I am still trying to decide what to do about the rug. It’s one of those braided rugs made of old wool, and the colors are still bright. The problem is that whatever thread Grammie used back then has rotted, and the only appropriate way to repair it is to take out ALL the thread, get it down to the super long braid and sew it all back together again. This was the big (I’m going to estimate 10 foot diameter) rug from the family room. The problem is that I really don’t care for the style. Yes, it’s appropriate for the farmhouse we live in, and the wool is in great shape (although I suspect it needs to be cleaned because of cat involvement) but that’s a lot of work for something I don’t want. If everyone wanted it up at Clearwater, I could do it and take it up there, but I don’t think anyone else really likes it either, and I’m the most motivated by family history. I hate to give it up both for that and the labor Gram put in, but I don’t want to put in that amount of labor (those rugs are heavy when you get more than a few turns out. I’m sure they are great insulation from a cold floor, and very “rustic” but I simply don’t like the style. It’s going to take me a lot of mental wrestling to be ready to let it go.
Raven did point out to me that one of the signs of someone being a hoarder is finding a dead mummified pet in the stuff while cleaning. I rather think that I’m not so much a hoarder as someone who has too much stuff, and can’t keep track of/ take care of it properly. I see it as being a bad housewife, but I can’t really argue the point. The dead cat was there. I do know I have an issue of getting rid of anything that isn’t mine that goes back to when we moved when I was 12, and my parents got rid of some of my stuff they didn’t think was important. I do have to look at the other signs of hoarding and deal with the implications. I do keep things that “could be fixed’ because I really hate our modern throw-away culture, but often don’t get to it. I fear much of what I find “good enough”, others would call junk. WHY do are we judged harshly if a garment has a stain, but it’s otherwise not worn? This leads to production of cheap clothes that stain easily, and need to be replaced to avoid judgement. We need more good clothes that can be worn longer. I would dearly love to have good ways to find places for much of the stuff around here that I don’t want but isn’t a landfill. I guess that’s what yard sales are for.
I will mention other things I’ve read this week, which I haven’t done lately.
I have finished reading the two series of ‘cozy paranormal mysteries’ I’ve been reading this month. They are ‘junk food’ for the mind, and while I liked the human characters in the Paramour Bay series, the “girl who has just discovered that her family is witches” in this one has an annoying cat familiar who listens in to everything in her head and comments on it, mostly just snarking and complaining and being a jerk. He was supposed to be training her, but the spell that left him for her also resulted in memory loss, so he never remembers anything until it’s happening, so he’s pretty useless. His telepathic comments are all in italic, so I started simply skipping everything in italic and saved a lot of time. The adventures aren’t bad, but the cat was so annoying I’m not sure it’s worth it. The other is the one I’ve mentioned in Manhattan. I’m getting sort of sick of that one too, although I like that the series continued after the romance ended in matrimony- so many of them simply stop there. As if that settles everything! They had a kid (who is as remarkable as most parents THINK their kids actually are). With the help of her ghost ’nannie’ she was toilet trained at one (in theory 24/7 observation and ability to communicate with the ghost gave her feedback that made this possible). Still, it’s nice to have the characters age as well as develop (however unrealistically). At this point I think I’ll avoid starting any new series, although I’ll probably keep looking for any new stories in the series I’ve enjoyed.
I’m now reading The Unlikely Occultist: A Biographical Novel of Alice A Baily, who it’s being argued (dramatized?) is the source of the current New Age. She was a real historical woman from the early to mid twentieth century. I’m checking out a book on the Battle of Hastings that suggests that the battle was in a different place than generally suggested. The accounts of the battle suggest different topography, but everyone assumed that the place that the chapel was built to commemorate the battle four years later was on the right hill. Yeah, like Bunker Hill monument is on Breeds Hill. This is not a huge stretch.
I’ve noticed that when I start a book on kindle, Goodreads automatically marks it as “currently reading”, but doesn’t automatically mark it “read” unless I put in a review or at least a rating. This probably contributes to why I’m “currently reading” 172 books! Others I actually AM getting back to occasionally are a bunch on folk magick, one on the Black Death, (no, I started it BEFORE the corona virus scare), also Everything Trump Touches Dies and A Very Stable Genius. One can’t read too much of that, it’s depressing.
One of my friends suggested I read Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead, I wish I could remember who, Lyrion suggested I read it shortly after I’d picked it up from the library. Be assured that when you recommend a book, I will probably put in a library request for it, and start to read it.
The writing is excellent. It really reminds me of what good writing is compared to the stuff I’ve been reading for fun. One of the things that the main character does is help a friend translate Blake from English to Polish. Since this book is a translation from (I think Polish), it reminds me that some translator has done the very hard job of trying to change a literary work from one language to another, while keeping the tone. I don’t think I’d considered that before.
Another thing is that she is an astrologer, and I know just enough about it to think the astrology sections may be good, and want to ask my astrologer friends to read it, so they can tell me. She mentions a Lazy Venus Syndrome she’s discovered or invented. “This Venus induces a strange kind of laziness- lifetime opportunities are missed, because you overslept, because you didn’t feel like going, because you were late, because you were neglectful. It’s a tendency to be sybaritic, to live in a state of mild semiconsciousness, to fritter your life away on petty pleasures, to dislike effort and be devoid of any penchant for competition. Long mornings, unopened letters, things put off for later, abandoned projects. A dislike of any authority and refusal to submit to it, going your own way in a taciturn idle manner.” Oh boy does that sound like me.
I love that she’s old, like me too. The fluff I read is all about young women in their 20s and their romances. This woman thinks a lot, and that reminds me of me as well. “For people my age, the places that they truly loved and to which they once belonged are no longer there. The places of their childhood and youth no longer exist, the villages where they went on holiday, the parks with uncomfortable benches where their first loves blossomed, the cities, cafes and houses of their past. And if their outer form has been preserved, it’s all the more painful, like a shell with nothing inside it anymore. I have nowhere to return to. It’s like a state of imprisonment. The walls of the cell are the horizon of what I can see. Beyond them exists a world that’s alien to me and doesn’t belong to me. So for people like me the only thing possible is here and now, for every future is doubtful, everything yet to come is barely sketched and uncertain, like a mirage that can be destroyed by the slightest twitch of the air.” Doesn’t everyone have this sort of inner narration of their lives, and examination of the thoughts that go by? She also used the word “Apoptosis”, which I think I’ve heard of before, but an remembering better now. It describes things falling apart from age, I think of “the One Hoss Shay” poem, with everything just falling apart at once. I think the word refers to how petals fall off flowers when they’ve done what they were supposed to do. I like the idea better than the word entropy, which describes the way things run down, and always feels like it has a bit of malice to it. The reviews suggest that given her actions and thoughts, she may be mad, but I don’t think so. She has her values, and her perceptions, and while I, certainly, am not a vegetarian, I certainly agree with her that the priest was behaving in a hypocritical, and what I’d call un-Christian manner. (Yet justifying it to himself, the way people do.)
Another quote I felt I should copy before I returned it to the library (and so pertinent for current life): “Newspapers rely on keeping us in a constant state of anxiety, on diverting our emotions away from the things that really matter to us. Why should I yield to their power and let them tell me what to think?”
Well, that’s all I can think of about this past week at the moment.
BTW- Tartar Sauce Day, always the first Friday in Lent, because of fish eating. Mother taught us how to make it when we were young by mincing a pickle into mayonnaise, with just a bit of vinegar (I prefer lemon juice, but whatever you have on hand), and then some salt, pepper, and mustard. If you keep capers around you could add them, I don’t so I don’t. I think she did it in a blender. Being me, I like to put in a bit of minced onion (I probably got it mixed up with making tuna salad). It would be a pity to want some tartar sauce for your fish and not know how easy it is to make. If you want amounts, check youtube.
Upcoming holidays: (I think you can tell the first week of March is Name Appreciation Week)
F 29 Open that Bottle Night, Surf and Turf Day
S 1 Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, Namesake Day, World Compliment Day, Wear Yellow
S 2 Banana Cream Pie Day, Fun Facts bout Names Day, Dr. Seuss Day, Old Stuff Day
M 3 Cold Cuts Day, Mulled Wine day, Canadian Bacon Day, Unique Names Day
T 4 Poundcake Day, Snack Day, Discover what your name Means Day, Waltz Day (3-4)
W 5 Cheese Doodle Day, Absinthe Day, Poutine Day, World Food Day, Nametag Day,
T 6 Oreo Day, Middle Name Pride Day, Dress Day, Wear Blue Day
F 7 Cereal Day, Frozen Food Day, Geneology Day, Play Outside Day
S 8 Peanut Cluster Day, Women’s Day, Daylight Savings Time, Be Nasty Day
M 9 Meatball Day, Crab Day, Workplace Napping Day,
T 10 Ranch Dressing Day, Blueberry Popover Day, International Day of Awesomeness, Purim & Holi
“Sometimes it seems to me that we are living in a world we fabricate for ourselves. We decide what’s good and what isn’t, we draw maps of meanings for ourselves… and then we spend our whole lives struggling with what we have invented for ourselves. The problem is that each of us has our own version of it, so people find it hard to understand each other.” Olga Tokarczuk Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead