Happy Tug-o-war Day!

Winter has returned in a rather half hearted way. I guess it’s our little micro-biome, Facebook reports from other NH friends talk about snow, but in each of the ones were serious accumulation was expected we got a dusting, maybe two inches. Actually, we did have to dig out from what would probably have been six inches originally, but it was snowed on, so looked like four- but it was really heavy. Actually that was the first time I shoveled this year. Yes, I was careful. Mostly it was because John was sick then, but he’s better now. We seem to be through the winter “colds”, but Willow is exhausted and achy from the cold, and CDS is like having the flu all the time, and she just pushes through anyway. I wish there were something I could do to help.
The big news for this week was me going to the NH MENSA Regional Gathering. I had been asked to speak- I gave my workshop on Palmistry (always popular), and the one on Witch Trials, and since their theme this year was the Library at the End of the Universe, they asked if I could do one on the Library of Alexandria, which I really enjoyed doing. It’s sort of twofold: the library existed in history- for 6-7 centuries, and suffered several disasters. The Burning of the Library of Alexandria, on the other hand, is sort of a myth. It is blamed on the Romans, the Christians, the Muslims, or whoever you want to be the big evil destroyer of civilization. It’s a trope to give intellectuals someone to hate. I tried to cover both aspects. They gave me a room, or rather let me take the other bed in Anjuli’s room. I was looking forward to getting there Friday around 4 and chatting. There are GREAT conversations there. And food? Anjuli/ Elizabeth Becker has been running hospitality, which is a full meal plan for the weekend since I started going, and there is no point at which there isn’t a ton of food available. There are always tubs of water, sodas, beers, and tables with wine and coffee and lots of snacks out. After dinner on Friday, they had a build your own sundae event at 9 or 10, then Shrimp and Champagne at 11. Breakfast was omelets, plus other stuff, trays of assorted home-made cookies were seen out as they took in the bagels, croissants, fruit etc., Lunch was sandwiches (meats and cheeses, and salads, dinner theme was foods from picnics: chicken, hot dogs, potato salads, macaroni and cheese, etc…, followed by multitudinous desserts , and an open bar, in the morning there was a brunch with baked eggs w/ cheese and sausage, fresh fruit, and all the various leftovers. (They put out baggies for people to take leftovers home.) This is the only event where I take no snacks, it would be pointless. She feeds people like I do. It’s amazing.
Sadly, although I left early (stopping at the library and the bank), I stopped afterward at McDonalds to use their rest room and locked myself out of the car. The AAA guy told me that Chryslers are infamous for that. Sadly, there seems to have been an accident about the same time, and it took a great deal of time for him to show up. I wandered in and out of McDonalds. Took pictures with my phone, posted my woes to Facebook. Apparently I need to keep a kindle or book in my coat pocket! So frustrating to have everything you need on the other side of the glass! The delay did give the bank the chance to get back to me that the loan had come through. (I’d dropped off papers they needed to process it), and I then called Winkles and told them to find me a replacement car. Then I continued to wait. Since I don’t drive at night, I got Kat to look up when sunset was, and realized that I had to leave by 4:30 not to be driving after dark, and I didn’t quite make that. So I went home, slept in my own bed, and headed out “first thing” the next morning. I’d meant to leave at 8, but didn’t, and got there at 10. Luckily my first class was at 10:45.  That’s pretty much it. I got to go to another workshop- a chocolate tasting. I’d never heard of blonde chocolate – that’s sort of white chocolate but they caramelize the sugar before putting it in the chocolate. I also asked what the “dutch process” did, as that’s what the Sparrow I’m fond of is. The chocolatier giving the workshop says it strips all the nuances and subtle flavors from it, although it can make it darker. OK, not good for making chocolate, but I still like it for cocoa.
I helped Elizabeth pack up the hospitality. I think my big contribution was carefully drying the plastic tray covers they use for cookies, sandwich meats etc. One only needs ONE experience of putting just slightly moist stuff away for several months and coming back to find it furry and moldy to be VERY careful about that. It’s too easy to think it will dry while it sits there. Not necessarily, especially when it’s been carefully “tetris-ed” into the bins.  I, myself, came home with bags of cookies, crudités, cheese, and fruit, as well as a can of whipped cream and a box of croissants, and bags of popcorn and chips. Sadly, with my bag full of treats, I managed to forget my journal.
Anjuli, bless her, drove it down to me on Tuesday, which gave us far more time to chat than we had while she was out-straight at the RG (and we made plans for Panteria). I was up incredibly late, but she was still up later, and then up at 6:30 making breakfast. I think she said she got 3-4 hours of sleep Friday night. I did catch her dropping off in the circle of chairs where many people sat and chatted (when they weren’t attending workshops, watching movies, doing crafts, gaming, or watching performances). Since I had my phone, and she looked so sweet, I took her picture, then I passed it to her husband, since I couldn’t really get her permission. I think he gave it- as he posted it on the RG Facebook page. (NOT sharing it here as I wouldn’t have permission for this audience.) But it does provide proof that she got at least 15 minutes of sleep that weekend. Given that she probably spent many hours baking during the week before, I’m sure she needed to rest on Monday. Heck I didn’t do much but knit on Monday! I guess I am getting old. It’s a transition one doesn’t realize until surprised by a change that has been gradual.
I also had another visitor today, Mark came over, and he’ll be taking us out to lunch tomorrow to celebrate John’s birthday. He’ll be 35! We’ve been trying to find a theatre where Aquaman is still playing to celebrate. We lost track of time and his gifts will probably be arriving sporadically over the next week, so I’m happy this will be something. And we’ll pick up a cheesecake- his favorite. If chaos ensues, as we should expect, and all plans have to be reworked, you’ll find out in next week’s letter.
I haven’t read much this week (reviewing my notes and references for my talks before the weekend) and I continue to be amused by the admittedly silly romance series “A strong woman in the Middle Ages” by Lina Potter. The best way to describe it is a self-insertion fanfic, only with history rather than SF. It’s not history though, it’s fantasy, I hat to suggest that it was mostly to avoid doing actual research. Her “medieval” world has cultures that are clearly Jews, Vikings, Arabs (in contrast to the “European” style cultures). As it’s fantasy she can simply have potatoes since she wants to, and as many resources available as the Swiss Family Robinson did. The first three books First Lessons, the Clearing, and Palace Intrigue, have been sufficiently fun that I am confident that I’ll take it through the fourth and fifth books. She’s a modern doctor woken in the body of a medieval countess, and somehow seems to know enough modern information to be able to push technology along. The countess is also married, and I’ve expected since the first that by the end she’ll fall in love with her absent husband, although so far they simply seem to get more and more convince that the other is a horrible person. As an SCAer I’m frustrated that one of the things she introduces is lace, but the author has been careful not to give much detail on costume other than color that would give a clue as to where and when she’s supposed to be. I fear this may be one of those examples where she thinks it’s all the same “back then”, and it doesn’t make a difference. It was not homogenous and even the subcultures need a lot more development. However, as long as I accept it as a romantic fantasy, it’s a great deal of fun. Wouldn’t we all like to think that if we time traveled to the past we’ll be able to cope. (Another advantage of fantasy- no language problems!)  And I’ve also read a great deal of the new translation of the Odessey by Emily Wilson. I have really been enjoying it!
Willow and Kat went searching for the materials for Kat’s latest commission, but she ended up buying them on line, and I expect it will take the usual month to finish the dress.
That’s about it for this week. I’ve been reading about how circadian rhythms have an impact on your metabolism and want to try working that angle. Politics continues to seem like an unlikely dystopian novel. I like Sanders, but think I’d prefer him working in his office to out campaigning. It’s been a week since Valentines, and Willow’s roses are still beautiful- and we didn’t get any half price chocolate. All my nerd friends mourn the loss of the Mars Rover Opportunity. Maryalyce may have found a good venue for CTCW, wish us luck! (I like the Best Western where the RG was, but it’s rather far north for the folks from MD.)
Oh, while looking for what pictures I might have taken this week, I found this one from last summer, when the tree fell on the car in the Winkles lot right in front of Robert. Impressive isn’t it? It was more so in person. Must have been horrifying for it to happen a few feet in front of you.