4/9/2014 Jenkin’s Ear Day

The snow pile at the corner of the driveway is pretty much gone (it may be by the end of the day), and there’s only about a foot on the driveway edge of the herb garden. I am trying to get the letter done quickly so I can go out and rake and clean up the raised beds. I am toying with the idea of putting peas on one since it’s way too early for anything else, and one can still plant after they’d be done.
The weather is still too nippy to leave the door open, although the sun often seems warm enough to try it, the winds coming in are cool enough, and so is the house. It seems so unfair that it appears to be warmer, it IS warmer, but it’s also still more comfortable with a fire in the stove. We keep trying to go without, but eventually I get chilled and ask John to go chop some more kindling. (I feel like I should do it myself, but at the same time, I want him to have something to do.
DSC01122   I am very eager to get out and rake and clean up the front garden areas (currently buried under a lot of oak leaves). I discovered that the snow had covered my poor brussels sprouts. I learned only in my forties that brussels sprouts are good when a) small, and b) when they’ve been out through a frost. That made a huge difference in my enjoyment. So I’d left them out, and then lost track of them. When I went out to check the garden, there they were, a small splash of green in the brown waste, and I am looking forward to eating them- once we are back to family dinners again. I mostly planted them because they are decorative- do you know that the sprouts grow in a spiral around the stalk, and you must break off the leaves as they come out to okra_flowerencourage the sprouts to form. With just the leaves that are still on the top, the plants look like nubbly knee-high palm trees. Very cute. I figure a flat of them is all I’d want- actually only one or two plants, they are not my favorites, but they are fun.It’s like okra, I want enough for one or two gumbos a year, and the flowers are lovely. They are related to hybiscus.
Now don’t you want to plant some this year? I want to put a planter in front of the woodshed and grow scarlet runner beans up the lattice this year. I’d rather like to move the raised beds so we’d have more parking, but perhaps the thing to do is to put grass around them. I have a vague memory that there may have been a front lawn before we moved up here. I’ll have to ask Megan and Dennis.

We really haven’t done much this week because Willow and I have been feeling off, and Kat’s been really ill. Willow took her to the doctors on Thursday when her lymph nodes swelled up, and the doctor gave her an antibiotic, cephalexin. The doctor seems to think her problem was an infected tooth. I think that she’d been doing poorly, since the previous Saturday, and having her immune system shot opened her up for the migraine, her tooth going bad, or anything else with which her body had to deal, hence the huge array of non-associated symptoms from which the doctor had to pick. Since Willow and I have also been headachey and dizzy, Liz suggested that we should get our house tested for carbon monoxide, but since we don’t feel better when we leave the house (and it’s not that tight), I don’t think that’s it. Anyway, reassured that it was not catching, Kat started on the antibiotics and at we went down to Charlotte’s Memorial service on Saturday morning.

DSC01091   We left at seven without eating, or printing out the directions- after all, Willow’s phone has a GPS. To speed breakfast, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for breakfast sandwiches. We sampled their “peep” donuts- basically flower shaped glazed donuts, with terrifying pink and green frosting. Willow noticed that it was strawberry flavored, John didn’t, but he had the green one, and maybe it wasn’t. We were charmed by the mini-peeps with which they decorated them. Willow has saved hers- I pointed out that they are no more meant to be eaten than Halloween sugar skulls or candy canes. They are “subtleties”- decorations made out of sugar.
Kat didn’t have one because she wasn’t feeling well, and I didn’t because I’m banting- I also only ate the inside of the sandwich. We were surprised on the way down by being turned off of our usual “points south”
frog bridge Willimantic
route. Apparently New London, from where the ferry leaves, is significantly east of New Haven. As we stopped at a light just before crossing a bridge, we looked up and saw a pair of enormous frogs! As we were stopped at a light, Willow was able to grab her phone and snap a picture. She then sent it to facebook where people (not surprisingly) recognized the monsters, and asked “What are you doing in Willimantic?” It seems that when they needed a new bridge over the Willimantic River, the townsfolk thought the first design too boring, and got an architect to come up with something more personal. I didn’t notice until I looked it up (I googled “frog bridge” and it took me right there!) that the frogs on the four points of the bridge are sitting on spools. Willimantic is called Thread City.
That was cool. Not cool was when Kat, who we knew wasn’t feeling well started throwing up, luckily she had the bag from DD, and we quickly found a plastic bag to keep it from leaking, and pulled over and got rid of it. I have found the time estimates from googlemaps to usually be pretty good, and figured that giving ourselves an extra 20 minutes would be enough. Apparently not. We did call ahead and let Tracy know we wouldn’t make it before the ferry pulled out.
Someone asked if the trip was a disaster. I’d say no, not a disaster, but definitely an adventure. (dang it!) In theory we should have arrived at the ferry at 9:30. We got there at 10:10. They were willing to transfer us to the 11 am ferry, so we called Tracy and let him know that that was good, and we’d be on the way.
As long as we were doing it, we enjoyed the ferry ride. Kat stayed inside, in the passenger section, near the bathroom, and Willow stayed with her. John and I enjoyed the deck. When we got out of the Thames River it got very misty. I’d been wondering if you could see both Connecticut and Long Island at once, but all I could see was water and white/grey sky. It was also pretty chilly and I was glad I was wearing mothers fur coat. DSC01096
We had planned to meet the family at Claudia’s house before the service, so rather than rumpling our church clothes, we had packed them, and were planning to change.  John also went and got his hair cut. I’m not sure but I think the last time he did was for Dad’s funeral- or maybe the last Thanksgiving, so Dad would be happy with the way he looked. He was wearing Dad’s coat too, so he stayed warm as well.
I’ll say that while I enjoyed it a lot, I had to hold my hat on most of the time to avoid losing it. I noticed that if you stare into the mist for very long your brain starts generating things in it to see. (Try it with the picture!) Then suddenly, there was something. I thought it might be a pier, or buoy of some sort, but it looked sort of boxy. My mind kept telling me it looked like a DSC01097house, but it wasn’t on an island, it was just sitting there on the water. It was very weird. Finally, when we got close enough, I took a picture. Later I showed it to Willow and she says it’s haunted- it IS a house, stuck out in the middle of the harbor for some reason (I keep wondering why? It must be hard to get supplies, especially fuel for heat, because it must be cold!) At least I wasn’t seeing things! I guess those must be cranes for lifting supplies off of delivery boats over on the side there. DSC01104
And then as we approached long island, it cleared, and that was nice. We got off, and headed down toward Brookhaven. I fell asleep. I hadn’t gotten to bed until past
two, because I’d been doing so much stuff on Friday. I had to drop books at the Library, do laundry, DSC01107clean (usually Kat does most of the dishes and laundry), get a form notarized for the insurance for fixing Dad’s house,…. You know how it is, there’s nothing like having a lot to do to get a lot done.
After supper I made two batches of brownies- one with nuts, one without, two cakes, a chocolate bundt cake and a pound cake with saffron and cardomom, and a batch of peanut-butter cookies. I figure those are good for nostalgia. When you’re sad you want stuff that reminds you of your childhood. I enjoy baking, so of course, I put that off until I’d done the things I was less eager to do- and then it was late.
So as Willow took a turn driving, I dozed. I woke up a she pulled off of the highway. The battery of the phone (had been warning us that it was almost gone, but the car charger didn’t work, so we figured we’d get one on Long Island) died, and the last call we’d had from Tracy was that the church was about a block from Claudia’s, you could almost see it from there. Sadly, with the phone dead, we didn’t know what the name of the church was. This has been a major learning experience- always have a redundant (not powered) back-up. Willow quickly got a new car charger, (while I looked for a map and asked people where we actually were. I was informed that “no one buys maps any more.” Feh! Maps do not require batteries!) Sadly, it seems that it isn’t the charger but whatever connects the cigarette lighter to the alternator, and it wouldn’t work.
Using the map, we found the right town, Willow had actually gotten off the right exit. We did get lost trying to find the right route, but eventually found it, found the right road in the right town, and started looking for house numbers. While doing this we found a church with people in black clustered in front, so I got out and asked if it was Charlotte’s service. We found it, right after it had finished. They were having refreshments in the back of the church.
So we spent a half hour there, talking to the gathered Taylors: Steve and Vicki, Jenny and her two boys (who have grown so much!), Tracy and Jan and their kids Leif and Charlotte, named after her grandmother. I didn’t realize Charlotte had gotten married, but I met her husband and adorable daughter. Claudia and Dennis (her first husband) and her new partner were there. Her kids, Alic and Thad were there with THEIR DSC01112husband and wife and kids. Alic has six kids! (I am SO out of touch!) I actually did remember the name of Thad’s son- Cassius! (If you want to be kind to my memory, give your kids an historical name.) After the church we went back to Claudia’s house- indeed was very close. And it had a big sign out front with “a familiar name”; she has a chiropractic practice, this was helpful because that meant she has an ample parking lot as well.
We did the usual talking about Charlotte, and lots of eating. They had salad, nibbles, trays of warm foods, and a yard long sub, and my baked goods. Then, oh my, I had been cooking by recipe, and clearly on too little sleep because while I was suspicious of the recipe card calling for 2 tbsp. baking soda (and I’ve freaking MADE that cake about a hundred times!) I didn’t go check, and when Willow tested it at Claudia’s it was clearly over soured. Oops. Well, there were plenty of brownies for those with chocolate cravings. We also tried to organize a group picture of the family, but what with all the eating and so many people that didn’t get organized.Nicholas familyReeHeights
One thing that DID happen was that Tracy, who’d put together the usual collection of great pictures of Charlotte to display at the service, had brought “gift bags” for all of us. While going through the family albums, he’d taken out the pages with each of us in it, and put them in bags, with each of our names on it. I think this is particularly brilliant, and if I had another funeral to plan, I’d do it. We also were given a wonderful picture of Charlotte and her family. Apparently she was the next youngest of ten children, and bless the woman, she wrote names and dates on the back of most of her pictures! (3 years old, #9 in this line, in 1928)
In order to get back and catch the ferry back home, we had to leave at 5:30. (Leif and Charlotte and her family were headed back on that one too.), and we rode back with them. Once again, I spent most of the time on deck. Watched the sun set over the Long Island Sound, appreciated the fur coat, found out that yes, you can see both land on both sides. I did eventually come in, and we got a picture of us. This boat was configured differently than the one on which we went down. The inside was open, whereas the other had interior walls around blocks of seats. (One was a TV room.)
We’d expected to find a restaurant when we got to the other side (around 8:30), but Kat was feeling so poorly we just headed straight home, and did indeed, get there by 11, even though we’d stopped to gas up. So the Googlemap estimate wasn’t so much wrong, as it didn’t take into account traffic and stops.
Kat went straight to bed, and woke up feeling worse. We looked up the side effects of the cephalex and she had ALL of them, except the rash- then Kat pointed out to me that what I’d thought was blemishes on her head was, in fact, a rash. We’d been worried because she couldn’t keep anything down, and they’d been very clear that you shouldn’t take it without food, so every time she tried to take it, it would come right up again. We tried calling the doctors, but their answering service (because it wasn’t life threatening, in which case we should go to the emergency room), forwarded the call to “Ask a nurse”. The thing with Ask a Nurse is that they only have one answer: go in to the hospital so the ER doctor can see you. They couldn’t even answer whether the local one was open on Sundays or not. They didn’t seem to care, all she was there to do was get you to go to the doctor. When I started asking the questions to figure out the risk benefit balance, she asked to speak to Kat again and told her that since her “Mom doesn’t want to take you to the ER, you find someone who will!” Both girls got quite cross with her. I worried that I’d end up on some list for withholding care to my sick daughter. Kat decided that she really didn’t want to go to the hospital. Later we got a follow-up call, and I was able to point out that and whether the ER is open or not, are things that the nurses need to know. It’s not good for a patient to get tired, cold, stressed, etc. and how much of that is involved is as much a part of the decision whether to go as what you think they’ll be able to do.
They look at it only from their point of view- “we can’t do anything if you don’t come here. Obviously you’ll be better off if we can take care of you, so come to us.” We were looking at the question of whether they could help. They would be able to change her antibiotic, but probably not be able to help her keep it down. They might be able to give her an effective anti-nausea drug, but I watching lots of chemo patients has make me skeptical about that. IF Kat was sufficiently dehydrated they could give her IV hydration, but if she wasn’t, they might do it just to justify our having come in. They might deny that they do that, but everything I’ve read leads me to believe that they do everything they can, even if it’s not really necessary, to reassure the patients (and themselves) that they’ve done everything possible. We were able to find out that While St. Josephs (in Nashua) has a 24/7 Emergency Room, Milford’s ER has morphed into an  Urgent Care Center, open 9 to 9.
At any rate, Kat opted to wait, take an loperamide (Immodium), keep drinking small sips of water and wait until morning. In the morning we called the doctor and they called in an antibiotic from a different family. I picked that up along with some corticosteroid cream ointment which was supposed to help her rash (not that I’ve noticed), some allergy pills for the nausea and rash. I got the Diphenhydramine 50s (sold as a sleep aid), as opposed to the Diphenhydramine 25s (sold as a anti nausea/allergy med-Benadryl), because sleeping wouldn’t be a bad side effect. Then I checked to see how they interacted. She is doing better today. Sadly, her insurance doesn’t cover prescriptions and while the Cephlex was $4, the Clindamycin was $79. Oh, well. Better not to have the nausea, diarrhea, rash, pain, dizziness, and bleeding. Being sick is no fun. I am taking it as a good sign that now she is feeling better enough to start being bored.
Staying in bed all day means that she has to have the bed remade, about once a day, because the blankets slide off. We have removed the stuffed animals because I think they were crowding her out. Now occasionally the cats hide among them.
dragons   This week I achieved two fairly major things with my website: I took pictures of the silver trays and posted those under the Business/Cabochons section, AND I went through 210 pages of unlabeled archives on the Liveparanormal.com site and extracted the links to my shows, and put those in the New Normal section of my Tchipakkan website. (I also added head shots.) At some point I’d like to get pictures of Willow’s jewelry, and put those up, put up more pictures of my paintings, and sort the New Normal shows by guest (mostly done) and topic (still to do), but they’re up. That’s pretty damned mind numbing, and I feel for people who do that sort of stuff every day all day. I’ve also got about of the old letters archived on the Letter section. I guess this will go up after the show tonight.
I also wrote a blog post on Plan your Epitaph Day. Did you ever stop to consider how very peculiar it is to carve your name on a stone? Gravestones are like graffiti you paid for, so it’s socially acceptable. As an historian, I love any source of information about people in the past, but the modern generic ones are SO personality free, I don’t see the point. If the stone isn’t going to say something about you, what’s the point?

Today’s excitement was that this morning my guest for tonight suddenly got called to cover for someone at work who’d gotten injured. Luckily Jane was scheduled for next week and was able to switch in. I’ve gotten into the habit of promoting it, so maybe someone may tune in and be disappointed we’re talking Runes not UFOs and distant viewing, but tough luck. I posted the update everywhere I could think of. (Listen here)
The other day I made 4 cups of tea at once, 2 green teas (one chai), black tea, and raspberry tea. Black tea is really rather orange. Pretty isn’t it?
When I’ve cooked, which I really haven’t done much (because Kat’s not eating, Willow’s not hungry, I’m dieting, and John’s out of luck!) I’ve been watching the cooking course DVDs. Also, a “long wait” Jaque Pepen Christmas special finally came in through Netflix and was really nothing to write about. I read After Dead, a small volume written by Charlaine Harris with entries on what happened after to all the characters in her The Southern Vampire Mysteries 13 book series of books. She did make you like the characters (or dislike them), and I appreciate the tying up of loose ends. I wish that more authors of series would do that when they decide they want to write about something else. I’m reading a fairly heavy book on myths, (no, really, I think it weighs about 6 pounds!), and the books on white slaves in early America that I started reading last week. Depressing. To lighten up from that I have been reading the Little Colonel books on my kindle. (Amusingly, I took out the first book of Game of Thrones because everyone says the book is so much better than the TV show, and Willow started reading it- then she got the first four books on Kindle because they are too heavy to hold up!) Sadly, while they are a lightweight peek back into childhood and growing up a hundred years ago, they aren’t quite as much of a break from slavery as I’d hoped.
I have been thinking long and hard about the attitudes I’ve seen in the books, something that has to be classed under discrimination, although it’s a lot more classist than racist. Yes, they do express fear of “wild Indians” and “drunken negros”, but at the same time, they recognize and love the ones they know. What they don’t seem to understand is that if they have a storybook wedding, or a house-party, it never occurs to them that their servants are rising significantly before them to chop the wood and fire up the kitchen stove, and that they stay up late to clean up after them. They talk about cleaning, yet mention, finding a “girl” to do the scrubbing, while they hem napkins. They are equally as unaware of their treatment of their English maids as they are black mammys. They are servants, so of course they work while the upper class rests.
I am not bothered by their using the words negro instead of black- that’s fashion. I noted one word I hadn’t when I read the books as a child, at one point they refer to hearing “coon music” coming from the servant’s quarters. I don’t think I ever considered that anything but another word for country music. One chapter soon after that describes a “coon hunt”, which consists of hay wagon rides out to the woods, loosing dogs who chase a racoon while the people pelt after the animals, and climb a tree to shake the coon down so the dogs can rip it to shreds. (The girls avert their eyes at this juncture.) Then they all go off and have a picnic. It sounds disgusting, but other than not having horses (and special outfits), how is that different from a fox hunt. I understand hunting. You’re getting food, or maybe protecting wild stock. Ælfwine stayed up more than one night to kill a raccoon who was raiding our chicken coop. He apologized to it for killing it, but it wouldn’t have listened to reason. But how can that grim necessity turn into a sport? That acceptance of violence indicates and underlying problem in their outlook.
But what I decided bothers me was when they had to keep from laughing at their black servants. This generally happened when they were “aping” the white folks. In contrast, Mary is commended for being observant, and an excellent mimic, which allows her to fit in when she’s had no training in society manners. But when the blacks imitate the things they admire about the whites, the whites find it laughable, and don’t question that humor. I think, from an hundred years away, that perhaps when they see someone else doing it, their laughter is a nervous response to a subconscious awareness of the ridiculous airs they are seeing mimicked. More consciously, I’m sure they think that the negroes are attempting to be what they can never be- no matter how similarly they behave. At any rate, that’s how I’ve analyzed what bothers me about the attitudes that are so innocent and free of ill will, and yet, at some base level, deeply wrong.

Until next week,
“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.
Alfred Austin”  (eep- untended and overgrown?)

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