Johnny Appleseed Day

Some of the phlox is putting out new blossoms, which is nice, and I’m really enjoying the morning glories- on the other hand, not for the last couple days when it’s been raining. Although today had enough nice weather that John could  put the goods back in the great hall.
I noticed that the squirrels are still dying on the roadways at an alarming rate. I figure they are just looking for a territory they can settle in and collect food for winter, and the ones feeding the scavengers are the ones who didn’t judge how fast cars are coming, the ones who live will be less likely to get hit perhaps. Or it may be that there are just too many because of the good nut harvest last year. I note that the Lyndeboro’ road crews have resurfaced a good deal of Center Road. I feel lucky to live in a town where they take such good care of the roads. Some places one drives are just like driving on rumble strips!
We are still finding rats in the traps in the pantry occasionally. John found a live one that had only gotten it’s leg caught, and released it into the bushes. I told him next time to take a hammer and make sure it doesn’t find its way “back home” since it’s our pantry that it considers its supermarket! Kat spotted a couple coming out of the box of chips we had stored. I’d opted for the bag of 6 dozen single serving sized bags of the sweet chili chips she can eat when feeling delicate (doesn’t seem to make sense does it?  But she’s always liked spicy foods.), since that keeps them fresher when we buy three  months supply at once. It wouldn’t seem so awful if they just took what they were going to eat, but like squirrels (or us) they take it away to eat later. Linda told me that they were doing renovations once and discovered why, a bit earlier, the kibble they bought their dog was being used up so fast. The rats had filled the entire space between the studs and plaster and lathe with kibble! (They discovered it while replacing a bad bit with wallboard, as we do now.) On the other hand, what bothers me more is when they nibble a tiny hole in each of several bags rather than eating the chips in one bag before going on to the next. It’s not just that they are rats. I’d be cross with a teenager who did that too! But they are rats, so I can kill them without shedding a tear. Poor John may if he has to dispatch one though. I’m not thrilled with the idea. I didn’t even like killing chickens and rabbits.
This weather is just fine by me. We’ve actually turned off all the fans- the house is very quiet, and rarely leave the front door open. On the other hand, we know there will probably be at least one beastly hot week sometime in October, so we are not closing up the storms and putting the fans away. We have put away the summer dishes and taken out the ones with fall leaves and colors, I moved the rolling board from on top of the wood stove where we’ve been keeping the shake maker, blender and soda stream, and I have made my first pies of the season. We did our first burn-off in the wood stove too, (although John points out I still haven’t gotten Robert to make me a new grill for it. I need to measure how big it needs to be before he can make it). I forebear to mention that he still hasn’t stacked the last of the firewood in the shed yet either. And now it’s wet. Phooey!
I made an apple pie, and a quiche, and a chicken pot pie, and they were all very good. I am very fond of my own pie crusts. I also made stew yesterday and biscuits, and I divided the dough in two and made half into an apple cobbler. I’m gradually learning how to cook for less than six people, but it’s taking effort.
The “excitement” this week was going to the Eastern Mass Pagan Pride Day on Sunday. It was held over at the Winekini Castle grounds. They have so many weddings there that the grass permanently is full of confetti. I might have tried for it had I known about it. That’s why I made the pies Saturday, so we could just grab a piece of quiche (and apple pie) for a no-brain breakfast and then have the pie pie for dinner when we got back. Clever! On the other hand, we were hungry when we left the event and stopped in Nashua at the Chinese Buffet for dinner, and had the pie Monday. The day was typical of PPDs, (except that I didn’t get to any others this year). We knew a lot of the vendors, and enjoyed looking at their stuff. Kat took her mask in case of smudging and only had to wear it occasionally. We were next to people we knew, and could chat. I went to one class- the speaker had written a book called “Witch, Please!” (Damn! the auto-correct changed it it Bitch and I had to fix it, but I didn’t notice until I’d sent out the email copies!) about coming out of the “broom closet”, and how different people reacted. I got a copy but haven’t read it yet, although I’m looking forward to it. I’m afraid I was talking with people so much that I didn’t get to the other classes (I know I skipped one because it was about empowering women, and while I think that’s important, I am not sure I need to hear more about it.) I think I found a tarot deck Steve hasn’t got yet (we’ll find out when he checks his database), and I also got some very dark local honey from the guy who was selling it last year. It’s almost smokey, although I think it’s mostly knotweed and goldenrod, I can’t identify any other flavors. 
I wore my black and gold skirt and when I got home I carefully picked off the waistband which has been bugging me for a year. It’s just about two inches too big. I think it more likely we measured incorrectly than that I’ve lost weight, but whichever, it’s still irritating to have to use safety pins to take it in when it’s so gorgeous! I’m doing the same on my quilted skirt, although I should probably just make another one because it’s been repaired in a couple of places. I don’t know- do other people repair their clothes? One would think from the media that “everyone” simply throws out anything that gets torn or stained (or goes out of fashion) and buys new garments. With what money I wonder? Besides, when I finally get a skirt or blouse I like, I don’t want to give it up!  At least picking and stitching at the kitchen table gives me an opportunity to watch some movies.
I really don’t get out much- I’d prefer to not go out often anyway. At the moment, Willow’s car is over at Winkles getting whatever wasn’t done before the war done and her provisional sticker turned into a normal one, so she’s using my car. I don’t think we are quite ready to be a one car family, but occasionally it’s not too bad. I do need to get mine seen to as well. The instrument cluster is having problems again- sometimes it says I have no gas when I’ve just filled the tank. Willow filled it today and it says half full. They’re pulling one from a junker and will replace it. (I just realized that that might be a problem as well.)
 With the cooler weather I may have a bit of “something”- I’ve had a mild ear-ache off and on for the last week. It resurfaces when I stay up too late, which I often do when I get caught in a book.
I’m afraid I have contributed to the triggering of some trauma. This BS where the.Republicans want to push Kavanaugh through quickly so they can get an anti-abortion judge on the Supreme Court is getting a lot of “play time” on Facebook, and it wasn’t until a friend pointed out that all the people talking about how women who come forward are harassed, threatened, disbelieved, and their lives, already damaged by having been sexually assaulted, are made worse because #boyswillbeboys has been triggering her trauma. It can be treated and sometimes kept to a level where they can cope, but it’s still there under the surface, and reminders can trigger panic again. Given that so many women have been assaulted, these discussions are hitting a lot of the #metoo women. On the one hand, it should be brought out into the open. MOST men can control themselves, at the same time, it’s not alright, it’s not the women’s fault, pointing out that they did it may ‘ruin his life’ but that’s not the victim’s fault, it’s his choice. Most men who would never force sex on a woman aren’t aware that a lot of what they do is making women scared or uncomfortable, and if no one tells them, how will they know? We need to get to a point where no one thinks it’s OK to use intimidation to get your own way. Sadly our POTUS has “given tacit permission” for people to do just that- to “grab them by the pussy”, to make fun of the handicapped, to “beat em up, I’ll pay your defense bills”. I’m less worried about him than I am about the many supporters he still has who are thrilled that they can finally come out publicly and hat niggers and queers and Jews, and furiners, because once they get the bit in their teeth, they’ll go after anyone they feel like because they’re setting up a system that protects people who shoot an unarmed black man. The system is what we have to fear, and it’s hear and getting stronger. I try to be positive, but sometimes it’s hard.  And I’m sorry my sharing things I think we need to think about probably pushes people who are already teetering on the edge into depression and anxiety. At least the hurricane has passed.

So as I’ve cooked and sewed and cleaned this week, I’ve “watched” several documentaries. One was five packaged together: Lincoln: Trial by Fire, They’ve Killed President Lincoln, No Retreat from Destiny, Lincoln’s Last Night, Fired by Liberty.

It started with a fairly standard documentary with what seemed like low quality costumes and props- (having watched a lot of good movies recently). The soldiers were all too clean- they often had a specific symbolic smudge on their faces to indicate they’ve been in battle, at least they weren’t fat. They’ve Killed President Lincoln, gathered suggestive information about the assassination. I hadn’t heard that Booth’s group had intended to take out the Vice President and Secretary of State at the same time (so that the Secretary of War, Stanton,  could take over- in theory). They did say that it was only a conspiracy theory, but it did explain a lot of things that were otherwise inexplicable.  As I said, I never heard that there were other assassinations along with it. No Retreat from Destiny was about the battle for Washington DC> was very disjointed- lots of re enactments of the defense of Washington when Lee got too close. It was rather graphic, showing how awful that sort of fighting was. Lincoln’s last night was more on the assassination, with lots of period photos of the men involved (and without the conspiracy theory). Apparently Booth kept a diary while he was trying to get away, and Lincoln’s body was being sent home. Fired by Liberty was about Black soldiers in the war. Having just watched Glory again, I was thinking that they didn’t have that many, but there were a lot, although they did prefer to use them for digging latrines. Even the abolitionists didn’t care to hand a gun to a black man.
I watched Gettysburg– but it was mostly about fighting, which I should have realized, made a bit more moving by trying to show a bit about the men involved. I was thinking I should have started with Civil War Combat, which was from the history channel, but each hour concentrated on one battle:  I’ve watched the ones on Antietam, and Shiloh, and am not sure I really want to watch the Gettysburg and Cold Harbor ones, although it might explain more. While watching Gettysburg I was thinking that it would be nice to have an omnipotent narrator explaining what was going on. Young Mr. Lincoln with a young Henry Fonda was fun, although about as factual as the one about Lincoln fighting vampires. Apparently DW Griffith who did Birth of a Nation(I have no intention of watching that again!) also did a movie, a talkie, about Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln, with Water Huston as Lincoln. I wondered if it would be soft on the south, but not noticeably. I guess he just played to his intended audiences.
Having watched the Conjuring last week, I watched Amityville 2 this week, which I think was a juicy role for the actor playing the possessed young man, but was actually a second rate movie. I still remember reading about the Warrens when I was young, and wondering what really happened. There is so much that one loses by letting it be filtered through what some director thinks will sell more tickets, even if he’s claiming it’s what really happened.
For reading- I finished the Thinking Woman’s Guide to Magic, which was really annoying. It was a fun woman from this world slips into a world where magic works, and kept my interest even though it was too long. (It really could have been edited a LOT!) But she wasn’t a thinking woman, merely a modern woman who figured that she had the right to run her own life, and wanted to learn the new skill. There was no indication that she was thinking much at all. At the end, she did get back to our world, but unlike in Household Gods, she didn’t seem to bring any character development with her, AND they let the evil fairies escape so there could be a sequel, but since it was written in 2013, I don’t think there’s going to be one, and I don’t know whether I should be glad about that or not. It was fun, but not that good. Feh.
I have started reading Mitchner’s Tales of the South Pacific, which reminds me of the original MASH book, only a little less manic. I’m also flipping through a book about the Terra-cotta Warriors. That’s an amazing dig, and I hadn’t realized how long ago they found it, or how huge it’s gotten. I’m also flipping through Thank you for Arguing: what Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson can teach us about the art of persuasion, reading bits that catch my attention. It rather bothers me that one point he makes is that you get people on your side by convincing them that you are on theirs, that you think like they do. Clearly it worked for Trump with the hidden bigots (if not so well with the UN Assembly yesterday). I’m afraid that usually what happens when you pretend that you like what someone else likes, they don’t then pretend to like what you like, they figure that since you like it, everyone can just do it there way! If you try to get on their good side and then try to lead them back toward what you want, they’ll turn on you when they see you aren’t going that way. Maybe I can find something more useful in it before it’s due.
I started reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin this week, and I’m about halfway through. It had occurred to me that I hadn’t actually read the book that changed the history of America, I’d only seen the adaptation in The King and I, and heard the term “Uncle Tom” as a pejorative all my life. I now see why it was immensely popular, the characters and plot are both compelling. Modern people complain about the “overblown language”, but as I recall, some of the kids in modern English classes can’t follow Shakespearian English, which is technically Modern English (in iambic pentameter), much less Middle English (Chaucer) or Old English (Beowulf). It seems some have some problems with the language of Poe, Dickens, and Austen, much less actually reading handwriting. I’m not horrified at dropping Greek and Latin, as these are languages for researching history, and those who are interested will take them as electives. However, I think we shouldn’t forgo some foreign language for every person, not just so they can speak if they travel or if there is a large Latino or French-Canadian where they live, but because it teaches the brain to function in alternative pathways. (Teaching music likewise helps us understand Math better.) I’m not saying that I am not made uncomfortable with some of the passages. In the very first page I was disturbed by her descriptions of “characteristics of the negro race”. Admittedly, she was trying hard to make white readers understand that they had less to fear from someone being black than they thought, and convince them that they were really people, but still she wrote confidently about how wonderful quadroons were; did she realize that she probably thought so because they were closer to the whites she held up as a standard for humans?. I understand that most modern teens (in our schools) are made uncomfortable by the use of the word “nigger”, and have even heard suggested that any required reading books be edited to remove those references. Because n***** is going to protect the innocent minds of the same young readers they are trying to educate by having them read the book.
When I was a kid I read (probably because my mother had been given good, durable copies of classic books and had them to share with us) Heidi, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and Wind in the Willows,The Swiss Family RobinsonThe Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, Ivanhoe, Kipling, Howard Pyle’s King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Treasure Island, Wizard of Oz, Terhune’s Lad: A Dog Books, as well as Tarzan & John Carter of Mars, and Fairy Tale books from Grimm, Lang, Anderson, Oscar Wilde, and any other source I could get. If the society I read about in the Little Colonel series was different than the one I knew, so was that of the kids in Mary Poppins. I knew when I read them they were from a different time and place. I remember reading through the Twins (Dutch Twins, Eskimo Twins, Cave Twins) books (in I think the second grade) one after the other. The point of that series was that while we wore different clothes, ate different food and had different customs, we were the same inside. It never occurred to me that just because the characters in those books thought differently about things than modern folk that it was for any other reason than that they were raised to it. Do modern students not get that same idea?
I’ll be honest, sometimes the urge to convince the reader of the moral the old authors are trying to teach seems a bit heavy handed. But frankly, it’s not surprising that, for example, Goat Peter got jealous of Heidi’s attentions to Clara and pushed her wheelchair off a cliff, then felt guilty about it later. Admittedly, the adults in the old books often used Bible stories to try to teach the kids to be good, but I figure that probably happened back when the books were written.  I read the Red Badge of Courage, Profiles in Courage, and 20 and 10 when I was in school, and was inspired to try to be as good as the heroes I read about. When MY kids were in school, they seemed to be subjected to a series of books in which the universal theme was “life sucks, deal with it”, like the Gold Cadillac and Blackberries for Jamie. I’m thinking a little Canterbury Ghost, or Ransom of Red Chief isn’t going to hurt them much, and if they praise the virtuous ones, well why not? It’s better than teaching the kids that nothing they do will make a difference.
I love that Stowe is quite clear that many of the northern abolitionists may feel strongly that slavery is wrong, and yet still inside they don’t like blacks, and think they’re inferior. (The Quakers come off pretty well so far.) The characters are nuanced, and she shows that the financial and social situations as well as individual personalities result in the huge range of attitudes. I am not thrilled that she considers Christianity to be the default position for morality, but she writes Eva’s father as good and honest, even without religion, so at least she shows that. I’m sure that people read it for the adventure, and then thought about what they’d read afterwards because the characters made it worth reading.  I’m very much looking forward to finishing it.
I’m also about a third of the way through Occult America, which talks about how from the beginning we have been open to all sorts of esoteric influences, from settlers fleeing the 30 years war and bringing the 17th century mysticism with them, to the entire “Burned Over District” in New York State where Millerites, Mormons, Spiritualists, and all sorts of other “crazy cults” started. I just finished a chapter on the Ouija board, which, of course, started with spiritualists, and ended up “a children’s toy”. It’s really not surprising that Spiritualism caught on big during the Civil War and seances always get more popular during wars when people try to reach their dead husbands and sons. The “crazy” bit is all the energy the mainstream puts into trying to pretend that there aren’t ghosts and psychic abilities. I think the handicap is that everyone thinks that the other people look stupid when they deal with it THEIR way (but the way we deal with it, that’s OK, because we have the truth). I was surprised to read that Johnny Appleseed was another spiritual oddball, (he’s been secularized). I knew he was planting trees for cider making, not eating apples, and I knew he carried herb seeds as well as apple seeds to distribute on the borders, but I hadn’t realized that he was a member of the Swedenborgian Church, and also distributed their literature on his travels. (Not only did he go barefoot, he was known to melt blocks of ice with his feet- I’m guessing to show his control of the energy flow.) Anyway, lots of fun stuff so far!
This is a shot of Kat’s plate at the buffet- yes, in the upper right that’s a tentacle, I’m not sure whether it’s squid or octopus. We call this composition: Shrimp and Crayfish- BFFs (best friends forever) “together in my stomach forever” said Kat.
Saturday I think I shared a Meat Bingo card, which got a lot of positive responses. Most of us had had a lot of different meats, and only missed two or three. I’ve had  Beef, Pig, Lamb, Buffalo, Deer, Goat, Rabbit, Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Quail, Tuna, Shark, Salmon, Shrimp, Lobster, Crab, Crawfish, Octopus,  I haven’t had Gator, or Snake, and I don’t know if I’ve had Elk or Frog.  I was surprised at how few people had had shark, which I figured was a fairly standard fish to eat. They didn’t ask about peacock or turtle, bear, horse, moose, eel, or swordfish. They also confused me by showing the image of a steer with the title buffalo. I have had Bison, or do they mean water buffalo? How would you do? What would you consider a strange meat?
Oops, my ear has started aching again. Better go to bed.
No holidays this week I guess. Let me know if you miss them.
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln