Nature Photography Day

The weather has been cool, mostly sunny but we have had rain nearly every day. The purple irises have passed, and the yellow ones are blooming. The catkins that were falling all last week are down, but now we have some other something falling- they look like black or dark brown specks. I wonder what THOSE are! The gilly flowers from the war last year have survived and are blooming again, and the columbine is still going. When we drive we see daisies everywhere which confuses me. I associate them with Trish’s birthday in July, not Dan’s (coming up on Saturday). Whenever, they are a friendly flower!
Willow has plucked the plantain and started the plantain oil for this year’s herbal preparations. She wants to get them done to deliver them to Auntie Arwen’s at GNEW, so she’s doing them early this year. Since the Jewelweed is only partially grown, good thing they didn’t want the Poison Ivy Ointment! Today I ordered some more calendula- I hadn’t realized that I’d ordered the first batch from China! Having Amazon Prime has spoiled us!
Today, finally, I have put a coat of varnish on the front steps. When we did the rest of the work on the house, they replaced the crumbling plywood front stoop with oak tongue and groove. It was finished at that point, but apparently needs maintenance, because this year when it rains the wood has swelled and interferes with the swing of the screen door. We needed enough time for the wood to dry, then for the varnish to dry. I think we’re good today. I’ll see how many coats I can get on before the next rain. Given how much the wood has already shrunk, I had to put a lot of varnish between the cracks. I figure if I only got the top, the rain would go into the cracks and swell that way, and I don’t want that. I wish I’d kept up with it. I didn’t realize that it was going to need renewing regularly, (which I should have done).
Part of the issue with doing the front step was also finding a day we didn’t need to go in and out of the front door, and today we have no appointments. We’ll use the back for the occasional mail checking, or forgetting something in the car. Luckily, this morning the gas men came to check the level of the propane can, so we had to hack down the knotweed (“ornamental bamboo”) That had grown up between the two doors- which totally concealed the propane!
This gave us a little time to look for a air conditioner for Kat’s room. She hasn’t been horribly uncomfortable this week, but Willow has gotten cold, and I have been wearing my long stockings again. Still, I expect the summer heat will hit, and the project on the dining room table is new lightweight skirts. Last year my summer skirts were tight, this year, at 270 pounds, I have only two that I can wear, because I spill on them more often than I do laundry, and I need something that isn’t quilted or heavy wool. Preferably several including ones I can wear in public and ones I can work in. Sigh. It’s really not as much fun to sew when I know I am shaped like a fire plug. I am very lucky that people love me for my sparkling personality and if they notice my weight, at least they don’t mention it to me! I do hope that the skirts will be at least a bit fun, because, otherwise, what’s the point?

The big adventure of the week started on Thursday when we all went out to give blood. Although I felt “well and healthy” (they always ask that), when the tech took my blood pressure he freaked out. I will say that rather than looking around for the large cuff as usually happens, he worked really hard to use the standard size, and it hurt like hell. Another reason is that he pumped it WAY up. Usually they go to about 200 which is uncomfortable, but I accept it as part of the process. Since he says that it was 250/120 or something like that (he didn’t write it down), my reaction was “are you sure you’re using it right?” and “you should probably try the fat person cuff”. He tried both arms (always going way high- ouch) and the fat person cuff- although we didn’t get anyone else to try it (which now I think we should have). Instead he started asking me if I was having any symptoms of stroke, I had no drooping, weakness, headache, tingling, coordination/ vision or speech problems (maybe he thought my questioning his competence as ‘confusion’). Thinking about those symptoms of course, I immediately started imagining them, but I know how suggestible I am. Ordinarily my blood pressure runs (as recorded on my red cross donor card) around 120/80 or a bit above that. This was clearly sudden and severe, so I got on the cell phone and made a call to Doctor Quirbach’s office. Luckily his nurse was reassuring, and figured that a Tuesday appointment was good enough. Just in case, we went from the blood drive to the drug store and got a baby aspirin (just in case it was a stroke), and I tried the free cuff there. down to 175/90, and when we got home it was 150/90, so it was probably stress. Anyway, Dr. Q thought so too.
The most reassuring thing about looking up everything I could about it on the internet is the bit that spikes like I had are not related to hypertension, so it’s probably “just” stress. I think one of the most stressful suggestions I can think of is “reduce stress”. HOW!? (I’m going to try to start meditating and exercising more regularly.) As I looked back over the week in my journal I realize I’ve been having nightmares a LOT. yeah, I’m stressed. One night I was so exhausted that I couldn’t get up the energy to move when I was in an uncomfortable position. Unsurprisingly, the next day my back was really sore. Thank the gods for John’s magic fingers!
Another thing that might have pushed it up is that that morning I’d been to the dentist. While flossing last week on of my “teeth” popped out- a crown rather. Apparently the root in which it was set had cracked and won’t hold any more. He glued it back in with something that is indistinguishable by smell and description from two part epoxy. I wonder if the fumes might have done something to whatever regulates blood pressure. It certainly generated stress as it’s going to cost either $4K for an implant or $1k for a denture, and any time I think of financial stuff I get stressed. It doesn’t matter if you “need” it or not, if you can’t afford it, the alternative is having a gap in your smile, something I do not relish.

Monday Willow was headed for her intake interview with the Psychotherapist, and since Peterboro is halfway to Keene, she figured to go on to pick up the pattern of fleece that she needed. She had them call around and apparently it’s neither available on-line or at any other JoAnn closer than Pennsylvania. She is working hard on building up her stock of blankets for PopCult Anime Con, and Another Anime Con, or Bakuretsu (not sure). PopCult is just as soon as we get back from Pennsic, and AAC and Baku are both in October, and since September is usually full of Pagan Pride Days, she’s pretty much got to get her stock done before we leave for Pennsic. Between now and theClever girln we also have Great Northeastern War, and all our Pennsic Prep, and we’re really slowed down. She actually gave me a great tip: have two to-do lists. One jobs you can do standing, and things you can do sitting down. This is how she keeps getting stuff done even though she’s got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Clever Girl.

Anyway, I’d opted to drive her so she could take one of her anti-anxiety pills. She hasn’t taken them often enough yet to know how she’s going to react driving, and she wasn’t looking forward to being analyzed- let’s just say school psychiatrists haven’t led us to be reassured about either kindness or competence. We are hopeful for better this time, but it’s still tense. Since she was hitting a new fabric store Kat came with us. About halfway there a tire blew. Swell.
We’d never changed a tire since we bought the Caravan, so called AAA for help (and the office to let them know she wouldn’t be getting there soon. They rescheduled- for late August. They’d already rescheduled her several times. I think this guy comes in a couple times a month). We tried to at least get the spare out, but the mechanism that lowers it stopped in the middle, and even the AAA guy couldn’t get it down. (I have no idea what shape the spare is in, but we figured it would get us to Keene, where there’s a Tire Warehouse.)  Luckily he’d come in one of those big rigs that take the car up on them, and he took us over to Tire Warehouse. The guys at Winkles had already told me that we were going to need new tires by June. Guess I waited too long.  Anyway, the guys at Tire Warehouse were nice, and we got the new tires and got them aligned. Apparently they’d been WAY out of alignment. oops. Tomorrow I’ll be taking it to get something that’s bent straightened that they couldn’t do. Good lord! it seems like we have to go out every day! If one works outside the house, you just do errands on the way to and from work, but usually I try to make all my trips once a week. But receptionists for doctors are more “we have an opening in about three weeks, unless you want the month after that?” so you take what you can get.
While we were over in Keene Kat also picked up some bolts to fix the clothing racks for Golden Key.

This was the weekend of the Palio in Stonemarche. This is the current “midsummer” event in our barony, and we usually go. For one thing, the Golden Sword Tourney, which is my baby, happens at the Palio, along with cheese rolling and other Italian Renaissance activities. We started planning for it, because it’s a fairly large event and people want to borrow clothes. First we decided not to take the tent with us. Since it takes place in a State Fair Ground, the merchant spaces are generally in a building, so we don’t need to except to sleep, and since it’s about an hour away, day tripping seemed worth it to not put up the tent. Then we decided that the girls were so exhausted they really needed a “mental health day”, and decided to just go up and put up the Gold Key Friday night, and come pick it up Sunday morning (and I could watch the Golden Sword tourney). So that’s what we did.
It took us a bit longer than we’d expected because we discovered that there weren’t enough hangers,  to put up the 5 bins of garb on the racks, so Willow and Kat went to the Concord Walmart and got some (also some little battery powered lights for the gate). I got to sit and chat with friends while they did that. The best moment was when Xavier and Maria got there. The site tokens this time were wooden disks dipped in red wax to represent baby goudas- because one of the coolest events at the Palio is Cheese rolling. They’d made a special one for Xavier, it was a real four pound block of cheese (covered in wax, and tied up with string of course). They told him that he wouldn’t be allowed to go to the day board unless he was wearing his token. There was great speculation about who the “higher authority” was who had decreed this. The final guesses were either the Baron or Baroness- but which was the culprit? I still do not know.
This was Kiaya and Zed’s first event they ran and she was so worried, but totally on top of everything. It made me remember what I was like at that age. Young child, running as much as they’d let me, feeling I had to prove myself to the older generation. Of course, in those days older tended to be about five years older. From everything I heard, the event went great. But we really needed that day off. (Maybe a week or two off, but when? how?)
Since it was late we picked up Chinese food on the way home. Willow has an app on her phone that will find you restaurants that have their menus on line and you can order what you want, even put in “pick up” time, all from your phone. Cool! She talks to her phone too. I don’t know if I can talk to mine. We are getting closer and closer to living with technology I first saw on TV in Star Trek, and we take it for granted. That’s sort of mind blowing, and sort of also makes me feel old.  One of the things I liked is the new digital X Rays they have at the dentist. Instead of the sharp cardboard things they used to put in your mouth, they put in a rounded paddle, shoot the X ray, and it comes right up on the screen without waiting. I thought that was pretty cool!

DSC02576 I’ve been poking at my phone trying to learn all it’s capabilities. I took some pictures with it at Palio, but somehow I can’t get them out again. I’m supposed to be able to post them to facebook. (Willow can from hers) but even she can’t seem to make my connect. I’m not sure why. While I admire technology, I am not really good at it. I am pleased to report that having replaced the USB hub, I no longer have the constant admonitions that I’ve incorrectly removed the disc every time it was jostled. The new one is very cool- it has seven holes, and you can turn them on and off as needed!

DSC02574   Since we WERE home over the weekend, Steve came up for supper. I find it incredibly flattering that he’s willing to drive all the way up here just to be with us.  I noticed that it was German Sweet Chocolate Cake Day, so I made one. Steve and Kat don’t care for the coconut pecan icing/filling. Heck, looking at the recipe it is basically a soft caramel with added nuts. It’s spreadable candy. So we didn’t put it on the top layer and they had that. Willow and John and I had the lower layers. It really is a different sort of cake- much fluffier and light than others. I think it needs to be with the heavy frosting.
I can get the idea of how it can be “too much” sweet. The Friendlies ice cream novelties were on sale this week and I got a box of the cones because it was Forbidden Chocolate- of which I am very fond. Willow tried one today and I told her she could have them- not only are they Forbidden Chocolate Ice cream (MUCH darker than usual chocolate), the cones are also chocolate, they are covered in a chocolate coating (as most of these novelty cones are). That is then covered with oreo cookie crumbs, and then when she got inside, it has a fudge core. OMG how much chocolate do you need?! (and they were on sale)
Even better, the round roast beef was on sale again at $1.99 a pound. Really! I saw that and said “I see jerky in my future!” Nice!
Sunday we went back up and I got to watch the Golden Sword (novices) tourney and the Golden Foil variation on it. To be honest, I was chatting and missed too much of the fighting to participate in the judging. They’d come from Panteria and Malagentia and the event seems to have become what I’d hoped it would. I do love watching these talented young men fight! The fencing was even cooler- they can move more with less armor, and in SCA fencing they often paint the fencing masks heraldically which looks cool. One of the lady fencers was fighting rapier and sleeve which was neat. Others were doing rapier and dagger and Frostalf had a cool oriental version with ribbons hanging down. I reminisced about Patri fencing on the feast tables “way back when”.
Yesterday was Strawberry Shortcake Day, and we had it- the local strawberries are in at Fitches.

On CTCW, we got our first person buying a recording of one of our archived workshops. We had an on line meeting of the planning committee and made a subcommittee to get the panels done in a timely manner this year. Our volunteer coordinator had to step down because of not enough time, but we have several months to find another. We’re going to be doing a ritual to Fortuna to try to bring the right energy to the con. A story has surfaced about some jerks putting LSD and Rohypnol in water and other drinks at many conferences so we have to be careful to make sure they don’t try it in ours. (Why would anyone do that!?)
Willow has been working on new chests for Pennsic since the girls have really outgrown the ones they’ve been using for 15 years. She’s been pricing lumber, and we’ve been looking for an unfinished furniture place nearby. Sadly the closest seems to be Concord. Luckily today she discovered a cache of lumber in the shop that we’d forgotten about, and it was just the size (1x8s) that she’d been planning on buying! hooray! She also wants to make a box that we can carry the new stove in, and set it on so it will be stovetop height at the event. I like this idea! (My knees especially like it.)
tumblr_Adric Loli  The girls are also working on their costumes for Canobie Con, which I think is coming up soon. Kat’s making a loli version of Adric (a Dr. Who companion)’s outfit. (She’s already cosplayed Adric. The big thing about the Canobie Con cosplays are that you have to be able to wear them running around the amusement park.

Kat is also dressing hats (with lace and flowers etc.) getting HER stock up for the fall cons- although she also sells them on etsy.
tiny flower wreaths    Willow has also come up with a new product (or hobby?): tiny flower wreaths. You can put them on your doll, or you can wear them as a bracelet. This also reminds us of the 80s. We’re doing a lot of “flashbacks” this week. This is the doll Joanie and Raye gave her modeling a wreath. Pretty adorable!

The last “adventure” of the weekend was during supper tonight. The pork roast was done, but not brown. If you cook it slowly, it stays tender, but one does want a certain brown-ness even with the “other white meat”. So I put it back in and thought that I’d poked the “low broil” button. No, I’d pushed the “self clean” button which seals the oven for 4 hours. My poor roast was in there, and there seems to be no way to interrupt that cycle! (stupid computer controlled ovens!) Finally Willow went downstairs and hit the breakers (reminding us to turn out computers off first, since while the breakers are labeled, the labels aren’t always correct given how much rewiring has happened in this house. The electronic part seemed to stay on, but I was able to open the door when the power to the kitchen was off, and save the roast! I much prefer low tech glitches like when the rope twists out of the pulley on the line. That I can figure out. Thank goodness for clever Willow- I was going to try to pull the stove out from the counter to unplug it!

The guest for my podcast tonight was Maxine Mailleur a psychic medium talking about what she does. It was pretty good although when I tried to sign on, the site was three days behind. Is it me and technology? or just a cheap site?

That’s about it. I’ve been reading the Kathryne Kurtz Deryni books (she has a new trilogy out about the generation before the first trilogy happened). I’ve read in the Kings Service and am in Childe Morgan. I love the series, but frankly these just aren’t as good as the earlier ones. Other than that I’m working my way through bits an pieces of various non-fiction for Pennsic workshops (and more Native American books).
Since Kat is writing a story for the Dr. Who Fandom about their being on a planet that has designed its civilization around 80s teen movies, I sent for some to get an idea of what she was dealing with. I hadn’t seen Sixteen Candles (which Kat describes as “a very bad day”) and don’t remember seeing The Breakfast Club. Weird Science, Back to the Future , Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, & Edward Scissorhands, having fantasy elements, I remembered. Heathers, sort of a horror, I also sort of recall, although I didn’t like it, and I was never able to get through Ferris Beuler’s Day off.  I haven’t yet watched the copy of Pretty in Pink, but I think I have got the basic idea. I will say that The Breakfast Club was really quite good. But mostly I’m now feeling nostalgic for the great fantasy movies of the 80s: Willow, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Legend, Krull, Ladyhawke, Dragonslayer, Time Bandits, the Princess Bride... I feel another marathon coming on! John, meanwhile, decided to watch Captain Blood again! What a lot of great lines there are in THAT movie!
Ah, it’s already later than I’d wanted to stay up. Willow has just finished gaming and has “yodeled” to remind me to go to bed.
Love to everyone. Kith and Kin make living possible.
“The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.”

Mark Twain