Greetings again- January 9, 10, 11th (I took my time)
Baby, it’s cold outside! Forecast is looking at 5º in the night and freezing during the day. I’m going to turn on the heater in the cellar in the hopes that THIS year, this cold snap we don’t have the pipes frees. It would be good to skip that January tradition. (It’s 39º down there now, we’ll see if we can keep it above freezing.) Why did they run the water pipes around the outside of the cellar? Why does it take about 45 seconds of running water to get the hot water up from the water heater to the kitchen sink, and even longer to the shower, but only about 5 seconds to get hot water up to the second floor sink? These are mysteries I have yet to solve. (I suspect that it’s not so much shorter pipes, but less cooling in the walls between the first and second floor, while there’s major cooling in the main room of the cellar.)
I cannot tell you what’s blooming because I’m not going outside! (And I doubt anything is.)
We have now come to the “hunkering down” part of the year. My hobby of holiday tracking informs me that this is Oatmeal Month, Soup Month, and Hot Tea Month. It is time to slow down, and eat comfort food. After all the the treats, sweets and cookies of the past month, this feels pretty good. I’m making Mac and Cheese, stews, Spaghetti, Potatoes au Gratin, Meatloaf, Chicken Soup, Potato Soup, Shepherds Pie, Chicken pot pie, Strogonoff, Pot roast, Swiss steak, Chicken Alfredo, Chili, Glop (tuna, rice and cheese casserole), German Potato Salad, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup,… (yeah, yeah, we haven’t had all those this week, but I got on a roll of thinking of winter supper foods), and we will probably have them soon. Comfort food is carb heavy, especially when you add biscuits, popovers. garlic bread, and corn bread, to the pastas and potatoes in different styles. It’s food that’s going to stick with you (in more ways than one). Personally, I’d like some bean dishes in the list, but the kids dislike them, and group living requires compromise. Roasts tend to happen when I have no brain for cooking, and everyone likes that. Tonight we had pork, and there’s enough that I’m thinking pork pies day after tomorrow.
Cold weather is cozy when you have a warm place to come into from it. It’s less cozy when it’s cold when you come inside. We wear sweaters, sometimes hats, and even fingerless mitts. We have fired up the wood stove in the dining room a few times, but it’s not as convenient as the old one. I am hoping (since we haven’t been able to reestablish contact with the lady who was selling one in Maine) that Robert will be able to fix our old one. Boy, I miss being able to have a stove going with hot water, or the ability to have a slow cooking soup on, not to mention having it heat up this part of the house. We’ll see what Robert can do- I don’t know that you can fix cast iron, and that’s what I suspect the stove is made from.
Willow is now going over to Keene to help with Avi’s kids two or three times a week (depending on the appointments that dictate need). The other day on the way down Dublin mountain she hit some black ice and skidded, came home “all adrenalin-y”. (“Like ya do” as we say.) Skidding sucks. The cold has been making it such that she has had to use her jump box to start the battery almost every day this year. This morning (Friday- I’ve been dallying) she got Robert to change her battery for her. In (whatever her car make is) the battery is stuck in an odd place where it’s hard to get out without a power wrench. This time she’s got a middle range battery that should last longer than the cheapest ones we have been getting. $170 (plus the half hour for installation which was SO worth it.)
I know I’m getting old. Everything seems so much more expensive than I expect it to be.
She is mostly better from the bronchitis, she finished her antibiotics and is taking probiotics to recover from that. She still has a “winter cough”, but I used to have those every year, so I suppose it’s mostly an annoyance. She has been exhausted though.
I was going to say that I really haven’t been doing much this week, but that does ignore the cover I drew for the Marketplace at Birka program book. This year it’s going to be Friday evening, Saturday AND Sunday, which should make ferrying the Gold Key easier, and if we’re lucky will enhance our sales. When I’d done the picture, Kat used her photoshop skills to put the title and date on- it’s the 30th Birka. Wow. I still remember Olaf flying the idea, and Ælfwine making the “oar walking” toy! It’s sure grown since then! For some people it’s a huge court event (with the costume display), for others it’s fighting in the winter, but I think it’s mostly about sales. This year I borrowed Kat’s light table to help block out a background of an interior of a Dark Ages house- the addition of bolts of cloth is probably anachronistic, but will turn it into a shop in people’s heads. The foreground is from an image of a couple of re-enactors playing (finishing) a game of Hneftafle. I switched their chessmen figures for ones from sets they dug up at Birka, but kept the colors so that people who play can see that it was a real game. I am not good at backgrounds and love the light table. I just drew the women at the back. The girl sitting on the floor weaving was a last minute addition. I wish I could have given them the faces of the ladies at White wolf and Phoenix (where I buy weaving). One has to accept the usual perspective issues that clearly these guys must be sitting by the invisible back wall or the room would be larger than is likely. But heck, has there ever been a piece of art where the artist didn’t second guess potential errors after finishing? I doubt it.
There is such gorgeous stuff to get at Birka I wish I had a pile of money to spend there! I will be getting a year, or half year (I can make it to Pennsic and get some there), and I’m always on the lookout for affordable sheepskins. Only a couple of weeks to go. One thing that is free is looking at the craftsmanship of the gorgeous stuff people make: pottery, leatherwork, blown glass, carved horn and bone, fabric arts, jewelry making… we are a talented group!
I have sent for a present for myself which I figure Kat and or John can give me (since they don’t get out to go shopping). A fellow in the West Kingdom (I think) named James Coffman has made reproduction coins from the Sutton Hoo hoard. He’s done several other sets, so people can walk around with coins from their own period in their purses. No they aren’t gold, they are simply reproductions, but a set of 42 coins, including 3 of the tremissis at Sutton Hoo, with the 2 ingots and 3 blanks, was only $32 including shipping, and that’s pretty darned cool. The downside (for me) is that Saxon pennies (or sceata) were generally silver at this point in time, but they will look cool mixed in with my mostly pewter ones. They were probably from Frankia anyway. I also love the Vale of York Hoard, but my saving throw is that Arastorm would have been dead for 250 years. Some people don’t get that the Anglo-Saxon period ran for about 600 years, and the culture changed a lot during that time, it wasn’t “all the same”. This is not to say that I probably wouldn’t love to get a reproduction of that 9th century cup, but it makes it easier to resist. One of the cool things about being a history lover is that that Hoard was discovered only 11 years ago, and the they are still making discoveries all the time. When I started playing in the SCA I never thought I’d be around at the anniversary of the Sutton Hoo burial (estimated at 625, so six years to go), but here I am… still.
Another mystery: I remember seeing an add for a spritz gun on fb and wishing I got get one, but not sending for it, then this arrived Thursday morning. I haven’t yet tried it, (as I said we are sort of “cookies-out”) but I’m fairly well psyched. And confused. I figure there’s a good chance that some sweet person saw my post and sent it to me, but while I asked, no one has confessed yet, and I have no idea- there was nothing in the packaging to say from whence it came.
It’s kind of cool, but there’s at least a bit of my that worries that maybe I ordered it and don’t remember where I ordered it from. Usually my impulse purchases are through Amazon.
In all honesty, that is about all I accomplished this week. Laundry, dishes, cooking, that stuff doesn’t count- everyone does that. I broke a tooth, and need to get into a dental program to try to get that fixed. (Kat too) I’ve also lost a contact and need to make an appointment for a new pair. Sigh.
We have started taking down the holiday decorations- more slowly than I’d hoped. I suppose I can blame some of it on getting diverted by the artwork. I need to send Robert the dimensions of the inside of the old wood stove. I need to get last year’s booklets on werewolves and Vampires and witches done. And art.
The day after 12th night we put away the holly pattern dishes. My chin is healing up where Dr. Q removed the growth, at least in part thanks to the Oops ointment- lovely stuff.I had a lovely chat with Kerensa. He called and told me about a hormone treatment he got after his heart attack that made him drop 200 pounds in a year. I had no idea he’d gotten fat since I haven’t seen him since he came up to help us re-roof. He was heavier than the slender teen he was when I met him, so that’s how I always picture him, but apparently some meds or other made him balloon up to over 450, and now he’s “only” as fat as I am- but he is going down. People really don’t pay enough attention to how the hormones affect the body which is totally ridiculous. I guess that’s a “new world to conquer” in medicine. Who knows what we’ll know in
Did you hear that Durgin Park is closing? Saturday, January 12th, after 192 years. If I’d had a bit more warning, I’d have tried to make it down for one last meal. On the other hand, my least favorite part of it was the long wait in line outside (and up the stairs). I expect that since it announced it’s closing that would be worse! Maybe I’ll make Indian Pudding to commemorate it.
The best news of the week is that Liz has successfully completed her last round of chemo! Yay!
I have knit. It’s my default “keep your fingers busy while doing nothing of note” activity. I made a horrendously ugly tam-o-shanter for Kat in graduated purples, I should have looked up a pattern instead of free handing it. I’d started with a pair of mitts, and a beanie, and basically used up the seine on the tam by dividing what was left in two, knitting outward until the first half was used up, then inward to the middle. Well, it will hold all her hair if she wants to put it inside a cap! No picture, it’s far too ugly.
While knitting, of course I had on the videos. I finished the first season of the Librarians, which was fun as the movies had been. I watched Christopher Robin, the story of a grown (fictional) Christopher Robin rediscovering the joys of play and “doing nothing”. I actually preferred the Goodbye Christopher Robin movie about the real son of AA Milne and his father. I did dislike that they designed the characters far too much from the Disney cartoon representations- they used the voices of the actors from the 60s, even the animated stuffed animals looked more like the ones from the cartoons than from the books with which I grew up, they even used some of the Disney songs. I suppose that’s what younger audiences want, and it is called “Disney’s”. I’d been hopeful because I’d heard that they were using the pictures from the original- which they did (at least at the opening and closing). Watching a Pooh movie went well with watching Paddington 2, the sequel starring Hugh Bonneville again, and Hugh Grant as the heavy. The benefits of being kind is not a bad theme. I enjoyed the Paddington movies- perhaps they got a better chance as I’d never read Paddington when I was younger.
I watched Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer, which I may have seen before and forgotten. It was juvenile, but fun. I expect I’d have liked it more had I done more fantasy card Role Playing Games. On the other hand, I Kill Giants was annoyingly ambiguous. It’s about a young girl who sees giants and acts defiantly weird, disturbing the teachers and school psychiatrist and family. Right at the beginning of the movie we see a giant reach down and take one of her ‘baits’. In the climax we see the giant she is fighting. Yet both adults and fellow students, as to be expected, think the giants are in her imagination. Even the cast seems to suggest that was the point in the interviews. Yet the movie seems to leave it open that it may simply be that she sees things others do not. She uses a self developed magick based on reading of myths, but which seems solid at it’s core- even when she’s using available materials like hair gel and glitter to make her potions. Her giants include both the northern Frost giants as well as Titans, and she says that most people don’t see them, but experience them as forces of nature. One can easily see it both ways. I am not fond of ambiguity. Another thing I watched this week was a clip of J P Sears addressing the Baby It’s Cold Outside Controversy. My favorite line was “If my interpretation of this song is correct, and I I know it is because I’m really angry.” I have to sigh as I remember the many times I embraced outrage over things other people didn’t seem to find outrage worthy. There ARE things worth outrage. The children in cages, the government shutdown because Trump doesn’t want to “look stupid” (guy, that boat has sailed!), the damage they are doing to the environment and human beings, the harm done by voter suppression and gerrymandering and why the hell has no one stepped up and removed this man from such a powerful office? If he was your grandfather, you’d keep him out of public because he’s so delusional he’s embarrassing. I feel sorry for him, but I’m angry and the people who are allowing this to go on. Looking to the past to say “that was wrong” is what you do to remind yourself how Hitler worked his way into power by creating the image of a crisis and causing fear. That’s what history is for, not griping about whether it was inappropriate to hurt kids and dogs in early Hollywood in order to get the performances that sold movies (or sexualize them thinking back to War Babies from last week). Baby it’s Cold Outside was referencing the “nudge nudge, wink wink” yes, we know that people are attracted to each other, but if they aren’t careful their reputations will be shot. That’s what I consider a reasonable level of ambiguity. I also think it’s reasonable to say that Barbara was emotionally disturbed, while and at the same time as having a spiritual/ magickal experience. It shouldn’t be either-or. That is a good thing. I just wish that they didn’t leave such a huge hole for people to jump through to say “it was all in her mind”. In Baum’s book, Dorothy went to OZ and the silver slippers that returned her to Kansas fell off on the way, but in the movie they had to act like it was a dream, and that ticked me off more than changing the slippers to ruby. I personally know that a lot of magick users have physical, mental, and emotional issues. The fact that they have mental and emotional health problems doesn’t change the fact that ghosts, magick, dowsing, ESP, and probably big foot are real, although it does contribute to the way many people dismiss their experiences. It’s like the folks who say “UFOs only appear to drunks” because many people who see them have been drinking, and ignoring all the people who haven’t. Science doesn’t cherry pick it’s evidence. Oops, sorry about the rant.
I watched an old movie The Outsiders (1983) with a lot of actors when they were young: Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, and Tom Cruise… Some were so young I didn’t recognize them, even when I was looking for them. It’s a movie about growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, the hard life of the kids who get no breaks even if they are basically good and smart. The Greasers are often the victims of violence by the Soc (pronounced sopshes- probably from Society). It’s set in the 50s, but many of the issues are depressingly familiar- social inequality in the legal system as well as economically, young men making bad choices from frustration as well as social pressure. I was pleasantly surprised when the “rumble” did not turn deadly- it apparently allowed the young men to blow off steam without seriously hurting each other. I find that a bit bizarre, but see it as possible. I admit I prefer adventures, comedies, musicals and mysteries to serious dramas like this one.
Tropic Thunder was the best thing I watched this week. I was nervous about it. I am not fond of Stiller, and Jack Black can be very funny, or rather stupid, and I was nervous about Robert Downey Jr playing a black man. Luckily, it wasn’t Downey Jr. playing a black man, he was playing a white man playing a black role in a movie, and it shared some of the humor of Galaxy Quest and Noises Off, in this case making fun of other types of actors, as well as riffing off of movies rather than TV and live theatre. The addressed the stupidity of having white people taking roles of other races just because they were box office draws. OK, yes, some actors can pull it off, but when there are so many talented actors of all races, it’s still a bad thing to do. Still, the impression I got was of a bunch of actors who have made enough money that they could amuse themselves by doing this movie making fun of their careers. I doubt any of us could have seen as much of the down side of it as those inside do. I thought it was a lot of fun- they really caught the look of Vietnam war movies.
I have read far too much this week. It’s easy to stay in my warm bed reading when I wake up rather than getting up and getting dressed and to work. I finished the Oxford Book of Death, and have started reading up on the Library of Alexandria for the MENSA gathering. Ancient Alexandria: the History and Legacy, The Library of Alexandria, The Lost Library of Alexandria, as well as a course The Library of Alexandria. I got used copies of The Vanished Library, The Rise and Fall of Alexandria, and Libraries of the Ancient World. I’m doing my usual dipping into each a chapter at a time, to see what level of writing they have. I don’t think I’m going to have any problem filling an hour with good information. (I’m already boring the kids with more than they want to hear of trivia I consider fascinating.)
I’ve also started to read about Medieval Ghosts for a Pennsic class. Admittedly it’s not medieval ghosts, but I found a kindle version of The Stay Behinds by Hans Holzer. I’ve also started Medieval Ghost Stories, and Ghosts a Natural History. I really need to get the booklets done for the old classes. Ah well. I love learning new stuff and sharing it, and that makes me happy, so I guess I’m good. I haven’t started any new books since finishing the Ghosts series- but I am re-reading Alexandria by Lindsey Davis, and the Ghost and the Muse.
Well, that’s it for this week. I hope next week to be able to report getting through the cold snap without frozen pipes. And that I’ve started getting up in the morning instead of reading. My schedule is thrown off so badly! I would love to hear from you- and visits are much appreciated because I know how odious travel is.
When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.