November 14 and 15 National Pickle Day

It is getting seriously chilly (already below freezing tonight and it’s not yet 6 pm). It seems stupid, but I feel cold because I can’t fire up the wood stove and get that one comfort zone, because the stove needs fixing,… and I need to take a picture of the firebox to send to Robert’s phone so he can make a replacement grill for me, … but that hasn’t happened because I can’t take pictures with my phone,… because I followed a prompt and turned on iCloud, and THAT moved 7 thousand photos from my computer to the mobile phone, … and I can’t figure out how to get them out again,… so the storage is full and I can’t take any pictures anymore. So the iCloud is making us cold. Phooey!
Kat made reference to the way that at this time of year there is frost on the ground that lasts until the sun hits it, she called it Shadow Frost- since that’s where the frost lasts. I love the idea and the phrase. When I was young and walking to school across the field covered with frost covered snow I felt that it presaged real snow, playable snow, but it was usually a month or more before that came, which made me feel that the shadow frost was a cheat. Since I mostly stay inside these days, I don’t have that reminder.
 …. Thursday: having taken too long writing the letter again, we are now experiencing the first snow of the season. Internet memes inform us that November snow is the result of people putting up their Christmas decorations before Advent. Willow has requested that B and Kaelin don’t start singing carols until December, but they feel that anything after Thanksgiving is fair game. Avi has now got the closing on her house settled, and suddenly B doesn’t want to move to Keene. Oh well.  The plan is that Willow will go over to Keene two or three times a week since it’s twice as far, and continue her nanny work, less frequently, but will still be helping Avi and the kids.
Willow also took pictures of the inside of the fire box, and having vacuumed it to get a good shot, (and removed the crumbling fire brick) we wonder if it can be repaired. I know I can replace the firebrick- I’ve done it before- but the walls weren’t warped then. The problem is that if we can’t fix it, how can we find another tiny cook stove that will fit in our kitchen? So many wood ranges are freaking huge, and we don’t have the space. If Ekke was not busy rebuilding his house (I think they got the roof up before this hit- he went up and retrieved more stuff from their old place in Vermont last week.) I could probably get him to tackle it, but he’s rather busy right now. Robert has said he’ll try, but we didn’t realize how bad it was until we’d cleaned it properly.
Gretle, the kitten STILL is hiding in Kat’s room. We are now thinking of trying to find another cat or kitten because what’s the point if she won’t come out? But the good news is, that when Kat came in on Saturday, there was a dead mouse on the rug. We are not thrilled that there are mice in the house, but it’s good that she’s a killer. I’m afraid the rats are still audible in the ceiling. We have broken down and gotten some “rat candy” (poison), hoping that if the cats can’t get at the rats to kill them, they won’t eat poisoned rats. Sadly, I haven’t seen much indication that the rats are taking the bait. 
This has not been a week of excitement or accomplishment. To be honest, most mornings I just grab the book and continue reading whatever I’d been reading the night before- so the kids have come looking for me to see if I was ill. Not ill, just not motivated. This is probably because I prefer reading in bed (I have mentioned how much I Love my waterbed with all the featherbeds and furs!) to reading in a chair. That may have something to do with where my contacts focus my eyes. Because we don’t see them, we often think contacts have just ‘fixed’ our vision, whereas they are, like glasses, lenses that have been focused on a certain distance.  I’m comfortable, I’m doing something I enjoy, I have no deadlines. The kids stay in their rooms, so there’s no one to talk to. Why not read?
Mark came up Sunday and we watched a weird old movie written by Bruce Lee called either the Silent Flute or the Circle of Iron. It starred David Carradine- in about four roles, which must have been fun for him. It also had Christopher Lee, Roddy McDowall, Eli Wallach and some martial artist Jeff Cooper, with whom I’m unfamiliar. The story was fairly allegorical, the protagonist is searching for a book of ultimate wisdom and has to go through all sorts of quests and have many teachers before he can find it. I felt for him when one teacher told him that he had to stop questioning everything, yet answered all questions with another question. He didn’t make it very long before he broke his promise not to question his teacher. I felt for him. It was fun, but not particularly inspiring for me. Also it didn’t play well, and had to be sent back. 
Willow and Kat went down and spent the day with Joanie. She gave them some clothes, and they took her out to dinner, but that’s about all I know about their day. I made an apple cobbler, and then next day made an apple pie (felt I had to finish up the apples), then yesterday I made a chocolate cake, because it’s that time of the month, and as Madam Pomfrey knew, chocolate is grounding. We have a good balance. I like to bake, (I find it calming) and the family likes to eat baked goods. The latest King Arthur Flour catalogue came and I fell in love with the Nordic Ware Jubilee Loaf Pan- which seems like a perfect way to have “a bit of cake around the house”. I found it at Williams Sonoma, but we don’t have one around here, and $32 seems a lot when I already have a lot of bundt pans. My brain insists that it’s not the same!
Steve came up on Sunday and I was able to give him the Infinite Visions tarot cards we won in the CTCW raffle, and the Moon Void  set I got at Celebrate Samhain. I have learned to called him and have him check his database to make sure it wasn’t something he already had. (The one I thought was new at EMPPD wasn’t, and he did, so I now have one more tarot set. Maybe I’ll donate them to the raffle next year.) It’s gotten challenging to find new ones for him, so I asked him how big his collection of Tarot Cards is, and he said it was just under (or was it over?) 600 decks. And that doesn’t include oracle decks,  he doesn’t get those it’s all Tarot. I asked him where he keeps them all, and he pointed out that he has the other bedroom free now that he lives alone. But he’s only got one shelf left to fill. He could open a freaking museum! And that’s why it’s such a challenge to find him a new deck! I’ll admit that the challenge makes it more fun. I have just found out that Elsbeth and Nybor still have a few of their limited edition art decks, but even at half price, it’s out of my range. The most I ever spent for a tarot deck was $89 when I got the limited edition Touchstone Deck. Frustratingly, they then came out with a commercial deck, with which I would have been happy, for about $35. On the other hand, I see that they are now going for $250, so that makes me feel a bit better about it.
The mid-terms (fallout) and the embarrassing behavior of Trump dominated the news. The gerrymandering and voter suppression was very disturbing and I am pleased that there’s a new batch of people including diverse races, women coming in. I hope they can retain their integrity. The pressure to compromise has to be intense. I cringe almost every time there’s news about Trump. I fear he has no clue just how little he knows and how much harm he’s doing. I suppose that’s better than thinking he knows and doesn’t care.
Mostly this week I’ve been reading the second book in House of Darkness House of Light.   I wrote a fairly long review of the first book, and put it on my blog, so if you are interested, you can go there. The short form is that the book, as opposed to the movies they’ve made from it, is a memoire of living in a haunted house for ten years, and what that taught the family. As I read the second book (I’m about half way through) she did cover the séance that was the climax of the movie. It was not a huge thing, except that the Warrens showed up without calling ahead (knowing they’d be refused) with a crew including a medium, a priest and a bunch of techs to take pictures and record it. Very intrusive. Then they pressured  them to have the séance, which did have a negative (although not as dramatic) result. They’d also mentioned them by name and given the location of their home, a huge breach of trust and privacy. They say “why would anyone drive all the way out just to gawk”, but that strikes me as the sort of dumb thing I’d think, so I squirm thinking of the disruption that caused. The author, Andrea Perron was careful to say that she thought that the Warrens had the best intentions, but her book makes clear that many of the ghosts in their farmhouse benevolent, so they tried to protect them from the Warrens. It reminds me of the issue we often run into with psychics. If a psychic has a mental illness, the psychiatrist is liable to misdiagnose normal abilities (like telepathy or seeing ghosts) as illness and try to medicate them away, which makes it both hard to get the real problems treated, as well as making the sick people hesitant to seek help. Consider if you will if a person was able to see or hear beyond the usual frequencies, and the doctors got so focused on that that they paid no attention to real problems (or those annoying doctors who don’t believe in allergies outside the common ones, or who focus on weight even when you go in with a broken limb or other medical problem unrelated to weight). We are working to overcome the stigma of mental illness, and that’s hard enough without including normal human abilities as mental illness. 
It’s a fascinating story about the various ways each of the seven people in the family grew while living there in responses to the stresses and miracles of living in that special place. Occasionally there was something dangerous and disturbing happening like the time Carolyn got a tomato stake driven through her hip, and had to treat herself at home because they had no money for medical care.  I relate to that so much. I watched a couple of interviews with the author on youtube, and I would love to get her to come to CTCW some time. 
I’ve also been re-reading some of the Haunting Danielle books which are unrepentantly romantic, and have fun plots. I identify with Danielle who, when widowed, started over with a bed and breakfast because she loved to bake. That doesn’t seem to me like you could make a living at it, but the plot twists had her inheriting enough money so she could do what she enjoyed. I have been brooding- wondering why there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do for which someone would pay me. It seems to me that people only want to pay you do do things that they’d do themselves if they had the time (energy, talent). Mostly, clean, cook, file, sew, build, fix…. In all honesty, there can be great satisfaction in doing something necessary and well, and getting paid for it. But while I do many things well (I think), I’ve never been able to think of something that will generate income. And sadly, money is how we keep track of whether or not we are doing something valuable. If you can’t make money, you must not be worth anything.
The whole “do what you love, the money will follow” idea is (IMO) right up there with “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” It doesn’t work. So often others don’t want the same things you’d want. Some people want to be left alone when they’re sick, some want someone to sit by their beds. We have to ask, to let people know what WE want. Poor Liz has gotten through her first round of chemo (they think they got all the cancer from her lung, but “just in case”). I wouldn’t want to have to go through that alone, but she seems happy with Roxie. She has noticed that people have stopped talking to her. My guess is that people are worried about saying something wrong, and that is every so likely. Since what’s right for one person is wrong for someone else, you can’t be sure. But just staying away, not calling,  that’s like shunning. It’s really awful. People do that to you when you have a loved one die, or when you are deathly ill. I think we need to just accept that we may trigger a fear, anger or sadness response, and go be there for them anyway. Sometimes the person themself doesn’t know what’s going to trigger them, so they can’t warn you. But leaving someone alone doesn’t feel like the right answer to me. I remember when the kids were getting the Babysitter Club books, one of the babysitters grandmother died and she couldn’t figure out why people stopped talking to her. That was one of the most accurate and moving portrayals of losing a family member I ever saw in a book, and it was “just” a little scholastic book.
I read two “juvenile” books this week. The book The House with a Clock in it’s Walls, which I remember reading way back when the kids were in school, along with the Goosebumps and other kids scary books. (There’s a movie of it coming out during the holidays.) It was written in `73 but was set in `48, which makes it seem very “period”, but it occurred to me that that’s like someone writing a story now that was set in `93, which really doesn’t seem that long ago to me. Then The Saturdays (one of my friends suggested it, and I’m trying to remember who), is a story set in the `40s, but written then. The thing that leaps out in both of those books is how independent kids were expected and allowed to be. The Saturdays is about a family (there are three more books about them, for which I’ll be looking) of kids who pool their allowances so that each has enough at a time to do something more expensive than allowances would ordinarily cover, so one kid goes to the opera, another to an art museum, another to the circus, and of course, good things happen to them, even if it’s only getting lost in NYC, or falling in the lake in Central Park. It is such a joy to see kids being treated as human beings with less experience not as not fully human yet.
This week Stan Lee, who ran Marvel Comics during the period when I was growing up, died. He developed the whole “fear of mutants” trope as a way to address the problems of people fearing those who were different. Personally, I never got past my annoyance that the  Marvel’s mutations were more like constantly changing retroviruses. My understanding is that whether it’s from gamma rays or chemicals, when there’s a genetic mutation, the new trait should probably run true in offspring, until conditions change it, and that bugged me. But the thought was good.
This week I watched Ash vs the Evil Dead  third season. Apparently that’s all they did. I have decided that it is not a “guilty pleasure”. I have no regret. It’s stupid and crude, but fun. I also watched The Last Mimsey, a family fantasy film from about ten years ago John shared. It was charming (these modern kids were exceptional with mad talents, and I figured the fantasy showed the most when the government people let them watch as they directed the live space toy.)  I doubt they’d have let the kids and parents stay together.
Inspired but that Ratpack movie last week (Sergeants Three) I spent a good deal of time listening to the music of my childhood (the stuff my mother listened to before I started collecting my own music.) Boy those guys could sing!
Once again I have taken longer than I thought (as my mind wanders over many subjects) to write this letter. (I did take a break tonight to do the post mortem meeting on CTCW. As we start looking for another venue that we can afford for next year.) But that’s it for this week. 
Have a good thanksgiving prep! (It’s a lot easier for me, because I love cooking.) Hope you get your favorite foods, and your favorite people!
“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”  Albert Einstein
Holidays next week:
Thursday 15 Bundt Day, Raisin Bran Day, Clean your ‘fridge Day, Use less Stuff Day
Friday 16 Fast Food Day, Button Day, Teddy Bear Day, Stand up to Bullying Day
Saturday 17 Homemade Bread Day, Baklava Day, Student Day, Games Day, Take a Hike Day
Sunday 18 Apple Cider Day, Vichyssoise Day, Occult Day, Princess Day, 
Monday 19 Macchiato Day,* Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day, Toilet Day, Men’s Day, Philosophy Day, Play Monopoly Day, Have a bad day Day, Blow Bagpipes Day
Tuesday 20 Peanut Butter Fudge Day, Name your PC Day, Children’s Day, Absurdity Day
Wednesday Cranberry Day, Tie one On Day, Television Day, Hello Day, 
*Macchiato is foamy milk added to freshly brewed espresso. I didn’t know that.