Not So Slick

I think it’s true that if you attend a large gathering, your experience of it is not likely to match the experience of just about any other attendee, unless the two of you stay side by side the whole time. That said, this year’s Gaylaxicon (a science fiction convention aimed at the LGBTQ community) seemed to me to be quieter and more mature than in previous years. Maybe it’s because I didn’t stay Saturday night for the cabaret entertainment, which in other years tended toward the raucous, even rude. Maybe it’s because many of the attendees this year seemed older.

Over the banquet table I met a man who took sixteen years to earn his PhD in Medieval Poetry, but is earning too much money in IT to risk going for a tenured position at a university. But his love of the period shone through his conversation, and I was pleased to find someone to talk to who shared my own love of it.   One thing we talked about: Maybe it’s time someone started an organization to investigate the wicked reputation of Edward II, much like the one busily clearing Richard III. I’ve got his email address, I hope we can stay in touch.

There was an art auction and I managed to acquire a lovely knitter’s pot with three holes in it. The knitter drops a ball of yarn in the pot, feeding the end out through a hole. The ball can’t roll away. Better, one can keep another ball in the same pot and feed its end out another hole and knit the two yarns together – I am currently working on knitting a scarf of black wool with a thin thread of copper mixed into it – without them tangling. Or even three yarns.

I was on two panels at the con, the first on creating LGBTQ characters in mystery fiction. A whole four people attended, but we had a lively discussion on creative writing and the joys of mystery fiction. The second was on forming families and having children when you’re gay. I had suggested that one, because my series characters Godwin and Rafael are getting married and plan to have a child, and I wanted to hear from gay people the complexities of doing that. The panel was well attended, but not a single male couple with a child was there, so what I got was advice and second-hand stories. A lesbian woman who has a son with her wife had some good stories, some funny, some not so much. Very, very helpful but . . .

New topic: A driver tried to pull a slick maneuver on me September 30. She hit me when she changed lanes on a street, and then drove off. I called 911 to report a hit and run and waited for the police to come. And waited, and waited. To my surprise, the woman came back. We exchanged insurance information and waited together for the police to come. Finally, over an hour since the accident, when they still hadn’t come, we drove away. I called my insurance company – and hers – to file a report. The following Tuesday I got a call from her insurance company wanting to know what time the accident happened. Well, I wasn’t sure. The agent wanted to know if I could find out. So I called the police department and someone there got into the 911 records and said the call was logged at 2:18 pm. And it seems that the woman who hit me had renewed her insurance coverage on September 30 fifteen or twenty minutes later than that. (Did you know they record even the time of day you file for coverage? I didn’t.) She apparently ran from the scene because her insurance had lapsed and came back after renewing it. If she hadn’t run, I probably wouldn’t have called the police, and there’d be no record of the difference in time. So she outsmarted herself. She was a very nice woman, young and attractive, well mannered, driving a brand new Toyota. And now she’s in all kinds of trouble.

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Sweet Times

Well, I only sold five books at Beans and Books, but it was good anyway. I talked to a lot of people, enjoyed a “London Fog” tea drink – tasted a lot like a good chai – and got to spend time with my sister-in-law, Katy, who is intelligent, fun, and interesting. My brother Kurt came in later and we drove behind him to their house out in the country.

It was good to get re-acquainted with Kurt, who is one of the hardest-working men in the state of Wisconsin. He’s supposed to be retired, but he keeps busy driving sixteen-wheelers and tour buses all over the upper Midwest. He talks about buying a dairy farm, but Katy would end up running it, because he’s always on the road. Besides, they’re retired. Or so they both claim.

Kurt makes maple syrup every spring, lots and lots of it.  And it’s the really good kind, thick and sweet.  For some reason he doesn’t want to get involved in selling it commercially, and so when he made a present of syrup to us this past weekend, we ended up with four gallons of it in eight bottles.  Guess what some good friends are getting for Christmas this year?

Last Thursday was Michaelmas, and it was another good one. The goose was about the most delicious we’ve had so far, and all the other dishes were excellent. The company was warm and the talk bright and funny. The two cats were (mostly) well behaved. But I’m hoping that next year the party room in our building will be available, so we can put on a bigger feast.

This weekend I’m attending Gaylaxicon, a sci-fi convention aimed at the LGBT community. I’m on a panel about gay families, a subject of interest to me, as my two gay men in the Betsy Devonshire series are getting married and plan to add a son to their partnership. Read my current mystery, Knit Your Own Murder, to see why they’re so sure they can do this.

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Amazing Goose

I seem duty-bound to follow the maxim, “It never rains but it pours.”  About ten days ago I came down with vomiting, violent diarrhea, and headache, and went to see my doctor, who ordered some tests.  One evening a few days later I got a call from a nice woman in the Health Department wanting to know what restaurants I’d been to and what milk, chicken, and vegetables I’d been eating. She got in ahead of my doctor’s office telling me I’d been diagnosed with salmonella. Apparently there is a “cluster” of cases in the area, and Hennepin County wants to know what we’ve eaten in common. I called my doctor the next day. She confirmed the diagnosis and prescribed an antibiotic, which took several days to work, but I’m just about over it at this point. Whew!

But please, please, let this be the end of this series of miseries, which began back in early March and kept piling on and on.

We are now at the start of autumn, the trees are beginning to show some color, and we are awash in apples. There are only two of us in this apartment, so an apple pie would be too much, I needed something smaller. I found a recipe on the Internet and adapted it just a little and it works wonderfully. Buy a container of Pillsbury Grands Crescent Rolls and lay them out on a baking sheet. At the wide end of each triangle, place a thick slice of apple, unpeeled. Put a dab of butter on the slice. Make a spice mix of a tablespoon each of allspice and cinnamon and a teaspoon of nutmeg. Strew this along the triangles. (You won’t use it all; put the remainder in an airtight container and make another batch later in the week.) Take a teaspoon of sugar (more or less, depending on how sweet you like your pie) and scatter that along each slice. Crumble walnut halves (or buy chopped walnuts – but I like the bigger chunks) and scatter them along each slice, not too many, just enough to make the occasional pleasant surprise in your mouth. Roll the triangles up and bake at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes. Serve warm. Yum!

One of the ways I know I’m better is that I had the energy to prepare these and the appetite to eat two of them.

Another sign of autumn is the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, which is the 29th. I’m getting the goose today and we’ll feast indeed this Thursday at a big pot luck.  I’ll stuff the goose with a mix of garlic cloves, chopped apple, onion, and fresh parsley and roast him in a hot oven, basting frequently.  We’ll sing “Amazing Goose” (Amazing goose/How sweet the flesh/That saved a wretch like me./I once was broke/But now am flush/I’m saved from penury). Who eats goose at Michaelmas will not want for money for a year. It’s worked for us for over thirty years. It doesn’t make you rich, it just puts an end to fiscal emergencies.

I’d had to cancel the Shawano appearance when I got sick, but now it’s on again for this Saturday. I’ll be at the Beans and Books Coffee House in Shawano, Wisconsin, from 1 pm on Saturday till no one is interested anymore (maybe an hour).

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Fore Again!

I just can’t help but add this report:  I played a round of par-three, nine-hole golf yesterday in Burnsville at the Birnamwood course.  We used an electric cart, but I did a fair amount of walking.  And I played better than I thought I would.  Some solid drives – got on the green in one stroke one time, played over a massive sand trap (instead of dropping my ball into it, which I halfway expected) another.  My putting wasn’t very good – but my putting is usually not very good.  And summer isn’t over until tomorrow, so I made my goal of playing a round before the end of summer!

Life is sweet.

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Fore!

I went to an Episcopal Church in Minnesota convention this past weekend.  Interesting and helpful.  Maybe I’ll write more on it later.  Don’t want to be preachy.

Now I’m off to – finally – play that round of par-three, nine-hole golf I’ve been promising myself since I started healing.  Maybe more on that later, too.

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Talking Crow

Well, so much for the Oreo cookie sharing in Shawano. I stayed sick, very sick, all weekend and now into this week I’m still sick. Didn’t eat anything substantial – or anything much at all until yesterday and lost it by mid afternoon. Already had an appointment with my rheumatologist Monday and so kept that. And he said this is worrisome and if it’s not better by Tuesday, go see your GP. Which I am going to do (I’m writing this Monday evening). I don’t feel really sick, like you do with flu, but I can’t eat and have no control at the other end. I’ve taken anti-diarrhea meds, probiotics, I even found an unused bottle of oxycodone from when I was truly ill in a nursing home and have taken one two nights in a row – and as soon as they wear off, we’re back to square one. God, I sound like a hypochondriac, complain, complain, complain! But I’m truly sick of being sick and want it fixed.

On the other hand, I think we have at least the beginnings of a breakthrough on the muse front. Got a pair of big ideas on the plot and I think she’s starting to breathe. Yay!

Had a pleasant but curious experience a week or so ago. I was standing out on our balcony, which I call a “porch,” because it looks more like a porch than a balcony. A friendly crow who has come around before came back and perched high in a tree across the street. He began making soft, gurgling “remarks” to me. I tried to reply in kind and he responded. We had a kind of conversation that lasted at least five minutes. This was not the call-and-respond caw-caw-caw exchange I’ve had with several other crows; they call twice, I call twice, they caw three times, I caw three times. I think they get it, it’s a kind of game with exclamation points. This was gentle, almost tender. I wonder what it was about. I almost expected him (her?) to fly across and land on the porch railing – which probably would have scared me into dashing into the apartment. Crows are large birds with sharp beaks and claws. Or maybe not. I’ve been looking for my friend since but – see above – I’ve been sick and not going out very often. I don’t understand these intelligent, impertinent, bold creatures. But they fascinate me. Especially when they turn gentle.

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Sorry about this …

Due to illness, the signing in Shawano, Wisconsin, on September 10, 2016 is either cancelled or postponed. Watch this space for further information.

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