Friday, October 31, 2008

There IS......

Knitting happening! Bet you thought I've been forgetting all about knitting, what with all the stuff going on around here. About two weeks of Unadulterated Chaos and Turbulence, to be exact.

Let's see...I guess it was Halloween, actually. Busy times at the Museum, what with roaming around in the guise of Mary Hayes Chynoweth, Psychic Healer & Spiritualist. Also a couple of tours, participating in a reception for the teachers, in town for a conference and preparing for both. We also had some arts projects going - kiddies could make masks or design tombstones, that sort of thing.

In the midst of it all, I says to myself says I, "Donna's going to be at Barnes & Noble, and going there with Dr Who for a couple of hours of nothing' but sittin' and knittin' sounds like just the tab."

In case you can't tell from here, I am VERY near the end of the Dr Who scarf, and draping it all the way across the table AND all the way across the chair opposite was, might I add, very satisfying. There's a LOT O' SCARF there, ladeeez and gennulmens. It engendered some comment from passers-by, who seemed appropriately impressed with the sheer volume of the whole thing.

HOWEVER!! I must admit, although I'm proud of my knittifying, although I'm feeling a certain delicious anticipation as I near the completion of a truly major project, although I find myself wickedly chortling as I knit be entirely fair and honest, here's a truth: Donna crochets - probably a lot better than I knit. She's made stunning doilies, with beads , that are eye-wateringly beautiful. But her Latest and Greatest are afghans (yes, that's PLURAL) that she's been making for various family members. Now, there are those who sort of pfaw and pshooey about crocheting. I am not one of those. I know how to crochet; I must admit, I have even enjoyed crocheting in the past. This is just my KNIT period. And Donna has been working on her current afghan about as long as I've been at the Dr. Who. FYI: she's using double strands and a pretty hefty hook. Further FYI: the girl is FAST ! And she is also very near the end of her current afghan project.

Let me just put it this way:

What you see here is a thick, chocolate-brown, waffle-patterned (as in "WARM") heavy (think about 15#, seriously) afghan . Actually at that point, it's Afghan with a capital *A*. Is that not a wonder of modern needle-plying? Whereas my scarf has overbulged my largest knitting basket, her afghan must be carried about in a laundry basket! True story!! Just wanted to give credit where due, and share with y'all a bit of something has me impressed four ways from Sunday - and then some.

That being said, I am writing at nearly 9:00 PM on Friday night, which is (as has no doubt not passed your attention, HALLOWEEN! My most favoritest holiday, and even as I speak, my talking book is filled with candy ("Oooooh, you're so SCARY" {cackle cackle cackle}) It looks exactly like a real book, and kids love it when we open it and it talks. Or....maybe not, but *I* love it when I open it.

My Evangeline is a perfect Halloween cat -- as a result, she traditionally spends the holiday enjoying a meditation in the basement, with Lilliane. They don't ever try to get outside, but I prefer knowing that we can hold the door open for the little tykes without worry. Evangeline is, by the way, my Familiar, my companion...much more than just a "pet" to me. I love Lilliane (although she is for sure Mr Dearling's good buddy) but Evangeline and I have one of those relationships. You catfolks know whereof I speak. 'Sides that, she's just so durn CUTE!

Anyway, as I enjoy the winding down of this, my most favoritest (October) holiday, I am here also announcing (as I have before) that, while I intend to post here at LEAST once a week, I may not be able to do more than that, because, Ladies and Gennulmens, in roughly ONE HOUR FIFTEEN MINUTES I will convert from being an enthusiastic knitter, contented museum guide, happy catmom, card-carrying SCBWI member, writer of children's SHORT stories and all around being (Harvey, a drumroll here, please)----

A NOVELIST! You know, like Anne Rice. Like Stephen King. Like Danielle Steele. A Novelist. Me. As I mentioned on October 12, I have registered for the NaNoWriMo , and therefore, at precisely 12:01 AM (now exactly 30 minutes away) I will Begin Writing my 50,000 page novel. I will complete this novel -- or so I anticipate -- on November 30 at midnight.

I am telling you this for the following reasons: 1) my writing here may be somewhat truncated, in spite of my best efforts; 2) I'm told that the fear of shame and embarrassment caused by failure is a powerful motivator; 3) I'm actually a little bit excited. Wish me luck, cheer me on...or heck, go ahead, laugh at me. I can take it.

IF I do, in fact that is, WHEN I successfully complete my novel, I will announce it here. In fact.....I believe I'll post my weekly word totals here. And I'll be honest (so if I fall behind, you'll know it).

I have laid in snacks for my first writing session: Almonette cookies, ham for sammiches....but best of all, mini-corn-dogs . Tell me THAT's not incentive! Tonight I mean to try to write for a minimum of two hours, hopefully three. I can make it up tomorrow when Daylight Savings ends anyway. (Look, I KNOW it doesn't work that way, nevermind!)

And as I wander off, I will leave you with an image of Extraordinary High Drama, a moment which, but for the existence of a thin pane of glass, would have ended in a scene of such carnage as to forbid my speaking of it here:

How's that for drama?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

As Promised --

Wouldn't you guess this was a GIANT? Like, some really TALL person? Well, it's not, it's ME! Last weekend I was at Writers' Retreat, and the weather was very nice on Saturday, and I found a time in between events to go out (as had been suggested) and look at Lake Michigan. Owing to the time of day, the sun was behind o' me, and I saw this and thought "PHOTO OP!" (When you're 4'11" something like this can have a dramatic effect.) Yes, I see that it makes me look like a pinhead. No comment.

I was not led astray; the lake was beautiful. The waves were crashing on the shore......well, not exactly *crashing*, but making that wonderful wavy sound. The site is a convent, and seems now to be a comfortable home for many Dominican sisters, whose apartments are separate from the retreat facility, although its dining room is across from that provided for our use.

I couldn't say if there's a common kitchen, but I found the food to be delicious. There were comments - "bring something good for the snack table, the meals are plain"...that kind of thing. Maybe I have simple tastes (well, ok, I DO) but I enjoyed every meal.

I had also read that there was a Labyrinth on the grounds, and I had made up my mind to investigate it. I've always wanted to walk one - not the corn maze type, an actual labyrinth. There was, in fact, overlooking the lake. I put my stuff over by a bench, went to the start, and walked it. I have to admit, the first time around, in spite of trying to have peaceful or prayerful or meditative thoughts, I kept thinking things like "Gee, you could just step right over and walk right out" and "I wonder if this really works, didn't I come this way going the same direction just then?" and "how on earth would you know how to mow this thing?"

Not appropriate thoughts. I can imagine what I'd think if I got to see the Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral. Well, I'd like to think that I could get all the foolishness out of the way first ("WOW THIS IS OLD!" "How'd they get it so round in those days?" Look at that CEILING!") But some day, I'd love the chance. The whole concept of a labyrinth appeals to me on several levels.

I'm glad to say that the second time I walked it, my thoughts were as they should have been, and I was a little surprised to find myself expressing gratitude, rather than asking for anything. It was that kind of a day, that kind of an event.

Because it was in a convent, the accommodations were what, in the Middle Ages, were referred to as "cells". The convents and monasteries were none of them trying for AAA Five-Star designations, and the residents were content (or supposed to be) with a tiny room containing only a pallet or bed and perhaps a rustic table with a candle on it. I found my "cell" to be absolutely sufficient, entirely comfortable, and esides that it was only two doors down from the biffy.

Now, I must admit, I had rather more posh accommodations than (as I understand it) ANYone else! If you click on this and biggify it you will notice two accoutrements which did not appear in any of the other cells: notice, on the top shelf of the bookcase a small television set! I did turn it on, and it did work. (I then turned it OFF because that was not what I meant to do with any of my time there......but STILL!!) You will also notice, on my plain-but-functional desk, FLOWERS. It was a lovely autumnal arrangement in a quaint little basket, which delighted me. I believe I've mentioned before, when I go anywhere without Mr Dearling, he often sends me flowers with a little note saying something like "Remember me". SILLY SILLY MAN! {ahem} Excuse me.....suffice it to say, even if there were no flowers, I think I'm safe in saying that I'm not likely to forget him any time soon. Still - I love that, it's very romantical.

However, the purpose of the whole thing was this Retreat, see, for members of the SCBWI, and I went feeling like Someone Who Kinda Writes Children's Stories...and came back, honestly, feeling like a Children's Writer! Hard to explain, except that I learned terminology, techniques, and ideas, and got a bunch of thoughts and observations, all of which gave me an earnest confidence. Now, of course, comes the putting it to use.

As I said before, I was tickled to find myself among really-o truly-o CELEBRITIES, even though I didn't know it at the time, and my favorites, especially upon retrospection, were:

Holly Black, author of "The Spiderwick Chronicles"

among other things, who was absolutely fascinating, very funny, and who provided some truly solid information about the technique and process of writing about fantastical worlds peopled by folks some people don't believe in (yeah, I KNOW! Hard to believe!) which I found to be of particular interest; and

Linda Sue Park

who has written quite a number of books, including "A Single Shard", which I haven't read but am about to (as well as a couple other of her books that sound intriguing). Might I add - "A Single Shard" won her a NEWBURY! That's (for those who may not know) just about the equivalent of the Nobel prize, for children's literature.

I guess I didn't really feel bad that I didn't recognize these girls' faces, because a glance at the back of a book jacket doesn't tend to stick in my mind....but when I knew who they were and listened to them, I allowed myself to enjoy feeling all star-struck and stalk-y and goofy. I think I managed to speak like an intelligent person in any conversations I had with either of them - or anyone else. I hope.

They had one little discussion that illustrated to me the circles in which I was moving: they were discussing the finer points of some writerly business, and both referred to ideas they'd shared with "Philip". Someone with as much awe as I but who maintained the ability to speak squeaked "PULLMAN?? PHILIP PULLMAN ??" and the response was in the affirmative. (!)

So now there remains one last element: I need to try putting what I learned to good use, and whether or not I actually achieve my resolution to be published in this, my 65th year, I can certainly say that I'm now headed in the right direction and wandering mindlessly through the wilderness.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I left home Friday at 1:00 pm; my Mapquest said the ride to the Retreat site was one hour, 59 minutes. I entered to door at 3:00 pm. How's that for truth in advertising? I like those maps a lot, because they give you the mile-marker Exit Numbers, which I can follow easily. Towards the end, though, when I was honing in on it, I suddenly remembered that scene in "The Color Purple" where the white lady drops off her "colored maid" to spend time with her family and then leaves to drive herself home - only to have a panic attack at driving alone and requiring her to come away immediately to take her home.

Well, maybe not quite THAT bad, as I did get there, on on time (!!!)

What to say? Well, just a quick synopsis here, as I haven't put in my photos yet, but in overview: YES, it was infinitely worth-while for me. I left here having written a bunch of kid stories, and came home the author of children's stories. I got just a fearsome lot of information about the nuts & bolts of getting something published, having had the privilege of hearing editors and agents both. And as for the craft of writing? Well - I discovered that I don't know many authors' names, but I am familiar with some of the books. VERY familiar.

For example, Holly Black . I imagine I'm one of the few who didn't know her name, but I OWN the first two books of her extarodinarily well-known Spiderwick Chronicles. She was hilarious, informative, interesting and interesting, and I sat listening, I suddenly remembered - they made her book into a MOVIE! I guess that's pretty good.

There was more, and I'll elaborate when I get my pictures; in the meantime, suffice it to say that I came away feeling like a really-truly author, and actually and really inspired.

"Details at 11:00".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Onward and....


This is the statue depicting the motto of the State of Wisconsin. She has a twin standing outside the Capitol. They bear some resemblance to the figure named "Wisconsin" who stands, enrobed in gold, at the pinnacle of the dome of the Capitol. (It is said that she's pointing toward Washingon D.C.; if that were true, she'd have lowered her arm and frowned eight years ago.)

"Forward" is also my motto for today, because tomorrow morning I'm leaving for my Fall Retreat of writers in Racine. I guess this fits the "Books" part of my title. I've made a list (and not lost it yet!!) of things to pack. The clothes will be easy, just which of my 18 identical dresses to take, and which jammies. The knitting -- well, you know, I'm not yet 100% firm on whether or not to take any. This is a literary, wrie-y, book-y sort of thing....but I'll see. I imagine if nothing else I'll take a ball of red and some DPNs and cast on the first newly-commissioned toque -- if I have NO knitting with me I feel like I'm missing my underlinens.

We're to take "something for the snack table". That sounds promising, although someone mentioned the meals provided being a bit plain , which is in keeping with the fact that it's a convent site. Not sure what I'll take along for that - SOMETHING, or I won't feel right trying some of the Double-Rich-Extra-Chocolately Brownies they keep talking about.

Daisy! Of course I'll take Daisy, because I can imagine somewhere along the line my Muse will grab me by the ankles and shoulder and drag me off to write something, even if only in the deep hours of the night. I can almost taste the anticipation of Inspiration, and I'm not a-going to fight it, I can tell you.

Cats? No, although I'm sure each kitty will spend some time lying in the suitcase (admit it, yours do that too) I don't think they'd be welcome. PICTURES of cats? Gee, well - if I had any maybe I'd take one. {{koff koff}}

No, the biggest thing I'm concerned about taking is......Stuff I've Written. I'm going to take Ygraine (remember? she's my flash-drive thingie?) and also print out copies of as many of my stories as I can. One of my dear colleagues in my Writing Group (thanks, Stephanie!) gave me a link to proper format. I don't know as my stories will do anything other than hunker down in a corner of the laptop bag trying to look like kleenex, but you never know. I hear there are going to be people there who are actually attached to PUBLISHERS, and I think I've also heard that sometimes people get connected, and are a little closer to seeing their stories in print. Excuse me while I go lay down and hyperventilate for a moment.....

OK, I'm better. There is also a deal, I think Saturday night, where some editor types collect from the participants a "first page"; these are then read aloud and commented on. It can be the first page of ANYTHING you've written, and of course they don't get to everyone's, and they're anonymous. Am I brave enough to risk that? No idea.......but I may prepare First Pages of a couple of my things, just in case.

No idea of the Nunnery has wifi (what a concept!) but I can make blognotes while I'm there, at least, and will report back when I get home.

Also, you may have noticed, here and there, that there's apparently a Presidential Election coming up soon. Yeah, really! And to that end, we had a visit Tuesday from John Kerry who shoulda won himself a while back who was going to be speaking on behalf of Obama. Because the crowd began gathering at the Capitol early, before I left the Museum, I got a couple of pictures. Frankly, I can't imagine a more inspiring place for a political speech. We didn't stay for the Rally* but everyone looked very enthusiastic about it:

There was a band playing while people gathered in a very anticipatory mood. It was very accommodating weather for the event, cool and cloudy. It's a fairly short walk from campus, so I imagine before the actual speechifying began the crowd swelled ; I didn't watch the coverage on the news, but I know how these things tend to go.

If you click on this one, you can see "Forward's" twin sister at the heart of the throng. I'd have sworn I saw a "Capitol Statues for Obama" button on her chiton. But this does show a little corner of the mood among Madisonians, for the most part - peace signs, &c. I'm sure I've mentioned before, Madison prides itself on being described as "77 Miles Surrounded by Reality". We atribute the Free Thinking atmosphere as resulting from the combination of main University and State Capital.

I think it's an exciting place to be, though, and I suppose one reason I like it so much is that I'm in agreement with the general population around here. It's a place an Aging Hippie can call home and be comfortable. (See above. Nope, don't know him.)

DISCLAIMER: we have our share of folks whose belief systems are like the Opposition, no matter which side you're on, of course. The teacher of my museum group yesterday wrote on his comment sheet that I had used "slang expressions" which they're trying to avoid: I referred to Candidate Obama as a "black man" (apparently they use only "African American" in their school) and I also mentioned that some of our red brethren prefer the term "Indian" to "Native American". I haven't had such comments before, but there are Perpetually Outraged no matter where you go. (My boss wasn't ruffled in the least....we know 'em when we sees 'em.)

And having said all that, however, I can also report that I am in the Final Stretch of the Dr. Who scarf!! (I will pause until the roar of enthusastic applause dies out.) I don't know as I'll finish it completely today - there are a couple big thick bands at the end, but the end IS in sight. I've been diligent about working on it while taking teevee breaks - and my Knitting Coach has been uncommon attentive:

You're slowing down - KNIT KNIT KNIT!!

I suppose it's not too soon to begin trying to decide where or not to actually add the (sometimes optional) 7" fringe to each end. Any thoughts on the subject? I may leave it off just because it stands a pretty good chance of, you know, *dragging*, and it could get wonky pretty easily. I'll watch my tapes of Tom Baker to see how he handles it - and maybe I'll swallow my
abject mindless pointless terror nervousness and see what the folks on Ravelry have to say about it.

* My mind is made up, and while I'm still reading stuff, I'm finished with speeches, debates, teevee commentary, &c. I can't imagine anything anyone could say that would sway me at this point - unless Barak announced that Knitting would be Illegal and ALL books should be burned. No worries, mate.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sense and....

Sensibility? OK, friends, I am 65 years old and of sound mind (stop that snickering back there). As I sit here, looking just a tad into the future, I'm questioning....just a little bit...some recent decisions. Between today and December 1, I have arranged for what the Department of They refer to as "a full plate". But first things first.

Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day!

Now, to clarify - this is NOT the Italian, Columbo. This is Jean Nicolet, Explorer late of New France, celebrating the day with a few of his Indian friends from the East. In recent years the celebration of Indigenous Peoples' Day has gained some popularity in a tiny portion of the population for a variety of reasons. My interest in the Native People can be traced precisely back to my 7th year of life when I read "Wi Sapa" by Lyla Hoffine. It's the story of a Sioux boy, age nine, and his life pre-contact. One of the last incidents in the story is his meeting with a white trader who gives him a metal knife. HOW I loved that story! I remember announcing to my mother (poor soul) that I intended to grow up not only male but Sioux. To her credit, she neither laughed out loud nor said anything discouraging. (She may have wept into her pillow later, but if so I never knew it.)

It is surely evident that I did not achieve either goal (!) but I have come as close as one can, by reenacting an Ojibway or Metis woman of the Fur Trade in about 1760 and forward. As a result of all that, I am one who does celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day. So, to all of you who do AND all of you who don't, I repeat: Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Now then, how about this? You see before you a cat toy ("Cats"), a pair of knitting needles (they're at the top there...."Sticks") and a BOOK! In fact, the Yarn Harlot's new book, which I have finally dipped into, having finished "Little Heathens". The knitting part is the Dr Who scarf, which has attained approximately nine feet at this point. It's almost twice as long as I am, which means I roll it up for ease of knitting. This is to prove that, despite wandering off in myriad directions, I DO remember what I intended to write about in this here blog.

But -- see, here's the deal. I'm back to the Sensibility-Full-Plate bit. I've signed on for a couple of things, and I suspect that it may affect how often I can get back to my cats, my sticks, or any books at all. Here goes:

1. I am registered to take two classes, which start on the 22nd & 23rd of this month. One is about taking Oral Histories, coincides perfectly with my intention to do such a project at one of the senior centers where Mr Dearling and I have been giving programs as Museum outreach; the other is about Infancy & Childhood in the Middle Ages! Talk about a source for information useful to a kidlit writer! Each class (one on Wednesdays, one on Thursdays) is only four weeks, and they're not going to be all "Get your homework done!" sort of things, so I'm hoping they provide blog fodder and not interference.

2. I am going off to the Fall Retreat of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI, to those in the know). That's this coming Friday; I'll be home Sunday. I have no idea what to expect, but the anticipation of being surrounded by "Children's Book Writers & Illustrators" in a symposium-workshop-social sort of place tickles me no end. Remember my Birthday Resolution? This can only be a good thing for keeping it. My dear colleagues in my Writers' Group have all been, many times, but none are going this year. So between them and the "list", I expect I can get a good idea of what to expect. The venue is a convent, and thinking about spending my nights in a little cell with only a bed and desk (what more does a writer need?) is entirely delicious. And that may be good blog fodder too!

3. "Aye, there's the rub!" Here's the Big Thing: I have registered to take part in NaNoWriMo!! What the hey, Dale-Harriet? Never heard of it!

Allow me to elaborate. It's this contest, see. You sign up, and then you begin at 12:01 AM on November 1 and write a 50,000 word novel by midnight November 30. Reread that last bit (and if you mutter "good grief dale-harriet why?" as you read, I won't be offended).

In the words of the immortal whoever-it-was: "Because it's there." I heard about this last year and it intrigued me. Being as this is my Major Writing Year, I says to myself "GO FOR IT!" So I've signed up.

There are literally thousands of people from virtually all over the world who sign up. If you don't manage to finish, nothing for it - you've done an amazing thing. If you DO finish, you upload your novel at the end for an official count, and if you succeeded in 50,000 words, you WIN! The prize includes a web badge, a pdf certificate and $1,000,000. No, that's a joke, there's no money. But from where I stand (drawn up to my full four-feet-eleven-inches) finishing a thing like that sounds like blog fodder and bragging rights enough for a century!

There are a couple things: I write SHORT STORIES. And for CHILDREN. Also, I have a marked lack of discipline rather short attention span. But, ladies and gentlemens, I am going to give it a shot. It works out to something like roughly 1,700 words a day. Will you believe me if I say the quantity doesn't phase me? I think the easy part will be spewing words. The hard part is going to be having them make sense, form a cohesive story, and coming to a conclusion instead of just wandering away muttering.

However, my purpose in mentioning this is, between finishing the Dr Who, (knitting a couple of toques that have come my way recently - NEVERMIND!), taking the classes, going to the Retreat, continuing to work on my normal stories with my Writers' Group, and -- you know, eating, feeding the cats, chatting with Mr Dearling, relating to the world, *working at the Museum* and (oh heck, I'll just say it) keeping up with the Real Housewives of blogging time may be somewhat compromised. I am intending to post at least once a week so's you know I have't become ill/ run off with Raoul the Pool Boy / been taken by the Rapture/ or died. Or any of the above in a group.

Also - I started a new blog for the sole purpose of preparing for the NaNoWriMo and keeping track of things. I'll give you the URL, but hear this: I don't intend it to be the sort of thing people actually may look at ner nuthin'. It really will be pretty much a place for me to post thoughts (if I have them) and that sort of thing. My fellow local NaNo folks (oh yeah, there's a network and I'm not alone, even here in Madtown) will know of it, but this is NOT an advert or recommendation. It goes like this: The Trembling Quill .

Soooooo....wish me luck. One of the instructions is, tell everyone you know you're doing this because the embarrassment, shame, and sense of failure is heightened in proportion to the number of people you've told. So there you are.

And lastly...
...these are growing in my back yard in rich profusion on a narrow rather smooth-barked tree. Anyone have any idea what they are? I tasted one (it's ok, the feeling is back in my foot almost up to the ankle) I'M KIDDING! and it was sort of bittery, but fruity. If they are edible, I would love to know, and eat 'em.

Otherwise - I won't. Crazy? Yes. Stupid? Naw.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gearing Up...

OK, I'm going to begin with a link. I think this should be required reading. For EVERYONE. I'm going to print it out and carry it with me everywhere - maybe I'll get it laminated. I encourage you to read it, I'll wait here.

It's the October 7 entry from Crazy Aunt Purl . These are troublous times, ladies and gennulmen, and between the state of the economy and the state of everything else, all leading up to the Election, it's enough to make one want to curl up in a dark corner with a good book and a cat and not emerge until December 1. But truly everyone I know is suddenly awfully aware of money, and more than a few of us are realizing we coulda - shoulda - wisht we'da done better with our finances. So now go read that thing, and then come back here.

One nice thing about Autumn: one of life's greatest pleasures is stretching out on the couch with a nice knitted throw -- and being snuggled on by cats. Seems like these days I'm on an upward curve of Busy, and these moments become rarer. Of course, the more rare an occurrence the more delicious it becomes, and more appreciated. This is a picture of Me, Happy.

Ooooh - to reply to some comments:

1. Janna: yes, I'm enjoying the book HUGELY! It's like sitting down at the author's kitchen table, and it's a very comforting, delightful book.

2. Lee - I hope I haven't missed your visit! But for now and future reference, I would allow a couple of hours, especially if you're the I-Read-Captions type. The first floor has some cool political information on the walls; the second floor deals with Native American life, paleo-Indian to post-contact (BE SURE TO SEE THE FUR TRADE POST on account of Mr Dearling and I outfitted it and we lurves it); the third floor is the lead mine, which is kinda cool, the Immigration area which I love, and bits on farming, lumbering and manufacture. The fourth floor has some neat political things, a bit on the Ringling Bros. circus, a SPECTACULAR big window with the BEST view of the Capital -- and ODD WISCONSIN, which warrants, I'd say, about 45 minutes - more if you're soppy, maudlin, over-emotional and drippy. I know I am.{heh}

3. Chanter: WELCOME TO MADISON!! Oooh, I'm a one-woman welcome wagon ... feel free to email me and I'll figure a time to show you the sights! (Don't you just adore those wonderful kittens?)

4. KMKat: I'll take a rain check - although I'd sure have loved to see your cast with that brilliant bionic limb inside of it.

Now then. Remember the Great Linen Closet Rant? Well, when Mr Dearling was off enjoying the Adirondacks I really DID take it on. It took me about five hours ... maybe 45 minutes. But the satisfaction? Priceless!:

Shameless chaotic mess of a Linen Closet

Now, there is one thing. At least the stuff is IN the linen closet. I mean, let it be said that I am very aware that it could be worse. If Better Homes and Gardens ever comes around, you know - photographing linen closets &c, even with the bad one the linens are in there (also a lot of toilet paper, on the top shelf, but nevermind).

Clean (but empty) linen closet

OK, I can't take any credit for this, obviously. If there's nothing in it, of COURSE it looks tidy.

GOOD linen closet!

OK, this is more like it. Now I can relax; the mismatched and occasionally ugly towels are neatly folded, the pillowcases (inside-out) are stacked together, the washcloths are together. I can sleep easily now, knowing that a midnight raid by Martha Stewart would garner the "It's a good thing" comment. Provided she was led blindfolded through the house, positioned right in front of said linen closet, and allowed one peek. So there you are.

Oddment: something just popped into my head -- I expect it's because the clutter in that part of my brain increased to the point that these bits pop out. Remember how people used to say "Ye gods and little fishes!" How much nicer than @#$)(@#)($. Also, if you're in need of something to call people under your breath (you might be amazed at what I call people from the protection of my car) try "PUNK RAMPANT!!" That's from Shakespeare, "Romeo & Juliet". And really, it sounds much classier than "dickwad".

Now - a moment of silence for Nick Reynolds, of the Kingston Trio, who died last week. He was the short one. I loved the Kingston Trio, and I'm glad there are still a lot of CDs available. Go watch them on You Tube.

Now I'm going back to work on The Scarf. Tomorrow is Yom Kippur, so I won't be writing - but look for me Thursday night, after sundown.

May you all be written, with joy, into the Book of Life for another year.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


First: I haz a skill. I can determine the Exact Moment when it changes from Summer to Fall, and it rarely coincides with the calendar date. There comes a moment, an instant, when I feel "The Snap" that marks the change. It's a subtle difference in the fragrance of the air, the feeling of a cool day, an incredible itch in my fingers which matches an increase in my need, desire, yearning to knit (more than I have been). This also coincides with a strong urge to cast on something new -- which in this present case will have to be delayed because By Gum, I'm finishing the Dr. Who scarf first. Just so's you know, you know.

Now, when Mr Dearling goes away (as he did quite often when travellng to New York to care for his ailing parents - of blessed and fond memory) he sends me flowers. During his frequent forays east I enjoyed some popularity at work, as I enjoyed putting my beautiful bouquets where they could be enjoyed by the greatest number of colleagues. (Not to mention queries about if he had a brother, could I clone him, was I planning on dying any time soon.) (No, no, and NO!)

So as I write, I am sitting on my sofa. I'm watching "Chicago", and my kitties are sleeping beside me. My tea (Fast Lane by Celestial Seasoning) is close at hand, and my Dr Who scarf is right at my feet. I just finished a delicious braunschweiger sammich (with just a little mayo and sweet relish); therefore, I am warm, contented and enjoying myself.

And Mr Dearling is most likely stretched out in a sleeping bag, maybe on the ground admiring the stars, maybe in the car (if it's rainy). He's spending his days hiking and walking and stomping around his beloved Adirondacks and enjoying cucumber cheese sandwiches with potato chips. The potato chips are IN the sandwich, NOT next by. He loves 'em. We therefore are both contented and happy - and I have these beautiful flowers (delivered about an hour after he left).

In the intervening time I have gone to a going-away picnic for a Museum colleague who is moving to Oregon with his lady (BYE, KEV AND AMY, KEEP IN TOUCH!) Kevin is a science-geek type who spends time stomping around in Alaska and stuff, gathering Important Information. He also writes songs and plays a mean git-tar. And while we had the pleasure of his company at the Museum he kept mobs of kids transfixed about the artifacts and spun wonderful stories. I wish him and Amy the very best, and know there's a group of new friends who'll be lucky to have this merry couple in their midst.

Oh, it looks like Kevin is sort of a TALL dude, you say? Well, Amy took a picture of us together, at the picnic:
So yeah. He is. I come about up to his shoulder. See, I am an equal opportunity friend, and just 'cause someone's a giant doesn't mean I won't get along with him. Hmmmm....also, HE is an equal opportunity friend, on account of he consorts with short people of Advanced Age.

I settled at a picnic table and took out my Reliable Knitting (where I come from, *every* day is Knit-in-Public Day), and that - together with my Fibertarian button - led to pleasant conversations with folks there (none of whom I knew before that very minute.) In fact, Amy's dad was VERY interested in my description of the Fibertarian Party and Our Candidate Dolores, so much so that I believe I converted his vote to our side. Dare I say it? Dolores would be a better Commander-in-Chief than another candidate currently running for the VP.

I've been watching some teevee while I knit, in Mr Dearling's absence, and you know, you can learn a lot from off of the teevee. For example, I understand that, because it's now Fall, it's time to change our make-up for the new season. Damn nigh gave me the vapors -- what AM I to do? I don't wear any......

I'm also reading a wonderful book (after hearing about it on NPR): "Little Heathens" by Mildred Kalish. It's absolutely delicious! I haven't finished it yet, I'm reading it slowly, savoring every sentence - but until I have finished I'm not breaking open The Yarn Harlot's new book. Don't I have some will power? (The answer to that would be NO, matter o' fact, but nevermind.)

I am trying to nap here. Go away.

I couldn't resist, sorry - Evangeline crept into my little purple fringed lap throw to sleep, and this was just too terrifically good not to post. I could be wrong...but I think my cat is getting sick and tired of being photographed. Considering all the treats she cadges from me, I think her attitude is downright ungrateful. I mean, for petessakes.

And last, but absolutely not least! I am succumbing to a little unapologetic promotion for our new exhibit at the Museum, with the recommendation that all my fellow Hog-and-Bloggers and in fact everyone in Madison and Environs (you know who you are) make a point to get downtown to see it. In fact, I think the airlines should make special $10 round-trip fares from EVERYWHERE to come here to see it, so that, you know, Crazy Aunt Purl and the Yarn Harlot could come see it, and even I bet the Pope would be interested.

It's called "Odd Wisconsin", and is made up of some mighty exotic treasures culled from the ginormous collection in storage at our Headquarters building on campus.

For example, how many of you knew that Liberace was a Wisconsin boy from West Allis? This is his very own beaded and embroidered jacket, which weighs six pounds (!) I was always a fan of his, truth to tell, and I think he's at the lighter end of "Odd".

How about this? Oh, you're right, those are indeed brassieres. (Click to enlarge -- make the picture larger.) This delightful item, which I happen to especially love, was made by a fiber artist in the 1970s to celebrate Feminism and the freedom it gave us women -- and yes, the field of blue IS an image of a pack of birth control pills.

But not all of the items are light-hearted. We have a rock...and the note that was tied around it when it was thrown through the window of a black woman in Little Rock, Arkansas; the note, on a wrinkled piece of cardboard, reads (I'm paraphrasing): "The next time it will be a bomb. KKK"

There are some surgical tools from the Civil War - with a diagram illustrating amputation. There are some original letters in the hand of Abraham Lincoln....and a shawl, worn by President Lincoln en route to his Inauguration and for some years after (it was given to a black physician Lincoln befriended during the War, who later moved to Wisconsin and whose family maintained the provenance and now allows us to lay our very own eyeballs on the original garment). There is a typewritten script...for "Citizen Kane" - bet you didn't know Orson Welles is ours too, born in Kenosha!

And finally:

I'll end with some knitting. This is a sweater, all blown out at the elbows and ragged. It has an "X" drawn on the back in red. It was worn by a young man at Auschwitz - it had been given him by the Germans as he worked outside, and was marked to identify him as a Jew and a prisoner, as it was "civilian clothing". The young man survived, was liberated, and in time moved to Wisconsin where he regained his health and became a Professor at the University here in Madison.

There are more complete details accompanying each of these - and all of the items, in the exhibit; I wanted only to show y'all a hint of the sorts of wonders to be seen. If any of you unable to come this way would like more details on these items, please e-mail me (see Profile).

May I add: the privilege of laying my very own natural-born eyeballs on these items and in fact on all the items in the Museum is not lost on me, and if I can convey one-tenth of my own affection and enthusiasm for them to the students who visit, I'll count myself a successful docent.

Now then. Where's that Dr. Who scarf...........?