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.


CTJen said...

I was going to guess black currants, but the leaves aren't right.

kmkat said...

Need close up photos of leaves and bark. Old wives' advice (kind of like old wives' tales, but in a good way): dark berries are generally edible; red and white berries, beware.

Your NaNoWriMo (?) sounds ambitious and inspiring. Good luck! Every word you write is likely one you might not have written otherwise, so it can only be a good thing. Win-win.

Alwen said...

Looks like one of the buckthorns to me, like Rhamnus cathartica or maybe R. frangula.

European buckthorn is one of those naturalized aliens. The USDA website shows that some states list it as a noxious weed.

Cathartica is only edible, erm, if you are in need of catharsis. In the old purging sense.

(Michigan State University, horticulture, 1987)

cheesehead with sticks said...


Pshaw! Whoever accomplished anything fantastic by being sensible?!

Sounds like you have lots of fun ahead for you - I can't wait for all the reports!

Elizabeth said...

I was going to guess Buckthorn, too. And I think you shouldn't eat them unless you are a bird or a squirrel.

Elizabeth said...

By the way, read the little suggestion at the bottom of this page.

Elizabeth said...

Made it an active link

MollyBeees said...

OooEeee! You win. I just wrote an entry about how busy I have been/am but I'm not going to go off and write a 50,000 word novel on top of it! I can't wait to read yours though!
I'm glad you're going to your workshop but bummed that you won't be at Knit Night! Us Hog-n-Bloggers will tip a glass for you in your absence! Have fun!

Marjorie said...

It's so nice to know my ET is right on schedule with Impossible Production demands, to reflect her ETs proclivities out West . . . Snowed in under a buncha projects (knit and sewn), too many meetings, and a history research project beckoning!

Kitty Mommy said...

You go girl! Why the heck not a gazillion word novel? A few months ago, Kitty Daddy was in a funk and made a comment that he was too old (at the ripe old age of 38) to learn anything new like knitting or woodworking. I gave an rather unladylike snort and quickly disabused him of that notion by pointing out that my grandma took up Tai Chi at age 88. You, my dear, are another shining example of what I already knew!!

MollyBeees said...

Hey There DH! Don't know if you'll get this before or during your meeting, but I hope so. This is a volunteer program I joined that sounds right up your alley! There is a $6 background check fee to participate but I think that it's perfectly justified. Thought you and your writerly friends might like to check it out! Have fun! We'll miss you tonight!