Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Innerwebs, thy name is....

Oh, MAN, but that's clever!

I have a new post started -- then I came upon this on Twitter, and frankly, it is hands-down one of the cleverest things I've ever seen. I've put the rest on hold (watch this space) but for now, I admit that this is lifted from another blog...no WAY I'm clever enough for this), and if you haven't seen it before, I give you what I'm guessing is the most fun you've had since -- the last Inauguration:


(If you can't click on it, do yourself a favor and paste it into your browser.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Greetings (or not)!

To All My Democrat Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To My Republican Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

(This was shamelessly stolen from a favorite blog, kmkat, who says it was "Shamelessly stolen from an email from a friend in California".)

I contend that bloggers "glean"; we do not steal The sentiments, however, are also my own.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blame it on......

....the bossa nova. No-h0-ho-h0......my little joke. Blame it on the lemmings. NO....another little joke. If there is blame to be placed (besides acknowledging my dismal lack of self-discipline) it is to be placed squarely on "The Holidays". If "The Holidays" are ever personified, it's going to be a crowd of little dark creatures slinking away looking furtively over their shoulders, dragging their long dark robes (probably navy-blue; black is too grim for Holidays) and hauling menorahs and wreaths. Consider how much difficulty is blamed on "The Holidays."

ENOUGH! Settle in, make some tea; I'm going to bravely make an effort to Catch Up. (It's a wonder my blog doesn't come up under "condiments" considering how much catchup I've tossed around.) Snippets, that's what I'm going for here. Snippets.

Thanksgiving was wonderful! Everyone was on time! That, ladies and gentlemen, was an absolute FIRST. Two regulars were not present (my dearest friend Sunawa passed away in May and her partner spent the day with her own family and an elderly uncle) but we had my new daughter-in-law and her absolutely enchanting nine-year-old daughter with us. The food was traditional and delicious - we had an unusual treat - one I was a little dubious about, which wound up being fan-TAB-ulous: the new daughter-in-law brought barbecued ribs ! Well! I've made it clear before on this page that I ADORE barbecued ribs (I've an arrangement with God about them - it's fine.) And to tell you the truth, the combination of delicious turkey and the rich ribs made for a meal better than it had been before! Might we have a new tradition here?

There followed busy days - lots of tours at the Museum, general preparations, that sort of thing. Suddenly it was December. It started here, as the whole country heard, with a blizzard-snowstorm of "epic proportions". Oh, come now, national newscasters. "EPIC PROPORTIONS" in Wisconsin would have to be 42' of snow in three hours. THAT would be "epic". As it was, it was just a good, hearty, midwestern snowfall, and the complaints around here were few - especially because the Governor closed ALL branches of the UW! So our student population, never one to pass up an opportunity, lined one street with big snowmen, causing trouble for the plows; they also made an enormous snowball, some ten feet across, I heard - also a problem for the plows. May that be the worst problem we have for the next twelve months.

A few days backI took myself to see "The Princess and the Frog", the new Disney adaptation of the old fairy tale. I enjoyed it a lot - it's set in New Orleans (cute!) I won't spoil anything by saying more, but there was one aspect I found peculiar. The show that I went to was poorly-attended -- erhmmm -- a bit quiet .... that is, I WAS THE ONLY PERSON IN THE THEATRE. I DID turn off my cell phone, I refrained from commenting out loud (!) but it was kind of creepy. If I'd known I was going to be the only one there I'd have brought in my own snacks. So there.

The next day was a Red-Letter day (in spite of a bit of baneful "freezing rain" which made walking on a parking lot challenging): thanks to the fact that I read Franklin Habit's notes on Facebook (and you can keep your comments about 66-year-old short bubbehs BEING on "FB" to yourselves, thenk yew) I became aware that he had been invited to SPEAK at the meeting of the Madison Knitters' Guild. I scour the papers (Isthmus, anyway, and "77 Square") for the word "KNIT" and hadn't seen a thing, but it was an easy decision. It was Monday night and even if THAT were the night that "Real Housewives" was on, I'd have gone to hear Franklin. (If you haven't had the delight, go here.)

I'm sure you're all familiar - if you're not, do I have a treat for you! Go make a cuppa and go back to the beginning and read his blog from the start. You'll thank me for it.

If you want the best description possible of the event, go to Molly Bee's Attic and check out "Finally Face to Face..." NOTE: you may wind up starting at the beginning there too, and you'll thank me for that as well, straight up.

Other entertainments that filled the time 'twixt then and now (remember, "catchup") included a holiday pot-luck at Museum (my tomatilla salsa was a hit; Mr Dearling's taco meat a bigger one); Late-Night Knit; two examples of customer service: one was a not-Sow's-Ear LYS which I will never darken again with my footsteps (think diminishing stock and very unpleasant experience with proprietor) and the other a fabulous experience at Chipotle's, where they gave us an order of chips and guacamole gratis because I had to wait for fresh carnitas....the "wait" was a couple of minutes. THEY will see my dark footprints again.

We also went to a Solstice celebration at dawn on Saturday (so it was two days early; made me no nevermind) which turned out to be a perfect ritual in a stunning place followed by a day of fascinating company and incredible food. We'd known only our host upon our arrival at dawn; we left with a new bunch of the most delightful and intriguing friends. We were literally there "dark to dark" - and think on it! The actual Solstice was Monday so the days are getting longer! And I can tell, those extra milleseconds of daylight make a HUGE difference!

Now preparing for the more traditional holiday which promises some real excitement about which, more later. With pictures, I 'spect.

And because I'm cantankerous - I close with a new but keenly-felt Pet Peeve (I do love pets):

People who self-publish books, on line or otherwise, but NEVER have any sort of proofreader look over their manuscripts, drive me bonkers. I've seen four books (three to review and one on sale that I glanced at) and they were each one a tragedy of errors, both in punctuation and spelling (typos, one can hope). One of them had a word on the COVER that was missing a letter. Oh, people -- even if the stories are brilliant, I won't be recommending them. Is this a new plague? OY VEY!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Well-Baby Visits, and Miscellany

They took her away from me!

How's that for a phrase fraught with distress? I'm telling you, that would be a start for a novel. (Make note of that, Dale-Harriet; there's always next year's NaNoWriMo.)

Here's what happened, and it wasn't as fraught as all that. We took Evangeline for her annual well-baby visit to the vet. She needed one shot, and they took her temperature. You know... took her temperature . If anyone thinks animals can't manage a Baleful Stare, I'm here to dispel that myth right HERE. OOH yeah they can.

But the vet thought it might be good for her to come in for a teeth-cleaning, and being the difficulty we in this family have with dental issues, Mr Dearling thought it would be a good idea too. So they were going to draw blood in preparation - it'll be sometime this month - so they can arrange the anesthesia, &c. Now, the whole exam had been right there in the office, with my face buried her neck, stroking her and whispering....well, let's call it "soothing words".

But to draw the blood - they took her away from me. Through the door and down a hallway. I couldn't go in there, it's a Doctor Place. And I couldn't see through the tiny narrow window such as you see in mental hospitals on the teevee for the Rough Cases. Furthermore, I did see a merry-faced child-assistant (she's probably 35, but they all look 12) chase a kitty who had gotten out of arms, scoop her up and go back.

Evangeline doesn't like other cats. If she sees one outside she turns around and beats the tar out of Lilliane ("Redirected Aggression".)

They were gone for four hours. What? ME? Hyperbole? Well ok, shut up. It was maybe five minutes. But that was five minutes when they had my cat, and I couldn't see what they were doing.

When they brought her back she was fine - although see baleful stare above. The upshot is that the clinic called and all is fine, so we'll be scheduling her for her dental cleaning on a day when her own vet can do it and I'm home all day with no reason to leave, because when she comes home I want to stay with her to be sure she's ok from it all. (Lilliane will be in the bedroom a good part of that time, I think, because I have a feeling Ev won't be feeling like playing.)

The next day (yesterday, in actual time) we took Lilliane in for her well-baby visit. We have decided it's time to buy a second carrier so that we can take them at the same time. But it was not much less traumatic; she was more fearful than Ev had been. There's a small bench in the room and she dashed under there behind my skirts, behavior VERY unlike her. But she got through it too, and is all-the-way-around fine. I didn't mention her eccentricities, because there may BE a cat-shrink, but there are things I won't pay for. I'm a Jewish mother, I can analyze my cats myself. I have her figured out. Here's an example:

One of her Bestest Favoritest things (besides impersonating a dinner role) is drinking water. Out of a human drinking glass. On the table. Her eyes actually light UP if I put a full glass of water - a plastic tumbler, not too tall - on the table. She stands there and for a full minute, she scratches on each side of it with a dreamy look on her face. Then she drinks out of it, visibly lowering the water level. Repeat from start.

Now see, that might qualify as neurotic feline behavior, but I have her number. (OH, and it's harmless, so I set this up for her periodically). Here's what's up with that:

As we all know (imagine professorial voice here), cats enjoyed divine status in Ancient Egypt. And Ancient Egypt had....anyone? Anyone? YES! A lotta deserts. Also, a side tidbit of information, for which I get extra credit: the brown tabby configuration is thought to be the closest coloring to that of the divine cats of Ancient Egypt. (Surely you've noticed that Lilliane is Classical Elegant Brown Tabby.)

Back to the table-scratching-human-cup-drinking behavior. It's elemental (my dear Watson). When she does that she is permitting herself the ancient memory of being on the golden sands of the desert, scratching through to the clear, bubbling fresh water beneath. For that brief period she is actually back in ancient Egypt, and when she has refreshed herself, surely four huge Nubian bearers will appear with her jewelled litter swathed in shimmering silk from China and she will be borne back to her palace where doting slaves will carefully dust the remnants of the sand from her paws...before feeding her succulent peeled fishbits and .....

No? That's NOT what's going on?

Well, there IS one other possible explanation. It may be that she just likes to drink from a cup, but actually thinks the whole thing is a lot of shit that should be covered up like anything else in her litterbox.

I like Version One better.

Now the Miscellany. The Novel is moving right along. This very minute I am earning another sticker for my netbook: the Procrastination Badge. (I have a day off and could have been novelling all this time.) Actually I'm procrastinating from procrastinating: I have to wash my hair, clean the cat fountain and sort out my winter t-shirts before joining the other WriMos to work at the local coffee shop.

HOWEVER! Miscellany.

1. I got an email the other day; the subject line said "Settle Warriors In Your Fly." Believe it or not, I deleted it unread. Maybe I was too hasty???

2. I asked my tour group if they'd been to the Capitol (they had) and if they'd been able to "rub the Badger's Nose". NOTE: there's a very large, beautiful, brass badger outside one of the legislative chambers, and legend has it that it's good luck to rub its nose (which is shiny gold at this point).

They had. With their elbows!! Seems with the H1N1 flu scare, they can't all be touching the nose with their potentially-disease-ridden little fingers. (!)

3. In the same vein....heard on NPR: A guy at a Department Store Santa School cheerfully announced that they're incorporating a fun way to make sanitizing their hands a "fun part of the Santa Claus Visit experience".

I will now give you a moment to meditate on #s 2 and 3. Come back when you're done.

4. I browsed through a book of wonderful expressions and insults while at B&N last night, and got an insult that I am going to be downright lying in WAIT to work into a conversation:

"She is all fur coat and no knickers."

If you have suggestions for working that in I'd be obliged to hear them because I want to use it at least once a week. And yes, I'll likely be going back for the book with the rest of 'em.

In closing: Today's Required Word Count for NaNoWriMo = 33,340
MY word count as of today: 36,122. Gee but it's fun.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

THIS is a Day Worth Noting.

OK, PEOPLE -- pay attention!

Today is the 40th birthday of Sesame Street. Programs come and go (don't we just know it, and if they ever bring "Firefly" back I'll watch) but Television is like that little girl: "There was a little girl, who had a tiny curl, right in the middle of her forehead." (If you're Of An Age, say the rest with me now...)

"When she was good, she was very VERY good,

And when she was bad, she was...HORRID!"

(Love writing that, for the nostalgia - my mother said it a lot - and for the chance to use the much-underused word "horrid".)

Now, I agree with Mr Dearling to a great degree when he says that television has wrought more woe than good in all these years. Mark you, I have HAD television in my home most of my adult life. There was a time there when I got rid of ours in a fit of Hippie-ness, and we all managed very well. Then we got a card in the mail saying we should go to Sears to collect a present from my generous sister,which proved to be a brand-new color television. I had to agree, it was pretty nice. Made the Shakespeare plays on public teevee fabulous.

But back to Sesame Street: I allowed my children to watch it. I encouraged my children to watch it, and in fact often watched it with them. I'll say it right here in public: I propped my Youngest up in his babyseat in front of it.

I think it was a brilliant and wonderful show, and I'd forgotten about it pretty much for the last few years, other than knowing it was still with us. There was also "Electric Company", which took my youngsters a little forward in their learning. I just remembered that I have a DVD somewhere with some Electric Company episodes on it - I want to get it out for my grandsons.

I'm going to tape me some Sesame Street this week to see how it's aged, but I still APPROVE. And call me an old curmudgeon (I won't argue) but I do NOT like that stoopid square sponge thing, which I find poorly-drawn, unattractive and abrasive, and unfortunately my youngest grandson has toted up many hours of his infancy planted in front of it. I would NEVER describe one of my own darlings as "slack-jawed" but I don't care for his demeanor when he's watching that. I do not fear permanent damaage, his parents are bright and clever and besides Mr Dearling and I are his grandkin. But that sponge is no Big Bird.

So - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Sesame Street! Long may you wave........oh, and thanks for a lot of hours of laughter and fun and learning you brought my children (and the quiet time for ME, o bless yer little red hearts).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Home Again!

Had a truly WONDERFUL time at NAVC. There's much to be said for seeing friends, especially ones you only see once...maybe twice a year. Much to be said for friends who have disturbed imaginations and live considerable blocks of time in the 18th or early 19th centuries.

After some 2-3 hours of TRULY panicked attempts to organize my notes, fill in some blanks and improve my talk, it was delivered at 3:00 pm on Saturday. Pretty good-sized crowd, actually (OY VEY IZ MEER!). I felt inadequate; thought it was choppy, not sequential, lame and feeble. Stood amazed, watching myself from "outta the body" and thinking "Who is this moron, and why does she know nothing?"

HOWEVER. Several people came up and said they'd enjoyed it, and there was one lady who said my theory of human beings requiring aesthetics was GENIUS! That did much for my feelings, I am here to tell you.

Briefly (in case anyone's interested) here's that theory, inspired by stuff I thought about during some 4th-grader tours at the Museum. Goes like this:

Everyone needs food, clothing, shelter, air and water, to sustain our bodies and maintain our very lives. No arguments there.

But I postulate (am I using that right?) that there is a sixth Human Need; while a lack of it might not actually cause the life to flow out of us, leaving us a little pile of empty clay like no food or water will, it must be a very basic thing indeed: this is "the need for lovely (or ornamental, decorative, aesthetically-pleasing) things. I base this on an inspiration that came to me looking at a many-hundreds-of-years-old clay pot made by the paleo-Indians who lived here in Wisconsin.

It's decorated. Very SIMPLY-decorated, but decorated nonetheless. SO I says to myself, "Self? I postulate that the decorated pot proves up my theory." To the kids I says, says I: "Does the food cooked in this pot taste better than it would if the pot were plain? (Insert chorus of young voices saying "Noooooo" here.) "Would the water in the clay pot be more refreshing if it were plain?" (See above.) "BUT!" says I, "wouldn't the woman who made it and all her family and friends take more pleasure in looking at it than if it were plain?"

And then they get it, and I'm usually satisfied to note that the adults along are looking like they get it too, all smiling and nodding and stuff.

Furthermore, in a true "mouths-of-babes" moment, one of the little tykes observed, "Couldn't it also show WHOSE pot it was?" I would've gladly taken the kid out for pizza then and there. "YES!" says I, overcome with the Sharp Degree of Getting-It-ness the kid showed.

That theory was what wowed my Mrs.-Non-Reenactor-at-the-Program. That, coupled with the statement (true) that the whole long extensive fascinating, earth-and-life-changing Fur Trade was initiated because of FASHION really tripped her trigger.

Going into Tour Guide Teacher mode: the beaver hats that were SO desired in France and England....the hats that inspired explorers and traders and hunters to come to the New World to find them in abundance -- those hats were NOT wanted because of any of their virtues other than STYLE. Add to that the fact that 60% of the trade items were of like aesthetic value primarily (cloth, silk ribbon, trade silver brooches, glass beads) and you have the universality of human beings, red AND white, to look cool. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. So my lecture was poorly-delivered and scatty all over the place, but inspirational to one attendee and apparently (to my great relief) at least interesting to the others, and it seems to have been successful in some regard.

And it's DONE! Delivered, presented, lecturized and PAST TENSE! Therefore, I will now resume regular programming, and I am about to hunker down and WRITE. I have a few thousand NaNoWriMo words to get under my belt........and a few pages of my "real novel", as my Writing Group meets tomorrow. So no new word count to post tonight, but watch this space!

Friday, November 6, 2009

See that Wire?

Well, I do. I'm down to it. It's nearly 11:00 am and I'm off to my conference. It will only take me about 45 minutes to get there. I can settle my things in our room (Mr Dearling tells me it's quite comfy...albeit "dormitory style" and he told me where the extra earplugs are; seems we're sharing quarters with a herd of buffalo.)

Then I will have some time to finish up and polish my lecture-presentation which is scheduled for 3:00 pm tomorrow. OH -- for those of you who may not be familiar with my peculiar North Dakota accent, a translation:

"finish up" = start looking through the material I have and making notes which must then be arranged into a cohesive order;

"polish" = START WORKING ON IT!!

Now...srsly, it's not quite that bad. I have an outline and some stuff to plug into it. But it suddenly appears to me that I may a great DEAL of very neat stuff that I may not have time to plug in. You know, the material that could've been really useful if I had been working on this all along, as I should have.

It's not that bad though, really. I am stupidly -- uhm... denying the fact that .... confident that I will have an interesting presentation, and that my friends will be entertained and pleased.

And now I have to go feed the unicorn and make sure there are new leaf slippers for the faeries.......

On the OTHER hand: Word Count to date: 11085 .

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

PLENTY to do!

The minutes are ticking by -- on account of, that's what they do. And I have finished everything I need to do this evening EXCEPT packing for NAVC (easy, actually...quick) and finishing polishing up the den for our overnight guest. That's going to be quick too (it's called "shove it in the rubbermaid bin and take it down the basement"). VERY efficient. Run the vacuum around, pull down the futon and fit it with bedding -- done. (Insert big grin here.)

I'm looking forward to spending a LITTLE time with our guest, anyway - we're leaving tomorrow for the camp, but I imagine we'll have a nice conversation and cup of tea tonight. He's coming from Alaska (!) and I think that's two hours earlier so although his body arrives at 8:00 pm, his MIND will be arriving at 6:00 pm.

My presentation is going to be good. I still have a lot I want to do to polish it up but I think I have at least a little handle on it, and I'm fairly confident that it'll be interesting and entertaining, at least. Now - being as there ARE going to be people using PowerPoints I don't feel bad about taking Hermione with me ("Hermione" = eeepc netbook) so that when the 18th century folks have gone to bed I can whup her out and write on my novel.

Lest ye think that all this activity has led me to ignore my NaNo novel.......get this: at the funerary ceremony to bury the person who died before? My main character has just discovered that it may be....that it will be necessary to bury her baby (remember the birth?) WITH HER!! {{time allowed for great intake of gasping breath}} I KNOW!! I had no idea either!

I'm confident in my main character, though, he strikes me as the type to Do the Right Thing (after all, did he not take all his clothes off already?). We'll just have to see what happens next......and remember, I have no better idea than you do.

So - final count this evening: 8,020 words.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's all in the PICTURES!

I just figured out the biggest stumbling block preventing me from being a better Blogger (say THAT three times fast!). It's pictures......it's that I feel like I should have a few pictures in here to make it visually interesting, more attractive, &c. The problem is, it really does take me a while to get the pictures downloaded to Daisy and then resized and renamed and cropped and automatic-brightened-ified, and then put into the blog and repositioned and..........

Get the picture? (No pun intended...no wait, yes it was. Nevermind.) SO! For the next while, anyway, I'm going to write more and put in pictures less or not at all. I'm a little pressed for time for the next week on the one hand, and month on the other hand, so the pictures are going to be eschewed. BOY have I looked for an excuse to use that word.

Now then -- in the last month I have experienced the births of TWO babies to museum colleagues. Both were boys, both were first babies - and both are, if their pictures are indicative, just powerful handsome lads. The first was apparently born purple and then promptly turned red; he was born just before the Packer-Vikings game, and was determined to be an equal-opportunity fan. I have knitted him three caps: one was Badger red-and-white; one was Packer green-and-gold; the third was Viking purple-and-white. (I consulted with his Da, who approved the plan.)

TONIGHT, as a matter o' fact, I mean to knit a Badger cap and Packer cap for the other new boy. My friend Donna is coming over for our weekly "knit" (she crochets) and I 1) need a respite from my current project (see below); and 2) can finish both while we watch my few taped episodes of "Real Housewives of Wherever it Was". (I know, "I'm not the proper demographic for those shows." Nevermind.) The pattern, found by googling (I can't write or say that without chuckling) is called something like "Shower's in an Hour". Takes a tiny bit longer than that, but not much.

Also, in the last month, I lost a particularly dear friend, one whose extended family I consider my OWN extended family. He was a reenactor (medieval, fur trade, Civil War) and a renaissance man in the best way. He was artistic (he made laser-cut portraits in wood among MANY other things in many other ways). He had been a fireman and policeman (I learned this at the memorial; Joe was a lot of things but NEVER braggart). He had a radio show and was a proud, skillful and dedicated HAM radio operator, too. He did some writing, made MIGHTY-FINE barbecue and it seems to me I had some exceptional chili out by his place one time.

Joe had cancer; it's not like we didn't know this was coming -- of course, we ALL know it's coming, but that didn't make the loss any easier. I was struck by the symmetry, though - one of the babies mentioned above was born either the same day or the next day of his death.

So goes the Sacred Hoop, and I know that. Interesting when sorrow and joy pile up on each other like that.

OTHERWISE, here's what I'm doing right this very minute: preparing for a program to be delivered at NAVC this coming weekend. "NAVC" is the North American Voyageurs' Council - it's a weekend-long gathering of Fur Trade reenactors, some local and some from far away, and rather than a reenactment it's actually a series of programs and lectures, workshops and socializing. Some years it's been held at Fort William in Ontario, and it's been at Mr Sayer's Post (Pine City, MN) and this year it's down a bit south of home, so it's a short commute.

We're staying over, of course, because like many of our reenactments, they are true rendezvous in that we see friends who come together only once.........or perhaps twice.... a year. We don't want to go home at night and miss the opportunity for a good chinwag.

Now, the participants and presenters are "armchair historians" -- and let me tell you, they're MUCH better informed than anyone who comes by their knowledge under the aegis of Academia (another fine expression, wouldn't you say?). These folks are EXPERTS, and far better informed than most folks with their diplomas and certificates.

OK, so last year I volunteered to present a program on "Marriage in the Fur Trade" -- one aspect of the business was that cultures were exchanged along with the furs and axes and beads; the French and French-Canadians married native girls and had Metis children. "Metis" is defined as "mixed blood, of combined French or French-Canadian and Native American ancestry." Fascinating topic, one I think about a lot (portraying as I do the native wife of a voyageur) and one about which I have some very fine books in my library.

Remember I said I volunteered to prepare this program, at NAVC last year? Yeah well, all year while at weddings and so on, I've been blithely telling myself "No worries, darn thing isn't until November." Ladies and gennulmens, I draw your attention to that calendar on your wall, the one hanging right there above your computer. See what it says? If you haven't looked at it in a couple of days it might say "OCTOBER". (Operative words: couple of days). If you HAVE, why then it says -- all together now:


So the time to complete the presentation is -- last April. But....seems I didn't do it. So I'm doing it NOW. THIS MINUTE. (Ooops....wait...right now I'm blogging. But you know what I mean.) So I have a matter of HOURS (interspersed with stuff like going to the Museum, sleeping, going to the bif....) to lay out, study, practice and polish this presentation. And might I add, when I'm NOT actually working on it, these minutes, I assure it's foremost in my mind, standing hand-in-hand with blind panic.

There is a Saving Grace: I realized, in the throes of sweaty terror last night, while I was trying to sort out some facts, that: a) my audience are people whom I know, friends, fellow reenactors; b) they're not there to be educated, to get the PhD-level information; they're there to be informed, entertained, and to share thoughts and ideas; c) I'll get a lot further in these last hours of preparation by pulling out the bits I find fascinating, interesting -- and by ENJOYING the process. I had an epiphany: if I don't have fun preparing this, I won't have fun presenting it....and my friends sure as HECK won't have any fun listening to it. That went a LONG way toward my having a good talk ready when the time comes.

And the other thing I'm doing now is: the aforementioned NaNoWriMo. In case you missed it (I can wait while you go follow the link, if you like....) it's an annual Challenge to write a 50,000-word novel between 120:01 AM on November 1 through midnight on November 30. In order to achieve this, one must write 1,667 words a day; of course, if you write more than that one day you can write fewer the next -- that's the average . Mind you, it's QUANTITY you're after, NOT QUALITY.

You might think that ANYone who would sign on for such a thing is totally screwed .... severely demented .....a tad unusual. But it's huge fun, and a great exercise, and is actually a thrilling and fascinating thing to do.

Unless one is preparing an hour-long program on a topic with which one has only the thinnest information at the start. What I have in my head: the French and French-Canadian traders and trappers married native girls, which resulted in the rich exchange of culture amid the furs and kettles, the axes and silk ribbons.

That won't take an hour to say. Hence, the above-mentioned labor.

Having said that, I am now going to return to my studies...but with the intention (and boy oh BOY am I going to have an easy slide to Hell) of blogging here now and again, albeit devoid of any photos , for which I beg your indulgence.

Now then, hand me my copy of Many Tender Ties , which is a pleasurable read as well as being a rich source of the very information I need.

Oh -- and I'll post my word counts at the end of each post, even if not daily.
Current word count: 5,426

Monday, October 26, 2009

And still it turns....

...the Wheel of Life. If I put in everything I've been up to, doing, seeing, hearing and eating since I last posted you would a) be here until NEXT Monday; and b) give up and go make a sandwich. So what you're going to have here is oddments, bits, reflections and observations. And my intention to settle in and keep up better than I have been. I attribute it to Summer with all its vagaries of activity, travel and so on. Now it is, surely as I sit here, AUTUMN. My favorite season, it's the time when I gather my stuff around me and prepare to hunker down for the winter.

"Hunkering down" involves vast amounts of hot tea, piles of delicious books, hours of knitting - often accompanied by movie-watching, and generally being inside because of snow, for which I am most earnestly wishing. Don't get me wrong, I don't like driving in winter much, but if we really have to go somewhere Mr. Dearling ("Fearless Driver") takes care of it. For my part (and I've said this before) I drive through town in the winter rather than on our Beltline, as I adhere to the thought that, if I slide off the road, I mean for it to land me in someone's yard who will make me a cup of hot tea and say "Tsk Tsk" a lot after calling Mr. Dearling and AAA. If I'm lucky they'll have cats and a big afghan too. Just sayin'.

Now then - first things first.

This stunning portrait is Le Papa, typifying the elegance that is Steam Punk. As it turns out, he's fine-looking in any historical period, but this is "what it is."

Here we see L'Oncle (on the left), La Maman in the center, and on the right, Le Papa again. They were in one of the myriad little out-of-the-way nooks and crannies in the mysterious site of the wedding, and all was lantern-lit and dim, adding to the wonderful ambience. The googles on L'Oncle are almost du rigeur for Steam Punk, and my friend J. was resplendent in her turn-of-the-century stylish frock and hat. As for M. - well, some men can wear hats and some cannot. Of those who CAN, some are restricted to only one type. (Mr. Dearling looks fabulous in his toque!) But M.? The top hat speaks for itself and he sports a tricorn with every bit as much fashion.

And here you see....

...my darling girls. On the right, L., who played American Girls with me (she'll ever be remembered fondly for that, probably to her frustration); on the left her "flip side", her mirror image, her counterpart from over the sea. They look "of a type", and just as their taste in style and hair color match, so too do their notions and ideas, their interests and skills, and they look to me quite an ideal match, and their actions seemed to bear it out.

One more:

Some traditions remain in spite of all other factors. The girls cut their cake(s) - three of them! They were DELICIOUS (remember I said I tasted both?) and we were lucky enough to be given some to take away with us. Dare I say, it didn't make it home to Madison. NOTE: see the beautiful roses? Well! They looked very realistic indeed...and they were made out of marzipan! Yes, you heard me, ALMOND PASTE. Some people view that as purely decorative and keep the little marzipan fruits that appear around Christmas on display. I might have said this before, but I. EAT. MARZIPAN.

Whether or not I said it before I'll say it again (and hopefully ne'er repeat it in public nevermore). Oh - and if you're of a delicate constitution you might wish to skip these lines. I've been known to buy a cellophane tube of Odense brand marzipan...and peel off the cellophane and eat it like a banana.

OK - the rest of you can look again. By the way, do NOT try this at home; there are 40 calories in one almond. Forget the sugar and all the rest of those almonds.

And so you've finally seen just a glimpse of the wonderful delight that was our celebration with dear friends AND our introduction to something fun that we hadn't heard of before.

I will now resume your regular programming.

Friday, September 18, 2009

In which we attend the Second Wedding....

The dictionary definition of "Wedding" is: "the marriage ceremony with its attendant festivities." Pretty broad. (Or - I suppose one could say that's sometimes a feature of a wedding, a "pretty broad"; sorry, there's no excuse for that. I'm going to sit in time-out now, one minute for every year of my age. See you tomorrow.)

But the second wedding has turned into more than a lovely collection of memories, more than thinking back on a nice event and time spent with good friends. The second wedding has opened a window, allowed a glimpse, and then opened a previously-unknown door behind which I've found a new delight. Let me explain:

First - it was in Columbus, Ohio, home of a beautiful replica of Columbus' Santa Maria and the home of our longt-time good friends, J and M. They're reenactors too - for the most part, their era is a good century before ours: the 17th century. Think Plimoth Plantation. M works very much in the 21st century and is probably the most computer-literate person I know. J works for a company that publishes darling and very popular little cookbooks.

Furthermore, M looks as perfect in his 17th century garb as one can. He has long hair, a neat little pointed beard, and is the very image of one of Columbus' men as I can picture. J is one of those merry little women whose skill with a needle would vie with any of her sisters of the earlier century, and when "decked out" they present a most admirable picture. I met them years ago (perhaps 18?) on line, in a realtime chat room on Compuserve, and to this day I "meet" J once a week for an hour's gab. (We're joined by at least one of the other original members too, and even though it's only one hour out of my busy life I look forward to it eagerly and miss it when I have to miss.)

OK - these people have a daughter, L. Years ago when we occasionally got together "F2F" L and I would play together with our American Girl dollies. She was a child then, and I was.....well, me. Anyway let me say that the child of these creative, historical, talented and artistic people (did I mention that M plays with a Celtic band and is a self-taught brilliant fiddler?) is herself a unique girl and always has been. In her young adult life her personal style has been what might be called "artistic punk" -- she's an individual and I love her style.

Well! She attended college and emerged with credentials in things like "Computer-Generated Images" and that sort of thing (all beyond my 66-year-old comprehension but VERY 21st century artistic). She loves anime, manga - that sort of thing.

During the last couple of years, it seems she met a girl living in London (online) and they became fast friends - and then more. C came from London to spend some time in Columbus....I think over Christmas, perhaps...and they discovered that their connection was real and true - and they became engaged. My reaction? Couldn't deny the truth: L wasn't a little girl any more and I'd have to find another girlie to play dolls with. Also I was delighted because I love this girl, and knowing that she had truly found a soulmate was very satisfying. The whole online thing? It's the 21st century and MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE has been that everyone I've ever met has been "exactly as advertised" and I've enjoyed meeting people and becoming friends with no preconceived ideas about them based on prejudices of appearance. I believe - I know - that you can come to know someone really well without ever laying actual eyes on them.......and I'd have to say I don't think I know anyone whose feelings of friendship would be changed at the sight of the person "F2F".

OK, I'll set aside my soapbox - but as I do, I'll comment that I really think eventually these innerwebs will allow for friendships across geographic and time lines and prejudices about physical attributes will diminish and there will be peace. Not in my lifetime, but you know - I think it's out there.

Back to the second wedding. As it turns out, it really WAS a "second wedding"; not only the second we attended this summer, but the second for the Darling Girls. You see, they were married in Britain (if memory serves, they had a lovely site in Ireland) with C's family present - and because we're still behind the Motherland in some ways here in the Colonies, their union is recognized there. But they - and WE (L's family and friends) were delighted when plans were made for them to have a wedding here so that WE could witness and share their joy.

The wedding was held at the Center for Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus; we didn't get to explore the whole place, but the portion reserved for the wedding is a large hands-on area sort of like a set for Indiana Jones -- all rocky mazes and a stone castle tower and so on.

Now ... there was another element to this wedding, which was absolutely NEW to Mr Dearling and me. We were told to wear our 19th century apparel, because the theme, the flavor, the soul of this wedding was to be -- STEAM PUNK! We had no idea what that meant; we had never heard those two words together in a context. We dressed, we went to the COSI, we found the site -- and discovered that almost everyone (elder relatives excused) were in costume, and we were introduced to this "Steam Punk". We saw Victorian clothing, we saw leather helmets (think aviator). We saw corsets and frills and lace.

The wedding itself was brief and lovely - the officiant was well-spoken, the vows clear and the mood merry and reverent and FUN! When the ceremony was over there were pictures and we were allowed to examine the fabulous environs. We then repaired to the nearby Spaghetti Warehouse (apparently a chain; wonder how we could lobby for one here?) where we all sat down to an absolutely DELICIOUS dinner! There was cake (two kinds, and yes I tried both - in spite of being VERY full I couldn't resist and didn't regret it).

To summarize the Wedding portion of our trip, it was as different from the Montana wedding as it could be in pretty much every way. And yet - it was every bit as wonderful, romantic, delightful and endearing in every way. I LOVED meeting C, who strikes me as the other part of the puzzle piece that is L; seeing the girls together was such fun. Born on opposite sides of the ocean, but of an age, they complement each other. They're MODERN, they're now, they're the 21st century where technology and romance are blended. It was a revelation.

Mr Dearling was absolutely INTRIGUED with the whole concept of Steam Punk and could hardly wait to get home and talk about it to the Lovely Daughter - I think her only surprise was that we'd never encountered it before. She's really a 20th century girl, but entered the 21st young enough to "get with it".

And me? Well let me tell YOU, ladies and gennulmens. If I had were 20 years old now I would SO be there. Everything about Steam Punk appeals - I've been listening to the music on Pandora since we got home. I would LOVE to dress that way -- although I have no delusions and will continue the Happy Hippie that I am (I can hear the Lovely Daughter's sigh of relief from here). But from my perspective, the introduction to this Steam Punk thing has been like a little gift -- and of course, once you discover something you recognize that it's been there all along. "Wild, Wild West" can be nothing else (what a great movie) and I'd have to say, so is "Stardust", one of my favorites. I think one reason I like the whole ... what does Wiki call it? Subculture ... is because it's PRETTY. The clothing styles are colorful and interesting and fun. The whole punk-torn-jeans-dirty-shirts deal didn't do it for me.

The rest of the visit, by the way, included meeting for the first time another longtime online friend, a fellow reenactor too but of the Civil War persuasion -- she picked me up at our motel at 11:00 pm the night before the wedding and we found an all-night eatery and stayed up knitting and gabbing and enjoying until she brought me back about 4:30 am! (Lucky I have no Circadian rhythm; had no ill effects at all.)

And the day after the wedding M and J took us to the (really truly) world-famous Columbus Zoo, where we saw for ourselves the darling wee baby elephant from Zooborns playing with his blue beachball and a LOT of other things; the enclosures for the animals are absolutely grand. Every animal we saw looked relaxed and content - and the huge bears told me (I can communicate with bears, you know) that the food's great, the accommodations perfection - and they have a great health care plan.

You've no doubt noticed the absence of pictures -- well, there ARE some, and I WILL post them, with minimal text (having said it all here). But right now I'm going to put on "Abney Park" on You Tube.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In which we attend the First Wedding....

Now that I've decided to just reminisce about "My Summer Vacation" and not be bound by chronology, &c, I want to describe two entirely happy events I enjoyed, the first in July, the second in August.

I'm a fan of weddings; Mr Dearling is fond of saying we both really appreciate them; after all, between us we've had five of 'em. (Arf arf, it is to larf.) The adventure with Willie wasn't your typical failed marriage, of course - and had the Fates rearranged their strands I expect we'd be together yet. But they did rearrange the strands. Hmm...entrelac, perhaps? No - clearly Fair Isle. Oh bosh.

My second marriage was a hippie experience, and I did learn from it. And had that not occurred I wouldn't have my Youngest, my #2 Son, my Descendant of Vikings, and he's reward beyond any unpleasantness.

And regarding Mr Dearling? Well, I'm a believer in Karma, and all's I can say is, I must have plucked the toddler Jesus out of the path of a Roman chariot and returned Him to His mother absolutely unharmed - and my reward is that Mr Dearling happened along in the perfect place at the perfect time. (I know how she must've felt; we Jewish Mothers are all alike.)

SO! Two weddings. Both were, as described, the joining of two loving souls, in exceptional surroundings, amidst groups of very diverse people who shared but one thing in common: a sincere love for the youngsters and an appreciation of the privilege of being called upon to act as witness.

The first was in Montana, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains. This was taken between our hotel and the site of the ceremony. (OK, so there were sheep there too; enhanced the whole scene for me.) It was in the afternoon, in a little area next to a small restaurant. There was a stage area and a barbecue area....chairs had been set up and behind them tables were set beneath canopies. Following the ceremony a dinner was served from the barbecue, and one of the choices was a grilled salmon. It was heavenly. Heavenly.

The bride is the daughter of dear friends. She's a college graduate and has been happily employed working in the parks doing things like clearing and improving the paths, maintaining the trails, &c. Her parents and "our side" tend toward the academic and Madisonian - and her sister is a professor in Nebraska. The groom is her fellow worker and his people come from Missouri, as I gather it. I'm not sure what their daily lives are like, as Mr Dearling and I had never before seen any of them at all. In fact, we had only met the young husband on one other occasion.
NOTE: we'd been invited to an alleged engagement party to meet him - which was actually a surprise 40th Wedding Anniversary party for our friends, engineered by their daughters.

As I took my seat, I realized that the two groups of people would likely never have crossed paths, conversed or met -- but the Darling Children of each family had met and fallen love, thus drawing together this gathering of diverse people.

As you can see, the dress was casual and the company congenial. A friend of the couple played beautiful music, and the officiant was also their friend - there had been a question about whether he would be able to perform the ceremony, as he was awaiting a call to go join his fellow firefighters at a site in the mountains.

The youngsters had sent out a request by email, in advance: following a lovely tradition, they had selected seven people to write a prayer for their wedding, to be read aloud during the ceremony.

WE had been honored with the privilege of writing a prayer. I've had a variety of honors through my life, but I have to say, I was deeply moved by the request.

As the wedding began, the prayers were read. The first was from the bride's grandmother, Charlotte. Charlotte is a fantastic and beautiful "New York Jew" - she lived all her life in the city but now, in her 90s (you'd never believe it to see her) she lives in Madison. She wasn't able to travel to the wedding, but recorded her message, and it was loving and strong and thoughtful. I love Charlotte - we see her when we celebrate Chanukah and Passover with her family. Hearing her voice was NEXT-BEST to having her there. The other prayers were delivered by members of his family and her family (her sister's was particularly endearing) - and last, Mr Dearling read our prayer. It was a joint effort - I wrote it, he read it (in his superb storyteller's voice).

This is The Moment.

They are now married, and live in Livingston among the mountains, working in the beauty of the mountains. At this moment one could feel the affection and delight flowing toward them from every person there. Many of their dear and close friends and colleagues who live there make up their circle, and will provide the security and network on behalf of all who love them.

The weather was lovely - it was a bit overcast but warm, and there were a bunch of dogs dancing and chasing around the crowd, adding to the general air of festivity.

The meal was delicious and the company terrific! We enjoyed with a lot of the lad's family and enjoyed watching the little children running and playing, and listening to the extraordinary music - and admiring the newlyweds.

We've learned something in our own 23 years of a blissful, companionable and close marriage: couples who are married , truly joined, lean together to speak, and touch one another from time to time - just a pat on the arm or a brushing of hands. We've observed this in many couples we know to be "well-married" (and had the same between us pointed out by friends). And we saw these youngsters doing the same. This is not the hand-holding and hugging and embracing of courting couples or NEW newlyweds; these are the tender connections...almost unconscious...of the truly-married.

The next morning there was a lovely breakfast at the hotel we stayed at, and we got another opportunity to share in the fine company of all of these people and the young couple one more time before we all - and they - resumed the gentle flow of their daily lives with all of its components.

For our part -- our adventure continued with a few days of car repair (enjoyed in Livingston), my first-ever visit to Yellowstone (including knitting at Old Faithful and a very close viewing of a handsome young grizzly...details will follow) and then our journey back through Dakota (including a visit to Wall Drug; oh come ON, you can't drive through South Dakota and not get your free drink of cold water at Wall Drug!!). That's a story for another time, as it deserves a few lines.

Here are a few more pictures of the lovely, friendly and totally wonderful mountain wedding; I will then describe the SECOND wedding in ITS separate post, in order to do it equal justice:

The First Dance

The son dances with his mother....

The daughter dances with her father.

A wonderful time was had by all - and a new household is born. And they are creative, clever, good-humored stewards of the lands around them, for the benefit of us all.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Good News, Bad News - Oddments

Yes, yes, it's been a (long) while. You know how, when you're doing something suspect, you look around, and if other people are doing it too you don't feel so bad? Well, some of my favorite bloggers haven't been keeping up very well either. I've decided it's a summer thing, when those of us, especially in this Midwestern climate, make the most of being able to go outdoors without which we're wearing an entire 19th century immigrant's wardrobe. (That's what I wear to BED in the winter, but nevermind.)

So I'm going piecemeal here, bear with me.

Bad news: common wisdom says that people with false teeth can't eat corn on the cob.

This would be an ear of very fresh Wisconsin sweet corn. It is sitting on my favorite fresh-ear-of-sweet-corn-eating plate. It has been buttered with a proper butterknife (seen behind it to the right). It has JUST been buttered, because if you enlarge the picture you can see the butter JUST beginning to seep in between those fragrant, sweet kernels in there.

Good news: Neener neener, people with false teeth (that would be MOI) not only can eat corn-on-the-cob, they (or in this case, MOI) can eat about four ears, clean as a whistle {note to self: look that expression up} in an embarrassingly SHORT period of time. Those ads you see for denture adhesive? TRUE!!

Bad news: It's not possible to take pictures of hummingbirds unless you're a famous fancy photog with a bazillion dollars' worth of fancy-schmancy cameras and a lot of luck.

Good news: Neener neener, yes you CAN, even if you're an aging hippie with a (admittedly very nice) digital camera with anti-tremor feature....and a lot of luck. See him there, on the left? Not a great picture, perhaps, but this was only my second viewing of actual hummingbirds EVAR!

NOTE: We'd gone for a bit of a jaunt and stopped at a place in Nelson, Wisconsin to eat (one of those terrific places that locals frequent, with someone's granny in the kitchen - if they knew about her she would SO be on America's Top Chef or wossname).

Bad news: I've been a pretty rotten blogger, but one with The Very Best Intentions; Good news: I've sorted things out, and realize that the adventures of the past month or so would've been detailed in amazing detail, if you know what I mean, had I written as I intended, at the time. And ladies and gennulmens, I think a good deal of it would qualify as "T. M. I!"

Now that everything's been filtered out, I can cheerfully write about what remains in my mind: the high points, the cool things, the good stuff. So that's what I'm going to do.

Stories to come: Our trip to Livingston, Montana (with stops en route, including a visit to Minot, North Dakota, where I got pictures of the house my parents lived in when my sister was born - AND the house they lived, having come up in the world a bit, I think, where I was born. )

That trip included a Grand Enlightening of Yours Truly - involving my surprise at a certain hotel room...followed by the realization that I was being petty and petulant and really DREADFUL - followed by the realization that I'd learned a valuable lesson.

That same trip included the nicest, sweetest wedding I believe I've had the pleasure to attend (there will be pictures) and it was our privilege to have been included.

There was a silver-lined mishap which I enjoyed more than Mr Dearling, but he didn't mind, and enjoyed my enjoyment. There was also my first ever experience in Yellowstone (there IS a picture of me knitting at Old Faithful - I ain't no slacker) and a truly (I mean truly) deeply-spiritual experience with a grizzly. There are pictures of that too - Mr Dearling's show the bear grazing along nice as you please; my pictures show a brown smear against a green backdrop. The camera's anti-tremor feature can only do so much.

As we got home just two days before having to leave for our favorite historical reenactment at Grand Portage -- I didn't go. Mr Dearling did, carrying my affectionate hugs for everyone. I need more nesting time between far trips, I can't be away from my little house, little stash, (!) little kitties for such a short time before leaving again.

But! We're off again (I'm re-oriented and ready to go) to a wonderful wedding this coming weekend which will involve merriment, a ceremony, a reception in a fabulous museum-y-type place, and the chance to hang with a very favorite re-enacting (and otherwise) couple whose company we relish but usually only share online. I'll bring back pictures of that too, and I expect it'll be as wonderful as the Montana wedding, though very, very different. We've been asked to wear our 1857 togs, and I always have a bit of extra fun flouncing about in me hoops and furbelows!

It'll be the first time my friend will see me actually wearing that gown - and she made it for me. I'm ALWAYS proud to wear it (which is why I work at lining up programs for the museum requiring it) so it'll be fun to show her how grand it is.

Otherwise all's generally well. There HAS been knitting. I did NOT get the afghan for this wedding couple finished (well....or you know, started ) but I whomped out a few warshrags of simple design, three bowls to felt (results shown later), finished the day-glo toque and started a pair of socks. Oh - and I made a couple Calorimetries. And I've made two little knit amulet bags to tuck in with the wedding present this weekend. AND there are two ladies in my circle (my boss and the wife of a colleague) who are either expecting or have been hitting the pizza WAAAAY too much. No...they're really preggers, I'm sure. Anyway, as SOON as the little tykes are born I'm going to brave widdle sweaters, I think -- and/OR widdle blankies. But I've seen one (a sweater) which was made by Crazy Aunt Purl that she insists is easy (in spite of her protestations to the contrary the woman is a KNITTER!!) and I may give it a shot. I think it's called something like "Five-Hour Sweater", which translates to "Five-Week" for me, but that's OK, and I have managed to make the "Shower-in-an-Hour" preemie cap in an afternoon. NOTE: I have a Baby Surprise sweater on the needles somewhere; I don't believe it'll ever again see the light of day.

For those who may not remember: my Yiddish upbringing prevents my even casting ON a baby garment until the little copy of Winston Churchill is present and pooping. Superstition - or, in the words of Tevye, who was clearly patterned after my great-grandfather (whom I never knew but nevermind) "TRADITION!!" And yes, I hope songs from "Fiddler on the Roof" are stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

So -- watch this space for Recollections and Photographs. I've seen the geeese.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


OK, so all my thinking I was going to have a lot of time in these motels and could write every night and all like that? Hmph! Like THAT could happen. Now, there ARE pictures, lots - I'm emptying the camera every day to keep up, but as I said, I can't figure out how to get the software that I have at home, and so can't seem to edit them (as in, make them the right size, crop, &c - I have a good program on Daisy but nothing here....)

THEREFORE! No pictures here, I'll do some kind o' album affair when I get home. For now - just the synopsis-slash-story.

Any idea how FRUSTRATI NG it is to not be able to post the pictures with this??? I am SO chewing on my knuckes!

Had a nice enough time in Minot. A trip to the library scoredmy parents' address in 1938, probably their first home there - and the home they lived in in 1945, which meant MY first home too. (I just thought of that!) We also went to the newspaper. Although none of the old-timers who knew my father or had worked with him was still there, when we said I was DaleHarriet GOLDISH, the WHOLE STAFF came running out to meet the daughter of SIDNEY S. GOLDISH!!

OK. I made that up. It was more like pleasant smiles and nods - but Mr Dearling thought to ask if they had anything like maybe a coffee cup reading "Minot Daily News" and the Pleasant Young Lady found the publicity guy who showered us with pens, keychains, two datebooks with "Minot Daily News" in gold on the covers (ok, so they were for 2009; they're MEMENTOS, people, they're FINE). He also gave us one of those neat small fleece blankets, with "Minot Daily News" embroidered on the corner! No one else in Madison has one of those! (Or....hmmm - if you do, drop me a line, eh?)

After all that excitement, we decided to head out toward Glendive, MT, where we had reservations for the night. Mr Dearling realized he'd forgotten his eyeshade, so we stopped at a Walmart to find one. And came out with:

A peach; a pear; a tube of my favorite dental adhesive (see, it has this mint....nevermind); a pair of Susan Bates #8 long single-points (OK, so I started the Calorimetry on too-short needles, you wanna make something of it?); THREE balls of "Peaches & Cream" (figured I might knit up a couple dishrags if I got tired of the other stuff); half-a-dozen chicken tenders; half-a-pound of potato wedges (Mr Dearling LOVES him some Walmart wedges); --- oh, and a SLEEP MASK! HAH, you thought I was gonna say we forgot that, didn't you? Well we DID-unt.

We found our Super-8 in Glendive. It didn't look too promising, there was a video rental in the lobby....but the good-natured clerk assured me that the wifi was really good - the router was in the ceiling of the first floor, just under the floor of OUR ROOM (which was the best one in the whole place)and besides that, "the bunch of seismologists just down the hall have all KIND o' computer stuff, and they haven't complained even ONCE!" We found our digs, very adequate, I turned on ol'Hermione and.....YES! FABULOUS innerwebs connection. Faith restored. -- and last blog entry achieved.

Unremarkable breakfast ("continental breakfast" can mean anything from storebought dry doughnuts to make-your-own waffles - this was the former)and we continued on toward Livingston, about six hours.

We ARE in cow country - beautiful rolling hills a-crawl (a-graze?) with beefycows, many with calvies at their sides. Next stop, Billings, and we decide to stop at the Visitors' Center to get the lay of the land (as in, "any yarn shops around here?")

There was a lovely big statue, a cowboy on horseback and two longhorns...nothing for it but a photo opportunity (watch this space). We had the good luck to visit the Visitors'Center on Doughnut Day! The very nice fellow at the desk gave us all sorts of information -- INCLUDING the address of a yarn shop!

AS I don't want any single post to be too long, (and I'm feeling rather cliff-hangerish) I'm closing here and will pick up the adventure after knittin' a few rows. After all, this IS at least theoretically a knittin' blog, and I feel obligated to pick up the needles now and then.

On the needles: a Calorimetry, a sock, the day-glo toque {{blink blink}}and a dishcloth.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Journey Begins -- and continues!

NOTE: Remember I said I'd be bloggin' from the road? Well - I did. Tuesday night we stayed at a Super 8, which as we all know ALL have "free high-speed internet". And it did, but the signal was "low" and "very low" and dicey. Still, I carried on. I wrote a wonderful, clever, humorous, insightful and entertaining blog. Easily the best blog I've ever written; perhaps the best that ANYone has ever written.

And it disappeared. Gone. PPFFFTTT!! I didn't believe it - I rebooted, checked, rebooted again, checked again, and OH YES, ladeeeeez and gennulmens, there was the title (lawsy it was clever...can't bring it to mind just here, but do take my word for it) and the first line. Only. Sooooo....this is the first of my travelblogs. Again. (I don't delude myself, I'll never again attain that original brilliance - just {{sniff}} carry on.

Although this has NEVER happened before, we got out of our Outreach program Tuesday a little later than we'd intended. {koff koff} We hurried home to feed the cats before leaving town - ignore the verklempt lady behind the curtain - and headed out. First stop: REI to return some shoes (Mr Dearling) and then a quick run into Target for the monthly Rx refill (me). THEN we were actually On Our Way. EN ROUTE. Travellin'.

We drove to the Twin Cities where we stayed overnight with my darlin' sister-in-law, and Wednesday morning, we turned our noses west and headed out. Oh....I discovered that I had apparently forgotten my cordless mouse which I much enjoy, so before leaving St Paul we stopped at Target (there're lots of them there) and I got a wonderful new small mouse for Hermione with my gift card from the last birthday.

NOTE: I actually DID manage to sort, pack, find patterns, find needles, pack, remember clean underwear, find yarns and highlighters and so on -- although I did seem to pass over the mouse. Nevermind.

There was scenery-admiring, dozing and knitting happening on my side of the car and driving happening on Mr Dearling's side of the car. We got to Moorehead, MN and stopped for lunch at a Burger King. Mr Dearling hoped they had the same "Double Whopper for $1.39" special we had to home, but they did not. So he appeased himself with two "Whopper-Junior-for-a-Dollarses" and for MY part, I had a pair of "burger shots". These would be teetiny hamburgers of the approximate dimensions of the White Castles in days of yore. We used to say "they hide the patty under the pickle". Doesn't matter, the teetiny burgers were tasty, and with the rather superior fries, were a fine meal.

NOTE: This is NOT a food critic blog; however it may appear to be on acccount of I sometimes obsess think about food and eateries and so on, and I have been known to comment that an event can succeed or fail, depending entirely on the nosh.

Our first Planned Destination was the Red River Zoo in Fargo, NorthDakota. That was my fault: I showed Mr Dearling pictures on line of newborn triplet RED PANDAS at that zoo. Those are his favorite cutest-ever animals; nothing for it, being as we were going to be in the area ("area" in this case being "North Dakota") we went there.

Well - there WERE triplet Red Pandas...but they're not going to be on exhibit until the end of August. HOWEVER! The trip was way worth it anyway because they have all kind o' unusual and rare and endangered animals there and they are a link in this worldwide chain of zoos who have breeding programs to try to prevent the entirely-disapearingness of some of these animals. Also, they had a married pair of peafowl strutting around on the paths amongst the people....and they had a tiny peewee peachick with them.

NOTE: there ARE pictures; however, I can't figure out how come I can't "edit" them to fix their size, brightness &c on Hermione so will have to do something of an albumoid deal when I get home.

We then continued toward Minot, and saw a sign indicating two towns coming up: WHEATland and CHAFFee. How cool is that?

By the way.....Interesting Observation: the speed limit in North Dakota on the highway is 75 mph !! This means that one can actually - and legally - drive about 80-85 mph. We did notice, though, that at speeds higher than THAT, we began hearing this really weird noise......coming from the passenger seat.

NOTE: it is difficult driving west in the late afternoon, especially when there is a haze of tiny bugs beset by bad karma, and some pollen-oid matter. Mr Dearling, who Prepares for Contingencies, stopped and cleaned off the windscreen with Windex.

Upon arriving in Minot we had the good fortune of finding ourselves right next to the railroad tracks at the depot just as the Empire Builder was pulling out for its journey west. It was really exciting seeing the train, and because there were a few lights on in the people cars (as opposed to cattle cars) I could see in, where folks both upstairs and down were settling in for their trip. I would LOVE to take a train trip across country, even half-way, and be able to sleep in a pullman car and eat in the dining car, &c. I hear, however, that it is FRIGHTFULLY spendy, but a girl can dream.

Also...car travel with one's Best Beloved (who does all the driving while one knits, reads, writes, &c, see above) is a very fine way to travel indeed.

As the hour is now late (although not as late as it used to be, being as we're now in Mountain Time) I will leave the Minot Experience to relate tomorrow evening (allowing as how the place we're staying THERE....for the three days around the wedding....says it has GOOD WiFi in the attractive lobby, which will suit me (and Hermione) just fine.

So ends this day's travel. (NOTE: the free WiFi at this Super 8 is.....SUPER! And it's in Glendive, MT, if you happen to be passing this way.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Preparing for Panic Mode...

It is Time. Officially. Monday-before-we-leave-on-Tuesday-evening. Which means that I should be efficiently starting to pack the things I'll need for about twelve days' journey away from home. I believe I may have commented before, how I feel about travelling. My sister was in the womb before me (she's six years older) and she took ALL the Wanderlust Genes. She and her husband have lived in Paris and Florence, have visited Africa and India and in South America. It's been perfect as they've been able to afford it - and my brother-in-law is an accomplished photographer, so he's taken advantage of their perambulations.

I, on the other hand, have a Taproot. I like my little nest. My Home. I like being able to get up in the middle of the night, go into the kitchen and grab a nosh out of the fridge, meander to the bathroom petting cats on the way and then going back to bed -- all without opening my eyes.

This is not to say that I dislike travel. We've been some wonderful places, Mr Dearling and I and I relish each and every day and experience. But it's finite. I think the longest time I can be from home is probably three weeks. As we turned onto our street after our amazing three-week trip to Nova Scotia (and I wouldn't have missed an instant of it) I said, "Isn't it grand, coming back to our own digs?" and HE said "I could've gone right past Seminole and kept going."

That was a Learning Moment - one which has not affected our relationship one jot. Sometimes he goes off on a walkabout (or more accurately "motorcycle-about" or "drive-about") for a few days or a couple of weeks. While he's gone, he throws his sleeping bag down where he is, sometimes not even bothering with a tent. He lives on peanut butter or cheese sandwiches and he hikes and walks -- sometimes skis -- and has delicious and halcyon days.

For my part, while he's gone, I keep odd hours, spend most of the time on the couch watching endless teevee and eating things he's not fond of: shrimp, frozen dinners, stuff like that. And I read, and knit, and doze with the cats....in short, I have delicious and halcyon days.

But when things like this come up, I'm excited. The purpose of this jaunt is because we've been honored with an invitation to the wedding of the darling daughter of dear friends. She's a very outdoorsy girl, marrying an equally-outdoorsy guy, amidst the beauty of the mountains which they both adore. They live there, too, for quite some time, so it's also THEIR mountains. The bride asked if I'd write a Wedding Prayer - they're having pretty much a secular ceremony, but asked seven friends to write prayers for them. (Where there is love, the ceremony is spiritual anyway -- intimately spiritual.)

So we're leaving tomorrow after a museum program. And I'm packing. Now, as a largely non-travelling type, I'm inexperienced here. But I'm taking a pair of sweatpants in case I NEED something of a pant-y type. And I'm taking four dresses (plus the one I'll wear) and three aprons, as that's my Daily Dress (a couple of my dresses will serve nicely for the mountain wedding, too). I've made lists: pills, dental stuff, earrings, brush/comb and so forth. I'm pretty confident about all that.

BUT!! See, this is a GRAND knitterly opportunity. Mr Dearling loves to drive, and he had a very fine GPS unit. It's between his ears. He reads maps like some people read novels. Which means, all the windshield time is KNITTING TIME!!

So the TRICKY PACKING will be determining 1) what yarns, needles and projects to take; which (photocopied) patterns to tuck in; being sure all necessary tools are present. 2) All current books being read, some for study and some for pleasure -- and which magazines as well....and of course the Guidebook of Yarn Shops all over the country. (Mr Dearling is not averse to my shouting "OVER THERE!! IT SAYS 'YARN'!!") 3) Writing tools. I have stories in the hopper, I have the beginnings of a novel which my Writers' Group said MUST BE DONE. SO that means notebooks, sticky notes, highlighters, pencils....and hard copies of some WIPs.

I've gotten a slightly-bigger notebook for writing things down outside of my blogosphere book, too. And of course.....of COURSE!!...I'm taking Hermione. I thought about taking Daisy, too, but Hermione's the man for the job,and Lovely Daughter can take Daisy while we're gone.

NOTE: In case you missed earlier posts: Daisy is my beloved Dell laptop, large of screen and wondrous. I love her. She is my cherished one. Aaah, but then there's Hermione. She's a teetiny netbook, notebook -- itty bitty laptop. Mr Dearling tells me that she's as gutsy as Daisy, though. She has USB ports but no disk drives or anything, so of course I'll be bringing Ygraine. Ygraine's the flashdrive. In fact, I have a new flashdrive JUST for my fiction, my stories, my ideas....she'll be coming along too.

Which means, when I find myself in the presence of the Almighty WiFi, I'll be able to blog from the road, keep up with e-mail, look in on Facebook and Twitter, and I won't miss my daily dose of Cute Overload (my first online check) and the LOLCats. And....these (and you MAUST DOINGK EET!): the Itty Bitty Kitties followed by Pitter-patting Baby Cats. You won't regret it - I start every day with these.

Why Dale-Harriet, whenever do you have time to BLOG??? (Ooops)

So what I'm saying is, in this the 21st century, I'll still have access to the electronic comforts of home. Admittedly, I may have to seek out a library or MacDonalds to get them, but there you are. We'll be staying in motels occasionally - certainly while we're at the wedding and festivities. But otherwise, we're going CAMPING ! Like, you know, MODERN normal ordinary human being camping!

In place of my canvas wedge with no floor and my deerskins and feather tick and candle lanterns (NOTE: I dearly love those, and enjoy our days spent in the 18th century) it's going to be LUXURIOUS to have a poptent with a floor and, you know, windows! With SCREENS! Sleeping bags. Battery lanterns. WEINIES!!

So let me reiterate. I need to pack for: Clothing and personal hygiene and stuff. Underwear. Socks. Petticoats. Brush and comb. That's one big suitcase.

And I need to pack for Knitting. One basket to keep up front with me with current projects, and one bag for yarn, extra patterns, extra needles, extra tools - and the Yarn Store guidebook (see above).

And Writing: blogosphere book, small travel journal, flashdrives, ideas notebook, pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters...those can be in the tote bag with the books for reading. It's time I begin browsing books about the Metis women in the Fur Trade, being as I'm slated to give a program about them in November. Now, that seems like months and MONTHS away, but I know how this sh** works; before I know it, it'll be day-after-next.

Then there's the music - a few tapes, a few CDs (I have an adapter for playing the portable CD player in the car which is Pre-CD-Players-in-Cars-Thenk-Yew.)

OK. The. Time. Has. Come.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Art, Pastry, Fruit and Knitting.

I am in the Half-Hour. It's Sunday, you see....around here, we call that "Fosamax Sunday". Now, that's not a plug or product placement or anything, because the truth is that it's "Alendronate Sodium" Sunday. Admit it, doesn't have the same ring. But what that means is this: 1) I apparently have...or am teetering on the brink of...osteoporosis; 2) I therefore take a pill once a week to shore up me creaky bones; 3) When you take one of these, you must "remain in an upright position" for a half-hour.

Which makes me, unrepentant hippie passive-aggressive that I am, want to: 1) lie down; 2) stand on my head; 3) ask "WHY??" However, I am also an Old-and-Therefore-WISE old lady, so I will: 1) stay upright; 2) throw over the headstand anyway, as it would be: 2a) uncomfortable; 2b) undignified; {and I hear that cackling over there, NEVERMIND! } and 2c) whaddya, think I'm outta my mind? (Which question is RHETORICAL, Peanut Gallery.)

But wait, there's more. ALSO during the half-hour post-pill period, I cannot drink anything but water, nor eat ANYTHING. That includes the rest of my morning regimen of pills (think: I'm tempted to just toss the lot in a bowl with milk and sugar....) AND it includes....


These are delicate scrolls of pastry, Greek in origin, which are made by some arcane method - and then drizzled in a thin syrup of honey. The honey permeates the layers without making them soggy. When they're finished, the bakers (in this case, some nuns at a convent, I'm told) lean over and whisper "Cinnamon" over them. It's not so much a flavoring as a scent in the throat.

I learned about Diples as part of my college education. There was a place called The St. Clair Broiler (over on St. Clair Avenue, as it coincidentally happens) which served, along with decent burgers and the usual college chazerai - very large, perfect Diples. They were also open late, for the benefit of we Macalester scholars who were unencumbered by stuff like dating and so wandered over there from the "Libe" in an intellectually-superior knot for something to eat.

"So, Dale-Harriet, where then have you obtained another example of this ambrosia, all these long, vast, centuries months later?"

At the Art Fair on the Square! This is an annual event, huge as you can see. The weather was fine and we met another couple and strolled around together.

NOTE: Since I began writing, the half-hour has expired, I have taken my cereal-bowl of pills and.........eaten two of the diples. I will now return to the scheduled blogpost.

There were many fine things to see at the Art Fair: some beautiful, ethereal paintings (waaaaaaay to spendy for me) and some wonderful wooden bowls, artsy baskets -- one might say "the usual". We also trailed throught the Art Fair OFF the Square, sort of an adjunct show but only Wisconsin artists. The things are no less showy but are somewhat less spendy -- but I saw nothing to complement my Early Salvation Army - Mid-Student Housing decor, so we didn't buy anything. (I must say, though, the High School Pottery Group, displaying delicious bowls and cups and things made by students from all the schools in town - I'd have come away from that with something, had anything truly caught my fancy.)

As we wound up our stroll and were JUST about to walk down to The King of Falafel for a fine repast, I saw it: GREEK PASTRIES!! Trays and trays of all manner of diples, baklava, those things that look like shredded wheat but are filled with chopped walnuts and are positively DRENCHED in honey.....'scuse me, I have to go get a napkin.....OK, I'm back. ANYway, I bought some. Nine. Six diples, three of the shreddy-wheaty things. For the record, since ending my Half-Hour I have eaten two of each. Nevermind.

After you've spent a couple hours walking up and down and back and forth and examining Fine Art, it can sort of alter your perception of things. For example, I noticed this reflection of our beautiful capitol dome:

Or maybe it's just that all the artsy-fartsy vibes got to me -- but you know, I bet if I print this as an 8x10 on glossy paper and make up some clever caption in German, I can sell it NEXT year at the Fair! From what I saw, it should bring me about Eleventy-thirty hundred dollars. Hmmmmmm.

Some other things that have occupied me these last few days: BERRYING! Yes, since identifying my lovely berries as really-truly Black Raspberries I've been going out every day or so and plucking them as they ripen. Like regular rasps, you can tell they're ripe when you touch them and they fall into your hand. I didn't drop any, and I'm glad, because I'd have been down there amongst the thorns trying to find it. However, we have a few mosquitoes around here, and I was delighted when Mr Dearling provided me with a relic from his Outdoorsy Past:

OK, OK!! I'm not looking to win any aesthetic awards here! You may laugh and jest (in fact, if you're NOT laughing and jesting you're a more serious soul than I) but I have to tell you, the dorky thing works! I managed, this last time, to get my berries with both of my eyes OPEN the whole time. However.........I have to tell you, the sound of thousands of mosquitoes buzzing and buzzing around trying to get to you to suck out your blood and eye juice and spit and soul -- that's pretty unpleasant too. I've just e-mailed and rescinded my application for Chief Entymologist in the Rain Forests of Borneo. But at least I did emerge victorious, with THIS:

Now, to be truthful, this is ALL the berries I've gathered; I've been putting them in this bowl each day and keeping them in the fridge. But ladies and gentlemen, these berries' hours are numbered. SOME time today, Mr Dearling and I are going to have small bowls of rich French Vanilla ice cream, spangled with our very own organic Black Raspberries. I will write a proper Food Critic commentary on the experience in the next few days. I am frightful tickled with these, and with the canes, and I'm VERY grateful to whichever birds out there ate someone else's black raspberries and managed to hold it together until they got into MY back yard to.....eeeeeew. Nevermind. Suffice it to say, I'm glad Mother Nature gave'em to me, and I'll think about something other than Her methods. Thenk yew.

OK - I've managed to write a whole LONG post (that's what happens when I leave off for a few days) without once mentioning cats, sticks or books!! The books are going to have to wait for another day (but believe me, it's not for a dearth of material on either one) but I. HAVE. BEEN. KNITTING! I finished two Calorimetry head bands, a fine toque (replacing the goofy one I made before), and I have begun another requested toque:

Yes, ladies and gentlemens. You ARE seeng right. If your computer has "tru-tone" or some kinda thing that gives you the full and authentic color on your screen, I must apologize for failing to warn you. That IS a toque on the needles, it WILL be a perfectly-authentic (in design) French-Canadian toque of the voyageurs-wore-them variety. But NO! This is NOT a color which would probably have appeared in ANY 18th century palate. No....this toque is for a gentleman (a fellow-reenactor, true enough) who, recognizing a very decent style of cap useful in our Wisconsin winters, has asked for one, NOT for his reenacting, but for his time-honored Wisconsin tradition, The Autumn Deer Hunt.

I think the law states that if you're out there you must wear blaze orange ALL OVER; that's so that you can't be mistaken for a deer by even the drunkest, most inexperienced bleary-eyed hunter in the forest. (They're NOT from Wisconsin, by the way...hunters come here from far and wide because we have a veritable scourge of woods rats ....errrhm....a vigorous deer population. The females are so CUTE (rumor has it that the original drawing of Bambi's mother was taken from a Wisconsin doe) but there are NO (I repeat NO) blaze orange deer here or anywhere else. So the decision to have such a safety-conscious and warm head covering is not only wise but sensible and forward-thinking, and although I find I have an after-image for about three hours after knitting on this, it: 1) IS "knitting"; 2) is a laudable request; 3) is kinda fun in a perverse way; 4) may provide some comments when I take it to Late-Night Knit next week.

And in closing (you're on your own about the "books") I present to you Mistress Evangeline, Priestess of Bast, Grand Dame of the Household, Precious Feline Fuzzydaughter, looking her most snooty -- mildly-disapproving. Her mood improves in direct proportion to the number of Green Crunchies I am dropping into her bowl.

You're going to post this, aren't you?