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'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 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