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

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