Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guess Where I Am?

WHAT I am is -- not inclined to complain.  I'm generally philosophical;  no point complaining as a rule, it doesn't change or improve anything.  (The stuck-in-traffic theory:  you can stew and swear or knit and one's going anywhere either way.)

OK, so where am I?'m in the DOLDRUMS!  According to some branch of Wikipedia:

Colloquially, to be in the doldrums, said especially of a person, is to be listless, despondent, inactive, stagnant, in a slump.

(Note that I put in in BLUE, get it?)

Here's the problem.  NOTE:  in spite of what I said, I fear I am about to launch into a full-bore COMPLAINT.  I mean it to be a unique, unusual, rare, not-to-be-repeated experience.

I arrived in the Doldrums around the first of the month (this one, December).   No energy, no spunk, no get-up-and-go.  (Can't resist:  "my")  Anyway, after several days of this -- well, a couple of weeks, I went to see la docteure.  Now, having wonky thyroid (can't recall if it's too little or too much) I do take medication and I thought that must be it.  Or anemia - I've had anemia in the past and napped a lot. 

So the Kind and Friendly Vampire was solicited and I contributed copious amounts of blood.  (Actually?  I have perfectly dreamy veins in my elbows - if there was a competition judged by lab techs I'd win the Golden Vein for sure!)

Good News:  all tests came back "within normal limits".
Bad News:  all tests came back "within normal limits."

I'm continuing to be a pretty good representation of peanut butter.  Warm caramel.  Warm Jell-o.  So it was  back to La Docteure.  Step Two:  yesterday I had a Gastrointestinal Imaging Experience.

Arrived at the Clinic at 1:30, per intructions (Mr Dearling came along - bless him, he didn't think I should have to spend TWO HOURS of boredom alone!)  "Two HOURS?" you say in amazement.  Why yes - because over the course of time between arrival and the x-ray (yes, I know, they're not x-rays anymore...I'm old, I use quaint language.  Withal.) I had to sip ("not gulp" said the droll lab tech who gave it to me) four 8 oz paper cups of -- stuff.  'It's ice-cold", she said, "it's not bad."  She assured me it wasn't minty (some things are NOT improved by being minty) and admitted that she'd had to taste it when they were in school -- seems to me that she said something about "punishment".

It wasn't all that bad, actually.  It WAS, as she assured me, "watered-down barium".  It had a vaguely citric flavor.  I had to sip it ("the better to coat the linings") over the two hours.  Now, the truth is, I actually didn't finish all four cups.  I got three down -- but I rarely drink that much of ANYTHING.  Except maybe an icy-cold frothy glass of milk with something chonkles.

So the time came.  Let me tell you, it was a lovely test for someone with no NRG:  I laid on a table at a comfortable angle with a pillow and a comfortable pillow under my knees.  I could easily have dozed off - the test itself consisted of the table sliding back and forth through a great scientific-looking hoop.  When inside the hoop, a pleasant female (robotic) voice said "Breathe in - hold it - breathe" a couple of times.

However - although I'll be interested to hear the report, I am NOT sure what my stomach might have to do with doldrums or ennui or weariness or wossname.

Next step:  middle of next month (!) a cardiac ulstrasound(!)  I'm further not sure why my heart would make me tired - but we'll see.

Here's the deal though:  what I HAVE been doing is spending days (WHOLE days) and often nights on the couch.  Flat.  Plotzed.  Resting.  Napping.  Lazing.  Sleeping.  Spending maybe an hour vertical, online, after which I need a nap.

What I have NOT been doing is:  working, knitting, reading, writing....and I've had to miss SEVERAL events upon which I had my heart set:  I missed my Writers' Group meeting (never did that before and was bummed majorly);  a Solstice celebration, a house party, several programs for the Museum....including a storytelling gig today.

I managed a very nice Christmas Eve morning Icelandic breakfast  and enjoyed (enormously) the company of my beloved Youngest Son (with his cherished bride, three stunning daughters and clever darling son) and my Lovely (and very helpful) Daughter.  Mr. Dearling does our Christmas Day cooking and we hosted my beloved Elder Son (with his cherished bride and two adorable sons) and the still-Lovely and more-helpful Daughter!   We also spent Christmas evening with specially dear friends,, pere et fils, as they say, in extraordinary conversation and company...although we left at 10:00, rather earlier than in previous years -- and I pretty much slept for the next elebenty-thirteen hours but it was worth it.

So.  One possibility remains:  DEPRESSION!  Now, I'm just not sad - I haven't been, I don't know why it would come on suddenly.  Mr. Dearling says depression can be a chemical imbalance and not "a case of the sads";  I think he's right.)  What I am is suffering from is a profound case of BLARG.  (Thanks, James, for the best word EVAR!)  Yep, I have the blarg.  

Now - here's one thing:  it's about to be a New Year, rife with New Beginnings, &c &c.   I AM going out New Year's Eve in my hoops and furbelows, (as Mrs. First Mayor's Wife) with Mr. Dearling (as Madison's First Mayor) to ride around the Square in a festive trolley, pointing out sights of interest in OUR (1857) Madison.     I reckon I'll nap a while afterward -- maybe a week or so .  But I don't like keeping missing out on stuff, it's infuriating.  It's making me sad.  It's...yeah, depressing.

So that's where I am, and I am looking forward to a) finding out WTF?? and b) so what do we do about it now?  and c) enuff is enuff.

Two other side points:  I'm chilly most of the time (but that's not really new;  it's my thin Mediterranean North-Dakotan blood);  and I have no appetite.  That last?  That's the weirdest of all.  And of course eating next to nothing doesn't promote high energy either.  I don't remember EVAR having no appetite....except right after my father died -- and after Willie's funeral.  (THAT was a missed opportunity....but Lovely Daughter said it would be rude to ask for a doggy bag at a funeral.)   Truthfully?  Somewhat worrisome.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Soooo....Chanukah continues --

The order in which I set out to list my gifts -- my treasures -- was changed.  My intention to list something each of the days of Chanukah was also changed.  I will, therefore, connect the two:

Date Two (also Three, Four, Five....) my treasured gift is:  Good Health.  Now, I don't necessarily mean robust and hearty chest-pounding, mountain-climbing, horseback-riding health. fact, I mean simply no aches, no pains, no nonsense.  Why did this move to the top of my list?  It was gone.  I was - well, it didn't even have the dignity of "sick".  

This didn't have the drama or dignity of the darkened room, Mr Dearling whispering quietly, keeping the kitties quiet, taking messages, having the doctor in once a day.....

It didn't have the excitement of ambulances with flashing lights and all those scenes from "House" -- people coming in and out, puzzling about whatever mystical malady has turned me green and purple....

In other words:  I had {drumroll} The Crud.  for five days.  I had zero energy.  Strength enough to hobble to the bif and then back to the sofa and my coverlet.  and Evangeline.  In the last few days I've eaten two soft-boiled eggs, a bowl of soup...perhaps two cups of tea.  And I'm not hungry.  (Re-read's true!)

I'm a little better today, which is a good thing.  In a couple of hours I'm presenting one of my Senior Outreach Programs (at the Senior Center....I am not the senior.  Although ... nevermind.)  Please to reserve comments to later.  It's the program on the Metis - the rich blending of Native and French (and French-Canadian) cultures and lives during the Fur Trade.  I'm counting on my muse, the Goddess Adrenaline, to get me through (she always does).  And when I've finished - back home to rest.  But!!  Tonight I feel confident that my Chanukah present will be a return to plain old feelin' ok!

Now then - as a few days have gone by, here are some other things I consider gifts of value, which I relish: 

My Legacy from my Dad:  this may be one of my favorite possessions ever.  It has two parts:  first, a love of reading.  A huge delight in the printed word, an appetite for a wide variety of stories, an appreciation for "literature".     I have uncounted hours of contentment lost in the depths of one story or another;  I've relished plays (and majored in Drama). 

The other half of this legacy - was that I believe I have inherited some of his skill with words both in speaking and in writing.  Daddy had what we called his "Speaking Voice" -  and he was a public speaker in great demand.  And I'm only now consciously working on utliziing the skills he left me for's all part and parcel, the gift of reading, writing, speaking.  With such a gift, I have never known boredom, I have passed time pleasantly.  I've awakened at night with inspiration for stories - and in fact - a little secret:  Mr Dearling and I first shared a mutual love of reading aloud and being read to, and it's led to my contentment.

Now - if I don't look over my notes, my gift of taking pleasure in public speaking won't be enough!!!

More later -- as Chanukah draws to a close.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy (earlier than usual) Chanukah!

Happy Chanukah!  Or Hannukah, or Hanukkah.  For my part:  "Chanukah".   Traditionally (at least here in America), celebrants receive one gift each night of the festival;  in our family, they increased in some way each night. until the  eighth night, when they got a "real" present.  The earlier ones might qualify as "stocking stuffers" and I might be wrong (you'd have to ask them) but I think they enjoyed it that way.

The first night was always a new Dreidl and a bag of chocolate coins.  We would then play wild games of cutthroat Dreidl, usually using dried beans for counters while enjoying the traditional potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce.  I tried to make one night's gift about food:  a pint of ice cream with a jar of topping, nuts, maraschino cherries -- and permission to eat it all at once if they wanted to.  As I recall, the seventh night was always a book.  Today every grandchild gets a book for each occasion too.  (And they'll continue to - I don't do e-books or that kinda #$@)*.

So here's my plan:  each day of Chanukah, I'm going to describe a gift I have.  And my intention is to save the best for last.  Now, these are presents I already have, and enjoy, and I'm going to enjoy describing them a LOT.  You know how, when you're a kid and a new friend from school comes over and you get to show 'em all the cool stuff in your room? Yeah, it's like that.  So here goes:

First day of Chanukah:  KNITTING.  I have the gift of knitting.  I learned to knit from my mother, years and years ago.   I don't remember the teaching; I do remember a stunning dress with a matching sweater she knitted  for herself out of ivory-colored yarn shot through with gold.  She bought gold-and pearled braid for the sweater (it was a cardigan) and she bought a gold belt to wear with it, and it - and she - was exquisite! 

I knitted periodically - until a few years ago, when it All Came Back.  For the last few years it's increased from "Gee, this is fun" to "I am TOTALLY addicted, a perpetual knitter, and...wait!  Was that a yarn shop?"  I now have a S.A.B.L.E. stash.  (That's "Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy", otherwise known as "if I never bought another THAT's going to happen...I couldn't knit it all up before I die").

I am what is known as a PROCESS KNITTER.  I knit perpetually unless I'm writing fiction or blogging or ...OK, you got me...on Farmville or Frontierville or some other Facebook timesuck.  BUT!  other than that I knit all the time.  I knit riding in the car (not if I am driving, but when I perfect that, all bets are off);  I knit in meetings, while reading, at movies.  I knit while visiting.  I knit while watching the teevee or listening to the radio. 

Believe it or not - one time I was sitting on the couch watching teevee and knitting plain ol' stockinette, in the round (see "toque", below) and I dozed off...and woke up a few stitches further along, and they were FINE!!  I knit voyageurs' toques (see below, as I said above), shawls, scarves, socks, mittens, fingerless nitts, caps.  I knit cool little felted bowls.  And as a process knitter, when I finish a project and it REALLY IS SOMETHING! I'm delighted.  Because I b'lieve I'd knit even if it didn't become something.  I always have a lovely cotton dishrag on needles set aside for if I have nothing else available.

Now then, TOQUES.  Toques (a French-Canadian name, not used in France) are the knitted caps, usually red, seen in all the depictions of voyageurs and fur traders in the 18th century.  This is how they start, on three DPNs.  There are increases - and then just plain old knitting knitting knitting knitting, to the point where you decrease.  Now - there was a sailing ship that sank in icy Canadian waters in the mid-18th century, and almost everything on it was preserved.  It was carefully raised and the stuff was recorded, photographed, documented and published in a book.  (My good luck!)   Among the things found was a genuine, certified voyageurs' toque, incomplete but enough that I can point to it as provenance for the historic accuracy of the toques I knit.  I make them for a few reasons:  1)  they're easy;  2)  they're fun for me;  3)  they're popular among living history reenactors;  4)  they're easy;  5)  they're fun for me....wait, I'm repeating myself.  Lastly, but no kind of leastly:  oftentimes I get paid for 'em.  And when I DO knit them on request by voyageurs or traders, I send them with a "wool care" sheet; a monograph about the historical use of toques;  a sheet about Ste Anne, patroness and protector of the French-Canadian voyageurs -- and I pin to it a Ste Anne's medallion (with an 18th century-style straight pin).

So on this first day of Chanukah I enjoy my gift of knitting - which has brought with it also a Community, a group of dear friends, on Ravelry and at my LYS;  I am a member of a MOVEMENT of modern knitters;  I am one of a long line of women (imagine us all holding hands) that stretches back to some girl on the shore of the Nile putting together fishing nets - and the Virgin Mary who was painted knitting a little baby shirt on double-point needles.  (She was a Jewish mother, of course she'd knit him a sensible little sweater!)

As it is now sundown, I am going to light TWO candles on my menorah.  DISCLAIMER:  I have a shiny silver menorah with lovely flame-shaped blue-and-white bulbs. Yep, it's electric.  For the cats, you know.  (My sons asks what's the Hebrew way to say "Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our God, King of the Universe, who commands us to plug in the Chanukah lights".  I have no idea....but I figure He made cats so He knows all about it and sympathizes.   Tomorrow?   Second day of Chanukah.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A LOVELY Time....

....was had by all!  My grumpy is gone (long gone);  as is usually the case, all was well and ended well.  Our Thanksgiving table had four, not twelve - but...(all together now) more for the rest of us!  And oh, my dear ones, there WAS.  Everything was as delicious as always - I am a fan of the Typical Repast:  roast turkey, dressing, wild rice with sausage, corn pudding, cranberry sauce, gravy.

NOTE:  Regarding cranberry sauce.  Every year we have BOTH kinds (and you know what they are, I'm sure),   There's the sort of whole-berry type;  there's the jelled type.  Since a wee girlie, my Lovely Daughter has expressed a determined preference for the jelled kind - you have to be able to see the round lines around it from the can.  Might I add, this suits me, as I like both kinds, and as long as we HAVE both kinds, there is (all together again)   more for the rest of us!   There's something about the blending of flavors of Thanksgiving that's just so satisfying!

As usual, Mr Dearling did the bulk of the cooking.  The man has a Gift with turkey.   Furthermore, we had the genuine pleasure of sharing our table with Molly Bee , who is a special knitty friend of mine and Lovely Daughter's. She's of an age with Lovely Daughter - I consider her my "other daughter by another mother".  She endeared herself to us more (if possible) by bringing along a Nantucket Cranberry Pie.  Let me say this about that:  OH YUMMM-OH!  (Lest we come up short after the meal, she also brought along her lovely apple dumplings, and Lovely Daughter came bearing her annual delicious pecan pie.)  Only the fact that I am a Jewish Bubbeh, and therefore aware that one should have a meal BEFORE dessert prevented my throwing tradition to the wind and just downright having dessert first. I did not do this before, and as it's never too late to be all over verklempt:  My many blessings are foremost in my mind every day, not just at Thanksgiving, but the fact that I have arrived at this point in my life, this age, and find myself comfortable, secure, safe, healthy, and surrounded by cherished friends and beloved family is something worth mentioning at Thanksgiving time.

Mr Dearling exercised his annual prerogative by asking us each to name something for which we are thankful - OTHER THAN the usual family, friends, health &c &c.  Because those things are always at the top of the list, that was something of a challenge - but it occurred to me that I'm just awfully tickled to be able to share my love of history at the museum, and moreso, that I'm able to put on fun costumes and go speechify at senior centers around town.  Having the fun and privilege and joy of that just tickles me pink.

I'm awfully pleased that I live in these days of innerwebs and can google and twitter and all that (can you imagine the effect of saying "I'm not sure what kind of person he is, I'll just go google him up"  in 1950?  I can!)  And of course, I'm most earnestly grateful that my station in life and my own little nest are such that I can share my existence with my two kitties (WARNING:  verklempt alert).  It's no accident that the first word on the title of this blog is "CATS".  I feel as though a pet (in general) and cats (specifically) are the Soul of  a home, and my kitties?  Well - my cats are really my darling treasures...especially my Evangeline, my stout black kitty.

If we found ourselves in the Middle Ages, Evangeline and I would surely be hunted down as witches, because she IS my Familiar, my companion, -- in fact, although in "His Dark Materials" the characters' daemons are the opposite sex, Evangeline IS my "daemon".   I've always loved my kitties, but she and I share a bond I haven't enjoyed with other pets.

DISCLAIMER:  our wee brown tabby, Lilliane, is a sweet darling too (albeit she is a genuine certifiable paschkudnik) but she is very pointedly "her Da's cat".  She snuggles with me sometimes, and sits near me sometimes, but she clearly, unequivocally, most assuredly owns Mr Dearling.  She can bend him to her will (example:  leaving the clean clothes in the laundry basket for hours because she's sleeping on them) with just a strong gaze from her big green eyes.  So don't be thinking she's all ignored and stuff.  She's not.

You know, being unhappy over social mishaps (such as I was dealing with on Thanksgiving Day) really is, after the first flush, a conscious decision.  I'm over it - that was SO last week!  And anyone with the embarrassment of riches such as I am blessed with is in no position to hold on to grumpy.

So now the Holiday Season is officially on - let the merriment begin!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


...sadness and disappointment now becoming relief and anger. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two Rants

I am preparing my Thanksgiving message - be forewarned.  I get maudlin, verklempt, sappy, soppy and cloying.  I fairly REVEL in it;  chalk it up to my being OLD ENOUGH that I have a lot for which I am eye-wateringly grateful.

But first....

Rant #1: I am outraged and appalled at the whole TSA thing.    You get a choice of being seen (virtually) nekkid by someone who is "scanning" or being groped by someone else.  It' s been in the news a lot lately.  Now, I wouldn't even have a problem with the Nekkid Scan so much if it were simply that the images vanished instantly the minute you walked out.  I'd even go along with the ability to take a photo IF -- IF -- there was something clearly dangerous that warranted using the image.

But no, I understand there are nekkid scans of people (allegedly either laughable, ugly or "hot") that HAVE made their way out of the airports and onto the innerwebs.  Even if there's no way to actually identify the victim...erhm....subject, I draw the line there.  The story I read (and no, sadly, I don't have the documention which means this is "hearsay" or by legal definition, "bullshit") said that the TSA had no way to figure out who was stealing the images and posting them on the innerwebs.  Shucks.

HOWEVER - that being said, I hope no one tries pulling some kind of a scene during this Thanksgiving holiday travel scene.  I've read about the boycott or "opt-out" or what will you and the hippie-rebel-outraged-old-lady part of me shouts "RIGHT ON, BRUTHAH!!"  But the old-grandma part of me thinks of all the other old grandmas whose families might be so delayed by something like this that whole family holidays are uprooted, spoiled, cancelled.   What's the right thing to do? Damned if I know.  Looks like a lose-lose to me.  For my part?  I b'lieve I may just avoid flying anywhere any more.  Fortuately, I guess, my life is such that travel of any part is not urgent, and we sort of like seeing the sights when we go anywhere.  Furthermore, if god meant us to fly, she'd have given us wings and big mammary muscles.  Shaddup.

Rant #2:  Everyone knows that the use of tobacco carries with it the potential for certain health hazards.  That has been made abundantly clear - and in case somehow someone missed it, there are dire warnings on cigarette packs.  Non-smokers don't see them, probably don't care, and are thus unaffected.  SMOKERS do see them, probably care to a greater or lesser degree....and have either made up their mind, as a result, to:

a)  quit smoking, by sheer dint of athletic prowess or by emotional or chemical help;
b)  cut way back, which does reduce some of the hazards, while still being aware that the hazards are there and they're still potentially going to develop the health problems;
c)  know all that and continue to smoke, for whatever reason.

Now - I smoked for years, up to about a pack a day (in the days when I was collecting my Raleigh coupons).  Anyone know if there's any value to eleventy-bagillion Raleigh coupons?   I HAD to start smoking.  I played a character on stage who smoked.  And I was a theater person and we were cool and all sat around smoking.  I was also a writer, and a big glass ashtray was as necessary as the typewriter it sat next to.

I quit smoking - while I was pregnant, at least, and I never did smoke into my kids' faces (that I know of -- certainly not intentionally).  I knew the pleasure of a "cigarette after".  When I met Mr Dearling, he mentioned that he didn't care for smoking, that it made him quite ill.  I quit smoking in the house or car or anywhere he might be (realizing early on that if I let this one go I deserved to just be walled up and forgotten, even without the wine....five points for recognizing the allusion).  I still smoked occasionally, out with other folks or wossname.

Present status?  I feel pretty bad for people who are literally hooked on tobacco, people whose lives are interrupted by the need for a smoke, the people who can't take a four-hour flighte because they can't "step out for a cig" (whether or not they're seen nekkid first).  I feel sorry for people who lose relationships, alienate friends or risk children by the Great Need.  But by the same token, it IS A CHOICE.  Even the most hard-bitten, hard-core smokers CAN live through withdrawal;  you don't DIE without tobacco.  (And yes, you in the back muttering "they can die WITH it" under your breath, that's true - says so right on the pack).

But I still occasionally enjoy a smoke.  VERY occasionally, and since the damned things cost as much as a bottle of wine, they should be used the same way.  (That doesn't count Chocovine, which I feel inclined to enjoy a lot oftener than a cigarette...OR Absinthe, my new fave, which no one enjoys very often.)

SIDE NOTE:  I love Absinthe, it's legal again.  I love the taste (anise, which a lot of people don't like) and I love the frou-frou.  You have to put it in  a tiny glass, and then suspend a slotted silver spoon over it.  You then put a sugar cube on the spoon and VERY SLOWLY drip ice water over the sugar which dissolves down into the glass, giving the absinthe a shimmery greenish glow.  "The Green Faery".  It's dramatic, it's frou-frou, it was the talk of Paris among the intelligentsia and artistes and writers of the 19th century.  I'd probably drink it even if I didn't like it, for the drama.  Back to my rant.

OK - so smoking.  I saw a commercial for the Next Big Deterrent.  They're literally going to put pictures on the packs of dead people with their "Y"-shaped autopsy incisions crudely stitched back up (not done by anyone on CSI clearly).  Or pictures of a young man in his coffin.  Or a young woman with a nasal cannula and dismal eyes.  Or the lungs - you know the ones:  shrivelled, blackened, rotten-looking.

Now - with a reminder to those who know me (and information for those who don't):  I tend toward the irreverent.  So how did the information and illustrations of these new picture warnings affect me?

TRADING CARD PACKS!!  I hope they're on my brand, because I want them ALL!  I want a mint-condition collector set -- and I hope there's a website where they can be traded -- "I'll give you two Rotten Lungs for a mint-condition Dead Guy Inna Coffin!  I have three Autopsy Guys, anyone need an extra?  Or I'll trade all three for a Dying Girl.....

That's what they look like to me.  Just sayin'.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Count the Words....

All right, I'll accept all brickbats and tsk tsks and "man are you a crappy blogger".  Will it redeem me at all if I mention Best Intentions to Improve?  (Yes, you in the back, you probably have heard it before;  shaddup.) 

However.  Right about now I AM counting words - yes, I'm doing NaNoWriMo again.  I'm about to go off to a favorite writing spot and attempt to break 40k.  (Being a Professional Typist for all those years is paying off...a tip o' the hat to Mr. Johnson, who told me in 11th grade that I should learn typing "so that you'll have a saleable skill in case you never marry".)  Of course, I married three times, HA HA I showed HIM!  But my Chosen Profession of being a classical ballerina crashed when I learned that you had to be 5'4" for any professional company, hence the Secretarial Career.

So for the moment I'm pretty much going to be hunched over my netbook pounding.  But I have a new post begun here, and here's a teaser:  it's a Rant that will probably offend a whole bunch o' people (if they ever read it, which is unlikely, but I'll feel better).

I'm at that point in my NaNo novel where all of my characters have turned on me.  The lovely old priest seems to be some kind of wonky killer or something;  the main guy just may be worse than the priest, and next thing I know, the rabbi is going to drop a milchig fork in the drawer with the fleishig silverware.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remember --

November 10, 1975
35 years ago today

The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a sudden squall on Lake Superior, around 17 miles from Whitefish Bay.  It sank quickly, no distress signals reported, carrying all 29 aboard to their frigid deaths.  When the wreck was found, it was discovered to be as above:  broken in two.

The song (everyone knows the song) says that Lake Superior "never gives up her dead" - the fact is, that's a fact.  The water is so cold that the usual bacteria who cause disintegration and the creation of gases which cause the corpse to float are absent.  Lake Superior keeps her dead.

I mark this date - as a lover of Lake Superior and as a woman whose family (or part of it) made its living on the lake and witnessed her beauty and her fury.

A fact which brings tears to my eyes:  every year the light at Split Rock (no longer in regular use)  is illuminated on November 10th, to remember and honor the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

One day I will be there to see it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Here's ANOTHER Fine Library You've Got Me Into....

This one is in Marquette, and it IS a FINE library.  There is the ubiquitous free wifi...but in ths beautiful and spacious old building there is a second floor which has (among the many shelves of books) rows of dark wood desks, each with dividers rendering it private from the next.  There is ample plug-in-place-ness.  And this desk is large enough to accommodate a full-sized laptop and a large bunch of books or other materials.

Mr. Dearling returns to tell me he's found breathtaking reading rooms with fireplaces, wonderful comfortable chairs, &c, where e will happily bide his time while I handle my emails and....ok, I admit it....tend to my little plot on Frontierville in Facebook.  It really is so comfortable here, though, that one is tempted to linger over reading other blogs, checking out all the LOLs (Cute Overload, Historic LOLs, Happy Chair is Happy -- not taking time to put links here, but I suspect I'm not the only one who spends that kind of time chuckling over the available offerings).

We had a couple of errands to tend to "in town" - some purchases, &c - and I find myself feeling an emotion that I forgot I had ever experienced before:  when I was ending my senior year in high school, I had my  First Real Beau, whom I adored.  He took me, on a few occasions, home with him - and "home" was a farm near Aberdeen, South Dakota.  I was introduced to his large family and to my first real experience on a midwestern farm.  There were chickens, a few dairy cows - and he and his father grew crops too, though I disremember what they were.  (It comes to me - that might be where my newly-rediscovered addiction to the glory that is fresh, sweet, RAW milk came from...but I digress.)

Anyway, I chipped in with work, rather than just sit around, and I got pretty decent at collecting eggs and even mucking out the henhouse.  As a result, on the day that his mother and sister were "going in to town", I was allowed to go along and was even given a few dollars of "egg money".

Well -- I found I really did not WANT to "dress up" and go into town shopping.  I managed, and was of course polite to the mother, the sister, and the girl cousin who went with us.  But I found myself wishing I could just "go home" and stay around the cows and so on., I found myself sort of feeling that way again!   Mr. Dearling loves coming to this cabin so he can use it as a base camp for his walking tours, &c.  I, on the other hand, LOVE just being THERE. 

My decisions involve "Do I knit on the sofa, or in the rocking chair in front of the fire?"  Or "Is it warm enough to lounge around on the screened-in porch to read?"  or...."how about spending ALL DAY in the loft at that perfect little desk where I can write, uninterrupted, except to gaze out the window at the dancing aspens and fluttering brilliant leaves"? 

I finished another knitting project last night - it had been in the bottom of a basket for about two years, but I discovered the pattern and was able to sort it out and complete it.  It's a yarmulke. But....well, I followed it exactly and used size 1 needles, but - I think I'll have to find a Jewish Sasquatch;  it's rather large.  Oh well - there are dimensions involved and those are numbers (see previous post).

As for right now - I'm happy to wrap it up and "go home" to the cabin.   Mr. Dearling has another outing planned for our last two days here, but I'm staying in.  It's not specious though -- I took out a novel I've been working on, began rereading it from the beginning - and had an EPIPHANY!  I suddenly realized that there was something could be done MUCH better, and I can hardly wait to settle back in at the desk and start my revision!!

Hope you're all enjoying the same rich and beautiful autumn where you are, as we're seeing here.  I'm glad to recall that "peak" should just be about settling in at home so we won't miss it there.  I'll post again from home, the promised tale of the Wonderful Person ( patience, friends, patience!)  I hear my Lovely Daughter chortling;  I'm not known to possess that particular virtue myself.

Back to the absence of innerwebs.  (I wonder - would I relish every instant of this as much, if I didn't know the full range of technology IS at my fingertips at home?)

Monday, October 4, 2010


OK, here's the deal:  I started a blog post several days ago.  But I wasn't where I could post all the pictures I wanted, so I didn't.  So now it's in "EDIT" where I can eventually go tidy it up, fix the date and post it.  Or not, because it'll be out of sequence.

But I think I'm past caring about sequence, so here's the deal:  I will be posting about a Most Remarkable Day (with pictures).  And it won't matter so much about sequence anyway, as it deals with meeting one of the  most interesting, talented women I've had the pleasure to cross the path of.  I'll give you a little teaser:  when I was introduced to her (by Mr Dearling, at a fun event in a nearby town) I did NOT -- I repeat, I did not - squeal, and while (not) jumping up and down, declare "Are you really THE...(her name will appear here).

In the meantime, a few recent details:  first, I am writing from the public library in Munising, Michigan, on the fourth of ten days we're spending in the forest cabin of friends.  It's isolated, beautiful, thoroughly modern.  It's comfortable beyond belief, and is heated by a (gas) potbelly stove.  There are rocking chairs, comfortable sofas and a modern kitchen.  This is the third (I think) year we've had this uncommon privilege.  There IS no internet (hence the library) and there's no teevee (except one we could watch tapes or DVDs on if we had any, but we don't).

Mr Dearling spends his days out hiking and his evenings reading.  I spend my days reading, knitting, writing (fiction), daydreaming and napping.  I also spend my evenings in this manner, with the occasional game of Solitaire.  In my lexicon, this is the definition of "bliss".  So far I have finished two books, completed a muffler and a baby cap, finished about 2/3 of the Mason Dixon "Ball Band Dishcloth" (which I've tried unsuccessfully to figure out COUNTLESS times before) and made real progress on a baby wrap.  I'll post pictures and book reviews shortly (but not today).  I'm keeping a daily journal, some of which may be either blog material or at least notes for same.

I also brought along some games (Yahtzee, Bananagrams, Milles Bornes) which I mean to share with Mr Dearling, and I also brought my little Tarot deck for some study.  And lest ye think I'm frittering - I also have two books along for program preparation for the museum...which is admittedly another form of delight.
So to go back a bit (and so that I can work in SOME pictures, which I feel obligated to include - AM I?  Obligated to put in pictures?  It hangs me up sometimes) - here's what occurred before we came up here:

I have a new beau.  A sweetheart.  My version of Raoul the Pool Boy.  His name is Natty Bumpo. ("Pathfinder", get it?)  His voice actually belongs to a fellow named Simon.  He has a British accent.

For some of us (well, ME) finding our way around in this world is challenging.  I cannot read maps.  I don't do "turn north at the gas station".  I'm a "right" or "left" kinda gal.   Never, in any travels, have I seen roads that are red, or state lines that are bright blue.  Because I am numerically dyslexic, things like "miles" don't mean anything to me.  Enter Natty Bumpo.

This is what he looks like at home.  Yes, I know - "geez, Dale-Harriet, that's just a plain ol' GPS thingie."  YES!  And because there are satellites in the arms of seraphim in the heavens, Natty (Simon) Bumpo can tell me how to get where I am going!!  I've tested him, having him take me places I know.  He works as if by magic (other than the time I was going to Barnes & Noble the back way and he almost had a nervous breakdown because I wouldn't turn around;  he's forgiven me). 

I am loving this thing, and will head off to Racine to my Writers' Fall Retreat confident that he will direct me STRAIGHT to my destination.   I have to admit, there are things in this, the 21st century, that I like.  A lot.

The day is passing, and I'm feeling anxious to leave all this civilization and return to the little refuge in the woods.  I can report that the weather is crisp, nearly freezing at night, and that the fall colors are "at peak" as we say up here.  I do know that I could not be happy living ANYWHERE that didn't have four distinct seasons, one of which was Autumn.  The potbelly warms the whole of the cabin, and I love it dearly.

I will therefore leave you with a picture which reminds me of my happy home, as the ONLY thing that could be described as "lacking" in this heavenly place is, of course, my kitties.  So - mindful of the grace, the dignity, the elegance which is my precious Evangeline:

Worshipful Daughter of Bast

 Watch this space;  we'll be coming back into town for at least one more connection to the Outer World.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

At Last! I have learned l'anglais!

By way of apology for my absence, let me say simply that the anglais, she is very hard to learn. But I have now the confidence to expressing myself and shall therefore relate recent occurrences.

NOTE: While we Jews don't really do resolutions for the new year, it seems a good time to try to get back on track, blogwise. L'Shana Tova! May you all have a good year, a sweet year, a year of prosperity, and be written again in the Book of Life. Have a piece of apple dipped in honey in honor of the occasion. (What?!?! It's a tradition!) Oh, yes, that's a good question, and the answer is: it is now the year 5771. Started a bit before the whole Gregorian thing.

So! Helas! It is true, Ft. Ponchetrain fell to the British. But it was a good battle, fairly fought.  Truth was, the first day of battle saw the French take the fort, and the fleur de lys was raised over the gate.  But the last day of battle (following history or some such silliness) the British took the day.  Reenactors tend to try to avoid being creative with history.

NOTE:  In my absence, Blogger made some improvements, which seem to simplify putting in pictures with captions, &c.  But I don't have the hang of it, so it may be that all the pictures are at the end;  seems like that may be the best way for the moment.

All the citizens - farmers, workmen, women and children were hurried into the fort by the French officers and militia.  When it became clear the direction of the wind - the British officers generously allowed the French to make a choice:  lay down arms, swearing fealty to the King - or leave to be returned to France.  Few chose to bend the knee to the British King, and when all was said and done....we were marched away from the fort, between columns of their soldiers.  The children were surrounded by the women and one or two of the farmers and presented brave little faces.  For my part, confused and frightened as I was, I clung to my voyageur-husband's belt and stumbled away - not knowing if we would be able to make our way back to the lands of my people at La Lac Superieur.....  All in all, very dramatic.  Judging from the faces of the observing visitors - we all performed convincingly.

The Grand Encampment was a fine, fine event.  One of the highlights for me is always The Parlez::  the French officers gather in a field near the Native Village, where they gather and put off all arms.  The guns are placed in a circle;  cartridge cases, knives &c are dropped to the ground.  Then, with an Interpreter, the Officers proceed to a clearing in the middle of the village (overlooking the lake) and seat themselves on the ground on one side of a scarlet blanket - the Native elders and shaman and warriors are on the other side.

The event being recreated did take place - often, before the major battles.  These are not scripted;  they are improvised.  (The Parlez is not on a schedule - it's really not a "performance" and no mention is made to the public.  It's a part of the "come-real" time of the event.  The Headman and his elders were so well-spoken, and matched in kind by the Officers.

The chief among the French Officers had his men produce goods which were placed on the blanket:  my recollection is of bolts of cloth, blankets, ribbons - a promise of guns and powder was made, and some coffee or tea (a little native boy was sent to fetch the bag...he ran over and took it and ran back to his grandfather, who opened it, sniffed, tasted some on his finger and then nodded his approval to the Headman).

The French declared that they wished only to treat these natives as partners in trade, and affirmed that they were not seeking land for settlement;  one of the elders said that the British had asked likewise for a parlez.  One of the young men stepped forward and said "They demanded that we go to their camp, where you come to us;  they gave us one gun and paltry goods."

Then,  the Headman  asked what the women thought of the gifts and words of  les francais  and there was a general nodding and comments of approval.  The Headman asked the same of the elders, then said,  with rich eloquence, "Our sisters and daughters are your wives.  We will fight with you as friends, and as brothers."

I know, it's a bit of acting - but so dramatic, and sitting on the wooded hill overlooking the sparkling lake, it truly is a Come-Real moment.  Hands were clasped and the French moved away, back to where they collected their weaponry, and the gifts they'd brought were passed from hand to hand and met with approval.  Love it.

And so I am back, enriched (as always) by our time spent in the 18th century.  We had occasion to camp again, this time inside the palisades on Madeline Island, - different sort of event altogether, as we were there as educational interpreters at the (stellar) museum, but we visited with good friends and I was able to wade in my beloved Lake Superior (that was a bit of luck, as circumstances were such that I was unable to accompany Mr Dearling to the gathering at Grand Portage).  

The intervening time included a wonderful "girlie weekend" wherein my good friend Donna and I travelled to Green Bay for the Tall Ships Festival - that will be described and illustrated very soon, in coming days.

Now - a couple of images from The Grand Encampment:

Some of the French Militia
(Mr Dearling, blue-and-white striped shirt)
French Marines disarm for Parlez
The Parlez begins...
Rapt Attention!
Return to Camp - Success!

Dare I say?  A good time was had by all!  And yes, we did manage to return to Ouis-con-sin and avoid being sent back to France.....I'd have been mad if learning English had all been in vain.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Think "Sorcerer's Apprentice"

Quick note: I came to complete my post -- and found a ton o' spammy, greasy yucch. Believe it or not, I just NOW figured out how to get rid of it. So imagine me with my mop and buckets...BUCKETS...of hot bleach water. I'm getting rid of the lot, and then will come back and post.

Teaser: The Brits took the fort at Ponchetrain; I've spent these weeks learning zee ainglish. I think I can now converse in it. Watch this space.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

And We're Off!

I'll be away for a few days - it's time for the Grand Encampment! This is one of the larger historical reenactments specific to "our time period"; i.e., roughly the mid-18th century -- in this case, a reenactment of the French & Indian War near Detroit. (That's pronounced something like "Day-Twahn" by us les francais. As I've been saying for weeks, with great relish: "If we prepared to having to speak English from now on!" (Insert great hilarity and laughter here. Thank you.)

So I'll be tucked into my cozy lodge (notice knitting baskets). On this particular occasion, I will be dressing as a French-Canadian woman for at least part of the time, so I can knit. (I will otherwise be dressed as an Ojibway or Metis woman, at which time I canNOT knit.) However, I have multiple other diversions available, including visiting with my dear friend Jen (albeit she will be in the British camp, so I may have to pretend to be sympathetic to the British forces).

I am, in this instance, NOT, however. I (or at least the men of my people including my voyageur husband) are allied most firmly with the above-mentioned francais.

THEREFORE! This is the level of technology which will be available to me for the duration. Notice that there are no outlets in evidence, no power cords, no plugs. You will see a goodly supply of fuel (my husband always makes sure there is plenty of hewn firewood) and a proof of my great prosperity (the result of being involved in the Fur Trade) - I have a lovely brass kettle!

But it'll be 400 years (give or take, I'm dreadful at doing the maths) before anyone thinks of innerwebs or netbooks or iPods or I will report back upon our return to the 21st century. I wish a nice (not overly hot, not dreadfully humid, not pouringly-rainy) weekend to one and all, ourselves included.

NOTE: these pictures were from a foray to Grand Portage, MN in 2007; there is a certain sameness to the appearance of our camp, regardless of its geographic position.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Le Mariage du Fils....

We're beginning to organize for our trip to the Grand Encampment of the French & Indian War. I have breadstuffs to bake and pack (never did master baking in a dutch oven), new leggings to make; I should see if my corset fits; launder my caps and petticoats -- and decide if I'm going to be a White Lady or a Red Lady for the weekend. (Or both -- maybe both, because only my White Lady can knit.)

Hence the French title of this post. If the Brits win the battles, we'll all be speaking English, so watch this space - I'll report results when we return on Monday.

Now then! THE WEDDING! On June 26 my Number One Son married my daughter-in-love, at a nice small park nearby. It was very hot, but the shelter was on a knoll and enjoyed breezes most of the day. No wedding goes off without a hitch....well, of COURSE there has to be a "hitch" -- but there is invariably some little problem.

In this case - the musician had a glitch with his equipment at the beginning. It took a little futzing before it actually worked. (Mind you - his double keyboard sounds like an eleventy-eight piece orchestra - far as I know it's some kind of magicalness in there.)

Tempting as it is to try to post all 150 pictures (and those are just MINE, I can hardly wait to see everyone else's!) I believe I'll select just a few of my favorites for your delight:

Had I mentioned that I am qualified to officiate at weddings? ("Hatch, match and dispatch", actually....) So here we are, my son and I, waiting for his bride. The one drawback to my appearing in an official capacity was that I HAD to not weep, and I always weep at weddings! Especially considering that this is MY SON...and more to the point, I love his bride dearly.

The bride approaches on the proud arm of her father. Hard to see any details here - but her gown had palest pink flowers with crystals and tiny pearls scattered on the skirts and arranged on the bodice. In spite of the heat, she looked stunning!

The text was fairly traditional (I wrote a framework, they polished it to perfection) and following the exchange of rings, my DIL had a paragraph to read to her new husband, so I handed her the book to read from. He had NO idea it was coming - and during her loving, heartfelt reading, I admit it, I wept a bit -- but I was in good company, for she wept a bit and so did he.
(And, I imagine, not a few of the assembled company.)

"By the power vested in me...." Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of those Proud Moments that we simple human beings are given from time to time. Because this moment united two of the people dearest to my heart in the world, securing in the mundane world that which was secure in our hearts already.

And following the ceremony, their musician played a specially-arranged song, his wedding gift to them:

There followed a fine afternoon. The pot-luck was an absolutely stellar repast (perfect fare: soft little buns, turkey and ham, yummy macaroni salad, fresh potato salad, cole slaw....and the Lovely Daughter's sweet-and-sour meatballs, by special request -- her brothers LOVE 'em!). Some clever souls put the meatballs in the buns, VERY nice. Here, then, just a couple of other pictures - because I am unabashedly, unashamedly PROUD of my family!

How's this for a collection of breathtaking daughters? And each is "as they appear" - good-hearted, loving, clever young women.

The entirety of the Family of Son Number One (may I brag on those BOYS? Aren't you glad I don't have the capability of unrolling one of those long accordion-fold picture things SOME grammaws carry around?)

Here is the Family of Son Number Two: may I say, in all humility, that they too are as brilliant, clever and good-hearted as the other bunch? And although they're (strikingly) outnumbered, Son #2 and Grandson manage very well.

And in closing, you can now clearly see why I am so pleased and proud. I'd have to say, during all those days of my children's "trying times" (you know, the Terrible Twos through the Terrifying Teens) I never gave up hope that all would turn out just like this. Mostly. But it's all so much better than I could have hoped. I am a Happy Old Lady, confident in the Future of the World (and secure in my Advanced Age ahead!)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, America!!

I wanted a proper image for Independence Day. Something that meant something to ME....and this is it. This is the medal of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). It was a sort of fraternal organization for the Veterans of the Union forces following the Civil War. One of the main purposes of it was to advocate for the wounded veterans - and as such, the local branch, headed by our own Lucius Fairchild, became very active here in Madison, and in Wisconsin.

Now - as a (former?) Hippie and Peacenik and all that good stuff (sure, I DO hug trees, ya wanna make some'n of it?) there are those who think I don't care a rat's....a pound of....don't care very much for Independence Day. "My kind" has not been known as Flag Wavers, &c. And Those of Us who experienced Viet Nam (and came away believing that we'd learned, and THAT nightmare was laid to rest) are not the ones you might expect to see at the parades.

Well - WRONG ANSWER, CLIVE! (with apologies to anyone who is named...or related to anyone named..."Clive"). This time of year I always get downright verklempt. I think memories have something to do with it -- that and Realizations.

Memories? Guests at my mother's beautiful dinner parties with numbers tattooed on their arms. Seeing President Eisenhower (sitting on the back of an open convertible) in Minneapolis. Reading books about the Holocaust. Sitting in the ballet studio and listening to our Hungarian refugees talk about seeing the Russian tanks -- and one fellow described seeing his sister shot down as he fled with his family toward the Austrian border. And then -- seeing Willie, that handsome man whose face I see now in his son and his grandsons, in the uniform of the United States Army, with such a look of pride on his face.

Realizations? I can say that I think George Bush was an idiot and was responsible for some pretty bad horseapples....and no one will drag me out of my bed, pull me into the street and shoot me. I am SAFE in my little home. Because of my birth, and my lot in life (about which I had considerable choice) I am now 67 years old and have virtually everything my heart desires. Furthermore, I have Aspirations. I write silly kiddy stuff - and I might could just get it published! I can dance (don't worry, I won't SING) and I can go stand in front of my beautiful State Capitol and break the law by drinking raw milk....and complain because I don't like the way the whole thing fell out. (See "drag out of bed", above.)

So - forgive an old woman for getting all over sentimental. It's not lost on me that I have a life unimagined by women all over the world, and although we share sadnesses, we Americans (I can no longer watch much footage of oil-soaked wildlife) our blessings and privileges are endless.
The forecast is for thunderstorms tonight - so I expect that we'll vary our usual routine: instead of taking cream-cheese-and-olive finger sandwiches and lemonade to Black Hawk for fireworks - we'll stay home and watch televised fireworks while eating leftovers (barbecued ribs slathered in Lovely Daughter's singular sauce, cole slaw with Rudolph's singular dressing -- and probably Kitty Mommy's homemade strawberry jam, which really DOES taste like fresh strawberries....maybe ON something other than a spoon. Which is the way I've eaten some of it. NEVERMIND.)

So Happy 4th of July, fellow Americans! A salute to our young men and women in uniform - especially my own fine Marine grandson, he of his grandfather's handsome face. May the day come when all the parades in all the towns and cities have rank after rank of our soldiers and sailors marching behind the at home. Safe.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hurrying, Scurrying - and Delight!

Today is the happy wedding day of my #1 son and his dear bride. I am only using this photograph (circa 1908) because I do not have a picture of my beloved Daughter-in-Love in her wedding gown - yet. Suffice it to say that she's much sweeter of face than this austere young woman!

But I do have a ton of things to do (as you might imagine). Not only will I be a proud witness to this union, but I am officiating - (yes, I can, legally; I have a certificate from the State....) Being allowed to participate in this joy pleases me so much!

Now - we're spared a lot of the anxiety of many families on their children's wedding days, as this dear girl and my son have been united in heart for ten years, and have two of the funniest, brightest (and dare I say HANDSOMEST) lads you could ever hope to meet. Much as I would love to take full credit for their extraordinary brains, amazing personalities, cleverness and good looks - well, their mom contributed heavily too. (I won't go all verklempt on you here about bloodlines Willie's bloodlines and their heritage and ancestry &c &c - probably until tomorrow.)

So I'm off to rush around, as I am wont to do, but suffice it to say that I feel wrapped in such warm affection and happiness that I can hardly stand it - and a full report will follow. With pictures.

OBSERVATION: It is said that things truly precious are worth waiting for; I think it can now be said that I have, at this stage of my life, two sons and three daughters into whose hands I pass the legacy of my family, with pride.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


A Blessing!

I am MORE than delighted to report that, after three days of separated quarantine ("SHE made me fall outta the window!" "No, SHE pushed me and then fell out!") my beloved kitties have made what passes for peace - and to my great astonishment, sat side-by-side in the very Window of Doom* and gazed out at the bird feeder and the site of their recent Bad Day.

* Mr. Dearling brought in the frame, replaced the screening, then put it back into the frame and affixed it to the house with brass clips top, bottom and both sides. The window will not be falling out again. ONCE was enough! (Furthermore - all other windows were examined, and appear to be entirely sound.

Saturday we went to a rededication of a stone marker placed at the site of a major Wisconsin event, The Battle of Wisconsin Heights, which is known as The Black Hawk War. It was a conflct between the American militia and Black Hawk, chief of the Sauk people; Black Hawk's actions are described as heroic (I'm not wise about military history, but by all accounts, Black Hawk befit himself nobly).

The dedication was presented by a local chapter of the D.A.R. (which was responsible for replacing the original stone placed by their members in 1923) and included some speeches and a presentation by Colonel Henry Dodge himself (VERY respectable interpreter).

Following that, we joined a small party and traversed the battle site, guided by Col. Dodge, who showed the irregular terrain and described the incident. I found it very interesting -- it was still another case of my going to places where I can weep into the earth.

NOTE: some time later, the militia chased Black Hawk to the Mississippi River, where almost all of his band - including women and children - were slaughtered as they tried to flee across the river in what is now known as "The Massacre at Bad Axe".

If anyone should be interested, there is a description of Bad Axe as told by Black Hawk himself, here . I tell the children at the Museum that one reason it's good to study history is "because we LEARN from History"......and then I add that there are lessons we never seem to quite get aholt on. Seems there's no shortage of places for me to go weep into the earth.

While I don't understand about "movements" and "ambushes" and so on, I CERTAINLY understand things like:

The Witness Tree. This tree was standing, as the Sauk warriors ran past it; it towered over the conflict, it was, in fact, a witness to history. In the last 180 years the people passing by, the changing landscape - all around the base of this tree. (At the time, it was savannah; now there is thick underbrush, making it harder to imagine the movement of large numbers of men going through.

Rather than the quiet of the lovely vista, instead of the bird song we heard - there was gunfire, cries, shouting. While we were enjoying a balmy afternoon, it was quite a different scene those long years ago.....Have I mentioned that a Vivid and Overactive Imagination is not always a gift? 'Cause if I haven't, consider it mentioned.

We, the Interested, also had time to pause along the way to enjoy some fat, sweet black raspberries which were growing in abundance - an irony, since both Black Hawk's warriors and the American soldiers were near to starving; the battles were also not in the balmy warmth of spring. Quite a perspective of history.

We ended the afternoon with a visit to a Civil War reenactment; we were hoping that there might be sutlers, as Mr. Dearling would like a proper 19th century shirt. It was a small event, however, it was interesting. There was a great demonstration of cannon - during which (I cannot tell a lie) I took the opportunity to enjoy a little afternoon nap. What's that? Napping during cannon fire? Sure, you get to a Certain Age you can nap no matter what when the time comes.

As I rested (shading myself, of course, to avoid Dreaded Freckles), Mr. Dearling attended the Surgeon's Quarters, where (he told me with delight) there was a foot amputation....rendered realistic by the judicious use of a pig leg. Mr. Dearling observed: "You can't really fake the sound of sawing through bone". The good doctor also apparently dug a musket ball out of the leg of a willing little girl, with a great deal of spurting "blood". While such things often interest me, I'm glad I napped.

All in all, a very pleasant week-end day, and Mr. Dearling succeeded in securing the names of both the surgeon and Col. Dodge as possible speakers for our Tuesday lunchtime programs at the Museum next year!

VERY glad to report that things have largely been returned to what passes for normal in our little house (wars, cannon, amputation --- and both cats snuggled safely into our little nest.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blind Terror!

It's no surprise to anyone here how I feel about kitties in general - and my kitties in particular. What's the first word in the name of this blog? CATS! What're the first sites I visit when I log on? Cute Overload. Next? Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.

You all have met my kitties here:

My darling, my cherished Evangeline, and

our precious LITTLE kitty, Lilliane.

They're INDOOR cats. Evangeline came from our excellent Shelter; she had come in as a foundling with her sister and some kittens, but she was only about a year old; since coming home to her Forever Home she has NEVER been outside, other than in the carrier to go visit the Kind and Friendly Dr. Smith. (Her terminology for her varies....she is, after all, the vet.)

Lilliane was born to a foundling kitty in Dr. Smith's office. She came home to her Forever Home in a carrier and has never experienced Life Outdoors.

New Scene :

Mr. Dearling and I left home this morning at 7:30 AM, clad in our 18th c. clothing and with a carful of furs and trade goods. We went downtown and presented a History of the Fur Trade for a group of Senior Citizens at the Senior Summer School. After finishing and repacking the car, it was 11:00 AM. Mr. Dearling had to be at a meeting at the Arboretum at 1:00 -- so we stopped at a Senior Center Ginormous Resale and poked around some. We did find wine glasses ($2 for 4) but not really anything else, so we left and I dropped him off at the Arboretum and came home to change into normal human clothes.

WARNING: Graphic description of Sad and Fear ahead.

I parked in the drive, as always, and gathered the bag with the glasses, my purse and Mr Dearling's muzzleloader trade gun, (rather than leave it in the car).

When I opened the door - the usual Welcoming Committee did not appear. I put the gun away, -- and started looking for the girls. Lilli was not sleeping on the bed; Evangeline was not sleeping in the cat tree. I was puzzled....but it's quite warm, so I thought perhaps they had gone down the basement where it's cooler.

I went down there, turning on all the lights and calling - and then I heard Evangeline miaowing...I couldn't see her, and couldn't figure out where she was, but she sounded distressed. I thought she might have gotten caught somewhere in the basement behind some shelving........

....and then I saw -- her silhouette against the window.


NOTE: I can now report: all's well that ends well.

I took a bowl of food out - Evangeline was along the side of the house, in the foliage. I tried to reach her but she danced away from me, and she was miaowing and miaowing. I just sat down with the bowl of food and waited and talked to her -- and eventually, she let me come a little closer and put the bowl down and she did come to eat, then allowed me to pick her up. I managed to get her and the bowl into the house. I gave her a little more food and some treats - then put her in the basement (with a bowl of water, her bowl of dry food and some more treats), then went out to find Lilliane.

I called and called, went around the house a few times (I'd seen her nearby when I was trying to get Evangeline). I didn't see her anywhere - but then followed a hunch and looked under the parked car. Lilli WAS there........and when I held out my hands toward her she came straight to me and let me pick her up and bring her inside.


I report, with delight and blessed relief, that both of my kitties are once again where they belong (albeit separated; they're having their "I've been traumatized and it's YOUR FAULT" snit going on though I'm sure it won't last long). Mr Dearling is going to replace the screen and then literally affix the frame to the house from the outside by nailing it to the windowframe of the house. Peace reigns at Chez CATS (the sticks and books tend to take care of themselves). There will be knitting tonight - and friend Donna will be coming over with her fabulous seafood salad in hand. I believe that 4-5 hours of "Housewives of New York/New Jersey" coupled with fresh seafood salad, iced tea and conversation will reset the gyro of my life.

Dear Fates: thanks for the excitement; you may resume normal programming now. I'm too old for this chazerai.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Recent Shenanigans

NOTE: How embarrassing is this: I thought I'd posted this; I went to start a new posting and thought I might check for comments -- oy vey iz mere. Hadn't posted it. Chalk it up to Advancing Age (or what will you) and accept my profound embarrassment apology!

Not that someone as old distinguished as I would ever commit a shenanigan. But you know, some of the last few days were captured on film. (NOTE: there are VERY good reasons I haven't been contacted to do a Reality Teevee show. 'Nuff said.)

First, there was Bratfest. This is the annual event (biannual? Two-annual? there are two in a year) where I and my fellow Madisonians gird our loins, hitch up our overalls and really DIG IN for a major fundraiser. We're very good at fundraisers around here, might I add, and this one? Well, every time it's better than the one before.

In a nutshell: it's an opportunity to buy beautifully-grilled brats from local celebrities (on my first visit we bought ours from Mayor Cjis...Czels...Mayor Dave). Then we go to the "Condiments Island", dress 'em up as we see fit, and find a spot at a table and eat said brats. They've done it often enough that there are now 1) plenty of condiments with volunteers refilling often; 2) several different kinds of mustard for every taste (I'll take honey mustard, thanks); 3) lots of tables (though more in the shade would be nice); 4) bazillions and gerjillions of NAPKINS; 5) a corps of TRULY SPLENDIFEROUS volunteers who empty out the multitudinous gobbitch cans often. Imagine 84,562 people (give or take) each eating 35 -- 18 -- between two and 10 brats each. That's a LOT o' gobbitch of the paper-wrapper-used-napkin variety...and the grounds are CLEAN.

The first day, we went with "the children" from the Museum. These are the college youngsters who work at the Museum doing tours for 4th graders with us (and may I add, clean tables, move furniture, do schedules - all that stuff that no one thinks about, but permits the whole thing to work). NOTE: WE in Madison always have the super-cool Weinermobile at our events, neener neener. You haven't lived if you haven't seen the Weinie-inna-Bun rolling down the street.

I'll thank you to overlook the wrinkles. Those are "laugh lines" and "gettin' big food in the mouth" lines. For the record (which is why the picture in the first place) I ate, over two visits, FOUR brats. I did my part. And for the Curious, I have mine with about four tablespoons of honey mustard under 3" of sauerkraut.

Now, I recently found a product, little capsules which you take "at the first bite", to minimize the terrible gas and bloating possible effects of sauerkraut and mustard and brats. In its first experimental use I can simply note that I am still here; I have not blown up had any problems.

Here are a few more pictures from the event:

Brittany was there, drinking (WATER!)

Here are Tim, Buck and Liz enjoying the day....

Here are Cristina and Kate holding up their end of the table;

The youngest member of the crowd, my pal Blake -- NO, he didn't eat brats. He's LITTLE! (However, his Da, seen behind, was in a competition with:

Tim, tucking into #6!

There's nothing like a heart-stopping, breath-holding competition to really get.....well, wait. This was NOTHING like a heart-stopping, breath-holding competition. It wasn't a speed thing -- WHOOAH! I felt a rant coming on (about those revolting speed-eating-65-hot-dogs-in-40-second thingies) but squelched it. No - Tim and Ryan were just going on quantity. When we left, I think the score was: 7 - Ryan; 6.5 - Tim....but Tim was taking has last half-brat home to finish. They each had their own classic techniques - Ryan is a Purist. Bratwurst in a bun. No relish, no ketchup (there are those say that should be illegal anyway), no mustard, no onions, no sauerkraut..........whereas Tim's technique involved veggie brats in a bun with a delicate enhancement of mustard (and maybe something else...dare I admit, I wasn't paying very close attention.

NOTE: Lovely Daughter and I went the next day too, and Did Our Part. Last year's goal was indeed surpassed.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


No, no - I haven't thrown over knitting in favor of pounding glittery fake jewels on everything I own. (Remember that? What was it, the '80s? I remember thinking "Oooh, showy!" Now I just shudder.) But that has nothing to do with my bedazzlement.

Last week Wednesday we visited Ten Chimneys (visible to the left, slightly - through the trees of the beautiful approach). Ten Chimneys is the elegant little compound built for - and by - Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, who were THE premier couple of The Theatre in the early 20th century. They are credited with improving the techique of acting, and were close friends with any actor of stage or screen. Ten Chimneys was their retreat from the public life of Broadway, and they were happy there, they entertained with elegance, and really loved the place.

We had WON free tickets via an offer on Facebook..."first 100 people to call". We got wonderful big buttons with "WINNER" ribbons on them to wear. I might add that this was not random; it was "Ten Chimneys Day", as declared a few years ago by our Governor (a nice gesture, but raw milk is still illegal). Oooh, sorry, did I say that out loud? Nevermind!

Photos are not allowed inside; suffice it to say that it's furnished in a comfortable and homey fashion. It was decorated beautifully (many of the walls have classical designs like cherubs on them, and the ceilings are lovely). Alfred Lunt did much of the painted decorations himself, and a lot of it was done by a fellow famed for his wonderful stage sets. But the furniture is comfortable - the sofas look as though someone had been curled up there moments ago, reading.

There is a very nice Visitors' Center where we met the other winners for a little reception at 8:30 AM. There was to be a Champagne and Cake reception, in fact -- darling. (In the old days everyone in theatre said "Darling" or "Dah-ling" all the time; on the gates at Ten Chimneys there are instructions for contacting the house if they're closed when you arrive, and at the bottom it says "Thank you, Darling!" I LOVE IT!)

Some of the Docents dress for the occasion. I was THAT jealous, I can tell you. I almost went to ask her where she found that DAH-LING frock, but didn't. Yes, I regret not having done so. Bitterly. Crap. (Hmmmm....I bet if I write or email I can find out if they outfit their staff or wossname.) Of course, the hat makes the outfit -- I do sometimes think fondly of the old days when ladies wore hats, and usually gloves. Yes, I'm the generation whose mothers told us "NEVER go out in public without a proper hat and clean white gloves." That's a digression, nevermind.

Back to the Champagne and really WAS champagne. Now, I don't usually like champagne, truth to tell. It tastes like bubbly vinegar to me and gives me gas doesn't agree with me. But this - this was actually very light and pleasant. That MAY mean that cheaper stuff is better....or that this was the really good stuff. (This is sort of a museum; I'm voting for the former.) Check out that photo over the table of flutes. THAT, Darlings, is Lunt and Fontanne, and from what I've read of them typifies their character. They were personable, friendly, outgoing (well, they WERE actors) and hospitable. It must have been splendid to be their friends, and to visit them here.

I haven't even GOTTEN to the tour yet. I'm going to synopsize. Besides the wonderful house, there are two other buildings on the property - a "cottage", which was (among other things) where guests often stayed while visiting, and the "studio", which is a tiny little log cabin which mimics a Swedish peasant cottage. The studio is also furnished in comfy sofas and ottomans and so on, and was where they rehearsed, Alfred and Lynn. We're told they would sit knee-to-knee and rehearse for hours. Side note: they performed on stage to wide acclaim in America and London; they made one movie ("The Guardsman", 1931) and hated it. They never made another movie, but they did sign a contract which forever guaranteed: that they would only act on stage, and that they would always act together ! They never appeared separately. They were brilliant actors, devoted spouses, good friends.....

OK, enough digression. Suffice it to say that I not only enjoyed their home, I came home and studied up on them, and find it refreshing to read about the likes of them. Oh - when in London, during the War, they also helped out in soup kitchens and stuff. Sort of a Pitt-Jolie couple, but in simpler times and...with flair.

OK! I did get some nice pictures outside, which I will place, but first -- while in the Visitors' Center, before the tour, I decided to go to the bif visit the Ladies', Darling. And it was photo-worthy, and the photos are blogworthy. So for your delight, I present:

THIS is a proper boudoir!

Very like a dressing room...

Elegant, Darling, perfectly elegant!

And last - we WERE, after all, tourist-types, if the truth be told. So in the Visitors' Center we went to the pretend stage and looked at the costumes and props and so on, and nothing for it, but we asked some other visitor to take the following....admittedly What can I say?

Scene from ancient Greek Drama: Applausius and Dontberidiculous. In Athens.