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.