Wednesday, February 27, 2002
What have I been up to tonight? Paid bills, did laundry, and transcribed a new piece that we'll be doing in the Northshield Choir this season, written by our conductor. Want to hear it? Here's the MIDI of it. You'll notice that it starts out in a fairly standard Spanish Renaissance style, and changes character halfway through. Wait for it...wait for it...recognize it? Let's just say, someone born and raised in Madison, WI will get teary during the performance of this song. (If you want to see words, here is the PDF file. The words make it even funnier. Count on Chandler to filk that song, then arrange it for 4-part choir!)
I didn't sing at Choir last night. How irritating. I sipped cocoa and mouthed the German words we were trying to learn for Brahms' Zigeunerlieder. We are also doing the Skidegate Love Song, a simple and gorgeous tune with totally alien words in the original Indian (do they say Native Canadian?) language, and I would have liked to have sung along--I need to get those words into my kinetic memory. Oh well--we're doing one of our Saturday rehearsals this weekend. I'll probably be back in singing mode at least for part of that time.
During break, several women got a little snippy about the issue of new women's uniforms. We all agree we need new uniforms, but no one seems to agree on what kind. One woman went to some amount of trouble to get a possible pattern and samples of fabric (she even washed them to make sure the fabric would be washable), then ended up frustrated when no one seemed inclined to compromise or even to listen to her idea. I couldn't blame her, but I tried to stay out of the fray.
My personal bugaboo about choir uniforms is that they are always made of polyester or acetate and never natural materials, so they get cold and itchy during times when we sweat, smell funny after only one wearing, and retain that sweaty smell even through dry cleaning. But I haven't brought that up, because people have the (perhaps partially correct) idea that natural fabrics can't be machine-washed, need constant ironing, and don't come in 'dressy' styles unless they are silk, in which case they are outlandishly expensive.
It truly doesn't matter to me what we wear. I'll tell you though, if I am ever privileged to walk through the pearly gates, I hope we can wear whatever we want to sing in the heavenly choir! (Can't you just see me in my green cotton Italian gown, the garb in which I first performed in the Northshield Choir, wings tucked up behind me, up there singin' my heart out? It's great because it provides cleavage without compressing the diaphragm!)
Monday, February 25, 2002
Something I forgot earlier: I thought I would show Mom the link on my page to the Unclaimed Baggage Center online store, and see her face when she realized what it's all about. So I went online with her Saturday night, and had her scroll down on my page. When she found it, I said, "You have GOT to see this place." She looked up at me with a puzzled look, and said, "Oh yeah, I've seen that. Nuts, huh?" and proceeded to tell me the entire history of the company, their policies, and some of the stuff she'd see on the site.
In retrospect, how could I ever have thought that my mom, the original bargain sniffer, would NOT have heard of this place? It seems logical now. But I was sad not to be the one to introduce her to it. Oh well--not a big deal; after all, I DID introduce the Hampster Dance to her, right? "Dew d'dew dew dew da DEW dew..."
I did something sort of unusual this past weekend: I went home to Madison just for fun. I didn't push myself to accomplish 40 things, shop at every single one of my favorite stores, and see eleven old friends. Instead I went to lunch with Kontzel, went to my parents', went to a new restaurant off the Square called Cafe Continental with my folks, stayed up late talking with my mom. Sunday I slept until 11, went to a new soup restaurant with my mom, then stopped on Monroe St. to shop at Orange Tree Imports and to get apple juice from a new juice bar next door. Then I arrived to a packed house at Jararvellir dance practice and hung out talking to a new member of the Barony and to the Baron, who is among the most fun people I know--just a wacky, wacky guy.
Then Baroness, um, Her Excellency, um, Shava wanted to try out a couple of dances she's teaching at Dance Seminar. "Come on, everyone has to dance," she said, motioning me up. I held up the kumihimo I had just taken out. "You want your 40 tokens or not?" I asked, feeling snippy. She gave me a true Shava look: amusement mixed with reproach. I got up and danced, until I felt kind of sweaty and dizzy (not quite 100% after the Flu-O-Rama last week) and had to step out. I was not understanding the dance anyway. Now I like English Country, but I rarely understand it, and we were working pretty hard to get the moves down; my level of understanding was going down along with my energy level. I might attempt it at the dance revel, if I have any attention left after that day!
Food report for the weekend: the lamb stew at the Shish Cafe is nothing special, the dolmades are canned, but the creme caramel was REALLY good. Cafe Continental has pretty good food but pretty bad hot cocoa (although it did have yummy real whipped cream on top). They do this incredible thing with spinach: it arrives with each piece separated and fully spinach-shaped, but flash-fried so it's stiff, translucent, and crispy. No breading, just crispy spinachness. There's a lot of oil clinging to it, and it does taste a little funny--they need to find a type of oil that's a little more neutral than whatever they used. But it's SUCH a good idea and it was totally new to me.
The soup place out on the far west side was only okay; that is DARNED expensive soup for it to be as uninterestingly flavored as it was. But they do have one of those coffee drink machines that makes any one of 20 different variations on espresso/coffee/tea/cocoa drinks for $1.39, plus they had flavored olive oil on the tables for dipping your bread, which is not something you usually see at fast food places. So I forgive them.
One more meal: after dance practice we went to Sunprint, er, Sunporch, er, whatever the Sun- restaurant on State St. is calling itself these days. The menu has grown a little bit, but my grilled tomato pasta was not very good--the sauce was a sort of mushy light-orange-cream-of-something, with only a few bits of tomatoes in evidence, and no information on what composed the rest of it.
Nawson, Rochl, and I ate with two new guys, a strange Asian guy with a very intense gaze who had been in the SCA in the West since he was 8 (as he kept telling us), and an extremely tall, lanky, blue-eyed 20-year-old guy named Faris with a ponytail and rollerblades, who had impressed me merely by being willing to dance. (We successfully convinced both to come to Dance Seminar.) Nawson told us the story of when he was alone and bored at his very first Sci-Fi convention, and told a stranger that he was looking forward to meeting Marion Zimmerman Bradley because of her role in the early years of the SCA, and the stranger said, "That's Marion Zimmer Bradley, and you've met her, because she's more interested in talking to you than in speaking on the panel she's supposed to be at right now!" Nawson's got stories, let me tell you...
I just heard an adorable little song on a new CD I got in the mail:
Entra Mayo y sale Abril,
tan garridico le vi venir.
Entra Mayo con sus flores,
sale Abril con sus amores,
Y los dulces amadores
comienzan a bien servir.
Entra Mayo y sale Abril,
tan garridico le vi venir.
(May comes in and April goes,
I saw it come so prettily.
In comes May with its flowers,
Out goes April with its loves,
And sweet lovers
Begin to pay good service.
May comes in and April goes,
I saw it come so prettily.)
Simple little tune too. I think I might try to work that up with the plucked psaltery Christian gave me at That Moot Thingy. Fun!
Saturday, February 23, 2002
NBC promises coverage of the ice dancing exhibition skates post-Jay Leno...otherwise I wouldn't even be up at this ungodly hour of the night. (You can tell I've just been sick: normally I can be up until 2 without noticing that it's at all late.) The network pulled this trick of taking individual exhibition performances of maybe two, three minutes apiece, and popping them in among the rest of the evening's Olympics coverage, seemingly at random. In the middle of the bobsled competition, Bob Costas came on and said quickly, "Now we go to the arena where Michelle Kwan is about to skate." And then they cut to her face on the ice, her music began, and I launched myself frantically off my bed where I'd been perusing the current issue of the Northwatch. Where's the remote? Where the frick is the remote?
Once upon a time, when a sporting event had a discrete start and end time, the network would begin broadcasting it at the start and finish at the end, with some commercials squeezed in over the inevitable slack moments. Now, the only things on the schedule are the commercials. Everything else, if they can find time to show it to you, they will try to have a camera ready...but they can't promise anything. Not when there are all those Monster.com and General Electric commercials to be shown.
Did I really say "frick" above?
In college I had dear friends named Carrie and Oli, who were very close friends and very similar in personality. They were randomly-assigned roommates who hit it off immediately, starting that kind of friendship that makes you just marvel at how people can click. The same kinds of things would start them off laughing, and G-d help the third person who wasn't in on the joke. Carrie often used the word "frick" or "frigging" as an expletive, and I remember one day when my mom had sent me some Frigor chocolates as a gift, I went next door to share some with Carrie and Oli. Carrie took one look at the wrapper, shouted, "Frigger!", and went into hysterics. Oli followed suit. I was still in my quiet-and-shy phase (that lasted for about five months in college) and I laughed politely, gave them a few more chocolates, and went back to my room, thinking, "That wasn't THAT funny".
Twelve years later I can't hear, read, or think of the word "frick", or any variant thereof, without wishing I could go next door and share some chocolate with my friends Carrie and Oli.
Friday, February 22, 2002
Tonight something good happened in figure skating: the woman who skated the best long program won the gold. It seems like saying, "Cars drove on the street" or "People made phone calls today", but trust me, you can't always assume the judges are thinking clearly (or fairly) enough to make it happen. Witness the fracas over the Canadian pairs team getting silver, when they were head-and-shoulders above the competition. Well, tonight a young skater at her first worldwide competition, in fourth after the short program, decided to put her heart into her long program and, through a weird twist of numbers, won the gold medal, wresting it from two World champions. I believe they're both Olympic medalists, too, unless I'm remembering wrong. Sure, I'm a little sad for Michelle Kwan, but we all know what she's capable of; our opinions of her aren't going to go down. Tonight we all got WAY prouder of Sarah Hughes.
I guarantee you, anyone who saw Sarah Hughes' face as she realized what she'd won, reacted in some way. I got all weepy, realized I was complicating the upper respiratory healing process, got some kleenex, tried to stop, realized it was no use, and just kept tearing up and applying kleenex. If I get pneumonia because of this I'll be a little irked, but in a way it'll be worth it.
Still getting better after the Great Flu Foofuraw of February 2002. Today was my first day back at work after coming home Monday at noon. Except for requiring large amounts of kleenex and having to sit down more often, I was okay. I think it just takes time. My ears keep popping open and closed, and my nostrils are well-and-truly chapped, but give me a week and I'm sure I'll be...well, at least 70%.
Going to post this before the date rolls over. Oh yes, and I should probably get some sleep too!
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Fever's down. It took long enough! As recently as 3:30 this morning it was still up there. I woke from an inconsistent sleep, took my temperature, thought, "This is getting ridiculous", and called the Nurse Advisors again. (I sometimes feel a little odd calling them, seeing as how I work fairly closely with them, and have done training sessions for them. I don't think they are supposed to acknowledge if they know someone. But this person gave it away by mentioning, when I said I hadn't gotten a flu shot, "And they were giving them right down by the HRC, too!") The nurse said if the fever didn't go down, I should not go to work, and I should come in and be seen by a doctor.
When my alarm went off at 6:30, I took my temperature again--and it was 98.7! After doing a little mental jig of joy, I decided: 1) No work today--I'm exhausted, coughing up interesting stuff, it hurts to swallow, and who's to say the fever won't come back? and 2) Unless the fever comes back, it wouldn't help to go to the doctor. I called and left a message for my boss, then went happily back to sleep, and slept better than I have in two days. Since then my temp has been circling 99, but I feel so much more like myself. I had another bunch of matzo balls for breakfast and am eating some jello. And I'm thinking of doing the phone calling this afternoon for the Dance Seminar printing jobs that need to be done. Bronislava and I are calling all over town to see who will give us the best deal.
This flu thing is for the birds. Like the Nurse Advisor said, oh-so-tactfully, "It only takes one illness like that, and a person usually makes sure to get the flu shot every year after that." I'm no fan of needles, but I'm thinking it's not a bad idea.
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Not much improvement to report. I feel a little less achy, but my fever hasn't gone down and my throat hurts worse than it did before. I still feel floaty and dizzy, I'm just getting slightly used to it by now. Going on 33 hours with this charming fever. This is certainly a personal record, though it's not one I am very pleased to set.
I have been up a little bit more today (couldn't get any sleep anyway, just tossed and coughed in bed): did some kumihimo, made matzo-ball soup (which made me nauseous halfway through, so I put the bowl in the fridge), and talked to Mom on the phone for a little while. When a person is sick, she needs her Mom. ;)
I also watched the ladies' short programs, which were pretty good but nothing to write home about. My opinion is that everyone is just a bit tight and nervous. I doubt things will be any better Thursday night--the long program makes skaters even more nervous.
If I had to get sick, now is the time to do it: I'm 7 weeks from the next choir concert, 5 weeks from our local event, a month from Bardic Madness, and don't have any special classes or presentations to do for work or SCA. But if I had to get sick...why, oh why, did I have to get THIS?
Yesterday I woke up with a tiny little bit of postnasal drip. "Oh," I thought casually, "I'm getting a cold." When, around noon, I started to feel a little achy and sneezy, I decided to go home for the afternoon. When I got home, I tried to get into bed and sleep, but was unbelievably restless, and couldn't get my hands or feet warm no matter how many blankets I piled on. Mid-afternoon I woke up sweating like a pig, my heart racing, with a fever of 100.5, and thought, "Uh-oh. This is no cold." I called the Nurse Advisors, who did their little screening talk to make sure I wasn't suffering from something life-threatening, and told me, drink lots of fluids, don't even THINK of going to work tomorrow, and call if your pulse goes above 150 beats a minute. (I discovered I don't have a watch with a second hand, so I haven't been able to check, but I don't think it's gotten any faster than it was.)
This illness is descending into my chest in record time, so I'm not going to Choir tonight either. If I could sleep, this would be SUCH a nice day, but I've been in bed since 12:30 yesterday and I am so achy, I can't stand to be curled up in bed anymore. My legs hurt, my lower back hurts, my neck hurts, my sinuses hurt A LOT, I forgot to take my Prevacid last night so my esophagus hurts, and I'm sweaty and dizzy and stuffed up and evacuating the most interesting things from my sinuses. I've been taking Tylenol, then ibuprofen when it didn't seem the Tylenol was working, and nothing seems to be helping the fever.
GEEZ...I haven't been sick like this in a matter of decades. I remember when I was maybe 10 or 11, being so sick one night that I sat at my spot at the kitchen table after dinner, staring into space, until bedtime. It never occurred to me to move. My dad came into the kitchen at 9 or so and said, "What are you still doing here? I thought you were in your room," and I forced my mouth to work to answer him. I would say I'm about that sick right now.
I did force myself to get up mid-evening last night to watch the ice dancing free-skates. I don't remember a lot, but I do remember thinking that Anissina and Peizerat's program, while well-skated, was just a little bit over the top. Not that I don't love them when they're over the top, but playing Freedom and Humanity and skating to Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech? That's a bit much even for pairs skating--and they're ice dancers, for pete's sake. Obviously it worked for them, but just barely--and I think it mainly worked for them because they were head-and-shoulders above the others at the compulsories and the original dance, and because they were technically perfect, so the judges were willing to overlook something they considered to be a bit much.
Really too bad, though, about Bourne & Kratz' spill at the last second. What a weird coincidence that the same thing happened to the Canadian pairs' team, falling over together on the last beat of the music. I do have to say, they handled it with a lot of aplomb, basically smiling and pretending like they meant to do that, even as they must have known it would cost them a medal.
I don't know what to do today. Would a hot shower make my fever worse? I'm drinking tea right now, but it's not too hot. I'm not at all hungry, though I know I should probably drink something with some nutritive value. Mostly I'm just squirmy and in pain. This is no fun whatsoever.
Saturday, February 16, 2002
Went up to Ettrick today, to meet up with my co-autocrat for Dance Seminar and a member of our Shire who works at the site. We walked around and brainstormed and discussed the progress of various tasks that need to be done before the event. I have given up trying to accurately gauge how well things are progressing before an event. Apparently I don't have the kind of brain that can do that. All I can do is delegate as wisely as I can, communicate as clearly as I can, and do every task that needs doing. And trust that all will be well for the event.
On the way back from Ettrick, I stopped in Onalaska and got fabric for a new cotehardie underdress. I have two, but one is short-sleeved and so it doesn't sit right on the neckline under a long-sleeved cotehardie. (That's a mistake I won't make again.) The first one, which was made to go under my very first cotehardie--the robin's-egg blue one I made for my second Haire Affaire--is getting a little ragged, after being used under two succeeding cotes (including the blue and green one I wear at camping events). Of course I'll still keep the old one for Pennsic and camping events, but I'd like a nicer new one to go under my purple cotehardie for the rest of the winter season (and next year). I got pretty royal blue buttons to go down the front, too.
Then I stopped at Office Depot, mostly to browse, but ended up spending a considerable amount, on speakers for my computer and a copy of Microsoft Publisher. I need Publisher for a copule of reasons, not the least of which is that I put out the White Birch using a copy of Publisher 95 that I got from my Chronicler predecessor in Falcon's Keep. The speakers, I need because like a fool, I left my computer plugged into the phone jack during a thunderstorm once, back when I lived in Marshfield; on having the blown modem replaced, I discovered that HP Pavilion modems also have the sound card on them. So I had a new sound card installed, but then found that my speakers had no amplifiers--apparently those were also bundled with the modem/sound card. Since then I have been listening to my computer with headphones, or not at all. With speakers being so cheap, I decided the time had come to break down and get some amplified speakers.
Most of my computer headaches in the past have had to do with hardware or peripherals. So imagine my surprise when the speakers worked perfectly from the start, but Publisher refused to install. It seemed to be installing fine, but on re-starting, it began the Install Wizard--and then sat there, upwards of half an hour, saying, "Initializing Publisher Install Wizard...". I rebooted twice, each time trying to bring up the Install Wizard again, with the same result. I tried looking the problem up in the KnowledgeBase on the Microsoft website. No luck. I tried going to their online live product support, but they require you to enter a Product ID, something that's only encoded in the program itself. If I couldn't install the program, I wasn't going to be able to select "About Publisher" from the "Help" menu to find my product ID, was I? So I tried calling the free support number. It's only open until 5 on Saturdays. So I gave up for tonight. Enough frustration. It's the weekend, right? I get to relax. I'll try calling the help folks tomorrow, or perhaps Monday night.
The speakers sound fabulous, though. I'm listening to an mp3 of Randall Thompson's "The Road Not Taken" from Frostiana, one of my favorite choral pieces ever, done by a choir called the O'Neal Singers, of whom I had not heard until I found this recording. If this performance is any indication, I ought to be on the lookout for more of their recordings.
Thursday, February 14, 2002
This is one of the funniest things I've found on the Internet in a long time: Unclaimed Baggage Center: Lost Treasures from Around the World, where you can buy things found in other people's unclaimed baggage. The prices aren't particularly good, especially when you realize you're getting things found in other people's unclaimed baggage. Ever dreamed of owning a package of Avery laser labels for zip disks? How about a non-brand-name undersink water filter? Burning for a new doorknob (includes inside AND outside knob!), or perhaps a bottle of Cell-Tech osmotic acceleration technology dietary supplement--"delicious Orange flavor!"? They're selling skeins of DMC pearl cotton for $3 each (um...I think I can get them for $1.50 apiece at my local Hobby Lobby), three different pairs of sunglasses, and a motley collection of CD's and CD-ROMs. Plus some incredibly expensive jewelry. You'd think the main appeal would be the possibility of buying used lingerie or a laptop with someone's collection of downloaded porn, but apparently these items have been snapped up by company staff.
Check out the "Company Info" section of the site. This is just the online outlet of a massive (and successful, from the sound of it) retail store! Selling stuff people lost while they were traveling! We live in a weird world.
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
A nice day, and a relaxing evening. I am doing a new kumihimo stitch, similar in texture and pattern to the 16-strand stitch that I learned first and teach to many others (and identical in setup), but with a 'maypole' stitch that ends up totally hollow. It'll be interesting to compare the first sampler I did for my tokens project for Elashava (simple 16 in the same pattern), to this one, which will be visually identical, but when you press it between your fingers, it flattens like a piece of plastic tubing! See, I really am going to make none of the 40 tokens alike. And I'm prepared to demonstrate that assertion, if anyone sifting through the pieces should happen to say, "Wait, these two are the same!"
Internet Persona: the Journal of Jessamyn is a recent discovery for me. I don't do a lot of sifting through other people's blogs, but found this one linked from another page, and clicked on it, mistakenly thinking that it was a new name for Jessamyn West's wonderful Librarian.net blog. It wasn't, but it turned out to be someone with some very thoughtful things to say about her upcoming wedding, her choice of career, and how she relates to others. She doesn't update very frequently (about every 1 to 2 weeks), but when she does, it's worth reading. The current entry is especially involving. This is a woman with something driving her, with an impetus, and a kind of hope that I find really inspiring. (Maybe that's what happens when you get engaged? No, I've known people who got kind of frozen when they got engaged. Besides, her impetus seems to come from inside her, not from external circumstances.)
I happened to be at the new CenturyTel building today, the one down by the river near the Freight House, the one that sprung up seemingly overnight and houses administration and about 600 employees. During an off moment I stepped into their second-floor lunchroom, which is all windows on one wall, opening onto a large outdoor terrace overlooking the river. For absolutely no reason at all it popped into my head: in the SCA we do school demos, park demos, Scouting demos, hospital demos, ladies'-groups demos, public demos, etc. Have SCA folk ever done corporate demos?
I don't mean providing the 'local color' and staging fights for a corporate Renaissance-themed party to earn some cash (Sir Guillaume de la Belgique has a humorous essay about the time he and some friends assisted at one of these, in his excellent book We Are Not Amused, Sir Guillaume). I'm picturing a very similar animal to the basic park demo: We do some basic pre-advertisement (whatever the organization is willing to help us do: flyers in break areas, a notice in their employee newsletter, e-mails to employees, etc.), we arrive at a certain time, we set up on the terrace so people walking by/looking out their riverside windows can spot us, we sing and dance and do heavy fighting, we pass out Autumn Rose flyers with contact info, and generally entertain and inform people while keeping an eye open for anyone showing more than passing interest. I wonder how this idea would fly, both with a big corporate den like CenturyTel, and with the folk in our Shire, who are by-and-large not corporate wonks. One thing's for sure: I would definitely like being out on that terrace overlooking the river on a lovely Friday afternoon in May.
As a matter of fact, I should probably just chuck the corporate demo idea and propose that we do an afternoon-at-the-park down at Riverside Park, some weekend when the weather is nice and people are likely to be walking around. Or perhaps in Cameron Park some Friday evening when they are doing the Cameron Street Market. We should not ignore the People's Food Co-Op crowd in recruiting efforts. I mean, remember where the Barony of Jararvellir came from 30 years ago: a few hippies in the basement of a natural products/fantasy gift shop in Madison...!
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Tonight after Choir I took out the garbage--for whatever reason, I had three full bags. No idea why. It's not like I've been doing spring cleaning! Anyway, it's one of those cold and crystalline nights, with clear air and a fully black sky studded with stars. I stopped in the parking lot on the way back from the dumpster, to look up at Orion, who cruises the sky above my apartment entrance during winter.
I remembered that Orion is also above the pine tree next to my parents' house in Madison, as you walk up the driveway. He never changes. Each and every star in that sky was there when I was born, and will be there every year, in exactly the same configuration, until--and beyond--the day I die. That bright star right there will never disappoint me, tell me it loves me, undergo a personality change so that I become uncomfortable with it, spurn my advances, write a song about me, tell me I'm not acting in a professional manner, ask me to give it a ride, offer me an apprenticeship, sell me fabric or a car, hold me while I cry, talk to me on the phone for two hours, or die and leave me devastated--or anything else that people do to and with and for other people, that gives life its ups and downs. But every winter it will be there for me to see, from wherever I am, in whatever straits I find myself in.
There's something very comforting about that. This must be what makes people believe in G-d: the feeling that under all the chatter and activity, the things we do to and with and for others, the endless ups and downs and the changeability of everything, there must be something in charge of the unchanging things. There must be an Eye watching, an Ear listening, to shepherd the eternities of the earth, the stars, the wind, the passage of time, otherwise why would they not spin off into chaos, just like human activity does? Myself, I don't see this as a proof, just an incitement to belief. There are so many reasons to believe, it's kind of strange that I can't seem to make a decision. But I don't beat myself up over it; after all, Judaism isn't about what you believe, it's about what you do. (Not that I'm any great shakes on that account either, but at least I don't have to go to confession and tell a priest I've doubted G-d's existence.)
Regarding the Olympic pairs figure skating competition (see yesterday's entry): Now they're saying there's possibly been illegal vote-fixing involving the French judge. I didn't hear the whole story but apparently she made a deal with someone that if she voted for the Russians in the pairs, unnamed judges would make sure the French ice dancing team got the gold. Okay, now I'm conflicted: I would SO love to see Anissina and Peizerat, my favorite skaters in the world, finally win an Olympic gold. But that's not how you do it. A & P are a seasoned, creative, elegant team with every expectation of gold; what kind of unneeded worry, not to mention misguided patriotism, would make the French judge enter into that kind of a deal? I'm interested in hearing more when they find out what happened.
Monday, February 11, 2002
We had a nice demo at Lincoln Middle School this morning. Boy, was it odd to wake up on a Monday morning and put on garb (wore my purple brocade cotehardie and cloak, plus circlet) and be Eliane for several hours. It was definitely fun though. We did our thing for two different classes, about 55 min. each, one right after the other, so it was pretty quick: introductions, then Kudrun's slide show, then Toki displaying armor and weapons. The kids were polite and interested, and asked good questions--nothing too creative. The teacher was great because he was so enthusiastic about the time period and the various points Kudrun made in the slide show. Must be a wonderful fun guy to have as a teacher.
Just finished watching the Olympics pairs long program competition. I don't recall having had any real opinion on Sale and Pelletier before this competion (and I missed Worlds this year). But it was so manifestly obvious to me--even without the superfluous commentary before, during, and especially after the performances--that they deserved the gold. It shocked me to hear Sandra Bezic say that it must be tough for the Canadians to step up to the second-place podium, it must be equally tough for the Russians to step up to the first-place podium, and she was embarrassed for the whole sport at that moment. To have the ordinals be so close, yet lean slightly in the wrong direction, well, that's just a bad thing for everyone. I don't pretend to understand the math of it, but something went wrong, and I hope some of the judges are working their way around to realizing that they were part of the problem.
But aside from the controversy, which will no doubt become the media's favorite Olympics story for the next, uh, 24 hours, I have to say that I did enjoy the pairs competition. That's saying a lot (as I mentioned a few days ago, it's not my favorite part of the figure skating competitions), and it's because the quality was so high. That having been said, the only two skates that I really LOVED watching were the Canadians' short and long programs. I can certainly appreciate technical skill, the occasional cool move or interesting lift, pretty costumes, a cute guy (one of the Ukrainians was just gorgeous...), but it's the rare pairs team that touches my heart and makes me laugh and cry, and the only ones that did that were Sale and Pelletier. Thanks, guys. You earned the gold as far as I'm concerned.
*pause to wipe away a tear or two*
Doing laundry tonight--quilt and comforter included. They were getting a little, well, fragrant. I'll go to sleep when the comforter is ready to come out of the dryer. Nothing like cuddling up in a comforter that has just been in the dryer. In fact, I saw a personal ad recently in which the man claimed he loves to surprise a woman, as she comes out of the shower, with a towel that he's warmed up in the dryer. I don't know where he learned that trick, but it deserves to be more widely known!
It must have been the sunshine. I felt so much better when I woke up this morning. Like a black cloud had lifted. Not that I feel like I have any less to do in the upcoming months, just that I don't feel as stressed-out about it as I have over the last few weeks. Sometimes, as I discovered back in high school, the amount you worry about something is entirely up to you. If you choose not to let something get to you, it doesn't have to get to you. It didn't really seem that way recently; maybe it was the hormones talking?
Good populace meeting today. We toured the site (which is the same site we will be using for Dance Seminar) and talked over space use. The final decisions are up to Etienne, as the guy who has to schedule all the classes, but I think we may have finally come up with four concurrent class spaces for all class periods. Not all are very large, but then, not all the classes will be large. He will be coming over for a site visit next Saturday and we'll make some final decisions.
I also gave Toki this really freaky thing I found on clearance at Suncoast at the mall yesterday: a misshapen plastic action figure in pseudo-sci-fi-Viking-warrior garb, with massive ballooning muscles and a tiny head (actually two tiny heads--they're interchangeable!). It's called Toki, the Warrior of the North Star! (This is almost as big a coincidence as the SCA Paper Company in Neenah, which makes Coronet facial tissue and has for its symbol the three triangles of the Ulfhednar household that Toki belongs to.) The packaging has this terrible pseudo-English narrative about the world ending, and violence taking over, obviously written by a Japanese person who had no more than three years of high school English. Toki seemed to like it, and showed it to everyone as they came in.
After the populace meeting, I changed into mundane clothes and went grocery shopping at Woodman's. Let me tell you about Woodman's, a large supermarket with stores in Madison, La Crosse, and Appleton (among other places): when the first Woodman's in Madison opened, when I was maybe 10 or 11, my dad immediately became a Woodman's fan and would make a shopping trip there every weekend. Most of the time, I came with--it was good quality time with Dad. This isn't how I acquired my "unusual food" hobby, but it didn't hurt: Woodman's is big enough to have all kinds of strange and wonderful stuff, and every week Dad would allow me to choose a "treat", something outside the regular meal and lunchbox-snack foods on the shopping list, that he would purchase for me.
When I moved to Appleton for college, my folks would take me on a Woodman's run whenever they were in town. The Appleton store is even bigger than the west-side Madison store--I still remember seeing it for the first time when I was a freshman, and thinking, "On to bigger and better things!". When I go back to Appleton for Trivia every year, I try to make a Woodman's run for munchies at some point during the weekend. Then, after grad school I moved to an apartment on Gammon Rd. where I could see Woodman's from my apartment window. What a treat! I could stroll over at any hour of the day or night to pick up anything I needed.
Bismarck was too far away to have a Woodman's (it's a Wisconsin chain); Marshfield was too small. But La Crosse has one, up north of town, and when I really want to have the grocery shopping experience, as opposed to just popping into Quillin's to pick up some needed stuff, I drive the 15-20 minutes up to Onalaska to shop at Woodman's. Today, coming back from Ettrick, it was on my way. Some unusual stuff I got today: a new brand of rice bowl, some extremely cheap Belgian chocolates in neat flavors (Tiramisu and Cafe Creme!), sliced braunschweiger (something I occasionally crave; we never had it at home, but a daycare provider served it to me once when I was little), and crayon-shaped ice cream popsicles in vanilla and chocolate. Pretty good day on the grocery front. ;)
Tomorrow: I am off work in the morning, when Toki, Kudrun and I will be doing a demo at Lincoln Middle School.
Sunday, February 10, 2002
I should have listened to my body: I was right on Tuesday night when I said I felt like my period was right around the corner. Got it Friday, for a 29 day cycle--quite a petite little cycle, for me. I promise there will be no regular quizzical dissection of all the details of my menstrual cycle in this 'blog, but I just thought the Tuesday night rant needed a postscript.
Last night I went to a new restaurant downtown, in the space where The Black Rose, a fair-to-middling German restaurant, was until last year. It has the cute-ish name of Big Muddy Bistro, which (to me) conjured up either a) a hometown bar with great burgers, or b) a creative and nouvelle-y place to get unusual dishes and probably very good bread. Unfortunately, it was neither of these. In fact it was easily the worst restaurant I've been to in awhile. From the contents of the menu (traditional supper club dishes) it aims to be your basic steakhouse, with no particular specialty. I ordered a chopped steak and got:
I gather the place had only been open for a few days, so I suppose I shouldn't be so hard on it. It's just disappointing that a new restaurant in a prime location, with nice furniture and pretty lighting (relying heavily on white Christmas lights and single shaded lanterns), should be so disappointing in terms of both the selection and the presentation of the food.
Today, after an event for work in the morning, I went up north of town to the Onalaska commercial area, to check out the mid-winter sales taking place this weekend. Not much was on my list: a new purse, some new jeans, my eternal search for the perfect bra, and whatever else seemed like a good idea. I managed to hit all three goals, but it took a complete circuit of the mall, including JCPenney's, Marshall Field's, and a side trip to Kohl's. Is it my imagination, or is the quality of clothing in general going steadily down? I tried on a cute sueded cotton skirt at one of the mall boutiques, and the flat-felled seams had threads sticking right out the front side of the seam.
Then at Kohl's I tried on a new design of bra, with a straight seam in the center, very simple and clean-looking from the outside. But I discovered that behind the seam, the underwires, and the tubes of fabric they're sewn into, were designed to poke right up between the cups. If you're someone like me, who doesn't have a whole lot of spare room in her cleavage, it's like carrying a package of pencils between your breasts. Poke, poke, scratch, scratch, ow. I took it off immediately. Tell me, what woman needs metal wires to separate her breasts? They're MEANT to nestle together.
But I implied that I had bought the perfect bra. Yes, well, as close to perfect as I could get. How'd I do it? I found an identical bra to the one I was wearing, thought, "Hey, I like this bra," tried it on to make sure, and bought it. Variety be damned: when you want the best, buy what you already know you like.
Tonight, a snowstorm was expected, but never materialized as the temperature has been above freezing. Instead we had a bit of a rainstorm, and it's still coming down. I've been in all evening watching (what else?) the Olympics. Normally I'm no kind of sports fan, but I SO love the Winter Olympics. The first of the skating, the Pairs short programs, took place tonight. Of course NBC's cable-channel promotion program means they showed only the four or five top picks, plus one or two who were notable for some kind of human interest story. Overall the performances were very nice. My theory is that, aside from all the technical and interpretive skills that go into all excellent figure skating, pairs need success in three areas to be truly high-quality: 1. Flawless unison, 2. Fast, steady, and creative lifts, and 3. Perceptible communication and narrative taking place between the skaters. Pairs who are missing one of these, simply don't get the gold.
For example, there's a wonderful Chinese team that is currently (I believe) in third. They look fabulous on the ice, have great strong lifts and throws, creative choreography, good speed, elegant costumes, but keep botching the unison on spins. Worse, they don't seem to notice each other on the ice, never look at each other, just move like machines with no acknowledgement of the fact that they are in this together. Interestingly, there is another Chinese pair who are both only 17 years old, who have these exact same strengths and the same problems, exacerbated by youth and inexperience. Too bad because individually, they are all technically strong skaters. It's the unique problems of pairs skating that seem to snag them.
But pairs skating is not at all my favorite type of figure skating. In fact it's probably my least favorite. So far I've heard exactly nothing on NBC about the apple of my eye, the ice dancing competition, though I did see Marina Anissina walking with France in the Parade of Nations. If we ever get to see the ice dancing, it looks like Anissina and Peizerat, my idols in the world of ice dancing, will be there.
Thursday, February 07, 2002
They couldn't find anything wrong with my car--it started fine when they tried, and the battery checked out fine. So I got a lift back to Ray Hutson after work and picked it up. No sooner was I on the way to the library to drop off all those books from Trivia, than the "Service Engine Soon" light came on. So I turned around and took it back. The guy who normally services it, and who had worked on it today, was there and was mystified. He did comment that the clock LEDs were flickering a little, but I hadn't even noticed this, it was so slight. Electrical problem? Poltergeist? Or just my very first lemon? Only time will tell.
Anyway, I'm bringing it back in first thing tomorrow (yes, another early morning tomorrow, though I have the car so I don't have to walk over) and hopefully they'll figure it out by this weekend. Otherwise I'll have to beg rides from acquaintances for the two meetings I have to go to.
TV night tonight. I got two kumihimo kits, and half a token for Elashava, done while I played couch potato for the evening. You know, I shouldn't watch ER when I'm feeling down like this; I cried at nearly every scene. And in the scene where Mark is trying to stick his tongue out straight but he realizes it yaws to the side, and they played this chord of really menacing "yes-folks-the-cancer-is-back" music, I sobbed in fear at the sound--even as I was telling myself, "Geez, they don't need to play quite such a scary little chord there, I think we all know what's up with Mark, after all he forgot the name of a common drug just a moment ago."
In fairness to myself, though, it was a really dramatic episode: food poisoning, a boy dying of cancer, a baby snatched from the jaws of death, a woman dealing with long-ago neglect of her dead son, not one--not two--but THREE people beat up as part of a domestic violence situation, a pre-teen girl who is stuffing herself with food because her stepfather is molesting her and she doesn't want to be attractive to men, a teenager who is being thrown out of her house for accidentally giving her baby sister illegal narcotics, and the aforementioned possible recurrence of a malignant brain tumor. I guess if I didn't cry at all that, I should check my pulse.
Wednesday, February 06, 2002
My car wouldn't start after work. I got a guy from Security to give me a jump, then drove it straight to the Ray Hutson lot and left it there. My apartment is only a couple of blocks from there but boy, was that a couple of chilly blocks. And I always feel somehow naked when I am home and my car is elsewhere. AND I have to wake up early tomorrow and walk over there to give them the keys and ask them to work on it, then get a ride to work. I'm lucky I live so close, and I'm lucky they give rides to and from work, and I'm lucky I work at a place where Security gives jumps as a service to the employees.
But I'm still cold, and still irritable.
For example, that new '80's show on Fox has a character who is a lesbian. It really bugs me that reactions to her sexual orientation range from leering appreciation to friendly joking to curiosity to sincere sympathy with her plight (she has a crush on her best friend). All of these are historically inaccurate reactions for the time period. The '80's were only 12-22 years ago. How can they portray social attitudes that didn't exist--when those of us who grew up during that period are still alive, indeed, are part of the show's target demographic?
Folks, I was in middle and high school during the '80's--and in Madison, Wisconsin, no less. Even in arguably the most liberal town in the Midwest, the general attitude among teenagers towards lesbians was the same as that towards gay men--complete disgust, with a healthy dose of homophobia and a total ignorance of the fact that any of the people around you, even a friend, could be homosexual. Of course we didn't talk about it; to talk about homosexuality was to talk about sexuality, and we didn't do that either, except in the form of crude jokes. The current vogue for lesbians is, depending on where you live and what TV shows you watch, under 8 years old. It definitely does not go back to the '80's.
Me? I'm straight. Very hetero. I'm just, like I said, irritable tonight. I'm so irritable, I'm about to carp about my menstrual cycle, and I don't care whether this bothers anyone. There are enough things I keep myself from talking about in this 'blog, that when I want to talk about my period, dammit, I'm going to.
So okay. My cycle's been 28 days about twice in my life. Usually it's around 31-36, though it's been as short as 27 and as long as 58. I have felt totally pre-menstrual for the last few days, but didn't bother doing the count on the calendar--I like to think I know my body. Apparently not, because I checked and today is 27 days. No earthly WAY it's due until at least early next week. So, there are a few more days of this crap in my near future. Aren't I lucky...
On an up note, on Tuesday I got a lovely compliment from a co-worker who was at one of the Chamber Chorale concerts this past weekend. He is normally a person of few words and, true to form, he walked up to me, held out his hand for me to shake it, and said, "Beautiful voice." It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about, then I remembered seeing him in the audience. Everyone I've talked to who was at the concert has had nothing but great things to say about it. In fact, one of the Chorale members was commenting before the Saturday concert that she doesn't even know why we work so hard to get an October concert together--it rarely gets a crowd, while the winter concert is always packed. Beats me. I don't mind it though. You wouldn't have caught me saying this during last fall, when we felt a little overwhelmed, but for me, the more music I get to learn, the better.
What exactly is the point with the fakey commercials starring Britney Spears imitating '50's and then '60's sex symbols? We all know it's her. What guys really want to see is her belly button anyway, so why the cutesy retro gimmick? Maybe she can just bare it all in Playboy and get it over with. A woman shows her vulva in public, and I have a feeling she loses all her mystery. ;)
All right, I'll get going and get into a hot bath, and spare the Internet community my incoherent ranting.
Tuesday, February 05, 2002
I feel...slightly better. You know how it is when you have something rather important in your life that's not going well? How it sort of colors everything else? How in the middle of having fun with something else, you'll remember the thing that's not going well, and it will stop your laughter in mid-chuckle? I think part of it is that I'm immediately pre-menstrual, too, so I'm going to wait until that's over and then make a list of ways to make myself feel better. (No, illegal substances will not be on the list...!)
Found this interesting site: Chowhound.com, where a self-proclaimed Chowhound discusses good eatin' all over the U.S. (with the usual preponderance of information on New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago). The definition of a Chowhound distinguishes it from a foodie (I'm paraphrasing here): foodies follow the trends, eating foods at restaurants that are cool now. Chowhounds know where the REAL food is: they concentrate on taste and authenticity, and are not afraid to find good food in an unlikely place. (I am, among other things, a Chowhound, and I come by it naturally--classic Chowhound and author/humorist Calvin Trillin is a relative of mine, through my maternal grandmother's family.) There are regional and topical message boards where you can get the scoop on the best/worst restaurants in your area, an extensive annotated bibliography of food writing (not cookbooks!), articles and reports, a regular "What Jim Had for Dinner" column, and a "What's My Craving?" message board, for those who just have to talk about their favorite lost food item.
Sounds right up my alley. I have a mental list of things I have not found in far too long:
Oddly enough, I'm not hungry after coming up with all those missing and beloved food items, maybe because I know I can't have any of these things in the near future, so why bother drooling? *sigh*
Hmm, there's something consoling about sighing over something that isn't really that sad. I have a lot of nice memories of these food items. So I guess for most of them, I'll just be content with the memories.
Sunday, February 03, 2002
Depressed this weekend, for a variety of reasons. It was a good weekend on the face of it, but I just couldn't get into it. That Moot Thingy is a nice, relaxed event. I arrived at 10:30, tried to make myself useful helping with lunch but Toki and Sarra had everything under control, cashiered for lunch, then spent two hours in the scribal tent (which was behind the Royalty barrier, so I was all alone since no one could come and join me) making a rather lovely scroll blank (if I do say so myself) based on a Jewish manuscript from Spain in 1306. No one knew what I should do with it afterwards: not the herald in charge (who mangled my last name in a totally new and fresh way!), not the main scribal person on site, not the person who had originally sent the message that I would be needed to do some illumination before Court. So I ended up having to present it in Court as a gift for Her Highness. She was pleased and thanked me, saying she had observed me hard at work in the scribal tent. But I didn't even get a photo of it, not even a little time to look closely at it and feel good about it.
I should not feel that this was two hours down the drain. But I do. Two hours all alone at a busy event while everyone else talks and plays music and has fun, no one for me to talk to, Royalty talking in hushed tones nearby so I could barely hear them and felt guilty eavesdropping, and having to get the whole thing done by 3, which made my hand cramp up. Guess what? If being a scribe means you dedicate your event time to preparing scrolls for use in Court, I don't think I'm a scribe. Oh well--a person can only have so many hobbies.
Anyway, I did get to see all of Court before I left, which was nice. Princess Aramanthra threw chocolate coins and gave an Award of Arms to a gentle who lives in Coille Stoirmeil, who was so touched by the honor that he trembled like a leaf the whole time he was before her. He later joked that he was afraid she was going to whack him with that gold mace of hers! Someone replied, "John, unless she wanted to get herself arrested for assault and battery, do you really think she would beat you up in Court in front of 100 people, and on city property no less?"
After Court I left site, and went back to La Crosse for the Chamber Chorale concert. The concert was fine (better than fine; better than the one today. We got an instant standing ovation.), but I missed Feast and evening fun by leaving the event for it. The verdict on trying to fit two major things into one weekend? Technically it seemed to work; my timing was impeccable, and even the event schedule worked out so that I didn't need to leave in the middle of something. But it exhausted me mentally to make the switch from SCA to Choir back to SCA and then to Choir again today.
Then there was the problem of getting low-quality sleep before a concert--I was so tired before the concert today. Although I got to bed around 1:30 and slept until 10 this morning, I was sleeping out in the open in the large room, subject to every noise of someone tripping over something, drunk people talking too loudly, people accidentally letting heavy doors slam, etc., and I don't think I was able to sleep for any length of time. I kept dozing and getting awakened. In fact I remember some irritatingly vivid dream-lets between the wakenings. (I don't think I'll bore the meager readership of my page by listing them here.)
Anyway, I left site at about 11 am, drove back to La Crosse again, had some lunch, showered, and went over to the Chapel, all in a sort of daze. Between the rehearsal and the concert, I had one of those odd periods of time where I sat down to rest and ended up mostly asleep, jerking myself awake every few seconds, then drifting back again. Time sort of slowed down and at one point, I woke up and wondered how we could possibly have left this much time between rehearsal and the concert--it felt like hours, but here was everyone still around me, not lining up for the concert yet. I had a couple more little dream-lets, and even wondered at one point whether I was dreaming all the dressed-up choir members around me, and they had really all gone in to sing without me. For a minute I was actually confused and scared, and then I realized they would have tried to wake me up before leaving me out of the choir. Heck, if I didn't wake up easily, there are three doctors in the choir (and umpteen nurses)--they would never have simply left me in the lounge, not knowing if perhaps there was something wrong with me. But you know how it is when you've been on the edge of sleeping for awhile--logic doesn't enter your mind.
I am really awfully tired now. Should probably wrap up, attend to my laundry, send some e-mail, and call it a day.
Friday, February 01, 2002
For some reason this book looks really good. Maybe because it combines a heroine who goes on great travels and adventures, with my SCA persona: an early-sixteenth-century Jew. I am going to have to read this.
Still missing Trivia a bit, but not as much now that Chris is going to send me a CD of some recordings he made of Trivia in 1994. I can't wait to hear them! This was a big year for me; I had just graduated the year before, and had a lot of friends who were still on campus, among the Trever residents and also the Trivia Masters. There are all the classic songs, 15 different shutout carts, the Toby and Gongor sketches, Radio Performance Artist Ben, readings of team names from that year, and a lot more. There are also things that are actually kind of big memories for me from that year: an amazingly evocative recording of the Chicken Alarm Clock ("Heeeeey....woooooowww...hey, baby, wake up, come and dance with me! Heeeeey...woooooowww..." etc., etc., etc.), and a recording of the announcement that Trever would be docked 250 points for having used a reserved phone to get answers from a off-campus team.
I hadn't remembered that it was 250 points. Thought it was only 100, when actually the situation was such that, once we were docked, we were still only 100 points down from 1st place. (We were doing really well before the punishment, so well that I believe we finished 5th--and our jam team names finished 3rd and 4th. Though I could be remembering wrong.) This is the only time I can remember being on a 1st place team for any length of time. It was wonderful because it was so energizing. We couldn't be beat. Alumni from the area were driving over with their families just to camp out and bask in the fabulous atmosphere of the winning team.
Let me just explain that I was unaware that Cameron was cheating until about Saturday mid-afternoon. Though I had noticed that Cameron (our unofficial team captain and general Trivia enthusiast) would duck into the corner by the fireplace a lot with a phone, and magically emerge with the correct answer, I didn't connect it with anything underhanded until I asked loudly, "Wow! Who knew that? Cameron? How'd you get that one?", and someone put a hand on my arm and gave me a warning look. I asked, "What? What's wrong?" and the person took me aside and said that Cameron had a friend he was getting to help him out, this was called a 'batphone', it technically wasn't allowed, and everyone was quietly looking the other way. I had never experienced an ethical dilemma in Trivia before. There are rules made to be broken (no phone jamming) and rules that they won't overlook, that we simply didn't break. Now Cameron, and by extension our team, had broken one. I got worried. But I let the excitement sweep me along.
By the time I had gotten into a stew about it, one of the Trivia Masters tried out a hunch by calling Cameron's dorm room number, where he had (stupidly) plugged in the phone in question, and he answered with, "Do you know the answer?". Caught red-handed! They deliberated for about four hours on what to do, then docked us the points. I don't recall Cameron apologizing, though he may have and I just missed it (I was doing more sleeping during Trivia back then). I do remember that he didn't play much with the team for the rest of the weekend, and that some of the steam went out of the Trever engine. And that the '95 and '96 teams were pitiful to the point of everyone quitting mid-way.
Those were disillusioning years. Small wonder I moved off-campus in 97--and that I kept moving from team to team until I found the one I want to play with for the rest of my life. These are guys whose worst sin during Trivia is that when point-totals announcements give us 15 points more than our records say we should have, they remember that we've been 15 points behind on two earlier announcements, and (after much debate) they decide not to call in and correct the mistake. Only Chris would feel guilty about mysteriously losing 15 points and mistakenly gaining 15!
Tomorrow: That Moot Thingy, an event in Tomah, from which I have to drive back to La Crosse for our choir concert. I'm sleepy...must be getting off to bed now, so I have the energy to do all this tomorrow.