Friday, December 27, 2002

I get an e-mail from Geocities when I get a new guestbook entry. It beckons me to come approve or delete the entry, which I normally do fairly quickly because I'm excited to see when a friend signs my guestbook. So when I got a guestbook message a moment ago, I went right over, and was met with a submission consisting of this one line:


This website proves women dont contribute anything to society


Dear reader who wrote the above, wherever you are: there is a reason why you do not see mention of my contributions to society on this webpage. I can't tell you what it is, but there is a reason. But I can tell you that in my job every day, I help people get the information they need to understand their health and make good decisions, to sleep a little bit better the night before a procedure, to communicate with their families, and to be active, informed participants in their own health care. Dear, dear reader, what do YOU do all day? And does it require a masters' degree? Something tells me it doesn't.

Not that all work isn't honorable. All work. Every job that everyone does, even women, is important, if only in that it provides a reason for other people to do their jobs. Or even just a reason to laugh. Entertainment (such as the type that you provided in my guestbook tonight) give people amusement, or a chance to think for a moment. You, with your vapid statement, have contributed to my evening by giving me entertainment, and the germ of an idea around which to write a blog entry. I mean, I wanted to write something, but kept wondering, "What on earth can I write about? It's been a boring last couple of days; nothing much to build a blog entry on." You helped with that. Thank you.

I hope you will write again and let me know what your contribution to society is, that you can afford to section out 50% of the human race and accuse them of contributing less that you do. I assume you are at least on the short list for next year's Nobel Prize, if not a past winner (though one would think a Nobel Prize winner would have a greater committment to proper punctuation). You simply must take responsibility for what you wrote above. Women (and men) everywhere will want to know from what great mind your statement comes. You owe it to your future fans.




Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Remember how I planned to spend my Christmas time off cleaning my apartment? Well, I did more than I have recently, if not as much as I wanted to do. When I got back from work yesterday, I'd been cataloging up a storm and felt kind of on a roll, so I started cleaning and didn't stop until dinnertime, when I felt like I needed to break for the day. (You can see my couch again!) I planned to start again today, but instead I slept until 11, and spent the day relaxing, doing laundry and dishes, and putting together the White Birch.

I also watched A.I., which I had seen part of while home in Madison over the Jewish holidays. What it did for me is to remind me how I used to love science fiction. At least half of my favorite books of all time are sci-fi (or fantasy). The element of "anything's possible" made the plots seem freed to me, able to take the story to the next level of meaning. Not really sure what's happened to me since then. I still love the Hitchhiker's Guide series, but whatever I've tried to read in the sci-fi or fantasy genre since I was in college has just seemed unbelievable to me. My favorite reads since then have been historical or 'regular' fiction, or science writing.

Not that I've even done that much reading. The same kid who used to run through all 10 of her library books within the first 2 weeks of camp, can count all the books she's read this year on one hand. I would love to know what's up with this. It just is getting rarer and rarer that a book calls out to me, and even more rare that it genuinely engages me. My attention span for reading is down to five minutes or five pages, whichever comes first, unless I'm doing something else like eating a meal at the same time, in which case it goes up to maybe six minutes. I still read at restaurants and at lunch, but I'm more likely to have a magazine--something of general interest like Time or Newsweek or, if we've gotten one that week, the New York Times Magazine--but nothing that demands extended attention, because I don't have it to give.

I realize that implies that I'm some kind of high-powered person with many demands on my time. I'm not. Compared to most people I know, I lead a very reasonably-paced life. I get a lot of time to myself, I don't work much overtime, and I travel almost every weekend. So where did my yen to read go?

I'm currently reading Good omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, authors I'd have some familiarity with if I had been reading sci-fi/fantasy during the time they've been publishing. (Now, that's not fair. When I had a roomie at MC-MLA in Lexington whose daughter is one of Neil Gaiman's best friends, and who told me all about him, I bought a copy of Neverwhere and began it with relish, but finished it a month later with a sense that I was missing something. So I have read something by one of those authors.) Bronislava lent me the copy of Good omens I'm reading about ten months ago, and I proceeded to leave it on my dining room table for most of that time, while assorted friends recommended it to me in various settings, notably Owen after I noticed it on a pile in his library.

Objectively, I see its humor as the direct descendant of the Hitchhikers' Guide series: the kind of sparkling, reserved-yet-absurd English wit that people are referring to when they say they love English humor, only more so. But truthfully, it hasn't engaged me yet. You know what it might be? The cast of characters is too big. I am so worried about keeping track of who's who, and not missing foreshadowing, that I can't enjoy the story.

No. I can't blame it on the book. Everyone loves this book. By all rights, I should love this book. If it were ten years ago, I'd love this book. I think I'll just keep reading and see what happens. At the very least, it's not that long of a book--eventually I'll be done with it.

And it makes me strangely sad to say that I can look forward to the end of a book.



Sunday, December 22, 2002

Woo--just found lyrics and MIDIs to five pieces from the Llibre Vermell (a 14th century book of pilgrims' songs from Montserrat in Spain), at http://www.eramedieval.com/musica/llibrevermell/llibre_vermell_de_montserrat.htm. The site isn't beautifully put-together, and what's not lyrics is in Portuguese (I think). Plus there is a mistake in the MIDI for "Stella Splendens". Shame shame. But it's still nice that someone thought to put some of these online. (Note that Textes et Musique du Moyen Age has additional Llibre Vermell pieces (MIDIs and lyrics) at http://perso.club-internet.fr/brassy/PartMed/LiVerm/LiVerm.html.)

What brought this up is that I'm listening to a Waverly Consort double-CD set, Spanish Music of Travel and Discovery, that I picked up this weekend in the Twin Cities while visiting Owen and other friends. (Not surprisingly, Owen knows the best place in town to go for SCA-period music CDs, and took me there without even mentioning where we were going--which might have been irritating if we had been pressed for time, but as it was, the point of the afternoon was random and fun shopping to get ideas for gifts, so it was perfect.)

I saw the Waverly Consort not once, but twice, during their Spanish music tour in 1992 (when these recordings were originally made; the double CD is a 2000 reissue). I bought a ticket for a late summer performance at the Union in Madison; then once I got to school, I was invited by a guy (on whom I had a big crush) to use his additional ticket when they stopped in for an early-fall performance at Lawrence. (Things never worked out with the guy--a colder fish could not be found on campus, I'm sure; I can't really remember what I saw in him now--but I loved seeing the same concert twice.)

So anyway, what a great weekend. Friday night I crashed (all right, I invited myself over) Rosanore's Christmas caroling party, which was a lot of fun and a chance to see new friends and a couple of people I'd not seen in a while. And meet a few SCA legends I had only heard of. And sing. Can't forget that. I am told I'm now on the list of yearly invitees for this party. Now, THIS is cause for celebration.

I never get tired of hanging out at Owen's. He read this page (hi there Owen!) and suggested, to my surprise, that we hit Bobby Bead Saturday. I was not arguing. In fact in the end, I spent a great deal more than I'd intended, but got some great stuff, including a string of glass tribal beads resembling my device, a few packets of thematic charms for friends, ten incredibly beautiful Bali silver/vermeil decorated headpins, one of the matte Venetian glass hearts I've been looking at buying from Gems 2 Behold (turquoise blue silverfoil, if you must know), ten small Venetian rounds in gold/white for Northshield tokens, and a bunch of Czech stuff I probably didn't need, but it's so beautiful...

The mind-reading thing between Owen and me is getting scary. This morning he asked what I was going to call my new Aflac duck (I had been referring to it, there as here, as just "Aflac Duck"). I replied that the duck hadn't announced his name to me yet. So Owen suggested "Fillmore". I shot him a look and said, "Please, don't say 'Mallard Fillmore', okay?" He giggled and said, "I didn't. You did." How does he get me to DO that? I never used to pun. I claimed I hadn't inherited that questionable skill from Dad. I claimed I only made puns by accident. Now Owen has me snatching puns from his very mouth. I have been corrupted. And the worst of it is, I don't even mind...!

We went to Christian's to do some recording stuff, and sit in on a Warwick Consort rehearsal, late Saturday afternoon. Flori played her adorable little opalescent porcelain dumbek for me as I did "Three Words" for Christian's recording project. I think I sounded only okay. It was an unfamiliar space, with six people sitting on couches and watching me, and me standing in the middle of a room. Flori, of course, sounded wonderful. We recorded it solo twice and once with everyone singing along, progressively louder, on the chorus. I liked the last one best because of everyone singing along, but thought the tension was starting to show in my voice by then. Maybe it isn't as noticeable with everyone else's voices there? Who knows. I didn't listen to the recordings. Christian gets to pick what he wants to use.

Owen and I had a long conversation about the art of storytelling, starting from the fact that I've just become aware of a Romanian poem that I want to do something with: Miorita, pronounced and sometimes spelled Mioritza, discussed on one of Andrei Codrescu's pages and available in the original Romanian at http://www.romanianvoice.com/poezii/balade/bal_miorita.html and in English translation at http://www.angelfire.com/realm/vlachs/Miorita.htm. I was considering doing a retelling of the story, which is brief and has a lot of places to kind of 'go nuts' and fill in juicy detail, pick a narrative voice, etc. Last night I had to confront the fact that I don't feel able to do storytelling in the SCA because I don't feel I can do it perfectly without reading it off a page. We embarked on a long series of analogies of storytelling to jazz, illumination, improvisational choral harmony, costuming, and other SCA arts. I found this really helpful because I've always thought of the arts (and any collection of disciplines) in sort of an analogical way, trying to draw parallels when they seem useful.

All this analogical fervor, while informative, left me sort of nakedly complaining, "But I don't feel comfortable telling stories..." Yeah, with me, when you reach the end of logic, all you're left with is...whining. Hey, I never said I was logical. I think my next step is to study the thing, get to know it as a poem and as a narrative arc (I like that phrase), confirm that it is indeed from SCA period, and decide what format is calling to me. As usual, if it's anything, it will probably be a song, but I read it first as a story on Codrescu's page above, so that's the format that first occurred to me. Who knows what will eventually come of it. Next Autumn Rose will probably find me trembling like a newbie, clutching an index card, and intoning "Mioritza, the shepherd's beloved ewe, warned him to find a dog to protect him, strong, loyal and peerless..."

Anyway, it was a full and fun weekend, leaving me with lots to think about. And now, time to get off to bed so I can continue to process the weekend (and, hopefully, not have any more dreams about beads like I did Friday night!)



Thursday, December 19, 2002

It's snowing--not for the first time this season, but for the first time that I've been able to watch and enjoy it. For a little while it was drifting straight sweetly down, "heedless of the wind and weather"; now the wind has picked up a little bit (and it may have turned slightly more liquid) so it's not quite as relaxing to watch. Not that I can really watch it, per se. There is enough light pollution in my apartment complex, and my window screens are substantial enough, that I can really only see it coming down in the cone of light cast around the parking lot lights in the DNR parking lot across from my building. Just in the places where I can see the bugs circling frantically on a summer night. Ah, memories...

Jessamyn West (the librarian, not the novelist), proprietor of librarian.net, has a neat photo essay of the time she and her boyfriend (a Wisconsinite no less!) decided to visit all 13 of the branches of the Milwaukee Public Library. (How the heck does Milwaukee serve all 600,000 of its citizens with 13 public library branches? Madison's got 9, for Pete's sake, and hasn't--to my knowledge--broken 200,000 residents yet.)

Their pictures from the tour are lots of fun: Jessamyn having a serious conversation with a joke-telling monkey puppet, the possibilities of curved circumference shelving in a round building, boring shelves lit by sick lighting but pierced by one gorgeous dark wooden sweep of a column, signage (neon, quilted, neat-o fonts, and more), cool sculptures in buildings that look boxy and dead from the outside, sunflower seed shells in the stacks, weird seat-and-hanging-fire-extinguisher contraptions that turn out to be book drops (complete with fire safety system, which will unfortunately only work if someone is standing near the book drop when the burning book is dropped in the hatch), and a lot more. Jessamyn turns out to be cool-looking, in a kind of philosophical, I-once-wore-dreadlocks-and-STILL-feel-naked-without-them way, and if this shot is any indication, her boyfriend is cuuuuute...can we make 'em cute in Wisconsin, or what?

It's been an okay birthday. Ellen called at 7 am, which was probably a good idea since I had been about to go back to sleep after hitting the snooze button one...more...time. Mom & Dad called last night, since Mom knows Thursday night is TV night. I got a couple of e-cards from friends (thanks, Alienor, Sarra, and Annora! You guys are the best!), a phone call from Owen to invite me to visit in Minneapolis this weekend, and a card in the mail from Grandma and Grandpa. Bless them, they have sent a birthday check, enough to pay for a respectably-sized shopping spree at the bead store of my choice, which was going to be the new bead store here in La Crosse (Gossamer Beads), but may now be Bobby Bead in Minneapolis if there is time this weekend. Yay!

One more note (no pun intended): I have found, by accident, a really cool archive of choral recordings from a particular high school, put together by a student, who has his own well-done website and, apparently, the ability to make high-quality mp3's of some excellent concert recordings. They are fabulous compared to what I have from high school, basically tinny recordings made by my parents from the middle of the audience using a handheld tape recorder (though those little asides from Dad are priceless). The choirs themselves are fairly good, self-assured, with excellent diction and usually okay pitch (though I just suffered through a listen to Victoria's O Vos Omnes in which the choir fell 1 1/2 whole steps during just the time I was listening--I stopped the recording about 3/4 of the way through).

There are some things I haven't heard in awhile on there--Paul Sjolund's four humorous songs about love, Erb's arrangement of Shenandoah, and a couple of things we did in the Bismarck/Mandan Civic Chorus: I'll Ay Call In By Yon Town, and Farewell Overture (that last is a hilarious comedic song combining about 50 different ways to say goodbye, and when our choir did it perfectly straight through half-a-dozen rehearsals and three performances, that's when I knew I had to get out of North Dakota. Well, one of the many times I knew).

Woo, I'm prolific this week...!



Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Just picked up the current copy of Bead & Button magazine. They really should just call it Bead--there isn't much in there in the way of buttons. But oh, are there beads. Specifically, ads for companies selling beads (and display supplies and glassmaking paraphernalia and findings and...and...). I'd say the magazine, at 155 pages, is at least 80% ads.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing! Just as I still (G-d help me) subscribe to the abysmally-edited Renaissance Magazine for the advertisements, I am perfectly happy to spend as much time with the ads as I do trying to fathom how the instructions to the projects are supposed to work.

And sometimes you find some great stuff through those ads. Tonight, after three disappointing visits to the websites of companies with really nice colorful ads, I stopped by Sharon Peters' Smartass Glass, where this truly wacky woman has an online catalog of her handmade glass beads, each of which is really more like a sculpture than a bead. Check out the sheep at the bottom of page 11, the little green and yellow cross-eyed frogs on page 10, the adorable twisty slugs in yellow or powder blue on page 7, the SillyZilla in the middle of page 1, or the Kee Rice Bird and the sweet l'il chickens on page 12. That's as far as I've gone in the catalog, and I already have a mental list of beads I want to have made for various friends (there has to be a duck in there somewhere for Flori, a pouty jester for Alienor, and maybe even a smiling yellow oak leaf for Owen, who knows?).

That is, if I were a millionaire. The beads run $35 to $200 and more per bead. Which is reasonable when you consider that this dear woman, with her witty and exuberant item descriptions, risks life and limb and all the hair on her forearms to bring each and every bead into existence, by hand, using tools I wouldn't dream of even looking at, for fear I might burn some sensitive part of my eyeballs. (Hey, even the woodburning tool makes me shiver slightly in fear.) You have to give her credit, not just for her completely nutzoid artistic vision, but for being willing, if you pay her, to re-create (to your own specifications) any of her designs. Would Picasso have done the same for the guy who saw Guernica and said, "You know, that really speaks to me...the pain, the horror, the futility of war...would you be willing to do one for me? With a hint of sunflower yellow, to match the tiles in the hall of my summer home?" (Yes, I know Picasso did several different versions of Guernica...it was just an example.)

Busy day today--20 reference questions, 15 of them from the same person. Hey, when you want to know some stuff, you call a librarian, right? Especially if you want to know a LOT of stuff, apparently. I came home and I was just beat. I had dinner, wandered around the apartment, took a phone call from my mom and spent an hour talking to my parents, occasionally rubbing my head to try to talk the headache into leaving. After that I got smart and took some ibuprofen. With the headache abated, I feel more human. Not human enough to do some laundry, but human.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I'll be 32. I don't hold by that tripe about a lady never revealing her age, even though I am now officially a Lady (AoA, Nov. 20, 1999, from Alasdair and Isabelle in Their final Court at Northshield Coronet). I do not think a person ever needs to be ashamed of her age. It's entirely possible that I'm only saying that from the vantage point of 31 years, 364 days, and I might feel differently when I'm older. But not tomorrow.



Sunday, December 15, 2002

Well...I got a few of the things done that I needed to get to this weekend, and had some fun too. Friday night I took myself out to eat, then went grocery shopping at Woodman's, which is a major treat for me. Woodman's in La Crosse is about 20 minutes north of where I live, all the way at the north end of the city in Onalaska; regular readers of this page know that my favorite Woodman's is the one my dad and I did the grocery shopping at every Saturday for most of my formative years, off Gammon Rd. in Madison. All the Woodman's look pretty much alike; the La Crosse one is perhaps smaller than the others, but still the largest grocery store in town, with the most ethnic and unusual foods. So a Friday night at Woodman's is actually a big fun night for me. (Insert joke about single librarian here.)

Saturday I slept until noon, then worked on the Bardic Madness webpage for a few hours. (As of right now, the permissions haven't been set on the files I uploaded--including the graphic and background for the main page--so it doesn't look very pretty. But that's being worked on.) Then I drove to the north side of town to pick up Vettoria, got lost (of course), and we drove to Winona for the Blue Heron Consort winter concert in the St. Theresa's Chapel of the Angels. The chapel is pretty amazing--bigger than most churches, painted all over with vivid Byzantine-esque red/gold/blue motifs including a lot of compass stars, stone everywhere, a glittery half-dome mosaic chancel in red/white/gold with blue stars, and this geographically out-of-place but acoustically fantastic dark wooden beamed roof, right out of an English country church.

The concert was neat: the group has a nice sound, for a tiny vocal early music group in a small town in Minnesota, and the acoustics raise them to a completely different level of quality--they could be pretty bad and that chapel would still make them sound halfway decent. The vocal mix was good, and the group had very nice pitch and a great feel for the music. I disagreed with a few of the director's decisions (such as doing "Gaudete" as a slow chant-like thing with two people ringing handbells, at least one of which was the wrong pitch for the key), and didn't like that most of the last section of the concert was out-of-period Christmas songs in 20th century arrangements--the moment they broke into "O Come, All Ye Faithful" my magic moment broke. But then, it's not up to the citizens of Winona, MN to give me magic SCA moments.

Today I slept until 11, then had a leisurely lunch before I realized that I had no idea what time to be at the church for the Advent Hymn Sing tonight. (The La Crosse Chamber Chorale does this every year. It's actually a very nice concert, coordinated by a local doctor who has a passion for the organ and finds us all kinds of unusual Christmas songs to do every year. He always ends up with a blockbuster organ piece, this year Jehan Alain's amazing "Litanies".) After a phone call to a fellow soprano, I realized I had the info in my choir folder in the car. So, I proceeded with the day's plans and picked up Bronislava, then went out to Chaseburg for our December populace meeting. The meeting wrapped up just in time for me to stop at home, change out of my velvet sideless surcoat and into my velvet Chamber Chorale uniform, and rush over to the church, with my black grapes and pecan divinity in hand to donate to the spread for the reception.

It's not every weekend when I get a chance to have leisure (sleeping in, talking to friends on the phone, going to a concert, noshing potluck at a populace meeting) and time to get things done (working on the website, doing laundry, typing up meeting minutes, going grocery shopping) in one weekend, sometimes at the same time. I feel a little run ragged, but satisfied.

You know, I'm going to be 32 on Thursday. I was thinking about troubles. Trials, tribulations, intractable problems that one just needs to knuckle under and cope with. I've gotten to the point where I exist with a backpack's-worth of my problems constantly on my back. Sometimes they seem lighter, sometimes heavier, but they don't go away. I think most people live like this. But I was also thinking about how occasionally, very occasionally, one problem suddenly disappears. Something changes so that the problem doesn't cause the friction it once did, or some random happening takes the problem away from you completely, for some reason unrelated to the fact that you consider it a problem. I'm not used to this happening to me.

When one problem suddenly goes away, there's a sort of quizzical time when you can't believe it. There must be something wrong, something coming to take that problem's place when it leaves. Or maybe you feel a vague urge to try to bring the problem to a head before it disappears, to make a point or soothe yourself into thinking it wasn't all for naught. I think it's a good plan to resist this urge. I think sometimes you just have to wave goodbye to the problem in your head, not worry about closure or stabbing it in the butt as it leaves. You have to know that it was a learning experience, and let it just exist in the past. Take it out of the backpack, without ceremony, and let it go. I think that's one path to some kind of inner peace--not complete peace, but a little bit more than you had before. Don't hang on to problems that are not yours anymore, don't worry about where the problem is going and who will have to deal with it, and don't--for heaven's sake--sit and sulk and expect the next problem around the corner. That way lies depression and pessimism.

Yes, I know, abstract ruminations do not become me...but I was just feeling philosophical, and thought I'd share. I get a little philosophical around my birthday.

Let's see how many times I can mention my birthday, and see if other people notice and send me an e-card or something. Why is it that no one makes a big deal out of each other's birthdays when the birthday kid gets above 16? It would be the saddest thing in the world if my birthday no longer felt like an occasion to celebrate. It's getting there these days. (But I'll tell you, no birthday compares in sadness to the one I spent in North Dakota. Friends took me out to eat, I got a nice card from a co-worker, and I still felt like s*** because--well, because I was in North Dakota. But that problem is all wrapped up and gone, thank goodness. North Dakota is out of my backpack.)




Wednesday, December 11, 2002

This week has been busy enough, that I was really looking (without realizing it) for some sort of zen moment, when I found the Librarian's Lao Tzu. Billed as "library humor" on some websites, this piece isn't really humor...it's the attempt of The One Librarian to present his own translation of the parts of the Tao te Ching that relate to libraries. (See also his personal professional page at One Librarian's Opinion. I kinda envy people who can do this.)

I suspect he's taking some liberties with lines like "When city hall is on-line,/the streets have potholes,/and the library shelves are empty." (if indeed any of it is really a translation; it may be simply a parody, or fabricated of whole cloth, I'm not familiar enough with Lao Tzu to know). Be warned, the whole piece shares the anti-technology slant of that line (which is a bit of an extremist stance in the library profession these days). But that doesn't mean it isn't an interesting, and oddly comforting, read. (And notice, the guy's a Wisconsin librarian--he's the assistant director of the public library in Wisconsin Rapids, just a stone's throw from my old stomping grounds in Marshfield.)

On a completely unrelated topic, apropos of nothing, if anyone wants to see a picture of two of my dear friends, the Northshield website is currently featuring (in the upper left-hand box-let) a small photo of my friend Mistress Margaret Malise de Kyrkyntolaghe (also known as Mistress Mysie, pronounced "my-zee") sitting with my Laurel and friend Master Owen (I still get a little frisson from typing that title for him!). They were sitting off to the side at Court at Boar's Head this past Saturday, having been embroiled in a conversation right before Court began. (The top center picture was also taken at Court, from about where Mysie and Owen were sitting, and the white surfaces with green and blue decorations were the feast tables, put all together to the side to make room for the populace for Court.)

Tonight Kristen and I decided it was time to celebrate our birthdays: hers was last week, and mine is Dec. 19. Last year we kept saying we wanted to celebrate by going to Traditions Restaurant in Onalaska, an itty bitty gourmet restaurant on Main St. in Onalaska, the suburb just north of La Crosse. We'd gone earlier in the year, but not for our birthdays. So we had to do it this year.

The meal was delicious as always. I decided to go whole hog and get soup in addition to the meal (and, as it turned out later, dessert..."Well, it's too late to go to a movie, we'd better stay here and have dessert instead." "Okay." I don't take much convincing.) I didn't have high hopes for Wisconsin Three Cheese Ale soup--I've never been a big fan of cheese soups--but it had the trademark delicate flavor and high cream content of all Traditions soups, and I loved it. I honestly think that Traditions could create "Creme de Sweatsock" soup and I'd find it delicious. We each had a tenderloin and peapods, and then Kristen went for a Bailey's Irish Cream bread pudding while I chose the raspberry cheesecake with peach chantilly. (Secret: Chantilly is either a perfume or whipped cream. If you're in a restaurant, odds are it's the latter.) They barely laced the cheesecake with bits of raspberry, not trying to tint the whole thing garish pink or flavor it through-and-through; that would constitute overkill. It was all yummy.

Kristen gifted me with these wonderful slipper socks made of purple plush polyester stretch chenille. Anyone who knows my penchant for beautiful fabrics knows what my reaction to these must have been. I gasped, caressed them, said, "Thank you!", and plunged my face into them. I must have looked ridiculous, but I had to cuddle up with them, they were so soft. I'm wearing them right now and discovering that they don't keep my feet too terribly warm, but I bet they'd be better when covered up, say in bed on a cold night, or in a sleeping bag in a tent on a cold night at Pennsic...hmmm, I've got plans for these slipper socks.

Today in the mail I got my copy of An Askew View, essentially a very detailed fan book of Kevin Smith's movies, complete with candid photos from the sets of some of his films, interviews with his wife and regular collaborators, etc. I am a non-rabid, but nonetheless dedicated fan of these movies. I buck the general trend by claiming Chasing Amy as my favorite, but my true favorite was always Silent Bob, who can say so much with a sneer, a nose wrinkle, an eyebrow arch. (Yes, I loved him even before I knew he was played by Kevin Smith. I wondered why I'd never seen the actor anywhere else. Duh...he's not an actor, he's the director.) Any Silent Bob fan recalls the sense of sustained revelation with which they first saw his one-and-only monologue in Chasing Amy, the one that gives the film its name. Silent Bob claims we are all, in some sense, trying to recover the happiness we know we once felt, if only for a moment. Ooooh...deep.

Enough gushing. I don't necessarily plan to read the book; what I really bought it for was as a Trivia book, the kind that must be kept around during play of the Lawrence University Trivia Contest because it's either a) useful for answers, b) absorbing as I-have-got-to-stay-awake reading, or both. It goes right in there with my idol James Lilek's book, The Gallery of Regrettable Food.



Sunday, December 08, 2002

Just got back from a wonderful Boar's Head weekend. This was my fifth Boar's Head (hard to believe...) and perhaps my fourth or fifth time staying at Dahrien and Mysie's home, which becomes the Bardic Barracks every year around this event (and other Caer Anterth events). That means that bardic friends from far and near descend on them, to stay over and also to participate in what Dahrien calls "not necessarily the biggest post-revel in town, but definitely the singinest". I won't go into all the details of who was at the Barracks, I'll just say that the Bardic Barracks is family no matter who ends up there, and I had the best time ever. We were postreveling until easily 2:30 this morning--and didn't get to bed any too early Friday night, either. So right now I'm functioning on about 11 hours of sleep total for Friday and Saturday nights. Not a dangerously low level, but even so, I'm going to bed early tonight.

The event itself does not (unfortunately or fortunately) distinguish itself in my memory. The reason for this is that I was doing musical stuff the whole time, then didn't stay for feast. Choir rehearsed from 10-11:30, then I went back over to the square building to have lunch, then Dahrien's bardic circle began back in the round building at 1, then the Warwick Consort concert at 1:30, then back to the bardic circle until it finished at 4:30 and Colin wisely used the bardic fans who were already there to fill out the audience for the Northshield Choir concert. After the concert came Court, then aimless wandering and greeting friends while the chairs were stacked and the tables moved out for Feast and I tried to find the people who had said they might be interested in going out to eat.

(Note to self: the Machine Shed is TOO MUCH: more food than I want, and more money than I like to spend on what is essentially meat in salty sauce. Try to find the Chinese place on Blue Mound next year.)

All of this meant that I was in one or the other of the small conference rooms in the round building for 90% of the event, doing or listening to music or bardic stuff. I never got to the merchants. Am I sad about this? No. I had a blast. I needed to have an event where I did what I wanted all day, and this (with all its bardic/musical attendees) was the event for it. The Warwick Consort concert was wonderful--Christian did it in the style of an Elizabethan afternoon's entertainment, with friends dropping by to join in the fun: Tres Trepei (Mistress Amelie's ensemble) and the Pippins (with me joining in on "There Is No Rose", a piece I have known via recordings since freshman year in college, but never sang until two weeks ago at Bardic Madness South). Lady Melanie from Caer Anterth joined a couple of Warwick Consort people for a recorder trio piece that just about knocked our socks off. A larger combined group (recorders, Rosanore doing a solo voice part, and the Pippins doing the choral part) did Palestrina's "O Magnum Mysterium". The Pippins and the Warwick Consort did "O che bon eccho", which I had heard of but not heard or sung. Then all the performers went up and did "Gaudete" as a sing-along, which worked out beautifully: the audience had the music/words in their programs, and everyone sang the choruses, while Christian had a few people picked out to sing the verses solo. (He gave me one and I surprised myself by sounding pretty darn good, on a verse I had never sung before). The room was packed the whole time and everyone seemed absorbed by the performances. I want to see more of that type of concert at SCA events.

I'm still processing the little happy moments that punctuated the event, and my time at the Bardic Barracks. And I'm sleepy enough that I'm not processing very quickly--not quick enough, anyway, to get all of it out onto my webpage right now. So, dear webpage audience, allow me to go unpack a few things, get some extra sleep, and come back refreshed for the next entry.



Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Received my talking AFLAC duck in the mail today. I actually ordered two, one for myself and one for a friend. Mine looked right at me as I opened the box: slightly cockeyed face (best way to describe it: it has only one cheekbone), long neck, quizzical look. The other one is cute, but not mine. Funny how things claim their owners.

I have yet to introduce New Aflac Duck to Colleen de Loon. I have a feeling she will recognize the difference immediately: "Aflac Duck, you've changed...what happened?" Poor Colleen, fated to pine for her first love, Original Aflac Duck in Atlanta...

Again, I'd like to reiterate that I am aware my stuffed animals aren't real. Everyone clear on that? Excellent.

The long Thanksgiving weekend was fun, but also difficult as I dealt with some personal frustrations I won't go into here. It did help to have my own room at Ellen's condo. The woman definitely knows her Southern hospitality--I had everything but a mint julep: my own bathroom, my own queen-sized bed with the exact same comforter I have at home, access to her computer and Internet connection, and free run of the Thanksgiving leftovers. (I did make a mess of things Friday morning when I sidled up against a smidge of the cranberry pie that had rubbed off onto the inside of the refrigerator door. Suffice to say, my yellow pear t-shirt isn't for fancy dress anymore.)

Atlanta, as always, strikes me as way, way, way too big. Little things got to me. For example, their version of Isthmus (the Madison alternative newsweekly), Creative Loafing (what kinda name is Creative Loafing? Sounds like the newsletter of the Baker's Guild of America...) is full of ads for laser vaginal rejuvenation, botox injections, DUI defense lawyers, Triple-X phone sex lines, and new condo developments. (Everyone lives in a condo in Atlanta, apparently. Either that, or the real estate people are over-building and need to sell.)

I do have to say, the food everywhere we went was very good--Ellen picked out this extremely inexpensive French place for lunch Friday and we loved it. Saturday night we went to a small Italian place, Alfredo's, that mom's friend Barbara had taken Ellen and I to, last time I visited. Last time we ate there, I put all the capers on my veal piccata to the side, planning on enjoying them last, and the waiter came by and snapped up my dish before I could finish them! You better bet I ate the capers first this time.

Saturday we went to The High Museum, Atlanta's art museum. They had a special exhibit on Paris at the time of the Impressionists, which was worth the entrance fee, with lots of wonderful Impressionist pieces from the Musee D'Orsay, as well as artifacts from the Art Moderne period (there was a seahorse brooch that just made me drool) and photographs from the area surrounding the Eiffel Tower at the time of its construction.

We all got electronic receivers and headphones at the beginning of the exhibit, and every other piece had a three-digit code that we were supposed to punch in to hear a corresponding blurb. I didn't find the narration to be particularly sparkling, especially when I accidentally typed in "203" instead of "103" and got the kids' version. (Apparently, the kids' version means there are more irritating sound effects, the narrator talks slower, and they feel obligated to say a lot of things along the lines of "People didn't drive around in cars or eat at McDonald's like you or me...")

But overall I liked the Paris exhibit. The rest of the museum was only all right. They seemed to be attempting to arrange the general exhibit along thematic lines: "People", "Family", "Civil Rights", etc. It meant your head was constantly spinning from seeing 19th century primitive American pieces, next to Frank Lloyd Wright chairs, next to pop art from 1983, next to a medieval altarpiece, next to a mysterious sculpture of a polished wooden cube that looks like it's disappearing into the floor (and is dangerously placed for someone like me, who is still getting used to her smallish new glasses and doesn't really have any downward peripheral vision). Whatever happened to the good old chronological arrangement? That way, when you get to the 20th century gallery, you know you ought to look both down and up, and you don't damage your shoe on the sculpture.

This week has been grueling already--I worked on the White Birch all Monday night and stayed up late Tuesday night to fold/staple/tape/label/stamp. Overall I've just been incredibly busy with a dozen projects coming to a head. I got home from work today and just felt tired in my bones. Then I used this evening to get things done here, ignoring the tiredness: dishes, laundry, clearing out luggage from recent trips, packing for the trip to Milwaukee for Boar's Head. This will be the last SCA event until Twelfth Night more than a month hence, in Minneapolis. In between, since I am not from the Christmas people, I have very little going on. Maybe I will try to make some garb...or really clean my apartment for a change. (Don't hold your breath on that last one.)

Off to snuggle with my new duck.







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