Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Papercuts! More papercuts!
Or, Another thing they didn't tell us about in library school

I'm about halfway through stuffing/closing the envelopes for the CAPHIS election. 375 down, uh, a LOT to go. When I agreed to do this, I didn't quite realize I'd be unemployed at the time of the election. People who have institutional support can use institutional envelopes, use their institutional copy shop for copies, and then have a pizza party with their co-workers for label pasting, folding, stuffing, and closing. And then the institutional mail room takes care of actual postage.

Not so with me. I'll get reimbursed for the parts of this that cost money, of course, but it's the time I'll never get back. But I'm too proud to go to Gundersen Lutheran and ask them to stuff envelopes with me, esp. since I think I was the only CAPHIS member on staff--it's not even their section.

And so I fold, stuff, and get papercuts. There are three on my left knuckles. I'm done for tonight, to give them a chance to heal before I go on to the final 275 or so. I've kept the envelopes in label order, which was by zip code, with overseas addresses at the end. This means I can judge how far I've gone by where in the U.S. I am right now. Let's see, I'm at...

Traverse City, Michigan.

*sigh*

In other news, I feel quite a lot better after my stomach flu episode this past weekend. Getting up and getting going yesterday (I went for a walk for the first time since I'd gotten sick) really helped. I walked further today and I feel good. Just in time to stuff envelopes, right?

Well, also in time to do laundry, mail off my tax documents to Dad, and make plans for this weekend: I'm going to Milwaukee for Caer Anterth's dance event, or at least part of it. I'm going to miss Dance Seminar this year (it conflicts with Triskelion, Riverwatch's event, and if I go to anything that weekend it'll be to Riverwatch...hey, I owe my sister Robina!) so I figure this will give me a good dose of dance for this spring. And a chance to hang out at the Bardic Barracks.

I'm sort of mad that Lone Wolf seems to be closed. I went over last Wednesday night for the regular performance of Comedy Alley, a fledgling improv group, and there was a sign on the door saying that Lone Wolf was closing for an indeterminate period of time.

No idea why, except the obvious possibility that the owner poured too much money into it for what he could expect to make. He really did do a beautiful job with the place: lots of comfy sitting areas, Internet cafe, roomy upper floor with stage/sound system, game area, and children's room, and great lighting overall. And the coffee was good too! I haven't been by since; I suppose it's possible they're open again. But I'd be too sad to go by there and discover they're still closed. So I stayed in tonight and stuffed envelopes. Woohoo.

Can I just say, the person who invented this deserves a Nobel Prize? For 71 cents I don't have to lick a single envelope. It works like it's supposed to, it doesn't leak, and I don't risk papercuts to the face, lips, or tongue. (Oy, do those hurt.) Thanks, just had to say it.

I was thinking of buying some silk for kumihimo at this place, Aurora Silk. I like their ecological attitude towards silk production, and their goods seem to be gorgeous. But I don't know if I'm ready for the investment in actual silk for use in kumihimo. Maybe I'll think about it some more.

Let no one say I'm a hasty decision-maker. ;)






Sunday, February 22, 2004
Cleaned out
Or, Never went, dreaming of french fries, hope you had a nice day

I never went to the event. I believe this is the first time I've ever had to miss an SCA event because of illness. (Yes, I was stuck in the house with tonsillitis when Dahrien and Mysie called me from a gas station in Onalaska on the way to Quest for Camelot a couple of years ago, but I hadn't been going to go to Quest--instead I was missing the MLA Annual Meeting in Dallas. So that doesn't count.)

Good news though, it seems to be over. I had one more...ahem...visit to the restroom when I got up this morning, and that was it. Now I feel pretty normal overall, just a little tired and headachy (and I'm not supposed to take any ibuprofen so as not to upset my stomach again) and, unexpectedly, ravenously hungry. Never had any nausea with this thing, so it stands to reason that the idea of food doesn't completely disgust me, but I didn't expect to be watching food commercials on TV and drooling.

But I'm being careful! I'm having things like chicken broth and finger jello and popsicles, and this evening dinner was a piece of matzo and some rice. The drooling stopped, but I still kept having these random urges to call for pizza. And I NEVER call for pizza.

I'd wonder if I were pregnant, if that weren't impossible.

So I finished the book I was reading, which was excellent (updates to the Books page this week, I promise), and did quite a lot of kumihimo. I've been doing short-ish lengths of braid (about 3-4 feet, using 1/4 of a skein at a time) but still quite a bit longer than the nylon ones I had been making. That's because it's so much faster on the maru dai than when I used cardboard. Fun too. I highly recommend getting one.

And I've been cleaning up dishes, and I've been doing laundry, and I've been lying in a sunbeam trying to convince myself not to go out for frozen custard. The nurse advisors said no dairy products for the first 48 hours...NO dairy products...dammit...




Friday, February 20, 2004
Okay...maybe I'm not still going...

I'm still in La Crosse. The stomach whatever has not abated more than a little, and I've had a small fever (99, but still--my temp is normally low, so that's high for me). So I'm not going anywhere tonight.

I may still wake up tomorrow morning and get in the car to go to Venetian Carnevale, but it's looking doubtful, especially since all I've eaten today is a can of chicken broth and a popsicle (and lots of water). Even if I'm all better tomorrow, I don't know if I'd trust myself driving after such a nutrient-poor day. So, there's a strong likelihood I'm not going.

Oh well. I don't mind being at home, and this will definitely ensure I get to the Rokeclif populace meeting on time Sunday, but it's still a little disappointing.

*sigh*



Post-event cold avoided; post-event food poisoning possibly not dodged
Or, I'm not getting on the road until I can say bye-bye to my bathroom

Mostly recovered from the trip to Bardic Madness. The trip was stressful; the event was mostly not, though a few glitches did materialize. The trip involved driving three friends from the Twin Cities to Winnipeg and back. If you know me, you know the only thing that would have made this more stressful would have been blowing snow. Well, surprise! We had quite a chunk of that in North Dakota. (WHY do I keep going back to North Dakota? Why?)

The particular friends I brought were very nice to have along, though. I can certainly think of a LOT of people I'd have liked less to have in the car on that trip. They had superior navigation skills and managed to get me back and forth between crash space, other crash space (oh yes...did I mention we weren't all staying at the same place?), day site, evening site, post-revel site, and grocery store without getting lost more than...oh, say, a couple of times.

Forget Eau Claire, Rhinelander, or any of the other places I routinely get lost. Winnipeg takes the cake. First, there were 3 feet of snow on the ground, so every street was like a rat maze, full of other cars stopped for no good reason, just waiting to catch you on a snowy stretch and BANG.

Then there's the fact that they don't do intersections the way we do intersections. They have all these little independent left turn lanes that pour gracefully and invisibly across the conflicting lanes, and woe be to the person who pulls up to one over a hill and doesn't notice it until they're about to be mowed down by someone turning left across their lanes. (I tried hard to make sure I was never alone in the car, but, long story short, I was alone and it was 2:00 in the morning when I discovered these sweet little turn lanes. I'm amazed I made it back in one piece.)

By Sunday I was emotionally exhausted and had been sleeping in crash space for three nights (Chris put me up in Mpls. on Thursday night) for perhaps 5-6 hours a night, and we got to the other people's crash space and someone was waiting for something they had forgotten at the post-revel site to be dropped off from 20 minutes away, so I said, "I'm going grocery shopping." I had been saying all weekend that I love going grocery shopping in Canada, but the timing never worked out. So I took one of my riders and went. The other two riders were irritated with me when we got back, but I was glad I'd gotten to go. I got Kinder eggs and Smarties (including a new "Ice Cream Flavors" variety that reminds me a little of Jelly Bellies JBz in how they are flavored) and various and sundry canned and dry goods.

The event itself went well. I had some worries in the morning when we only had an hour to set up, and the site autocrat was stuck at the evening site waiting for some other folks for several hours, so I had to pretty much set up the event myself at a site where I'd never been and did not have a clear idea of which rooms were ours. I must have looked harried because everyone was very nice to me, and after awhile it became clear that punting was not such a bad thing and that we were only going to be 15 minutes late, and that only one patron was missing. (I asked Owen to step in; after all, he wrote the challenge, and he was one of the alternates.)

Some of the performances were stellar. There is a young guy who plays the mandolin who is very talented and has a lot of presence. Several small musical ensembles did pieces and I was very impressed. An excellent storyteller whom I'd never met was there, and some people who obviously got into the comedy aspect of the event (esp. in the "Make a Production Out of It" challenge, which didn't attract a lot of people and didn't really tap into a sense of drama, but encouraged spontaneous mugging on stage, which is fine with me too!).

We had a horrible time finding parking at the evening site; we were slow to leave anyway because of having to clean up, and then when we got there we made the mistake of circling around to the other side of the block in search of parking, which put us unexpectedly in the heart of downtown Winnipeg at 6pm on a Saturday night, where it apparently takes 20 minutes to make a single left turn. It did for us, anyway. When we finally got there I was feeling very discombobulated and basically just took off my coat, dropped my stuff, and sat down to breathe.

Feast was amazing though, just incredible amounts of work. It was an all-illusion feast, meaning every dish was crafted to look like something it wasn't. First course was peacocks: a loaf of bread, a papier-mache peacock head, and a fan made of skewers of slices of sausage and cheese cut with small hearts. The whole meal went on like that, e.g. candy walnuts, spiced cookies shaped like fish, stew served in a dish shaped like a turtle, and at the end, "entrails with Spanish Fly" (the theme was love, after all!), which was dates threaded onto a string, battered, and fried, then scattered with raisins into which some dedicated person had cut two slits and inserted slivered almonds for wings.

The presentations were just as theatrical, involving people with masks and little processionals and instrumental music; I only wish I had known they were planning to make every course a dramatic production, or I would have suggested they tone it down if they were really serious about getting everyone out of the site by 10 when the burglar alarm system was scheduled to go on. In the end I think they did it, but it was close.

I don't remember a whole lot else about the event. If I do, I'll post it. Just thinking about it is tiring me out, but I'm glad we did it there. It was time for the Madness to spread to Castel Rouge.

And now, explaining the headers: I have indeed escaped a post-Bardic Madness cold (I don't know how; frustration + sleeplessness + excitement + emotionality + travel + 4 people in my car for 12 hours = illness in my experience). But I woke up this morning with my stomach roiling and pinching and general yuckiness preparing to eject itself from my body. No fever though. And it's 5 days after feast, so I don't know what's causing it--it seems like an odd interval for food poisoning. (I also didn't eat a whole lot at feast. Being in charge of a packed schedule will make you forget about food.) I dunno, it could have been dinner last night (I made myself onion-and-zucchini tagliatelle with butter and parmesan, and come to think of it, the zucchini had been in the fridge for a week), or something else I ate earlier in the week. Who knows.

So I've put off slightly my plans to drive to St. Cloud this afternoon for Venetian Carnevale tomorrow. I'm still going, I just want to make sure I get to a stable, don't-need-the-bathroom-every-15-minutes place. And I have until 6 to cancel motel reservations, so I'm good there. I am basically just going to relax for a little bit and see how I am.

On the plus side, I got an e-mail this morning (from an unlikely source) that had some information I'd been wanting for literally months, something that could really affect my in-limbo life for the better. I'm writing back to it right away and I hope it will pan out. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Hmmm...time to visit the bathroom again. *sigh*




Sunday, February 08, 2004
A deep bardic sigh
Or, Countdown six days

I'm listening with great pleasure to my friend Mistress Wyndreth's new CD, "...I have wedded this blade", which begins chillingly with the title song. The one that makes everyone shiver. Yow. The production values are beautiful, as is her voice (as usual). Her (friend and) recording engineer has several times offered to do the recording for my CD, to which I usually reply: "That means I would have to have enough material and chutzpah to do a CD." It's going to be a little while, but I'll never worry he'd make me sound bad, that's for sure. (If anyone's going to make me sound bad, the expert's going to do it--me. ;) )

Anyway, it's a wonderful recording. Northshield historical/praise stuff, lovely folk tunes, and Sephardic songs, and Norse poetry almost tastier than the real thing. You can get it from Wyndreth directly (see the link above), or I imagine eventually Amphisbaena will sell it (they already sell the Twa Corbies CD). Absolutely worth it.

It's been an odd week. Choir week, to be more specific--the concerts were yesterday and today, and we had two honkin' long rehearsals on Tuesday and Thursday night. These would have been more onerous if they weren't all at Maria Angelorum Chapel (that photo doesn't come close to doing it justice), the gorgeous church of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration down near the Viterbo campus. I'm not normally comfortable in churches, but this one shines so brightly, it would take a barbarian not to be moved. Every square inch is gorgeously decorated, like a huge illuminated manuscript going in all directions; it makes me want to paint.

I even found the reliquaries, which are not so much repositories of relics as walls of fame: A statue is surrounded by dozens of small inset shadowboxes, each filled with between 2 and 200 tiny snips of paper with...something...glued to it, identified by a slightly larger snip of paper with the world's smallest handwriting identifying the Saint here represented. I can only assume all of them are; no one without a ladder can see them all, arching over the statue. In all, thousands must be represented. Keep in mind there are two of these walls, one on either side of the chapel balcony. And each box, from an inch square to the long arch pieces, is decorated within: half-inch wreaths of seed pearls, vermeil ornaments, huge amounts of what looks like scrolled gilt paper (or maybe scrolled sheet gold...!), spangles and decorative wire. Then there are the sparkling inlaid mosaics showing up wherever a reliquary box isn't. You wonder what nuns do? These reliquary walls are surely the work of several lives.

So anyway, I got back from Dahrien & Missy's in Milwaukee last Sunday night; Monday I checked all the e-mail I hadn't looked at since Friday, and discovered that we are required to submit the CAPHIS election winners by...Feb. 15. This is on Feb. 2 that I find this out. After some frantic e-mailing on how this is going to happen, my fellow officers concluded it wasn't; my current plan is to mail ballots by the end of this week (yeah, right, but stuffing envelopes will keep me from too much unnecessary worrying about Bardic Madness) and have a receiving deadline of March 8. Luckily neither of our positions is being contested, so there won't be as much resting on my counting ballots (though I'll still have to do it as a formality); we can then announce the winner by the following week. That will give the winners a full two months to plan their trips to the MLA annual meeting. That's the best we can do.

But me, being at home, with not much having weighed on me in the last month, it kind of shook me to have sudden urgent responsibilities. Especially responsibilities that depend on other people's doing stuff while I wait, not being sure exactly when they will get to it, if ever. (What, you say you think I'm referring to how things work in the SCA? Oddly, no. In the SCA, we have many reasons to do what we say we're going to do--honor, reputation, getting awards and praise, etc.--, and a good excuse if we don't quite get to it on time, i.e., "This is a volunteer organization; I just couldn't prioritize it". You can give the same excuse in a professional organization, but I don't know if we know each other well enough to trust that we're going to get things done at all, much less on time. Personal honor is an option in professional organizations, not a way of life like it is in the SCA.)

Plus I had choir stuff as mentioned before, plus I had lots of Bardic Madness stuff to organize, plus I am out of practice in remembering times and obligations. So I haven't slept well this week. I keep dreaming that I'm late for something. This morning I dreamed four different ways to miss my 1:30 concert call. I would wake up staring at the clock, grumble that it's only 5:15, go back to sleep, only to have the same thing happen 45 minutes later.

"You should write appointments in your calendar, so you can remember them and not have to worry," you might advise. And you'd be right, except that's what I always do and have been doing this year in a lovely black leatherbound appointment book with a compass star on the front. Doesn't help. Just because they're written down doesn't mean I won't wake up in the middle of the night convinced I've missed them.

It might just be that Bardic Madness is creeping up on me and there's not much to do except watch it creep. Aw, that makes it sound like I'm not looking forward to it, which is not at all true. This morning I saw an mpeg of one of Castel Rouge's newbies, who is going to be teaching a class at BMXIV, singing a solo version of "Come Again" at Castel Rouge 12th Night last month, and I remembered one of the great joys of Bardic Madness: discovering new talent. I'm so looking forward to meeting him, and all the many people I don't know in faraway Castel Rouge.

But first I have to get there! I'm going to be doing a large part (if not all) of the driving. Friends that were going to put me in their van, decided against going. So I'm caravaning with Chris and bringing a few others, and by golly, we're going to get there. It's comforting to have talked recently (most recently, yesterday at That Moot Thingy) with people coming from farther than me. If they're committing to be there, I can definitely handle it. And be Provost all day. I think.

The thing is, I knew exactly how things were going to happen last year when Jararvellir did the event, because I made a pest of myself and told the autocrats just exactly what to do and insisted on coffee when they said it wasn't necessary and showed up to business meetings where decisions were being made. I can't do that with Castel Rouge, both because it's too far away, and because I don't really know anyone in the group well enough to pull--well, it wasn't rank exactly; Chandler was already a Laurel by then, but call it pulling authority with my Jararvellir autocrats.

Then again, I have a huge wellspring of trust in Aleksandr and everything I know about Castel Rouge hospitality. Rosanore says that when she was running Dance Seminar, she basically just told Castel Rouge one year what she needed, and they threw her an event. I know everything's going to be fine. I just don't know it first-hand from having meddled in it and argued and scolded and all that. It's a bit of a leap of faith this year, and it's a leap I'm glad to take; I just wish I could sleep better, is all.

Topic over, at least for now. The general public doesn't need to see me fret quite this much.

The concerts were nice. Even though the acoustics in Maria Angelorum are such that you don't strain to be heard, I still feel like I pushed things, or at least that's what my throat feels like. It's that darn Bach motet ("Lobet den Herrn", No. 6). Who on earth would give that thing to high schoolers? I've heard it done by high school choirs. It should not be. It should be done by professional singers who memorize multi-measure runs as a matter of course and sing every day, so they never have to worry about not being in-voice. It's long and taxing and easy to get lost and dammit, it just has too many notes!

That having been said, I didn't feel this way after singing "Singet dem Herrn" with the Central Chamber Chorale a few years ago, so maybe it's just me. Oh, and the other demanding stuff we did: a new arrangement of "At the Cry of the First Bird" and a Rimsky-Korsakov "Alleluia" arranged by a local high school music teacher, Bainton's "And I Saw a New Heaven", and my own favorite piece of music of any kind ever, "Ave Verum Corpus" by William Byrd. Which I found in 1994 that I can't sing well. Wrong range for me. I feel it in my bones but I can't sing it very well and it bugs me. I do have to say one more time, though, Dr. Rusterholz can pick great music. He really can. It's just DEMANDING music.

After the concert today, after having spent a combined 24 hours in Maria Angelorum (most of it singing hard) in the past week, I went to the Pearl for cotton candy ice cream. And it tasted and felt so good, I almost started singing the Bach again. Praise the Lord indeed. ;)

But now I'm getting sleepy, and my back is tired from being held so straight during the concerts. The CD is over (there's something wrong with the last track, besides what's supposed to be wrong with the last track; maybe I'll need to exchange my copy) and there's nothing good on TV. I'm going to give myself a mental respite from Bardic Madness worrying until at least tomorrow, and go lie in bed with a book.






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