Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Lookit the hotsy published author!
Or, All moved, all happy-like

First: take a look at this! The issue of the Journal of Hospital Librarianship with my article in it has been published. It's available online, but only if you have an account with Haworth (I do because I'm a personal subscriber to the journal). If you don't, and you want to see it, ask me, because I'm so excited about it I'll probably be carrying my copy around with me for the foreseeable future!

The move was a lot of work (duh) but very fulfilling because I'M HERE! I'm now at my new apartment in Madison. Contact information is on my resume page, which has also been updated with info on the article and more. The apartment is wonderful. Never underestimate the value of a change of venue. I feel like a new person when I wake up in the morning and see where I am. It's spacious, clean, homey, and has cool features like a 1 1/2 bathroom with a central bathtub and two toilet/sink rooms, one on either side, with doors separating all three.

Oh yes, and copious closet space. Copious enough that I suspect I won't miss the storage space of my garage in La Crosse. Copious enough that not only do I have an entire closet for SCA camping/travel stuff (separate from the garb closet), I also have a small corner closet next to the front door that I'm saving for visitors' use. How many times have I crashed at someone's home, only to discover there's no place to hang up my elaborate gown when I get back from the event? No one will have that problem here!

I think the best part is that I'm all the way back at the end of the apartment complex, surrounded by a grassy hill topped with trees. Most windows look out on the hill/trees; one small window looks up to a very attractive condo complex on Old Middleton Rd. The light is lovely because it reflects off the hillside when it isn't shining directly into the apartment. I can't wait to see what it looks like when the trees have leaves.

Friday I spent far too much money at Target. It was time to re-furnish my bathroom, since things like the rugs and shower curtain from the old apartment were the wrong color for this bathroom (it's got blue/green/white tile floors). If I do say so myself, I did a nice job. Blue has always been my favorite color.

Saturday I went down to Triskelion, the first event in Riverwatch (Dubuque, IA), where my apprentice sister Robina is seneschal. The group did a fantastic job. In particular, I thought the bardic challenges went well. Even people who had never been to Bardic Madness seemed to get the idea and did a nice job performing. I sang a choral piece with some other folks for one of the challenges, then did "Three Words" for a challenge along the lines of "three in any medium". In the evening we ate in the college cafeteria (how nice not to have to leave site!), had a Calontir Court with Prince Aubrey of the Northshield and Queen Guenievre of the Midrealm guest-starring, and then there was a dance revel in which I alternately played tambourine and danced.

Met some great people: Lady Tsire's new boyfriend (well, new since I've seen her, anyway) is a real gem, and seemed to take a shine to me. He even invited me to visit them in St. Louis--hmm, tempting, but perhaps not in the heat of the summer. But if I were to decide to go to Lilies, at least I know I'd have people to camp with. (Not likely--I'd rather go to Pennsic, and I think Lilies overlaps with some other plans I have.)

A bard named Mathurin seemed enthralled by the whole Northshield bardic scene. From what he tells me, he's been in the SCA for many years and has recently let his bardic activity lapse. Too bad, because he's a talented singer and drummer, as well as a gentlemanly sort, very fun to talk to. He e-mailed to ask for some links to bardic listservs and such, so I hope he's planning on getting re-involved in the bardic arts. Calontir needs more active bards. I invited him to W&W so he can really immerse himself in bardic.

Yesterday I went to the WHSLA annual meeting in Milwaukee. Surprise: the GL Library Services Department has won the Library of the Year Award for 2004. (I was still working there when the application would have been sent in.) As President, Melinda got to announce this, and she described all the functions and accomplishments of the department, then invited Eileen and Kitty (the only current employees who were at WHSLA) up to accept the award.

By that time I actually had tears in my eyes. I left GL only 4 1/2 months ago; the department won the award in part based on my work in the HRC Library. Part of me was glad this had happened, but a bigger part of me was realizing with growing horror that I was not going to get recognized for it. I sat with my heart pounding as the pictures and applause proceeded. Finally Eileen, who is now the Team Leader, had the presence of mind to announce the names of all the employees on the library team, current and recent, including me. I didn't get invited up, but just hearing my name was enough. I give Eileen a huge amount of credit for remembering me. She is a bigger person than--all right, no blame here. She's a big person.

Funny coincidence: I met up with a guy who got the job at Oscar Meyer that I didn't get in 1995. He now works in Illinois for Kraft, the parent company. (A lot of corporate/special librarians showed up at WHSLA this year because Tomas Lipinski was there to lecture and teach classes on copyright. He's an expert in the field of copyright and libraries.) We laughed over the coincidence.

Then when I told him I'd just moved from La Crosse, he mentioned he had nearly gotten a job as Technology Librarian at UW-La Crosse in 1999. I grinned widely and pointed across the room to my friend Brian, who was my predecessor at GL and now works at Marshfield Clinic, sitting at my old desk from when they were hosting me for NAHEC. "Yes, I know, and there's the guy who got the job," I said. His eyes nearly popped out of his head. "This is a slightly incestuous field," I added, grinning.

It was a nice conference. Dr. Lipinski is only an okay speaker, but he definitely knows his stuff (and isn't hard on the eyes, either). The food was excellent all day--way better than it's been at past conferences. I had some nice conversations with people I hadn't seen in a long time, and met some very enthusiastic new members. The reception in the evening was at the new art museum on the Lake Michigan shore in Milwaukee, where we saw a fun exhibit called American Fancy, watched the hydraulic wings extend, and had a gourmet dinner overlooking the lake. I almost hated to leave. But it was nice to arrive back home in Madison.

Back home in Madison! What a concept. Today I went over to Sequoya Branch of the Madison Public Library, which is my childhood library. I'd visited every few years since I left Madison, but it's different browsing when you know it's YOUR library and you can check things out. It's really not that different than it was when I was little; it expanded about 12 years ago into space that was once a drugstore, and was reconfigured at that time, but not radically. The library assistant who took my library card application was telling me that they're going to be either expanding or relocating again soon (the webpage corroborates this), she thought within the same strip mall. (Sigh...no new building, I guess. Oh well, that's par for the course for the MPL.)

I'll say it again: it is simply amazing the difference a change of venue can make. And this particular change of venue puts me in the middle of the culture I grew up in, happily grown and changed even while I was growing and changing elsewhere, but still the same in essential ways. Not only that, but I also have a new set of friends here, people I didn't know when I lived here, but whom I've gotten to know through the SCA. This is my place, this is my life. Mark my words: I'm not leaving it again.




Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Words recovered
Or, Just about the only benefit of packing

...is that you go through boxes you haven't looked at in years, where you had stuffed things that you knew you wanted to keep, but couldn't figure out where they would logically be filed (or had already taped up the box containing those files).

I don't know if you recall my Dec. 20, 2001 post, where I talk about how I wish I could find a poem I had found in a literary magazine when I was working with the Little Magazine Collection at UW-Madison Special Collections. Like a lot of poems I found at that job, I wrote it out on the back of one of the green index cards I was using for my indexing project. Then I stuck it on the side of my closet in my Master Hall apartment, to look at in idle moments. I then lost all track of it for about 9 years.

Guess what? I was clearing out a plastic file box I used to use to hold maps in the car, and found it. Apologies to the author, Rennie Parker, but I am so glad to see it that I just have to put it online here. This is what's on the card, copied directly from the magazine:

Herbert Howells considers the position of trains

"A Spotless Rose" was, according to his own wry testimony, composed while he was idly watching shunting on a railway siding. --John Burke, Musical Landscapes


...and when they veered
on complicated tracks I caught
their fine melisma. Knowing what goes in,
no mastery could be so smooth as I.

Like as an hart
and then the hart speeds on
barely touching corners where it goes,
the hart has fled to myth, its traces gone--
an image of creation seen as flight.
I must believe in this:
the infinite love I bear,
a great cathedral lies in the little ear.

(So strange I would not go
where passion bids the delicate soul
affright itself. My silence
is the silence of the rose,
all fitful quirking tightly under the lid,
essential order firmly in control)

--Rennie Parker
in Spokes, #24 (Winter 1993)
Bedfordshire, England



It renews my faith in the world to find this poem. I'm serious. I missed it so much. Immediately on reading it, I found the parts that struck me when I first found it, among which: "I must believe in this:/ the infinite love I bear, /a great cathedral lies in the little ear." Wow. I worship in that cathedral too. The Chamber Chorale concerts this weekend, my last with that group, managed to tap into that infinite love (despite tiring me out like crazy). There are other parts that seem to describe me. I'm going to have to do a search on Rennie Parker and find out how many poems this person has written about me. ;)

The pile of boxes has had some furniture, as well as a whole lot of other boxes, added to it in the last few days. It is now 5 feet tall at its highest point, and maybe 10 feet deep and wide. It holds everything I own (except the few things I still haven't packed up). It's a little freakish to look at it. When I think about how long it's taken me to pack all these boxes, I'm convinced I will never unpack them all. I joked on the phone to Mom today that even though I've said I'd like to use my second bedroom as a guest room, it's probably going to be box storage for the foreseeable future. My mom got all mom-like and said, "Now, if you're smart, you'll set yourself a task of unpacking all of them by a certain date, and I know you're smart", or words to that effect. It's not always so simple with me, unfortunately. But I told her I'd try.

I can't believe I'm leaving. In some ways it feels like I'm leaving as a failure. It seems like two months ago that I moved here with all the excitement and pride of someone stepping into her dream job. I'm still trying to figure out what went so wrong that I had to quit. Near as I can figure, there are multiple factors, some of them specific to me, and some having to do with GL. All I know is, I've gotten more valuable relaxation and introspection done in the last three and a half months than in the last three and a half years. This was the right thing to do. I'll never stop missing that library, and I still don't know what I'm going to do in Madison, besides enjoy being home. But it's time to go. Finally, it's time to go home.




Thursday, April 15, 2004
Writing from behind the wall o' boxes
Or, "When the movers come, that's when you're done packing"

It's actually less of a wall now than a mountain. About 4' tall, maybe 7' wide in any direction. Thank heavens for my open-concept apartment, which allows this mountain to sit in the center of my apartment without my having to significantly alter traffic patterns. HOW did I do this when I lived in that cubicle at Country Meadows in Madison?

Oh yeah, I didn't have most of this stuff back then.

I think I'm making progress. My general tack with most items (books, clothes, videos, CDs, foodstuffs) is to separate it into three groups: 1) I must throw this away now. 2) I think someone may need this, and I know where I can donate it. 3) I want to take this with me to the new apartment. The third group is usually the largest of any type, but the first two groups are respectably large, and (what makes me feel better still) I have been donating stuff: food to WAFER, my old cell phone to Call to Protect, clothes to Goodwill, and I'm bringing my old pairs of glasses (why have I kept three old pairs of glasses when in a worst-case scenario, I'd only ever need one spare?) to the Lion's Club drop box at the church where the LaX Chamber Chorale is rehearsing this week. I even gave some furniture to friends: the breakfast bar and stools that never quite went together right, the big ol' denim beanbag, and the little sewing tabouret.

It's when it comes to cluttered areas (my computer desk, my kitchen table, my telephone table) that the three-group system breaks down, because everything on those surfaces MUST be important to keep, or I'd never have kept it there this long...right? Yes, I know, this is not clear thinking on my part. I'm doing my best. This is stressful. I just have so much...stuff.

Tomorrow night I'm going to dinner at the home of a former co-worker. This is a person who was always very nice to me, but works with people who were part of the problem at GL. She has a way of drawing out my opinions just by being so very nice, yet I don't think I ought to be telling her how I felt/feel about people at GL. It's not a good idea for my opinions to leach back into the library team at GL...not that I am assuming she would blab them, but that you never can be sure. It's like that e-mail rule: never write anything in an e-mail that you wouldn't want forwarded to the world's largest listserv. Not that anyone would, but they still could.

Anyway, this particular former co-worker asked me about a year and a half ago to create a costume for a doll she had from her childhood. This is a plastic doll, nothing valuable or anything; a little dirty, losing her hair, but obviously a favorite, and originally pretty well-made. Being the procrastinator I am, I let the doll sit in a plastic bag on my craft table for about a year. When I left my last job, I decided it was time to work on the doll. But I haven't been very assiduous during my off-time either, because I'm just now getting her dress put together.

She's going to be cute: I made a little cotton chemise, linen pantaloons (because who really wants to pick up a doll, look under her skirt, and see nothing?), and a muffin cap of gold silk duppioni, red braid, and pearls (which covers most of her bald spots). The dress is dark red silk duppioni, high-waisted Italian style, with gold braid and an underskirt of the same gold silk/red braid/pearls as the hat. I worked on it for maybe 5 hours today and the only task left is to fit the skirts to the bodice and attach them. Easier said than done: I have to gather the skirts to the circumference of the bodice, and the underskirt is not the same width as the overskirt, so they have to be gathered separately and then sewn together.

This is why I haven't made much garb recently. I have very little patience for these fiddly bits. Anyway, the remaining tasks will be mulled over tonight in bed, in case I can think of any ways to make them simpler, and then I'll get down to business tomorrow and have it all ready to be delivered at dinner at 5. I think. I hope. You would think a year and a half would be enough time to finish a simple doll costume!

*sigh*

The movers are coming next Wednesday, April 21, relatively early in the morning. Then I have a cleaner coming to help me get this apartment in shape before I turn over the keys. Then I go to Madison. (Then I go to my parents' house and sleep.) The movers will hold stuff overnight and then drive to Madison and meet me at the new apartment on the 22nd so I can supervise unloading stuff. Then I will probably be overwhelmed for a little while. We'll see how long that lasts.

My mom came to visit this last weekend and kept asking me if I would miss La Crosse. Each time she asked, I gave it some good thought. I don't think I answered the same way twice. I think (despite my talk to the contrary about, say, Bismarck) I am fundamentally the type of person who can find something fun and good about any community she lives in. There are a few things I'll miss about La Crosse, but I am still trying to think of one of them that isn't closely replicable in Madison. La Crosse is very pretty (but then so is Madison); the walking is flat in my neighborhood, which I will miss, and you are safe most anywhere, which isn't true about Madison.

I will miss the People's Food Co-op, which finally has a website, and which is going to be expanding hugely over the next year. It has so much more character (and better food) than, say, Magic Mill, and is way less corporate than, say, Whole Foods. I would hang out at the Willy St. Co-op but it's a good 20 minute drive, through downtown traffic, from where I'll be living. Maybe I'll join, that would give me an excuse to make it over there every so often.

I will definitely miss my Shire. I feel a little detached already, having given up both of my offices. Ariella has completely redesigned the webpage, and it looks gorgeous. Toki put out a White Birch that looks like a totally different newsletter. I like it, but I will miss feeling part of this little "hive mind". They know me so well; they humor my tendency to seize attention, and are endlessly entertained by my little verbal slip-ups late at night at an Umthing Moot. They put up with Colleen and the conversations I have with her. In general they are just amazingly good-humored people to be around. Jararvellir is a lot of things, but I have a feeling their record on good-humoredness is not as consistent as Rokeclif's. From what I understand, nobody's is.

But, I've done this before. I'll always be a 'Cliffie just like I'll always be a Keeper, and that won't go away just because I migrate. And then there's the hope that this will be my last move (last community move, anyway) for a long time.

All that having been said, I sure will miss the Blended Mochas at the new Java Joe's drive-thru coffee place on Mormon Coulee.




Sunday, April 04, 2004
A small but significant part of why I joined the SCA
Or, His Excellency Baron Eyecandy

From THL Barbara Sterling's Gulf Wars photo gallery: Baron Rodrigo of Nordskogen's natural resting pose during sunny weather. No disrespect to Rodrigo whatsoever--he's a fine fellow and seems a wonderful Baron to me. How can it be anything but another compliment on the pile, to assert that he's very...nice to look at in the sunshine with his shirt off and his coronet on?

*pause to stuff the hormones back in their drawer*

All right, I'm back.

Thursday night I went to the Fool's Moot in Jararvellir, also known as my new home Barony once I move back to Madison. It was worth the drive. Lord Rascal, his family, and various and sundry Fools did a nice job of bringing Commedia dell'Arte to the 21st century. They used it as it was supposed to be used (as I understand it): each of them had a stock character to play, and they managed to stay in character for most of the evening, coming together in various combinations for everything from skits to juggling to contests to a mock Court. After the (somewhat more real) concluding Baronial Court, HE Elashava led everyone in the Jararvellir fight song, which, appropriately, is sung to the tune of "On, Wisconsin". I felt very much at home.

The next day I proceeded to Northfield, MN where I heard Mike Perry speak. His book, Population 485, was part of one of those programs where everyone in town is supposed to read a certain book. (I don't know how well they work; when La Crosse read Lois Lowry's The Giver a couple of years ago, I meant to participate in the discussions and the author's presentation, but even though I'd already read the book and loved it, I never managed to prioritze the associated activities. Oh well.)

There were only a couple of hundred people in the audience but people were very appreciative. They could hardly keep from being moved, in my opinion: Perry is an extremely engaging and moving speaker. He writes like he speaks and speaks like he writes. I've already praised him to the skies on my Books page, but let me just say this: he's every bit as cute in person.

I paid probably more than I should have to stay at an AmericInn that obviously considers itself to be in the Twin Cities price constellation, and then yesterday I went to the Nordleigh SCA event put on by the two college groups in Northfield. I have to say they did a nice job despite a certain level of disorganization. The theme was Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, which isn't used as a theme enough in the SCA, if you ask me. Feast was delicious (and it was nice to be able to eat most everything, unlike how things fell out last year with the event occurring during Passover).

Someone had the interesting idea of putting together a deck of cards with the travelers from the Canterbury Tales, plus a Chaucer card, and giving them out at various activities during the day. They also had a room where lots of cards were hidden for the taking; people could come in and graze and then someone would replenish the cards every hour or so. Anyone who collected the 10 travelers' cards was entered in a drawing; those who got the 10 and the Chaucer card were in a separate drawing. They drew for those at the very end of the event, and I won the 11-card drawing. However, I still don't know what I won. When I asked, they cheerfully told me, "The prize is still to be determined." It was a good idea, about 90% well-executed and 10% ball-dropped. Oh well. It was fun looking for the cards, anyway.

I slept entirely too late this morning (so what else is new?) and woke up thinking of all the things I need to put on the slate to do tomorrow. I made myself a mini-list, then embarked on some things I could get done today even though it's Sunday. Top on the list was to activate my new cell phone. Well, I discovered that while you can do the automated part of the activation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there's a point at which the machine transfers you to a human being to go over specific details of your contract, and that's the point at which it dumped me into "We are sorry, our office is closed right now" hell. I expect I'll call tomorrow and they'll tell me, "Wow, your account seems to be in some kind of computer limbo!" and put me on hold for forty-five minutes while they figure out how to get me the rest of the way activated.

Suffice to say: use my old cell phone number for a few more days there, okay, friends-of-mine?

Big task: I have GOT to get a mover lined up. I realized this weekend that with going to Madison for Passover, my next really free time to make calls to movers would be this Wednesday--only 2 weeks before the move! So, if only to make myself feel a little more virtuous, I need to start calling movers tomorrow, meaning I'm going to have to actually wake up at a normal hour if I'm going to start on the road to Madison in the early PM. *sigh* Well, if I HAVE to... ;)







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