Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Not quite April

Snow is expected tomorrow night. It is sunny, but filthy cold. I can hear the wind sharpening its whatever that takes your hair off. I still have redpolls, whom I love, who may have decided that this IS Northern Canada and perhaps they will stay.

In three months, God willing, I'll be complaining about the heat.

I had my 7-week post-op and I am just amazingly fine.  I am very happy with that. I am also trying to eat more vegetables and perhaps even exercise more. I am cautious about lifting things. Since the frost will never get out of the ground, I'll never know whether I can shovel decently.

Last weekend was Conbust. The weekend before that was Doug and Barb's wedding.

I have low expectations of weddings. I was worried the liturgy would be so bad my inner liturgist (who used to be Top Personality) would have a Level Seven Wobbly (or 'take a fit,' as they say here. Have a cow).  Since, in my liturgy rating system, it is almost impossible to come out with a positive score, only losing a few points is pretty good (bells at the elevation, communion under only the appearance of bread, use of a deacon instead of lay Eucharistic ministers). Unexpected not-losses of points: short sermon, consecration of the hosts for the mass AT the mass; really pretty, not-overwhelming music/no one singing 'How Great Thou Art;' no mentions at all of birth control, abortion, the vocation crisis, or people with statistically unusual sexual preferences. I didn't come even close to losing my temper, which is, sadly, amazing.

The reception was buffet, tasty food, reasonable bar, comfortable setting (the head table was another table like unto all the rest of us and not on a dais), and really nice people.  The music was just low enough that you could actually converse, as well.

Deb accused me unjustly of stealing the blankets the first night, at her house, so I got the bed at the hotel  all to myself while she and Sarah shared. On the trip home, the Boisverts suggested a stop at Rein's Deli, at which I have wanted to eat since I was in college. But I am not often on I-84,, and when I have been I have been in a hurry, so I have just looked mournfully at the sign when I drove past. It was up to expectation. I had the Nova Smoked Salmon Salad and Potato Pancake Platter. The place smelled like the delicious half-sour pickles they give you while you wait for your food. Deb Boisvert and discovered that we had both spent the same chunk of our lives -- old enough to yearn, too young to drive -- in New Jersey.

Doug was away for the next week, on his honeymoon in Mystic Seaport, CT, and York Beach, ME. I prepared for teaching three small fibery workshops at Conbust and had performance anxiety. On Thursday I took off and crossed a small but valid continental divide over the Connecticut River, off New Hampshire's granite chunk of Africa onto Vermont's edge-of-North America limestone former-seabed. It was sunny, though neither green nor warm, and a lovely drive. A gas station just over the border had home-made pea soup, which fortified me for getting lost in Bellows Falls. At last I reached Saxton's River and DyakCraft. I picked up ten Cheap Sheep spindles and drove on to Northampton. It was good to see Grace and Debbie, although Grace was in MCAS hell (a special version for Special Ed teachers). Friday I did things in Northampton and was in a foul mood, which was sad because it was only moderately cold, sunny, and everyone was nice to me.

Conbust had originally suggested I give the needlefelting workshop at 9 pm Friday night, when all good science-fiction fans should be drinking and or watching movies, and I should be in bed. At my protest, they moved it to 6 pm Friday, an hour after the con opened for registration and while there were still long lines of people waiting to sign in. I was not surprised only to have one student, but she was delightful, and we had a wonderful time making Luna Lovegood's radish earrings. An ideal first project.  Since the committee had also decided that an hour per workshop was enough (I usually get two), we had to move to the ConSuite and I demonstrated wet felting of small radishes in difficult circumstances (no hot water in the bathrooms, and the only cups they had were coldcups that did not fit under the spigot of the hot-water device (#ConSuiteFAIL)). And while we were there I taught someone else to needlefelt.

I went back to Grace and Debbie's in a much better frame of mind and watched the Bruins crush the Canadiens on the high-definition TV.

Saturday was lovely and cold again. I awoke early and took advantage of the excellent wifi by listening to New Hampshire Public Radio. I also read my e-mail and found out Diana Wynn Jones had died. She was a kind, funny, good writer of mostly YA fiction, not that any adult would fail to find it subtle and exciting, and I was sorry to hear of her passing. She would have approved of Conbust. And Gerry Ferraro, too, and the dust was rising in NH about the ghastly legislative budget proposal. It made me melancholy.

I had just about decided no one wanted to learn to embroider when the class filled up. Today's youth (one male person, the rest female) want to embroider baby monsters and kitties, not rocket ships or skulls. And they are fiercely determined to make things as hard for themselves as possible, as when several decided that they should fill a 1mm-wide line with 1mm-wide stitches, instead of following it in, say, 1/4" ( 3.5mm)- LONG stitches. I also discovered why DMC's Prism floss is so much cheaper than their good stuff: it is made of shorter-stapled cotton, so not only is it less shiny, it tends to snag more on itself and anything it can find. The students murmured in agreement when I suggested that all embroidery floss was out to get people, anyway.  I tried to teach them Stem Stitch. Some of them invented Running Stitch and Back Stitch instead, but on the whole I think it was a success.

I went back to Grace and Debbie's and was exhausted. Later we watched two episodes of Bones and then someone dispatched the Red Sox, but it was pre-season so that was all right. We also went to a tapas restaurant, where they prepared very tasty Spanish bar food in minute, edible portions, and my table argued about the existence of God.

On Sunday I only had two spinning students, both male persons. One was nice guy I met on Friday night, who had enjoyed watching the needlefelting (and whose head exploded painfully when he heard about the existence of Kirk/Spock fanporn. Someone should really have told him sooner), and the other was a lutenist at various renfaires who wanted to know how to spin. After our hour was over, he and I carried on, and then I taught a passerby to spin who ended up buying a spindle (as had the lutenist). Not the best weekend for numbers, but I had a good time and I think the people who took my workshops actually learned.

I bought one of my friends a Grateful Dead bandana for her collection, got some lunch, and drove home. My cats are well, and Doug survived his honeymoon. I think we can be sure Barb is neither a honeybee nor a praying mantis, which is always a relief.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Right then. On my river in Egypt I have this excellent raft

In other news, about ME -- I noted my six-weeks post op last Friday.  I feel fine.  I still get tired easily, but let's not forget I was not the Energizer Bunny before this surgery. I am hoping to be able to start using a shovel again soon ("6-week" checkup is a week from tomorrow), and I am reluctant to lift anything much.

The greater part of the snow has melted.  We still have 4-6" on the ground most places, but the driveway is ice-free (and mud-enhanced, with a couple of excellent sinkholes). I still have a few redpolls, but the goldfinches are back (still in winter plumage); the Pileated is rattling a lot and the titmice are calling.  Perhaps the peepers will start soon.

Marten and Willow are much more tolerant of the kittens. Wash takes complete advantage of Marten and fawns all over him. This afternoon Marten hissed while Wash was rubbing against him, and Wash ignored it. Then they played 'chase' up the driveway and back down to where I was.  As I write, the sun has come out for the first time since at least Friday and I can feel my mood lightening. Mal is almost as tall as Marten at the shoulder and still less than half Marten's size. I guess the limb bones grow first, and then the vertebrae?

Doug is getting married to Barb on Saturday. Sarah and Deb Duranceau and I are are driving down to Connecticut Saturday morning. The following weekend I am giving three craft workshops at the Smith Science Fiction Convention: needle felting, spinning with a drop spindle, and introduction to hippie-freestyle embroidery.  I have made a bunch of tiny skeins of different colors of floss and a bunch of iron-ed on transfers with simple designs (kitten, rocketship, baby monster, sugar skull, tattoo-style bluebird, and an anchor for non-fan types). Fortunately, hoops are cheap, at least the ones I got.  For the needle-felting, I had intended to make a bunch of colors in fleece, and I have, but I can't see any rhyme nor reason in them. But they are bright. I need to make some more.  And I have well-prepped roving to spin and Cheap Sheep on order for the spinners.  I will recharge my bright blue hair as soon as I get home from Doug's wedding. If I wear one of these, I don't think people will think I am a furry, but will they think I am a scaly? a kaijusexual?

I suppose Daylight Saving Time could be seen as an industrial-era form of the Pancake Race.

It's always something...

I was trying to count up the number of really serious things I could recall living through. I remember my mother cutting out the new president's newspaper photo in 1960 (that would be JFK) and saying she was going to send it to her mother (a Republican. My mother claims this is not true. How would I make it up?) and later I recall her telling me they were very very scared, which I am pretty sure had to do with the Bay of Pigs/Cuban Missile Crisis.  When I was seven, Kennedy was shot, which I remember very clearly; we went to washington to see the funeral. When I was thirteen, Martin Luther King was killed and about a month later, so was Bobby Kennedy, and these were terrible.  So were the first shuttle blowing up (I also remember the Apollo capsule and Grissom, White, and Chafee burning), the big attack on the World Trade Center , and the second shuttle explosion. I can remember vaguely hearing about the first attack, and about the massacre in Waco.  Flashbulb memories. Where were you?

I remember the first time I read a small article in the NY about some weird form of cancer that seemed to be affecting the city's homosexual community; I thought that was not going to be the last we heard of THAT, and I was right. I also figured it was too slow to be It, the End of the World as We Know It (although I gather if you were gay and young in New York or San Francisco, it was close enough).

 9-11 was the first time people seemed seriously to believe the end of the world as we knew it had come; we had been let down by Y2K. I remember Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, but I can't recall any emotional freight attached to them.

Katrina was different; those were MY people, Americans, and they were not well served. And if it isn't the same, it's coming back, one way or another, in the same place (which I understand why, but I also can't understand.)

It's not that there haven't been earthquakes before. It's not that there haven't been disasters among industrialized people before, and it is my own hard-heartedness that makes wipeouts in Pakistan and Turkey less shocking than seeing convenience stores and apartment buildings in Biloxi and Christchurch and Miyagi crushed, torn up, or drowned.

But this time there are nuclear reactors involved, and I really do feel like this could be it. Does everyone have an It they wonder if things could be, or is that a habit from reading science fiction? You can't read science fiction without having a thinkable idea of TEOTWAWKI; a lot of fans have more like a relationship with it, a bag packed, a skill set, a look for exits, a checkout for ambush. Some of it's simple paranoia, some of it's justified, some of it's escapism, some of it's cultivated ("Anywhere else has got to be better than it is here"). But we spend a fair amount of time thinking the unthinkable (like, what if you could fly? would you need wings or a jetpack or would it all be like telekinesis? And then everyone with blue eyes became werewolves?). By the way, there are these asteroids? They probably won't hit, or the supernova next door or...

Or you're a history buff: you have to think about the plagues, and read about Lassa fever and SARS, and wonder, particularly as it takes more and more different antibiotics to knock out a baby's earache. Or you read about bees, deforestation, climate change, population growth, the extinction of more species at one time that we have known of since the end of the Cretaceous... I mean, if you're a certain kind of green or lefty you have some difficulty being wholeheartedly optimistic. Denial lets me get around. I usually think the prevalence of depression these days has to do with the way we treat one another or are treated in order to make a living, and the forced obsolescence of perfectly good things, people, and ways of life. I wonder if some it isn't also the number of loud warnings that we are passing the point of any kind of stability.

Or if you study the decline of Rome. The end of industrial life, of this human civilization: we've been there, done that, come back.

But that time there weren't nuclear reactors involved.

I didn't use to dread logging onto Twitter.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Shrove Tuesday -- International Women's Day Fail

I forgot to have pancakes. Now it will be my fault if Christ does not rise and/or the sun does not get stronger (cross out where not applicable)(ten points off if you giggled at 'cross'.)

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.
Rebecca West

Every day is "I am A Feminist" Day.  But I suppose it's like gay pride and every so often we should mention it.

I am single, overeducated, and own property. In the bad old days those were a recipe for a witch burning (hanging, pressing, whatever).  However disappointed you may be in this country, it's better than it was and it's better than it IS an awful lot of places. Some of which our government props up. I suppose there are institutional systems worse than misogyny (or outright gynophobia) but it seems hard to believe that the worst of them would not be improved by treating slightly over half of the human race as well as if they were male (same legal rights. Same educational rights. Same rights to travel safely. Same vocational and employment rights. Same rights to dress comfortably, conveniently, safely).  Oppression begins at home. Depersonalization begins at home. Thought control begins at home. You can suggest they begin in fear, or in books, or in houses or worship, but they can't be systemic if they aren't carried home.  

These rights are, oddly, the same ones as ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities want.  Many of them are male. You wouldn't think it would be hard to understand.