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In which I have put up my feet

Next stop, should I make it that far, is the study, with the watercolor project stage for small edition book. But I get ahead of myself. It is possible I have already used my allowance of spoons (energy) for the day.

On the other hand, the living room carpet is nice and clean, although still somewhat damp, instead of being spattered with drops of kitty's sticky medicine and other spots of somewhat food-pellet hues. It looks pretty good for a change, and there is even room on the sofa between book boxes for me to sit with the laptop. I've kind of blocked the doors, which is helping to keep Mr S and his boots out of the area as he arrives home from a Fine Day Out cutting and burning brush and covering himself with dirt and soot. As one does.

The only reason I got this done was that kitty woke up unexpectedly from her nap and went to investigate the Out. I had to whip out the vacuum which makes a horrendous noise she hates, and following the Flylady's advice, just do the middles and not obsess. This still involved moving a dozen pairs of shoes and a couple boxes of books and bags and the entire coffee table (heavily loaded) which slid into the dining room. Then as long as the floor was clear, and kitty was still out, I knew it would take just a few minutes to change the hoover into the carpet cleaner, which I have done many times before, and it really was worth the exertion. I even had a new bottle of carpet shampoo on hand. Then kitty came in and located her box, and then didn't want the sofa feather pillow oh no, had to have all the things piled on her chair removed so she could sleep in her sunny chair. As one does in the afternoon.

Unless one is contemplating putting away the vacuum cleaner and its parts, and finding places for all the stuff that was previously on the floor. And the carpet is still wet. So maybe now that I've had a bit of a sit down I'll try the study after all. Open some windows in there too. Today is nice and sunny, the first open windows of spring. Crocusses full-blown on the south wall, and tulips just coming up.

I know I haven't been posting much, but man, too much has been happening. It's all I can do to process day to day.

Way to bring me down

Woke up this morning from a bad dream. It was like a horrible distasteful movie but fortunately as soon as I woke up it was gone. On the other hand I was hurting all over my body, just the usual (have I told you about my condition?) so no wonder, thot I, that I was having such a bad dream.

Got up to take a pain med to kick off the day, and within minutes had gone through a long detailed thought process comparing life as we know it to some bad dream that one might want to wake up from. Everything fell on me, from the twenty-three-year-old cat in failing health, to my mother getting the word today on her chemotherapy, to the millions of people in Japan presently victim to earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Also don't forget the governor of my state who is dangerously insane. How do we get through the days? clearly formidable defenses are required for normal human functioning. The Buddha nailed it, with his teaching that all life is suffering. Left foot, right foot, breathe.

A couple of other things besides delusional thinking occurred to me that work. Making jokes about how horrible can it be. And eating good food together. Like that fellow K-Pax says in the movie, The fruit alone is worth the trip.

Interesting times

Honestly, I was just sitting there in the middle of February, reading five or six vampire novels in a week, that I was going to tell you about.

Then things got strange. I'm going to try not to say they can't get any stranger (oops) because every time I do, the strange meter gets overloaded again and has to be recalibrated.

It's been like a big civics lesson here in Madison, for all ages, for the whole last month. I've turned into a news junkie again. And then I got started on a link round-up of all the various most informative things I have been reading, like a weblog ya know, and my browser history is all saved up for the last two weeks, but it's such a fucking chore I'm not going to do that right now either. The culmination last night of five to seven thousand protestors storming the barricaded Capitol to shout SHAME! SHAME! at the legislators who passed a bill they had the votes to railroad through but then didn't even bother to do it in compliance with the open records law... nice videos. Today a very few got to practice their non-violent resistance to being dragged bodily out of the building, and the young newsman who tweeted last night that he had to climb in a window for his press access showed us video now of an empty rotunda.

Have fun storming the castle!
Think it'll work?
It'll take a miracle.


And I've actually been up there a couple times a week -- "show me what democracy looks like". Took the bus up to the Square today (which was an adventure in itself as the last time I rode a city bus here it had a letter on it instead of a number), walked around and knocked on doors and had various adventures. Sigh. Saturday we have a tractor parade up there! but the weather may not be the best. Legislature's not in session now for the rest of the month I think. Nice work if you can get it.

Then there was the whole thing about my mom out in San Diego going in the hospital to have a splenectomy last week, at the same time that they were moving to a retirement village, but the doctor decided the operation had to be right away. So I have talked on the phone to several family members that I have not talked to in literally years. Another long story here. Stress much?

As I always say, I am easily amused, and this is all by way of explaining that my circuits are pretty well fried. I keep up the walking, go to tai chi class now AND yoga. Breathe.

Mad Town walks like Egyptian

My feet are killing me, but man, what a lovely day. Let me count the ways.

1. Texting back and forth with Number One Son was fun, about whether I should go on up to the Square as long as I was already halfway there on my walk. And then my various text message reports. And cell battery did not die.

2. Instead of being seasonably cold, it hit fifty today. I had boots that could withstand any puddles.

3. Walking up West Washington, meeting people coming back down with various signs, I finally noticed they all looked terribly serious. I thought about how Governor Walker is going to kick our butts, and realized it doesn't matter, cause we get back up again. That alone was enough grace for the whole day.

4. And then when I got up to Carroll St, the Janesville fireman were marching around again, and this time they had pipers with them!!! Three bagpipes!!!

5. And it is so cool that the firemen have been there in solidarity with other municipal workers even though Walker's bill gives police & fire & those generally charged with keeping order the extraordinary privilege of keeping their collective bargaining rights. Yeah, for now. Like he thinks they just fell off the turnip truck?

6. Cops For Unions had a kiosk. There were some cops down from Juneau County in their teeshirts. The police on duty in the bright fluorescent vests were walking around very cool just like everyone else.

7. When I went into the Capitol -- which of course is the most beautiful capitol building in the country -- the rotunda was full of people, and every balcony and stairwell for four floors was draped with people. I have never seen it so vibrantly beautiful. They made the most extraordinary noise, partly chanting, but with many voices, that rose and fell.

8. How were the three big teevees set up on the balcony so everyone could see what was going on in the closed Senate meeting? Was maintenance in on it? not that you could hear anything, and it was just a boring meeting, but the people freely assembled were not allowed in.

9. A nice young man greeted me with a clipboard to see if I wanted to sign a petition, hell yeah! and he said he had slept there overnight, and I said Good work! and they are having a sleepover again tonight. That used to be called an "occupation". They are occupying the state capitol. And it's okay.

10. At that info desk there was a bright red sign, scrawled with the Latest Update that sixteen of the senators had FLED THE STATE, so there could be no vote, no quorum. This cheered me up.

11. It was awfully hot in there, so I went back outside. The high school students in the first block of State Street were doing a sort of cheering-squad routine, up and down the block, chanting This Is What Democracy Looks Like! and getting their pictures taken. Man, there were a lot of cameras everywhere.

12. Outside Michaelangelo's cafe there was a radio or tv or something with a crowd of people around it listening in the street, and the business of the senators who had absconded was being discussed with some indignation by the broadcast interviewer who thought they should be pursued and brought back, and all of us standing there were delighted that there was no quorum for a vote on the cursed bill.

13. Many wonderful signs, humorous, indignant, handmade, can now be seen in photos online; or signs identifying groups like the nurses, or the various firefighter locals.

14. People of every possible age and a wide demographic range. There were "Orthodox Christians For Unions", and a guy at the top of State St calling for a General Strike. A lot of the kids, even the small ones, were pretty well-versed in what was going on, which I think was way better than hearing about it all theoretically in some stuffy overcrowded classroom full of people all the same age.

15. I did not see my neighbor there with her accordion, but she has posted lovely photos on her Facebook. In Heaven There Is No Beer! That's Why We Drink It Here!

16. The Green Bay Packers have not only just won the big game, but they have made statements in solidarity with the public employees. The team is, after all, communally owned by the citizens of Green Bay.

17. I made a stop at Room Of One's Own bookstore to sit on the floor a bit and stretch, and found a couple of wonderful books to buy, one on Dirt, the Ecstatic Skin of the Earth which Mr S will like also, and the other about How Literature Will Save The Planet, happy thought.

18. I made another stop to rest at bibliofile's, and she gave me tea, and we discussed how our events here had finally hit the news big time, and watched CNN a bit. The state senators had been discovered by the media holed up at the Clock Tower in Rockford, but then while some of them were interviewed the rest went somewhere else. Not in this jurisdiction, anyway. The Democrat caucus I understand, but I still want to know what's the deal with the two Republicans who also absented themselves. It's all so wacky!

19. On the way home I practiced my old trick of reading while I walk, that my Cuban mother worries about, but it is actually far easier than texting while walking. It is good to have books that are that interesting, although I generally have the inner resources to amuse myself. But my feet were pretty sore by that time and needed distraction.

20. At home I made a lovely dinner (jasmine rice and braised carrots and a sort of Persian chicken dish, which kitty even deigned to share) and sat down with my feet up the rest of the evening. Then also strawberries and cream. Like they used to say, Come the Revolution... although it was actually non-dairy whipped topping.

TAX THE RICH! Is that so hard to figure out?

Pretty good, how about you?

Today I am still lying on the sofa and thinking of a short walk. (Cat is still lying on the bed, which is not like her, but she is increasingly old and tired and arthritic.) I am not up for yet another four-mile walk today. My feet (not to mention hands) are swelled up with the changing weather, or whatever, and probably need a break even from the large waterproof boots. So I'll be mincing around the puddles in my old lady church boots today.

So I'm waiting to feel up to it. I like going to see the baristas, who are professionally obligated to carry on polite conversation, but I try to make that as pleasant and amusing for all of us as I can. That gets me out of the house, and from there, well, a couple miles in any direction will actually take me somewhere.

Yesterday I walked up to the Capitol Square and back, which is at least four miles, maybe a bit more. It's four miles just around the bay, to my t'ai chi class on Monday, and the Capitol is further. The demonstration against the governor's budget was exciting, in a low-key patriotic way, and there's another today, but my feet, ya know.

At the downtown library with bibliofile, I found, wait for it, a book! It's a dense summary of child development best practice, including abstracts of hundreds of cool psychology experiments with babies, Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky. On the way home I pulled my sixth-grade trick of reading while walking, and read the whole end part of the book yesterday afternoon instead of doing any of the other things I ought. I'm not sure I'll entirely read every bit of it, because a lot of it is stuff I already know or Should Be Obvious, to me at least. But it's nice to see how far the science of child rearing has advanced since back in the day when I first read the Encyclopedia of Child Care. I guess my mind is kinda blown by the idea of parents paying all this detailed attention to their children, which I may have done somewhat myself but more by blundering into it. The book describes "life skills" that not only children need here in the future, but their parents need too if they are going to model them. Things I've never been good at, focus and critical thinking and communicating, and taking on challenges instead of just coping with what comes up (which fortunately my Number One Son seems to have picked up partly from the excellent school system I parked him in). So maybe I'll find a clue.

The days are just not long enough, and my energy supply is sadly limited. Some other time I'll get around to the incisive book reviews. Since I hope to take a pile of books back to the library soon, that should be this week.

Conjure Wife; the read and the not-read

The first couple books I read in this calendar year were by Fritz Leiber. bibliofile got me straightened out about how to pronounce his name, although apparently not how to spell it. Whatever. She had referred me to him, and found me one of these books, when I expressed some confusion about this other book by Michael Moorcock.

Last summer, see, we were walking around the neighborhood and happened upon a yard sale, as you do, where the most astonishing collection of trade paperbacks was going cheap. Single eyetracks on most of them, and out of the stack I brought home, the others I read were okay, but forgettable enough that I would have to refer to my list to remember them. Then there's this doorstop of Elric: Song of the Black Sword from White Wolf publishers, with such kickass cover art that I practically want to link you here to the Amazon listing -- by artist Kent Williams (who knew? he's great, but you know how google works as well as I do). Anyway, white spiky lettering, shiny black cover, with Elric very goth and berserker and red-eyed, leaping out at ya with this big sword. And I had read an Elric story long long ago, and wondered wtf? where did he come from? and here was my chance to find out.

But I couldn't get into it. Elric is the albino wizard mage last of an ancient dynasty, all world-weary and jaded and drugged to his eyeballs for mysterious reasons that maybe have to do with surviving his crushing ennui, adventuring around a sort of Arabian Nights Warcraft world, with a ladylove languishing desperately somewhere in the background. There are six stories in this book, and I kept at it, and it kept putting me to sleep. This is a classic series that has advance press out to here, and pirates and all, but after 150 pages, I gave up. And I don't often do that. Where did this come from? I asked, this sword and sorcery stuff, I am usually down with that, and I was referred to Fritz Lieber. (LYber.) Is this a guy thing? I asked. It could be. I've only read a couple of Moorcock novels. The Warhound and the World's Pain was excellent, and very short as I recall.

In December I got a graphic novel of Ill Met in Lankhmar from the library, the famous meeting of Leiber's heroes, Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser, and that was fun. Then the library dug Leiber's famous Conjure Wife out of the storage stacks for me, and that was the first book I read in 2011.

And the reason I'm telling you about this is because it was so peculiar. I was happy that the library had consigned this classic (again) of the genre to the lower stacks, cause this is not a novel to be read by the innocent, out of its historical context. It was really pretty funny, because it concerned a university professor, well within my favorite category of academic comedy. He discovers his little wifey is practicing witchery, and being a rational scientifical guy he talks her out of it, that she's been foolish and illogical and wrong-headed, and this being the sixties and she being very dutiful, they dismantle the protections she has devised. Then things start going horribly wrong for him. Like, stalker students calling with hysterical accusations, and the dissertation by a former student that bears startling resemblance to his own later published work suddenly surfaces, and then his certain promotion to department chair threatened; within hours his life has gone to hell. He is so fucking self-important and certain -- which you get all from his own pompous first person point of view -- but then he has to kind of convince himself to go along with the possibility that the women's work was actually working, just hypothetically. And the wives of his chief rivals at the university are as nasty and ugly and lustful and conniving as any misogynist could want to imagine. Apparently all the women are in on it, an actual secret cabal of all the women in the world. What could be more terrifying??? The sweet pretty wifey's occult powers are okay, though, cause she's on his side. And this is labeled all over the outside cover, by people who I thought would have known better, as blood-curdling horror. Oh. My. Yas.

Admittedly this didn't have anything to do with the sources of sword & sorcery, a term I understand was devised by Leiber. I find him a much better stylist than Moorcock, For What It's Worth, with more drive in the stories of Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser. I still have the Ace collection Swords and Deviltry (1970) that bibliofile found for me at St Vinnie's. This includes, with "Ill Met in Lankhmar", two prequel short stories, that each concern the background of one of the pair before their star-crossed meeting. They are very dashing, funloving jokers, clever, hard drinkers and fighters. Just like in the graphic novel. But at the risk of spoiling the story for you, I have to point out that while the new buddies are out wreaking havoc and hijinks and generally besporting themselves, their dearest ladyloves back at the seraglio are horribly murdered by the bad people Fahfrd and Mouser have been annoying. It nearly puts a damper on their new companionship. But then they prudently split town. As you do. If you are one of the guys in the story. Right. I think I've got this, it's a guy thing.

Mulling over making books

To counter the vague anxiety I'm feeling, how about a list of all the stuff I did today. A lot of it was in the invisible category of thinking about stuff, looking at stuff, moving bits of paper around. Read more...Collapse )

This morning I read another essay from a collection about Leopold's Sand County Almanac. Had a walk around the neighborhood to inspect the snow shoveling, took some photos, and the cafe was open, essential services restored. Later I made French bread pizzas, and started thawing some stuff from the freezer, so I don't have to go grocery shopping for some time. I've started a crochet sweater project from my ancient stash, which is slow going but I like the yarn colors, while I remember how this is done again. And of course the usual petting and grooming duties for the cat.

Found poem

Modifying People

If you decided to read the documentation
you must be desperate.

If a marriage is in error
show the person with the wrong marriage.
Type X to delete a marriage.
You will then be shown all the marriages for this person
and be allowed to delete one.
When a marriage is deleted,
the husband and wife stay
as people, but the connection
is deleted. If the marriage had children
the children will have their parent
connection deleted but the children
will stay as people. These children
may then be added as children of
some other marriage.

If you are entering a family
where the father is unknown,
there will not be any reference to a father
in any reports. If you want to look, use routine.

If you want to delete the parents
(because of an error) then switch
to one of the parents, and then delete the child.
This can be used to delete a child,
to change the order of children,
to delete a spouse who should not be married to this person,
and to change the order of spouses.

If a marriage is out of order,
show either the husband or the wife.
You will be shown all the marriages for this person
and be allowed to change the order.
(You may not change the sex of the person
if the person is married.)
How to make corrections?
How to correct problems,
insert or delete characters.
Do the following.

The children's numbers will show along with their names.
The first child will be first,
the second child will be second.
Make sure the first child
is the actual first child.
You may correct it by doing the following.
First, the person you said was the parent, but was not,
when the wrong person's record is showing,
delete the child who should not be there.

The correct parents then add the child.
The child added to the family will then be the last child.
You may correct that as described above.

If you have not found a solution to your problem,
describe the problem and any other pertinent information.
I am usually available. I do not mind
taking a few minutes to answer some questions.

(I've been reading William Stafford again who only encourages me in my archaic pastime. This entirely found poem was embedded in shareware written by one John Steed, 1990, that I had started using as scratch paper.)

News is happening

You see how I can't possibly keep up. This morning I've just finished reading William Stafford's Crossing Unmarked Snow; Further Views on the Writer's Vocation and instead of quoting any of his quotableness or copying any of his pomes, as is my wont, he sends me right back to this room where the sunlight grays the laptop screen, and the birthday carnations are turning black around their edges while the yellow mums hold on cheerfully.

Earlier this morning I was down in the basement looking to see if I have an extra copy of that pome I wrote about "The market value of a newborn child", which I was thinking of sending to my mom, because in this letter on florid stationary lying on the coffeetable she asks for a financial statement. I didn't find it, but I found a big folder full of poems and scribbling from the last couple years. So all is not lost.

My mom sent me a copy of Shaw en el mundo hispanico of which I was gratified to find I could sort of make some sense, concerning Shaw's influence on Spanish language literatures. I am barely literate in Spanish (two semesters in college and then conversational comprehension with my Cuban family) but then I'm an old hand at reading things that are too hard for me, apparently. I turned right away to the section on Borges, and found Vuelta a Metusalen references that I finally figured out was Shaw's very Wellsian, science-fictional play Back to Methuselah that I have been fruitlessly recommending to my SF friends for years, which dovetails nicely into the fantastico or what we say en ingles, magical realism (as though there could be unmagical realism, a literature of the totally mundane? please!) But then I put it into one of the Shaw boxes, cause I have these library books I'm trying to keep up with.

My mom is unhappily surprised that a lot of the books she is disposing of are not particularly saleable, because she has written in them. I rather like the little pencil markings in this Spanish book, for one thing cause I don't have to look up a lot of words I don't know, and not only that but I have an indication that someone who has studied a lot more Spanish than I have still doesn't know all the words. When I was growing up I always took it for granted that professors are allowed to mark their reading copies, and even in college I didn't really object to used texts that were marked up a bit unless the person marking was revealed by their marks (like highlighting the entire first half of a book and then abruptly stopping) to be an idiot. That's annoying. The unmarked-books thing is really for dealers who are dealing with books as object-artifacts that some buyers would prefer to be unsullied even by eyetracks. But some collectors prefer copies signed by the author; which personally I can take or leave alone, being as the author has already arranged all those words of the book for me in a particular order which tells me more than I will find out even in a face to face chat. And then I think of the ancient manuscripts where half the manuscript is written by another hand in commentary. It's a conversation, in the Republica of Letters, the community of scholars. The more vicious commentaries, if you want to take it that way, are those "altered book" artists who redact or obliterate most of the text. Hey, I have plans for my old accounting textbooks, with their sturdy bindings.

I could tell you again about how I walked a couple miles, and then the next day I walked a different couple of miles, and then yesterday I walked a couple miles more, and today is another sunny afternoon in the twenties without much wind so there will be another couple of miles for me, before the expected deep freeze. But you won't be there with me, to characterize the chill or cold or rawness or tolerably fresh air, or listen to the traffic noise of internal combustion engines still burning the planet. Still. While I crunch along step by step.
For those of you who know who Israel Zangwill was, hold on a minute while I explain to most everyone else. He was a Victorian British writer, an early Zionist, and one of the first to write in English about Jewish life in Britain. He is probably most famous for the phrase "The Melting Pot" which was a novel and/or popular play If I Recall Correctly about immigrants to the U.S. and how they would intermarry and forget the old world drama of their parents. He wrote many novels and plays and essays and so forth.

I am posting here because All Knowledge Is Contained In Fandom, and many librarians and book people are on my list.

My mom has recently been downsizing her library and possessions, in preparation for moving to a much smaller house in San Diego, and one of the things she still has from her academic career is a complete collection of the works of Zangwill. (Possibly including bonus prize of her own biography of the author.) There is no standard edition of the complete works, as this is kind of a minor author, and assembling it took quite some time and trouble. She would really like to find a library that would take the entire collection so that it is not broken up. She has little interest in selling it, only in finding it a good home -- preferably on this side of the water, as shipping is expensive, and there must be somewhere in the U.S. where such a thing is wanted. Not, so far as she has found, in southern California.

So I ask the oracle. What further inquiries should be made? Suggestions gratefully accepted.