Thursday, September 30, 2010


Ze denteest.....It only took seven days, five phone calls, chats with Brenda, Jennifer, and two other characters in this endless comedy, and a week of anxiety and sleepless nights, and finally after waiting yet again, I called this morning, deciding better to be a pain than a victim (oh, I like that, I must use it again), and got profuse apologies after a long wait on hold. Which tells me we were overlooked and now quickly booked in. Dentist will come to the house late next week. Since he's seen the situation, I trust that he knows it will wait that long without problems.

I really hate having to push and push and get nice people all annoyed when they realize they've fallen down on the job, but now I can plan other stuff since I know what day to expect him.

And a new situation has arisen with severe disorientation and fear because HP now realizes he has lost a lot of memory, couldn't even recognize the food on his breakfast plate yesterday until I explained it bit by bit. As the day went on he said, ah, my thinking feels better now, and it did. He read the paper, more or less, still somewhat irrational, but at least feeling calmer. More doctor involvement to happen here.

Did I mention that I got a summons to jury duty yesterday, such timing? went to the wrong address first, so I quickly wrote back requesting an excuse, and fervently hope I get one. They're desperate for the jury pool, so I may have to fight.

And the state preprinted a form for me wrt tax refund on property tax (NJ has the highest such tax in the nation, so this ain't peanuts) with the wrong property printed on it.

The voicemail tree which you are supposed to use to apply for the rebate, says, oh oh, you can't make this claim if you don't live there, you have to call us at this number. No way other than that to make corrections to the form.

I call the number, there's a permanent voicemail on it saying they are not accepting calls, and I should go to the website, which I did, and the experience just duplicated the original voicemail tree only on a screen.

No further on. I wrote to my state rep, who is campaigning for reelection, hoping she'll help me yet again do battle with the state. No response yet. I wrote to the state, too, vain hope, requesting that they fix the situation.

Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, it's been a quiet and pleasant period....our new respite student is perfectly lovely, a real bright spot. Good to have one bright spot. Well, two, since we do have a dental appointment. Well, three, since you lovely blogista friends are always there for us.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When shakuhachi needs help, knitters knit

To the many nice people who wished us well over the dental adventure, and to those who hope it's all over by now, surely you jest! Or, as Click and Clack would have it, Shirley Hugest.

At this point five days in, I have received a call yesterday from the dentist scheduling lady, a very nice person, who explained she was sorry she was out of the office a couple of days and was seizing a day when nobody was there to catch up on a mountain of messages. I explained yet again what we are hoping for, and she agreed to talk with The Dentist today, and get back to me at the end of the day, latest, with an appointment.

The day has come and gone, and I have not received a call. Which could mean any number of things, which I decline to go into at this time...but which do involve bitter thoughts about whether the dentist was out on the golf course instead of working, it being a nice day and a Wednesday, to boot.

Anyway, the shakuhachi method having helped a bit, but with nerves like a fraying knot of old wires, I decided that knitting was the meditative next step.

I finished a nice lambswool scarf and presented it to the person I'd made it for, who was quite unaware that a present was on its way to her, and was very happy about it. Lovely pale green, the scarf, I mean, laceweight, with a bit of lace design at each end. Which I did wrong initially, then liked the mistake so much I was careful to duplicate it at the other end. I didn't picture it in here, since I thought possibly the recipient reads in here and I didn't want to spoil the surprise.

And I started a new thing, a belt, which is simple enough to do in this frame of mind and actually very pretty.

So I thought I'd share it with you. The complete instructions are as follows: take a pair of size 7 US needles, or thereabouts, cast on 9 stitches, knit six, yarn forward, slip the last three stitches purlwise. That's IT. You can make a belt -- this size slips through belt loops nicely, or a guitar strap, or very very narrow bellpull, no end to your choices. It forms a kind of I cord at each edge.

Repeat the line until you go barking mad or get a call from the dentist, whichever happens first. I ran out of the first yarn I had lying around, so I continued in a related sort of color. I started on regular length needles, duh, and realized only a little while later, bit slow around here, that I could have used nice compact dpns in the same size. Only 9 stitches, hardly a long row.

And with only a minor shakuhachi, when Marigold the Burmese leapt on my lap, whipping the stitches off the needle and pulling several of them down as she got free, it's progressing pretty well. She got a free flying lesson out of it.

And there's no chance of a call this evening, so I may as well just enjoy watching Ken Burns' baseball program, while knitting.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Shakuhachi Effect

Ages ago, at the Recorder Society, longtime readers will recall, I recounted the playing of the shakuhachi Japanese wooden flute, and the chance to try it, too, and learn a little about the use of the flute. It's more of a meditative instrumental sound than about making music.

And one of the principles of the approach to it is that there are no interruptions. If a sound breaks in, or something happens to disturb the flow, it's not considered unwelcome. It's part of the sound, part of the experience.

This has proved to be a huge help to me in my current somewhat demanding life. When things happen that are frightening or sudden or unwanted, they are not an interruption of our lives, but part of them. Like the stones in the running water that make the music.

This last couple of days has been one of those times. The good part is that we found a new respite person, who starts this week, yay.

The not so good side is that we have a sudden dental problem for HP. Which might be taken care of at home by our visiting dentist, or if it proves more complicated, have to be done in his office. Which involves great fear for me, learning how to find and hire ambulance help to get him there, figuring out the logistics of how the dentist can work in an office not geared for a wheelchair,or possibly stretcher, etc., getting all the timing right. And overall the hope that it won't come to that.

I've been exhausted the last couple of days just from reaction, I guess, and HP is refusing even to think about it. And it wasn't helped by my not getting the Saturday morning follow up call I was hoping for from the dentist. I have to chase it up tomorrow again and see how fast we can get this taken care of. His mental ability has definitely been affected by this new complication, very confused and unhappy about it, talking wildly.

The timing is very bad because I was about to arrange to get our heating and AC replaced totally before the weather gets cold, and it's not possible to have that done on a day the dentist needs the power on for his work, not to mention keeping the place relatively dust free for his benefit. But the dental work has to happen first.

So I'm trying to remember the shakuhachi effect and how even the ghastly waiting, the hardest part of any issue for me, is part of the melody.

And the picture is of a clipping from my recorder magazine showing an old drawing of a musician playing the flute, not the shakuhachi, not even wood, but same part of the world, complete with Japanese fingering chart. It lives on the refrigerator among the Do Not Resuscitate notice and the emergency numbers of all kinds and the list of daily care needs for HP, just to remind me that there's a life going on, too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Puppies are the answer!

Some random thoughts about commitment and credit and life choices have been rattling about in my mind lately, triggered by a number of comments I've been treated to.

One is that when people find that HP and I are not, as they thought, a married couple (I don't usually favor casual acquaintances with the full soap opera of our lives together and apart and together and apart and finally together again,dammit), they comment, well, how wonderful that you take care of him anyway.

People who know our story know something of the stresses that drove us apart many many years ago, and sort of swept us together at intervals ever since until for what we hope is the final time, nearly ten years ago now. Friends for over fifty years, partners for part of that time. Sometimes with a property each, sometimes under one roof.

But meanwhile, though there's nothing we'd like better than to marry, financial considerations, i.e. my tiny nestegg earned by the sweat of my brow in the nonprofit world (people like me are not wanted in the corporate sector!) has to be preserved to support me in my own old age, not subverted by Medicaid into coverage for a sick husband with only a meager living allowance of my own money left for me to subsist on.

And even if it were grandfathered or grandmothered in right now, there is nothing to stop the state from changing the laws if it suits. It's happened already in Medicare, where the lookback period for Medicaid eligibility was changed to five years from three years, effective as soon as Bush said it, no escape. That means the paperwork search to make sure the person wanting to qualify for Medicaid in order to assist usually with nursing home care, has never done anything that would disqualify them. So people who thought they'd completed the full lookback found that they were caught in this cruel trap which included two years before they even knew it was applicable.

So for practical reasons which people who know this stuff applaud loudly we are not a married couple. But we had a ring exchange a lovely little private ceremony of commitment, just us, and don't need a piece of paper from the state to prove that we are committed to one another.

This is not well understood by people who say, oh, how wonderful to do what you're doing and you're NOT EVEN MARRIED. Makes me wonder what they think married is, aside from the strictly legal state. And if you turn that thinking over for a moment, does that mean that a mere wife doesn't get that credit and admiration for "only" taking care of a husband in similar circs? Would it be, well, of course you do all this, you're married,after all, hm?

The odd thing is we all know that married people have been known to abandon a sick spouse. In fact one of the rehab facility nurses was very impressed with our care of HP, saying that more often than not, the other spouse vanished, and children never came around either. And our homecare people used to tell us that for a lot of their clients, they were struggling on alone because their illness was a dealbreaker for the relationship. So I guess the piece of paper didn't protect anyone in that kind of case.

If people assume we must be married, I don't correct them, unless it's really a legal issue and I have to explain. I guess we're so old people think we couldn't be living in sin, having long ago forgotten what sin is....

And while we were sitting out on the patio enjoying the lovely Fall afternoon and HP was snoozing, and I was cogitating, with the dogs next door yipping and playing
and the little girls from the end of the block issuing orders in tiny voices to the dogs who ignored them completely, I thought you might like to see them. The fluffy one is Appy, next door's stylin' cockapoo or poodleop or something

and the newcomer, Buster the ten week old Boston Terrier, giving Appy a run for her money and learning to bark.

At least he thinks those chipmunk like little yips are barking.

Sometimes we're puzzled by other people's thoughts. And sometimes the answer's a puppy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Housing Crisis Solved

The Dollivers ambition knows no bounds.

When this Chinese basket complete with lock, appeared at the dumpster this morning, put there by very old Chinese neighbor who I've no doubt fully expected me to shoot out of my house like a cuckoo clock over the street to pick it up, I thought, hm a nice sewing or knitting basket or something.

But once opened, and the original contents, a molded form which used to hold a teapot and two cups, made from loose fiber and fabric, very pretty, was removed

there was a perfectly nice basket, which the Ds instantly claimed as the Traveling Dolliver Clubhouse.

I saw the MetLife blimp overhead a couple of days ago, and figured that it was involved with the Princeton football season, but now I realize it was for this shot of the Ds in their clubhouse.

I hear they're negotiating for an engine to be installed so that they can travel without the waiting around for me to go shopping, and meanwhile, they have tested it for size, very snug, and it's now in situ, with the big dog guarding it.

The puppy is underneath everyone, I gather.

They may perhaps be putting me on notice that the Dollivers clan is complete, too, since one more D and we'll have to find a new clubhouse...but since the meetings take place with the clubhouse locked, I am not au fait with the latest D decisions.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Dollivers Attend to the Domestic Arts

We needed to roam further to shop this morning while HS was with HP, in search of the special expensive anti-peeing catfood required by Duncan, the picky male cat. So we roved forth, big Dolliver with her dog, and small Dolliver, who borrowed Dreads' threads for the expedition.

Cool enough to wear sweaters, she informed me, and that nice raglan one with the matching hat is just the ticket. Also I like the Doctor Zhivago look I get with it. So since it was put aside by Dreads in favor of the lace top, Small D. got the set to wear, and she insisted that since the sleeves had to be rolled up and up and up for her, it looked like giant Cossack cuffs, all part of the Russian motif. Oooookay.

So we pulled up at Cutter's Mill, the nice petfood place where you can take your dog to work, but one look at the doggy treadmill

and the Dollivers refused to set foot in it. Along with their lazy old dog, I might add.

Explaining that it was a doggie treadmill, not a dollie treadmill, and it wasn't intended for little dolls to be forced to run and generate power for the house, had little effect on their decision to stay in the car.

After the exertion of all the arguing, while I lugged heavy bags of catfood around, they urgently need to rest

and recuperate at Camillo's Cafe, perched on what I told them clearly was not customer seating,

but who listens to me

..then I realized ah, we are near Ace Hardware, maybe I can get those nonstick loaf pans mentioned in my breadbook, which has become my Kitchen Bible of Food. And we could! good price, too, and the hardware expert, Kelly (or maybe Kelli, sorry, didn't like to ask) got right into the spirit of things when I explained about the prima donnas, I mean Dollivers, and how they are blogcharacters who have adventures.

First they learned to wait in line

while the lady ahead of me was served, then I asked for a picture with K

and she said, yes, yes, and look, if they're buying loaf pans, let's take the pans out of the bag again, and I'll just hide the bag and they can work it! Dollivers loved her, especially since she complimented their looks and their dog.

On the way out of the shopping center one Dolliver posed on the handmade chair

outside of Ten Thousand Villages, a lovely fair trade craft center, where marvelous handmade items from all kinds of far countries give the makers a decent payment for their work. Dolliver being handmade herself, fit right in.

And so on to the garden center, this being the weekend we needed chrysanthemums for the front yard which is looking a bit tired at the end of the summer. Dollivers had a sit down strike wanting PINK ONES,

but I had planned on yellow, which you see in the background, and we got yellow, whose garden is this anyway.

Home to lunch and bragging rights for the Dollivers who got to go on today's expedition, when they rejoined their sisters.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Skippers Ahoy! flitting

We've had a lot of visits to the wildflowers and the sedum today from various butterflies

and bees and other insects and earlier today from a hummingbird, zooming about the wildflowers, totally ignoring the tame flowers. To humans the containers of wildflowers don't look like much, but to wildlife, it's, well, catnip.

And watching the butterflies flitting and sipping, sipping and flitting, felt exactly like writing a blog.

Whatever's on the mind at the moment gets in there for better or worse...

Today I'm wondering which I'll have carved on my tombstone: Seize the Day! or She Knew What She Was Doing. Both remind me vividly of Victorian novel titles, but never mind about that. That's the advice I want to give after death (no control issues there, noooooo). But my mantra in life, sometimes uttered in a scream, sometimes in a gentler tone is: I'm Doing My Best! sometimes followed by Dammit.

What's your mantra that gets you through, now or hereafter? Do share.

And no, I'm not looking into the chasm. This is just a fun game.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall falling on us again

Signs of Fall appearing.

The houseplants are largely indoors as of yesterday, back from camp and cluttering up the living room.

Marigold and Duncan overjoyed to get their salad bar back, and planning on which to nosh on first.

Note to concerned cat lovers: none of these is bad for cats. In fact they're pretty good greens. The plants are more at risk than the kitties.

The ficus is now nearly to the ceiling and next year I will have to think of topping it off before it bends over like a tall person on a bus.

And one of the neighbors seized on the upcoming rainstorm to wash his car, hence all the bubbles floating down the street, very scenic.

I think he soaped up then let the rain rinse it off for him. This is a teenager in case you hadn't guessed.

Then after all the heat, wind and rain of the US Open Tennis, part way through last night's delayed-yet-again final (history making for Nadal, very exciting for all of us) there was a big thunderstorm in NY.

We're about an hour south by car, so when our own sky suddenly darkened

sun on the treetops, thunder in the sky, black clouds gathering, we figured the storm had moved south, and went back to the tennis and so it had. They were about ready to start up again.

This is like using the Old Farmer's Almanac to run the space shuttle!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11 again

Another beautiful sunny early September day, and nine years on, the trauma still lingers, underlined by the lovely day, just like the one which created a Before and an After in so many lives.

Before, I was a single woman, closest friend an able bodied man, both of us with a flourishing petcare practice, I also with an busy art exhibit and teaching schedule.

After, a coupled woman, partner gradually, then suddenly, totally disabled, with no petcare practices, and a different sort of artwork.

So much is different now. Friends who fell away when our lives became harder and more circumscribed, other friends who stepped bravely forward and generously did what they could to help. New friends appearing who never knew us before anyway.

Neighborhood changes, now with Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and friends of other beliefs all around, our dearest neighborhood friends, a friendly mosaic of a street.

Neighbors who are devout gun owners and hunters and fishermen, one of whom firmly believes the Preserve should be opened up for hunting and fishing, otherwise it's a waste of nature! others who will not even willingly kill an insect, nor ever even touch meat. But all are our friends, who have shown themselves to have true grace under pressure.

I wish this for everyone, particularly today. That a little neighborhood that can live in peace and amity, newcomers among families who have been here hundreds of years, letting each other follow different customs, that neighborhoods like ours become more and more common in this country.

Then we'll know that the grownups have won.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dolls, miniatures, farmers and dollpeople

Those of you who own miniature needlework made by me know that I used to have another life, in a galaxy far far away, as a miniaturist working in the needlearts, needlepoint, which I renamed minipoint, trapunto, drawn threadwork, embroidery, all in one twelfth scale, which is the standard dollhouse miniature size.

Intended for adult collectors, these were items which I designed and sold and kitted, and were covered in national magazines,when I was a juried participant in national miniature exhibits and shows. Big deal. Well tiny deal in another way. But a very happy period, among a lot of other things I was doing at the time, so what else is new.

In the course of this, a lot of people would say they loved my own work, but really really would like to learn to do it rather than buy it. So I ended up designing and assembling kits for items like pillows, bellpulls, pictures, doorstops, purses, all the sorts of accessories the well furnished dollhouse needs.

And one thing led to another and I ended up with a Minipoint Club, which people bought a year's subscription for one kit and a newsletter per month. This was long ago, when color xeroxing was a tricky affair, and very difficult to accomplish, early machines being run by technicians rather than laypeople.

So getting my charts accurately copied was a big deal, since I designed them in the exact color the kit called for, with stitches lying correctly, so that even a beginner could make these items.

Of course, since the items themselves were miniatures, the chart was a whole lot bigger so that you could see what you were doing. And I supplied the chart, the exact amount of embroidery floss in the right colors, to allow for some redoing as well as success, and a needle stuck into each piece of mesh.

This was 24 stitches to the inch if I remember correctly, not available in stores, and the needles were size 8, also not available in stores. I had to buy them directly from the manufacturers in the smallest quantities they would sell, and I still have hundreds of size 8 needles lying around somewhere, since they sold in units of thousands! you'd be surprised at how heavy a tiny package of needles is.

The newsletter I typed up and xeroxed off each month, with news of my garden and fun items in it, and jokes, and serious notes on the history of needlework and why we should protect old needlework from being thrown away by auctioneers unaware of its value or beauty.

I got wonderful responses to the newsletters, too, with people getting right back at me to share their gardens and jokes and so on! This was in the 70s when there was terrible distress in farming in the midwest and west, and quite a few of my members were farmwomen.

One in particular I remember, used to look forward to her kit as the one spark of light in her life at the time. One time she wrote to me from the cab of their pickup, parked outside the bank, where her husband was trying desperately to get his loan extended so that they would not lose the farm.

Initially I thought people would sign up for a year, then think, well, that was nice, and go on to other pursuits. Then I would be able to repeat designs without cheating anyone, rather than have to think up a new one each month and chart it and so on. But nooooooo. NOBODY dropped a subscription. In fact I ended up with about 100+ people, in the US, Canada, England, Australia, NZ and Holland. People would sign up their mothers and sisters and second cousins once removed.

So not only did I have to create a new design each month, but the short joy of creating was overtaken by the drudgery of copying, assembling, counting, labeling, stamping and shlepping, oh dear. And I didn't set a high price at all, figuring it was just a nice little hobby business, so the profit was marginal at best, not much reward for the work, if you look at it that way.

Anyway, after a few years I regretfully closed the club, thanked everyone and encouraged them to reuse old designs if they wanted to continue, and got all kinds of wonderful letters from people begging me not to stop!

Even some people who had been so baffled at the outset that I'd asked them to send back the kit, I would put in the first few stitches and leave the needle in place, so that they could follow on, and mail it back. Light dawned, they were able to finish, and were very happy with themselves.

A lot of the members were living far from towns or any place they could get help and advice, and this predated the internet by decades, so it was a kind of lifeline for women wanting some creative stuff in their lives at a minimum cost.

In fact the designs do live on, some of them being used in the summer program in our township, taught by a master embroiderer from material I distributed when I spoke to a meeting of the local embroiderers' guild chapter all those years ago!

Very very few unfriendly encounters in the course of all of this, if you don't count people who were new to miniatures, were more doll people, who angrily wrote to say, this chart won't WORK!!! it's TOO BIG!! this purse will be GIANT SIZED for my doll, etc., and had to be talked down to calm, then reminded that they were following the chart with miniature mesh, needle and thread....and eventually they came to understand the difference between a dress pattern and a needlework chart. That was one confusion that would never have occurred to me.

But that was before I met doll people! I've noticed that serious doll collectors I've met all have doll like appearances -- perfectly symmetrical faces, bright eyes, little mouths. Some of them even look as if they were dressed by a loving owner! go to a doll show and you'll see what I mean.

Nice people, but very different from miniature makers, many of whom are somewhat anxious perfectionist types! in fact this is a reason I hold down my mini making, because it caters to the neurotic side of my personality, which I don't want to encourage! you can get very worked up over getting things Just Right, and there are times when life only calls for Just Good Enough.

And working to create the Dollivers and letting it go where it will has been a lovely insight into dollmaking and how relaxed and whimsical and silly it can get.

Just don't tell them I said that.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dollivers and Old Lace

Since the Teddies for Haiti activities, there has been unrest among the Dollivers.

Even though they got TWO new dogs, about which there's some dispute over naming, maybe the big dog should be Olivier, and the puppy should be Olive in honor of the Mason Dixon dog, see Mason Dixon knitting blog, funniest blog on earth, there's still grumbling about how teddies get all the new stuff and Dollivers get nothing, we tell you, nothing....

So it just so happened that I was taking out the garbage the other day and there in the dumpster area is a very nice, clean, perfectly good hatbox complete with lid, perfect workbox for my sewing stuff, which came home with me. And there in it was a child size lace glove.

Which the Dollivers seized on and said, oh, LACE! this is something like! get making stuff for us. So the glove became a lace blouse for Dreads who has tolerated wearing a lovely warm raglan sweater and hat through the heatwave and was ready for a change, a jabot for her sister in the pink outfit, and a pair of lacy socks for two others. Not a scrap of glove left over after these adventures in cutting, no sewing involved.

One Dolliver has no lace getup, but I pointed out she has a DOG. And the little porcelain Dolliver has the puppy.

So they can all stop fussing now. Thank you.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Napery and nostalgic thoughts, in overdrive

I was organizing the linen closet, posh way of saying pawing through a tumble of sheets and pillowcases and towels on the two shelves above the water heater, and wondering how to put them so I can get what I need without having it all fall on my head, when I found a terrific old heavy cotton tablecloth, a, cough cough, wedding gift which dates it to 1963, and which we never use.

Cloths are no use to us for various reasons having to do with HP's great upper body difficulties with navigating tableware and numbness not knowing what he's grasped. Rather than have that trick about whipping the cloth from under the plates several times a day, we have tablemats and napkins but no cloth.

Anyway, the napkins to this cloth were worn out years and years ago, but the cloth used mainly for picnics, still holds up like new. So I decided to split it into a whole bunch of cloth napkins for which we have massive use. I avoid paper as much as I can, not wanting to burden the earth more than we have to.

So I have the pleasure of some simple hand hemming to make nine nice new napkins. No sewing machine in this house, I hate them. I had one for years and years and having used it twice, while hand sewing dozens of things, gave it away to a good cause.

So here's the before

and current

still in progress. One of those pleasing old fashioned things to do, simple fine hand sewing for a purpose. My mother, who was gifted way beyond her education used to comment that she hated sewing classes in school, and used to moan "in the white, out the red, gah" about the practice they had to do,working on red and white gingham.

This was a girl who grew up to learn her own hand tailoring and dressmaking among other accomplishments, bored to tears by this simple stuff. She comes vividly to mind while I stitch on my red and white gingham napkins, but I think she'd see why this is okay. Mitered corners, hidden hems, all that.

I had intended to listen to a playaway library book while stitching, and got out the bio of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire (early ancestor of Diana, and unnervingly like her) but the ^&^&^^& playaway did what they usually do -- skipped, looped, the slightest tiny move on my part such as threading a needle, causing the whole thing to go dead then start up at the beginning AGAIN, until I threw it back in the case and into the Return to Libe with Complaint basket.

I have simply never had any luck with these things. I suspect they're too delicate for lending and borrowing, and after the first listen don't hold up. Like the CDs and DVDs you borrow -- if you're lucky they work without jamming and looping but often they're just worn out and bent and generally Very Annoying.

Last evening we watched A Mighty Wind. Christopher Guest, one of his great movies. I'm glad I realized it was him, since the listing in the paper didn't tell anything. It is a hilarious and wonderful skewering and sendup of the folk music scene of the 60s, what the participants can remember of it, and the middle aged breakdowns trying to relive their great days, with an audience in much the same situation, all very happy and narcissistic and self absorbed, determined to snort their way to world peace.

Guest is the Molly Ivins of movie -- no need to exaggerate, just portray exactly how things are and you fall down laughing at how wonderful they are. I love that the same ensemble shows up in his movies. Parker Posey, the divine PP, appearing here as a folk singer (remember her wonderful part in Best in Show as the yuppie dog owner?) And all the others, like seeing your friends putting on another show in the barn, only these guys know what they're doing.

HP had been asleep for the first part of this, but woke and got interested and after I explained the premise, began to enjoy it hugely. I was so heartened that he got the satire and cracked up laughing, stayed alert for the whole thing, long after he's usually sleeping. Great evening's entertainment, and a change from the other narcissists slugging it out at the US Open...

I wonder if Guest has in mind a tennis movie....I can see Serena being portrayed with that little girly voicy, talking about doing good things, and helping people, and how her tennis will lead to world peace...while snarling at line court judges and screaming threats in between times....ah, that would be fun. And Federer, sore loser, grousing in three languages after a defeat...and Mirka telling him to shut up and load the private jet with the wallets....

Speaking of cracking up, a couple of recent comments, and emails about how reading in here gets people all tied up with ideas and thoughts and not quite able to get them down, I feel a bit abashed when this happens. I have a high mental energy level and get people excited and a bit worn out at the same time.

Years ago, I had various small businesses, micro bizzes, really, and also used to consult to small biz, to get them from stage one, startup, to stage two, being really on the road, making the transition to longterm operations. Since I was charging an hourly rate I really liked to give value for money, was totally prepared, and absolutely poured it all over the poor recipients, with no idea that they felt as if they'd caught an express train in the middle of the back...

Until one, very honest, very nice guy, said, did you know I have to lie down for an hour after you leave? I mean, it's great stuff, but the speed, the intensity,gads.

So I learned to watch, and after a while say, hm, I could really murder a cup of tea...whereupon they'd leap up, delighted to get a break, and I would have a totally unwanted break with tea thrown in..but this was my normal way of thinking and working, and it's hard for me to remember that other people have a different speed, various gears, overdrive not being their sole approach! anyway, I'm just sayin'

I used to teach about antiques and collectibles, back in the day, and one of my favorite environments was a big classroom with chalkboards on three sides at the local high school. By the end of the session, all the boards were jammed with my notes in passing! and when people asked questions, I could run around and point out the answers already up there, just remind them of the context, etc. They used to say, but you came in without notes, where did this stuff come from? and I'd puzzle a bit thinking, well my head, really, where else? this is just the knowledge I planned to share this evening. Oh.

I've taught a lot of classes and workshops over the years and have never been able to fathom teachers who used the same notes every time, even the same jokes! I never taught the same class the same way twice, much more interesting that way, also you have much better ideas as you go along, fed by the participants. But then I was the maker of my curriculum, too, always a big plus for an ornery type like me.

So, back to les moutons, and a nice Labor Day weekend with great sunny cool weather, what a treat.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bon Voyage, Bears!

The Dollivers, their shaggy dogs, and the three bears had a grand farewell party,

complete with high fives from the little porcelain Dolliver to the last of the bears, and the shaggy dog? he followed the Dollivers home, they had to keep him. Then they found a shaggy puppy for the porcelain doll, sigh.

so,dog farewells before they leave,

and general partying and noise.

And the official Bear Farewell Portrait

Tomorrow they set off on the first leg of their journey: here to PO, to Canada, to mom of nurse, to nurse's suitcase, to plane, to Haiti and the arms of little kids. With great thanks from me for the chance to do this, and for the imaginative approach of a nurse planning to take her own personal gear in a small case and stuff her one allowed suitcase with bears, if'n she gets a whole lot, which I hope she will.

Bye, bears! great fun to work with all of you. Study your French on the flight, okay? Dites bonjour aux gosses Haitiens.