Eye of Tot and Toe of Tad…

Two witches stand over a boiling cauldron, one stirring, the other sampling the brew from a spoon.

And the stirrer says to the sipper, “I only use local children.”

If Shakespeare had been a locavore, he might have written this. Or not.

 

Eye of tot, and toe of tad,

Lambkin’s hair, and lip of lad,

Nipper’s nose, and small fry’s ear,

Moppet’s tooth, and rug rat’s tear,

But for charms of most unrest,–

Teenyboppers serve up best.

 

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Thanks to author  Kaye George, for posting on Facebook the cartoon that inspired the flight of fancy resulting in my (questionable) homage to William Shakespeare and Macbeth. The cartoon is on her FB page.

Jeff Stahler is the cartoonist. To see more of his work, click on his name.

The Scottish Referendum a Day Late & Assorted Rambling

It’s one p.m. Texas time. I’m in a coffee shop, procrastinating, and I can’t think of a better way to procrastinate than to google Scottish Referendum and check on how things are proceeding.

I thought the results might have already been announced, since Scotland is several hours ahead of us, but so far they haven’t. Further googling pulled up news that numbers will start trickling in about one a.m. Friday. The final result might be announced much later on Friday.

In Scotland, one a.m. is drawing nigh. I’d like to stay up to watch the exit polls, but getting a full night’s sleep at night is more important than watching coverage of a Scottish election, especially when I avoid most election coverage here in the U. S.

I read–or maybe heard on NPR–that if one votes Yes, he’s supposed to go directly to the Yes lady and report how he voted. It’s expected to be more accurate than exit polls.

If a large number of citizens vote like my father did, however, the Yes ladies could get it wrong. My  father did not discuss his vote, either before or after an election. His political leanings were his business, and he didn’t even engage in political discussions. I know he discussed issues with my mother, but she was about the only one. I’m pretty sure he voted a straight Democratic ticket, but I can’t swear to it.

My mother was more of an Independent, at least in 1960. She preferred Richard Nixon for president, but she liked Lyndon Johnson for vice-president. That required her to vote for men from opposing political parties for the top two positions. She said she was going to split the ticket. At the age of nine, I imagined her taking a pair of scissors into the voting booth and cutting the ballot into two strips.

If enough voters had followed her lead, we could have ended up with Richard Nixon and LBJ governing the country together. How I’d love to have seen that partnership.

I just realized that the phrase split the ticket still conjures up a vision of Mother holding her sewing scissors.

I guess it’s like Bringing in the Sheep and Jesus the Cross-Eyed Bear. And Up on the housetop, reindeer paws. No matter how hard you try to banish them, some things just stick.

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It’s nearly one a.m. in my area of the United States. I’ve been home for about twelve hours. The writing is slow (a fact that shouldn’t surprise me). That could pose a problem.

This post is time-sensitive–it won’t have much oomph after the results have been announced. And if the world already knows, I’ll have to go back and change all my tenses.

  But for the past twelve hours I’ve neither turned on the television nor googled.  I know nothing about what’s happening outside this room. And if I know nothing, my tenses can stay the same. Where ignorance is bliss, etc. Now back to the referendum.

English: Greybeard Heather Dew Scotch Whisky
English: Greybeard Heather Dew Scotch Whisky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both sides have concerns about the future of an independent Scotland. CNN Money lists five reasons to worry:  the currency mess; the debt debate; oil rights; the effect on the financial industry (the Royal Bank of Scotland is threatening to move headquarters to England [If it does, will it have to change its name?]); and the country’s relationship to the European Union. Or, to condense things a bit, one reason to worry: money. The Scotch Whisky Association expresses concern about financial repercussions of independence, but so far there’s been no indication whisky makers will move south. (If they move to England, will it still qualify as Scotch?)

My concern is less weighty, but I’ve been obsessing about it anyway. If Scotland leaves the UK, will the Union Jack have to be redesigned? That’s a beautiful flag, “the Cross of St. Andrew counterchanged with the Cross of St. Patrick, over all the Cross of St. George.” Each country is represented. It means something. The designer was a genius.

Back to the referendum. Actor James McAvoy, who, for the good of his career, kept his opinion to himself, expressed the gravity of the choice:

 

“This is the first time in years a developed country has talked about splitting up and it’s a massive thing,” he said. “If you vote for a president or a prime minister based on political or economic issues and they don’t deliver, that’s not so bad – you can protest four years down the line and vote them out. If you vote for continued unification or independence there is no protest vote – that’s it. And that could be it for decades, for centuries.”

 Centuries. That’s what makes this such a grand process. Scotland has been part of the Union for hundreds of years. Today’s decision will affect that it and the countries it separates from far into the future. And the question is settled not by soldiers on a battlefield but peacefully, by individuals at the ballot box.

   I don’t want to descend into the mire of sentiment. I’m best at detachment, standing a safe distance from the subject, letting irony handle things.

   But, putting irony aside, isn’t what happened in Scotland today remarkable?

   Not as remarkable as the 1994 election in South Africa in 1994, the first in which citizens of all races were allowed to take part.

   But remarkable nonetheless.

  And not just Scotland. The other countries behaved remarkably, too.  After all, the English could have dressed up like Birnam Wood and marched right up the hill to Dunsinane and put a stop to the whole troublesome business.

There are probably laws and ordinances in place to prevent the English from doing any such thing, but if you’ll suspend disbelief for the length of the previous paragraph and, for the sake of the post, just imagine Birnam Wood marching up that hill . . . It could happen . . . There’s precedent. It wouldn’t be the first time Scotland was invaded by trees.

  I should have published this well before midnight, but because I set my own deadlines, I’m free to shuffle them around as I please. Blogging should generate pleasure, not stress.

 I’ll end by saying I’ve always been fascinated by the British Isles, and especially Scotland. I’ve said dozens of times, and will continue to say, that if my ancestors had just stayed put, I might be living–and voting–there now. My one visit there was too brief. I love the weather. I was not designed to live in Texas heat and drought. I dream of going back and seeing more of the country, standing in the mist and the rain, eating haggis (I liked it.), and listening to the beautiful, musical brogues.

And when I’m a rich and famous author, I shall pack up the cats and my husband and fly over (all of us first class) and while the cats are in quarantine, I’ll find and purchase a croft with some pigs and chickens and sheep and a pony and some dogs and central heating and A/C, because you never know when the weather will turn, and learn to dance the Highland Fling, and sit amongst the heather and write more best sellers and rake in the dough and get a flat in London and every year go to Bloody Scotland and sit at the bar hobnobbing with other famous writers and drinking Scotch. Unless I discover I don’t like Scotch. I haven’t tried it yet.

  But I’m not going to get rich and famous or anything else but tired, sitting up till five a.m. to indulge myself by composing rambling, stream-of-consciousness blog posts.

  The end.

Day 4

Questions of the day:

When will I learn that writing is a slow process? That revision is a slow process? That no matter how much I enjoy what I’m doing–and, contrary to normal hyperbolic squawking, I do enjoy it, especially revision–I will not turn out page after page after page in a two-hour session?

That when I finish one scene, I have to go on to the next? That no matter how much I admire what I have just completed, I can’t stop to celebrate by stopping for the day?

That 1800 words is a lot, but measured against the NaNo 50,000, or indeed the 80,000 I really need, it’s a drop in the proverbial bucket? And less than that in the proverbial ocean?

No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.

Those lines just popped into my head. They show the situation is worse than I thought. There isn’t just one proverbial ocean, there are multitudinous seas. And tossing my 1800 words from the shore would be like immersing a bottle of food coloring. Not even the sharks would notice.

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean – roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin – his control
Stops with the shore.

I thought of that, too. My grandfather, I’m told, sang scales to a truncated first line: Roll on thou deep blue ocean–roll! It doesn’t work in iambic pentameter, though. Accents go on Roll and roll.

On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

And that slipped in with the others. I sing this one because, as soon as I think of it, it sticks in my head. I would sing more, but this is all I know.

I’ve been wondering what to do after I leave this coffee shop. Now I know. I’ll sing. Driving home. Cooking dinner. From time to time throughout the evening, when I least expect it, I’ll burst into song. David won’t say anything. He appears to have gotten used to it.

I haven’t been stuck on “Mandalay” for quite a while. My default is

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile
Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin
He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin

So there are advantages to having Kipling on the brain. I know only half a verse of the crocodile, and failing to reach a natural ending, an “Amen” of sorts, leads to immediate and unfortunate repetition. Sort of like what happens with Little Bunny Foo Foo. I taught Little Bunny Foo Foo to my cousin’s kids when I was in high school. I don’t think their mother has ever forgiven me. I may teach it to her grandchildren.

The clock on the computer tells me it’s past time to start home. I didn’t finish what I started out to do, but, having emptied my brain of over five hundred unnecessary words, I’m much lighter in spirit.

Another fine mess…

Did you know that when you edit a monthly newsletter, you have to produce a newsletter every single month?

Well, you do.

You don’t publish an August issue and then just rest on your laurels.

 

In thirty days–fewer than that in February–another month rolls around, and you’re supposed to come up with something new. People expect it. They don’t want to read about last month.

Truly, there is no rest for the weary. Or for the wicked.
I am wicked.
I moan and whinge about the drudgery–Double, double toil and trouble–but once I start working, I also start having fun. I lose track of time. The latest issue missed my self-imposed deadline not just because the computer fell by the wayside, but because I kept tweaking: a link here, a comma there, delete this, insert that, bold this, italicize that, change black to red, red to black.
Eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat, tongue of dog…

 With fire burning and cauldron bubbling, and so many poisoned entrails, as well as thesaurus.com, at my disposal, I didn’t want to call it quits. Once again, I stayed up later than late, but I wasn’t laboring. I was playing. Concocting a brand new potion. Elixir. Charm. Beguilement.

If you want the pure, unadulterated version of my writing process, there it is.

And in a couple of weeks, it’s back to the cauldron again.

This time, though, there’s potential for sanity.

For the past couple of months, the assistant editor and I have been running as fast as we could to stay in the same place. Before the next issue comes out, we’re going to meet, discuss goals, nail down a format. I’ll show her what I can about using WordPress. She’ll come up with more good ideas. I’ll write them down so I won’t forget.

After we confer, the whingeing could abate.

But it won’t.

Because, contrary to decades of experience, I think I can do everything in five minutes.

Because my brain kicks in–really–at the last minute.

Because I do my best work–really–between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.

Because I have these flashes of cock-eyed optimism that temporarily override my normally rational, pessimistic nature.

Because I like to whinge.

I mean, what do you think those Weird Sisters were doing, stirring that cauldron, waiting for Macbeth to wander in for a consultation? They were whingeing. It’s a good Scottish word, and they were Scottish Sisters, and, no matter how much pleasure they derived from their culinary endeavour, they’d been standing over a hot stove all night. Furthermore, quality frog toes aren’t easy to come by. What’s not to whinge about.

So expect no change. Proper prior planning may prevent weariness, but it won’t improve my character.

I’m wicked. And it’s comfortable. And I think it’s what I want to be.

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