Art, Both High and Domestic

The lovely little piece to the right is “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” — It’s called that because “The Madonna of the Niddy Noddy” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.  That little dohicky the Christ Child is holding is called a niddy noddy.  They’re used by people who spin yarn to wind their yarn into skeins, and measure the length of yarn in the skein, typically 80 yards.  It’s a very low-tech little gizmo — I’ve seen them made from PVC pipe.   The high-tech version is called a “spinner’s weasel” — The wheel is 2 yards in circumference, and 40 turns of the wheel equals an 80 yard skein.  Where the “tech” comes in is that some of them have a little clockwork mechanism with gears that turn a counter which will then make a clicking or popping noise when the wheel has turned 40 times.  — Yep.  You got it.  Pop goes the weasel.

In the knitting news, I’ve already finished a Simple Pleasures Hat with a ribbed brim out of the donated Dazzle yarn. Instead of just joining on a different color and carrying on knitting to make the stripes, I used a mosaic knitting technique of k1, sl1 (knit one, slip one).  If you pay attention to whether you k1 or sl1 as the first stitch when you start the stripe, and do the opposite when you join the background color after finishing the stripe, you get this zig-zag effect which I quite like.  I got almost 2 skeins of the pale orange, two skeins of the dark brown, and a skein plus a little golf ball size ball of the dark orange, as well as a skein of dark blue and four or five skeins of white as my cut of the donated yarn.  I don’t think I’ll be using the white for hats.  Maybe I’ll make another baby afghan for KC’s church group.

I’ve started another Simple Pleasures hat out of the dark brown and need to get the brim hemmed before I go to bed.  We’re having the eclipse tomorrow and I’m going to my mom’s to watch the important bits of it, and I can sit and knit while we visit.  Tomorrow would have been my dad’s 95th birthday.  Today when I shopped groceries, I got a big piece of carrot cake which i’ll bring to split with my mom.

I’m pretty put out with Napster/Rhapsody.  You can’t download music to your PC or to an MP3 player any more.  They say it’s because Microsoft removed the support for WMDRM tracks and offline playback.  I can still stream to my PC and to my Kindle and tablet.  I may need to check my internet radios to see if I can still use the Napster app on them.

I thought my $150 plus electric bill was higher than giraffe’s ears last month.  Guess what.  It was even higher this month.  Almost $170.  The thermostat is going back up to 80 F (16.6 C) and I’ll just sit around in my unmentionables with fans on.  I’ve been in these digs a year now.  I might can check with the electric company to see if I can go on average billing. (They total your usage for the past year and divide it by 11, and you pay that amount January through November.  In December, you make up the difference.)  I gotta do something.  It’s shooting my book budget in the foot.

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Saturday Afternoon

I’m listening to Dark Ambient Radio through Winamp* on my computer as I sit at my desk and knit, and read, and write.  This dark piece comes on, didn’t catch the name or artist, but at the end of it, this woman’s voice starts reciting poetry.  The poem is really good stuff, sounds vaguely Elizabethan, and she recites it very well.  I quickly open Firefox and type the last line into Google. (I am the Google Queen! — I read about it in Discovery Magazine in 1999, and started using it as a reference for medical equipment brand names and drug brand names when most people didn’t know from search engines, never mind Google.) Bingo.  Sonnet XC by — you guessed it — good ol’ Bill Shaksper Shakspere  Shakspeare. (He never seems to have spelled his surname with three “e’s,” so why do we?)

Sonnet XC

THen hate me when thou wilt, if euer,now, 
 Now while the world is bent my deeds to croſſe, 
 Ioyne with the ſpight of fortune,make me bow, 
 And doe not drop in for an after loſſe: 
 Ah doe not,when my heart hath ſcapte this ſorrow, 
 Come in the rereward of a conquerd woe, 
 Giue not a windy night a rainie morrow, 
 To linger out a purpoſd ouer-throw. 
 If thou wilt leaue me, do not leaue me laſt, 
 When other pettie griefes haue done their ſpight, 
 But in the onſet come,ſo ſtall I taſte 
 At firſt the very worſt of fortunes might. 
    And other ſtraines of woe, which now ſeeme woe, 
    Compar'd with loſſe of thee,will not ſeeme ſo.

For thoſe who are conuinced that the clown who typeſet the aboue in 1609 was three folioſ to the wind, here it is ſpelled and typeſet “correctly.”

Sonnet XC

Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
And do not drop in for an after-loss:
Ah! do not, when my heart hath ‘scaped this sorrow,
Come in the rearward of a conquered woe;
Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
To linger out a purposed overthrow.
If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
When other petty griefs have done their spite,
But in the onset come: so shall I taste
At first the very worst of fortune’s might;
        And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
        Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so.

Never mind that it’s a little Diana Damrau of a sonnet, that all the rhymes are effortless, and that all the little iambs are hard-wired into the pentameter so that reading it aloud is like pulling a silk scarf through a gold ring (I wish I knew who the lady was who was reciting it, because she nailed it); the guy just hauls off and quills stuff like “Give not a windy night a rainy morrow” and freights this humongous metaphor into your head on just seven freaking words. . . .

People say Shakspeare is hard.  No.  Shakspeare is easy.  This sonnet.  There’s not a hard word in it.  Not a word that any reasonably literate person wouldn’t know the meaning of.  Some of the grammatical forms are a little arcane, but within reach.  Some of his syntax is a little closer to Latin and French than we’re used to, and he uses some of the words in ways we’re not accustomed to having them used, but there’s nothing so hard in the language of this sonnet that you don’t know exactly what he’s talking about by the second read through.

What makes Shakspeare hard is that in the 400 odd years between us and him, technology, and the vocabulary that goes with it, has changed so much that most of us don’t even know what half the stuff in his world is anymore, never mind what the jargon means that goes with it. True, the pelt on the critter is a little strange, but once you’ve skinned it, the bones of the language haven’t changed so much that you can’t make heads nor tails of it; and his subject matter, human beings, hasn’t changed at all.  We may not have much in the way of a hereditary aristocracy left these days, but we understand all too well the kind of people who want wealth and power and are willing to stop at nothing to get it. Politics in the halls of government?  Yep.  Still got that, too.  Manipulate people by making them doubt themselves or others?  Yep.  Only we call it gaslighting now.  Or, take this sonnet — add beer and a pickup truck and you’ve essentially got the lyrics of about half the country and western songs ever written.

  • Yes, most internet radio stations have in-browser players, but I don't always want to be having to open my browser to hear music, especially when I'm using it for something else and I have six or eight other tabs open and/or I've got four or five windows open across two monitors.