Sunday, November 7, 2010

How my mind works

Ever since the day I deleted, on purpose and quite efficiently, two good chapters of my doctoral thesis, along with two bad ones, I've been loathe to dispose of any piece of writing.  Let me qualify that just a little:  I've been loathe to dispose of any piece of writing that warranted an initial "save" on the computer.  Of course, saving a text doesn't always mean the text is worth anything -- it may have been a text interrupted, or a passage awaiting proper citation, or an enticing poster announcing ManorFest schedules and entry fees.  It may be something inane to me but valuable to someone else. * [see below]

Let's see what might happen, shall we, if I employ my usual artlessness in a blog post dedicated to the goings-on of The Castafiore, as she has been somewhat neglected of late:

La Bonne et Belle Bianca, The Castafiore, has laryngitis. 

That means, for those of you not tuned in to the minutiae of life here at Marlinspike Hall, ancestral home of the Haddock clan -- well represented in the current generation by The Captain -- That means, mes chers, mes petits choux, that no one, c'est-à-dire, personne, is going to be screaming, errrr, singing, à très haute voix:

ah!  je ris de me voir...
si belle dans ce miroir!

D'habitude, elle crie si fort que je risque de devenir sourde, ou dingue/dingo... folle... cinglée...  farfelue...
détraquée...  maboule... loufe... faible...  marteau... insensée... azimutée... loufoque... délirante... toquée... déséquilibrée...

[Not unlike the possum who loves bright, dangly Shiny Things,
I am momentarily caught off guard by this profusion of crazy words,
and in my embarassment, seek to draw my readers' eyes away
from this linguistic glitter by the insertion of cold, hard grammar...]

Remember, please, that dingo is, of course, invariable -- when used as French adjectival slang, that is.
Not, I repeat, not when referencing the wild dog of Australia, and certainly not in relation to the tragic event that introduced many of us to the canine dingo:  the death of baby Azaria Chamberlain thirty years ago at Uluru, and her mother's famous declaration that "a dingo ate my baby."

It's unfortunate that I tend to burst out laughing at that phrase, as delivered by a shrill Meryl Streep in the movie A Cry in the Dark. I confess to having mimicked Streep with nary a thought in my pointy head for the real actors, and their actual drama.  By the time Elaine performs her mimicry on a Seinfeld episode, I was likely inured to the tragic origins of the line.

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, by the way, recently has requested what will be a fourth inquest about the death of her daughter, part of her search for justice being to have the death certificate reflect that Azaria was killed by the primitive canine. 

It is so little to ask, and coming from someone who lost... incalculably.  Convicted of murder (and her husband of being an accessory to it), she spent a tangible three and a half years in prison for a loss too great for reckoning.  She just wants to amend what stands as malicious fantasy with a truth.

And... scene!  My mind does work, but it does its work mysteriously.  How did any of the above possibly relate to the Dear Castafiore? 

Well, the first thought thought is not the first thought recorded, of course.

As I pondered La Bonne et Belle Bianca, and delighted in my good fortune at escaping her rehersal of Gounod's Faust, with her assigned aria, Air des Bijoux, a stray neuron misfired and I flashed on the Benes character, herself reacting to an obnoxious, repetitive voice -- the woman worried about her lost fiancé.  Thus was the deadly dingo incident planted in my fertile brow.   And somehow, that videoclip made me think of the inane, insane craziness that The Castafiore so often inspires in me on a lazy Sunday afternoon -- but even as I indulged my fantasy with an exercise in Synonyms for "Crazy" in French, I sought to reestablish the facts of the case... a travesty wherein what was called evidence of blood was a mixture of milkshake and copper dust, where a Mother's failure to behave as a proper Mother should was an indicting evil.

One day, I'll have to do a hundred focused words or so on the deadening dichotomy of Mary the Virgin/Whore and other unfortunate idées reçues.

*  [What I write] may be something inane to me but valuable to someone else... Such proved to be the rambling introduction I made to a blog entry about CRPS clinical trials.  Of course, the clinical trials themselves are of import, but in a fit of gregarious excess, I also jotted down some historical references about the ManorMaze and the family responsable for its very existence, the Mimnermuses:
I'm going to steal a moment away from ManorFest activities to update the blog on CRPS clinical trials that are currently accepting new volunteers.

I could use the rest. We opened ManorMaze to the public this year and, let me tell you, if you have the bad luck to draw Rescue Duty, your dogs are gonna bark.

Written records testify that Marlinspike Hall's Manor Maze dates back as far as 1067. Cretan Manor Jardinier Ajax Mimnermus transplanted the first thousand English Boxwood in a highly original serpentine pattern that twisted and turned over a particularly hilly, 25-acres bit of Haddock ancestral land. Twenty-two generations later, the Mimnermus Family still holds the prestigious position of JardinierOfficiel to the Marlinspike Manor Maze. A proud and loyal clan, they guard our horticultural secrets with ferocity. Both little red-headed, freckled Xenophon and his more swarthy third cousin Clinias are currently in training: One will assume the mantle of Jardinier Officiel; The other will be offered a lifetime position on the Landscape Crew. Everyone wins!

Anyway, you can imagine how huge and complex this labyrinth is today, as one Mimnermus after another has judiciously added plantings, making the maze both more elegant and more challenging to exit. (Though sometimes, I'd swear that it has a life all its own, its paths shifting in the night like sand in a storm -- but I can't prove anything.)

CRPS renders ManorMaze Rescue Duty very tiring, and my wheelchair has lost its charge more than once, over the years, leaving me to call for my own rescue. It's a restful place in which to be trapped, though, as our Illustrious Gardeners have created little enclaves of delight within -- squares dedicated to aromatherapy, curlicued paths lined with delicious mint and sweet clovers!

[Thank the Good Lord, however, that my chair has never lost power in The Marsh installed by Xenophon's paternal grandmother, Nausicaa, who loved the dramatic tension of taming a wild landscape. For The Marsh, she took as her inspiration Tolkien's Dead Marshes of Middle Earth. Being a patriotic soul, Tête-de-Hergéenne through and through, she wanted to memorialize those lands that served as battlefield during the Sixth Uprising, and modeled her marsh on his Mere of Dead Faces that border one of the entrances to Mordor. Years ahead of her time, she achieved the underwater lighting effect by solar cells and advanced the field of horticultural photovoltaics by decades. Captain Haddock's great uncle had the forsight to underwrite her studies in Moscow with Aleksandr Stoletov -- where it is our good fortune that she witnessed the creation of the very first solar cell and was able to make such an apt application of the invention!]

You are probably thinking that a history so momentous would have its own dedicated documentary support of photographic, journalistic, and epistolary evidence.  And you would be, of course, correct.  Captain Haddock's first Mother-In-Law crested the wave of Nouveau Scrapbooking and stored most everything in Marlinspike Hall's only turret, where she was, errr, housed in the early 1950s.  Her digs were eventually turned into The Computer Turret for reasons just technical enough to escape me. 

I did my usually doodling and dallying in a blog post about... Well, it was actually about Fresca, and her blog, l'astronave... but as I frequently record where I am when writing, as well as why I am where I am, I was compelled to share a little about the conditions in The Computer Turret that evening:
Excuse me, this computer -- a new, or at least, different one -- is blinking and hooting at me. Sputtering, even.

Part of me keeps thinking "This isn't very wise, Retired Educator! Better you should close the plush velvet curtains of The Computer Turret, though they are impervious to not much, so as to better shield this shy, blinking, hooting instrument from the needling horizontal rain with which the Lord has blessed us, than to continue to risk disc failure by pecking away on damp keys and dipping the world's longest extension cord into the stray puddles gracing the uneven slate flagstone."

Yes, we DO have a turret!

Only the one, though.

It was a medieval design flaw, very common, but normally disguised as a soot-spewing chimney by the gaggle of ensuing sub-contractors unleashed by the inevitable Industrial Revolutions. The original Manor Residents had Castle Pretensions. Anyway, Captain Haddock's first mother-in-law, whose living conditions he seems to have delighted in complicating, was housed up here back in the 50s. After her departure, highly fêted, it kind of became a design nightmare and went through incarnations that might shock even Niecy Nash. [I confess that I sometimes wander around Marlinspike Hall with a blindfold on, stopping suddenly and yelling: "Take your blindfold off and OPEN YOUR EYES!"

Yes, I did recently break a leg. Your point?

You probably shuddered with premonition that night, Dear Reader.  Perhaps, in your own blog or journal you wrote of your fear -- perhaps you lit a candle on our behalf, or placed a sporting bet on when, exactly, The Computer Turret would be engulfed in flames. 

For just a few short weeks later, the electrical short that had been smoldering behind "the plush, velvet curtains" turned into a sufficiently maintained blaze to destroy everything but its rock base -- panelling, curtains, computers, and, yes, all the archival material about the ManorMaze.  Oh, and an inimitable collection of Milanese Osso Bucco recipes. 

Yeah, so publishing what may seem extraneous to you, or even to me, in this blog can, indeed, serve a separate and sometimes higher purpose.  In this instance, I do harbor a bit of regret, because our Manor insurance company at the time,  BCBS -- Bull Crap Bull Skeet of Tête-de-Hergé -- refused to cover the costs of the inferno, citing my own reportage in this blog as evidence of irresponsible usage and dangerous conditions.   Dickwads.

And yet, isn't it grand that some of the invaluable history of The Manor was preserved by my seemingly mindless and circuitous writings?

That, in short, Dear Reader, is how my mind works.

Now... as I said, initially, Bianca has laryngitis.  I am thinking slippery elm tea and a pristine broth...

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