Iâ€™m reluctant to say that Cerbo en Vitra ujo by Mary Robinette Kowal is my favorite story. I think perhaps to know for sure Iâ€™d had to read it again and Iâ€™m not planning to do that anytime soon. Cerbo sunk its scalpels into me and drug me along for a ride. I had a good idea close to the beginning where it was headed. But that doesnâ€™t mean it didnâ€™t take me there like a double mocha moolatte smothered in smooth chocolate. Oh yes, I slid right through Cerbo, landing at the end wrapped in goo and trepidation. And did I mention the author lives in Iceland?
It’s a funny world where one is pleased that a reader doesn’t want to read one’s story again.
I’ve been working with a pocket dictionary and asked my teacher to recommend a more comprehensive one, which I picked up on the way home from class yesterday. Last night while doing my homework, I discovered that my brand-new dictionary was missing WXYZ and most of U in the English section. I was not amused. I need those words.
So today, after class I went to the store and explained that I had purchased the book yesterday and that at it didn’t have those pages, and I did it all in Icelandic! I even used past tense, which I only learned this week. Ha! Ha ha! Mind you, I had to rehearse the phrases all the way from class to the store, but I figured them out on my own without having to look things up. My phrasing may have been odd, but lord bless them, the clerks at the bookstore did not switch to English. I feel so powerful.
For homework last night, we had to write about our normal day. Needless to say, most of the words I needed were not in the normal lesson… I have no idea if any of my declinations are right; conjugations I feel pretty good about, it’s all those darn declining nouns and adjectives that make life tricky.
I’m building a polar bear costume for a childrens’ hospital here, and for the head, needed a life cast of someone’s face to build on. Back in Portland, I have several life casts of different people that I sculpt on when I’m making a mask. Wigforms are lovely things for wigs, but they are not proportioned like people, so masks tend to not line up.
Since I’m in Iceland, I recruited my charming spouse to go through the life mask process. This is a very simple plaster bandage life-mask, it’s good for mask making, but does not have enough fidelity for prosthetics; for those, you would use alginate. But for almost everything else, plaster bandages are plenty good.
Prep all the supplies and have everything on hand. You should not leave the casting area once you start.
You’ll need about three rolls of bandage, cut into strips about eight inches long.
A bowl of cool water. Plaster heats as it sets, if you use warm water you can burn your subject.
Music or some amusing anecdotes to keep your subject relaxed.
Babywipes or makeup removal wipes.
Sharpie or other permanent marker
We start off by saran wrapping the back of his head to protect his hair and ears. I’m sorry that it didn’t occur to me to take photos while we were in this process.
Vaseline the face thoroughly. There are other options for mold releases, but I’m kind of old-school. You can also use soap, which cleans up easier, but I always worry about it getting in the subject’s eyes. Pay particular attention to the eyebrows, putting enough on to smooth them out and mat them down. When you are finished covering the face, you want the vaseline to be smooth, without any obvious presence besides a glossy sheen.
Have the subject recline. In a beautiful world, you’ll have something like a dentist’s chair so that they don’t have to lie all the way down. Gravity will change the shape of the face. Fortunately, since we aren’t doing prosthetics it’s not a big deal. I had Rob lie down on the floor with a bolster under his neck. Newspaper is everywhere to catch the drips.
Dip bandage in water and start with the forehead, smoothing the bandage so that you can’t see the texture of the guaze. It is important to talk to your subject and tell them what is happening the entire time. Many people can freak out as their face gets covered in plaster.
Work around the perimeter of the face, covering the eyes last. I do not put plaster over the eyelashes. I slide the bandage under the lashes and stop on the lid above them. After I pull the mask off, I will bandage over those areas.
It will take about ten minutes for the plaster to set. During this time, offer to read to the subject, tell him stories or let him nap. Ideally you will have worked this out ahead of time. I use hand signals, thumbs up or thumbs down to indicate preferences.
While the plaster is setting, draw a line on the saran wrap around the edge of the plaster , so you can see where to place the plaster for the other half of the mold. I don’t do both halves at the same time, because it is more comfortable for the subject to only have half his head encased in plaster.
When the plaster heats up and then cools back down again it is ready to remove. Ask your subject to sit. Grasp the plaster at the edges and ease it off. Sometimes there’s a vacuum effect and you’ll feel a little resistance. It usually comes off smoothly.
Next ask your victim to turn around so you can plaster the back of their head. Note: You only have to do this if you need a full head. For most mask work you can just cast the face. This goes just the same as above.
You now have two halves of a head. Congratulations.
Remove the saran wrap from your subjects head, and offer them the baby wipes to remove the vaseline.
Join the two halves of the head with more of the plaster guaze.
Seal the holes in the head with additional bandages
Vaseline the inside thoroughly. I mean it.
Mix plaster following the package directions and pour the plaster into your mold.
Once it has set, cut the bandages around the original seam and remove.
Ta-da! You now have a plaster duplicate of your subjects head.
Why do I only have 1167 words to show for today? Because I spent all freaking day trying to recover from edatarack’s blunder. I’m busily moving every site I hosted with them so that I never have to deal with them ever again. Between that and the Icelandic lesson, I feel very good that I got forty-five minutes of writing in and ticked that I had to waste time on the website. I’ll try to post some audio Icelandic tomorrow. Meanwhile, I promised myself that I would go to bed at midnight.
I stayed up until two o’clock last night and that was a bad idea.
36,554 / 50,000 (73.0%)
1167 words in forty-five minutes
He cleared his throat twice.
“I mean, most parents just tell stories about their honeymoons, you two went on a freaking quest.”
I’ve had my first Icelandic class. We are starting by reviewing the things covered in course 1. I seem to be about in the middle of the class, in terms of grasp of Icelandic which is perfect. My classmates are from Belgium, the Congo, Phillipines, Poland, Haiti and America. It’s a small class which is nice. It’s also close enough to bike to, which makes me very happy.
The weather cooperated today; it was windy but no precipitation.
Your Icelandic phrase for today is: Ã‰g er bruÃ°aleikari frÃ¡ Bandarikjunum.
I am a puppeteer from America.
I headed into Lazytown today so that Jonathan and I could go have lunch. He’s heading back to NYC tomorrow, so this was the last chance to see him for awhile. We had planned on going to Dong Huang, which is the little Chinese restaurant we’d recently discovered.
Sadly, they only offer a buffet during lunch, which today seemed to consist of four empty pans and some half-dried noodles. We decided to pass and went to Bada Bing. I don’t know anyone who’s been there even though it’s the closest restaurant to work. It’s apparently an Italian Thai Icelandic Sports Bar. Yeah. They are non-smoking and fairly vegetarian friendly. By which I mean that when I ordered the Thai NuÃ°lur meÃ° grÃ¦nmeti (Noodles with vegetables) he was considerate enough to ask if it was okay if they put egg in there. Yay.
Sadly, the noodles tasted largely of soy sauce. Alas.
Afterwords we went back to the studio and I got to watch a couple of the episodes. Hot stuff.
Then, back home to work on Good Housekeeping
33,103 / 50,000 (66.0%)
Looking at my progress so far, I’m writing slightly more words everyday but my time spent writing each day is shrinking by about fifteen minutes per day. That’s exciting. It also makes me wonder why I’m not doing this every day? I mean, sure, I try to write at least a page, but looking at my times that should only take me ten or fifteen minutes. Why has it been taking so long?
Her heart slipped, beating sideways against her chest.
“Get Grandma and Grandaddy to come stay with us there.”
As you might recall, last year I decided to stop writing Good Housekeeping during NaNoWriMo after two weeks and 25,000 words. I stopped because we were moving to Iceland and decided that it would make me crazy to get the wordcount done, plus pack, plus go to Woodthrush Woods for the holidays. At the time, I was planning on writing another 25,000 words in two weeks in January. I did not even crack the novel open.
Today, I am going to start again. Let this stand as a notice for my own mini-NaNoWri. I reviewed my chapter outline, story arc, and reread the pages that I’ve written.To finish the remaining 24,457 words of the NaNo challenge, I have until September 20. Wish me luck.
I went today to take my placement test for Icelandic. The first part of the written test was fine, I breezed through the first two pages and then started slowing down. The nice thing about the test was that they let you know which level each section tested for. I was mostly okay in level two, although my conjugation and declension difficulties became clear. Level three was half guesswork. Level four…I looked at it and decided that I was just going to turn in my test.
But no. The ordeal was not over. I had to go to the oral exam. The speaking part is the thing I struggle with most. My comprehension is not bad, although it goes downhill when I’m tired or panicked. Both conditions were in full force by the time I went into the oral exam room.
Despite the fact that I felt like a poser and was struggling to put sentences together, they seemed very pleased with me. I’ve been placed in Level II and start classes on Monday. I’m very, very excited.
Building up vocabulary is emphasized. Topics may include daily activities, shopping, professions, appearance and employment. The practice of pronunciation is continued.
Oh, and it turns out that one of the oral examiner’s brother works at Lazytown. Small, small country.
The doorbell just rang. When I opened it, there were two squeaky clean young men in suits. Each had a little black name tag. Yep. Mormons.
One of them started speaking in Icelandic and I stopped him. Turns out they were both Americans, California and Utah. Can you imagine? He was about to witness to me in Icelandic. That’s so cute and it makes me jealous. A year and a half and he can have deep religious conversations in this crazy language. So they talked to me in English and I explained that I’ve read the Book of Mormon and that I’m comfortable with my own religous state. I also told them that I appreciate what they are doing.
In related news, I start Icelandic classes next week. I’ve got my placement test tomorrow.
We had folks over for dinner after production today. It was just a light meal with conversation. I made a Roasted Cauliflower soup, which I love because it’s easy and you can do other things while it’s becoming tasty
I also made Mixed greens with feta, pinenuts and blueberries for the first time. Again, a very easy recipe and delicious. I used the Icelandic blueberry, which is smaller, crisper and slightly more bitter than the blueberries I grew up with. If you have…drat I can’t remember the name of the berry. -E- what is the berry that grows in your front yard that’s like a blueberry, but isn’t? Anyway, those are similar to the Icelandic ones.
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 5-ounce bag arugula greens
1 10 ounce bag spinach
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2-pint container blueberries
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Whisk vinegar, oil, and honey in small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine greens, feta, and blueberries in large bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.
One of our friends brought an almond lemon cake that I have to get the recipe for. Yummy.
I started my online journal two years ago today after I got a call from Lazytown and sold my second story. I guess this would be a clear example of the aphorism “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Rob and I are planning on staying in Iceland after we wrap production. I’ve sold nine short stories, gone to Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp and have written two more novels. Now if I can just sell one…
Rob, for some time now, has been coveting a motorcycle. He used to ride them in Hawaii and the roads in Iceland are apparently perfect for a motorcycle. So, he’s been shopping for one for a couple of months. The shopping was sort of a hobby. Until last night, when he won the auction for one. It’s in Germany and will be here in a couple of weeks. I’m so pleased for him. He so rarely covets something and to actually pursue it? Heavens.
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]