Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cold Iron

Gold is for the mistress -- silver for the maid --
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.
"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all."
                                      Rudyard Kipling

I used that verse as an opener in my first published novel, Murder At the War.

Well, the very talented computer craftsman could not retrieve a single word I lost from my faulty laptop.  What failed was the chip that operated the system that saved.  So while I thought I was saving text, I wasn’t.  All is gone beyond recall.  So I am back to the drawing board in the story – well not entirely.  I had somewhere close to 50,000 words stored away, some in a rustic form that badly needed polishing.  And so that’s what I’m doing.  Writing new, polishing old, tying them together in what I hope will be a coherent story.

Except Monday.  I went to the Great Minnesota Get-Together yesterday, which is how we advertise our State Fair.  I walked until my feet ached all the way up to my hip bones, ate horrible things, fatty, laden with carbohydrates, full of sugar, delicious!  We went to the coliseum and watched dogs still being introduced to the job of herding sheep fail utterly to get them to cross a little bridge or weave in and out of a row of barrels or gather in a small pen on the other side of the arena.  Novice Class dogs give people watching an idea of just how difficult it is for a dog with herding in its very genes but not much experience and even a human shepherd who knows what s/he is doing to get the dog to help control a group of three nervous sheep.  At least two of the dogs thought they were there to chase the sheep from one end to the other of the arena while ignoring the shepherd’s increasingly frustrated shouts to lie down or slow down or come here.  What was really interesting was when time was called and the novice dog was put on a leash, while the nearly hysterical trio of sheep huddled in a corner or tried to climb the arena walls and escape.  Then a well-trained dog ran into the arena all by itself and gathered the frightened trio under his masterful eye and brought them calmly to the gate and out.  It was quite amazing to see him do that.  The next level of dogs did better, but we had to leave before the truly experienced dogs were given their chance. 
We saw the Willis Clan perform – they are wonderful, they play all kinds of music on instruments ordinary and strange, and as a finale performed an Irish jig that had the audience whooping and clapping.  They are twelve brothers and sisters ranging in age from twenty-two to about five or six, and not a clinker in the bunch.


Betty Hechtman said...

I'm so sorry that you weren't able to retrieve your work. The fair sounds like a nice diversion.

Linda O. Johnston said...

That really is a shame, your not being able to get your work back. But I'd love to have seen those dogs at work!

Anonymous said...

Maybe in another book you can do the dogs. But I'm really sorry you lost your work.

Christine Thresh said...

It must have been those ants. Doesn't you editor have more or less up to date parts of your manuscript? Have you been sending those back and forth? I am sorry about your loss.

Monica Ferris said...

You know, I never thought to blame the ants! Maybe it was them.

In this case, I hadn't let anyone else read the manuscript - I sometimes do that - because I kept going back and changing things as I worked the plot out. It's a complicated plot (for me, anyway) and I needed to keep the clues coming in a particular order that changed now and again. But it's rounding out pretty well now, so if this new computer begins malfunctioning I do in fact have a version in someone else's computer.

Monica Ferris said...

I felt really sorry for the sheep selected to be herded by the dogs who only chased them - they were three different trios for each dog, I knew that because they looked different. In one case one of the sheep had a green stripe marked on its back and in another one of the sheep was freshly shorn. Then there was the dog who, every time his trio seemed about to cross the little bridge would go to the other side of it (possibly to greet them?) and of course would send them running the other way. But to me the most fascinating part was when the experienced dog came in all by itself and rounded up the trio and herded it out without the slightest bit of trouble. It was as if the sheep recognized the lone dog and said, "It's okay, here's that fellow who knows what he's doing, and isn't here to rip our throats out."