I slept again, slept a little too long and missed part of S. L. Viehl's class on Native American mythology. Fortunately, James transcribed so I was able to catch the stuff I missed. This has given me wonderful, radical, wild ideas for worldbuilding. Not so much the idea of mistreating the stories or using characters from them, as the underlying types of stories shaped by the ways people lived. The differences between the stories of farmers and buffalo hunters and raiders were striking. The general idea of defining cultures in my world building for the world Ziriavan is on - a world I do have to name - has a fun side of it. The side that's getting under the skin of the caravaner culture and finding out who they are by the stories they tell. The side that's getting under the skin of some other people in the world and finding out who they are in their folktales. Meeting the gods by their stories.
If I write them well enough, the fairy tales and folklore and so forth may stand as real stories, suitable for sending out as fantasy stories in their own right, out of context. Or collecting into a volume that sits by the side of the series as a fun book of short stories that all share a 'fables' basis. I am getting excited about that.
My birthday is on Monday. I keep asking myself, what can I get for me for my birthday? This may seem petty but it's all the difference between being alone, living alone as this single 47 year old man in the modern world where being 47 means you have to be a grownup, afraid of birthdays, where birthday cards have black borders and carry cruel jokes about how you'll lose your hair and teeth and die soon. Or I can take it the way I do. 47 is sickeningly young for an elf or a vampire or any unaging race. I'm a boy, not even a century yet. Therefore my birthday should be like the one for age seven - fun, with toys, something to look forward to, an achievement, a time set aside just for me and making me happy. It is the day for celebrating the self. It is an achievement.
Hey, world, I survived another year and you didn't manage to get me dead! Hey, world, I wrote more novels than I did and I don't have to go to school any more! Nyah, nyah! Hey, world, I am not even alone this year! I have a big shaggy cat and we love each other and we're going to have FUN on Monday!
Okay, that suggests some ideas. Spending some quality kitten time with Ari is having someone at my home birthday party. We can share a dish of yogurt. He really likes that and I love him so much and I did get some yogurt. That's something special. Everyone's talking about Lord of the Rings, the movie, which reminds me of when I was a little kid reading Fellowship of the Ring for the first time. I was seriously impressed by the hobbitish birthday custom of giving presents to other people on your birthday. I thought that sounded like a whole lot of fun. With a kid's natural greed, it left me recognizing that hey, I'd get a whole lot of neat presents if I lived in Hobbiton and with a kid's blissful disregard for cost of same and status of consumer goods, the fact that most of those would be mathoms, ie tag sale stuff, really didn't matter since my favorite shopping sprees were at yard sales!
So I can honor the memory of J. R. R. Tolkein by taking some time and making my cat a new toy. If I cut up that pair of jeans that doesn't fit, I will finally stop trying to put them on because they're darker and less worn than all the pairs that do and just have some cool sturdy denim to make kitty dangle thingies out of. He doesn't have a fishing pole thingie yet, something I can just pick up and dangle on a stick from the desk and get him chasing. So the bottom has to be a big poof of just chunks of it, but that has to hang on something that's a sturdy enough cord that if he runs off with it he won't chew through it.
In terms of toy engineering, one thing immediately suggests itself. Jeans have those double rolled seams industrially sewn, that if you're trying to do patchwork or even cut them off to make shorts take something like tin snips to get through. What resists scissors on up through tin snips would resist kitten teeth and claws pretty well - but leaving a little ragged edge on either side of the rolled seam would fray out as he battered it and just make a neat little fringe. This also really reduces the amount of cutting and sewing on denim, a fabric that tends to be a lot like working leather for leaving blisters on my hands. So... the last foot and a half or so, leave a wider flap on either side of the seam and look for something like a dowel or chunk of PVC pipe or something lightweight for a handle. Or maybe just roll it - I could do that, taper it down and just roll the cloth on itself around the seam thing and stitch by hand hard with some moccasin sinew.
I still want to do a culture that spins and weaves hair from longhair cats as their main fiber production. Yoda the Himalayan produced two or three big handfuls of very soft wool every single day when he was brushed. I think it's historical accident that sheep wound up being the longhaired animals kept for wool. South America it's soft vicunas and other camel relatives. Humans looking to make cloth can use long soft fuzzy hair from any source - which means that it's path dependent. Long haired cats weren't thought of that way except by a few spinning hobbyists who've also considered poodles and the like, simply because they weren't. They are small and predatory, unlike sheep or vicunas not doubling for food animals. But the unseen advantage of raising Persian type cats for wool production is that it's not seasonal. It's consistent, constant fluff production. It would require stuff - places for people to live where they'd be comfortable with dozens of cats. It would require an area where there was copious inexpensive cat food. Sheep graze on grass.
Hello, Ziriavan is a fishing village and it's conceivable that fish guts are a continuous supply of cheap copious cat food, a food byproduct of what humans eat. It's got a temperate climate and people wear sweaters. But if the cat hair wool is a luxury item, it was introduced as such a long time ago and whoever had that first pair of cats probably had white ones. White cat hair takes dyes so beautifully. I speak from experience. Vila had white paws. I was a painter in New Orleans while I had Vila. I remember his beautiful bright pink and sky blue feet that lasted for weeks after he ran across the palette. Yep, white cat hair dyes beautifully.
Long haired rabbits were kept in some areas for their wool. I remember reading about that - and many breeds of rabbits also get raised for their fur. Hm. If I want the clever thing of cats kept for wool, there's got to be some advantage they've got over the fur producers that are edible. They're very affectionate and sit still for the combing. This in itself is a biggie. The work's easier. And of course maybe the local food rabbits aren't big domesticated white or black or spotted varieties with good pelts, maybe they're ordinary tawny wild hunting type rabbits that get kept sometimes for that but aren't seen as much other than a source of leather and food. There may be other small prey animals locally that the Ziriavans think of as fur and food. Chinchillas were kept for fur.
I think it's plausible by historical accident - one breeding pair of rare expensive pets brought through by caravaners from some far distant bazaar or the loot of a war that wound up at a bazaar and one canny villager getting a good handful out of petting the spoiled creature and thinking of how often the ordinary local cats have kittens. White fluffy longhairs, rapidly bred into a local Ziriavan breed with its own points of breed. Now to place that in its history - was that before the great walled city, when Ziriavan was a lot like it is now and before it was that wealthy?
I like this part of it and I'm going to have fun. Once I've had enough of this kind of fun I'll go back and start roughing out the series - and not overwork it. I am still asking myself why I'm this prolific and that's why - when I have that much fun with it that long that's what makes it work.
Robert and Ari >^..^<