Tidings of the Season and Otherwise

It’s been a while since I posted, for a few reasons.

For starters, I know all of you have things to do at this time of the year other than sit in front of a screen and follow the wordy exploits of yours truly. And it’s also been busy down here, as we gear up for the last big holiday not just of 2010, but of the season. After Christmas and New Year’s, things begin winding down in a hurry.

Two months from now, McMurdo will be closed for the season. All the scientists and nearly all support personnel – aside from a couple hundred hardy souls maintaining the facility during the long, dark winter – will have left. The planes will stop arriving, and will not start again until August.

There is already a sense that the end is near. The marine ecologist who allowed me to Personally Advance Science and his team are all back in sunny California. The film makers I met at Happy Camper are en route to their homes in Michigan. Many others have left, and already we’re getting emails from HR about planning for redeployment back to the States.

In the middle of the Christmas prep madness, the sense of the season having crested and now sliding downward – like the sun will start doing, after Thursday – something else has kept me from posting the past couple weeks.

A friend of mine died unexpectedly earlier this month. Pat, along with her husband Bill, was not only among the blog’s most loyal readers- she was part of the reason I started writing again. When I was heading to New Zealand last year, it was she and Bill who encouraged me to return to the blogosphere and record my adventures (and, er, broadcast them to the world).

I will miss Pat, who was one of the most energetic, inquisitive and giving people I ever met. Whenever we visited, or she sent me an e-mail, it seemed she was going to or coming from a meeting involving one of the causes to which she devoted many hours: the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra, adult literacy, and on and on. Even when she was busy, she always found time to chat, to laugh and to hear about my latest reckless endeavor with bright eyes and a wide smile.

Goodness radiated from her, and the world is a dimmer place without her.

One of Pat’s hobbies was found art, and she collected rusted bits of metal, wire twisted into curious shapes beside the road, rocks with personality. It made sense. Pat chose to see the good and the value in everything, and everyone.

I was working on an attempt at my first movie when I learned of her death. I had planned it as a Christmas greeting to all of you, with a holiday theme, but it wasn’t coming together (partly because the sheer size of the software I was using kept frightening my little hobbit netbook, resulting in a number of crashes).

A couple days ago, I scrapped it and started afresh. I looked through the bits and pieces of test videos I’ve shot in my time here and, like Pat finding art in the rusty and discarded, I found a new theme and went with it.

It’s the first time I’ve ever tried to make a video, the first time I’ve ever used any kind of movie making software (and, my hyperventilating netbook hopes, the last… it took more than an hour to save, even though it’s less than four minutes long). So don’t expect a Peter Jacksonesque tour de cinematic force.

It’s just a little something I made for the blog, for you, my readers, and for Pat.

Despite the presence of an elf (the only thing it has in common with a Peter Jackson movie), it’s not a holiday movie. But I hope you consider it my Christmas/Kwanzaa/Festivus/belated Hannukah gift to you.

Enjoy. (I uploaded it to YouTube, another first for me, so please let me know if you have any trouble viewing it, hearing the music, etc.)


7 thoughts on “Tidings of the Season and Otherwise

  1. Gemma, I am very sorry about the loss of your good friend, Pat.
    I love your video, especially the dancing “elf” at the end. The music was perfect!

  2. I’m a friend of Dr. Virago’s who has enjoyed reading your adventures in various blog permutations. My sympathies on the death of your friend; I’m sure she would have loved your movie.

  3. Thanks, everyone 🙂 My favorite moment is when the skua shows what he thinks of my video… I can just imagine Pat seeing that and laughing out loud, eyes wide with disbelief.

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