I was going to say something about why I haven’t posted here in forever, but really, who cares, right? I had the worst summer of my life and don’t really have anything good to say, so let’s just move on.
Instead of talking about my summer, let’s talk about Android apps! I’ve started to leave a few comments about this in various places, but it turns out that I have so many feelings about this that I rapidly outgrew character limits on comments, plus I figured that it couldn’t hurt anything to have this all archived neatly somewhere.
So, phones. Right now I’ve got an HTC EVO; before this, I had an HTC Hero, which I’ve since given to Nick. Before I go any further, I should probably do the obligatory disclaimers: I really, really love my phones, and I use them constantly, and I’m way more invested in them than I probably ought to be. I’ve used iPhones and don’t especially like them, plus I super hate iTunes and the “Apple Experience”, so I’m not at all interest in hearing comments about iPhones being better or whatever. Go make your own post about iPhones. (That said, if you’re thinking about switching to Android and would like to say “My iPhone does this–can I make an Android do that?” I’m totally happy to talk about that, and I’m happy to talk about apps with platform overlap.)
Also, this is all just my opinion–I don’t know everything about Android, and I’m sure that there are many really useful, awesome things that I’m missing, but since I’m missing them, I’m not talking about them. Feel free to edify me–nicely–in the comments. (Remember what I said about the worst summer ever? Seriously, please be nice.)
Anyhow, biases admitted up front. Moving on.
This post is, as it turns out, super fucking long, so I’m sticking the rest of it under a cut so those of you who have iPhones/Blackberries/hate cell phones and eschew modern technology don’t have to read about it.
Continue reading Android Post of Awesome
Last weekend, I finally managed to get my garden put in. After the stunning failure of last year’s garden, I decided not to start my own seeds this year, but to go buy a bunch of plants and see what happened. So I went off and spent about $25 on plants, and then I spend eleven hours over the course of two days planting things, mulching things, and getting sunburnt.
I know. My life is pretty glamorous.
Pictures of the garden coming shortly, but for the moment, the above is a more-or-less accurate diagram of what was planted where.
6 Druzba Tomatoes
7 Moskvich Early Tomatoes
8 Oxheart Tomatoes
9 Oxheart Tomatoes (not an error–I accidentally made both eight and nine Oxhearts.)
10 Granny Smith Tomatoes
11 Sun Sugar Tomatoes
12 Beefmaster Tomatoes
13 Black Krim Tomatoes
14 Yellow Pear Tomatoes
15 Banana Peppers
16 California Wonder
17 Black Beauty Eggplant
19 Purple and orange cauliflowers
20 Yellow Doll Watermelon
21 Butternut Squash
23 Stonehead Cabbage
24 Brussels Sprouts
25 Bush Pickle
If I manage to find time this weekend, I have a few pumpkins and some dill that I’d still like to put in, but even if they don’t make it (and, let’s be honest, they’re probably not) I feel pretty good about the garden.
I expect that’ll last for a month or two–right about until all my plants start dying horribly. But for the next month or so, I’m totally an awesome gardener, and I’ve got a diagram to prove it.
I’ve been quiet lately–not for any real reason, but just because I’ve been feeling quiet. Sometimes it’s like that. You understand.
What’s broken my seclusion, then? I’ve been visited by the cheese fairy.
[pretend there is a picture here. a picture of someone from Wisconsin, maybe, or France. someone who has wings and is carrying a wand that has a wedge of cheese instead of a star at the tip. this person is the cheese fairy, and they are good.]
And it’s not any cheese–it’s fancy cheese. This cheese, to be precise.
Upon receiving it, I did what any sensible person would do, which was to rip open the package, make a joyous noise, and then promptly eat half a wheel of Cirrus for supper. (Obviously, right? I mean, that’s definitely what you guys would do, too, isn’t it?) Then the next day I made mushroom and pea risotto and mixed in a little more of the Cirrus.
Then there were a few sad, cheeseless days, and then I ate half a round of Seastack for supper. Nick ate some of the Trailhead that night, plus some super-delicious cheddar. Sometimes making a real meal is hard, and sometimes it’s just that cheese is really delicious. Stop judging me, okay?
(Yes, fine, I just read that New York Times article about cheese, and I’m feeling a little defensive. Leave my cheese alone.)
I didn’t order it, and the cheese didn’t come with a note or anything, but I figured that some generous soul had sent it to me–it wouldn’t be the first time something like that’s happened. I fired off an email to the usual suspect when the cheese arrived, but as she was gone for the weekend, I happily ate my cheese, assuming that it was her doing. So imagine my shock when she returned and informed me that no, actually, she didn’t send me anything.
I don’t actually have an ending to this story. You’re expecting a clever plot twist now, but there’s nothing. Maybe it was an elf, or Livia has an alternate personality who enjoys sending people anonymous cheese, or maybe–dare I say it?–maybe the cheese fairy is real.
I don’t know where the cheese came from, and I don’t know why it came to me. I do, however, know where it’s going to end up: in my belly! I think we can all agree that that’s a happy ending.
(Cheese fairy, if you’re out there, speak up so I can thank you proudly. Or don’t, but know that I’m very grateful. Thank you!)
Peeling tomatoes is one of those things that I’ve always avoided. I don’t peel tomatoes for pasta sauce, and I make no-peel salsa. It’s always seemed potentially difficult, not to mention time-consuming and messy. Cutting and boiling and ice water and peeling? Surely that takes hours of tedium.
Turns out not so much. I’ve been after making tomato jam for a while, and after my first attempt (with skins on) turned out more like tomato sauce than tomato jam, I figured it was time to suck it up and peel the damn things. It turns out that peeling tomatoes is super easy, and not very time-consuming at all–I think that once I got the water boiling, it took me about fifteen minutes to peel almost four pounds of tomatoes.
It turns out that to peel a tomato, you do exactly what everything says to do: drop it in boiling water, then cool it, and it’ll slip right out of the skin. If you are–like I was–staring at that and going “yeah, right,” here’s more detail.
On the bottom (non-stem end) of the tomato, cut an X. It doesn’t have to be big–half an inch or so is just fine. It also doesn’t have to be deep–it just has to break the skin. Toss the tomatoes, a few at a time, into a pot of boiling water. Then you let them sit. The internet often says that you should leave them in about thirty seconds, but this is both a pain in the ass (who wants to sit there and count out thirty seconds over and over?) and sort of a lie. What you ought to do is leave them in the pot until the skin has split open from top to bottom. For some tomatoes, this means you’ll take them out after a minute; with a few of the less ripe Romas that I had, it took more like three minutes. Just fish them out as they finish. Toss the hot tomato into a bowl of ice water (or onto a cookie tray or something to cool) and toss another tomato into the pot.
When the tomatoes are cool, just grab the skin and lift it off.
Super, super easy. I feel like an idiot for having avoided this for fifteen years. Luckily, I’m not that old, so I can still get a good fifty or sixty years out of my newfound knowledge.
Like everyone else on the internet, I saw the recent reports of the woman who tossed a cat into a wheelie bin, closed the bin, and walked away, leaving the cat trapped in the bin for sixteen hours.
Almost as well-covered has been the woman’s apology.
I want to take this opportunity to apologise profusely for the upset and distress that my actions have caused.
“I cannot explain why I did this, it is completely out of character and I certainly did not intend to cause any distress to Lola or her owners.
Later, the woman says,
I wish to reiterate that I am profoundly sorry for my actions and wish to resolve this matter to everyone’s satisfaction as soon as possible
One of these is an apology. One of them is not.
This isn’t uncommon. People generally don’t like admitting wrongdoing–we hate admitting that we’ve done something inappropriate, and so often we simply don’t admit it. It leads us to “apologies” like the first example here. I’m sorry for the upset this has caused, or I’m sorry that you’re upset. In both instances, the emphasis is on the recipient of the apology and largely removes the reason for the apology from the picture.
Saying things like “I’d like to apologize for the upset and distress that my actions have caused” says quite clearly that what this person is sorry for is that people are upset and distressed. It doesn’t in any way imply apologize for the actions that caused the distress. It’s like saying “I’m sorry you thought I did that,” or “I’m sorry you feel like I wasn’t listening to you when I kept interrupting.” This phrasing implies not only that the person apologizing didn’t do anything wrong, but they’re also the bigger person, since they’re being tolerant this other person’s implicit overreaction.
The cat lady, whose name is Mary Bale, actually flat-out stated this.
“I really don’t see what everyone is getting so excited about. It’s just a cat,” Bale said.
“To think this video is being seen around the world is unbelievable. I’m a very private person and don’t want to upset any members of my family. I don’t know what my relatives will think, but to be honest I think everyone’s overreacting a bit.”
I’m certainly not saying that Bale should be put to death for abusing the cat (though I admit to feeling that maybe she should spend twelve hours or so in a garbage bin,) and obviously this is an extreme example. It’s a good example, though, because she’s articulated precisely what many reluctant apologizers are thinking: This isn’t a big deal. I didn’t really do anything wrong. These people are just crazy and overreacting. This isn’t really my fault.
This sort of apology isn’t about wrongdoing, or even about the person who’s apologizing. It’s a thinly veiled excuse for your actions, and it pushes the blame from you for doing something offensive to the person who’s been offended. After all, if they were looking at things more realistically, or if they weren’t overreacting, or if they weren’t misinterpreting, this wouldn’t be a problem at all.
So here’s how you apologize.
Decide that you want to apologize. You don’t have to. No one’s going to make you. They might think that you’re an asshole, but they’re not going to bully you into apologizing. If you’re not actually sorry for what you did or said, you might as well own it. If you feel like you have to say something, stick with something relatively neutral. Say it wasn’t your intent, maybe, or that you’ll agree to disagree. If you must, say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” (That’s code, by the way, for “I don’t really care.”)
But if you want to apologize, really, here’s what you do. You listen to what the other person is saying, even if you don’t agree with it, even if you think that they’re being unreasonable. You let them finish without interrupting. Then–and this is the tricky part for a lot of people–you say you’re sorry. Just like that: “I’m sorry.” If you’d like to step it up a bit, you can say something like “I’m sorry for running over your bike. It was an accident, and I’m happy to replace the bike. I hope that this doesn’t get in the way of our friendship.”
You don’t have to do all that, though. All you have to do is say you’re sorry.
As some of you already know, I’m pretty much addicted to Google Reader. This evening I was reading and came across this article, which is about a donor who pledged a million bucks to her alma mater…on the condition that the staff lost a collective 250 pounds. If the president loses 25 pounds, the donor will give them an extra $100,000.
The unorthodox challenge grant comes from a health-conscious woman in Oregon who wishes to remain anonymous, Ms. Lynch said. Fit and fond of organic food, the wealthy benefactor believes that obesity is a serious problem in America and wants to give overweight people an incentive to lose pounds.
“The donor is an extraordinary example of a woman who’s led a healthy lifestyle,” Ms. Lynch said. “She’s 87 years old and weighs exactly what she did when she married her husband—117 pounds. It’s a point of pride for her that she has maintained her youthful physique.”
This is appalling. Let’s talk about why.
Here’s the thing. This is clearly not a health-related incentive. If it were really health-related and they were dead set on controlling employee behavior, they’d also be requiring that people who smoke quit and that people who drink more than the recommended two units of alcohol per day cut back.
If they wanted to simply make employees healthier, they could’ve gone about this really differently. Maybe suggest that the college provide healthy snacks for employees, or at least fill the vending machines with things that are a healthier than the standard chips and chocolate. Maybe they could pay up on the condition that the cafeteria cuts its use of deep frying, offers healthier drink options, reduces the use of products with high fructose corn syrup, and adds (or cuts the price on) a nice salad bar. Offer a discount at a local gym, yoga studio, or masseuse, or offer reduced prices on smoking cessation assistance, counseling, and visits to a nutritionist. There are a lot of things that could be offered–things that have the potential to improve both employee health and morale–but the benefactor has chosen none of these things.
What she’s chosen instead is fat-shaming. She’s chosen to make it clear that the she–and by their acceptance, the college–is more concerned about how people look than about trying to provide them with a healthy work environment and trying to improve their health.
Stephens College is primarily a women’s college–I believe that they admit male grad students, but not undergrads. According to The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, one in five women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered habits. (This is backed up by the National Institute of Mental Health.) 90% of people with eating disorders are women between 12 and 25. Look at those numbers again and think for a minute about how many people–how many young women, how many girls–that is. The message that the college is sending is the same message that these young women are getting from everywhere else: it’s not how you feel about yourself that matters. It’s not how healthy you are, and it’s certainly not your quality of life.
No. What matters is being thin, because fat is bad and unhealthy. Because fat is scary and visible and easy to demonize, so it’s what matters.
I realize that we’re talking about a fairly small amount of weight shared over a presumably large pool of people. The weight loss is probably just a few pounds each. But it’s not what they’re losing that we really need to think about here–we should think about what they’re gaining. They’re gaining a culture in which office culture is synonymous with diet culture. They’re gaining an environment that has the potential to really pit people against each other–dieters vs. non-dieters. We’re talking about a lot of money here, and it’s easy to get people worked up over that. They’re gaining the ability to pressure coworkers into dieting, regardless of how that coworker feels about their own weight, lifestyle, and level of health. Sure, people who disagree could refuse to participate, but let’s be realistic: when you’ve got a hundred people on a diet, and they’re all on it together, and they’re charting the group weight loss, you’re going to have to be a damn strong person to not feel bad–guilty, even–about eating your Friday-afternoon brownie.
The worst part of this for me is that the college president has actively created this environment. The initial offer was made just to her, and she went back and said hey, we’ll collectively lose weight if you’ll donate. Her offer of a “bargain” seems to imply that she initially refused–apparently, a donation to the college wasn’t sufficient reason for her to change her lifestyle and habits. It was, however, sufficient reason to convince most of the staff to do so.
If the donor had suggested that underweight people gain weight, there’s no way that it would have been considered. I doubt, too, that anyone would have undertaken a quest to, say, teach everyone how to knit, nor would a donation contingent upon everyone learning Esperanto go over so well. I don’t think that anyone would have seriously considered a suggestion in which grown adults were made to monitor, report, and reduce their alcohol intake. Or since we’re talking about personal lives here, how about someone will make a donation, but only if the president will spend the next year campaigning in support of a political cause, or maybe spend the next four months having a romantic supper one night a week with the donor–clearly inappropriate, right? But because we’re talking about fat, people seem to feel that it’s okay.
It’s not okay. These people are adults and have the right to determine how they live their lives. If they want to eat healthily and take long walks and not care about their weight, they have the right to do that. If they want to count every calorie and exercise for at least an hour a day, they have the right to do that, too. If they want to live off of jelly doughnuts and coffee, they can. They can ride motorcycles without protective gear, they can stay with abusive partners, they can choose to become a hermit, they can drink until they vomit five nights a week. Most of this is not healthy behavior, but it’s still something that they’re entitled to choose, and unless they’re vomiting in your shoes, it’s none of your business what they’re doing.
Neither is it the business of some anonymous donor, regardless of how much money the donor’s willing to pay for that privilege.
A while back, I posted about why my daughter’s not allowed to watch Disney movies, and I said that eventually I’d be posting part two.
This is part two. Eventually, I’ll be posting part three, about misogyny in Disney movies, because it turns out that I have a lot to say about this.
Two quick notes: I hate unnecessary capitalization, but have tried to capitalize princess when it’s specifically referring to the Disney Princess line. When it’s referring to princesses in general, it’s (probably) not capitalized. Hopefully I managed to keep it straight throughout; apologies for any errors.
Also, I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: this is specifically about Disney’s Princess movies. It’s explicitly not about Monsters Inc. or Robin Hood or Mary Poppins or Ponyo, several of which I’ve seen and liked very much. I’m not saying all Disney movies are bad and everyone should hate them forever, I’m just saying that a little bit of critical thinking never hurt anyone.
Unlike the last post, this post starts with a picture. Two of them, in fact. Looking at the picture, what do you notice? Notice the pink, maybe? That’s sort of the obvious–the “girl’s” aisle at Toys R Us is bathed in it. Pink signs, pink signboards, pink packaging, pink dresses. There’s also a lot of yellow, and sometimes blue (mostly, I noticed, on bath toys,) but surprisingly little purple–apparently pink and yellow are the big “girl colors” now.
Those two pictures are (almost) the entirety of the Disney Princess display at my local Toys R Us. Like I was saying the other day, there are nine princesses: Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Ariel, Mulan, Pocahontas, Jasmine, and Tiana. Maybe, looking at those pictures, you’ve noticed that only the first five princesses on that list are represented.
In fairness to Disney and Toys R Us, I have to admit that there’s a Princess and the Frog display next to the one that I took photos of–it’s about two shelves, roughly the size of the shelves in the pictures. It seems to mostly have a ton of dress-up clothes, plus a few Tiana Barbies. It also has a Polly Pocket set, which costs about $35 and comes with a prince and a horse and a carriage, I believe.
Still, the focus of the Princesses is clear: Princesses, for the purposes of Disney, are white. When you’re looking at the whole Princess line, it’s easy to think that Disney has done a reasonably good job of providing heroines of different nationalities. And, in the films, they mostly have, I suppose. Sure, Tiana spends the vast majority of the movie as a frog, but hey, at least she’s there, right? And okay, Pocahontas exists solely to help the white peoples, but representation, yay!
Unfortunately, the films, at this point, are sort of obsolete. Not because no one has them (though it seems that the actual films have waned somewhat in popularity, replaced by sing-along DVDs and Princess-themed shorts,) but because the real money’s in the merchandise. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that the films don’t make money. I’m just saying that in terms of yearly revenue, I’d bet that the dolls and dress-up costumes and Princess-themed bookbags bring in more than sales of the DVD backlist.
And, really, Disney’s merchandising is impressive. Princess dolls in every size, if not shape or color; clothes from the movies; clothes allegedly inspired by the movies; clothes with Princesses on them; games ranging from puzzles to complicated games for the Nintendo DS; Princess books–sticker books, coloring books, actual books with words in them; backpacks; ballpits; makeup; cameras; motorized bubble blowers… That’s just from a quick skim of an Amazon search for “Little Mermaid”.
Maura has the Polly Pocket Disney princesses–she has all of them except Mulan and Pocahontas, and (to my distress) they’re her favorite toys. I picked the first five of them up for a few bucks at the drug store or the supermarket. For about five bucks, I could get a doll and two dresses; for about twelve, there’d be six dresses and, usually, some sort of adorable bird or dwarf or whatever it was that featured in that film. Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Snow White, Cinderella, and Belle were all purchased this way. I caved and ordered Tiana online for, I think, about $25. She’s new and popular, I told myself. There’s a premium on that.
I started looking for Mulan, Pocahontas, and Jasmine. Jasmine is nearly impossible to find in stores–I finally happened across the doll in a closeout store, just her and a single dress, for seven bucks. I snapped it up, of course. To get the bigger set of her, which has the doll, the tiger, and half a dozen dresses, I was going to have to order it online for something like $30. (Remember, I can buy the other large sets for twelve bucks.) Mulan is just as hard to find–you can buy her, but only online, and only in a $30 set with about six dresses. Pocahontas can’t be had for love or money. She just doesn’t exist.
After the ridiculous success of the Polly Pocket Princesses, Disney apparently figured that hey, one set went well, so two sets would go twice as well! So now there are an additional six “favorite moments sparkle bag” dolls. They’re the exact same thing, only they have painted-on shoes and sparkly clothes. Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, Jasmine, and Belle got bags. (Jasmine’s bag is only available–you guessed it–online.) Pocahontas, Tiana, and Mulan didn’t get sparkle bags at all.
It’s weird, right, that while I can find the white princesses in every damn store I walk into (and believe me, I can, because Maura has a homing instinct that leads her straight to the Pollys,) but I can’t find any of the non-white dolls? That to buy the non-white dolls, I’ve had to order online and pay twice as much?
The same holds true for other Disney products–the princess tea set has Belle, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. The tiara has Ariel and Belle and Cinderella. Bookbag? Belle, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Underwear? Mostly Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, though Tiana can be bought on her own (instead of with other princesses) and it’s possible (though difficult) to find a set of Belle, Cinderella, and Jasmine. These aren’t examples I had to hunt down, either, it was just the first few things that I plugged into Amazon. It goes on and on. The only place I’ve ever found Jasmine is on Valentine’s cards, in one of the Princess movies, and as a Barbie. Mulan can be had as a Barbie, as can Tiana, but that’s about it. They’re not in the princess movies, and they’re not part of the merchandising. Pocahontas, so far as I can tell, isn’t on anything at all.
The message that Disney’s sending is clear: real princesses are white. You other people might be allowed to show up in the background, or as guests at a tea party, but let’s face it–you’re just not as pretty or interesting as those other princesses.
The kicker, of course, is that of the Princess line, the only ones who have any sort of personality are the ones who are excluded. We don’t really know a lot about any of the Princesses–Belle likes to read, Ariel likes singing and collecting forks, Sleeping Beauty likes to dance in the forest, Snow White is apparently a great housekeeper, Cinderella isn’t afraid of mice, Jasmine is tired of staying at home and would like to go explore the world, Pocahontas is an environmental activist, Tiana would like to own her own restaurant, and Mulan’s strong enough to head off to war to save her dad’s ass.
So…yeah. Of those characters, which ones should be the interesting ones? The ones who like to play house, obviously! Looking at it laid out like that, though, it’s also striking that any character who’s darker than skim milk isn’t in this for herself, she’s in it for good, noble reasons. Jasmine’s teaching us a very important lesson about arranged marriages, Pocahontas wants to save her land and her people, Mulan wants to save her father, and Tiana’s both fulfilling her father’s dream and working for a living.
It’s interesting to me, too, that while the vast majority of the princesses have endings that are very clearly meant to be read as happy (and then they got married and rode off in a beautiful carriage pulled by white horses, and they lived happily ever after, the end,) the only two who don’t have that ending are Pocahontas–remember, John leaves at the end of the movie and goes back to England, and Pocahontas stays with her people–and Tiana, who ends up married to a guy she loves, but is going to be busting her ass in that restaurant for the rest of her life. Both of these are certainly more realistic endings than Snow White and company, but am I the only one who finds it a little problematic that the one princess who’s going to spend her life working is the black one?
And then we have Mulan and Jasmine. Neither was all that interested in getting married, but by the end of the movies, they’ve gotten any sort of adventurous spirit worked out and they’re ready to settle down and be good wives. Jasmine was so bored, but hey, now that she has a husband, she’ll never be bored again! And Mulan was failing at all the proper girl things that she was supposed to be doing. Then she went off to war and met Shang, who, when he realized she was a woman, was clearly bothered by her lack of womanliness. Eventually, the Emperor’s like, “That Mulan, eh?” Then Shang follows her home, and hey, now she’s apparently ready to settle down and behave correctly.
Disney could very easily make all of the Princesses part of their Princess merchandise, and they’ve chosen not to. The message is clear: real princesses are white and appropriately feminine. The Princesses of color might be more interesting and more realistic, but they don’t fit this ideal, so they’re going to be second-class merchandise forever.
So, internet, it’s been a while! It turns out that summer is really hot, and I don’t have air conditioning, so most of what I’ve been doing involves lounging on my bed and considering dumping frozen blueberries into my underwear.
I’ve also visited my in-laws down in Florida, shipped my daughter off for two weeks with my mother, had heat exhaustion, had a mild bout of stomach flu, adopted two dogs, gotten Maura back, and completely and totally failed to pay any attention at all to my garden.
Despite that last bit, my garden is doing surprisingly well. The carrots and fennel are huge and leafy, the tomato plants have little green tomatoes on them, and we’re going to have enough squash to eat all winter, and then probably some left over. I was thinking that maybe I could pay my mortgage in squash for a few months, actually. That seems reasonable, right? Surely Bank of America will jump all over that. Beautiful organic squashes, guys!
In other squash-related news, I’m now the only person I’ve ever met who managed to completely fail at growing zucchini. Zucchini! The vegetable that gets left in baskets for unsuspecting neighbors, that grows to the size of your average toddler in three days, that fells large trees with little more than an angry glance, and I have managed to destroy it. I don’t even know, guys.
Those of you who are reading closely may have noticed that I mentioned some dogs. We have dogs! Multiple dogs. To go, you know, with our multiple cats. We will not be having multiple kids, so this works out pretty well. We’d been looking for a dog friend for Basil, and had emailed a guy on Craigslist about a dog he’d posted. As I was talking to him, Nick sent me another Craigslist post, telling me that if this fell through, we should contact this other guy. Turned out that it was the same guy and he had two dogs, so now we have three. Like you do, right?
Basil’s, the white terrier mix, is about two and a half; Cooper, a long-haired dachshund, is two; Seamus, the Yorkie, is six. They sleep on our bed, sometimes with the cats, and I love them.
This is 2/3 of what we did this week:
The first one is from Margaret Atwood’s poem Spelling:
My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
how to make spells.
I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.
A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.
I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.
Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.
A word after a word
after a word is power.
At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.
This is a metaphor.
How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.
The second is on Nick’s calf–it’s Maura’s name (circa 2008) and a cat that she drew around the same time. I love it madly.
I also madly love the remaining 1/3 of this week’s activities–another Maura name and drawing, this one of an ice-fishing penguin, that’s on my foot. Pics of that forthcoming, as it was a bit more swollen and raw looking than the other ones. Give it another day or two.
This weekend is my little sister’s wedding reception. It’s completely bizarre to me that she’s no longer seventeen.
Slight delay on the rest of the Disney posts. I got a concussion (cat, stairway, low crossbeam) on Friday and have been out of commission for a couple of days. The bruise on my head has receded, but the pain has not, nor has the very attractive lump on my forehead. I look like a Neanderthal.
Regular posting to resume shortly.