Traveling, then coughing for a few weeks…even though the weather has been mild, I barely got one January bike commute in. And at that, my bike spent the weekend at the office. But today I pedaled home and preserved my bike commuter identity.
Not Commute Graffiti #1: (photo by Madi Carlson)
Not Commute Graffiti #2:
hand-painted wooden sign: “Be where your hands are.”
When I pulled up at home, I thought for a sec my brakes were squealing, but the sound continued. Raccoons were having a screaming match in the holly tree two doors down. We just heard them again; kitty’s staying indoors this evening.
Yesterday I happened to see an announcement for a Paideia class to be held on the front lawn of the college, about packing with donkeys! I had been planning to take a walk down there anyway, so Sang and I went to see some donkeys. They were wonderful! Vera and Hattie, mother and daughter, did not want to be more than a few yards away from each other. They accepted as much petting and brushing as they could get and let people lead them around. Donkeys, their human Jessica said, are a good “starter equine” because in place of a horse’s instinct to spook and run, their instinct in the face of fear or uncertainty is to brace their legs and stand still until it’s sorted. They’re unlikely to buck or kick or rear, and can carry 80 pounds each pretty easily.
Vera is named after Vera Katz, the Portland mayor who signed the ordinance allowing livestock in city limits. Two donkeys per household is the limit in Portland, and really the minimum non-zero number as well, since a solitary donkey would be sad and lonely. Unfortunately, this climate is a bit wet for them– the lush green grass will give them something like diabetes, and standing on wet ground all the time is hard on their feet. They need dry quarters and hay to eat, here.
I was so glad I went! The rest of the weekend was good too– Bookherd hung around the house with us, and we watched all of season 3 of The Good Place in two days, and ate winter foods like tuna mac and scalloped potatoes.
This morning the ALA Youth Media Awards and American Indian Youth Literature Awards were announced. So many books I haven’t read! But I did know a few:
My Monday Magpie selections, geared toward writing and representation:
Day Two: Rec at least three fanworks that you didn’t create. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.
I went through my Ao3 bookmarks looking for a matched set, but I think these three unmatched ones appeal to me more today. They’re all long, and in fact I need to reread them– but I trust Past Grrlpup’s bookmarking enough to list them now.
Sanguinity and I flew to Colorado for my mom’s 80th birthday. Mom was unwrapping some stored picture frames and found my tiger towel, and my sister’s elephant towel! They were gifts from my aunt, but I don’t remember that– in my memory I always had this towel, or at least since I was an infant with the towel that had a pocket in the corner to make a hood. Tiger and elephant hung in the bathroom.
That’s all there is to this story. I’m excited. My towel and I, reunited!
(Note: the following is 100% negativity! If you skip it you will not miss out on news of my life. I may not respond to comments. I am grateful for the Americans with Disabilities act, and Bush41’s support and signature of the ADA is the one thing that mitigates these sentiments.)
I hate Presidential funerals. When I attend services for friends, family or community members, I feel like afterwards I know the deceased better, know more stories about them, better know the hearts of their other people. But so far, the funerals of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush41 mostly leave me with cognitive dissonance and disbelief, like the memory of what the years of their administration felt like is being denied and overwritten. (With the exception of Nixon, whom I don’t remember firsthand. But whew, whiplash between what I heard about him before his death versus immediately after.)
Here is what the Bush41 administration felt like to me: a continuation of Reagan, which is to say a continuation of warmongering, contempt for the non-rich, destruction of the environment for oil profits, and indifference to suffering. Bush may have been a less intense version, but in my perception they had the same masklike face and blaring voice. When Reagan was elected to a second term, I was in ninth grade and felt fear and despair at the prospects of nuclear war. (I mean, The Day After had aired in 1983.) When Bush was elected, I was in college (a very liberal college), and felt disbelief, that people would sign up for more of this.
The fear of nuclear war had faded, but 41’s administration was the first time I witnessed war being declared in my name. I remember sitting around tables in a conference room with other students, trying to figure out what we could do. Send a message of support to “the troops” that was basically “hang on, we’re trying to get you out of this?” Monitor non-U.S. news media because our own was treating this like a video game and might not be trustworthy? We were kids, fumbling around, and probably ended up doing none of this.
Those kinder gentler words that are being quoted all over the place sounded a lot different back then, depending on who you were. “A thousand points of light” seems harmless now, volunteerism is nice. But in the context of Reagan-era defunding of the social safety net and deregulation it had a “let them eat cake” ring– the churches (many of which vocally hated me) will pick up the slack, the respectable rich will look after the respectable poor. Everyone else invisible, Ryan White the first AIDS victim worth talking about, et cetera.
Bush never stepped outside the status quo and now everyone’s kissing his ass for not being Reagan or Trump? How depressing. I start to wonder if I am just deluded and hateful, but then I think about who his other people are. Besides Ronald Reagan, they are Dan Fucking Quayle and Clarence Fucking Thomas. And one son who started a war based on lies and then laughed about it, and another who made it a major part of his life’s mission to stop gay people from marrying or adopting kids.
So although I grudgingly acknowledged the National Day of Mourning, seeing the flag at half-staff for a FUCKING MONTH makes me feel a little more alienated every day.
This Friday Five popped up at just the right time!
1. Do you enjoy receiving books as holiday or birthday gifts?
Yes, very much! Even if it’s a miss, a book gift illuminates what someone thought would interest me. And they’re easy to keep and easy to pass along.
2. What book are you reading (or, what is the last book you read)?
3. Are you enjoying (or, did you enjoy) that book? Why or why not?
It’s so good. A YA novel called Darius the Great Is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram. Darius is a teenager who loves tea and lives in Portland– his mom is Persian, his dad is white, he has an adorable younger sister, and the whole family goes to visit Iran because his grandfather there is ill. The writing is SO smooth and funny and true. The author is great at introducing bits of Farsi and Persian cultural notes and character notes, and using them thereafter effortlessly with zero didacticism. Darius and his dad both have depression, for example; it manifests differently in each of them, they take different meds for it, and this is all just how it is– it never feels like “and now this story (or even this page) is About Depression.” I’m on page 78 of 312 and so far it’s exceeded all my expectations.
4. About how many books do you read in an average year?
100-120, somewhere in there.
5. What are some of the books on your to-read pile (or list)?
I want to finish my reread of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series before the end of the year, so Imago is next on my list. I also have some fun SF that’s not gonna renew for me at the library– Martha Wells’ Rogue Protocol and Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few.
Sometime in the past year or two Sanguinity saw a large jar of maraschino cherries. Her heart leapt with joy at the thought of having so many, so we bought the jar. Also, we said we could make pineapple upside-down cake at some point. The cherries sat in the top of the cupboard for a long time, but at some point we did also buy a can of pineapple rings to sit there with them.
Sometime in the past week or two Sang made an agar jasmine dessert from a packet– much like the opaque white jello-y dessert that dim sum places have. It was tasty. The picture showed it served with canned fruit cocktail, so we opened the jar of cherries. Once the remaining cherries were in the fridge and vulnerable to snacking, the clock was ticking on the upside-down cake.
Today was cake day! It is so sweet that the cherries are the tart part.
I took a terrible photo with my phone and while I was trying to improve it via LunaPic, which I quite like for my simple photo-editing needs but which does not seem to have a one-button “improve this photo” option, I accidentally saved a filtered-red copy over the original. I did in fact make this cake in an ordinary kitchen and not a photo darkroom.
morning bike commute notes:
I was cyclist #498 westbound at Tilikum Crossing– usually I’m a half hour earlier and in the 500s. It’s a shame, because it’s a beautiful morning with a touch of frost and more than a touch of sunshine.
today’s theme: people unexpectedly in suits, like, while jogging (not just to the bus stop), or with a backpack.
At this convergence of the death of 41 and World AIDS Day, Bob Rafsky’s Bury Me Furiously curse is on my mind.
I pulled out the first sentence for each month in this blog for the traditional First Line Meme, but many are unsatisfyingly memes themselves, or the title of a book I already wrote about, and so on. So here are facts, updates, or other riffs on them instead. I was silent in February, April, and November.
[text: Robert was quite sure that Mike was his best friend. And because he loved Mike so very much Robert thought that the whole library had been built as a house for Mike. He always called the library “Mike’s house.” He never said, “I’m going to the library.” He always said, “I’m going to Mike’s house.”]
This is a page from Julia Sauer’s Mike’s House, published fifteen years after Virginia Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and fourteen years before Ramona Quimby asked how Mike Mulligan goes to the bathroom while he is digging the cellar for the town hall. I ran across Mike’s House at the university library– I liked Sauer’s Fog Magic as a kid and wanted to check out The Light at Tern Rock.
Mike Mulligan’s fame and longevity blow me away. There’s not even a note in Mike’s House explaining that Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is a real book or giving the author’s name. Mike Mulligan just is. And once you know the story, he continues to live, unnamed, in the news:
Seattle construction-crane operators cope with stress, no bathrooms
“He says the most common question people have is how he goes to the bathroom up there.”
The bizarre secret of London’s buried diggers
“The difficulty is in getting the digger out again. To construct a no-expense-spared new basement, the digger has to go so deep into the London earth that it is unable to drive out again. What could be done?” (The reality is less cheery than Dick Berkenbush’s solution.)
You know what else has longevity? Don’t Stop Believin’. This Boomwhacker version has been in my head for days since I ran across it at TYWKIWDBI. I watched it all the way through on a difficult news day and felt better, that people do stuff like this, work on it until they can do it off book in one take.