March 19, 2009

Debate, Discussion, Attack

Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 1:31 am

First off, a quote from my profile. It’s been there a while, so if it’s new to you,it’s because you haven’t read my profile. Here, I offer only my personal experiences and opinions on public affairs. I’m not going to go seeking validation and further documentation to satisfy you – that’s what you’re supposed to do on your own.

I would like for each of you to decide for yourself, to do your own research. Don’t just take my word for it, although, if you want, you can. Just don’t blame me if I misunderstood something or made a mistake – please notice the copious typos and poor grammar – even though English is not my native language, it is my primary one, and I still mess it up. If that’s not some sort of indictment on my opinions, and you still want to take my word for it – on your head be it.

Doubt my data all you will, I won’t be offended if you seek second opinions. In fact, I urge you to do so.

I will be offended if you call me names or cast aspersions upon my character. If you must call me names, please be so kind as to do so where I’m not likely to find out. I don’t google my name, so feel free to say what you will.

Now, with that out of the way, let me also say I am an adherent of The Numenous Way. More, I am an Elder in The Numenous Way. One of our tenets is that if you don’t like something, we urge you to not have it or do it. If you tell us you do not want to do something, we will not help you do it. If you insist on doing it all the while protesting that you do not want to do it, you will get no support or sympathy from us.

If, for instance, you antagonistically post a comment saying you do not want engage in antagonistic discussion about a specific topic, I will support your desire to refrain from that by not engaging you in discussion about it. I’ll post a brief, supportive comment encouraging you not to do whatever you said you didn’t want to do.

If you then post an angry comment accusing me of not answering your unasked questions, know this: I considered the discussion closed. I am not going to parse your antagonistic comment seeking for your unasked questions in order to civilly answer them. In my experience,it doesn’t matter how neutral or civil I am, you will twist my words to suit whatever anger you have in you. I may, if I’m feeling generous, remind you I am supporting your expressed desire to not engage in an antagonistic discussion of the topic. In my experience, any discussion of the topic from this point on will be antagonistic on your part. This is your problem, not mine.

If you then post a third antagonistically worded comment on the topic, I will not respond at all. I will not delete your comments. I will not delete my responses. I will not delete other people’s comments or responses. If you choose to delete your own comments, that is entirely your affair. I would hope it means you have reconsidered your angry comments and your immature behavior in someone else’s journal, and that is what I am going to choose to believe. I would prefer that you not enlighten me if it is otherwise.

Remember that what I post here is personal opinion. It is not a factual newspaper, a scholarly dissertation with supporting documentation, or in any way purporting to be anything other than what it is: a personal journal full of personal notes. You get to read what I write only because I leave my posts on a public setting. You are not privileged to read my private blog (this is true of every single person reading this blog; my private blog is available only to me;nothing personal,but it’s private).

If you want documentation of what I note in this blog, I usually provide enough information for you to google it yourself and arrive at your own conclusions. I encourage you to write a post about what you think of the data in your own blog. If you wish to link your post and opinions with mine, you can put a link in my comments or yours to let me or others know why you posted it, but you don’t have to do that.

Most of the people who choose to read this blog are mature, civil people, and we sometimes engage in controversial and sensitive topics in civil and mature fashion.

I do not apologize for those who choose to behave immaturely here. Neither do I respond to encourage their inappropriate behavior.

I do not encourage antagonistic or rude comments or discussions. If you want to go all ballistic, please use your own blog for that sort of needless drama.

I hope I have made my stance clear. I will not encourage people to engage in behavior they have stated they do not wish to engage in. I will not feed antagonistic behavior.

This was long and redundant, but there you go.


Plot Bunnies

Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 1:30 am

So, the Dream Channel coughed up another story idea. I’ve only just completed outlining my Minotaur SF alternate history story and fleshing out a few characters,and got the world-building and bulk of the research done. I found the voice for the story,even,and wham!

Totally new idea,completely unrelated.

I have the first chapter written and a rough outline of how it could go (all I really have from the dream are some characters, a bare plot that needs some sub-plotting, and a hint of it being an alternate reality). To quote a friend, I have a beginning, an end, and a muddle.

This idea couldn’t wait for me to finish the minotaur story,oh no. It had to overwhelm my dreams and insist on being noted down so I don’t forget it. And ayup,I guess it was about time another erotic story emerged. Fortunately, I can gloss over the erotica bits when I edit it because unlike previous erotica stories, the sex isn’t essential to the plot, only the idea of sex is.

This dream idea I blame entirely on the channel formerly known as SciFi and now to be known as a venereal disease (that’s what probably prompted the erotica; at least in my story, it’s not diseased sex. Not between the MCs anyway) and on a few posts by friends (in the flesh friends) on a different journaling platform. Why do my friends have to discuss politics so intelligently,and reference fascinating snippets of history and link to comics that bring it all into focus?

Geeks, the whole lot of them!

American Irish Pride Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 1:28 am

Today is St. Paddy’s Day, a day commemorating the end of Irish racism in America.

I know many people will consider it a celebration of St. Patrick and the works he reputedly did in Ireland. They will think of St. Patrick and the evil he did to Ireland. The Catholics of Ireland celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in austerity, as is proper, considering it falls during Lent.

St. Patrick’s Day is an intrinsically American holiday. It’s a day the Irish, the most oppressed people in all of America, stood up and said, “We’re Irish, we’re proud, and we’re not hiding!” They organized a parade, held on March 17, 1762 in New York City by the Irish who wanted to bond together and maintain their Irishness far from home. They played music and created Irish Aid Societies – which stood them in good stead when the Potato Famine hit Ireland and sent many Irish to America looking for survival. They were discriminated against, unable to find even the most menial jobs, portrayed as violent, drunken monkeys in the press of the day. There were signs that proclaimed “No Irish Need Apply”. 80% of the infants born to the Irish during the times when the Irish were the lowest of the low in America died because of their impoverished conditions, being forced to live in basements and shanties (shantytowns) in crowded conditions where disease spread. Chicagoans complained that if you scratched a convict or a pauper, chances were, he was Irish. They advocated shipping all the Irish back to Ireland, saying this would reduce the crime in America. The African-Americans, free or slave, hated the Irish even more than the average American, and called them “white niggers”.

Oddly enough, in spite of this intense hatred and discrimination against them, the dreadful conditions in which they were forced to live because they couldn’t get decent jobs, they still fiercely loved America. The Irish responded by working harder, banding together to help one another, and set out to prove the Irish could do and be anything Americans could – and do it better. The Irish were used for the work no one else would do, building bridges, canals, and railroads. Some people say an Irishman died for every railroad tie laid down.

They never gave up their love of Ireland, either, and celebrated their Irishness with parades, rubbing it into the faces of all other Americans that they were here, and here to stay. They were maudlin for Ireland, but so protective of their adopted homeland that they took those scut jobs and did them well. They maintained their dignity, and employers slowly came to realize how well off they were with Irish employees – they were industrious, cheerful, willing, honest, and were strictly moral.

It was these traits of willingness, honesty, and morality as well as their pride in their ancestry that eventually won the rest of America over. They formed the Molly Macquires to fight brutal mine owners and win better conditions for the miners. They fought in the Civil War, forming the Irish Brigade. When the anti-Irish Orangemen copied the Irish parades with derogatory songs about the Irish and Catholics, and riots broke out, it was the Irish police who protected the Orangemen and Orangewomen. One newspaper was moved to comment that the Irish had become more American than Americans.

The Irish fought all of America and won.

By their firm conviction that they were worthy beings, were Americans, by their diligence and persistence, the Irish proved they were an asset to America. They were so conviced of their worthiness, they convinced even people with nary a drop of Irish blood in them to celebrate being Irish for a day.

You’ve got to admire that sort of spunk.

From being the most despised and oppressed people on American soil, they’ve become so celebrated people wish they were Irish. Other minority groups could stand to emulate the example of the Irish in America.

In America, St. Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate the overcoming of awesomely overwhelming odds. It’s a tribute to pride and survival, stubbornness and worthiness. It’s visible proof that any group of people, if they hold fast to their convictions, can integrate into American society, benefit from their merge, and still retain what makes them wonderful and unique people. It is a celebration of what America is all about.

Every race and group of people who feel discriminated against can look to the Irish to see how they overcame the worst sort of discrimination ever to become the respected people they are now. From utter degradation and poverty to the Oval Office was but a hundred years hard work. If the Irish could do it, so can other groups.

And that’s why I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and even look indulgently upon those, who for just one day,want to be a part of the magic and myth that being Irish is – no matter how silly or wrong they get it, no matter how absurd green beer and green eggs are, or those green felt stovepipe hats and meerschaum bubble blowers are. To touch the magic,to remember that epic journey from most hated ethnic group in America to the most beloved, for just one day – that’s worth a few stupid people spewing green vomit from too much green beer and wincing at terrible fake Irish accents for one day.

Even though I have nary a dram of Irish blood in me, being Kiowa Apache and German,I salute the American Irish and remember their history. Today, I wear green in their memory. St.Patrick is an insignificant footnote to the real meaning of the day.

Here’s to you, my Irish friends!

Gardening Notes

Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 1:27 am

Because my knees are still healing from the accident, my gardening is rather curtailed. I was not able to plant the beds of bamboo, forsythia,and cherries I’d planned. My vegetable garden beds are probably going to languish this year as I can only work with what’s already here. I was able to plant my bags of potatoes because that didn’t entail any digging or mixing in compost – I bought pre-mixed soil for them. I have some planters of lettuces going, and my perennial herbs are up and going. My mint is back,and I’m going to have to bribe someone to rip out the horsetails (which will grow back because apparently I grow prehistoric plants really well).

This year’s garden will be paltry compared to past years,and that wasn’t in my plans.

I may even have to hire someone to mow my lawn – I’ve never hired anyone for that before!

Of Minotaurs and Atlantis

Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 1:26 am

So, this whole getting my paranormal investigator’s license and reactivating my interest in cryptozoology and a recent reference to Greek mythology all sort of melded in my dreams with decades of philosophical debates last night to create, full-blown, an alternate reality ancient world, where Atlantis is a stranded space ship powered by a sentient organic computer and crewed by humanoid beings. The ship uses what it can to repair itself so it can become spaceborn again. To fuel itself, it needs raw generative power, the kind of power that comes from giving birth and especially of giving birth to new species, so the crew offer themselves to the ship computer to use as incubators of new species – the lamia, the cenocephalus, the hippopods, the ichthyotaurs and centaurs and angels and more. The power of their birth – stillborn or live – feeds the ship, and the skills of the humanoid crew crafts the technological devices that will reloft the ship into space. But first, they have to educate the creatures living on earth to bring to them the raw materials, the ores and minerals they need, and so a lively trade is set up between Atlantis and the earth beings.

And here, more than 3/4 of the way into the repairs, the story begins when the first and last minotaur is born. Here begins the legend of the minotaur ‘s labrinth and the end of Atlantis as earth knew it.

I dreamed the reason for the minotaur’s birth, and the three siblings that shield and aid him, and the decision he has to make that leads him into the labyrinth and to his death.

I love this poor, doomed minotaur, and I think, once I tell his story, you will, too.

March 11, 2009

ARIS 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 12:38 am

The new ARIS is out. The full report is here: http://b27.cc.trincoll.edu/weblogs/AmericanReligionSurvey-ARIS/reports/ARIS_Report_2008.pdf

It has some interesting statistics in it. If you read the actual report and not the news reports about it (with such sensationalist headlines as “Americans are Less Religious” – conflating “religion” with “Christianity” – does that irk anyone else as much as it does me?), the trend isn’t away from religion, but towards more meaningful and personal religion. It’s away from institutionalized religion and towards a more integrated and pervasive spirituality. I don’t think America is less Christian than that it is less institutionalized Christian. There is a difference.

Some of the statistics look better than they should. If we had raw numbers, it wouldn’t look nearly the same way as the pretty charts and graphs in the report look, because yes, 59% 0f the Muslim population has college degrees, but then, the Muslim religion only accounts for less than 2% of our overall population. The same with the New Religious Movement religions – an inordinately high percentage within the religion are college educated, yet again, it accounts for less than 2% of our overall population.

I feel that comparing religions with such a huge number disparity between them is making the more numerous religions look worse than they really are, and the smaller one look better.

On the other hand – when a religion is small and tightly-knit, it offers advantages that large, anonymous religions can’t offer. The individual members of a small supportive religion will do more and strive harder, with stronger marriages and firmer faith; while those lost among thousands of others will feel disenfranchised, disconnected, and will more easily give up – their marriages will be weaker, their adherence to their religion more vociferous and yet with weaker faith. This seems borne out in the statistics, with a higher percentage of smaller religions being better educated, with longer lasting marriages, fewer divorces, and fewer losses to the religion – indeed, the smaller religions continue to grow while the larger ones continue to lose members.

More people are choosing a civil union over a religious marriage and fewer people of all religions are marrying within their religion. Ditto for funerals. Since those Christian religions that practice baptisms have stopped doing them automatically at young ages, the number of people who have had confirmations and baptisms has declined, but may spike back up as the population ages, so that statistic is in flux and I’m going to discount it. But the knowledge that fewer people are marrying and being buried in a religious ceremony tells me that people are not afraid to take responsibility for their choices in life partners and aren’t afraid of what will happen to them after death.

The move away from institutionalized religion means there’s less need for buildings dedicated to a singular religious purpose, and less need for a salaried clergy. To me that means the monies collected for maintaining those buildings and those salaried clergymen ( mostly men) could be better used for other purposes. It means a restructuring of how formerly institutionalized religions now interact with their adherents – and they are adherents more than they are congregationalists. People feel they have as much access to and personal relationship with their deity as the priesthood does, and they no longer need a priesthood to intercede for them. They need priests to help them learn about the religion, to help them organize charities, to render aid to the needy in a disaster, to officiate at ceremonies, to provide spiritual counseling, but they don’t need to be preached at, sermonized, or have someone else intercede for them. They feel they’ve grown up and can handle the minutiae of daily beliefs.

I find this a Good Thing, empowering and freeing. We don’t need to be told how to behave, to be goaded or threatened into being kind, neighborly, charitable, generous, or spiritual – we can do that on our own. We take responsibility for our relationship with others and the divine. I find this trend to be uplifting and heartening – we have gained steps in spiritual maturity.

I can understand the institutionalize religions who depended upon a fearful congregation to support them to be worried about their loss of congregationalists, and the subsequent loss of money. What I cannot condone is their attempts to lash out at all Americans to force us to ante up money to support them. Using tax dollars to support faith-based charities makes me grind my teeth – religion and government should not be dependent upon one another. That Obama is strengthening the faith-based funding angers me because I think he should be bolstering the government based charities – ie welfare, medicare, medicaid, social security, food stamps, housing assistance – we have government programs that are hurting for funding and he tosses our tax dollars to whiny churches who only assist their members and not all Americans as the government programs do (or should, anyway).

Overall, that Americans are shifting away from institutionalized religions makes me happy. They aren’t losing faith, they are integrating it within themselves. They have more faith and less need to flaunt it.

Go, Americans!


Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 12:37 am

A cache (theoretically pronounced “cash”, but I always pronounce it “caysh” because that’s how I did it when I learned English – and it helps distinguish the word slightly from “cash” money) is a hidden store of provisions or supplies. It can be kept secret, but I’d rather share the information with those who might need it. There are several types of caches (pronounced “cashes” the correct way and “cayshes” my way).

When most people learn of caches the first time, they usually think of the underground cache where one buries supplies in some type of suitable container for eventual recovery and use. Underground caches done right are the most secure and accessible.

There are two other types of caches

Submersed caches are caches stored underwater in a river, stream, pond, lake – you get the idea. The problems with submersed caches are using a long term waterproof container that can withstand the elements, placing the cache so it doesn’t drift, isn’t easily found by accident, and stays submerged. Any breach of a submerged cache can lead to the supplies within it being ruined.

Concealment caches are generally easier to place and access (no digging, no freezing water…) but are prone to being discovered and torn up by wildlife or found and used by strangers.

There are specific reasons to use each type of cache, and I recommend placing caches of all of these types just in case you (or someone) needs them. Each type of cache requires containers specific to your location and contents, and some require tools for placing the cache.

Let’s talk first about the contents of your cache.

Whatever you would normally place is a bug-out bag is suitable to put in a cache, however, a cache is meant to be more than a bug-out kit, or a supplement to a bug-out kit. Water will go stale, so I don’t recommend putting water in a cache; however, water distillation equipment and water purification tablets are entirely appropriate to stash. Extra medicines that have long expiration dates and can handle temperatures changes may also be useful. Field surgical kits. Whole grains are useful as well as well-packaged foods with long shelf lives. Bandages are always useful. Bullets (and powder) if you’re the type of person who relies on guns, arrowheads for the bow hunter, spare knives and knife sharpening tools, darts for the blowgun user, and any other type of ammunition you may want or will need when you reach your cache. You may also want to stash an extra weapon of choice in there. Cooking equipment – pots, pans, utensils – and eating equipment (plates, bowls, utensils, cups). Vacuum-sealed roasted coffee beans, teas, sugar, and non-dairy creamers with a hand-crank coffee grinder. Powdered Gatorade or sports drink mixes. Tent. Blankets. Toys and games and books (you know you’ll need them, you might as well pack them at your cache so you don’t have to truck them along). Copies of essential paperwork. Hard candies (because they last virtually forever). Rope and twine. Toilet paper. Tissues. Menstrual supplies. Anything you think you might need or want.

Now, if your cache is meant to be a way-station between Point A and Point B, you may only want to fill it with food, water purification tablets, medical stuff, and a few luxuries, maybe ammunition, and use it as a supplement to the bug-out bag as your travel along.

Me, I work on the assumption that I may get separated from my bug-out bag and stuff, so my caches tend to be duplicates of what’s in my bug-out kit, plus extras I would like but don’t want to carry around. Any one of my caches will have the equipment I need to survive and start life over again. At this time, all of my caches are underground ones, but I’ve used all three types for various reasons.

I also don’t just cache for survival. I cache for fun, too. Places where I’m a frequent camper will have hidden caches filled with the things I will inevitably wish I had or forgot and spares of things to share with other campers who forget. These caches are usually games and food, eating supplies, seasonings, drink mixes, spare blankets, more medical supplies, and extra toiletries.

Packing for buried and concealed caches

A 5 gallon heavy duty plastic bucket usually holds plenty of stuff and is small enough to dig deeply and quickly, and you can use several buckets in a cache. If your item is too big to stash in a 5 gallon bucket, you may consider some of the amazing variety of sizes and shapes of the plastic, airtight storage bins you can buy at camping stores, big box stores, and container stores. These may be awkward to dig in and dig out, but at least the gear will be safe.

Pack each bucket or bin as full and snug as you can. If it’s a food bucket, line it with a heavy duty plastic bag, fill 1/3 of the way, put in an 8” chunk of dry ice, fill it the rest of the way up, loosely twist the plastic bag closed and set the lid on the bucket. Leave it for 3-4 hours so the CO2 from the dry ice can displace the air inside the bag. Tightly twist the bag closed and clamp it with a metal twist tie. A lot of survivalist recommend running a bead of silicon along the rim of the bucket, then firmly closing the lid on it. I don’t recommend this because then the bucket will not be re-usable. I recommend instead using a gasket made from the door gasket strips you can buy to weatherize your doors and windows, and seating the lid on that, then duct taping the bucket shut. Put the bucket into a bag you made from hardware cloth and duct tape that closed. Now, it’s ready to bury.

Non-food items don’t need to be stored in CO2 to preserve freshness so you can simply fill the container, use the door gasket seals, duct tape it closed, wrap it in hardware cloth and duct tape that on and you’re good to go.

Buried caches are subject the least to weather and temperature changes. They are harder for the casual hunter or hiker or wildlife to find. The deeper you bury it, the better it will survive for your later use. You have less size restrictions and more space to bury caches so you can have multiple ones in the same area and large ones, too. It’s easier to forget where it’s buried and you have to dig both to stash it and to retrieve it, which means carrying a shovel.

Be sure to mark the location where you bury your cache on a GPS, and make a note in a book you keep with you on its landmarks and location. See if you can also mark it with other ways to identify where you cached it, because the landmarks may be bulldozed down and the satellites that send signals to the GPS make stop working. You need at least 3 ways to find your cache and the more you have, the better.

This type of preparation will work for either buried or concealed caches except concealed caches need camouflaging. The easiest way to camouflage your cache is to spray paint the hardware cloth to match the area where you stash it. Find areas that are virtually untraveled, rocky (because a cache can be concealed in rocks better than brush as brush both changes color seasonally and can die out or burn out), and easy to match paint colors to. When you place your cache, pile rocks or branches on and around it to blur its outlines and mark its location well.

Concealed caches mean no burying, but it also leaves the cache to being found easier by hikers, hunters, and wildlife. Concealed caches are smaller because small is easier to conceal. I wouldn’t conceal cache anything larger than a 5 gallon bucket. You can’t place too many concealed caches too close together because if one is found, the others will be, too. It’s prone to storm damage and weather changes. It can get very hot inside the concealed cache so whatever you put in it must be able to take temperature extremes and rapidly fluctuating temperatures.

Packing for a submerged cache

Underwater caches need to be waterproof and yet still easy to open without destroying the container. It doesn’t need to be camouflage painted, but it will need a solid anchor to keep it in its location and keep it underwater. That means it will need to be tied to something so use a rope that can survive being submerged for years and remain pliable and usable. I prefer to stash my cache in an area that isn’t easy to get to where the water is deep, there’s an overhang above the cached area, and it’s a backwater – where the water pools and stores debris. The usual water debris will be all the camouflage you generally need. Make sure your cache is anchored so it doesn’t get washed out in a flood, that you have a line anchored above water you can reach to pull the cache up, and weight the cache so it doesn’t bob to the surface.

The underwater cache has certain advantages. For starters, things are more likely to remain cold, so you can cache things like butter and cheese under water. Temperature changes will be slower and tend towards cold as opposed to hot. Underwater caches, well anchored, are less likely to be stumbled upon and found, and fewer critters will have access to it. The primary disadvantage is if your container springs a leak. Secondary disadvantages would be not anchoring it well, choosing a bad location that will get washed out in flooding, and not weighting it enough to keep it well below the surface of the water.

Caching is a good idea for lots of reasons. I love caching for camping so I don’t have to pack as much when I camp on a whim, but I do have to remember to replenish caches I use on the whimsy trips. It’s fun to camp with new survivalists and appear out of nowhere with useful items that aren’t normally found in the wild. It’s fun to show off your camp caches to new campers and survivalists, too. In survival situations, a cache may save your life. If you share a cache location with someone, make sure you have additional caches for yourself elsewhere. If you cache, cache in many places and cache lots of duplicates so if one is found, you should still have access to others. If you use a cache, replenish it as soon as possible. This is assuming you use your cache to tide you over during a short term disaster and not an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario. If it’s the end of the world, you may not have anything to replenish it with.

Other than that, caching can be fun.

You can “play cache” with geocaching games. Build a cache you mean others to find and fill it with “trashy treasures”. Put a logbook and pencil in it so others can note when they found it, what they took, and what they put in its place. Mark its location on a GPS, go to geocaching.com and register your cache. Check it now and again to read the logbook. Look up other caches registered there and hunt them. Leave a note in their logbooks, and put a little treasure in their cache and take one out as a memento. Most of these caches are concealed caches meant to be found, but the caching techniques remain the same. Some are buried, and I’ve only seen one that was a submerged cache. It’s good practice, and you learn useful skills when you play this game.

March 8, 2009

My Sad Spring Garden

Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 6:49 pm

A Redbud Blossom
Originally uploaded by nodigio

It’s still a bit too early for harvesting the redbuds, but they are in bloom now. Last year, I harvested 6 quarts of blossoms from the tree and made redbud ice cream, pudding, and preserves. The redbud preserves weren’t very good. I think it needed lemon and possibly honey as a sweetener to bring out the redbud flavor so I’ll try again this year.

Originally uploaded by nodigio

The rosemary just keeps trucking along. It really likes this location right bedside the front door.

Originally uploaded by nodigio

My blueberries are leafing our very nicely and there are even already blossoms on the one. I anticipate a nice crop of berries later this year.

Herbs Greening Up
Originally uploaded by nodigio

This is an overview of my small herb bed. I’ve been considering moving it away from the house and farther out into the yard, then replacing them with taller herbs and fragrant flowers like monardas and echinacea and bachelor buttons. We’ll see.

Sage and Dittany
Originally uploaded by nodigio

The sage stayed gamely on all through winter, but now it’s greening up nicely and spreading almost wildly. It has plenty of room, so that’s OK. The Dittany was a surprise. It must have self-seeded before it died of summer heat.

Parsley and Oregano
Originally uploaded by nodigio

The parsley also gamely hung on all winter and I’ve been harvesting it all along. I may plant another parsley because I really like parsley and use lots of it. If it’s going to be a year-round perennial in my garden, I want more of it!

Raspberry Leaf (and Strawberries)
Originally uploaded by nodigio

My raspberry is leafing out. I abused it so badly by pruning this one the wrong way I thought I’d killed it, but it’s a tough plant and this year may be a better one for it since I learned my pruning error and have corrected my ways. I will be planting a second raspberry because I love home grown raspberries. They’ve ruined me for store-bought ones. I want to grow enough raspberries to have plenty for jelly and freezing.

Originally uploaded by nodigio

It’s spring, I had to post a picture of my daffodils. The tulips and daylilies and irises are leafing up, but haven’t started their bloom stalks yet.

Originally uploaded by nodigio

And of course, I have to show off my sweet-scented hyacinth. I love hyacinths and should plant more. I only planted 1 bulb 3 years ago.

A Mess
Originally uploaded by nodigio

And I end with my disaster – the horsetails. It’s an invasive, unruly plant that swamps and swarms all over everything. I should have pulled all of it up in January and cleared the ground to delay it’s creeping spread, but I had that fender bender and hurt my knees so I couldn’t pull it up. Now it’s starting to send up new shoots and I fear it may take over the entire front yard this year. I need to dig up the poor rose bush that it has “consumed” and move it somewhere marginally safer from the horsetail depredations, but I still haven’t the knee-power to do any moderate gardening. The fairy garden I built last night is the extent of heavy gardening I can do. I can’t even push my lawn mower and that’s bad, as fast as my grass grows.

I didn’t take pictures of my dandelions, wild violets, creeping veronicas, and Roman chamomile because those naturalized into the yard and are scattered all over the place. Besides, except for the dandelions, none of them are in bloom yet.

Fairy Garden

Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 6:47 pm

Fairy Garden
Originally uploaded by nodigio

This is a fairy garden I made last night because I wanted at least one part of my garden to look pretty this year. It has creeping thyme, woodruff, lemon thyme, fairy daisies, and seathrift. What you can’t see yet are the teeny elfin sunflowers I planted behind the bench and in the empty spaces around the little fence. These will grow to a height of 6 – 8 inches with sunflower blossoms only 4″ across. The sunflower seeds from it were the teensiest seeds!

It was kind of expensive doing this utterly from scratch. It was $15 for the plants, $10 for the soil, $18 for the pottery bowl, $10 for the pedestal, $11 for the furniture, and $4 for the garden pebbles to make the path, so $70 total. It’s 18″ across, and the pedestal took the place of the bird bath among the lavender. I’ll move the birdbath to another location, but I haven’t decided where, yet.

Fairy Farden Behind Bench
Originally uploaded by nodigio


Writerly Things

Filed under: Uncategorized — ebonypearl @ 4:33 am

As a non-white (but passing for white because it’s just less effort than explaining I’m really “red”, only I’m half-red, and I was raised by my white parent in the white trash community,so maybe I really am white, only not the kind of white that’s socially acceptable, only I chose to go to college and betrayed my roots on both sides of the family and – ah, pookah puppies, maybe I am white. Whitish, anyway.), non-middle-class, old, fat, woman, I reckon I don’t have to weigh in on the race issue as one thing or another because I’m such a blend of stuff, and honestly? I don’t belong to any race, ethnicity, or culture. I didn’t even have the advantage of being born in a real country, so I’m not native-born anywhere.

At least I was born. I’m pretty sure about that.

So, every character I write about is racially, ethnically, culturally, socially different from me.

Perhaps that’s why I mostly write employee handbooks and science fiction. I write about aliens with skins colors as diverse as a Barbie doll’s. I know this because I have a blue-skinned Barbie, a pink-skinned Barbie, a green-skinned Barbie, a purple-skinned Barbie, and an orange-skinned Barbie from the Fairytopia series. I never did find the red-skinned and yellow-skinned ones… I also have a Navajo Barbie even though I’m half Kiowa-Apache. If Barbies can come in so many colors and get along so well together, I reckon my aliens can be the same way. We all know Barbie has all the cool stuff, so modeling aliens on Barbie just seems logical.

Point is, I’m on the outside of every culture, every ethnicity, every society,and every class. No matter how I create my characters, they will all be appropriations and I will get things wrong about everything because I didn’t grow up or live in any defined culture, ethnicity, society, or class. I am truly an American mutt – classless, uncultured (or so multi-cultured as to appear uncultured), generic, and “floatable”. I can “pass” in almost any group of people except men, but I don’t really belong in any of them.

When I create a character, race is important only if it impacts the plot. If I do have to bring race to the attention of the readers, the character’s racial behavior and characteristics will be based people I actually know. They may not be typical people of their race, class, social status, culture, ethnicity, education, or other socially-defining characteristics. They are not likely to represent whatever, and that’s OK by me because I don’t ever expect any one person to be representative of their entire whatever.

So,if people get upset because Lasura Blood-Cursed doesn’t represent all the Blood-Cursed people who have ever existed or will ever exist, well, them’s the breaks.

If someone’s so hung up over Lasura’s iconic status as a representative of her species/whatever, they are going to miss the story. And it’s the story that’s important, not any one character in it. The purpose of each and every character is to move the story forward, no matter how likable or detestable they are, whether they are full-fleshed or cardboard. They aren’t real. More importantly, if it weren’t for the story, they wouldn’t exist.

You can have characters without a story, but they’d be pretty dull.

You can have stories without real, individual characters – and those stories can still be exciting. Fairytales, for instance, don’t have real characters. They have the youngest son, the three brothers, the witch, the 12 princesses, the frog prince. If a fairytale character acquires a name, it’s often because the name itself is important to the story, like Rumpelstiltskin. They don’t need personalities, just stereotypical behaviors that allow the reader/listener to identify with the situation.

So,characters are pretty dispensable.

In my stories, the characters have to fit into the stories. They have to be able to drive that story to its end. For some characters, it’s a heavy burden. My characters suffer a lot. Whatever characteristics they have, be it race, color, mental abilities, wealth, education, deformities, disabilities, superpowers, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever, those characteristics are there because the story needs it there.

If I get the story and the characters within it right, then it doesn’t matter who I am, what age, gender, political persuasion,race, class, culture, or educational level, because I don’t matter. It’s the story that matters. Did I tell it well? Did you feel it? Did it make you laugh, weep, think, mad, happy? Did it inspire you, disgust you, affect you?

That’s what matters.

The story.

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