asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I'm doing a little bit of writing with some adult learners (there may be some high school students in this class as well)--just ten minutes or so. I don't have any pedagogical reason to believe this is beneficial, except for believing that when people have pleasant experiences doing something, then that thing becomes less daunting. In other words, maybe, if the students enjoy this time writing, they'll feel more able to tackle the sort of writing you need to do to clear the hurdles in front of them. But even if that's not the case, I think people deserve a chance and a place to try out writing, just for its own sake and their own sake. So.

My first prompt for them was this quote from Fred Rogers: "You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind," which I recalled from this autotuned song made from that and other remarks of his.

I showed them some gardens.

A garden in Holyoke, created by "self-proclaimed plant geeks":


(Source)

Randyland, the garden created by Randy Gilson, a waiter and son of a single mom, in Pittsburgh, PA:


(Source)

The magic gardens of Isaiah Zagar in Philadelphia:


(Source)

The blooming Cadillacs at the Cadillac ranch in Amarillo, Texas:


(Source is this Google image, whose original location is given as this video.)

The famous Zen garden at Ryōanji, in Kyoto, Japan:


(Source)

And I said, even when you think a place is barren, nothing growing, life pushes through, like in this parking lot in Boston:


(Source)

And then I asked them--what's growing in the garden of your mind? Several people wrote that they felt like the parking lot and talked about worries, but one wrote about a painting she's planning, and another compared his mind to a potato (and gave me a diagram to show it growing). It was wonderful.

What's growing in the garden of *your* mind, these days?

slow gin

Sep. 8th, 2017 12:29 pm
asakiyume: (nevermore)
Actually it's sloe gin, after the dark berries ("her eyes were sloe black") that flavor it, but I've always liked thinking of it as slow gin, moving so leisurely, like this phantasmagoric swan metamorphosing slowly, genie-from-a-bottle style, from? I guess? the still in which the gin was made?

Wakanomori brought this bottle back--full--from England, and I did drink it slowly, in tiny sake cups, but somehow now it's gone! Maybe that means the swan is now free, but I missed its triumphant departure.

pretty label



Image from Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies, this version at goreystore.com.

But was it sloe gin, Zillah? And did you see the swan's broad wings and bandit mask? Swans are bastards, I'm told, but if you fling your arms around their long necks, they may still carry you places--especially you so tiny and they so big.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
The British Journal of Photography has a post featuring classrooms around the world, taken by Julian Germain.

I found them so attractive and thought provoking that I went to his page for the classroom project, which includes photos not included in that article. The international photos start around image 9.

They conveyed a lot not just in what each photo contained or lacked (though my eye was drawn to the stamp "donated by Ogean Energy" on a desk in a captionless photo--donors always having to get their due), but in their side-by-side contrasts. An all-black classroom in St. Louis, followed by an all-white classroom, also in St. Louis:





A class in Peru where everyone is in uniform, followed by another Peruvian classroom where the kids are in ordinary dress:





And, of course, classrooms of all boys or all girls.

Germain says,
We are responsible for the world they’re growing up in ... Despite being absent from the images, adults permeate every corner of every image. I like to think the work is confrontational; hundreds and hundreds of children and young people looking back at us with such intensity. I find that challenging.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Apples--they are coming ripe, and they taste good. In sunlight, they feel warm in your hand.

apples

When I doubt my contributions to the world, I look at this apple tree and feel proud.

Here are some cosmos flowers. Did you know they have a fragrance? I didn't until I tried sniffing one just today. Then it was me and the bees fighting for who was going to get to put their face in each flower ... You know, they are so much prettier than this photo. They grow by the road, but when you look at them, there's no road. When you're looking at them, they're abundant and graceful, more than this photo shows. How can I put it. The photo tells the wrong truth.

cosmos

One of my favorite views. When [personal profile] osprey_archer was here, she recognized it because (I am guessing) I take a lot of pictures of it. If I could lucid-dream on demand, I'd go flying over it.

view from the boardwalk

And a drawing! I'm not sure if it's a girl or a boy or a someone who isn't either, or who's both.

doodle
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Something you notice very quickly when you start reading Ninefox Gambit is the importance of the calendar. It’s the foundation stone of empire: things that subvert empire cause “calendrical rot,” and, conversely, things that cause calendrical rot are subversion, or, as the story terms it, heresy—like rebellion but even more rebellious.

This focus on calendars is a stroke of genius. Calendars **are** powerful mechanisms of cultural control. Think about how the international standard calendar for business and commerce is the Gregorian calendar, which ties its start date to Christianity. (People do use other calendars in various places and for various purposes, but the Gregorian calendar dominates for international exchange.) Less so now than in the past, but Sunday is designated a no-work day in accordance with that tradition. And think how the rest day figures for other calendars, too—the Jewish calendar or the Islamic calendar. If you don’t know the proper rest day, you can be in trouble—and this is even if you’re an outsider: things stop. And if you don’t stop—depending on the degree of observance—you might be punished. And if the community gradually moves away from this, it can be perceived by the more-faithful as cultural weakening. Calendrical rot is threatening!

The traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar that has complicated, intersecting base 10 and base 12 recurring features and indicates certain days as auspicious or inauspicious for various activities. When you combine it with geomantic principles (powers or traits related to compass directions—feng shui), which happens naturally, as feng shui is tied to the solstices and equinoxes, which are calendrical as well as astronomical occurrences, boom, that’s a whole lot of Chinese folk culture you’ve got—and, like the Chinese writing system, it spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

In Japan (and probably in other East Asian countries, but Japan’s the one I know about), magical powers were attributed to people who could advise on and manipulate the calendar—something that required some good math skills, what with those mixed number bases and various repeating units. If you’ve ever seen the film Onmyōji, you’ve seen the story of one famous example of such a person, Abe no Seimei. In Ninefox Gambit, this magic translates to the “exotic effects” that can be generated in war, relying on the calendar. These same effects don’t work if the calendar is subverted—beware calendrical rot!

There’s one notable instance in Ninefox Gambit in which the protagonist manipulates the heretics’ calendar to gain a tactical advantage—Buuuuuut I can’t spoil it.

This isn’t a review of the book—I have one of those at Goodreads, covering some of the same territory, but in less detail—it’s more of an appreciation of this one aspect of the book. It’s me saying “I SEE WHAT YOU DID HERE, YOON HA LEE! VERY CLEVER!”
asakiyume: (far horizon)
This font for holy water was in a model seventeenth-century Acadian house on the grounds of a historic gardens in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

If you click through and look at Jesus up close, doesn't he seem strange? Otherworldly in an unexpected way, as if the painter had a vision of Jesus of the fishes, or Jesus as a curl of smoke, or Jesus whose body is a shroud, about to be lifted away.

Holy water
asakiyume: (miroku)
Eve Shi introduce me to this great phrase, shy like a pigeon. It means someone who seems gregarious, but flies off if you get too close. I really understand that! I can be really sociable so long as there's a certain distance built in, like with .... drumroll .... social media!1 Specifically, the sort of interaction that you can get on LJ/DW. You can share all sorts of thoughts, chat, enthuse about whatever it is you want to enthuse about, even give or receive comfort and consolation--but you can also retreat, and by and large people won't mind too much. It reminds me of something [personal profile] sovay said about a writer's characterization, that his characters were "on the whole are drawn more vividly than deeply." It's that type of friendship, vivid but not deep.

Of course you can *make* it deep. I bet anyone who's been online for more than a few years has had serious, lasting friendships blossom from their online interactions. I know several people who've gotten married to people they met online. But when it gets deep, most probably you're no longer interacting solely through LJ/DW. Probably you're meeting up in person, sending private messages or emails, maybe exchanging paper letters, maybe phoning--you're getting to know the person through more than one medium.

But once a friendship is a deep one, you can't convert it back into a shallow one. You can drift apart as friends--that happens--but you'll never not have shared a deep friendship. And if you have a social-media space made up of people who are mainly close friends, that's very different from a social-media space made up of strangers and acquaintances. Speaking for myself (but I'm willing to bet this is true for many people), it changes how you interact. You have responsibilities in a way you don't if you're interacting with strangers and acquaintances.

Musing on the nature of online interactions and in-the-flesh interactions, and what friendship is, etc. etc., has gradually led me to the conclusion that I haven't been a very good real-life friend to very many people. I **haven't** done that thing that gets talked about in every movie and every essay on friendship: I haven't been there as a supportive presence for people in hard times. Not very much. Part of me wants to say that it took my mother dying, and having to be there for my dad, for me to understand what being there for someone really means. Kind of late in life to learn that stuff.

But I'm trying harder now. Still in a very limited way, because, see above, shy like a pigeon. (Or maybe I shouldn't blame shyness. Maybe it's just selfishness.)

I thought I might segue into talking about how being in a social-media space composed of actual friends lends itself to certain types of posts and inhibits others, but as I think about it more, I think a lot of that comes down to personal styles--it's actually hard to generalize on. Maybe what I could talk about would be my own feelings on that--but another time.


1And not just social media. Acquaintanceship through some shared activity can be like this; my interactions with people in my book group feels similar. Warm, friendly, but not too deep.

fights

May. 17th, 2017 05:41 pm
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
It was one of the women at the jail who first told me that middle school and high school kids film their fights with their phones and then post them on Youtube. Then last week one of my high school tutees was talking affectionately about one of her younger sisters. "She's so bad," she said, laughing, and showed me a video on her phone of her little sister and another girl fighting. They had hands in each other's hair. "Ouch," I said, "that looks like it hurts!" "She's so bad," my tutee repeated, shaking her head and smiling.

I went online and found other videos, with breathless remarks from the person doing the filming. None of the ones I happened to look at were cases of someone being beaten up (though I'm sure that happens too), and none of them were mass melees (though same). These were ... well, in some cases they seemed like duels: there were seconds hanging back on both sides, and the fight was very short, and then it was like the seconds decided it was over. And in other cases it kind of reminded me of training? Like, instead of boxing or mixed martial arts, you're doing homemade fighting.

And the people filming. They seemed from their voices and their excitement levels so YOUNG. "Come on, hurry up, Celie! Somebody grab my sister!" exclaims one kid, and then, "Come on, fight fight fight, yo!" And in another video, a similarly young-sounding kid (a boy whose voice hasn't changed yet) shouts out advice ("keep your head up"), and when one of the fighters says "I can't breathe!" he calls out for everyone to stop. The girl says, "This asthma," and the kid says, "I fucking hate asthma too."

I know there are way worse fights. I know people get really badly hurt--I've seen scars my students in the jail have. That's not what was going on in the videos I happened to see, though.

I remember one of my other high school tutees, a *tiny* girl, talking about finally having to fight someone to get people to stop taunting her. I couldn't believe that having a fight would do that--I would have thought it would just escalate things. But apparently not.

Me, I'm wrapped in a floor-length robe of ignorance, with a fluffy hat of ignorance on my head. I don't have any summarizing statement to make or judgment to pass, beyond to say---I mean, maybe this is picking up on the high spirits of the people making the videos? and the casual attitude of my student?--but I felt surprisingly un-bad about the fact of the fights. I don't want kids to be ganged up on and beaten up, and I **definitely** think there are other ways to settle differences or strut your stuff. But ... maybe this is one possible way to settle differences and strut your stuff that isn't as bad as all that if all parties are willing? I don't know! See above: ignorance.

a fight

fighting
asakiyume: (miroku)



If the lines inscribed on my hands and fingers were contour lines, what effort it would take to scale the steepness of my thumb.

thumb contour lines



asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
A couple of weeks ago at the jail, there was a new-to-me CO, B--, at the programs desk. I was heading into the room I've been using for my tutoring when he said, "You know there's a ghost up here, right?"

Usually when people tell me things like this--in any circumstance, not just at the jail--I just go along with it amiably until I can get my bearings and figure out how I'm expected to react, but this time, I couldn't help it: I said, "This jail is only ten years old, and you're telling me there's a ghost?" (I could also have said, "I've been volunteering here for more than five years, and I'm only just now hearing about a ghost?")

"They think it's maybe a child, looking for love," he said.

Even at the time, and more so now as I'm writing this down, it struck me that if you didn't think of a ghost as the spirit of someone dead but rather as a coalescing of intense feelings connected with longed-for people, that sure: there could very well be something like that hanging about. Wakanomori suggested that it could be like Lady Rokujo, whose spirit leaves her body while she sleeps and haunts Genji's lovers, only in this case, children deprived of their parents, haunting the locus of their deprivation.

Anyway, I think I said something noncommittal like "Thanks for the heads up" or "I'll keep my eyes open."

Then this past Friday B-- was there again, along with M--, one of the first COs I ever talked to, a woman I like a lot. I mentioned to her that B-- had told me about the ghost, and he said, "Oh, M-- knows all about the ghost; she's had an encounter with it."

M-- nodded emphatically.

"What was it like?" I asked.

"Well, I had just had a drink of water from my bottle," she said, nodding toward her largish clear plastic water bottle, which was on the desk, "and I felt something really cold right at my waist. I thought maybe I'd spilled some of the water on myself, but when I touched the area, it was dry. Then it started tingling. I jumped away from the desk--I just had to walk away from there. It was like a little icy arm around my waist."

"It probably knew you were a mother," said B--. "It was probably looking for comfort."

I thought about how my imagination runs in different directions: If that had happened to me, I would have been as freaked out, but it would have been because I imagined I'd gotten sudden-onset neuropathy, or worse.

Or maybe not. I'm only there for one afternoon a week. The COs are there for 40 hours a week, and the inmates are there 24-7. Ten years is young for a building, but it's a long time to collect misery. Even I've seen a thing or two, in the slivers of time I'm there. Maybe if I was in M--'s shoes, I would have intuited it the way she did.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
In Princess Mononoke, Ashitaka tries to stop the assault Lady Eboshi is making on a primeval forest and the gods who live there. He's been cursed for killing a boar god who, maddened with pain and anger after Lady Eboshi shot him, turned into a demon and threatened to destroy Ashitaka's village. His cursed hand twitches uncontrollably when, upon hearing Ashitaka's story, Lady Eboshi mocks the boar god.

"Does that right hand of yours want to kill me now, Ashitaka," she asks.

"If it would lift the curse, I'd let it tear you apart, but even that wouldn't end the killing now, would it?" he replies, and she says lightly and mockingly, "No, it wouldn't. It would have to kill all of us to be at peace."

And then a bed-ridden leper speaks up. (Lady Eboshi has taken in the people whom society has rejected: lepers, prostitutes, and other outcasts--they are her strength.)

He says, "Forgive me, milady. You must not make light of the boy's strength." Then, to Ashitaka, he says,

Young man, like you, I know what rage feels like ... and grief and helplessness. But you must not take your revenge on Lady Eboshi. She is the only one who saw us as human beings. We are lepers. The world hates and fears us, but she took us in and washed our rotting flesh and bandaged us. Life is suffering. It is hard. The world is cursed, but still, you find reasons to keep living . . . I'm sorry. I'm making no sense.


I feel such intense empathy with the leper's last lines and with his attempt, weakly and without confidence, to speak up.

Ashitaka's mission was to see the world with eyes unclouded by hate, but the curse gives him supernatural killing power. Later it manifests as a twisting snake around his arm, and he shouts out,

Look, everyone! This is what hatred looks like. This is what it does when it catches hold of you. It's eating me alive, and very soon now it will kill me! Fear and anger only make it grow faster.


The truth that Princess Mononoke recognizes is that anyone can turn into a demon, even if they don't want to. Rage, pain, hatred, despair can do it.

I see this all around me. There's no one who isn't embracing a good hate (myself included, sometimes). But we have to, somehow, pull away from that, because when we become demons, everything goes down to destruction. Anyone can bandage lepers--even Lady Eboshi. Anyone can kill a god--even Ashitaka. I want us to be more in the bandaging mode. And if that sets off your alarm bells (band-aid solutions), then put in a different metaphor. Gardening mode, meal-preparing mode, coat-offering mode, stranger-welcoming mode ... but with that last, remember that we don't get to pick and choose our strangers. But who am I to speak this way. No one. I'm sorry. I'm making no sense.
asakiyume: (miroku)






You've probably heard this before: I came across it in A Wind in the Door.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.



(source)

I had some thoughts.

1. First, the progression is important here. Sometimes a seemingly insignificant item has a giant effect right away, with no intermediary steps--for example, a peanut would, if Serena Williams happened to eat it. (Serena Williams is allergic to peanuts. I Googled "famous people allergic to peanuts" to finish this example. The Internet is wonderful.) So the point the saying is trying to get across isn't merely that seemingly insignificant things can play dramatic roles. It's a more Butterfly-effect statement: a tiny mishap at one end of the chain causes a huge mishap at the other end.

No peanuts, Serena!

(source)


2. The fact that the horseshoe nail played such a crucial role had a whole lot to do with the fact that the nail was in the shoe of a horse being ridden by a messenger to a battle. Horseshoe nails get lost all the time without having dire consequences. This seems like a really Scrooge-ish thing for me to say; it seems as if I'm stomping all over the message of the saying as it was used in A Wind in the Door, which was to say, "No one is insignificant; your role in the universe is important." I'm not, though: I agree with both those statements, resoundingly. What I'm criticizing the metaphor as a vehicle for conveying that message--because, as I say, not all nails are in the shoes of a warhorse carrying a mission-critical messenger. That nail was important in that way, but what about all the rest of us nails? There are three directions we can go:

3a. "They also serve who only stand and wait." This direction asks us to consider what it means for a life to be of consequence. It's not all about the battles! It's also about churning the butter--or about recording the rate of glacial melting, or about saying something friendly to the kid sitting by himself, staring blankly at the wall while his classmates goof off and have fun. Or about standing and waiting. When people resist this direction, sometimes it's that they don't value these other things, but often it's that they don't want to be denied access to traditional realms of glory, and I totally get that.

John Milton standing and waiting

(source)


3b. The Butterfly Effect again, but more roundabout than the messenger's horse going lame because it lost a shoe. Each of us, in our humble nail-ness, may have dramatic effects on events, but in ways that not at all apparent or predictable. You make a joke to your co-worker at the café; a customer overhears it and thinks it's funny; he tells it to his boss, who tells it to her boss, who, spirits lifted by the well-timed humor, goes into highly sensitive diplomatic negotiations in a better frame of mind. Even that's too linear, but you get the idea.

What natural disasters have you caused today, butterfly?
IMG_6064
(source is [livejournal.com profile] deponti's Flickr, here)


3c. Inherent worth, apart from actions or consequences. This says that nails are a wonder just in their nail-ness, regardless of whether they're holding horse shoes on or hanging pictures to a wall. You are, so you have worth, period.


(source)


All three of these things are true, but all three of them are dissatisfying for various reasons. And yet true. For that matter, "For want of a nail" is true too--it just has its limitations if you go teasing it and pulling at its threads. It's almost as if this stuff is complicated and no one formulation is completely satisfying, and yet each has something powerful to say. Hmmmm.


asakiyume: (dewdrop)






I realize I've fallen prey to magical thinking, believing that if I fail to do X or Y activist thing, then the whole resistance will fall apart. It arises from erroneous logic that goes like this: "This situation is so bad it caused me to cancel plans with a friend to go protest. I'm not alone; other people feel that way too. That's why there are so many people protesting. But if I let up, then they will, too, since they're like me. So I have to prevent that from happening by not letting up."

I am the drop that controls the ocean!!
world in a dewdrop


But of course, my actions don't actually control other people's.1 I doubt I'm even a very good indicator of what other people will do, but if I were, my actions still wouldn't control other people's; they'd merely be predictive. And it's grandiose to assume that my action or inaction is going to spell the success or defeat of, for example, resistance to the executive order2 on refugees and incomers from those seven majority-Muslim countries. Maybe this exhortation is something that only I need, but I'll put it out there anyway: Do whatever stuff you do because you want to help change something that you find intolerable. *Don't* do it because your action magically controls the outcome. It doesn't.

1It's true that our actions can influence other people, so if you do something or refrain from something, it may ... pick your verb--cause/push/induce others to follow suit. But you're still not controlling them.
2I wasn't entirely clear on how executive orders work, so I read up on them (well, mainly I read one Washington Post article) and created a two-page summary of what I learned, which I can email anyone who'd like it.

ETA: Please read also what [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija writes here.





asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
I heard wind chimes today on my walk, but saw nothing but a sugar maple and a house with flaking paint. The wind was up, and I thought,

Somewhere there's a woman who wears wind chimes dangling from her ears and wrists and maybe from each twisting braid, if she has braids. A spirit wind surrounds her all the time, so the chimes are ringing all the time. She changes them all the time--some days silvery tones, some days heavy porcelain ones--they have colors and create an aura, just like perfume.



asakiyume: (Kaya)
I’ve always thought that education was one of the only things worth going into debt to obtain—and boy did I go into debt obtaining mine—but that was about the extent of my suffering for education. But for some people? We’ve all heard stories of hardship and sacrifice, but sometimes new ones can strike with fresh force.

This morning, I was blown away by a description an Australian educator shared of the dedication of Timorese teachers, seeking out instruction in English and Portuguese (bolding mine):

In 2001 I taught English to classes of 40-odd teacher-education students in Kaikoli, "the burned campus" ... Students came to classes often with nothing more to eat than a packet of dry Super-Mi [ramen noodles] and even sometimes shaking with fever. Alongside me, other teachers taught Portuguese to classes of future teachers in classes of often twice that number. We worked in noisy, dirty, mosquito-infested rooms with no glass in the windows, no desks and no books. Yet student attendance was high and their enthusiasm for learning both languages was immense.1

But even in this country, there are stories. The tall one told me on Friday about a young woman he’d struck up a conversation with on the bus from Northampton to Springfield. Those two cities aren’t very distant, in terms of miles, but because of the route the bus takes, the journey takes about two hours. The young woman, like the tall one, rides that bus daily. He works in Springfield; she’s going to school at Springfield Technical Community College. But her journey is even longer than his, as she first takes a bus from Greenfield to Northampton . . . and even before that, she is driven by her parents from one of the hilltowns in to Greenfield to catch the bus. All in all, she spends three hours each way on her commute.

That’s how precious education is--so precious that you’d attend classes feverish and half starved, or spend six hours a day traveling for the privilege.

1Quoted from Kerry Taylor-Leech, with permission.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)






Yesterday The Writer's Almanac featured the poem "Summer Night," by Connie Wanek. I was transfixed by the first image:

The street lamp looks down;
it has dropped something
and spends the whole night
searching around its feet.


The light it has dropped illuminates its feet, but the street lamp sees only grass and asphalt and senses that this is not what it's searching for.


Street Lamp 2 by ANDYWPHOTO on Flickr.

Also yesterday, I saw a loneflower:

loneflower

The outbuilding's roof has collapsed and one wall has crumbled, but the sentinel doesn't abandon the post. In time the loneflower will hang its head . . . it will be searching around its feet for something.

And [livejournal.com profile] yamamanama saw a performance of A Midsummer's Night Dream in which a player played the moon by wielding a cane. The moon with a cane. The moon, puttin' on the Ritz . . .

the moon walking with a cane 1

PS, and unrelated, but I love it, so: The Boy Who Cried Wolves


Pencils

Jul. 17th, 2013 12:46 pm
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
When I was in first grade, they gave us all big, round blue pencils with no erasers on them. I liked the blue pencils; I liked them especially when they were sharpened. They made nice, dark lines.

This one is not sharpened. Picture taken from pencilsnmore.com


What I really liked, though, were the slim, hexagonal yellow pencils that grown-ups used. They said competence and maturity to me. I liked these ones, because of the bright red stripe on the little metal cap that holds the eraser:

Image from officezilla.com


Best of all, though, were the copyediting pencils my mother used. They were red, and better than that, they wrote red. (I did not yet know you could get colored pencils and color with them the way you did with crayons.)

Image from pajamaproductivity.com


At some point, my mother gave me one, and I was so proud of it. Then I somehow lost it in the classroom and made a big fuss. I probably cried, though I don't remember for sure. A boy kindly offered me a pencil, painted red, but with an ordinary black graphite lead in it. NOT GOOD ENOUGH! NOT THE REAL THING! The teacher scolded me for being an ungrateful brat. Which I was totally being. I wish I could go back and get a good look at that boy who was nice enough to offer me a red pencil.

... This comes to mind for two reasons. One, I'm thinking of bringing pencils and pens to East Timor when I go, and I was thinking of all the ways in which they can be special. Two, I'm remembering an incident at the jail the other day. At the end of a GED session, one of the women asked if she could hold onto the pencil. Usually I use just ordinary Ticonderoga pencils (yes, I've switched allegiance from Mirado classic to Dixon Ticonderoga--brand consciousness!), but I also have a couple of foil pencils in the mix. They're pretty:

DSCN3761

I said, no, I couldn't, because that wouldn't be fair, because I don't have very many of those (which was the wrong reason to give: more importantly, I'm not supposed to give anything to anyone ever).

"Aw, no one will notice," she said.

"Oh yes they will," said the other woman, and then it transpired in discussion that those foil pencils were known and remembered in the units.

Small things have value for all kinds of reasons.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
After working all day, tonight, when it was all soft and dark out, and the breeze felt pleasantly cool, the forest creatures and I went out to look at the fireflies, or the moon, or both.

It ended up being both--the fireflies spangling the fields on one side of the road, pure magic, and the moon the color of lemon custard and bright as a candle flame above the other.

--okay but here's what I've been thinking about. It's because of getting all these extra immunizations to go to East Timor. Immunizations and prophylactic medicines: they're like wards. I feel like the medical establishment is laying spell upon spell upon me: "Now you will be able to walk through flames and over scorpions, and you will emerge unscathed." (Except really what they said was, "You know this typhoid shot is only 80 percent effective, so be careful of what you eat" but even so. Eighty out of one hundred typhoid scorpions will not sting me.)

But I can't help thinking, What about everyone who lives there all the time? I bet they're not on prophylactic doxycycline all their lives. They have to just rely on mosquito nets and bug spray to keep away malaria. Or, y'know, they just get it. And same with all the other ailments. But I get to waltz covered in wards. Oh: and whatever germs I might be carrying with me from New England, they're certainly not warded against. ... I shall try not to breathe on people.

catalpa wands: blossoms threaded on grass
DSCN3681

September 2017

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