sea heart

Nov. 26th, 2014 12:10 am
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)






(But first: saw on Twitter that protestors shut down highways in Boston and New York City for Mike Brown. Good. As one person on Twitter said, "The unrest is sacred, holy, and necessary.")

Some time ago, [livejournal.com profile] mnfaure sent me a sea heart--a floating seed of the Entada gigas vine, which grows in the Caribbean (also Central America, northern South America, and Africa). The seeds from the Caribbean and Central America can float along ocean currents and arrive on Gulf Coast shores. On this day in Pen Pal, Em's brother finds one (a detail that only entered the story thanks to another friend of mine, [livejournal.com profile] 88greenthumb, who first told me about them.)

Here's mine (thank you, [livejournal.com profile] mnfaure).



It has two little holes in it, which let you see it's hollow inside:



In the past, they were made into snuffboxes and lockets; I'm going to make mine into a container for a tiny letter.


asakiyume: (Kaya)
On this day in Pen Pal, Kaya wrote to Em and told her it was too dangerous to continue the correspondence--from this point, the story enters a new stage. There won't be more posts between now and the day the story ends, but at the end I have an idea for a special post. And I might post something between then and now, if something occurs to me.

Meanwhile, here are neither lava nor waves, and yet it might be both:




asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
On this day in Pen Pal, Kaya took an action to express grief. You might say she created a spontaneous ceremony.

I think people do this a lot. Prescribed rituals do give us a way to proclaim and honor our big feelings (the happy ones as well as the sad ones), but sometimes they're not enough; sometimes we need or want to go further. We want to make a personal statement. Or, like Kaya, we may not be in a position to engage in prescribed rituals.

Do you have any spontaneous ceremonies you've created that you can share? And did any then go on to become personal traditions? One of mine that I don't mind sharing, for instance, is doing a great bow (after the manner of the fairy queen in The Perilous Gard) in locations of great physical beauty would be one.

One that my kids do is bake cakes on the occasion of the birthdays of characters from anime or video games. I highly endorse that one!



asakiyume: (birds to watch over you)
On September 20, a TV crew visited Mermaid's Hands, and some of the kids showed off various aspects of their daily life, including tending floating gardens. People in Mermaid's Hands didn't always make floating gardens--Silent Soriya gave them the idea. She came to Mermaid's Hands from Cambodia.

I first learned about floating gardens from a PDF from an NGO called Practical Action--the PDF was about creating floating gardens in Bangladesh. Here's a webpage about the project, and here is a page where you can download the PDF. (That first page has a link to a project for growing pumpkins on sandbars left in the wake of monsoons--cool.)


Making a floating garden bed Source: Practical Action, "Floating Gardens."




The people who live on and by Inle Lake in Myanmar also have floating gardens. Here, for instance, is a floating garden of tomato plants (photograph by Ralf-André Lettau, via Wikimedia Commons):




And here's a floating garden on Tonle Sap, in Cambodia (Photo by Dennis Jarvis on Flickr):

Cambodia-2875 - Floating Garden


ETA: And here, courtesy of the floating garden tag on Tumblr, are some floating gardens from the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD, USA (Source)


When I live in a floating house on the tide, I'm going to have a floating garden.


asakiyume: (Em)






On this day in Pen Pal, Em learns that the people born on dry land are given certificates to commemorate that fact . . . and for other, more weighty purposes. Everyone who's ever needed to establish their identity knows how crucial a birth certificate can be.

They can be elegant--here's some fancy lettering on a Massachusetts birth certificate:



Here is the top of a Japanese birth certificate:



And here is the top of an English birth certificate:



If you're a US citizen and you have a baby overseas, your child is entitled to US citizenship. But you need to get a consular report of birth abroad--here's what the top of one of those looks like:





asakiyume: (far horizon)







On September 9, Em imagines sea hummingbirds for her sister Tammy:

Maybe you can start a whole new genealogy. The sea hummingbirds, who have scales instead of feathers, and both lungs and gills

Here is a sea hummingbird:



And--unrelated to this day in Pen Pal-- some time ago I also promised a picture of a bee shark for Benjanun Sriduangkaew, @bees_ja on Twitter:







asakiyume: (birds to watch over you)






On September 6, Em writes Kaya from Jordan's Waters Fellowship Church.

Churches often provide shelter in the event of natural disasters. Here Jah-Torrian Spriggs, age three, takes shelter in Triumph Church in Beaumont, Texas, in advance of Hurricane Ike in 2008:

Photo: Guiseppe Barranco; source: "Preparing for Hurricane Ike", Beaumont Enterprise.



Here, evacuees from Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in 2013 take refugee in a church in Tacloban, in the Philippines:

Photo: Caritas International; source: "We Shall Return"

Tacloban church hurricane center


Schools also offer shelter. . . Here is ten-year-old Christyanna Coffman, who evacuated to Blue Ridge High School when wildfires threatened her Arizona home in 2011.

Photo: David Wallace, The Arizona Republic; Source: USAToday Media Gallery




asakiyume: (Kaya)







I am still a day behind in Pen Pal posts.

On this day in Pen Pal, Kaya saw tiny fires burning in the night, on the rim of the volcanic crater over which her lotus hangs.

<



asakiyume: (birds to watch over you)
On September 4 in Pen Pal, there were hurricane advisories on the radio.

We've all heard storm advisories of one sort or another, those computerized voices. It was interesting to read through the text of bunches of them, to see the format and what language was used.

2005: Hurricane Katrina


Here is the warning for Hurricane Katrina at 1 am on August 28, 2005:

ZCZC MIATCPAT2 ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM
BULLETIN
HURRICANE KATRINA SPECIAL ADVISORY NUMBER 20
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005

...KATRINA STRENGTHENS TO CATEGORY FOUR WITH 145 MPH WINDS...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE NORTH CENTRAL GULF COAST
FROM MORGAN CITY LOUISIANA EASTWARD TO THE ALABAMA/FLORIDA
BORDER...INCLUDING THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS AND LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN.
A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED
WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS. PREPARATIONS TO
PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION.

By August 29, the language is much more dire:

ZCZC MIATCPAT2 ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM
BULLETIN
HURRICANE KATRINA INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 25B
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
2 AM CDT MON AUG 29 2005

...POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC HURRICANE KATRINA BEGINNING TO TURN
NORTHWARD TOWARD SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA AND THE NORTHERN GULF
COAST...

And here is the warning for Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012, the day it hit the Northeast, flooding parts of New York City:


ZCZC MIATCPAT3 ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM

BULLETIN
HURRICANE SANDY INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 27A
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL182012
200 AM EDT MON OCT 29 2012

...SANDY TURNING TOWARD THE NORTH...EXPECTED TO BRING
LIFE-THREATENING STORM SURGE...COASTAL HURRICANE WINDS AND HEAVY
APPALACHIAN SNOWS...

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* NORTH OF SURF CITY TO DUCK NORTH CAROLINA
* PAMLICO AND ALBEMARLE SOUNDS
* BERMUDA

IN ADDITION...HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS ARE EXPECTED ALONG PORTIONS OF
THE COAST BETWEEN CHINCOTEAGUE VIRGINIA AND CHATHAM MASSACHUSETTS.
THIS INCLUDES THE TIDAL POTOMAC FROM COBB ISLAND TO SMITH POINT...
THE MIDDLE AND UPPER CHESAPEAKE BAY...DELAWARE BAY...AND THE COASTS
OF THE NORTHERN DELMARVA PENINSULA...NEW JERSEY...THE NEW YORK CITY
AREA...LONG ISLAND...CONNECTICUT...AND RHODE ISLAND.

2012: Hurricane Sandy


Such awe for the inhuman forces of air and water--fire and earth, too, for sure, but here, today, air and water.


asakiyume: (Kaya)
On this day, Kaya took to writing her journal between the lines and in the margins of Trees of Insular Southeast Asia, which is not a pretty guidebook like Trees and Fruits of Southeast Asia but more like Wayside Trees of Malaya, created over decades by a scholar born in 1906:



Here is some marginalia in the copy of Lord Brabourne’s Letters of Jane Austen owned by by Fanny Caroline Lefroy and, later, her sister, Louisa Lefroy Bellas, who, as you can see, made corrections and added information (Source)



And here are some of Isaac Newton's own notes and corrections to his 1687 Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, because science folks do write in the margins too, even when they're not political prisoners (Source)

under the cut, as it's a bit big )

Along the way to creating this post, I happened to come across images of palm-leaf manuscripts--writing not about trees of Southeast Asia, but on their very leaves:

16th-cent palm-leaf manuscript; image source Wikimedia commons


The writing was incised, and then darkened with soot.

And, to bring the talk back to marginalia, I'll observe that Daniel M. Veidlinger notes in Spreading the Dhamma: Writing, Orality and Textual Transmission in Buddhist Thailand that

There are ... numerous interlinear corrections that are most often written in ink or lacquer, but are also incised into the leaves like the main text. (118)

Marginal notes by readers, on the other hand, are "completely absent."


asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)






On August 30, Em's family got a letter from Clear Springs Prison, telling them that Em's brother was in the infirmary.

So, today might be a good day to remember that although the United States is home to only 5 percent of the world's population, 25 percent of the world's prisoners are here.1 Yes, one in every four prisoners in the world is in a US prison. Hence the term "prison industrial complex."

And a sizable percentage of those serving time in state prisons are doing so for nonviolent drug offenses: In 2012, the breakdown looked like this:2

violent crimes: 53%
property crimes (includes theft and fraud): 18.3%
drug related (includes trafficking and possession): 16.8%
public order (includes drunk driving, prostitution, etc.): 10:6%
other (includes juvenile offenses): 1.4%

Guess what state has the highest percentage of people in prison. Answer at footnote 3.

In more cheerful news, one of the women I work with at the jail shared a poem she'd made up. It was *awesome* and would make a great song. I told her so and asked her if she would ever consider trying to produce it as a song, when she got out, and she said her husband is a DJ. If her poem ever hits it big, I am going to brag so hard about the day I got to see it.





1Joshua Holland, "Land of the Free? US Has 25 Percent of the World’s Prisoners," Moyers & Company, December 16, 2013.
2E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, Prisoners in 2012: Advance Counts (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, 2013), 10.
3If you guessed Louisiana, you are right. If you guessed Mississippi or Alabama, you're nearly right. They're the next two. Source is Carson and Golinelli, 10.
asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)






Yesterday I neglected to post what happened on August 25 in Pen Pal, so I will tell you today. Kaya's memories took a dark turn:

I won’t write more just now. I don’t like recalling those next hours and days. If I start to, the memories spring to life too real, too vivid.

. . . On a more pleasant note, what is your favorite lunar body of water?

Here is a handy list to choose from. I think I like the Sea of Vapors and the Ocean of Storms. The lakes are also good: there is a Lake of Autumn, and for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, a Lake of Spring, and also lakes of perseverance and forgetfulness. There is a Marsh of Epidemics and a Bay of Rainbows.


Crop of this photo, by Olga Gladysheva


asakiyume: (Kaya)
Writing in her journal on August 24, Kaya recalls that what she and her friends hazily remembered from childhood as banners were in fact flags, raised by an abortive separatist movement.

The colors were black, red, and green. The story doesn't say this, but red is for lava, the blood of the world, and black is for the black earth, and green is for everything that springs from it.

Wakanomori got the scanner working again!



This flag is not much like other Southeast Asian flags, which tend to feature primarily white and red, sometimes with blue. Probably W--'s national flag would be in those colors.

a sampling of Southeast Asian flags )

This doesn't exhaust all the countries in Southeast Asia--there's still Thailand and Laos (whose flags also are red, white, and blue), Vietnam, whose flag is red and yellow, Burma (or Myanmar), which changed in 2010 and now bucks the general color scheme with red, yellow, green, and white, and Brunei and Timor-Leste, which are also both way different.

Where you do get lots of countries with red, black, and green flags is in Africa.

Read more... )

Flags. Fun to look at; supercharged with meaning.

Trivia question. There is a big flag in our basement, a tiny flag in my study, and a big flag upstairs. Care to guess what they are? To forestall an obvious guess, none are the Japanese flag.


asakiyume: (Kaya)






On August 23, writing in her journal, Kaya recalls a traditional song repurposed as a children's taunt for games of chase:

I’m sending, sending, sending the Lady’s birds
To find, find, find what you have hid
They’ll seize, seize, seize your every secret
And pierce, pierce, pierce your many lies.
They’ll leave, leave, leave a burning ember
In the place, place, place of your coward heart
And fan, fan, fan the Lady’s fires
To flame, flame, flame in your fevered eyes

I love children's songs and rhymes--clapping games, jump rope rhymes, counting-out games, insults and retorts, all of it. I've posted about them before, but this time round, I'd like to link you to the handclap and jump rope rhymes page on the Cocojams website. The whole site is an excellent resource, and this page is loads of fun. For example, this rhyme, which developed after my childhood:


MAMA MAMA CAN'T YOU SEE (Version #17)
Momma momma can't you see
What the baby's done to me
Took away my MTV
Now I’m watching dumb Barney
Tic Tac Toe Three in a row
Barney got shot got shot by GI Joe
Who ever got stop get a bump in the head
And that is how the game will end

The site includes videos of kids playing the handclapping games:




asakiyume: (Kaya)
I missed posting about what happened on August 20 in Pen Pal because I was posting about Irom Sharmila, a real-life political prisoner. Belatedly, then:

On August 20 in Pen Pal, an editorial in a national paper in Kaya's country questioned the wisdom of the agitation in the mountains.

People in positions of power often have a lot to say about what's wise or unwise for those without power to do. Sometimes they're even well-intentioned (though sometimes they're distinctly not), but they're almost always ignorant. "Why don't you just [do X]? Why must you [do Y]?" There are reasons, but the powerful don't take the time to learn them.

. . . More cheerfully, here are some Pen Pal treasures that a pen pal sent me--bottle caps, feathers, stamp, sea glass, volcanic rock, friendship rock, and--sea heart!




asakiyume: (Em)






On August 10, Em and her friend Small Bill found a cup in the shallow waters.

He picked the cup out of the net and turned it over in his hands. Every dent and bang was greeny black, and there was a tiny crab inside.

It sure looked old, but once a thing’s been asleep in salty water for a while, it gets hard to tell its true age.

“Look,” Small Bill said, showing me the bottom of the cup. There was a bird stamped in it, a bird with hunched shoulders, perching on a key—a crow.





asakiyume: actually nyiragongo (ruby lake)






Well it's been some days! But the next date in Pen Pal isn't until August 10, so it's good that I have a second post for July 27. On July 27, not only did Kaya write in her journal, she also wrote a letter to Em. She wrote about the dream that led to her imprisonment:

Some months after I came back to my country, I had a dream about the Lady of the Ruby Lake. I dreamed she had become a very old grandmother. She asked me why nobody celebrated fire anymore, and I didn’t have an answer for her. She shook her head and said it was too bad, just too bad, and started to walk away. I felt so sorry. I said, “I promise we’ll have a festival again.”





asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)






On July 27, Kaya wrote a journal entry in which she recalled the day she found Sumi, her pet crow. She also wrote a letter to Em. Here is her first glimpse of Sumi:

All along the dock, draped from rails, yellow and orange nets hung limply, drying, but this one was rippling and writhing. The other nets were sleeping. This one was having nightmares.


(photo by Liz Amis on Flickr)


Something was in there, tossing about like a fish. I came closer and saw it was a bird, but not a white-winged gull or tern. No, this bird was black as ink.


asakiyume: (Kaya)






On July 26, Kaya, writing about her childhood in her journal, recalled the day she discovered that the boy who'd won a scholarship to a prestigious secondary school was not the top scorer on the qualifying exam:

I caught a glimpse of Ramiratam’s exam on the headmaster’s desk when I was dropping off the attendance. In the final box, neatly printed in red: ninety-five. Five points higher than the score Nawalam was bragging about to one and all. Ramiratam was the top scorer. Why didn’t he say anything?



Trying to solve the mystery of this injustice, she remembers

He did once jump from the shell of the abandoned dump truck into the flooded quarry on a dare, but I don’t think the teachers ever found out about that, and anyway, that belonged in the category of bravery, not bad character.

Quarry swimming Tirusulam lake
photo source



asakiyume: (Kaya)
Kaya'a mother sends her a letter, updating her on how her friends are doing and sending her Em's reply to Kaya's first letter:

Look what came for you—a letter from your new friend in America. I am doing as you suggested and sending it along with my note to you.

She also talks a little about the fact that the government is billing Kaya's imprisonment as an honor:

As for the government’s story regarding your “elevation,” most people recognize it as mockery, just another insult that must be borne. There are some, though, who really seem to think the government is sincere, and take this as proof, somehow, of your connection to the Lady! I don’t know whether to laugh or groan. I wish I could inhabit their pleasant reality.


Is this person a criminal? Or are they something else?

In the United States, lots of people with mental illness can't access care--mental illness leads to poverty leads to no-healthcare leads to untreated illness leads to crime--and then they end up in jail. So they get labeled criminal, when really what they were/are is ill.1 On the other hand, some regimes label dissent as mental illness and imprison dissidents in mental institutions.

Whether or not a person gets labeled a political prisoner depends what country the person doing the labeling is in: political prisoners are much easier to recognize in distant lands than in one's own. In the home country, people who oppose the state are more likely called terrorists, insurrectionists, mentally ill (see above), or simply criminals.

Criminals are kept away from the rest of society to protect society and to punish (or reform, or both) the criminals. Further isolation--keeping a person in solitary confinement--is meted out when someone is judged to be a threat to other prisoners or to prison personnel, but solitary confinement can also be used for people on suicide watch, a severe irony given that solitary confinement can lead to suicidal thoughts and is considered by many to be a form of torture.2


(source)


Do political prisoners receive mail? Surprisingly, in lots of cases, the answer is yes. I've written to one, and I've read accounts by several others. Not always, of course--denying mail is one way to punish or attempt coercion--but that's not universally the situation.

1According to Human Rights Watch (2006), "The rate of reported mental health disorders in the state prison population is five times greater (56.2 percent) than in the general adult population (11 percent)."(Source) The National Institute of Mental Health, using data from 2002 and 2004, put that number as high a 66 percent (Source) in local jails.
2The Center for Constitutional Rights has a page on the topic here.


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