July 2006 Archives

Blueberries Are Good

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Fresh blueberries have been on sale in my grocery store for the past few weeks, which makes me happy because I love love love love LOVE blueberries. I think they're among the cuter fruits the planet produces: OK, they're not big, prickly and imposing like a pineapple or a drag queen, but their tiny round vulnerable neatness appeals to me, as does the delicate little crown on the bottom (I wonder what purpose it serves), and I also love that blueberries really truly are blue! How many other naturally blue foods exist in the world? And they taste good. I like them fresh, but I especially like them cooked, so that they burst open and the insides turn purple from the juice in the skin and the sugar in them caramelizes a bit.

I didn't know I loved blueberries when I was little; I thought they were only OK, and this is entirely my mother's fault. The only way she fed us blueberries when I was growing up was in blueberry muffins--made, of course, from a mix that included canned blueberries. (I asked her about this recently; she said they were too expensive to buy fresh in Arizona, and it never occurred to her to buy them frozen.) I have compensated for this mistake by making blueberry muffins a grand total of once in my adult life: a few weeks ago I got to thinking about how I'd never made blueberry muffins and decided to try it, but I couldn't leave well enough alone and had to spiff up the recipe with cream cheese and chocolate chips, and the results were edible but not worth repeating.

But I love blueberry crumble--I LOVE it. I especially love it for breakfast, smothered with Stonyfield Farms Full Cream French Vanilla yogurt. YUM! I also love blueberry sorbet. Both recipes are below.

Pioneer Day

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Today is a holiday I haven’t celebrated since, oh, 1976. It’s Pioneer Day, anniversary of the day in 1847 when Brigham Young and a bunch of other guys (including my great-great-great-grandfather Tarleton Lewis, the first bishop of Salt Lake and the only man to be bishop of the entire city) arrived in the Salt Lake valley. Supposedly when they reached the descent into the valley, Brother Brigham, who was quite ill, sat up in his bed in the back of a wagon, surveyed the scene, then said, “This is the right place. Drive on.” (It’s often shortened to “This is the place.” But my dad, who reads lots of history books and loves correcting misinformed tour guides--he's done it all over the country, on topics ranging from the burial place of Wyatt Earp to the birthdate of Joseph Smith--always insisted that we say it correctly.)

When I was little we had big Pioneer Day celebrations; we dressed like pioneers and had parades with handcarts. But then the Church got ambitious and wanted to shed its provincial western image, and Pioneer Day ceased to be a big deal outside of Utah, where it's still a state holiday. I’m not complaining; it’s not all that fun to put on a long dress and sunbonnet and walk up and down the streets during monsoon season in southern Arizona.

But I admit I am totally captivated by the story of the trek across the plains, which killed a few of my relatives: Tarleton lost one of his sons that way, a small child of three or four, who wandered off one evening while collecting cow patties for fuel with a group of children. They found his bucket, but they never found the boy. Tarleton was heartbroken. Then there’s the story of the Willie and Martin handcart companies, a group of people who got a late start and so were overtaken by snow storms and blizzards. The survivors were eventually rescued by a bunch of young men. It chokes me up even to think about it.

In Primary we used to sing this song I absolutely loved, called “Pioneer Children.” It went,

Pioneer children sang as they walked... and walked... aaannd waaaaalked
They walked for miles....

and I can’t remember the rest. I just remember the way we’d draw out “aaannd waaaaalked.” It was fun.

So happy Pioneer Day! If you get a chance, take a walk. (I still can't--my gimpy hip is still bugging me.)

Not the Star I Paid to See

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Picking up where I left off yesterday on the matter of unpleasant parents:

Another good thing about the way Mormons deal with kids: everyone (well, almost everyone) learns very early that there are places where it's just not appropriate to bring children. This doesn't cause kids much pain or resentment, because a lot of those adult forums are plain boring, and kids are rightfully glad to escape them. You learn that your parents can go off and leave with you a babysitter and it won't kill you, the babysitter OR your parents--in fact, if the babysitter is cool enough, you might even have fun, and you usually get something special for dinner.

The last ward (a Mormon congregation) I attended was an young adult/student ward at the Institute at the U of Arizona. There were no kids in this ward, because you had to be a childless university student and/or single person over the age of 18 but under 35 to attend it. The idea was to help young people meet potential mates, though childless couples in which at least one spouse was enrolled as a student could also attend this ward.

But there was this divorced woman in her late 20s who insisted on bringing her five-year-old daughter with her, and largely because the bishop felt sorry for her, both mother and child were allowed to attend. The daughter went to all the meetings with her mother, including Relief Society, the meeting for women. Well. One Sunday I was teaching the lesson, and I made an off-hand comment about how there was no Santa Claus.

Well!

It Says Sour

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I wrote Monday about how I generally like children, but there are plenty of parents in the world who irritate me. Wednesday I wrote about dealing with parents and a child I liked, and today I'm sharing an anecdote about an encounter with a parent who totally pissed me off.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Target for some particular product. I don't remember what it was; I only remember that they didn't have it. They did, however, have Clueless on sale for $7.50, a spiffy anniversary edition dvd with lots of special features, and as I collect adaptations of Austen novels (in case you didn't know, Clueless is based on Emma) and as my VHS copy of Clueless has grown worn from use, I decided to buy the dvd. So I took my single item and went to stand in the express checkout line.

The woman ahead of me in the express lane was dealing with two children. She seemed a bit frazzled--her son, who seemed about six, wanted some gum, but kept picking out kinds that were sour, and she kept saying, "It says sour! See? It says sour!" I can be pretty good at tuning out other people, so I just ignored her and thought about the pleasant activities I had planned for the rest of the day--I think I was planning to sew. The cashier rang up and bagged my movie before the woman had removed her bags from the counter, and for some reason her son, who had not taken any of his mother's bags, picked up my bag.

As I explain in this post about my freak dancing accident, and in this post about my bursitis diagnosis, I've been in pain lately. That's one reason–actually two reasons--I didn't post anything here yesterday: sitting was uncomfortable, and then I ended up spending several hours seeing a doctor and having x-rays and working with a physical therapist. The other reason I didn't post yesterday is that I had a dinner invitation that took precedence over writing.

My hosts were a colleague, her husband and their three-year-old son, who is really damn cute: big smile, bright brown eyes and this head full of tousled curls because his mom has been two busy to cut his hair recently. I sat down next to him at the dinner table, remembered what I'd posted Monday, and asked myself, "All right; do I like kids or not?"

And I decided I really do, if the parents allow both me and the kid to treat each other like people.

I asked the kid how old he was, what his name was--basic ice breakers, to which he gave me basic answers. His dad said, "We forgot your knife," and went to the kitchen. And the kid said to me, "I have a blue knife."

Go Away, Parent, You Bother Me

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I think of myself as someone who likes children, mostly because there are a lot of children I like. OK, occasionally I meet a kid I truly dislike, same as with adults: a couple of my friends had five children, four of whom I found mildly repellent: they were not only badly behaved, but just plain weird--one in particular I rather expect to end up in the penal system. But generally, I'm well disposed to like kids. If I see a cute baby in a stroller, I usually smile and try to make eye contact. If I hear a child crying, I usually think, with a pang of genuine sympathy, "Oh, that poor thing."

I especially like kids old enough to walk and say at least a few words and feed themselves a high-chair-tray full of diced broccoli, but still small enough that you can pick them up and tickle them and play peekaboo with them: there's something profoundly wonderful about making those wee ones squeal and clap their hands in delight. I also like little kids whose parents buy them really cool electric train sets (that would be my brother and his wife). As I've watched my nieces and nephews grow up, I've noticed that sometimes they get hard to talk to around nine or ten (and they can stay that way for about a decade), but if a kid likes to read, I can usually manage a reasonably interesting conversation. And I'm gratified by the fact that the kids I like seem to like me OK, too.

There's a famous scene where WC Fields (I have no idea what movie it's from--I tried to find out) says to some child, "Go away, kid, you bother me," a particular expression of his general antipathy for children. I was always baffled by that in my youth, and offended as well: how could anybody who'd been a child dislike children on principle? I still sort of feel that way.... Because I really do like kids at least as often as I like adults. Change that: I like children more often than I like adults. It's certain parents, I've realized lately, that I really have problems with.

Search Me

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Because I occasionally write about sex, and about sexual violence against women, and because I also discussed various terms for female genitalia and announced my preference for a particular term and my impatience with the misuse of another term, my blog can show up when people do searches for sexual images and situations. Thus, when I check the searches that have led people to my blog, a lot of them are deeply disturbing and vile. I won't provide examples because that would lead even more weirdos to my site. But I must say, that as someone who has stayed away from internet porn, it has been very educational to me to see some of what other people go looking for out there.

But this one I found amusing enough to share: a search on "naked women in teddies."

Dude, chick, whoever you are, grasp this obvious fact: If they're wearing teddies, they're not naked!

Hey Joe

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Yesterday as I was getting in my car to run some errands, Joe, my mailman, strolled up to my driveway with my mail. I thought I would save him the few steps up to my porch and so walked over to take it from him.

"How you doin, Ms. Holly?" he asked. The first time he addressed me by name, I was a bit surprised; but I soon realized of course he knows my name; he reads it almost every day. He probably also knows, if he cares enough to analyze the magazines I subscribe to, my religious background, my political leanings, my general taste in music.

"I'm fine," I said, taking the envelopes he held. "Thanks. How are you?"

"Doing real good. You have a good day, now."

"You too," I said.

Accompanied by a Drawing of a Burning Bridge

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From that same journal as the last entry, this one on page 10. Dated 7 May 05. Accompanied by a drawing of a burning bridge, done by me in Crayola Crayons.

I love no spectacle so much as that of a burning bridge--OH the glowing beams, the leaping flames, all of that light reflected in the dark, rippling water--and then, when the fire burns through the structure and its timbers plunge into the water, so it bubbles and steams--

Well it's just so cool

Not that I've ever seen a burning wooden bridge, but I imagine it's quite a phenomenon

First you imagine the river. Deep, wide and rapid though it may be, you are looking for its narrowest, calmest spot. You construct a sturdy, serviceable crossing that stretches from bank to bank. Then you set it on fire.

And that's all.

Utility and Worth

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Here's a strange little reflection I found on page one of a journal I started about two years ago. I avoided writing in it because it wasn't the format I generally prefer for a journal: heavy lined 8.5 by 11 loose leaf notebook paper. But for reasons I explain below, I finally started using this journal as well. I'm currently on page 13.

I have had this little book since before I graduated from high school in 1981. What the hell have I saved it for all these years? Good god, it's now 2004 and this book is still empty, unused-- not quite wasted (because it still has potential) but almost, since it is a thing that has a purpose and that purpose is going unfulfilled. And if that purpose is never fulfilled, well, then the thing is wasted.

Everything has a purpose, but we don't get to decide what those purposes are, necessarily-- only the purposes of the things we make. The purpose of a cow is not to be eaten, but to be a cow. However, the purpose of beef is to be eaten, and it would be wrong to waste beef. Once the sacrifice has been made, once a thing has been killed, then it's wrong to let it go to waste.

I'm thinking about issues of utility and worth-- I don't want to exploit things, and I also don't want to waste resources--

and that's it.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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