Reading – Happy Families by Carlos Fuentes

And little by little, Alejandro, you begin to realize that your son’s individuality was the most faithful mirror of the life that still was yours, that leaving the movie sets was not a death certificate, as you believed before, but a window that opened to let air, sun, birds, rain, pollen, bees into the closed tomb of a movie set reeking of sawdust, cardboard, glue, the hair of wigs made with the tresses of corpses, period costumes never sent to the cleaner, stained under the arms and between the legs, the clothing of extras, the others, the surplus, the replaceable, the dispensable.

Now you’re the extra in your final film, Alejandro. Except that your secret resignation — or can it be your will? — to disappear into the vast anonymous nation of failure has been frustrated by the encounter with your son, by the spirit of comedy that Sandokán displays….”

Carlos Fuentes – “The Star’s Son”, Happy Families.

Happy Families is interesting. If you’re looking for happy bedtime stories, this isn’t exactly the right choice (think challenging reading of an alien society filled with people doomed to not find happiness). But if you want individual stories that make you think about a place very different from middle America, this might be worth trying. The New York Times reviewer summed it up as “traditions of suffering“, but I think the review may too smugly sum it up as not emotionally sympathetic enough to make us connect with the characters. I connected with the frailties that were shown, and spent a good bit of worry on how the characters would navigate through. In some ways, “The Star’s Son” was the most hopeful story, and I was left with the happy question of who redeemed whom. If you’ve read the book, and would like to talk about it, leave a message in the comments.



So… I haven’t been home enough to get a photo, but here’s the new kitten in the family. The older cats are nonplussed – mostly about a door they can’t open.

Originally posted on Rethorykal Questions:

So there were five, and three immediately got homes when it came time for them to stop living under our back steps.  The two gingers are being fostered, and I am sure they will be fine, because the amount of adorable they generated was quite impressive, and hand-tamed kittens are typically easier placements than adult cats.  I’ll check with the rescue to find out how they fare.

In the meantime, though, here is our new kitty:

Oh, hai...  Can you make the grass move again, so I can kill it some more? Oh, hai… Can you make the grass move again, so I can kill it some more?

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Cat news, of varying sizes

Five kittens were born (very early, apparently) underneath the porch at the corner of Church and Graveyard. The Gardener has been posting their pictures over here. It was quite a relief to have something nice to look at last week, other than depressing news about the inhumanity of man. The kittens have now either gone to friends, or gone to the kitten adoption group. Yes, we will bring one home a bit later — and then I’ll go bonkers with the phone camera.

The amount of nursing these little guys got was somewhat amazing. One of the local (fixed) male cats sat in front of the porch, and retrieved them when they strayed into the street overnight. We started feeding them the minute we realized that their mother probably had abandoned them. Friends came over. Even Leia, the disaffected Himalayan-Persian mix looked at them, and instead of saying “why”, she tried to get closer as though they were the most interesting things she wasn’t allowed to get near. She’s been semi-regal lately. A far cry from when we first brought her home. Remember this one?

The Eyes of Reproach

The Eyes of Reproach

She’s still thinking outside the box of course. Not everything can be roses and catnip.

Lathyrus latifolium – wild sweet pea blooms

wildflowerssweetpeaWhen visiting the US National Arboretum, I stumbled over patches of spring ephemerals (spring beauties, wild violets) and then a patch of hundreds of what looked like sweet pea blooms or rogue snap dragons. After looking through the US Wildflower database, I ruled out rabbit-pea/goat’s rue (Tephrosia virginiana), round-leaved tick trefoil (Desmodium rotundifolium), and crown vetch (introduced). I think it’s just wild sweet pea blossoms (Lathyrus latifolium). What do you think?

Current reading – Jane Eyre

JaneEyre-coverI’ve finished rereading Jane Eyre (thanks to the Cornflower Book Group). I was pleased that I remembered a lot of the book, and also pleased that I had reached the age in which I was able to identify what struck me as odd when I first read it. I still find it odd that every male that Jane met was flawed, weird, or too old to seem a good match (and now I also find it a bit ominous). As a teen, I think I assumed I would understand it later when I met people like Rochester, St. John, etc. In hindsight, I can see why this book was like mental catnip for a lot of the girls in 10th or 11th grade. Just like Romeo and Juliet — everything is heightened, a bit like a teen’s experiences of first freedom, first trip alone, first crush. JaneEyre-firstimage

I can’t remember if the paperback version I first read reproduced the illustrations, but I bet I would have enjoyed it more when I first read it.

How’s this for an opening image? Truly lovely, moody, Victorian printing throughout.

City life, as things sort of get back to normal

I’ve been getting to see some wonderful reporting on amazing moments here in Charm City, including a march of the clergy through the streets, with a news reporter (Deborah Weiner) covering it via cell phone. I’ve heard that people think the media aren’t covering enough positive things, so that people only see the bad of the city. That may be true in Washington DC or New York City or London, but here in Baltimore, they’re reporting both the good and the bad.

When driving to work in gridlock, I saw signs posted in shop windows, written with children’s markers: “we love our city.” and “Peace on our block”. Other shop windows were boarded up. While out in the suburbs, I walked into one of the big, shiny grocery stores, and I was overwhelmed by the contrast.

Hopefully now peaceful protests will be able to get the message across without violence — something is broken and needs to be fixed in our community. Every life is precious, and we’re all one human family. I promise to get back to talking about books next time, and a few of my knitting projects.

Very little sleep to be had in Charm City

The Gardener and I spent all evening watching news reports from the east side of town and the west side of town. I’ve been calling family members to let them know I was stuck in a traffic jam tonight, but nothing worse. I’m heartbroken by what led up to the need to protest, saddened that the peaceful protests changed so drastically, and angry that a family who lost their son hasn’t been given the time to grieve. I recognize that it’s complicated…. too complicated for this little blog.

Businesses have been looted, a retirement home (in process of being built) has gone up in flames… the City has put in place a curfew for everyone starting tomorrow… and the National Guard has been called in. The local news media has been providing nuanced reporting (if I look at the national coverage, it seems very oddly skewed). We’ve had a news reporter seeded in with the local chaplains walking towards where the violence was coming from (modern cell phones are wonderful), information about what the smoke in the city was from, and good coverage of which roads were blocked.

Hopefully things will quiet down, so we can have a decent discussion and demand that justice be done. And this blog can go back to what it’s supposed to be — a place where news events don’t intrude so much.

Flickr Photos

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