Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

by Lisa See


With much consideration, I give this book 4 stars.

From the very beginning, I became enthralled with foot binding. Call it a morbid fascination if you will, but I longed to understand the culture better to know why this torture was done in the name of fashion.

The story flowed well and held my unwavering interest until the Rice and Salt years. I am sure I could have written this section much better. At times I found it choppy. This section alone, because of the dragging seemed to emphasize the “Oh, somebody died! Oh, something horrible happened!” undercurrent that plagued this book. Luckily, I was able to rise above that and see through to the story of life-long friendship.

Truthfully, if you can get past the doom and gloom that I’m sure accompanied this time period in China’s history, it’s a beautiful story about innocent childhood love, about finding your same-sex soulmate and how even though humans try to be completely open and honest with each other, it is in our nature to hide the painful and humiliating parts of our lives. And that as humans, we really don’t want to hear other people’s tales of woe, that even in deep, abiding friendships, we are perhaps not as compassionate as we could be, even to those we love.

Ask yourself this: When is the last time someone asked you how your day was and you gave a completely honest and open answer? Do you usually give the ritualized, expected pat answer of, “Fine”, because we all know that people really DON’T want to hear how you are? Or were you completely open and honest? And if you were, did people’s eyes glaze over or did they find an excuse to scurry away? Because, that is something that seems to happen often in our culture. We just expect everyone to say, “Oh, fine!” so we can carry on about our business, wrapped in our selfish, self-insulated cocoon we build ourselves and only concern ourselves with our own worries.

Apparently in China, way back when, it was different. Everyone acknowledged suffering. But EVERYONE experienced the same sort of suffering, which apparently made the suffering ok in that culture. Instead of the pat answer of “Oh, fine!”, women would complain to other women with standard answers about being unworthy, worthless and a disappointment. I’m not sure this is better than American culture today, but perhaps it was more honest. Perhaps if you were suffering and you knew that others were suffering as well, it made your burden more bearable. Where in comparison, “Oh, fine!” makes it sound like life is good for other people, and deep down we may feel our lives suck, leaving us to feel worse about our own life, because everyone else’s is apparently peachy keen!  (Hmm…  I wonder if there is a higher rate of teen suicide because of this practice per capita.  I suppose we can’t exactly go back and do a study now…)

Anyways, I liked the overall theme of the story, and I enjoyed the setting, even if the book itself was grim in many places.  It’s definitely worth a read to get a glimpse into another culture and learn about some not too long ago practices of their bygone eras.  I do not think I particularly want to see the film though.  Might be a bit too depressing.

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Almost a month ago, we had the tornado siren go off here.  I was on the phone at the time and didn’t hear it.  Even after Bad Pants got me off the phone, I still couldn’t hear the siren.  Not from inside the closet next to the brick fireplace, the safest place in the house, nor outside the closet in our bedroom.  I’m not sure I could have heard it if I was standing outside, as the tone seems to be right under my hearing register when the sound travels any distance.

This has caused some consternation for us.  How am I to hear a weather emergency like that?  It’s not like our area uses air raid sirens, which I can here.  Instead, this is the siren they use, which I can’t hear from the 4 miles away we are from it.

That is what our siren sounds like.  Annoying when I’m listening to it on Youtube, impossible for me to hear in real life.

Most of the time, Bad Pants is home to alert me.  Or Dude.  But there are times that perhaps one or both won’t be around, or will be using earbuds or headphones and not hear the warning.

I have plans to teach Barrow to alert me to this specific sound once he gets older.  Only, I have to figure out how to teach him to do that.  If I can puzzle that out, I can teach Roxanne NOW.

Eventually, we want to get a couple of these:

But, as you can imagine, they are not exactly inexpensive.  And I’d need more than one for our home.  And I need the vibrator as we have lightening often enough that the strobe light you can get to go with it might not be enough to wake me.  Though, ideally, one of these with a loud alarm noise should do the trick to get my attention.

Of course, we’re still researching these units.  Some are pre-programmed for your area at the manufacturer’s, which is nice.  Apparently this particular model is not.

In the mean time though, I’ve found a couple text and email notification websites.  They’re free, as long as you use only one location.  I signed up to use this one and this one.  I’d like to compare the services before I shell out money for multiple locations monthly (we live on the border of 3 counties).  However, the drawback here is that my cell phone doesn’t always have signal during thunderstorms.

We are actively researching, plotting and planning for tornadoes.  And preparing for a future that might become quieter for me some day.

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I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 weeks wrapped, bandaged or band-aided.  And if you have to be injured that long, you should get to have your bandages be fun and colorful.

Bandages have come such a long, long way in the last 29 years (when I was 6).  No longer do you have a choice just between new, groovy fabric band aids and the original plastic ones, you get to pick from a myriad of colors, characters and styles!

First, I went through 4 rolls of vet wrap.  Black, blue, pink and purple.  I tried name brand Vet Wrap and Co-Flex both.  I prefer Co-Flex because it tears nicer and you don’t have to cut it from the roll when you’re done wrapping.  Although, Vet Wrap feels softer on your skin and is more flexible.  (From here on out, I will be stocking my barn with Co-Flex- who has time to go look for scissors?)

I spent the holidays all fun and colorful.  I also learned that non-stick gauze pads CAN and DO stick!  I’ve used enough peroxide to soak off gauze pads to have turned any one of my readers blonde.

From there, I graduated to giant band aids designed for knees.  The suck about this is that they’re less absorbent than the gauze/vet wrap combo and I had to change it 2-3 times a day.  But, I had more use of my elbow since it wasn’t stuck out straight from vet wrap.  Unfortunately, giant band aids only come in band aid flesh tone.

Once that graduation occurred, I became quite bored with the same ol’, same ol’ on my elbow.  I began to dream of the day I could move down to regular band aids!  What would I choose?  Hello Kitty?  Scooby Doo?  Power Rangers?  Crayons?  Just plain band aids in bright colors?

I decided I wanted pony band aids.  Of course I wanted pony band aids!  I always want the thing that’s hard to find!  Guess what?  Pony band aids don’t exist.  Not even My Little Pony band aids.  But, I wasn’t out of luck!  I found these:

(Pardon the bad shot.  Bad Pants just taught me how to turn the macro setting on.  I didn’t know about it until AFTER I took the pics.)

Pretty cool, huh?  But wait!  It gets better!  Did you see the words “Free Prize inside”?  They’re kinda like a box of Cracker Jacks!  Only, with a much, much less awesome prize.  See for yourself:

Neither of my girls would have found that puffy lips sticker cool when they were 6.  I dunno but I might have!  Sticker collecting was all the rage then in the ’80s.

But wait!  Did you see this?

Now I know why the Red Bull gathered all the Unicorns up and herded them to the end of the Earth!  It’s become clear that King Haggard sold them to the Chinese so they could hold the Unicorns in captivity, collecting their tears for their awesome healing powers!  And to think that when I was 6, I wanted to travel the world in search of  Unicorns!  They’ve been enslaved in China all this time!

Free the Unicorns!  Free the Unicorns!  Free the Unicorns!  Free the Unicorns!

Ahem!  Pardon my zealousness, but I don’t think King Haggard did the world any favors, nor his kingdom, by selling the Unicorns to Communist China.   After all, it didn’t keep his kingdom nor his castle from falling into poverty.

Ok, where were we again?  Oh yes, the healing powers of Unicorn tears and their uses in band aids.

See the new skin underneath the band aid? The owie was much, much larger! Now only the hole remains, which fits under the pad on the band aid.

I’m waiting for skin growth at this point as everything below that point to the bone has filled in, finally.  I’ll let you know if the Unicorn Tears speed up my healing.  In the mean time, please pray for the release of the Unicorns!

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The State of Education

As you know, Dude is doing Public Online Charter School (aka public homeschooling) this year.  The program is run by a group called k12.com and for the most part, it’s very interesting.  They run a lot of the Online Public Charter Schools for other states (Oregon being one of them) and have a pretty in depth curriculum.  However, Georgia has it’s own standards that don’t always fit k12’s curriculum.  Such as, the history portion of Dude’s schooling is pretty limited.  Instead of studying Colonial America and world events from there to post-WWII, he’s to skip 75% of the book and focus on a few, select units and a couple additional lessons.  Mind you, these are GEORGIA’S requirements.

Which led to me pondering my own knowledge and education of history.   I have never studied history in school past the Industrial Revolution.  Not once.  Usually, most of my history classes in school barely made it past the reformation.  In fact, most of what I know about the industrial revolution came about because of a paper I wrote on Franz Schubert, a composer that lived during the Industrial Revolution, the ‘Romantic Era’ of music and when Impressionist art came about.

Never once did I study WWI or WWII.  What I know of them is what I’ve garnered from family, tv and Bad Pants.  In college, history was not my focus and I took the required, bare minimum classes for my science degree, which was never completed.   For that matter, the only world history education I got happened in a 7th grade Honor’s Class, where my teacher taught college level material in lecture format.

We wonder why our children are falling behind large parts of the world when it comes to education.  I am a product of public school.  Specifically of advanced Honor’s classes of public school.  Yet, it’s clear that my education is far from complete.  And now Dude’s is about to follow the same path.

Wouldn’t teaching a more linear, world time line be a good thing?  I mean, US history can be taught in depth enough over a couple of years, spread out and it might be good for Americans to have a broader understanding of world history at large.  Wouldn’t it be good for children to know about the French Revolution? Or about how the Middle East was divided up, causing some of the conflict there today, after WWII?  Or about how and why the rest of the world works as it does?

What do you think?  How much world history education did you receive in school?  Are you a product of public or private school?

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I am currently falling in love with a sci-fi/fantasy novel.  It’s called Sunshine by Robin McKinley.  Honestly, I bought this book because I loved the cover.  It appealed to me in a dark sort of sense.  The book is loaded with vampires, which I’m rather tired and burned out on, except in this case.  I’m loving it for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Shadowrun like qualities of this world the author has created.  Whereas, it is both fairly modern and yet post apocalyptic.  There are no orcs or trolls running around, but there are werewolves and magic users.

Yes, I’m geek enough to know what Shadowrun is and miss it rather dreadfully as a roleplaying game.  You see, once upon a time, when I was in high school dating The Marine, I learned to game.  The agreement was that he would tolerate country music if I learned to game.  I learned and enjoyed it, but he always found a way around listening to country with me.  Or any other music I liked for that matter.

In high school, I was Country, when country wasn’t cool.  While most kids were wearing MC Hammer pants or going for the grunge look, which was just coming into style for the guys, I wore my Wranglers and boots to school because often, I’d go riding after school and it was convienent.  I stood out in a crowd.  When I wasn’t dressed like a hick, I was preppy or rather goth, though Goth wouldn’t be a term used at my school for at least another 5 years.  You never knew what you were going to get when I arrived each morning.  Often, what I wore depended on my mood.

Oh, there was the black and white plaid, pleated skirt complete with tights, flats and a sweater, if I felt like dressing up a bit.  Or, the black harley shirt and skin tight black jeans (did I mention I dyed my hair nearly black to hide the red during this time?), or a mix there of.  I never fit in, but I was wholy me in dress.  I listened to alternative and country.  In their early days, Nirvana played my home town before making it big and changing the face of music.  I liked them well enough, but I was much more of a Toby Keith and Trisha Yearwood kind of girl, sprinkled liberally with Danzig, The Cure and Marty Stewart while everyone else was listening to Warrant, Mariah Carey, Cypress Hill, Run DMC and Boys II Men.

I didn’t fit in with any particular crowd, though I was friendly with all of them.  A couple years later, I’d ran into one of the most popular girls at school in the grocery store, complete with The Marine and a three year old Kitty in tow.  She gushed at me and said how excited she was to see me.  I must have looked very puzzled when she said she was surprised I remembered who I was.  My response was that why wouldn’t I?  She was popular and well known by EVERYBODY.  It was at that moment she told me she was jealous of ME back in high school.  Me, who didn’t ever feel like I fit in, who was never elected for homecoming court or prom or anything else, ever because according to her, I was the popular one, had so many friends and was well liked by everyone.

I was flabberghasted.  Was this a trick?  Was she being mean and hurtful?  How could I be so popular?  I spent my free time with my horse while The Marine was off at Basic Training and then on for schooling.  I spent my waking hours away from school either working, at the barn or home, alone.  I wasn’t busy being invited out to join anybody doing anything.  I’d always felt like the odd duck out.  Just me, unique, but like a square peg that doesn’t sit just comfortably in round hole it’s placed in.

Looking back now, I see that perhaps I was a bit of a trendsetter.  After all, I wore my Ropers and Wranglers for years.  It was only my senior year that anyone else started to wear them, and then it was the Wanna Be Cowboy group with their overly large belt buckles that talked of playing with steers riding bulls.  I remember laughing at them or sneering with disdain because I knew they’d never sat a horse.

So, that was me, back in high school.  Not a Nerd.  Or a Geek.  Or one of the Alternative crowd.  Or a Stoner.  Or, or, or!  I was ever and always am, just me.  Sometimes, it’s still not really comfortable.  But it’s always really, really real.

We’ve always been told not to judge a book by it’s cover.  But sometimes, if you do, what you find beneath that cover is really out of the ordinary and beyond whatever you imagined it held within.

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