We had a totally pleasant Thanksgiving. Every year we meet at Cousin's, the same crowd as usual with the addition of Cousin's Cousin and wife and a friend's daughter, the only young person there. Some of us get together only at this time so have a lot of catching up to do. Conversation is lively but little of it is about politics, because we agree on most issues. It seems that most of us are better off and happier than we were last year, which is a sign the economy is picking up. Everyone who needs to be or wants to be employed has a job.
All of us got a lot of amusement out of this Fail Pie. It tasted very good, however, and I just ate the last of it this a.m.
Cousin gave us a monitor that she did not need after she bought an Apple computer, and Terry hooked it up to my computer. This is fun! Is Chris really looking at my feet? What about the man/machine meld in this screen grab from an ad on MSNBC?
I can look at this archive pic of Jerry Brown and work on my blog at the same time!
On Morning Joe, the panel agreed that Americans are delusional. They cited Ted Cruz, Miley Cyrus, and Rob Ford! Yes, Rob Ford is American, if of the Canadian variety! They felt Ford was amusing, but of course if he were just some ordinary unknown guy, especially an ordinary unknown guy of color, he would be in prison for assault and the use of illegal drugs.
But it's not necessary to go far afield to find people in an advanced state of delusion! We have our share, right here in Hilo! We're all deluded. It's just a matter of degree.
From The Nation I truly enjoyed this great, "everything" essay by Miriam Markowitz that covers a lot of ground in an entertaining way. It deals with the publishing trade, VIDA's campaign against women's continuing subordination in the literary world, MFA programs, their pros and cons, somatic dysmorphia, Jonathan Franzen temper tantrums, moldy old mossbacks in English departments who won't teach writing by women and so many many more topics. She ties all this material together quite neatly. A few quotes:
On Twitter, Miley’s missteps and Syria’s death toll seemed to occupy nearly the same space.
It's all entertainment.
It is not uncommon for writers without a graduate degree in writing to blame MFA programs for the conventional dullness of much of today’s literary landscape, but given the number of our best and most original working writers who have emerged from or now teach in these programs, this criticism seems misguided. What is certainly true is that these programs have promoted the proliferation of the A-student writer: someone who has learned early to write fiction that sounds professional—to write stories that look a lot like good stories. Some writers, like Lorrie Moore, left school with inchoate original voices and manuscripts that would become stunning debuts. Far more writers end up with a novel or six-pack of short stories that are decent but unremarkable; they are essentially exercises in good writing or, if we are less gentle, facsimiles of it. The more that agents and editors and publicists applaud their work, the less these writers might develop, organically, as writers, but they do learn a lot about professional success.
I've seen a lot of work by MFA grads and teachers that "dresses up" conventional plotting with "ethnic" features. This could be related to the "low life" short fiction that the New Yorker publishes so much of. Some of this work I actually enjoy while not finding it ground breaking in any way. The difference between work of this kind, which could almost be called a genre, like "MFA exotic," and, say, Doris Lessing's Summer Before the Dark, which explores the existence of an ordinary but intelligent upper middle class woman rebelling against her fate, is quite striking. When I read Lessing I feel that I'm in dialogue with a person that I have a lot of disagreements with, and I argue things in my head with her. But her way of thinking is familiar to me. These other novels seem to be presenting a version of reality that I am supposed to be instructed on. They tell me about conditions: poverty, disfunctional families, what the youth is up to, political turmoil, war, bodily deterioration, immigrant anomie, exotic travel, drugs and so on. Often very entertainingly, don't get me wrong.
But where does an old upper middle class female reader with a thoughtful cast of mind get her reads? (In America, you are not even supposed to mention social class. For are we not all the same but just a wee bit better than average though becomingly modest about our accomplishments?) Am I supposed to regard my life and the lives of women like me as trivia? I guess I do like novels that explore character. There must be others out there who feel the same.
As she says:
In the end, good writing can be professional, but great writing is, almost by definition, amateur. It does not necessarily know itself or its audience.
So Virginia Woolf, composing in the solitude of her own room, would not know me, her reader, or how I would receive her work. That would be the last thing on her mind.
Hawaii is a strange place, in that the vast majority of plants, animals, birds, and insects are introduced species. MAN is, of course, the most invasive species of all. Long before the Europeans came, the Hawaiians had completely modified the ecosystem, making it suitable for carrying a population of hundreds of thousands. The Big Island was the richest and most populous island of the old kingdom.
Hawaiian agriculture is a fascinating subject. Every inch of land was accounted for. When Europeans came, they disrupted the whole system by introducing alien plants, cattle, European pigs, etc. etc. and in general destroying the old land use patterns. This was a completely self-sustaining ecosystem, hundreds of years old.
We have a peculiar mini-ecosystem chez Hattie, based on what was here before, what we have introduced and what just shows up from time to time.
Our spiders have proliferated lately. Yesterday a girl came to the door trying to interest us in carpet cleaning. We have no carpets, so that went nowhere. She was totally terrified of the big spiders we allow to live on the porch. "Oh, I wouldn't live here," she said. "I would be too scared." Spiders take care of a lot of insects, especially those little black fruit flies. Less welcome are the crab spiders, which can bite. When I go into the backyard I take a stick to batter their webs when I see them.
There are the mosquitoes, of course. We have a propane mosquito trap that does quite well against them. Our skins have become impervious to their bites, in any case, but visitors, with their tender Mainland skin, can get bit pretty badly. And I don't like them swarming around.
The bigger fruit flies are a continuing problem. The only way we can deal with the damage to our fruit is to pick it just before it's fully ripe. We have some traps, and they trap hundreds of flies, but hundreds more are hatching out all the time.
Then there is the birdlife. This a.m. I was annoyed to see a woman spreading birdseed out on the grass next door. She was a visiting Mainlander who was not thinking about the way these birds: mynahs, several species of doves, Chinese white-eyes, Java sparrows, cardinals and others, are all Mainland species. When they get this kind of nutrition, they proliferate madly, and when the supply goes away they suffer.
The household predator, Freddy, scored a mynah zebra dove yesterday, eviscerated it and left the rest of it on the dining room floor. His diet of Eukanuba, Fancy Feast and the occasional bit of meat or fish from the table does not satisfy him completely. He wants us to know that he is still all cat.
Fred at breakfast time
Leavings from the mynah dove feast
This a.m. we removed our old mattress and boxspring, and the new king size bed was delivered. When we turned the old box spring out, we found a colony of fire ants on the underside of it. This whole neighborhood is full of ant colonies of at least three species. It's a wonder we did not get bitten more than we did.
Old box spring
Ants on old box spring
We do like the geckos and lizards, and they are good insect eaters, too. We have come to terms with the coqui, just keeping them off our lot as much as we can.
But nothing bothers the orchids, thank goodness. They are from all over the tropics, of course. Since they don't have their pollinators here, the blossoms last and last, from a week or so for the cattleyas to sometimes months for dendrobiums. This particular orchid, an oncidium hybrid, did not bloom for several years, so I forgot about it. Then it burst forth with blossoms. These are small blooms, about one inch wide.
So this is what "living in nature" means in Hawaii.
Just wanted you to know that I tried several times to comment to your lovely post. Saying how gorgeous your photos are. And glad for you having fun with family visitors and feeling optimistic!
This is what it says: Not a HASH reference. Whatever that means?
Happy holidays to you and Terry,
Marja-Leena: Thanks for letting me know this. I tried posting on another Type Pad blog and got the same message. I have been getting a lot of spam, too. Sometimes I guess they have to shut things down when cyber-attacks get bad.
Aloha and Happy Holidays to you, too.
I tried to post to Queen Mediocretia and got the same message about a HASH reference
I'll contact Type Pad and see if I can find out what's up.
OOPs Cop Car's blog does not work either. Same thing. HASH reference message.
The Monday onerous tasks have kept me from posting till now or reading people's blogs. I hope to be caught up by tomorrow.
Here are some pix from our visit to Volcanoes National Park yesterday. The crew was Terry's Cousin and her husband, Cousin's brother and thus also Terry's cousin, and the two of us. The hike around the sulphur banks was lovely. This is an easy trail, but there is so much to see and think about along the way.
L to R: Terry and Mainland visitors Lynn and Brian. Terry and Brian are cousins.
Cousin said the ohia growing by the rock makes this scene look like something in a Japanese garden.
When we came back we found a frozen turkey on our porch that our next door neighbors had left as a gift for walking their dog. This bird will come in handy when I have a house full of guests over the holiday season.
Oops there goes the timer. It's back to work. I'm making limeaide to freeze and Terry has prepared many packages of dried bananas and dried pineapple.
I'm feeling very jolly and festive. When I think about how bad the Bush years were I am thankful. It's taking a long time to undo the damage, but it's happening.