Saturday, April 17, 2021

"Lila is the play of creation. . . "


 "Lila (Hinduism)pronounced Leela: an Indic concept of the universe as a playground of the divine" *

But, really. A new girlette arrived last week and soon went out the door again--"I only meant to stay a while"--she's going to live with HM's grandchild.

And two of the four pairs of shoes that came with her went to an old coworker from publishing days who has a couple shoeless girlettes and whose son my age recently took his own life.

"We walk on," I wrote her, "and shoes help the dolls stand up."

So I need to replenish the Orphans.

They want to do a version of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold... with a happy ending.

"They were just pretending to die," Penny Cooper points out.

Me: Penny! You're supposed to warn about Spoilers!

P.C. says that everyone already knows it's a sad ending.

Penny Cooper will play the Richard Burton role in her pink fluffy coat. ("We must adapt.")

Option E is perfect for the Oskar Werner role. He doesn't look so blond and sweet in Spy––in cap,
top left––but you can see the two are pretty much the same person--a person I love:

"the rosebud garden of girls"

I have discovered FB market (another display of humanity that would make a great a comic novel). The dolls there are priced all over the board--often way more but sometimes way less than eBay.
I just scooped up five with outfits and traveling box for $35 (well, $47 with shipping and tax, but still a v. good deal).

I don't need another Miss Clavel (Linda Sue? want her as a gift? She needs to get out of that outfit!), but I've been wondering about having some other orphans to play roles in tableaux. Penny Cooper: Secret Agent may benefit from some supporting actors.

Maybe the doll with long hair can take Clare Bloom's role.

The darkhair girlette is Pepito--a boy in the Madeline books, but the doll has no markers for people who don't know that, so they sometimes turn up as a girl on Instagram, like here, from mlle madeline in Korea: "🍭 Suddenly Fall in 🖤 w/ Madeline".

(The Asian girlettes get The Best Clothes Ever.)

Maybe this doll is Leela, for the playfulness of gender & sex.

(A friend who loves Cabbage Patch dolls [her IG] say people in that doll-dom tend to be conservative and get intense about correctly identifying what gender their dolls are.
I say,
People. These are things of plastic and cloth.

(But of course the dolls are also us, so. )

Here's another thing:
I cannot stand to leave a Girlette in the Orphanage Jail, especially if she is only wearing panties and shoes (and is affordable).
I usually wait a while to see if someone else will take them.
This brave and hopeful darling was on FB market for weeks, so now for [a relatively measly] $7 she is coming here.

Her name might be Maud, from a scrap of poetry I remember:
"Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat night is flown..."

Looked it up--that's "Maud" by Tennyson.
Penny Cooper suggests I got the wrong end of the stick, though--this doll's name might be Black Bat Night!
We will have to ask when she arrives.

Wow--I just now see that in "Maud" there's a description of a redhead --"
little head, sunning over with curls"––a rose from "the rosebud garden of girls"!

Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls,
  Come hither, the dances are done,
In gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,        55
  Queen lily and rose in one;
Shine out, little head, sunning over with curls,
  To the flowers, and be their sun.

Okay, then!
"Let them name it who can,
The beauty would be the same."


* More:
"Lila is the play of creation.
To awakened consciousness, the entire universe, with all its joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains, appears as a divine game, sport, or drama. It is a play in which the one Consciousness performs all the roles.
Alluding to this lila of the Divine Mother the physical universe is a 'mansion of mirth.'"
--Ramakrishna, in Selections from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (2005), p. 130

'God may consent, but not forever.'

We feel as if everything is forever, but I find it helpful, even consoling, to remember that from a cosmic standpoint we ourselves exist as individual units of self-awareness for the about the equivalent amount of time as this drop is separate from the larger body of water.

I'm not generally a fan of Emerson, but, here, yeah, he's O. K.
a lecture he gave in 1854 in New York City, "The Fugitive Slave Law":

 "Slavery is disheartening; but Nature is not so helpless but it can rid itself of every last wrong. But the spasms of nature are centuries and ages and will tax the faith of short-lived men.

Slowly, slowly the Avenger comes, but comes surely. ...'God may consent, but not forever.'"
-- from The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1904), p. 238
Photo "Water Drop" by José Manuel Suárez

Friday, April 16, 2021

More of Other Things

More of Other Things That Are Not Work... That's what the doctor ordered. 

UPDATE: Such as The Rite of Spring Toy Orchestra posted on Orange Crate Art.
Yes, yes, yes!!!

I'm looking for a new job, but in the meantime I want to keep my weekly 24-hours at the thrift store to 24-hours in my brain.
Easier said than done, since emotional content acts like water--seeping under and through barriers...

I feel conflicted about leaving my job because it is so interesting and I learn a lot, which is worth a lot.
I've never worked among such a diverse crew.

A retirement-age coworker from Mississippi was telling me her mother cleaned houses for "rich white ladies" all her life, and how in her mother's later years, she'd go get one of these ladies out of the nursing home to accompany her (the mother) to the doctor.
The white lady was a doctor herself, and when she was present, the mother would get good care.
And when she wasn't, she didn't.

My coworker eventually moved up here to get health care for her disabled son.
"I miss the food and the friendly people," she said.

"What food?" I asked, and she told me about all these fruit desserts---peach pie and berry cobblers... MMmmmmm.


Making Stuff Displaces Intrusive Thoughts

I read an article about how during Covid, work has become even more of the all-defining factor for Americans, who are already defined by our jobs.
That's true for me.

To displace work concerns, I was thinking I'd need to find other people, join groups, etc., but really, I can simply do more creative ME things.
Another larger project with the girlettes, for instance.

Last summer I'd worked on "Penny Cooper Undaunted: the Blitz".
Prepping for it, making clothes (bink made 9 pairs of Mary Jane shoes out of black paper!), and setting them up filled my brain in the best, fun way.

It turned into a couple wonderful tableaux, not the movie I'd originally intended, but the WORK was the thing. My work, good work.

bink took me scouting for locations for a new project along the Mississippi River yesterday. A mile or two from my house.

Penny Cooper has a new pink coat (I was surprised, but she loves it), and Option E wore the new rain poncho.

"We can film over there."

Below are the operation buildings for Lock and Dam No. 1.
Built in the early 1900s and last renovated in the 1980s, they're like  Cold War bunkers.
I've always wanted to set an espionage movie there.
Penny Cooper, Secret Agent?

That's an old turbine for water power behind bink. We had turkey pastrami sandwiches (not pictured, but important) from my new favorite place, Cecil's Deli.

A Visit to the Library

Afterward, I went to my local library, newly reopened.

Penny Cooper spotted all the books with "girl" in the title.

I only checked out the book I'd put on hold:
Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences
by Lawrence Weschler = photos and essays about one of my favorite things: how things look like other things (my blog tag).
I have 18 posts about that ^ including how the War Room in Star Trek: Into Darkness, top, looks like the one in Dr Strangelove.
Not that that's an accident.

HouseMate and I just started watching Designated Survivor on Netflix, and there it is again--a moody, cavernous room, with an overhead light frame, square this time:

In reality, the Situation Room in the White House, below, looks like something in the basement of a motel:


I hadn't been able to check out a library book in more than a year.
I felt a pang of happiness when the check-out machine pinged its family ping.
I said hello to a librarian too, to make human contact.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Could it be different?

I finally watched the opening of last week's Saturday Night Live---this skit is like a documentary.
"Minnesota News Cold Open": SNL

I hear this exact conversation at work*--nice white people (like me) say, "Oh this time it's going to be different and the cop won't get off, it's so egregious."

And my Black coworkers are, like, "You know this happened before, right?"

And now it's happened here, again--another Twin Cities cop kills another Black man, Daunte Wright. [article]

This morning I was thinking of how some Muslims fast on Ramadan to raise their compassion for people who live with hunger.

As a white person, I'm starting to be more aware, to feel the stress my Black coworkers have lived with their whole lives, like some people live with hunger while I never go without food.

To me these ongoing murders and violence are shocking, out of the ordinary.
To my coworkers like Mr Furniture, the threat of violence is ordinary;
you live with that level of fear and injustice every day, your whole life.

Many of my coworkers just keep their heads down at work.
The disgust, anger, frustration I feel at the unjust management of the store, so that I want to go somewhere else...
Some of them have lived with "bad management" forever. There is no "somewhere else" to go.

My coworkers are mostly poor, but it's the same for upper class Black people like the Obamas: You can move to the White House and the injustice hangs in the air there too, like the smell of cigarettes.

This isn't to say I shouldn't leave.
I'm lucky I have options.

I don't want to adapt to injustice, and I just can't get a foothold at the store... The management is, in my eyes, unskilled, and it unquestioningly follows the default setting of "ask no questions, shut up, and obey Father".

I don't know... I've learned a lot there about being ground down. You can learn a kind of Zenlike wisdom in response. (woo-sah)
Not sure there's much benefit in me sticking around longer though.

Could it be different?
It is a privilege to be able to say, Yes.
And I do say it.
Everyone should have that privilege, to think things can change, to always have food to eat.
But those aren't givens.


*From the SNL skit:

"Let's just say, we've seen this movie before," Nwodim said.

"That's fair, I think skepticism of the legal process is valid ... historically police have gotten away in other cases like this," McKinnon responds.

"Historically?" says Thompson.

"She means: every single time," Nwodim adds.

It would be so great if not this time. But I'm not betting on it.

Also--the weather report is real:
Cold, cold, cold, July: HOT AS HELL, cold, cold, cold.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Lit Up: New Moon in Aries

It was the New Moon in Aries last night.
I felt churned up––with distress but also with zest to DO SOME THINGS.

Ram On

Aries has been blasting me with bad news this month.  (I mean, besides the state of the world and my city--unbelievably, but all too believably, another cop murdered a Black man here last night.)

I haven't felt like writing because––among other things (which I won't go into)––I've been sitting with the news that a neighbor boy from my childhood died last week in what the newspaper called "a fiery, single-vehicle crash".

We weren't friends, but I was blown away... How's that for the destructive energy of fire sign Aries?
(Aries = Mars, you know, the god of war.)

But Aries is also a baby ram, exploding with new life.

An aquaintance once described me as "rammy", not as a compliment.

I get that the energy can be annoying, or worse,
but it can be frolicsome and helpful too.


Try, try again...

Ramadan starts tonight--
a time to fast for spiritual and social clarity.

I woke up at 5 a.m., feeling fed up (literally) with weight.
I'd gained 20-some pounds after I turned fifty, and now at sixty, I really feel how it weighs my body down.

I've tried this and I've tried that to help myself, but this past year has all been donuts and beer.
That's not helping.

So I rolled over in bed
this morning, grabbed my phone, and signed up for a two-week trial of the weight-loss app Noom.
A friend of a friend started using it after he had a heart attack last year, and he's had had good results.
Noom is about $20 month (sale price), and there are lots of free options to track food online, but since the trial is free, I'll give it a go.

Get Out

I'm also going to start looking for a new job.
Seriously this time, not just browsing like I did this past winter.

Last night I was telling HM about the latest craziness at work––a customer crazed-angry on drugs––and how the managers won't address it.
I surprised myself by saying, "I think I might be in a relationship with an abusive workplace".

Put that way, it made so much sense, explained why I feel crazy from my job sometimes.
The message is "we are friends working to create a more just world", but in practice, anyone who points out the many unfair practices at work is overlooked or even told to shut up.

This LinkedIn article lists things to do if you're in an abusive workplace, some of which I've tried without success.
The final suggestion hits home--especially because it includes "you may feel sad" (I will be very sad to leave the books and stuff):

Get out. I'll say that again - GET OUT.
The process may be painful. You may struggle.
Leaving behind an abusive employer may open up a whole set of anxieties about the future, but no one ever regrets leaving an abusive situation in the long run––much as some sadness may endure.
You owe an abusive employer nothing.

I'm so fed up, I want to quit today.
It's a day off; I will wait and reflect.
It would not be ideal to leave without something else lined up and to have so much free time on my hands when Covid cases are rising here again.
So, I'll wait.

Though I tell you, I feel like springing myself right out of there.


 "How will the new moon in Aries impact you?"
Image below from here, quotes via here and here

"The new moon on April 11, 2021, will feel especially motivating, thanks to the fact that it rises in passionate, impulsive, competitive, ambitious Aries. 
"Make an intention to connect with your inner warrior:
this cardinal fire sign packs a punch, inundating you with inspiration to fight for your future.

"Channeling that fresh Aries energy will give you a serious mental health and confidence boost—and it’s about friggin' time.
Having the guts to make changes and to realize how much of a difference that can make in your happiness will push you to be more daring.
Or perhaps you’ll need to accept that certain things will remain outside of your control and make the decision to leave."

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Up North: Little Dolls and Big Feet

Two newish girlettes chose names for themselves on the way up north to Lake Superior for Marz's birthday:
Forager (in the yellow raincoat) and "Smoky" Kendall Duquette (in red coat--her name is from a roadside fish shop & bar where we bought sugar-cured smoked lake salmon).

The lake waters were choppy and green.

We stayed in the long narrow Skiff House (a skiff is a long, narrow boat) of the Two Harbors lighthouse

You can see the white stern of an ocean-going ore ship parked along the tall loading docks. Little train cars run along the dock tracks carrying ore (or grain and stuff) to dump into the ships. (I think.) Funny to think we could reach the Atlantic from here: the ships go through the other Great Lakes and out through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

They were fascinated:

Each night after midnight, an ore ship came into harbor, to the accompaniment of what sounded like car alarms going off.
Foolishly, though forewarned, I did not bring or buy earplugs.

But the main thing that disturbed my sleep was the book I was reading:
Not To the Lighthouse (below, under CANADA), which I got for a dollar at the Carnegie Library in town, like a sane person would read, but Max Brook's new book, Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre.

I should stick with the nice things, like the flowers, fruit, and books I got in town:

But, no. I had to read the book with the blurb from Davis Sedaris on the back that reads, "stuff-your-fist-in-your-mouth horror".

I'd thought Devolution would be smart creepy fun like Brooks's World War Z.
It's smart, yeah––(Sedaris again: "laugh-out-loud social satire")––
but it's not only scary, its human cruelty and failure is disturbing.
While WWZ reads like Studs Terkel's
"The Good War": An Oral History of World War II, Devolution is like Safe Area  Goražde--a journalistic graphic (cartoon) book about the Bosnian War by Joe Sacco.

I lay awake the first night in the isolated Airbnb--there were no other guests. The book was so good, I finished it the second night,
so, for another night, it was me and the boat alarms and Big Foot and the criminal foolishness of humans––foolishness like not bringing or buying earplugs, but with FAR GREATER ramifications. 

I picked up Granta 141: CANADA (Autumn 2017) in a free book drop in Duluth. It has a great a photo spread by Doug Coupland (I've never read him--we have a couple of his books at work, I'll pick them up).
Coupland writes:

"In the year leading up to this I started collecting objects that, in some way, evoked a sense of Canadianness in me."
And... "
They're evocative of the old 19th century still lives by William Harnett or [John F.] Peto. " --via Arts & Culture
This is his "Bacon":

I'm inspired: I have a pile of Minnesotan stuff at the thrift store--donated stuff I've set aside to photograph. I hadn't thought of setting up a tableau.
I'll do that!

The third night, the airbnb was booked, mercifully. We moved to my favorite motel on the edge of town. (No Sasquatches or ship alarms, but the room did smell of cigarette smoke.)

It rained all night. In the morning Forager got to tromp in the mud in her raincoat, while "Smoky" Kendall Duquette waiting in the doorway.

I caught up on sleep and came home refreshed and inspired... and forewarned: buy earplugs, and don't move to utopian enclaves.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Teeter Tottering

Roadside park, on the way up north to Lake Superior. 

While we play, Marz is sitting under the pines interviewing on her phone for an internship. 

I am listening to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Blessed”:

Friday, April 2, 2021

Doing the laundry, mopping the floor

Everything Very Important is happening, plus it's massive major holy days this weekend, and I DON'T CARE, leave me  alone, I'm doing my laundry.
(I do care but I cannot say one more thing about important things.)

Here's what I've been doing lately to Make the World a Better Place: mopping the floor at the store when we close.

One of my coworkers had a meltdown last week about how he is the only one to mop the floor, which is true because he always says Oh, I don't mind.

NEVER SAY OH, I DON'T MIND if you do mind. Everyone will take you up on it.

So the day after his meltdown, I said I'd help mop, and he did NOT say, "oh, no, I don't mind."
He said, "Really?"
Like I'd told him he won a prize.

"Sure," I said. "I used to be a janitor."
That was thirty-two years ago but I remember how to mop a floor. I always thought it was kind of fun, like a dance.

So now I do that, if I work till close. (I don't always.)

I enjoy being well and strong enough that I can enjoy mopping the floor. I can see the horizon from here, after all....

Anyway, I came home tired but eager to get things ready for A TRIP: Sunday, Marz and I head up north to Lake Superior to celebrate her 30th birthday.
We've both had our first Covid shots--not that we'll be around people, we'll be at a Great Lake.
Marz's shot is three weeks old, and the CDC says people are 80 percent covered after two weeks, so she'll be mostly covered.
Mine will only be ten days old on Sunday, will I have some immunity? I looked it up and it's unclear...)

Gotta go put the laundry in the dryer!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Milk of Justice, Obviously

On my way to work, I go past a series of paintings mounted on a wall, one the public artworks that went up after the police murder of George Floyd.*

How do we explain the obvious, and what's obvious anyway?

I've been thinking about how author Martha Wells effectively presents things that would be obvious to the characters in her futuristic Murderbot books, but aren't obvious to us, the readers.
She doesn't over-explain, so we just don't know how some things work in Murderbot's world, not exactly.
Over the span of four books (so far), however, Wells gradually reveals the world's working, in a naturalistic way--as the characters interact with some new setting or other character, we get bits of information that we can piece together, if we want.

And it struck me that I see this painting, below––"After Jamar", by
Lane Eliyahu––the way Murderbot sees its world--from the inside.
The painter counts on the viewer to know her symbolism, though it's  specific, insider knowledge.

I am (we are) seeing art history in the making. One day (if we're lucky) art historians will teach "The Iconography of Protest Art in the Twenty-Twenties".  

It will have to be explained--(or may have to be explained now)--that people took (take) milk to public protests, to pour into eyes in order to counter the burning tear gas that police spray.

In the painting, the milk being poured onto a fallen protester's face is turning into flowers and butterflies and dragonflies:

Milk has a lot of symbolic connections---the nourishing mother (alma mater), the milk of human kindness, the land of milk and honey....
(Milk may contain bacteria, however, and the CDC instead recommends rinsing eyes with water for 10-15 minutes.)

The T-shirt of the woman on the ground reads "JUST US?" Justice.
I looked up the roots--there are many, including the book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (
inspired by the 2009 police shooting Oscar Grant to death at Fruitvale Station):

''Hate U Give emphasizes "Just Us" speaks to painful realization that those who remain comfortably unaffected are unlikely to be immediate allies."

--via Bustle, 2018

 The painter, Lane Eliyahu, writes:

"I saw up close how the most vulnerable among us are the first to stand up against shite supremacy. Black transgender and gender-nonconforming people are the first to step into harms way."

The obvious becomes obscure, in time. Interesting to live long enough to see that happen.

*The series of paintings was curated by Burn Something Collective of Twin Cities-based Black and POCI femme, nonbinary, and trans artists---you can see the artworks in their exhibition catalog on Issuu, August 2020. "After Jamar" is on pages 16/17.

Monday, March 29, 2021

By Hand, on Paper

Paper rules!
I was just saying I need to get some watercolor paper, and thinking about making art on paper prompted me to look again at this article, "Stronger Brain Activity After Writing on Paper", which I'd found on Michael's blog.

I'd expected it to be about hand-writing. It's more about what surface you write on:
researchers say you remember things better if you write on paper-paper than on e-paper (a tablet or whatever)--because paper is variable.*

I'd just experienced that as a reader: I'd gone looking in a book for a quote I remembered being midway down the right-hand side of the page.
You can't locate things this way online: it was halfway down the screen, where there's a nick in the cover.

Related: that's why I'm painting faces, not just looking at images, to enter them into my memory. Painting them by hand on paper gives them what the article calls "tangible permanence".
Even the frustration of painting helps---maybe especially the frustration?
"Ergh! I cannot get the curl of her lip!"
Maybe not, but now I really, really know the curl of her lip.

I'd read that people (of all races) don't pay close attention to the faces of people of other races. The whole "they all look alike" phenomenon is true, if you don't look closely.
And drawing or painting a face requires you to look closely.

So even if my paintings of Murderbot characters aren't all I'd want them to be (not yet, anyway), they've already done what I wanted--I've got them under my skin.

I like other people's digital art (not that I can tell what it was made on, if I'm looking at it online).

For me,
the 3D mess of art making is part of its appeal--even the way the paper buckles when I've gotten it too wet, or tears when I've reworked it too many times.
It's proof: this stuff and I exist here, together.


* RE, variable:

"Although volunteers wrote by hand both with pen and paper or stylus and digital tablet, researchers say paper notebooks contain more complex spatial information than digital paper.

Physical paper allows for tangible permanence, irregular strokes, and uneven shape, like folded corners.
In contrast, digital paper is uniform, has no fixed position when scrolling, and disappears when you close the app.

“Our take-home message is to use paper notebooks for information we need to learn or memorize...".

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Try, try, trying to paint faces...

These are awkward, but I’m proud of having started and I want to save and share my first attempts watercoloring my faces for Murderbot:
the Basque woman for Abene, left, and the queer rodeo rider for Murderbot.
(Goauche, not water-based markers.)

And now I'm going to buy watercolor paper because this sketch paper of course is not up to heavy water-- it buckled.

Women's History Is Every Day

 I displayed books at work for Women's History Month... (March) the same as I did for Black History Month... (February)––
with the tag ". . . Is Every Day".

Saturday, March 27, 2021

1st Watercolor-Marker Sketches

First time messing around with my new watercolor markers ("water-based brush pens")... sketching newly arrived dolls Cricket & Hana.

I have a lot to learn, but I can see the pens' potential...

I'm not feeling that great, 48 hours after my Covid shot––achy and tired––my immune system is working, so that's good.
I am going to call it a day and go read in bed.

"We are singing, in our boat."

The Ichimatsu dolls are here! Luckily bink could use the car to take me to pick them up this morning. I was going to bike, but it's raining, and also my body feels achy all over--from the Covid shot two days ago.

The dolls were left on the steps in a bag with my name outside their old home, below, for me to pick up. I'd wondered if they'd be sad, but they seemed happy to go with me.

The younger one (above, right) is quite chatty, so her name is Cricket.
The other looks like bink's English friend Hannah, so her name is the Japanese name Hana ("flower").

I'd messaged the man who posted them (free!) on FB market if he knew their names.
He was nice but didn't seem into the dolls (not surprising, since he was giving them away).

He replied that all he knew was they're from Japan, bought by his wife's grandparents "so they're old--that's all we know".
But he didn't say how old he or his wife are, and I didn't want to pester him again.

I'm guessing the dolls are from after 1927, the year of the Japan-US Friendship Doll exchange.

[Wow--one of the original dolls from Japan is at my city's library! I must find out if I can see her sometime.

Oh--yes! She––Miss Miyazaki––was sent to Tokyo for restoration in 2016 and is back again.]

I thought these girls might be sad to leave their old home, but I suspect they've mostly been sleeping in their box . . . which is now a boat!

They were singing and singing as we sat in the car in the rain.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Penny Cooper gets her shot!

It was Covid-19 Vaccine Day for me and my coworkers yesterday. Nine of us carpooled out to some distant suburb.
The University of MN had set up a traveling clinic at the warehouse of a nonprofit and was vaccinating nonprofit staff & volunteers (I think that was the deal...).

Penny Cooper got the shot too! She is able to share her immunity with the herd of dolls and toys at home.

[Disclosure: Dolls & toys don't get Covid. But they still like to participate: "So we stay healthy."]

The nurse was so nice and told Penny Cooper she was very brave.
Penny was especially pleased with the band-aid on her arm:

I double-masked instead of wearing my respirator because I can't be understood through the respirator, and I wanted to be able to chat and make comments. That's an important part of my health plan.
(A volunteer at the store had given me this fabric mask with book pattern.)
I commented to the nurse that the shot didn't hurt at all--less, even, than the usual flu shot, which stings.
She said they'd done a great job on the needles--thin, and just the right length.

I said they did a great job on the whole thing: "A triumph of public health!" She, a public health provider, agreed.

BEST THING: We got stickers!

Here I am, below, with some of my coworkers (some had already left) in the waiting area after getting our shots. Because I'm allergic to penicillin, the nurse had me wait 30 min. after the shot, instead of the usual 15.
I asked a volunteer to take our picture.
(I seem to be the group historian.)

I'm wearing my new sweatshirt from my gym--the back reads WEATHERING LIFE. That's exactly it!

I'm glad I chose to go with my coworkers instead of going to my clinic in two days: I did feel closer to them all afterward.
Emotionally, and literally too:
We were laughing and sitting too close to one another in the waiting-afterward area. (And there's that one coworker who cannot seem to keep his mask over his nose...)

One of us commented, "We won't be asked back," and I noticed a woman in the waiting area giving us dirty looks.
I understand her annoyance---my coworkers and I are used to being around people all the time, so we've gotten slack, while some people have been alone for a year and are very cautious.

And yet, dirty looks do nothing to keep you safe.
They demonstrate the passive-aggressive behavior known as "Minnesota Nice". Radiating disapproval is effective social control (over the long haul), . . . but it doesn't work with viruses.

If I'd been her, I'd have told the staff I didn't feel safe in the crowded area and was going to wait outside. It was sunny and warm, and if she'd started to have a bad reaction she could have pounded on the big windows. 

We are various.
On the one hand, we can coordinate a massive public health event. On the other hand, we can't come in out of the rain.

Murderbot says of a group of humans it is stuck with,
"These were all annoying and deeply inadequate humans, but I didn't want to kill them. Okay, maybe a little."

Yeah. Maybe a little sometimes.

I slept eleven hours last night, but I think it was mostly because I needed to process emotionally another load of THIS IS HISTORY.

Also, my watercolor pens arrived and I want to learn how to use them well, but it just felt like too much, on top of everything.
So I went to bed.

I feel slightly achy this morning, but only slightly. I don't know--maybe it's from lying in bed for eleven hours.

I'm going in to work. I'll wear my respirator two more weeks until the Moderna vaccine reaches 50 percent effectiveness, and then I'll go to masking again.

The second shot is in one month.
And then . . .
I'm never taking off my mask at work--it protects me from toxic book dust. I should have been wearing one all along.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Replacing Harrison Ford in My Memory Bank

I'd written to a friend about how as I read the Murderbot Diaries, I was always imaging the characters as white guys like Harrison Ford.
It's my brain's automatic default.

Nothing wrong with Harrison Ford, but I've got a million images of him in my head, and I'm having a hard time coming up with ONE image of a Basque woman hero.
In fact, I can't come up with one.

"I want to wipe Harrison Ford from my brain," I wrote, "and replace him with a million individual faces."

I found this photograph of a Basque woman--unnamed, a model for a stock photo.
I hereby
replace all images in my brain of Harrison Ford with HER. Right? Don't you think she'd make a great Han Solo?

She could play the character of Don Abene in Murderbot Diaries. Abene is a woman, the leader of a planetary survey team, though in our time period "Don" is a masc. honorific (Don Corleone in the Godfather).

It's not said in the books what ethnic group any character comes from--it appears to be irrelevant (?) in this imaginary future––but I looked their names up.

Abéné is a village in Senegal, but the honorific is Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese... So I looked further and found the name Abene is derived from Basque abe meaning "pillar", a Basque equivalent of the woman's name Pilar.

I decided to go with that, since we walked through the Basque region of Spain on El Camino de Santiago.

Oh--wow! Looking further--just now-- I see the name Pilar
is directly connected with Camino:
It comes from the title of the Virgin Mary, María del Pilar, meaning "Mary of the Pillar". According to legend, when Saint James the Greater was in Saragossa/
Zaragoza in Spain, the Virgin Mary appeared on a pillar.

Saint James (Sant'Iago) is supposedly buried in Santiago, Spain, which is the whole point of Camino--getting there.

The Better Story: Vaccine First, Then Dolls

Oh, oh, oh---look! New dolls for meeeee . . . FREE, on Fb marketplace! To be picked up Saturday morning.

Covid Shot First

I would go after work
today--they're only 4 bikable miles away--but I'm going with my coworkers to get our Covid shots.
We're carpooling to some clinic, a half-hour drive away.

I'd been so relieved the executive director had lined these shots up.... and then last night my clinic messaged me that I could get mine there as soon as Saturday.

I thought about doing that instead--it's a lot closer, and I wouldn't have to coordinate with others.

I decided it'd be better to go on this Field Trip with my coworkers.
I'm not feeling very fond of my coworkers at the moment, but we're living through this epoch together. So.

Plus, Penny Cooper said, It's the better story.

This actually isn't a very Penny-Cooper-thing to say. I thought she'd say, Take the shot that is soonest.

I heard you say it, she said.

Huh, yeah, I do say use
"the better story" as a measuring stick.
(I think I heard it somewhere once?)

It's a helpful guide, for encouragement . . . or reassurance––most especially when things are frightening, but interesting. Like, every day since Trump got elected in 2016.

Most of my older coworkers already got shots, or don't want them––especially (but not only) some of the Black guys.
A customer who heard one of them saying they wouldn't get one said to me, "I have no patience with such stupidity."

Well. That's making an assumption, which is itself a stupid thing to do.
The customer didn't ask my coworker why.

I was glad to have a quote to hand––something I'd just read:
"You'd have to be crazy not to be paranoid as a black person in this country." (The US, that is.)

That's from the essay "Hole in the Head"
by Ross Gay, a Black man, about a medical experiment with radiation that left a little Black boy with a hole in his head.
It's in Gay's collection The Book of Delights (2019), which is mostly about delightful things, but some not. (Thank you, Art Sparker, for sending me this.)

Anyway, back to the new dolls

They were originally listed at $25 for both. I might have paid that, but definitely was swayed by them being free.

I browse on FB for Madeline dolls sometimes, but they're always ridiculously expensive--more than eBay.
Yesterday amidst the expensive junk were these two Japanese dolls--listed as Ichimatsu:
little girls or boys, usually with . .  glass eyes. The original Ichimatsu were named after an 18th-century Kabuki actor, but since the late 19th century the term has applied to child dolls. Since 1927... a solemn, gentle-looking little girl in elaborate kimono."

These are solemn, gentle-looking little girls. (The girl on the right looks a little frightened, but I wonder if she's actually singing.)
I think they would like to have their pictures painted too. By Saturday, my watercolor pens should have arrived!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Once more, with feeling

Linda Sue commented on this morning's post––a picture of my alphabet mats at work––
"You could spell some 'feeling' words out of those."

Hey, yeah! Here's a couple words with feeling. I wonder if any of my coworkers will notice... (I would bet not.)

Gym Class Is Working

Inspired by Gym Class, I put down foam floor pads in my work area--like the pads at the gym, except with the alphabet.
They just got donated to the store--fitting for the Book & Toy area. (And getting the pick of the toys is a benefit of me having to sort them, since the toy-volunteer quit after Covid.)

The store's floors are concrete--hard on the feet, and whole body.

Gym Teacher (GT) & I talk a lot, and he helps me practice good movements I can apply at work. 
I'm like some other clients, he said, who want information to apply to daily life, rather than the kind who want to work out hard in class.
I love that gym class is more like physical therapy, which is absolutely the model that works best for me.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Art Supplies/References

Do I need more art supplies?

YES! One always needs more art supplies!

In fact, I'm a lightweight--I got rid of so much stuff when I moved a year and a half ago, I only have a few pans of watercolors.

Inspired by Sarah's faces sketched with watercolor pens, I ordered watercolor pens on ebay (slightly less expensive).
Floral, Essentials, and a couple 6-packs, Brights, and Earth.

I want to practice drawing people (humans, not doll people).
I don't know that I'd ever get good enough to illustrate Murderbot, but that's my motivation.

I continue to look for models for characters in Murderbot.
One is Dr. Bharadwaj. I looked up the name and found an amazing Indian lawyer (below, left), Sudha Bharadwaj, and alongside, another, Menaka Guruswamy, whose expressions fit Murderbot's description of one of its crew--a lawyer named Pin-Lee.*

Here is Guruswamy, below right, glammed up for Time, with her law– and life partner, lawyer Arundhati Katju: 

They were part of a team of lawyers who led the successful case to decriminalize homosexuality in India (2018)--which British colonial rule had made illegal (Time article):
“I am what I am so take me as I am,” said the Chief Justice of India as the Supreme Court struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in a unanimous vote.
An outdated legacy of the British colonization of India, Section 377 rendered all sexual activities “against the order of nature” punishable by law."

This is the look that really fits the character:

"Pin-Lee" sounds Chinese to me, but I can't find the name...

A-ha. I changed the spelling to Pin-Li.
That's better: "Li /Chinese, 李 is the second most common surname in China as of 2018, behind Wang."

Li Pin is a famous Chinese poet (818–876) Wikipedia (another article that could use help).

And another famous poet named Li (there are lots), 12th-century writer Li Qingzhao, a woman who here has a sharp look like Murderbot describes Pin-Lee having:

Via Stanford article:
"She wrote boldly about nature, love and longing with verses like these from song lyric no. 43:

I've heard spring is still lovely at Twin Streams,
I'd like to go boating in a light skiff there
But fear the tiny grasshopper boats they have
Would not carry
Such a quantity of sorrow."

And one more Pinli--a clothing company--could be a good reference for the sort of clothes Murderbot wears---soft hoodies and work pants.
I suppose, too, the models model the "SecUnit standard neutral expression" too.

I'm off to work now!