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It was the scent of these that drew me. (ETA: I haven't checked what sort they are yet.)




no more naked toilet paper

I believe the unadorned form of naked toilet paper should be celebrated, not shamed into covering up, and yet-- a conversation with a friend this morning got me looking at the usually very frilly, and sometimes very creative, world of toilet paper roll covers. An image search revealed to me a world of Southern-belle-style covers. This is a particularly frilled-out version (Source evil Pinterest page):

Here's a sweeter one, with a homemade head (source).

But some people have let their imaginations roam in other directions:

Octopus (source)

Cupcake (source)

Duck (source)

It's a wild world of toilet paper covers out there!


speaking of money design

I like that we're getting Harriet Tubman on our money! I am in favor of having a wide variety of significant figures on the currency. Japan has Natsume Soseki, the novelist, on its money, and England has Charles Darwin.

We've been reading (very slowly) Terry Pratchett's Making Money as a family read, and we came to the scene where the mind-wiped counterfeiter Owlswick (at this point known as Clamp), whom Moist has hired to create the first official Ankh-Morpork banknote, presents it:

On the desk in front of him was the other side of the first proper dollar bill ever to be designed. Moist had seen pictures quite like it, but they had been when he was four years old, in nursery school. The face of what was presumably meant to be Lord Vetinari had two dots for eyes and a broad grin. The panorama of the vibrant city of Ankh-Morpork appeared to consist of a lot of square houses, with a window, all square, in each corner and a door in the middle.

"I think it's one of the best things I have ever done," said Clamp.

I couldn't resist doodling it.

granola cookies

In January I blogged about Providence Granola, an organization in Rhode Island that acts as a training ground for refugees: it gives them jobs in its granola-making operation, so they can learn about work and life in the United States while improving their English. Most then go on to get other jobs elsewhere in the community.

I gave some of the granola to the forest creatures (except the ninja girl; she's not a fan of dried fruit). Little Springtime made cookies with some of hers, and that inspired me to do the same. I chronicled the process for Providence Granola.

Here are some photos to tempt you...

Large beasts of weather and sky

I've decided to walk to work, even though I work at home.

On my walk today, I stepped in all the large potholes on my street. They are the footprints of some creature whose weight affects the asphalt the way mine affects wet sand. A winter-weather beast, a very large dinosaur or lumbering mastodon. Some kids once tried to charge admission to see them--the potholes, I mean--as a way of raising some quick money, but no one would pay because these dinosaurs and mastodons get everywhere. (No, I'm making that up; no kids ever did that, or at least not on my street, or at least not while I was paying attention.)

Up in the sky, wind has unearthed (... un-sky'd) the white vertebrae of an even larger beast that swims up there. Or maybe it's just that its sky is so thin that its bones are visible through it. I didn't catch it on film but you've seen skies like that--large backbones and sometimes ribs laid out across them.

But now I've arrived at work and should begin. Here's a skunk cabbage from last week, consuming its daily meal of sunlight.

red swing

I saw this yesterday. It's not really in the woods; it's at the back of someone's backyard, which backs onto the woods. But it looks like it is. The woodcutter was alone in the world after the untimely death of her husband, so she took her child with her when she went a-felling in the forest. She strung up a swing so the baby could rock and sway and converse with the squirrels and the birds while she worked. (They have red plastic in this mythical nevertime.)

Three things to share

First Thing
I think many of my friends can identify with aspects of this cake-making (and life-living) experience:

There are only two things I really care about: impressing people and death sugar. Baking involves both of those things and I derive a lot of--what's the approximation of joy for a person who obsessively competes with others? Whatever that is, that's the thing I get from it.

But I'm also really impatient, not exactly a character trait compatible with baking. I don't wait for the oven to pre-heat. I don't wait for cakes to cool before I frost them. I don't even really have the patience for meringue to whip up properly. But damn if I'll let that stop me from getting ambitious when it comes to people's birthdays. Read more here

I especially like the fact that this cake has bees in it. I'm be-caked with bee cake.

Second Thing
A new StoryBundle collection of fantasy titles, all of whom are winners in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off. More than 250 indie writers sent in books (not me; I'm busy working on the next book), which were divided among 10 reviewers. Each reviewer chose one favorite title--and the result is this StoryBundle. These days I don't read that much high fantasy, but if you like the genre, check out the bundle here. And look at blairmacg's gorgeous banner of the covers!

Third Thing
Rosarium Publishing, which brought us The SEA Is Ours (a collection of Southeast Asian steampunk) and Carlos Hernandez's The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria (such a great title), is raising money via Indiegogo. And CSE Cooney did this wonderful video blog post about their books.

The Dubious Hills

The Dubious Hills is mysterious, powerful, paradoxical story. It’s both very small (milk pans left outside, dogs sleeping on a doorstep, planting beans while school’s out) and very, very big (the nature of knowledge, pain, and freedom and compulsion). It’s a story that directly addresses philosophical questions while at the same time making you remember what it’s like to be five years old (or live with a five-year-old). It’s about coping with abandonment and loss; it’s about struggling to care for your little brother and sister in the face of a terrifying threat.

Read more...Collapse )

Dinosaur Comics tackles the suck fairy

Today's Dinosaur Comics takes on that painful experience, the rereading of a childhood favorite and the discovery that it's not at all the book you remembered. A lot of times in SFF circles I see this talked about in terms of tripping over biases or stereotypes that you didn't notice or question when you were younger, though sometimes people also talk tone or writing style disappointing them on a reread. But Ryan North gets at a more fundamental fact of rereading--that our experience of a story isn't determined entirely by the text.

Original location is here

If you know your mother tongue and then you widen out to learn all the languages of the world, that's empowerment. If you know all the languages of the world and not your mother tongue, that is not empowerment: that is enslavement.
--Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

I've heard the phrase "decolonizing the mind" tossed about a lot, but didn't know until last night that the book Decolonising the Mind was written by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, a seminal Kenyan writer who's very active in supporting mother tongues and encouraging translation and understanding across less-dominant languages. He's giving a lecture at the nearby university today, but yesterday there was a much more intimate event: a screening of a film about him by the Kenyan director Ndirangu Wachanga, followed by a conversation with the two of them.

Ndirangu Wachanga (photo source)

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (photo source)

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Is English an African language?

In interviewing African intellectuals, Wachanga likes to ask that question. No? Yes? Partially? The responses and reasoning people gave were absorbing. Ngũgĩ had lots to say about it--and so did one of the audience members, during the question-and-answer session. She came to America as a young child, with her mother. She said, "When I'm with my Chinese friends, we all talk in English--but when they go home, they talk in Chinese. When I'm with my Brazilian friends, we all talk in English--but when they go home, they talk in Portuguese. But when I go home, I talk in English." There wasn't a chance for her to finish her thought and say how she felt about that, or what her own feelings were on the question of English as an African language, but even just as much as she said was thought provoking.

All in all, it was such an energizing experience. I came away with so many things I want to read and think about, and so many people--featured in Wachanga's film--whom I want to find out more about. Three commentators in particular: Wangui Wa Goro (a translator), Grant Farred (quoted above; he's a professor of English and African studies), and Dagmawi Woubshet, an Ethiopian (but teaching in the United States) scholar of African and African American literature. Those three were especially passionate.

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