I know it’s Sunday, but this is my entry for Ragtag’s Saturday prompt: venation.
There’s a lot of venation in this photo I took at Chicago Botanic Gardens a few years ago.
I know it’s Sunday, but this is my entry for Ragtag’s Saturday prompt: venation.
There’s a lot of venation in this photo I took at Chicago Botanic Gardens a few years ago.
I felt guilty even as I was dialing my sister’s phone number. This was the first time I had called her since the pandemic started, but what better day than on her birthday?
She answered on the third ring, saying, “Hello” in the way she always does, as if it’s a final statement, not a question. I sang Happy Birthday to her.
She was surprised to hear from me but not being the emotional type, I could tell she was glad I called.
“So what’s news?” I asked her. (I may as well get this over with – my sister can talk non-stop for fifteen minutes, at least.)
“Oh, nothing much. I’m staying home a lot, not going out much. But I keep myself occupied.” My sister lives in a senior community where she’s involved in many things. During the pandemic it’s slowed down, but not completely.
“How are your beautiful granddaughters?” My sister has two very cute granddaughters, aged six and five.
“Oh, they’re fine. Ginny is really getting into distance learning with Molly. The teacher has the kids doing projects. They go around to various places to experience them, they look for things, like a scavenger hunt. Ginny says she’s exhausted, what with her new job and Molly’s kindergarten teacher keeping her occupied!” My sister chuckled as she said this.
“Sophie’s okay. I’m worried about her though – she’s getting confused, first with remote learning, then living in the house with only her mom one week and her dad the next week…”
“Huh? Why’s that?”
“Oh, I thought you knew. Nate and Julie are living apart. They each have their own place to live, so Sophie lives in the house all the time, and the two of them alternate living there with her.”
“Weird. Expensive, too, I imagine.”
“Oh, yeah. They couldn’t agree on who would get the house, so they left it to their six-year-old!”
“Why are they split up?”
“Well, a lot of things built up over time — Nate’s been taking this computer course, you know. He dropped all his piano students to do it, while Julie works all the time. Apparently she also suspects him of infidelity, but he doesn’t have a perfidious nature. Nate can’t handle her frustration and accusations, so he blows up at her. Then she rants about how she’s having to support the family, while Nate gets to just ‘do his thing,’ you know.”
“Wow, I’m so sorry! They’ve been together so long! I hope they reconcile their differences.”
We moved on to lighter topics and chatted for another fifteen minutes.
Posted for Fandango’s One Word Challenge, Ragtag Daily Prompt, and Your Daily Word Prompt.
The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is the word lies. There is a lot I could write on this topic (for instance, most of what happened at the RNC these last four days). But I was just made aware of a John Oliver (I love this guy!!) show from a few weeks ago that is very relevant in the wake of the recent tragic events in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the protests and looting that have been going on all summer around the country. Why is this happening? Why is there so much racial unrest? Why are they saying black lives matter – don’t all lives matter? Everyone has an opinion, but too often their opinion is based on ignorance or downright lies.
A few weeks ago – around the time John Lewis died – John Oliver on his show Last Week Tonight talked about how Americans learn history wrong. Maybe it has gotten better, but there are still some (any is too many) white people around who say stupid stuff like, “Slavery was bad, but those people were lucky to come to a great place like America.” (Meaning being a slave here was better than living free in African societies.) Textbooks for young children dumb down history, saying things like the colonists “brought slaves with them to help with farm work and chores.”
“Washington freed his slaves” is another myth. Instead of teaching kids lies like George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and then confessed to his father, saying, “I cannot tell a lie,” why can’t we teach kids that yes, Washington was the ‘father of our country’ and he should be honored for being the first president, but he also OWNED SLAVES and he DID NOT free them when he was president (or afterward, either)! I admit, I never learned a single negative fact about Christopher Columbus or George Washington until I got to college. Why can’t students learn both the positive and the negative – i.e. the FACTS about these historical figures?
Well, don’t we need heroes? Yes, but kids, even elementary students, can understand that people can be both good and bad. Acts of heroism don’t erase the rest of a hero’s life. I’m not dissing heroes. I just think we need to be honest. And although any history teacher knows that one year in high school is not enough time to teach all of American history, we shouldn’t ignore important events that are more convenient to ignore than to teach our students. (American history should be taught for at least two years, or part of it every year.)
As a result, many Americans graduate from high school ignorant about American history (and forget about world history). We need to help students understand why racism continues to survive. We need to connect the past to the present, help our students make the connections, so they can understand what is happening now.
This is an excellent video that is worth spending the 28+ minutes to watch.
I need to say here that I do not necessarily approve of taking down statues of people like George Washington. But the idea of the so-called “cancel culture” is a topic for another post.
When I saw the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today, I laughed! Really? I thought. Does that mean what I think it does? Indeed it does – I looked it up, and here’s a little etymology:
Flatus comes from 17th century Latin (I imagine Chaucer made good use of it!), and literally means “blowing.” I don’t think I need to list all the synonyms, although “farting” is the word used in our house. Here’s an interesting synonym: borborygmus, its definition being “intestinal rumbling caused by moving gas.” OK, not quite the same – and although it may be embarrassing to emit the sound of a borborygmus in public, it is downright impolite to expel flatus in public, warranting a heartfelt “Excuse me!” And that inspires me to write a poem!
If you’re in a crowd
And it isn’t very loud,
But people start to stare,
Smile without a care!
No one needs to know
It was you that had to go
And emit (yes, you heard it!)
Flatus, or another name for it
Is farting, or more politely,
“Passing gas” whispered lightly.
Although considered rude
It’s just that I ate some food
That caused me to be so crude –
But I doubt you’re in the mood
To hear the explanation,
Of an old fart‘s gratification.
Sometimes there’s no help for it
And sometimes I just can’t quit
Whether “silent but deadly”
Or loud and like a medley
‘Cause my spouse is here beside me
We sometimes fart in harmony
So why not just have a laugh –
It’s only natural to pass gas!
Ragtag’s Daily Prompt word today is thingamajig. It is a word we’ve always used (or one like it) when we don’t know or remember the name of something. I looked up the word to see how it would be defined:
Merriam-Webster has a good, concise definition: something that is hard to classify or whose name is unknown or forgotten.
I found the synonyms amusing: dingus, doodad, doohickey, hickey, thingamabob, thingummy, whatchamacallit, whatnot, whatsit (also whatsis or what-is-it)
I am often at a loss for words, so I’m likely to use thingamajig or one of its synonyms more often than most people. However, as I looked in my photo archives, I did find some objects that defied definition or name. These are some of them.
The Bottle Tree Ranch in California, on Route 66, is full of thingamajigs, doodads, and whatchamacallits. In fact, I think that is its entire reason for being. Lots of weird, rusty machine parts that I have no clue as to what they are even used for…
More such things are on display at the Overlord Museum at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. If your thing is machines used in war, this is the place to visit.
There was a lot of chaos on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as these displays attest to, so it’s only to be expected to find plenty of hoojiggies (another synonym!) there. I trust that the men who were using these pieces of machinery had better vocabulary about them than I do!
Enough of broken machine parts! What would you call this so-called piece of art, on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam?
(Yeah, me neither, but scary, for sure…)
But – saving the best for last – I had to take a photograph of this weird whatchamacallit I spotted along a sidewalk in Chicago. I have no idea why it’s there or what it’s used for. (The water bottle adds a nice touch, though! At least it can be used to set things down on, and then forget them!)
If anyone can clarify what this thingamajig is, I’d be interested to find out!
The Ragtap Daily Prompt today is normal.
Are we in a “new normal” era? Some people say yes, others say no. We have been experiencing this stay-at-home edict for over a month now, and our governor just extended it to May 30! And since 95% of the world is under some kind of stay-at-home order, I can’t help thinking, what is the new normal?
In our current reality, it is normal to:
See people walking around, working, talking, even teaching exercise classes wearing masks.
Get lots of ads on our phones for masks in a variety of colors and patterns – masks have become fashionable!
Become an expert at Zoom.
Hear daily statistics on TV with the updated number of cases of COVID-19 and number of deaths.
Listen to entire news shows dedicated entirely to the pandemic and continue watching several of these shows back to back.
Get a lot of coloring pages done.
Accumulate an immense amount of Styrofoam that our meals come in.
Play games on our phone a lot, (and those that I play with respond quickly, because they are doing the same thing!)
Download more game apps onto our phones or computers.
Think about all the projects I could be working on while sitting in a recliner playing games on my phone.
Go for weeks without having to take time to decide what to wear.
Go for walks mainly to see friends and neighbors to stop and chat with, and then stand on the opposite side of the roadway when we do.
Give people a very wide berth when passing them.
Drink wine every day.
Only read newspapers that come to the house three days later, in order not to risk touching the wrapper it comes in.
Throw away any bit of food that falls on the floor even if it’s within the five-second rule.
Ask “where did the time go?” because it’s afternoon and I feel like I just got up.
Find delight in the small things that otherwise might go unnoticed.
It is by no means certain that when this pandemic is over, life will go back to normal (i.e. the way it was before). There are lessons to be learned here, both for ourselves and for our country. I’m not sure what will result from lessons learned (if lessons are learned). But I do think in our future “new normal,” people will find a way to greet people other than shaking hands, we will appreciate much more the warm company of our family and friends, and have new respect for pizza delivery drivers. And for me, I’m looking forward to being able to travel again!
I didn’t set out to collect little animals, but in truth I love collecting little things from different cultures, and animals are universally loved. I have collected small animal figures from Mexico, Brazil, Tanzania and others that I have either acquired or inherited.
I tried to fit most of them on one shelf for this photo.
Behind this animal panoply are portraits of my parents (in the middle – the woman with the pink hat and scarf is my mother, and next to her is my father), Dale’s parents (black & white photo on the right) and my great-grandparents in back on the left.
The animals include alebrijes (whimsical,colorful animal carvings from copal wood in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico); several ceramic birds as well as a small snail, mostly from Mexico; and black clay animals (including an armadillo, two birds, and a turtle) all of which are whistles, also made in Mexico by an elderly potter in the late 1960s who claimed to be the daughter of a Mexican mestiza woman and a French soldier – she had blue eyes.
On the left, in front of the portraits of my great-grandparents, is a fish made out of a gourd. I bought this in northeastern Brazil. It was made by an indigenous artist from the Amazon region.
The birds mounted on wood in the front at left (a loon and two other birds) are ceramic and were inherited from my mother. At right, a rather fearsome beaded animal is a lion, made by Maasai women in Tanzania. Next to the lion are two small turtles, part of a turtle collection that belonged to a woman from my church who died and asked that at her memorial service, the attendees should select one or two from her collection as a remembrance of her.
Next to the lion, a strange sort of dragon-looking green ceramic creature with horns, long fangs and white spikes along its back is a hodag. This legendary animal originated among the lumberjacks of northern Wisconsin, and it became the official symbol of the town of Rhinelander. The story goes that some of the seasoned lumberjacks built a hodag out of some realistic-looking material which resembled a reptile, and somehow rigged it to move its tail and eyes. They placed it in the woods to be “discovered” by the newbie lumberjacks, and according to the story, it worked! The rookies were scared of this animal they had never heard of before, at least at first.
As they looked more closely at it, they realized it was fake, but the legend stuck and the hodag became famous in those parts. My family home had several hodags – either ceramic or stuffed. My mother had spent part of her girlhood in Rhinelander!
My most recent acquisition is a green, white and red striped snake, coiled in front of my mother’s portrait. I bought it yesterday at a Craft Fair hosted annually at my church. The sculptor, a young, rather shy man named David, had a display of lots of his fanciful clay animals, many with two heads! I asked if he let them harden naturally or fire them in a kiln. He said he bakes them in his oven!
These are the stories of my panoply of animals. I probably will continue to add to it as I find others that strike my fancy!
The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is sobriquet, a fancy word for nickname.
I have always had the nickname Katy – not so unusual today, there being a number of famous young adult Katys. But when I was a kid, it was a rather unusual nickname. Most people whose “real” name was Katharine (or any of the many other ways of spelling it) were nicknamed Kathy in those days. There were a few named Katie (not spelled the way mine was) and even fewer Kates at that time. I was named after my maternal grandmother, whose nickname was Kate.
Because my nickname was unusual and because people who didn’t know me well would automatically call me “Kathy” (which I hated), I didn’t like either my real name or my nickname very much. This probably had something to do with my low self-esteem in general. At the time, I tried to come up with a better name for people to call me. I decided I liked the name Karen – a much better name than Katharine/Katy! I tried to get people to call me Karen, but no one would, and soon it became embarrassing, so I went back to Katy.
Now I like my name – although I wish my parents had decided to nickname me Kate – like my grandmother and like Katharine Hepburn. If someone calls me Kate, I’m fine with that. Just please don’t call me Kathy!!
Here I am in my namesake town, Katy, Texas, in 2013.
Photos taken by my husband, Dale, with my camera.
The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is labor. Labor unions are a vanishing breed these days, particularly in the United States, where corporate interests have instilled negative and often false information about unions in the American public. Several states have busted unions and then became “right to work” states. This euphemism is meant to be a positive alternative to labor unions – after all, you won’t have to pay union dues! But in fact, “right to work” means “right to work” for low wages, “right to work” for no raises, “right to work” for no health insurance, “right to work” for no vacation. “Right to work” is the antithesis of the role labor unions have traditionally played to protect workers’ rights:
Most of the things labor unions won for the American worker we now take for granted. Yet, the corporate interests who want to destroy labor unions want to substitute the “benevolence” of one’s boss to provide whatever benefits he/she wants. Because many companies provide paid vacation, health insurance, etc., these things have become a standard to which most companies will adhere in order to be able to attract good employees. Still, “right to work” laws pose a great threat to the rights and benefits workers have. Let’s look at some history…
At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, working conditions were appalling. Child labor was common. I am reposting here a post from my blog We Are Such Stuff IV, which is devoted to my family history. My 4-greats grandfather, I found out from research, worked for some years as a coal miner in England at the end of the 18th century. Just as a reminder of how far we’ve come in protecting workers since that time, this is what life was like for young coal miners. (Note: to see the sources I used for this account, please see the original post: Trappers, Hurriers, and Hewers: Working in a Coal Mine.)
The Industrial Revolution really got its start in Great Britain during the second half of the eighteenth century. A great many workers were needed in the burgeoning factories and in coal mines to provide the fuel for the factory machinery. Our ancestor came of age in the late 1700s, and would have been accustomed to working to help provide for his family – with a widowed mother and several siblings, there was no other option. Many jobs were available, although working conditions were appalling.
Thomas Thomas’ (my ancestor) early life, his employment – first as a shepherd, later as a coal miner – is mentioned in family held sources, but we have no details of how old he was when he took each of these jobs. Clearly, working in a coal mine would have been chosen out of necessity – it must have paid a lot better than herding sheep. He might have been sixteen to eighteen years old at the time, or he may have been younger. Surely people knew something about working conditions in mines – even today, these conditions are quite severe – but would have been attracted by the abundance of need for workers and the higher salary offered. However, children as young as five were employed in mines and they received merely a cent or two per day.
If Thomas was in his mid to late teens at the time of his taking the job at a coal mine, he would have been assigned to any number of jobs requiring strength and perseverance, including “hurriers” and “hewers”. …
As the demand for coal increased, the mines went deeper and deeper, reaching up to two kilometers below the surface. The deeper they went, the more dangerous they became. Once a seam of coal was located, it was mined horizontally. This meant that miners often were forced to work lying down.
Flooding was one of many dangers in the mines, and children often had to work in water up to their thighs while underground. Poisonous gas escaping or causing explosions was another. Explosive gas, called fire damp, would be found the deeper the miners got. One spark from a miner’s axe or candle could lead to disaster.
To clear the mines of gas, a crude ventilation system was used: The job of “trappers”, most often young children, was to sit underground, opening and closing trap doors located across the mine. These trap doors allowed coal trucks through, but also caused drafts which could spread a cloud of noxious gas. The mine owners believed the system of trap doors might help the blast of an explosion from damaging more of the mine (their first concern was their investment, not their workers!). Unfortunately, this system was very ineffective and there were many accidents.
A third serious danger was the threat of collapse: Mines were only held up by wooden beams, and the sheer weight of the ground above a mined coal seam led to many pit collapses.
A report on deaths in coal mines to Parliament gave a list of ways miners could be killed: falling down a mine shaft, being hit by falling coal, being crushed to death in collapse, explosions, suffocation due to poisonous gas leaks, and being run over by a tram carrying dug coal.
In spite of these dangers, demand for child labor was great as coal production increased. Whole families worked in the mines. Besides trappers, coal “hurriers” pulled carts filled with coal over long distances and through very narrow tunnels. These coal carts could weigh as much as 500 lbs., and they were hauled using chains attached to the worker’s waist; or two men would be employed, one in front to pull and one behind to push.
They would exit the mine via the trap doors, held open by the trappers. Girls were often used for this work, because their smaller bodies could fit through tighter spots than their male counterparts. Men and boys were often “hewers”, using pick axes to cut the coal from the seam. …
From the scant information I have about that period of his life, I estimate that my ancestor could have been working as a coal miner for ten years or more. With the harsh conditions and hazards of this work, it is no wonder that [having Sundays off] would have been a welcome respite!
Nice – another word with all five vowels to add to my collection! 🙂
I had never heard of the word sequacious before, so I checked several dictionary definitions.
The American Heritage dictionary defines sequacious as follows:
1. Highly impressionable or unquestioning, especially in following a leader or embracing an idea: “False philosophers … have beclouded educated but sequacious minds” (John Gardner).
2. Coherent or flowing smoothly from one part to the next: “I make these notes, but am tired of notes … I want something sequacious now & robust” (Virginia Woolf).
[From Latin sequāx, sequāc-, pursuing, from sequī, to follow; see sekw- in Indo-European roots
Collins English Dictionary‘s definition:
1. logically following in regular sequence
2. ready to follow any leader; pliant
[C17: from Latin sequāx pursuing, from sequī to follow]
Random House Kenerman Webster College dictionary says:
easily led; servile.
[1630–40; < Latin sequāx, s. sequāc- following closely, pliant, derivative of sequī to follow; see -acious]
(Webster College, Collins & Webster definitions found on the online Free Dictionary .)
Dictionary.com gives this definition:
1. following with smooth or logical regularity.
2. Archaic. following, imitating, or serving another person, especially unreasoningly.
So my question is: Are Trump supporters sequacious? Indeed, are most people sequacious?
Although “readily following any leader” seems to be an archaic definition of sequacious, I pursue this definition after reading an opinion piece in today’s online Washington Post which says that people tend to vote identity, rather than ideology. Party affiliation is, to most people, more important, than whether or not one agrees with the ideas of the party. Thus one forms a sort of “generic” image of one’s own and the others’ political parties, attaching labels to simplify. According to this perspective, the average Trump voter tends to ignore his boorish behavior, but rather voted for him – and continue to support him – because he was the Republican Party’s nominee for president.
Logically following in regular sequence, Collins English dictionary’s first definition, makes me think of seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall or anything cyclical in nature: flowers, insects…
I saw this cute yellow caterpillar one day:
Today I found out it will become a boring-looking American dagger moth, like this:
Nevertheless, the life cycle of the fuzzy yellow caterpillar is sequacious and it will always become the common American dagger moth.
Here’s another caterpillar I spotted yesterday:
Sequaciously, it will probably turn into another common kind of moth, although I have been unable to find out which one. I’ll keep searching!
Posted for Sunday RDP: Sequacious.