Category Archives: Musings About Life and Other Nonsense

Nature: A Wonderful and Amazing Magic Show

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Last week, a swallowtail laid her eggs on our newly planted parsley.

The eggs hatched during the week and here are some pics of the 1st instar larvae. They seem to be enjoying the parsley and pooping a lot. I am not sure our tiny plant can sustain two caterpillars, so if need be, when they get bigger, I will move them to the wild parsley patch. We have several of those in the garden so they won’t be short of food.

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Not sure why one is bigger than the other since they were laid at the same time, unless they weren’t and the bigger one was there earlier and we just didn’t notice. Could be that the larger one is a week older than the other, even though neither is bigger than a grain of rice at this point. They are poopy little creatures too.

I hope they survive. Swallowtails are the longest lived because they don’t have a lot of predators. They are the most abundant butterfly we have in our garden, and it’s probably because of the parsley. We have a lot of parsley. It’s not a native, but has naturalized in our area and the flowers might be tiny, but they are quite beautiful against the purple leaves.

 

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Cryptotaenia japonica Atropurpurea from University of Vermont

 

 

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Garden Days

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It would be nice if the rain let up. Last night we had at least 2 inches of rain. It was slow and steady and soaked us all night long. I did manage to get the last of my mulching done on Saturday, but it was shwetty and hot. I hate working in the humidity, but what can you do. We haven’t had many weekends without rain, and I’ve got to get things done, because Things are getting a bit wild out there. I’ve got 3 nests with just born babies in them and the other boxes already fledged, so we have baby birds all over the place. And flowers. I do have flowers.

The Monarch Waystation area looks a bit weedy, but it’s wildflowers and most of those are late bloomers. Lot of chicory that I can see so far, but I am hoping that some of the milkweed seed I put down in the fall will take. It’s a very wet area lately.

 

A Day in The Garden

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My husband and I were having breakfast on Saturday morning and he noticed that the Black Swallowtail butterflies were back. He wondered why, with all the flowers in bloom, that one was hovering around the Italian parsley we had just planted, so I said,

She not looking for flowers, she putting her butt all over it. Parsley is their host plant.

That would be true, which is why I let the Japanese parsley grow wild all over the garden. More butterflies, and who can complain about that. He didn’t believe me so I went out after she was done and took a proof of life picture. See the eggs?

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Guess we won’t be eating that parsley.

Seriously, the garden feels like a jungle this year. I have to eke out minutes in between rainstorms in order to get anything done, but even still, it’s sure looking pretty out there. I’ve been a botany and gardening aficionado since I was a kid. Both my parents could grow just about anything, and they themselves were self-taught master gardeners. After 20+ years at it, I think I can safely declare myself a master gardener as well. I have certainly mastered the art of learning from my gardening mistakes, and like my father always said: Anything that can be taught in a classroom can be self taught, and nothing will teach you better than reading and doing. No amount of book learning and certificates of achievement can prepare you for all the wild and wonderful variables that happen when you are actually in the garden. Some of those variables aren’t that wonderful though, like mud and fungus and flattened plants.

Even so, his words are true. Doing and Failing teaches you more in the end. You need a fair amount of book learning too, but even then, some things work and some things don’t. As I told a friend who said she sucked at some plants:

You don’t suck. It’s just that sometimes the environment and the plant just aren’t compatible, and knowing what something needs and creating exactly that microcosm for them is sometimes impossible. Arrogance leads us to think that we can control everything, and our small successes feed that arrogance, but inevitably, nature will knock us down a peg. Classes can’t teach you that.

Sorry for the hazy pics. But it’s always rainy and hazy here lately.

A Garden Reprieve

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I had a nice long holiday weekend/vacation thing recently so that I could take a break from bookish things and office workish things. That meant 5 days of garden things, which I love above all else when it comes to creative pursuits.

There was a lot of weeding and planting and trimming. We’ve had several of our nest box birdies already fledge their babies, and there’s more to come as we’ve got nests in use all over the garden.

We also toured the Hortulus Farm during the Garden Conservancy open day program. 114 acres, and most of the flora are things we have in our garden, albeit on a smaller scale. Growing up rural for a time, I have a thing for summer fields with swaths of native grasses and milkweed. What butterflies they must have come August, and the ponds … OMG, the ponds always make me jealous. I mean, they had black swans!

Speaking of ponds, I had to redo our frog toe-dipping pool this year. We had left it uncovered over the winter and the squirrels dug the shit out of it, and in the process, they destroyed all the bog plant roots, so we lost everything except a few sprouts of lizards tail. Replanting isn’t always a bad thing though because the calla lilies were lovely this year. It’s hard to see, but they are white with soft pink pitchers and yellow.

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I also put in some New Guinea impatiens and something that looks like petunias but isn’t. Most are annuals, but I am hoping to carry the Callas over winter by covering the pond this year with hay and a plastic tarp to keep the diggers out. I hope that works.

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We also stopped off at the local park so that I could collect duckweed for the pond. We had some severe flooding two days prior, so much of the duckweed and hornwort had washed up on land because the vernal frog and turtle pond is in a low area near the dam. It’s nice because I don’t have to get muddy. Now I just hope we get some frogs. We didn’t last year since it was so wet and overcast, they didn’t have to seek out supplemental water. Our pond was also in the shade last year due to an overgrown Redbud. We had that pruned, so now the pond is back in the full sun. Even if we don’t get frogs, we do get dragonflies and other neat little things, and it is quite tranquil to look at, with my little porcelain floating koi fish, which do not require feeding or care.

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416gDFs18wL._AC_US218_Aside from that, I am working on a review for this rescue book I am currently reading. It is wonderful, and even though it’s about dog rescue, the attitudes and lessons are applicable to all different kinds of animal rescue. I’ll post a full review as soon as I am finished the book, though I have shared some quotes and some thoughts on said quotes over at Goodreads.

 

This Vagina Mine

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220px-TheWorldAccordingtoGarpI got a nice review this past week for Knowing Joe that compared the journey to Irving’s The World According to Garp, which got me a little teary-eyed because Garp is one of my all-time favorite books, and I do suppose that our Girl in Knowing Joe and Jenny Fields in Garp are very similar in some of their personal views on sex.

Jenny Fields is a strong-willed woman who doesn’t understand ‘the lust’, doesn’t want a man, yet desires a child of her own with enough resolve to resort to rape to get one. Our Girl also doesn’t understand the lust, but she is much more clear about sex as a biological function even if she has no emotional desire or physiological need for sex, and though it’s never discussed in Knowing Joe, if our Girl did want a child, there are more opportunities now to have one sans sexual contact than there were in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Opportunities Jenny Fields didn’t have outside of adoption, and back then, a single woman was unlikely to be approved for adoption: a problem for Jenny Fields as she had a much stronger aversion towards men. Our Girl acknowledges the existence of misogyny throughout Knowing Joe yet understands that all men are not created equal in that department.

Spoiler Alert: Feminist Rant About to Commence

As for the antagonistic threads running throughout The World According to Garp, Jenny Fields, a sexual non-conformist (an asexual), a women’s rights advocate, and a feminist, is demonized throughout the story, likened to a terrorist, and worthy of assassination because her ideas about female autonomy are just too dangerous, which brings me back to the review of Knowing Joe, where the end lines state:

[To have sex or not have sex? The story, though it delves into many other issues that occupy this protagonist, cements itself to this tag line. And, let’s face it, all of life cements itself to this tag line. Because without sex the species is doomed to disappear. Is ‘Girl’ ready to participate in the disappearance of her species?]

It’s been 40 years since The World According to Garp was published, and yet, I could still write a book in this day and age about the same gender constraints and sexual expectations that Jenny Fields fought against in her not-so-fictional world. Constraints and expectations that have been foisted upon women for an eternity, by men and by other women. In 2018, women and girls are still the property of men in some societies. In 2018, we, in the US, are still fighting for Roe vs. Wade. We are still fighting for our right to make our own healthcare choices, which we have to pay extra for anyway. We are still fighting for control of our careers, our intellectual rights, and our vaginas. In 2018. Seriously. A man who says he’s not the marrying kind, who plays the field, doesn’t want kids, and has lots of sexual partners is lauded as a hero in some circles. Look at him: he’s so strong and virile and independent, doin what he wants to do, sayin what he wants to say — boys will be boys — and on the flip side of that…

If a woman enjoys sex, rebukes marriage, and wants to play the field, she’s a nympho or a whore and probably needs psychological counseling for hysteria or some psycho-babble bullshit.

If a woman is disinterested in sex, then she’s frigid, a dyke, or a feminist bitch and probably needs psychological counseling for hysteria or some psycho-babble bullshit.

If a woman prefers romantic love, then she’s just a silly little girl.

And God-forbid if a woman makes it known that she doesn’t want children, then she’s shamed for being selfish or likened to a terrorist, who, knowingly and deliberately, without remorse, is proud of committing genocide against the human species.

Since when does any of that make sense? Women’s identities are still tied to their partners and their progeny. Why? Why? Why?

Why does the survival of humanity get squarely placed at the base of a woman’s vagina?

If you google “women who don’t want children” you’ll see headlines the likes of: IN DEFENSE OF WOMEN WHO DON’T WANT CHILDREN OR MARRIAGE or THE REAL REASON WHY SOCIETY HATES YOU IF YOU DON’T HAVE KIDS or WHY IS SOCIETY STILL SO AFRAID OF WOMEN WHO DON’T WANT CHILDREN?

If our extinction is at hand, it’s not going to come about due to lack of sex, our Girl can tell you that, and I think Jenny Fields would concur.

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Knowing Joe: A Sexual Identity Crisis

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Sure, Knowing Joe is a satire. It pokes fun at society and all its sexual stigmas and stereotypes. Sex is absurd when you get right down to it, but at the heart of Knowing Joe is an Identity Crisis, which is far from absurd.

Our Girl isn’t a young girl. She isn’t trying to find herself. At 27, she knows who she is, and she knows who she wants to be, until she is confronted with something that makes her second guess her resolve on the issue of her own sexual identity.

Everyone second guesses themselves from time to time. It’s healthy to question your principles and beliefs every now and again. It’s healthy to question “normal.” It’s part of the growth process to ask, “Can I do something?” “Should I be doing something else?” When we question, we open our minds up to other possibilities. That might include the possibility to change or not to change.

I recently read an article on “The Midlife Crisis,” and an author quoted in the article had an interesting take on the subject matter: one that applies here to the Identity Crisis Girl experiences in Knowing Joe. The Author states:

41MS5O8NxVL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_The midlife crisis is created from addiction. Without addiction, it cannot exist.

Dr. Joe Dispenza, a neuroscientist and author of several books, including Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself and You Are The Placebo, gives convincing evidence of the three addictions we all develop early in life long before we’re introduced to any harmful substances.

• Addiction to our bodies
• Addiction to our environment
• Addiction to the concept of time

In Knowing Joe, Girl has understood her identity as an a-sexual since she was a very young girl. She begins to question it at 27 years old when she stumbles upon a book she considers to be full of secrets. The idea that she might not have had all the knowledge she needed to fully analyze the issue at hand (sex) sends her into a full-blown panic attack, in which she fixates on an invented love interest in order to ground herself.

So how could such a confident, enlightened person lose their sense of self? Well, I think it goes straight back to the addictions listed above:

  1. Addiction to our bodies: The idea that our bodies are the foundation of our identity and the vehicle for the satisfaction we seek in life.
  2. Addiction to our environment: That being Society’s definition of normal and all the expectations that come with it.
  3. Addiction to the concept of time: The fallacy that old age strips us of our sexual identity and therefore diminishes the love we can feel, for ourselves and for others.

Of course, these concepts are all horse shit: Our bodies are not who we are. Satisfaction comes from doing not being. Society doesn’t have a backwards-assed clue about normal, and old age only increases the love we can give and receive because we have a better understanding of what love actually is after decades of struggling with it. Sex isn’t love. Inherently we know all this, but the need to feel “normal” is a powerful addiction that can send even the most enlightened person into a pit of despair. That’s where our Girl finds herself in Knowing Joe, so when I was trying to figure out how to approach telling the story, I felt that it was best to use a first person, stream of consciousness point of view so that her confusion, her struggle to validate her convictions, would be palpable on the page. She’s manic, rambling. Her thoughts are disjointed, and yet, there is a logical process as she plots her way through from point A to point B.

Anyone who has had an emotional crisis of any sort will understand that feeling: the wave of adrenalin that washes over you, the nausea, the sinking despair that feels like it’s pulling your stomach through your intestines. The racing heart and the racing mind as we fight to course correct. As we fight for the confidence to be able to say, “I Know Who I Am.”

When we attach our identities to temporary things, our identities, too, are temporary — and we find ourselves in a constant chase to reinvent ourselves.

In Knowing Joe, it takes an intervention to help Girl confront the addictions that sent her spiraling into an inner world of what-if fantasies. It takes true love and acceptance to help her understand that attraction is more fluid than it seems; that normal is subjective; that she is part of a new kind of sexual revolution, and that it’s ok to not want sex, in the moment or ever. Love and sex are not mutually exclusive, and through fits and fumbles, our Girl finally discovers that love is what you make of it.

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Labels: I Hate Them

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The first real review for Knowing Joe has arrived on Amazon, and this comment in the review made me smile because I love it when readers get it.

Personally, I loved how Girl was so inexperienced, yet so confident in her convictions. She makes completely valid arguments for her lifestyle choice. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. I applaud her for staying true to herself and not bowing to society’s expectations. — Amazon Review

Society’s expectations and its obsessively distorted view of sex are the reasons I wrote this book to begin with. Our protagonist, Girl, is asexual. Asexuality is difficult for people to understand. It’s not the same thing as celibacy, which is an actual choice, so I don’t say as much about it in the book because I hate slapping labels on shit, though one of the characters does mention the label hate specifically.

41A2dm0BImL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Girl is a heteromantic asexual. The ACE community is underrepresented even within the Queer community as a whole. As a lifelong advocate, I wanted to put that forward, put a voice out there as far as my own personal reach could extend. Considering how sex muddies the waters when it comes to every aspect of our lives lately, I wanted a confident voice with valid arguments. Not anti-sex, but a voice who clearly understands the complexity of the subject matter. A voice who continues to struggle against societal pressure even though she is confident in her choice, even though it’s not really a choice for her per se.

I thought it would be wonderful to shine a light on a relationship where sex didn’t matter. Where the relationship wasn’t just a mad rush to grind da sweaty-bits. Where unconditional love and respect are romantic. Where the friendship is the sexy part. Where the attraction comes from a deep understanding of the other person at an intellectual level.

Sexual orientation is very fluid, and we understand more about that now than we did, say, in the 50s. I wanted a modern love story that reflected the complexity of the romantic heart, and I thought it would be wonderful to tell young men and young women that it’s ok to feel this way. That it’s ok for them to not want sex, whether it be in the moment or forever. That Normal is subjective. That there’s nothing wrong with them at all, and that love and sex are not mutually exclusive.

That was the ‘what if’ that came to mind when I first met Underline Girl and Margin Joe on the pages of Nancy Friday’s book. What would their relationship look like if the sexual angst was removed entirely? What if?