Medea Still Rages

This is a Snippet from the play Medea, written in 431 B.C. by Euripides. In the play, Medea, the daughter of the king of Colchis, has been deserted by her husband Jason for another, younger woman. Sound familiar? *sigh* There is nothing new under the sun.

Medea

Ladies, Corinthians, I’m here.
Don’t think ill of me. Call others proud.
In public, in private, it’s hard to get it right.
Tread as carefully as you will,
“She’s proud,” they’ll say; “she won’t join in.”
What human being looks fairly on another?
They’d sooner hate you than know you properly,
even before you’ve done them any harm.
And when you’re a foreigner: “Be like us,” they say.
Even Greeks look down on other Greeks,
too clever to see the good in them.
As for me, the blow that struck me down
and eats my heart I least expected.
My lovely life is lost; I want to die.
He was everything to me–and now
he’s the vilest man alive, my husband.

Of all Earth’s creatures that live and breathe,
are we women not the wretchedest?
We scratch and save, a dowry to buy a man–
and then he lords it over us; we’re his,
our lives depend on how his lordship feels.
For better for worse: we can’t divorce him.
However it turns out, he’s ours and ours he stays.
Women’s cunning? We need all of it.


Set down with strangers, with ways and laws
she never knew at home, a wife must learn
every trick she can to please the man
whose bed she shares. If he’s satisfied,
if he lives content, rides not against the yoke–
Congratulations! If not, we’re better dead.

(Translated by Thomas Cahill in his book Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea. Why the Greeks Matter  © 2003 by Anchor Books, registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Image by Alphonse Mucha: Medee 1898)

I recently came across this passage in my reading and was astounded that a drama from ancient Athens is as contemporary as today’s headlines. Small wonder that women are expressing their outrage over men’s sexual misconduct. Apparently it has been going on for centuries.

*another sigh* Really?

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Handiwork

Yarn Tree

Hands are really wonderful things, when you think about it. They can do all sorts of handiwork like knitting and sewing. They craft birdhouses and beanies and benches in the park and are conveniently attached to the body. They are handy anytime we need a hand.

Handiwork can be an intimate thing as experienced hands guide younger hands in the act of creation. Hands joined with other hands knit heart to heart together in a shared process. It’s no accident that the defining image of The Sistine Chapel Ceiling is the hand of God stretching forth to touch the hand of Adam. We recognize the power of touch, hand joined to hand.

But as wonderful as hands are, they are also terrible. They contain both the power of creation and the power of destruction. Hands can devise weapons; hands can be weapons, used against fellow creatures to inflict pain and terror. Why do hands do that anyway? Don’t they know any better? Could it be that there are hands that have never joined with another hand in love, compassion, or mercy?

I think we need to take care of our hands and treat them with respect. We should make sure that every new hand that comes into the world is knit together with another hand, one that will guide it and nurture it. Teach it the artisan crafts. Show it how to make things, beautiful things for the benefit of others. Let every hand learn by example the healing touch. I am sure there are enough old hands out there that know a thing or three about such handiwork. Let them teach; let us learn.

Daily Prompt:Knit

Time for Mercy

Dad's Shoes

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
TIme held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

Dylan Thomas ~ “Fern Hill” 1946

Daily Prompt:Mercy

Salute to Gremlins

“It must be the gremlins.”

That was my father’s explanation for any unexplained and unacknowledged mischief around the house. It could be the reason why a nude photograph of U. S. Representative Joe Barton wound up on Twitter. Oh, of only his constituents could be persuaded to believe that’s what happened! It was the gremlins!

However, Rep. Barton has owned up to his conduct, stating that he had “sexual relationships with mature adult women” while he was separated from his wife. What I find interesting about this statement is that he qualifies that the women with whom he had a sexual relationship were mature adults. That is not by accident or the work of gremlins. I call it the “Roy Moore” effect. Rep. Barton wants people to know that he did not have anything to do with underage girls. These were women—mature, adult, wrinkled, saggy, grey-haired—sorry, I exaggerate. The key point is they were NOT GIRLS! They were not cute little mogwais; they were gremlins.

Ah, youth! That is really the big deception about it. All the cute little mogwais eventually turn into ugly-looking gremlins if they live long enough. Gremlins are reputed to be dangerous and mean. I think I would be too, if I suddenly found I was no longer valued because I had a few grey hairs and wrinkles. I, too, might go on a mischievous-making rampage. A gremlin may as well live down to expectations, right?

So I’m going to acknowledge Rep. Joe Barton’s indirect salute to mature adult women. Long may they live!

(Note to self: No matter what, don’t go on a rampage. It’s inconsiderate and a big waste of time.)

Daily Prompt:Gremlins

The Girdle Effect

“CAUTION, HOT. BUT YOU’RE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT.”

This statement was printed on a paper coffee cup that I bought at a coffee shop. It cracks me up. It is a great example of a company wanting to protect itself against a possible lawsuit should someone get burned by hot coffee. Thus it prints a warning on every coffee cup. On the other hand, the company does not want the warning to offend a person’s intelligence; that could instigate another lawsuit. So it words the statement very carefully. In a subtle way, a warning like this relieves people of having to think. It’s an example of what my father called “The Girdle Effect.”

When I was in junior high, my father would not allow me to wear a “junior” girdle.  He said that if I allowed a girdle to hold in my stomach, then eventually my stomach muscles would grow weak from underuse.  “Use it or lose it, “ he used to say.

The Girdle Effect is an example of “choice architecture” described by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein in their book Nudge.  In it, they advocate organizing the context in which people make decisions so that their eventual choices will secure greater health, wealth, and happiness.  But it begs the question of what is good and who decides it.

For example, there is a city in Germany that imbedded red lights in the sidewalk to warn people walking while using their phone—WUIP  (Walking Under the Influence of Phone). The red lights relieve people of the tiresome chore of watching where they are going. But is that really a good thing?

If social engineers relieve people of their decision-making, then how will they learn how to make decisions that require reflective, critical thinking?  If mistakes are to be avoided at all costs, then we eliminate the learning that only comes from mistakes.  It’s the Girdle Effect. If we do not use our decision-making ability, it will eventually atrophy.

Thomas Edison said, “I haven’t failed.  I’ve just found ten thousand ways that don’t work.” As appreciative as I am that my coffee cup wants to warn me about hot coffee, I would rather learn that lesson myself, even if I get burned.

 

Magic Mushrooms

fantasia-disneyscreencaps.com-1733

The Daily Prompt word-of-the-day is Mushroom

There are two literary references to mushrooms that immediately come to mind: the mushroom upon which sat the Caterpillar in Alice Through the Looking Glass and the basket of mushrooms given to Frodo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring.

I was young when I read both stories and was bothered by the fact that magic came in the form of a mushroom. At the time, I did not like mushrooms and thought that biting into one was too high a price to pay for fantasy. I certainly could not see why the hobbits were so greedy for them. A nice, tasty basket of strawberries would have been more agreeable. However, in the hands of Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane, the mushroom motif made more sense.

I had a book of fairy tales that showed illustrations of little creatures such as mice, rabbits, fairies, and brownies sitting on or under mushrooms. There were even tiny mushroom houses. Those pictures indelibly linked mushrooms with magic in my mind. At one time, I wanted to live in a little mushroom (but not eat it.)

I wonder why mushrooms are so cute. Walt Disney animated them in the movie Fantasia. Perfect. One of my favorite sequences. I wonder why that is.

(Note to self: Think about the magic of mushroom–but not the ones from Grace Slick. Those are scary.)

Clark and the Great Honk

Car Show

The Great Honk was pleased. He eased himself down the side street and slipped into his assigned place. Quietly he opened his door and popped his hood. The crowd milled around him; no one noticed he was…

“Late again. That’s the third time in three years.”

The Great Honk swore under his breath. There was Clark the cat holding a clipboard in his paw, standing in front of him. Rats!

“Don’t tell me you were stuck in Lodi again,” said Clark. “What was it this time? Carburetor? Fuel pump? You know all contestants must be in working condition. No junk cars allowed at the show.”

“No, no, there was no car trouble,” the Great Honk protested. “I swear that everything is in working order.”

“Then why are you late? It was Lodi, wasn’t it?”

The Great Honk nodded.

“Good grief! Was it hitchhikers?”

At this the Great Honk looked indignant.

“Of course, not! I never do hitchhikers…except for this one young couple; the girl was so cute with her long black braids. But other than that, no.”

“Well, then, what is it?” asked Clark.

The Great Honk sighed and rolled his headlights heavenward.

“The meat market,” he said.

“WHAT?”

“To be precise, The Lakewood Meats & Sausage German Dakota Style House Made Sausage in Lodi.”

“I don’t believe it! You are late because of sausages?”

“Not just any sausages—the best sausages ever! Ambrosia in a pig casing! Here, I’ll prove it.”

The Great Honk started his motor. Exhaust began pouring out of the tailpipe.

“Just take a whiff of that,” he cried.

Clark went to the back of the truck and sniffed tentatively.

“Hmm…is that smoked pork I smell, with a touch of jalapeno?”

He sniffed again.

“I’m starting to detect a whiff of bratwurst—no, make that weisswurst. You had weisswurst!”

“Oh, yes. And bangers and beer and links and pretzels!”

Clark stood back and tapped his clipboard.

“Well, I can understand why you got stuck in Lodi, but you are still late.”

“Please don’t disqualify me. I’ve traveled all the way from Sacramento for this show. There must be something…say, if you look behind my seat, you’ll find something rather interesting.”

Clark eyed the Great Honk with suspicion. He reached behind the front seat, pulled out a small basket, and peeked inside. There, in a luscious display of porcine pulchritude, were sausages of every kind: beef bratwurst, smoked pork and beef bratwurst, bangers, and links, crowned with regal ropes of weisswurst.

The Great Honk blinked his headlamps.

“There’s more than enough to share with a friend,” he said.

“You are aware, aren’t you, that bribing a judge can get you disqualified,” said Clark sternly.

The Great Honk sputtered.

“I only meant…why, no, I never suggested…that is…oh, bother!”

Clark tossed aside his clipboard and dived into the basket.

“It’s a good thing I’m not a judge,” he said.

“I thought you were.”

“Nope,” said Clark, smacking his lips and licking his paws.
“Then why the clipboard?”

“Oh, I just like carrying one around. You never know when it will come in handy.”

 
Daily Prompt: Honk

The Daffodils’ Riff

Daffodils copyI wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
William Wordsworth 1807

 

Ever since Wordsworth immortalized the dance of the daffodils in verse, the little flowers have taken their dances seriously. They consider it their responsibility ensure “the bliss of solitude” that fills a poet’s heart with pleasure. So every year, the daffodils hold a contest among themselves for creating the best riff on the original dance of 1807.

As the years have gone by, the riffs have changed to reflect the times; nonetheless, the original movements of the dance viewed by Wordsworth must be included. For the most part, the contestants have adhered to the rules with few exceptions. (There was the scandal of the “petal malfunction” in 2004, but it’s best to leave that in the past.)

In 1940, there was a dispute over the waltz, inspired by the Disney movie Fantasia. Some of the judges felt any waltz steps would make it seem like the daffodils were trying to mimic the flowers in the film. Daffodils, as every knows, never idolize or imitate anyone. In the end, the waltz was abandoned for five years, after which time it was considered free from any comparison to Fantasia.

There are four judges each year. They retain their posts until they die, wilt, are plucked up, mown over, trampled upon, or are eaten by gophers. If a judge gets too crabby (which rarely occurs), it is quietly poisoned, and another judge takes its place. Overall, they are a cheery group.

This is the time of year when the contestants are practicing their riffs for the upcoming spring of 2018. Rumor has it that the movie Hidden Figures has inspired a number of new and unusual moves. It should be an interesting exposition.

Daily Prompt:Riff

Curious Cats Do Strut

Matisse-Cat

The Daily Press word-of-the-day is Strut . Friday’s are the days l like to write about authors and books connected to the prompt. Today’s word reminded me of two writers, a poet, and a singer/songwriter. The first offering is by T. S. Eliot and the second is by Brian Setzer. I hope you enjoy their works.

Rum Tum Tugger by T. S. Eliot ~ Cats

The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he’d rather have a house.
If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat.
If you set him on a rat then he’d rather chase a mouse.
Yes, the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat–
And there isn’t any call for me to shout it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He’s always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he’s at home, then he’d like to get about.
He likes to lie in the bureau drawer,
But he makes such a fuss if he can’t get out.

Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat–
And there isn’t any use for you to doubt it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious beast:
His disobliging ways are a matter of habit.
If you offer him fish, then he always wants a feast.
When there isn’t any fish, then he won’t eat rabbit.
If you offer him cream, then he sniffs and sneers,
For he only likes what he finds for himself;

So you’ll catch him in it right up to the ears,
If you put it away on the larder shelf.
The Rum Tum Tugger is artful and knowing,
The Rum Tum Tugger doesn’t care for a cuddle;
But he’ll leap on your lap in the middle of your sewing,
For there’s nothing he enjoys like a horrible muddle.
Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat–
And there isn’t any need for me to spout it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

Stray Cat Strut by Brian Selzer ~“The Stray Cats”

Black and orange stray cat sittin’ on a fence,
I ain’t got enough dough to pay the rent.
I’m flat broke, but I don’t care.
I strut right by with my tail in the air.

Stray cat strut, I’m a ladies cat.
I’m a feline Casanova, hey man, that’s that.
Get a shoe thrown at me from a mean old man.
Get my dinner from a garbage can.

Don’t go crossing my path.

I don’t bother chasing mice around.
I slink down the alleyway looking for a fight,
Howling to the moonlight on a hot summer night.
Singin’ the blues while the lady cats cry,
“Wild stray cat, you’re a real gone guy.”
I wish I could be as carefree and wild,
But I got cat class and I got cat style.

(Note to self: My sister recently pointed out how many expressions we get from cats: cat nap, pussyfoot, hightail it, scaredy cat, curiosity killed the cat.)

Dancing King

WaterBuffalo

“The best things happen while you’re dancing…”

Life at Cabela’s

“So, Mrs. Satterwaite, where did you meet your husband?”

“I met him at a roadhouse—you know the one out on Patterson? It burned down several years ago.”

“Of course. Velma’s.

“Yes. Anyway, as I was saying, my girlfriends and I usually went dancing on Saturday night, and one night we decided to go to Velma’s. Mr. Satterwaite was there that night with some of his friends. I remember thinking how handsome he was when suddenly he walked over to our table and asked me to dance.”

“How thrilling!”

“Oh, it was, it was! And he was an incredible dancer. But so fresh.”

“How so?”

“He asked me what my name was. When I told him, it was Virginia, he said, ‘Well, I’ll call you Virgin for short but not for long.’”

“He didn’t! It’s a good thing your name wasn’t Hortense.”

“Isn’t it, though? I would have left him then and there, but he was such a beautiful dancer. He was just like Fred Astaire with Frank Sinatra looks. We started dating after that during the winter months.”

“Why just the winter months?”

“I broke up with him every summer because I wanted to go traveling. That went on for three years until one day in April, he asked me if I was going to break up with him again. I told him I probably would. He said, ‘Would you like to get married instead?’ I said that sounded fine, so we were married the following November. He danced beautifully at our wedding.”

“Do you still go out dancing?”

“Are you kidding? Now we just hang out at home.”

Daily Press word of the day:Dancing