Saturday, June 09, 2007

Peas and friends

Let me begin with the pea funeral at dinner last night. Little Guy sat at the table. He picked up a pea with his fingers, squished out its middle, then ate both the squishy middle and the skin. Sweetling sat pushing her food around her plate while alternating disbelieving looks at Little Guy and reproachful glances at her terrible mother, who had so unlovingly set a wholesome dinner of chicken, rice, and peas before her. Sweetling claims that what happened next was an accident. Her spoon, which was not at all busy conveying food to her mouth, squished a pea flat. She was distraught by the tragedy. I kindly suggested she eat her pea, so that its death might not be in vain. She maintained that she couldn't eat the pea now that its middle was all popped out. I pointed out that the middles come out in her mouth anyway, but that was an irrelevent point apparantly. All the other peas had to gather around the squished pea, forming a nice circle so that they could have a funeral for the dearly departed.

(Little Guy, meanwhile, had transitioned from eating his peas individually, to cramming every last bite of chicken in his mouth at the same time. I didn't think he's mouth would close enough to allow his teeth to meet so that he might chew. I was debating the advisability of suggesting he take a sip of milk. On the one hand, adding any further mass to the overload of substance in his mouth seemed like a bad, bad, idea. On the other, his glands couldn't possibly produce enough saliva to masticate that mess, so perhaps a little fluid would assist in producing a swallowable substance. In the end, he wound up storing portions of his chicken in cheek pouches I never knew existed on humans while he chewed and swallowed the rest in sections.)

At this point, Sweetling decided that the peas were entirely "too sad to be eaten". Dinner concluded with Sweetling gathering her peas off of her plate to take them to the garden where they could have a proper funeral for their late comrade. Sweetling wanted to know if the peas would all grow into new peas. I told her that peas would at the very least go back into "the circle of life".

After dinner, we all watched Finding Nemo together. Then I stayed up till midnight (or later) reading Anne of Avonlea. I have decided that Anne Shirley is my favorite fictional heroine. First, because she is such an imaginative dreamer. She lives and moves in a fantasy world, which only occasionally intercects with the reality of others, most often with uniquely amusing results. Second, because I understand and sympathize with how it feels to have one's beautifully dreamt up vision go so awry sometime between its conceptualization and actuallization. In short and in Anne's own phrasing, I find in Anne a "kindred spirit."

Here are two passages that I think illustrate my favorite Anne qualities admirably:

"...Anne keenly enjoyed her walk througt the great gray maze of the beechlands; though alone she never found it lonely; her imagination peopled her path with merry companions, and with these she carried on a gay, pretended conversation that was wittier and more fascinating than conversations are at to be in real life, where people sometimes fail most lamentably to talk u to the requirements."

The second passage is considerably longer, for its really more of a typical Anne escapade. To provide the setting, Anne has borrowed an old and rare platter from an elderly friend. In a chapter titled "A Chapter of Accidents", the platter is broken. Anne's good friend Diana has located two other possible families who have similar platters, that Anne might try to purchase to replace the original. Anne and Diana arrive at the first such family farm only to find the two grown sisters who own the property gone. Not sure whether to wait in hopes that the absent sisters will return soon and do indeed have a platter in question, or whether to drive to the second, further own location, Anne and Diana decide it is permissable, under the circumstances, for Anne to climb up on an old duck house in order to peer through the pantry window in hopes of espying the platter.

Much to her delight, she saw, as she peered through the pane, a willow-ware platter, exactly such as she was in quest of, on the shelf in front of the window. So much she saw before the catastrophe came. In her joy Anne forgot the precarious nature of her footing, incautiously ceased to lean on the window sill, gave an impulsive little hop of pleasure...and the next moment she had crashed through the roof up to her armpits, and there she hung, quite unable to exticate herself...[There follows several paragraphs of the girls unsuccessful efforts to free Anne from her predicament as well as whether or not Diana should leave Anne to drive for help. Then, as Anne is speaking...]
...'Fancy what the Copp girls will think when they drive into their yard and see a girl's head and shoulders sticking out of the roof of one of their outhouses. that a wagon? No, Diana, I believe it is thunder.'
Thunder it was undoubtably, and Diana, having made a hasty pilgrimage around the house, returned to announce that a very black cloud was rising rapidly in the northwest.

Now, lest I leave you thinking that Anne is fated to be a perpetual victem of unfortunate circumstances, and worse, that I indentify and idolize her because of that, let me assure you that this is not at all the case. Anne is my favorite heroine because of her imagination, her ability to see beauty in the mundane, and for her tireless efforts to work to bring her ideals to fruitition, despite many setbacks and hardships she endures. Yes, I am entertained by the humor inherit in those setbacks, but Anne is in no way a comic figure. Neither is she in any way a perpetual victim, despite the fact that she occasionally wonders if she wasn't born under an ill-fated star. Rather, Anne is a woman of sensitivity and compassion balanced by vision and ambition. She works hard and acheives many academic honors as a teen. Yet, as important as these achievements are to her, as a young woman, she sacrifices a scholarship in order to stay near home and care for her adopted 'mother' who's eyesight is failing her. There she takes up a position as a teacher, eager to "make an impression for good" in the lives of her pupils. I admire her for both the ambition as well as the ability to prioritize and adjust her goals based on the real needs of those she loves. In Anne's words, " 'I'd like to add some beauty to life....I don't exactly want to make people know more....but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born.' " In L.M. Montgomery's words, "Anne was one of the children of light by birthright. After she had passed through a life with a smile or a word thrown across it like a gleam of sunshine the owner of that life saw it, for the time being at least, as hopeful and lovely and of good report."

So, enough of my mini essays. I'm going to go paint my toenails corral pink. If I thought I could get away with it, I'd be picking up a bottle of sunless tanning lotion. But you know that any attempt I make in that regard is bound to turn out dissastrous. I can just imagine me *streaked* in an unnatural orange color, with my fingernails stained an ugly brown. No, thank you. I'll keep to my sad pale self, and avoid the humilation of the later.

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