Sunday, June 16, 2013

A cornucopia of random thoughts

I feel like cornucopia is one of those words that should only be used seasonally -- but it is so much fun to say, I thought I'd bust it out today. 

Today, some random thoughts:

1. I'm woefully behind in my squirreling. Last I walked by them, they were golfing (and I believe I already have golfing squirrels ... let me check ... ah yes, right here). Before that, they were graduating. 

You might be amused to note that the wooden deer who hangs out with the squirrels is periodically dressing up himself. Last time he was wearing bunny ears, and when the squirrels were posing with their diplomas, he, too had on a mortarboard:

He's gonna go buck wild at beach week.
2. "Women Writers and the Optimal-Child-Count Spectrum," a recent article in the New Yorker, caught my eye for obvious reasons. It was a response to an essay posted on the Atlantic website in which author Lauren Sandler proposed that the secret to being both a mother and writer is to have just one child. 
"What Sandler’s essay implies is that, on the contrary, there may be something about the experience of motherhood that makes a woman a better writer—more deeply in touch with the deepest of human concerns and commonalities. But, at the same time, too much motherhood might swamp a potentially brilliant writer with the drudgery of diapers and Little League, reducing her to overseeing her child’s admissions essays rather than writing her own scintillating works a la Sontag or Hardwick," writes Rebecca Mead.
Motherhood -- whether you have one, two, five or 10 children -- does tends to overshadow other pursuits -- like cleaning, cooking, laundering, sleeping, bathing, and, yes, writing, too. But then I think it should overshadow other pursuits. My children weren't foisted upon me by some over-demanding boss, I chose to have them. And neither did they request to be here (please, let's just save the religious/metaphysical discussions for another day and time). While some days I do wish I could spend less time in diaper drudgery and more time on scintillating works (or, at least mildly entertaining works), I certainly don't begrudge their existence. They are my world and it's difficult to even remember the person I was before them. Like Sandler suggests, they make me a better writer. And such wonderful material they provide! Children or no children, there is never enough time for us to do the things our heart sings for us to do. So you just have to make time for it. 

3. I thought, given how much Lily loves Clifford the Big Red Dog, that I should give Norman Bridwell a second chance (you might remember a previous rant about "Clifford's Birthday (infamous) Party" -- if not, go here), so we checked out "Clifford's Good Deeds" from the library a couple weeks ago. On the third of fourth reading of the book I noticed something amusing/irritating on this page: 

That is one big dog. Right?
Clifford is attempting to help out the weak, little paper boy who is unable to throw newspapers all the way to the doorstep (they land pitifully, somewhere in the middle of the front walk). While I love the reference to newspapering, I was not as keen on this little scene: 

As if newspapers aren't in enough trouble right now,
now they're incriminated in destruction of property.
Look at that dutiful wife! Out raking leaves in lovely pink dress and heels, no less! 

My issue is not with a woman doing yard work (I love raking leaves!) but that her footwear is so inappropriate. I checked the copyright date on the book because I thought that maybe Norm was writing it back in the 1950s when, based on all the advertising I've ever seen from the time period, the only thing available for women to wear were full-skirted dresses and heels (well, and and pearls and an apron, of course). But this book was originally published in 1985 -- well into the age of ladies in pants. 

The scene isn't really helped by the cranky-looking husband inside reading his newspaper ... I mean really, could you help your lady out a little? Maybe he figured she could handle the job since there's only five leaves in the yard anyway. Or, maybe it was his birthday or Father's Day* and his only request was to be allowed to read the paper in peace while his woman did a little yard work (for once!) before returning inside to make him some roast beef and mashed potatoes. 

Brad also noted that it seemed strange that he was already reading a newspaper when one was being delivered to his house. Maybe he's like me and reads the paper a day late ... or ... could he be some very rare breed of person who gets both a morning and an afternoon paper? So many questions! 

Unless Lily insists, it's not likely that Clifford will be given a third chance in our household. And I say this as someone who has dressed up as Clifford the Big Red Dog at an elementary school book fair. Since I'm only 5'3" (and at the time was probably shorter) I was probably one of the least impressive Clifford the Big Red Dogs hitting the book fair circuit. I was more like Clifford the Slightly Larger Than Average Red Dog. 

* Happy Father's Day Brad and dad. You're both tireless providers -- giving up hours you'd probably rather spend outside in the great wide open to make sure your family is cared for. The girls and I are lucky to have you both in our lives.

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