Toad in the Hole November 2006 Archives

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November 29, 2006

Crab Season

I haven't dropped by at Twisty's today -- I can only get there from Joe's computer, so I have to plan and juggle a bit -- but I've been watching the rotating trolls there and they reminded me of something I'm starting to consider part of a syndrome. These are a species of concern-troll, and show up now and then to inform Twisty that she's, oh, usually it's "anti-woman" because she makes fun of spike heels and blowjobs and, see, this hurts their little fee-fees somehow. Not only is she (as she's noted herself) "trying to outlaw ______" (fill in whatever) but she's telling people they're "bad feminists" and betraying all normal women everywhere and just generally letting the side down.

On one hand, this is on the same broken record* as the whines about "free speech" (or "free speach") at anyone who dares to disagree with a certain sort of fool. Making fun of does not equal outlawing, even assuming one had the latter power. Yeah, that same old thing. And of course the alleged free speech seems to work only one-way.

On the other hand, it seems cut from the same polyester as the Angel in the House straitjacket. This is the one that insists women must be better (meaning saintlier, giving-er, more selfless, more squishy, more inexhaustible, whatever's convenient to the accuser) than men or we're somehow not proper women, let alone good feminists. Katha Pollitt had a reply to a LTTE in The Nation a week or two ago (I'll link later) about some group that's dogging female politicians -- and only females, evidently -- about assorted issues like the war. This is a group of womnen, who say they "expect better" from women. They're not just prodding these politicians; they're anti-campaigning them, even vs. men with similar voting records. Women get more grief from them than men, other things being equal. Something weird about that. Pollitt's reply sums it up neatly.

Other polka-dots on this fabric: The old refrain we hear from so many people of whatever sex who've been molested or abused by their fathers: That they're really angrier at their mothers, never forgive them etc., because the mothers failed to protect them.

And over here on the selvage; We've all (I bet) known women who lean on their female friends and family to make up for abuse from men -- boyfriends/ husbands/ bosses/ the male public, and use the energy they get to go right back to the abusive guys. They expect infinite and repeated care, resources, and rescue from whatever women they sucker, but they don't give it back; they just return to the scene of the crime, with some variation on the "That's Life" attitude: "But I looooooove him!" "Well, boys will be boys." "I've made my bed and now I have to lie in it -- you don't mind if I take all your quilts back with me, do you?"

Let's be clear: I'm not talking about someone who's crying on your shoulder after a bad breakup. Yes of course we support each other. That's not a problem; in fact, it's a sort of pleasure, community, connection. Maybe that good feeling is what the women I'm crabbing about are subverting. It's the weird sort of vampirism of women who expect other women to be their public (or private) conveniences and don't do much to change the situation they're crying for rescue from. It's a worse case of the sort of thing that lets highschool girls ditch their friends at the last minute for A Date. You know, with a real person, a guy.

I think I'll dilate on this later too.

*Anyone else here old enough to know why "broken record" means what it means when it's not about, oh, running a faster mile or eating more hotdogs?

Posted at 06:56 PM | Comments (14)

How to Feel Like a Grownup

Realize you're standing in the supermarket check-out with a package of liver and a box of oatmeal.

Posted at 05:58 AM | Comments (4)

November 27, 2006

Just One Thing I Want to Know

indecisive leaf

Should I stay or should I go?

It's been one of those blessedly balmy, somehow indecisive weeks until today. Today it got cold and it rained, the sort of hard-edged, chilly winter rain that says Yes it's finally time to put the Aloha shirts in the attic (except for a strategic few, kept handy for Aloha Sundays at Templebar) and bring down the sweaters.

We had a nice Thanksgiving (Thank you, Kathy A!) and I hope you did too. In spite of getting stood up for dinner the Tuesday before by a couple of people, we got that renewed faith in humanity thing done by having TG dinner with Kate and Gene; they pulled it off in spite of the fact that they were squatting in their (vacationing) landlords' flat while Kate painted the walls of theirs and the floor got refinished. Gene has a policy of Anything But Turkey; this year it was guinea fowl. A new species for us, and quite tasty -- not quite just like chicken.

Yes we toasted the downfalls of Pombo and Santorum.

We did that again Saturday, when Mona and Dick hosted a potluck. More great food, including smoked turkey smuggled from North Carolina, a nice torta Espagnola, and some great pumpkin bread. Several of us ended up in the kitchen laughing halfway to tears about the auld days at Chaparral House, and then trying to explain it all to the people at the party who weren't veterans of that particular bloody campaign. (Chaparral House is the nursing home Joe's mother was in, with which we're still involved as volunteer garden mavens, and another friend in that kitchen, Kathy, is now on the board of directors.)

And now I guess it's really winter.

Posted at 04:22 AM | Comments (5)

November 20, 2006


It's been one of those months that suck up my social energy, and that seems to relate to my writing energy. Well, sure it's social; otherwise I could just think stuff and not have to mess with the keyboard.


So I can use all the surface tension to keep to the shallows, what the hey.

We did have a good stroll through Cold Canyon on Saturday, with Numenius, and met Pica afterwards for lunch. That photo is of waterstriders in one of the few pools of water in Cold Creek (or a tributary) this time of year. We've had a little rain, but not enough to get the creeks marching. Here and there on the path we could hear moving water, and there were pools with assorted kinds of water bugs in them: boatmen, backswimmers, 'striders.

The energy-draining stuff was different. I stressed like crazy over a reception last Thursday night, the sort of crowd we just don't mingle with normally. I mean, people who paid spent upwards of $150 to get into this, and most of the people there presumably paid, as it was a fund-raiser. The kind of thing Willie Brown shows up at. (I didn't recognize him without a hat on. Joe did, though.)

This was our first night view of the SF Conservatory of Flowers, a gorgeous big Victorian-style glass house crammed with various sorts of tropical plants. I've always loved it, and was pleased at the resto job they did when the windstorms smashed it up about a decade ago. So the event got usa new view of a great place at least.

It was a preview of an installation (uh-oh) by Stanlee Gatti, who is known mostly for designing foo-foo parties. Maybe interiors too, I don't know. Not my beat. Skinny expensive people in skinny expensive clothing, good skin and haircuts, namedropping. Fashion, including some gorgeous textiles. There was one young woman -- cheekbones, short blond trendy hair, very skinny, very pregnant; she was wearing some strapless kneelength knit tube-top-and-skirt or tube-dress thing, monochrome bright red. All I could think of was a maraschino cherry on a toothpick in a Shirley Temple.

We know the new director of the place a bit from one introductory meeting maybe a month ago with him and his wife, who's a birder.He'd graciously invited us as his guests. Aside from them, we knew our Chron editor and her husband, who were there briefly, and Claire, who works with the plants at the Conservatory and is an auld acquaintance of mine from Merritt. Plus a couple of people on the publicity staff, so we got the glad hand when we arrived and that was relaxing. We sat down first for a good half hour with Claire on a bench in the cool-rainforest room and chatted and drank champagne while waiters kept plying us with very nice food: crab cocktail, fresh raw oysters, rack-of-lamb slices, sausage on polenta, pumpkin risotto, teeny hamburgers on teeny buns, little cones of very good french fries, asparagus tarts, you get the idea. Aside from the wine at the door, there were a couple of bars in other rooms.

We didn't get to see any of the night-shift geckoes and anoles -- too many humans -- but the place and plants look and even feel different at night. Outside, when we left, the weather was amusingly matched to the interiors: it wasn't cold, and a nice tule fog had settled in. The only time those orange sodium-vapor urban lights look good is when a fog turns them and their surrounding space a mellow prosperous peachy color. Made the walk to the parking valets and the drive home as romantic as the glasshouse interiors, maintaining that tropical intimacy with airborne water.

Posted at 04:21 PM | Comments (9)

November 14, 2006

My Hot Rod Linkin'

This week is The Week for Finding Great Art on other people's blogs.

Posted at 04:07 AM | Comments (11)

November 11, 2006

Autumn Poetry

Go on over to Rurality for the essence of the Real World in eastern North America now. Politics is a big honkin' deal, but I have to remind myself that this is what's real, melancholy as it is sometimes.

Posted at 04:59 PM | Comments (4)

Ellen Willis, too. Damn.

She was one ot the feminist writers who excited me way back when, and
kept my interest as we all aged.

I used to buy the Village Voice just to read her column. Do you remember the thrill of finding someone in that gray buzzing over-your-head media world who was thinking some of the same things you were and articulating what was bothering you about the rest of them? Someone who got pissed off at the same things and demanded our share of pleasure for us, too? Who noticed that pleasure is not frivolous, or some optional ruffle to be tacked onto a human life? Finding her stuff was one of the most intellectually and emotionally freeing, integrative events of my life.

Thanks, Ellen.

Posted at 03:34 AM | Comments (8)

November 08, 2006

There's Good News Tonight

T' hell with politics. Olduvai George is back!

/Cue singin' and dancin' and hollerin' and drinkin' to excess!/

Posted at 06:02 AM | Comments (1)

November 02, 2006


So, we went to a Hallowe'en party Saturday night, after a day of gardening at Chaparral House. (This is an event both strenuous and on the abrasive side of social: supervising really isn't my thing, and we each have to supervise volunteers. The volunteers -- the other voluinteers, as we work for free too -- are generally great, and bless 'em every one.) Anyway, we had to scare up cheap costumes fast.

I've had this pair of wings for a few years now, so with some face paint and black shirt and skirt, wotthehell, I was a Moonbat.


Hallowe'en night, I hastily slapped on more paint and the same wings to be yer basic domestic gargoyle


and sat at the foot of the stairs (easier than moving all the plants out of harm's way) and handed out gummi eyeballs.


As I said over t'Twisty's: When the kids are scared of your candy you know you're doing something right.

Hey, kathy a, we have a few left over.

I feel I should footnote here that the flash rather flattens some of the effect of the face paint. In both versions, the pale stuff is glow-in-the-dark. OTOH, my pupils aren't really red, and that was a nifty look IMO. Clearly I need more practice, but I like this face-painting stuff. If the damned stuff were less itchy I'd do it all the time.

Posted at 04:41 AM | Comments (16)

November 01, 2006

The Arrogant Arborist Bows Her Head

I just last night heard of the death of Dr. Alex Shigo, of a fall at his New Hampshire home. Anyone who has a tree can get what she needs to understand how it works and how to take care of it from one of the low-priced books Trees, Associates sells online, and get a deeper understanding from his textbooks there.

Shigo changed arboricultural practice a great deal for the better when he famously dissected a woodlot with a chainsaw and tweezers and figured out how trees actually grow their branches and how they cope with trauma.

Gods rest you, Dr. Shigo.

Posted at 03:36 PM | Comments (1)