How To Cause Migraines Or "Thanks BP!"

Please excuse any expletives. Wanna know how to cause a month (or longer) continual migraine? Just dump a million fucking gallons of oil into the gulf of Mexico and then let it continue to spill into the gulf while you think of some way to clean it up and/or rely on others to come to your aid. Oh…that’s because BP didn’t want to spend the half million dollars that they were supposed to in the first place to assure that this wouldn’t happen. Yes, there is now a RIVER of oil in the gulf of Mexico that has now made it’s way to the coast of Louisiana and this city smells like a cauldron of gasoline. And it’s expected to continue to smell like this for at least a month. Go air quality! Thanks BP! This does wonders for those of us with horrible migraines and for those with bad breathing problems. It’s been suggested that we all just stay indoors. >>

I can’t begin to express all of the emotions and anger and aggravation and distress that this brings to me. As a human, as a citizen of Louisiana, as a citizen of the country, as a consumer, as a global citizen…..So much frustration. As an immediate stressor, it brings on a killer migraine. For any migraine sufferer, think of breathing gasoline all day. Yeah, instant migraine, right? I have a horrible one right now. Now, they’re predicting this smell in the city for awhile…not looking forward to it. Pain killers are not gonna make it that long.

As a citizen of Louisiana, this breaks my heart. So much. Right when we’re recovering from Hurricane Katrina, this comes. We’re a city and a state that relies so much…so VERY much on the wetlands. We supply 30 % of the nations fresh seafood. This has just destroyed that and will continue to destroy it. So many fisherman are out of work now for the forseeable future. Not to mention that the average spawning cycle for many fish is 3 to 4 years. This is really a disaster. We cherish our wetlands. There are myths and folktales built around them. They’re engrained in our culture. It’s like a stab to our heart when something like this happens to them. It hurts to see those oil dregs put out there in the first place, but when this happens, it’s a bullet. Yes, oil brings in money, but is it worth it? We rely so much on oil, but it’s so DAMN destructive.

Which brings me to my next point. We’ve made so much progress it seems to move towards a more “green” way of living. I know I’ve tried to be as environmentally conscious as I can be. I choose paper products whenever I can over plastic and I’ve formed a HATRED of plastic products these days. I rarely ever use them. I love reusable things now like shopping bags, cups, etc. I’m very conscious these days of using things that have chemicals…I avoid them. I’ve been trying to go a more natural route and even with my garden that I recently planted, I went all organic! Many people have done this. But this oil spill just seems like a giant slap in the face…a big negation of everything the country has done so far. That’s what it feels like. Mr. Big Corporation unleashes their oil dregs and dumps one million plus gallons of oil into our water and unleashes toxic fumes into the air and kills all of our marine life in the process as well. I’m SICK OF IT!!! What can we do??? Tell me what I can do someone and I will do it! I WILL write my congressman and tell them I’m sick of it. But I want to do more.

There plan so far was to set the oil slick on fire and hope to burn it off :/ They said that it will have “minimal damage to the fish and sea turtles in the gulf” Um….really? Fire retardant fish and turtles? Never heard of them. Fuck that! That’s bullshit! You made the problem, find a way to fix it that’s the least invasive and the most effective that DOESN’T cost OUR tax dollars. Which of course, it now is since the federal government is getting involved. I was glad to hear that the government said that they are helping but BP will ultimately be responsible for all costs related to clean up.

I just needed to vent about all of this. I’m so upset about it. I’m hurt for my state. I can deal with my headaches, but more than anything, I feel for the fisherman, for their families. You would think that it doesn’t affect many people, but it’s thousands upon thousands. More than you even realize. And it’s not just fisherman. There are so many people who’s lives rely on the gulf of Mexico down here. We’re a cityΒ  and a state that is one with the gulf of Mexico…we’re one with our wetlands and this one hurts. There’s an excellent article on Nola.com that describes everything that’s going on really well. I highly recommend you check it out!

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Bad Bloggers On A Wednesday

Time to post the next round of books that walked into the house before it gets to out of control. Now I actually am writing this post on Tuesday night, so it’s quite possible that other books have walked into the house once this has posted :p In fact, I’m HOPING that Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness has walked into the house :p I have a dear friend who was kind enough to send a copy my way, so we’ll see if it ends up here!! I know it’s somewhere on it’s way to me. Here’s what has made it’s way to me as of Tuesday night and who I’m blaming for it this week.

1. Don’t Tell: The Sexual Abuse of Boys by Michel Dorais – I wasn’t going to review this one on this blog at first, but I’m about halfway through it right now and I think it’s something that more people need to know about so I think I am going to review it. As food for thought for right now, did you know that 1 in 6 boys have been the subject of some type of sexual abuse? Most people don’t because it’s NOT talked about. So I will. (Bought it)

2. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman – SO excited about this one!! It actually comes out here in the US in just a few days but I couldn’t wait :p So after reading Ana’s review (actually before reading Ana’s review) I ordered it from The Book Depository!! And it’s here now and I plan on starting it tonight!! I heard today in an email from Canongate that it’s ranked #1 in the UK right now on the fiction charts. Congrats to Canongate and to Mr. Pullman! Point to Ana! (Bought it)

3. Instructions by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Charles Vess – Yeah, just look at who wrote it and illustrated it…I had to get it. In fact, I’ve had this one pre-ordered since it was announced :p And it was read within 5 minutes of being opened from the box. And has been read about 10 times since :p And it was reviewed yesterday! (Bought it)

4. The Organic Fruit and Vegetable Gardener’s Year by Graham Clarke – I REALLY like this book!!! Like I said, I’m trying to go all organic this year with my vegetable garden and this book is just what I was looking for. It gives you some excellent pointers on how to do things the organic way without making things seem overly complicated and without being preachy at all. It’s very simple! And it breaks each vegetable and fruit and herb down by seasons and tells you what to do in each season and how to grow in each season. It’s really fantastic!! I’d highly recommend it! I’ve learned so much from it already. So many other neat tips here and there as well. I should really write a full review on this one. (Bought it)

5. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami – I have been wanting this book FOREVER! Literally. Ok…not literally, but it feels that way. Since before I started blogging I’ve been wanting this book. I don’t know why I haven’t bought it. But it finally came up on Paperback Swap and I have it now! (Paperback Swap)

6. Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo – Ok, so isn’t that title alone enough to make you want to read the book? If it’s not, you should just read Eva’s review of the book and then you’ll totally want to read it. Yep, she gets a point for this one as I couldn’t pass it up after she reviewed it. And I just love the cover. (Paperback Swap)

7. Curse of The Wolf Girl by Martin Millar – So. Excited. About. This. One. I just finished Lonely Werewolf Girl a couple of days ago and you should go read my review and then go read the book if you haven’t already because the book is OMG amazing! Seriously, I’m obsessed with Martin Millar now after reading Lonely Werewolf Girl and this is the follow up book to that one that the publisher was kind enough to send me. I was sad to have to leave the characters after the end of LWG and now I get more of them πŸ™‚ (Sent for review)

That’s it for now! Ana takes the lead…surprise, surprise :/

Instructions by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Charles Vess

I once fell in love with a poem titled Instructions by Neil Gaiman. That was a few years back, and I’ve read it often since then. It captures the essence of a fairy tale perfectly. Not just the essence of a fairy tale, but the experience of a fairy tale…the reading of it, the character’s journey, the reader’s journey, the writer’s journey. It’s a wonderful poem. I was so excited when I found out that it was being made into it’s own little book and even more excited when I heard that Charles Vess was on board to illustrate it! While I love Gaiman’s pairings with Dave McKean, I can think of no better artist for him to pair up with on a poem about fairy tales than Charles Vess, the master of fae art.

The book turned out to be every bit as beautiful as I thought it would be and then some. I didn’t realize until I flipped the first page, until I read the lines:

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never
saw before,
Say “please” before you open the latch,
go through,

and then turned the page and was greeted with the beautiful land that Vess created how much this poem begged to be accompanied by art. This poem works so well as a picture book as it takes the reader on a journey while simultaneously describing the journey that is reading a tale of fantasy or a tale of faerie.

I hope that one day Gaiman decides to publish a collection of poetry. I’ve always enjoyed the glimpses of poetry he gives us in his short story collections. This is another gem of a book to add to the collection that I’ll return to again and again.

Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar

Remember how I said the other day that I can’t read a bad book lately? Well I’m starting to believe that that’s honestly the truth. Neil Gaiman is quoted on the back of Lonely Werewolf Girl as saying “I [don’t] understand why Martin Millar isn’t as celebrated as Kurt Vonnegut, as rich as Terry Pratchett, as famous as Douglas Adams…” and I totally agree. Damn this man is talented. I can’t put into words how much I love almost all of the characters that he created for this novel. They’re so amazing and so three dimensional and they’re freaking werewolves. Well not all of them, I also came to love a couple of humans and a couple of fire elementals.

Millar writes books that has such sentiment behind them. And I’m saying that after reading just two of them. The other book I’ve read by him is The Good Fairies of New York, which I also loved, but not as much as I adored Lonely Werewolf Girl. His books are full of humor, but the type of humor that embodies every day life…not just humor for humor’s sake. It’s not there just to be funny, it’s something that we might all experience. No, we may not all be battling our werewolf families and we may not all be baffled at the seeming idiocy of our fire elemental princess niece, and we may not all have to put up with werewolf princesses sipping laudanum and cutting themselves in our guest bedroom, but we can relate in one way or another to the emotions attached to these things and we often respond to these situations with humor…the easiest way to deal with things. Either that, or with sadness, another emotion that Millar captures perfectly in his writing.

This story centers around Kalix, a seventeen year old werewolf who has been ostracized from her family clan after injuring her father, the head of the clan…the Thane as he is called. He is near death because of his injuries. Kalix is a depressed girl now wandering the streets of London until two humans, a goth girl named Moonglow and her roomate Daniel, intercede against their will and take her in. What they end up with is a moody, teenage werewolf who cuts herself, sips laudanum to deal with her emotional pain and loves Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

But oh there’s so much more. In the same town is Kalix’s sister, Thrix who is a fashion designer aiding a Hiyasta (a fire elemental) named Malveria in getting her wardrobe together for the hottest underground fashion event of the year. Malveria had to be one of my favorite characters in this book as she has a VERY short fuse but a heart of gold when it comes down to it. In the midst of all of this, there is a battle about to erupt in the werewolf community for who will take over as the leader of the werewolf clan when the current Thane dies. And everyone wants Kalix to pay for her past injury on her father.

Kalix’s story was just so tragic to me. She just kept falling and falling. At least that’s how I saw it at first. But then I started to see that Kalix is anyone who has had depression…anyone who’s had some type of trauma. It’s hard to open your eyes to anything good that’s there when you’ve had so much bad. It’s hard to accept something good when everything good has turned bad in the past. She truly was a Lonely Werewolf Girl and it made me so sad. Until I could see her small improvements.

And like I said, I could just spend days talking about all of the other wonderful characters in this book. All of the different connections, all of the different storylines being told. There are quite a few different storylines throughout the novel, but it’s never confusing….and they all tie together, it’s not like a whole bunch of different stories. They all have to do with one another. But I found that I enjoyed each and every one of them. You know how with some books you just dread when the author returns to one particular storyline? I never felt that way with this book. I got excited everytime Millar would change storylines.

Needless to say, I loved this. And I’d eagerly recommend it to everyone! What makes me even MORE excited is that I have the ARC of the next book, Curse of the Wolf Girl waiting for me!! It’s not due out until August, but I’m fighting just jumping into it right now. Hmmm…I could always just do that and schedule the review to go up closer to the release date πŸ˜‰ We’ll see what happens. But for now….READ LONELY WEREWOLF GIRL!!

Other Views and Opinions:

You Can Never Have Too Many Books
Things Mean A Lot
Jenny’s Books

Spring Gardening

(not my garden)

I had every intention of having pictures to accompany this post, but um…I don’t :/ I forgot to take them. I spent today planting an edible garden. And it was both wonderful and painful. Painful only because my allergies decided to act up severely and I ended up with a horrible migraine afterwards that I’m still trying to fight off with painkillers. Today was supposed to be the weather of DOOM! Seriously, they had predicted heavy thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, severe winds…you name it. I was actually looking forward to it because I like that kind of weather. I was going to cozy up with a good book all day. But it never came. It was just cloudy. So instead I planted a garden!!

I was upset last weekend when I had to return my orange tree because it was diseased, but I decided not to dwell on it and instead plant other edible things. I’ve been having some strawberries planted and I planted a tomato last weekend in a pot (both are doing VERY well) but I wanted MORE! So I did more. I also wanted to go all organic. So I now have a garden made of strictly soil, cow shit and compost. Some of it is in pots, and the rest is in a new permanent, raised garden that I set up.

I would like to start seasonal gardening so that there’s always something growing, so I wanted to do a little permanent space, so I made a little raised vegetable bed. It’s 4X4 and basically just 4 cedar planks, 6 inches high. I love it πŸ™‚ I just did three rows of vegetables in there, so we’re currently growing some cucumbers, green bell peppers, eggplant, jalapenos, and okra. Then in the pots, I have tomatoes, mint, parsley, and strawberries. I can’t tell you how excited I am about all of this πŸ˜€ There’s just something so fun about growing your own things that you can eat. About going into your own back yard and picking something off of a plant and then cooking with it…something that you know hasn’t been sprayed with tons of chemicals and isn’t soaking of chemicals in it’s roots.

Oh, and good news! We’re going down to Plaquemines parish in a couple of weeks to get a new orange tree! That’s where all of the best Louisiana citrus comes from. When you drive down in Plaquemines, there are just satsuma and orange trees and sugar cane fields everywhere you look. I love it. So I will have my orange tree soon πŸ™‚

So here’s my question for all of you gardeners/book-a-holics…do you know of a really good book that educates you on edible seasonal gardening? As in what you can plant during what season? What grows best during which seasons? And which regions things grow best in? I know that in the south, things aren’t going to grow as well as they would in the north and there are some things that may grow better. We also don’t really have true seasons down here :/ We kind of only have Winter and Summer….But I would love a good gardening book as I’m really having fun with this!!

Thoughts On A Sunday Afternoon

I’ve been happy lately. Which is a good thing. Things had not been going so good lately which I’m sure many of you noticed with my random two or three week disappearances from blog land, but I feel things starting to get back to “normal” again lately, whatever that may be. I was telling a friend over email earlier that “normal” is something that I really missed. Something I take for granted all the time. And I still don’t really know that it exists aside from being the opposite of “not chaos”. But I’ll definitely take the opposite of “not chaos”!

With being happy again, I’m finding that my reading is improving too! I swear, it’s like I can’t pick a bad book lately. Seriously, I think that if I tried to pick something awful to read right now, it would magically turn into a prize winner. I’m currently right in the middle of Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar and damn this is an AWESOME freaking book!!! Seriously, I can’t believe I haven’t read this one before now. Millar is just a genius. I loved The Good Fairies of New York, but this one is 100 times better. It’s so sad and sweet sometimes and then it’s full of action and then it’s hilarious. And more than anything, I just love the characters so much. Malveria? Maybe the best character ever. Seriously, she cracks me up. And of course this book is right after Transformations and The Dream of Perpetual Motion, two AMAZING reads! I just hope it keeps going.

I’m sure that I’ll fit in some more excellent reading soon for Ana’s 1930’s mini-challenge!!! I’m so excited about this one. I definitely want to fit in some more Dorothy Sayers, but I have to catch up to her books in the 1930’s as I’m reading them in published order. I also want to read Cold Comfort Farm. But I don’t know what else to read. Any suggestions? I’d really like to read some more mysteries from that time.

Aside from reading, I decided I wanted to have a green thumb and plant things this weekend, so we planted some strawberries which are already doing fantastic!! There are berries sprouting already! I was most excited about my orange tree though! I’ve been wanting an orange tree forever, but since Hurricane Katrina, we’ve been moving from place to place, so could never plant one. Well now that we’re in our house, we finally can. So I picked out a tree and went to plant it today only to realize that I totally suck at picking out trees 😦 Some of the leaves are diseased 😦 I went to exchange it at the store but ALL of the trees are diseased 😦 So no orange tree this weekend. Instead, I got some tomatoes. Boring old tomatoes. And I think I may plant some cucumbers next weekend. But I desperately want my orange tree…..

So that’s what’s up with me….what about you? How are you guys doing?

Transformations by Anne Sexton

It’s National Poetry Month! Did you know that? It’s also Once Upon a Time time and there’s also a really awesome challenge going on called Clover, Bee and Reverie that celebrates poetry, so I figured that this was the perfect time to read Anne Sexton’s Transformations. As a teenager, I was obsessed with the poetry of Anne Sexton. I still can’t tell you exactly what it is about her that I love, but her poetry has always rang true to me. I guess it’s that she saw life with an honest eye. And I like that. It was never sugar coated, and while that could be depressing, it’s the truth. And I just love her spin on words. Somehow, I managed to have never discover Transformations until I met Ana (Nymeth) and she told me about this book. And now I’ve finally read it.

This is my new favorite collection of Anne Sexton’s. I’ll say that right off the bat. What she’s done here is transformed 17 of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales into her own. But she’s done much more than that. Each poem is titled the same as the original tale, Cinderella, for example. Sexton goes on to tell the tale of Cinderella in her own beautiful poetry, always staying true to the original Grimm tales. As you know, these are far from what Disney has taught us over the years and they work beautifully with Sexton’s sometimes dark, sometimes edgy, sometimes humorous language. So in that sense, she is literally transforming Grimm’s tales into a poem of her own.

But there is another transformation taking place here as well. Before each retelling of the tale, there is another poem that Sexton shares with us. A poem that is not so much a retelling of the tale, but a relation to the tale. I’ll give you an example. Perhaps my favorite poem of the collection was Rapunzel. We’ve come to know Rapunzel throughout the years as the story of the beautiful maiden held hostage in the tower who lets down her hair so that the handsome prince can climb up and rescue her. “Rapunzel Rapunzel, let down your hair” and then he saves her, right? That’s the image we’ve all learned. But that’s not the true tale. We often forget that Rapunzel was put in the tower by her mother who never wanted anyone to touch her or see her. She would throw down her hair so that her mother could climb it and once her mother came up, Rapunzel would hold her and her mother would cry in her lap. When the prince discovered this, he used the same tactic to get into the tower calling for Rapunzel to let down her hair. Rapunzel did so and they spent the evening in happiness in the tower. But Rapunzel’s mother on finding out about this cut off all of Rapunzel’s hair and took her into the forest. When the prince discovered the tower empty after falling for a trap laid by the mother, he threw himself from the tower, blinding himself. Eventually he is healed and they do end up together. But it is a much darker tale than what we are taught. And it’s very much a tale about the dangers of obsession.

Sexton takes the obsession and transforms it into an absolutely beautiful tale of female bonding between two women before giving us the tale of Rapunzel, the fairy tale itself. And this is the pattern of the whole book. First, her own interpretation, her own transformation, then the poetic translation of the tale itself. Her is her transformative poem before Rapunzel. I fell in love with this:

A woman
who loves a woman
is forever young.
The mentor
and the student
feed off each other.
Many a girl
had an old aunt
who locked her in the study
to keep the boys away.
They would play rummy
or lie on the couch
and touch and touch.
Old breast against young breast…

Let your dress fall down your shoulder,
come touch a copy of you
for I am at the mercy of rain,
for I have left the three Christs of Ypsilanti,
for I have left the long naps of Ann Arbor
and the church spires have turned to stumps.
The sea bangs into my cloister
for the young politicians are dying,
are dying so hold me, my young dear,
hold me…

The yellow rose will turn to cinder
and New York City will fall in
before we are done so hold me,
my young dear, hold me.
Put your pale arms around my neck.
Let me hold your heart like a flower
lest it bloom and collapse.
Give me your skin
as sheer as a cobweb,
let me open it up
and listen in and scoop out the dark.
Give me your nether lips
all puffy with their art
and I will give you angel fire in return.
We are two clouds
glistening in the bottle glass.
We are two birds
washing in the same mirror.
We were fair game
but we have kept out of the cesspool.
We are strong.
We are the good ones.
Do not discover us
for we lie together all in green
like pond weeds.
Hold me, my young dear, hold me.

They touch their delicate watches
one at a time.
They dance to the lute
two at a time.
They are as tender as bog moss.
They play mother-me-do
all day.
A woman
who loves a woman
is forever young.

Beautiful, isn’t it? And if Anne Sexton’s words and the subject matter weren’t fascinating enough, there’s an amazing introduction to this book by Kurt Vonnegut AND throughout the book, each poem is beautifully illustrated by Barbara Swan. All together this was just such a wonderful book and I can see myself dipping into this one over and over again into the future.