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Things Done

1) Mowed the tiny front lawnlets
(??? in February ???  It was so hot today!) 
    Search and destroy mission on brambles lurking darkly around the beech hedge moderately successful
    Laid loads of hazel hedge.  Too hot to wear a jumper!
    Primroses, daffodils and azaleas in bloom. Snowdrops already finishing in sunnier spots. 

2) Went for a walk from Bere Ferrers down to the Tamar with my mother and her dogs.   Very muddy fields, tiny baby calves, falling sun reflecting across the river.   Saw an egret. 

3) Tried to paint another Derbyshire landscape for Eagle BB.  
Didn't go well even though I haven't even tried to put a Marcus in the foreground yet. :-(  Need to decide whether to give up and try again or plug on & hope it will come together.   Am inclined to think that paintings where you get that 'Uuurgh I hate this' feeling rarely turn out really well in the end. 

4) Sent in enquiry about a couple of lurchers, hoping that one of them may be suitable for me to adopt.  

5) Bills. Car service, car insurance, vet bills, arrrg.  :-(  

6) Watched Top Gear about the end of the Saab car manufacturer.  
Made me feel cheerful about owning Helga Saab. Apparently only awesome people own Saabs?  (in honesty I must admit this seems an unlikely proposition...)  Good to hear that people are still making the parts, that 's a relief.   Helga is 10 and well over 120,000 miles but seems quite happy to keep on going so far.  Good girl Helga! 

7) Watched Being Human. Just a bit too depressing. May give up watching.  Annie is so bloody naive suddenly, and it's just a bit irritating. Surely she wasn't quite this thick always?  And the casual killing without any real regret to it is a bit icky, it now seems that from being aspirational, ordinary humanity is just unimportant collateral damage. 

8) Finished reading Ishi in Two Worlds by Theodora Kroeber, mother of Ursula Le Guin.  
About a North American Indian man who turned up in California in 1911, having lived his whole life in hiding until finally being found starving, as the last survivor of a series of atrocities that wiped out his tribe (the Yahi, a subgroup of the Yana).  He was taken to a museum where he lived until he died a few years later of TB.  Tragically sad, and full of questions such as:
        a) what did he really think of the white people who 'befriended' him and took him to a museum to demonstrate his 'native skills' to an audience of over 1000 people a day (he never told them his real name...) 
        b) was he really 'the last'?  What happened to the women of his tribe who were 'given to a rancher' !!!???
        c) what gives with Batwi, the 'halfbreed' who translated for Ishi to begin with when nobody else could speak his language?  Why is he described with such contempt (NB by 'halfbreed' the writer means he was half Yana, half Maidu Indian - the next-door tribe!) 
         d) what on earth can one think of people who accidentally find a 'hidden village' and promptly steal the inhabitants' subsistence-level tools and supplies, leaving them unable to survive, *as souvenirs*
        e) is it correct to call someone who crafted arrowheads from discarded glass bottles stolen from rubbish heaps, roofed his house with wagon canvas and screwed it all together with scavenged metal screws 'Stone Age'?  And if not, how do you describe that?

On the whole, left me feeling incredibly lucky in my lot in life.  The history of the USA : SO GRIM. 


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
27th Feb, 2012 11:04 (UTC)
It was grim indeed. I think from the blurb on the back that the bit after Ishi came out of hiding and joined his museum friends was supposed to be a bit heartwarming and full of humanitarianism - but frankly it didn't really come across that way to me. It still seemed exploitative, though it is hard to think how it could have NOT been to some extent, given the situation.

They took the poor chap back to his 'homeland' for a holiday - even though he said he didn't want to go - and spent a summer cheerily camping and hunting with him, in the country where *everyone who spoke his language or who he had ever met before the age of about 55 had been horrifically exterminated* and he'd almost starved to death himself. Just a little too much like running a summer camp at Belsen. :-/

It does sound like the Yahi were anthropologically interesting though : apparently they had a women's language and a men's language - everyone understood both languages, but women never spoke the men's language, and men only spoke the women's language when talking to women.
(Deleted comment)
27th Feb, 2012 14:02 (UTC)
In my experience there are very few books about American Indians that don't fall into the "completely heartbreaking" or "infuriatingly woowoo" camps. Sometimes both. :-(
27th Feb, 2012 00:59 (UTC)
Being Human certainly had problems tonight. I found Kirby utterly implausible from the beginning, and like you could not see Annie falling for his story.
27th Feb, 2012 10:51 (UTC)
I supposed she does have a record of bad choices in men, but you'd think having made the same mistake and ended up a ghost, she'd have been slightly more wise to him! And as a character he was just very annoying to watch and listen to.
27th Feb, 2012 02:55 (UTC)
The Yana lived pretty close to where I currently live (in Sacramento, CA) from what I gather. I have in mind to read >Ishi... at some point, largely out of interest in reading words by the woman who raised LeGuin if I'm to be quite honest. Does sound like rather a downer though.
27th Feb, 2012 14:19 (UTC)
It is a very sad book, though as one might expect, beautifully written and very readable. Some of the writer's attitudes and phraseology are a little painful from a modern viewpoint, but I suspect in 1960 it was probably a very enlightened work.

I read this book primarily for that reason: with Tolkien, his writing is of course very much flavoured by his work and studies, and having re-read a couple of versions of 'Beowulf' recently, the idea came to me that would be appropriate to do some reading around Le Guin as well, particularly as her writing draws on sources that I'm much less (or not at all) familiar with.
27th Feb, 2012 22:07 (UTC)
A lot of Le Guin is about people a long way from their home cultures. I was struck by a description of the way a child reacts to the traveller Shevek in "The Disposessed" (Shevek also lives in two worlds):

He represented something to the child which Ini could not describe. Even much later in his life, which was profoundly and obscurely influenced by that childhood fascination, Ini found no words for it, only words that held an echo of it: the word voyager, the word exile.

Is this something from Le Guin's own childhood perhaps, and memories of people like Ishi?
27th Feb, 2012 22:40 (UTC)
She would not have known Ishi personally - he died in 1916, five years after coming out of hiding - no resistance to 20th century disease carried by the myriad museum visitors, it just gets more woeful - but there might still be echoes there. Her father Alfred Kroeber was a very eminent anthropologist who apparently testified for the California Indians in a case against the USA, she'd have been old enough to remember that.
27th Feb, 2012 10:46 (UTC)
I haven't watched last week's Being Human yet, not sure I can face it, which probably means I should just give up!
27th Feb, 2012 10:52 (UTC)
I kind of wish I'd skipped this week's episode, it doesn't seem to advance the plot and was just a bit depressing really.
27th Feb, 2012 17:02 (UTC)
I'm actually enjoying Being Human more this year than ever. Partly this is due to the fact that I've still never seen the first 5 episodes, so with the old cast, I felt as if I was constantly one step behind; people kept making references to past events that I didn't understand. But, also, last year's episodes I found very grim and gruelling, with barely a glimmer of the humour that had initially attracted me, and thus far I'm finding this year's far less depressing. Sneaky Evil Ghost Guy was annoying, though.

I don't do much painting, but some of my most successful fanfics (in terms of number of comments and general enthusiasm expressed therein) are those that, halfway through, made me think "Aaargh! This just isn't working! I should probably scrap the entire thing!" I'm not sure if this means that I have no ability to judge the merit of my own work, or that my readers lack taste and judgement and are more likely to acclaim trash. ;-)
27th Feb, 2012 22:23 (UTC)
I watched Being Human from the pilot episode (which I liked even better than the series!) so it may just be that I am getting jaded. But I think the thing I liked about it at first was that there was no grand earthshattering plan or plot arc, the story seemed to be on quite a small scale, about individuals not Destiny. I'm less keen on the whole 'saviour' idea, I think.

The writing v painting thing is a bit of a can of worms isn't it?

But I think when it comes to actual physical painting with paint, there is a limit to how much re-working you can reasonably do on the paper, because the surface you are painting on physically changes as you stick more paint onto it. Whereas you can rework digital text infinitely, and at least some of the time, make it better in the process.
29th Feb, 2012 20:13 (UTC)
Hey, if you go back long enough here, our history's pretty grim, too!!

e)'s a very interesting question... I love seeing pressure flaked glass artefacts - I've seen a gorgeous Australian spearhead before, made out the glass insulator from a pylon.
29th Feb, 2012 20:26 (UTC)
Go back far enough and all history is grim, but somehow it feels particularly shocking when the history is close enough for photographs.

e) is so complicated! The Yahi had worked in flaked glass for a very long time, apparently - but it used to be imported obsidian rather than broken bottles. Invasion disrupted the obsidian trade, but provided a substitute...
29th Feb, 2012 20:40 (UTC)
I suppose technologically speaking, they're still Stone Age, as they don't work metal, and glass, as you say, can occur naturally...
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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