Sleeping Beauty


Prompt: Briar

Hello Wednesday!

When I was a kid, fairy tales elicited the kind of reaction that they must have done hundreds of years ago: fear and awe. We had books and books of fairy tales, telling of children lost in the woods, evil wart women, betrayals and punishments, violence, trickery and lies. Disney could not completely muffle the dark underside of these stories, and so I found many of the tales disturbing enough to require a night light.

What did I think a night light accomplished, I wonder? Prevent an evil witch from entering the room? Repel impossible creatures, like dragons and malicious plants? Keep not just the strange little men from entering, but also the handsome prince, whom I did not know and didn’t want to be kissed by?

A favourite though was the tale of a young girl (a princess, I think) whose six brothers are cursed by their evil stepmother and transformed into swans. She can only break the curse by weaving each of them a shirt made of nettles, and she toils away in some anxiety because the shirts must be made within a certain time– and she doesn’t quite finish the task before the deadline. So while five of her brothers are rescued, one has a swan’s wing in place of the arm she was unable to sew in time. …So exciting! I wonder if I craved to be a heroine in the eyes of my two brothers? Anyway Disney hasn’t ruined this one for me, yet.

In the spirit of fairy tales, briars, prickles, and thorns, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?


Sweet dreams and smooth sailings!

Love,

~FP

Middle Class

Prompt: Etiquette


Dear Wednesday, a little late,

Dammit and bloody hell! I know this is not a polite way to begin a post, but WordPress is giving me grief by trying to force me to switch to their “new” block editor despite my resistance, and I am currently writing in some kind of Frankenstein classic editor hybrid, which is random and fickle and well, dammit and bloody hell! 

So how are you? 

I like today’s prompt, since it gives me a platform to promote my belief that most of the world’s ills could be solved if we all of us had good manners. Good manners means putting others at ease while still maintaining dignity yourself—imagine if politicians took up the banner!

People might say, Excuse me, sir, you look hungry and cold. Let me do my best to ease your suffering, since I am warm and well fed and understand that I am part of the same community as you! Madam, you are going to bring a newborn child into our community? Let me help you gain access to the best care possible, since resources are abundant and should not be withheld! Child, you look neglected and confused. Perhaps a humane safety net and access to a fine education can prevent tragic consequences in our community down the road! May god bless you, whether you believe in god or not, I respect your choices!

Kindness matters with regard to monumental issues as well as with small gestures. Everyone take a deep breath— a healthy breath behind a mask if need be—and go forth and save the world with good manners!

Now here are a few of my favourite cartoons, very loosely related to today’s prompt, “etiquette”:

 

 

Blame WordPress if this post is a dammit bloody hell mess, and have a happy week! 

~~FP

Imagination

Prompt: Arctic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to imagine the Arctic cold when it’s 32F and there are waves languidly lapping the sand. Just as it’s difficult to remember the feeling of a hot sun on your skin on a frozen winter day.

Or a teenager utterly unable to relate to an older person; and an older person critical of the young, having lost the memory of being young themselves.

Or a conservative trying to understand a liberal; and a decent, progressive human being trying to understand a Trump supporter.

(That last one doesn’t really work.)

Empathy, which requires imagination and good intentions, seems in short supply these days. That’s why there are such unnecessary divisions in the world: From politics, to art, religion, and generational, environmental, cultural and gender issues.

Trump supporters skew older, among other things, and like Trump, they often resemble the stereotypical angry old man ordering the kids off his lawn. They also tend to be culturally isolated; i.e. live in white communities with very little interaction with Black or brown people. They have a strong sense of entitlement and are hostile towards those who have more than they do— more money, maybe (but America worships the rich in general) but also in terms of education and status. They tend to favour authoritarianism, which is obvious not just in their blind support for Trump, but for their steadfast believe in a God, no matter how outlandishly her commandments are misinterpreted. But mainly, they lack imagination and good intentions.

It’s hard to imagine creatures actually suffering from the effects of climate change. It is much more convenient to side with those for whom the truth is too frightening to consider. It feels better to believe the authoritarian figures —not scientists, but politicians and religious leaders— who soothe their fears about horrific truths at the same time as they stoke fears about imaginary enemies, all the while being manipulated into accepting attitudes and policies that are damaging and harmful to them but which serve the wealthy elite.

Whew. I had no intention of dragging Trump into this post. Let’s step away from the Tr*mp, and browse a few of my favourite cartoons relating to the prompt, “Arctic”:

cartoon arctic american

cartoon eskimo

cartoon dog sled


Stay safe, warm, and imaginative!

~~FP

Endangered Species

bumblebee bat2

Please please may I have my own bumblebee bat?
Who would perch like an angel on the rim of my hat,
And flutter and fly and scare my dog, Nat,
That I’d cuddle and spoil and pet like a cat,
And save from his vanishing Thai habitat,
Cause endangered he’d love my cramped little flat,
Where I’d feed him cold mozzies and warm butterfat,
…or should I just get a turtle and leave it at that?

Bumblebee Bat

A Beer is a Beer

Prompt: Beer


Hello Wednesday,

Summer is coming and it’s nice to anticipate warm sunny days relaxing on the patio, maybe taking a break from tending to the garden, being served (why not? It’s my fantasy) an ice cold bottle of Danish beer. A crisp, cool lager that slides icily, fizzily down the throat and is one of the glories of being alive.

The problem is, while I like the idea of summer beer, I don’t particularly like the taste of it any more. I don’t like the alcohol weariness that accompanies beer. Yet the romance of beer beckons with more and more intensity as the sun moves higher in the sky.

 “A beer is a beer,” my father used to say. He was an unpretentious man, who never failed to appreciate the icy luxury of a beer fresh out of the fridge after a hard day’s grimy work. He didn’t need or even appreciate fancy beers, though he harboured no grudges against those who fancied themselves connoisseurs. He loved beer culture, which is to say he was happiest when he could ensconce himself in a cosy pub surrounded by his easy-going friends. I like to think that is where he is now. With my dog at his feet, snatching up stray peanuts. Yes, I’m into flights of fancy during these days of isolation.

So I will stock the summer fridge with the things that satisfy me as a cold beer satisfied my father. I’ll sip and be delighted, whether it’s a cold white wine, a decadent vodka cooler (I love those), a non-alcoholic beer like Beck’s which I have just discovered and which is freaking delicious, or a frosted glass of clean cold water, in the spirit of being grateful for the truly fine moments in life.

Meanwhile, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons related to today’s prompt, “beer”?

cartoon solar beer

cartoon cloud beer

cartoon belly button beer


Peace, love, and patience,

~~FP.

Hurray for Science [Repost]

New Prompt: Hope — with a poem

Epitome database


This illustration of Epitome, a database of “structurally inferred antigenic epitopes in proteins, i.e., known antigenic residues and the antibodies that interact with them, including a detailed description of residues involved in the interaction and their sequence/structure environments”, is for me the epitome of specialized science: opaque, brilliant, obscure, necessary, esoteric, and curious. Scientists from all over the world contributed (and still do?) to this epitome.

This is not a criticism or a joke. How I would love to have a Masters in Bioinformatics with Systems Biology, for example, instead of being a good speller and able to do some crosswords in pen, can draw a little, and studied geophysics once, among other random topics that interested me at the time, logic be damned. My life is a failure, as far as specialized science goes.

I know enough to know that I hardly know anything at all. And I know that because I don’t understand this science, or parts of it might be unpleasant or scary, doesn’t mean I can dismiss it. I believe in believing the experts. (Hear that, climate-change deniers?)

 

Epitopes

Schematic representation of two antibodies interacting with linear and conformational epitopes.

Converted to a poem by me:

a.

Linear epitopes
are short and continuous
like dachshunds.
After denaturation
the linear epitopes may still
be able to
bind
the antibody.
I have hope.


b.

Conformational epitopes
are domains
of proteins
composed of specific regions of
protein chains.
Never alone.
After denaturation
the discontinuous epitope
can no longer
bind
the antibody.
Love conquers all.

 


The Power

Prompt: Disturbing

woman flying

There were a couple of illuminating aspects of an exhausting dream I had last night. (No need to read on— other people’s dreams can be paralyzingly boring— but if you have any interest in dream significance or interpretation, it might be tolerable.)

I was lost in my dream New York City, which has elements of the actual city, but like many of my dream cities is more a travel brochure version (with obscure references thrown in for good measure). Tall buildings, crowds, millions of storefronts, subways, and trains, and a main street upon which I walk in search of…

This time I was in search of the building where my sister lives, a vintage mid-rise apartment block in a neighbourhood of vintage mid-rise apartment blocks. I knew where it was, but somehow was very lost, walking miles and miles out of my way, for hours and hours, through strange neighbourhoods (like “Jamaicatown”) and the docks, sometimes on busy, crowded sidewalks, sometimes in menacingly empty industrial areas. On and on, the frustration and anxiety growing unbearably.

At one point I bought and wore a green dinosaur suit and danced along the street uncaring— Revelation number one: Sometimes we are pushed to a point past caring, where alarming unorthodox behaviour is a release, and feels good. I will look at the square pegs, the sometimes scarily weird people, differently from now on.

At another point, after a gruelling attempt to reach my destination by taking a route off the main street, I found myself further away from my sister’s flat than I could ever imagine; across an inlet, on much higher ground, with the city seemingly inaccessible now, after the interminable unsuccessful efforts to navigate it. So I said to myself, “I’ll just have to fly” and started to lift myself off the ground.

Then, as a crossed the inlet high above the water, I said to myself with exasperation, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?”

Why indeed? Flying in dreams can be difficult; often concentration is needed to keep me aloft, but it is immensely liberating, especially when, as in this dream, I will it— a dream intervention.

Revelation number two: Sometimes we have to consciously free ourselves from the things that hold us back. We forget our own power, that we have resources that can seem magical when they actually lift us out the quicksand of confusion or indecision.

To recap: We are all vulnerable sometimes, and sometimes pushed to a place beyond our control or understanding, causing us to behave uncharacteristically, impulsively, loopily, and we should maybe learn to sympathize and forgive ourselves and others when this occurs. Oppressive feelings, whether of depression, loss, confusion, doubt, or fear, drag us down, but we need to remember that we have the power within us to help lift us up and out and away, where we can feel free and find some perspective.

…Perhaps I should say “I” instead of “we”— but I found the dream to have such valuable messages that I wanted to share it. My alarm awakened me from this dream and I truly was emotionally exhausted (in the dream I was also physically spent and very hungry). Don’t you think one of the most delicious things in life is to wake from a disturbing dream and find it was all an unpleasant brain fantasy?

Thanks, Batman

Prompt: Hero


Dear Wednesday,

Do people still have heroes? And I do not mean comic superheroes, those tiny-waisted muscle men and women who have remarkably similar histories of tragedy, misunderstanding, and injustice and similarly remarkable and predictable current obsessions and similarly pyrotechnic, technicolour battles against villainy. Sorry (not sorry), I supposed you’ve guessed by now that I’m not a fan.

Perhaps superheroes are popular because there are so few real human heroes in our midst. Remember when politicians like John F. Kennedy or Nelson Mandela or Tommy Douglas or Lester Pearson or Winston Churchill or Ghandi innovated and inspired? How about Neil Armstrong and the other astronauts, and those who devote their heart and soul to a pursuit despite tremendous obstacles, like Jackie Robinson or Jesse Owens, Terry Fox, Martin Luther King Jr., Oskar Schindler, Rosa Parks or Harriet Tubman? What happened to the kind of courage that left us breathless?

There are many unsung heroes, of course: Many of the “greatest generation” who endured the Great Depression and World War II, doing their duty with honour and without complaint even in the darkest of times. There are people who quietly and selflessly dedicate their lives to caring for the less fortunate, people who protest and even vote under dangerous circumstances, people who commit invisible yet meaningful heroic acts in their daily lives, like standing up to a bully or speaking up for the marginalized.

I think current political systems that value money, possessions, and personal power above all else create a wasteland in which it is hard for heroes to act or, when they do, to be recognized. Adversity is often a breeding ground for heroes, but the adversity most of us face today is dulled by distractions, drugs, ignorance, or hopelessness. In this atmosphere true heroes are desperately needed— who will step up?

On a lighter note and related to today’s prompt, “hero”, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon baby batman

cartoon superman xray

cartoon thanks batman


Peace and love,

~~FP

As Seen on TV

Prompt: Television


Hello Wednesday,

Has television become the focus of our lives? It occupies a prominent, if not the most prominent, position in our homes, we stare at it for many hours a day, use it as a source for news, gossip, education, and entertainment both inspiring and trivial, and we are likely to lose our minds if the cable goes out and we are stuck in a room with a silent yawning black hole instead of the thing that we build routines around.

When I got my first apartment my roomie and I were on a tight budget so thought we’d forego the television set— and yes, this was partly a social experiment on our part. How did we spend our evenings? I remember filling many diary volumes, working on crafty projects, going out a lot, reading, studying (when not in school I was generally taking night courses), and having friends visit. I also remember going into work every day and not participating in the ubiquitous “Did you see…?” recap about the previous night’s TV events. Most importantly, I remember not missing it! The apartment, humble as it was, was always a serene and calming refuge and not a distracting noise box. When my roommate moved on to another city, my new housemate got us a tiny old black and white TV, and thus ended the experiment.

As I examine my TV habits I can’t help but notice how remarkably distractible I am even when I am watching a program I deliberately scheduled, by my iPad mostly, catching up on mail and messages, news, following links and so on, but I also fidget, talk on the phone, do my nails, wander around, doodle, fold laundry, browse magazines, make tea, add ice to my wine, make lists. I honestly don’t know if television shows are less fascinating or whether my ability to focus on anything has eroded into near non-existence. I suspect the latter. How about you?

Related to my television pondering and today’s prompt, may I now present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon tv book

cartoon as seen on tv book

cartoon cat tv


Love, peace and serene refuge,

~~FP