I’m supposed to be blogging about autumn gardens, or creepy gardens, in honor of the month of October, but I’m having a hard time because instead I’m thinking about cemeteries. Which is weird, I know. But bear with me for a minute. Some of the most beautiful and moving gardens I’ve been in have been…cemeteries.
When we went to Paris, one of my favorite excursions was to Père Lachaise Cemetery, and it felt very much like an odd sort of garden, the dead planted like the trees with the moss growing on their stone house and roots tangling around them, finally and truly becoming part of nature. There was a light rain; crows were cawing above us in the trees. It was the perfect autumn garden, as sleepy and comforting and sorrowful as the smell of the leaf mold on moss as the trees drop their foliage. Old cemeteries where ivy and moss crawl up the mausoleums and tombstones, eating the sharp edges of memory, those with trees and shrubs, seem perfectly right to me for fall. They have the serenity of a garden, coupled with the restfulness of boundary, an end in sight.
Written by Tsitsi Dangarembga
Review by Jarad Johnson
I’m taking a course on narratives in African Literature this semester, and part of that means reading books by authors that probably would not normally fall under my purview. Part of being a reader is, by default, being a lifelong learner, and I’m very pleased when I get exposed to new ideas, cultures, and experiences…one of the reasons I took this class (it’s also taught by one of my favorite teachers). The course focuses on narratives, which is a topic that this blog likes to focus on as well.
The Book of Strange New Things
Written by Michel Faber
Review by Jarad Johnson
This is a book that I picked up on a whim when I was at the library last week. I had heard very good things about it, and I decided to give it a try. Going into the book, I knew it was a science fiction story about a pastor who travels to another world to preach to the native population on that planet while Earth descends into chaos. This did not sound like it was something I would enjoy, but several reviews said it wasn’t a novel about religion, so I decided to try it anyway.
Today your Uncle Morty would simply like to share a list of quotes that have been bonking around his empty old skull. I leave it to my dear readers to decide upon a term under which to group the following words of wisdom, or indeed to what use you might employ them.
I've been told I need to begin working again and while I perfect a few parables and a very short story about the Netherworld, I will leave you with these.
On stupidity –
“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
On lies –
“I think the difference between a lie and a story is that a story utilizes the trappings and appearance of truth for the interest of the listener as well as of the teller. A story has in it neither gain nor loss. But a lie is a device for profit or escape. I suppose if that definition is strictly held to, then a writer of stories is a liar - if he is financially fortunate.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Legal definition of willful blindness
Legal Definition of willful blindness: deliberate failure to make a reasonable inquiry of wrongdoing (as drug dealing in one's house) despite suspicion or an awareness of the high probability of its existence
NOTE: Willful blindness involves conscious avoidance of the truth and gives rise to an inference of knowledge of the crime in question.
Merriam Webster Dictionary
On being fooled –
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
― Soren Kierkegaard
If you're new to the site, maybe you've missed the adventures of The Thin Hungry Man. Julie has kind of forgotten about him, bless his heart. Since we don't have a picture of the Thin Hungry Man, Morty let us use his picture, but with the understanding that Julie will get back to writing and get him back on his way in the next few weeks. In her defense, she's been working on another book which will hopefully be published soon! In the meantime, enjoy!
THM 1 - The Thin Hungry Man Has An Idea It Hurts
THM 2 - Into Nothing
THM 3 - Bright New World
THM 4 - Lunch at the End of the Tunnel
THM 5 - At Long Last Lunch
THM 6 - An Unwelcome Guest
Like cats and writers, books and tea go hand in hand. Julie and Jarad could probably be termed, "tea addicts." As such, they're here to tell you all about their favorite teas today!
When I was a little girl, hot tea was more than a drink for me, it was a connection with a cosy world of English bedtime stories. In my favorites stories, particularly Alice in Wonderland, tea played an important role. Tea felt like something a writer would drink. Where I grew up in the South, iced sweet tea was popular, but in the morning and the winter, most people went to coffee for warmth and caffeine. Other than my mom, a yankee, I didn’t know a lot of people who sat down with a cup of hot tea in the afternoon to read a book. But she did, and it was a habit I picked up.
I can remember bringing flowers in from the yard to place on the table, another of my odd habits as a child, making a cup of tea and reading. If the characters in the book I was reading fell on hard times, sometimes I pretended that they could leave the book for just a few minutes and come have tea with me, usually with bread and butter. Of course, I they always had to go back into the book because I needed to finish it…but just minute to pop into the kitchen and refresh themselves? Surely no one would miss them for an hour of tea. (I was quite glad I did this for the dwarves in the hobbit, since so many of them fell in battle at the end, something I was quite inconsolable about.)
When I was growing up, we had regular Lipton tea bags with black tea. I remember being slightly offended when Connie disparaged Miss Bentley’s tea in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I still prefer a black tea, but I’ve broadened my tastes somewhat. I like flavored black teas. Blackberry is the best. If you make it with honey, it’s summer in a cup. When winter starts to drag me down, I make a steaming, tongue burning cup of it and feel like I’m back in the summer heat, risking the inhospitable teeth of the briars to steal the food of the gods. (Yes, my life is boring…why do you ask?) Although I love winter and autumn spiced teas, like apple and cinnamon or Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet I get tired of pretending to like cold weather after Christmas so blackberry brings me a little early summer in a cup. Like Jarad, I’m a fan of the old standbys Lady Grey and Earl Grey. As an old lady and a grandmama, I have to admit that I love Constant Comment, an old lady tea if there ever was one.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me because I fancy a cup of tea and I need to decide which of my favorite fictional characters I would like to share it with.
I visited a fruit tree orchard for the first time!
Normally, when we do garden day on the blog, Julie or I talk about what gardening things we’ve been doing lately. I’m confined to a dorm at the moment, but luckily my plant class is doing some interesting things and keeping me from going insane from “lack of plants-itis,” an actual disease suffered by gardeners, often resulting in symptoms like having lengthy conversations with trees, speaking encouragingly to wildflowers, and sneaking out in the night to deadhead flowers in public landscaping.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Written by Max Porter
Review by Jarad Johnson
When we review books here at Sacred Chickens, we don’t always like them. We’re very well aware of the fact we have particular and occasionally odd tastes and that you might like books that aren’t for us. When you read our reviews, keep that in mind. We will not only tell you what we thought of the book, we’ll try to make sure that you can make an educated choice about the book in question and decide for yourself. This review is about one such book, a book that left Jarad a little cold, but that a lot of people like. If you did love the book, let us know! We might even publish your review.
This little book is one that I’ve been hearing about for some time now. I’ve heard it called poignant, meaningful, and genre-defying. It is a short book, coming in at only 150 pages. It seeks to examine a father and sons’ grief at the death of the wife and mother of the family. One day, the husband is visited by a crow, a personification of grief, who won’t leave until he isn’t needed anymore. The book is sometimes painful, sometimes humorous as the father struggles to get through the days after his wife’s death and the circumstances of her demise slowly unfold with the story. The crow speaks in metaphor and a rhythmic poetic language mixing a novella format with lyric poetry.
Mostly Dead Things
Written by Kristen Arnett
Review by Jarad Johnson
I saw this book some time ago and was intrigued by the title. Reading the back of the cover, I was even more interested. A book about a taxidermist whose daughter finds him dead in his shop? Sounds right up my alley. I was interested, but I also had no real idea what to expect. In cases like these, I often look to the covers of the book to give me some insight into what’s going on inside. The cover of the copy that I was bright green with a flamingo on it, so there were no clues there. Nothing to do but delve into the pages.
You may wonder why Jarad and I continually prattle on about gardening. If you do, it probably means you’re not a gardener yourself. Most of the gardeners we know kinda can’t help but wax on about varieties, heirloom seeds, the best fertilizers, and whether or not you can squeeze a drift rose into a spot with only four hours of sun. We are also writers and readers…this combination means garden posts for you! At least we don’t collect vacuum cleaners or take pictures of roundabouts.
But today we are no longer satisfied with simple loquacity, we have crossed the border into proselyting. Here’s Jarad on the benefits of gardening.
At this point in time, I believe I’ve prattled on about plants to the point where my friends and family are in danger of becoming homicidal. (Guys, if you do decide to kill me, at least bury me under the vegetables). Aside from actually being annoyed to death by an overly enthusiastic plant fiend, there are benefits to being a gardener. Here are some that I have discovered.