Monthly Archives: October 2014

Nature Men (and Women) – but not me

I have long been intrigued by people, real and fictitious, who are competent in nature, and are, sometimes, more comfortable in the company of nature than that of people.

Jeremiah Johnson, based on an actual man, is one of my favorite films. I read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Into the Wild with can’t-turn-away fascination. This past summer I read both Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.. And recently I watched the DVD North Face, based on a true pre-WWII mountain-climbing competition. While not obsessed, I’m drawn to these stories and return regularly to the genre, safely from my proverbial armchair.

It could be because fewer and fewer people learn and practice nature-friendly skills, I’m impressed by virtue of their rarity. It probably goes without saying that I lack these skills. But had I lived 100 years ago, would I think twice about somebody who could identify animal tracks or grow/raise/catch all their own food or live in the woods for weeks on end? Who could find safe water to drink or build a fire in the snow?

I think about my – most of our – dependence on others for almost every aspect of living. We lose electricity for a couple days and chaos ensues. All of my food, save a few herbs, comes from stores. If I was lost somewhere, I certainly couldn’t forage the land for edibles. I’m handy with a hammer and saw, but I’ve never constructed any kind of shelter. I sleep poorly on the ground.

Please know I don’t spend a lot of time fretting over these things and I’m not concerned enough to take wilderness courses or to stockpile goods. (My limited takeaway from what happened in New Orleans was that cash and water were the ideal supplies. And maybe a way to heat water or food.)

I don’t particularly like or relate to the alarmist sensibility that is not uncommon these days. The apocalyptic and survivalist ones, with their talk of emergencies, preparedness, and disasters. That’s not my reference point. I guess I more lament that learning a few basic skills about nature, about meeting your own needs, isn’t part of our education, no matter where someone grows up. I think it’s harder, like studying a foreign language later in life, than if it was picked up in childhood, so that a foundation is laid.

I suppose what I’m saying is I have no burning desire to learn how to skin a squirrel or run a combine (whatever that is; I think farms use them in producing crops or something). I just don’t like being quite so soft.

Don’t yawn!

It’s almost spooky when you consider it to see someone yawn and immediately feel the urge yourself. The last word has yet to be said on the subject, but did you know there have been studies, well at least one I’ve read about anyway, connecting yawning to empathy?

The theory also suggested that yawning could have been the signal in ancient societies (here I picture cave men and women sitting around the fire relaxing after a nice dinner of flambƩed buffalo) that it was time to go to sleep. One person yawns and you know how it goes, the rest follow suit.

Certain people according to the study, are more susceptible than others depending on their levels of empathy. I am so vulnerable that when I read the word in a book or say it aloud to myself I induce a yawn. Are you yawning now??

They should have a study to secretly ferret out sociopaths by putting them in a Ā group of yawners to see if they’d follow suit. I bet they’d just sit there, twiddling their thumbs, wondering when refreshments would be served.

Fiddle-dee-dee!

Not quite two years ago I discovered the Curly Girl Method. No, it’s not a religion or a diet and it doesn’t involve selling cleaning products door to door. In short, it’s a way of taking care of your hair, for anyone – no matter their ethnicity, black or white, male or female, young or old – who has anything from a slight wave to tight coils. Here’s where it started with stylist Lorraine Massey. Nikki Walton, aka Curly Nikki is another well-known advocate.

There’s scads of information online for further reading, but the basics are: stop washing hair with sulfate-based shampoos (they create suds and strip hair of moisture which wavy/curly hair in particular needs), condition the hell out of hair, use gel, and ideally air dry.

My hair always had a wave and held curl well if I used regular or hot rollers. I liked that and had no interest in flat-ironed stick-straight hair (which magazines, Hollywood, etc., have touted for years).

There are different kinds of curly hair and I believe from my own research, that I’ve got a fickle kind (oh, that’s not the official name), meaning it’s unpredictable. It can’t be counted on to do the same thing two days in a row and further, did you know one person could have different kinds of curls on their one personal head? I know it now. Still, applying the basics of the care outlined above have made considerable improvements and brought out waves and curls heretofore unseen. I’m sold.

The thing which has most captivated me is the emergence of my one and only Scarlett O’Hara spiral curl. It resides alone on the left side of my head, beneath other hair (which is doing a variety of things, just not spiraling). I’ve never seen this before. Why is it the only one?? Why didn’t I get a batch of ’em? It comes and goes like the Cheshire cat, but here it is, with the rest of the gang pinned up out of view, on a recent day.

Fiddle-dee-dee indeed!

Fiddle-dee-dee indeed!

Now for your viewing pleasure: My MADĀ© Magazine cover rejection

In a recent post I shared an old cartoon I’d done years ago as part of a submission to MADĀ© magazine which ultimately went nowhere. This got me to thinking about MADĀ© which I haven’t even looked at in ages. I never subscribed but the library used to have it. (Maybe 10 years ago I asked a librarian about the possibility of the branch carrying it again and was more or less blown off, so I dropped it.)

My former brother-in-law introduced me and my closest-in-age siblings to the magazine when we were in grade school. A bright, observant man, he must have noticed that his wife’s youngest siblings were kind of sheltered and was good enough to hand us a small supply of MADĀ© back issues and another similar (knock-off?) magazine. We were thrilled! They were just our kind of humor. We had no idea such a wondrous magazine existed.

One of the submissions I sent to MADĀ© was a cover idea. I didn’t think I could share it here because of potential copyright infringement, but it occurred to me it’ll be okay if I don’t show their mascot or logo. As was true of cartoons, they weren’t interested in the art so much as seeing the concept.

IMG_20141023_140415

Home Making Digest (1955 style)

This is the 3rd and last installment of the old pamphlets I found at a used book sale. Here’s the first and second.

Ahh, 1955... when a woman had to put on a dress and heels before dawn in order to work in her own kitchen.

Ahh, 1955… when a woman had to put on a dress and heels before dawn in order to work in her own kitchen.

The dishwasher is a surprise but the "gas disposer" that reduces trash and food waste to "fine ash" is just peculiar. Love all that counter and storage space though!

The dishwasher is a surprise but the “gas disposer” that reduces trash and food waste to “fine ash” is just peculiar. Love all that counter and storage space though!

Much as I'm certain I'd like a "Handsome and Delicious Lemon Chiffon Pie," the only thing I'd consider are the drinks. Having never made fruit punch in my life, and recognizing all the listed ingredients, I vow to start here. Stay tuned!

Much as I’m certain I’d like a “Handsome and Delicious Lemon Chiffon Pie,” the only thing I’d consider are the drinks. Having never made fruit punch in my life, and recognizing all the listed ingredients, I vow to start here. Stay tuned!

Be the envy of your neighborhood when you cleverly craft your own trashcan lid & sand barbecue grill. Why, don't be surprised if your Home Owner's Association or rental office even takes an interest! (p.s. When your walls start making faces like that, it's time to call an exorcist.)

Be the envy of your neighborhood when you cleverly craft your own trashcan lid & sand barbecue grill. Why, don’t be surprised if your Home Owner’s Association or rental office even takes an interest! (p.s. When your walls start making faces like that, it’s time to call an exorcist.)

One gets the idea a gas company may have had a hand in this publication... The kid, who looks like an SNL skit extra, was clearly from the pre-irony days.

One gets the idea a gas company may have had a hand in this publication…
The kid, who looks like an SNL skit extra, was clearly from the pre-irony days.