Icelandic Lullabies are Horrifying

Happy nearly Halloween, if you celebrate that sort of thing!

In honor of the occasion, I present to you this pumpkin cat, and a few of my favorite creepy, local lullabies.

Think of the children’s song Ring Around the Rosie; you may envision happy, giggly children spinning faster and faster in a circle, singing the lyrics until they’re flung to the ground.  I remember playing it with friends at school, along with London Bridge, and Red Rover.  If you sang those same rhymes as a child, you may also know that folklorists argue about their origins.  I’m not sure what all the theories for Ring Around the Rosie are are, the (fairly conclusively disproved) one I remember is the plague.  I really, really hate the plague.  I’m certain it’s out to get me.

Also, NEVER image search ‘plague’

A ring of rosies: Rash, a symptom of the plague

Pockets of posies: Said to be a herbalist cure, prevent breathing in the plague by blocking it with sweet smelling flowers

Ashes: Burn the contaminated bodies

We all fall down: Let’s be realistic, we’re all going to die from the plague anyway

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It’s Been a Good Week, Month, and Year of Writing

Just after the winter holidays last year, I ordered myself a belated gift, a planner.  A planner?  Just for myself?  How terribly provocative Bettina.  And yet, it was just what I needed.  Starting in Highschool, I’ve kept a calendar of assignments due, but that’s been the extent of it.  Historically, I kept track of everything else from memory, but let me tell you, nowadays that’s an absolute impossibility.  As life becomes more complex, I’d rather focus my energy on things I’m trying to accomplish, rather than remembering which articles I need to read this week, or when to buy contact lenses.

As a result, I needed something amazing, and previously unknown: the Passion Planner.  It’s worth a whole separate post, but I’ll give you the run down.  There is someone out there who thinks and organizes the exact same way I do.  I need yearly and monthly calendars, along with daily planning space by the half hour.  I need space for a running list of everything that must must be completed each day and week, as well as a little spot to write down short term goals, things like ‘finish all readings for next week by Friday’ and ‘invite Margret for coffee, she’s had a bad day”.

However, my epic planner takes things a step further, and provides a large matrix for stating, evaluating, prioritizing and planning long term goals.  Let me tell you, I’ve got plenty of those.  I would love to graduate and become a real, live, employed person with disposable income.  I really aught to spend more time organizing an exercise routine, instead of my current formulas:

Hiking is the best.
Hiking is the best.

[sun/not pouring rain + no homework] = hiking

[empty fridge + bus costs 400 isk]           = walk to the store

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Good and Cheap: My favorite Cookbook

A couple of years ago, I came across a crowd sourced fundraiser for a book Called Good and Cheap: Living Well on $4 a day.  If you know it, I think you’ll agree it’s an ambitious, beautiful, well executed concept.  Leanne Brown is the author, a food studies scholar who wanted to provide a resource for people on SNAP, food assistance benefits in the United States.

The reality is that as of August 2015, the USDA reports more than 45 million people living in the United States receive assistance providing their household with food.

45,495,380 people are eligible for, and are currently receiving money for food, because their household cannot make ends meet.

My home state of Alaska has 85,117 people participating in the program.  We are a large state, but don’t have a very large population, roughly 736,000, and that’s very alarming math.  More than 8.5% of the people I went to school with or will see in the store live in a household that cannot provide them with adequate nutrition. In reality that number is actually much larger.  These are only the people who qualify, based on residency, citizenship, income, household size, and work status to name a few factors.  There are plenty of people who fall through this framework, but still need services.

And yet, 8.5% is still a very abstract number.  In reality, this means that the last class I taught had 34 students; of those, statistics say 4 are on food stamps.  They come to school without supplies, they have parents who cannot come to fundraisers or class trips because shift work doesn’t let them take time off, and in some cases, the school lunch provided to them yesterday was the last meal they had before lunch today.  The situation is certainly more complex, with individual families and circumstances, but

having a single child in every classroom on food support, let alone four, is simply too many.

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Interpreting Poetry: Brabble

My degree program is unique, and one of it’s core strategies seems to be sending us all off to find classes in other departments.  As you may imagine, this has led to some spectacular experiences that qualify as either thought provoking, or rage inducing.  Indeed, last year I enrolled in two sustainability courses from different departments.  One has altered the direction of my thesis, and led to a massive hobby project.  The other caused me to be exceedingly pleased when I came down with my first ever case of food poisoning, just so I could skip a day.  I did not enjoy that class.

This semester I’m in a class that spent a week interpreting poetry.

As a general rule, I love poetry.

I also love poetry magnets!

It sounds like music when you read it, and the cadence and flow of words alters with each recitation until you have a version that reflects how you personally connect with the poem.  I feel the same way about classical music, and painted portraits.  In this particular case, we read from a poet new to me, Katherena Vermette.  She is an award winning, Canadian Métis author, who composes poetry, children’s books, and North End Love Songs, one of the books I hope to read in the coming year.  The poem itself is called Happy Girls. 

 It’s tiny, 3 stanzas of only 15 words or so, but I dutifully read it through a half dozen times, and took notes on symbolism, feelings, word choice, and overall impressions. Continue reading