Saturday, April 30, 2011

An Eternal Knot

Image from Celtic Gardens

An Eternal Knot
By Bethany Davis

What’s distance to a soul?
What’s time, what’s space?
A thousand life times, a thousand miles,
  A second, an inch.
    Two souls connected,
      Never separated,
        Reaching through time,
          Reaching through space.
A touch, a brush, a whisper,
  A thin thread,
    Shorter than an atom,
      Longer than all time.
Two souls,
  Knitted together,
    An eternal knot.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Fallen: Beauty or Mind?

The Fallen
By Seether

She's wearin' dresses on the borderline
(lookin good)
Or making senses that were lost in time
(make amends)
This liberation is the one they'll love for ages (hey man I see them comin' again)
Just cut those dresses make you look so fine (you're a ten)
Put on that shirt and you'll look so divine
(i'm impressed)
This generation won't forgive those signs of aging (hey man I see them comin' again)
I got my ticket for the next makeover
I got my ticket for a stolen ride

I believe, I believe
I believe in the fallen
I believe, I believe
I believe in the callin'

They got injections for those facial lines (make amends)
Break out the scalpel keep the nose defined
(look again)
A crucifixion of the love we've known for ages (hey man i see them comin' again)
You're much too pretty you don't need your mind (just pretend)
Just bat them eyelids get your heart's desires
A resurrection of the shallow and the vapid
(hey man I see them comin')

I got my ticket for the next makeover
I lost my taste for this I'll keep my pride
I believe, I believe
I believe in the fallen
I believe, I believe
I believe in the callin'


I got my ticket for the next makeover
I lost my taste for this, I'll keep my pride
I believe, I believe
I believe in the fallen
I believe, I believe
I believe in the callin'
I believe in the callin'

How many people get their worth from how the look, dressing to draw attention?

Image from The Daily Andy
I've seen girls on campus in short skirts or shorts and skimpy blouses.  Some do wear them because they find them comfortable or because it's warm out (70s F after a winter of below zero) and those clothes are cooler.  But some wear them because they want the looks, they want the attention.  But is that the attention they want?  I always wonder when girls dress this way and then get mad when a guy whistles or stares.  Not that he should, but the guys that do are the ones you're going to get the attention of if you dress that way.

I like wearing short skirts and tight shirts, though I've never worn them in public.  I wear them because they're cute.  I wear them for me.  When I'm out and about, I dress modestly and plainly.  Because I'm pious?  No, because I like to blend in and not be noticed.  It's more a result of being shy than being "morally superior".

Should a girl be allowed to dress that way?  It depends.

Image from Black Celebrity Kids
I have big issues with girls under a certain age dressing that way.  A twelve year old shouldn't be dressing "sexy".  And dressing in a sexual way in K-12 classrooms shouldn't be allowed, I don't think.  A girl, or guy for that matter, should be allowed to dress in a way that flatters her and expresses who she is, but there should be boundaries and rules setting limits on it in a K-12 context.  Outside of school, I think there's a point where the teenager should be allowed to make their own decisions, as long as it isn't illegal.  But this age isn't necessarily static.  It is different for different teenagers, for different families, for different cultures.

Image from HiLite Online
In a work setting, with the obvious exceptions of restaurants like Hooter's, strip clubs, etc., how you dress shouldn't be sexual, I don't think, especially in an office setting.  I honestly think dressing in a provocative manner is as much sexual harassment as having naked pictures hung up.  The workplace isn't a place for the sexual, unless the workplace is sexual.

But social settings are a different story.  You should be allowed to dress how you want in a social setting, as long as it's legal.  And I am against decency laws.  I believe laws should be used to keep people from hurting each other, not to control.  It's fine to make it illegal to show nipples, pubic hair, penises, vaginas, because these shouldn't be public, but decency laws should be kept to a minimum.  People need to be allowed to make their own decisions.  But they need to own those decisions.  "Each person is responsible for their own actions."  If you show lots of cleavage, don't be surprised and offended if people stare.  They are responsible for their actions, too, and should treat you with respect, but if you want respect, you should give them a reason to respect you.  Make your own choices, but own them.

You're much too pretty you don't need your mind (just pretend)
Just bat them eyelids get your heart's desires
A resurrection of the shallow and the vapid

Image from
Many girls hide their other attributes to attract attention with just their looks.  They think a man, or woman, wants something pretty to look at, something to f**k, not talk to.  But do you want to be just a trophy or just a sex toy, or do you want to be a partner?  You make the choice.  If all you want is a night of sex with no commitment, or all you want is a f**k buddy, there is nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with you.  Just decide what you want and make your decisions accordingly.  And own those decisions.


Sophia Stood in Darkness

Image from SophiaYun's In
Everything is Possible blog

Sophia Stood in Darkness
By Bethany Davis

“I was formed long ages ago, 
  at the very beginning, when the world came to be. 
When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, 
   when there were no springs overflowing with water; 
before the mountains were settled in place, 
   before the hills, I was given birth”
Proverbs 8:23-25

Sophia stood in darkness,
Her voice rang out to me.
I walked with her in darkness,
Her arm was around me.
She placed her feet before us,
Each step brought light to me.
Creation formed behind us,
With each step the world was made.
Her tears flowed down around me,
They washed me in their light.
Her sorrow raw before me,
I want to dry them with a kiss.
Her beauty ever flowing,
From deep within her breast.
She cannot see that beauty,
But it’s there for all to see.
We stop when we have made it,
We turn to see what came before.
Creation stretches behind us,
For in the journey, the world is made.

I Turn

Image from A Charmed Life blog

I Turn
By Bethany Davis

Celeste, Selene, Luna.
Moonlight on water, wind across the waves,
Night’s sweet embrace.
I rise from the water,
Dripping, flowing, down my naked back.
Cold wind, I shiver, exposed but free.
Moonlight on water drops, my skin pale.
Peaceful night, silent, alone.
Not alone.
Eyes on me.
I turn.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Celeste's Larder is Open

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire
Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes,
and green beer from the Library
Sports Grille & Brewery, St. Patrick's
Day, 2011
Like Voltaire says, we all need food, from the baby needing breast milk to the oldest person in the world.  All races, all cultures, all religions.  Everyone needs to eat or they will die.  Food feeds our soul as much as our body.  Food is part of our life.  Food is our life.

But food isn't just a necessity, it can be a pleasure.  If food was just for nourishment, we would just have the instinct to eat, and no taste buds, or just taste buds designed to warn us away from poisons and spoiled food.  Our nose would just warn us of things to avoid or to go after something.  But both these senses don't just bring information, they bring pleasure.  The same is true for all our senses.  Our very body is designed to enjoy the world we're in.  And part of that world, part that our body and nervous system is specifically designed to enjoy, is food.

There are of course bad sides of this.  Like anything we enjoy, food can be taken to an extreme.  People use food to fill other voids in their lives.  People use food to hide from other things.  Food can be an addiction, or it can be a disorder.  Or both.  Eating disorders are rampant in the the United States, anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating being the most common.  Food and eating can be abused.  Like anything.

So, there's good and there's bad with food and eating.  It's something to respect.

I love to write about my thoughts, especially in a blog setting, where I can share them with people, and hopefully hear the thoughts of others.  And I love food, both eating it and cooking it.  So I figured I'd start a blog about food.  And hence, Celeste's Larder is open.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter: One story, One History

Picture from Marriage and Beyond
Well, today is Easter.  I hear a lot of Christians railing against pagan elements in Easter wanting them taken out, even wanting the name Easter to be removed.  I hear a lot of pagans trying to "reclaim" Easter from the Christians.  Does it matter, either way?

Growing up, we celebrated Easter with Easter bunnies and Easter eggs.  We had a lot of fun dying eggs and looking for them the next day.  It was a time to get candy, as were Halloween and Christmas.  I ate some and horded the rest, just as I did on the other two.  While on Christmas Eve, my dad always read us the Christmas story from the Book of Luke to the light of a candy, we did nothing that was Christian on Easter.  I didn't know it was a Christian holiday, honestly, or at least that fact didn't mean enough for me to remember knowing it.  But neither was it pagan.  We didn't dye eggs as a tribute to Eoster or Ishtar.  There was no religion in our celebration of Easter, Christian or pagan.  It was merely a fun holiday to do fun things as a family.  Like Halloween was.

After I became a Christian in June of 1995, Easter took on a different meaning.  That next spring, we went to church and the Resurrection was paramount.  But we still coloured eggs.

The Christian story of Easter begins on Good Friday (well, it begins long before that, but Good Friday is a good place to start in this discussion) with the Crucifixion.  Good Friday is Death, Easter Rebirth.  Easter can't happen without Good Friday, but Good Friday is a waste without Easter.  Jesus died and was in the Tome for three days, then was reborn.

Picture from BostonZest
The pagan spring fertility holidays have similar messages.  Fall brings the Death of Winter.  Spring brings Rebirth.  Without Fall, Spring cannot come.  Without the Rebrith of Spring, Winter never ends.  The Earth dies in the Fall and is in the Tome of snow for the Winter, being Reborn in the Spring.

All stories are one story.  All history one history.  The Earth tells the story of Christ, and Christ tell s the story of the Earth.  The same story is echoed in many cultures and myths.  Is Easter Christian?  Is it pagan?  Does it matter?

Let he who has ears hear.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Dreams May Come...

Screen shot from Fox
website of Masters in House

This week on House, there was a dilemma I'd like to discuss.  I won't give the detail so as not to spoil it for anyone who missed it and still want to watch it.  It was a hard episode.  Some episodes are like that every season.  This was one of them.

To summarize the issue, not the story, there was a young sixteen year old girl, who had a condition that had a high chance of killing her.  There was a solution, a hard solution, that would more than likely save her life, but would mean missing the opportunity of an immediate dream, a sailboat race, and possibly mean never sailing again, the thing she loved more than anything.  She wanted to put the decision of the procedure off until after the race, but there was a high chance it would be too late by then.

The girl convinces her mother to side with her, but the dad thinks they should do it to save his little girl's life.  The mother tells the dad if he signs the consent forms and allows the hospital to perform the procedure, she will divorce him.  She has threatened this before to get her way and started the process before he gave in, so he knows she's serious.  He is torn up inside and doesn't sign because he doesn't want to lose her.  I won't tell what ended up happening and will let you watch and find out.

There are several issues here I'd like to discuss.  First, is a long life worth it if you can't live your dream?  Is a life without dreams really a life?  Second, should someone make a decision that effects someone else without them?  Third, should a child, a minor, be allowed to make life and death decisions about their health and their life?  Fourth, is it alright to choose your marriage over the life of your child?

Is a long life worth it if you can't follow your dream?  Is a life without dreams really life?

First of all, do your dreams always stay the same throughout life?  when I was her she, I wanted to be a marine biologist.  I lived near the Oregon Coast and loved walking along the tidal pools, looking at the animals.  I loved learning about various marine animals.  I loved everything about the ocean.  But as I got older, I realized what I wanted was to be a field marine biologist but would start out as a research marine biologist and may never get to the part of it that I longed for.  I still love those things but I moved on and found other dreams.

Dreams change over time and the death of one dream doesn't mean you'll never find another dream.  Not that you should give away your dreams and give up on them easily or lightly.  You need to fight for your dreams.  Dreams are important and are what makes life worth living.  A life without dreams is no life at all.  But sometimes you have to make hard choices.  As Robert Cochrane said, "Do not do what you desire, do what is necessary."

Should someone make a decision that effects someone else without them?  I'm not talking about decisions that effect the person directly but the other person indirectly, like an abortion effecting the father of the baby, or a sex change effecting a spouse and children.  I think it's best to talk to the other people involved, but it's ultimately that person's decision.  I'm talking about circumstances where the person directly effected has the decision made for them.

An example from House was when House didn't want a surgery done on him and made it clear, and while he was in a coma, his ex, who could legally consent for him while he was in the coma had it done.  She knew he didn't want it, but did it anyway.

Another example is in the movie Adjustment Bureau.  The main guy was told that if he stayed with her, something would happen and though they'd be together, she wouldn't be able to live her dream.  Instead of talking to her about it and asking if she'd rather live her dream or be with him, he made the decision for her and left.

I think that no one should ever have their ability to make their own choices away from them.  For instance people with handicaps are often not allowed to be part of the decisions that effect their lives.  I think they should be involved to the largest extent possible with their abilities.  Likewise, people in old folks homes shouldn't have their choices taken away from them simply because they are old and don't live on their or own.

I struggle on this issue in the cases of suicide and assisted suicide.  If I have the right to live, do I have the right to die?

Should a child, a minor, be able to make life and decisions about their health and their life?  I struggle on this one.  On one hand, as I said, I believe everyone should have the right to make their own decisions.  On the other, part of the reason children have legal guardians is that they don't have the experience to see the long term.  A good parent should be able to look objectively at the situation, listen to their child's thoughts and desires, and make the decision best for the child.  To quote the Rolling Stones, "You can't always get what you want.  Sometimes you get what you need."  Of course, the next question is are all parents good parents, also, are all parents objective, and do all parents listen to their child?  There is a reason the courts sometimes have to step in and make the decision for the parents.

Is it alright to choose your marriage over the life of your child?  In the literal sense, of course not.  But how many parents compromise what is best for their child purely to keep their spouse happy?  Think about it.

So, what are your answers to these four questions?


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Review: Purple Panties

Title: Purple Panties: An Anthology
Editor: Zane
Genre: Lesbian Erotic Anthology
Edition: Kindle
Published: 2008

"Zane, the New York Times bestselling author and Queen of Erotic Fiction, brings a new collection of lesbian erotica that will blow the sheets off beds everywhere.

What happens when "The Finest Man" you have ever laid eyes on is a woman? What happens when a woman comes home to her man after a hard day's work with "Lipstick on Her Collar?" What happens when a married woman runs across the love of her life -- another woman -- who insists that "It's All or Nothing?" Is there such a thing as playing too "Hard to Get?" What happens when "Mom's Night Out" turns into group sex? What happens when you discover your true sexuality "At Last?" All of these questions and more are answered within the pages of Purple Panties.

Written by women from all over the world, here is a new level of lesbian erotica, compiled by Zane, that promises the most exciting and steamy reading experience possible. These stories move beyond race, age, and all walks of life, including long-hidden passions, secret rendezvous with strangers, and May-December romances.

With Zane's ever-growing popularity, and the need for increasingly quality erotica, Purple Panties will satisfy a long-standing demand for African-American lesbian literature.

In the tradition of such successful erotica anthologies as Chocolate Flava and Caramel Flava, Purple Panties uncovers a new world of evocative risk-taking that has never been explored before from a lesbian perspective. The adventures in these stories are beyond everyone's wildest imaginations." Product Description

Thoughts: There was as much variety in this book as there were authors.  Variety in every way.  Some authors went into intimate detail about the sex, so crisp you could feel it, some left the details to the imagination and just led you there.  Some stories took you to climax, some just teased.  Some girls were black, some white.  Some rich, some poor.  Some femme, some butch.  But all of the stories were steamy and all of the girls were hot.

There were some very elegant parts, and some kind of cheesy.  I enjoyed them all, though some turned me on more than others.  Also, all the erotica, and most fiction, I had read before this were only white girls, not because that was the erotica I had chosen, but because I had never actually encountered erotica with black girls in them.  Many but not all of the girls in these stories were black, and some of the slang was unfamiliar to me, living my whole life in almost completely white towns in the Western United States.  Some of the descriptions on skin colours and nipple colours were so poetic.  The descriptions were very lovely.

I wouldn't say I was completely satisfied with every story, but by and large I enjoyed the book.  It was definitely worth reading, and I'd recommend it.  It has something for everyone, I think.  But be ready to get wet.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

Title: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time
Author: Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Genre: Non-Fiction
Edition: Kindle
Published: 2007
Opening Lines: "In Pakistan's Karakoram, bristling across an area barely one hundred miles wide, more than sixty of the world's tallest mountains lord their severe alpine beauty over a witnessless high-altitude wilderness. Other than snow leopard and ibex, so few living creatures have passed through this barren icescape that the presence of the world's highest mountain, K2, was little more than a rumor to the outside world until the turn of the twentieth century."

"While critics agree that Three Cups of Tea should be read for its inspirational value rather than for its literary merit, the book's central theme, derived from a Baltistan proverb, rings loud and clear. "The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger," a villager tells Greg Mortenson. "The second time, you are an honored guest. The third time you become family." An inspirational story of one man's efforts to address poverty, educate girls, and overcome cultural divides, Three Cups, which won the 2007 Kiriyama Prize for nonfiction, reveals the enormous obstacles inherent in becoming such "family." Despite the important message, critics quibbled over the awkward prose and some melodrama. After all, a story as dramatic and satisfying as this should tell itself." ~Bookmark Magazine

Thoughts: This book captivated me. There were so many passages that struck my attention that my Facebook friends complained that I was posting too many. It is beautifully written and really takes you there. This man, Greg Mortenson, has done more for more people than many of the people acclaimed internationally. His story is an inspiration.

It is amazing reading how much can be done with so little money and so little experience. It shows that the passion of one man or woman really can change the world. At a time when most Americans thought all Muslims only cared about war and should all die, Greg was helping those who needed it, battling terrorism in a much greater way than all the bombs in the world.

I recommend this book to anyone. It will inspire you, and you will learn about a people and a part of the world few know about. It might just change your life.


Book Review: Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai

Title: Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai
Author: Ruiyan Xu
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Kindle
Published: 2009
Opening Lines: "Later, she would remember the crack in the building: a line splitting the cement, a body of veins crawling everywhere. It happened in slow motion. On a balcony two blocks away she watched the crumple of the Swan Hotel. Aortas feeding into arteries, capillaries branching off, slender, disappearing into the façade of the building. Carrying blood away from the heart. The hollow, sickening boom of it sucking all air out of her lungs."

"A massive explosion in a Shanghai hotel leaves 32-year-old businessman Li Jing unable to utter a single word in Chinese. Instead, he is only able to speak in halting English, which he learned as a child and which he last spoke at the age of 10. His family pays to bring in American neurologist Rosalyn Neal. Li Jing’s beautiful wife, Meiling, is left to try to run his financial consulting firm and to allay the anxiety of their young son. Because Li Jing and Rosalyn Neal, who has recently divorced, are both isolated by their inability to communicate in Chinese, they soon form a bond born of mutual fear and vulnerability. And Meiling, who always took her husband’s adoration for granted, is dealt another blow by the easy camaraderie of doctor and patient, which stands in such stark contrast to the married couple’s strained attempts to connect. Set in a dense, dizzyingly urban Shanghai, Xu’s elegant first novel affectingly addresses the way identity and language intertwine and the emotional anguish of estrangement." ~Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist

Thoughts: I don't read a lot of straight fiction, but I've found some very good ones over the years. This is one of them. It would be of interest to people interested in linguistics, the brain, human nature, Shanghai, or many other things, because all of these are important in the book.

We depend a lot on language to connect us to the people around us. Imagine losing the language you have spoken most of your life and being unable to talk to your family, your friends, your coworkers, your employees. Imagine the frustration of being cut from everyone you know by the barrier of language after never having that isolation before? This is Li Jing.

Imagine losing the ability to speak to your husband, the frustration of not being able to talk. The pain of him not being able to say your name correctly. Imagine having to take over duties he's always done with no experience in them yourself. You have to be strong for him, but is that what he needs? This is Zhou Meiling, Li Jing's wife.

Imagine being in China for the first time. You've always lived in the United States Midwest and have never been out of the country or to a city as big as Shanghai. Imagine not knowing the culture, not knowing the language, having no way to connect to the people around you. Imagine the isolation you would feel, trying to find your way in this strange place where nothing is familiar. This is Dr. Rosalyn Neal, the doctor the family brings over to work with Li Jing.

What would you do in any of these people's places? How would you adapt? How would you respond? How would you feel?

This book is more about experiencing the unknown and isolation and how people react than about the themes or about the city. The author does make you feel and see the city through the eyes of each of the characters, but she also makes you feel what they feel. She takes you there, not just to the setting, but to the mind, to the isolation, to the emotions.

Ruiyan Xu is an amazing author and I would read anything else she writes, regardless of the subject or genre.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Veils of Oppression and Liberation...

Reading Three Cups of Tea, I read the following:

Shakeela covers her face with her shawl in embarrassment, then brushes it aside to speak. “I am not such a special student,” she says. “But I was able to pass through school in Hushe with good marks.

My thoughts were, it would be nice to be able to cover my face when I'm embarrassed or when I need to pull back from the world.  It would be nice to have a veil that allows me to separate myself from the world, but that I can open myself to the world when i want to or need to.  Emotionally, I do that, but it isn't the same.  In the world where this girl lived, in Shai Muslim Baltistan in Pakistan, it is acceptable.  In our culture it isn't.

Many Westerners, and especially many feminists, see the veil in Islam as a symbol of oppression of women.  Even some Muslims feel this way.  But is it?  Or, more accurately, is it always?  Some Muslim women see it as freedom from the oppression of objectification in Western society.  They see it as empowering rather than oppressive.

The quote from the book reminded me of one of the sessions I went to listen to at a Medieval Studies conference in Kalamazoo a few years back.  A girl from Toronto spoke on the veil.  It made an impression on me.  Looking online, I found the introduction to her book about it.

The book is named Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil: Challenging Historical & Modern Stereotypes.  I plan to buy it when I get a chance.

Many things can be used both to liberate, to empower, and to oppress.  It's like the post I made about strong female characters the female warrior, the assassin, the le fem fatale, in scifi books and movies.  The image, the character, the stereotype, can both objectify and empower.  Anything can be used as a weapon to oppress.  But anything can be used to liberate, to set free.  There is a choice.  But sometimes society makes the choice and sometimes we, each one of us makes the choice.  When society makes the choice, there are victims.  Sometimes the victims can do something about it, sometimes they can't.  Sometimes the only thing to do is accept the suffering, and some times we need to rise up.  But how we respond, for good or for bad, is our choice.

When we make the choice of whether we let something oppress us or liberate us, that is where there is power.  Many things can take either form.  It could be like the Muslim veil.  In areas where it isn't required by law, presuming they aren't still forced, some women chose to wear it and some don't.  It can be a blessing or a curse, depending on who you see it.  Why do you wear it?  What does it mean to you?  How does it make you feel?  These questions can make all the difference.  And it could be like a label you or others apply to your life.  The same things apply.  That label can be the veil to you.  Does it restrict you, keep you from the world?  Or does it free you, allow you to grow, liberate you from how others define you?  Why do you wear it?  What does it mean to you?  How does it make you feel?  These questions make all the difference.

If you're going to wear the veil, wear it proudly, make it yours.  The choice is yours.  Choose this day.