because all lives matter, just not after they’re born

Tin soldiers and Trump is coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This winter I hear the drumming,
More dead in Ohio.

I think it’s time for Neil Young to do an update. When I was in college, I had a button that read “Pro-abortion … or amateur abortion?” with a picture of a coathanger. I stopped wearing it because it grossed out even my most pro-choice friends, and I probably wouldn’t wear it now on the theory that wearing buttons doesn’t do much good anyway, but I wish I still owned it.

In other annoying news, today I spent $26 (!) to buy Chanukah candles at Whole Foods, the only one of the local supermarkets that reliably carries them (or used to; I had to ask for help finding these, as they were tucked in back of a display full of other kinds of candles. I haven’t decided whether I should return them and buy cheaper ones from Amazon, or keep them to demonstrate there *is* customer demand for them out here.

nearly ready

It feels deeply weird to me to have Chanukah so late this year. It’s also harder, because my mom and brother have birthdays in Early December, so though I generally try to give separate presents for each thing, I can usually do them all at once. This year, I need to handle them in two lots. Ted’s birthday is always right near CHristmas, but I’m not sure that’s good either. (For one thing, I don’t need to ship his presents!)

Still, I’m in decent shape holiday-wise. I have the ‘thing’ part of Mom’s gift and just need to figure out what to do for the donation part (I don’t usually do both, but a) it’s a milestone birthday and b) this year it feels particularly important to support charities that support those who will be hit hardest by the recent US election. I’m trying to decide between Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, (International Rescue Committee, or maybe something Jewish. The Chanukah gift for her and my brother’s family is tickets to go see a musical aimed at kids (Elephant and Piggie) in the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia – I think they’ll all enjoy that.

My brother is accounted for – I knit him something last year that took way longer than expected, so he’s getting it this year plus a few other things. He’s got enough enthusiasms to be easy to shop for. (His wife is much harder!) I just need to get his box packed up and shipped this weekend.

Ted’s becoming harder to buy for, because we really just. don’t. need. more. STUFF in the house!! But a friend had recently asked if I’d mind if she painted a picture based on a photo of mind, and sent me a photo of the finished piece yesterday. I loved it and hope he will too, so I asked her if I can buy it. Luckily she was businesslike about it and just quoted the price she normally sells for, so we didn’t have that awkward friendship dance – I prefer to pay what art is worth, if I can. (Though it’s true that we have three other paintings in the house needing to be better displayed. One was a gift from another friend – it’s displayed but just sitting on a bookshelf, unframed; the second was a gift someone gave Ted when we left Taiwan – not someone we were close to and I don’t love it; and the third Ted painted himself at one of those painting group events. The first one of those, the gift from a friend, is the only one I really care about, and we probably should protect it with a frame.

He takes care of his side of the family (aside from some socks I’m almost done knitting and a couple dishcloths I need to do), so a couple things for friends and one knitting gift exchange, and I’m about done.

book: Fallen into the Pit (Inspector Felse)

One of the books I’m recently read is Fallen Into the Pit, by Ellis Peters. She’s best known for Brother Cadfael, but this one is an Inspector Felse mystery (contemporary, published 1951). Lately I’ve been reading a lot of BritLit from WWI to just after WWII (DE Stevenson, Angela Thirkell, Elizabeth Cadell), and in the past I’ve read lots more from then and earlier: Miss Read, Sayers, Christie, Tey, Conan Doyle, R. Austin Freeman (Dr Thorndyke mysteries), Gaskell, Dickens, Trollope, etc, etc. I can only conclude that English writers up through the 1950s or so just really don’t like Jews. At best, you get a Jewish character who is not too bad, or alien-but-really-a-decent-person, like a couple of Dr. Thorndyke’s clients or the jewel dealer Lord Peter Wimsey works with. This book is really about the only one I can remember that has a completely sympathetic portrayal of a Jew.

She’s a German Jew, a Holocaust survivor who had made her way across Europe, ended up in England, married a farmer and lived a very quiet life. Her whole family were killed by the Nazis. Peters does a remarkable, sensitive job in imaging what her inner and outer life would be like, how she might think about her past, how she could be able to reach toward happiness again. It’s also good to see that she is completely accepted by not only her husband and their shepherd but all the locals. There is some anti-Semitic ugliness, but it’s from an intruder, a German POW still in England, and Peters means it to be ugly and intrusive – it’s not shown as ‘normal’ or OK in any way, and it’s not accepted by her family or the neighbors. Even Felse, the local police inspector, offers his support once he finds out she’d been harassed, though it’s too late at that point.

It’s a very pleasant change from having to shut your eyes and hurry past the icky bits in Sayers and the rest of them.

Only problem is, I liked this book a lot but now I’m not sure I want to read the read of the Felse mysteries, because from reading reviews I get the feeling she switches focus to other locales and to a grown-up Dominic Felse, and doesn’t really develop this setting or these characters further.