Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Kitten Rule

Logan, sitting quietly in another room with a kitten on his lap, is approached by Walter. Walter pets the kitten then starts to pull on the kitten's ears. Logan: "Water, don't do that. Do you like to have someone do that to you? Do you?" Walter says nothing. "Yes or no." After a pause Walter shakes his head. "No? Well then, don't do it to anybody else. Or to cats. Okay?" Note: Logan has the concept down fairly well because it has had to be explained to him on several occasions, too!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Boys and cats

Dorrit's Duty

To sightly misquote Lizzie Bennet: "the more I see of Patriarchy the more I am dissatisfied with it". Well, that is not entirely true. I was raised within the system and knew it from the inside quite well but I suppose the more perspective I have acquired on it, the more I have seen its menacing aspects. I cannot pin down the specific moment or book or talk when this shift could be said to have started (to return to Miss Bennet "It's been coming on so gradually I hardly know") but looking back now it's interesting to see just how far my opinion has changed in the past decade. As much as I am happy to have a more mature outlook on the world an unexpected result of this perspective is that I am finding it harder to love my Victorian novels as unreservedly (at least, somehow, ones written by male authors). For instance, the latest Dickens I have read is Little Dorrit. [Before I begin discussing it let me say that a few months and quite a few books have passed since I read it so I apologize if any of the details or my recollections are slightly off.] I have always enjoyed Dickens for a number of reasons and was looking forward to opening one I hadn't had a chance to read previously. Of all Dickens Little Dorrit would seem to stray quite far from male-centricity; the titular heroine (a female protagonist!) is shown to be strong, virtuous, faithful, and unchanging for richer for poorer, through sickness and health, before she is rewarded by marriage (even being more fortunate in this than the eminently suitable because divinely beautiful other woman) to her faithful friend who has also been shown to be virtuous and deserving in a manly way (having worked through the outcomes of a few mistakes in judgement to show some nuanced growth). This seems to work to invert the usual virtuous hero being rewarded with marriage plot. It even supplies a contrast with showing the misery possible (even for one so virtuous as to be beautiful) from marrying merely from love and good looks. But we sometimes find that a large aspect of Little Dorrit's virtues (and, it would seem, the driving factor of her entire existence through most of the book) is that she is loyal to her father through thick and thin (yes, a good thing) and does everything she can to soften the world around him and cater to all his varying whims whether they may be noble or ignoble. I do agree this is a marvelous display of filial duty and suppression of self but would any of that be asked of or praised in a son? In fact, the main male protagonist detaches himself from his mother (with whom he had business ties, if not much love) because he suspects her of bad business dealings (their relationship turns out to be more complicated than this but only by the very end). I realize the male and female roles were much more delineated but surely even then virtue is virtue? Or, for a woman, does the system expect a little more of blind loyalty or obedience to one's master than to one's sense of right? There are other instances in the book that are too complicated to explain here that also add to this uneasy feeling that seems to be growing as I read books of that era written by men. Either way I dove into a few flapper-era books about strong women as a bit of an antidote directly after finishing Dorrit and it seems to be helping. However it's still a bit of a struggle to feel the loss of my full enjoyment of a decent section of literature with the consolation that it comes from being older and wiser.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kittens

There are several things that have been a big part of the past few weeks that I was thinking of writing about but with all of us down with a cold today I think I'll take the easiest one and leave the others for later. As mentioned in the last post, we recently got a kitten. What I didn't mention was that at that point we were deciding if we should get his sister, too. Well, we did! Because their birthday is on Victoria Day I was thinking of various Victorian brother/sister appropriate names. Queen Victoria had no full brothers and to call him Albert would be a little strange. Then I thought of things pertaining to the era but we finally decided to call him Tetley. James only drinks Tetley tea and the kitten has something of a tea-coloured pelt. Then, naturally, with the sister's coat resembling masala chai I thought Chai would be a good name for her. Of course, Logan tends to call them 'Catley' and 'Si' for now but I think the names fit them perfectly. And, really, tea is fairly Victorian in nature so we even included that parameter. They are great friends and companions. They cuddle and curl up together, and the play and play and play together. I'm thankful we got both because even with both boys involved and interested I don't think we could have kept up with just how much they love to play. With them being full-time companions and play-mates, the energy they have left seems to be about perfect for what we can handle!