An interesting take on the myth of Persephone

 

A few months ago I wrote a post on the myth of Persphone. I got this interesting comment from Eddie, which got me thinking. Yes, it is a myth written by a man (most likely, at any rate – I tend to think of myths evolving organically through oral tradition). However, there is no denying that all religions are ‘written’ by men and in no religion are women portrayed as having any sort of power. Persphone’s rapt by Hades is like Zeus’s rape of Hera – he tricked her by turning into a dove and flying into her arms during a storm. Hera did not want to marry Zeus, but he forced her hand. Artemis had to trick her father into letting her remain a virgin, and when she finally did choose a husband, her own brother killed him. If you look carefully at the Greek myths, you will see that women get short shrift in all of them. And that includes our myths as well. Mary is told she will bear a son. She bows her head in submission and says she is “God’s handmaid and will do as she is told”. That isn’t very joyful or empowering. It’s submission – nothing else. Luckily, more and more people are challenging the status quo and women are starting to understand their worth. We can be submissive to God and tell men to get over themselves – after all – God could very well be a woman. Who knows? Or we can be submissive to no one, toss God into the books of mysogenic mythology, and make our own lives. In a perfect world, Hades would ask Persephone out on a few dates, she’d decide he was a cool, good looking guy, and they’d settle down in Hades – and she’d havve an interesting job, maybe being in charge of an association for the newly dead, and Hades would keep the palace clean and tidy, and make sure Cerberus didn’t eat anyone.

Eddie said:

Yes, it doesn’t matter that he kidnapped her and forced her against her will to be the goddess of an underworld she didn’t ask for. Tricking her into staying there forever with pomegranate seeds was a nice touch as well. I love how the same women who attempt to justify sexism are the same women who would cry the blues if someone took THEM without asking.

By the way, of course they’re going to portray them as a “loving couple.” The myth was written by men. “She’ll fall in love with her captor and it will be okay because there’s nothing wrong with forcing women to do what they don’t want to do.” I’m going to go ahead and call bullcrap on that heaping pile of nonsense. You call it love. I call it Stockholm syndrome.

 

jennifermacaire said:

Interesting comment – yes, if this happened in modern times, I’d agree. But it’s a myth, and was written (and told) in a time when women were not asked if they wanted to be married, or who they wanted to marry – they were worth slightly more than cattle, and less than camels. In the Greek myths, the men are all powerful and have the last word. Zeus, king of gods, rapes women far more often than he woos them, and that goes for most of the men in the stories. I like to think we’ve made progress. In Christianity, the angel Gabriel appears before a frightened Mary and says “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” So it’s not as if she was asked – he told her what would happen. And yet, we don’t have a lot of discussion about Mary and what she may have felt – we are supposed to feel she has been honored. At least in the myth of Persephone there was the element of outrage, of betrayal, and of anger on Persephone’s part. That she fell in love with her raptor – well, that is hard for a modern person to imagine – but a modern person would be able to leave or get a divorce. Persephone, as a goddess, was bound for eternity to her husband, and luckily, she came to appreciate him.

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Fish stew

Last week my husband was in the hospital (nothing too serious) for his heart – my friend Anne Marie said that people with heart conditions outlive everyone because they go get checkups all the time – it’s true – during a routine checkup the Dr noted an anomally in Stef’s heartbeat, so off he went to a rythmologue to get it checked out, then off to the hospital for a quick ablation of the nerves causing the extrasystole – and three days later he’s out and complaining because he can’t play golf or ride horseback for three weeks (insert canned laughter).

I’m alone in the office this end of the week, so I’m working on my book at the office while answering the phone and dealing with “emergencies”. If I’m not in, leave a message, I’ll get back to you later…

What to do with the frozen fish filets in the freezer? Almost an aliteration – but – make fish stew:

1 onion, 1 tomato, 1 potato, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, a cup of red wine, a cup of vegetable bouillion or chicken stock,  1 teasp. dried oregano, 1 teasp. dried basil, 1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove finely chopped, pinch of chili powder, 2 slices of smoked bacon or smoked fish cut into pieces, 4 filets of fish (I used cod) 

Chop and cook the onion until transluscent, add garlic and chopped tomato, cook a few minutes, add half a cup of bouillon and the tomato paste, stir.  Cut the potato into quarters, then half the quarters and add that to the sauce.  Season with the spices, add the wine and smoked fish or bacon, cook for ten minutes or more to bring the flavors out. Now add the fish filets and the rest of the bouillion and cover. Cook until the filets are done but not Overdone – when the fish flakes with a fork, it’s ready. I’d say about 15 – 20 minutes at the most. Serve over rice.

I used some red wine I’d opened about two weeks ago – it was still good. The potato was all alone in the bottom of the bin, so that got tossed in. My tomato had seen better days, but rotton tomatoes make fantastic sauce. Don’t throw away rotton tomatos! Cut any black parts off and cook in a sauce! I had no garlic so I used garlic powder. Works fine. I put my frozen filets in without thawing, so I kept a close eye on them so they didn’t overcook. Also, I simmered them – cook fish too hot and it will get hard. I have wild rice, so I will use that. (I prefer to use smoked fish instead of bacon, but didn’t have any – so just a slice or two of smoked (raw) bacon gives a hint of that smoky flavor I needed).  Serve with slices of lemon.

My son is back from his trip to New Zealand. He will tell us all about it – but mostly, what I’ll be thinking, is how toxic hate is, and how it can ruin so many good things. There will always be a bitter memory mixed in with the good – and I keep hoping people will wake up and understand by killing people, you’re not killing your problems.  Violence betgets violence – I only hope that by standing together and condeming senseless hate we will grow stronger and better.

 

 

And would you like some cheese with your whine? (or how some people might think my life was boring…)

I don’t always whine – I do prefer wine – and red, white, or rosé depends on my mood, not the food. 🙂

My Alexa decided to stop working correctly. After two hours (yes, you read that right) I finally got it working,  but now she is registered in France, not the US, and she speaks French. And all my music and skills are gone (no, not mine, Alexa’s!). It took another two hours to figure out how to get one or two things working, and then I fell asleep because it was 2 am and I’m supposed to be working today (instead of whining about Alexa…)

Anyhooooo – today I do have to work, and my husband is in the hospital getting his pacemaker adjusted, and the house needs more cleaning, and here are all the things I want to do, but can’t today because I have no time: I want to catch up on my sleep, finish the book I’ve started writing, finish the one I’m reading, do some gardening on my balcony, maybe finished the crosssword puzzle I started last night, and, and – !

I never get bored, at any rate. People who tell me they are bored fascinate me, because I just can’t imagine not having a million things to do. Do you not vacuum – Do laundry (my machine is just on the spin cycle and I’m waiting for it to end) – Read – Go for walks – Look at the sky – listen to music – dance (badly, and not when anyone is looking – same with singing! – make something – bake something – have a coffee and write a blog post – get ready to go to work – go to the office and fight with the printer/computer/deliveryman ?  Every day is an adventure for me. I never know what is going to happen. Today my friend called at 9 and woke me up (I was up at 6:33, after falling asleep at 2am, and made the mistake of going back to sleep – and if she hadn’t called, I would have been late!)  I saw the repairman about the lights in the hallway, I did the laundry, I took photos of my new necklace, I walked the dog, I had a coffee and peanut butter toast, I vacuumed, I argued with Alexa, cleaned the bathroom, made my bed, and now I’m going to get ready for work! Never a dull moment – because all those moments are interesting to me – well, except the vacuuming. I could do without that one. Have a good day!

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Me, my mug, and my new necklace thanks to Beverly Jackson!

If you want to see more of Beverly’s beautiful jewelry, check out her site!

If you want a fantastic mug, go to my publisher and order one (and a few books while you’re at it!)

 

 

A whack on the cheek

You’re supposed to turn the other cheek, right?

Well, I keep meaning to catch up on what’s happening with that girl who hit me. The one where, when we stopped at a red light she jumped out of her car and whalloped me on the cheekbone. I had not been paying the slightest bit of attention to what was going on – Stef was driving, and I was half asleep, listening to the radio, the sunshine making me warm and dozy.  At the light, I noticed a girl making insulting gestures but thought nothing of it ( the French do it all the time, almost as much as the Italians, who drive with one hand out the window so they can give the finger to everyone in their way…) Anyhow, I ignored everything until she said she was going to hit me, then I frowned, looked at my husband, and before I knew it, she was out of her car and running towards me. So I stuck my hand out and stopped her – and she got even madder and spit on me, then punched me, and then everything got a hit confused. I was in my seat, with my seatbelt on, so it took a moment to get out. When I did, I told everyone to calm down and get back in their cars, because my husband and the girl’s mother were out of their cars by then. So, I went to the police and made a report but didn’t press charges. I had a big bruise, so I got a doctor to write a note, and then didn’t think anything else about it. Until the girl filed charges against my husband. So, back we go to the police department, where I tell my story all over again, and then, before I leave, I said I wanted to change my report into a complaint and press charges, because several things I found out that day: this wasn’t the first time the girl had been in a fight. Supposedly it was about the tenth time. She was “well known” at the police station.  So, I pressed charges, and we will now see what happens. I turned my cheek. Waited a while, got hit again, metaphorically speaking, and now I’m fighting back.  To be continued.

We just want it to stop

“These days we have racists and extremists on mainstream television all the time, and hardly anyone in any position of influence bats an eyelid. Those in power have made their position clear: they will invade our countries of origin and they will plunder our resources, but they don’t want us in their countries. They value our oil but they don’t value us. They dress it up as “free speech” but through their actions hatred has been legitimised, and minorities die because of it. You may disagree, but it is the truth.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/15/christchurch-muslims-thoughts-prayers-far-right

After Christchurch, Muslims need more than just your thoughts and prayers,  , The Guardian, 15 March, 2019

My joy at my son being in New Zealand was cut short this morning by the news of a terrorist attack. He was nowhere near Christ Church, but in a way, he was there. He was not injured, but others died, and my heart goes out to mothers everywhere. Somewhere, a mother is beating her breast and wailing. She is stunned. She is broken. The fruit of her loins, her son, her blood and bones, is dead.  My heart goes out to everyone who lost a loved one in that attack, and to those who are shocked and stunned, as I am.  Of course, right away, people weighed in, and during one  televised debate I was shocked to hear a man and a woman argue about who was killing the most people – the Islamic extremists or the far right extremists. My thought was ‘who cares? And what does is matter? and “Is this a fucking hitting contest between toddlers?” Because that’s what it sounds like when you stop feeling compassion and start counting. And if you count, you better count everyone, not just those you feel particularly sorry for. But people seem to have incredibly short memories. Who remembers the IRA? The Basques? The PLO? Who remembers the bombing in Oklahoma city? Why does our collective idea of terrorists always start and end at 9-11, an event created by Bush & co., where the US squandered all the sympathy pouring in from around the world, and transformed it into hate and fear. One million people marched in Tehran after 9-11 in support of the US. Who remembers that? What did the US do? It lashed out blindly and carpet bombed whole countries back to the Middle Ages. No wonder we have such little legitamacy anymore. It would be nice to be able to turn the clock back. But we can’t. Time travel hasn’t been invented yet – and anyway, we’d surely misuse it. But we can “send a clear message that hatred has no place in society. Stop giving a platform to extremists. Stop pretending that white nationalism is not a threat to us all.”

Remember: the “intellectual guides” of right-wing terrorist movements want us to believe that that the state must “rid itself of the foreign elements that undermine it from within” so that the state can “provide for its rightful, natural citizens, while Islamic terrorists justify their violent tactics through the false interpretation of Quran and Hadith according to their own goals and intentions. One is guided by misguided nationalism, the other by misguided religious beliefs. Both are equally dangerous because both want to force everyone around them to adhere to their beliefs and will not tolerate the beliefs or way of life of others – so in a way, they are the same.  Which brings me back to the toddler fight – they are both obnoxious toddlers, and neither one is right, and we don’t care who hit first or hardest. We just want it to stop.

 

 

 

 

Sail

For the One Daily Word Prompt “SAIL”

The most beautiful boat in the world was a J-class yacht called Ranger.  The size of a yacht was determined (by waterline length) and this was shown as an alphabetical list. “J” signified yachts with a waterline length of between 75 to 87 feet.

Ranger had a waterline measure of 87 feet, and she was launched on May 11, 1937.  She defeated the British challenger Endeavour II 4-0 at Newport, Rhode Island. It was the last time J-class yachts would race for the America’s Cup.

Although they became recognised the most beautiful yacht design in the world, only 10 J-class yachts were ever built – 6 in the USA and 4 in the UK.

Like a thoroughbred horse, bred only for racing, when her career was over she was scrapped. She was a victim of the war as well – 1937 marked the end of an era – it was the last America’s Cup contest for 21 years and marked the end of Big Yacht racing. 

Ranger was scrapped in 1941, but a replica was built and launched  in 2003.

Ranger, Falmouth Regatta, 2012.  Photo credit & copyright: Sally Armstrong

Books and articles featuring Ranger

J Class Yachts – Ranger

J Class Yachts – History

J Class Yachts – Then and Now, CBS News

Fiction: Ranger’s Woman by Samantha Winston, Totally Bound Press (erotica)

Be-bop Flower Shop

Ms Crips would never get rid of that piano. Francis Scott Fitzgerald played it one night when he glittered into town, when champagne sparkled, men looked like icecream in their white tuxedos, and women wore sherbert chiffon. “Jewels like stars”, she’d say, and sigh, her hand caressing the broken keys. “He sat here, and played. And how we danced!”

When she sold her house, the new owners promised never to part with the piano. They wanted to open a flower shop. Julie had an idea. “The Be-bop Flower Shop! With wildflowers on the piano in rembrance of wild nights.”

~ thanks to Rochelle & her Friday Fictioneers!

PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

Where did time go?

I have twins – did I mention that? They are fraternal twins & nothing alike; one is calm, the other excitable; one can sit still for hours and the other never stops moving; one eats everything on his plate, his brother picks everything apart and won’t touch vegetables, meat, fish, cheese…; but they are strangely similar as well. They fell in love at the same time; one with a delicate, petite brunette, the other with a tall, willowy redhead.  I wonder where time went. When they were little, I could never imagine them as gown-ups with families and jobs. Where did the time go? The world, so they say, is flying through the universe at mind-boggling speeds, shooting off into space as if fired from a cannon, dragging time with it like the tail of a comet.

3000When they were born, three months premature, I could not imagine them grown up. I could barely imagine them as normal, chubby, babbling  babies because they were so tiny and weak. When they came home, each weighing barely 4 pounds, they slept in the same bassinet, curled up together like fern fronds, their hands so small they fit on my thumbnail. After months, years even, they started to catch up to their age. Time was all it took, and lots of care, and love, with a fierceness that would catch me by surprise. I never thought that children were not like baby birds, hatching from eggs, growing in a nest. They were vines, growing from your belly, with tendrils wrapped around your throat, heart, stomach, hands, arms…so much a part of me that I could feel their pains and joys as if they came from my mind.

An image: the twins running towards me, one hand outstretched, the other behind their back. Three years old. Standing in front of me, panting, eyes brilliant, cheeks flushed, “A surprise for you, Mommy!” and whipping out hands clutching bare stems – the red poppy petals had fallen off in the race. Their joyous laughter dissolving into tears. “They were so beautiful!” 

They are still in my heart – these bare green stems clutched in your small fists, along with your smiles and your tears.

Time marches on. We move from England to Argentina to the States and back to France.  One of the twins looks at me one day and says, “We’re known all over the world!”  Yes, especially after a lost tooth in front of a full stadium prompted the announcer to ask the spectators to help look for it….or when, on the first day of school, the door jammed and the teacher had to call a repairman to come, and parents and children gathered around to shout encouragement at the door. Afterwards, people would stop me on the street and say, “Was it your son trapped in the bathroom?”  And the time they killed Halloween

And still time slides by, marked by the giant snowball on the golfcourse that didn’t melt until April, the trip to Rome, the stint as a fireman (4 years!), the university, and the first and second apartments, the jobs, the voyages, and, yes, now the analogy rings true – the birds stretch their wings and fly. I watch, from the ground, as they circle above me. The sky is very blue – like me, somehow. Blue, and joyous at the same time.

Shopping cart family / my amazing mom

One day, as we were driving down the road on our way back from an afternoon at the local pool, we passed a woman and her four daughters walking down the side of the road. What made my mother stop, turn the car around, and go back to talk to them was that the woman was pushing a shopping cart full of what looked like a suitcase, cardboard boxes, and a basinet with a baby in it. It turned out to be a real baby, and the woman was pushing the shopping cart down the road, and in the cart were all her wordly belongings, and her four daughters were also carrying bags.  The woman told us they were on their way to New Jersey, for the strawberry picking season, and then they were headed south, following the crops, until they got to Florida, where she’d pick oranges in the winter, then they’d head back up north. All on foot. Pushing a shopping cart.

My mother was (still is) an amazing woman. She pointed down the road and said, “About three miles away is a dirt road on your right. Take it, and follow it to the end, to a big white house. You’re going to have dinner, and a place to sleep.” The woman started to protest, but my mother insisted. We got home, and she sent my sister and I to the end of the road to make sure the woman found us.

My sister and our friend Tanya who was with us that day, were about seven and eight years old.  I was nine. We’d all been impressed by the woman and her daughters, but especially by their clothes. They were literally wearing rags. We decided we didn’t want the girls to feel bad, and so we put on our oldest clothes and ran out of the house and hiked to the main road where we waited. When we saw them in the distance, we jumped up and down and waved. Then we went to meet them and accompanied them to our house, where my mother had already prepared our living room as a dormatory, cooking a big dinner for everyone.

My dad came home from work, and my mother, he, and the woman talked while the girls and we played outside. We showed them our tree fort, the stream, our rope swing, and we picked some wild strawberries, eating them until my sister ate a bug too, and we all screamed in horrified delight and ran indoors. Seven girls make a lot of noise, and I can’t imagine we were very good, but my parents didn’t scold us, and we got some mason jars and went back outside to catch lightning bugs and wait until we were called for baths and bedtime.

The next day, my father drove the girls and their mother back to their home.  They were not going to have to walk to New Jersey to become migrant workers. This is what had happened. The mother was married to an abusive man who beat her up, and one day, out of the blue, he’d kicked her, the baby, and their four daughters out of their home. He’d found a new girlfriend. The mother, being illiterate, didn’t know that she had to file for a divorce, and that her husband owed her alimony, as well as half of the house. My parents were horrified and made sure the woman got a lawyer (my dad worked in Albany at the State department) and my mother convinced the woman to enroll in night school and learn to read.

This is a true story.  How many people had driven by that poor woman on the side of the road? She didn’t even live in our school district – she had been walking for days. And the woman kept in touch – she wrote a letter, thanking my mother. And this is another reason I think my mother is so amazing.

 

 

How much sex is too much sex in historical fiction?

I write historical fiction with a dash of science fiction (time travel), fantasy (Greek and Nordic mythology), and romance (my heroine, Ashley, shares her life with two men – Alexander the Great and his lover, Hephaestion). When I started writing this story (believe me) I had no idea it was going to turn into a steamy, sensuous series. It started out as a short story commissioned by a magazine about time travel. But the fact is, when I started researching and found out most of what we know about Alexander the Great is hearsay and that I could let my imagination run wild – it went wild!

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