July 10th, 2006

ozarque figure

Quick worldview note...

This item -- which I find as amazing as a conviction that pigs can fly -- is from page 23 of the April 23, 2001 issue of Medical Economics; the title is "A million bucks ain't what it used to be," and it's written by Yvonne Chilik Wollenberg. It says:

"Most millionaires don't think they're wealthy. Of more than 1,200 people with a net worth of at least $1 million interviewed for a recent survey, about half said that they wouldn't feel rich until they had at least $5 million. ... Only 9 percent admitted to being extremely well off."

[The survey mentioned ("recent" in 2001) was conducted by Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance.]
ozarque figure

Emotional weather; part nine....

I'm beginning to think that much of the hopelessness/learned helplessness/unnamed-negative-emotionedness we've been discussing is at least in large part caused by loneliness ... a sense of having neither family nor community to turn to ... perhaps complicated by an awful feeling of having failed.

fiveandfour commented:
"I recall a few years ago reading in my local Business Journal about a woman who taught English to immigrants to the United States. ... After a few years of teaching, she hit upon teaching fairy tales to these students... [T]hey were a window into our culture. She hadn't really noticed, until these students brought it to her attention, how many of those stories (e.g. The Three Little Pigs) involved some family member striking out on their own. It was endlessly fascinating and discussed in her classes how many ways our culture supports this notion that once you come of age, it's right and good that you would leave the bosom of the family and go it alone. This was utterly astonishing to her students. She found fairy tales to be a kind of key to unlocking the door of understanding for people who found many things strange when they moved here, with the strangest thing of all being this notion that families wouldn't live together and support one another, both financially and in other ways."

Maybe "striking out on your own" is a lot harder now than it used to be? Or maybe the specifications for demonstrating that you've succeeded in doing that have become totally unrealistic? When I was first married (in 1955) my husband and I were living in one room in a roominghouse, sharing the one bathroom on our floor with a bunch of other roomers, and we considered that a perfectly adequate demonstration of "striking out on our own." (I still do.) But suppose you feel that (a) you're not a real adult if you can't afford a two-bedroom/two-bath place with airconditioning and a dishwasher and all the trimmings, but (b) you're not a real adult if you're living with your parents instead of striking out on your own.... That's hard. [Note: "A real adult" may not be the right phrase here at all; I'm much too old to know exactly what would go in that "I'm not a real [X]" blank.]

And I don't want to leave out the response from almeda:
"So, like in the 'third son of poor father goes out and makes good and gets the princess and puts his elderly mother up in style' tales?"

That is in fact one of the new markers of being a real whatever-it-is. The adult children -- the chadults -- prove that they've really "made it" by buying their elderly mothers a nice house and covering all their living expenses in that house.

Does anybody know if there are any traditional fairy tales that have that as a plot element?
ozarque figure

Guineas, off the starboard bow...

I was sitting here about an hour ago, reading your posts and your comments, doing some research, thinking about what I might want to make for the Conestoga art show, working on a poem in the back of my head, when suddenly my little Maltese burst out howling.

Maltese aren't howlers -- this was clearly not a Good Sign -- and I ran for the front of the house [since you can't see out from any other part of an underground house] to find out what on earth was at my door or kidnapping my dog... and found that my kids' flock of guineas had not only discovered our property but had discovered our roof, and they were up on top of it telling the world the news, all fourteen of them.

Poor Sheba ... the Maltese .... thought that the end of the world had in fact arrived. Guineas in full cry are loud. Not like peacocks, a lot like geese... Loud.

I picked Sheba up and carried her outside and showed her what the source of the incredible racket was, and told her "Birds! That's all right -- just birds!," but she didn't believe me; she has fled to her bed in my room, at the back of the house. But she's no longer howling.

The guineas are beautiful, and most of the time they just cluck quietly at each other; they've spent the last hour eating in my yard, where there are lots of things of interest to guineas. With any luck, we'll be tick-free up here by noon.

Lovely. George and I didn't have to have them in an incubator in the house for weeks and weeks, and we didn't have to build them a coop to roost in, and we didn't have to go through the procedure of letting them out into the world one by one [if you let them all out at once they're likely to just head for the woods all at once, but they won't abandon their buddies], and when it starts getting dark they'll go home to their coop with no urging or assistance from us. And still, we get all the benefits of a highly-skilled and efficient Tick-Removal Mechanism! Mirabile gloriosky!

That's nice.