November 14th, 2006

ozarque figure

Personal note...

Remember the book of science fiction poems that I'm working on? It's coming along well, and I'm pleased with it; the good Lord willing and the creeks don't rise, I'll have it finished sometime in January and ready to go off to market. But I want you to know that I find myself missing your input on the poems. I do a line [and revise it forty-five or fifty times, as you know is my standard practice], and I wonder: "What would [insert LJ blogger's name here] think of that line?" I wonder how many stupid math mistakes I've made in the poem; I wonder what I've overlooked that should have been obvious to me; I wonder if I've gone too "latinate" or too "The Girl in the Blue Velvet Swing." I even miss being yelled at by youall. I've grown spoiled, obviously.

So: Thank you again for all your help and input for the poems that we've worked on as a group in this journal in the past. I couldn't have done this book without you.
ozarque figure

Link you might want to take a look at; metaphors and political language...

You might want to look at the new website for The Metaphor Project, at http://www.metaphorproject.org . It's a site I'm ambivalent about, which is why I don't say "recommended." It's a useful site to refer people to who have no background at all in the use of metaphor in political communication, because it's straightforward and nontechnical and largely free of Academic Regalian. It's just been reorganized and redesigned, made a lot easier to navigate, and now has a Site Map.
ozarque figure

Cattle-stuff collecting....

I've been enjoying your posts that tell stories about your encounters with cattle; thank you for them. So far, nobody else has reported sharing my experience of being tossed by a steer, or of watching a bull get spanked [which is at http://ozarque.livejournal.com/176884.html ], or of watching a huge bull lying on his back in a dustwallow with all four feet up in the air, twisting and squirming in obvious ecstasy....

I'm terrified of cattle, but they fascinate me. They're beautiful -- at least in this part of the country, where they're out in pastures all year and get washed by the rain, instead of being crowded into feedlots to stand in their own dung, they're beautiful. I love to watch them, as long as I'm safely inside where they can't get at me. And oddly enough, scared as I always was of them, when I was a child I was a good milker; I wasn't afraid of any cow that had its head securely in a stanchion. I'm not afraid that they'll kick me or bite me or step on me, I'm just afraid that they'll chase me and throw me about.

As a result of that fascination, I suppose, I collect cattle-stuff. Other people collect swans, or dragons, or unicorns, or owls, or little tractors, or trains; I collect cattle-stuff. Which is not easy, let me tell you. You wander through shops at the mall and you'll see beautifully-made swans and dragons and owls and little tractors and so on everywhere; finding cattle figures that aren't caricatures is a different matter, and a challenge, and it's taken me twenty years to put together a very small collection. I'm not in the income range that would let me buy fine-art cattle.

I have a truly handsome big cow puppet -- the whole head and throat -- that I used to use when I was a prof, to do dialogues in class; I'd put it on my hand and we'd talk back and forth. I have a couple of nice beanbag-toy cows. The fanciest cattle-item I have is, I suspect, actually an ox; it was intended to be part of a very ladida DiGiovanni Nativity set. I'm proud of that one. And oxen do count as cattle for me, as do American bison and water buffalo. The rest of my collection is made up of a dozen or so rather trashy cows, mostly from children's farm animal sets.

I have John Pukite's A Field Guide To Cows: How To Identify And Appreciate America's 52 Breeds (Falcon Press/Penguin 1996), which I recommend; it even tells you which breeds are gentle and which aren't. It provides you with factoids like this one from page 9: "Cows have almost total 360-degree panoramic vision, making them tough to sneak up on. So don't even try." I have Katherine Paterson's The Smallest Cow in the World and Terry Pratchett's Where's My Cow?. I've had the Heifer Project's cow book half a dozen times, but have always ended up passing it along to a grandchild; I'm going to have to get another one of those and try to hang on to it. And I have an abundant collection of photographs and drawings of cows, to work from when I'm drawing one myself.

And that's about it. I'm not interested in Holstein-spotted toasters and curtains and doormats; I want the entire cow, or a sizable portion of it, respectfully rendered.

All this is not profound, I know, nor particularly gripping as a read, but I've enjoyed writing it. And if you have more good cattle stories, please do post them.