May 18th, 2008

20111112, Marilee

Saturday AND Sunday

Two days in one post -- I'm conserving!

I know one of our bookgroup members sometimes skims my LJ (which is fine), but that was why I didn't tell about getting "triffids" -- lucky bamboo -- to take to bookgroup. When I realized they were being used as wedding favors, I figured they were cheap enough for me to make a good joke, and they are. I bought plastic glasses for them at the grocery Monday and when I got home, they were in the parcel locker, shipped Priority Mail. I put them in my quart measure for the night and the thing I was looking for on Tuesday while Shiva had his teeth pulled were the "river rocks." I sat one night this week and made up the cups and they had already started growing a good bit by Friday night when I packed them into my rolling crate (with a bit of crumpled paper) and put it into the workroom.

Saturday, I towed the crate and carried my bag with my usual stuff in it out to the car. I stopped for this coming week's money (the credit union is on the way to the library) and then when I pulled into the parking lot, I saw the boy scout of the evening getting out of their car and I asked him to come carry something for me. So he carried the bag (then his dad took it from him) and I towed the "triffids" in. Unfortunately, I had to tell them they were triffids, but they still seemed pleased to have them. I'd printed out instructions for everybody. I have five here at home in a single big vase. I'll talk about the book in the next post.

After meeting, we went to the boy scout spaghetti dinner and auction. I was making jokes about how they didn't know which sides to serve to and remove from, but seriously, they need a lot more training and coordination. Some folks got their first serving 90 minutes after the event started. The only reason I did anything with boy scouts was because of our boy scout (his folks go to bookgroup and he goes to dinner with us), but I'm really tempted to tell them how to run it next year anyway.

The pieces I'd donated went for quite reasonable amounts, considering the event. I had dressed in a black blouse with round neckline and black pants wearing Melissa's collar and after I walked around the auction items (most donated by stores and restaurants) and bid on one I didn't get, I sat down on a padded bench to wait for the rest of our group to finish looking. A woman came over and asked if I was with the boy scout family and I said yes and she asked if I'd made the beaded pieces and I said yes and she said she thought so because I looked artistic. (!) I told her not to worry, that I didn't have any ego in this and whatever they went for was money for them and she relaxed and said she was worried about that because so many artists get upset if they don't get enough for their donations.

Then her mother came over and hugged me and we had an interesting talk on how much she liked the necklace I donated and how she was determined to win. I explained what dichroic was and that it was developed for the space shuttle and so forth. Lots of other women asked me if I'd made those pieces and when I said yes, said how much they liked them. That was nice, it was just a lot of being "up" after being "up" for bookgroup. And then the tables had the folding metal chairs. But I got up from mine twice fairly easily -- I really am getting stronger.

By the time I got home I was just worn out and I hurt a lot so I read email and put in the daily post and then slept in the recliner from 9pm to 3:30am. I read about three hours and then slept in the bed (without Shiva under the covers) for eight hours. Today I'm washing bed linens. I squirted Shiva's pain meds (two more to go) in his more-solid-than-liquid AD slurry and he licked it right up. Spirit thought she should get more food than she did, so I furminated her (which is unnecessary, but she likes it) and then went and got a handful of hair off the side of Shiva he presented to me on the heating pad. Now online and probably an early evening.
20111112, Marilee

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

This is an apocalyptic story where plants, named triffids, start growing all over the world and as they grow, they turn out to have stings they can whip at people, and then they start getting up and walking. They have oil that can replace fossil oil, so in the UK, where this story takes place, they're farmed, with the sting cut off. Then one night there's a shower of green lights from the sky and many people go out to look. In the morning, they're all blind. The triffids turn out to be carnivorous -- they sting and sting and then eat lots of the blind people. There are people who are not blind -- our protagonist was in the hospital because he'd gotten some triffid oil in his eyes and had bandages on.

From this point, we follow our protagonist as he finds different sighted people using different methods of trying to save themselves. Some try to save the blind, as well. It's a study of how effective different methods of post-apocalyptic managing are. The book shows us each minuscule society and how many end. One of the amusing ongoing bits in the book was how many Brits expected Americans to come save them -- they just had to hold out until the US planes got there. But triffids were worldwide and we were almost certainly in similar straits.

The book was published in 1951, four years before I was born, and the language and mores didn't bother me and I just muttered at the misogyny. One of the big things that bothered me was that the society that seemed most likely to survive (I vote the human race died out, they didn't have enough diversity) was setting up with polygamy. Now, Watson & Crick didn't discover DNA until 1953, but humans had been breeding plants and animals for millennia. You can't have the three women just have the one man's children. Each woman has to have every child by a different man in order to get enough diversity.

Wyndham was very careful to make it clear that the triffids and the green lights were Earth-based phenomena -- Soviet commie triffids and a falling satellite with some kind of nerve gas -- but it makes a lot more sense for both to be alien, from the giant triffid ship that picked us for the next farm and moved on. I can see that he wanted to show us the options for just Earth, but it makes a much too coincidental coincidence.

Something that is almost never included in books like this are people like me. My meds will run out, I can't walk very far or work very much, but I would probably see (I watch most sky stuff on TV so I don't have to haul a chair out and down the ramp so I can sit and look up without falling). So do they take me along to teach people how to do things? A number of the groups were primarily intellectuals and many of them didn't know how to do things like plow and set up pumps, etc. I know how to do a lot of useful stuff I can't actually do anymore. Or maybe I'm just as useless as most of the blind people. It makes the story less black and white, but I'd like to see it explored more. There are a lot of disabled folk.

It's a pretty good book for being 57 years old, and Ghu knows, we've had tons of jokes from it*, so even though I question some of it, I'd still recommend it primarily to see how you react to the different societies. Most of our group didn't like it.

*Years ago at a Balticon, an elevator broke with the doors open. The hotel people were worried that people would get in, push buttons, not go anywhere and get mad, so they put a large potted plant in front of the door. We made triffid jokes for the rest of the con.