Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bunnies!

Two years ago I posted on my Livejournal blog about Cedric almost eating two baby bunnies. Fortunately I was able to pluck the bunnies from his evil maw, and the very next day I photographed them nursing on our back patio.

This year we have another bunny mama and her brood, this time on the front patio. I have a better camera now, but the babies are still a little too small to run around in the open. Instead the mama keeps them hidden away in a little burrow she made in our ground cover.


I took this not-so-great photo of the mama a few days ago while she was grooming herself. Steve swore he saw her nursing the babies, but when we went out there for a closer look, I could find no evidence of them. (Don't worry, we'd never disturb the nest if we found it.)


Last night she appeared again, and this time I got photographic evidence of the babies!


You can sort of see their little heads here. I'm pretty sure there are three of them.

After she finished nursing them, the babies sank back down into their burrow, and the mama spent quite some time arranging the moneywort and mulch so that it would all look tidy and entirely NOT like a baby nest. (She had such fabulous little monkey paws!)

I will update as the babies get bigger. I'm assuming at some point they'll come out and nurse on the flagstone like the other babies did two years ago.

P.S. For the life of me I don't understand why these photos won't embiggen when you click on them. I've tried everything and it's nearly driven me INSANE. Help?

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Monday, May 21, 2012

In which I am a jerk about REBECCA


I recently listened to an audiobook of Daphne du Maurier's REBECCA. Having read the book as a teen and enjoyed many viewings of the Hitchcock film since then, I was looking forward to revisiting the story, especially because I've long considered it the best of all the JANE EYRE reimaginings. (Oh, and it was read by Harriet Walter, one of my favorite actresses who also happens to do a splendid job with audiobooks.)

Things started out just fine, but it didn't take long for my skin to start crawling. It was acutely painful to experience the story from inside the 2nd Mrs. de Winter's head. I found myself constantly comparing her to Jane Eyre, as one might expect. Jane also is young, poor, and utterly smitten with a sexy tortured soul who is far above her station. But unlike the 2nd Mrs. de Winter, our Jane -- dear Jane! -- values herself. She has a healthy sense of self-worth and a strong moral compass. She may be poor and plain, but at the same time she knows she is clever, talented and most important of all, equal to Rochester in the eyes of the highest authority.

Here is my first and only warning. If you are a diehard fan of REBECCA, stop here. It is so hard for me to read someone else bashing a book I love, so if you love this book with all your heart, don't continue. Or if you're still hoping to read it and don't wish to read HUGE SPOILERS, please don't read any further.

Okay?

crankyspoilers!spoilers!spoilers!crankyspoilers!spoilers!spoilers!crankyspoilers!!


By contrast, the 2nd Mrs. de Winter considers herself childish, slow, unnattractive, and gutless. She is not worthy of Maxim's love, but she needs him so desperately that she'll do anything, suffer any humiliation, to hold on to him. Sometimes this need seems motivated by her obsessive love for him. At other times it has more to do with a need to save face. Consider her thoughts after she has worn the infamous dress from the portrait and suffered Maxim's hissy fit:

As I sipped my cold tea I thought with a tired bitter feeling of despair that I would be content to live in one corner of Manderley and Maxim in the other as long as the outside world should never know. If he had no more tenderness for me, never kissed me again, did not speak to me except on matters of necessity, I believed I could bear it if I were certain that nobody knew of this but our two selves.

My marriage was a failure. All the things that people would say about it if they knew were true. We did not get on. We were not companions. We were not suited to one another. I was too young for Maxim, too inexperienced, and more important still, I was not of his world. The fact that I loved him in a sick, hurt, desperate way, like a child or a dog, did not matter. It was not the sort of love he needed. He wanted something else that I could not give him, something he had had before.
(my bold)

After this she wallows in torturous thoughts of "Rebecca, Rebecca, Rebecca" (which I hear in my head much like Jan Brady whining "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"), and before long Mrs. Danvers has nearly talked her into killing herself. But wait, she hasn't hit rock bottom yet! There are further abasements, such as when Rebecca's body is found. What? That body in the crypt is not Rebecca? What's going on here? The 2nd Mrs. de Winter doesn't really care about the specifics -- she just wants things to work out with Maxim:

"Maxim," I said, "can't we start all over again? Can't we begin from to-day, and face things together? I don't want you to love me, I won't ask impossible things. I'll be your friend and your companion, a sort of boy. I don't ever want more than that."

AND THEN! Maxim finally confesses. HE SHOT REBECCA POINT BLANK, STRAIGHT THROUGH THE HEART. He murdered her and scuttled her boat to hide the evidence. When Jane Eyre learns that Rochester's been keeping a mad wife in the attic, she hightails it out of Thornfield because he's done BAD THINGS (lying and attempted bigamy). But how does the 2nd Mrs. de Winter react to her husband's confession of murder? Well, she's a little numb with shock at first. One might think this is the calm before the storm of her freaking out that her husband is a stone-cold wife killer. But no . . . turns out she's ECSTATIC! She doesn't care that Maxim killed Rebecca -- all that matters to her is that he never loved her:

He came and stood before me. He held out his hands. "You despise me, don't you?" he said. "You can't understand my shame, and loathing, and disgust."

I did not say anything. I held his hands against my heart. I didn't care about his shame. None of the things that he told me mattered to me at all. I clung to one thing only, and repeated it to myself, over and over again. Maxim did not love Rebecca. He had never loved her, never, never. They had never known one moment's happiness together. Maxim was talking, and I listened to him, but his words meant nothing to me. I did not really care.


And later . . .

I looked away from him so he should not see my face. What did it matter whether I understood him or not? My heart was light like a feather floating in the air. He had never loved Rebecca.

She is the QUEEN of all ninnies!

And Maxim? He is a creepy wife-killer who 90% of the time behaves like a condescending ass to her. In the end he, like Rochester, loses his precious ancestral home to fire. But is he really punished for his sins? NO. (Unless you consider it a punishment to spend the rest of your life with a self-loathing and subservient twit. Hmmmm.) At the moment I kinda hate this book.

Maybe du Maurier intended it to be ironic? Maybe she meant for us to hate the 2nd Mrs. de Winter. The "heroine" is never named, so perhaps it was du Maurier's intention for us to see her as a spineless cipher. I haven't read much in the way of du Maurier biography or criticism, so I have no idea if any of it speaks to this. Perhaps there's a whole layer of meta that I haven't figured out yet. In a crazy way, I kinda have to give du Maurier props for pulling this off -- a gothic romance in which the romantic hero is a murderer and the heroine GLADLY stands by him? That could never be a bestseller, right?

"HA HA, YOU ARE ALL DUPES, MY BANK ACCOUNT THANKS YOU," says Daphne.

All right, I am fully vented. For anyone who's still reading, I think we should lighten things up by watching Mitchell and Webb's comic spin on REBECCA:



[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Monday, May 14, 2012

Santa Fe

[via Camera Awesome -- I'm a little obsessed with this app right now!]

Last week Steve presented at a conference in Santa Fe, and I tagged along. It's only (only?) an 8 hour drive, so we decided to make it a road trip.

I must confess that the drive from Oklahoma City to Amarillo isn't particularly scenic, but once we hit the mesas in west Texas, things got interesting. I'll spare you the photos I took through the window with my iPhone. Well, all except this one:


Here we're about half an hour from Santa Fe -- I loved this vista of huge sky and mountains in the distance.

Once we were settled into our hotel, we walked about town and enjoyed the cool air and sun, taking a few photos before eating a late lunch.


Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi -- east of the Plaza.


The Loretto Chapel -- a bit of Southwest Gothic just for me!


The Lensic Theater.


It wasn't necessary to awesomize this photo, right? On Thursday I drove down to Albequerque to visit with Caroline Starr Rose, the author of one of my favorite books, May B. Caroline is beautiful, warm, and wise -- it was such a pleasure to hang out with her.

The day before I had the opportunity to breakfast with agent-sister Tiffany Trent, who was in town for a Science Writing conference (how cool is that?). We had a grand old time chatting about writing and Duran Duran, but silly me forgot to take a photo. Great to see you, Tiffany! Can't wait for the Unnaturalists to come out. :)

[Cross-posted to Livejournal]