See for Yourself

I’ve been thinking lately about Zora Neale Hurston, laying naked on a couch in New Orleans. Maybe she has one sock on, one eye open. But she’s been there for days, not eating, not sleeping, not talking. Just waiting.

How can you not love her for that?

When Hurston was a girl, according to her biography, she loved the myth of Odin, sacrificing himself on the world tree for knowledge. “I know I hung from the windy tree,” he says, “nine whole nights. Stabbed in the side, an offering to Odin, myself given to myself. Hung from the tree whose roots remain hidden.”

That’s one thing that I love about Odin, his willingness to admit that there are things that even he, the Allfather, doesn’t know. Even he doesn’t know how deep the roots of Yggsdrasil run. The other thing I love about him is that he’s always trying to understand what women know, not just divine women, but human women. Women have knowledge and insight important to him and if he has to drag us out of the grave to get it, he will.

It’s not to say that the people that worshipped Odin then were great feminists or even that the people who honor him now are. It’s not even to say that Odin is some great champion of women. It’s to say that there’s something deeply, deeply unsettling about a god–especially one as central as Odin–who respects women’s knowledge.

And that being unsettled by that is a powerful thing.

When I imagine Hurston on the couch, it’s impossible for me not to think of Odin–the god who must know, no matter what the cost. Because Hurston is on the couch in order to know, to see for herself.

It isn’t enough for her to interview voodoo priests and observe rituals. Hurston has to get in there. She has to see for herself. If she has a question for Papa Legba, she’s going to ask him to his face.

That’s something, folks. That’s a Holiness we don’t understand very well. We leave it to the priests and the ministers and the theologians to tell us about our gods.

We’re afraid to go see for ourselves. We don’t want to ask a question and get slapped down for being impertinent–god works in mysterious ways; we can’t know why things happen; we just have to trust in god’s plan. But more than that, we don’t want to get an answer.

We don’t want to be crazy. We don’t want to be unsettled. We don’t want to have to rearrange our lives to make room for something that answers back.

Fair enough.

But I wonder what it’d be like if we did.

Tales of Backyard Intrigue

There was no posting yesterday because I busy being drunk and setting things on fire. I wanted to make Gin Ginnys for the Professor, but, since I could not remember the recipe, I don’t know what I succeeded in making for her.

Gin Ginnys are this awesome summertime drink invented by Miss J. and the Divine Ms. B.’s mom. Miss J. would make them when we lived in North Carolina and it was good times when we sat on the porch swing, getting drunk on Gin Ginnys and eating all of the potato salad that our housemate expected to last for days.

But, alas, I could only remember that Gin Ginnys were composed of some kind of citrus juice (lemon or lime? Who knows!), gin, artificial sweetner, and something clear and bubbly.

We had gin “somethings” that were a shot of gin, a good squirt of lime juice, three packets of Sweet & Low, and 7Up to taste (with lots of ice). They were very good.

Anyway, this is all to say that I hope Miss J. will send me the actual recipe–not that I’m ever drinking again…

But here’s the tale of backyard intrigue:

So, the Butcher bought one of those suet bell bird feeders and attached it to the corner of the shed. After approximately fifteen seconds, the squirrels found it. As an army of the critters sat on top of the shed or in the trees, one brave fellow held onto the edge of the shed with his back feet and stretched himself out to reach the top of the suet. It was an amazing feat of daring.

So, we thought that it’d be fun to send the cats out to break up the party. The orange cat, who struts around the house like he’s the second-coming of Elvis, smacking the dog on the butt, breaking the blinds, tripping people on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, etc. cowers on the back porch, peeks out at the squirrels and then looks up at me like I’m “fucking crazy” (not a direct translation, but the sentiment was clear).

But the small furry cat, who seems to spend most of her days looking for weird things to sleep on (Right now, she’s asleep on a plastic grocery bag she “rescued” from the garbage. Yesterday, she knocked all of the mail on the floor so she could sleep on it.), seemed to intrinsically understand what I wanted her to do.

She marched right out to the shed, sending all of the squirrels up into the trees where they swished their tails and bitched back and forth to each other about her arrival. She sniffed around in the grass where some of the seed from the feeder had fallen, looked up at the squirrels, sniffed around some more and came scampering back to the door. I opened it and she gave me this look like “Well, if that’s their thing, but I certainly wouldn’t eat it.”