A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rainy Day and The Help

Rainy Day watched a movie last night that all of her friends who had seen it raved about. They raved about the movie, and they raved about the book (which Rainy Day has yet to read) and eventually it made it not just to the top of Rainy Day's movie queue, but actually into her mailbox and DVD player! Last night, Rainy Day watched The Help.

She won't say she was disappointed, but she didn't understand the raving about the movie. Until she got to thinking about it, and reading several reviews online. Few of Rainy Day's friends lived through the '60s, and to the best of her knowledge none of them lived in the Deep South during that time. Rainy Day both remembers the '60s as she was there, and she remembers the Deep South, as she lived not too awfully far from Jackson – right outside a wee little town called Anniston. Alabama – at Fort McClellan where Rainy Day was known as Private Day.

When Rainy Day was a little girl she loved playing with her Crayons – and she loved it when she got a big box of 64. One of the things she noticed was all the colors played well together. She learned to distinguish between red and yellow and green and purple. What she didn't learn was that skin colors were somehow different, and therefore needed to be kept away from each other. Rainy Day was one lucky girl. Her friends were across the 'skin rainbow' from albino white to deepest, darkest brown. Rainy Day is so glad her parents had the good sense to have and raise her where she could happily be colorblind.

And then the '60s came. And with it movies like Lilies of the Field starring Sidney Poitier. A black man, an itinerant handyman stops at a convent farm in the Arizona desert to obtain some water for his car and ends up building a church for the nuns. In the meantime he learns a great deal, and he teaches a great deal. He does not answer to the term, "Boy."

Another movie of the '60s, also starring Sidney Poitier, with Rod Steiger came along, In the Heat of the Night. Another black man in the Deep South. In both movies, the black man commanded respect, on his own. No white man wrote an anonymous book to help him.

And that is what bothers Rainy Day about The Help. Their savior was a white woman.  And while there were some great laughs in the movie, there was an underlying layer of saccharin. Perhaps it was meant to cover the racism that still thrives in this country?

If you have never lived in the South, and or if you missed the '60s (for whatever reason), this movie is probably worth the time to watch. If for no other reason than the costuming, and a glimpse into the lives of the '60s day 'massa' and 'help'.

Rainy Day often wonders what all those racists think when they find out that their ancestors, like yours and mine, walked out of Africa. Some walked out earlier than others, but we are all African! DNA is a marvelous discovery, yes?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rainy Day and Censorship

Rainy Day finds the very idea of Censorship abhorrent. When Rainy Day was in the WAC, there was an old actor (she isn't sure, now, which one, and doesn't want to sully the name of the wrong actor by misstating his name) who became the 'official censor of movies' shown to the troops. The WAC no longer exists and for those of you too young to know, it stood for Women's Army Corps. Rainy Day served her time during the Viet Nam whatever-it-was. (Today, we spell it Vietnam and call it a war, then we spelled it Viet Nam and called it Hell.)

Anyhow, Old Actor thought our brave boys in the midst of fighting should be given delightful, uplifting movies, such as Cinderella and The Sound of Music. No joke! He wanted them to come in off the field, and relax with happy make believe of the non-smoking kind. It didn't happen and he was quietly and thankfully retired from his position.

Now and then, some school wants to censor books the children have access to in their libraries. Well, to a degree, Rainy Day can understand that. She can see why the likes of Hustler Magazine probably should not grace the shelving of a school library. She does not understand why Mark Twain's books are disallowed. They should be read by all, and discussed in the classroom. What is different about then and now? Good topics for great discussions abound in his books.

Books that could be Banned in Boston
Rainy Day can even understand why some books are Banned in Boston. Frankly, she would give just darn near anything if her books were Banned in Boston, as that would guarantee Best Seller status over night!

Rainy Day believes parents, and parents alone, should act as primary censors for their Little Darlings. She also believes parents should not forbid the reading of any particular book outright (unless they want Little Darling to read it immediately) but should explain why they would appreciate it if Little Darling did not read the book until s/he reaches adulthood.

Books that could be banned for violence, etc.
Rainy Day believes Houses of Religion should be able to control the books in their libraries, but not the books in your libraries.

And, remember, Gentle Readers, Rainy Day wore a military uniform for 9 years, 12 months, and 23 days. Why is that important? It is important because for that length of time she put her life on the line every time she raised her right hand and took The Oath. She swore to uphold the Constitution, with her life if need me, and a part of that upholding covered your right to freedom of speech, whether spoken or written. While Rainy Day may not have approved then, nor approves now, of everything that is written, she would and will die to defend the author's right to write it, the publisher's right to publish it, and the reader's right to read it.

Books that could be banned, but not for violence
Rainy Day certainly does not believe the Money Lenders, i.e., Banks have any right to control what books the Publisher publishes, the Bookseller sells, or You buy. And that is what they are trying to do. The Banks that back PayPal want PayPal to refuse to accept transactions where a reader wants to buy a book The Bank thinks should not be allowed into the hands of said reader. They wish to ban any book that contains violence, incest, rape, murder, etc. Rainy Day asks you, what is a good novel if not a story of our Hero overcoming one or all of the aforementioned obstacles? Rainy Day also points out that, as demanded by The Money Lenders, the Holy Bible and the Qu'ran would either have to be banned, or large portions thereof excised!

Rainy Day thanks readers, writers, and publishers everywhere who quickly got online and wrote or signed petitions, or called their Congressperson to stop this nonsense before it became real. Smashwords.com and other companies targeted, say the Houses of Money have backed off. Rainy Day wonders for how long?

Rainy Day says we all have the power of censorship within our grasp. We don't like the TV shows we watch? Change channels. We don't like books about (put your topic here______), don't buy them. As adults we can, do, and should accept responsibility to censor our Little Darlings and ourselves. We do not need a group of men telling us what books we may or may not read, what movies we may or may not see, what restaurants we may or may not visit, what clothes we may or may not purchase, et cetera, et cetera and so forth ad nauseum, ad infinitum!

So, Rainy Day asks each and every one of you, dearest of Gentle Readers, the next time you see an article on Censorship, read it, take it seriously, and then take appropriate action against it.

For another, and more in depth, discussion on censorship, read the March 3 entry by Dixiane Hallaj.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rainy Day and Her World of Silence

Rainy Day has lived in a fairly silent world for several years, and until recently, it hasn't bothered her all that much.

Many years ago, she went to the Dr. and had her hearing tested. Turns out that it was clinically proven she was going soft in the head. Well, at least the wee little bones in her ears were going soft, so for a year, she took fluoride pills to harden those little suckers. The fluoride pills could stop the loss, but not reverse it.

One thing all those tests revealed is that she had acute hearing in the high range (the range usually lost first) and in the low range, but only 2 decibels left in the mid range, where human voice is.

So, being as how her left ear was her worst ear, she got a hearing aid for her left ear. Big mistrake! Her left ear is her telephone ear, and try as hard as Rainy Day did, she could never get used to using her right ear for the phone.  After a few months, Rainy Day discovered it was far more comfortable to allow her dresser drawer to wear the hearing aid, than for her to wear it, so in the drawer, in it's little box it did stay.

Finally, a few weeks ago, after Rainy Day attended several meetings where she could not hear many of the speakers, she decided to get her hearing retested and to try some new hearing aids. Her world of silence is now over! The new aids are digital, rather than her old analog, and while she knows they are in her ears, they are not uncomfortable, especially when she's talking on the phone!

Rainy Day's world of silence is gone, except at night. When she got her aids the first thing she noticed was how noisy Costco was! Then, as she drove home, she noticed she could actually hear her car – was something wrong?-- it sounded different. Oh, right, she'd never actually heard it before.

She came home and turned the TV on and immediately cut the volume by half! She walked into the kitchen and heard a strange sound, electrical, rhythmic, and eventually figured out it was her Grandmother's old clock – she hadn't heard it since she was a child. In her office was an annoying click, click, click, rather like a slow beating metronome. Yep, you guessed it, the quartz clock on her wall. Her office shares a communal wall (right behind her chair) with the laundry room and furnace. Can you guess how loud they seem now?

Do you have any idea how loud a key board is? Rainy Day does. Even with the hearing aid volume turned down, her typing clacks like a train with a square wheel. Or how noisy clothes are as they are put on or removed? Rainy Day is discovering the joys of hearing water come out of the faucet, her little dog bark, and the wind as it serenades.

The real joy, however, is in hearing people, especially in groups. The agony is in re-teaching her brain to filter out all the background noises that normal hearing folks learned years ago. Noises like washing machines, conversations at other tables in restaurants, the noise of big box stores.

Rainy Day also found out she had some damage done at some point, and that she has a low tolerance for loud noises (She believes her tolerance is 90 decibels, tops!). Isn't that strange? She's deaf but doesn't like loud noises, actually loud noises are quite painful. Go figure. So, it looks like attending live concerts, movies, etc. are still not in Rainy Day's future. Fortunately, the really good ones come out on DVD where she can control the volume—and hit the pause button when she needs to refill her glass;-)

Now, when someone asks Rainy Day a question, she will be able to hear it and respond appropriately instead of sometimes raising eyebrows.

Question: "Rainy Day, would you like to go shopping with me today?"

Answer: "No, I don't think snow is in the forecast."

While hearing will be fun, once she gets used to it, Rainy Day thinks she will also miss her World of Silence.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rainy Day and Her Books

Rainy Day has been single for many years. There are reasons for this state of singlehood, and though Rainy Day prefers it, she is not recommending it for everyone. However, Rainy Day thinks husbands are too demanding. The expect things. Like breakfast before going to work, or on an early morning golf date with the boys, or a weekend fishing expedition. They further expect dinner when breakfast should be served.

Rainy Day does not like mornings. She thinks they should be avoided at all costs. In fact, if she never saw one for the rest of her life, she would be confident she had not only reached Heaven, but Heaven on Earth!

Rainy Day is also a curious person. She loves questions like, "Why?" or "How?", she wants to know why things work the way they do, how come they grow that way, not some other way, what would happen if? Husbands get tired of those questions.

Low stacks
To that end, Rainy Day is a bibliophile. Her eclectic collection of several hundred books has been trimmed somewhat by moving across country twice, but she still has books scattered all over her home. She calls her home "The Worm's Hole"—a name too many men associate with fish bait, a name she associates with books. Men, she found out, are not normally readers. Well, not of books she reads, anyhow.

Those few men she has known through the years who do read, tend more toward fishing or golfing magazines. They do not read history books, or science fiction or fantasy books, or memoir, or any of the other books Rainy Day would have a hard time living without.

And men seem to be just a tad bit narrow-minded when it comes to housecleaning. They seem to think Rainy Day has nothing better to do all day, especially now that she is retired, than to clean house. She does clean house. She now and then moves a stack of books from one room to the other. Or, if she has finished a book, it goes from one stack to another. She has lots of things better to do – read books, write books or stories, quilt, take pictures.
more books

Rainy Day is perfectly happy with books stacked on the floor, on tables, on shelves, in the bathroom, in the bedroom (where they are also spread around on her bed), in the living room, kitchen, sun room. There is not a room in Rainy Day's house that does not have books!

Men can be very narrow-minded at times. Rainy Day, as you my Gentle Readers know, is not narrow-minded—except when it comes to bigots and narrow-minded people. But she shall not sully her dainty little fingers by typing about those kinds of people.