Novella Review – The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Elaine Hedges (afterword)

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Awards

“It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight.”
― Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories

#801 on 1001 Books to Read Before You Die

About

‘It is stripped off – the paper – in great patches . . . The colour is repellent . . . In the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so – I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about . . .’

Based on the author’s own experiences, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is the chilling tale of a woman driven to the brink of insanity by the ‘rest cure’ prescribed after the birth of her child. Isolated in a crumbling colonial mansion, in a room with bars on the windows, the tortuous pattern of the yellow wallpaper winds its way into the recesses of her mind.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was America’s leading feminist intellectual of the early twentieth century. In addition to her masterpiece ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, this new edition includes a selection of her best short fiction and extracts from her autobiography.

My Thoughts

“I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition.”
― Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories

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source: http://julianaswenson.com/a-psychological-reading-of-the-yellow-wallpaper/

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a masterpiece of women’s literature and feminism as it is both a narrative on mental illness and a treatise on the marginalization of women in the 1800’s. Even now parts of the theme echo through the ages as pertinent now as it was then.

The plot of the story is a woman’s slow descent into madness. The narrator has a bout of what was termed, “a nervous condition.” She is put into a country estate attic to rest and recuperate till her nervous condition ceases orchestrated by her well-meaning husband.  Despite the narrators best efforts regarding her own self-care, Her husband treats her desires as a parent would treat a child and keeps her secluded from the world. There, she sits immersed in yellow peeling wallpaper for weeks. She looks at nothing else except for a small window that looks out into the world she is being kept from. The narrator in her loneliness and forced delusion starts to see patterns in the wallpaper. All of this psychosis culminates into the narrator hallucinating a woman trapped behind the paper begging to be let free. She literally goes mad because she is imprisoned. The story ends with her finally escaping her prison, stepping over the prostrate body of her husband and freeing herself.

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source: http://www.sporkability.org/spork-exclusive/behind-the-yellow-wallpaper-a-look-at-women-and-mental-health

I can see how and why this is included on many “best of” lists as it is one of the first truly feministic writings, as well as a piece of gothic fiction in the style of Jane Eyre. It was the start of women having a voice in literature and by extension society.

I don’t think this is a particularly fun book to read. But, rather I found this story to be an important one. History is the best teaching tool, and although this a work of fiction, this scenario probably played out for many women in this manner. Forced into recuperation, food, entertainment, and even things as simple as restroom use were controlled often-times by well-meaning male family members. Women slipped into madness.  It is a scary thought.

 

Have You Ever Had Peanuts in Your Coke?

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(Photo Credit:  Photograph by Ashley Callahan)

Weird right? I come from a family with quite a few southerners. My dad is a out and out southerner from East Tennessee. I have tried many southern staples from his childhood: ice box cake, ham hock and lentil soup, hard cake, but until recently I had no idea that this was a thing let alone a beloved treat for many families. Apparently the rumor goes that farmers from the south would pop their peanuts in their Coke so they didn’t have to touch the nuts with dirty fingers. No idea the validity of that, but according to the Coke.com website southerners have been having their coke this way since the 1920’s.

There are even recipes for cake with the peanut coke flavor pairing. They Look delicious! I mean cake… but after trying this pairing of peanuts and Coke for experimentation purposes it is a must bake for me now.

This is a gorgeous flavor combination. It is salty and sweet all at the same time. If you are a fan of salted caramel or anything of its ilk, you will dig it. Go out and buy a coke and a pack of salted peanuts and give it a try and who knows? Maybe you will become a southern convert and start frying everything and drinking sweet tea.

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Photo credit

Recipe from http://www.food52.com

Serves: 24–30

For the cake

  • 2 cups Coca-Cola
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pats
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup peanuts (roasted and salted), chopped, for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

  2. To make the cake, place the cola, dark brown sugar and cocoa powder into a medium sauce pot and mix to combined being careful not to fizz over the cola. Add the butter. Place over a medium heat and bring the mixture to a bubble, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

  3. While the mixture cools, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Pour the slightly cooled but still a bit warm chocolate-cola mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into a large ungreased sheet pan or jelly roll pan. The pan should be about 12×16 (half-sheet pan size) but any similarly sized pan should do the trick.

  4. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the middle to check for doneness. If the toothpick comes out clean, remove. If not, bake for 5 minutes more. Time may vary with the size of your pan. Remove from oven and let cool.

  5. To make the frosting, mix together the peanut butter and butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Once well combined, slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar at a low speed. Once all of the sugar has been incorporated, carefully add in the salt, cream and vanilla extract. Once the ingredients have come together, turn the mixer on high and beat for 20 seconds just to incorporate a little air and to “fluff” the frosting.

  6. Frost the cake. And garnish the top with peanuts.

  7. Slice the cake and enjoy with a chilled bottle of Coca-Cola because, why not?

I Try Donut World in Gresham, Oregon

What is with all the hype?

Donut World

720 NE Burnside Road

Gresham, or 97030

 

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List item on my personal Portland Bucket List. 

 

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34063346_1701238289930331_5628833913066487808_n.jpgI have driven by this friendly red barn umpteen times over the years that I have lived in Portland, but I never had a cause to stop by. I decided to pop on over and check it out this morning and see what all the hype is about. I ended up sending 8 bucks for 6 donuts and a small coffee. Pricey, but doable if the donuts were any good. We run into hype problems occasionally in Portland. Where something is lauded and hyped all to hell, and is really kinda mediocre. I am looking at you voodoo donuts.

But, this was mediocre at best. Maybe, I had a bad batch of donuts or the wrong ones. I am entirely willing to give them another go. They are a mom and pop franchise, and I always try to help small businesses succeed. But really, it wasn’t great at all. I had half a cream filled one and a half an old-fashioned. The cream filled one was terrible. The cream tasted like the worst thick buttercream icing you would find on a grocery store bought cake. Plus, it was gritty? How did that happen? Maybe this is just preferential. I like cream filled donuts to have lighter almost whip cream like texture. So take my opinion with a grain of salt.

The old-fashioned was pretty decent. Not anything crazy, just ok. It had the right amount of crunch and glaze on it.

On a positive note, the dough/bread here is excellent. It was light and fluffy and had a fresh baked taste. Donut World definitely excelled there. Even though the cream in donut was inedible, the doughnut itself was well made. I’ll try it again. Who knows, maybe the second time it will be amazing. It has almost 5-star reviews across social media.

A Load of Bullshit – Literal Cow Feces

Max Temkin@MaxTemkinFollow

If you buy the poop expecting it to be something else that’s not poop, you’re actually buying a valuable life lesson for $6.

12:06 PM – 28 Nov 14 Reply Retweet Favorite

Hey, do you like cow shit? Do you want to be wholly trolled? When Cards Against Humanity Did it in 2014, they raised the bar to an art form. They are utterly not screwing around. haha, get it utter-ly.

Let me paint a picture for you. I consider myself an avid CAH enthusiast as I have most of the sets and unique packs. CAH appeals to my very low brow and very dark sense of humor. This led me to the CAH website 10 mins after opening on Black Friday. At the time I was utterly unaware of CAH black Friday track record. I swooped on this deal like an eagle going after a lizard. Six bucks! I’ll give them six bucks for a card called, “Bullshit.” Here is the FAQ that I ignored:

Are you selling any of your normal products today? No.

Is this actually poop? Yes.

Is it also something that’s not poop? No.

Can I return it when I realize that it’s actually just poop? No.

Is the poop dangerous? No. The poop is sterilized.

Is it legal to mail poop? Only one way to be sure.

Why is the poop only $6? Through the magic of incredible Black Friday super-savings.

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All the best shit is made in America. Imgur

I bought cow shit for six dollars. I found out later that day in conversation with my husband when he was marveling at CAH’s trolling. His response to me buying it was, “wut?” I bought Freeze dried, beautifully boxed cow shit and a life lesson. Read the FAQ or fine print. Even so, I still think I would have bought it which probably says a lot about me. Getting sent bull feces from CAH for Black Friday has been a running joke in my family for the last four years. Every time I order something stupid off of Amazon in an Ambien fueled spending spree my husband says, “at least you didn’t order cow shit.” I did however buy 10 pounds of gummy bears twice because apparently, I have no idea how much that is in gummy bears, twice.

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Here is an absolutely fantastic email exchange from a customer sad about getting poop.

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Here we are 4 years later, and the beautifully designed box of freeze-dried cow poop is on display in our curio cabinet. It has pride-of-place next to all sorts of family heirlooms and trophies. Why? Because it is hilarious.. and still brings my family great joy.

 

 

 

 

The Spiral Jetty is Crazy Dedication and Smells of Fish

When your view on life is shattered, it helps to witness of feat of pure ingenuity and dedication.

 

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The Spiral Jetty from Space. (https://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/arts/design/18spiral.html

About five years ago my father battled stage three throat cancer. What followed was the worst 6 weeks of our collective families life. However, this isn’t about cancer but what my husband did to cheer me up afterward.

 

When my father was diagnosed, I moved back to Vegas temporarily to help my mom and dad. Cancer is a bitch. It isn’t just the emotional and physical toll on the person affected, but it also dramatically changes all the people that they love and love them in return.  After my father’s treatments, I was drained to the point of desperation and depression. My dad is a hero of mine, and I needed a pick me up from all this adulting.

 

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The building of The Spiral in 1970 The Getty

Enter Mark, my husband. He flew down mid-trip to stay with me, and help me cope, and when we drove back to Portland, we turned it into an impressive road trip. Road trips are fantastic, as long as you don’t have kids. With young kids they are purgatory.

 

Ever hear of the Spiral Jetty? I did when I was in college (went to college for Landscape Architecture), and have always wanted to see it. It is a giant earthwork that is only accessible by a long 15ish mile offroad journey through the desert. We did this in my Scion Toaster. We off-roaded in a Scion XB for 15 miles both ways. I still think this is crazy, but you know DEDICATION TO ART!

spiraljettyThe Jetty is only viewable some years, other years it is submerged under the Great Salt Lake. The Artist Robert Smithson said of the sculpture,“I am for an art that takes into account the direct effect of the elements as they exist from day today.” It is effective. As a viewer, you never know if it will be visible or not. It adds a bit of drama to the offroad trip. You have no idea what you will find. The sculpture forms a 1,500-foot-long, 15-foot-wide counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the Great Salt Lake. Over the years, the Jetty has developed a patina of crunchy pink salt crystals over the black rocks.  It also smells like the worst fish market ever, but aside from that it is wholly beautiful and seems entirely at home in the lake.   The artist worked in the middle of the desert for years to create this thing. People should see it as a salute to his profound dedication. It cheered me up substantially and I loved striking it off my bucket list. It was worth the trip.