Category: Journal Art

Eskimo Mouse Trading

 

Farmer Mouse is a hard worker. ^_^

In Peter Jenkins’ book, Looking for Alaska, I read about two Eskimos that he met at Deering–Millie and Gladys Iyatunguk, who practice what they call “Mouse Trading”.

Every early September, they look through the fields where little field mice have been gathering mussu root and storing them in little underground food caches so that they can have food for the winter. Gladys and Millie would look for slight disturbances on the ground and they would very carefully open it up and take out the cache of mussu root. Some mice would clean up the roots of little strands of hair before stacking them neatly in a pile. Some would just stuff them every which way. Mice aren’t all the same, just like people. Then, instead of just taking the mussu root that the mice have gathered for themselves, Gladys and Millie would replace the cache with potatoes, carrots, and celery, then carefully cover back the food cache so the mice would have something to eat for the winter. They trade instead of just take.

How awesome is that?

This kind of kindness shown towards little creatures show how beautiful their connection is to the world around them. I only hope to be more mindful in my ways as well. What a gem it is to meet such people.

Salmon Run

I am currently reading Peter Jenkins’ book, Looking for Alaska. It’s such a fascinating book, and I read it sparingly, in between other books. Sort of like a palate cleanser. I feel strangely refreshed while reading it, and I feel an urge to go out and look up at the sky, feel the breeze on my skin. I love a lot of what I read so far, but my favorite is how he described fishing on a salmon run. I think it’s fascinating how salmon venture out in to the ocean from freshwater, and then they somehow find their way back to the freshwater rivers where they were born. Until now, Ichthyologists still don’t know why salmon do this and how. Unlike salmon raised in fish pens, wild salmon fight their way upstream, back to where they came from. The harder the climb, the more oil their body produces. It’s all very fascinating.

“All these humans with their nets and fast, sleek boats, putting themselves up against what the misinformed think are dumb, small-brained fish. Yet these salmon are able to make their way down from the cold creeks in which they hatched to places of mystery hundreds and hundreds of miles away in the Pacific Ocean, then orient their way back again. A human can’t get from one airport to another in the protective metal skin of a plane without sophisticated electronic navigational devices, often assisted by multimillion-dollar satellites. How do these salmon do it?” ~Peter Jenkins

Materials used:
Parker 75 inked with Troublemaker Inks’ Bantayan Turquoise, Pilot Custom Heritage 92 inked with J. Herbin Lie De The. Tomoe River paper.

Minik

Last week, I was immersed in reading this book about Minik, the New York Eskimo. It was such a sad story, and I’m glad that anthropology (which was at its infancy at that time) has evolved since then, and new laws in the US took effect since the 1990’s. This means that museums need to return skeletal remains on display or in their collection if they are asked for it, and that exhibits shouldn’t contain skeletal remains or religious artifacts anymore. Before all that, though, was Minik and the other five Inuits brought to New York by Robert Peary at the suggestion of the American Museum of Natural History.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey.”
Lemony Snicket

I’ve only recently started watching season 2 of the Netflix show “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. I read the books again and, yes, they’re still my favorite children’s books. I think the stories are quite profound and the author managed to make the book readable for people of all ages. Like Hope for the Flowers, it has hidden layers you would appreciate and uncover at different points of your life.

I think the book is an ode to childhood in that it highlights how children can be quite wise in their simple, pure way, and that adults can be pretty foolish. My favorite book in the series (and also in the Netflix series) is The Ersatz Elevator. It shows how misplaced the priority of adults can sometimes be, and how the need to measure up and be perceived as successful through whatever changing standards are of a very fickle society can be very oppressive. It highlights the propensity of adults to miss the point of living, and of being blinded and impressed by all the wrong things.

The books also approaches the very sensitive subject of bereavement, of being orphaned, in a very interesting way. I  believe that the message resonates not just with actual orphans but also with children who are lonely. Those who feel alienated, who feel like they are not accepted by others, like they don’t fit in. Those who see the world as cold and friendless. It’s a series of books that approaches the topic in an honest and intelligent way. Not everybody will like you, or listen to you, or understand you and be compassionate towards you, but if you’re brave enough to continue to venture out, you can discover that the world does contain good people too.

The Baudelaires do have advocates, they just take a long time to come around. Count Olaf (brilliantly portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris in the series) is such a formidable foe. He inspires fear and frustration because he’s resourceful, devious, (somewhat) charming in his own repulsive way, and he has a posse blindly devoted to him. He’s even more formidable because he’s aided by the indifference and incompetence of adults around the orphans.

I also love how the book encourages readers to continue reading books. I love how new words are taught and how readers are encouraged to expand their vocabulary. I love that the writer highlights how informed, educated, curious people stand out from the crowd of followers. They are tolerant, kind, and they have open, beautiful minds. They are the kindred spirits of the Baudelaires, and they are not easily fooled or influenced by Count Olaf.

If you haven’t read the books yet, I highly recommend them.

Horrors

I’ve had a lot of time to read lately because I’ve been sick with the flu and I’m forced to stay in bed. I’ve been reading a lot about the Holocaust, hence this journal entry I wrote today. It’s about how important it is for us to learn the hard lessons of history so that we don’t repeat them.

Honestly, the books I read give me nightmares about that dark chapter in history, but I think it’s important to not be desensitized about it. It’s important to educate ourselves about what led to atrocities of such scale and to gain some wisdom about it. I believe now more than ever that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.