Monday, July 12 2021

Quote of the Day

What kind of emulsifier could you use with people, to make them mix?

Brandon Sanderson, Rhythm of War

Cherries like candy

I’m not a cherry expert as for most of my life I haven’t been a fan. But a friend introduced me to Rainier cherries a few years ago, and every year I look forward to grabbing a bunch when they are in season.

Following the whole Eat Like Your Ancestors plan (which I’m taking more as an interesting experiment and much less like these are the only things I can eat ever), I found out that black cherries are native to New England. Ok! Then I began to wonder what the difference is between black cherries and Rainier cherries. A lot, as it turns out.

Sweet cherries are thought to have come from the region between the Black and Caspian seas, and cultivation is believed to have begun with the Greeks. Colonists brought sweet cherries to the New World, and they arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 1847 when Henderson Luelling traveled from Iowa to Oregon with nearly 1,000 trees and shrubs. His younger brother, Seth, later developed the Bing, named for his Chinese workers’ foreman, Ah Bing.

Rainier cherries by Adriana Janovich in Washington State Magazine

They are a cross between yet more transplants. And they are also ~20% sugar. Well, that would be why they are so tasty.

And digging into this a bit more, native New England cherries, which are called ‘black cherries,’ are not the black cherries one finds at the supermarket (of course they aren’t, because this is never easy). The native ones are actually closer to the chokecherry than the sweet or sour cherries we eat today.

I don’t know what to do with this information. This cherry tree is not native to the PNW, where I live now, and I don’t think anyone is growing them to sell cherries (though the wood is prized, so they might be grown for that). Apparently sour (tart) cherries are the kind mostly grown in New England today, and they at least have much higher nutrient contents than sweet cherries. Apparently they were brought over in the 1600s, so that would still be most of 400 years. So I guess try some tart cherries this summer?

Are we feeling safe?

Now that I am vaccinated and feeling mildly more safe–I’m watching you, variants–I’m considering joining a writer’s group. Talking shop is super fun. I miss the company of other writers working with the same struggles I do. Being around strangers for hours at a time, though…..ugh. Maybe looking for online groups is better. At least for now.

Predator / prey

I had a long conversation with a friend about predators and prey. The human kind–sociopaths and psychopaths who prey on the empathetic just because they can. My friend, who has in general had very different life experiences from mine, sees human predators as an unchangeable fact of humanity. That in any human society at any level and in any configuration, predators will rise up and be predatory. I don’t necessarily disagree, it’s just not a thought I’ve ever thought, so I’ve been thinking about it a bit since. We talked about how to handle them; i.e., methods to keep predators from ruining any type of society empathetic people can think up by their need to prey on others. Basically we came up with exiling them to their own island so they can just live in the shark tank of their own making. Or turning their predator instincts to work for the community by impressing upon them how much they need community to survive (predators don’t farm or cook or build or create or do any of the things they like to take advantage of or own). Sherri Tepper’s Gate to Women’s Country solution very much came to mind.

What there wasn’t much talk about, for various reasons, that I thought of later: what makes someone a predator? circumstance or genes or training? what are the behaviors that make up a predator? everyone must have both predator and prey tendencies, so what makes predator tendencies be identified with so strongly in some but not others? isn’t empathy a teachable skill? and if it is, isn’t predation? are they opposites? and if they are, what is their Jungian reconciliation? how does all this apply to characters in general and antagonists in particular (or does it)? how useful is this duality as a lens?