Is that a white deer in the Waterhouse painting up there? Do white deer exist? When I first looked at it, I thought it was a lamb, but I’m okay with the animal being a deer because I made braised lamb shank over the weekend and served it to Mariano over polenta with pan sauce and I’d feel just terrible if I had to look at a lamb after just cooking one up in a pot with vegetables and serving them to a hungry mailroom guy, you know?
Why are you looking at me like that? You have the most amazing look on your face right now. What in the world…?? Did I say something? Did I do something? What’s so interesting about lamb shank? You’d better take a deep breath and just calm down. I’ll tell you more about the lamb shank later if you really want me to, good grief.
Now, then, let me share about one of the marvelous classes I’m taking! The class is called “The Literary Animal.” Fantastic. Here’s an excerpt from the class description:
“This course concentrates on animal as character — either as narrator or designated subject — in nonfiction, fiction, poetry and hybrid forms… We do animal observations, create generative exercises, and take a field trip. We investigate: How does one’s identification of and curiosity about animals inform a text? What are the issues surrounding sentimentality and animals on and off the page?”
Wow! You should see the reading list.
If you are familiar with my fabric line you know I love fabric with animals on it — not animal print, mind you, which I do not like, but fabric with tiny animals printed on it. When I spy a little animal print in the patchwork of a quilt, the whole quilt feels warmer and more friendly to me, so I put lots of animals in Small Wonders fabric.
Ergo, there are plenty of animals in my quilts — but hardly any in my life. I live downtown. I have no pets. I have not managed to make friends with someone who owns a working ranch (or even a chicken farm.) In the city I see squirrels, pigeons, and the occasional rat, but this is my main connection to the animal kingdom and this is kind of sad. “The Literary Animal” is changing all of that.
My first assignment was to be a “citizen scientist” and observe an animal for 15 minutes, then write down my observations. Guess where I went? Guess what animal I observed? Well, I observed a turtle!! I rode my bike to the Shedd Aquarium and watched a turtle with a real bad attitude for 20 minutes and then I wrote down everything I saw and thought about in my special notebook. I could start a whole new blog about that turtle. I won’t. But I could. Also: Turtles make you think about things that have nothing to do with turtles.
“The Literary Animal” is a graduate-level class; there are only five of us in the room, plus professor Cross. Tomorrow morning, when we all share our experiences and the pieces we wrote, I get to go to the zoo. I mean that figuratively, but in two weeks, we’re actually going to meet at the zoo.
Now, about that lamb shank…