Monday, 22 August 2016

Microblog Mondays: Tangible and Intangible Accomplishments



Summer is winding down! As a teacher who is paid for 12 months of the year and can afford to not work extra in the summer (this is by no means true of all teachers) I have an extra helping of unstructured time. So, what did I do with it?! Some of it I spent doing not much (or fun activities: I'll write about some of those in an AJ-centred entry) but I feel like I must hold myself accountable as well. A lot of projects get put off during the rest of the year, when we are both working full time and being parents to AJ. Two months sounds like a great opportunity to get caught up, to feel like I'm "on top of life" again.

On this theme, I started the summer with a To-Do list prominently on the fridge, and even posted it on Facebook, too.


A few weeks later, not doing too badly I think:


Some of the jobs are/were mainly Mr. Turtle's, I should point out. I can put together IKEA furniture but it always is a bit wonky when I do, so I leave that to him. He's also doing the anchoring and baby proofing. We took the first step toward consolidating our bank accounts together, but Mr. Turtle has to do the last steps. We are actually both still working on the office clean up, but I was so excited that we even got started that I wiped it off the list early.  What else: I'm not sure I can take all the bottles to the depot on my own, so I'm procrastinating that till we both can go, and neither of us want to. Running the oven cleaning cycle only involves pushing a few buttons, but it makes the house smelly and I'm afraid of fire and won't do it when I'm alone. Plus we have to wait for cool weather. Photo organizing is just as intimidating today as it was June 30, so I have done nothing there. We have done a pretty good job on the yard. We never got around to "landscaping," but at least it's not totally overgrown. Visitors nod thoughtfully and say it has potential, which is what it's had for the last six years.

And then of course there are other  things that weren't on the list that I did. The freezer is getting well stocked up with frozen lunches, including a giant pot of butternut squash and ginger soup cooking on the stove today. I have new eyeglasses! I went, or am going to, two work-related professional conferences, which feels great and is getting me excited about the new school year. We spent a lot of time with family. Not so much with friends; I have to address my social apathy/avoidance at some point.

These are some of the "tangible accomplishments" alluded to in the title. They are the things I believe I should be doing with my time.  They are the most visible to other people (sometimes even to me). They aren't always the things I feel I need to do. I call this other category "intangible accomplishments."

My intangible accomplishments this summer:

All the entries on this blog. I guess a blog entry is sort of tangible, in that it's visible and people read it. But it doesn't make an obvious difference in the progression of everyday life. Still, I'm driven to write in a way I'm not driven to do a lot of other things that appear superficially more important or urgent.  I want the documentation of that feeling or experience to exist. I want validation that goes beyond the ephemeral pleasure of having a clean house for 10 minutes or clean laundry for 5.

Following/reading other blogs. I enjoy following people's stories, and sometimes, philosophical musings driven by their experiences. So much of this drama is invisible in everyday interactions and relationships because people hide it beneath their facade. But it's so interesting.  (You would have to know and closely interact with me for at least a year to see a glimmer of what I share on torthúil. This is probably true of many other bloggers as well). 

Reading books. No novels. I don't have any interest in fiction lately.  I don't want to escape; I want to go down deep. Although I can't say exactly where I'm going with my summer (soon to be fall) reading. I'm exploring a sense of powerful uneasiness; I'm trying to figure out what it's about and where, if anywhere, it lines up with the some of the political battles currently being fought. I've read (or am currently re-reading) three very interesting books this summer.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel. JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, and finally Sebastien Haffner's Defying Hitler. The one thing that draws me to each of these writers is that they all have a strong sense of self, and they struggled (successfully, more or less) with a dysfunctional culture. I'd like to write more about these books, but I don't know what shape yet that writing will take. I'm still note-taking, comparing, contrasting, turning over ideas at 1am. Sometimes I get the laundry folded too. I don't know how I'll work in the infertility angle. But I'm creative that way. :-)

Oh, yes, speaking of fertility. If ever there was work that was grueling and intangible. Trying to conceive has been a major focus this summer. After my previous discouraging non-cycle, the current one is at least a little more promising. I had a positive OPK. And fertile mucus! Not at the same time though, that would make too much sense. About 6 days apart. It's possible that I had a second LH surge, of course, but I ran out of OPKs before I could test for it. Anyway. Two week waits are so much fun, because I have no idea how long they are actually going to be, although I can make some guesses. I'm afraid I can't call hours of Googling symptoms and bodily functions any kind of accomplishment at all. But I'll call maintaining some form of mental and emotional balance through this "is or isn't it possible to conceive again" time an intangible accomplishment.

In summary, what I've learned this summer is that I need to work on both the tangibles and the intangibles, and that they both take effort, though with tangible accomplishments the result of the effort is a lot more visible. And sometimes the biggest effort is to get started at all.

Next entry will be AJ-focused. Promise.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Things I can do and things that I can't

Yesterday evening I spent some time in my family's workshop with my brother N. My dad put together the workshop, but it would not be entirely accurate to call it "his" as it was always a family space, shared by him and my brothers (I didn't have an interest in it). N., who lives in an eastern province, is visiting for a couple of weeks and also making plans to ship the milling machine out to his shop. Shipping it involves building a crate around it. I helped N. start the base of the crate by sliding wedges of wood under the (100 lb? 200lb?) machine while he tipped it carefully. Despite feeling like we were making one of those workplace accident videos, things went well.

In between nerve-wracking lessons in the physics of large heavy objects, I found it surprisingly comfortable to be in the shop. It's not a place I spent a lot of time in, but I think it tells a story about my family if you look closely. Tools cover almost every space on the wall, and over the lathe, somebody carefully traced the outline of each tool and then painted its silhouette, so that each would always go back to its correct place. Who did this? Possibly my mom, who would have felt proud that she was supporting her husband and children. Or quite possibly my oldest brother A., who shares her sense of detail and precision and would have take pleasure in creating an efficient system (he now works in IT for a pipeline company). Scraps of wood were tucked away in corners. To me they look like rubbish that should have been thrown out, but when N. wanted pieces of wood to place under the base of the machine he was able to find exactly what he wanted amid the scraps. If I looked very closely I could see remnants of family projects (a puppet stage that we built when I was eight years old).

Standing in the shop I felt both my dad's presence and his absence. The absence obviously, because I felt he should be there taking an interest in what N. was doing. The fact he wasn't felt almost like a betrayal. Also apart from obvious ones like screwdriver, hammer, crowbar I have no idea what most of the items in the room are for. I even have some difficulty appreciating a milling machine (is it really so complex just to drill holes in stuff? Uhhhh....yep.) All the knowledge that my dad brought to that space to make it meaningful and useful is gone. Except it isn't. N. knows what the tools are for, and intuitively where to find them, although he hasn't lived in my parents' house for almost 20 years. It was interesting to hear him having a sort of dialogue with the place as he worked: "Did Dad have a socket set....I can't imagine him not having a socket set....he even gave me one.....ah yes there it is!"

I felt my dad's presence there because even though I never worked with the tools and machines, I know exactly why they are there. My parents were always transparent about their values and it is something I deeply appreciate. I might agree or not agree with aspects of how they raised their children, but I know why they did what they did.  The world outside our house might be random, ridiculous and even cruel, but within there was purpose and intention, always. The shop existed to encourage their children's interests and build skills. My parents believed (as do I) that children need to learn skills and develop interests in order to make good choices for themselves with regards to leisure, education, careers, relationships. Although they were very frugal about luxuries, they spared no effort or expense to make that happen to the best of their ability. I should add that even though I'm talking here about something that didn't really include me (by my own choice!), there were many other family pursuits that did.

All this has got a dialogue going in my mind about things I can do and things that I can't. As you know, I'm trying to figure out which category "have another baby" fits into. There is an answer to that question, but I don't know what it is yet. I hope that having another baby is a "thing I can do," but, well, I have to consider that it's a "can't," as well. Right now I'm pondering the "can't" possibility. This cycle I went for bloodwork on day 2. I don't have the results yet, but I'm as sure as I can be that I have had an anovulatory cycle. Since I was doing the bloodwork I decided to get "scientific" on my end too. I bought 20 Clear.blue OPKs and tested from day 5 to day 15, twice a day in the middle of cycle (or what I thought was the middle). I never got a positive. I also didn't have fertile signs like slippery/stretchy mucous, which I do usually have. And I started bleeding after only 15 days.

It sucks that my bloodwork was done on this cycle. I wish I had it drawn on what I consider a "good" cycle (more than 24 days, fertile signs).  I already know that the crappy cycles are crappy; what I really need to know is if the ones I consider good are actually good. But of course there's no way to know which kind I'm going to have on cycle day 2. Anyway, in light of recent events, I may have to re-name The Period as The EBB (estrogen breakthrough bleeding). The EBB is not a real period; rather the lining sheds because in the absence of progesterone produced by the corpus luteum, estrogen alone can't sustain it.

Funny, eh? When I started sharing this TTC business online, the drama on the message boards was about whether or not you'd get your period. AF here again? Soooooo disappointing! Well. Now I'm wondering if I'm even going to get my period. How nice it would be to be sure that I'm actually having a real period.

It all gets me thinking of how we can so easily take for granted what we can do. I know, and have known for some time, that absolutely everything I can do without a thought is something that another person in the world struggles to do every day. It's a sobering thought. But that's not all: everything, absolutely everything, from cuddling my daughter to driving to work to typing on this computer to kissing my husband to eating food to breathing: every single thing that I can do today, I will not be able to do one day. I will lose every last one.  Every last learned skill. Everything my body does to keep my alive. I may lose them slowly, or I may lose them all at once. But I will lose them. I do not have a choice.

Kind of a depressing thought? It is....but it's also liberating, in a way. If I'm going to lose it all in the end, maybe instead of clinging to those things that are on their way out, I make the most of those I get to have, for now. I know my dad had many regrets when he died, mainly for every(thing)(one) he still could have done and seen and held close if he had more time. But he did not have any regrets of what he passed on to us.

Anyway. This doesn't mean that we intend to stop trying for a child. I still have a few months to take the DHEA / COQ10 and see if it helps. There might be a good egg or two. If not, we are still in a position to use donor egg, as far as I know. But it's useful to put the whole process in a little bit of context.

Monday, 18 July 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Long conversations


Mr. Turtle and I had our sixth wedding anniversary yesterday. It was pretty low key. We came close to forgetting about it: mainly because we had been on vacation the week before and had somewhat lost track of days, and then the day before we had a very long, late road trip to return home. But, right at midnight, I saw "July 17" on my phone and went: Oh yeah! So the next morning we started our celebrations by going out for Dutch pancakes as a family. Later, we took AJ to my FIL's for the evening and then went for dinner together at the historical park where we got married.

A lot of our daily activity consists of chores, errands, meal prep, playing with AJ, chasing AJ around the house, cuddling and caring for AJ, talking about AJ....well, you get the idea. When the  aforementioned VIP is finally asleep, we often slump in front of computers or phones for a little bit of solitude. Other times we'll drink tea, eat dessert and watch something silly on TV, which is nice, but I tend to fall asleep after about half an hour.

When the two of us are alone together it's good to be reminded that we can still find lots to talk about and see our questions and answers and quandaries reflected in each other.  Our two shared meals started a discussion that ranged over changing family roles to current events in the news and back to family roles and values.  If I was to summarize, I'd say we both agree that the best way to make a difference in the world is to have a strong relationship together and raise our child with love, consistency, and transparency. But, there was a lot of ground covered to reach that conclusion, if you want to call it a conclusion!

One of the themes that came up was what are the most important things we pass on to children. I think we were talking about poverty and class divisions. My question to Mr. Turtle was: other than material things, what of value do parents give their children?  If you don't have a lot of money or material wealth (or even if you do), what can you give your children that will actually make a difference in their lives?

One answer was the awareness that every person's inner life is interesting and valuable. When I think back on my life, I have always found my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions valid and interesting. I may or may not be enjoying what is going on in my life at the time, but I can always process it, reflect on it, and use it for a creative purpose. The creative act might be a piece of art, an essay for school, a job search, a discussion, or no more than a journal entry or a mad dance in the dark to my favourite song of the time, but it is my voice in the world, and nothing is ever more important. Perhaps this is part of the reason I have kept all my writing and all my school projects from high school on.  I don't look at them and ooh and aah in admiration for myself (hahahahahaha) but I know they are there and that they are part of my individuality. Did my parents teach me this? Yes, I think in part. My mom always encouraged me to take great care of my work: she collected it, helped me create little books, asked me when I was writing the next poem/story/whatever.  That taught me it had value.

Mr. Turtle and I also discussed movie adaptations from books, and how they are different. For me at least, a large part of why movie adaptations are less satisfying than books is because inner conflicts and voices don't transfer well to the screen. A good writer can explore his or her characters' thoughts and value conflicts for pages and pages, and it's riveting reading. But that's hard to do on screen, so inner conflicts are externalized to conflicts between characters. I always find that disappointing, or rather missing the point. Some people like to act out all their conflicts with/on other people, I guess, but for those of us who tend to carry them around and reflect on them, that can seem like too much drama already.  It also implies that the relationships/conflicts we have with other people or with "society" or "environment" are more important than our inner lives, and I don't agree. Obviously those external influences and relationships are important, but everything we do starts with some thought or impulse we have. And our thoughts and impulses come from our inner life and how we process the world. It is important to listen to that and understand what is happening, especially if there is any conflict or distress (and there usually is!).

This is, of course, a big reason I enjoy the blog world: Blogs can make the inside voices audible (so to speak). 


Friday, 8 July 2016

Discussing eggs, crocheted and otherwise

We went back to the The Fertility Clinic today for the first time since January of 2014. Last time we were there was for a couple of emotional meetings, one with Dr. Cotter, one with the counsellor, discussing our cancelled IVF. About a month later I made a phone call to the The Fertility Clinic, saying I was - surprise! - pregnant and asking if they could be of further assistance. They said no: since they didn't actually get me pregnant, I was under the care of my family doctor. And that was that.

I wasn't looking forward to going back to the clinic. We don't have very happy associations with the place. On the other hand, when I think about possible ways to grow our family, the clinic still might be able to offer some options. A meeting is the place to start, and putting it off wasn't accomplishing anything. So, today was the day. Mr. Turtle offered some optimism as we approached the familiar waiting room: "Last time we were here we were wondering if we would ever have a baby." And now we do, was the rejoinder neither of us needed to say aloud. He's right, of course. The emotions are a lot different this time around. The first time we went to The Fertility Clinic, I saw (or wanted to see) the doctors as scientific wizards who would do for us what our bodies couldn't. Some of that feeling remains, perhaps, but I have more appreciation now of the randomness of life and how our human knowledge and awareness always falls short, no matter how expert.

I was also anxious about seeing Dr. Cotter again, mainly because of her blunt way with words and because I was worried she might push us to do donor egg IVF right away. Intellectually I know this is ridiculous because it's our family and my body and nobody can make me, or us, do things we don't want to do. If I dig deeper though I think my true fear was that I would be treated like a case number, not an individual.  While I understand that the clinic is a business and they offer services for money, I also feel some vulnerability because I am approaching the people there for direction and counsel on a very sensitive matter. I want to know that they are acknowledging and responding to the uniqueness of our situation, not just pushing us toward whatever process they think is most likely to make a baby.

Having said all that, I am happy with how the meeting went, probably because it went exactly the way I wanted and expected it to. Dr. Cotter was fully in character. She summed up my past fertility assessment with "You were young and in good health, but your ovaries were acting like those of a 45 year old woman." On our failed cycle: "even the strongest drugs could do nothing for you." But then she added: "It's good to know that spontaneous pregnancy can still happen, and there are obviously some young eggs left in there."

(Here I will interject that the term "spontaneous pregnancy" always sounds to me like a person has reproduced asexually, something like the Virgin Birth but without the religious context. Now wouldn't that create an interesting set of problems. "Unassisted conception" is the term I use on the blog.)

After going over some basic details of my past pregnancy, I mentioned that while donor egg IVF is on the table, we would like to look at possibilities for increasing our chances with unassisted conception first. Since I took DHEA and COQ10 supplements before AJ's conception, I thought we could try that again. Dr. Cotter agreed. (DHEA requires a prescription in Canada.). She said to give the DHEA about six months to be effective, which fits with the timeline I had in mind.

I also mentioned one of my theories, which is that the suppressant used for Flare IVF might have actually helped my cycle by stopping my body from ovulating too early. My ovaries seem to want to jump the starting gun which leads to early ovulation, short cycles and probably poor quality eggs. Stopping that process might have allowed an egg to mature properly. Dr. Cotter did not comment on this specifically, but mentioned that the DHEA should help to regulate my cycles.  She also said we could possibly try "something" before moving to donor egg IVF. We did not discuss what that something might be, but I was glad to hear that she is at least considering other treatments that might work for us. While I don't expect her (or us) to commit to anything right now, it's part of being heard and considered as an individual. In the meantime there are tests to do (of course!).

-Day 2 blood work (Estradiol, FSH, LH, TSH, prolactin: some of those abbreviations I will have to look up, since my short term memory has expelled them). In addition, they will look at antimullerian hormone, which according to Dr. Cotter is the next big thing in fertility testing and in a couple of years will replace FSH testing and antral follicle counts.

-Pelvic ultrasound, with antral follicle count. I opted to forgo the uterine x-ray for now as it can interfere with a pregnancy, but if we do decide to do donor egg I will have to go for that one.

And that is that, for now. I left with a lot of pills in a pink bag (they had purple bags in 2014) and a feeling of calm and validation. Mr. Turtle was pleased (relieved?) that Dr. Cotter mostly agreed with my assessment of our situation. (I knew what I wanted and had made that clear. Ha. Not like I've obsessed over this for the past year or anything.)

On to crocheted eggs. AJ has the IKEA play kitchen, which I think is the most adorable thing ever. We haven't bought her any of the accessories; I have an open invitation out to grandparents to buy/make those.  I haven't felt very creative lately, but in the past few weeks inspiration is coming in a variety of areas. One of these was to make a crocheted toy egg. (I made one egg with two parts: the shell and egg yolk/white. The egg yolk/white fits inside the shell.)

The egg inside its shell



Egg cracks open (there's a slit in the shell)



The egg is ready to fry!

A note on crocheted eggs: Since this post has been getting a bit of attention, including Mel's 603rd Friday Blog roundup (thank you Mel!) I will mention for any crocheters that I did write down the instructions for the egg. I will have to search around the house to round up the various sticky notes that I scrawled it on, but in theory I can share the pattern with anyone who is interested. Leave me a comment or email torthuil(at)gmail.com if interested.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Row Row Row, July 2016 edition

After many nights of improvisation, I have a variation of AJ's favourite song "Row Row Row Your Boat" that I quite like. (A photo of the inspiration follows at the bottom.)


Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream

Row row row your boat
Out into the bay
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Dreaming all the way

Row row row your boat
On the ocean waves
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Love our hearts will save

Row row row your boat
Through the afternoon
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Till the rising moon

Row row row your boat
O'er the darkening deep
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Nights of peaceful sleep

Row row row your boat
Toward the evening star
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Love will take us far

Row row row your boat
Gently through the night
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
All your dreams take flight

Row row row your boat
Beneath the Milky Way
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Shooting stars at play

Row row row your boat
Toward the rising sun
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Days of love and fun

Row row row your boat
On the sea so blue
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
You're my dream come true.


Monday, 27 June 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Slings and arrows




AJ is 20 months old, nearer to two years old than one year old. I feel that if there has been a theme to this month, it's that we can't entirely protect her from the dangerous and unpleasant parts of the world. Hence the Hamlet quote: the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", the "sea of troubles" which we all must face.


First of all, about 2 days after she started walking extensively without support, AJ fell on my mom's steps. I was not even an arm's length away. I was not distracted. But I didn't quite catch her and while she didn't fall far at all, she fell very awkwardly on one leg. A few hours later we found out she had a fracture on her tibia. So, a few short days after she got excited about "walkie, walkie!" poor AJ had a cast on her leg and wasn't walking anywhere.


But mentally and physically healthy humans, especially little ones, are resilient and adaptive. Having a cast and a bad "bump" was occasionally distressing to AJ, especially the first few days. Before long however, she was crawling, scooching and erm, standing and walking on her cast.


And remember how I said I couldn't wait for her to dance? Well, she started dancing with the cast on. (it sounds likes she's saying "mucous" in the video but she means "music")


video




She continues learning at an amazing rate. We definitely have to be mindful of what we say and do around her, as she is taking it all in. On the morning of Sunday June 12th I was relaxing in bed, looking a friend's Facebook page. A post caught my attention and I Googled the story to learn more.  I found the story I was looking for, alright, and then I saw a news headline that dozens of people had been shot dead and injured in an Orlando nightclub. Mr. Turtle was up with AJ. I staggered out of bed and greeted AJ and him with "There has been another terrorist attack in the U.S. At least 20 people dead." AJ promptly began repeating, "Dead, dead!" Oh, no. It's official: I have to think about how to talk to her about terrorism, murder, violence. It's one of those things I accepted in theory, but it's a helluva lot different to look into her sweet face and think about how to say it.


Time goes on, the cast comes off. AJ didn't miss a beat: she showed no hesitation to walk or dance or even climb stairs after she had full use of both legs. I am being a bit more vigilant, especially when she starts climbing. But then yesterday I was walking close beside her outside, ready to snatch her away from danger, and she tripped on my foot and fell.  Sigh.


Another first today. The daycare called and told me that another child had bitten AJ. Not to break the skin, but there were tooth marks visible. They said she was briefly upset, but soon consoled. I am not overly concerned about the incident itself, but it's the first time I know of that another child has been mean to AJ. Well, I don't know if toddlers can really be mean on purpose, but she might perceive it that way.  It makes me wonder: how much will she worry about mean people in the world? Everybody does to some degree, but I hope it's not a crippling fear for her.


And finally, the Shakespeare quote has another somber resonance for me this week. It is of course part of Hamlet's famous soliloquy where he contemplates ending his life:


To be, or not to be? That is the question—
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—

This weekend we received news that one of the graduating class at my school committed suicide. He had reportedly struggled with a variety of academic and life issues, but was not described as isolated: he had friends, he had plans, he had "many connections." "This is the last person I would have expected to harm himself," the principal said. Somewhere along the way however, he decided he could not accept what life had dealt him.

I didn't know this student personally, so the shocks reach me through the impact on other people's lives, and you cannot predict what where a fault will crack open. My colleague's eyes welled with tears as she stumblingly told me of her now adult daughter's suicide attempt and how this latest tragedy brought it back to her. It's a reminder that there is so much under the surface of people's lives. No wonder that we often think people behave in a unreasonable and irrational way when there is so much that can't be seen. It makes me even more grateful for the blog world and the outlet it provides me, and others.

Monday, 20 June 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Jemima Puddle Duck





Having a child means re-discovering childhood books and traditions. It's still a bit early for most of them, but recently I've become the owner of a few Beatrix Potter books.

I loved Potter's books as a child probably because they were small (not that size ever deterred me from reading a book), and because of the delicate, detailed illustrations, and....well, actually, I don't remember. I just know I liked to get them out from the library, and I must have read all the stories several times over.

AJ loves books, but doesn't yet show an interest in a story, exactly. She likes books with bright pictures, rhymes, and flaps and textures. Because her vocabulary must be well over a hundred words, she can identify what's in the pictures (kitty, bunny, mouse, etc), and she can fill in the words to some familiar stories. However, she likes Beatrix Potter for much the reasons I remember, so far: The books are little and she can hold them and "read" by herself. She'll sit on her chair, flip the pages, and babble happily.

I read the stories too. Reading them removed from childhood, I found myself noticing things I hadn't before. There's more to these little books than you might assume.

I found one of them, The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck, actually rather disturbing. Jemima is a duck who is not allowed to sit on her own eggs (I have no idea why this is, having very little knowledge of agriculture, and Potter doesn't explain any of it, other than possibly at the end where Jemima calls herself "a bad sitter.") She is however determined to hatch her own eggs, so she sneaks away from the farm into the woods. In the woods she meets a friendly, foxy "gentleman" who makes her at home even as he talks about omelettes and asks Jemima to bring herbs that go well with roast duck. Jemima however is too naive to be suspicious of any of this. Eventually the barnyard dog suspects something is up, and they raid the gentleman's den in time to prevent Jemima from being eaten, but the dogs also eat all her eggs. The full story with Potter's illustrations.

It might be a stretch to call Jemima an infertile or subfertile, but I felt a certain affinity for her and her desperation. Otherwise, what stands out for me about this story is how nobody is really the good guy: while the foxy "gentleman" might seem the most despicable, it's Jemima's naivete that creates the problem, which you could argue was otherwise avoidable. The dogs who charge to the rescue ruin the heroic moment by eating up her eggs. Furthermore, you could make the argument that the problems arise from the various characters behaving like what they are: ducks act like ducks, foxes like foxes, and dogs like dogs. It raises the question: how well do we know our own human nature and that of others? How often do we make foolish or naive assumptions and how can these be avoided?

Will I share and discuss this story with AJ? You bet. I hope she tries to better her human nature as she grows up, because we all should strive to be good people. But I also think Jemima Puddle Duck offers some good lessons about viewing friendly "gentlemen" with a wary eye, as well as white knights, and the dangers of naivete and idealism, even (or especially) when well-intentioned.


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