Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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Waiting for the angels, chopping the head off a chicken, building a house — twice
It is often said of laying hens, veal calves, and dogs kept in cages for experimental purposes that this does not cause them to suffer, since they have never known other conditions. . . . This is a fallacy.
Even though the butcher section was in the back, I could smell animal flesh when I came through the doors, the faint stench that leaked through the plastic wrap and rose above the ammonia smell of the floors.
The Crandells participated in 4-H the way we did everything: bargain hunting, doing odd jobs, and keeping costs and desires to a minimum.
Cooking has always been a part of my life, but more like the furniture than an object of scrutiny, much less a passion. I counted myself lucky to have a parent — my mother — who loved to cook and almost every night made us a delicious meal. By the time I had a place of my own, I could find my way around a kitchen well enough, the result of nothing more purposeful than all those hours spent hanging around the kitchen while my mother fixed dinner.
There are people on the far Right and far Left who can’t join in a creative dialogue about our differences — say, the most radical 15 or 20 percent on either end. But that leaves 60 or 70 percent in the middle who could have that conversation, given the right conditions. And in a democracy, that’s more than enough to do business.
Her face registers that frightful blankness I’ve come to know too well during her slow descent into dementia. For her, is it winter? Is it yesterday? Is it now? “I was following these flowers,” she says. “Somebody’s planted them all along this road. See?”
It’s 1994, and I’ve been sentenced on drug charges to seven months in a minimum-security prison in California’s Mojave Desert. And yet I feel godlike: I have a single cell, one of the highest-paying jobs in the joint, and a poetry group called the Mad Poets. Also I’m writing a novel, making up my own little world, and this too makes me feel like a god.