the sea fairies, or why I don't get to name donkeys anymore

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
lounging mermaid

Today was all over the place -- some very good, some very bad. A bit of very good happening this very minute: I can see the half-moon right out my west-facing window which means it isn't raining for once. Hooray!

I was looking for something on flickr (and thinking about a cc license for my pictures -- but I'll save that for another post) and saw these snaps from The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum. I came across this (along with many of the Oz books) when I was moving some stuff for my mom last year. This copy was my dad's book when he was a boy, a gift from his grandmother who encouraged him to get his nerd on. (her EXACT WORDS. okay, not really.) Anyway, I remember reading this when I was a little girl and just falling for all of it in a big way. It was so exotic! The ocean part I GOT since I have always loved the ocean (we lived on the Gulf of Mexico, which is close enough when you're six) -- it made perfect sense to me that people would live in the depths of the sea. I was so entranced by the peonies that appear in the book -- frankly, those were as exotic to me as living under water in a mermaid palace. ( I think of that book every time I cut peonies in the spring/summer.)

ANYWAY, my childhood best friend lived 2 miles up the road (which wasn't far since we lived in the sticks), and she had a horse and an orange grove. I was at her house all the time. Her dad had bought two donkeys to keep the horse company. The big news was I was going to get to name one! EXCITING. Of course I totally flubbed it! I was reading this book and the girl's name is Trot, which I suggested. It's all well and good if it's 1911 and you're visiting an underwater kingdom, but it's really lame if you're a donkey living in gulf-coast florida. Her dad never said anything directly to me, but I was relieved when he named it Festus instead. (a FAR SUPERIOR name for a donkey!) I was thinking about this tonight and going "hey... the horse's name was Star, which is also really lame!" but then I realized that Priscilla (my friend) had named the horse but her dad was the one who really the gift for naming things -- Priscilla (the daughter), Sallafina (the cat), Festus (the donkey) -- these are all obviously the work of the same fine mind. (Sallafina is one reason I was so taken with Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy (especially the first book) -- the truly excellent name of witch Serafina Pekkala reminded me of the cat -- especially since the cat was all black and rather witchy herself.)

To sum up: 1) Peonies are impossibly beautiful even when you can pick them in your own front yard 2) I defer to others on all donkey naming, although Festus is a good one. 3) The Sea Fairies is available as a free e-book since it has passed into the public domain. Do yourself a favor and get one with the John R. Neill illustrations though.
The Sea Fairies
6 comments on "the sea fairies, or why I don't get to name donkeys anymore"
  1. I think that Trot is just as fine a name for a donkey as Festus. I have never been asked to name a donkey...maybe someday.

  2. you are very kind and also made me laugh. Yes, one day YOU TOO may be asked to name a donkey. I should put it on one of those 1001 things to do before you're dead lists. (although those lists always strike me as being so bossy. I don't want to golf in ONE PLACE, let alone 1001 places!)

  3. It's interesting that you mentioned golf. I have thought about golf lately. Not in an obsessive way, but when I pass by the golf course near my house I find that as I watch those weirdos out there in any kind of weather I get a funny feeling inside, like I should try it. I do not like sports as physical activity is not high on my personal 1001 list, and they are soooo boring to watch, and golf isn't what I would technically consider to be a sport, but there is something about golf that seems so lazy and relaxing. Maybe I should just read the drivers manual I have that has been collecting dust for the last month and take the permit test and learn how to drive. Now THAT could be a fun thing for me to do. Maybe not for others, but pleasing others isn't on my personal 1001 list either. It is actually more like cemented into my psyche, the pleasing others, so it's on an entirely different list.

  4. DO IT! if you get the funny feeling, you should definitely try it.

  5. Maybe as a reward for learning how to drive I will "take up" golf? I think that would make sense since when I think of doing either of those things I get a little woozy. I have said that I have no intention of ever driving on a freeway and this is still true. But who knows? Once I get behind the wheel and get relaxed maybe a freeway will seem easy?

  6. Yes! or you could start by driving a golf-cart. I learned to drive on a tractor in an orange grove (from my friend priscilla -- she taught me based on the mr. toad's wild ride attraction at Disney world. It's a miracle we did not end up dead in a ditch.)

    As for the freeway -- I think you're smart to take a who-knows attitude. Maybe you won't want to, or maybe you won't want to at first, but maybe you will! don't tie yourself down to a particular position just yet. (FWIW, my sister didn't learn to drive until about 6 years ago, and now she loves it.)


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