This is Dani Smith


I am Dani Smith, sometimes known around the web as Eglentyne. I am a writer in Texas. I like my beer and my chocolate bitter and my pens pointy.

This blog is one of my hobbies. I also knit, sew, run, parent, cook, eat, read, and procrastinate. I have too many hobbies and don’t sleep enough. Around here I talk about whatever is on my mind, mostly reading and writing, but if you hang out long enough, some knitting is bound to show up.

Thank you for respecting my intellectual property and for promoting the free-flow of information and ideas. If you’re not respecting intellectual property, then you’re stealing. Don’t be a stealer. Steelers are ok sometimes (not all of them), but don’t be a thief.

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    Stacks of Gratitude, Day 1

    It’s November. I’m grateful. 

    Sitting here plotting in our pretend graveyard on this gorgeous morning, I am grateful for all of my Creative Instigators and the cool stuff they inspire and enable me to do. And also for butterflies. There’s another one! And another!

    The pretend graveyard in glorious sunshine.


    Weird Competitive Urges

    At the grocery store I saw a trim lady in exercise gear. She was annoyed that there were no boxes of pre-washed baby spinach on the shelf, and decried this lack to the produce manager. She clearly exercises a lot (suggested in something about her jaw and in her jaunty cap made of moisture-wicking tech fabric, in a muted pastel color). In her cart she has a lot of Greek yogurt (single-serving containers) and a twelve-pack of Fresca. But no containers of pre-washed baby spinach. I am also wearing athletic shorts, so I feel unexpectedly competitive when I see her in the produce department and again in frozen foods. I buy more vegetables than I planned. 



    Mandolins! Movies! Misdirection!

    Brainstorm for a story: The lead singer of a commercially successful folk band is married to a time-travelling video store clerk. Hilarity ensues. 

    Not believable though. Commercially successful folk singers don’t exist. 

    You may place all groans in the comments below.  



    Dinner with the Chef

    I dreamt last night that Partner and I were on vacation with Tony Bourdain. We were floating in a giant swimming pool, full of other vacationers, including the kids, and presumably Tony Bourdain’s family. Tony Bourdain invited us to dinner, but Partner had some work to do, so he encouraged Tony Bourdain and I to go out to dinner without him. We had appetizers at one place. Dinner at another place. Cocktails at yet another, after being toured through the fancy new kitchen. And at each place, Tony Bourdain knew people.

    It was neither obviously a sex dream or a food dream, but managed to suggest both. We debated politics and philosophy over tapas and tequila, alone and with acquaintances. The evening was full of flirtatious innuendo, but never crossed over into vulgarity or transgression. His friends made a few inappropriate comments, but I fought my own banter battles and managed to have a charming time with the notorious chef-traveller. Until I woke up.

    All this is to say what you may have guessed, that he works too hard, but I have my own version of the tall, sexy chef. Flirty without being vulgar, intellectually challenging and funny without being tedious, and who isn’t afraid to spontaneously make fresh mayonnaise at a party.


    I prefer purple, on democracy and disagreement

    I love you. I mean it. And I’m not trying to be weird. You’re interesting and amazing and I appreciate you and your ideas. I believe that human beings are essentially good. That most of us are plugging along on our paths doing the best we can, stumbling now and again, suffering, loving, and getting confused and happy and annoyed and surprised and excited and bored and a bunch of other stuff. Not sure about that? Look around at the people you know. Count them, the ones that are doing ok, being essentially good, and the ones that are not so much. I think you’re doing great, going along your path, working at what you work at and hoping for the best.

    We don’t have to agree on everything. And I’m not just paying lip-service when I say that I believe we have more similarities than differences. What I think and what I feel may be different from what you think or feel sometimes, and that’s great. We can be blue or red or purple or orange or grey or teal or chartreuse, and that’s fine. What I hope, though, is that we can believe what we believe and respect each other enough to ask each other questions and share ideas and not resort to calling each other names. Because contrary to what I’ve seen in my Social Media feeds recently, I am not pro-murder, I am not pro-fraud, I am not pro-whore. I am not anti-god, or anti-Christian, anti-gun, or a man-hating feminazi. I promise. I am a lot of things, some that I’ll even admit, but I’m not those things or a lot of other, nastier bits that rise up out of the amazing organic froth and foment of the twenty-first century internet. So let’s make a deal. I’ll not call you names, directly or by implication, and you’ll not call me names, directly or by implication. And we’ll swish along in this bubbling democracy, and perhaps we’ll smile at the similarities or fume a bit at the differences, and maybe, every once in a while, we’ll influence each other a little bit and call it compromise. And every little thing will be just fine.

    Further discussion

    • Name-calling by word or implication includes but is not limited to anything that begins “Liberals believe q” or “Conservatives believe x” or “Monkey-necked freckle mongers want z” or “Anti-monkey-necked freckle mongers want w.” Me and most of my friends are included in one or another of those groups. Except maybe the freckle mongers. I’m not sure about those.

    • Having experienced a murder in my immediate family, I can say for 100% certain that I am anti-murder. But I am also pro-choice. Not pro-abortion, mind you. I’d happily prevent the need for most abortions with comprehensive, evidence-based sex education, equitable and affordable access to contraceptive services for both women and men, and equitable and affordable access to high-quality, comprehensive pre-pregnancy and pre-natal care. Until most people have access to those things, I’m pro-choice because I believe life is way more complicated sometimes than you or I can easily imagine, and sometimes people find themselves in tough situations without as much support or resources as some of us are lucky enough to have. Your choices may have worked for you, and that makes me very happy, but your choices would not work for everyone for lots of different reasons. My pro-life, Democratic, State Senator Judith Zaffirini summed up something like my perspective very beautifully in her closing remarks of the debate on #HB2 in the Texas Legislature’s second 2013 special session. {I’m looking for a link.}

    • I believe in a comprehensive social safety net and in the expansion of equitable, affordable healthcare access. I know for sure that there is fraud in those systems. There is fraud in all human systems. But just because someone steals a loaf of bread now and again doesn’t mean we stop sharing our bread. I also don’t believe that vilifying the poor is the most useful occupation. To blame the most desperate people, in their most desperate circumstances, when they do desperate things, while at the same time ignoring the actions of people in less-desperate circumstances who create more problems for the poor and enact more expensive and economically damaging consequences for society is at best misplaced and at worst enables the continuation of that damage. I also believe that structures can manifest inequity more steadfastly and more invisibly than any hurled rock, and so the structures must be named and changed and blamed when blame is appropriate.

    • I believe that women are people. People assert themselves. People have sex. People are nice and mean and quiet and loud and make choices and defer choices and make mistakes and live in this messy, gritty, delicious world all together. A woman who asserts her rights to her body, her mind, or her actions is not a whore. She’s a human being. And I support her. A man who asserts his rights to his body, his mind, or his actions isn’t a whore either. He’s a human being. And I support him. That is my definition of feminism, and under that definition I am an unapologetic feminist.

    • Religion and spirituality are personal, individual, and complex. You and I probably do not believe in the same way. But one of the truly awesome (and I use that in the AWE way, as in, the thoughtfulness of this particular thing inspires AWE in me) about the United States is this: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. You get to dig what you dig and I get to dig what I dig (or not) and the government won’t shake a stick at either of us, in fact, the government has an obligation to keep its stick completely out of the conversation. The “Government” includes courts, law enforcement, tax offices, street sweepers, and public schools, among many other things. Once upon a time a persecuted group of Vermont Baptists were so happy about this particular provision, frequently named The Separation of Church and State, that they gave Thomas Jefferson a 1200 pound cheese. Ok, I know, that sounds a little absurd, but this particular group of (mainly) farmers were so happy to have their government stay out of their spiritual affairs that they took an epic manifestation of one of their most valuable commodities and gave it to the person they credited with being the main architect of that Butting Out. That is my favorite story about The Constitution, and I have a minor intellectual crush on Thomas Jefferson, who served the cheese at the White House for a very long time. (I edited the size of the cheese after rereading the story. If you’re curious, google “Cheshire Mammoth Cheese.” It’s an even more epic story than I remembered.)

    • I don’t think the second amendment is as cut and dried and as simple as most people want to make it. And for me it’s very personal. See above reference to “having experienced a murder in my immediate family.” A responsibly-owned gun, in a gun-aware, responsible gun-owning family, was used by one said responsible gun-owner to murder one of the other responsible gun-owners. My feelings about gun ownership are therefore complicated, fraught, and I continually wrestle with them. But I do believe that people allow themselves to be ruled by irrational fears, and I do believe there is a strange tendency to fetishize gun-ownership sometimes. And I believe that a gun, the primary purpose of which is destruction, should be reasonably regulated, at least as much if not moreso than reproductive organs, the primary purpose of which are hormonal regulation of bodies and species reproduction (i.e. maintenance and creation).

    • In case I didn’t state it clearly enough in my earlier paragraph (see again, “Having experienced a murder in my family”), I love you all. All of you. I object to the suffix -nazi as applied to anyone or anything of any time period other than actual Nazis and their sympathizers. Look how loosely that suffix is bandied today. The Nazis murdered six MILLION people. Systematically, with a calculation and a brutality that is gut-punching and astounding and not equivalent in it’s modus and scope to any other thing in human record. Hanging that -nazi suffix on the end of words and phrases (feminazi, soup-nazi, grammar nazi), even as metaphor, is insensitive and bafflingly wrong-headed. Unless it’s referring to actual Nazis who did actual genocide and their genocidal support structures, or the baffling people who continue to believe in word and action that the Nazis had a good thing going. Please, freely use the term or the suffix there, because that’s where it actually belongs.

    • Want some cheese?