Traditional Ukrainian Dinner

Found story

We relive a memory from my wife's childhood going to her great grandmother's house for a Christmas eve dinner. That was in New York. We transplanted the tradition to Portland and subject it upon a circle of friends and their children.

The dinner is seven courses if you include the host with honey as a course. Its all vegetable as one on a farm might have in winter.

Its our tradition now. We've added pot-luck appetizers, platters of Christmas cookies, and London Fog.

My grown son sat next to me at the second table. He passed on the mushroom soup admitting that he never liked it. I pointed out that nobody actually likes much of the food but they keep coming back because they like the idea of tradition.

end of found story

What happens to time in SFW?

I went away and came back, or at least that's the language I can use to describe it.

Coming back I found a tiny family story that someone left without fuss in a to-be-found spot. I walk past it several times looking at it, and before you know it, I have put it in my own pocket and taken it with me. So now here it is.

Finally I think I understand forking: now it's my story. Except that it isn't. Because I am not its "I", and the grown son is not mine, and the tradition and the memory and the soup: all not actually forked unless I want to retell this story as though it happened to me.

But I didn't want to pretend to be that person. I wanted to hold on to that story, because in this exact moment it has a companion in my reading, and my reading is happening in a separate story which is my day, in this place, and my three not-grown daughters and their sense of me as a person with tradition and family and history before we were "we".

In For Space (2005), geographer Doreen Massey writes the story of returning to her mother's house with her sister.

quote from For Space

The treat on such occasions was the chocolate cake. It was a speciality: heavy and with some kind of mixture of butter, syrup and cocoa powder in the middle. A wartime recipe I think, invented out of necessity, and a triumph. I loved it. On this occasion, though, Mum went out to the kitchen and came back holding a chocolate cake that was altogether different. All light-textured and fluffy, and a paler brown. Not the good old stodgy sweetness we loved so well. She was so pleased, a new recipe she'd found. But with one voice my sister and I sent up a wail of complaint -- "Oh Mum ... but we like the old chocolate cake."

end quote

Massey's point here is that "return" is always fraught with this discovery: that we can't return to place because we can't return in time. "You can't hold places still," she writes. "What you can do is meet up with others, catch up with where another's history has got to 'now', but where that 'now' (more rigorously that 'her and now', that hic et nunc) is itself constituted by nothing more than - precisely - that meeting-up (again)."

It's helpful to me to think of SFW as unfixable in the sense that Massey describes space: "the simultaneity of stories-so-far."


Kate, this was beautifully handled here, a neat approach to the form that wouldn't have occurred to me. What I love is you didn't do "Quoting Ward", b/c Ward's identity is not important here. "Found Story" is exactly right, and it allows you to me the connection you need to make in the right way.

As far as the Massey phrase, I need to think on that a bit. I do think there is something resonant about the phrase, it reminds me of the old assertion that wiki was not news because news gets old and wiki is an eternal present -- Mike Caulfield

Mike, where I'm still puzzled is that now [a whole new 'here and now'] there is a little bit extra (and a new pathway) from the version you picked up, and I'm not sure whether, if, how you might find that useful to know.

That is, I think I now understand how FedWiki is about a constant process of changing the past (the great anxiety in time-shifting sci-fi) in a way that provisionally changes, or ought to change, the future, or at least might preemptively answer a question to be asked in the future, which is now also the past.

So it's the opposite of Massey's take on time: in wiki you can go back, but the future in one fork can remain blind to your revisions in another. -- Kate Bowles

UPDATE: except now that extra part and new pathway have vanished. I think maybe it was overwritten when I added to this fork, making this my most recently change in the bundle of forks, so my older fork that had the later change lost its later change. At about this point Salvador Dali showed up and all the clocks melted. -- Kate Bowles