Sunday, September 30, 2007

I changed my mind

. . . and went with a 'rib and welt' pattern for my scholar's collar instead of the twist stitch brioche. In red - as you can see.

I took the day off and knitted and watched football.

Tomorrow marks the 31 day countdown. It's almost midnight. I plan to be in bed before the official 'start' time.

Tomorrow's another day. . . .

whadja expect?

Inexplicably, Jesus' question comes to mind:

What did you expect?

He asked it about John the Baptist and - more importantly - he asked it of people who went out into the desert to see him.

"What did you go out into the desert to see?"

I ask it this morning about those who come - or don't come - to see me.

Funny. I get lonely. I want people to come and talk to me here. They don't normally. But that's ok too. I confess, though, that I think about what might draw people here. . . . Funny stuff. Provocative stuff. The Buzzzzzz. . . . . Being "in". Knowing the lingo and what you're supposed to do - or say.

Or not say.

What you can confess to feeling, and what is just too outre to even mention, let alone own up to.

I think I get it wrong on just about every count.

This morning, I checked out the biblical reference that had come to mind above - it's in Matthew, 11th chapter, verse 7 (and following). The interesting thing to me, was that I hadn't remembered that Jesus asked people who had gone into the desert to see this guy. It's different, isn't it, when you get a guy like John (kind of a wierdo, by all accounts, at least with respect to clothing and dietary habits) coming out of the desert and showing up at the local mall. But that's not what happened. They went to him, in his solitude; his 'desert' - or eremos in the Greek. A "lonely, desolate, uninhabited place" - when used of a place; "deserted by others, deprived of friends, kindred and acquaintences" - when used of a person.

I'm sorry I'm not more entertaining. . . .

I am eremos.

Perhaps it is a necessary condition for propheting.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

k 1, * yo, sl 1 wyib, K2 tog, rep from *, end k 1

I want to be knitting. I want to make this "Scholar's Collar" that I found over at brooklyntweed - a guy knitter!

I "frogged" a vest I started a year ago that was going nowhere and am devising a scholar's collar in a twist-stich brioche (same pattern on both sides like garter stitch which is shown, but I've never liked garter stitch) but in red. It's getting colder and after 5 years in Ireland, I cover my neck whenever the temperature falls below 65 degrees. It's a habit.

Oh - and for those of you who - like me - didn't know what 'frogging' is, I looked it up: yes, it's to rip out an old sweater, but it comes from "rip-it! rip-it!" that sounds like a frog. Here's another one for you: to unknit stiches one by one, working back to a mistake earlier in the row, for example, is to "tink" - "knit" spelled backwards. . . . There you have it!

Friday, September 28, 2007

I never met a happy artist

Maybe "art" is all about putting clothes on the otherwise unmentionable - or incomprehensible.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Magda appears to be trying to get me to put this off and not submit until April. I think it might have something to do with her schedule, insofar as she is now aiming me at other people to get feedback from. (but she hasn't said that).

My new Ricoeur book (Reflections on the Just) arrived and I've already found 3 cool things in it:

1. There's a difference in attitude in the political and legal systems of 'Code' law countries (i.e., Germany & France) who rejected Montesquieu and went instead with Rousseau. . . . They proceed instead from the presumption of a "general, indivisible will" - presumably a common will - instead of starting from the position of an adversarial argument in which the so-called will is first worked out. . . .

2. We are shifting "error" to concepts of "risk" - and making the relevant inquiry one of insurance rather than responsibility.

3. At the same time, we seem to be shifting 'uninsured risks' [that result in harm] to the criminal realm. Ricoeur says: "The risk in making 'everything crimininal' is that politics, once submitted to this kind of intimidation, will be handed over to a rampant process of victimization." (251)

Oh - and one more thing - 4. he points out the amazingly refreshing reminder that trying to 'resolve things after the fact' is to overlook that "knowledge that has [now] become certain could only have been one option among others at the time." (255)

How I wish that all these special study groups and inquiry panels would remember that one! I get so tired of the Monday morning quarterbacking that tells us all what we should have done, now that we see the results of what was actually done. It reminds me of my Nana, who used to yell at the ball carrier:

Why are you running up the middle?! There's NO ONE on the sides!

Followed shortly by:

WHY are you running down the SIDES when there's NO ONE IN THE MIDDLE?!!!!

ach. . . . we just can't get it right, can we? We keep forgetting that our action never takes place in a vacuum. Not only do we not know all the facts (usually), but we also don't know how other people will respond or even if - maybe - something as stupid as an open window or relative humidity might play a role until after we've taken action.

Hannah Arendt talks about this in The Human Condition:

"It is in the nature of beginning that something new is started which cannot be expected from whatever may have happened before." This ‘unexpectedness’ is only one of the “three-fold frustration[s] of action – [namely] the unpredictability of its outcome, the irreversibility of the process, and the anonymity of its authors . . . calamities of action [which] all arise from the human condition of plurality.” (220)

There now. I'm feeling a bit steadier, even IF I suspect my tutor has doubts about me and my ability to finish this. The more relevant question is will I be governed by her thoughts? Or by my own plans and intentions?


Back to work. . . .

. . . and now for something completely different

Did I mention that we've been waiting on a building permit?


Strange that should have slipped my mind. . . .

Today, we discovered that our county wants us to send our hugely expensive engineer back to our forest to redo all the topographical surveys we've already had to have done - but now with GPS capabilities so that our contractor won't have to deal with working out the actual elevations "in the field". . . .

Maybe we can build a virtual house, too, so we don't have to deal with working out the problems of actual construction and the costs thereof?!

I am increasingly surprised that anyone gets anything done anymore. It just seems that everything is just SO DANGED COMPLICATED! Oh, and when I tried to reschedule a doctor's appointment that's in the middle of this month, to the middle of next month (after the dissertation deadline) the incredibly helpful clerk first cancelled my appointment, and then told me I couldn't get a new one until JANUARY. And no, she couldn't give me the other one back because someone else had taken that one already. And no. . . . there is no cancellation list.

I told her: "I'm going to hang up now. I'm sorry. I'm getting very angry. No - I don't want to talk to you anymore - I'm going to hang up now and deal with this later. No - I'm hanging up now. . . . ."

I want to go knit. Or work on one of my quilts. I don't want to do this anymore. Can I stop now? Please?

sheesh. . . .

note to self

re-read "unkindness of", supra, especially the part that says: "I'm trying going to take all of Magda's comments as kindnesses, no matter what it sounds like."

Repeat as necessary.

. . . and again.

Read it again. . . .

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

the unkindness of ravens

They have taken up roost in the trees around my porch and call insults to one another. At least that's what it sounds like to me. It could very well be something else entirely:

"Hey - good move on that landing, buddy! Your tail feathers look good in that configuration."

"And you!!! The way you found that bug was nothing short of amazing. I can't believe you shared. Ravey, you rock!"

"Guys? Let's not forget old Sage over here. He's the one who's been finding the best conference roost trees since before we were hatchlings. I say Caw! Caw! Cawraw to him!

I wonder why we have 'murders' of crows and an 'unkindness' of ravens?

There are more questions today than answers. Why can't I soar above and get a raven's-eye-view over where I've been and write about it? I don't know. But I finally gave up, for now, anyway. We're back on the ground, digging in the dirt, looking for edible bugs. Once I get the last chapter at least drafted, I hope I'll be able to see just where it is I've been.

In the meantime, I'm trying to take all of Magda's comments as kindnesses, no matter what it sounds like. It's a postmodern thing, I know, but for today I chose to make my own meaning. Whatever works for me. . . . after all. Here's hoping that it does work!

In the meantime, a sketch from yesterday. The ants have just about emptied the hummer feeder. And I'm off to get a big gulp of whatever it is I can find to carry back to the dissertation today. I'll drop it there, and go back for more. I've got one month and 4 days. The countdown to hell is about to start. Actually, I think it just started. . . .

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

work like an ant

My brother gave me a book by some psychotherapist-type, who writes about successful [quote-unquote] living. Actually, this guy has helped me in the past. He helped me see that I had been working with no boundaries, that it is OK to say "No" and that I am not responsible for how another person feels.

I forget these lessons on a regular basis. Luckily, however, the king has splendid boundaries, and regularly models for me what "normal" people are supposed to act like. You know: ask a question that doesn't presuppose a positive response, and live unswayed by emotional blackmail attempts. I don't think he'd recognize a blackmail attempt if it hit him over the head, to tell you the truth. He'd just walk out of the trap as if it wasn't there.

And it isn't there, for him!

But that's not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to get back to MoFo, the hummingbird, who flew the coop a couple weeks ago when - without notice - all hummingbirds suddenly disappeared. It's still hot as summer here, but no more hummingbirds. (My dad says that its not the temperature that controls, it's the big hummingbird-clock-in-the-sky).

So - there I was with a fresh batch of hummer nectar and no more hummers. Bummer!

We still kept an eye out, but 2 or 3 weeks have gone by with no appreciable dip in the nectar level. And no sign of MoFo on the overhead wire. Maybe Dad was right.

This weekend, however, there seemed to be a change.

"Wasn't the feeder nearly full?"

"Yeah! Look at that - it's down nearly an inch. . . ."

Over the weekend, it went down steadily. Now there's only an inch or so of nectar left. What in the world?! There's been no sign of hummingbirds. There's been the occasional wasp, granted, but not anything that would account for that kind of displacement. It must be leaking, I thought. I finally looked at it closely this morning. I didn't see anything. No leaking. OK - an ant at one of the portals. Wait a minute - two ants. No, three. One's leaving. Here comes another. OK. . . .

Focusing on the black wrought iron stand that suspends the feeder in the garden, I finally made out a line of ants. Black on black, you know, hard to see. Well now, two lines: one coming and one going. The perfect illustration for the lesson psycho-doctor advocates for successful living:

Work like an ant.

A little at a time. One swallow at a time. And they have managed the equivalent of draining a small lake. And storing up a whole lot of food for the winter! Over the weekend.

I didn't have the heart to interrupt them. But if they make a move towards my kitchen, they're history. And meanwhile, I gotta go make like an ant. Add another word.

backwards, as usual

Why is it so easy to write here, when each word of the dissertation is like pulling teeth?

And actually it's not so easy today. I'm feeling antsy and icky - there's a term of art for you: "Icky". sigh.

The good news is that I realized (writing a friend) that there's LOTS of stuff I could be doing that's a whole lot worse than my current allotment of what I should be doing.

Writing my dissertation, for instance, is a whole lot better than:

1. Being shot at in a foreign land. (or in one's homeland, either, for that matter). Ok, so: Being shot at.
2. Being in prison.
3. Having nothing to do.
4. Having grueling labor to do, in hard circumstances, with little reward.
5. Cleaning feces.
6. Make-work in retail - "Look busy!"
7. Spending the day with the 'difficult' person (whether they bore you to tears or drive you up the wall).

I'm sure there's more I could think of, but it's better that I think of ethics and its proper relationship with the law. Because that's where I'm spending my day, and grateful I am, not to be shot at.

Not yet, anyway.

I think that might come later. The viva voce. . . .

Anyway - here's a bit of Clannad. Can you believe I never knew that was Bono singing, too? I always liked the voice. . . . good to see a bit of Ireland. I could use a bit of sideways rain and a steaming pub. The king and I remarked just this last Friday that you know you've been away from Ireland too long when the Guinness outside of Ireland starts to taste good. Our Guinness at the local Irish pub-lookalike was tasting pretty good. . . .

Monday, September 24, 2007

1000 pictures

Today's is Elizabeth Perry's 1000th consequtive posting of sketches and musings over at Woolgathering and as part of her online celebration, I am posting my own sketch.

I lost my wedding band this spring. I was out in the garden, preparing urns for a new batch of annuals to be nestled in with the evergreen ivy. It wasn't until hours later - washing my hands - that I realized it was gone.

"Where were you?" he asked, when I came back in an hour later, still crying, still without it (meaning 'where had I been where I could have lost it'). I shrugged, helplessly. I'd been everywhere. We looked everywhere. We dug up everything I'd planted. We sieved the dirt. Over the next week we bought and read the manual for a metal detector and struggled manfully with said detector. We dug up the plants again. I cried some more.

I wrote about it; dreamed about it; prayed about it; pondered the why's and wherefore's of it. Not to mention the where-the-hell-is-it?!!'s. I couldn't find it and it didn't turn up. We still look for it, walking in the garden. My empty left ring finger was a mute accusation of my carelessness. How could I not have felt it slip off?! Strangely, I felt like I had failed as a wife. This was the symbol of our marriage - our treasure - and I had proven untrustworthy in guarding it. I lost it! Way to go. . . .

No, I didn't tell the king that. But neither did I press to get another one made. I started feeling unreliable with respect to my engagement ring and rarely put that on. . . . Fine. I didn't wear rings before I got married - just a few years ago - so what's the big deal? I won't wear rings now. Clearly, I'm not to be trusted with them.

Still, when I least expected it, a wave of loss would wash over me and I would finger my married ring finger, feeling the missing ring like I hear people who've lost limbs still feel them. How silly to feel such desolation over a ring. A piece of metal. OK - platinum metal, and have you checked the prices on platinum lately?! But still. I just missed my ring.

Last week, in the middle of dissertation hell, the king and I went out onto the porch for a happy hour glass of wine before dinner. The squirrels have been at work in my garden and urns, busily burying and unburying nuts and such. I scolded one of them who came within earshot: "I better not catch you in my urns! I'll whup your butt!" The king and I laughed. "Unless, of course, you find and return my ring," I added. "Then you can dig in the urns all you want!"

"You really think you're going to get it back, don't you?" the king asked.

"Well, I hope I will." I said. "I'd kind of lost hope there, for a while, but now I find myself looking again, quite expectantly. Almost as if it will be brought to me and left on the front steps. . . . But I haven't found it yet." I smiled. So did he. He went inside a moment and came back out.

"I didn't know when to give this to you." he said. "Now seems the best time." He placed a little box on the concrete bench we use as our coffee table on the porch. I started crying. (and I've started crying again, thinking about it. . . .)

I can't believe he had another ring made for me. Just like the first one. The one that's lost in our garden. The one that matches his.

This one is just a little different, though - I can't quite put my finger on it. But it's growing on me. Like a second chance.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

second word and more

OK - help! I've started writing and can't shut up. . . . .

Here's the first bit:

There is a tension between an ethical teleological aim - a striving towards the ‘good life' or good purpose - and its deontological aim, namely the restriction imposed by the obligation to conform one’s action to what is ‘right’: the moral sense of what one ought to do in any given circumstance. This is not a new tension; it is very old. Aristotle dealt with it. Kant dealt with it. Hegel dealt with it. Then, coming more quickly now, Marx, Kiekegaard, Nietzsche, and William James all dealt with it. More recently, John Rawls, J├╝rgen Habermas, Charles Taylor and Paul Ricoeur have dealt - and are dealing - with it.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Socrates and Plato, for example, are not agnostic of the issue. Neither are any number of more recent moral philosophers and theologians who address issues bounded by questions of the ‘good’ and - or - the ‘right’.

Now - is one agnostic 'of'? or 'on' on issue?

achhhhh. . . . how boring can I get?!

CONSTRUCTIVE comments welcomed. (isn't this exciting?! OK - don't answer that.)

lavender green - reprise

ok - ok - I know! I'm supposed to be writing. . . .

I have the first word, though! It's: "The". Whaddaya think? Good, huh?

In the meantime, having found so much fun stuff lately on YouTube, I went to look for a lavender blue/lavender green rendition. I found this really cool band, above. Never heard of 'em before. Maybe I can check them out after I've written my second word. . . .

current circumstance summary

Having gotten the 'religious bit' out of my hair regarding the proper view of circumstances (see WARNING: explicit religious content) my current circumstances stack up as follows:

I love my king. He's just brought me tortilla chips & black bean/corn salsa AND a cheesey dip that I don't even like to think about what it might do to my arteries. . . . . this, to make up for the fact that I have to stay upstairs and work and not be downstairs with him and Emancipated Son #1 and wife of same, watching football and drinking beer.

Block party last night was great fun - although I spent the entire time talking about the dissertation. (People kept asking!) I also got two offers of help re: the 'next-step' I have in mind, A.D. (after-dissertation).

I read all I could about writing an introduction - including several examples I happen to have on hand - but have yet to actually write the first word of MY introduction. . . .

hold on a sec. . . .

No. That didn't work. I thought I might be able to knock off the first sentence (just to get it over with), so I went over to the word.doc that's supposed to be my Introduction and stared at it for about 10 minutes while I finished off my chips and the cheesey stuff. Which leads to the next current circumstance: I've gained 4 pounds.

No - really. I've gained 4 pounds. A reliable 4 pounds heavier on average for a week now. Gotta stop with the tortilla chips.

My brother is back from an undisclosed mountainous region in a time zone 9 and a half(?!!) hours different from Washington D.C. time, and it was really good to talk to him. I feel bad because I don't really understand his wife - or maybe it's that she doesn't understand me (but anyway there's not a whole lot of understanding going on) - and I know he wishes we were better friends. Me and his wife, that is. He and I are famous friends. Anyway, I know he wishes I talked more to her while he's gone, but we just don't. . . .

And now I have work to do. The king is doing the laundry (and he does this well) and is preparing food for the day and will be in charge of the meet/greet when the emancipated offspring arrive.

All I have to do is. sit. here. and. write. the. first. sentence.

How hard could that be? And how does how I get through it fit me for either heaven or hell? And does 'hell' - now - fit me for 'heaven' later?

I have so many questions. . . . .

funny. . . . I thought of the Supertramp song that asks so many questions, but searched under 'Question Song' rather than 'Logical Song' and came up with another old one from Moody Blues which is pretty damn appropriate, under the circumstances. . . .

WARNING - explicit religious content

I feel it only fair to warn you at the outset that this post will contain explicit religious content and/or reasoning. "Will contain", because I haven't written it yet - but I PLAN for it to so contain, so do we have to wait until the end to see if it actually does or whether I am able to express the same message without the use of the religious? hmmmm. . . could I? [make the point without reference to the religious, that is] And if I could, would I remove the warning I started out with?

Never mind! OK - launching right in: C.S. Lewis makes a really cool point in The Screwtape Letters that - for both God and Satan - one's circumstances are largely viewed as "raw material." (and I am sorry - I find I can not immediately give you the quote as I can't find it quickly and don't want to take the time to search for it. . . . Sorry! Not very academic of me, I know. One day, when this dissertation is done, I intend to assemble an index for The Screwtape Letters. I can't tell you how often I spend a hour or two, scanning the thing, looking for a remembered example or story!) Raw material, that is, either to make one more at home in one - or its other - of the two possible eternal dwelling places.

Apologies here - if required - to those who do not believe that there is a post-physical reality in store for us. I did warn you. . . .

And here we might also conduct a brief excursion into questions of the nature of the duality of the two possible destinations. . . . Is it divided by good versus bad? Preoccupation with self versus care for others? A vision of reality as human-centred versus transcendent - wait for it - God-centred?

As interesting as that is, however, what struck me this morning was (1) the need to warn in advance if you intend to use this type of 'religious' reasoning and (2) the fact that it is only in the 'religious' that one would find this kind of thought (namely: that circumstances aren't just circumstances - and the relevant inquiry being what the circumstance is and how can I change it/overcome it - BUT that circumstances HAVE PURPOSE in and of themselves. Perhaps it is a purpose of which I am unaware, but it is a purpose nonetheless. AND that that purpose is to better fit me either for one destination - or the other. Here, I would also add that 'free will' has something to do with which one of those destinations might come into play. . . .)

If you believe this, does this not make a really big difference in how you would then respond to the circumstances in your life? As well as the circumstances you see that appear in others' lives? Your children's? Parents'? The neighbors', rich man's, poor man's and sick man's circumstances? (yes. I realize that proper academic style would have required me to insert at least one feminine in this paragraph, but I really didn't want to deal with it, nor to decide whether the feminine would be assigned to the rich, poor, or sick adjective. That is an adjective, isn't it?)

Back to circumstances. Is this perhaps just a fatalistic way of viewing all the 'bad things' in the world and getting out of any reason to have to deal with them? Yes, possibly. It doesn't mean that I don't do anything to help those under hard circumstances. It's just that it's the working out of circumstances that is of interest in a life, rather than the circumstance itself.

The other thing is that the life without challenging circumstances is often not much of a life. . . . (oh - how cautiously I say this!!) We know this by the books we read. And those of you who are writers know all about conflict. No conflict? No story. No character. Here, think of Harry Potter growing up with no He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, parents still blissfully alive, no ugly Muggle relations that persecute you, going to all the right schools, having all the right brand-name brooms, plenty of whatever-they-called-their-coins in Gringott's bank (I think it's called), varsity starter on the Quidditch team - and yeah! - you got your basic Paris Hilton meltdown potential! (there - got a 'feminine' in - although the feminists might quibble with my example).

How else, though, would one express this idea, without an 'over-arching' sense of purpose, outside of ourselves?

And NO. . . . I'm not advocating going out to look for trouble or hardship. Here, I'll rely on a Biblical quote (there having been more than enough advance warning of explict religious content by now - if you've read this far, you deserve all you get! grin. . . .) actually, two Biblical quotes:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Mat 6:34


Dear friends,do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12

The prohibition of speaking in the religious vernacular (thank you very much, John Rawls!) seems to me to be like prohibiting the discussion of things like diet and nutrition, on account of not wanting to make people feel uncomfortable if they happen to be hungry and in want - or perhaps (conversely) overweight but not wanting to acknowlege it - but in any event, each of us might have a different take on the matter, depending upon who we are and out current circumstances. But maybe we shouldn't talk about that either, because it's sounding more and more like maybe somebody else is in charge. . . .

Saturday, September 22, 2007

good news - bad news

I hate it when people ask me which I want first, so I'll cut to the chase: the bad news is I still have some 20K more words to write. (This, in spite of the guidelines that say the dissertation should be 'concise' and that there is no minimum word count. . . .)

The good news is I have been reading about The Introduction (10% of the dissertation) and reviewing comments (now that I've stopped crying and can actually see - just kidding) which consistently ask for more summaries and forecasting introductions (which could take up another - say - 5K words, all told), leaving me with just the final chapter I've been agonizing over and some fill-in-the-blanks where Magda has surgically removed anything of current interest to anyone from existing chapters.

OK, OK. . . . she's not that bad. Actually, I begin to suspect that when I hand this in, my acknowledgments thanking her are going to be of the very, incredibly, sincerest variety because I begin to suspect that she is being my lifeline here and I've just been too dumb to see it.

So: this weekend is the Introduction.

Last night, I went through chapter headings and subheadings and looked at my outline and made some rather significant tweaks and it's actually looking somewhat coherent in a way I did not intend when I started this. (which is a scarey thought).

The other really cool thing is that this morning I woke up and had in my mind my next project - which is what I will need if I intend to continue on this research/writing sort of thing - and which fits amazingly well with a position I read about a month or two ago, was interested in, but couldn't figure out why they might be interested in me. I think I've figured out, now, why they would be - or at least why I hope (dream?) that they might be. . . .

I find this 'next step' aspect really encouraging, because I've been stuck so long on the current step, I'd lost all vision for the 'what next?' - the 'so what?' It's amazing what I'll put myself through if only I have a larger goal!

And now the really good news - in an immediate, shallow sort of self-gratifying way - it's after 5 pm, which means that the Oktober Fest down the street is in full swing and the beer is cold and the band is hot! (if you like oompah. . . . ) So I think it's time for a cold one; meet the neighbors; grab a wurst; try to talk some trivia.

Friday, September 21, 2007

the other song that came to mind

and now a word from your sponsor

Stay tuned for further hair-raising, hair-pulling episodes as Prophet pulls through the final stages of finishing the dissertation.

Prophet is working on the overview this weekend, so wings are back on and she's soaring overhead, looking down. (Remember the scene from The Crystal Cave where a young Merlin learns about maps? Think that.) No boundaries, just the view of the roads already established, natural barriers, silly routings and dead-ends.

Once the journey has been charted - start here; end there - we'll follow her as she translates it to paper. Next week, we'll see how that mapquest plays in Peoria - OK, not Peoria, but overseas in Europe, which is even more exciting - and we'll see how she fares at the hands of Magda.

THEN - oh you're going to love this! - we'll start the countdown.

31 DAYS OF HELL. Take the amount of work still to be done, divide it by 31, and you can see the daily dose.

Tune in. Do.

. . . .here's wishing I could tune OUT. But hey! here, it really IS "all about me." That's the hell of it. And now, just for fun, a song from Chess that somehow came to mind from the earlier talk about maps and borders. . . . "my land's only borders lie around my heart." (aren't you glad I learned how to post videos? grin. . . .)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

another all-nighter

I'm getting too old for this.

There's something rather nice about the focused state I finally move into after the yawns have broken off my usual day face. The yawns finally stop and there's a quiet that is really quite lovely.

That was me, night before last, after the foray into further legal posturings and attempts of the law to pass for morality and guide to good living. [sorry - you'd have to be there]. It's what drives me crazy about laws to make people water lawns, that force people out of homes, to prevent people from driving while tired, and that try to make people act nice to people that they don't like, or aren't like them, or a different colour than them - or for whatever reason - and 'play nicely' with one another.

All good things, maybe, but not something you can - or should - try to enforce at law. So, whenever you say There oughta be a law! try to imagine a police officer forcing you to do it. Or your 70 year-old grandmother. Or your ne'er-do-well buddy, Zak.

And putting them in prison if they get it wrong.

If that doesn't work, imagine the tax level it will take to hire more bureaucrats to make our lives yet more miserable by policing our now-watered grass for doggie-do, for example, and monitoring the levels of acceptable processed bovine-do (otherwise known as Scott's Grass-B-Green). Or hiring other people to do it for us.

That's the choice we have, I guess: the golden rule, or the economic cost-benefit analysis.

picture, above, is from Elizabeth Perry's site, Woolgathering. She's just about to celebrate her 1000th consecutive day of drawing and posting! Wow. . . .

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the lawn is always greener. . . .

In California, 2,700 registered sex offenders have been told they will have to move because they are in violation of a new law that prohibits them from living within 2000 feet of a school or park. 2000 feet. That's almost 7 football fields away. And that can make life difficult for someone looking for a place to live back in society. California anticipates that many will end up homeless. Their plan? Make them call their probation officer every day to report where they spent the night.

That'll help. I'm sure.

In Florida, some registered sex offenders have had to move out onto a causeway, under a bridge in order to comply with Florida's more restrictive 2500 feet (almost a half mile) from any school, park, and 'other places where children might gather'. Chucky Cheese, maybe, or McDonalds?

Meanwhile, 70 Betty Perry was arrested last week in Utah for failing to water her lawn. A police officer confronted her at the home, demanded that she identify herself (dangerous lawn-not-waterer that she is!), and then arrested her when she refused to cooperate.

What have we come to?!

We're imprisoning people for failing to maintain grass in a desert state, and we're releasing sex offenders in California and Florida and then making it impossible for them to live anywhere. Maybe they could go take care of Betty's lawn? Turns out Utah doesn't have any restrictions about where sex offenders live. Yet.

So long as their lawn is green.

ashes to ashes. . . .

How I felt yesterday. The title, anyway. Ashes to Ashes. But I love the melody piping through this song. . . . It actually gives me a bit of a 'so what!?!' feeling. (if you haven't already - click 'play' above and then continue reading)

So. Yesterday. Started ok. Ended crap. More comments. Worse than the first. More reading ordered. More languages. More secondary sources. More "You can't say ________ without first ____________ [insert impossibly-high-hurdle].

It reminds me of James Michener, who seems incapable of starting stories except at the very beginning - giving entirely new meaning to the phrase "First, the earth cooled." Hawaii actually starts with stories of lava flow.

Michener pulls it off - barely - and not with everyone.

I'm not even interested in lava, or with 'first principles' or anything like that. We have words in our lexicon - let's use 'em. I don't feel the need - first - to reinvent language or investigate the basis upon which I talk about principles, values or even God. Unless, of course, it becomes apparent that we are not talking about the same thing!

And it's pretty *&^%$@@#! apparent me and. . . . let's call her Magda . . . . apparent me and Magda are NOT talking about the same thing!


Well - the good news is that I got comments for the next chapter today, and they are - good. . . . - mostly! Or at least she says the chapter is good. . . . I haven't read the comments yet. I think I'll leave that till later. I don't need any further evidence of failures to understand. . . .

This week is apparently going to be all about wrenching feelings of inadequacy and incompetence. Not fun. Not for me. Not for anybody, I'm sure. But it is what it is. . . .

I cautiously approach the elephant in the room: Maybe I can't do this.

But I'll never know if I don't try, eh? I mean: Really Try. So. On I go.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


. . . . and it's another new day, thank God.

I was pretty dejected all day yesterday, and accomplished nothing. I didn't even post wierd pictures or engage in diversionary ramblings! Actually, I pretty much shut down.

The king read the comments and told me there were 14 - or was it 16? - "goods". There's the very distinct possibility that I'm over-reacting. (do ya think?!) Anyway, today's a new day and I'm about to hit it, and finish the last chapter and send it on.

Meanwhile, this week is shaping up to be a tough one. I should be getting marked-up chapters by email each day. My tutor is of the German persuasion, so small talk and encouragement is not something she keeps on her usual palette of relationship tools. The other thing I realized yesterday is that her tense of choice appears to be something resembling the 'unreal conditional,' which I finally recognized tends to communicate "futility" to me. (which might be why I feel so bad so often right after I've talked to her. . . .) I must assume that it communicates something different to her, however, as she is continuing to work on this project and seems to expect that I will, as well.

It must be different in the German.

Anyway - still trying to figure out how to do things like put in YouTube clips - let's try this one more time. It being a Tuesday and all, how about a little Moody Blues, Tuesday Afternoon?

just the thing. . . .

Monday, September 17, 2007

so much for that. . . .

OK - comments from chapter one are in.

I don't think it's good. I'm told I am not using enough secondary sources and I have been assigned one more book - a primary source - which has finally appeared in English. Oh, and that in some instances, the 'debate has moved on.'

This is not good. . . .

I will order the book, but won't look at the comments until I've finished and sent the last chapter. Otherwise, I fear I'll never finish.

I'm a LITTLE DOWN. Can you tell?! *sheesh*

thinking. . . .

I remember early days of dissertation research, saying "You haven't even begun to have fun until you've thought about thinking. That'll get you crazy!"

The 'who is it that's actually thinking', the 'how is it that we know what we know' and its close relative: 'how do you know you know what you think you know?!'


I lay awake last night, and the thought came that the dissertation process is like utilizing a good search engine. I value Google to the extent that it gives me access to what I want, without requiring me to dig through all sorts of other stuff first. I realized that I was in danger of piling on information, rather than discriminating the results.

This has been helpful, because even though the stuff I'm worried about not including in my writing is relevant (in that it talks about what I talk about) it is not the best example of what it is I want to talk about. Going back to the Google analogy, it would be on page 4 or 5, and there was really good stuff on page 1. Ergo: no need to go through all that!

The king has been saying this all along. This morning, he was kind enough not to say "I told you so." He said "I'm glad you've come to that realization for yourself." There's a difference, I'm sure.

I just can't put my finger on it. . . .

Saturday, September 15, 2007

chapter 5 due

OK - enough with the distractions. Bikinis and whatever you could call the get-up from yesterday. . . .

What I finally thought was: "This is what these people chose to put on, knowing they would be photographed." It's not like someone snuck into their backyard and caught them watering their flowers before they changed out of their loungewear.

I think that is what is amazing to me.

What else is amazing to me are the lengths to which I will go to avoid finishing this dissertation. As I mentioned in this is dangerous, I have a horrible tendency to need the pressure cooker of time constraints to squeeze required words out. Never has this been more the case than this week. I have dillied. I have dallied. I have squandered words on Britney, Courtney, and you just barely missed Paris.

OK - I can't resist - here's the description of Paris' latest fragrance, Heiress:

Paris Hilton Heiress is a fruity floral — no surprise there — and the notes include passion fruit, orange, peach granita, champagne mimosa, star jasmine, tiare flower, ylang ylang, honeysuckle, dewberry blossom, grenadine, violet leaf, vetiver, tonka bean and blonde woods.


What - the quote? The fragrance?

No. . . . my ability not to get down to writing. (although the descriptive list of that 'parfum' concoction is rather astonishing. blonde woods?! tonka beans. . . .)

Well, since most of my writers seem silent these last few days, I think I might try and take some time off too, and knock out chapter 5. It's due Monday.


later. . . .

Friday, September 14, 2007

I thought the bikini was bad

. . . this is worse. Much worse.

I could live here. . . .

Does that say anything about me - I wonder?

imaginary friends

I used to sing a cappella. Maybe I will again. Post-dissertation.

My singing mates at the time heard a lot about my "best" friend, M. They never saw her, though. One day one of the guys said: "I don't think M even exists. I think she's your imaginary friend" and he started talking with his index finger wiggling up and down next to his face, as if that were M - my imaginary friend.

They had a great time with M, my imaginary friend. Years later, one of the guys actually met M, and reported to the rest that she did - in fact - exist. Without face time, though, she was soon forgotten, and remained my imaginary friend, as far as the guys were concerned.

Funny thing: she eventually became more and more imaginary because we never saw each other. We didn't have the same interests. I didn't have to deal with it until I finally got married, when I had to decide whether to ask M - the official best friend - or C, the actual best friend to be my best maid.

Yesterday, online, there were several articles about how Facebook costs employers well over a hundred million dollars a day and the phenomenon of virtual friends - and whether they were real. Isn't it strange that we're right back where we started from in first grade? Wanting friends, and making them up, if necessary. I play my part here, posting my bit daily, and checking in on N, S, LA, C, J, M, A, V. . . and hoping to hear from them, too.

It's a way of coping, I guess. Still, I worry about the seduction of pseudo-relationships. They're a lot easier on my mind. After all, I'm in charge! Sort of. . . . But that's not how life goes. Certainly it's not how friendships go. Ah well. Back to Chapter 5.

Intermission over.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

freedom vs. 'correctness'

The king sent me the link to an article about the results of a recent survey on the 1st Amendment. You know the one: the amendment that promises the government won't do anything to restrict freedom of religion & practice thereof, free speech, free press, freedom to assemble and freedom to petition for redress of grievances. It turns out that more people can name the characters on the Simpsons than can name the freedoms included in the 1st Amendment.

They didn't ask me. I would have given their numbers a run for the money. All I know are Homer and Bart, and I've never actually seen the show. I take some pride in this.

What I found interesting, however, was a rising correlation between a so-called freedom of religion that seems to include the right not to be offended by the T-shirts that others wear.

So let's say that I'm a Christian - with a big capital "C" - and I go to work and am subjected to a co-worker who wears a T-shirt that comments on Jesus' supposed sexual proclivities. . . . Where does that leave us? Is that a violation of my freedom of religion? And if so, does telling the co-worker she can't wear it anymore violate her freedom of speech?

I was going to post a picture of an example of an offensive T-shirt but at first found only pretty tame ones: the Jesus deliver me from your followers type. But that wasn't really something to get worked up about. Jesus was a crossdresser was a bit more to the point. . . . but then I found one really nasty site that sells T-shirts saying things (and with pictures!) I wouldn't have wanted to see said under any circumstances, about anybody! (and no, I am NOT going to post their address. barf.) I can't believe anyone would want to walk around wearing something like that.

At the same time, I don't find it a violation of my freedom of religion. All I can say is that I'm glad pornography laws might prevent some of the worst of it. . . .

The bigger dispute seems to be between not wanting to "censor" somebody, but at the same time, wondering about what kind of society contains members who want to broadcast really nasty stuff. In the name of freedom.

You've got to wonder about someone who just can't see "freedom" without first testing it by degradation.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

taking offense

Who is Kathy Griffin and why is she everywhere all of a sudden?

OK - so she appears to have won an Emmy - this, in advance of it actually being broadcast on television. . . . They tape their award show?!

Anyway - she is reputed to have said in her acceptance speech that "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."

You know you're in trouble when Ellen DeGeneres attempts a 'make-nice' intervention. DeGeneres worked on getting this Griffin lady to say nice things about people and gave her the opportunity to practice by holding up various flash-card pictures of people for her to say nice things about.

Somehow I kept expecting Ellen to flash a picture of Jesus, though, along with the pictures of Britney, Olsen twins, and: what's-her-name from the idol show?

And she let Griffin give up without even trying to find something nice to say about Dick Cheney. (That was Cheney, wasn't it?) I don't know a lot of people who would put him in the same category as Jesus. . . .

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

me and emma

More and more I think I look like Emma Peel. A little older maybe. Shorter hair.

A lot of people would probably say that's good. She's cool. You should only be so lucky to look half that good! But it's not so good if your ideal of feminine beauty was Audrey Hepburn.

I confess: I'm a gamine fan. Or was.

I have a lot to be grateful to Emma for. She saved me from the other extreme of unrealistic body expectations: the gamine-waif look.

One day in New York City (many moons ago) I saw an Emma Peel wannabe - extra lean version - approaching on Fifth Avenue. Black leather cat suit; boots; immaculate coif & cool sunglasses. My first thought was: I'm that thin. I could wear that.

My second thought was a surprise to me: That is NOT attractive!

Then and there I decided to stop all the nonsense that had me down to a size 1 or 3 and to stop worrying about carrying some flesh on my bones. Maybe even not to mind being strong and somewhat capable. . . . maybe even kick-ass like Emma! Maybe be like how I found myself to be, rather than trying to make myself over into someone else. (altho a little exercise never hurts and I really do need to cut down on the chips. . . . for health reasons, if nothing else)

I also decided, though, that I did not care to look like a walking you-know-what kind of toy! Emma walks a fine line.

These days, I'm amazed at the number of people who are saying they wouldn't mind looking like Britney Spears. Somehow I don't think that's what they really mean. I hope what they really mean is that they wish their babies or their years didn't show on their hips, ass and bellies. . . . so they could wear normal clothes without feeling fat. Not so they could squeeze into sequined bikinis and lurch around national television with stringy hair-extensions. But then there's the other side, who see Britney as "fat", when clearly. . . . well, I guess they'll need an epiphany like I had.

Really, when you look at it, one extreme is just as bad as the other. It's like the proverbial drunk man who falls off one side of his horse, clambers up again, only to fall off the other side. (and I think that's from C.S. Lewis)

In the mean time, me and Emma are friends. Maybe I should let my hair grow a little longer. . . . and I just love those boots!

september 11. . . .

No. No patriotic jump-cites. No rambling reminiscences. We all have them. The "where were you?'s" of our national psyche.

OK - I was next in line to board a plane at the Baltimore-Washington airport. I was going to a wedding. In Las Vegas. Awareness dawned slowly. There was no television at the gate. Gradually, we overheard phone conversations and finally we knew.

To "know". What a strange concept that is.

I have - since - seen the emptiness where the twin towers used to be. And yet I still inhabit them. I visit lawyer friends at their offices. I drop off documents. I attend cocktail parties at the very top, back in the day when the big law firms still wooed the best law students. Not so long ago, but longer and longer.

In a place that is no longer there.

I called my first boyfriend - long an ex, but still heavy on the 'friend' part - and actually got through. He gave me a running commentary as it unfolded. He walked home, over the Brooklyn Bridge, heavy, dirty and stinking after a long day helping people find themselves and each other. The strangest part was all the paper, he said. Scraps of paper, entire documents, just everywhere.

"Dear Mr. Mitchell, Enclosed you will find. . . ."

It made its way across the river to Brooklyn, where he lives. And where he watched the lower Manhattan skyline smolder under its disfigurement. A black stench of smoke and death. And missing towers.

Fast forward six years.

Right. Maybe not.

It's a heavy day today. And it's rained, for which I am grateful. The heat hasn't broken yet, though. I suspect a thunderstorm will have to do the trick. My mind is constrained, on purpose. I think of just the small things. The wonderful soup I made last night. The vegetables my father brought me from his garden that I will scrub up and prepare for tonight. My cat investigates the stack of papers accumulating on the trunk next to my 'desk'. What's for lunch? Shower, first.

But now there's the crack of a jet flying overhead and I recall the eerie silence back then - for days - and it feels like the roof is off again. Life is big and open and dangerous and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it.

I mean: what answer is there to people who plan to spend their life just like money in order to kill - well - in order to kill people just like me?

I didn't get an answer, either.

Monday, September 10, 2007

what I'm not watching

Non-Essential Equipment has posted a new Britney video and asks a reasonable question:

Why, with all the other things that are wrong with this performance, are people focusing on her belly 'flab' and the fact that she doesn't have the same body she did when she was 17?

Good question, N.e.e.

But first, I have a confession to make. After listing all the sensationalist stuff I don't like to see, I actually watched a clip of this "trainwreck" - I think they're calling it - before seeing it at Nee's place. . . . (I see now that I hadn't included drunken or drugged starlets on stage where they don't actually fall off, so that's a small comfort. Britney did not fall off the stage. . . .)

But back to the question. Why focus on her body as a target for critique instead of the other glaring embarrassments?

Hmmm. I realize that I'm on dangerous ground here. I approach the she's-asking-for-it rationale, and I am definitely not comfortable with that. But let's take a look at this. We have here a woman who - as Nee points out - has relatively recently given birth to two children. That'll change you!

She chose to "perform" in a sequined bikini. That'll expose you!

Presumably she has a mirror in her home. If not, surely she has "advisors". I therefore assume that she wore this outfit on purpose, hard as that might be for me to imagine. And as the "purpose" of the outfit appears to be to cover just what has to be covered, I think we might infer that she meant to expose the rest.

And it's the display of that "rest" that invites critique, commentary, and comparison. Sorry!

I do agree with Nee, though. Let's not just leave this at the 'no-longer-17' dismissal point. The fact of the matter is that maybe the most embarrassing part of this fiasco is that Britney doesn't seem to get it that she's no longer 17. Britney, honey, this is not attractive and you can't get away with acting like that any more because you're supposed to be a big girl now! This is not about belly flab or whether or not you're in shape, or even whether you're high, stoned, or lip-synching out of time. It's not even about the costume or whether or not you're 'out-of-it' because you've gotten older or had children.

Britney Spears is 'out-of-it' because she's out of it! I mean: I don't think there's anyone home. Maybe there never was anyone home, but we didn't notice because hey! she was 17 and so many thought she was cute - or hot - or whatever. Anyway, I don't know where she went - but she sure ain't there now and unless there's a person to see I'd rather not watch. It has nothing to do with how young or old she looks, or how much she works out. In a way, older women at home in their bodies are a whole lot more interesting as far as I'm concerned. But hey - they also don't usually appear on national television wearing sequined bikinis.

There's a reason for this.

this is dangerous

For a writer, nothing is more dangerous than: "You have another week to finish that _________[fill-in-the-blank for whatever it is]."

At least for this writer. Maybe there are other writers out there whose writing does not expand to fit the expanded timeframe. Maybe they actually finish early and go to the beach! Or get their nails done. . . .

Then again, maybe not.

This one doesn't. This one feels the lift of pressure and somehow finds a corresponding lack of words. A reduction in the pull of gravity to the chair in front of the table on which sits the computer and the feeling of: I. Can't. Sit. Here. Any. Longer. (and I have another whole week before the last chapter could even be read by my tutor - so la, la, la-la, la, la! maybe I'll go to the beach!)


This will take some serious self-deception.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

fall, food & fairies - NOT Dickinson

I liked this poem I found online, presaging the upcoming fall:

When I sound the fairy call,
gather here in silent meeting,
chin to knee on the orchard wall,
cooled with dew and cherries eating.
Merry, merry, take a cherry,
mine are sounder, mine are rounder,
mine are sweeter for the eater,
when the dews fall, and you'll be fairies all.

It was attributed to Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) - the so-called 'New England Mystic.' Wrong.

When I looked to find the full citation - title - whatnot - I found it's not Emily Dickinson at all. It's Robert Graves. Yes, the same who wrote I, Claudius. He also wrote a book of poetry called Fairies and Fusiliers (1918) about his experiences in the war. WWI. The above is the last stanza to a poem entitled CHERRY-TIME.

It's amazing the difference it makes. Emily Dickinson's fairies, perched on a wall: sweet, innocent, whimsical. . . .

Or Robert Graves' phantoms of trench-fare: dark, threatening, silent. Tragic. . . . Scarey-sad.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

sensationalism? I hope not. . . .

What is it makes someone look at an article? Or a news piece? Or a 'how to avoid common make-up blunders' pictorial?

Yet another Paris Hilton tidbit?

She's suing Hallmark now, apparently. I don't know why. I haven't clicked there yet. But I'm wondering. And I might go there. One day. If it's not too late.

Turns out I was too late for the famous - now INfamous, I guess I should say - no-undies-shot of Britney Spears. When I finally decided "OK. . . . let's see what all the hoopla is about. . . . [said with the proper tone of above-it-all bored disinterest even while noting some level of interest, anyway] - I couldn't find it. There were several places where the picture appeared, with a blurry bit where the fuzzy bit would have been. . . . but that's it.

So here I am, doing my bit of writing, and wondering what would make anyone want to read it. Which leads me to wonder about what I tend to look at; to read; to respond to.

They study this stuff, did ya know? We try not to think about it, but they do. I read somewhere that, although the "GENERAL PUBLIC" claims to want good programming and serious news articles, what they actually spend time with is stuff on Paris, Britney and other serious-news misnomers. AOL, for example, knows this for a fact because I think they see everywhere we go, internet-wise, anyway. Google is probably the same, only "better" - depending on how you define "better" (i.e., "better" at tracking, or "better" at preserving privacy).

Maybe the really interesting bits are the places you decide not to go, once you've figured this out.

I don't like stories or movies about adultery, for example. I hate the impending betrayal and I hate that it can be made out to be "inevitable" or "natural" in any way. I hate the very thought of 'normalizing' adultery. And isn't that what happens when it seems "everyone's doing it"?

Yeah - maybe more years in therapy would help. Clearly, my father never loved me. . . .

Here's some more stuff I don't like:

- stories about how much money somebody made - or makes.
- how so-and-so fell off the stage.
- anything about rappers, their jewelry, women, money, or "cribs" (oh yuck!)
- super expensive cars
- high profile adoptions
- movie actors with agendas
- cat fights between starlets
- potty-mouth tirades against the current political-correctness offender
- stupid polemics
- posturing politicians and other photo ops

Oh - and of course: drunken or drugged stars and starlets in court, in jail, with prostitutes, at parties, at home, or pretty much anywhere, with anyone, doing anything. Although I confess I did wonder about Paris. I had this hope that maybe jail would do her some good. She's been kind of quiet lately, don't you think? I still have high hopes for her. . . .

Meanwhile, the king is preparing dinner and I hope I won't have to confess that I've been thinking about what I really shouldn't want to click on on google, or aol, or yahoo, or any other 'newsy' place. I'm supposed to be wrapping up the final chapter of the dissertation. Hmmm. I wonder if this is relevant in any way? Probably not. I still think it's interesting, though.

Friday, September 7, 2007

I love Mark Twain

"The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."

Samuel Clemens.
(attributed to Clemens, anyway: date & place of publication unknown)

chapter 4

in which our hero finishes the chapter and sends it off to the other side of the ocean and now has to decide how to END THIS THING she started. . .

Which, of course, brings me back to the beginning. . . . well, of course! In that paradoxical way that seems to impress itself on me from so many directions. Ends are beginnings; beginnings, ends. Judgment finds myself condemned, and love lets me see the hate. sigh.

I started out on this particular journey some 5 years ago now. I woke up - pre-dawn - in the tiny dark bedroom that was mine at the time. That was three moves ago, and a summer stay, away. I had a symbol in my mind: a circle, with two bent lines - one on either side.

And words: A new way of thinking, that goes beyond Francis Schaeffer.

I wrote it down on a little card. I still have it. Somewhere!

Francis Schaeffer?

He's a guy who wrote about how philosophy has ruined our lives - sort of. He was upset about Hegel adding 'synthesis' to thesis and antithesis. He thought things should be either one way or another - so, either thesis OR antithesis. (Make up your mind, will ya?!! It's gotta be one or the other. None of this messin' around, gray area stuff. That's just sloppy logic.)

Hegel thought that thesis and antithesis battle it out, and come up with synthesis - which in turn, turns into its OWN thesis, and the cycle starts again.

It sounds innocuous. In fact, it probably describes how just about everyone we know thinks. Now, anyway. It's not how people used to think, and that's an amazing thought. Anyway, the reason Schaeffer was upset about this was because it messes around with 'absolute truth' and that was problematic for Schaeffer as a Christian. If there actually was no absolute truth, what happens to faith in God? Does it become the magic leap 'in the dark' so many ascribe to Kierkegaard? Is it a blind, irrational, force-of-will choice? Or can it be more than that?

Schaeffer describes this philosophical divide as the "line of despair".

So - how have I "gone beyond" his thought?

I would agree with him that Hegel's one-, two-, three-step process of ordering the world is not a promising one for blanket application. But not for the reason Schaeffer would. I object to it because so often the really big questions are a 'none of the above' situation, or a 'both/and". Paradox, in other words. This requires - somehow, sometimes - that we be able to incorporate two apparently opposed values into our lives as "truth". Freedom and obedience; happiness and suffering; love and hate; ends, and means!

I wouldn't agree with Schaeffer's attempt to 'go back' to black/white thinking, however. I don't know that it's possible, for one. I think we're capable of moving forward, nonetheless. Where logical notions of TRUTH fail, personal experience and RELATIONSHIP holds. That's not to say I'm giving up on truth. I might just as well say I'm giving up on air! Nope. . . . we're truth-seeking missiles, that's for sure. It's just the way we are. Facticity - as the philosophers and theologians call it. The "what is" - without necessarily going into how it got there (i.e., creation, cosmic boom, or flying spaghetti monsters. . . .)

I guess I see a transcendent that breaks out - and through - the line of despair. It might look very much like the symbol I dreamed of: the circle coming upward and through the line (I could never figure out what the bent lines were on either side. . . .) breaking the line and floating upwards.

And yet. . . . still IN the line - at the moment - as we are caught in finite existence. Facticity again! Geworfenheit - as we are 'thrown' into this world and find ourselves landed here. . . .

The circle is moving up, though.

And the line gives way.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

another day; another. . . ah. . . what was that?

OK. So today I started with the thought that I'd get right to work and it's after noon already and where did the morning go?!

It snuck past me, somehow, in between the Chicago Manual or MLA Handbook discussions ( and it now appears I'm to do Chicago style - not MLA - and this is a good thing, I think, because I really don't like all those parentheses and oh! I hope Chicago uses footnotes like sensible humans) - and the other writer consults on such diverse topics as Mean Girls, soup recipes, lesbian parenting and switch-overs to a Mac (which is computer-related and not in any way meant to be gender preferential, so don't give me a hard time!). Then there was the realization that I like the Bigelow Plantation Mint tea rather than the Bigelow Mint Medley - and that took some time to work through. And why would one company want to make two different kinds of mint tea? I don't know.

Well I am writing, and this is good, but I'm writing here and I need to be writing on the dissertation, and that is bad. But it's OK, because when I'm done here, I'll get back to there and hopefully things will move along rather rapidly.

We're mostly done with chapter 4 - and I'm in negotiations as to whether or not I really need a chapter 5. Or whether I can call it a day, write the CONCLUSION and then start RE-writing what I've already written.

And putting it into proper Chicago-style. (once I figure out what that is.)

I'm a little schizophrenic these days. Reading my 'writers' - and I found a really splendid one on a site called woulda coulda shoulda (sorry, no time to figure out how to do the link thing. . . . maybe later. Gotta write, remember?!) - and then reading my academics. . . . There's a really big difference in 'voice'. The academics generally have none. They have a lotta words, and the challenge is getting to know them all and how to negotiate the paragraph-long sentences and come up with a meaning at the end of it all. My academic supervisor keeps writing things like tone and too poetic in my margins. But I'm getting better at the faceless, personality-less voice. And even the king admitted last night that I was fully the master of the long, convoluted, distinction-drawing and nuance-suggesting sentence. Containing words that are NOT IN THE DICTIONARY. (let alone on spell-check). helps sometimes - it had 'aporia', but not 'originary' or 'phronesis'. For that, you need google and I'm amazed at what is on wikipedia these days! Amazing.

Just today, for example, I learned about the 'flying spaghetti monster' - I think it was. Complete with the little fish-shaped car emblem it seeks to spoof. Actually, I think it started out spoofing 'intelligent design' teaching, and demanded that the schools institute a teaching on the flying spaghetti monster and it took off from there. (and OK - I took the time to get out the HTML HOW-TO to look up "links". . . . Lucky you! So while I'm at it, here's the woulda coulda shoulda link).

Anyway, point being: there's a lot of junk out there.

Enough to keep me busy enough to not notice an entire morning slip out the back door.

Some of the writing is laughable and inane. Some makes me think I'll never be a writer - a real writer - myself. The best makes me want to sit and think. And then write.

That's the kind of writer I'D like to be.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

the one year rule

It sounds easy enough of application:

If you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it.

Right. My first amendment was to increase the year to three. Time goes by so quickly these days. Three years is up before you know it.

My second amendment is the exception for expensive things. The reasoning should be self-evident, but I'll spell it out: I paid a LOT OF MONEY for this [or I would have paid a lot of money for this had I bought it, but I didn't because it was given to me or it was a deal but if I ever wanted to buy it it would cost BIG BUCKS] and I'm not just giving it away like that! Maybe I can find someone who will appreciate it. . . or sell it on Ebay? Hmmm. I'll have to think about that. Maybe I will wear it, after all. It was only that one time when I really was a little heavy that that dress made me look like a hippo in heat. But it's a Chanel, fer cryin' out loud! How bad could it look?! I'll wear it when I lose 10 more pounds.

While leads to three: I'm sure I'll weigh that weight again. One day.

Four follows function: you can't have too many basic black belts. Or little black dresses. Or simple flats. One more man-tailored shirt. . . I might need that coverup for the beach and there's a lot of wear left in those pants that were my favorites 5 years ago. For painting, maybe.

Five? Favorites. Enough said.

Six, sentiment. My mother gave me that skirt. It belonged to her mother. It's lace. Handmade. Nope, I don't think I've ever worn it. Look at that! There's no waist fastener. Maybe it's never been worn! How long have I had it? Well. . . . ah. . . .you see. . . . ten years? At least?

And I think I'll stop at seven, just because I'm getting depressed, realizing I could go on. . . and on. . . .

Seven is The Special Function I-might-need-that-one-day exception. Under this exception, I have a Bob Fosse beaded gown that I've never worn (see also exception 2, above), a Rennaisance festival cape and waist-cincher belt (hmmm that might look nice with the antique lace skirt. . . .), a vintage Irene suit, perfect for the film noir casting call, a student gown from Ireland, lawyer's wig, evil queen costume, thigh-high boots, Beduoin robe, and an assortment of black velvet formal wear. You can never have too much black velvet, as far as I'm concerned, and I see I've inadvertently strayed into Exception Eight: black velvet.

. . . and can somebody tell me

what logical connection there might be between "Patchouli" and the songs "Incense Peppermint" and "Crimson & Clover"?

Cause they're linked indelibly in my mind.

There are other songs I know that feature growing things that don't come to mind. . . . and clover isn't aromatic, altho I guess incense & peppermint are.

Maybe it's just a 60's/70's thing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Yes. . . . I love it.

Then again, I love the smell of boxwood, too. It reminds me of mansions and arboretums and hot summer days punctuated by dark, moist shade under enormous trees. I was smaller then.

I found a plant marked "patchouli" at the local nursery this spring. "Tender herb", it said.

"Rather unprepossessing", I thought. I bought it anyway.

It has survived the summer, but remained unprepossessing. Kind of ratty, raggy leaves, no flowers. No aroma. I kept meaning to check online to figure out what it's supposed to do - where is the scent supposed to come from?! Is it expected to flower, or something?

Turns out it's the leaves that are fragrant. They're only mildly so in the garden, but you can dry them and put them in sachets. Distilling them into essential oil is apparently more trouble than it's worth, and would consume the entire plant. And still need more. For those who think it smells like bug spray, take heart: it repels destructive bugs from silks and woolens. The rest of us non-destructive types can be trusted around such treasures, and so love the aroma.

I'm looking at the plant with a bit more affection. I covet its leaves, which I'll be pinching back any day now. Not too much, now. . . . I understand it will flower - unspectacularly - in the fall.

Unprepossessing. But what an aroma! One people seem to either love - or hate.

I love it. I know. I said that already.

the magic book

It's funny how words written so long ago can jump up and take on a whole new meaning and convey a personal message just to me.

My message today is:

The message stays the same.
The only difference is how it's received.
Some will hear it; some won't.

I find this reassuring. Somehow it's easy to forget that you can't please all of the people all of the time. I have a distressing pull toward the chameleon. It's hard to be a prophet when you care about what others think.

still going. . . .

I'm not quite the eveready bunny, here, but I am SO tired of the same old thing. Banging the same drum. Sitting at the same table. Wrestling the same demons.

On top of the mental pressure, there is now the new challenge of the physical to overcome. It seems no matter what chair I sit in, my legs start to fall asleep. And if not asleep, then a sort of sciatica pain in the left leg. And at night, I swear there's a mosquito that lives under the table and comes out to feast. . . . All this is new. Not welcome.

But hey! The king is still for me and I got a goodly portion of new chapter 4 done last night (having scrapped plan A) and this will be what it will be.

And it's a new day.

Monday, September 3, 2007

travel tricks

A couple of weeks ago I stayed overnight at the Ritz Carlton: legitimate business meeting, corporate rates (I'm sure), thankfully paid for by said corporation - not me. But I'm the one who got to enjoy the upgrade to executive suite, thank you very much, with TWO bathrooms!

Nice. (even though I felt vaguely uncomfortable with the sheer excess of having two - which I solved by shutting the door to one and mostly ignoring it)

This brought on a moral dilemma, however. It's one thing to clear out all the nice smelling toiletries to take home with you when you're talking just one bath. After all, they were put there for me to use, and I might have used them all up, if I hadn't wanted to take them home because I like the little bottles. But this is two baths - one person - one night. No way I could legitimately use up all the toiletries. . . . Is it legit to take them, anyway?

Right. I took 'em.

I'm glad I did, too, because once I got them home I really got to liking the smell (Bvlgari - Au The Blanc - and that would be 'The' as in 'tea' and not as in 'the' - so 'tea, white' and not 'the white'. . . . Ah, the French. Took me a while, too, so don't feel bad. Oh, and I still can't figure the 'v' instead of the 'u' - or at least I assume you pronounce 'Bvlgari' as 'Bulgari'? but what do I know) ANYway - once I got home and started liking the smell, I discovered that it's available really only at Nordstrom's, and the 'guest collection' (which is essentially what the hotel put out in each bath - minus the "oshibori", and what the hell is that, anyway!?) is $85.00!

Eighty-five bucks! Man.

I also found out later that the corporate room rate was only something like $120.00. I figure I'm ahead of the game. WAY ahead.

And yes, there is a tidy little resale market of 'travel sized' Bvlgari products on Ebay. . . . But you won't see any of mine there. You see, I REALLY like the smell. I'm thinking of going back to the Ritz for more. It's cheaper than going to Nordstrom's.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

quick question. . . .

I read somewhere that the ancient Jewish formulation of the Golden Rule in the negative - that is: "Don't do unto others what you would hate them to do to you" - is the functional equivalent of Jesus' subsequent formulation: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

I don't think so.

I think there's quite a difference between having to go do things - give that backrub, pick up that check, make that phone call, put those dishes away - and not having to do certain other things: don't take the guy's wallet, don't run over that barking poodle, no stabbing or other mayhem, don't start a vicious rumour, that sort of thing.

Ah, there it is! One requires me to go do "good" things, the other requires me not to do "bad" things.

So - does not doing "bad" things make me a "good" person?

How about not doing "good" things? Bad person?

A little help out there - what do you think?

Don't ask.

No, it isn't finished.

No, it's not even close to finished, thank you very much!

No. I don't know what happened.

Last night, not sleeping because I was worrying, I decided maybe I'd write chapter 5 before 4, since 4 seems to be so troublesome. Or maybe it was the 4 - or was it 5? - glasses of wine I had at the country club. I couldn't say.

So don't ask.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

skinny guy and MoFo

We've got a fight on our hands.

When the hummingbirds finally found the feeder, for several days everybody got along just fine. There was plenty to go around: four red plastic trumpet vine flower feeding tubes - 3 with bar stools - and the riff raff wasps were only intermittent. For the most part, the wasps stay out of the area. (Especially after the king gassed the hive).

Then, one evening at happy hour, there was a flurry of feathers and a swooping of hummers, furiously flying and darting at each other, circling and then speeding off like an arrow. Only one hummer was left on the field. We call him MoFo. Not out of affection.

He's not much bigger than the others, but he makes a lot more noise, and flares and shows his tail feathers - which is pretty aggressive looking. So far, it's done the trick. From being visited by anywhere from 4 or 5 hummers at a time - each slightly different - now it's just MoFo. He sits on the wire directly above the feeder where he can keep an eye on things. Periodically he runs off a fellow bird.

Last night, he was off vanguishing one bird, when another showed up. Good thing, too, because this guy was pretty lean looking. Skinny, you know? Looked like he needed a good meal.

He got in a good, long, draught before MoFo got back and ran him off.

Pissed me off. I'M the one puts the food out, but MoFo thinks to take over? To stake a claim on the whole supply and keep skinny guy out of the garden and hungry? When there's more than enough to go around?! (and more where that came from) Selfish little bastard.

It gives me an idea how God must feel. . . .

I'm just hoping he doesn't take our feeder down.

month two

in which our favorite friend shuts his mouth and waits for inspiration.

Shocking, I know!

All my writer friends are silent. The king is encouraging, but can't figure out why I just don't finish the last two chapters. I keep taking deep breaths and nothing comes out.

Back to writing even though I don't feel like it.

It's a beautiful, cool, fall day. The little boy down the street whizzes back and forth on his bike. (question: if peripatetic is the adjective for "back and forth" - like Aristotle, did you know? - anyway. . . . if that's the adjective, is there a verb? To peripatate, perhaps? Or peripate? And if not, why not?!) Anyway: the gold finch are momentarily in the ascendancy on the thistle feeder, having vanguished the house finches. MoFo is in place on the highwire holding off all comers to the hummingbird feeder. The squirrels are elsewhere - can't figure it - but I haven't seen them all morning. And the locusts are in full swing - at full voice. How could anyone write with this kind of racket going on?!

Ah - Labor Day Weekend. Next door, the set up begins for the cookout. We're going to the 'country club' - if you can imagine! I'm quite thrilled at the prospect. If only as a time not to be writing. A time I'm not even expected to think about writing!