Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the woods

Ground-clearing started yesterday in the woods, the place where the king and I will hopefully live the rest of our lives, "happily ever after. . . ."

Here's a picture of the cleared driveway, which isn't quite as bad as I'd feared.

favorite books. . . .

I gave the link yesterday, but I'll do it again: My friend Nonessential Equipment posted a list of her favorite 10 books here and I've been meaning to think that through for myself, as well.

One I share with her is Anne of Green Gables (the whole series, actually - with Anne of the Island maybe my favorite - or maybe only my favorite right now, because that's the one I feel like re-reading right now. . . .).

OK. So top 10 in no particular order:

Anne of Green Gables
Canopus in Argos (Doris Lessing)
Razor's Edge (Somerset Maugham)

Austen. . . . ALL of 'em! (or most of them, I'm not that crazy about Northanger Abbey): Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility.

Man - that would be 7 already if I count them all! Ok - just count Austen as 1.

My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) (and 'Gift of Asher Lev' - but I won't count that as 2, either. . . .)

The Little Prince
Fugitive Pieces (Anne Michaels)
Dune (Frank Herbert)
The Flamenco Club (Sarah - Bird, I think it is)
And speaking of birds, Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)

For today, anyway.

Monday, October 29, 2007

another day. . . .

Wow. Coming back to life again. Slowly.

I took the weekend 'off'.

Emancipated Son #2 was in from London (arriving the day before D-Day but not dreadfully underfoot until D-day, but after I'd finished printing, which was a good thing). So that meant that Emancipated Son #1 and wife were here Saturday and Sunday - and they're all heading out with the king and my dad for a round of golf this morning.

Meanwhile, construction in the woods kicks off today: the bulldozers arrive. I had to go to the woods on Sunday to discuss if there were any trees in the LOD ("limits of disturbance") that could be spared. . . . I felt like an executioner. I did manage to save like 4, but my favorite beech grove took a big hit. It will be painful to see.

Funny how that works though. That you have to raze what was there, before you can build anew. Not that I'd want to talk too much about Foucault and 'deconstruction' - because that guy just drives me crazy - but even Hannah Arendt notes that human creativity is done in violence. Namely, the violent 'fashioning' of something into something else. Consider the 'making' of a table, for example. It includes within it the chopping down of trees and planing of wood and cutting to size, etc., etc. (redundant 'etc.', I know. But it doesn't sound as good, otherwise).

So, too, to build a house, you have first to score the earth to make a solid - uncluttered - foundation.

I don't have to like it, though. Even though I know it is necessary and will work out for 'good' in the end. . . .

Still trying to figure out what life looks like now, post-dissertation. I'm not completely out of the woods, insofar as I have to get ready for the viva voce. . . . and have to stay sharp. Actually, there's some more reading I need to do on Ricoeur. Magda, bless her heart, told me to take a few days off and enjoy, but then to stay sharp and keep reading. The really cool thing was that she also said that she could really see how the paper came together, at the end. It feels good to think that I may have won her over . . . and if I've won her over, maybe that means all will be well also with the examiners! I hope.

Anyway, I'm not borrowing trouble here. I'll keep reading, and re-read the dissertation several times before the viva, and then go in and pretend it's like an appellate hearing. This, I know how to do.

I also get to read some non-philosophy - what a treat! My friend Nonessential Equipment posted a list of her favorite 10 books here, which got some of her buddies to post 10 of theirs, and there's so many books I've never read that sound so wonderful! Today, I think I'm going to sit down and figure out my favorite 10, but also start a book pile for regular reading again.

What a concept.

In the meantime, there's laundry, ironing (so that's where my 3 favorite shirts are!!!) and thinking about starting to pack for Florida. Wedding. sigh. and I have to hem a gown.

And before I do anything - send email to my Dublin runner to sort out final details of binding & turn-in instructions. It may be off my plate, but it's actually not across the goal yet! That happens tomorrow. Lord willing. . . .

Friday, October 26, 2007

zero. . . .

It's done.

It's on a plane to Dublin.

I'm exhausted.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

two o'clock

Conclusion: done.

Introduction: done.

Title: OK - I'm still not happy with it. WAY TOO FIDDLY! Can't we just say something snappy and be done with it?!

Chapter 5 - hope and meaning - hoobuoy. . . . still working. . . .

day one

I almost don't know where to start.

This is like my 100th post and I'm down to the LAST DAY of work on the dissertation. I'm glad I did the postings. It's helped me get a handle on what I was doing and what still had to be done. It also puts 'time' into the equation of getting a big task done. Time transformed into narrative. Which, when all is said and done, is pretty much what 'life' is: time transformed into narrative. (by means of joy, hunger, experience, suffering, beauty, hope. . . .)


I'm feeling quite quiet. There is a lot still to be done, but I am very calm about it. I got through all of chapter 5 last night except for the part on "hope and meaning". And that part took me a long time to write, too, as you may recall. . . . Now it looks like much of it will be cut. It's just too much here at the end. Plus (and this is good) I've really already made the point I wanted to make in previous chapters. So I don't need to re-invent the wheel.

More good stuff: Magda really seems to 'get it' now, here at the end. She's not fighting me with where I'm going in the Introduction and Conclusion. I think that may be part of why I was so resistant to writing it: in the past, whenever I've tried to talk about my take on what the problem was, she has moved into her perception of where the problem - and possible solution - is. Although we both admire Paul Ricoeur, we do so for different reasons. It took me some time to figure this one out.

Her final email - returning her comments on the Conclusion - was "Again: well done. Good luck with the printing."

Now let's just hope it flies. I have several large hurdles to go (beyond the physical bit of getting the thing turned in): one, the difficulty of the inter-disciplinary approach wherein my primary academic credentials lie in a discipline other than the one I am submitting in; and two, the American versus Continental issue. And that second one is a bigger problem than many people would think.

But first: finish the task before me. For today:

  1. Ruthless edit of 'hope and meaning' section of chapter 5.

  2. Incorporate Magda's comments to Intro and Conclusion (actually, I think I'll do this before I do chapter 5, because it'll give me a handle on the really important big-picture points which will help me not care so much about cutting confusing clutter in the more detailed bits. . . .)

  3. Check footnotes throughout.

  4. Check formatting - titles, etc. - for consistency

  5. Adjust pagination start numbers for each chapter

  6. Print out one copy (American letter size)

  7. Go through and check footnotes with Bibliography entries (and correct)

  8. Go through and correct Table of Contents to reflect actual final headings and page numbers

  9. Final spelling & grammar correct (to whatever level that's possible)

  10. Print out 2 copies on A4-sized paper and package to go to Dublin. (oh - and make cd copy of files to go with him, just in case. . . .)

OK. This was maybe not such a good idea. Figuring even just an hour for each task - which is a pipedream - that's 10 hours right there. sigh.

It's gonna be a LONG DAY. And a LONGER NIGHT. . . .

But no. It's good to know what needs to be done. Now the trick will be to transform it into manageable bits, rather than staring - transfixed - at the HUGE AMOUNT THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE like a mouse hypnotized in front of a cobra.

Run, prophet, run!!!

and get to work.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

an' a two. . . . an' away we go!

I slept through the housekeepers' ministrations until the end of the vacuuming which I think has got to be some kind of record. I've been apologizing to them for weeks about the mess I have everywhere, but this is the first time I've required them to work around the wreck that I am, with my butt still in bed! Man. They're the greatest. I have now 3 work sites that I rotate between, although the studio worksite has kind of been out of the loop all summer as it gets too hot in there. But it's still a wreck. It's a wreck just about everywhere, except - mostly - the living room. Oh, and the guest bedroom. And the kitchen and bath are nice again now, too, thanks to our very dear friends the housekeepers. Oh yay!

I've promised them that things will be different next week.

Main work site these days: dining room. Large table covered with papers. Stacks of books on the sideboard. Baby mac manfully soldiering on at the head of the table minus his battery and needing a $900 part.


Chapter 4 re-write: [finally] done.

Intro: done!

Summary: oh yeah! done. . . .

Conclusion: right. need one of those. check.

Title: sort of done. First half done. Fiddly bits after the colon still being rearranged. I did get up last night before I fell asleep and wrote down something that sounded good at the time. . . . Must go into the studio and see what it was. Maybe we have a title.

And Magda wrote this morning (I sent her intro and summary last night, hoping she'd have a chance to disembowel it within a day or so) saying she was relieved to get it, and would have it to me by tomorow morning my time. Which is as good a turn around as I could hope for!

Confession time: I have no idea what I wrote. It sounded all very good as it came gushing out through my fingertips and I intoned the words as they appeared on the screen.

Actually, I think I do that most times. . . . now that I think about it! [talk out loud as I write and type, that is]

By the way, thanks Nee and Lee Anne for the 'go-get-em's, it really does help! I can't quite figure it, but it does.

Time for a bit of tea and then it's. . . . hm. Conclusion, I think first (so I might be able to slide that past Magda as well) and then the chapter 5 re-write. I have the luxury of being able to cut up to 7,000 words!

I do feel decent today. It's a gray day, with a bit of a chill hidden around the edges. A squirrel outside has taken alarm over the cat and is doing the wierd squeeze box cough and squeeze-toy sound. Meanwhile, Puss is at my elbow, complaining at the insults.

Emancipated Son no. 2 arrives from London this afternoon - impeccable timing - for a wedding this weekend. I should probably set up shop upstairs at the second work site in the bedroom. That's actually a favorite place to work: it's on a beautiful round table the king bought years ago, sitting at what looks like a big throne chair. An old trunk is next to me in a little window alcove, and that's where my pot of tea can go, together with papers I need to be able to lay my hands on.

Anyway, father and son will undoubtedly have much catching up to do, so I'll try to positioned up there as of, say, 3 this afternoon. But then I have to move down here again once everyone goes to bed. (Just in case you were thinking: 'why doesn't she pick a spot and stay there?!)

So - enough of the trivial details, I think. I can feel tension in my shoulders - perhaps a bit of a stretch through the garden before I really get to work. It looks like it's going to rain soon, anyway, so this would be my last chance today.

Bother, the hiss in the tree leaves tells me it just started to rain. . . . oh well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

more music. helps.

Bryan Adams - heaven - love this song!

3 - three - drei - tres - trois - help

three days left.

the headache is FINALLY gone - for now.

I have: intro & conclusion to write, chapter 4 re-write to finish, chapter 5 re-write, title selection, and then fun and games with pagination, table of contents, and printing.

Then personal hand-off to friend leaving for Dublin on Friday - including taking him to airport.

Then: collapse.

I predict: serious fall in standards ensuing almost immediately.

Second: loss of extra four pounds plus another 4 as my throat closed yesterday.

Finally: serious sleep deprivation (as if I could sleep!), but I just hope that my mind stays with me. More important than the mind is my source. . . . Father please don't leave me. You got me into this! I know you will sustain me. The part of the 'acknowledgements' that made me cry yesterday was when I realized I had not acknowledged God. . . . and the words of Jude came to mind, which is how I was able to incorporate thanks to God in a way that I hoped would not make the academics nervous:
To Him who is able to keep me from falling and to present me before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Although it undoubtedly will still make them nervous, in spite of the fact that this is theology. . . .and - hey! - Scripture. That shouldn't be too scary, eh?

Facing the intro/conclusion again today. Oh help.

Monday, October 22, 2007

four - meltdown. . . .

computer wouldn't turn on. Migraine set in. Nausea. Followed shortly by tears. I spent the day in bed. Till 3 - then to the Mac shop. They gave me a new battery, which I can't use until they replace some sort of board they've ordered that costs almost $900. (Luckily, I THINK it's under warranty; no one's said anything about me paying that and I think they would have mentioned that before they ordered it. . . .)

It appears that I can continue on the Mac so long as I don't put the battery in. There's something wrong with the battery and the power circuits that connect that in to the computer. So: there you have it.

And I guess if I'd done this sooner, the part would have been in by now and my computer would have been humming right along, rather than limping. Although you just know something like this is going to happen at the end like this!

The tension is nigh unbearable and I can't shut myself down. I'm hating life just now. At least these next few days.

Oh - and we signed the contract to build the house today - having gotten building permits [finally!] last week.

I'll think about that later.

For now: I don't know whether to re-write chapter 4 or try again to write the intro and conclusion. And I still don't have a title.

I did draft the 'statement of my own work' that was required, as well as the "Acknowledgements" - and managed to print that out on the A4 paper. And that made me cry some more.

The king is worried.

I'm exhausted.

I know I'll get through this, but I've never felt quite so stretched thin before. What's most worrying is the betrayal of my body. It's not possible to think when you want to take your head off, it hurts so.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

five - countdown resumed

"Really, now you ask me," said Alice, very much confused, "I don't think ..." "Then you shouldn't talk," said the Hatter.

Good one.

Reminds me of something I read (and wrote about here) that
It's a mistake to think that writing is about putting words on paper. Writing is about thinking.

So I've been showing a lot of evidence of thinking lately, insofar as putting words on paper is concerned. . . . Meaning: there's more and more words on paper. Even though I've been also cutting a lot of words I had formerly put on paper. After thinking about it.

Not doing too much talking, though. There are not too many people ready to engage on the issue of morality as a system of rules, or as a matter of identity, or is it, instead, an issue of character a la in a virtue ethic system? And is Kant's morality of duty and obligation really as bad a thing as it sounds these days? (and my answer there would be "no" - after many, many years of a knee-jerk "Get him away from me! reaction).

Basically, Kant is pretty tough to get a handle on. If you think he's about a simple dry "duty" to be gutted out, you've probably misunderstood him. There's a whole lot more to him than that.

But that's the other problem with Kant: he's so complicated, no one really does understand him - so what's the use? You can have the best solution in the world, but if it's incomprehensible, it's not doing anybody any good.

But enough of that.

I read an interesting post at 60MinuteArtist's place yesterday, catchy title: "Improve Your Tonal Control". (Sorry, Six-oh. . . . grin.)

What got me thinking is how his thoughts on tone applies to so much of life beyond questions of art. We can focus so much on colour that we lose all sense of the light and dark. And one of the first things I learned playing with colours is that if you put too many of them together, they turn into a horrid sort of gloomy putrid brownish gray.

Value judgments are needed. White/black decisions. Shadows noted: because not all is white and black. There's a whole lot of gray out there, too. Different shades of gray. Some almost black; some almost white. Some pink! (but you might want to get a handle first on the value issues because a little colour goes a long way. . . .)

Our lives take on the putrid brown tone of too much colour (and not enough tonal control) when we don't make those kinds of value judgments. My paper was taking on that dreadful colour because I'd tried to put too much in, without discrimination.

It can be a little scary to discriminate, though. To realize that in the saying - or chosing - of this, I must say "no" to that. That life is about choosing - and I must choose well, because the colour, form, and definition of my life is at stake.

That "You can have it all" IS A LIE.

It's an invitation to turn your life putrid brown.

(Thanks Six-oh, for the art lesson!)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

minus 6 - and holding

OK - we're still at minus 6, but the countdown has resumed. Today is the proper minus 6.

I'm worried about my MacBook. . . . It's still not well after the incident with the cat and the water. I don't have time to take it in for a check up and battery replacement.

But today it conked out - no warning. And now the screen periodically fades at bit - kind of like an electrical brown-out.

Please, please, please hold on! You can take a break on Friday. I'll take you to the Mac store and they will tend to you and lavish lovely Mac-ey things upon you! Oh please stay with me here. . . . .

Meanwhile, the Navy game is in full swing. I can hear the crowd cheering and the public address system when the wind is just right. Also, the band. . . . and I know, for example, that they started the game with a recording of Top Gun's Highway to the Danger Zone - right after we got strafed by the Blue Angels.

Excitement city, eh?

It's homecoming.

I, however, am upstairs on the bed, windows open and the laptop on my lap. I have discovered two things: one, legal logic is not the same thing as philosophical logic and two, there's a small but developing dialogue going on about legal logic and artificial intelligence. (I'm sure they don't mean thereby to impugn the intelligence of judges or lawyers. . . .)

There is no time to go into this, but I wish I had known about it. What I think is funny is that I've actually read Fuzzy Logic and material on game theory and Nash's Equilibrium, so I've been working this mathematical connection independently, somehow, altho I was not sure how it fit.

It's a beautiful day. Wonderful cool breeze. I feel like I'm in prison. I'm wearing down. I can't wait for this to be over. I can't stand that there's not more time. It's a strange, strange time for me. It's coming together, but it feels like it's coming apart. I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of this, but almost too late.

Well - I don't want to talk about it any more. We're almost done here, and I'll keep posting, but I don't expect I'll be much fun these days.

Friday, October 19, 2007

setting prayer to music. . . .

Loreena - speaking of prayer. Dante's Prayer

recalculating countdown. . . . standby

You know how I love details - but I'll spare you the thought process of realizing I have a COUPLE EXTRA DAYS here! So it's not actually minus five today. . . . . more's the pity. It's more like minus 7 - unless you count the handoff day as a day, in which case it's minus eight. And do you count today as one of the days?

Why am I like this?!

Anyway - I'm not going to worry about it now. It's the recalculating day, and perhaps I'll have worked out the math by tomorrow, if I get another 6 hours sleep in between now and then.

I know where this picture is from, although I didn't take it. I know this because I have one similiar to it, but without the bird. And this was handier than scrolling through my pictures of Paris - because that's where this was from - and the Paris pictures would take too long to go through because I'd be drooling over them. And maybe crying. Good crying. . . .

Oh, remember when, indeed. . . .

I was there for a conference; the king joined me after a week or so. We spent two weeks in student lodgings in a walled city chateau. Le Foyer We lived in the clocktower - clock right above our bedroom window. Bath down the hall. Wine and baguettes every night overlooking the courtyard. The menu made a big impression on us - it's still a staple part of our diet!

Walks through the Jardin du Luxembourg every day. . . . boules. . . . the little boys and their toy sailboats on the lake. . . . the flowers. . . .

OK - stop it!

Back to work.


Two things before I start today: one, I told the king about the prophet. . . . two, I'm thinking through freedom versus obligation.

It's so funny how these things play out in my life, so that I can actually SEE what it is that I mean! Einstein is supposed to have said that "coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous".

So I told the king last night that I'd been writing here. He took it well, I think, perhaps taken aback by the 'secret' aspect of not having told him this. He also - as suspected - brought up the problematic of writing non-work stuff when I have so much work stuff to do. This is a major difference between us. He's a get-it-done-first-then-relax sort of person; I'm an enjoy-it-while-you-can sort of one. Also a I-can't-work-all-the-time sort, and as the dissertation would take up every waking hour, there has been a grave necessity to allow for some pleasurable distractions along the way. Of which I count him my major pleasure - and distraction - but there's other stuff as well. My garden. The occasional knitting or sewing. God - I've given up so much already. . . . I haven't played music in 2 years. I haven't sung. I haven't started a new quilt. I haven't sewn a dress since my wedding dress. I've felt guilty reading anything but law or philsophy.

But the thing is - life is built on freedom. For me, anyway.

It's not unlimited freedom - if you don't work, it won't get done! Yet there is also freedom in the working. I don't work well under the weight of duty, or the"ought". It robs me of the freedom to work joyously. And this is why I think I have needed also to write just for fun. Saying what I like, with no foundational requirements, no format requirements, and no judging looming over me second-guessing what I perhaps should have been doing, instead. It's like saying that anything short of a masterpiece isn't worth working on as an artist, let's say. So forget those sketches; those little cartoons. Don't take that walk or stop in that cafe for a hot whiskey. Keep your eyes on your work.

Big sigh.

This is a big piece for me. This IS my work! I'm still learning how to call the shots in my own life. It's not about what the king says - or even thinks - this really is about my own motivation. What I think, and why. NOT in an it's-all-about-me mode, but in the how-I-live-life mode! And is it free? Is it authentic? Or is it in response to what I perceive others want, without them even asking? Which was always my default.

The good thing is that this has nothing to do with how others respond, or whether others allow me this kind of freedom. I have it. The question is, will I live in it? The king has really helped me here. He expects he married an autonomous grown-up. SURPRISE! grin. . . .

But here's how this fits: I've been looking at assertions of "human rights" as arguments in disputed moral issues. I've always been a bit leery of human rights as 'sources' for entitlements because they don't deal with who provides all these things, to whom, and who gets the bill. So perhaps you have the right to control the autonomy of your body, for example, in connection with terminating pregnancy - but if we term it AS a right, does that not imply that someone will have the obligation to provide the means by which to do so?

In other words, what good is a "right" to exercise control over one's body if there is no viable means provided of doing so?

As a lawyer, I don't like to hear talk of rights unless there's talk of corresponding means - the enabling legislation that puts a shape on the other side of rights: who provides them, to whom, how, and at what cost to whom.

As a person, however, I don't particularly like being importuned on the obligation side. I prefer the free and easy gift, without thought of the underlying side of duty. I don't like to do things because it's my duty - I want to do them because it's my delight.

I love this quote from Onora O'Neill:
I was once publicly admonished for asking who holds the obligations that correspond to an alleged right to health (not merely to a right to health care!) on the grounds that health is too important to human beings not to be the object of a right.
God is still anonymous, eh? Maybe that's how we can work in the idea of prayer.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

minus 6 - return to the garden

It's 70 degrees out, and I'm finally up after 6 hours of sleep. The garden is doing its Eden impression, with a squirrel grooming atop the stump, a juvenile black & white woodpecker practicing his skills on our river birch, and a flaming cardinal swooping through the lot, calling to his mate. The yellow finches, meanwhile, have sent reminders that their thistle feeder is getting low.

I'm thinking that perhaps the cold weather could hold off another month or two with no complaint from me.

But a bit of rain would be nice. All the flowers are dying as I have simply not taken the time to water.

Now here's a dilemma for you: to water and allow them to die of the cold, or to not water and allow them to slip away in the dry heat?

Right. There's just no answer here, is there? sort of like my dissertation. (you just knew I was going to work that in, didn't you?! . . . . laughing, here. . . . .)

Hoo buoy. . . .

Chapter one is mostly done, although there is SO much more I could do.

I'm afraid to take up chapter two. But will do so immediately upon finishing up here. And actually, I'm shooting for finishing chapters two AND three today. That just might get me enough momentum built up to be able to dash off the introduction and conclusion, so that I can re-write chapters 4 and 5 with the 'big picture' in mind. Tweaking as necessary. (and going back to chapters 1 through 3 as necessary by what was 'dashed off' by way of the final structure).

Oh God. . . . help me. Because there's still the Bibliography to do; still the table of contents; still the acknowledgments, statement of 'exclusively my work', summary, abstract and title page - all of which have to be put in order, some of which numbered and then the whole thing put in order and somehow printed out and you just know that's going to be a treat!

It's time for a feather to appear. A large corvid one, if you please, Father. Just to reassure me. Again.

Sorry. . . . back again. A feather like this one would be nice, too. All polka-dotty. It looks like it might have come from the woodpecker.

You don't know yet about me and feathers. They are a small message to me of reassurance. Or of warning like: "Hey! Look over here! You're missing something."

Many times they are like a post-it "I love you" note.

I need one today.


I guess that means I'll have to go for a walk! Probably not a bad idea.

Oh. And yesterday? The king came home with the building permit. Things are picking up around here!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

and a bit of music. . . .

a little Sarah. . . . Who says it so well. And yet, there is redemption.

"seven, eight - lay 'em straight. . . ."

Thought for the day:
Fall down seven times, get up eight.


minus 7 - 'come on lucky 7!'

No. . . . not a gambler. . . . really!

But I guess I am betting that I will finish this dissertation by the end of the 7th day.

The Housekeepers were early this morning. The king was trying to entice me out of bed with a cup of coffee and warnings that I would otherwise have to face the Housekeepers still in my jammies when we heard the water running downstairs. . . . They were here already, and he had yet to put his own clothes on, himself!

Fastest shower I've taken in a while.

I'm still not feeling well. "Women's complaints", you know, not to indulge in too much information. I feel flattened, lethargic, and very, very, heavy. It's hard to lift my hands. And I sigh a lot. Yes, pain.

I got almost through the chapter one re-write yesterday, though, and was terrified to hear the ping of an email that turned out to be from Magda. . . . Chapter 5 was back. I think I'm getting used to her language. Or maybe I'm just so worn down nothing bothers me anymore? Anyway, I felt vaguely reassured by her email, which - although it did say things like the chapter "fizzles out", doesn't have a "tight enough structure", and needs to be "ruthlessly chopped", it also said things like "good in a lot of points" (and there's at least one "very good" in the comments themselves), and it concludes with "you've certainly read a lot and worked hard, and there are only a few more overviews needed to tell the reader what you are trying to show in what follows."

Oh, and she says she'll be "glad" to get whatever else needs to be reviewed - and good luck during this last week.

My interpretation of that - after these last months - is: "good stuff. I can see you've worked hard. Here's what will make it better. Don't bother with this, this, and this - you don't need it - here's how you might pull it together. I'm here for the final stuff, too, go get 'em!"

Although she would never say words like that.

[so, while I was typing this post, I got a response from Magda to my response - with loads more info, a suggested title that's good! and yet another article, with the comment "not that you have time to read. . . ." funny.]

The king is off doing battle with the bureaucrats. The Housekeepers expect that I should chill a bottle of something for a celebratory dinner. Right. Celebrations are on hold. But I'll be happy if the king comes home with the building permit. Otherwise, he's likely to come home with an unsavory attitude. . . . and I hate it when he's frustrated. We really have run up against every possible obstacle you can think of - and several you probably never would think of - to building this house. We had hoped to be in the house by now; we haven't even broken ground. We haven't even gotten the building permit!

What the hell is going on here?!

So we do think things like: Is this really what we're supposed to be doing? Maybe there's something else out there for us, and all these stumbling blocks are trying to point the way to that.

At the same time, we remember that we started out on a certain course of action, and nothing has really intervened to make us think that we should change that. The only thing that's happened is that we've come up against obstacles. OK. So we overcome the obstacles. And that's what we've been doing. For quite a while, now!

But I have to get back to re-writes. I'm glad I've taken some time every day to chronicle this slog. . . . but I need to make sure that the chronicling doesn't get in the way of the slogging. Whoooopah! [crack that whip] Back to work.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

minus 8

and again, I don't really want to talk about set-backs or hell-week or month, but. . . .

I'm not well.

It makes a big difference.

So I don't really want to talk about being 'behind the 8-ball', but. . . . Not much got done yesterday from the perspective of getting re-writes done, although I did find all sorts of NEW MATERIAL, which I'm imagining I will have to stop considering, at some point.

In bed by midnight last night; rough night; but I got to spend the morning with the king, who pampered me a bit, and reminded me that I would be better after a while, so not to worry. "Feeling puny" - he calls it. That's it, precisely. Feeling puny. (and now that word just looks wrong. I've looked at it too long.)

Well, the minutiae of my last few days of dissertation ditherings: we had a home-made pot pie last night, which did wonders for my sense of well-being! There wasn't really enough of the mushroom, steak, potato, veg soup for another meal, and we still had some roast chicken left over from having company over this weekend and some Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry dough in the freezer. . . . So I cut up the chicken, rolled out the dough and lined a casserole with it, put in chicken, ladled in the now-very-thick soup/stew, grated chipotle cheddar on top, and then topped the casserole with the other piece of the pastry dough & crimped the edges and pricked the top of the pie. Into a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes and it was gorgeous! And yummy. . . . With a lovely Beaujolais.

The other half is in our future for this evening.

The building permit is probably going to issue today. The king has really been having to go around and around to get this done, and it's finally almost there. . . . In which case next up is actually signing a contract with the builder and they have to clear part of the forest. I'm going to hate that part of this. . . . I know it's necessary, but I don't have to like it.

Well, I don't seem to have anything to say here today, so I might as well go say nothing in front of the chapter 1 re-write screen. . . . At least I'll feel like I'm trying to work.

I haven't heard back from Magda on the last chapter and the proposed title. Undoubtedly it's a good thing. I still have plenty to do, and it usually takes me a day or two to recover from her 'ministrations'. . . . Although if I were going to be shot down, today would be the day to do it. I don't feel well anyway, might as well get both things behind me at the same time! I really feel like getting back under the covers and not coming out. All. Day. Long.

I've said it before - and I know it's true (however much it doesn't feel like it just now): This, too, shall pass.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jesus and Miller

Well, it appears that Miller beer is sponsoring a street fair in San Francisco that features - surprise! - people of a homosexual persuasion.

Some guy by the name of Brent Bozell, III has started a bit of a ruckus by pointing out that how offensive Christians might find a depiction the 'last supper' featuring leather-clad sadomasochistic entrepreneurs of both genders, posturing with a variety of sex toys in the company of one "Jeebus". This 'adaptation' was the promotional poster of the Folsum Street Fair that Miller sponsored. Bozell III's Yahoo-picked-up article is here, and a Google search reveals quite a lot of other articles, many also by him, or quoting him.

The local 'bay area' news put out this, also indicating that Nancy Pelosi said:
"It's a Constitutional question. It's a religious question. It's about as global a question as you could ask," the House leader said. "I'm a big believer in the First Amendment. I do not believe Christianity has been harmed by the Folsom Street Fair.
That's helpful, Nancy. Thank you. It's a 'big, global question.' Right.

Moving right along. . . . What's interesting to me is that neither Yahoo nor Bozell has highlighted the fact that this street fair has already taken place. It happened the weekend of September 30, 2007.

OK - that doesn't mean that we are no longer interested in [the 'big, global question' of] Miller's sponsorship, but it does mean that we don't need to get all activist about it. It's over. And I guess that's what I wanted to write about.

Bozell seems to be trying to stir up the "Christians". And there's quite a few Christian groups out there that are taking the bait. The Evangelicals, the Catholics, the conservative interest groups. Some of the homosexual groups seem to be spear-rattling as well, although I've seen at least one individual asking: "and just why do we feel the need to try and piss off this eminently piss-offable group? Is there a point, here?"

Good question!

But apparently they did, and now my question is: Now what?

I can tell you what we did at our house, but that's not to try and organize for boycotts or demands for apologies or anything like that. I simply don't want to associate with that kind of imagery, and so I will excercise my freedoms under the first amendment to sever any such association. I think a little more action will go a lot further than a lot of talking and inciting. Although I must say I do agree: why is it that if this had been about almost any other group, it would have been all over the news? Why did Brian Williams have nothing to say about it?

Maybe it's because if it had been against another group, there may have been violence over it already. Certainly there would have been demonstrations and protestations of "I'm offended! Take it back! Make him take it back!!!"

Which we really haven't gotten so far.

I do appreciate having been made aware of this. But I don't want to see a cause célèbre made out of it and - please God - NO apology games!

How's about this for a rule? If you have to DEMAND an apology, it doesn't count.

So don't ask. And Brent? Here's hope you're not angling for the Christian equivalent of a Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton job. (not that Jesse and Al either are - or are not - Christians, that's just not their usual issue of choice). And surely there's a strident woman out there I'm overlooking. All of which I hope doesn't offend anyone. And if so, may I say please how very sorry I am right up front?

I took the bottles out this morning - not that we drink the stuff - but somebody must have brought some over at some point. I just hope the Germans don't piss me off, because I really like their beer. . . . (and - oh dear - I have just seen that "PaddyPower" has made fast and loose with the 'last supper' imagery as well. . . . Luckily, I don't gamble. I just hope it doesn't spread to Guinness. Maybe we do need Bozell the third to get on the stick before this gets out of hand).

minus 9 - single digits (yikes!)

Well this picture will wake you up in the mornin', eh?

I feel good today.

Pretty good, anyway. Good before I think about it. . . . Here's hoping that thinking about it doesn't change the feeling good! grin.

OK. It's a gorgeous day: so that's good. And it's on the cooler side: check, good. (at least as far as I'm concerned and - as I've had occasion to say several times this last month, anyway, right now it is "all about me - all the time", and when you're writing your dissertation and you're in the last weeks of turmoil, then it can be all about you! Deal? Deal. . . .)

But back to the "good" checklist:

Citations done through Chapter 4 - check, and good. This also enabled me to spend some time with the king, as the work was conducive to couch sitting and football monitoring at the same time. Very fun!

I like football. American football. With the funny-shaped ball. It's splendid background to wonderful foods, and friendly banter and comaraderie and working on a quilt or knitting something. . . . and it's chilly out and maybe we could start a fire in the fireplace. Love those days! So I was glad to get a little football in this week.

And I also got a bit home-made soup in: threw some together as comfort food for myself, as it looked ike the king was going to have to do a bit of the social-scene-mandatories on his own yesterday: kind of a command performance, but he decided to bail and stay at home with me. There are so many people who think we're slugs these days! Oh well. . . . . So we dined on our favorite artisanal baguettes, chipotle cheddar cheese, and a hearty steak, potato, mushroom, and assorted veggie stew, I guess I should call it. And that's what was missing! Garlic. I can't believe I forgot the garlic! Ach. . . . Well, it was still delicious. (and I knew I liked Nee when I read her comfort food recipe, here, which features - features? nay! stars - garlic! How could I forget the garlic?! sigh. . . .)

Some other 'good' stuff: A4 paper arrived from Ireland, I have been able to format my docs for the said paper, and the king has determined that the printer not only will admit to taking A4, but will cheerfully improve its printing quality to more than what's required for submission. So this first round I can print myself, looks like, rather than worry about internet file transmissions, trying to get everything onto/into one doc file for the printer in Ireland, and then actually trusting them to print and bind, sight unseen.

So I think this is very good.

Well, it's just after 10 and really time to be moving on the work at hand. Life has changed a bit the last week. I'm finding that it's easiest to work late at night. I don't worry about where the king is or when he's coming home, as he's upstairs in bed. So I don't keep looking out the window whenever I hear a car (and yeah-yeah, not too many cars late at night, either).

I've been trying to get at least 5 or 6 hours sleep (and you're talking to the sleep queen, here, so you need to read that with new eyes, to see the UTTER DEPRIVATION that ONLY 5 or 6 hours of sleep means to me!), and the king has not been waking me for our usual time in the mornings even when I ask him to. I feel a little bad about that. But we do get our time in the evenings over dinner and a glass of wine, so I imagine this might have to do for the next 9 days.

Because the fact of the matter is that I don't get that much done when he's home and rambling about. Or rather I should say that it's easier when he's not rambling about, but instead all tucked into bed. . . .

But this is much better than being off on my own, which actually is an option for me: lucky me! My parents have a little townhouse about a half mile from the beach which - now that it's cooled off - they won't go to quite as much. I had been trying to hole up there this summer, but what with weekend comings and goings, and my back-and-forthing's, it really got to be more of a hassle than a help. And these last few days have shown me how much I've come to depend on my husband, if only to run up to him for a hug and nuzzle.

This is new, you need to understand. I've only been married a little over 2 years and I was single for a good long time. . . . Really used to being on my own. I was actually worried that this 'togetherness' thing would wear on me!

Anyway: I just know how much harder this would have been all alone. I really don't know that I could have done it. The king, of course, just keeps saying: "Of course you would have. You're the queen!" in that very confident way he has.

All I can say is that I'm happy I didn't have to test this. It's been hard enough as it is.

So! I'm expecting an email from Magda at some point, re: the last chapter. Yes, that was bit of adrenaline fear I experienced, just saying it. At some point I think I still expect her to say that I might have a better future in parking enforcement. . . . (yes, I think I've mentioned that before. sorry. but it's true.)

And at some point I really must write the introduction and the conclusion. Talk about doing things backwards! Everyone says you write the conclusion first, then you write the papers, then you write the intro.

Not me. I wrote the paper. Now I'm trying to figure out what it says - and means, big-picture-wise - so I can set up an intro leading to the conclusion. Foolishness? Or faith? I guess the jury's out.

Don't tell anyone.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

minus 10 - the chant begins

We've had visitors all weekend. Emancipated son #1 was here Friday night and left Saturday after lunch; friend of mine arrived Saturday late afternoon and is still here. I have done some work, but not as much as I could have. Maybe should have. UNDOUBTEDLY should have.

Yesterday, I was manic. Today, quieter. No, not calm. But quiet. No, not sense of despair or doom - that was at 5:30 this morning, when I did not get out of bed to work. I stayed in bed even past the part where my body physically hurt from having been in bed too long. 10 hours. That's enough rest, surely?

For today, I plan to get a handle on the citations. I've got my Turabian Manual for Chicago Style and we will have to master that and get started with the formats. I'll start with Chapter one.

Other than that, I think the plan has to be to try and add additional elements where and when I can, hoping that the cumulative effect will be a production of some light - if not dazzling. . . . To that end, perhaps I can learn from the prism: many different faces, facets, and aspects - all of which reflect and give the impression of light, if not light itself. . . . But if there is any light there atall, it will magnify it. Maybe that's the best I can hope for.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

minus 11 - the door

well, that's a formidable entry. Or barrier! Wonder what it's to be.

It's Saturday, the toughest part -or day - of being 'on deadline' [as the king says] and having to be out of usual life. We have our usual Saturday routine - I know I've written about this before - where the king goes to the drycleaners and stops by the wine shop and the artisanal cheese place (where they know him by name) and picks up fresh bread and cheese and wonderful olives of several colour types and little mini-baguettes with fresh ham and brie on them for lunch. Then, we decide whether we're having Oranginas or white wine.

Today, white wine. I'm gonna need all the help I can get, which is probably why I should have stuck with Orangina, but I have never exactly been the 'prudent' type. Now I'm upstairs with chapter one ("The Re-Write") and the king is doing laundry*, heading out to get dinner (we're having company!?) and will then settle in for some college ball.

I'm hiding the fact that I'm writing 'other' stuff - he doesn't know that I've started this site. . . . And it's going to be a little tough telling him! And harder every day. I have no idea how to do this. I see now that I already have some 60 [60?! Try over 80!!!] postings, each of one which was done 'in secret' as to him. Not consciously. We really have no secrets. But I've not told him about this. I'm not sure why I have wanted to keep properprophet so private. It's funny: no one I "know" knows about this place. Not yet. And I'm a little careful about sharing sites I have posted comments on with my 'real life' friends, for fear that they'd find this place. What's the deal with that?

This is one of the questions I think I had early on about "who" we are, when we're prophet, or Non-Essential Equipment, or Adorable Device of Destruction, or Mir, or Lemon Stand - although some of those women give an indication as to who they are. It's funny to think about the images we've chosen to camp out under. Machinery, plywood stands, butterflies, corvids, weapons, regret . . . .

I remember reading an article about 'avatars' - I think it was when I first came across Second Life, which believe it or not was part of my research! Turns out that Judge Posner (the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge who thinks that academic moral theory is worthless with respect to making judicial determinations) appeared on Second Life to talk up a new book. You can see an illustrated transcript here.

So - you see - I am working! Stop to think, too, that "avatar" means "incarnation", which is very relevant to theological dissertations! sigh.

Anyway, I think the whole thing of secrecy or anonymity or virtual 'life' or whatever you want to call it has to do with consequences. I can control virtual consequences. If I piss someone off, or they don't like me, or I don't like them it's easy: no more contact. Delete messages (or don't allow them in the first place!) Don't visit. Deny access.

We can't do that in real life. And in real life, the people who know me can read what I've written and say "________, would you ever get real?!!! Stop messin' around and start writing! Kwitcher bitchin. . . . ." And that would be horrible.

So, on the one hand, I can control adverse consequences and on the other, I can presume on the goodwill of strangers. But not forever. At some point, you have to become friends. Or not.

Who was it said: "I love mankind; it's people I can't stand!"

That's how we are in the 'blogosphere'. Or: how we are at our worst in the blogosphere. . . . Because I think we can also make friends. I've read about people who have. And I know how I feel about the people who've come alongside me these last few weeks. . . .

By the way. . . . is there an uglier word than "blog"?! Or "blogosphere"?!!!! Barf. Who thought of that? I hate that word. It curdles my bone marrow to think of calling myself a "blogger".

I am a WRITER.

Best go get some writing done.
(*the king's mum has already had confidential discussions with him about this, asking "Is everything OK in your marriage. . . . .? Bless her heart. . . . ahem. . . . .)

Friday, October 12, 2007

minus 12

and counting. . . .

I begin to fixate on the physical impossibility of the task at hand. Hundreds of citations to review and put into Chicago style. Bibliography to prepare. REWRITES of chapters 1 through 4, and Magda says she'll have chapter 5 comments hopefully early next week. And today?

Well, I really SHOULD get a handle on the final vision of what this thing is about! And write the top and the tail. . . . so that I know what other guts need to go in, in between, as I turn then to do the re-writes.

Actual conversation this morning:

"Were you serious when you said you didn't know what the point of your dissertation is?"

yours truly:
"Well, uh. . . . ah. . . Hmmm. Yeah. I think I was."

For the life of me, I couldn't think what the point was. I had all sorts of interim "knowledge" and clever comments and insights and critiques, but the point? Ah. . . right. The point. . . . There was a point to this. At some point. Once upon a time.

I just couldn't think of it anymore.

The king hopped in the shower and I snuggled under the covers for another 10 minute snooze. The weather has finally broken, and the 90 degree record-setting heat/drought finally gave way to a thunderous display of really fierce rain clouds annoyed to have been kept waiting so long. They dropped their several inches of rain overnight and have departed leaving the sky forever-blue and the temperature 30 degrees colder. I'm liking it!

When the king got out of the shower, he toweled off and told me the point of my dissertation. Bless his heart. He's been listening. And he remembered. And he was able to remind me.

Right! There is a point. And it is . . . . ah. . . . well, I'm just about to go off and write it. I'll let you know how it turns out. Otherwise, I may have to take dictation from the king. He seems to have a better handle on this just now.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

music fix. . . .

oh how I needed this! [deep breath] yes. . . . Cirque du Soleil's Allegria - one of the most beautiful songs I know.

minus 13. . . . still dark

ok. . . so it's going to be a tough one. Feels like I'm in labour - although I've never been in labour.

It feels horrible.

Reminds me of something my father used to say:
That's the only good thing about hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.
and to the inevitable question: "What is?" he'd say:
It feels so good when you stop.
What a strange thing to say, don't you think? Wonder where he got it?

I do know the goodness of 'pain stopped', though. sigh

When I found this picture I decided to check what the book of James might have for me. There is no James 13, so I looked up James 1:3 and found (coming from verse 12 before):
Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Great. Perseverence.

Right. That's what I need.

More of that.

Oh help. . . .

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

fourteen recap

OK. Found a photo.

Update: books returned. check. Plus the nice libarary lady let me check out the one on Judge Posner again, even though I had reached my renewal limit.

Gown shopping: check. Found gown. Purchased, along with 2 other dresses on sale for $39 each - if you can imagine!? I couldn't. . . . The king likes it. I'm trying to figure out what kind of undergear is appropriate insofar as the back is kind of bare and I don't want panty lines but. . . man! I'm not sure how to handle this. This dress doesn't seem to be compatible with underwear-wear.

College library run to get page numbers on Ricoeur article: check. Plus found two more articles & copied them.

"One more fun thing" - nada. Didn't stop for Wintergreen Altoids. My teeth won't take much more. But now I'm yawnin' and I thought I was going to finish the 'hope and meaning' section tonight. Right. Maybe if I'd gotten Wintergreens, which perk me up - but no. . . . Tonight I got treated to a treatment of how Kant differs from Hegel and how - in order properly to appreciate the "philosophy of hope" one must proceed in order from Kant's first critique (of pure reason), to his second critique (practical reason), before coming to his "Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone", because otherwise "we shold have been tempted to oppose to the Hegelian concept of absolute knowledge an empty concpet of belief or of hope." ["Hope & the Structure of Philosophical Systems" 215].

Yep. He really talks like that.

The scarey thing? I actually think I understand him now. Ricoeur likes Kant because Kant acknowledges that there are limits. Limits to what we can know about where we've come from (creation) and limits about where we're heading (eschatology - now there's a word for you! Means 'study of final things' - best as I can make it out.) Hegel has a concept that we can actually know everything - which he puts in a category he calls "absolute knowledge".

Anyway - I won't bore you with how we know what we know - but it was kind of cool to read Ricoeur talking about what he thought about Hegel and Kant. And the broad brush stroke is that Ricoeur buys Kant's 'philosophy of limits' - that we can't know everything - and so he doesn't want to get pulled into the Hegelian game that says we can, by trying to set up an empty hope chest to try and carry the weight.

And I like what he says about hope:
Hope is not a theme that comes after other themes, an idea that closes the system, but an impulse that opens the system, that breaks the closure of the system; it is a way of reopening what was unduly closed.
This comes in after we have reached our limit, and breaks a way free to see new possibilities. In religious symbolism, this is where resurrection comes in; and salvation.

Oh yeah! I can just see me advancing that as a legal argument in our local circuit court. . . .


OK. It's midnight. A coupla hours sleep and write up all this I've ingested today. . . . please God to have made sense of it for me while I sleep! (why does this have to be so complicated?!

[ok. . . . and I SAW that typo. . . . but now I can't find it. And my eyes are closing. And if you have any sympathy for me at all, you'll tell me where it is. Ah - sure - I'll find it tomorrow.] [subsequent note: nope. . . . I'm letting ALL the typos stand, just to remember how out of it I was!]

minus fourteen

Two weeks. 14 days. Counting weekends. Feels like an eternity. Feels like tomorrow.

For the first time I haven't been able to find a '14' picture. I'll post my 'four butterflies' shot, instead. Imagine the plants as the missing additional 'ten' element. Nonessential Equipment posted a beautiful butterfly shot a few days ago, which somehow opened my eyes to the swarm of monarchs (monarchs? gorgeous orange butterflies whatever kind they are - with polka dots, thank you very much) all over our volunteer asters. There must have been 20 of them.

The king laughed at me yesterday evening as I chased around the aster patch, trying to capture them in a picture. They kept fluttering off and not cooperating at all.

Well - the housekeepers arrived early (has it been a week already?!) and so I'm cut loose for a few hours to (1) return library books, (2) look for a gown for a formal wedding we're attending 1st week of November (life-after-dissertation), (3) go to the college library and get some page citations for an article I found online that is helpful, and (4) maybe one other fun thing. Like pick up more Wintergreen Altoids. I fear I'm addicted.

This afternoon? Back to Hope and Meaning. Hoo buoy. . . . .

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

minus 15

In which our hero snatches 6 hours of sleep from the jaws of worry and returns to her scarred and battered computer, refreshed and ready to face a new day! A day of tough stuff, but a day, too, of important endings: Chapter 5 put to bed.

I sent the lion's share of 5 to Magda last night - ok, this morning, just before dawn - leaving only the last section 3. c. to be written. What might the religious voice bring to the public discourse? Hope and meaning. This, following the later thought of Paul Ricoeur, once he finally integrated the religious with the philosophical, having kept them apart for so many years.

The difficulty here, of course, lies in the anticipated disconnect between the believer in God and one who does not.

A further difficulty lies in the anticipated use of the religious voice to proselytize, rather than bring the missing elements of hope and meaning to the table. So I do not mean the encouraging of those who do not believe in God to "repent and be saved." This is not a question of "fixing" the content of someone's belief. It is the theological embodiment of the redemptive Kingdom of God drawing near to people.

Wha. . .?!

It is the living and acting out of theological motifs called Creation (1), Fall (2), Redemption (3), and Consummation (4).

It's what we know as (1) the world as it should be, (2) the world as it actually is, (3) the world as we can change it through forgiveness and do-overs, and (4), the world as it's gonna be when everything is perfected.

(and for "world" we can also substitute "person").

OK! Reality check: I have just turned away one "Leon", who presented himself at my door - just this minute - wanting gas money to get to Washington D.C. . . . sigh. What would the 'religious voice' have to say about that? (My secular/worldly voice keeps getting up and looking out the window to make sure he hasn't stolen the candlesticks on the porch. . . . He's apparently visiting all the houses on our little square. How would the theological motifs apply in this case?

Well - the pious/liberal answer might be to have given him money. Poor guy! He's 'disadvantaged', clearly. The jaded-conservative answer might be to tell him to get a job like everyone else (but then again, I don't have a job - or a paying job, anyway), or refuse giving him money on the grounds that he will likely use it just to buy drugs. I've been lied to before by panhandlers. And one amazing thing I discovered is that - much as many people don't actually "see" a beggar (even if they give him or her money) - so, too, many beggars don't actually "see" their targets. What they seem to see instead is a moving purse or wallet. I was quite taken aback by this.

But what is the "religious" answer - the answer that brings hope and meaning to a world where there are people on the streets knocking on doors asking for money? Claiming need.

I'm not sure exactly what to say. And I've always hated the answer "It depends." But: It depends.

It depends on the person, it depends on the circumstances, it depends on my own willingness to be uncomfortable with the world as it is, while yet persevering in the hopes to make it what it should be. With Leon, I see a stepping outside of relationship to solicit, apart from either relationship, circumstance, or institution. Requests for help are generally done either relationally (those I know, live close to, or am related to), circumstantially (stopping to help an accident victim or lost child, for example), or institutionally (unemployment insurance, welfare, job training, local church or civic group).

Leon appears to be taking a lesson from the bank robber who, upon being asked why he robbed banks, replied: "Because that's where the money is."

OK - so maybe Leon just happened to find himself in this neighborhood, on his bike, with an immediate and pressing need for money for gasoline . . . . But chances are he did not. Chances are he 'targeted' his approach, picked the nicer-looking houses (OK, I often refer to our little rental house as the "ugly" house on the street, but you know what? Even as people say "Oh no - it's not ugly!" everyone knows exactly which house I mean, when I say we live in the ugly house. It doesn't help that we live across the street from a mansion that is on the historical register and is a stop on the local tour bus circuit. . . .). Anyway - back to Leon - . . . . chances are he picked the nicer-looking houses and handed me the toss-away line "You don't have anything I could do?" as I said "Sorry" and went to close the door, thinking the offer to work would sound better than just asking for money. It almost worked. I almost relented and asked him to water my flowers which are wilting again. Still no rain.

But back to the problem at hand. Maybe the question of 'hope and meaning' here is not tied to the problematic that Leon tried to hand me: He wants money. From me. Now.

Maybe the question of 'hope and meaning' here is actually about why Leon is out, knocking on doors, asking for money, instead of engaged in living a good and rewarding life in which his needs are being met and he has been given good and meaningful work to do? But that's not the question he presented me with. I suspect he would not have been willing to investigate the matter more deeply, either. Not unless there was some money to be had for his troubles. . . .

Jesus' attitude toward those that wanted his help was pretty wild. When confronted with a lame man at a religious shrine-type-place (a pool of water, actually) which is where all the sick apparently went to hang out and beg, Jesus asked him: "Do you want to get well?" Funny thing: the man didn't actually say "yes". What he did do is give excuses for why he hadn't been cured so far.

And then there was the blind man whom Jesus asked: "What do you want me to do for you?" Now there's a question for you!

What do you want me to do for you.

I wonder what Leon would have said, had I asked him that? And maybe that's where the "hope and meaning" part is, the fact that we so easily settle for so little. C.S. Lewis said it well:
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Imagine what we would say in answer to the question from one who could do anything: What do you want me to do for you?

I wouldn't ask for five bucks. I wouldn't even ask for five thousand.

Wow. That's the question. What would I ask for?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

minus 16 - going a bit faster now

It's after midnight - so technically into day 16-days-to-go. I took a break from agonizing over just how it is that liberal democracies have increasingly become convinced that the religious voice really ought to be quiet, even if they have a constitutional right to speak, and even if there is no way to force them to be quiet if they don't do it voluntarily. Break time was used to find a numeral picture. Then I decided I'd go ahead and post that now, even if I don't write much else.

I'm still in a dither with ever so much to cover still.

I'll work a couple more hours - get good and tired - and then crash.

I get up about 7:30 or 8 every morning - to the king's coffee. We sit on the porch and watch the community awaken. And talk. It's a time I don't like to give up, even if I didn't get much sleep. And this isn't like me, ms. sleep-all-the-hours-you-can-and-certainly-till-noon!

Marriage has changed me.

I wonder what the doctorate will do?

minus 17




Bean dip.

Indigestion from dealing with this guy Robert Audi who argues that "Civic Virtue" requires that people who have religious commitments and convictions not speak of them in public. ALSO that there may be times when the aforesaid "Civic Virtue" could possibly apply in private to put a muzzle on religious thought and language, insofar as "civility is a virtue applicable far beyond the public square." Thus, even though he says that “our homes are supposed to be our castles”, he envisions situations where we can’t say what we like *in our own homes* because of his idea of civility.

I am not making this up.

He would put the same muzzle on religious institutions: churches, hospitals, and schools. They should continue doing what they’re doing to help the secular folk - God forbid they should stop - but they should stop talking about God while they do it. They might offend someone. They might get into an argument. It’s not ‘right’ to tie efforts to “relieve famine abroad” for example, to one’s conviction about God’s caring for the poor, or edict that we - who have so much - should SHARE.

When Mobile Oil gives to PBS you can be sure we hear all about how great Mobile Oil is; why should it be any different when Church X or Hospital Y give? And if they wish to give the credit to the God they profess to serve, is that not their prerogative? Why is it only the “religious” who are to be muzzled? Oil companies, business gurus, starlets and weight loss companies can say whatever they like. Free love and abortion-“rights” activists can talk all they like, but those who favor sexual monogamy with one’s spouse and believe a protectable life begins at conception must be silent if it has anything to do with their religious belief.

Oh: and we don’t need to talk any more about marriage for homosexuals: those that oppose it because it is ‘outside of God’s plan’ do so on religious grounds that they can’t translate into secular speak, so they need to go home and not talk about it there, either, because to do otherwise would be "uncivil".

Now there’s a way to prevent violent disagreements! Shut down one side.

The funny thing is that he doesn’t seem to think that this is in any way unreasonable. The even funnier thing is that at one point he uses a religious argument to make his point! Check this out:
If, as Jesus taught, to look at another lustfully is already to sin in one’s own heart, perhaps we can also do wrong in our hearts by harboring certain kinds of dispositions toward conversion of others, such as a tendency toward a kind of manipulative conversion that we would not like someone else to use on us.
(oh: that was in his argument against proselytizing and how rude that is. I mean, how horrible is it for a parent to hope that her child might "see the light" one day, and stop using drugs, sleeping around, and get a job and a life - and some meaning to live! Right. Mustn't have that. Mustn't give the impression that there's anything wrong with destructive promiscuity, eating disorders, drug addiction, lying and irresponsibility. Mustn't harbor the hope that maybe insight to a religious [oops! sorry!] faith might put them on another path. . . . But I digress. Back now to my "logical" argument)

Besides the above quote violating his own argument that he shouldn’t use religious argument in public, he mixes up his metaphors, confuses questions of sin with intent, and attempts to equate any unspoken intent with sin. I also noticed his own “manipulative [attempt] at conversion” by means of an indirect reference to the golden rule, which he must figure will indirectly help manipulate Christians to believe his message that they ought to keep their religious beliefs silent.

And why?

He doesn’t feel any corresponding need to keep his belief silent, now, does he?!

I find this absolutely amazing. I would not be one to advocate public preaching or haranguing. But I also would be one to take the free exercise of religion - and free exercise of speech - very seriously. For myself, as well as for others.

This is part of what I’m writing on today, on day minus 17: The silencing of the religious voice in the public square. Granted, use of religious reasoning is probably not going to be effective with those who are ‘losing their religion’ (as the song goes). But that’s no reason to gag the religious before the fact! They have the right - as does everyone else - to say what they feel, think, or believe, within narrowly drawn exceptions involving immanent incitings to riot, ‘fighting words’, and pornography.

On what basis would we think to treat the religious differently than the non-religious?

This just makes me angry.

But I uphold his right to say it.

Even though I think it’s STUPID!

Back now to my regularly scheduled activities: which, right now, is the attempt to write up a treatment of this nonsense in which my exasperation at the STUPIDITY of it doesn’t show. Hence, this rant.

I feel better now.

[how about a little REM - Losing My Religion - while we can still talk about it]

prophet scholar collar!

It's done. . . .

The scholar collar is done. These are not particularly effective pictures of the scholar's collar, perhaps - inspired by brooklyntweed, but it was as good as I could get - with time and light limitations. (namely: if it didn't get done this morning; it wasn't getting done!)

Oooh. . . . how very exciting.

I do like it; the yarn I chose (a fingering weight mercerized cotton) is perhaps a bit too floppy, but I don't like heavy stuff around my neck and I liked the cleanness of the texture. It looks good under a jacket or blazer, it's a bit 'rag-like', however, on its own.

And I just love those buttons! They're silly.

Here's a couple of different views of the scholar collar.

Length was 32 inches, with button holes placed at 25.5 inches. I draped the scarf around my neck and adjusted it and then marked button location based on that.

Width is 7 inches.

I think the rib and welt pattern really works nicely (and it's the same on both sides). It appears I might be branded heretical to say this. . . . but: I don't much care for garter stitch. Sorry! There seems to be a whole community out there that thinks it's just the rage. . . . The only thing I would like about it is that it doesn't require purling. And that's saying quite a bit. But then it seems all good things require regular 'backside' rows involving purling. . . . So there you have it.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

the felon feline in question

she looks like she's repentent. . . . maybe I'll forgive her.

minus 18

The cat . . . . is on the bathroom mat. Head to paws. Sleeping. Blending in, gray on gray. Feeling my eyes on her, she sits up and returns my gaze, sphinx-like. Her eyes start to shut again as I turn my face back to my MacBook.

All is mostly forgiven.

Both my husband and my mother seem to think that this means I can't have any liquids close to the computer anymore. No more coffee. No more pints of water. No finishing my dinner wine as I get back into who is this guy, Habermas, anyway?! I find this ridiculous. That's like saying I can't go outside anymore because a tree branch might fall on me and kill me. Or a truck run me over. Or a hoodlum hold me up and shoot me over my cellphone.

Actual headline in today's paper - front page, people:
"Man found guilty in cell phone killing"

They're killing cell phones?! What are we coming to. . . .

Eighteen days left. Gird myself up. Don't let go. Keep on going. All the lovely pith-isms and go-get-em's and you-can-do-it's. . . . No. Not enough to sustain me. But hopefully enough to keep me going. One more moment. Then another. And I do have that which sustains: the sense of calling, I guess, that this is an assignment I was given and having been given it, I will also be given the means by which to finish it. Yeah - it looks pretty cheesey on paper. It won't look good unless I walk it out in actual life. . . .

Still, the diminishing number is a good thing. It means the day of my deliverance is coming closer! One way, or another. Oh - yay!!!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

cat + water + laptop = %&*#(!!!!!

When the king woke me after 3 hours sleep, it was to gently tell me that he'd mopped the puddle of water off my laptop and didn't think it was too bad, but the papers on the dining room table were pretty wet. I'd shut the lid on my computer when I decided I needed a few hours sleep before I could finish the last chapter and send it off to Magda - who wanted it by end of work day [hers] today. When I shut down, I didn't think to move my water glass. I never move my water glass. I always have a glass of something next to me!

That blasted cat! I guess she decided to go walkabout on the dining room table. She never does that. . . .

The computer was dead. When I opened it, it had condensation inside. . . .

Phone calls; no tears [I thought about it - as I also considered feline violence - but what good would it do? Not to mention I was just too tired]; consults with the local geek; hair dryers; waiting; more blow drying; start work on something else; finally email Magda and tell her the stranger-than-fiction truth about the cat-about. . . . (at least it wasn't a dog that ate it!) sigh.

I think I fried the battery, but after blow-drying every 10 minutes and allowing it to dry out all day, it finally switched back on just now. I promptly emailed myself all the chapters I hadn't backed up, so at least I have it all in case it goes out again.

Why? Why me?! Why NOW!!!

The good news? Magda wrote to say she wasn't really free until Monday evening. . . . and she seems hopeful I'll pull this off. That was balm to my soul.

minus 19 - Johnny U!

It's after midnight, so officially into day minus-19. Oh joy.

And I am an idiot to have thought I could get this chapter done and sent off to Magda by Friday - which means sometime before noon U.S. time. . . . If I'm still coherent by then.

Don't get me started.

Back to the lesson of the ants. One sentence at a time. The good news is that there are over 20,000 words in the last chapter! The bad news is that much of it needs to be cut.

More good news: I'm getting a whole lot better at cutting stuff!

Bad news? I'm still pretty psycho about sticking my neck out in writing on philosophical overviews - and that's what largely remains. At some point I'm going to have to stop quoting everybody else and actually say something. sigh.

I'm a boring blob tonight. I actually knit and watched the new season CSI where Gil and Sarah come clean on the fact that they've been having a romantic relationship. Other than that - yawn - not one of the better episodes.

I found these way cool buttons yesterday - yesterday? OK, Wednesday. Whenever that was. They're big and off-square and remind me of Dr. Seuss. And I like 'em! They're going on the scholar's collar. I'll have to take a picture when it's all done.

Dinner tonight was Chinese. And I feel like a 5 year-old, carefully rehearsing the details of my life. . . . At least I think that's what 5 year olds do. I don't have regular access to any 5 year old - or any other child either, for that matter. Can you imagine?! No I can not. . . . But I have friends who tell me it's the best thing they ever did. Well - absent a miracle - it doesn't look like I'll ever be doing that. Altho I did read the other day that a woman in . . . . Brazil?. . . . gave birth to her daughter's child. So: her grandchild. This is creepy wierd. I don't know about all this. That's just gotta leave a mark. You know?

And I can't figure out the women who are giving birth at like 50 and 60 years old? What are they thinking?! Doesn't it seem just a little irresponsible to give birth to a child you might not be able to raise to adulthood? Money doesn't cover everything, you know. It almost seems like children are becoming more and more like pets. Whats-her-face Jolie is adopting another - or was that Madonna? - and women at the age of retirement are going to 3rd world countries for in vitro so they can have a kid to entertain their 'golden years'. And is it just me, but what is it with the new term "baby bump"? Man. That makes it sound like the latest fashion accessory.

Reeling it back in here, thought I'd post day 19 before I pass out. Who knows when I'll get another chance. A bit of a break is nice. And it was fun looking for a number 19, and then remembering Johnny Unitas. Colts. What a guy.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

a little music to start the day

A little Darko music. . . . I've never seen the movie (Johnnie oops Donnie Darko) that has this song on the soundtrack. This video is gorgeous - is is so cool to see the people from up above, forming into all sorts of things: a face, a house, a walking man, a sailboat on the ocean, a bird! And I love the music. . . . But then I've always loved melancholy.

minus 20 - the gray drear. . . .

I don't know how the atmosphere managed the fog this morning, we haven't had rain in weeks, it feels like. I would have though the earth and plants would have sucked any moisture out of the aire well before it could transform into fog.

But no.

This morning was misty magic. Shattered at 7:23 by the idiot across the way who started up his leaf blower.

I have no words to describe my opinion of that. . . . 'person'. . . .

Already today I've sorted out questions of printing and binding, coordinating with a variety of people in 2 different countries and arranging for a complex delivery sortie involving personal friends. FedEx in Ireland is NOT the FedEx we have come to "know and trust" here in the States. In Ireland "guaranteed overnight" means something entirely different than what most English speakers would imagine, namely something that would include delivery the next day, guaranteed.

No. In Ireland it means that it might be somewhere in Ireland by the next day, but where it might be would be anyone's guess, although they can track it for you if you like, to try and tell you exactly where it is, while it is busy not being where it was addressed to be. . . . "So sorry." The Irish postal service is worse. They take even longer and have no idea where the package is in the meantime, until it shows up. If it shows up.

So: I will not be using any regular mail delivery service. I have two options: get everything printed here and ship it over with friend A who heads back the 27th. Or it appears I can email the files to a dissertation copy service a few blocks from college and get them to print & bind (sight unseen - oh, shiver!) and get friend B to pick them up and turn them in.

It's nice to have options.

I found a motherlode of historical cites and background info yesterday, while I was out, avoiding the housekeepers. This was good, because the bald recitation that is the beginning of this last chapter was not making it on its own. I learned something as well. There's a big dispute going on as to whether or not America was founded as a quote-unquote Christian nation. I don't have to address that particular issue, but I was quite amazed to see the presuppositions in all of the State Constitutions - and the Federal one, as well - about the existence of God, and their perception of the privilege or right (or 'duty' in some instances it was phrased) to "worship" him. An early 'religious tolerance' act - in Maryland, 1649 - actually starts out by providing a death sentence to anyone who blasphemes, denies, or "speekes reproachfully" about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit! Other than that, though, every person ought to be free to worship as he best sees fit. . . . Right. "Tolerance."

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Well, I may have tolerance for a shift in the time/space continuum, but I don't know that chapter 5 will - or does - so I'd better continue wrestling it out of time and space, one little word at at time. And. . . . . away we go!