Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

don't blink. . . .


Yes, a salute. On video, no less! And yes, I see where the "MacDonald's" descriptive comes from.

yours truly,
prophet.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

the end


Tomorrow, I leave for an undisclosed European destination where I will don Academic Regalia and parade to solemn music, line up in a gorgeous old-building-setting, and eventually walk forward when my name is called. I will return to my seat bearing a document of some sort, which I hope is beribboned, with stamped insignias and flowing calligraphy, on parchment.

Instead, it will probably be a cardboard tube, with a laserjet-printed A4 sheet telling me that my certificate, "suitable for framing", will arrive by mail in 30 to 60 days. This is Ireland, after all. They are not known for speedy anything, let alone mail delivery.

I had not been looking forward to this journey until I received the following email from a fellow postgrad, who was a year ahead of me:
Did you book your gown? A. calls it the "McDonalds" gown. Very apt really. Do take lots of photos and send us one. We should start a gallery, last year I know for the first time a photo of the Seniors was taken for wall hanging, just like the Medics do traditionally. So hope to catch up, and so happy for you. Well and done and enjoy the pomp and ceremony (there is lots of that, but you might be familiar having worked in Law?), it's well earned and it is quite a spectacle.
So who knows? Perhaps you'll get to see a picture of the little-p 'prophet' in the McDonald's gown. . . . What do you think?

Anyway - I am suddenly excited to be going, and that's a gift.

Yesterday, the bluebird of happiness came calling. I was sans camera, and didn't want to miss bluebird time to go get it so there is no photo this time. He sat on the back of a chair out on the portico. Then he fluttered up against the window. Then he flew to a hole high in a snag tree I'd never noticed out back in the woods. Then he flew back and fluttered at the window closest to me. Back, then, to his home.

I know now where the bluebird lives.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

another late night. . . . writing

I'd forgotten how much I hate late night command performances in front of a blank word.doc screen with only the prospect of having nothing to say to those expecting to hear a presentation of your paper to goad you on.

I sit and jiggle my legs.

I get more tea.

I check email.

I wrestle three more sentences onto the screen.

Inevitably I remember Annie Lamott's Bird by Bird and her command to write a "shitty first draft" and then hope you don't get run over by a bus before you can get to it the next day and revise it before other people read it and think "what a crapola writer she was, after all!"

I write something here and wonder if I should look for a picture to ease the nakedness of the words.

I stretch my neck and back muscles - looking upwards - and notice that the chandelier has cobwebs in between the candelabra lights. The feather duster is 7 steps away tucked into the bookshelves. Maybe I could dust it real quick and then take a look outside to see if Jupiter and Venus are still visibly aligned. The cold air would revive me.

Crap.

The house alarm is on. Setting and unsetting it makes loud beeps which will wake up the king, who's asleep.

And I want to be asleep!

Okay. So push "PUBLISH POST" and return to pulling words out of hiding and push-pinning them onto paper. 22 hundred of them so far - a little more than half the amount that proved too much for the last academic conference I attended not too long ago. That was a real academic presentation, though. The thing tomorrow is supposed to just be an informal 'work-in-progress' discussion among colleagues. What's more, the head of department has already edited the blurb describing my work to cut out the more academic references. "Don't want to scare anybody off before they get there!"

Great.

For this, I'm still up at midnight, agonizing.

I'm considering forgoing the ubiquitous powerpoint presentation as a mute protest. Thinking is not about entertainment, it's about thinking.

"Physician, heal theyself?" Philosopher, think thyself! Stop looking for rest and entertainment.

Then, maybe I can get some sleep.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

6 umbrellas . . . .

Six umbrellas in one block. That’s got to be a record. Well at least the wind’s died down, even if the rain hasn’t. Stepping out of the shelter of the building on Nassau Street quickly disabused me of that notion. . . . The wind had merely changed directions momentarily. It was back in force.

I walked past another umbrella corpse, ribs splayed and broken, the fabric hanging limply off to the side like a popped balloon. By the next garbage can, two ruined umbrellas, Burberry plaid knock-offs. A red fold-up umbrella looked like it had wrecked trying to make a crash landing on top of the bin. It hung half in, half out of the trash. And skimming along the puddle that wrapped around the corner of Nassau and Kildare Streets was the perfect top of an umbrella, handle broken off. It looked for all the world like a giant polka dotted jellyfish. . . . I found myself thinking of jellyfish fondly – they don’t show up until the heat of summer has really warmed the water. Ahhhhh for the heat of summer. . . .

I’ve been away from Galway too long. And the west coast of Ireland. I’ve gotten soft from the easy living of not braving gale-force winds and sideways rain on a weekly – if not daily – basis. Clearly, Galwegians are made of sterner stuff. You won’t see wrecked umbrellas littering their streets. They know better than to even carry them. I own one – see picture – but only keep it because I like the roses on it. I certainly wouldn’t expect it to keep rain off me in this country.

What folly to open an umbrella in the teeth of a wind such as that! I feel foolishly fond of the Dubh’s* who’ve idealistically done so. . . . Even as I irritably help beat down the runaway umbrella that is threatening to take out the eyes of the rest of us huddled for shelter and waiting for the eternally non-appearing No. 7 bus. . . . The young woman’s laughter grates on my ears. What was she thinking?! No hat; no gloves; and a ridiculous piece of nylon and cheap aluminum she thinks to hold up between her and lashing wind, rain, and ice so fierce that I can barely stand up straight under the onslaught. A ridiculous contraption that, as it disintegrates, threatens bodily harm all around. Nice enough, though, for a nice soft rain. . . .

We stand at the bus stop not minding that we touch all around. For once, ‘personal space’ is on hold. I feel like a member of a herd of bison hunkered down against a blizzard. We tuck our chins into our coats and pull in close. I am lucky. I have the plexiglass wall of the bus shelter behind me. It is still holding.

It was the polka-dotted umbrella that put things into perspective for me. I wanted to pick it up and take it home with me. I love polka dots! But there was no handle. It would do me no good. I walked by wistfully. I’ll long remember the sight of it gaily skimming across the puddle. The crash-landed shredded red one, however, really showed the damage the elements can do to our meager shelter. To inappropriate shelter! And the damage inappropriate shelter can do to us. Sometimes you’re just going to get wet. . . . And sometimes, that’s a good thing. It forces you to head for real shelter.

I was coming home from the hospital. I’d braved the worst of the storm to get there. My friend Brian was admitted after complaining of double vision. Some days later, they found something in his lung. A ‘shadow’ they said. Then they said cancer. And then other ugly words like ‘chemo’ and non-operable and tumour.

“For double vision?!” I argued.

“I don’t know.” Brian said. “They don’t know! Imagine, the doctor comes in every morning and asks me how I am. I keep telling him he’s supposed to be telling me.”

I wasn’t terribly surprised when they found something in the brain. ‘Just a matter of time’, I’d thought. Not that I said anything. Brian’s double vision has persisted. He got out of the hospital for a couple hours this weekend and we watched a rugby match together at the Pub. “It’s not too bad if I close one eye.” he said. “But other than that, there’s entirely too many men on the field!” I’m to make him a jaunty patch. I’ve already made him a Fez-type tassel cap for when he loses his hair. . . . My own little bits of shelter, I guess.

Radiation is supposed to start today. With ongoing chemo, which started last week. I don’t know the prognosis. Irish doctors aren’t real keen – apparently – about talking turkey to their patients. Brian says he wants to know, but I’m not completely convinced of that, either. There seems to be a sense of ‘what I don’t know, won’t hurt me.’ Everyone just hopes for the best. A frail umbrella in the teeth of a storm. . . .

Francis Schaeffer in his book The God Who Is There talks about a “point of tension” between people’s belief systems and the reality they actually experience. He identifies this point in connection with those who have “non-Christian” presuppositions, but I think we can easily take it one step further, and talk instead about our own incomplete or erroneous worldview – whether Christian or non-Christian. . . . There is always a point where we can see that we are not living out what we say we believe. Or where we discover – by what we are living out – that what we say we believe and what we are actually thinking about God and about our world are not the same.

For example, I say I wish to trust God in everything, but how often am I busily coming up with my own plans, even as I’m praying to Him? By the time I reach “amen”, I have Plans A, B, and C all laid out. “Good show. Thanks God. Off we go.”

Have you ever noticed that God doesn’t normally require Plan B? Let alone Plan C. . . .

Right. It’s usually a dead give-away when you have ‘God’s answer’ by the time you’ve stopped speaking. Not always, mind you. He has been known to interrupt. But my actions often show that I trust myself to answer more than I expect God to. May He forgive me. . . .

And as an example involving a world-view that does not include the Creator-God, what good are the almost involuntary prayers in the worst of situations? “Can’t hurt – might help.” I’ve heard people say. Well, it demonstrates the point of tension.

“Every person has the pull of two consistencies,” Schaeffer says, “the pull towards the real world and the pull towards the logic of his system.” The point of tension is where the man ultimately sets up camp, short of the logical conclusion of his worldview, and – on the other side – short of his actual experience of the world and of himself. The more faithful he is living up to his own presuppositions, Schaeffer says, the further away he is from the ‘real world.’ And the nearer he is to the ‘real world’, the more unfaithful he will be, living up to his presuppositions.

Schaeffer talks of how most people put up a little shelter at the point they seek to camp out: “At the point of tension, the person is not in a place of consistency in his system, and the roof is built as a protection against the blows of the world, both internal and external.” It’s where we can see the inconsistency of what we supposedly believe, and how we actually live.

Ultimately, that roof needs to come off so that we can see the falseness of our supposed protection. . . . And it can’t go back up again. Another form of protection is needed. A fortress, instead of an umbrella!

Brian’s had his umbrella blown off its handle, that’s for sure. What had protected him – or at least diverted him – has been exposed as flimsy and worthless in the face of the storm he’s currently facing. Old age, sickness, and death certainly do have a way of making us ‘attend’ to the realities of life on earth. Suddenly, good manners don’t mean much. Nor does one’s popularity with the lads at the pub. Or with the ladies. Or the year and model of one’s car. . . . the number written in a bank statement. . . the name on a handbag or trousers. . . .

Nothing means much in the face of that ultimate question – that ultimate challenge. “Who are you – if/when you once no longer live on this earth?”

I don’t have any clever wind-up for this one. No marvelous magical polka-dotted umbrella. No immediate answer. . . .

Brian is learning about prayer. The hard way. They say there are no atheists in fox holes. I figure a bed in a cancer ward is no different. Perhaps even more grueling, mentally. No let-up.

The roof is off and the wind is blowing hard.
*********************************************
*people from Dublin – generally with a pretty heavy accent. Just as you will have figured out that Galwegians are those from Galway. . . . With their own heavy accent!

quotes are from pp. 152 & 158, Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL (30th Anniversary Edition) (1st Ed. 1968 L’Abri Fellowship) (2nd Ed. 1982 Francis A. Schaeffer).

still thinking

Now that the dissertation is done, this site has been going through an identity crisis.

I started writing here as an outlet during the long, lonely, grueling days of finishing my PhD. But that's over now.

Now what?

I know a lot of people who write about political matters, and for a while I thought I might be interested in that. But no. That's not it.

General chit-chat feels self-indulgent, not to mention the fact that I have a husband and friends who cheerfully take up much of my social time, so no, that's not it either.

What am I doing here?

The funny thing is that a lot of people visit here via searches for pictures. That was a surprise to me. Then again, maybe it makes sense, when I think that writing is about showing, about describing what is. Really taking a good look around you can result in some pretty vivid pictures. Funny. That's what I did for years, traveling as a musician and missionary of sorts. Every month I'd send dispatches, stories and pictures of life on the road, people I'd met, problems and hardships but also wonderful life and laughter and good times over good food, drink, and conversation.

I'm thinking that's what I'm heading back towards.

Meanwhile, I came across one of my old dispatches, which I think I'll post, just to try the idea on for size. No illustrations, though. I wonder if the words are grown up enough to stand on their own.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

almost made it

I almost made it an entire month without posts. . . . It's one month exactly today.

I found that I did not want an archive with no posts at all for the month of October, however, so here goes:

There is no overarching point or purpose here, unless you could call change - and the setting in of fall - a theme of sorts. That, and loss. Depression even. There's a change in the air, and even the beautifully brilliant colours can't hide the loss of summer and growing things, and the death that winter brings.

So, too, the brilliancy of the hope that is being bandied about can not hide the loss of so much of what I have valued in the United States of America. I was particularly struck by the thoughts of Patrick Dineen in this article. Surprisingly, it added an element of hopefulness to my outlook amidst all the gloom and doom. Not that Dineen sees much promise ahead. Au contraire, he predicts a season in the wilderness. Maybe several seasons.

What I found encouraging, though, was his sense that at least the Republican party appears to be thinking and re-thinking its position, viability and values. Not so, the side of liberalism. I was most taken with his image of a recent debate - or some such program - at Georgetown. For all the youthful enthusiasm of Obama's supporters, Dineen noted that he "was struck that it appeared to be an inversion of a McCain-Obama debate, with a youthful, thoughtful conservative and an old, hackneyed liberal."

Interesting.

Meanwhile, I've also cut back on a lot of my outside reading. I'm surprised at what I've kept up with, though. I'll read just about anything from Dineen, so long as he doesn't post 5 lengthy perambulations, which he is more than capable of doing on any given day. Ditto Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project (occasional fluff, but frequent gems. . . . scan quickly). Fellow postgrad Lee Anne, in the final throes of her doctoral quest and now new pregnancy, whenever she has the time or energy to post. . . . Unclutterer, because I am still hopelessly cluttered and overwhelmed. . . . but trying to dig out, now that we've moved and are into our "permanent home."

You know, I don't know that I've ever been in a Permanent Home. There's a lot of pressure on me now, to set it up right, because this is Permanent. Before, I could always get away with "This'll do for now.

There's still a lot of this'll-have-to-do-for-now-ing going on, as I continue unpacking boxes and throwing books onto shelves, way too many kitchen-ey things into cabinets, and try to figure out what happened to any concept of linen closets to house things like towels, napkins, sheets, and tablecloths. . . .

Meanwhile, I'm getting on with the fellowship (the time is flying), I leave for Belgium in a few days to give a paper (I'll see Magda! Yay!), and I have another paper to prepare for a conference in January. San Diego! That'll be nice. We're still considering traveling to Ireland for an official graduation the middle of December, depending on what air fare does in the meantime. Not to mention what the Euro/Dollar exchange rate does! Our big fellowship conference is in March - or is it April? - and I understand that, if I want to do this same sort of thing next year, now is the time to be applying for it.

Bad thought. Because that just dropped me into the abyss of recognizing that our elected officials spend most of their time raising money and campaigning, rather than actually DOING anything. . . . And now I might have to be doing a very similar thing, and not working right now, so that I can hope to have work next year. This is pretty silly.

Okay! Let's think of something pretty instead.

Thinking. . . .

Thinking. . . .

Thinking. . . .

Hmmm. Maybe it's time for another cup of coffee. Then start in on the various unpleasant phone calls on my list of things to do today. Oh, and tidy the house, at least. The king's mother is coming over for the first time today. This is the same woman who, when the king mentioned one day that he had to get home to get started on the laundry, asked him "Oh honey. . . .is everything ok with your marriage?"

Yah.

Think of something pretty. . . . .

thinking. . . .

thinking. . . .

thinking. . . .

*********************************
I would be less than honest if I didn't tell you that it's very easy for me to think of something pretty these days. . . . All I have to do is look out the window. Ah! And there goes something else very pretty: the deep bells of the grandfather clock of my childhood. It's older than I am, has been in an attic somewhere for years now, and my parents delivered it to our house yesterday. It's so good to see it - and hear it - again.

I feel better.

Monday, September 22, 2008

one sorry puppy. . . .

The eyes say it all.

mea culpa. . . .

Saturday, September 20, 2008

regrets - one sentence

All the good I expect out of Luther's gelding evaporates in the face of the pain I see cut into him as he still lies - boneless - on his big-boy bed twenty-four hours after the event.

The clown edwardian collar is the final insult.

Friday, September 19, 2008

back again, briefly

Life's been busy.

New work.

New house.

New name.

Trying to settle into all of that.

I remember reading once that moving, changing jobs, and beginning/ending a marriage rank right up there with among the most stressful things in life. All at once? Killer.

It helps that I love my work and am really excited about the new house. It helps that the weather is getting cooler. It helps that the dog is getting older, and is giving glimpses of the the lovely-behaviored boy he promises to be - when he gets a few more months [years?] under his collar. It helps that I've figured out that my name is [formally] Dr. Maiden Name plus Married Name or - if they can't handle both names - then Dr. Maiden Name. NOT Dr. Married Name. They still call me Dr. Not-Quite-Married Name. They can't even get that right. It's close, mind you, but not right.

sigh.

Anyway, looking forward to moving into our 'castle'.Wondering what I'd have to do to get the gardens to look like this.I may be shutting this site down. I think it might be time to stop speaking personally - but anonymously. It's something that bothered me from the first, but it was a good outlet during a tough time for me. We'll see how my thoughts go. I'm thinking about it.

Meanwhile - this weekend is all about packing up my studio and getting ready for the movers to arrive to start packing us up on Monday. Tuesday, we should spend at my folks house - they're out of town, and our bed will be on the moving truck - and Wednesday we should move in and spend our first night at our very own house.

whew. It's been a long, long, long, LONG road. The end of a long ending and the start of a new beginning.

I can hardly wait.

Friday, September 12, 2008

lessons from Luther - self-control

Words; no pictures. Sorry. No time to find a shot to post!

I continue to be amazed at how much I have learned about growing up from my dealings with my dog. Just this morning I put him in his crate because he was completely outside of himself: leaping, barking, chewing, demanding.

How many times have I found myself effectively incarcerated - unable to move either forward or backward - because of my own inability [or unwillingness] to control myself? It's embarrassing to recognize myself in the behavior of a 6 month old dog. But hey! I'll take the lessons wherever and whenever I can find them.

I finally let him out when he settled down, and he's now happily chewing on his rawhide bone on his big-boy bed.

And if I settle down, maybe I'll get let out, too. . . .

Monday, September 8, 2008

magic t-shirt folding kit

oh yeah. I have GOT to make me one of these!

Complete with a little music chip that will play that song.

Friday, September 5, 2008

clarity

I have always loved this time of day, when the setting sun throws much of the world into shadow relief, and the loss of distracting detail shows up in stark, black, definite lines against the jewel of the sky.

This, from Elizabeth Perry's woolgathering site, where she has posted a sketch a day for several years now. . . .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

self; means; ends. . . .




"Not being able to govern events, I govern myself."





Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)

Interesting thought, that.

The one thing we have a hope of controlling is the one thing we so often neglect, in the vain hope of changing another or of securing a "favorable" outcome through protest, manipulation, shouting, wheedling, argumentation, or sulking. . . .

Monday, August 25, 2008

talking too much - one sentence


Why is it that the person who most needs to realize - "Hey! I talk too much!" - is the last person to recognize that in themselves, even in the course of conversations about other people who are talking too much?

['scuse me as I creep off to consider how this is true in my own life. . . .]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

changing seasons - one sentence


No matter how hard I try to keep watch, at the beginning and end of summer I am always surprised to find that - without my having noticed exactly when - the leaves are finally out and that - at the end of summer - the bug sounds have imperceptibly changed from locusts to crickets.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

dog days and heat waves




The good news: the temperature has dropped; I have more energy.


The bad news: the temperature has dropped; Luther has many times more energy.


I've stopped counting the bruises on my legs and arms. At least our walk this morning will be pleasant as I won't be fainting from the heat and disgusting from the combination of exercise and hot humidity.

Friday, August 15, 2008

lessons from contractors - one sentence

"You will pay twice as much for any fixture different than the one I [haven't yet] spec'd- because that's an upgrade - and you will receive half as much as credit for the value of the unspecified item that was allegedly specified as the actual value you could ever hope to purchase it for."


Resistance is futile.

sigh.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Luther likes lavender


Go figure! I was doing this year's lavender harvest and spent almost as much time trying to fend Luther off the lavender as I did stripping the lavender off the stalks.

I finally handed him a couple of spent stalks, and he trotted over to his bed, layed down, and spent a good long time happily chowing down on them.

That's one wierd dog.

Who'd have thought I'd be fighting him for aromatic herbs?!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

how wude

"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."


Eric Hoffer , philosopher and author
(1902-1983)




Remembering this idea of Hoffer's ought to help me deal not only with the rude "customer service" person, but also with myself, when I find I've drifted into rude waters of impotence.

Monday, August 11, 2008

harmony - one sentence


One day, I'm going to pick what I'd really like instead of what my husband wants and - while he's busy repeating that I should really suit myself because he's so easy to get along with - see how easy he really is to get along with when faced with something like this, say, in the living room.

new music

OK - so maybe not so new, it appears this chick has been around for a while, I've just not heard of her. Anyway, it's been a while since I've been excited about a new song - and this is a really cool song.

If you haven't heard her yet, it's Brandi Carlile, and the song is "The Story". The above is a live version. For the pretty music video version [for which embedding was disabled - so I can't post it here], click here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

a bad business




"A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business."




Henry Ford, industrialist (1863-1947)

Interesting, that. It seems that this is the goal of almost all companies, these days. . . . Talk about "something for nothing"!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

questions, questions

Almost all of my one sentences start out as questions:
"Hmmm. . . . why is it that. . . . ?"
. . . that I've edited into trial statements.

Monday, August 4, 2008

hamstrings and pickaxes


Surprisingly, swinging a pickaxe left me - not with sore arms, but - with tight and sore hamstrings.

what were they thinking?


Man.

Parents forget 3-year-old at Airport.

That'll mess you up.

I wonder if there's a law against that?

[I think there should be a law against traveling with 18 suitcases. That's not "traveling" - that's moving.]

random blatherings


The stuff that has been on my mind hardly bears notice. It is not particularly interesting; certainly not compelling; practically boring.

But it's exhausting to me, the one carrying it all around.

Boxes to be packed; number, size, and location of towel racks to determine (and I found a great sale of bathroom fixtures of this sort at Pottery Barn - if you can imagine - and did you know that toilet paper holders ROUTINELY go for $30 and $40 and up?!!); the dog to pee, poop, walk, brush, feed & water; food shopping and prep; colour, type and price of tile in the new bath (ok - $10 a square foot, but we have HOW MANY square feet?!!!); family and friends to try and keep some point of contact with. . . . . laundry; graduation plans; start work in 3 weeks; call the post office before 10 a.m. so you can speak to the mail "delivery person" and negotiate where the mail box will go; arrange for the rental house chimney to be cleaned even though we've never used it; call the builder: "When will you show me carpet samples? I will need more than 10 minutes to decide what I want. No - we've been through this before. You show me what's "in your price" - then I'll decide if I need to go pick something else. . . ."

I'm tired again. . . . time for a nap. . . .

Even Luther is sleeping. Might be a good time to be able to catch a shower.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

one more line


Dogs get a whole lot more excited about seeing another dog than people do about seeing other people



P.S. photo above courtesy of Deuce, the dog, [in front, with his back to us] over at Black Dog Diary, whose human has been educating me about the faux pas of 'hotlinking'. . . . My apologies for uneducated transgressions! I'm seriously impressed with dogs' abilities to get even their humans to interact with one another. All in all? A very good thing.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

today's one sentence

years from now I probably won't even notice the toilet tissue holders, towel racks or vanity lights I finally ordered today, having lost sleep last night worrying about it all: how many? what kind? what finish? what rubbish. . . .

Friday, August 1, 2008

heat and energy


The higher the temperature goes, the less energy left in me, but also the less left to Luther, puppius indomitabilis.

Perhaps not so bad an exchange.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

contractors - one line

What is it about contractors that makes them so confident that it's the plans that are all wrong, and not the fact that they didn't follow the plans?

[Having built the stove hood/fan according to his own devices - in blissful disregard of the plans provided - our builder now wants me to revise the custom kitchen to fit the stove hood. 'Nuff said.]

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

please, Mr. Toucan


Mir over at Woulda Coulda Shoulda recently wrote about razors with citrus-scented handles and I thought to myself "Well, citrus isn't SO bad. . . ."

I'm getting concerned now, though. I think that a bunch of tropical fruit parasites have taken over the women's hair-removal industry. Maybe a Toucan. What is it with the scents they're using in women's shaving gels these days?!

These were my choices yesterday, at the Giant:

Raspberry
Tropical Splash
Melon Splash
Wild Berry
Alluring Advocado [Wha. . .?]
Raspberry Rain
Melon Burst
Flirty Mango
Baby Soft
Soothing Lavender

I finally settled for what seemed the least offensive, an aloe/vitamin E formula for "sensitive skin". (I've tried the lavender and it is far from "soothing". "Cloying" is a better descriptive. And I do not enjoy smelling like a baby.)

Who is it that figured out that all women shaving their legs want to smell like a tropical fruit punch or fruit melee?!

Gimme a little citrus any day. Lemon verbena is always nice. Or mint, maybe. Something a bit more herbal - maybe even a little floral, if you promise not to go overboard on me.

Just cut it out with all the tropical passion fruits!

Friday, July 25, 2008

MDs and DVMs

Yep, I've been seeing both kinds of doctors - or, rather, the males in the family have been - which accounts for my silence for a bit.

Luther had some sort of gastro-event, and is on antibiotics and a "bland diet" [read: I make him brown rice and poached chicken breast].

The king might have diverticulitis.

Which was a bit of a relief to him, I think, because he thought it was either appendicitis or kidney stones. He's on antibiotics and a "bland diet - no seeds" [read: I'm still cookin' and a little sad that I might have to throw out my sesame seeds, celery seeds, caraway, cumin, mustard and fennel seeds! I like to use seeds. . . . and - oh no! - does Tellicherry peppercorns count as a seed?! Please, God, no! I can not cook without fresh, ground, pepper].

In my spare time, I make major decisions like what tile to put in the master bath [that costs how much a square foot?!], decide on the color of the stain for the book shelves, the wood floor, the timbering. . . . I'm still trying to decide on what light to put over the sink in the guest bath. . . . All those "vanity" lights are so depressingly uniform and kitshey looking

How do you spell kitschey. . . .? Kitsch/kitsh/what?

And the heat won't break.

Well, yesterday I committed to "doing the walk" - I'll be returning to Europe to have my doctorate conferred on me. . . . Officially. December.

Meanwhile, we're supposedly moving in just a couple weeks.

I gotta go pack.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

in which it seems all our cars have to be replaced at once


Granted, my old convertible from my lawyer "golden days" has seen better days, and we had made the decision to replace it - eventually - with a nice sedan of some sort rather than spend the money needed to restore it. An '87 B-mer convertible is a great little classic car - but hey! - it's an '87 with hundreds of thousands of miles on it.

The king's jeep, on the other hand, we thought we'd be able to keep for a good long time. It's the bigger jeep - very comfy and very handsome - and Luther rides comfortably, so that was going to be my vehicle.

You will note the past tense.

When the 1987 raggedy-ass B-mer rag-top without air conditioning becomes the "reliable" car of the enterprise, the king steps in. The jeep is in for its last fix and then it's history. He had it a good 7 years, but enough is apparently enough.

To replace it? Probably another jeep. But a smaller 6 cylinder, this time. Or maybe a smaller Land Rover? But I've heard horror stories of the cost of repairs. I just think they look cool. Then again, I think the little Scion x-box guys are the cutest things going! Apparently, though, they neither get great gas mileage nor does their 4-cylinder engine give adequate power.

Bummer.

Well - we're on a mission. Input welcomed. Vital: cargo room for the beast.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

turn around's fair play


ok . . . . so if Luther persists in seeing me as a chewable treat - how's this for a new way of seeing him?

Granted, it's not of Luther. . . . but this just makes me smile. Thanks to Cleaner Plate Club, who pointed out this very fun art exhibit with food. It's the work of Saxton Freymann, and a slide show of some of his work can be found here.

I love one "Play with your Food" book of his, which features an orange as a crying baby on the cover. Then there's Dog Food and Fast Food.

Very whimsical.

Now. If only I can get Luther to play with his food, instead of seeing me as potential chow. . . .

Friday, July 11, 2008

another useful word

callipygian

adjective: Having well-shaped buttocks
pronounced as: (kal-uh-PIJ-ee-uhn)
from the Greek calli- (beautiful) + pyge (buttocks).

USAGE example:
"And it hasn't been lost on modern film directors that a nice set of tights can showcase the callipygian assets of a well-formed leading man."


Heroes in Hosiery; South China Morning Post (Hong Kong); Jul 20, 2006.

Thank you Anu Garg at A.Word.A.Day!


I think I will have the opportunity to use this word. . . .

Thursday, July 10, 2008

ethics and music

On an interview at Measure for Measure, Michael McDonald [of Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers fame]is quoted as follows:
MICHAEL: I was never an ambitious piano player or singer. If I ever rolled up my sleeves and put my energy into anything, however good I may ever be at it, I hope it would be songwriting. In my family — an Irish Catholic family — the two best things you could become was a priest or a songwriter.

I always admired these guys like Don Henley and Neil Young who could take the events that are going on around them and so poetically put them forth and make us all think about the world around us — events and politics. To lasso your own view of the political climate into something poetic and clever and musical. But for me I don’t really think it was the level where I write the best.

If I was going to write a song like that, the first line would go:

When did Halliburton’s advancement of its own enterprise
become the sole focus of the foreign policy of the United States?


You know, you’d lose people. The song would be over by then.
So. How do you say something - in art - about the role private corporations and contract military organizations play in the conduct - and conflict - of our nation?

I've written before about the apparent dearth of protest songs. It would appear to be an area of growth opportunity.

Meanwhile - man I wish my hair would turn that colour of white!

levity, anyone? (Gen. Salami & Veggie Tales)


Hossein Salami is a name that makes me laugh. I don't know why, but General Salami just strikes me as funny.

Something out of Veggie Tales.

Unfortunately, the more I hear about this guy - a top guy in Iran's "Republican Guard" - the more I think he's on a mission to live down his name. Two missile "tests" in two days - to show Iran's 'toughness and resolve', apparently - and a personal background in so-called martyr-recruitment: the finding and training of people willing to blow themselves up so that America will be afraid, very afraid.

I wonder how he gets past what I imagine would be the potential recruit's primary objection, namely that the recruit himself will be dead, very dead?

Anyway, Salami's not written about too much that I've found with a cursory search, but this lady wrote about him, past missile tests (2006), and Condaleeza Rice's comment about Iran's "Salami tactics" - which I now understand has nothing at all to do with General Salami, the name notwithstanding.

OK. Time for a verse of the "Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" - Salami's intentions apparently to the contrary.

sullen musings

How is it, that in an economy suffering under a housing bust, our latest proposed property tax assessment went UP 30%?

Oh, and the "homestead" exemption (which would limit the new assessment to no more than 10%, I think it is) doesn't apply to us, because we don't actually live there yet - BECAUSE THE STUPID COUNTY GOVERNMENT TOOK SO LONG TO GIVE US A BUILDING PERMIT for which we paid handsomely. Oh - and did I mention the IMPACT TAX - you know, for all schools and stuff my non-existent children won't be attending? Even if we did live there now - which we don't. But when we DO live there, they will tax us even MORE because there'll be a HOUSE THERE - don'tcha know. With people living in it.

So they get a triple bonus - first an extra increase of property tax because we don't live there, "impact" tax even though we don't live there, and then the house tax add-on when we do live there.

There are times when I really hate our "government" - at least the part of it that takes so much money out of our pockets and then - like magic! - POOF!!! it's gone.

Where to? Wellllll. . . . . . that's another story.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

another day - on which my father turns 65

no, he doesn't read this blog, not that I know of, anyway. Neither he, nor my biological father, who is older than him.

It was a strange shift from moving past feeling my family to be fractured to seeing my family as multiplied. I don't recommend the process, but I appreciated the feeling of blessing I ended up in.

For today, I plan a slow one. I've been beat up the last several days - emotionally and, by the dog, physically - and it's going to storm out, I think, so I will stay inside [as soon as the housekeepers leave] and do some ironing. And if the dog won't leave me alone, I will crate his ass. You can tell he's already been at me by my use of "language". I have at least three new bruises cooking and one tooth gash. . . . No, he's not vicious - he's just huge and awkward and a whole lot stronger than he knows. He gets 'outside himself' and can't settle himself down and just goes dashing, just as fast and furious as he can

God help anything in his path.

Generally, me.

sigh.

Meanwhile, the house is progressing and we're still on track for a mid August move. They've painted inside (a review of every shade of white in the world led to the choice of Moonrise. . . .) and they're applying the stucco outside. The colour decision there was between the "safe" (but boring) beige, or a yellow that can only be called apricot. Which might end up looking garish-carnival.

The really scarey bit is that you have to apply the colour a whole lot deeper and darker than what you hope to end up with, in order to get the colour you hope for. . . . So - ideally - this colour will dry back a bit, and leave us with a warm tuscan yellow.

Truth told? I don't mind this colour even as it is! Which is rather amazing. I've never been much for yellow. But it really will mellow back.

Well, Luther has settled down a bit, and we should be ready to head inside so the housekeepers can reform the mess we manage to make in just minutes here, outside. Shredded cardboard, bark off branches, water puddles from his water bowl, and plant detritus - not to mention the proliferation of toys.

I swore I'd never be like that with either children or pets: tolerating piles of toys and other junk. It just goes to show how little we (I, anyway!) are in control. The king remarked wistfully this morning that he wanted his life back. . . .

So do I.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

music clearly necessary

The problem will be deciding on just what music would do the trick.

sigh.

Yesterday doesn't bear commenting on. You can't imagine the day. One thing after another. And then yet one more. Each time I thought we might be done and ready for "happy" hour. No happy arrived.

No music comes to mind. Not really. I was hoping for some kind of rock pick-up. Ah well, the little ditty from Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" might be cheering. I think I've posted this before.

thought: values for sale


You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.

Norman Douglas, novelist (1868-1952)

What national "ideals" are we pursuing these days, I wonder? Freedom of travel, back to the garden of eden, search for the fountain of youth - yes - but also the triumph of myself over all [i.e., self as tyrant], endless pleasure, endless wealth, endless power, because I deserve a break today, I'm worth it, I'm just going to do it, because I'm set to be all that I can be.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

the value of silence

I have an elderly relative visiting.

Like the king's mother, once she gets the opportunity to talk, she doesn't stop.

I'm at my wits end. I have the habit, you see, of actually listening to people when they talk. But I can't take that many words in, all day - every day - for days on end. Opinionated snippets of conclusions reached years earlier; the favored story selections about times gone by; unsolicited statements of what I [or others she knows] should do, wear, think, or read.

Yesterday, I finally took Luther upstairs on the pretext of having to get him quieted down before the fireworks started. I left a porchful of people and said goodnight. They did not take the hint - but stayed on for another hour.

This morning, the king took himself off to golf, leaving me here with Luther - quiet again - and the aforesaid talkative relative. I armed myself with some knitting. It's almost as good as a martini at taking that 'edge' off. . . . I find I can hear the same story - the 3rd time now in a 24 hour span - and just smile and nod.

Smile and nod.

At noon, I may allow myself a martini.

Just kidding! [I'll certainly wait until 1500 - grin - maybe. Maybe not.] Let's see. . . . it's almost 11. . . . .

Friday, July 4, 2008

. . . and to the Republic, for which it stands


It was our own moral failure and not any accident of chance, that while preserving the appearance of the Republic we lost its reality.
Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator, writer (106-43 BCE)

sigh. . . . on this 4th of July, as we think about the birth of our Nation.

How do we celebrate? With furniture and car sales, and Home Depot specials. With fireworks, far removed from any memory of exploding shells and shrapnel. With parades and firetrucks - again, no memory of the ancient nation birth fires that undoubtedly were the first occasion for the practice.

We do wave the flag. . . . where we haven't waived it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

deep Google thoughts


Google and Deep Thoughts?

I know Jack Handey [yes, he's a real, live, person] and I have a little bit of an idea just how much time, effort, and thought goes into one of his little "Deep Thoughts", so popular from the old Saturday Night Live days. And no - sorry - I'm not going to give you all the little links to go check it out. If you're interested, at some point I'm sure you'll 'google' it. . . .

Even now, I'm listening to a crow cawing outside and giggling over today's "Deep Thought" on Jack's website:
"The crow seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw."
(these 'thoughts' sometimes creep up on you - that one took me just a moment. . . . grin!)

Today, I came across a really interesting article that asks the question Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr.

Read the article. See if - like Carr; like ME, embarrassed as I am to admit it - you aren't also experiencing a growing difficulty reading longer articles. Carr's is only 4000 words, but I noticed - because I was thinking about it - how often I started casting about looking at something else, considering scanning to the end, clicking another link, or checking email real quick in between. The article is well-written - that's not the problem - and there's plenty of interesting thoughts, facts, and other information that is presented, all the way to very end. Perhaps particularly towards the very end, as Carr investigates whether Google is perhaps teaching us to think differently.

Although he doesn't mention the book, Carr would find a similar thesis in Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, which tracks a similar shortening of attention span. It was first published in 1985, and related to the shift from the written word (or even the heard word in the sense of the radio or lecture) to the television. Carr's observations take Postman's earlier work the necessary step further, with a more chilling prognosis.

What particularly hit me is an observable lack of sustained thought, let alone sustained discussion and discourse. And deep? Fuggetaboutit. . . .

One couple I particularly admire has afternoon "study halls" at their house. Friends are welcome to come and sit and read or write - and ask the occasional question or read the quick, amusing, quote - from, say 3 to 6, and then they mix a cocktail and sit and talk together about what they studied or thought about, or wrote all afternoon. They are a rarity and they are not often joined by others.

That, however, is how I aspire to live.

Unfortunately, checking email and googling how to make whatever I want to make for dinner tonight so often gets in the way.

As does a 4-month old puppy. . . .

Maybe I should google what Cesar Milan would say about that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

many moons ago. . .

Many moons ago - like over twenty years' worth - I came across a woman singer named Marti Jones. As I recall, I was more interested in her musician husband, Don Dixon, whose voice I liked. I have no recollection of any of Dixon's songs anymore, but I still have a cassette of Marti's album "Match Game" - which doesn't seem to be in release anymore.

I popped it into my car cassette player to see if the sun hadn't baked the songs out of it and heard Marti's cover of David Bowie's song Soul Love [from the Ziggy Stardust/Spiders from Mars album]. Amazing! Mega years in the glove compartment of my little-used car and it still plays.

I haven't been able to get the song out of my mind, since! Count yourselves lucky I can't find an online recording of it. You, too, could be hearing the start of the guitar and the rather strange lyrics:
Stone love, she kneels before the grave
a brave son who gave his life to save the slogan
that hovers 'tween the headstone and her eyes
for they penetrate her grieving.

New love, a boy and girl are talking
new words, that only they can share in
new words, a love so strong it tears their hearts
to sleep, through the fleeting hours of morning.

Love is careless in its choosing, sweeping over cross a baby
love descends on those defenseless
Idiot love will spark the fusion
Inspirations have I none, just to touch the flaming dove
All I have is my love of love - and love is not loving.

Soul love, the priest that tastes the word and
told of love, and how my God on high is
all love, though reaching up my loneliness evolves
by the blindness that surrounds him.

Love is careless in its choosing, sweeping over cross a baby
love descends on those defenseless
Idiot love will spark the fusion
Inspirations have I none, just to touch the flaming dove
All I have is my love of love - and love is not loving.

I wonder what it all means?

Marti Jones does a great job with it. Better than Bowie. I think. . . .
Heresy. [but all I can find on You-Tube is the Bowie version. Sorry!]

Saturday, June 28, 2008

paradigm shift

What if I approached mixing a cocktail just like I approach making a sauce - let's say - or a dish of pasta?

What if I mixed up the ingredients myself, rather than buying a green - or red - or chartreuse-coloured bottle of something?

I think this guy Mark Bittman is on to something. Read about it in the NY Times, here.


Maybe I can mix me a mean margarita without opening one of these bottles. (Which I never want to open because I never end up using it all which means I have to throw it out in a month or so and then buy another bottle for the next time I might want one of these cocktails, but which I won't want to open because I never end up using it all which means. . . . you get the idea.)

It's nice to think I could try, anyway. Like Bittman says: "It's empowering."

All-righty then!

But maybe I'll wait until after noon. . . .

[do I have limes?]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

my hero. . . .


I really like this lady! Go read what Kate DiCamillo has to say about writing.
"God bless you, baby."






photo is of Kate - linked from her website, which I trust is ok. . . . .

time flights

The days have been flying past me. We're moving - supposedly - in something like 6 weeks.

I'm in a serious state of denial.

It all feels like make-believe that we might finally - finally! - be in our own home. The home we can expect to stay in, indefinitely. No more moves.

No more moves?

Ha! No more moves.

At least I don't think so!

I don't know how that will feel. I went to 12 different schools before I graduated high school. I was born overseas. I've never counted up all the states I've been to, but it's been a lot. (The 'missing' ones tend to be in the upper northwest part. . . . The 'missing' countries tend to be the more 'eastern' ones. . . .) Could it really be time for me to settle down?

It does feel like it.

I'm looking forward to planning and planting my garden. To going through all the boxes I've stored in my parents' attic and basement over the years, and finally either using all that 'good stuff', or else heaving it. To working in a kitchen I designed for me to work in. (If only I could find a decent countertop that didn't cost a fortune!) To maybe really getting a piano, and not just thinking: "One day. . . . ."

Other developments: Luther is now about twice the size he was when he arrived, and house-trained. He still is not to be trusted on his own, however. Squirrels have started a nest only 20 feet up in the tree right in front of our rented-house-porch, and the front yard has been transformed into a sort of flying squirrel circus tent. Almost all the plants I bought at the beginning of the planting season never made it into pots and are beginning to die. I have managed to control myself and not start taking plants to our new house - where the final grading could be expected to kill them all, or the workers to trample them to death, no matter where I put them. . . . I figured out that the chatty little gray birds we call "Ardy Doody" birds (they sound like Star Wars' R2D2) are actually Cat Birds - but I don't think they sound like cats atall. I'm reading children's books. Kate DiCamillo's Tale of Despereaux was very entertaining - and beautifully written. Imagine: a book for 9 - 12 year olds that includes the word "perfidy"! Interesting. And, I cut my hair.

I have to start packing soon. But for today, it's vacuum the sofa we're getting rid of, lunch with my mother and a 'churchlady' friend - hope she doesn't start lecturing me on why I should go to church - and resume the quest to find a reasonably-priced kitchen countertop and bathroom tile. Preferably in a natural substance.

Oh: and to stay cool. They're calling for 95 degrees. . . . . I guess I'll have to turn the AC on again. Bummer!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

thought: the heart of crying

Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it.


Albert Richard Smith, author and entertainer (1816-1860)

Friday, June 13, 2008

the "ethics" of lying

In Oceanside, CA, the school district has attempted to scare their students straight by lying to them, telling them that several classmates were killed in an alcohol-related car accident.

I don't know who came up with this - ah - idea, which was embraced by the school board, and carried out by the highway patrol, if you can imagine that. The plan was to get the emotional reaction - shock, grief, loss, etc. - and then clear it all up in an assembly later in the day.

Here's what guidance counselor Lori Tauber was quoted as saying: ""They were traumatized, but we wanted them to be traumatized. That's how they get the message."

Well, they got an emotional reaction, thanks to the lie. Perhaps you can imagine the reaction thereafter, however, when the students found out that it was a hoax?

No one likes to be manipulated. Even in the pursuit of a "greater good."

I think the "adults" mixed up their ends and means, and they weren't even forced to do so. There's an ethical dilemma when the S.S. asks whether you're helping to hide Jews - and you struggle with whether or not it's ok to lie in that instance. That's the Kantian extreme of not lying - no matter WHAT - which so many people reject. This wasn't even close. This is lying for expediency, for effect, to "make a point." This is lying as an acceptable tool in argumentation - so long as it "works".

How will the school officials react when the students lie - and cheat on their next exam, say - for expediency? For effect? To make a point? Surely a good grade - even a passing grade - is worth a little lie. . . in the eyes of a high school student who has just learned that all the school officials, the PTA, and even the State police will lie if the stakes are supposedly high enough. I imagine that this graduating class could also come up with any number of other "good ends" to which lying would ease the path, now that they've seen how this works.

Way to go.

Class dismissed.

seeing lessons



Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.


Louis L'Amour, novelist (1908-1988)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

leaving on a jet plane

We haven't done any music in a while. Here's the original recording of Peter, Paul and Mary's Leaving on a Jet Plane. It's a bit of a cheesey slideshow that goes with it, but the only live version I could find of them doing it (that John Denver wasn't involved in) was one where they are all well into their middle years and Mary seems incapable of just singing the melody line.

She has to "interpret" it.

It's pretty dreadful.

Now this is a song that became a cliche. I got to the point where I couldn't bear to listen to it. Sort of like "Feelings", or "Tie a Yellow Ribbon".

Listening to the words again though, after so many years, I realize that it's come to mean something else, something we need to pay attention to. If you don't believe me, listen to Justin Timberlake's reggae version. He sings the same words, but they have a very different connotation. He's bored with the whole travel and departure thing - it's no big deal except that it momentarily separates him from the one that he thinks he now wants to be with. At the end of the song, he sings that his lover should "dream about the days to come when I won't have to leave alone" - and somehow the implication is that they'll travel together - whereas the implication in Peter, Paul and Mary's version is that the traveling will stop.

They will settle down - "I'll wear your wedding ring."

This brings us right back to what I wrote about a week or two ago in marriage or liberty, looking at the problems that can develop when we try and base so-called rights on freedom, without also taking into account the obligations that go along with it.

Onora O'Neill also speaks about this.

Check out Deneen's Fear of Not Flying. Meanwhile, here are the lyrics to the chorus - written in 1967 by John Denver (news to me):

So kiss me and smile for me,
tell me that you'll wait for me,
hold me like you'll never let me go.

I'm leaving on a jet plane.
I don't know when I'll be back again.
Oh babe, I hate to go.

no time

It's amazing how much trouble a young sight hound can get into, left on his own for just 5 minutes.

We're not even talking potty mishaps here. We're talking shredded pillows, ingested concrete and crashed wine glasses which, a mere minute before, had been filled with a rather nice cabernet.

Luther likes wine.

He likes beer, too.

He hasn't been tested yet with some of our favorite foods, as we've been trying to keep him under the impression that we all eat the same thing here - just at different times - for as long as possible.

I think he suspects a rat.

What all this means is that I haven't had much time to do much of anything that takes much time. Thoughts have to come in snippets. Visits are punctuated by LUTHER - Leave. It. Pens are stolen, as is anything that has come into contact with my body: clothing, shoes, paper, pillows. The one thing he has not attacked is The Book - whatever book I happen to be reading. I think he knows there are limits.That's him - asleep for the moment. If I get up? My coffee cup is history. I don't leave him with my computer for an instant. I know better.

It's been fun, but it's been all-consuming. Life as I knew it has changed. I expect it won't stay like this forever, but it will never be completely the same. Still, I think that's good.

For one thing, I'm meeting a whole lot more people! I finally met the couple that lives at the end of the cul de sac, who never say much of anything to anyone. We've lived here three years. . . . We're also seeing more of our neighbors than we ever have before. Funny how being out with a dog turns into such a social occasion.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Who knew?

After a lifetime of using Reynolds wrap - and wrestling with the roll that inevitably falls out of the box as you're pulling out a length, I got a very interesting email from my mother, who had also spent a life time wresting with the roll and the box and etc.It turns out that there's a little tab on the ends of the box that you can push in, to prevent just such a happening. Check it out.
Ditto on the plastic wrap. They even have instructions: PRESS TAB TO HOLD ROLL.

Right.
NOT so on the wax paper, but this wax paper box is SO OLD (I never use the stuff) that maybe it was PRE-tab days. . . . And just when were those, pray tell? I had no idea they had these little tab-ey thingees. . . . Like I said: Who knew?

Well, now we do.

It's so embarrassing not to see what's right in front of you. I wonder what else I've been missing?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

bad news. . . good news?


Everywhere I look, I see articles about the "destruction" of the American dream, "destruction" of wealth, "evaporation" of wealth, and now articles also about raging tidewaters washing houses away, describing the destruction of large second homes on lakes. "That house had everything," the crying owner was reported as saying. "Now it's all gone."

Besides the "destruction" of wealth, people are beginning to think twice before hopping on a plane, prices being what they are. We won't be able to travel like we used to.

I wonder if this is maybe not such bad news as we may have thought. Maybe we'll start living where we really live, and not endlessly driving around in circles, looking for life.

I remember my official best friend, in the days when we still did things together, had a tendency to want to hit every hot spot, looking for the best scene in town. She spent more time looking than she ever did enjoying. After two or three places, being encouraged to down yet another drink so we could go check out yet another club - "So-and-so said he'd be there, for sure. . . ." I'd finally tell her to go on without me.

In many ways, she's still looking.

Meanwhile, an old friend of mine finds himself getting pushed out of Manhattan. His Brooklyn Heights apartment is going condo and his Manhattan office rental overhead is tripling. He's worried, but I think he's seeing the possibility of reducing his overhead by living where he really wants to live (way out on Long Island) and maybe even working out there. With less overhead, it might just work. For years, he's felt imprisoned by his monthly overhead, which then demanded a certain income. Now, with an overhead that continues to increase well beyond any possible income stream he can generate, he's stepping off the merry-go-round.

I think that's good news. No - wait a minute - great news!

I think we're all about to get off the merry-go-round, one way or another. The sky's the limit, though. I really see this as good news. We couldn't have kept going the way we were going. We were killing ourselves.

Now what, I wonder?

Maybe we'll live where we work and eat what grows in the same area and hang out with our neighbors. Maybe. Is it really necessary to have mangetout* from South Africa in the local Giant foodstore? Probably not. Especially when fresh, sweet, corn is coming into season!

_______________________________________
*otherwise known as snow peas. . . .

Sunday, June 8, 2008

failure and imagination

J.K. Rowling gave the commencement speech at Harvard this year. (text available here if you scroll down past the NPR article about how not everyone thought she was "A-List" enough for Harvard) .

Her topic? Failure and imagination.
On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.


I think she made some good points. Certainly, she is a good and interesting writer/communicator! I think she left the most important thing out, though. She assumed the existence of overarching and archetypical values that ultimately will direct our paths, if only we can get out of the way.

Thus, she extolls the benefits of failure in her own life, because it "cleared the way" for her to focus on what was really important. She recommends imagination, because we might thereby imagine a better life, and - having otherwise 'cleared the way' to focus on what's most important - we might achieve it.

All that is well and good. But the question of good and evil - a question she grapples with certainly through her Harry Potter character - remains. How do we reconcile conflicting notions of what's most important? What if what I imagine as a better life involves my neighbor moving out of town or at least shutting up his incessantly yapping lap dogs and banning the inexorable dribbling of his 8-year old's basketball?

More to come. . . .

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

mental edit


Politeness is the art of choosing among your thoughts.


Madame de Stael, writer (1766-1817)

Friday, May 30, 2008

marriage or liberty

Is it fuzzy thinking, or is there really no substantive difference between homosexual "marriage" and polygamous "marriage" when it comes to what our society will allow as marriage?

In a recent post - Til Death - Georgetown Professor Patrick Deneen points out the questionable foundation of the recent California Supreme Court's In re Marriage Cases decision which presumes to establish a "right" to homosexual marriage. The basis for their decision is individual liberty and personal autonomy.
. . . the constitutionally based right to marry . . . must be understood to encompass the core set of basic substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage that are so integral to an individual's liberty and personal autonomy that they may not be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature or by the electorate . . . . These core substantive rights include, most fundamentally, the opportunity of an individual to establish - the the person with whom the individual has chosen to share his or her life - an officially recognized and protected family . . . [opinion at p. 6]


Deneen aptly notes, however, that marriage is really more based on the voluntary abrogation of individual liberty and autonomy, in self-sacrifice.*

When we base a "right" of marriage on liberty - and a so-called liberty to choose whatever I like - on what basis do we prohibit any choice, so long as it is freely made? Why not polygamy? Why not child marriage? Yes, child marriage brings up the additional element of competency to choose but with the increasing panoply of rights and freedoms being given children, is it not just a matter of time before they - too - will be seen as at liberty to choose as they will?

Having chosen in "liberty", it is not a great distance to unchoose in "liberty."

Maybe the bigger question is the proper basis for marriage. Is it based in liberty? Or is based on a voluntary servitude - a sacrifice - for the good of the other and the community?

Having been persuaded to discuss the question of homosexual marriage in terms of liberty, I perceive we have greater "liberties" looming. Just waiting in the wings. . . .

Maybe somewhere in Texas, for example.
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*He also makes a really interesting point about a Hegelian recognition as legitimacy instead of individual justification, but I will leave that as an aside. . . . Another aside I'd like to point out is the California Court's apparent assumption that marriage - and "right" to marry - is constitutionally based.

OK then.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

old words

Word-a-day has featured archaic words this week. For example:

sweven (SWEV-uhn) noun
Dream; vision.

[From Old English swefn (sleep, dream, vision).]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)


"[The queen] went in to the Sultan and assured him that their daughter had suffered during all her wedding-night from swevens and nightmare."
The Arabian Nights (translated by Richard Francis Burton); 1885.

Sweven. What a great word!

Others were scrannel, point-device, and garboil. "Thin, or unmelodious" - "completely/perfectly" - and "confusion/turmoil", respectively.

I like words. Scrannel. Now that's a word you can sink your teeth into.
I'm going to shake you by your scrannel little neck!
Although that's rather violent as a first thought. . . . Sorry. Let me try again.
The worst thing about running a fever was having to endure the scrannel broth my grandmother was convinced was called for as its cure.
Better? Maybe not.
The first tones of the young mockingbird are apt to be a bit scrannel, but they improve rapidly.

Thank God.
OK - so maybe it's a tough-ish word to start the day with. 'Sweven' is much better!
Away with your swevens of grandeur! They are naught but garboil. The dulcet tones of the mockingbird high over the forest meadow are heaven, point-device.
I'm sure an ancient would be just as puzzled by my use of his words as I was, just seeing them for the first time. But perhaps I'll improve my use of them, with practice.

Our vocabulary has become ever more scrannel. And yet? Our thoughts ever more a garboil. . . . Point-device plain.

Friday, May 23, 2008

in which we find a picture and other musings

It's a bird! It's a plane!! It's a . . . crocodile!!?

He looks like a crocodile. He likes his new bed, that's for sure!

OK - here is our new creature, looking a bit more regal. His name is Luther.

I'm in for it, I can tell. He's slowly becoming more comfortable with his surroundings, which has translated into being a whole lot more demanding of constant attention. He is no longer content to lie in his crate for an hour or so, in quiet safety, for a snooze. Now, he's quite happy to snooze wherever he finds himself, in the middle of selective mayhem. Just a quick shut-eye, to renew his energies prior to renewed attach on the peony bushes, the concrete bench, the metal bracket that's supposed to hold the porch together, or a convenient foot or hand.

He's been seen making off with shoes.

He likes peanut butter.

The vet has told me that it is my job to make sure that his teething toys are "more attractive" than anything else he might find. Like dried magnolia leaves, mulch, brick, concrete, human flesh, clothing, rugs, dish towels, furniture, etc.

I don't know how to compete!

I do have hopes for the peanut butter. . . .

At present, he is blissfully asleep in his crate with his puppy-Kong chew toy on top of his nose. I shamelessly bribed him back into the crate by smearing peanut butter on the toy. I'd take a picture of him, but I don't want to wake him. (waaaaaahhhh! more peanut butter!!!!!!)

The funny thing is that I feel ridiculously like the worst new mother stereotypes! All fluttery and obsessed and focusing on bowel and potty events, food, teething, etc. . . . but I also have to worry about leash training and whether or not he'll run off. Let's face it, infants don't find the one hole in the fence large enough to wriggle through. Nor do you have to watch them every second for fear that if you turn your back for just a moment, a turd will appear on the rug.

Which is exactly what happened this morning, even though Luther had JUST been outside, to very good effect ["good business, Luther, gooooood business!"] and I figured we were safe for at least a half hour. He was practicing going up and down stairs, though, and I figure that the effort must have surprised another turd out of him, as when I checked [any sudden silence is alarming], there he was at the top of the stairs, looking at the turd as if it had fallen from the sky.

It is the first 'accident' he's had. . . . so I can't complain too much. He really has been splendid about it. I take him out every couple of hours to "do the business" - and he does! I figured we wouldn't get off scott-free, but I was rather hoping. . . .

It's hard to concentrate on much else. Laundry has piled up, as has clutter. I keep putting things up and 'out of his way', so there are stacks of papers, my purse, the mail - you name it - all kind of lumped in one pile in the middle of every table, as I try and use the other hand to take him off of whatever else he's already gotten into.

But I do get some time to think about other things, like how is it that we now look at political acceptances or rejections of "endorsements" by various people or groups? What's the deal with that?! If I'm a candidate for public office, and someone "endorses" me, do I have to take the action to accept or reject it? And do I have to look into their background, beliefs and opinions - including all past public statements - and decide accordingly? Think a minute about what that looks like.

No. I don't want that person - or any of his friends - to vote for me, because he's a narrow-minded bigot. [or said something "offensive" 10 years ago, or otherwise has the "wrong" set of beliefs. . .]


Right. That makes sense!

Now, while I may not be able to control the thoughts and opinions of someone who wants to "endorse" me for political office, I do have some "control" over the the thoughts and opinions of my spiritual leader (whether or not he "endorses" me for political office), insofar as I have chosen the spiritual leader I attend to. Pretty much gone are the days of the parish or diocese system, where you were expected to attend your local church, no matter who was in the pulpit. The control is still not the power to control another's thoughts, of course, it's the power to control the influence that a person who has those thoughts has over you.

Yet, I expect to hear comparisons between Obama's Rev. Wright and McCain's Rev's Hagee and Parsley, from Texas and Ohio, respectively. Hagee has apparently said that he can see in Hitler, the hand of God moving to bring the Jews back to Israel. (wow. with "friends" like that. . . . ) Parsley has apparently sounded off about Islam, opining that it is anti-Christ and inherently violent. Still, McCain attends neither of those two churches. Never has.

On the other hand, Wright. . . . ah, but we know about Obama's 20 years attending Rev. Wright's weekly vision of a black liberation theology in which America and whites are apparently cast as the power-mongering masters, will they, nil they. Somebody's got to play the bad guy, eh?

Anyway. . . . I see a difference. But I'll just bet we get treated to a whole lot of "There's NO difference!" sermons. Then maybe we can rant a little about intolerance. . . .

But I've got to go. Luther is pacing, and that either means that he's got to go 'do the business' or that he's bored - or both. My job: figure out which. My hope? To try and not be cast as the bad guy in the human-canine coexistence negotiations.