Superstition and the Internet
Two unrelated thoughts:
First, because of the internet, I'm exposed to a number of both highly intelligent people and nitwits whom I would never encounter in my limited social world.
Second, I read the Tarot for myself and occasionally for others. Personally, I always receive excellent advice--usually along the lines of "Stop wasting time and deal with the obvious."
Because I'm relatively quick-witted and very glib I can impress my peers and snow the suckers. I try to avoid suckers--I don't want the responsibility.
Your favorite type of ethnic cuisine
I'm an equal-opportunity gourmand. I despise going out to eat and paying Perfectly Good Money for something that I cook well myself.
With ethnic cooking, there is always something new under the sun.
Back in the 40's I remember going to a playmate's house and seeing the calendar on the kitchen wall marked "steak", "pork chops", "chicken", "steak", "pork chops", "chicken".....
This was all my playmate's mother could cook--and my playmate said defensively that this was all there was to cook.
Her divorced husband was a doctor, so the problem wasn't money--just poverty of the imagination.
Visitng old friends
I taught there for two years. The school was way, way out in the country and while I had a car (and the payment book for the car) I'm night blind and winter evening are ideal for reading.
Further, the Victorian editions were wonderful to read--beautiful bindings, good sized type and linen quality paper.
Have you ever read any books by Angela Thirkell? Her novels start in "Barsetshire" in the '30's and continue through the '50's.
I've found them wonderful reads & rereads--there is something soothing about the English countryside.
Anthony Trollope--wonderful stories. Did you know he worked for the British Post Office and did his novel writing every morning for two hours before breakfast?
When I taught at a private school, the library owed the Complete Works of A. Trollope. They were shelved twelve feet from the ground and the library ladder had collapsed long ago.
I worked my way through, volume by volume, dragooning student after student to climb the stacks for me.
Aaaack, my son's going into the air force!
Somewhere in this weary world there is a well thumbed, bootleg document entitled "How To Stomp, Mutiliate, Perforate and Sever the Umbilical Cord". Kids seem to be able to access this little gem from the age of 13 on.
At least when my younger son decided to drop out of Columbia and join the Army--the only service that would take him at age 17--we weren't at war.
At the end of four years, I had a son with two years of college courses, advanced computer training, Arctic survival skills and a motorcycle.
I had a few more gray hairs and a graduate degree in Holding My Tongue and Not Interfering.
Some Little Red Hens are lucky enough to hatch nice fluffy chicks and other Little Red Hens are doomed to wander round and round the local (or the international) duck pond, trying to master enough quacking to communicate.
"Damn Fool" is not communication--just quacking.
As I learned when researching the Air Force for a stepson, they have very expensive equipment and new recruits are not encouraged to play with the very expensive equipment, in or out of combat zones.
How are you at baking chocolate chip cookies? CARE packages are an excellent form of basic quacking.
Remember, you can always dye your gray hair.
Hold your dominion.
Doctors question use of dead or dying patients for training
i'm speaking as an unacceptable organ donor (because of cancer and chemotherapy) whose remains have been demoted from "use organs and tissues" to "use whatever possible in medical research".
Personally, I would accept the usefulness of my just-dead or nearly dead body as a teaching tool. I've taught all my life and the thought of being able to continue to do so is appealing to me. I think my cadaver might benefit more people as a teaching tool than as an anatomy lesson.
My living will and the living wills of my loved ones indicate our willingness to be used for training and research when dead. If there is no discomfort involved, being used while dying would not be objectionable to me.
These are my choices, not a universal precedent. Other people are entitled to make their own decisions. Individual rights should continue until the beloved is decently buried.
If enough people volunteer as inert teachers, there would be no need to infringe on the beliefs of those who feel differently.
If I knew that Blue Shield of PA was being charged for procedures done to my body for the sole purpose of medical education, I'd be haunting the hospital corridors in the administrative section for a long, long time--and I would make a particularly powerful avenging spirit.
Skipping a grade pros and cons
Both of my sons skipped grades (as did their mother and grandmother).
In England, children start in Infant School (a Kindergarten through Second Grade set up) the term they will turn five. I was a parent volunteer so my younger son, Douglas had already been attending half days. After Easter, he started full time.
When we moved back to the States in January, I requested that he be placed in Second Grade. The principal was willing to give Douglas a try, but was worried about the effect on his brother, who was a year and a half older, dyslexic and also in Second Grade. The boys were placed in different classrooms.
Every Monday was Second Grade Show&Tell. A neighbor popped in to thank me. Douglas's Topic of Choice was "My Dog is in heat and she is too young to know she would not be a good mother but she smells so beautiful that all the male...." Neighbor was pleased that her Second Grade son was now asking about the birds and the bees.
Then I was summoned to the school. My older son for Show&Tell had brought in a jar of earthworms and started explaining, "The earthworm is a hermaphrodite which means that after mating both earthworms are pregnant....."
Douglas stayed in Second Grade. Danny was jumped up to third.
Remember, a bored child is a very unhappy child...
Scrabble in all its odd glory
Mr. Fatsis is a monomaniac. I see nothing wrong with monomania--megalomania is quite another kettle of fish.
I'm strictly a kitchen table player and I prefer opponents who will mourn the fact that a graceful and artistic contribution may be low scoring.
I'm passionately fond of words and the notion of memorizing lists of high scoring words and valuable letter combinations seems daft to me. To my mind list memorization is more like numerology than intellectual frolicing.
"Each to his own taste," said my grandmother as she kissed the cow.
If necessary to survive the evening, I'll play cutthroat Scrabble although I don't really enjoy blocking an opponent's access to triple word scores.
In my house, "IQ" is an acceptable word (as opposed to an illegal abbreviation) but I always honor home field rules.
Needing some advice
Remember when you thought being All Grown Up meant that you wouldn't have any problems.
Do you consider yourself a Take Charge kind of guy? Is this one of the things that your wife objects to?
Of course I have no definite information, but I'd guess that she's back under a roof with you because her mother kept verbalizing opinions.
Give her room--and in light of the "just friends" give her a private bedroom with a door. Respect that privacy.
If she really wanted to leave you, she'd be gone--but if she really wanted to stay she wouldn't be saying "just friends". She doesn't know what she wants.
Meanwhile, try to be charming and irresistable without crowding. Give Madison all the attention that you can. She must be a bit jangled by all of this moving.
If you find your temper growing short, leave the house temporarily rather than starting another battle.
If, after a trial period, you find you can't handle the "just friends", say so kindly and discuss making other arrangements.
My step-grandson was cast in the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show. The January performances overlapped with some sort of spinoff for "101 Dalmations".
Radio City had come up with 101 happy, healthy dalmations who had to be walked every day for at least an hour to meet the SPCA Performing Animals Code--and to render them managable for their stage appearances.
Even walking four dalmations at a time--which not all the dog walkers could manage--dalmation exercise was a Major Project.
The dogs had a dressing room two floors down in the basement and the canny--and fit--dog walkers used to jog them up two flights of steps to street level.
Believe me, 101 dalmations is a great number.
Pack a comfort box--a survival kit. The coffee pot--or the tea kettle--or a bottle of rum, ho! ho! Cups. Toilet paper. Notebook and paper. Address book. Takeout menus.
Think: What will you want to be able to find immediately.
Mark the box with stars and colored tape. Nothing is more frustrating than to know you have all those goodies in a safe place and not being able to find the goodies.
Good luck, Joanne. Hold your dominion.
Mommies marching off to war
Motherhood and the military are both career choices--although motherhood may be more unplanned than a military career.
Because of the current war there is a lot of hogwash being spouted that women (sacred vessels and fragile flowers) should not be put in harm's way. Of course, protected women may not be promoted or have a chance to learn valuable (and high-paying) skills.
Mothers are a sub category of military women. Personally, if I had small children, I would not select any career that involved travel and danger--but I'm a well educated white woman who had lots of choices.
I do not think that the U.S. Military establishment should protect women "for their own good". Women are capable of making choices--and making back-up child care arrangements and contributing to national defense in all way, combat included.
The three military women in the news at the moment all chose the military as a career that would open doors for them--and they had precious few other choices for higher education or wider worlds.
Who wants to be "protected" into a dead end?
Is the death of a woman in combat a greater loss than the death of a man?
Not a smoker anymore!
I quit smoking 8 years ago (and I smoked 3 1/2 packs a day) mainly because I couldn't stand belonging peer group of such stupid people.
I gave myself permission to spend the money I would have spent on cigarettes on little treats and treasures for myself: paperback books, out of season fruit, long-distance phone calls.
My budget works by the month and I made sure to spend my dissipation money early. I have my faults, but I never spend money twice.
Good luck to you both. Hold your dominions.
If your mind were a room, what would it be like?
I have a comfortable corner with a reading light and a window, magnificent bookcases and a powerful telescope, but the most prominent feature of my well-furnished mind is an eroding doorway between my present and my past.
The bricks in the door jamb are cracking and shedding. The lintel seems to be a wooden beam covered with plaster--and the plaster has definitely seen better days.
Did I mention my collection of music boxes? Every morning I check to see what song (or poem) of my past is going to assail my ears and provide punctuation for the day. Yesterday the Saints Were Marching, today I'm afflicted with the thought that Love & Marriage go together like a Horse & Carriage.
All of the boxes seem to have to run down--and until they are finished the tunes tintabulate.
Think "doorway", not "door". I've never been able to shut the past away from the present--nor would I want to except for some of those damn music boxes that play on and on and on.....
Of course shutting the future out is easy--cowardly, but easy.
By the by, these days horses in the carriage trade wear a diaper arrangement--a sort of leather bag that hangs medium low behind the tail.
My theory on relationships
A Piece of Hard-Won Wisdom--
No single person can totally satisify another person's needs. I love my husband--but he's not a reader. I talk about books with other people. He's a sports-watcher. I'm not. He talks about sports with other people.
Another Piece of Hard Won Wisdom:
No one person can be completely responsible for making another person happy--except possibly a mother and a newborn. Believe me, as soon as the kid starts independent motion his world widens: Mother AND the cat's tail AND the building blocks. Even before the independent motion, Daddy gets in the act--or should.
A Lover may be able to take his Beloved out on the town for a good time --but this lover can't replace her guy friends any more than you can replace her female friends or her family or....
My guess is that Lover is attracted to a bubbly, self-confident, outgoing woman--but he wants to be the only man in her universe.
Remember Robert Browning and "My Last Duchess"? The Duke complained that his Duchess smiled at everyone--and he objected. He stopped her smiling at the world. Then, she died....and he started looking for another desirable, collectable wife.
Some women are delighted to make a man their whole existence--although there are fewer such women than there were fifty years ago.
I don't think that many men have ever made a woman their whole existence.
A time and place for reading: What's yours?
Like most of you, I read the newspapers on the kitchen table. My chair in the living room is flanked with a stack of books--both library books and indulgent paperbacks. Magazines are in the bathroom and in the basket of my stationary bicycle.
I always have a re-readable paperback in my tote bag (just in case I have to head out the door without time for a judicious selection.
As a bulwark and balance to the computer, I have a small bookcase filled with books to read and books to reread.
When I last replaced my respectable purse, I attracted the suspicious attention of a vigilant sales clerk. Obviously she did not feel that the most important aspect of a stylish piece of leather was whether or not a thick paperback would fit inside.
For most books, I use six bookmarks: pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and white. I'm a naturally contemplative (slothful) woman and the different colored book marks command me to get up every chapter (or every fifty pages, whichever comes first) and DO SOMETHING constructive.
After all, the inactivity and restricted space of economy class airline seats have been implicated in strokes. I can sit in one chair in my living room and read for hours.
The A2k virtual weight loss club
I had a Christian Science cousin who used to quote Mary Baker Eddy (a mistress of postive thinking), "God has given me dominion over the things of this earth and I intend to hold my dominion."
I have a weakness for dramatic rhetoric--ecumenical rhetoric. After all, the devil may quote scripture for her own purposes.
What are children afraid of?
When I was eleven--my sister was ten and my brother, eight--my parents left us to babysit ourselves while they had an evening of bridge and conversation.
My mother gave me Briam Stoker's [/B]Dracula to read. I had an early bath and climbed into bed with the nice, new book.
My sister went to bed. My brother went to bed. The wolves howled in the Transavanian mountains. The dog jumped down from my bed and went off to sleep with my sister.
I started feeling a certain crucial curiosity as to whether vampires could come through screens.
My childhood was a secure time and my terror was more a matter of heightened awareness than shivering, bleating panic.
Twenty years later, I prepared for a night out and handed my eleven year old son a copy of Briam Stoker's Dracula.....
In those days children were children and probably less exposed to adult worries. Radio doesn't have the gripping, immediate informational impact of television.
Further, these days children are taken very seriously. I wonder how the questions were phrased. Was there a list of possible fears with the instruction to check any that applied? Did courteous children come up with fears to please the interviewer? Did children assume somehow that fears were "normal" and come up with fears in order to be "normal"?
Was any distinction made as to degree of the intensity of fear? Of the duration of fear? Were these fears constant emotions--or just now and then according to the stresses of a particular day?
The survey itself raises many questions.
Where is your home?
I was born in Johnstown, PA (yes, the flood) and left at 15 for my freshman year at college. My parents moved west while I was in graduate school. My aunts and uncles are dead. My cousins have moved elsewhere. Johnstown is no longer "home".
In graduate school I met and married a nomad with a fine distain for authority. We moved 14 times in 12 years shuttling around five different states, London and Cornwall. Then he decided that the problem was a place or his job--that I was the reason he was not contented with his life.
Since the divorce I've move three more times and when I'm widowed, I'll probably make another major move to New England to spare my son and daughter-in-law the problems of long distance caretaking.
Geographically, I'm rootless, but I'm very fond of rereading favorite books. Beloved sub universes can seem like "home".
Heigh ho, come to the fair!
After years and years without a fair, this year I've managed two: A very simple 4-H get together and the more elaborate--but still small--West End Fair.
I adore fairs. Cotton candy no longer appeals--but elephant ears are still delicious. Going with a female friend rather than a man child eliminates the ritual of admiring mechanical farm equipment. I've reached an Old Biddy Age where the carnies running the gyp joints on the midway feel free to heckle me and I can heckle right back.
Where else could you see a weary 4-H kid sleeping with his head pillowed on a blue ribbon pig?
I noticed in my 25 years absence that freak shows have vanished and rock climbing towers have appeared. The prizes for tossing hoops or balls or darts aren't quite as tacky as I remember....
Does anyone else remember the kupie dolls on a stick adorned with pink and purple feathers and dipped in glitter?
Gas-filled balloons don't seem to be the draw that they used to be--and there are far fewer freebies than there were in my childhood.
Does anyone else remember the bent-nail tavern puzzles?
Fairs are marvelous.
MisWanting: Do you think you know what makes you happy?
I think the techniques for pursuing happiness may change with age. I'm in my 60's, closer to wisdom than to folly, and find more pleasure in eliminating irritants and adjusting my perspective than in purchasing happiness tools.
(Of course, I'm eagerly awaiting my September paperback shipment from Amazon, but circumstances alter cases.)
Once upon a time there was a peasant whom we will call Ms. P, Perhaps she was Irish, perhaps Jewish, perhaps a woman of the Southern mountains. In any case she was a simple woman with a good man and wonderful children and a house with a roof that kept out the rain and kept in the warmth of the fire.
Still, this house was small.
So Ms. P. fussed and fretted and her nerves were all a-twang with wanting.
After spending time in misery, Ms. P. went to the priest/rabbi/minister/Wiccan adept for advice.
Ah, said the Generic Wise One. "Go home and move the cow inside."
And she did.
Week after week she complained and every time she asked the Generic Wise One for advice, another beast or two were brought in from outside and given shelter under the rooftree. There was a pair of sheep and a trio of pigs and a flock of active chickens......
Finally, at her wit's end, Ms. P cried, "Enough! I've had enough of wise advice!"
The cow and the sheep and the pigs and the chickens went back to the byre and the cote and the sty and the coop. Ms. P. gave a great sigh of relief and set about cleaning her spacious house.
Only 15 years ago I noticed that while I complained bitterly about nasty, rainy weather, I didn't devote nearly as much time to relishing brisk, bright days with sunshine.
I've also accumulated some useful tag phrases:
This, too, shall pass.
Least said, soonest mended.
'Tis an ill wind that blows no good.
There is nothing, good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Every cloud has a silver lining (although I'm never sure and certain about the differences between silver linings and sour grapes.)
When all else fails, I can pick up a good book and escape.
Who helps out more, brothers or sisters?
I had two sons and six stepsons. Rather than turn into a Resentful Slavey, I set up a revolving job chart for household chores. By the time the kids graduated to independent living, they could cook, clean, do minor sewing jobs, iron, grocery shop....
Of course, their father/stepfather set a good example.
My daughters-in-law think these domesticated men make excellent , thoughtful husbands.
Pack rats of the world unite!
My birthday rose bouquet from my son and daughter-in-law finally withered. I consigned the roses to the compost tumbler, and thriftily coiled the ribbon to reuse someday.
I grew up in a house with an attic and a cellar and a mother who hoarded all manner of bits and pieces that might come in handy someday.
For example, for several years she saved the pressed purple mats that used to come in betwen layers of oranges.
I directed a production of Giraudoux's "The Madwoman of Chaillot". The pressed purple mats, stapled on the fronts of platforms, streaked with a little gray and sprinkled with a little glitter made an elegant Parisian basement set.
The metal handles from Chinese restaurant takeout containers have a multitude of uses.
Do you hoard oddiments? Empty boxes? Empty metal canisters? Bits of ribbon? Old upholstery samples? Useful nuts and bolts?
If so, do you use them? If not, why not?
Since I have no cellar; the attic can only be reached by ladder; and the garage/workshop belongs to Mr. Noddy, I've had to limit my treasures because my space for storing is limited.
My top desk drawer has both useful and potentially useful stuff. I have a cupboard for saving boxes--but it is a very small cupboard. One of the kitchen cabinets--down low, inconvenient--is devoted to containers that once pertained to food or drink. My motto: I Recycle.
Books....some shelves boast a front layer and a back layer....books are hard to winnow.
Peter Pan eh?
I read Peter Pan when I was eight years old and the two scenes tht caused me great moral confusion don't seem to bother other people.
Early on in the book Barrie throws in a mawkish aside describing Mrs. Darling going through metaphorical bureaus which represent her children's minds, tucking the "nice" thoughts on top and slipping the not-so-nice underneath.
I felt that this was snooping and Good Mothers Shouldn't Snoop. Further, why tuck the bad thoughts underneath instead of getting rid of them?
Then Captain Hook gains access to Peter's medicine because one of the lost boys has started to grow and has resorted to some sort of padding or whittling away of his hollow tree entrance. Peter was against the Lost Boys growing older. My feelings on this point are pretty well my adult feelings about all points of Michael Jackson.
Of course the enforced timelessness of Never Never Land is one of the themes of the book.
To be fair, I also fell in love with the directions to Never Never Land. "Second star on the right and then straight on till morning." They made profound sense to an eight year old and they still do more than 50 years later.
Barrie, like most Victorian Children's Authors ( and before the Victorian Era there were precious few books written specifically for children) wrote with one eye on the adults who would buy the book or read the book aloud. Archness is not a particularly attractive aspect of an author.
Left handed compliments
Years ago I taught in an all-girls prep school. One of my duties of resident faculty was presiding over a table of eight--the girls rotated tables every week.
One evening the conversational topic was "If you could live at any time in history, when would it be...."
I was asked my opinion and replied that before a time of antibiotics, I'd probably have died young. Further I was nearsighted enough to trip over my own feet and be a cripple, a drain on the clan.
An outspoken Junior proclaimed, "Oh, no, Miss J. You'd be a great white witch and everyone would be scared to death to abandon you."
I treasure that remark
When my younger son was about three he announced with a great sigh, "I wish I were a volcano."
Naturally, I asked him why.
"Because then I could interrupt whenever I wanted to."
Small but significant pleasures
When I turned 60 I made a Binding Oath to remember everything that I complained about: weather, stupid e mails, rude people, etc.--and then just plain glory in the opposite.
Pollyanna and I are marching through the third millennium.
Last weekend I detested the just-above-zero temperatures on the thermomenter. Today I enjoyed ice-melting (with chemical reinforcement temperatures in the high teens.
Businesses that have gone the way of buggy whip mfgs
My grandfather was a skilled harness maker. After the Model T arrived he became a cobbler and shoe repairman which he regarded as a step down.
Skittering across a frozen parking lot, wind chill in the minus figures, I remarked to my son, "This will blow the cobwebs out of your mind." He's certainly used to my lackadasical housekeeping, but somehow in 40 years he'd never known that his mind could also be prone to cobwebs.
I've been wondering how much the advent of refrigeration contributed to the decline of the Knights of the Road who would chop wood and do other chores in exchange for a meal. Once leftovers could be safely stored and served to the family the next day...
My mother had a no-good cousin several times removed who used to make his drinking money during the summer going door to door with a grater and offering to grate horseradish for a few cents a root.
As a child in the 40's I remember the Knife Man who used to go door to door with a grindstone to sharpen both knives and scissors.
Do elementary school children still clean erasers? I was never picked to clean erasers. I'm still a bit wistful about that.
Important Afterthought about "normal":
One regret that many people have is that they wasted much time in their youth striving to be "normal".
Think about it: Normal is "average"--watered down and bland.
You don't consider "normal" when you pick your friends. You treasure people for who they are. People don't want a "normal" for a friend. They would rather have you, quirks and all.
Listen to that different drummer--not everyone can hear the beat. You're lucky you can. [/B]
Facile tears and abject misery are part of the Curse of Eve. While menopause is a consumation devoutly to be wished, you do have to survive rocketing hormones.
TM helps. Also try hissing under your breath, "This too will pass." Stress the "ess's". Emulate the cobra.
Tears make you feel like a fool. Venom makes you feel like a bitch. Aren't you fortunate to be blessed with versatility?
Hold your dominion.
When you read "born under this sign, you are...." you notice that everyone born under the conventional signs is a delightful person.
Do you suppose the non-delightful people were born under strange skies and delivered by flying saucer?
When should children be taught to question authority?
My father was a newspaper man. When I was growing up the family questions were, "How do you know?" and "What is your source?"
I don't think the problem is as much "Questioning Authority" as giving a child the tools to examine reality.
Many authority figures assumed that they are the only authorities to be questioned. Wrong. What about rock stars, shock jocks, advertisers of all products, fanatic religious cults and self-appointed politcal gurus?
"Examine all things, hold fast that which is good."
Springtime: Good resolutions
I am a woman of perpetual optimism and painfully accquired wisdom. New Year's Resolutions challenge your willpower during the darkest times of the year and are frequently doomed to failure because you're fighting off the urge to hibernate.
Spring approaches. My life is complicated right now by being back on crutches, but I have hopes that by high summer I'll have lost my last 20-25 pounds.
Does anyone else have glorious ambitions?
Medical students in the exam room
One of the jobs I had during college summers (I was an English major) was a two week stint as "camp nurse" for a local Girl Scout Day camp. I was not a nurse, but I had a First Aid Certificate which met the American Camping Requirements.
Mostly a camp nurse deals with minor cuts and scrapes. Mostly. One camper started her day by gashing the back of her hand trying to play mumbley-peg. The cut obviously needed stitches.
I applied a pressure bandage and loaded Kimmy in the car with instructions to keep pressure applied "to remind the bleeding to slow down".
Of course we had to wait in the emergency room--since it was early in August, Kimmy drew a brand-new, fresh-out-of-med-school-resident.
This guy grabbed Kimmy's hand, slapped a window of gauze around the wound and took out an enormous neede. Naturally Kimmy started crying. I asked the resident to wait a minute and explained to Kimmy that the window of gauze would keep the site clean. Further, it made it easier to pretend that the stitching was going to happen to someone else--and things that happened to other people didn't hurt as much.
This was back in the '50's when the Golden West reigned on the television screen. I took a hunk of gauze and explained to Kimmy that the ER didn't come with bullets to bite, but she could bite down on the gauze just and that would make the pain much less.
Then I asked her to tell the resident to go ahead. Both the injection for the pain killer and the stitching (six stitches) were uneventful and quiet. It is impossible for a child to yammer when biting down on a mouth full of gauze.
The resident took me aside and asked where I'd done my nurse's training. Obviously, I'd had a terrific course in handling juvenile patients.
Interns, residents and other beginners are bound to be clumsy at first. They are juggling new information (and life and death matters) and this preoccupation makes it difficult to focus on patients-as-people.
I figure that they might as well practice on me--after all what else am I doing for humanity while I'm stretched out on that hospital bed?
Edit out the website and issue a medium-sized slap with the hairy hand.
I'm about 2/3 the way through your quotes, Butrflynet. Treasure trove.