Saturday, January 31, 2015


It occurs to me that this week has been more random than most, so even though I am tempted to be lazy and not blog, I feel compelled to share by the sheer randomness of life recently.

A battered silver trumpet was left in front of our house this week.  Propped up against the fence, just behind a little heather shrub.  I have not yet been successful in reuniting it with its rightful owner, who is most likely an elementary of middle school student reluctant to practice.

Quarta was quite sick most of the week, with a fever from Sunday until Wednesday and a nasty cough that is still lingering.  Tertia was sent home from school Thursday with an upset stomach, although she bounced back very quickly and had no fever.  I have been fighting the wretched virus myself for at least two weeks.  I'm using everything at my disposal: Airborne, vitamin C, Cold-eze, an elixir made with local honey, and that Cold Calm homeopathic remedy that has "apis mellifica" in it.  And if you know Latin, you will realize that this means they put ground up honeybees in it.  And if you are desperate enough to stay well, you will take it anyway.  It seems to be working about as well as anyone could expect.

We cannot use our overn.  Apparently, the circuit board that operates the touchpad controls is no longer working.  This seems to be a common problem.  It's probably just coincidence that I keep thinking of baked goods I want to try.

This evening we watched Divergent with the girls, then started Grand Budapest Hotel.  That has to be one of the strangest double-features ever.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Randomday, Suffering from a Surfeit of Grading

"4th singular subjunctive feminine"... make any sense to you?  Me neither.  And after 15 x 6 pages of tortured parsing I'm not sure my grammar brain works anymore, so I'm blogging.  There is a special kind of existential angst reserved for 8th grade Latin teachers during finals week.  I finished grading the final exams, at least.  I had to bribe myself with a turn of my Civ IV game for every page, and it took forever.  Now it is just the tedious and nit-picky business of correcting the Vulgate passage in 8th grade and the Panis Angelicus in 7th.  And filling out the grade reports and comments.  I wish my students were universally diligent, so the work wouldn't be so tedious.

Yesterday evening I took Peter out to see American Sniper.  Not my usual kind of movie, but I'm glad I saw it.

This whole week I've been trying not to catch the virus that's been going around school.  I had a mild case of it but may have fought it back with lots of Airborne and other homeopathic remedies.  Now I'm hoping the kids don't get it.  Still, it has been an exhausting week, with fatigue added to the normal exhaustion of giving and grading finals.  I really should go back to some more grading.  We are watching Above Suspicion, an old movie with Fred MacMurray and Joan Crawford about newlywed spies during WWII.  It's a little too exciting to concentrate on grading, and I've been grading for too many days straight.  Earlier we watched Despicable Me with the girls.  Tertia was dubious, as she is about any movie at first, but laughed harder than anyone at the goofiness.

Peter is out at the school protocol event.  I gave him a haircut today so he could look even more like Daniel Craig, going for that James Bond swagger.

No sewing or knitting has been happening for at least two weeks.  I keep thinking I will at least be able to blog a book review or two, or share a recipe.  Right now though, I'm too tired.  And miles to grade before I sleep...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rainy Randomday

I've noticed I'm doing more Randomday posts than any other kinds lately.  This is probably because I am neither knitting nor quilting enough to provide steady blog fodder; I haven't been taking too many pictures, either, and although I've been thinking plenty of deep thoughts, they're not always blogworthy or, even if they are, it might not be prudent to put them there.  Or I simply don't have enough energy.  That's the huge factor, actually.  No matter how brilliant the deep thoughts that I might have, it takes that little bit of extra energy to type them up and hit publish.  So you are going to have to put up with proportionately more randomness for awhile longer.  Of course, some people actually like the random.  But I apologize if it bores you.

Rain.  Today was very rainy.  There is a tendency to have a slow seepage into the basement on days like this, and we can just hope that the ground doesn't become any more saturated.  Tertia accompanied me to the grocery store and we both felt very cold and soggy afterwards.

At school there are so many kids with colds and flu, and finals week is this coming week.  I gave the pretests for the final exam to those who were present Friday.  But I still have about 5 to administer.  Hoping that I don't come down with it too.

Daniel is back at college, taking RA refresher training and preparing to start second semester.  The house seems much lonelier without him.

I had a long-postponed eye exam Friday.  They dilated my eyes, I think for the first time ever, and I just wanted to go to bed and not look at any lights afterwards.  For most of my life I have never even had corrective lenses at all, but about 4 years ago I got glasses to make me look more strict and teacherly, and also to improve my slightly hazy distance vision.  I usually wear them only while teaching and take them off as soon as I get home at midday.  I don't wear them at all during weekends or over summer break.  Well, it seems that I will be needing bifocals, or the more euphemistic term, "progressives."  Right on schedule in my late forties.  And the real reason I went, the nasty floaters/ squiggles on my left and dominant eye, turns out to be one more diagnosis that medical science can do nothing to help me with.  Something like "vitreous detachment" but it's not as high-ranking as a detached retina and they basically tell me I'm stuck with it forever or until it decides to go away on its own and no idea when that might be.  So it joins the sudden sensory-neural hearing loss, dyspnea, mild neuropathy and a few other ideopathic conditions that just aren't trendy enough to do anything about.  And people wonder why I'm not proactive about scheduling doctor visits.

Occasionally Direct TV will give us a weekend of premium movie channels and Steve will queue up several movies of interest... the girls and I watched the first two Hobbit movies this week, and Steve and I watched The Butler last night, and tonight it was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  We might break into Divergent soon, and looking forward to seeing Despicable Me, which Quarta says is quite good.  I want to see the 3rd Hobbit movie in theaters, but I'm not sure if that will happen or not.

This past week has been one of recuperating from the Last Noel, which was held last Friday.  We had a good 70 or so people at a loose estimate, and plenty of leftover sloppy joe mix in the freezer.  This morning we finally packed up all the Christmas decorations and Peter carted them downstairs, but the desiccated tree is still lying forlornly where it was dumped on the front lawn.  Well, maybe it's not so desiccated now, with all the rain falling on it today.

The day before Daniel had to fly back to college, he bottled his blueberry-plum wine from last summer.  It is a very pretty color, and the extra that we sampled is a nice flavor, more approachable than the previous year's all-plum wine.  I really need to take some pictures.

Speaking of drinkable things, I am now a true Portland-area neo-hippie, for I just started brewing my second batch of Kombucha.  They sell kits at Natural Grocers and I bought one before Christmas.  It turned out okay and I'm trying another batch.

For a randomday where I didn't think I had much to write about, this is a long post.  It just proves that I will write about anything rather than grade a stack of verb synopses.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Publish and Perish

Je suis Charlie.

First they came for the bad movies ridiculing narcissistic megalomaniac North Korean dictators, and I didn't speak up because I'm not a huge fan of bad movies.  But it sent a chill down more spines than mine.  Maybe it will work out.  Maybe Hollywood will make mocking the Kim regime the recurring joke of the Oscars.  Maybe the entertainment industry will realize the disastrous precedent of appeasing a bully and stand together against cyber-terrorism, although the inital response was not encouraging.

Then, today, they came for the satirical cartoonists.  The cartoons which incited slavering barbarians to take twelve human lives in outrageous violence were tasteless.  That is pretty much how satire rolls.  Some genres of literature, such as pastoral poetry or biographies of medieval saints, do not make room for satire.  Like the character Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, they may have their straightforward appeal but are rarely the headline attraction. But satire has always had a strong popularity, and has come into increasing influence in the internet age.  Journalists everywhere are shocked by this brutality against some of their own, and rightly so.  But satirical writers are taking it very hard.  The Onion put on deep mourning today, swathing its usually ebullient wit in somber words of inoffensive (at least it is to be hoped) vagueness.  For, all satire aside, if the barbarians succeed in shutting down tasteless tabloids, the most reputable journalistic outlets are not safe from a similar fate.

Now, satire has always been a double-edged sword and a dicy occupation for those called to practice it.  My late mother, from whom I must have inherited my appreciation for the genre, took a class at college called "comparative satire," but she herself was disgusted by some of the content and referred to it as "comparative raunch."  Juvenal, Martial, Rabelais, Swift... down to political cartoons of the last two centuries... none of these have been perfectly appropriate for the finest drawing rooms and salons.  And yet, somehow the ruling classes that were the targets of biting satire adopted an affectionate, mostly tolerant attitude toward the satirists.  True, Juvenal and Martial prospered during the reigns of (mostly) benevolent emperors.  All satirists have to live with the possibility of popular backlash when they "go too far."  But going too far is the very definition and strength of satire.  Without satire speaking the truth to power using biting wit and uncomfortable metaphors, power corrupts much more quickly than it would otherwise.

Sometimes in human development, biological and medical issues arise which the doctors describe as "incompatible with life."  A baby born with certain conditions, tragically, cannot long survive and nothing medical science can do makes any difference. It is a quiet tragedy affecting the immediate families of the afflicted, but usually unnoticed by the rest of the world.

It is becoming ever clearer that there are some cultures that are not compatible with civilization. I'm not talking about modernity -- primitive and tribal cultures can have rich civilizations without being modern.   Unfortunately, when a culture is incompatible with civilization -- that is, barbarian -- the rest of the world cannot remain in blissful ignorance.  The death throes of a culture incompatible with civilization are deadly to anyone else who lives in proximity to them.  And in a global society, that is all of us.

How do you tell if a culture is incompatible with civilization?  Well, a pretty good indicator is its reaction to satire.  What should the response of the civilized world be?  I recommend a greatly increased dose of satirical mockery ... from behind very secure walls, and with strong military backup.

Martial! Thou shouldst be living at this hour.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Quick Randomday to Start the New Year

This has been a week of shopping for clothes (spending that Christmas money!) and being lazy.  Nobody is ready to go back to school yet,  but it's coming Monday for 4 of us.

Daniel used some of his Christmas cash to buy a bookcase at Ikea to replace the cheap one that was falling apart.  He and Peter conquered Ikea in less time than I would have thought possible, and carried out the two heavy boxes to the car themselves.

Tertia is hard to fit for clothing.  She's theoretically the same size around the waist as I am, but 10 inches shorter and shaped quite differently.  I have a hard time finding things off the rack that are appropriate for a young girl... neither too childish nor too old-ladyish.  I had pretty good success yesterday at the little resale boutique near us, when I threw myself on the mercy of the shop owner and she suggested several things that will work for her.  I could get used to that kind of shopping!

Quarta and I had a date to the mall.  She wanted to visit Justice and Claire's, and I pretty much predicted what she would buy: a collectible Minecraft figurine, some candy, a Beanie Baby owl and some clip-on earrings.  We bought jeans and a stylish shirt for her earlier in the week.  Tonight she has a friend for a sleepover.  She has been gradually introducing all her friends to Doctor Who.

The Last Noel will be next week, after the shock of back to school has hopefully worn off.  I will have a lot of cooking to do, and maybe a little cleaning.  Our vacuum cleaner has been giving me trouble, and it needs a new filter that is out of stock at all the stores I've checked so far.

I am going to have to figure out how to tune my hammered dulcimer soon.  It is just off enough to bother me.  Fortunately, as the shop owner told Steve, it is the kind of instrument that sounds pretty even for utter beginners.

Fellowship at church tomorrow; this means I made pflaumenkuchen today, and have a crock pot of chorizo and chick-pea soup with kale ready to take.  We also made homemade pizza today for the first time in eons.