Another Beautiful Day In Wisconsin


Having lived in both California and Wisconsin, I believe that people in Wisconsin spend much more time outdoors. That's because you expect it to be nice out in California, so you take it for granted. But in Wisconsin, every beautiful day, we say,

"It's a beautiful day! Let's go out and enjoy it! I'm not spending a moment inside today! We've got to go outside today, because pretty soon it will be so freakin' cold that we will never be able to go outside again. We have to enjoy the last nice day." We lament horrific obligations that deny us enjoying the weather, like going to work. And then, inevitably, there are 132 last nice days. And we've been out enjoying every last one of them!

Meanwhile, in California, I'd be sitting inside watching movies all day, baking cookies, and looking nonchallantly out the window now and then at the perfect weather I'd come to expect as my birthright.

Okay, maybe not that bad, but still. It's funny. This weekend is the tenth "last weekend of summer" I've had this year. There's no problem with that, of course.

And yeah, the picture has nothing to do with the content! It's my blog and I'll do what I want to!

I had to start posting again, because Jen's Dad was harassing me. (His texts are surprisingly mellow, almost hippie-like in nature.) (Hi, Mr. Golden! )

Halt! When there's nothing.



They've remade the movie Flashdance, I think. (I'm afraid to confirm this terrible notion.) Is nothing sacred? I watched that movie twelve times when I was ten years old. Or a hundred and twelve times. Something like that. (The stripper/ steel worker sleeping her way to the top was a wonderful role model for me.)

Why do they remake good movies? (Good in some sense. I mean, people liked Flashdance.)

They should remake bad movies, and make them good! Remaking good movies just sets us all up for a terrible disappointment. Remaking bad movies and making them good, well that's something worth doing! Remake the Day After Tomorrow, and have the weather be realistic, and nobody burning books when you could burn tables. Remake Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and have it be something that incorporates the general feel of the book without sticking so terribly to the plot. Remake The Human Centipede and um... maybe it could be about a hip, new dance? Remake all of the magician movies where the magic is supposedly real as musicals. It makes no sense anyway, right? And what could be more magical than a musical? Remake every Vin Diesel movie with Benicio del Toro instead of Vin Diesel.

You see where I'm going with this. Make the world a better place! Remake bad movies and make them good!

Assumptions

Remember a while back when I shot those two raccoons that had been eating the turkeys?

Remember how they had eaten two of the turkeys?

I found the remains of part of one of the turkeys, a white one. The other turkey was a brown one that I just assumed was entirely eaten. This was at the beginning of the summer.

A few days ago, I was driving home. I had to stop for a turkey crossing the road. It was about a half mile east of home. This is common. Except- this turkey was not with a group of turkeys. It was all alone. And it didn't look like all of the wild turkeys. It was brown, and damned if it didn't look like that brown turkey I thought was eaten by the raccoons!

Hm...

"That's damned good coffee."



I guess most people try to quit drinking coffee. I don't know why. I, however, just started drinking coffee this past year. Fist one cup a day, then two, then three. It's wonderful.

And also, Twin Peaks.

Fashion It So

Dress uniform:


I'm really all about this blog, Fashion It So. This is a blog where they criticize and compliment the various fashions from that old TV show, Star Trek, The Next Generation. It's really funny. Especially if you have seen every episode of Star Trek, the Next Generation more than once. I know exactly which episode they are writing about, without re-watching anything. I can even correct their errors- although I'm satisfied to note that there are two writers, and they correct one another so I don't have to. Yes, I am a geek. Really really a geek.

Something I very much enjoy is that the authors think that Jean-Luke Picard is hot. And so do I.

And haven't you ever admired Whoopi Godberg's hat? I mean, seriously. How could you not?

I've been reading this blog a lot, reading back entries, everything. It's a fun way to defragment my brain after a half day with the volatile and insecure teenagers.

An almost disturbing thing has started happening, though. I saw a coworker I don't much enjoy yesterday, and my mind sort of went like this,

"Oh my god. I can't believe she wore that for the first day of school. Okay for a Packer game, but seriously? And it's half tucked in. That hairstyle is truly 1985..."

And then I was laughing to myself. Which is actually a good thing. Except I was laughing at someone else's expense, except that she didn't know, except isn't it just malicious?

Anyway, I still enjoy the blog. Even if it does make me think un-nice thoughts.

When Teenagers Overheat

Something odd happened on the first day of school today. It was excessively warm here in Wisconsin. In my classroom, it was between 90-95 f with a humidity level of 80-90 percent. The custodians gave us a giant fan, but it was too loud to leave it on. We couldn't hear anything. I plunged through the lesson plan, which was an outline of the class, mostly rules and procedures. They listened for the most part politely, but as soon as I went over the procedure for visiting the drinking fountain, 3,078 people signed out to use the drinking fountain. I don't know how this was possible in a class of twenty, but there you have it.



Tomorrow, it's supposed to be even hotter.

Unfocused and Happy

Little Z helped me with the chickens and the turkeys tonight. The young chickens are just starting to lay their first eggs. I snuck into the henhouse and moved all the eggs from the upper nests down into the lower ones. Then she found all of the eggs by herself. Walking back to the house, she was carrying a white turkey feather in one hand and the basket of unusually small eggs in the other. It was foggy and just becoming really dark, and our bats were coming out. She was counting them,



"I see two bats!... I see three bats! ... I see four bats, now!"



It's sort of something I don't want to say. People don't admit this a lot. But it's times like this that my life is some sort of magical lucid dream. I'm, you know, happy.



I had this horrible car accident when I was maybe nineteen, and right after it I truly, honestly wondered if I had survived, or if this was the afterlife. I had trouble relating to people for six months or so. Then I successfully blended back into the day to day worries that people have. I was heartbroken, listless, depressed, I worried about money, etc. I was back in the swing of things.



And then now and then I have these moments. Where I realize. That this is a all a gift. Everyone who saw that car when I was nineteen said, "You should be dead." But truly, everyone lives on borrowed time. I'm not unique. What's amazing is that we're alive at all. Grandma Ruth told me,



"Every day is a gift from god. That's why they call it the present."



I have her on a recording saying that. It's not original, she's the first to admit.



I was mostly worried and stressed all day today, and then that little girl of mine holding a feather and eggs and counting bats just brought me out of myself, and I can't get back into my worries. Tomorrow is the first day of school with students, and I'm not quite where I want to be. But.



It's just going to work out.

Ask, and ye shall receive. Knock, and the door shall be opened unto you...



Before I went in to work today, I went downstairs and brushed off an old chair that the cats had been sleeping on. I put it into the passenger side of my bug, strapped it in, and hauled it into work. When I got to school I saw another woman carrying in a giant pink flamingo, so I didn't feel so terribly odd carrying a large plush red chair. For a moment, I wondered if I was starting to resemble that creepy guy in the basement in the movie Office Space with my irrational chair obsession. I unlocked my classroom door and opened it. Turned on the lights. I saw my desk with the ridiculous "pop art" sculpture that one of my students gave to me. And there, behind my desk, was... wait for it... wait for it... wait for it... a big, cushy, deluxe, adjustable, rolly, blue, tacky, teachery, Global Malaga Series Executive High-Back chair, sapphire.



:)



I feel so appreciated.

Those &%%^#$%#^&& Turkeys!

Tonight was "girls night", meaning BAH went out and Little Z and I were at home. I put her to bed. I said,



"I have to go outside for about ten minutes, while I put the turkeys and chickens to bed."



"But they don't need blankets!"



"No. They just need me to shut the door so the raccoons don't eat them. I'll be ten minutes. God natt. Sov gott."



Ten minutes. Ha!



I went out and shut the chickens in, as usual. But those turkeys!



They were half of them in the Bioturkey 3000, half of them outside of the fence and not knowing how to get back in!



The ones inside the turkey house were gobbling away at the ones outside the fence, and the ones outside the fence were gobbling away saying, in Turkish (of course),



"We don't know how to get back in! How do we get back in? Oh no oh no oh no oh no but how do we get back in?"



Oh, for the love of god, I thought, these turkeys! These ridiculous turkeys! How did they ever get out? And why?



The turkey house is pretty far from the gate. I went back to the gate and then back around, outside the fence, to the turkeys outside.



They seem to view me as their mamma, so initially, I just opened the gate and called them. They all came running, until... there was this point where they couldn't hear their friends in the Bioturkey 3000 anymore, so they turned around and ran back! And then we were back where we started again.



Well, this wouldn't do at all. The turkeys had to go in for the night!



So, I walked over, and picked one up and threw it inside the fence. One down, five to go. But the other five didn't want to let me throw them inside the fence! Turkeys land fine, being birds, but they were scared of me then.



So, I took another approach. I decided to act really scary. I ran after them, towards the open fence. Four out of the five started running. So then I had to run for quite a stretch to that fence! But it was okay. It turned out I can still run. Who knew?



I shut in the four who ran into the fence when I ran like a bat out of hell after them.



Now there was one left.



It kept trying to just run through the fence. Is this how it escaped? I have no idea. I came up behind it when its head was caught and picked it up. Then I threw it over the fence.



After that, it was necessary to wait until they all calmed down and went inside the Bioturkey 3000. Then, finally, I could shut the door for the night. I counted them. All eleven were home.



Dude. All this for Thanksgiving dinner, for us and a few of our friends. I don't know!



They are a bit funny, I have to admit.

Time time time, see what's become of me. When I look around, all my possibilities. I was so hard to please.

When I was in junior high and high school in Sebastopol, California, there was this store called Sprouse Reitz. Ah, Sprouse Reitz. I have no idea if I am even spelling your name correctly! But you were a crappy store. You were the kind of store I was embarrassed to be shopping at. You were the kind of store that sold cheap see-through shirts in the eighties when no one yet did that. No one but you. Because you were classy that way. Lots of people shoplifted there. Our local celebrity, Tom Waits, bought all of his clothes for his children there, and then we talked smack behind his back. Because that's how we were. Or that's how I was, to be more accurate. It was kind of like The Family Dollar is today. It was crap, but you could buy what you needed. I bought fabric there. I'm not ashamed. (That's because I'm grown up now; I was ashamed when I was twelve.)

Fast forward to 2011. All my old friends on Facebook- or, to be more accurate, some people I barely remember from high school on Facebook- are having this conversation on Facebook about how Sebastopol has gone to hell. About how all of the old "good" stores like Sprouse Reitz, like Tuttle Drugs, like AllyOops have all gone bottom up and the only stores in Sebastopol are hippy stores. Sebastopol has always had hippies, mind you, but now it is apparently completely overrun by them.

I participate in the conversation. You see, I'm friends with everyone on Facebook. I don't care. I'm alone a lot and need social contact. I'm friends with everyone except for friends of my mom and people whom I despise. Some of those even pass through. This makes me a part of many a meaningless discourse, the most recent of which is something about Sebastopol. Being taken over by hippies. Like this is a new thing!

"Sebastopol is the place," to quote my favorite teacher Patricia Hertz, "where old Volvos and old hippies go to die." This has always been true. Since to dawn of time. Do not argue. Patty is correct here.

All through this discussion of Sprous Rietz and the travesty of Sebastopol being overrun by hippies, all I can think of is the middle finger. (Is there an emoticon for the middle finger?) All I can think of is when Jen, aka Zgjenyue, worked at Sprous Reitz and she quit, after rising to management and becoming disillusioned with the dream. After she quit, every time she drove past the Sprous Reitz store, she would raise her middle finger quite prominently and shout,

"FUCK YOU SPROUSE REITZ!!!!"

and then she would go on with whatever she was saying.

I don't know what happened there. I don't want to judge. My friends are always beyond my judgements. I trust them with my life.

It was kind of like a facial tick or Tourrettes Syndrome or something. It didn't matter what was happening or what we were talking about. Sprouse Reitz was on the main drag of Sebastopol, so we passed it very often. Whatever we were talking about,

"But I think Derrida really meant that, when you were seeing reality behind this- FUCK YOU SPOUSE REITZ!!!! - third wall, you were seeing reality not as you see it, but through like the veil of the reality that others see and..."

Yeah. That was my dear friend Jen, whom I call Zgjenyue. She knows what happened there. It's all between her and Sprouse.

Facebook is so messed up, actually. If our former selves in high school knew what we were talking about now, the bathrooms of Analy High School would be full of vomiting teens. I'm not so sure about lamenting the death of Sprous Reitz. But I noticed Jen had no comment. Silence is *golden. (No pun intended.)




Jen's last name was Golden before she got married.

Footnote: I seem to be writing about Jen a lot lately. We all go through these stages. I'm sure I'll write about those other good friends sometime. She's easy to write about because she so obviously embraces her freakishness, and she's not especially sensitive. Admit it, my good friends. You are sensitive folk! It's hard to be written of. Count your blessings.

How to Fix an Accordion


First of all, you'll need a cat.


Update: The accordion repair was a success! All six formerly non-functional keys are now working! I could play in any key, If only I knew how to play the accordion...

Confessions


I've shot two raccoons this week.

I guess I haven't kept you all up with the farm activities much lately. We basically decided that sheep are too much trouble to care for in the winter, so we decided to raise free range turkeys for Thanksgiving, instead. This way, we'll slaughter most of them in the fall and have nothing much to care for all winter.

We kept the turkeys in the barn until very recently. They seemed big enough to go out and take care of themselves. We had ordered fifteen turkeys to start. Two of them died right away, so when we set them out to pasture there were thirteen. This was last week. Now there are eleven. Two were eaten by raccoons!

This week was payback for the raccoons- but I feel really sorry for them, anyway. They were just trying to eat, right? Anyway, I shot two raccoons, and if you can believe it, I kept the fur and tanned the hides because BAH wants a coonskin cap. Seriously. Although, if I keep catching these damned raccoons, we're going to end up like Clan of the Cave Bear around here with animal skins covering every surface in the house. How could I shoot two raccoons in two days? Is there just an endless number of raccoons out there? For the love of god. I have PTRD (Post Traumatic Raccoon Disorder). I dreamed about raccoons last night, nightmares about raccoons dancing around the turkey field. They were doing the raccoon dance.

Now I've basically covered the little roosting area we made for the turkeys, to make it raccoon proof. Having a place for them to be safe from the raccoons would be very much preferable to shooting the raccoons. So I've spent the past few terribly hot days in the blazing sun, sweating bullets, building some sort of raccoon proof shelter. My great fear is really that the turkeys won't go into it tonight! I guess I forgot to mention that the turkeys are super super dooper stupid. People told me they were dumb before we got them, but I didn't believe it because they said that about chickens and our chickens seem not to be dumb. I'm not sure I would call them intelligent, but they take care of themselves. They have personalities. They run inside when they see a hawk, for instance. Not so much with turkeys.

I've started to think of the raccoons as these sort of super beings that can climb anything! Is it possible to make a raccoon proof structure? I guess our house is one, and our barn is the other. At least they don't attack in the daytime. Still, these raccoons are driving me crazy.

An Anecdote from The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes



Just a week before he was assassinated, Abraham Lincoln had a dream that he discussed with several people. It seemed that he was walking through the silent White House toward the sound of sobbing. When he entered the East Room, he was confronted by the sight of a catafalque covered in black. He asked the guard on duty there who was dead. "The president," said the soldier.

The New Law About Actors, 1977

So, I just watched the old film, A Bridge Too Far. It would seem that, after 1977, a secret law was made in Hollywood. The law was this: If you make a large production film or TV series, you must use at least one actor from A Bridge Too Far. Some small names from the cast:

James Caan (has he ever played a nonsmoker? Just wondering. I love him.)
Michael Caine
Sean Connery
Gene Hackman
Anthony Hopkins
Robert Redford
Peter Faber
John Ratzenberger (Cliff on Cheers)

And so many faces you recognize and can't quite name. It's kind of fun to see them all so young.

Descending Rooms, Descending Gardens, Cramped Attics with Scary Entrances

For about two years now, I've been having these dreams. Dreams about houses and gardens. They are very strange dreams. It's not an exact dream that happens each time I dream it, but definitely a recurring theme.

The plot of the dream is this: I'm in my house. Usually, people are visiting. I'm rummaging around for extra blankets or something, and I find some extra rooms in my house that I never knew were there before. Initially, I'm happy, because these are fully furnished rooms, usually even with extra kitchens and bathrooms attached, totally nice and comfortable for my guests. Although it is a little disturbing that there was this whole extra wing that I didn't know was in my house... and then I go into what I think is a closet, but it turns out to be a descending staircase, usually about half a staircase down, and then there's another whole area of the house that I have never encountered before, and it's not as nice. It's falling apart. Still further, exploring, I find yet another floor, this one full of cobwebs, etc, getting really creepy, and of course I'm starting to doubt my own sanity, now. I never knew this was here!

The dream just goes on and on until I wake up. There's never any real resolution. Sometimes, I encounter ghosts.

When these dreams started, the first one took place in our old house in Pueblo, and what I discovered there was not rooms, but gardens behind the backyard.
The old house in Pueblo, location of the first dream:
Each yard had a wall in back with some steps down to another garden, but every one was more run down than the last. There was a swimming pool with trees growing up in it, then it got really wild, a woody hill going down, down, down. Interestingly, in real life, I went and visited my Aunt Lou in North Carolina, and her backyard was so much like one of my dreams that I thought I was going a little bit crazy.

Then, for the last two years, there were just the dreams about different houses. Usually, the rooms go down and get bigger, but other times these mysterious rooms are upstairs and get progressively smaller. The upstairs rooms are places that I feel like I knew once, but then forgot about. These are places from a long time ago. Sometimes I go upstairs, to tiny little attic rooms which are haunted with freaky demons of the past. Usually there are no real stairs. In these dreams where I go up, someone is always egging me on, telling me it is so great up there, and I'm telling them no, I'm fine, I don't want to go, and they somehow convince me through peer pressure to literally walk planks over hundred foot drops, and then I'll come to a tiny room where I go in through the window and I'm locked in with something terrible.

Those ones are the worst.

It's all about the house and the rooms I didn't know were there.

Incidentally, there are always house guests in these dreams, and if you are reading this and you know me, you have probably been the house guest. You have not been the evil one to convince me to go to the attic, however. That is often Grandma Ruth, the lady in the picture at the top of this blog. When it isn't her, it's often someone a lot older than I am or in a position of authority over me. Everyone else is just a happy house guest sort of along for the ride. Everyone except for Tim.


Two nights ago, I had a new twist on the dream: I dreamt that we were at our friend Tim's house, which is really an apartment, and he found rooms that he didn't know were there! Which was odd, of course, because apartments are surrounded by other apartments, and these rooms were in places that really couldn't be. Tim treated it at first as I always do: something amusing.

So, what the heck do these dreams mean?

I think there are two types of dreams:

1. Dreams that are just your brain sorting through stuff and categorizing it, making sense of things, and then warning you about things that could happen if you aren't careful.

2. Dreams that actually mean something. The collective subconscious is contacting you, or the future is being predicted, or your dead relatives are contacting you, or your live relatives. Dreams, I believe, have some mystical capabilities.

I know I sound crazy, but truly, you can't help what you believe. It's illogical, but I believe in some supernatural something that can speak through dreams.

The way to tell the difference between the two types is just to think about it. When you keep having the same sort of dream over and over, it's got to have some sort of meaning or purpose. The last time this happened to me, it was a recurring dream about crossing the San Francisco Bay in unusual ways, and I contacted the family mystic, Dennis C. Lee for advice. As it happened, we had our talk at four in the morning. It seemed fitting. I could call Dennis again, but I'm more curious to see what you all think.

So, what do these dreams about mysterious spaces mean?

Mumsy's Creepy Lady Lamp


I don't know if they still do this, but it used to be when Cousin Jennifer came to visit, they pinned a handkerchief around the lamp because it frightened her.

Mumsy's Meatballs

Meatballs:

3 pounds ground beef

1 can evaporated milk

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup cracker crumbs

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons chili powder

Sauce:

2 cups catsup

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

To Make Meatballs:

Combine all ingredients. Mixture will be soft and shape into walnut sized balls. Place meatballs in single layer on wax paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze until solid. (About an hour.) Store frozen meatballs in freezer until ready to cook. To make sauce, combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. Place frozen meatballs in a pan. Pour on the sauce. Bake at 350 1 hour if frozen, half an hour if thawed. Yield about 65 meatballs.

The Church


I took Little Z to this church one Sunday morning. The people were very nice there. There was a lot of discussion about God and stuff.

A Pleasant Waste of Time



I've been wasting my time watching Billy the Exterminator on Netflix instant. I'm with Neil Postman when he says that the best TV is really trash TV. This show is so freakin' awesome! Here are my top ten reasons I love this show:

10. The goth fashion. Billy wears spikes on his shoulders even! It was really funny when the church people tried to hug him.

9. Billy has the greatest attitude. It's all about helping people.

8. Billy's brother Ricky goes on a lot of jobs with him, and whenever they go to exterminate wasps, their mom says, "You better be careful because you got Ricky with you and you know he's allergic and if he gets bit I'm gonna have to kill him I'll be so mad." Every time! Every time!

7. The way they exterminate crocodiles is like this: one guy (Billy) wrestles the alligator to the ground and pins him while the other guy waits with some duct tape and tapes its mouth shut.

6. Billy always says, completely seriously, "We put safety first here at Vexcon!" (After he gets rid of the wasps with his allergic brother, wrestles an alligator, and puts a viper in a tub to release it into the wild later.)

5. They save everything and release it into the wild on someone's 100 acre estate. Everything: alligators, rattlesnakes, raccoons... everything except for the wasps.

4. This show makes me really happy to live in Wisconsin and not Louisiana, where it takes place.

3. Always when they are at the most dangerous point possible, some kid runs out of the house to see how it's going and almost gets killed.

2. Dude, if you counted how many times Billy says dude in an episode, it's like, dude, 300 times or something. Dude.

1. Billy is super nice to bats.

This is how we roll around here sometimes...

We slept "late" today, until about nine, with the three day weekend and all that. Little Z of course got up way earlier than her parents. She told us she had already eaten breakfast. She said she found some things and ate them.

"I eat some corn and some crust!" She said. I recognized this as stuff I didn't clean up after dinner: corn and little bits of pie crust. I felt a little bit bad for her. BAH said,

"She just ate stuff she found sitting around in the kitchen."

"Oh, no," said Little Z. "Not just the kitchen. The living room, too. There were some yummy apple pieces in the living room. And I drink water!"

At least she didn't eat the cat food.

I think I'll leave a box of cereal out tonight.

Turning Things Upside Down

I'm working on learning how to stand on my head.

I had resolved to do Yoga all the time, after my class, but you know, I didn't. Not at all. So, what did I want to get out of the Yoga? Just some balance and core body strength. I figure I can get all of that by standing on my head.

So far, I've worked at it for about five minutes, and I have managed to get my feet up off of the ground and perched onto my elbows. I've also managed to make my family laugh. But it's very serious business, standing on your head! I'm a very serious person, after all.

What Three Workouts a Day for a Week Taught Me

No sweat! I guess I work out constantly in the summer. I'm a mover and a shaker. All of these workouts were mostly relaxing- except for "spinning". I hate spinning! You ride a bike and go absolutely nowhere!

We tried a whole lot of different things. Also, we tried them barefoot, because being barefoot is really good for you. Who knew?

One thing we did was walk with walking sticks. There were two poles, like ski poles, and it was supposed to work out your arms as you walked. We walked around a little lake, but to get there, we had to cross a busy street in Middleton. Our teacher stopped traffic for us as all nineteen of us walked in front of these cars, striding with our poles. Yeah. I was a part of that ridiculous group. You may have seen us on other blogs!

The yoga helped me a lot. I felt balanced and relaxed. I resolved to do more yoga.

That was the point, I think: to find something that you enjoy. That's all you need to do.

My Classmates and the Strange Realities

All of my classmates in this health class I took were teachers, and all of them were women save for one. We had an assignment which was personal in nature to present at the end. In this way, I learned all about the health and nutrition of my classmates.

I won't bore you with all of the details, but I will say that there were a lot of tears! I mean, maybe 35% of the presenters cried. It was crazy. And why did they cry? I think they felt guilty for their unhealthy lifestyles. (It was infinitely more complicated than that, but that's what it boils down to.) Guilty. Seriously. About eating too many Twinkies and drinking too much Diet Coke!

So what I learned in part was that I do not have as many hang ups as many people, and for that I should be thankful.

It's not their fault though. How many food ads have you seen for things that were "sinfully delicious". Or how about this, "Same taste without the guilt"? Why in the world should anyone feel guilty about eating something? I understand if you are all about animal rights and accidentally eat some turkey, but that is not what this is about. People feel guilty for doing things that are fattening, and then they eat more to assuage their guilt, and they they feel more guilty and then they eat more to assuage their guilt and then they feel guilty for eating so much and hate themselves and then...

What madness we have come to. Please, for the love of God, feel guilty when you are mean and nasty and spiteful! Don't feel guilty for eating or not exercising. Don't waste your life on that.


Please, for me, go eat something sweet and delicious with all of the calories, and then just lay down and look at the ceiling for three hours.

The Exuberant Animal by Frank Forencich


The "Exuberant Animal" is you! This book basically says that you need to behave like an animal, because you are one. Also, you should play. Also, the normal types of "gyms" basically suck. Also, before leading a sedentary lifestyle, you should consult your doctor, because it's killing you!

I haven't actually read the entire book, but I've read all around it and I get the picture. We need to live in our bodies and enjoy being in our bodies. Be present in our lives. And socialize! And play!

The wisest person you know is your dog. (I don't have a dog and I don't like them at the moment because we had one just kill a chicken, but I'm willing to play along.) Your dog lays around and plays, mostly. If someone comes to the door, he goes into freakout mode and barks and yaps, but then if he knows the person, he immediately calms down and licks them or whatever. He doesn't obsess like, "Oh no! That was my best friend Carol! How could I yap at her? God, I'm such an idiot. She hates me now." No, no. He just stops yapping and gets his favorite toy for her to throw. Because, not only does he not obsess over things, your dog never stops playing. Playing is not just for puppies. Playing is for everyone! Why does the dog play? Who cares? It's just what dogs do! They play!

And humans are actually the same way, or should be. We should do movements that we enjoy. Also, we should play with other people.

Forencich is really against those gym machines, like the treadmills and the stationery bikes, where you just do the same motion over and over like to be done with it! Not to be conscious of your body or enjoy nature or perform any real work, but just to be done with it. This is the worst sort of exercise. Exercise should be challenging and fun and social.

Some parts of this book I really loved, because they affirmed my parenting style, which is like this,

"Go out and play!"

I think most people my age or older had parents who said that a lot. It seems like it isn't so common anymore. I think the world has become afraid. Well, not the world- the U.S.

Apparently, when you go outside and play, and you're bored or whatever, and then you get interested in something, and then you do something, that's when your brain is growing and your body is learning as well. The best kind of play for children, according to Forencich, is unsupervised playing outdoors.

This part reminded me suddenly of a documentary, "Children of the Holocaust," where the one child (who was interviewed later as an adult) had been placed in a concentration camp. He said that he and the other children there fantasized about two things: to eat a lot, and to play unsupervised. That was all.

This book covers so much that I won't go into it all. I haven't even finished it yet, and I already have so much to think about. It spawned a discussion about how we used to play as children, which was really fun and interesting. We did gripe a lot about the kids we get in class who don't seem to know what to do with free time, because their lives have become so structured. Then we all went to lunch and came back, and before the teacher began again, a woman said,

"I just have to say something." (Oh, no, I thought. Here it comes. More about how kids don't play like they used to.) "I was driving back from lunch," she said, "and it was raining as you know. I saw two little girls, barefoot, no adults around, playing in the puddles. Just playing."

Michael Pollan's Food Rules and nutrition in general.

These things are bad:

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup.

2. White Flour.

3. Soda Pop.

4. Anything someone in the year 1900 would not recognize as food.

5. Things that don't rot.

6, Refined sugar.

7. Foods called, "light" or, "low fat."

These things are good:

1. Food that you can recognize as something that came off of a plant or tree.

2. Honey and maple syrup.

3. Things you make from scratch.

4. Foods that look like leaves.

5. Foods your great-grandmother made.

6. Whole foods (not the brand, but the meaning behind it).

7. Small greasy fish.


Other Notes:

Sweets are okay if you make them yourself and use natural sweeteners like honey and fruit.

Meat is okay in small quantities.

Wine is good - one or two glasses with dinner.

Buy a freezer to save money. Buy two freezers if you can, and put meats in one and vegetables and fruits in the other.

"The lighter your bread, the quicker you're dead!"

"The S Rule: Eat Sweets, Snacks, and seconds only on days that start with an S."

My Notes:

There are so many things out there saying to do this or don't do that, or this is the latest research on blah blah blah... These rules make sense to me because they are based on what people have eaten for hundreds of years. It seems to me that nutrition in the magazine articles is always trying to reinvent the wheel, but Mumsey is 92 years old, seems okay, and she still eats a lot of chickens and occasionally makes a homemade pie for special occasions. Nothin' wrong with that! His rules are easy to follow because he's basically saying to eat real food.

Nice Spread #4: No Mowing Under the Picnic Table


I'm being a little silly, but really, mowing under the picnic table is a pain in the butt. Think of all of the moving that thing around these people avoid. I pass this place a lot, and I always wonder: Was the foundation there for something else, and they just recycled it as a picnic table holder, or did they actually build a concrete slab just for the picnic table? I may never know.

Our Vet's Office


Whenever I see a building covered in ivy, I think, man, those This Old House guys would hate this place!

I have no idea why the cowboy photo, but I like it.

By the way...

How do you like the new wood panelling?

Lose *five pounds by reading four blog posts!

This past week I took a health and nutrition class from 8-4 every day. During the day, we worked out three times a day, and in between those workouts, we read and discussed two books:

Exuberant Animal by Frank Forencich




and

Food Rules by Michael Pollan.



Food Rules by Michael Pollan is a more simplistic version of Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food, which I read a couple of years ago and enjoyed. However, reading the new book with a group of people was an entirely different experience. Reading any group with a kind of book group will give you a deeper understanding, so I was happy to read and discuss this with a group of teachers. (The class was called, "The Teacher as a Healthy Role Model.")

The workouts we did were interesting, too. Then we each had to do a final project which included telling the class how we were going to change our lives, and that was definitely interesting. What I think I'll do is four more posts about my class:

Monday: Michael Pollan's Food Rules and nutrition in general.

Tuesday: What I learned from reading and discussing Frank Forencich's Exuberant Animal.

Wednesday: What I learned from my classmates.

Thursday: What three workouts a day for a week taught me.



I hope this isn't too dry a topic. Everyone is interested in nutrition and exercise these days, right?


* Results may vary within an order of magnitude.

Meaning

I've spent the week taking a health and fitness class, but what I learned this week went way beyond health and fitness. Truly, your health and your body affect every aspect of your life. One conversation branched off into a certain direction, and a man named Larry brought in this poem from Sir Laurens van der Post, from Hasten Slowly, a film by Mickey Lemle. I found it so touching when he read it aloud that I asked Larry for a copy of it, and he immediately went to a copy machine and missed the next part of our class in order to give me this:

The Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert talk about two "hungers."
There is the Great Hunger and there is the Little Hunger.
The Little Hunger wants food for the belly;
but the Great Hunger,
the greatest hunger of all, is the hunger for meaning...

There's ultimately only one thing that makes
human beings deeply and profoundly bitter,
and that is to have thrust upon them
a life without meaning.

There is nothing wrong in searching for happiness,
But of far more comfort to the soul
is something greater than happiness
or unhappiness, and that is meaning.
Because meaning transfigures all.
Once what your are doing has for you meaning,
it is irrelevant whether you're happy
or unhappy. You are content- you are not alone
in your Spirit- you belong.

Bloody


Today is my friend Jen's birthday.

When we were in seventh or eighth grade, I remember specifically a time when Jen told me,

"I like meat bloody. Almost raw. It's kind of weird."

It was kind of weird, and it stuck with me. It conjured this image of her sinking her teeth into raw flesh. She was a sweet looking girl and it was a disturbing image.

Now that she's kind of this queen of horror, that conversation really sticks out for me. And then I think about how many times I caught her reading some episode of Flowers in the Attic, or Mommy Dearest, or the times I went to her house and she was playing with a Ouija board by herself. I tell myself that, had she become the queen of unicorns and rainbows, I would have different memories that stuck out for me. But let's face it: this couldn't happen. The only way she could be queen of unicorns and rainbows is if she were hit in the head in a personality changing way.

There's something about Americans- we don't like to face death, we like to hide it. We even talk in codes, "she passed," "he went to heaven." But there's something fascinating about facing and even celebrating the darker side of things. There is not light without darkness.

Happy birthday Jen! I'll have my steak bloody for you.

Best Quotes from the movie "Cool as Ice with Vanilla Ice"

"Where you from?"
"You know... around."

"Tell me one thing. Who you bein' true to now?"
"You know, sometimes, I think I know you."

"You don't know me at all."

"I'm cool as Icccccce."


Oh, yeah. I can so relate to this movie!

This is actually camp ghetto fabulous. Every review on the internets tubes is the lowest possible. It's hard to be the worst. It takes talent- not performance talent, but different talent. How could someone so white be so fake black? Is this movie for real?

The first time I saw this, I was in a van. It's a long story. I'll tell it if you ask.

Nice Spread #2



A gothic mansion hidden behind a perfectly tended apple orchard. They don't make roofs like that anymore.

Nice Spread: A Well Kept Barn and Two Hidden Windmills

The Eccentricities of a Minion

This is a great article about why creative people are often also eccentric.


I am self-absorbed, and I couldn't help but think about my parents when I read this, and how my genes might affect my life. My mom is noticeably lacking in inhibitions of any sort, and my dad is intensely creative. I definitely feel like a round peg in a square hole much of the time. The main point of the article is that there are inhibitions in your brain that keep you from considering outlandish ideas, but if you are lacking these inhibitions, you tend to be eccentric. If you are lacking these inhibitions, and you are also intelligent, you tend to be creative. Lacking these inhibitions can also make you schizophrenic.

"cognitive disinhibition may be affected by genetic variations and ... it may be one factor that predisposes an individual to both creative thought and eccentricity."

So, there you have it.

*Sugar

When Sugar laughs, it’s also a holler. It sounds like, “Shwa!” Other kids mimic it, and if you’re not careful, you can soon have an entire class of kids yelling “Schwa!” and then you can kiss your lesson plan good-bye. Sugar is a lanky skinny black girl with a big smile most of the time. She’s good natured. But did I mention that she is loud? As some of the other girls would say,

“Girl, Sugar be loud!”

Sugar and a few other girls had sewing class together. (They don’t call it sewing class anymore, though. It’s some craziness like, “industrial arts”. Why can’t we just call things for what they are?)

Sugar was not her given name. “Sugar” was not only Sugar’s nickname, but also the name of a small club of girls who followed Sugar around and were friends with Sugar. They had logos made, which they sewed onto their clothes together in sewing class. It was all beautifully done. Three girls with “Sugar” stitched on the back of their jackets. Sometimes, other kids would want to be a part of their group, and there would be a disturbance over it,

“What I don’t like is when other people be saying they Sugar when they ain’t Sugar Club.”

They also considered sewing other things onto their clothes, like quotes from Langston Hughes poems I taught them. I was truly baffled one day, looking at some of the copies of the poems I had handed out to them to read, and their were numbers above the words, like this:


20 20 10 30
Hold fast to dreams
15 10 30 15
For if dreams die
25 10 5 35 30 20
Life is a broken-winged bird
20 30 15
That cannot fly.

I finally figured out that they were going to monogram the quote onto their clothes, and were figuring out the cost per stanza: 5 cents a letter.

It never happened, but it was interesting that they even considered it.

One day, it was the beginning of class, and I was reading this novel out loud to them, The First Part Last. It’s about a boy who gets his girlfriend pregnant and ends up raising the baby on his own. I had my lesson plan all written out on the board, starting with this read aloud, but my confidence was shot.. On a whim and feeling completely uninspired, I said,

“Does anyone want to read this for me?”

“What?” said a bunch of kids.

“I’m just not up to reading this to you today. Anyone who likes to read out loud care to read it to the class? Just a chapter or two.”

“Sugar should read it!”

“Have Sugar read it!”

“Sugar’ll read it!”

Sugar looked like she had just been caught changing her pants in the back of the room. This was actually fairly typical behavior for her. Her next class was gym, and for some reason, she always changed into her gym shorts in the back of my class during my lecture. It’s one of those things that seems really crazy, but seemed almost normal at the time. Commonplace.

Only Sugar could have sixteen kids literally catch her with her pants down and not be embarrassed by this.

“Sure, Ms. M,” she said as she snapped the elastic up around her waste and swaggered over to me. “I’ll read it for you.”

There were hoots and hollars, and a few, Schwa’s, but when she made it to the front of the room, and cleared her throat, she read quite well. She had good expression. Sometimes, she stopped and asked me a word.

What I really liked, though, was her commentary,

“Now, this is what I’m talking about! This is my kind of man! He stand by his woman! M hm...” and then she would go on. She wasn’t just reading, she was interpreting. Which came in handy, actually, when someone in the story had a slightly complicated medical condition.

And then it got really sad. Sugar started reading about [spoiler!] Nia’s “irreversible vegetative state” and she started to cry.

The room hushed.

“Sugar,” I said softly, “I can read it if you want me to.”

“No, no,” she said, swallowing hard. “Just give me minute.”

That whole crazy class gave her a minute. (Not that they were silent- there were a lot of murmurs going on, but it was respectful.)

The whole last three chapters are real tear jerkers, and Sugar had to stop several times. It became apparent after a while that we weren’t doing my lesson plan.

“Can we just read this book all period?” someone asked.

“Sure.”

So, what happened was, we finished the book. Sugar finished it, crying (but not too hard) in the front of the class, taking a lot of deep breaths, and reading it aloud and talking about it, and they all asked questions and answered each others’ questions and discussed all the horror of it. She had to pause a lot, but we got through that book.

I basically spent the class watching.

What will happen to Sugar, twenty years from now?

Did I mention she can dance just like Michael Jackson? No kidding.




*(This is fiction. Any similarity to real people or events is completely coincidental.)

Do teachers really need chairs?


When I first got hired with this school district, I was of course not very demanding. I wanted to make a good impression. But when one of the two schools where I work gave me a small shelf in someone else's classroom for all of my storage and planning needs, I asked,

"Could I possibly have a real desk to sit at?"

"I'll work on that," said my pointy haired boss, the principal. A few days later, when an old metal contraption with drawers that sometimes won't close showed up with my name on it, I was happy. But then I tried to push my luck,

"Could I possibly have a real desk chair to go with my desk?" I asked.

"No. That's not in the budget right now," said the pointy haired principal.

So, it's been a school year now. I've been sitting on crappy plastic kid chairs at my ancient metal desk with the drawers open and borrowing my coworker's chair when she isn't there. (She says it's okay.) It works. I couldn't help but notice though, that every other teacher in the school district, and the secretaries, and librarians, every single one has a beautiful gigantic cushy desk chair to sit on. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'm just saying.

I was chastised this week by the school secretary for not turning in my supply list for next year on time. As I was dutifully going through the catalogue and figuring out what I might need, I was sitting on my office mate's chair because she left early and gave me permission to sit on it, and I noticed that there were chairs in the catalogue! Chairs! Cushy chairs! Nice chairs! Grown up chairs!

I put a chair on my supply list.

I don't know what I'll do if the pointy haired principal rejects my supply list. Should I punch him in the nose?

The Best


The best tool to use for eating a big piece of watermelon is a spork.

Beekeeping Video (Yes, that's us!)



This is the same one I posted to Facebook. Yeah, I smoked the bees too much. They probably thought the hive was on fire, I smoked them so much.

A Note Found on the Floor Today

"Unicorns vs. Zombies: Who would win?"

Which I thought was a funny idea. I didn't know it was a book! And a web site.

A Fictional Account of My Day at Work

"Hello class. It seems one of you has put a truth serum in my coffee today, and I have lost the capability to be diplomatic. Actually, I'm really happy. How are you?"

Class: "Blah blah blah."

Me: "Yeah, whatever. I'm not listening. ♬ I think I'm wonderful."

Class: "Is she singing?" (boys thowing things)

Me: "It's funny how pathetic some of your NBA dreams are. I know that you, Henry, have thrown something across the room at least five times a class period the entire school year, always missing and pretending you weren't aiming for the trash."

Henry: speechless.

Me: "Michael, go to the office."

Michael: "But I didn't do anything!"

Me: "No, but you always do. Why not just skip the preliminaries? You're a bully. Admit it. There comes a time in everyone's life when we need to recognize who we are. Fourteen is as good an age as any. Go on. Get out. I'll inform them to ban you from the end of the year field trip, too, because let's face it: everyone will be happier if you just aren't there."

Dana's head falls on the desk.

Me: "Normally, Dana, I might ask what is wrong, but let's face it: you're possessed by Satan. Or, to be more correct, you are an overly dramatic teenager who constantly pretends to be possessed by Satan, so even if you start foaming at the mouth again today, I'm going to ignore it. There's only so much foaming I can take in a given school year."

George: (tentatively) "Can I ask you a question?"

Me: "You may. You're such a sweetheart, George. I wish I had twenty of you in this class. You're always positive, always do what I ask, and you never seem to notice that everyone thinks you're a geek."

George: "Um... Thanks, but... could I go to the office and get the principal? I think you're going to get fired if you keep teaching this class today on truth serum."

Me: "By all means, George. Tell him to come as soon as possible, before I tell Beatrice how she's probably destined for prison, because everyone in town knows who set that house on fire last Thursday. Of course, if she didn't have an alcoholic abusive mother, she might not do such things... I feel for you really Beatrice, you know? I mean I can relate, because of that time in Chippewa. Did I ever tell the class about that time in Chippewa?"

Tom Waits

I saw Tom Waits on the TV when I was seventeen and at some exchange student function in Sweden, hanging out with American and Canadian teens. Tom Waits came on Letterman and played, and I said, "Hey, it's Tom Waits! That makes me so homesick. He lives in my town." And they all looked at Tom Waits and then at me and then at Tom Waits and on the Teen Popularity Cool Scale, I dipped from 4 to 2 (10 being best). Up until then, I had been unpopular for being from San Francisco (because, really, only people from San Francisco really love San Francisco). Now one of them said what everyone was thinking, "He looks like hell. Who goes on TV looking like that?" What could I say? That's what everyone looked like in Sebastopol. Now they all look equally weird but in a different way, and I still like Tom Waits.

Livin' the Dream: Bees

We went and got the bees today! Reeseville is hard to find when every road to Reeseville is closed! I'm not kidding. Every road to Reeseville was closed. We feared the rapture really happened, but only in Reeseville. Drove close to 200 miles.

Little Z: "Are we going to wrong way? I think we are going the wrong way." We were supposed to drive 140 miles.

In the end, we just took a road that was closed. When we got there, there were lots and lots of people there to pick up bees. I had to wait 45 minutes in line with some Serbians. No one said a word about the detours - unless they said it in Serbian. I did hear, "Katastrof" quite a few times, which I assume means, "catastrophe." Or perhaps "Zombie Apocalypse" or even "the Rapture." Or maybe, "Look at that idiot lady in front of us." Hm...

On the way home, we had bees in the car. I mean, most of them were in the box, but we had some who tagged along outside of the box.

BAH: "I wonder what people think when they see all of these bees flying around in our car?"
Me: "I doubt they notice. Bees are small." What I was thinking, though, was I wonder if Little Z is allergic to bees?

The bees are nice, though. They didn't sting anyone in the car. They're all set in their new hive, now. We even went out to watch them later and saw them sting a robber bee several times and throw him off the edge!

Change is Difficult

My most favorite cousin is having a sex change, from woman to man. (I'm sorry if you're another cousin reading this blog! Keep in mind, though, that these things are transitory. Pun intended.) I'm going to momentarily ignore most of the issues surrounding this. When all is said and done, the one thing that irritates me is this: our language is not set up for this kind of thing.

When I talk about him (her?) in the past, which pronoun do I use? It makes sense to say "she" but doesn't feel quite right. I've temporarily resolved to say "they" but then, as someone who is licensed to teach English grammar, I just don't feel completely right about that. Technically, it's never correct to use "they" in the singular.

In another sense, this grammatical problem illustrates the ambiguity, the uncertainty, the good will yet strange feelings of the whole situation. Life is clearly about the journey. Meanings are not always clear. We muddle through and try to find the best answers we can. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light. I wish I was more certain about sex change grammar and pretty much everything else in life, but I have no answers, only more questions.

On a slightly related note, kudos to George Takei, who is even cooler than I previously thought he was.

The End of the World As We Know It

It's quite possible that the Rapture really did happen today, but I just haven't noticed yet because all of my friends and family (except for, Kathleen, Mumsy and Grandma Ruth) would still be roaming the Earth at this point, like every other Saturday. Also, there was no real specification for time zone for the Rapture. It may be Hong Kong time, for all I know.

The Next Book for Harry Potter Fans

I have been somewhat absent lately from the internet. I haven’t even been playing Lexulous on Facebook! That’s because I have been reading books, books of fiction, two in fact:

The Wise Man’s Fear

and

The Name of the Wind

by Patrick Rothfuss.

You’re supposed to read them in the opposite order, but I’m not one for conformity, and I’m not sure it matters that I read them backwards. I enjoyed them both a lot. I’m trying to think why they were such good reads- 1800+ pages total- and I realize that these books have a lot in common with Harry Potter. Teenage wizard? Yes. Orphan? Yes. General feel of being an outcast? Yes. Going off to a special school that teaches magic? Yes. Some sort of human yet not human supervillain who killed his parents? Yes. Three months or so of nudity and sex with a faery queen or something? Oh, wait. I guess that hasn’t got much to do with Harry Potter.

There’s also a pretty intense, slightly overblown love story. But still - great reading. I highly recommend it.

Now I just have to wait for the third book!

List




I don't have the time for a proper blog post that would describe all I have been doing for the past few weeks and the reasons I haven't written, so here is a list that will give you some hints:

1. "The chickens are eating the strawberries! The chickens are eating the strawberries! Go out there, Mommy! Quick!"

2. Fencing, fencing, fencing.

3. We have baby turkeys! Turkey babies are called poults.

4. The Wise Man's Fear and The Name of the Wind (I'm reading them in the wrong order, but I like it that way. Maybe everyone should read them in the wrong order!) This is the first time I have seen the cover art for these books, finding links for them, and I have to admit I would not have bought them by their covers, not ever! But I heard an interview with the author on public radio and my husband bought them for me for the Sony ereader, so I never actually saw a cover before I became completely, totally engrossed in them.

5. Student: "Allen- um- [Ginsberg], or that dude- whatever- he was gay?"
Me: "Yeah, that was on a slide a few slides back, yeah, he was gay."
Student: "I mean, he was really gay? And he's dead now? Like, he was really gay?"
Me: "Yeah, he was gay. He was gay a few slides ago, fifteen minutes ago I said he was gay and I'm pretty sure he stayed that way his entire life. Yeah. People tend to do that. Stay how they are. It's nice you pick up on details."

I don't know. I was really annoyed.

6. Wine, wine. Beer, beer. Sunny, warm, and lovely days off on the weekend.

7. "Hi egg lovers!


I have a system now for eggs:


If you want more eggs, please leave an egg carton with your name on it in my mailbox. I will fill it with eggs as soon as I can, and when I leave it in the refrigerator at school, I will send you an email reminder to pick it up. Money in the yellow envelope.


You may notice that the spring eggs taste a little richer than the winter eggs. That is because, now that the weather has warmed up a little, the chickens are venturing outside and eating bugs. When there is snow on the ground, they tend to stay inside and eat their store bought chicken feed, which gives the eggs an uncomplicated flavor. Now, the eggs are much more interesting, and I think better. Even some of the shells are a different color than before, with freckles.

Best regards,

s---"

8. Stinky cheese at lunch. Unspoken, "I'm more cosmopolitan than you are" competition.

9. "Nice spread." As in, nice farmette. Nice country home. Nice solar power. Nice duck pond, etc. I think I may have a series over the summer, "Nice Spread," in which I shall present pictures of my favorite local farms to look at.

Naughty Language but Funny

Why schools aren't performing, from America's Finest News Source. Not safe for work or those offended by swearing, but really funny.

Spring in Wisconsin

Free range chickens:

The Gentle Giant in profile:

Little Z has never seen Star Trek, and yet:

Little Z with bunny:

The Spring Chickens:

Mindless Minion Shrugged

There was this van that used to drive around Durango, Colorado, when I was in college. There were many unique vehicles there at the time. This one had giant letters on the back.The letters were large and reflective and they said,

READ AYN RAND.



And then today I saw this. Same person? I will never know.



They made a movie of Atlas Shrugged! Well, actually, two movies. Holy cow. Could anything be worse?

We currently have a copy of The Philosophy of Ayn Rand holding up a chifferobe with a missing foot. It's very useful.

Of course, Atlas Shrugged is quite powerful. Moving, really. With a slight touch of modestly and ambiguous fortitude.

I jest. Have you read it? It's full of phrases like, "his eyebrow twitched with a hint of bashful sensuality, as clearly he detested her amorous rigidity." (Only much, much longer.) It made no sense at all. Yet, the moral was quite clear: um... unscrupulously she built a railroad and made lots of money but didn't because the one she loved was... um...

Well, damn, just read the book.

Although you really shouldn't, because everyone who does becomes a complete jerk for a few months, and then usually gets over it. Then you move on to Dostoyevsky.

The Two Norwegians

When I was seventeen, I went to Sweden for a year. On the plane ride home, it follows that I was then eighteen years old.

I had been an exchange student with the Rotary Club. When I became an exchange student, they gave me a big box of business cards. They had my name on them and my address in the US. And my picture. It was a nice picture of me. I recall being quite happy with it. Black and white. When my parents moved and didn’t tell me where, I fretted for a while and then found them, via my Grandma Ruth. Then I changed all of my cards to the new, correct address during one super boring afternoon, whilst lounging about in simple wooden furniture and eating Wasa crackers with butter and cheese somewhere in Sweden.

On the plane ride home, when I was eighteen and hadn’t slept for three days and as disoriented as a person could be, there were these two guys on the flight from Newark to San Francisco who were speaking Norwegian. Norwegian and Swedish are mutually intelligible. I kind of figured this might be the last time I would hear any Scandinaviska for a long time, so I chatted them up a bit, and then I gave them one of the five hundred Rotary Club Exchange Student cards I had left, the ones that I had updated while lounging in the ultra modern wooden furniture and eating Wasa crackers with butter and cheese. Somewhere in Sweden. And then I got home to Santa Rosa and forgot all about the two Norwegian guys on the plane from Newark.

Maybe five days later, I was sitting around the house at my dad’s, still feeling a bit disoriented. The doorbell rang. I went to the door, opened it, and there were the two Norwegian guys, standing on my dad’s front porch.

“How did you find me?” I asked them, somewhat confused.

They procured a map of the Bay Area. And my card.

Jesus. Norwegians are very literal, aren’t they? I mean, I think I may have said, “come and check out the wine country,” on the plane.

What could I do? I invited them in.

From that moment on, there would be a family story about, “That time Shanah went to Sweden and brought home those two Norwegian guys,” or worse, “That time Shanah picked up those two Norwegian guys on the plane.” I hope you can see how this is completely unfair. They followed me home, after all.

So, there I was, standing in the bright sunlight of California, two Norwegian guys on the front porch. I walked into the house, followed by two Norwegian computer programmers who were in the Silicon valley learning some new programming language. It was their day off. As mutual computer programmers, they started talking to my dad in a language that the rest of us didn’t understand: computer code. Meanwhile, my sister Lori was calling my sister Kathy to come over quick because Shanah brought home two Norwegian guys she picked up on the airplane from Sweden!

Those poor Normen had no idea what they were in for.

Kathy showed up, and it was determined that Lori, Kathy, and I should give the Normen a tour of Western Sonoma County. The five of us piled into a small rental car and off we went!

It took me a while to realize what was going on here. Lori and Kathy were single and in their twenties, and the Normen were single and in their twenties. I was eighteen. I hadn’t really thought of them as amorous prospects, in general. They were just Norwegians. My sisters, on the other hand, turned up the charm to eleven knots and determined to show the Normen the time of their lives. This is actually a bit difficult, if you are just showing someone Guerneville, but they managed to pull it off quite splendidly. Squished into the back seat of that tiny car, I began to feel a bit used; as if I had been merely bait, while my dear sisters went in for the kill.

As much as my sisters were toying with them, the Normen seemed to also be playing some sort of predetermined yet incomprehensible mating game. They were excited to play upon the mystique of their whole Norwegianness. At one point, there was some issue over operating a new camera to take our picture, and Lori suggested reading the owner’s manual. Norman #1 looked at her very seriously and said,

“Norwegians do not read directions.”

Aha. That explains a lot, thought I.

Okay, not really. I was trying to keep up with this whole charade. I had no idea what was going on here. As I said before, I was just bait.

The Normen had real names, of course, but I can’t remember them now. I think my dad actually kept in touch with one of them for a while. I remember his name was very unpronounceably Norwegian.

I guess they were cute, in some sort of Norwegian computer programmer way. At the end of the day, they went back to Palo Alto or wherever they were staying, and nothing really came of it all. It became the family story, “remember that time Shanah picked up those two Norwegian guys on the plane?”

It's just a dream. Doesn't mean a thing... right?

I had this dream last night that I was sitting in the principal's office, drinking. I was getting loaded before I taught class. I was justifying this in my mind, calling it my "medicine". Every beer bottle I finished, I placed the empty bottle solidly in Mr. S's wastebasket, and gave him a steady, defiant gaze. He said nothing. I thought, I wonder if I'll get fired? And then I opened another. All the while, I was keeping my eye on the clock, waiting for 12:03, when fifth period starts.

Bodkay's Favorite Place to Be


He likes it when you run water over him. Then he comes to get pet, all wet on my lap.

There's a word for that!

I had this friend in high school, Monique. She was a year older than I. She was an artist. We used to talk about how all of the people at school were in this Conglomerate Mass of Humanity, of conformity, and it wouldn't matter what we did in life; we would never be part of that Conglomerate Mass. (Even if we tried.) Being a visual artist, Monique would describe the theory in visual terms, and I visualized it as looking something like this:




I included "You" in this rendition, because clearly, if you're here in my private blogospace, you're not a part of the Conglomerate Mass. You're special.

That's right. :) You're like a rare flower or wild lizard.

I have written here before about how I feel like an impostor at work, like everyone else there is a grown-up doing a grown-up job, and I'm just a kid messing around.

Also, I feel like other women with children are mothers, but I'm like someone who happens to have a kid. I am often confused by the things that the mothers do, and I wonder, Should I be doing that? Is there something I'm missing here? What's going on?

I feel like an anthropologist or an observer when I am actually among people like me, doing normal things. Like shopping. There are a bunch of ladies there, pushing carts around, so why do I have these sort of out-of-body experiences while shopping? What the hell is all this stuff for?

I guess it really stems from being weird by nature. I had this teacher in college who kept telling us to "think outside the box" about teaching methods, and I kept saying, "But where's the box? What's inside the box? I don't know where the box is! Good God where is this box???!!!"

But there is some hope. I almost have a syndrome. Clearly, if there's a Wikipedia on it, it's important and stuff. Hallelujah! There are people like me! I discovered today that there is a name for it: Impostor Syndrome. Of course!

I wonder what a support group of people with Impostor Syndrome would look like? If you really wanted to mess with people at an Impostor Syndrome meeting, you could say, "Hey, you don't have Impostor Syndrome! You bastard, coming to meetings for a syndrome you don't even have! Who do you think you are?"



Also, you should read this. Unrelated, mostly, but still.

The Love Shack

We are incubating about four dozen eggs right now, hoping for baby chickens. We candled them tonight, and only six of them weren't fertilized. 42 / 48 = 87.5% fertilized! Those chickens sure are busy, if you know what I mean. Busy makin' sweet chicken love! I shall hereby refer to the chicken coop as "The Love Shack".

And I would walk 500 miles...

I'm 37 now.

Or, maybe I'm 47.

I look great for 47, don't I?

That's because I'm 37.

Damn.

Gina's hat is still sitting in the closet. Knitted for her birthday, first week of February. February? Damn.

If you teach a fish to climb a tree, he won't climb a tree, he'll feel like an idiot. But if you teach a fish to swim, well, there's another thing entirely. What the heck was I meant to do? Am I a fish climbing trees, or learning the doggy paddle?

10,000 hours, someone told me today. You do anything 10,000 hours, you're an expert.

I'm going at this teaching thing very slowly, then. I only really teach ten hours a week. I need a thousand weeks of this, then. Twenty years? Wow. It's going to be a while. Although, I do have prior experience.

What kinds of things do I actually have 10,000 hours of experience doing, I wonder?

1. Sleeping, for sure.
2. Watching TV. I'm an expert at that.
3. Being a student.
4. Walking.
5. Reading.
6. Talking to people.
7. Talking to myself.
8. Cleaning.
9. Despairing, in general.
10. Daydreaming.
11. Writing? This is possible. I'm not entirely sure, as writing is usually recorded in pages or words rather than hours spent.
12. Eating.
13. _________________________________


What do you have 10,000 hours of experience doing?

Good Reads: "Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire: A Novel" by Poe Ballantine


As a child, my grandparents spoiled me in every way possible, but when Sunday night, Seven PM rolled around, they were suddenly quite strict. There was nothing, nothing in this world that could keep them from watching "The Lawrence Welk Show". It was then that they became different people, their faces transported to an otherworldly Nirvana as they watched those magical bubbles float across the screen.

And that's why the title of The Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire grabbed me immediately. The author, Poe Ballantine, is a frequent writer in The Sun. He's a fantastic writer of the truth, in all its nuances. I didn't know, when I picked up the book, if he would pull through on the fiction front.

The book starts out a little bit worrisome, seeming like the ramblings of some middle aged guy about his raucous youth. Edgar, the main character, gets kicked out of college for acting like a complete idiot. His one saving grace is that he knows he's been an idiot, so I read on. And then, through some series of events that really could happen, and really could happen to some idiot like me, he follows his best friend to an island in the Caribbean. I think it's a fake island that Ballantine made up- no matter. Once there, Edgar sees the darker side of his friend, he falls into lust with a worrisome woman, and also it turns into, well, kind of a zombie book. It gets really awesome, actually. I couldn't put it down for the last one hundred pages. I mean, it doesn't get cheesy at all. The zombie thing falls into the storyline as naturally as drinking orange juice for breakfast. The main character, Edgar, doesn't believe in zombies, of course.

Of course.

Now that I'm done with, Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire: A Novel, I feel lonely. I want to go back there again.

I've always felt left out that I never got one of these letters, but now I finally did! I'm being hoodwinked! Yay! What shall I respond?

Confidence Trust and Honest
From the desk of Dir. Abdoul Ali
Regional Managing Director
Coris Bank International
Ouagadougou Burkina Faso
Telephone number:+22674186972

Dear friend,
My names are Dir. Abdoul Ali Regional Managing Director of Coris Bank International I discovered existing dormant account for 5years. When I discovered that there had been neither continuation nor withdrawals from this account for this long period and our banking laws stipulates that any unserviceable account for more than 5years will go into the bank revenue as an unclaimed fund.

I have made personal inquiries about the depositor and his next of kin but sadly, the depositor and his next of kin died on their way to Senegal for business tycoon, and he left no body behind for this claim I only made this investigation just to be double sure of this fact and since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives, I seek your concern for further information.

Amount to claim US$:9,500.000.00
The purpose of claming this fund: to help the orphanage around the world
Now my questions are:-
1. Can you handle this project? ………………………
2. Can I give you this trust? …………………………

If yes, call me and send to me your personal information as below:
Your name :.......................
Your address :.................
Your country :.................
Your occupation:...............
Your age:...................
Telephone number:..............
This information is necessary.

Thanks,
My regards to your home,
Mr Abdoul Ali


[Cellar Door is amused by the grammar in this note, among other things.]