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Monday, December 05, 2011

Mild Relief

This is going to be a good paper, I think.  Typically, having it still on one’s mind, in a good way, after a night of reading and thinking and having weird dreams, is a positive sign.  Now to write the proposal and move on to writing the next paper, which is actually due before the other one.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Seven Quick Takes

Ah me.  Hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary.

1. There are only 2 people left in the entire family that I have not gotten a Christmas gift for.  Aaaaand, the gifts for everyone else are wrapped, boxed, labeled by state, and ready to head out the door.  Aaaaaand all the Christmas cards are ready to go, except for putting a picture inside.  I am ON, man.

2. Concentrating on two classes at once is harder than I remember.  I think this is because Joseph was gone the last time I did two at once…either way, there’s an awful lot of reading for these suckers.  The good news is, I did a great job lining up these as a pair, since they’re turning out to complement one another excellently.  And I mean, “hey wow, I only have to read this book once and can write both papers!”  If I had to blame something, I’d say blogging is suffering because of class.

3. Also cleaning is to blame.  How did my house get so dirty?  And why does it stay that way day after day?  And how long have these clothes been in the dryer?  And whose shirt is this?

4. With all the paperwork assembled at long last, Joseph can submit the law school applications [that have been sitting, completed, for weeks, while we waited for some third party documentation] and finish up his part of the job altogether!  Yay!  Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has decided whether or not he’ll get into the program, but perversely insists on not releasing the document telling us if it’s a whether or a not.  So.  We wait, and wait, hoping for the golden goose.  There’s really no other way to put it.

5.  With cruel abandon, someone demonstrated to me yesterday that the word “menopause” can be substituted for “Santa Claus” in just about any holiday song you choose.  My brain fused, the season is ruined for all eternity.

6.  There’s nothing I love more than watching someone I love love watching trains.

7.  How did my house get so dirty?  And why does it stay that way day after day?  And how long have these dishes been in the dishwasher?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

Howitzers Can’t Swim

Many truths are self-evident, and I’ve always felt the above was one of them.  Apparently not.  My hero husband helper dude is all getting important and involved with a big amphibious exercise thing next year.  Which, like I said, I’m pretty sure doesn’t sound like one of those things a cannon ought to be involved with, ever.  We’ve got enough trouble with Marines being unable to swim, why go and put dangerous and expensive equipment near the water as well?  You’d think it was what the Corps was designed for or something.

In other news, you should actually be serious and pray for both my uncle’s mother, who is dying, and for all the poor people involved in any way with the scandal up at Penn State.  (If you don’t know what I mean, don’t look it up, because you’ll become sad and grossed out.)  The world is a mess.  Yesterday we stopped off to visit a couple of Joe’s relatives that I hadn’t really ever met before, and Aunt Jeanne was saying she wished that more groups of people looked out for each other.  We agreed…but then again, if everyone was like that, Joe would be out of a job.

Finally, my two new classrooms opened this morning and I’ve been on already, overachieving and submitting my bio and honor code pledge at the crack of early.  This way I have all week to put off commenting on the assigned article, which at 5 pages from the WSJ shouldn’t exactly put me into a sweat.  These are going to be fun classes, but I can already tell it was asking for trouble to take two at once.  First of all, what sounded like two similar linear subjects are NOT AT ALL so nicely laid out.  In fact, we swan dive off the cliff of Western history straight into Napoleon (ech) within two weeks in Class A, but in Class B he’s the case model for consideration at the end of the course.  Drat.

And I hate Napoleon.  He probably couldn’t even swim.

p.s. My camera didn’t make it to PA with me, so you don’t get any pictures of our fantastically fantastic trip until one of my sisters-in-law shares her photos.  I have gotten back on facebook for this express purpose.  Also to get better and more current information on base construction projects.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Two years ago, my little guy turned Catholic.  It’s handy, using easy and significant Holy Days of Obligation for your major family feasts.  Hard to forget that way.

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There he is, freshly exorcised, with Sancta Risus (who did get her phone call from the nuns!).  Her baptismal day is January 1st, another Holy Day, so we’re trying to set a trend here and only baptize on unforgettable days.

What a sweet little baby.  That was the day I was cantoring High Mass (less than a week out of surgery? why, yes, now that you mention it) and left my Magic Ibuprofen Magicalness at the house.  So my mum had to run out at the Gospel and get it no matter what.  In the rain.  And the cold.  And the wind.  She did, and I got my fix, and no one had to see/hear me off the good stuff, and it just was in general a really good day.  It was a much less frightening entrance into a family than the physical one had been a week earlier, that’s for sure.  :)  (It also got me completely hooked on the old rite of Baptism and already scheming to figure out where in the world I’m going to find a priest to do it here again in March, and not feeling very optimistic about the chances.  I mean, starting outside, salting the kid, draping him in a stole to carry him in the Church…verily, it rocketh.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Quick Takes Friday

So, here we are, another week, another Friday.  Another deadline, another miracle.  :)

1. Finished the paper, like I said I would, and have spent the last 24 hours doing things on my to-do list like it’s going out of style.  I’m proud of myself, doing some of the less-fun things like outside work, even though fall has re-arrived and it’s chilly.

2. Went to the library to get some movies to watch while my family is here next week.  This is the perfect time to go to the library!!  7:30pm on a week night…no one is there, it’s quiet, there are no other children to fight with in the play area.  It’s awesome.  We had a great time.  I love the library.

3. I need Christmas to come very soon so that I can give people their gifts and get this stuff out of my house.  Is that terrible?  Is that, like, completely lacking in charity and Christian thoughtfulness, that I’m most interested in giving the darn gifts already because I have them, they’re wrapped, and I’m tired of moving them from one place to another in my search for order and sanity in this house?

4.  Blew another 2 hours this morning going through the music on this computer and trying to sort it again.  Copying from iPods and other computers’ hard drives and CDs has mixed results.  Lots of what copied didn’t copy properly, and lots of other things copied with no file information, so I’m having to listen to each thing and label it, name it, categorize it….bah.

5.  Ultrasound yesterday!  That was actually really fun.  Joe got to come with, for the first time ever, and the tech spent a really long time with us.  I’ve never had an ultrasound last more than 10 minutes before, and this was a little less than an hour.  Baby was chillin’ somewhere amidst my liver and the woman couldn’t get a clear picture of the face…so she was trying all kinds of things to get some movement.  When he finally did roll into view, he covered his face with his hands.  Ha!  But overall, a pretty chill little thing in there…not at all like the frenetic guppy I had a couple years ago.

6. Did I mention that I’m ready for Christmas?

7.  I love the fact that I use Google Earth for school.  “What is this bluff they’re talking about?  Where on the river?  Why didn’t they cross lower?”  And I look on Google Earth, and I understand.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To sleep, perchance to have a drug trip

Seriously, these dreams are not even remotely normal any more.  For one thing, they’re continuous…all night, and then the early morning after I’ve just woken up.  I can control the dream then, for about ten minutes or so if I stay still and the house is quiet.  The “action” or plot of the dream freezes a little, but I can explore details or go look at things that I want to…like being in a museum exhibit of the dream I was having. And the dream content itself is…trippy.

But all that’s in the past.  It’s daytime!  And the paper is done…just finished it.  My resident Nitpick gets home at noon and he’s going to take a look, then I’m turning that sucker in and working on NO SCHOOL AT ALL for three weeks.  Then I start those two new classes.  I hope they’ll be fun.  I want to talk Nitpick into auditing one of them, because I think it would be fun to have him in discussion.  Something tells me they won’t let spouses take classes together.  Conflict of interest or something.

Other than that, not much going on.  I decided that, after like a year of staring at the unfinished project on my counter (how bad is that, is sits on the counter and I still don’t get it done) I was going to finish the Montessori binders last night.  So I did!  They are printed, copied, punched, bound, labeled, and on the shelf!!  I have two more to do, but they are both small and the instructor for the course hasn’t given us those materials so I’m not technically “done,” but I finished what was laying around my kitchen.  It’s a race to check off an item from the to-do list before I add another item.  (I lost.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Somefink Wonderful

They’re quick takes, but the theme of my day is just so colored by #1, that it leaked over into the title.  Sorry.  You’ll recover.

1.  So, as of yesterday, our little family is officially school-debt FREE!  Smile  Yay!!  Not quite regular-debt free, there’s still some of that hanging around, but all of the dough shelled out for Christendom and its contribution to our lives is repaid in full to the grubby financial institutions to whom it was owed.  (Thanks, of course, to the Marine Corps’ hefty contribution, plus selling my car and teaching piano lessons.  Lol.  Totally worth every second.)

2.  When they say “Indian Summer” around here, they mean the industrial strength kind from the real India, in south Asia.  We’re talking about highs in the 80s several days in a row, despite continuous rain, and a yard full of plants that are utterly consufed by their surroundings.  Consufed.  Irises, pear trees, azaleas, and lilacs all going “Hey, spring!  Check out these flowers we made!”

3. Not wonderful, but slightly funny.  This morning I was putting out glue traps in the upstairs,just in case that brown stuff Joe found was mouse poop, and the noise I heard in the attic really was mice and not the Biggest Roach On Earth. 

I do. Really I do.

4. Making cookie dough to freeze today, as part of my plan to “use all the stuff in the cabinets” by secretly just re-purposing it into something fattening that either has to be kept frozen or eaten right away.  The bonus is cookies, but the downside is a freezer that seems to stay full no matter how seldom I go to the grocery store.

5. Speaking of grocery store, one of the [embarrassingly] cheap thrills I get out of Joe being deployed, or in the field, or on duty, or anyplace else he tends to be, is the fun of seeing how long I can go between trips to the grocery story.  My deployment record (not counting bananas and milk, which don’t exactly have a shelf life) was nine weeks.  I’m almost to three weeks now (again, not counting milk which I bought yesterday).  I love it.

6. My son said “Thank You” to me this morning, quite clearly and without any solicitation.  There is hope.

7. Four pages and counting into this final paper, and I’m just typing out quotes so far.  I haven’t gotten to nerve to go back and find out what the assigned length is for this thing…I almost don’t want to know.  If it’s short, I have to pare down the amount of [stuff] I’ve got by A LOT.  If it’s long, I have to say something intelligent in between all these quotes.  What’s a girl to do?  Like any self-respecting student, the first thing I did this morning when I hit a snag was to register for two more classes.  Never do today what you can register for next semester.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wordpress says Howdy

When I’m logged in on Virtuouspla.net, wordpress tells me “Howdy.”  That’s funny.

So yes, I’m up again over on the site if you want to hear me whine about how people with families (not just large ones!) get raked over the poo just for, uh, having a family.

Last night, it was an irate friend.  “Does your husband ever hug you in uniform???”  Yes.  “Well, I just got told that I was headed down a seriously short career path if I wanted to be so gravely unprofessional in front of my Marines as to hug my wife.”  Meh.  Welcome to the club.

A couple weeks ago, we had a conversation about all the good reasons why we deserved to know when and where we were moving.  Unfortunately, all our good reasons revolve around being pregnant, difficulty of traveling with a child in winter, how switching from base housing to BAH means eating an entire month’s worth of rent and it’d be great to move at the beginning or end of the month and not the middle, or about scheduling a move before (or after) flu season when staying in hotels and being in restaurants doesn’t end up automatically mean spending a week with Cousin Vicks and the Kleenex Band.

But those are dumb reasons.  Unprofessional.  Silly.  So bad, we don’t even bring them up to our [ostensibly rational] chain of command.  We’d get laughed out of the room.  Dumb world.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Foto Friday

Why not?  I’m just sitting here otherwise…putting off working on the quilt.  And the dishes.  Besides, it isn’t lunchtime yet but I’m getting hungry, so it’s either sit here or go forage and be sorry for it later.

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A momentous day for our “new” car. Where does the time go?  Where do the miles come from?

 

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At the horse stables…where cats are more interesting than horses.

 

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Daddy’s first time on a horse (he did great!).

 

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Baby playing with car, courtesy of V.  (No, he doesn’t really get the concept.  When Joe asks “Where is the baby?” his hip, stomach, behind, or whatever other portion of Joe’s body looks likely will get pointed at.  When I ask, he usually points to my stomach, but sometimes…other places.  Lol.)

The Sad Truth

Sometimes, I’m sorry to say it, I just don’t get anything done when my husband is around.  We spend so much time….I don’t know, living?  That nothing else gets done. 

High school band competition?  Check.

Fully awesome Jewish acapella group?  Total check.  (Go watch the video, then come back.)

Christmas books out for practicing?  Check.

Dishes done?  Ha.

Schoolwork finished?  Please.

Blog updated?  Don’t make me laugh.

Soooo, here we are this morning doing all those things that don’t get done when Daddy is around.  The school is caught up (and ahead!), the laundry is done, the dishes are…getting there.  And here I am, bloggy blogging about nothing at all.  Really, the whole aim this morning was to link to that video, which is (again) fully awesome.  You have to watch to the end, too, because the last 5 seconds are really funny, if you know philosophy.

Tonight my man child and I are heading to the local homecoming football game.  Because I am not the only one out there that really loves high school football, right?  Of course right.  After all, I spent 7 hours on Saturday sitting in the bleachers watching a high school band competition, so why wouldn’t I drag the toddler to a football game tonight?  He likes balls, he likes the music, and there is seriously nothing else to do around here.  Peace.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Response

Sheila wrote a great post at A Gift Universe, about her recent experience with taking a toddler to Mass, and how (to be frank) unwelcoming the community was.  I started to comment, then kept commenting, and finally decided it was just rude to keep unloading in her combox.  Soooo I moved it over and made it a new post.  Lucky you!

Ahhhhh, yes.  The anti-child pro-lifers.  We've run into some of those!  I hate that.  Hate it.  Out of the last eight Sundays, I haven't even been near the Church building past the Creed for three of them.  Screaming monster child and I have already gone to sit in the car. 

In the Church, interest in what's going out keeps him wanting to head for the front.  (No, thank you Helpful Old Lady, sitting in the front does NOT help.)  In the cry room, there are four dozen sick children all crawling all over one another and touching things.  In the vestibule, there are pamphlets and holy water fonts and people with [silent] infants whom my child wants to touch.  Out on the sidewalk, there's a STREET my child wants to run in.  So, left with nothing but a writhing 30-pounder, kicking me in the gut and screaming in a genuinely disturbing fashion, I head for the car.  Why not try to solve the problem instead of run away from it?  Because I'll go to jail if someone sees me give my son the swat on the behind that he well knows means "knock it off."  (A swat that works, if I'm able to just give it at the moment, then move right on.  No such luck in public, hence Evil Child appears only in public.) 
 
When I'm the only one home that weekend, we sit there in the car until I think the people coming out actually waited for the final blessing (i.e. Mass is actually over), then I drive off.  When Joe is home, we wait for him to come out and then ask "how was Mass?"  I'm sick of it, frankly, and utterly depressed by our inability to attend Mass as a family.  We've gone through stages where we took turns going to Mass, which did bring each adult at least the chance for peaceful prayer, I hated that we weren’t “together.”  Priests and adults I love and trust have told me not to worry, that this stage will pass, that we’ll all go to Mass together soon, that I needn’t worry, that this is the first child and the trials of behavior are much fewer with seconds or thirds, that daily Mass is an excellent option for taking my son since it’s short (not as a substitute for Sunday, but rather to give him experience sitting still), etc.  But it still doesn’t mean I enjoy this stage, especially since the chance to “trade off” isn’t really an available chance every weekend.

And I REALLY DO NOT ENJOY going to Mass at an exceptionally holy [read = Latin] parish and being informed, variously:

“Of course, if he gets More Disruptive, you’ll want to move him away from the door so he doesn’t echo into the choir loft.”

“Well, thank goodness the Narthex is Quite Soundproof.”

“They do so much better when their parents are reverent.”  (I wasn’t wearing a chapel veil.)

or

“Please remember this is a house of prayer, and reverence should be shown.”

Hmm.  My mental vocabulary deteriorates in these kinds of situations pretty rapidly, to the point where it’s a good thing my kid is screaming so loud, or else people might here all the rude things I’m thinking.  Believe me, mister, I’ve spent a lifetime sitting behind children 5-9 years old and being continually frustrated, annoyed, distracted, and disgusted by their antics.  Game Boys, crackers, cell phones, Harry Potter books, gatorade, manicure kits—I’ve seen it all, entertainment trotted out for and by a class of children who are far and away quite old enough to sit still through Mass.  I hate praying and being yanked from concentration by a voice clearly announcing, “I’m bored by this!”  And the voice is not a toddler’s.  Those children annoy me, those children are the ones whose maturity demands silence, and whose parents are gravely at fault.

But parents of toddlers?  Crying infants?  What makes us so annoying?  Sure, that lady I used to see whose baby cried for the entire Mass, and she never left?  That was a little annoying.  After all, something was wrong with the baby!  Maybe he was dirty, maybe he was hungry, but she sure didn’t do anything about it.  I never used to leave Mass when V was a baby, unless it just went on and on and on (and usually ended up being a diaper thing).  I’d stand up, rock him, hum to him, give him a toy, swaddle him up, nurse him…any number of things, and he usually ended up spending more time quiet than noisy.  Once mobility became an issue, of course, that changed, but in general I still don’t leave Mass for reasons of noise.  I leave Mass for reasons of Running To Altar Really Really Fast.  (Then, when we’re someplace fun and I won’t let him play, the noise begins.)  Oh well.  I’m running out of steam and getting frustrated just thinking about it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Life as we know it

Ok, in concert with getting caught up on school and being back from the Last Great Trip Until Thanksgiving, I was also able to get the phone to cooperate, the internet to be functioning, the power to be on, and the keyboard to be fixed.  All at the same time.  This enables me to get the photos off my phone and into the computer, and share what’s been up with us lately.  So.  Some pictures!  Happy for you!!

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Enjoying a visit with cousin Rowan. (aka Last Peaceful Moment Of A Long Ride)

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Rowan.  Total cutie.

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Lunch at Five Guys…after Daddy took Vincent to get his hair “trimmed”

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Havin’ a pop.

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Watching the trains cross in Q-Town.

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Spotted at church in Stafford: Rodney Dangerfield.

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Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium

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Breakfast in Bed

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At the Children’s Museum in Raleigh (during hurricane Irene)

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Keeping Score

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Ready for a wedding!

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Something sweet.  (Joe is the one swatting Mrs. Cole on the…behind.)

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I love my men.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fixed Links

Ok.  Here: http://virtuouspla.net/.  Now go there and quit pointing out all my shortcomings.

That one works, I guarantee. I posted on the site today today, too, all about dressing nicely for Mass, and a whole bunch of other stuff that probably has nothing to do with the actual subject I supposedly had at hand.  Oh well.

Also,I finished the paper this morning AND started defumigating Geist with no little amount of success, so it was a productive day after all.  Next task is to get all the copies made for RCIA class, which starts tomorrow.  The new pastor is very hands-on, and I hope that will translate into my commitment to the program being us a much less responsible nature…I need a break!

Finally, over on my sister’s blog she’s posted pictures of her latest retreat at the convent, as well as the exciting news that the Sisters officially gave her the packet to begin her process of “application” to join their community.  I think she’s just a little excited.  Smile

Friday, September 09, 2011

7 Respite Takes

I know I’ve been a nonexistent blogger lately, and there are quasi-real reasons for that, but!  I’m going to do Quick Takes today, because if I don’t take a break soon I’ll explode.  So, head over to Jen’s and read her fun and cool takes, then check VirtuousPla.net for more fun things.  Here we go:

UNO ~ Writing a paper on Abraham Lincoln and his use of the “war powers” during the Civil War is proving extremely difficult.  Paper is basically due in three hours, and I’ve put it off and put it off because I just don’t enjoy trying to make a hero of a man who, at least in the very long term, has done grave damage to the country.  To remove the lens of modern experience and see him for “what he was in his own time” is nearly impossible—lauding his work in expanding public works programs, for example, is one of the chief ways his fans demonstrate what a truly society-loving humanitarian he was.  Aack!  No!  Down with government social programs!  Luke!  It’s a trap!  It’s a TRAAAP!!!

TWO ~ Irene came and went, we were in the mid-South for Lee and so got to enjoy that, Katia has handily dissolved herself, and now we’re watching Maria.  Why do we all get this silly idea that hurricanes come in the summer?  They never come in the summer.  They never come when convenient, either.  In the meantime, we’re so happy to have experienced so little damage, especially since none of it at all is a result of water.  The news from further North is not pretty.

DREI ~ Grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast is completely acceptable.  Especially since you refuse to go to the grocery store until all of the trips-out-of-town are over—aaaaand you threw out virtually EVERYTHING that was previously in the house because it spoiled during the first hurricane.  Thank goodness for insurance, but I still refuse to go to the grocery store.

CUATTRO ~ Speaking of going out of town, we’re all very excited this morning to be leaving (uh, as soon as this paper is done…) for a wedding!  Our dear ol’ buddy Andrew is getting married in [very inconvenient] Kansas City, MO.  He’s a great guy, a faithful friend, and it’ll be fun to be at his wedding, since he was at ours all those long, long yeas go.  Also inconveniently, we’ll be making our return flight on September 11th.  Boo.  So, prayers that travel is smooth and safe, please?  Flying with a toddler under normal conditions is tough, but flying with him under “Sir, please don’t touch that” conditions might be considerably tougher.

CINQ ~ For those who did not go to VirtousPla.Net (see now, look how important it was and you just blew it off before) and read the [highly informative] bio my husband put on there, I am announcing to the blog that I am, in fact, again “in the family way.”  Medical examination has unequivocally found that, in March, another Mazzara will grace the world with loud opinions, bad hair, and unwavering brand-faithfulness to Kraft and General Mills.  I expect it will look a little like this one, only perhaps female (I’m determined to not find out this time…we’ll see how long I last):

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SEKS ~ After a disappointing summer, it looks like Round #2 of my garden is actually going to be a garden, and not a petting zoo buffet.  All of the plants now have either fruit or the beginnings of fruit (in the general sense, they’re actually all vegetables), including the two tomato plants “planted” by the creatures that came and stole Round #1.  I think this is funny, that half the plants that are now bearing were put there by the animals who stole the whole stash back in June.  So anyway.  The overachiever of the plot is the Jalapeno plant, which is a little inconvenient.  I’m beginning to see a pattern of inconvenience in my life.

ZEVEN ~ I’m back into the swing with piano lessons now.  Only one family has not had their “first lesson back,” and when they’re in the slot I’ll have a full complement of 32 students.  Yay!  Now the task is to kindly and gently start sending them toward a new teacher, since I’m going to be done done done in six months.  Also, Murphy’s Law demands that we will also move to a new duty station at the same time.  Either way, no more lessons.  I’ll be unemployed.  I’ll be a useless drag on my husband and his single income.  It’ll be fabulous.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Return of the Internets

Irene was here, Irene has gone, we got internet back this morning, power back Sunday late night. The only trouble is that a tree crew has not yet removed the giant pine in the back yard, and the stand a good chance of undoing all the good accomplished by the utility company in the last three days. Not sure how they're going to slice and dice it without taking the lines or poles out of commission.

Aaaaaand so, even though we were in Raleigh with good internet until Sunday morning, I'm days behind on all manner of things. Should be doing school....playing Civilization instead. Should be putting the books, papers, clothes, appliances, and other chattels back where they belong...sitting around reading instead. Not a good start to the week.

Oh well. But we're here, we're alive, no damage to life,limb, or property, other than (naturally) a freezer and refrigerator full of spoiled food. :( And, also naturally, not a loaf of bread to be seen for miles.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

WikiTime

It's like normal time, except that it gets completely away from you as you cruise lazily from one article to the next. Grain-destroying beetles? Most invasive species on earth? Common house cat? Genetic mutation? Deafness research? How did I get over here? Where did those two hours go? Is it a function of statistics that the random article always seems to be about an obscure Eastern European person or play, or is the random button biased?

We used to try playing a game, where Joseph would choose two unrelated things and I had to get from the first article to the second in only six steps. I never lost, so we quit playing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Remedial TV

Because we don’t have cable, or anything approaching it, the best I can do is take a quiet weekend and watch 5-10 years worth of programming, primarily National Geographic specials and hippie documentaries about the overpopulation problem.

As a result, my brain functions in only one direction at the moment, which is wondering how to still enjoy Olive Garden and Taco Bell while knowing where and how they get their ingredients.  Ugh.  Oh well.

Check me out again at VirtuousPla.net and hear me yak about this subject.  Or, better yet, go read the stuff written by other contributors, which is interesting and well-written and diverse and such.  And tell your friends!  Make a daily check of content part of your routine.  Become a slavish follower.  Bow down.

Friday, August 19, 2011

7 Long Quick Takes

-ONE-

These aren't "quick" quick takes at all, but rather really long diatribes that didn't seem important enough to put in posts of their own. They're also pretty much all political, which shouldn't surprise you considering the description of my daily life in #2...

-TWO-

I think my biggest obstacle to writing these days is titles. One of two things is going to happen. Either I think of a snappy title but have no brains whatsoever to write anything underneath it, or else I know what to write about but have no title with which to focus my efforts. Writing turns into either a Drudge headline or a epic novel about Something That Recently Occurred To Me. This is a problem if you want people to read your stuff, but it’s also a problem if you want to write at all. After a while, all-or-nothing syndrome makes you just want to throw in the towel.

In the meantime, I live life at the lowest possible ebb of individual effort. I teach four or five piano lessons a week (which is down from forty plus, so five feels like practically a negative number), I stay in bed until it’s just silly to do so any longer, I spend three hours a day just sitting on the couch listening to the radio because I “can’t do anything else while I’m listening,” and I occasionally will put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. This is the shape of summer at my house. It’s depressing, not really because the house has gone to heck, because it hasn’t, but more because I don’t feel good about how utterly unmotivated I am. If I felt like doing more, I would do it! But I don’t, so I don’t, and it ends up resulting in a cobwebby mental state that feels icky enough to be icky, but not quite icky enough for me to do anything about it.

-THREE-

I was fascinated to find, on network television, a paid and successful TV personality who appears to have a fairly pro-life outlook, at least on the “big issues.” Billy the Exterminator is an A&E reality series about a family who does pest control in Louisiana—and these ain’t spiders and voles, peeps. The guy jumps into lakes after alligators, traps possums, raccoons, armadillos, bobcats, exterminates wasp nests the size of a VW (not a joke), and all manner of Texas-sized animalia that are found in Louisiana. The show is “totally whack,” too, with the whole family in this weirdo semi-Goth style of dress and all the black-leather flair and ambiance that goes along with it. Joseph makes grand and royal fun of me watching this show. He’ll come in, stay long enough to see how disgustingly huge the latest infestation of roaches is, and say, “Oh, are you watching Billy Ray Cyrus Kills Bugs again?” No taste, that man.

Aaaaanyway. So, there’s a number of situations in the first three seasons where Billy goes into houses and the woman is pregnant. One of the company’s trademark things is how they use environment-friendly pesticides, which is probably not a bad idea when the nearest body of water at any given moment is 8-10 feet down the hill. Whenever he does his little voice-over for each job, he lists the products he’s going to use, and consistently says, “And these are much safer to use at this house, because they don’t pose any risk to Mary and her unborn baby.” And he always says “baby.” I like that! I like the show, too. It’s sort of Crocodile Hunter meets Dirty Jobs, messy and funny and sometimes you get to see a 23-foot snake. But anyway. I think it’s pro-life of him to speak that way, and I like that this is a prime-time reality show where people are hearing it. Certainly aren’t many other places you hear words like that in public.

-FOUR-

In politics these days, it would possibly be educational for “evil empire” anti-military Americans to consider what’s happening in Syria lately. As is traditional and normal in Middle Eastern locales, large scale infighting and violence is on the table, and no one is able to deny that the latest round is directly at the behest of the current ruling party in Syria, headed by Bashar Assad. We are, please note, not in Syria right now. Thousands of people are murdered and tossed into mass graves, including women and children (who are often targeted), and we are not there. Stop whining that we're "everywhere," when clearly we are not.

Iraq is not a shining beacon of peace and accord, nor was the war in Iraq necessarily just (I’m on the fence on that one, still). However, there are NOT still people being systematically killed with chemical weapons, not still entire towns being slaughtered because of their religion or tribe, not still mass graves being dug and filled weekly at the direction of the regime. We were in Iraq, and now there's no genocide. Now please, the very last thing I’m suggesting here is that we should go to Syria! That's a very bad idea. But I’d like for people to do two things: first, stop Chicken-Littling your way through life going, “Omgz! We’re totally like involved in EVERY WAR on EARTH!!” Because we aren't. Sit down and shut up. Second, think of piles of dead children, and tell me whether “interference” on the part of a wealthy and capable nation might not, in the end, just possibly, be a net gain for humanity. I’m pretty sure back when Ignatius sent missionaries to Asia, there were plenty of European Christians who were in grave need of evangelization and ministry, yet he left the immediate sphere of influence and responsibility and traveled out to help those who could not help themselves. Stupid Jesuits, going abroad when clearly they could have done so much more good at home, guarding the borders against the insurgent Protestant Bible Cartels in France and Germany.

-FIVE-

“God wants us dependent on Him, not dependent on the government.” That was Ryan Rhodes, the now-famous Tea Party member who made it his business on Monday to ask the President some pressing questions. Now he’s hit the big time, of course, with major news outlets searching for him, his name plastered across all the ubiquity of the mainstream media. Tuesday afternoon he made it through the lines of the Rush Limbaugh show, where he had great comments to make about individual responsibility, traditional liberty, the need for Faith. Once again, we’re getting to the bottom of all that is wrong with our country—people have abandoned God and faith (any faith!) and, knowing that their house must be build on stone, look for stability and protection from something else. Would the welfare state even exist, if our nation was still a people of Faith? I think not, or at least certainly not to the degree it exists today. Jesus said “the poor will always be with you,” but he didn’t say that “You should strive to always be poor and need someone else’s help.” We need to take back our country, be in charge of our own future, own responsibility for our decision. We need the resolve and determination to do so, for if “we the blessed” are no longer able to support ourselves or find prosperity, how will we find a way to help those who cannot help themselves?

-SIX-

We would do well, conservatives, in our quest to discredit global warming and combat Earth-worship hyperenvironmentalism, to keep in mind that “green” initiatives are not all bad. “Weatherization,” for example (upgrading insulation, improving heat/cooling retention) is not at all a hoax, nor a sham. It works. Insulate your house, buy expensive UV-reflecting windows, your energy usage goes down. Heck, put a windmill in your yard to power the well. It works! Use solar energy to run your water heater. It works. Recycle glass and plastics. It’ll save you three or four garbage bags per week, and those suckers are expensive. What we can’t do is replace a millions-of-megawatts-wide power grid with a thousands-of-megawatts-wide [and currently nonexistent] solar and wind grid. We won’t kill the planet in ten years by burning fossil fuels, nor will we run out of said fuels in that same time frame. We don’t need to sterilize humans so that the rain forests can live. There’s all kinds of nonsense out there, but don’t toss out common sense and actual money-saving investments just because they have a “green” label.

-SEVEN-

Be grateful I don't get riled up about all this stuff very often. Most of the time, I hear and observe political and philosophical wrangling and go "meh, I have a life to fritter away on the couch," but lately it's all coming to the surface again. Sorry. I've grown up around a very broad array of political opinions, I have extended family members who are quasi-racist, there are gay people in my family, there are people who carry guns in their cars in my family. I met all manner of nuts and normal people at work and at college, and now I live in a completely different social and political environment...probably the most uniform set of opinions I've seen in a while, but nevertheless different and hotly contested at the points of disagreement. NONE of those people, in all my life, have held their opinions because they're stupid, or because they shut their eyes to the truth (ok, well, maybe a couple). They either think as they do because they have always done so and are too lazy to reevaluate, or because they've been fed wrong information their whole life, or because some real, personal tragedy has driven them away from truth (and usually also Truth). It's offensive and frustrating to me, who has never made this assumption about others, to be assumed to be stupid merely because I hold firm to a political opinion that differs from someone else. That's the irritating part, and that's what brings out all of the loud, sarcastic, obnoxious, conservative in me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pennsylvania Outside

This morning, one of the little boys I teach asked me, "Have you ever been to Pennsylvania? It feels like Pennsylvania outside." So cute. He's right, though, it's a pleasantly warm kind of day, nice for the pool, but not so hot that it makes you want to actually move to Michigan.

Also, today at Virtuous Planet, I hold forth on World Youth Day and other things Popish. There's also totally fun tailgating ideas for those who are World Youth Daying from home...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Virtuous Planet

Ok, here we go! I mentioned a while ago that we met Stacy of Accepting Abundance while we were wandering amongst the wilds of Massachusetts. Thanks to that meeting, she decided that we were sufficiently verbose and Catholic to be part of a New Media project she was helping to start. A few weeks ago, Stacy asked both Joe and I to be part of a group that writes for this brand-new, utterly Catholic, fully awesome website:



It's geared at young adult Catholics, but of course everyone will want to read it. For one thing, we've got nuns. Who doesn't love nuns? As far as I can tell, there's nothing more fun or real that a good, faithful, Catholic nun. We have a priest, too, but priests don't knock each other down while playing soccer in dresses.

Also there's a number of writers on there who are professionals and already well-known in their own write. (Like, lol @ me, right!?!!!!!1!) It's cool to watch it come together, and here's hoping my own, blessedly infrequent, posts don't drag the bar down too low.

So, go check it out! Click around!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Deep Breath!

Well, amongst all the other things I find to do with my life, I've been involved (remotely) in a really interesting project, which goes live tomorrow. (Look for a link and fanfare then.) Also, of course, we make random trips to Virginia, get caught in rabidly ferocious rainstorms, and sit for hours at train crossings hoping for a glimpse of a Choo Choo.

So. Anyway, the project has brought me a great deepening of my Faith. Again I'm taking a leap, crossing a bridge, stepping out blindly in service of my Savior. I'm learning [the amazingly frustrating and still so high-brow] WordPress.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Really irritated, so pardon my French.

Before I begin, let me be perfectly clear. War is hell. We’re going to visit a young man this weekend who doesn’t have any legs. Any questions? Next time you do that, I’d be happy afterward to have a conversation with you about peace, war, and all the politics that surround those ideas.

In the meantime, it would be fabulously awesome if people would stop saying things like “if we’d just cut this ridiculous defense spending, our economy wouldn’t be in the toilet.” This irritates me, first because defense spending actually drives the economy in certain regions. Like, many of the major coastal cities in the United States. Kill the military, and you kill the economy and livelihood in a huge swath of the nation. (It’s already happened all around the country when bases are closed or downsized.) But more to the point, it irritates me because the military is experiencing (on average) a nearly 60% decrease in funding this coming fiscal year. Oh God, yes, let’s definitely do some more trimming there. Please. Let’s close more schools, end more bereavement programs, fire more chaplains, buy fewer helmets, and definitely stop spending all that useless, mindless money on intelligence. Let’s make sure our Marines and Soldiers and Sailors have to buy their own pens, pay for their own printers, and definitely pay their own travel needs to and from assignments. That would be a fitting sacrifice, considering how all they do right now is sit on their asses all day and occasionally drown kittens.

It would also be similarly fantastic if people would stop saying things like “all these useless wars,” “imperial aspirations,” or any of the other myriad, stupid comments I hear. What you don’t know about China, my peace-loving, innocent, insulated friends, might kill you one day. Last time you sat down and thought about the fact that 7th-Century nomads are shooting down helicopters in Afghanistian, did it ever occur to you that someplace like, oh, Iran, just might be helping them out? There are people in this world that want to kill us. Once upon a time, we had a ridiculously castrated, weak, and ineffective president in office, and 30 Americans were taken hostage in Tehran.

The time after that, they put a bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center. The time after that, they tortured and desecrated the bodies of 19 American soldiers outside Mogadishu. And after that, they flew airplanes into buildings and killed 3,000 Americans. Clearly, the way to stop all this is to turn the other cheek. We’ve got a whole West coast they haven’t destroyed yet!

I’d love for you to learn Arabic or Farsi, take a leisurely trip through the Fertile Crescent, and unburden yourself of this notion that they hate us “because we’re over there.” Nope. They hate us because we exist. Every time we fail to take a stand, every time we back down, turn away, or grab our ankles, attacks on innocents and assaults on non-combatants take place. Our weakness is an invitation. Being over there might not make them happy, but no amount of obsequious groveling would make it better. They want our country, in its entirely, overseas or not, to rot away into nonexistence. Why do you think the highest approval rating for our President right now comes from American Muslims? The demise of Western society is their aim, their goal, and (if we back down) their next Christmas present.

In 2001, we said “We’re coming to get you.” Now, has a terrorist flown a plane into your town lately?