Monday, February 25, 2013

If you love it, let it go.

Six weeks without meat was never a big deal to me, and I'd say that it's actually become easier since I started observing the external requirements of the fast. But cream in my coffee and tea becomes ever dearer. The more obediently I turn away from it during the prescribed times, the more precious it is to me on the blessed day of its return, and the more I dread giving it up again. At this point, I think I probably won't drink coffee or black tea at all during Lent this year. I won't refrain as a rule, but simply because without cream... what's the point?

In cream, tea and coffee simply blossom.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I don't talk to my best friend from college often enough, but when I do it usually goes something like this:

Mole: Ah well, the future is uncertain, but I'll just make kombucha wherever we land.
Ratty: Oh, that sounds so nice. Wait, what did you say?
Mole: I said I'll make kombucha wherever we land.
Ratty: Oh, I thought you said "I'll make a home."
Mole: Well that's what I meant, after all. I suppose that's metonymy, isn't it?
Ratty: I incorrectly heard one metonym and substituted the other.
Together: Oh, hahaha.

Monday, February 18, 2013

the liquefaction of her clothes

Slightly obnoxious but perhaps wonderful:

I have been spending all evening looking for black and white photographs to render in charcoal with my students. I started out searching for "black and white photography still life" and kept finding images of beautiful women among all the pepper and pottery pictures.

Hmph! A portrait of a beautiful woman is not a still life! Let's restrict it to "vegetables" and "fruit"! More beautiful women! They are not even holding "vegetables" and "fruit!"

"Gourds!" Okay, that was obvious. Don't do "jugs."
"Coffee cups!" Sigh.
"Animals!" Check.
"Trees!" Check.
"Architectural elements?" ...........check.
"Natural!" No makeup, I get that.
"Nature!" Still sexy ladies, and.... Jon Voigt?
"LEAVES!!!!" Try again.

 So what gives? It's likely that the culprits are just indiscriminate taggers, who make the internet as exasperating a "place" as a library where a bunch of monkeys have learned the rudiments of shelving. But although I was annoyed at searching for one thing and finding another, a bit of charm shone through the frustration. There are simply a lot of pictures of people, especially women, because they are so magnificent. Sometimes the weird tags are slapped on there to generate more hits, but I wonder if sometimes a fistful of seemingly unrelated words is an attempt to capture and share the shimmering, burbling beauty of a moment with another human being. "Coffee cups," not so much, but you never know. I suppose coffee is involved in lots of my burbling moments.

I did end up finding lots of promising pictures, and it's good to know that our admiration for the human form is so irrepressible that eyes and chins and elbows and napes and earlobes and breasts and shoulders show up, even when you explicitly asked for eggplants.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Peeve and praise

Happy St. Valentine's day.

I started to say "I have a pet peeve that I want to briefly flash to the world, but I'll try not to harsh your mellow, or mine own mellow either." And then I wrote about it for a while, and found that it was indeed harshing my mellow. But this much I was able to write without spoiling my enjoyment of the tea made for me by my Valentine.

The gist of the peeve is that I find the expression "That's not okay," when wielded indiscriminately by the indignant, extremely annoying and meaningless. Why don't they just say "That's wrong" or "That's dangerous" or "That's not fair to her" or "That annoys me" or "That doesn't conform to the truth taught to me by my religion" or "That's an unreasonable statement" or "That's a dereliction of your duty" or "That is illegal" or "That isn't illegal but I think it should be," etc.? The first answer I thought of is: because it's difficult to be careful or precise when you are indignant and offended. The ultimate answer is probably: because people, myself included, aren't really ruled by reason but by self-love. If we were, we would either bite our tongues or speak more persuasively. 

"That's not okay" just means "I don't like that," but it pretends to appeal to some undefined standard of decent behavior. Where is that standard to be found? How can I know what IS okay? For "That's not okay" to have any meaning, we would have to keep a list of the things that each sassy young person thinks to be not okay. Who has the time?

Here are some good things, which I don't have to explain.

1. I love the color of tea with cream in it. "Antique Lace," the paint swab would probably say.
2. The clear, sunny day gave way to a lovely delicate sunset, even here in the hood.
3. We are going to eat pizza, drink beer, and finish Henry V tonight, in honor of St. Valentine and not wanting to cook.
4. No school on Monday. Shouldn't we have a liturgy for the Three Presidents?
5. I'm looking forward to a refreshing weekend in Kentucky.
6. A flirtatious three year old hollered "Hi Valentine" to me from his porch swing as I dropped his sister off from school.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I'm going through my blog and trying to make it as anonymous as possible. Not for you people currently reading it; there's no fooling you! But it occurred to me that in the next few years I might want to apply to grad school or other teaching jobs, and it'd be nice to be able to write about it without worrying that a search for my name will turn up something mean that I said about the department or whatever. The solution is to never say anything mean, I know, but... I'm mean sometimes.

Friday, February 8, 2013

This won't reach too many people, but FYI the faculty of my school (including yours truly and yours truly's husband) is going to the Climacus conference, and I think it would be cool to see lots of friends there.

This year the theme is The Poetics of Existence.

It's insanely affordable! $45 for two days of speaking, dinner, snacks, wine, coffee, etc.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

And not contented with ideas derived only from words of the advantages which are bound up with the defense of your country, though these would furnish a valuable text to a speaker even before an audience so alive to them as the present, you must yourselves realize the power of Athens, and feed your eyes upon her from day to day, till love of her fills your hearts; and then when all her greatness shall break upon you, you must reflect that it was by courage, sense of duty, and a keen feeling of honor in action that men were enabled to win all this, and that no personal failure in an enterprise could make them consent to deprive their country of their valor, but they laid it at her feet as the most glorious contribution that they could offer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Three days at home sick. First day was awesome (no computer.) Second day was lonely (with computer...huh.) Third day was awesome and lonely.

Do you ever find yourself deprived of something, notice major changes in its absence, and struggle with deciding whether that something is a good thing or not?

Talking to other human beings is a good example. Or rather, the thing I'm actually talking about.

I have always thought of myself as a very social person, and for the most part I have always acted like one. I think I went overboard in college with the socializing (homeschooler BREAKS FREEEE) and I know I went overboard with FB. I'm married to an introvert, and I went to a college where introverted girls were way cool and probably more philosophical than extroverted ones. (It's kind of Straussian.) Additionally, my Myers-Briggs results indicate that I'm only like 3% extroverted. Did I answer the questions like I wanted to be an introvert, or am I actually that close to the middle, and my introverted husband just makes me look like a social butterfly? Does homeschooling out in the middle of nowhere just make moderate extroverts feel like they're on coke when they finally make some friends?

All of that is to say that I'm kind of confused about how much it's okay for me to need other people.

So when I dial back the socialization, I notice that I get serious about books and stuff. I say, very explicitly and conversationally, to myself, "Hey! I'm having more interesting thoughts! I'm sustaining reflection for longer! I'm getting good at Latin! I'm reading large chunks of philosophy! I'm communing with the mind of Rousseau! I'm achieving inner peace! This is awesome.... I have to tell somebody about this."

That makes me feel weak. Why can't I find value in something without seeking someone else's opinion about it? On the other hand, I feel like I will shrivel up and die without camaraderie and context (which I do get from my husband, but a marriage is not the same thing as a College.) Is that personality or a problem? It's oft repeated that our virtues and vices are sides of the same coin. A strong desire to talk about things that I'm thinking about might not just be a reflex developed from a FB addiction.

What do you six or seven people think? There I go again.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I have stayed home sick from school for a second day. I alternate between bustling about doing things that I won't have time to do when I'm not sick, and flopping down in a chair and giving myself a break. All the bustling and flopping make me think about the possible future, in which I may be tempted to homeschool our potential weirdly-named children past puberty. I am taking this opportunity to compile a list of circumstances which I feel make that a reasonable choice.

1. Perhaps young Eudoxia or Sophrony will have special needs, which nobody else can deal with.

2. Perhaps we will live very, very far away from any other human beings, and the Call of the Wild will be simply irresistible to us.

3. Perhaps the school system where we live will be completely wretched.

4. Perhaps Farrand will become some sort of public figure, imposing and distant enough that "Going to Father" will be quite a graduation from the apron strings. This would also require that he wouldn't have anything else to do. So he'd have to be a Great Man, but also not busy at all.

5. Perhaps Farrand will take it into his head to join the Navy, and we'll be living in a different country every year. (This is the least likely of all these scenarios.)

In circumstances other than these, I don't think it's a good idea. Judging by my (homeschooled) teenage years, a young person needs to be challenged consistently in school. A mother tends to be by turns too nurturing and too imperious, and I'm sure I'll be no exception. A well-established system and culture of learning provide the necessary stability for the raging teenager to kick against and finally accept. In homeschooling, it's one will against another. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. Whether the mom or the student emerges victorious, an element of personal domination has entered into a process that should be governed by reason, not by authority. I think this is absolutely essential if young people are to become honest and strong thinkers.

I do think that if circumstances allow, I would like to homeschool our potential children until middle school or high school. That makes perfect sense to me. Also, all the other choices for high school may be even less ideal for homeschooling. Who knows? This is what I think right now, 7 years after "graduating" from homeschooling, and with 1.5 years of teaching middle and high school under my belt. Maybe in 15 years, Farrand will be prying my teenagers away from my snarling maw. Show me this post if that happens.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Auspice and definite resolution.

A full day of school, unusual for a Friday. It was surprisingly jolly, for being lots of school on a Friday. We came home in good spirits. I attended to my sourdough... organism, and started some dough for actual bread. It's not too hard to substitute sourdough starter for flour, water, and yeast in a normal bread recipe (after all,) so I've been making some Compromise Bread.

Now that I commit it to print, "Compromise Bread" sounds like a grim way to end the week. Who wants a sandwich?

Weirdly enough, the week began with the thump of a HAWK flying into our car as we drove onto the interstate. Enough stuff happened during the week that "Compromise Bread" sounds particularly depressing to me, and then finally, yesterday, my dad sawed off part of his finger. Is that a strange week, or what?