Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I should just wear a sign.


Jk. People are just being sweet. I understand that when they see someone who obviously has a life-size baby inside of her, they want to interact. There is something special about the sight, especially if you've experienced it yourself. And I try to maintain a generally approachable countenance in public, so people talk to me a lot. One just gets a little tired of saying the same thing over and over again. I can't make it through the grocery store without having the same conversation at least three times, whether I see people I know or not!

You don't see a pregnant woman who is practically at term every day, so the size can be a little surprising. Even I am surprised when I wake up in the morning. Matt is taken aback at times too, and my brother has done a double-take every time he's seen me for the past few months. The last time he kind of nervously asked if this was normal. It's funny that he's always surprised because I feel like my mom was always 8 or 9 months pregnant when we were growing up... and with babies ranging from 9 to almost 11 pounds, she got BIG. (Mother of God.... please.)

I think I've gathered almost everything needed for the birth. (Still need a few receiving blankets, and we need to figure out how to fill the birth pool.) I was a little self conscious about checking out at Wal*Mart with my collection of towels, hydrogen peroxide, olive oil, adult diapers and, ahem, aquarium fish nets, but whatever. I'm very excited about finding a Boppy and an unopened sitz bath at Goodwill! Don't laugh at me. There's so much indignity involved in this Majestic Miraculous Event.

My embarassingly enthralling series is available to be checked out as audio books online from my library! I'll see how I like listening to it around the house. There is another library patron who is reading them at the same pace as me; perhaps slowing down to listen to this book will give me enough of a lag so that he or she will get ahead (and thus return the book so I can read it.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Here is the latest progress on my icon. It is modeled after Panselinos' "Christ Enthroned."

I haven't been taking pictures at each step for this icon because the camera on our ancient Android broke and I'm too lazy to get our even older digital camera working. I think in the future I will wish that I had taken pictures, because I'm using a different method than I did with Sts. Katherine and Nicholas. My teacher (I'll just call her Mother because she's a nun and she doesn't want to have an internet iconography presence) was a student of Ksenia Pokrovsky for several years, so in class we used Ksenia's techniques, which employs many many different pigments, takes a very long time, and to me, felt a bit arcane. Of course the results were always beautiful, but it was a pretty complicated process.

But whether by providence or coincidence, Ksenia's passing in June 2013 (Вечная память) occurred just as Dr. George Kordis came to town to paint, lecture and teach. So Mother took it as a sign that perhaps she was being given a new mentor, and she's taken off like a rocket. Kordis' method is much faster, only uses 4 pigments, and I personally find it much more intuitive. Modeling volume quickly with a dry brush makes more sense to me than slowly building up layers with thick wet paint and sitting around waiting for it to dry. And limiting the palette to four pigments means not only that I can afford to paint at home, but that mixing colors is simply a matter of ratio. With Ksenia's method, you could have a medicine cabinet full of pigments, and you'd just have to know how each one behaved in the presence of other pigments. The way of four pigments makes a lot more sense to my geometrical brain. I feel much more confident about being able to do this by myself at home than I was with Ksenia's method.

Mother says that Ksenia would say all this Is Outrage. But we honor her memory and move on.

Another nice thing about this is that Kordis is an academic, and has written books which we can read at home, and flits around lecturing. There's a lot more information available for his method.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

To the tune of "Woke Up This Morning" by Blind Whoever:

Woke up this morning
Woke up this morning
Woke up this morning
I couldn't breathe
So I made a calzone

Well, there wasn't anything else to take to workschool (I never know which to call it) for lunch, and not being able to breathe was making me too mad to stay in bed!

Not to complain, but, to complain: sleeping (and actually, satisfying most basic bodily needs) is hard when you're eight months knocked up. Allergies on top of that just feels grossly unfair. (As I told my dad last night when he said "poor thing" to me, "Not being able to inhale makes it hard to inhale tacos.")

Suffering from allergies during the month before one's due date is not as unfair as being thrust into labor by vomiting due to influenza, which memory my supervisor recently shared with me. Good grief.

Anyway, I like being up early, and now I have a calzone.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Well I went ahead and got the sequel to Outlander from the library. There's more political intrigue and less romance, but don't worry, it's in France, so the political intrigue is necessarily a little... tu sais ce que je veux dire... 

I'm off lunch duty this week and here at the end of the year, the kids are just messing around and playing games on the computer during my classes. They don't really need me for much besides caps lock troubleshooting... so I'm probably gonna burn through this one during my last three days of school. (Bad teacher! Come and see the apathy inherent in the system!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

catalog of grievances

Delirious with allergies! Cannot take medicine because there is a person inside of me! Finished with smutty fantasy novel, to the detriment of my sore, scratchy eyeballs! Took an unpaid day off from work hoping to recover, but the pollen blizzard has no cure! Would like to protect myself from the swirling yellow breeze but don't want to turn on terribly inefficient air conditioner! Toilet is gurgling ominously!

But I enjoyed finishing the novel, and slept until 10. My nightgown is more comfortable than whatever I would have worn to work, a nice cup of coffee has made my head ache a bit less, I haven't had to strain my voice to speak to any children who don't listen to me anyway, and the lethal breeze is very pleasant. The toilet is another matter but whenever it stops working I realize how much I appreciate it.

I don't know if I'll keep going with the rest of the Outlander series. I enjoyed the first one, but I don't know if continuing the binge will be as pleasant. (See post on coffee below.) As I was making my way to its shelf in the library, I passed the E section, from which George Eliot reproached me sternly. One of the books had her horsey old face on the spine, right there at eye-level. You haven't read Adam Bede, or The Mill on the Floss, or my translations of Nietzsche. Are you sure you have time for such utterly feminine frivolity? Are you really going to read a book that includes a CD recording of the Broadway musical? I told her that not all of us held to our aesthetic principles as naturally and easily as she did, but I can't say I walked away without a pang of guilt. Oh well, she was ugly, I decided in a base and savage moment. But I do love her, so I will return. But I won't apologize to her for reading Outlander because she didn't even exist when it was written so she doesn't get it.

What's another big fat novel, whether smutty or respectable, to enjoy during the next few weeks, if my eyes ever stop watering? Don't say Ulysses, or Recherches du Temps Perdu, and Tom Clancy is right out. I've already read Kristin Lavransdatter. I could do War and Peace again, or another George Eliot. But it doesn't have to be a Great Book. I don't mind if there's a bit of time travel and sex involved.
If you read Simcha Fisher you saw this, but if you don't, you didn't. It made me cry a little bit.

 Brazilian students practicing English with senior citizens

Sunday, May 11, 2014


I have either a crappy cold or crappy allergies. I can't tell. Either way, I woke up yesterday wondering when I had smoked half a pack of cigarettes and why I couldn't remember doing so. My throat is terribly raw and I have the day-after-smoking cough. It teeters between productivity and un-productivity, which is the worst sounding kind of cough. And I didn't even get the pleasure of smoking the cigarettes.

So I stayed home from church for the first time since... well, probably for the first time since I actually did smoke a bunch of cigarettes the night before.*  Matt went without me; which made me feel a little lonely and like I should have gone, but it made me happy that I have a husband that still goes even when I don't. I laid on the couch and read a bit of this smutty Scottish fantasy time traveling novel that some girls from church are into, and then promptly fell asleep and stayed asleep pretty much until Matt got home.

Then we went out to my parents' house and enjoyed baking in the sun with some beers and most of my family. I gave my mom Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day with the inscription we loaf you. My brother gave her a sweet little teapot that he got in China. My sister made lunch.

Now Matt has left me to go get Chinese food because I'm feeling too puny to cook. What a keeper! Back to my novel.

Happy Mothers' Day to all mothers, in body and soul.

*I know that I haven't chosen the correct mood/tense here but I wonder if there even is one for this grammatical situation.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Coffee probs

It doesn't really "work" when you "use" it as a drug to pump you up. It only works when you enjoy it purposefully. If I'm tired, busy, and not having a great day, I often fantasize about a beautiful cup of coffee. But most of the time, when I'm already tired and busy and not having a great day, I don't have the time to make a beautiful cup of coffee.

When I drink it every day, I don't enjoy it. After I have one great cup, I try to recreate the experience the next day, but the pleasure returns definitely diminish. I have to deprive myself for a couple of days before it tastes like heaven again.

I swore at the beginning of the school year that I would never use this wretched Keurig robot in the teacher's lounge, but I am ashamed to admit that over the school year I have probably trashed about 15 unrecyclable little cups, and for what? For a very mediocre cup of coffee that took 30 seconds to make. If you only have 30 seconds to make a cup of coffee then you do not have time to enjoy a cup of coffee.

The best cup of coffee is usually planned and longed for a couple of days in advance.

I really shouldn't be drinking coffee at all, I know. My poor child! He or she will be born sarcastic and jittery.

P.S. Words that I worry the child will repeat in public: banal, barbaric and bourgeois. "Shh! Those are words we only use at home."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

a poem and some questions about it

Matt sometimes walks me to school in the morning, which recently has been the most breathlessly beautiful time of the day. Before we stepped out this morning, he said "Stop! Let's read this poem."
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring--
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look like little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
the ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing.
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
the descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. -- Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
It's by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I think I mostly get it up until "Christ, lord." Without "Christ, lord," I can read the next-to-last bit as advice to the reader, and here's my prosaic translation:

Have and get (Experience? Acquire the mind of...?)Spring. Get it before it becomes cloying and too sweet, before it clouds and sours with sin the innocent mind of youths just starting to bloom into maturity.

We could talk for a while about what that means, but that's what I think it says.

As for the rest, "O maid's child" is probably Christ, so "Most thy choice" refers to his choice. But what exactly is he choosing?

At first I thought that Spring was a possible grammatical candidate, since that is the "it" you're sposta "get," but I don't know where that would take us. It seems more likely that the innocent mind of girl and boy is most his choice and worthy the winning, especially insofaras he is the child of a virgin.

But now what I really don't get is why we've got an imperative seemingly addressed to the reader and a vocative addressed to Christ. Surely the poet is not advising Christ to have and get Spring? Are we (we interpreters) comfortable with just switching the object of address in the middle of the sentence? Do we have two objects of address, so that poet is advising the reader to have and get Spring (whatever that means,) with Christ kinda in the corner, so that he can turn to him to reinforce his point ("I know that's what you'd do, Christ.")

Perhaps if the poet is addressing "have" and "get" to himself, it could be almost a prayer. I've never thought about it before in this way, but I suppose that sometimes when I'm sternly exhorting myself to strive for something, in almost the same breath I'm praying Christ or Mary's help, and turning my mind to behold them, (especially considering those qualities which serve as ideals which I'm currently trying to emulate.) So "have" and "get" are here, almost, "let me have" and "let me get." Or at least, by the end of the poem, that's what they've become.

The question of what it means to "have" and "get" Spring is open for me, and probably depends on how we resolve the problem above. I lean towards reading it as a plea for me to "become like" or "acquire the mind of" Spring.

Well I just don't know. Do you?

A theologically intriguing thing about this poem is the bit about Eden, because if the syntactically troublesome remainder of the poem implies that Spring's cloying, clouding, and souring with sin is simply a matter of time, a natural ripening and rotting process, then perhaps the poet is saying something similar about Eden. That might be the least enjoyable level on which read a poem but it's something that came to mind.

I love how the poem starts with a cliche (like duh, spring is nice,) which even uses a totally boring word like "beautiful," and then the words start to whirl and whip around me, until by the end I have no idea what he's talking about.

Good old GMH. I would name a kid after him if all his names weren't so weird.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Here is something that annoys me about older people (meaning at this point in history, Baby Boomers.) I'm writing it down so that in case I get old and start doing it, you can point me to this and shut me up.

Older people will often start singing songs from the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties, but then in feigned self-consciousness, they will stop abruptly and and say "Oh, well, you're too young to remember that song."

The thing is that everybody knows that song, unfortunately, because 1/3 of the music radio stations in the country are devoted to playing music from the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties, and even if you never choose to listen to those radio stations, you cannot go to the hardware store, the pizza place, the bank, or the gas station without being exposed to this music.

I mean seriously, they will do this with the Beach Boys and the Beatles.

Don't they hear the wheezing, hacking sound of their generation, amplified throughout the nation by a machine that provides artificial respiration as well?

A former boss once actually stopped himself from talking about record players and said "Well, you're too young to know about record players."

Will I do this in the future? It's hard to know what will persist from my generation, which doesn't have as monolithic a soundtrack and youth culture as the Boomer generation did.

On the other hand, sometimes B.Boomers will gaily ramble along in some idiom which is foreign to me, and I do have to give them the blank stare of an unenlightened youth. But I usually don't have to wait long before they enlighten me.

Love ya, old peeps!