Friday, December 15, 2006

I just finished my Public Libraries final. My brain is currently fried and I am incapable of any meaningful conversation. I haven't read a fiction book for a couple of months, and I am feeling the lack. Times like this, when my school responsibilities are finished and the break looms ahead with its comforting blankness, are when I crave the library and roaming the stacks.
I think I have 15 holds at the library now, and who knows how many books I've checked out?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

My reward for finishing this semester will be the movie Eragon. It comes out December 15th, the day of my last final. It will be in the tradition of the LoTR movies, which conveniently came out at the end of finals weeks in our last couple years at Asbury. It was our motivation during cram-sessions at 2 in the morning.
(We dressed up for the first movie--how dorky does that make us? Jenni & Sue were elves, and I was a Ringwraith because all I had was black clothes).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This is something Dad needs to do : create a wishlist at For example, check out my list (note that this is not a hint for Christmas gifts). Go to, hover your mouse over the Find Gifts button and type in my email in the Find someone's wishlist box.
Just search for books you're interested in, click on the "add to my wishlist" button for each book, and you're done -- and now other people can easily get things for you ..

Just an idea.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I don't know how we do it, but our account has remained stable, despite paying out extra extra $ for my second class at UK (tuition jumped double digits this year). I must take after my parents, who hardly spend money on anything extraneous. I look at $10 shirts at Target and debate whether I really ought to get one. I spend 10 minutes at a used bookstore contemplating whether I should purchase a $3 book. I wait to get home and eat a bowl of cereal rather than stop on the road for lunch.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I don't have anything exciting to report ... just trying to keep my habit of filling up this blog (even if it means putting in our Christmas wish list) ...

There's a new used bookstore that opened up in Lexington : Half-Priced Books, or something like that. Their range of books was quite impressive. Though not on the scale of the used bookstore in Milwaukee, nonetheless Half-Priced Books reminded me of it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Check out this website:

Click on the "best kitlers" button in the lefthand column to see some truly odd hairless cats.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Christmas present ideas :

for Jon-
-giftcard to Performance Bicycle (website)
-hiking long underwear (if you so desire, I can purchase the items here and you can pay me back)
-cloth cycling cap with some steel company logo on it (I can't think of the name)

for Laura-
-The ladies of grace adieu, Susanna Clarke
-Money for clothes and shoes. Or we can go shopping while we're home. I don't care.

for us-
B&N giftcard
Target giftcard (good idea to suggest to Grandma if she insists on getting us something)

Sorry we don't have any more original ideas, but it's better to stick to what we need/really want rather than come up with some silly ideas.

Hope this helps.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Here's an image from Google Earth of some mountaintop removal areas in Kentucky.

This is a very sensitive issue. Anybody looking at the pictures, or who has seen a leveled mountain, is quick to decry mountaintop removal. (Jon and I have seen some non-existent mountains first-hand in Virginia). You have to look hard to find areas of mountaintop removal. The companies are smart and keep one ridge of pretty trees between their operations and most major roads.

Yet we continue to use the very thing that fuels this practice.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A new book is out that I would like to read very much: The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly. The covor alone is thrilling. It's amazing how much latent memory we can associate with certain things. I saw book somewhere of Grimm's fairy tales that had paper-cut scenes illustrating particular fairy tales, that struck me, apparently deep inside, since the cover of this new book has compelled me to read it. Another latent memory: when Jon and I first started dating, he always wore a wristwatch, a practice that fell off the longer we got to know each other. Then the other day, he put it on and when I saw it on him, I was immediately broadsided with memories of our first months together.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I fixed the one particular javascript problem, but now I have a problem with a php script. I think it has something to do with how I've phrased the location for the php script to load into, or where I wrote the location. I don't know because the professor hasn't talked about it, so I'm rather impressed I even got part of the php script to work.

This is making my brain flip inside out.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit the Glorious Nation Kazakstan :
uncomfortably, bitingly funny. There are some scenes Jon and I thought were overlong and rather unnecessary (the 2 men fighting, in particular. I leave it at that because it is a scene that will never leave you for the rest of your life), but there were some telling scenes.
The one where he sings the national anthem in a Virginian rodeo was unnerving. He started by saying he was in favor of the war, that we need to fight the terrorists, etc. The crowd cheered. He said we should never rest until all the terrorists have been killed. More cheering. Then he shouts, "We will never rest until the blood of every man, woman, and child has been shed." The crowd erupted in cheering.
I would not recommend this movie for everyone, but for those who appreciate satire, it was very good.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I hate computers.

I have been trying and trying to create a simple "mouseover" effect in javascript. What is supposed to happen is when the mouse hovers over a particular image in my webpage, a new image is supposed to load, for the whistle and bangs effect, then revert to the original image when the mouse moves away.

There must be some little comma or imperative word that I am leaving out, even though I have copied scripts verbatim from the internet. Maybe my computer is having a laugh.

Abbi tells me that the IT person at her work reads computer codes for recreational reading. I can't imagine.
(It's an animal theme...)

There are skunks laying on the road, plumes of gore spilling elegantly from their sides, like crimson sashes falling open. I can't help but notice how many of these unfortunate victims lay as if asleep, undamaged paws tucked under their furry chins.

That smoky cat that lives in the nice house several doors down was lurking in the landscaping, its wispy fur mingling with the color of the dark earth so much that I double-checked to see whether I was imaging those yellow eyes floating in the bush. He appeared slightly miffed that I saw him, and turned his head to watch me pass, triangle of pink tongue delicately pinpointing his chin. (Everytime I see him, his tongue is sticking out...)

One day we thought we had lost Pope and were checking and rechecking the closets and under the bed and chairs in mounting panic (for he almost always comes dashing out whenever we call his name). As a last resort, I started poking the tangled bedsheets and uncovered his nest. He had burrowed into the covers and made a flannel cave exactly his size and shape. When I lifted the sheets to peer in, heat radiated out in waves.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It was multicultural day in the paddock today. Camels, llamas, and cows were all grazing together in a field that I pass every time I drive to Frankfort.

It's always startling, no matter how many times I've already seen it, to round the bend and see that camel, sturdy hump casting a long shadow in the rising sun. One day it was watching the daily commute, its long neck snaked over the edge of the fence.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I sleepwalked (sleptwalked?) last night. I got up around midnight and yanked the sheets off the bed. I don't remember getting up, but I do remember waking up to find myself standing at the end of the bed, holding an armful of sheets. Jon says he woke up, asked me what I was doing, I replied "I don't know," and went back to sleep.

It's unnerving that our bodies can do things while we are unaware.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Some people at work (in Frankfort) dressed up today. Two of them seemed uncannily suited for the costumes they picked out. One guy, who has a baby-face and squeaky clean looks, came as a baseball player ( I couldn't help but think Little League ). The other guy has razor sharp features and flinty eyes, which completed his pirate outfit. He even brought his parrot.
People are trying to determine if Rupp Arena is haunted :

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Jenni's shower was a success. She got lots of cuddly baby things and other items that you ooh and aah over without any real understanding of what they're for. I guess I have to wait until it happens to me (something Debbie wishes would happen tomorrow).
Sue cooked, Amanda did the games, and I decorated. I was particularly pleased with the centerpieces I did, copper roses and rose hips in a teapot and red vase. Jenni kept commenting on the decorations, so I'm glad I set the mood. She loves fall, so we went with an autumnal decor.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Heroes seems like it will be an interesting show, though it borrows from X-Men.

Jon probably won't like it : "What's the point?" (He abhors Lost because it is a show built on nothing. When I countered that Seinfeld is a show about nothing, he retorted that at least it's about finding humor in everyday occurences. Contrast that with an island of lost passengers whose story seems to have taken a dive down a rabbit hole just to keep the show going).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jon, his parents, and I drove out to Middlesboro to look at a P-38 that had been dug out of a glacier several years ago. I found the story interesting, even if I didn't want to linger for an hour poring over the plane itself and all the artifacts associated with it.
Apparently, back in WWII, a fleet of P-38s were abandoned on a glacier somewhere near Iceland or Greenland because they ran out of fuel. In the subsequent years, they were buried under more than 200 feet of ice!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This has been a week for mushrooms!

When Jon and I first stepped onto the Pinch-'Em-Tight trail, we spotted these hippie mushrooms (one literally thought of those gnomes, and of all those psychedelic drawings from the '70s). They were squat little things, the flesh like rich butter and the tops an unusual orangish-red speckled with pale spots. You could imagine a gnome furtively sawing the tops off to use as hats.

We also saw mushrooms that literally looked like pancakes (not the best thing to see if you're a hungry hiker), down to the spots that looked like the bubbles that rise to the surface when pancakes are almost done cooking. There were shockingly orange, spindly mushrooms, plain dirty-sock colored ones, tiny ones, huge ones. There was even a mushroom that looked like a delicate ironstone cake stand, complete with drips of frosting curling off the edges. I had to stop and examine it!

Here in Lexington I've seen two fairy rings--one that spanned a twenty-foot front yard. It's hard to imagine that we are treading an organism that large--who'd have thought of fungi spreading so far underground?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"The Evergreen Tree of Diabolical Knowledge"

I found this deliciously titled book while browsing the rather mundane, tweedy library/librarian section of the Young Library. It refers to the rise of circulating libraries in the 18th century, which enabled young, virtuous people to read things like gasp popular fiction.

I also came across the bibliography section, which is proving a great delight to meander in. There's a thick tome of bibliographies of the mention of Western outlaws in pamphlets and books, a bibliography of Woodrow Wilson's life and times, the rose, etc. etc.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Our computer does not like secure websites, so writing for this blog isn't the most pleasant experience when an entry gets lost because the computer throws a fit. We probably have a virus somewhere in this thing.

We went to the Gorge this weekend and hiked a 12 mile loop, starting from the Pinch-Em-Tight parking lot and working our way around to Gray's Arch. It was a very pleasant weekend--nice to get away from the city and actually see the Milky Way in the black-blue sky. Gray's Arch is an epic arch that commands the little rhodendrhon-flushed ravine below. Quite neck-achingly impressive.

Jenni finds out the sex of her baby this Wednesday. I'm rooting for a girl. Sue is hoping for a boy. This is war!

A new shop opened up in the old Paisley Peacock space. I ducked inside for a look and was blown away by the cornucopia of lushly colored yarn and knitting books, and other such crafty things. It's called "Rebelle : Reinventing Domesticity." On a side note, another yarn shop opened up on High Street, Magpie Yarns. I can't believe my luck! Lexington went from a city with Michael's and its hideously colored yarns (think UK blue and canary yellow) to having two indie crafty shops with gorgeous yarns.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Do not eat at Kashmir's.

Jon got salmonella from them and was laid up for a week with severe cramps, losing 9 pounds in 4 days. A friend of his got it as well, and got sick the next day after they ate there. He heard of someone else who also got sick around the same time as they did.
The lady from the health department called him to let him know the results of her investigation. She did a food inspection of Kashmir's and they got a 74. Some of the things she found: their fridge was not kept at the proper temperature, there was no hand soap (this bit makes me recoil), their hood was malfunctioning, and there was an overall sense of "general filth". When she went back, they got an 84. She's going back a 3rd time, and if Kashmir's hasn't improved, they will be shut down.
Food inspection results are published in the Wednesday edition of the newspaper. After what Jon went through, we will be checking it regularly.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Jon's Life Adventure Camp reunion was this past weekend. The property is out in the Gorge area, up some winding, pot-holed gravel road past Stanton. We camped behind the trailer of Wolf & Renata Hicks. While giving us a tour, they said that the bathroom inside could be used for number 1, and there was a composting toilet in the back corner for number twos. They get water from a stream that runs out back, but they don't use it for cooking unless it is going to be boiled. It looked like they brought in drinking water. Imagine living a life like that!
The property was cleared of trees, and it looked like nature was waging a war to reclaim it. Any part of the property that wasn't clearcut was swelling with grass and weeds. It seemed like it swelled a bit everytime you blinked.
Jon's Life Adventure Camp reunion was this past weekend. The property is out in the Gorge area, up some winding, pot-holed gravel road past Stanton. We camped behind the trailer of Wolf & Renata Hicks. While giving us a tour, they said that the bathroom inside could be used for number 1, and there was a composting toilet in the back corner for number twos. They get water from a stream that runs out back, but they don't use it for cooking unless it is going to be boiled. It looked like they brought in drinking water. Imagine living a life like that!
The property was cleared of trees, and it looked like nature was waging a war to reclaim it. Any part of the property that wasn't clearcut was swelling with grass and weeds. It seemed like it swelled a bit everytime you blinked.

Friday, September 01, 2006

-A boy came up to me at Joseph-Beth and asked to look at the Harry Potter brooms. While caressing the handle, he looked up and asked with that innocence native only to children: "Does this fly?"
I told him, "Well, if you make-believe, yes it does."

-A bumper sticker I saw today: "How sad -- Kids run wild while dogs go to obedience school." I can certainly relate to that after experiencing the kids floor at Joseph-Beth.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We got a behind-the-scenes tour of Sheabel's, the vet. place that Allie works at. It was neat to see the surgery and grooming rooms, though the bad-news room wasn't much fun to look at. It had a squashy couch for people to spend the last minutes of their pet's life. We met a vet who does specialty work, but I couldn't help but wonder whether he'd have a job back in the days when pets were just animals. I love my cat and my dog, but I don't plan on spending big bucks to prolong their lives if they have terminal problems.
There were some weird looking dogs in the kennel; they looked like beagle heads stuck on badger bodies. We also got to meet a Hemingway cat--she had an extra claw/appendage on each paw. If you held her paw up, she looked like she was giving you a Vulcan greeting.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dwain has a link to this on his website : the Encyclopedia of Arda I've had time to browse their Movie-goer's section, which is quite an extensive compilation of the various inconsistencies and differences between the movies and the books.

I will always have a special place in my heart for the movie The Fellowship of the Ring--indeed, I even associate my college years with it, but the latter movies weren't quite up to par. Poor Faramir! To see such a character sunk to such squirmy, insecure depths!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

School starts tomorrow. Am I a dork because I'm looking forward to it; or am I looking forward to it because work is rather boring?

It's my birthday on Friday and I just realized it will be only FIVE more years until I'm 30. I used to tease my older friends with that--"You're a quarter of a century old!"--and now the joke is on me. That means my parents are more than half a century old, and both my Grandmas are approaching their centuries. Time is weird.

A fat brown spider with a body shaped like a rough thorn lives on (or, I should say, between) the garbage and recycling receptacles. Everyday, it spins a new web about the span of my arm, stretching from the handle of the blue recycling bin to the ivy on the ground. I lift the lid carefully, and the web stretches and flutters like a piece of thread crochet. It squats in the center, skinny legs tucked in, ready to spring at any hapless bug the web ensnares.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

While rummaging through my stuff stored in the Edwards' basement, I came across a bag of books--it must have been forgotten in the move to Stone Ave.--that contained the Anne of Green Gables series. The time seemed right to re-read them (you know how you can't read some books unless the moment is right--I couldn't read the Lord of the Rings at a certain point, only to pick it up again a year or so later and lose myself forever in Tolkien mythology), so I carted them all home and have been plowing through them. I'm almost finished with the third book already.
Anne is turning out to be one of my favorite literary characters. She is described at one point as being "surrounded by possibility", which makes me think of my cousin Rosie. When Rosie walks into the room, things seem to pick up. She has that rare talent of being the center of attention without demanding it; people flock to her, not because they wish to get on her good side, but because she seems to bring out the best in those around her.
We got a food processor from Jon's parents as an anniversary present. We sacrificed a potato so we could see it in action. The spud was gone in 3 seconds, reduced to white specks plastering the sides of the bowl (I think we pulsed it too long, but it was fun nonetheless). Jon was giggling like a little boy.
I'm looking forward to making hummus and salsa!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sue recommended Paradise Alley to me, so I've started working on it. The book is thick enough to serve as a handy doorstop, or to knock an unwary pedestrian severely unconscious. It's taking me a while to get into: all those descriptive passages for mere minutes of a character's time! It takes place in New York City against the backdrop of the Civil War, while the draft is being enacted and plenty of Irish-Americans are unhappy with it. I must be hundred or so pages in, and it's still morning of day one, in the dead silence that comes before a mob outbreak. Rather unnerving.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On my way to the library, some guy stopped me on the street and told me I "look like that girl from Princess Diaries".

I'm reading a book titled GenerationMe, which is a study on how the generation after the Baby Boomers has high opinions of themselves and feels no need to cater to the needs of others. I'm only a couple chapters in, but it's rather interesting. The author has compared hundreds of thousands of personality tests of this generation to that of past generations, and has found some marked differences, such as a growing disregard for convention, the belief that we know everything and therefore don't need to listen to our teachers, etc.

Monday, August 14, 2006

There's a new animal on the farm at Maple Hill Manor. Tyler got a Tennessee Walker horse for his birthday, and she's a very friendly one at that. Any time we came to the fence to watch the alpacas and llamas (a decidedly more reserved set of animals), Penny would march up to the fence and push her face into our hands. She'd be looking for a treat, but would stick around for a scratch.
She seemed to tolerate the other animals well enough (even gracious enough to allow one little alpaca to treat her as mama and nose around her belly for a nipple to nurse from), but when she got annoyed, she'd stamp her hooves and nose them out of the way. One time, she elaborately walked up past a llama, paused with her rump against him, as if loudly stating "I'm ignoring you!", then raised a mighty-muscled back leg and kicked him!

Friday, August 11, 2006

We're getting ready to head to Maple Hill Manor for our anniversary weekend. I remember the first time we drove out there, cautiously optimistic about its potentiality as our wedding site. When we pulled up, I took one look at the house, the giant tree shading the lawn, the red barn, the alpacas grazing in the adjacent field, the dogs and cats trotting out to greet us, and looked at Jon. That look was full of meaning.
Every time we go back, our experiences have always been pleasant. The owners are gracious, the grounds a balm to the spirit (I can't avoid the cliche). This keeps pulling us back. The same goes for Shaker Hill in Enfield, NH and the Woodstock Inn in N. Woodstock, NH. Whenever we go back to the Whites, we make sure to stay at those 2 spots. We're in a rut!
This means I now understand why Dad and Mom revel in their preference for familiarity. They go to the same restaurant every Friday night. The people there know them by name, and will find a spot for them even if there's a long line of people ahead of them. They keep going back because the food is good, the service great, the familarity comfortable.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I rented a version of the Mikado that was set in the flapper era, with curly bobs, drop-waist dresses, and curly moustaches. Eric Idle, from Monty Python, stars as the Lord Chief High Executioner. The scene in which we first meet him is priceless, the physical humor truly funny, not stupid-funny, like those Will Ferrell movies. Anyways, the chorus is singing "Behold the Lord Chief High Executioner, etc. etc.", and he comes skipping out in a pale yellow and white sweater/shorts tennis outfit complete with knee-high white socks, simpering at his observers under a ridiculously boy-ish center-part, ear-length haircut.
Reading this doesn't remotely convey the hilarity of that scene. :(

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My apologies for a listless blog. Our computer likes to disconnect from the internet at random times without consulting us, which makes posting to this blog a haphazard affair.

Anyways, we got home safe and sound from a whirlwind weekend of family reunions, a wedding, and an 80th birthday gathering for the family matriarch. Dad said this just might be the last time we might see some family members, so that added a weird dimension to it all.

My cousin Julie is a hoot to watch, and fun to be around. During the wedding ceremony, right before the ring exchange, she paused to hike up her strapless gown. At another point, while stepping down from the candle-lighting, she swayed with her arms out wide for balance. She told me later at the reception she didn't care whether her dress got dirty. Not your typical bride!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jon and I aren't going back to Asheville any time soon. The free spirit, hippie-ish atmosphere was a little much for us. What was particularly annoying was the number of "beggars" we encountered. Some guy came up to Jon and asked him to buy him a beer. Another guy, a well-dressed skater covered in expensive jewelry, asked us for change.
I don't know why I found that so annoying, almost to the point of being insulted. I could only think of the true homeless people I've encountered here in Lexington, who truly could use some help.

Jon's friend presented a short history of Asheville. Back in the heyday of the "back to the land" movement, hippies moved to the mountains of North Carolina, wanting to encounter mountain culture and live off the land. Well, they found out that mountain culture didn't fit their romantic ideals, and that living off the land was hard, so they all went to Asheville.

Asheville had some neat craft stores that I would definitely like to visit again: Earth Guild, Purl's Yarn Emporium, and Chevron Bead Trading Post. They also had a neat little restaurant, Rosetta's, which served vegan fare that was quite good. I'm not sold on tofu (my flavorbuds weren't sure what to think of tofu, so they thought of chicken while I was eating it, which somehow grossed me out because the texture of tofu is quite different). I also couldn't help but wonder how my fellow diners would feel if they knew Jon and I were planning to raise meat goats.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I have discovered a delightful BBC series that allows me to indulge in my childhood fantasy of living in castles and wandering through the Highlands. Monarch of the Glen tells the story of the MacDonalds and their adventures in trying to maintain their estate. It's worth watching just for the scenery alone.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Jon and I have discovered two delicious restaurants lately.

Ali Baba's, a Mediterranean grocery off Southland Dr., across from Good Foods, has a little cafe in the back that serves Shikh kebabs and other Mediterranean foods at a very affordable price. The food is almost comparable to Oasis. The servers there are very nice. I know that's odd to note, but one feels like it's an old-time cafe where everyone knows each other well.

Fusion Cafe is a new Vietnamese restaurant that opened on Versailles road (the neon yellow building can't be missed). They have some ununsual food items (like raw beef and tripe), but their grilled meats are very good. The sauce they use to marinate the meat is fabulous. Next time we go, I'm going to try one of their soups (if I can force myself to forgo their grilled beef dish).

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Prissy passed away last week. Sue's cat was a gorgeous Maine Coon with wide amber eyes offset by her dark brown mass of fur. She was a very quiet cat, preferring to watch and not be seen. I could hold her, though; she would purr happily, nestling into the crook of my neck, dainty paw outstretched on my shoulder.
Sue let me "adopt" Prissy while we lived on State Street, and she would come sometimes to sleep on my bed. Having missed Muffy and Bear while I as at college, I couldn't describe my delight at having a cat once again.
Why do pets affect us so? I suppose they have a way of looking at you, seeing just you without the trappings of prejudice or preconcieved ideas, accepting you and expecting no more, no less.

"That cat [Samantha] is in love with me, but to say that it's 'mutual' doesn't begin to describe anything. I'm totally irrational about her. She and I are scandal." -Helen Gurley Brown

Last Thursday night we went to the Lincoln County fair to watch their goat show and pick the brain of Bill Zaspel, a goat farmer who attends the Edwards' church in Crab Orchard.
Seeing all the goats reminded me of why I want to work with them: they are so inquisitive! When I was meeting a buck (they can weigh up to 300 lbs), he returned my gaze calmly, cocking his head to get a better view of me around the bars of his pen. It's not the same as looking at cows, who just stare blandly back. Goats gaze at you, and you can see that they are thinking about you, sizing you up.
The younger ones were extremely curious, clambering up the side of their pens for a whiff of your hand, proffering their heads for a good scratch, looking up into your eyes and baaing their vociferious opinions.
We left feeling more confident about our wish to have goats. The Zaspels invited us to come for the kidding on their farm in September and October, so we'll get some hands-on experience (at the very least watching the process).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It is muggy. So muggy you can see the fat air molecules crowding the sky, weighing the earth down.

I had a small delight today on an otherwise tortuous walk to campus--the drive up the president's lawn struck me with memories of my evening rambles with Bear through the local park. The trees hung over the drive, trailing curtains of ivy and casting a cool shadow on the ground. I suppose the groundskeepers haven't been through for a while--the presidents' lawn had the look of a city park gone slightly wild, like Aldeen park back home.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Strange dreams haunting us today

I had the oddest dream last week. It started out with me in a movie, playing Arwen. Legolas and Arwen were falling in love with each other (Lord of the Rings was out of the picture, I guess).
Then, all of a sudden, it switches to real life, and I was getting married to Legolas. The whole elvish host was there, overwhelming the church with their ethereal beauty. I can distinctly remember peering out the door and spying Elrond up front, standing peacefully with a small smile on his face, next to Legolas. Then I looked down and, to my mortifying horror, saw that I was wearing nappy blue jeans and one of my faded black shirts. "I can't go out there like this!" I cried, and my friends (I believe it was Sue, Jenny, and my cousins) were all trying to reassure me: "It's okay, Laura! It's okay! He can see your true beauty!"
That feeling of overwhelming embarrassment and awe stuck with me when I woke up. It reminded me of the sensations Orual, the narrator of Till We Have Faces, experiences as she is about to come face to face with the God of the Mountain.
I think I dreamt this because I was wondering one day why, if faeries are so beautiful and so different (and superior) from mortals, do they steal away humans? There are tales of faerie kings whisking away a girl to be his bride, and of children disappearing from their cradles. My question wasn't answered, obviously.
Feel free to laugh at this--I have been retelling this story with delight and having a good laugh over it with my friends!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My claim to fame:

My father-in-law met Johnny Depp's father for some dept. of transportation business years ago. He was developing a greenbelt around Owensboro, KY.

Johnny Depp has come into Joseph-Beth a couple times. One time, the magazine guy offered to buy him dinner because he thought Johnny Depp was homeless, based on the way he was dressed.
I'm going to see Lady in the Water, if only because the new movie poster looks so cool.
For some reason I can't upload the image onto blogger, but here's the link if you're curious.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I faced down fear and lived to tell the tale.

I'm getting a bike! I felt like a kid again, powering down the road with nothing between me and the asphalt but the bike and my good balance. I let my fear of the bike get in the way (I refused to rent a bike in Acadia National Park in Maine in 2004 and still kick myself over it) for too long.

Basically, I'm afraid that I'll look over my shoulder, see a big blur of metal, feel a strangely numbing blow, wake up in a cast and wonder how I ever got there.. Being hard of hearing has wiped me of any sense of distance between myself and the source of sound. When that source of sound is cars, and when the wind masks their roar, well, that just makes me nervous.

But I won't let that get in the way (besides, I don't plan on riding down Nicholasville Road--even the hardiest road racers won't ride that road). Jon has a system of signals to communicate to me what's coming, and I'll work on my balance and gear-shifting so that I'm as comfortable on the bike as I am in my own skin.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The things you can read about on

Lewis the cat is spared

Here are some pictures from our trip to Mt. Rogers (near Damascus, VA) months ago. Jon's camera is getting old, so the pictures aren't the greatest. There are wild ponies that roam the area, and I always look forward to seeing them.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I helped a guy from the Waste Management branch today. I never fully understood J.K. Rowling's description of a character with a lion's mane of hair (descriptive, not literal) until I saw him. He had thick wavy brown hair spilling down his shoulders, and a long silver-streaked goatee.
Seems like a lot of people in environmental sciences are old hippies, or rugged outdoorsy types. Lots of silvery ponytails and Carhardt boots. The main exception are those who are in administrative positions--they tend to be clean-shaven (to the point of being pink) and wear weirdly colored polos.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I never thought this would happen, but I don't think I can ever eat an elephant ear again. There goes another relic of my childhood. It's the same with frosting. When we were little, my brother and I would argue over who got the largest buttercream flower on the birthday cake. Nowadays, I scrape the excess off--it just makes my tongue revolt.
Also--theme park rides. Jenny, Rosie, and I could ride the Zipper 13 times in a row, and it didn't faze us. Now, the mere thought of riding it makes me cringe. I think what makes me nervous is the equipment, not the motion of the ride. I'm turning into my Grandma. Next thing I know, I'll be going around the block so I won't have to make a left turn across oncoming traffic.

Friday, June 02, 2006

"The Bovine Growth Hormones designed to fatten cows quickly also cause painful udder infections. Monsanto, the multinational chemical corporation, makes a widely used Bovine Growth Hormone called Posilac, which comes with the warning that it may cause a number of side effects, including swelling and infected udders. These infections transmit pus, or dead bacteria, and white blood cells into milk, causing a disagreeable taste and unpleasant color. Factory dairies sometimes mix the milk from infected udders with normal milk, so the infected milk with its offensive flavor and color is diluted. U.S. regulations allow milk to contain more pus cell concentrations that any other country in the world--almost twice the international standard of allowable pus." --p.85, "Harvest for Hope" by Jane Goodall.

I didn't know there was such a thing as "allowable pus."

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Doesn't it seem weird that should post, along with serious world and U.S. news the name of the Brangelina baby? I will think very highly of those famous parents if they allow one of the local Namibian (sp.?) people to sell the highly coveted (reputedly worth millions) first photo of the poor baby, so that they could use that money to help the locals, instead of padding some paparazzi's pockets.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I realized that I am going to see X-Men III just because-- you know, "Just Because." It got decent reviews, but all the critics pointed out that the movie could have been so much better, due to the inherent social commentary ripe in the "mutant cure" concept. It just decides to have action, and lots of it. Hence, I'm going to see it.
I wonder about my movie-watching habits--why am I so willing to see silly movies like X-Men or MI:III, when there are plenty of more serious movies that actually have something to say about the world. Like the Constant Gardener--that movie sticks with you and makes you think of Africa, and not because of the anticipated "Brangelina" baby. (on a sidenote--Barbara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible" is an excellent, heart-wrenching book that takes place in Africa. One thing I always remember when I think of that book is one of the characters points out that Africa as a whole is not meant to support the amount of people currently living there, and that, if one looked at it from an evolutionary, nature-in-the-balance standpoint, diseases like AIDs had a purpose in keeping the numbers down. I remember wondering that Kingsolver could include such an un-p.c. comment, regardless of whether it's the character, not the author, speaking).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Apparently, dragons did exist...

The skull of Draco-Rex Hogwartsia was unveiled recently.

Monday, May 22, 2006

There was a sheepdog competition at Masterston Station. Jon and I watched a bit, and it was rather interesting. (If you've seen the movie Babe, you'll know what a sheepdog competition was like).
There was a man who communicated with his dog through a series of whistles so intricate that one certain kind of sound told the dog to take one step, another told him to go fast, yet another told him to go slow, and so on. There was a sleek sort of beauty in the dog as it raced across the field to round up the sheep, its head held low, glorying in the speed of flight.
A comical moment arose when its owner was trying to tell him, after he had rounded up the first flock, to go and get the other flock which was hidden from view. The owner kept saying "Look back!" and "lie down!", which the dog obeyed, even though it was confused--you could see the thought process going on: "But the sheep are here!" The owner hollered "What do yer think yer doin'?!", and he eventually figured out what to do.
A couple years back I went to a Greenwich Village Arts Fair in Rockford, IL, with Jon and my folks. There was printmaker there who had some neat stuff, and I always regretted not getting a print.
So, I had a thought I would try and find him. Thanks to the power of google, I got pretty close. I found a list of artist names from the Fair. It was over a hundred, and I was steeling myself to check each and every name. On a whim, I decided to start at the alphabetical end. Wouldn't you know, but his was the second name I checked?
Scott Westgard has a website with a selection of some his prints. Check out the cat (down towards the bottom, under the "S"'s and "When Nature Learns to Defend Herself". The whimsical nature of these prints are endearing.
How do you explain how art affects you? There was a certain still-life at the Mayfest near Transy that seized my attention. It was just a pear and apple, rendered in lavish paint strokes, but there was something about the color and mood of the piece that made you happy. It was the same kind of feeling I had looking at a picture of Miah's Dwain posted to his blog--a stylized branch outlined against a blue background. "Happy" is the wrong term to use--but I am not versed in artspeak.
For a certain few who read this blog (i.e. 3/4 of the 3) a Scott Westgard print would be a good gift idea...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"The Bright Field"
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

-R.S. Thomas
I could be watching CSI right now, but my blog is getting old, so here I am. I participated in a phone survey, and they sent me $5 and a longer survey booklet to fill out. With it came a TV diary, where I have to record each and every program I watch for 7 days. Each day is broken down into half-hour increments. I would hate filling it out if I was a TV boob.
Thankfully my TV diary is quite blank. It's working some kind of psychological trick on me (probably on par with food diaries)--where I don't want to watch TV because I'm embarrassed to write in what I watched.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

We went to the Gorge Sunday night with Jarred and Ting-Ting, Jon's fellow grad students at the Ag Building. Being with Ting-Ting gave me the opportunity to see my native language in a new light. She said things like "I am allergic to handsome men." We all had a good laugh, and Jarred told her now that she knows what it means, she can still say it, but as a joke. I wonder how the Chinese would see me if I was abroad, fumbling with their language.
We had an adventure at Whistling Arch. Jon had gone a ways down the trail, to see whether it looped on itself. Ting-Ting and I were examining a peculiar rhodendhron leaf when we saw Jon barrelling down the trail at us, hollering, "Bees! Run!" So we ran for a long ways, all the leaves and branches we smacked into drenching us with their stores of rainwater. It seems that Jon came upon a crack in a rock formation, where there was a hive tucked in out of the rain. Some bees started buzzing out, and he didn't wait to find out what they were going to do.
Due to the rain, we stayed at a rockhouse near Parched Corn creek. It was quite impressive, like a primordial temple lined in front with stately columns of tulip polars. The ceiling was several stories above our heads at the outermost tip of the formation.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I am taking a break from researching: ("polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons" or "aromatic hydrocarbons") AND "soil remediation"
Make sense? I thought so, and here I am, an English major. How did I ever end up in a job like this? What amazes me is that one of the girls I helped out has thought so highly of me that she's recommended me to a coworker of hers, hence my new project of PAHs. That's one of the neat things about librarianship--being able to find stuff, regardless of how well you might actually know the subject.

I am rereading Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. It's one of my favorite series ever. People think Pullman is heretical, when he's really just forcing you to think about things.

This is one of the errors that many Christians, however well-intentioned, commit. They denounce books as heretical without actually reading them, without pausing to consider the questions they raise. This ignorance has contributed greatly to society's bias against Christians. Who wants anything to do with people who appear to be deliberately ignorant, who approach issues with opinions already formed, ears already deaf to what the other side has to say? Even though there are people like this in all walks of life, the spotlight is on Christians.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

School is over. I celebrated yesterday by renting a movie in the middle of the day (Jean Cocteau's Beauty & the Beast) and fell asleep early on, napping for three hours. I was in a strange state of remaining slightly aware while napping, either from waking up occasionally or just dozing, so that the haunting music from the movie, combined with the eerie movie itself, made me feel as though I had entered the fairy tale itself in my dreams. It was that kind of dream where you are ill-at-ease upon waking, feeling as though you have just arisen from some great adventure, or escaped some fantastic end.

The gentlemen from Maple Hill Manor want to feature our wedding in their first ever wedding brochure. They say it was one of the most beautiful weddings they've ever had. Even taking this compliment with a grain of salt, I'm still pleased. It was my desire to imprint all memories of that day with a warm, camelot glow.

I hesitate to admit that the alpacas were one of the main reasons I wanted to have my wedding there... the house and grounds themselves were quite gorgeous ... but animals are my weak point.

Friday, April 21, 2006

There have been absolutely no good movies. With no big movies like LoTR to look forward to, even as each successive one was slightly less good, my year feels so incomplete...

It's been raining all day. I could sense it, even inside my little library cocoon smack dab in the midst of the windowless, cubicle maze. My knee was twinging. How odd that our bodies can react to something that we can't "see".

With summer on its plodding humditity-soaked way, I lopped 6+ inches off my hair on Wednesday. That always feels good. The hairstylist is always overly cautious: "Well... are you ready?.." and makes a big deal about wielding scissors while holding a long lock of hair. And all I care about is getting it all off! Everyone at work thinks it looks wonderful (even though I know Grandma prefers rapunzel-length hair--sorry Grandma!).

Last day of class is next Wednesday. I have to give a presentation with another girl on the metadata scheme of the VRA Core Categories. I hate it when the attention is on me. It doesn't make me quiver in fear, just embarrassed. Isn't that silly. It's not like I'm briefing the President on the state of things.

Looking ahead to summer, with its open-ness (no summer classes because nothing was available that would be remotely helpful), is like running through a meadow on a mountaintop: I'm free! It's such an alien thought that there will come a day when I will not have to worry about schoolwork or project deadlines.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The husband of one of my friends is quite against celebrating holidays of any kind, because he feels the celebration detracts from "the reason of the season", so to speak. He hurt her feelings when he stared at the Easter basket she lovingly assembled for him and said, "I don't want that. Easter isn't about Easter bunnies and candy."
She laid into him with a lecture that celebrations of holidays are good things, that they encourage children's imaginations and give them hope. It made me think: kids don't fully grasp the meaning of holidays, but they will notice how much care you put into making some days more special than others. Someday that will translate into some food for thought as they start to comprehend exactly why particular days are celebrated.

Last night Sue had us paint eggs, and she gave us baskets with jelly beans and peeps. It was quite enjoyable. Jenni and I, being more "artsy", tried to get creative with colors, with the result of some eggs looking like they'd been dunked in mud. Sue, on the other hand, fastidiously soaked each and every one of her eggs in one color each and they all turned out marvelously bright. It's like a rainbow in a box.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why I like hiking:
1) I can pretend I am a hobbit on a journey
2) It makes up for my childhood distaste of sports.
3) I can walk to the grocery store a mile away and carry back 15 pounds of groceries without breaking sweat.
4) I learn that some periods of material discomfort (wet, cold, etc.) are quite manageable--nothing compares to that most basic feeling of being warm as when you've been hiking in windy rain in 50 degrees.
5) I can survey a range of big hills with a knowing, distant look, a la John Muir and Daniel Boone
6) Gooey pizza and crisp beer never taste as good as when you've just stepped off the trail after a 15 mile hike. Actually, just about any kind of cooked food, for that matter.
7) Hiking is mind-clearing, like a good sneeze that clears your sinuses
8) Sleeping outside makes you see things in nature that you've never noticed before.
9) It's okay to get dirty. A little bit of grit in your coffee is character-building.
10) I get to be outside.

Things I don't like about hiking:
1) It can make me cry.
2) It can knock my toenails off.
3) I have to wear tapered pants, which make my bottom half look like a middle-aged frumpy cat lady.
4) You realize how small you are when you are stuck on an exposed ledge with a lightning storm howling your way.
5) When the birds welcome the morning, I get an ache to be outdoors--like Legolas and the seagulls. Not fun when you're stuck inside on a listless day.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I watched a DVD about the Appalachian Trail a couple nights ago. At one point, they focused on hikers' feet and the brutal pounding they get on the trail. Peeling blisters, raw heels, fungus-infected soles, and black toenails. They focused in on the black toenails just as the hiker flicked his big toenail off. That was obviously done for stage effect.
Every time I've gone hiking, my toenails have taken a beating. I invariably end up losing some, particularly my big toenails. It's the descents, the constant scrunching of your toes against the front of your shoes, as you pick your way down the trail, adjusting to the new center of gravity your backpack has given you.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Jon's progressing along the trail at a good clip. He called from the Walasi-Yee Center in northern Georgia last night to say all was well and he wasn't being chewed to a bloody pulp by a black bear.
To keep pace with him, if only imaginatively, I've started reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. Bryson never fails to draw out a chuckle. A critic said he could make even dryer lint funny.
Right now, he's just completed the first day and is ready to die--to just be one with the lichen on the rock for a very long time. It makes me think back to when I first started hiking with Jon. Jon, bless his heart, always overestimated my abilities and took me to places with lots of steep climbing. I would always grow sullen about 1/2 of the way up, then downright mad 2/3 up, then for the last 1/3 of the climb, I would be weeping like a lost child, my limbs quivering on top of stumbling feet.
Howl's Moving Castle was a delight to watch. I don't normally like anime--watching it is like entering the head of a 21st century Napoleon Dynamite. Instead of "liger" and "tion", he would be creating anime.
Christian Bale was the voice of Howl, and he did that quite nicely. He has that odd quality of speaking quietly, yet making himself heard across the room. All the girls at work have a crush on him, so I guess that includes me. I even liked him in Batman, however flawed that movie was.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spring can be stealthy. Blink and the world erupts in color. One day it was raining. I could notice a distinct difference in the pastures between the morning and afternoon--the grass was green. It was like learning the definition of the color green.

Behold the lion cut. Mojo had this done once, not for looks but because his fur was so matted.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Why does the hair on Pope freely leave his body in copious amounts--aloft on the wind, it flits aimlessly around the house--yet when we brush him, the amount we manage to get would be disdained by a bird as worthy nest building material?

I'm writing a paper on the VRA Core Categories, a metadata scheme that visual resources curators can use to describe their collections of art slides/digital images, as well as the original art works themselves. I keep thinking: "What's the point of writing this? No one cares. It won't be published." But Jon reminds me that the point of writing papers is to educate yourself, not others. So there.

I've been reading "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief" on my breaks at work. I don't usually enjoy fantasy infused with pop-culture--it's just too self-conscious--but this isn't so bad. It's lazy summer reading material, which is why I must have picked it up, considering that the Joseph-Beth building is entering its annual sauna season. It's about a boy who discovers he's a demi-god (like Hercules) and must go on a quest to find out who stole Zeus's master lightning bolt before Zeus zaps him out of existence. Sure.

Friday, March 31, 2006

It never fails to amaze me just how good a bacon, craisin, feta cheese spinach salad with lemon juice/olive oil dressing can be.

A memory from my spring break: one night over supper, conversation wandered into the job market. I said I hated writing resumes because I feel like I am perfecting the art of white lies in writing something that people never really look at. Dad said, "You know what you need to do? You should go in, say 'I'm hearing impaired. If you don't hire me, I'll sue.'"
This is particularly funny because I wonder if that's how some places would see me. Would I only be hired just to boost their employee ratio--you know, that minority, female, disability percentage? Would employers look for any possible excuse to not consider me because of my impairment?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I have this annoying melancholy about me--the kind of "fatigue" that sets in about 1/2 ways through school, when you just want to do absolutely nothing (because when you're doing something not school-related, you somehow feel guilty for not focusing on your schoolwork).
I told Jon the other day I just wanted to go lay beneath a tree and ... listen to the wind, or something. Not out of nature-worship, but because there's something about being outside that allows you to do nothing without turning into a passive slug (i.e. vegetating in front of the TV for 5 hours).

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I got a 99 on my Library of Congress Classification test (we had to assign LCC numbers to 10 different books), and my interpreters were impressed: "What a smart girl!" Which led me to thinking: graduate school, in some odd sort of way, has been easier than my undergraduate studies. I think this must be because I am in a field that interests me (and one can assume that you will understand that which interests you), so I have done well in my classes so far. It's been the same for Jon--once you can specialize in your field of interest, you start building on the base of knowledge that you established through all those years of school, instead of starting anew.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Jon will be leaving soon to hike a portion of the AT. He'll be starting at the southern terminus, Springer Mountain, and hiking north about 130 miles to the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. I wish I was going with him!

The photo is from the top of Cheoah Bald, near the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Thru-hikers can see how far they've come (not shown), and where they are going next (this is the view north).

Friday, March 24, 2006

Well, it looks like the summer class that I could possibly take conflicts too much with my work schedule. I am going to take 2 classes in the fall, and will probably turn into a hollow shell about half-ways through the semester... But--I just want to be done with it all, so am only thinking of my longterm gain.
Thankfully, each class meets just once a week--Public Libraries on Monday afternoons and Internet technology on Wednesday evenings. Dr. Miller (internet course) is an excellent teacher who can patiently explain anything in a way that even the most technophobic person can understand. A stone-age cavedweller could understand him. Besides, as fearful as I am of the mysterious ways of computers, I am looking forward to learning more about the internet and how to design a webpage.
At the rate I am going, I just might be done after the fall semester of 2007. How about that! Only slightly less than 2 years to go!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"'Whoever heard of cats doing anything useful!'
'Except for staring at one in a supercilious manner,' said Strange. 'That has a sort of moral usefulness, I suppose, in making one feel uncomfortable and encouraging sober reflection upon one's imperfections.'"
-from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, p. 586-587

Monday, March 20, 2006

My apologies for the silence lately, I was at my parents' house where there is no internet (except in my brother's lair, and no one goes there), and that was quite nice.

Here is an icon of the Anastasis, or "Harrowing of Hell," in which Christ descended into hell and rescued Adam and Eve, and the Old Testament patriarchs, from death. He is shown in triumphal glory, seizing the hands of Adam and Eve, our forebears, and raising them from their coffins, from the darkness of death. The cross that he stands on is symbolic of his breaking the doors of hell, of the tomb. There is a sense of fierce joy about this icon, of the door that has been opened for us, showing the way to a new beginning.

Speaking of new beginnings, spring has a distinct smell that makes you want to go outside and do nothing but enjoy nature. It makes me want to walk into the woods and not return for the duration of the warm-weather season.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I checked this book out from Joseph-Beth:
Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican party)
by Rod Dreher
The title caught my eye, and I now that I have read enough to get a better idea of the author's views, I actually agree with a lot of what he says. Basically, conservatives need to re-learn the idea of "conserving", we need to re-establish the family as the basic unit of society, community is where it's at, we need to take better care of ourselves and the environment, we need to be more responsible about capitalism, we need to make fair trade actually fair, etc. etc.
The author is opinionated without being arrogant, and keeps returning to importance of community, of becoming involved in the place you are in, of actually spending time with your family rather than endlessly zoning out to TV. He even talks about the pleasures of eating organic food, not because it is in rebellion to factory farms, but because the food actually tastes better, and to buy your food locally means that you are supporting your community.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I got my eyes examined on Wednesday. I thought I was blind as a bat with prescriptions of -12 (L) -11 (R), but the doctor told me that prescriptions can go as high as -20. My goodness, I hope I don't go as high as that!
I tried on just about every pair of glasses in Lenscrafter, and they all made me look like a raccoon. My eyes are so huge, they filled the frames! Jon kept cracking up and calling me Dame Edna as I progressed to trying on glasses with larger frames (the granny styles).

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I've discovered a website that allows one to "catalog" one's books. Check out ozimanndias8's tiny web-library. This is a prelude to an all-out library project I'm considering embarking on--cataloging my own library according to the cataloging standards I'm learning in class. It's a great way to learn by doing.
We just learned how to catalog maps. It's quite fascinating the way Library of Congress allows for a detailed classification of a particular map. You can specify each record all the way down to the type of map it is. You would think that such things as type of map, subject of map (is it topographical or a railroad map?), even the cities within a country, would be a given in map cataloging, but Library of Congress is the only cataloging standard that allows for such detail (as far as I know).

Friday, February 24, 2006

I'm taking a break because the search engines keep freezing up. Isn't technology great?

I'm going home in two weeks for spring break. I think I am going to see about visiting the Marion E. Wade center at Wheaton College to see the papers and miscellena of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, Sayers and L'Engle, to name a few. I am also going to ask Grandma to give me a knitting lesson. That should supply the two main focuses of my brain, the intellectual and the mindless.

Crocheting is like doing the dishes, or taking a walk--my mind tends to sort and organize my thoughts much more effectively if my body is preoccupied with a repetitive task.

Monday, February 20, 2006

There is an old man who is at the Y every time I go there. He shuffles around the fitness room with a somber expression and exercises with the lowest amount of effort possible. It's wonderful to see him there--aged people shouldn't be afraid to work out, but it's absolutely funny to see him on the recumbent bike, solemnly turning the wheels (I don't say "pedal" because that implies more action that what he does) as if it is his sworn duty.
This makes me wonder how other people see me there...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Here is an excerpt from Jesus by James McCauley:

"...And when a dove came to his hand he knew
that hell was opening behind its wings.
He thanked the messenger and let it go;
spoke to the dust, the fishes and the twelve
as if they understood him equally,
and told them nothing that they wished to know."

Poetry has that knack for conveying the emotion of a thing, the full-bodied nature of a drawn out moment. This passage gave me pause, and made me think of Anne Rice's new book Christ the Lord which is a surprisingly good read. Jesus, not quite eight years old, is slowly realizing the totality of his nature, and towards the end, in the culmination of the book, he realizes that everything that is born must die, a realization that carries more weight for him than mortals.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I've sent off my application for the "audio-visual services clerk" position at the Bourbon County library. I doubt anything will come of it. What bothers me is that I am getting a graduate degree, spending thousands to claim a degree, and I will most likely have to start at the bottom with low pay and hopefully work up.
The funny thing about the cataloging business is that it is a broad spectrum. Some libraries treat it like a paraprofessional position, with pay to match, while others accord it full professional status (which it deserves, and I am speaking objectively, considering the amount of education and detail one has to possess to do the job effectively), with a decent salary. Even more frustrating is that it varies within types of libraries. Some public libraries have catalogers, while others just have clerks (like the position above).
I jumped at this position because it would let me get my foot in the door. Considering that Jon and I want to live in a rural part of Kentucky, my options for library jobs will be limited, so any chance I have of working at a public library, I'm going to snatch.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day! Now that both sets of parents have sent us Valentine's cards, I suppose that means Jon and I will have to get one for each other.

On Sunday I went to the Lexington Vintage Dance Society's exhibition at Joseph-Beth. They advertised it as romping music from Jane Austen's time, unlike anything we've seen in the movies. It was actually quite enjoyable. The performers were familiar enough with the moves to gracefully fix any errors they made, so the audience didn't have to suffer through that peculiar vicarious embarrassment that one can feel while watching a clumsy performer.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Here are some interesting Kentucky town names (excluding the standard names like Sulphur Lick or Dogville):

-Pippa Passes

The latter made me think the Three Musketeers. The first was just odd. How do you say, "I come from Pippa Passes"? The way that name is constructed gives one an incomplete-thought, unfinished-sentence sort of headache. It's like a dog chasing its own tail, unable to come to resolution.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I will say right off the bat: I do not like cellphones. I am not against them per se, for they are a means of communication; I am against what they do to people.

I cannot count the number (and this countless number would probably be tripled if I wasn't hard of hearing) of times that I have been walking behind someone talking on a cellphone and overheard something like this: "I'm on Rose Street. I'm like a minute from the library. Yeah, I'm coming up the sidewalk. Okay, I'm right outside the library. I'll see you in 5 sec--whoops, there you are!"

Most of the time I overhear people on their cellphones, this is the kind of stuff they are saying. Literally. It bothers me that people will engage in such banal conversations. Are we so afraid of a mere five minute walk to the library that we have to fill up that solitude with something--anything-- that fills up the silence? Are we so afraid of being alone that we'll rush to fill it up with distractions--TV, computers, cellphones?

This might seem off-subject, but I was reminded of something Mom told Jon concerning his hiking: "You have to like yourself to be alone for extended periods of time in the wilderness. Most people couldn't handle that." I think this points to the root of the matter.

Friday, February 03, 2006

"The farmer and the cowboy should be friends.."

Us girls (or is it we girls?) watched Oklahoma!, starring Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) last night, which led to the discussion on just why we love musicals so much, but our husbands abhor them. (Case in point: Jon announced Tuesday night that he would do anything but watch the President's state of the union speech. He was even willing to watch a movie or go shopping. When I suggested, "Well, we could watch Oklahoma," he said, "Uh... I'd rather watch the state of the union speech.").

I think what bothers them must be the dream sequences, and the spontaneous song and dance that erupt out of the oddest circumstances. We joked that our lives would be much more eventful if we could make episodes out of mundane events, like dinner. We could dance circles around the dining room, belting out lyrics, then assemble in some crazy set-up around and on top of the dining table as we presented dinner with a flourish: "Lamb kebobs! Sweet potatoes! Orange carrots with the raisins on top!"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Here is my new favorite poem:

Via Negativa (by R.S. Thomas)

Why no! I never thought other than
That God is that great absence
In our lives, the empty silence
Within, the place where we go
Seeking, not in hope to
Arrive or find. He keeps the interstices
In our knowledge, the darkness
Between stars. His are the echoes
We follow, the footprints he has just
Left. We put our hands in
His side hoping to find
It warm. We look at people
And places as though he had looked
At them, too; but miss the reflection.

Negative theology (via negative=negative way) is not, as one might instinctively think, theology that attempts to disprove the existence of God. It is theology that attempts to describe God by what he is not, since he is mysterious and beyond comprehension.

Monday, January 30, 2006

I have started reading the Mitford novels. I hovered in the realm of embarrassment for a minute when Abbi asked me what I had been reading, "Should I mention it..?" then decided I was old enough to publicly embrace my eccentricities.
I thought I would look into them after reading in random articles of Lauren Winner's Mitford obsession. If a smart unorthodox girl like her reads them, there must be something about them that has made fans of millions of readers.
I am hooked and happy that the series is very long. The books are my bedside companions, perfect for reading right before sleep--nothing too frightening, sweet enough to ensure happy dreams, not too addictive that I am up until 2 AM.
I think I am going to write a paper on the similarities between Lord of the Rings and the Mitford novels.

Friday, January 27, 2006

In the uproar over Frey's book "A Million Little Pieces", people are questioning the truthfulness of memoir. Aren't all memoirs somewhat shaded with the untrustworthiness of memories, as well as authors who embellish an otherwise lackluster episode (audiences won't read books about happy family lives in which not much really happened)? Frey is an extreme example (he claims he was in jail for months when he really only languished in prison for a day, for instance).

I have powerful memories that are more impressions than factual reminiscines (the roughness of knee-high grass in the hills around the creek by Jenny & Rosie's house ; the cream-colored walls of stone of the Palace of the Popes, whose building never seemed to end, etc.) and to write about such impressions requires fleshing out the memories.
Jon was a science fair judge at a local elementary school this past Wednesday. He awarded the "most creative" prize to a kindergartener who tested whether Christmas exists (Jon said her parents must have been watching a lot of FOX news, with its raging debate over the p.c.'ness of "merry christmas" greetings).
For her experiment, she would greet people with, "Merry Christmas!" then ask them whether they thought Santa Claus existed. Of course, all the adults said "Yes," (what else would you say to a kindergartener?) So, 100% of adults said Santa Claus existed, and 70% of children agreed, therefore: Christmas exists!
Another experiment: a girl tested whether her dog was colorblind. She would show him colored pieces of paper, saying the name of the color several times "PINK! .. PINK! ... PINK!" etc. Then she laid out the pieces of paper on the ground, put doggie treats on each of them, then said the name of a color. She observed that the dog ate all the treats in "random order," therefore he is not colorblind.
I'll leave you to figure that out.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Everything in this quote combines in a bizarre funny way : "Nacho Libre" (June 2), from "Napoleon Dynamite" director Jared Hess, stars Jack Black as a Mexican priest who doubles as a wrestler to raise cash for his orphanage (from

Friday, January 20, 2006

Here is a movie I really-really-want to see: The Lady in the Water.

People either love or hate M. Night Shyamalan. I enjoyed all his previous movies. Jenni and I came home from Signs and sat in the kitchen, afraid to enter our rooms--afraid that dressers or dirty laundry might actually be aliens in disguise--silly imaginings like that.
The scene from The Village where the blind girl stands boldly in the door, her hand outstretched, knowing that her lover will come, even as the creepy creature is advancing down the porch not 10 feet away, still makes me shudder.
The Lady in the Water is described as a fairy tale/bedtime story that is true, with Shyamalan's customary eerie undercurrents.
From an essay I am reading:

a lamed-vovnik is one of the 36 hidden saints whose identity is known only to God, and for whose sake alone the world is each moment spared the destruction it deserves.

From a story retold within the essay: How to Pray: Reverence, Stories, and the Rebbe's Dream by Ben Birnbaum

Jewish literature is full of mystical legends like this.
Being one who likes fantastical literature, I find this funny:

Bill Nighy, some British actor, plays a range of characters that I only just now noticed. He is a sleazy politician with no soul in The Constant Gardener, a master vampire in the Underworld movies, a loser musician in Love Actually, among others. The juxtaposition of His Lord King Master Allmighty High Vampire with Billy Idol-in-his-downfall musician is especially amusing.

Perhaps I am the only one that finds this entertaining, but it's just too surprising to watch a movie in which you are deeply involved (The Constant Gardener), then think "Hey, I've seen this guy before." then realize the last time you saw him was with blood smeared on his chin, and his eyes all vampire-weird. You don't immediately register him as as an actor.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Now I understand the title "The Constant Gardener". I had just assumed that it was an avant-garde name to use for a mystery/thriller book. It is certainly a movie that makes you think. The ending was wrenching, due to the abrupt jump to the funeral scene. Throughout the movie, I had never thought seriously that Quayle would die. He would certainly live to spread the news that his wife so desperately wanted to make known.
This movie succeeded in making death very real--very present (I can think of no other word)--in Africa. It is too easy to hear news of genocide and rampant AIDs out of Africa, because millions are dying--a number that is too vast for the mind comprehend.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The other day, Jon and I were trying out some Bertie Botts, and the minute I ate the Soap bean, I immediately remembered Mom putting some soap on my tongue for sticking my tongue out at her when I was little.
Last night we were talking about how we wanted to raise our kids, in light of the overall permissiveness we see in most children nowadays. Little things, like how strict we want to be, rewards and punishments, etc. Of course, you take what you say with a grain of salt, because everything changes once you've got a kid.
Speaking of kids, why are babies the cutest things in the world when quite rationally, a lot of them just aren't? Case in point: Mary H brought her 3-week old son in to work. I meant it when I said, "Oh, isn't he just the most beautiful baby!" when we were both looking down at a pink, puckered looking thing whose limbs moved of their own free will. Maybe we are recognizing the divine spark without its being clouded over by such things as temperament and annoying behavior, and bodily odors and patches of fat in the wrong spots.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Class started today. When the teacher asks how many hours a week you can devote to the course, you know you're going to have no life for the next 4 months. That won't be too much of a problem for me, since I really don't have that much of a life to begin with, but all the same that means I have to put aside all my thoughts of books to read (which will be near impossible seeing as I work in a bookstore and a library) to focus on the task at hand.

Dr. Chan launched into the theory of subject analysis, and I could see my interpreters' eyes flicker in confusion quite a bit (some have told me: "I hope you understand all this, because I certainly don't"). I told Heather and Erin afterwards that my classes are the favorite among UK's interpreters...

It makes me wonder what it's like interpreting for a variety of classes--ranging from basic literature classes to nursing to physics, etc. Is it like going to school all over again? Are you able to switch off that part of your brain which seeks to understand what information is entering it, and just sign the words as the teacher speaks them?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

While driving home from Lake Geneva, Wis., we passed a large lake and Mom asked Jon,
"Have you heard of such-and-such observatory?"
I heard:
"Does your church believe in purgatory?"
and I knew immediately that my ears were not trustworthy at the moment, since Mom is quite educated enough to know that Baptists, the denomination of Jon's upbringing, do not share the Roman Catholic view of the afterlife.

These misunderstandings are so funny, I need to keep a collection of them--like Sue jotting down Dr. Joly's witticisms (and eccentricities).

Monday, January 09, 2006

I saw a possum last night. It was as big as a fat cat, or a corgi. They aren't necessarily the ugliest animals on the face of the earth, but they are certainly one of the most confusing. Their ugliness isn't streamlined like insects, nor horrifying like demonic visages. It's a mish-mash, hodge-podge ugliness, like a clump of string, hair, dirt and who-knows-what-else that you always find in the corner of a room. And then that naked rat's tail the color of cold caucasain skin... Did God get bored one day?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Work is particularly frustrating right now because I have no clear plan or directive on how to conduct myself here at EPIC. The previous inhabitants didn't leave any directions on what to do, so I've felt like I've been laboring in the dark. I've come across documents on the library dating from the 80's, which are historically interesting but not of practical use.
The girls in the office are helpful in the sense of showing me around the cubical maze, but they have no hands-on experience here in the little library. It's almost like an excavation as I work my around, finding documents and books and trying to figure out where they fit.

School starts next week. I've only just got back into my freedom routine, now I'll have to turn around and head right back. It's a Dr. Chan class, too, so it will be doubly harder. She speaks English in brisk, authoritative tones which seem so out-of-place coming from a tiny 50-ish lady like herself.
I re-read Robin McKinley's first book, "Beauty," a retelling of the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast." I think this is the best book of her career because of its simple, strong prose. Most of her subsequent work delves into prose-y language, like a peony the keeps on blooming and the writer is the ant that scurries in and out of the petals.
I haven't read her Newberry award winning stuff, preferring to stick with her fairy tale oeuvre (is that the proper use of the word?). Retellings of fairy tales and myths are my deeply favorite works of literature. Jorge Luis Borges says that we use the same metaphors for things, such as comparing death to sleep, even if we might embellish the metaphors or approach them from different angles, because they ring true. The same is true for retellings. Approaching an archetypal story from various probings, we seek to glean all we can from the story, learning about ourselves and each other in the process.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Last night the sky turned green at Robert & Debbie's and curtains of rain lifted and fell as the wind rushed by. There was a tornado warning southwest of their house, but the storm's fury lessened as it moved their way. We paced the floor, keeping an eye on the storm outside and the weather station as TG Shuck excitedly pointed out the different bands of color on the radar screen and explained their implications.
I have two memories of previous near-encounters with tornados. In the first, the whole family was sequestered in the basement of Gary and Lorrie's old house south of Beloit, Wis., listening to the crackling radio. I remember looking up at Mom and worrying about my hamsters on the second floor of our house in Rockford.
In the second, we were at Grandpa Clow's funeral in Minnesota. A tornado warning was issued for the area, and we all went into the basement of the funeral home, where the coffin showroom was. I remember some men looking at the array of coffins, most with their doors partly open, revealing the white silk lining the empty space within, and joking that if the tornado should hit, we could all jump into the coffins and surely be safe.