Make the cup holder come back out

Umm .... computers are a discussion topic in this house. Pretty much since the early days of home computers, we've had one, and it's generally been assembled, component by component, by the man and then the men in the house. And I've never been the techno-maven. I call for help when I need it. But ... I'm a little more savvy than some people, apparently.

Help, I Can't Find The 'Any" Key

Morning Edition, September 25, 2008 · The technology staffing firm, Robert Half Technology, asked more than a thousand IT executives what are the most baffling questions to come across your computer help desk. They include the query from a computer user who thought the CD-ROM drive was a drink holder and called to ask, "How do I get my computer's coffee-cup holder to come out again?"Another caller became confused when his computer told him to press any key to continue. He asked, "Where's the 'any' key?" Then there's caller who dialed in asking, "Why isn't my wireless mouse connected to the computer?"


It's no use

Nope, that's it. The bearded young giant may very well love the campus, and be having a perfectly lovely time, but I'm sorry. I know I said it's peaceful here. But ... well ... we didn't think this through. He will simply have to come home. We have encountered a couple of problems. This is one of them. I have buried myself in my own kitchen mess, and I think I may have forgotten how to get out on my own! John! Come home and clean the kitchen! The pasta with roasted squash and spinach in a Bechamel sauce was tasty ... but egad! Now what do I do?

(Just kidding, son. Well, mostly just kidding. I know what to do, I just don't want to do it.)

Addendum: We found the scrubber brush. I guess he can stay in school after all.


The Question

The question is not:

Why does the spider love the laundry pile in the bathroom?


Where did it come from?


Why don't I ever see a small one? Are they all hatched out at that size???

No ... the question is:

After I remove the bathroom laundry and take away those enticing folds of clothing and washcloths and things ...

And the spider darts out of the pile and up the wall and waits there (is it watching me?)...

And then I put the laundry into the clothes washer upper machine ...

And then I return to the bathroom and find that the multi-legged little hider-sprinter is no longer there ...


That's the question.


All alone. There is no young giant asleep upstairs ... there is no husband or daughter or visitor or friend (or foe - if you don't count the resentful cat).

NPR's Morning Edition on the computer.

Very intense dreams last night (I think I might be having everyone else's dreams as well as my own - it can't all be me!)

Six-week check at the doctor's today. It's slightly surreal how much similarity there is between the rigours and triumphs of childbirth, and this somewhat violent and draconian end of fertility - which evidently includes a new kind of birthing all its own.

The annual Michaelmas Fest is coming up this next weekend - I have visions of decorations and program designs in my head. And there are a couple of workdays at the library between now and then.

And school starts this week - for me, and for both of the young giants. (I went shopping yesterday with the younger - and currently skinnier and less bearded - of the two. The poor guy was down to just one pair of wearable pants, and was getting desperate. He's so excited and so nervous and so ready to be in school. Oh - and I do remember I'm supposed to be ready to help with math - I know that, right? I'm not forgetting about helping him with his math, am I? Because math will be a pain. I remember that, right? -- Yes. I remember that.)

And in the midst of it all, the weather has shifted. The perpetually green and watery world outside my windows is starting to take on a golden, reddening, ripening light. This is the ripeness season for my inner self too. And I discover that the ideas have begun their annual migration to other places.

I stand in my landscape, and take stock. This year, nothing is where I left it. Everything has changed. The ground has shifted and my continents are elsewhere - moved around - oceans where there were none before, and scorched earth and deep ash where the volcanoes erupted this year. I need to reorient myself.

Every once in awhile, a thing which is organic - a plant sort of thing, with roots and leaves and fruit in its season - drifts by and finds a new place to be.

These organic things - are they my ideas? my perspectives in life? my assumptions? - they are supposed to be in the ground of my being. Their roots are supposed to be well-rooted, watered-in, and their leaves are supposed to be fanning out into the sun and showers, or slowly turning red and gold and dropping to the earth and sleeping before another season of leaf and flower and fruit will come again. But sometimes they just let go. They move. Fly. Wander.

At this time of the year it is not unusual for at least some of them to let loose of their places and move through the air and space and find a better place to grow. It happens. But this year, I find myself surveying this hillside and that one, this valley and the other, and wondering if every single thing I ever knew for sure is different now.


I think that's what is happening. Adaptation of species. The ideas for things to write about are still ideas for things to write about, but they've moved. They grow and even thrive where I used to think they would die. The way I want to live - the housework and home comforts, and the job situation and the schooling - it's all still there. But it looks different in this light. I think it might have moved to a west-facing slope.

My life is not being lived at noon any more. And evening has always been my favorite time of day and fall my favorite season. The contours of all the shapes surrounding me are sharper now. The contrast is different. Deeper. I like it here. I don't really understand it yet, but I like it here. I wonder which way's north?



I just found a new online language translator, and I really like it! I've added the widget to my iGoogle homepage (well ... I added it to the one in the tab behind the front page of my homepage - I have a "Research" tab ... stop laughing)

Anyway, go to Reverso and check it out! They've got a dictionary and a conjugation feature too. Pretty handy.


Well! I'm thinking I made the right decision when I switched doctors! Instead of continuing to see an OB/GYN in Portland, an hour away, with appointments impossible to get, and ... well, all kinds of things. I had a problem with all kinds of things there. So, I switched to a smaller town, a less busy, less urbanized practice, and a different doctor. Today, I'm glad I did.

In the mail, I just got a post card. My old doctor's name is the name on the return address. And the post card is an advertisement for a "special event" featuring Botox and Juvederm - and combo packages for additional savings! I am urged to call and reserve my spot and get my chance to speak to company reps.

I don't think I have it in me today to be eloquent in my horror at the Frankenstein mentality of the entire medical industry (click on the pic) - or the energy to champion once again the benefits and rewards of being past youth. But I'm sure glad I switched doctors!

Design My Office

Dear Reader of this Little Blog,

Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow, the husband/dad takes the son to the college campus four hours away, and when this has happened, this house will be a two-person house. It's time to make certain alterations in this house.

First and foremost on my list is my own little office. This computer must be removed from the first floor of the house. It needs to be housed permanently in a room dedicated to computer work - writing - creating - thinking - praying - sitting - reading - studying ...
So here's my question for you. If you could have any one or two things as part of your own little room for such activities, what would you choose? Help me out here. Dream up your ideal office space. What's in it? Tell me. The fun is about to begin.

Sometimes you're the bull

From Wikipedia:
A bull market tends to be associated with increasing investor confidence, motivating investors to buy in anticipation of future capital gains. A notable recent bull market was in the 1990s when the U.S. and many other global financial markets rose rapidly.

With me so far?

Okay, now this (Wall Street Journal):
The American financial system was shaken to its core on Sunday. Lehman Brothers Holedings Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, and Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed to be sold to Bank of America Corp. The U.S. government, which bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a week ago and orchestrated the sale of Bear Stearns Cos. to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in March, played much tougher with Lehman.

Uh-huh ...

So ...

THIS, my friends, is how Legends begin! Today, there is this story:

Police say a young bull made a dash for freedom through the streets of Queens on Wednesday night but suddenly died before he could be taken to an animal sanctuary. Police cars tried to steer the bull off the crowded roadways but the several-hundred-pound animal hit and damaged a squad car. An NYPD officer with urban cowboy skills lassoed the bull and it was tranquilized. New York Center for Animal Care and Control spokesman Richard Gentles says the bull died less than an hour after it was brought in. He says veterinarians found no signs of what had caused the bull's death.

Catch that?

This week - while all the financial movers and shakers and players and magicians began to wish they'd decided to farm or serve fries for a living, a bull - no one knows where the bull came from -, was running amok in the streets of New York - and then was chased - and then tranquilized, and then died.

Whoah, man ... mythic...!


Wiffle the Drama Queen

We have these two goats. As far as I'm concerned, their names are Wiffle and Puck. As in, wiffle ball, and hockey puck. Yeah, yeah ... cute, right? Awwww.

Only the thing is ...

goats are not very smart. Or, at least, these two aren't. They've got about three brain cells between them, and this smaller, lighter colored one here - Wiffle - he only uses his one brain cell some of the time.

Puck's nobody's genius either, mind you. But at least his "maaaaaah!" sounds like a goat sound. He calls out from time to time, and he gets a little worried if he can't see his pal, but he just acts like a goat.

But Wiffle! He has used all the power of that one brain cell to do one thing. He has learned that the car that drives up in the evening carries the person who carries the grain can. And IF that person decides to, say, go up to the barn without the goats to get the grain, leaving the goats right where they are, the sounds Wiffle makes would bring anyone within earshot running to see why someone is skinning him alive. Or crushing him in a giant vise. Or something! What a truly awful noise!


Just the essentials

I had some hours at work this week. (If you're just joining this broadcast, "at work" means subbing at the local community library.)

I really do enjoy working at the library. It's deeply reassuring to me, somehow, that somewhere in the universe there actually IS a place for everything, and everything can be put there, where it goes. Yeah, there's stuff in the basement. And yeah, there's stuff that seems to sit perpetually on the counters in the office and things like that. But mostly, and especially out in the library itself, there is a place for everything, and there is an order to it, and there are labels, and bookends for keeping things straight up and down.
The not-so-straight pile of books in the logo banner? Yeah, right. Modern libraries have all kinds of fun programs and a more relaxed attitude. People are rarely shushed in libraries anymore. But still. There is an underlying order, and if any library worker walked past a stack of books that looked like the stack in the logo, the stack would be straightened, put into Dewey Decimal order, and shelved on the right shelf. This is how libraries work - no matter how many scraps of paper are left over from the story time craft or how much food is consumed at the Art Show Reception (food! eaten in the library!) -- still, there is an order to things. I love it. It rests me.

But there's another thing about working at the library that always makes me happy. It's the company I keep when I'm there.

Take "lunch hours" for instance. Employees going on a break or taking a lunch do not, as they might elsewhere, always search for a coat - or even for keys. This is a small town, and it's possible to walk to where you're going on your lunch hour. Library employees also do not "punch out" - because we write on time sheets, and not usually until the end of the day for that, anyway. Food also seems to be a kind of optional priority - or coffee. No, none of the customary things for breaks or lunches seem to matter nearly as much to library employees as ...

"reading material."

I actually heard this phrase used this week. Employee headed out of the branch for her lunch hour: "Okay, let's see ... reading materials ..." She was shuffling through her tote bag. It's time for lunch. So - obviously - she's looking for reading materials.

Yeah ... I work amongst my own folk when I go to work at the library.


This morning, the clouds have covered our sky in a nice, thick, comforting blanket of calm. The firefighters can use the break! Over by Mt. Hood, at Gnarl Ridge and Cooper Spur it's a real mess right now.

Every year at this time, the rain forest dries out. Every year at this time, the foliage everywhere drains of its accustomed, lush green, and the grass and all the underbrush starts to have a kind of golden brown cast to it. The huckleberry stems turn red, and the vine maple allows its fiery and tenacious heart to show through its leaves, against the background of all the Doug fir and other cone trees. And this year, the cone trees are producing cones like crazy! I'll be able to gather up a large pile of nice cones this year, I think. I used to have them to decorate with at Christmastime, but they got kind of crunched and beat up over the years of packing and unpacking them, and I need some more.

This is such a color-saturated time of year. The whole of the outdoors is as deeply satisfying as any textile store or art museum. I drink in all the color as deeply as ever I drank something cool in the heat of summer, and I sip it as delicately and headily as ever I sipped a good champagne with seared scallops or crab bisque (the best combo in the world - champagne and seafood). The whole world seems to me to be ready to burst into flame during this annual fire season - to flame out at the end of the year, and settle into the cold, dark winter of sleep and rest.

In metaphor, it seems fitting. But God bless the hotshots. We've lost enough of them recently -- may there be no more losses for a long, long time.


There is a game that has always confused me. It was, I think, a game sometimes played by my parents ... at least, I have seen them do it since I got old enough to figure it out, and I think they did it when I was a child. Lots of people play this game. And it always, always confuses me. It acts like a kryptonite to my superpowers. It's water on my electrical circuitry. Sudden ejection into the vacuum of space, where I can neither breathe nor get any sort of traction.

Now, I am not an unintelligent woman. My I.Q. is not at genius level - but I can see that level from here, and I can shake hands with it sometimes. And normally, I am a pretty proficient translator and, normally, I know what people want when they're talking to me. And normally they know what I mean when I talk to them. But, my knowing and their knowing is predicated on one thing, and it is a thing I have to have.

I have to have a basic level of honesty.

No, wait. It's not "honesty" - that's not the right word. The thing I need is a kind of shared intention, maybe? Frank declarations of intention. It's similar to honesty. But it's ... um ... it feels like I can sense a kind of undercurrent, but I am being kind of blocked - or - baited. There's a kind of test. Whatever. I don't get it, so it's not surprising that I can't name it.

It's like some kind of birth defect or disability or something. Teasing, I get. Humor - especially of the Sir Humphrey variety - this, I understand. Complicated arguments? Intricate reasoning? Yeah. Okay. I can follow that. Emotions? Yes. I feel those - yours, mine, theirs, ours - yeah. I get the emotions. I can follow directions, get clarification, and provide further details. I can work beside you in a project, and work as either subordinate or supervisor.

All of these things I can do, but one thing I cannot do.

I cannot play Gotcha.

And I have discovered an interesting fact. Whereas in ordinary, normal, everyday communion with other people, the confession of a weakness brings a response of pity and accommodation, the confession that I cannot and do not play Gotcha tends to bring on an intensification of the game.

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you - I'm a little deaf in one ear. Could you turn this way? I need to see your face."

"Oh, certainly! I'm sorry. Here. Is this better?"

That's normal. That's ordinary human kindness.

But, if I say ... "I'm serious. Is that true?"

Or if I try to clarify ... "I didn't say that."

The response with some people then - if I say that I don't understand - that I need understanding - then there is a flash of something. It's a tone of voice - a slight ramping up. There is a note of victory in it. The person has successfully concealed something. There was something I missed. Ha ha! There! Think you're so smart, think you know so much ... you didn't know THAT, did you?

No. I didn't know that. You didn't say that.

And I find myself without oxygen. Without synapses or nerves.

Today I started putting something together about all of this. If a person is willing to suddenly and dramatically reveal the hidden thing as proof -- of ... proof of what? It's a superiority of some sort. The other person feels power of some sort. Anyway, if a person feels that moment as power - if the hiding of an agenda feels like power - then my confession of ignorance is tantamount to some kind of reward. It will only encourage the slightly cruel, always nasty little power game if I say I don't know how to play it.

And that makes such a person just slightly dangerous for me. I think there are people who can see this sort of thing a mile off, and they aren't bothered by it. The malicious little game of Gotcha seems stupid to these folks, and they just blow off the people who try to play it. I never see it coming. Like that game of Hand-Slap, only played between a little kid and a much, much bigger one.

Somehow the person who loves to play Gotcha is simply incapable of comprehending that other people are seriously uninterested in playing. "'fraid you'll lose?" That is the conclusion these people come to. The person who doesn't want to play is simply a sore loser. Equally power hungry (everyone is, right?), but not strong enough against such a powerhouse of a Gotcha champion.

I certainly have plenty of my own failings, sins, and temptations, and I am not saying that I'm "better" than that. But I really can't play. A friend reminded me this week that no one has the obligation to volunteer for abuse. I wonder if I'll ever be able to figure out that I've been suckered into another game -- and figure it out before I get slapped. At least I've finally figure out that it doesn't do any good to stand around and talk about it.

Yeah, but she should be green, not pink

Your result for The Superhero Archetype Test...

It's All in the Mind, You're the Psychic Hero

5 Psychic

Psychic heroes all are brains. They don't have brawn, they don't need it. You don't have just one or two mental abilities, you have tons of them. You are analytical and probably capable of reading minds. This makes it so you can avoid fights even with the biggest and baddest. Knock out their nerve system or brain, down they go.

The Good: You are immensely powerful and your deep understanding of the mind makes you a perfect mentor for other fledgling heroes. Heroes both veteran and neophyte look up to you and come to you for advice when they're in a jam.

The bad: If you're not careful you can overwork your brain. Then you are helpless and probably passed out. If someone gets the drop on you and you can't react with a strong enough psychic attack, you can't take a good hit. I hope you can think fast.

Examples: Professor X, the White Queen, Jean Grey

Take The Superhero Archetype Test at HelloQuizzy


Rest, Bill

Two weeks ago today, one of the truly brave, one of the most noble men God ever made, a man called Bill was called to Heaven. He was a rather amazing person, Bill was. He was born in 1920, and he grew up in Kansas. He went to college to become a music teacher. And then WWII started to blow up the globe, and off he went to Europe. He could have played in an army band, he told me. But he figured that if he were going to be in the army, then he'd fight like everyone else. He didn't want any special favors.

Tall, gentle, funny, musical Bill saw his first day of action on the beaches of Normandy - he got separated from his unit once, and hid under a bridge as the Nazis were marching across it - he landed a plane once, following the verbal directions of the pilot who'd gotten his legs shot to pieces - and he met his lovely, tiny, gentle, tough, clear-eyed Audrey in England during those years of horror and heroism. He married her, and then reported back to his unit, and after the war was over, he met her in New York, where the Kansas boy got a New York honeymoon with his bride who had come across the ocean in a ship carrying 2,000 such brides from Europe.

In the past few years, his sight and hearing failed him - nearly completely. But his sense of humor never did. He'd fought nobly every fight worth fighting - and walked away from the others. (He told me once that he couldn't watch Saving Private Ryan - it was too real, and he knew the guys who died on that beach.) He'd married well, and stayed married for the next 65 years until death parted him from Audrey. He'd taught music - and composed it. He'd fathered children - and enjoyed it. And he'd been a faithful churchman. I loved him. And I'll miss him.

Good bye, Bill. The life of the Christian does not end, but is changed. Grant him rest, O Lord. He earned it.


Note to self:

During spider season, when the horrid things are everywhere, under every pile of laundry, behind every box or book, in every corner, under the bathroom scale and inside the shoes ... if you think the dish rag has become a bit mildewy, shake the rag before lifting it to your face for final sniffing.


Spiders can be rinsed down the drain if you're fast enough with the sprayer.

And then one day the door blew open

I am all alone in my house at 7:45 in the morning.

It is very, very still.

Not winter yet, so not even any fan noise from the pellet stove.

I'm listening to the radio on the computer, and drinking my coffee (very good coffee, by the way - the husband has developed a regular weekly trip to the coffee roasters in Hood River who know him now, and save him a pound from the freshest darkest roasts each week).

Although the bearded young giant is usually incommunicado at this hour anyway, I always know he's here, and today he's not here. He's in Portland with the other young giant. They had a brothers' night out last night because this weekend is the weekend the older of the two takes off for Olympia - to stay there and not come home at night, and to have new intellectual challenges - and to live among roommates and other strangers.

Last night the brothers had a night out, and then the older stayed all night and will take the younger to his college for the day's orientation for his own new college adventure this year.

Last night, we two - the mom and the dad - turned out the lights and put the dishes into the dishwasher all by ourselves before we went to bed (it turned out that we haven't forgotten how after all). This morning when we got up, the other bedroom doors were open to the breezes, and the rooms did not contain any of our children. None. All gone.


For the past two years I have been stalking this hidden place - this Wardrobe in a spare room- this Secret Garden. The door was behind the strands of ivy called things like "student loans" and "application process" and "I really do have to have another pair of pants if I can't do laundry whenever I want to at school."

I got here - to stand in front of this door - through the math lessons and the first jobs and the driver training and the movies ... and the stories and holidays and Halloween costumes and Christmas stockings (about 30 of those one year because all the stuffed animals had to have them) and noon Mass in the middle of the week and two-wheelers with the training wheels removed and rainy days spent running off a bit of pent up energy in the nearly deserted visitors center at the Bonneville Dam.

I got here through unidentifiable rashes and persistent runny noses and various sprains and bruises and I came through a learned proficiency with Arnica and ice packs. I got here through bedtime routines and guitar lessons and road trips and "shall we pull over and take care of this?"

I got here through a murmured, gloating "ha ha ha" as the last one to finally become "taller than mom" passed by me in the living room and made a bit of a production out of noticing the top of my head again.

And here I am.

For two years now, I have circled this new place. For two years I looked at that door and knew it would open eventually. I could see it - touch it - it was right there, but it was closed.

Today, this morning, all at once, the door in the wall blew open.

Later today, the older, bearded one will come back here again. He will be here until the weekend, and I have been threatening everything from universal doom at the dump to strangling him and hiding the body if he doesn't clean his room in the next few days. He has been wondering what his nearly senile aged parents will do without him when the TV remote or the other household electronics need to be operated. For "four more sleeps" he'll be here, and then he and his dad will pile all his stuff into the car and off they'll go.

The door now blown open will not close again.

This is the place where David and I live now.

Once, a long time ago, we informed a small sleepy child that "this is a two-person bed" and so no, he could not come in. He could be on the carpet beside the bed if he wanted to, though.

Now this is a two-person house.

How odd.

Now the door has opened and we are in a two-person house. Our secret garden is for us, and we have waited with great anticipation for this. We worked for it. We made sure the small sleepy children grew up to anticipate their own doors and gardens. And now it's here. This is it.

And it's beautiful, all right.

All the doors are open in here, for one thing, and the light and breeze pass through freely. There's no more need for quiet or privacy or keeping out the toddlers. This is a wide open place.

There are new things growing and we will tend them together. And the seasons look different in here. I can't really take it all in, but it's beautiful.

You go ahead without me for a minute. Look around. No, really. Go ahead. In fact, see that area over there? It's called The Mom Finally Gets Her Degrees. Maybe you could go poke around over there and figure out what some of that stuff is. No, I'm okay. I just want to sit here for a minute. Really. I'll catch up later.

Oh, wait. Did you bring any tissues? I could use one.


Souls Only, Please

We, here in this house, are not very good Americans, I fear. We have a quirk - an oddity - a little bent, you might say. It feels like I'm confessing something very, very bad here, but it is the truth. Okay, I'll just say it.

We are not good consumers.

We do buy stuff ... just not for the sake of buying stuff. We buy books, but usually they're not new. We buy electronics - after a lot of research. And a coffee maker and coffee grinder (more research) have recently joined our kitchen, along with the most recent purchase - an electric tea kettle. (Now we need to buy some more counter space because the top of the dishwasher isn't quite adequate anymore.)

And we do sometimes buy medicines. But we do not have any regularly purchased (aka, "maintenance") drugs in this house. Until now.

Now we have a woman person (that would be me) who needs a regular prescription of bio-identical hormones, and today I made my first refill phone call.

And I did not speak to a soul.

I pressed buttons instead, for the input of data into a machine.

This was, to my mind, a distinctly creepy experience, but I'm not going to rant about the problems when anyone without a vocation for it gets into the businesses of religion, education, or medicine, or when, worse, we have machines do that sort of work. I'm still trying to get the words right for that particular topic. No, today it's the creepiness of talking on my phone in the privacy of my own home (which is bad enough, as far as I'm concerned), but not to a person ... to a machine!

I routinely hang up on computer generated calls, and lately, after I say hello, it's not the clicks and silences of a computer trying to tell a person I picked up the danged thing. It's a recorded voice! There are actually computers making calls and then not bothering to hook up my phone to a real person, but instead are hooking up my phone to a recording!

And is that recorded voice telling me anything at all that I care to hear? Nope. Not ever. Not even one time. The recorded voice is actually trying to make a sale!!! (Am I takin' crazy pills here? Is that not completely nuts?) I'm so desperate to buy something that I'd buy it from a recording on my phone?

The phone call to the pharmacy brought me the words, "without talking to a soul." And then I heard myself. "A soul." That's why I hang up on recordings or calls obviously dialed by a computer. If I'm going to talk, it has to be me - my soul - talking to another human - another soul.

Talking out loud to myself counts, by the way. Holding long conversations with imaginary people, or holding court with my reflection in a mirror - that counts. That's just a way for me - my soul - to commune with itself. If it's good enough for the Psalmists and every other woman in my bloodline who ever cooked or sewed or thought of the perfect thing to say long after the opportunity had passed, it's good enough for me. I'm allowed to talk to me.

And I'm allowed to talk to you. Writing and reading - that's from one soul to another as well.

But if you want to communicate with me over the phone, please bring your soul to the conversation. I'll know if you don't. I have caller I.D.


John Morra

Oh oh oh oh! High Desert Home's Susan has found the most amazing artist! His name is John Morra. Take a look. Click on his name to see the rest of them. Thanks, Susan!


Today, on the "farm"

We don't really have an actual farm, of course. But - just in case you didn't know this - our last name is Lillegard, and that's Norwegian for "little farm," and we do have two goats (if you don't count Yogi the Aging Defoliant, currently living in the other barn at the other brother's property), and we have had cows and steers, and we do have a tractor, and hay, and other farmish things. So ...

Today on the farm,

...the goats are now tied out in the side yard, close to the house, yelling from time to time, apparently just for the exercise of vocal chords and the testing of the sound properties between house and well house. For some reason, every goat noise sounds like a very funny joke, and it makes me laugh. It's so random!

...the "lawn" (field grass hay growing in the smaller, uphill space of field between house and forest) was mown by means of chuffing orange tractor and field mower. There's something about the sight of the husband on the tractor, turned half sideways in the seat to keep an eye on the results as he passes, that makes me happy all the way to my spinal column. There is something about that intellectual, multi-lingual, brain atop the body of the farmer. Somehow it's completely what it should be.

...and a very coily, skinny, sinewy little snake has been removed from the bathroom laundry, by means of a bathroom wastebasket that I am now informed "is a useless shape." I was unaware that bathroom wastebaskets needed to be purchased for their snake removal facilitation, and when I mentioned this, I got, "well, mice then." As in ... at least purchase wastebaskets that would help with mouse removal. Somehow this just never occurs to me while I'm standing in the wastebaskets and toothbrush holder aisle at the store. (And who will remove my snakes and mice when that bearded young giant heads off to school in a few weeks? I know the getter of such things isn't going with him, and so we shall have to come to some sort of arrangement, she and I ... sitting there so innocent like, in the doorway ... snakes, for cryin out loud!)


Anybody else wanna proofread this thing before we send it out?

Morning Edition, September 5, 2008

People planning to go duck hunting may find a different quarry.

Government permits for hunting migratory birds are called "duck stamps." Duck stamps, which cost $15 a piece, are required to hunt migratory waterfowl. The government uses nearly all the revenue to purchase waterfowl habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. In 2006-2007, the latest figures available, duck stamp purchases brought in nearly $22 million.

But a printing error sends people trying to acquire duck stamps to 1-800-TRAMP24 instead of 1-800-STAMP24.

Very friendly women answer the phone.


Me too

"We are in for a spell of perfect weather now, every day luminous, every night brimmed with stars. Picnics at noon, supper by the applewood fire at night, a walk in the cool moonlight before bed."
Gladys Taber

Thus begins an extremely lovely post about the beginning of this glorious season over at High Desert Home. She lives in a desert and I live in a rain forest, and we both adore this season. Today she finds "10 Signs That Autumn Approaches." aaaahhh... Have an apple.

Three and a spare

This is a post about school.

But this is not about school for my kids, because they're not kids anymore. All three of them are taking college classes, one in the army, one as a transfer student taking a community college degree to a four-year college for his bachelor's, and one starting out at community college to begin his degree.

This, of course, does not mean that I am completely free when it comes to their educations. That kid who is just starting out? (oops - I did it again) I mean, That young man who is just starting out? It has suddenly hit him that I too will be in school, and he asked me straight out (because that's how he asks everything), "I'm a little worried. Who's got my back?"

I could assure him. I do. I have his back. It might be true that when he was little he didn't get quite as many read-alouds just for him as his siblings got when they were little, but he can sure have at least the same amount of availability for support in his academic work as his mom's friends from as far back as the fourth grade, his mom's brothers, his dad, his uncle, the parish curate, the friends of the library, his sister, and his brother all did. I can at least decipher syllabi and course descriptions, and I know I can help schedule a life that contains both work and school, and I can teach outlining, proofreading, and paper formatting. That, at least, I could promise him. He'll be okay. I have his back.

But I don't have to teach any of the subjects for anyone else at all this year. Now, it's my turn! Now, the mama's headed to school.

Well ... not to school. I don't have to go anywhere. I thought that this next PLA (Prior Learning Assessment) class would be a good chance for me to try out the online option. A lot of courses could be taken this way, so I might as well figure out how it would work, right? A whole bunch of things have to be figured out right now, and online class-taking is certainly one of them. (Another one is dinner making and laundry doing whilst proof-reading for the young giant and writing for my own credits.)

So. Let's review. I took that first inquiry class. I was on campus, once a week, for that one this summer. Then, I thought that I would not be able to afford to take more than three credits this fall, but things changed, and the available financial aid pays for six credits. Okay ... is that two classes?

Well, no, not if I take LRN 305 next. Here's how it works.

If I take the next Prior Learning class, I pay for the six credits of instruction in order to learn to write for Prior Learning Assessment. In the PLA program, the student does these things:

1. Identifies the stuff learned through life's experience that is the same stuff taught to younger, less experienced people in classrooms. In other words, you find out what you know, and then you figure out the name college courses give to that knowledge.

2. Figure out where that knowledge fits into the degree you want. Is it knowledge from your Liberal Arts Core class requirements? Is it in your major? Is it an elective?

(Those two things were in that first inquiry class this summer.)

3. If you want to go on, the next class is LRN 305. For this class, you choose four courses (three and a spare, in case one of the three doesn't work out) worth at least three credits each for which you could prove your learning, and they teach you how to write for the credits.

That means that I pay for the six credits of LRN 305, but I write for nine credits worth of classes. See what happens? I end up with fifteen credits! Each of my three 20-25 page papers is like a final exam for the class. Each one of those papers has to prove that I know what the students in that class are supposed to know at the end of it, and each one has to prove that I know what I know because I have had personal experience to teach it to me. I have to prove both experience and knowledge in these papers, and I have to prove it in collegiate level writing, properly formatted. Three 20-25 page papers in one quarter.


I'm so excited I can hardly sit still! This is so exciting for me!

Another thing I can hardly do, though, is choose. A lot of people come into the PLA program wanting to finish degrees they started years ago. Since those earliest days, they've done professional certifications in things. Or they have been doing things like personnel interviews or hiring, or supervised quality control, or conducted or attended seminars. They know what they're setting out to do through PLA because they're already doing what they want to do, and they already have credits in that direction.

But not me. I am starting from scratch, and the whole thing is wide open, and pretty much any course in the lower division of a general degree is a course I could either write for or test out of. So ... how to choose? In just what direction am I supposed to go first? Where do I start?

Here is where the amazing instructors at Marylhurst come in. These people are incredible. For the last few days, sitting here in my highly unfashionable Recovery From Major Surgery Apparel (a terribly attractive lump of bathrobe and slippers, moving from easy chair to computer chair and back again), I have been in contact through email with the instructors. How am I supposed to choose? I asked. Is there a criteria for figuring this out? I have all kinds of courses to write for. I intend to write for the full forty-five credits allowed. But where to start? Upper division? Lower division? Do I have to do one or the other? Help!

And they did. They helped. All through this whole adventure so far, I have been thinking about the academic learning I already possess but I forgot the whole main point of the entire program! I just might have learned a few things outside of school, you know? Besides all the academic stuff, what else have I been doing? Working at the library!! (clang!)

And so, ladies and gentlemen, if you are still reading, this far down into this somewhat tedious post, here is what I will be writing for this fall, as I take LRN 305.

1. CCM 323, Effective Listening: From Comprehension to Critical Evaluation

It turns out that most adults who have raised families and been in the working world have learned a few things about Effective Listening (she said, dryly, with one eyebrow raised). A lot of people write for this course because it fills a requirement from the communications department, in the same category of learning as a Speech class.

2. CCM 325, Communication of Self Esteem

This is from the course description:
"Judging and rejecting parts of the self cause enormous pain. In the same way that one would protect a physical wound, we tend to avoid anything that might aggravate the pain of self-rejection—for example, by taking fewer social, academic, or career risks. This makes it more difficult to meet people, interview for a job, or venture beyond comfort levels. To avoid additional judgments brought on by our ineffective coping mechanisms, we create defenses—misdirecting blame and anger, perfectionistic work, avoiding accountability through excuses, or other self-destructive life-style choices."
Yeah, I can write for those credits.

And then?

3. ED 109 Library Procedures

or 4. ED 114 Reference Materials

Oh, strike up the band! I can write for those too! I know that stuff! Way back in the dark ages, when I was a fifth grader and Miss Monroe was the librarian, I learned to shelve, self-read, outline, work with Mr. Dewey's Decimal System, use the catalog, and love the library. We didn't have the computers to use for data storage or retrieval, of course. (No one did back in the dark ages.) But it's still the same setup, and I've been using it for all these years. I know this stuff! I can write for those credits! Accredited degree, here I come!

Addendum: I have sent my email declaring my intentions for this next class. I'll be writing for the following three-credit classes:
1. From Marylhurst: CCM 325, Communication of Self Esteem
2. From PCC: ED 109, Library Procedures
3. From PCC: ED 114, Reference Materials
and a spare,
4. From Marylhurst: CCM 324 Nonverbal Communication


As long as you're dreamin' ...

Daydream achiever

A wandering mind can do important work, scientists are learning - and may even be essential

By Jonah Lehrer
August 31, 2008

...In recent years, however, scientists have begun to see the act of daydreaming very differently. They've demonstrated that daydreaming is a fundamental feature of the human mind - so fundamental, in fact, that it's often referred to as our "default" mode of thought. Many scientists argue that daydreaming is a crucial tool for creativity, a thought process that allows the brain to make new associations and connections. Instead of focusing on our immediate surroundings - such as the message of a church sermon - the daydreaming mind is free to engage in abstract thought and imaginative ramblings. As a result, we're able to imagine things that don't actually exist, like sticky yellow bookmarks.

If you haven't seen this article, stop daydreaming, and go see it.


Then you can go back to your daydreaming. I'm hoping you will daydream (and then invent, patent, and sell) some kind of waterproof thought recorder because I get all my best ideas in the shower and can't write them down in all that water.



"For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force...
it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion.

We neither have authority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it,

since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice."

Saint John Chrysostom