Achingly beautiful, Artistically exquisite

I have no words for this - because she placed them perfectly in this interview. And she sings.


Yes, it's actually a professional (British!) ukelele orchestra

So here's my theory. If you live close enough to large bodies of moving water (like in the maritime Northwest, where I live), you have a certain kind of crazy. Apparently, if you live surrounded by water, like they do in Great Britain, you have this kind of crazy in a particularly virulent strain. I just saw this at Susan's blog, and then showed it to a family member who responded, "So ... Woodhouse didn't really have to make anything up, did he? The Brits are just like that." Yep. It looks like it. Britain's Got Talent, all right. Here are the pros!


Women's Work

Well, shoot. Looks like The Great Husband wins this debate -- I AM the one who has to get out there and garden. (But no one has ever accused me of speaking in dulcet tones. Never. Not once.)

The Brits are famous gardeners, of course. And my grandmother on my mother's side and my grandfather on my father's side did not possess merely a thumb in the color of growing things - their whole upper torsos and all fourteen hand phalanges were quite green. But I, myself, have had one and a half successful gardens. The best one ever was so researched and planned you'd have thought I was putting a space launch or a new subdivision into my summer schedule - and then the tomato forest that ensued gave gorgeous results - most of which turned into compost because I'm not so good with the harvest/put up for the winter/use it at every opportunity part of gardening.

And why?

Because harvest happens in the heat, in case you didn't know, and the heat, my friend, is a little foretaste of what happens to evil in the next life. And Brits don't have heat. They don't allow it. It's not polite.

Still ... there are plants out there again this year, and my poor husband has had to do women's work once more because his wife didn't do it. He planted some tomatoes, and some ... um ... (oh crap! I've forgotten what else!). I think I'd better go water the garden today. And speak to the goats while I'm out there. I feel very silly talking to the plants.

Talking to plants makes them grow, especially if you are a woman, according to an experiment by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Women gardeners' voices speed up growth of tomato plants much more than men's, it found.

In an experiment run over a month, they found that tomato plants grew up to two inches taller if they were serenaded by the dulcet tones of a female rather than a male.


Hope this doesn't jinx it ...

This feels pretty good. I hope posting it doesn't jinx it. And the 19 attempted credits doesn't count all the PLA writing I've done - 21 credits worth so far, all with recommendations for full credit. It took me most of my unaccredited college career to get to this level of stress-control, which leads to this level of grades.

(Hope this doesn't jinx it.)

(Did I say that already?)

CourseTitleFinal GradeRepeatAttempted CreditsEarned CreditsGPA CreditsQuality PointsGPA
CHS 382 E19th-Century Literature & CultureA-
LRN 311 FPortfolio Development StudiesP-2.002.0000
SCI 366 AProblem SolvingA-
Term Totals:
Career Totals:19.0019.007.0028.004.0000


Deployment ceremony

See them? (Click on the pictures for larger views.) There were that many more to the other side of the flag bearers, who were in the middle of the ranks of soldiers. Our soldier wasn't out there though. She got the day off, so she joined us, a little behind the platform and the band. That's Uncle Mark, younger young giant, our soldier the big sister, and her other "little" brother. The day was mostly cloudy for most of the time, although just at the right moment in the ceremony, Major Curtis commanded the sun to shine and it did. Apparently, there were also matters needing commiserative and disbelieving debriefing, because this was the conversation as she brought him to meet us. And grandma and grandpa were there too. Like the magnets they are, they were on a first-name basis (much to our soldier's chagrin) with the Commander - whom they spoke to before they even got out of their car! "How will we know which one is our soldier?" "Well, ma'am, what is your soldier's name? .... Oh! She's my woman! When we want something done, she's the one who gets it done. Her unit is right over there." --- And then later, "We can't find you. Where are you sitting? ... uh-huh ... uh-huh ... What? You were talking to who???"

We looked at the scary machines in the yard at the museum,And we decided that the best pose with a dictator is one you pick yourself,And we stood in truly horrible lighting for a "siblings" shot,And outdoors for a family shot (proof that at 5'9" I really am the shortest one in the family - and proof that it's been too long since my last haircut ... and notice the bunching up? the posing for the camera? nah - me neither)And then we waited around a bit (that's the little brother ... waiting around ...)because the soldier's husband called from Iraq, and everyone gave her some privacy in the other car. Now it's his turn to worry, and he wishes she weren't leaving their cute little house and the base and everything else to go off to the danger zone.

For my part, I'm glad we met her superior officers - because now I see the reality of who she is in her job, and the respect she has earned. They know her. See her. She will be as safe as it is possible to be in such a situation, and we are fiercely proud of her. --- Next year for my birthday, she should be home again.


If only I could put the chill in a box and ship it

This is a re-post of a poem I posted in January -- I post it now because tomorrow is the day.

Tomorrow we travel up to Fort Lewis for the Brigade Deployment Ceremony. At this time next week, she will be gone. She will be in the developing powder keg that is the Everything-istan part of the world. May she be "defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul." And may she keep cold.

Good-bye, and Keep Cold
by Robert Frost

This saying good-bye on the edge of the dark
And cold to an orchard so young in the bark
Reminds me of all that can happen to harm
An orchard away at the end of the farm
All winter, cut off by a hill from the house.
I don't want it girdled by rabbit and mouse,
I don't want it dreamily nibbled for browse
By deer, and I don't want it budded by grouse.
If certain it wouldn't be idle to call
I'd summon grouse, rabbit, and deer to the wall
And warn them away with a stick for a gun.
I don't want it stirred by the heat of the sun.
We made it secure against being, I hope,
By setting it out on a northerly slope.
No orchard's the worse for the wintriest storm;
But one thing about it, it mustn't get warm.
"How often already you've had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard. Good-bye and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below."
I have to be gone for a season or so.
My business awhile is with different trees,
Less carefully nourished, less fruitful than these,
And such as is done to their wood with an axe --
Maples and birches and tamaracks.
I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard's arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.

Cookie Bowl!

Very few good ideas as good as this good idea, wouldn't you say? Go over to see what Michael Ruhlman did in response to his son's question, "Dad, what if you made a bowl out of cookie dough?"


Clean up, toss out, find, file, and label

End of the school year, and naughty, naughty, neglectful me -- I've got PLA essays to get into their large notebook, properly labeled and arranged for their final trip to the folks who'll put my credits into my transcript one of these days. PLA students are supposed to do this bit of business each time an essay comes back, but ... uh ... well, anyway, I need to do that. All that Prior Learning has been Assessed, and needs to be arranged.

My office, too. Yeesh! What a mess the move from autumn, through winter and spring, and now into summer has made in here. It's not just books, files, papers, notes, and course work. This room is a defacto storage room, and it is starting to look like someone picked up the house and shook everything into this corner. Time to dig out again and put everything in a nice home of its own.

I'm going to do the same thing with this blog as well. A new season is dawning. I'm no longer "returning" to school. I'm IN school. So the label that used to say "return to school" is going to say "Student." That's me. Artist, Christian, Cinemaphile, Cogitator, Cook, Educator, Health Hunger, Home Maker, Laugher, Library Assistant, Metamorph, Mother, Pacific Northwesterner, Poet, Reader, STUDENT, Walker, Wife, Writer. And for the next few days, Reorganizer - quick - before I have to add Lunatic to the list.


Notes at the end of the school year

Hmmmm .... drumming fingers ... furrowing brow ....

One school year into this. Forty credits the richer. And surprised beyond measure that the Lit course turned out to be so satisfying. What is this? Buyer's remorse? Second guessing? Congenital fussing at things? This Human Studies degree. I still want it, but at the edges of The Plan, there is a dawning yellow-orange light beginning to make its way across the page. What if I did an Interdisciplinary Degree, with Human Studies and Rhetorical Studies?

Does Human Studies + Rhetorical Studies = Narrative Therapy? Or ... almost, anyway. Maybe HS + RS + MA = Narrative Therapy. Maybe the place to take this degree is back to that original idea - the Art Therapy Master's. (uff! That feels like catching the dodge ball directly in the gut!)

Dear Universe,
Why does following a vocation have to feel like so much effort? Shouldn't it be easier to fall in love than this? I'm just wondering.
Exhausted and Wanting More

Please Pay Attention (to your food)

For the sake of your own health, and that of your children. For the sake of our nation and the rest of the world. For the sake of industry workers and the quality of the food in the food chain. Click on that farmer, and listen to the report about the new documentary, Food Inc.
As director Robert Kenner and food advocate and author Michael Pollan tell Steve Inskeep, they made the film in order to raise Americans' awareness about where their food really comes from.



Feeling a bit like a toddler at Christmastime. It's all rather shocking. (That particular toddler, by the way, is this guy.)

Today I got word that my final PLA essay for the quarter came back from the evaluator with all four credits recommended.

And I've just turned in my Lit essay - "Jane Austen's Miniatures" - honed down, spiffed up, edited, proof read, and perfected. (Thanks, Kim!)

But ... um ... that means my quarter's over!! This school year that I wanted so badly for so long - it's already over!

I broke a tooth today too. Somehow that's less surprising than forty credits.


Joon - please take a note (because I can't find my notepad)

Ever see Benny & Joon? One of my top 15 movies of all time.

Sam: You don't like raisins?
Joon: Not really.
Sam: Why?
Joon: They used to be fat and juicy and now they're twisted. They had their lives stolen. Well, they taste sweet, but really they're just humiliated grapes. I can't say I am a big supporter of the raisin council.

The month of Joon has begun, and so far, here's what's on the schedule. Here's the reason my new motto is:


Seriously. It's the only way I'll make it to the end of Joon without losing my mind or my keys, or overdrawing my bank account so badly that we have to take out a second mortgage to cover the overdraft fees. Today is Saturday, June 6.

Sunday, June 7: Trinity Sunday, first Sunday of the Month, which means Evensong & Benediction, and the last Sunday of the Sunday School year. I'm planning on getting my barely-readers to draw this, but with symbols instead of words:Wednesday, June 10: final paper for the Lit course, and that means final paper for the year, and that means I've acquired forty credits this year. Feels good.

Friday, June 12: daughter soldier brings things to store from garrison to our house.

Saturday, June 13: taller, curlier young giant home for the summer (we go get him that day)

then ... Mon-Wed, learn the card lady job. Friday, go to the battalion's ceremony because they're deploying on Father's Day. (Doesn't that sound a bit ill advised?) Mon &/or Tues, old card lady shows me the paperwork for the post-Dads&Grads displays, and I take over the job. Wed, haircut and party for PLA students. Friday/Saturday, Earnst&Young gala in Seattle ... and I have jury duty in July.

So here's what I need. I need a waterproof, downloadable, voice activated, engrafted into my body somewhere, notepad. That way, as soon as I think of something I'll be able to take a note or do it. If I don't do either one, the idea (or bank transfer) disappears into oblivion never to be seen or heard from again. Until we get the bank statement.


And speaking of Square One ...

After months of vague information, I finally have a date written on my calendar. I know when our oldest child, our only daughter, will board the flight with the rest of her unit, and go to spend a year (God willing) serving her country in the wild and tribal country of Afghanistan. There was a report from the region on Morning Edition today. It's hopeful, I think - in the part of my brain that thinks.In the part of my body that feels, the sudden "fire into the air" of the guns in the report pierced my sternum and woke me up and all at once I know. I see it. I am going to have to go back to the slaughter, and make an offering of my will. This is an echo of last summer's battle. The keening sound of the cancer cells has faded into the distance, but this time I face my brazen and repeated assertions that "everyone dies. It only matters how you live," and (groan) "I raised my kids to live for something bigger than themselves." (I didn't mean this! I didn't mean this!)Some time before the middle of the month, I am going back in there. I will go into the church alone, and face this. I will pace and pray and kneel and pray and rail and cry and pray and pace. I will turn toward this sacrifice, and I will choose it. The part of my brain that thinks is proud and sensible and aware of the growth and honor of this adult choice of our adult daughter. The part of my body that feels has the audacity to be surprised and in pain, and so I have to go back. It's time to spill more tears onto the floor and pews in the church, light another candle, and come to rest. It's time to choose. Again.

The same life on other planets

See this diagram?

It's the "Directed Creativity" model done by Paul Plesk. This is good stuff! It's pretty much the manual for operating that wind machine I discovered last week. I read about it this morning over at Write to Done, a blog by Leo Babauta of "Zen Habits" fame.

This diagram fascinates me because I am looking at the same life on another planet - again! This is one of those wheel within a wheel things.

The ancients noticed four basic types of personalities and named them after the humors. Here's wikipedia's chart about the four humors.
Humour Season Element Organ Qualities Ancient name Modern MBTI Ancient characteristics
Blood spring air liver warm & moist sanguine artisan SP courageous, hopeful, amorous
Yellow bile summer fire gall bladder warm & dry choleric idealist NF easily angered, bad tempered
Black bile autumn earth spleen cold & dry melancholic guardian SJ despondent, sleepless, irritable
Phlegm winter water brain/lungs cold & moist phlegmatic rational NT calm, unemotional

Jung expanded on this, and the mother-daughter team of Myers and Briggs expanded on Jung because it just seemed like a good idea to get people into jobs where their natural strengths would thrive (as opposed to exploring only underdeveloped or deviant development), and then science brought us brain scans, and now we talk about right and left brain activity, preferred "functions" in personalities ...

and Keirsey's four categories are fairly useful in real life when we use the "Z" for making group decisions.

The Z:
Start at the upper left corner with the Thinkers who can see the problem, go across the top to the upper right and ask the Intuitives to find three solutions, cross the diagonal by asking the Sensates to choose among the options and find the most workable one, and then run it by the Feelers to make sure all the people concerned have been included and the social network is still intact. That's the problem-solving technique I learned in class this spring.

Now, (still with me?) arrange that Z as the four corners of a four-square box, and what do you get? You get Martha Beck's "Square One" theory for personal development. In Finding Your Own North Star, she notices that every time life throws us a shocker that knocks us off our feet, we end up at back at Square One. The stages of life changes are:

Square One: death and rebirth - everything seems to have gone to hell in a handbasket, you've got no idea what's going on and not idea what to do about it. The way to the next square is through a rebirth into a new self-image.

Square Two: dreaming and scheming - ideas begin to be generated for some kind of life as the new you.

Square Three: the hero's saga - a lot of stuff has to be tried and you have to be Edison here - you have to find your 10,000 ways that don't work and keep going.

Square Four: the promised land - when you finally move into the new stage of your life.

Do you see what I see? It's the same! Beck's squares are obviously the individual's equivalent of the personality types, played out in one person's change cycles. The world's "Artisans" (to use Keirsey's terms) are most at home in Square One, and tend to stay there. They like it when none of the boats have anchors because that way no one's "stuck" with anything. The Intuitives will generate Square Two ideas, the Sensates will try them in the real world, and the Guardians will maintain the successful lives until something comes along and slams the whole thing back over to the Artisans, who inevitably drive everyone crazy by not recognizing what a disaster all this free-floating chaos really is.

And THAT is why we need each other. The same life on other planets has a huge influence on our own. In my personal life, I can find momentum in my own continuous directed creativity cycles. In our families and in our countries as well as in ourselves, we will function best if we use all four Squares, all four humors, all of the Z. We need each other - and we become more fully human when we learn to communicate with the other life forms - inside us and all around the galaxy.


My idea of a good time

An odd effect of quality writing time is a desire for quality cooking time. I'd forgotten about it until last week, but it's happened before and it's still true. Creativity must all live in the same set of neurons in the grey matter. Sequencing and memory are elsewhere - I don't remember why I stumbled onto this today. It's yummy looking in every possible way, though. This is when the Weed Motto for Gardeners comes in handy. "It's not a weed if you want it there; how it got there doesn't matter." How I got here - to Culinate - doesn't matter.

The immediately preceding page was this one:Gourmet Magazine's FAVORITE FOOD SITES page. If my life were made of food pursuits of any kinds, that's a page I'd want to be on.

From there, I found Culinate.

At Culinate we’re engaged in an ongoing conversation about eating well. Our content — articles, cooking tips, interviews, recipes, podcasts, food news, blog posts — helps people put real food at the center of their lives.

After all, food is fundamental. We all make dozens of decisions about it every day: what to eat, where to buy it, how to prepare it. But there’s more to dinner than meets the eye.

Where does our food come from? How is it produced? What does the phrase “you are what you eat” mean in the 21st century?

Culinate is a community for eaters who are asking just these kinds of questions.

Nice, eh? There are links and recipes and articles -- seasonal and basic and avant garde - gorgeous layout, gorgeous photos. Very, very nice.