If I'm not back by Monday ...

Okay ... so I'm goin' in ...

This is Sunday. Tomorrow is a very full day and then it's nose to the grindstone for one week with the most slim of slim chances that this can actually be done. If you're the praying type, pray for me. I have a lot of writing to do in a short amount of time, and I know it sounds whiny - but this is going to take more focused energy for a longer time than I've exerted in a looooong looooong time.By Monday of next week, if I haven't come back out again, send someone in after me.


One down

Last night, nearly the last thing I did before bed ... all my final course work for INT300: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies went into the course "drop box" online. One course finished so far this quarter. Feels good.For this course, each of us had to come up with a way to organize the degree, articulate the rationale and common thread between the disciplines, and propose a presentation for a final portfolio. I want my final portfolio to be volumes of a little library of books, so I had to turn in my plan for this. (The photos will take you to BookCrafts - "where we do judge a book by its cover" - the slogan alone is going to make them my first choice!)
Here it is:

Composing the Human Experience:
Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
with concentrations in English Literature & Writing, and Human Sciences

Volume 1 – Plan and Overview
Title Page
Table of Contents
Mission Statement
Degree Plan and contract
Rationales and Evaluations from INT courses
Course Reflections from INT courses
Introduction to the set of volumes
Index of Learning, outlining the set of volumes and their contents in order of presentation

Volume 2 – Liberal Arts Core
Title Page
Table of Contents
Rationales and evaluations for LAC courses, specifically as they relate to INT degree
Samples of work from the courses in the LAC, including PLA work
LAC Bibliography

Volume 3 - Human Sciences

Title Page
Table of Contents
Rational and Evaluation for the concentration
Rationales and evaluations and samples as in Volume 2
Reflective Paper for HS
Human Sciences bibliography

Volume 4 – English Literature and Writing
Title Page
Table of Contents
Rational and Evaluation for the concentration
Rationales and evaluations and samples as in Volume 2
Reflective Paper for EL&W
EL&W bibliography

Volume 5 – Senior Project and Index to the Degree
Title Page
Table of Contents
Rational and Evaluation for the senior project
Senior Project
Reflective Paper and Future Plan for “Composing the Human Experience”
CHE bibliography
Final Index : Chronology of work; Themes, keywords, etc; Instructors

Someday in the not too distant future, it is going to be very satisfying to look at my shelf and see these five little volumes. "That is my degree," I'll say to myself. "Right there in those books. That's what I did."

Record keeping is just about my worst thing, so I'm glad they're making us do it. The only time I really panicked during this course was at the revelation that we had to hand in a contract for keeping on track with the plan.

We were brainstorming ideas for staying on top of such a large project over the course of a few years, and the very organized lady two tables over suggested marking our calendars for updating our portfolios each quarter. I said, "Will you mark it on your calendar to call me and tell me to do it?"

She is a very nice lady. I'll be getting to know her because she took me seriously. And she won't just be calling me. I'll be showing her what I've got so far and discussing changes and tweaks at the end of every quarter. When she gave me her card I saw that she is an executive assistant in real life, so she knows how to keep track of idea people.

And now I'm thinking about book bindings.


Happy. It just makes me happy.

The phone just rang. The Great Husband answered it. On the other end was one of the young giants (one of whom has shaved off his beard! - I'd forgotten what he looked like under there). The two of them have spent the entire day before Thanksgiving outdoors, tramping around in the woods. They popped in in the afternoon, all breathless and windblown, exactly like they would have done at half their current size and age, but then then popped out again. "We're going downtown. We still feel like walking." And off they went.

It's a nice crisp night for it, too. Here's a picture from the live camera downtown tonight. The lights at the top are out on and across the Columbia River in the background.Then The Great Husband came home from work ... got his dinner ... heard all my exciting news of the day ... and as I said, the phone rang. It was one of the young giants, saying, "We're at the Walking Man. We'll walk home after awhile."
That just makes me happy. The fact that the two boys together grew up to be two men together, at the pub together right here in their hometown on Thanksgiving weekend ... it just makes me happy.


Wow. Her reputation for both style and substance continues well and truly earned. State dinner indeed. Michelle Obama is elegantly perfect once again.

Closer, closer

(gasp! gasp!)

This climb is quite steep - but it's going pretty well. As of last night, I'm well into my Children's Lit PLA essay . I'll probably finish it today.

And now I've got the news and a few pictures from the leg of the route that's just up ahead! I mean to say, hooray, hooray, calloo, callay, I have figured out what I'm taking this winter! Climbing this degree via the Marylhurst Route makes for a very unusual experience, I think. But it suits me down to the ground. On this route it's possible for me to change what I'm doing as I do it.

What started as an Art Therapy Counseling preparatory degree morphed first into a Human Studies degree. This fall, Human Studies morphed into Interdisciplinary Studies to include Humans Studies and Writing as my concentrations.

And now, as I head into winter term, the morphing continues. Since Human Studies entails a very specific backbone of core courses, and since I want to head toward the Writers Peak, and because taking the Human Studies side path, means missing out on a few other things I will want when I get to the Writers Peak ... I made a phone call. I talked to the Human Science chair, and she just asked me straight out, "What do you want?" "I don't know how your degree has morphed," she said, "Do you still want to do Human Studies for your concentration? Or do you want to do Human Sciences?"

Every time she does this, I suddenly know. All at once, just like that, I know exactly what I want. I want Human Sciences and English Lit & Writing. Apparently it's morphed again.

The weirdest thing about all of this is that I'm not at all chagrined about these frequent changes in plan - this constant checking of the map and the course and redefining of the goal. Doing a degree without a path already set out, without its being handed to me so that I just do what I'm told - it feels odd, but it feels really really good. I doubt I could have done it this way 30 years ago, but at this point in my life it's okay to figure it out as I go. Weird. But I like it.

So this winter I will continue (hopefully finish) my PLA writing while taking not just one, but TWO online courses from the amazing "What do you want?" Dr. Jennifer Sasser. I'll take:

History and Philosophy of the Human Sciences
a rich and comprehensive survey of the historical and intellectual contexts out of which the central theories, methodologies, and practices in the Human Sciences developed.
(skippity do dah ... skippidy-aaaay...)

and I'll take Qualitative Inquiry
an approach to inquiry in the Human Sciences that is predicated not only on a significant reframing of what it means to do theorizing and researching, but on a radical shift in how we think about what it means to be a human being.
(my oh my, what a wonderful day)

And from the English Lit and Writing department, I'll be online for Modernist Literature and Culture from Perrin Kerns, another of Marylhurst's amazingly insightful instructors. At least, I do know for sure that she's amazingly insightful during short personal meetings in which a fuddled student asks for clarity and insight. Now I'll find out about her online teaching style too.

(plenty of sunshine coming my way,
skippity do dah, skippity day!)


Always surprised

I don't know why I'm always surprised.
But I am.
It makes me feel like this.

"What do you want for Christmas?"
She wants a magazine subscription.

Normal, right?
Well, the one she wants is this one.

Published twice yearly by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, it is fast becoming required reading for those who want to go beyond the headlines, and the conventional wisdom, of U.S. national security and foreign policy in a rapidly-changing world.

And this article is the one she was quoting on the phone today. (again ... makes my eyes cross) She loved the sentence, "How is it that a country founded upon rational deliberation has been reduced to kinetic means as its primary, perhaps its only, means of communication?"

Not surprising, I guess. It's just that I'm the mom. Buying a subscription to American Girl wasn't that long ago, and even from the Klutz Book of Knots it's quite a leap to International Security Affairs. I'm just sayin.

Anxiety Ratio

Fall Term ends December 11. Today is November 24. Today is Tuesday of this week, Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow, and then there's next week, and the week after is the end of term. The sound you hear is my struggle to fight off hyperventilation. I have rather a lot of writing left to do before the end of the term.

This isn't performance anxiety. I know I can do all this writing. PLA (Prior Learning Assessment) holds no terrors for me - yet my breath comes faster and more shallow when I think about the volume left to do in the next two weeks. (New video up over at Prattlenog - another PLA student has completed her portfolio for the full 45 credits! She's got good tips too.) I've written for 19 credits so far. I do know how to do this. I've proven it to myself.I am also certain that there is - in reality - enough time to complete this work. Despite the fact that my autumn's healing of a broken/sprained foot sucked all my life's energy into some sort of chi black hole, and despite the fact that I got a suddenly demanding work schedule from the library as a sub during October... despite the fact that I have a soldier in Afghanistan who is never far from my thoughts ... despite the fact that the holidays are mounting their annual energy and attention onslaught ... I do know I can get this done. I have no leeway - no extra time - but I have enough time.

No, this is not anxiety about performance, and it is not anxiety about time crunch. This is the Desire Anxiety Ratio. During the course of the quarter, Jackie Fowler, my instructor in my Human Studies course, mentioned very casually during a discussion that she experiences an increase in resistance as she nears a genuine and deeply desired goal. The more right it is, the worse the resistance. That, I have decided, is the Desire Anxiety Ratio.

The DAR makes children hesitate to pick up and hold small furry animals - there's the "what will it do?" question, of course -- but look at the child's face. Sometimes it's more than that. Sometimes the anxiety means, "I want this so much it takes my breath away."

Desire Anxiety is making me crazy. The closer I get to my project's completion with each project, the closer I get to the quarter's end each quarter term, and the closer I get to a degree I can really own, the higher goes the internal resistance.I.
I am resistant to claiming it.

Today it ratchets up one more notch. Chest contracts. Breath shallows. Pulse speeds. A small anxiety attack ensues. And why? Desire. The Desire Anxiety Ratio. The oxygen thins as I ascend this Everest of mine, and apparently that's just the way it is. Today I know that I have to reach the next plateau before the sun goes down. My feet are sore, my legs feel like wood, and it's time to set out because the afternoon is closing in. I have time. And it's time to go.


Let Me Think

Somewhere (I really should start writing these things down) I read that it is an act of power and self-protection - an act of strength - for an introverted person to insist on a moment to think before answering. Think before speaking. Think before responding. Wait. Think. This made sense to me. I have seen children do this, and I have seen their adults get very impatient. "Well? Well? What do you have to say for yourself?"

I have realized lately that this moment to think is something I have been surreptitiously carving out for myself for about three decades. Childhood's "Well? Well?" rings in my ears. It's not that I haven't had these periods of thoughtfulness - I have had them. But I've stolen them like apples at the edge of an orchard, taken when the owner's back was turned. I did not think the juicy refreshment was rightfully mine. I repress the guilt - or I confess it, depending on the moment - and on how much the pleasure bothers me.

Enjoying it seemed worse somehow. I mean, it is, right? There you are. Caught. Chucking the apple away isn't much use if the juice is dripping off your chin and the joy of it is still in your eyes.
Now, for me, there has been one bright and shining exception to the guilt. Yesterday I figured out that I have never had one moment's hesitation if I was choosing an apple - preserving the Moment of sovereign contemplation - of quiet and openness - for Someone Else. "What should I do?" the Someone asks. "Do you like it?" "What do you think?" Respond. Validate. Give me some feedback. Now. If I rush to an answer for Someone Else, if I pay no attention to the importance of the Moment, I always regret it. Much better to wait and study it. Wait and choose. Let go of clever. Breathe into calm. For Someone Else - especially if Someone Else is a child - I know how to do that.

But not for me. Stealing cannot be justified if it's only for me. That's what I've thought.

Writers everywhere and for all time, and most other artists too, have defiantly declared themselves to be a selfish lot. They admit to being thieves - they steal the apples simply because they must. It's apples or starvation for writers. Write or wither. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, they say. But it cannot be helped. I must have these Moments. I will die unless I pick them - juicy or dry, large enough for ebb and flow and small enough for silence, I must have these Moments.

In the summer of 2010, I will be fifty years old. In half a century of life on this earth, I may have finally figured out that defiance is and has been utterly unnecessary. Silly, even. I have discovered that the apples are mine - and they also belong to anyone else who wants them. The owner doesn't mind if I wait and study - if we wait and study. The owner doesn't mind if I breathe a minute and choose - if you breathe a minute and choose. The owner has given us blanket permission to glean from this orchard whenever we want to. And it doesn't even have to be for Someone Else. No justification is required. Permission has been given.
So turn a deaf ear to anyone who yells at you from across the road. That - over there - where they are busy, busy, busy ... and noisy, noisy, noisy ... doing all the work of commerce, and trade, and bargaining, and buying, and selling (and often posturing and approving of postures) - you need to cross the road and join them when you want dinner. Or fresh paper and paint. You need those people, and they need you. You are supposed to love them - not beat them or join them. Your job is choosing and picking and tasting the apples. The noise they make has nothing to do with you. Don't be distracted by it. Breathe. And choose. And create your art in your Moment. You have permission. And so do I.


I might never know

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind,
what is the significance of a clean desk?
Laurence J. Peter



This is a view as familiar to me - as deeply a part of me - as my own name. It's the coast of Oregon, where the mountains meet the sea, and it is one of three places where, if I stand within it, I know exactly who I am. I know myself if my bare feet are on that strip of sand; I know myself when I am on my knees in church, and I know myself when I am pouring out my inner life inside my house, lighting candles or dusting and arranging things in the living room, baking in the kitchen, ironing ... or writing. Here. At my desk, with my view outside the window and my computer streaming radio or - finally - when I am all the way, deep inside, when I turn it off because all the sound is coming from inside of me. This morning I realized that the avoidant silliness of, "I work better under pressure," has a sister who tells the truth. I realized that I work better within, deep within, and I work better when the water is moving. And the water does not move unless it is huge. It has to be large enough to respond to the magnetic pull of the moon - it has to have incoming and outgoing tides. The place where writing happens is a place of enormous power, and foam, and rich salt air, and the inconvenience of sand. In my worshiping soul, this means increasing practice and skill at becoming "recollected" when I get to that pew you can see in this picture. It's on the right side. The first wooden end is the front, then the first pew behind that, and then my pew behind that. I kneel down, I collect "all that I am and have," and then, just as if I had gathered up the things themselves and put them all into one place, I step aside. I come to God with all of this, I name some of it (the most present, most worrying, or most amazing at the moment), I refer to the rest, and I step aside. Here it all is, Lord God of Hosts. And here am I. "Be it unto me according to thy word."When I go to the beach, the same gathering - the same recollecting - the same wholeness of self has sandy feet and awareness. When I do the creative parts of keeping a home, I bring my whole self to that too. And today I have realized that the gathering of the whole self is the thing I do when I write. (That photo is from a cool blog I just found called, "Stuff Journalists Like.") Today it dawned on me that it's "the same, only different" when I do this recollective gathering for the purpose of writing.

But now I'm annoyed. I am annoyed and irritated because the fact is that to gather up my whole self for the creative task of writing is really really hard. I don't relax into this. It doesn't feel like release (which is what happens at the beach), and it doesn't feel like presentation and trust (like what happens in church.) No, the recollection necessary for writing feels like sit-ups or plank pose or hiking up a steep hill. Ah! Now, here's a good picture of it. I found this picture at a very lovely (often laugh out loud) blog called Bath Daily Photo. See the cow? Yeah. That's my pile of writing to do. The cow is walking up to St. Michael's Tower, which seems quite perfect to me.The schoolish part of writing has been surprisingly hard, and turning in drafts for other people to see has been and is still really hard. Just finding the tide shift and the momentum I need is hard. This, then, is the definition of difficulty for me. Writing - the thing I love best - the task in which I recognize myself most clearly - this is my difficult thing. Crap. Do you know what I thought? I was actually silly enough to have believed that the thing I loved the best should be one of the easiest things to do. Why? Why would I believe such a goofy thing? I can think of no reason at all - other than just because I'm human. Wishful thinking, maybe? Probably. I hate Plank Pose. But Plank Pose it is, then. Dolphin Plank Pose for me. Holistic, recollected, deep, deep, deep within. Apparently, bringing the whole self is bringing the whole self, whether I do it in prayer, at the edge of the ocean, or in front of a keyboard. C'mon, cow. We have a hill to climb. There are only a few weeks of the quarter left, and I have a lot of writing to do.



After posting about these
(okay okay) helpful shoes

I remembered the shoes I posted about when I started this blog.

THESE are the shoes I wish I were wearing.

I don't own these shoes in real life.

But they're much more to my taste.

Just thought I'd say that.

(Are the flowered heels a bit much?)


Shhh! Don't tell my husband

And for that matter, don't tell my sons either.

I've started listening to Christmas music for part of the day.

I know, I know. It's not even Thanksgiving yet. But it is almost "Stir Up Sunday,"*** and on Stir Up Sunday I have to be ready to stir! And one of the fastest and easiest ways to get ready to do anything is to listen to the right music for it. Music begets inclination, inclination begets planning, planning begets list-making, and list-making begets shopping. And shopping must happen before stirring.

And speaking of planning, I really really really need to make a trip to IKEA. I've burnt up all my candles - or, all the candles that are not those little tinned votive candles. Those little rounds must've had a frisky summer in the drawer because I have zillions of them for some reason. Begetting. That's the only reason I can think of. Candles begetting candles.

I need the box of white candles for my very Nordic looking black IKEA five-candle holder - and I want to add this charming candle holder this year. It's a floor stand for the block candles - a metal one. It's three feet high!!

So ... that's
  • block candles
  • white candles for the candle stand
  • floor stand
...and ironing board. After two decades of hard use, I've actually broken my ironing board. I couldn't have been more surprised if I'd been ironing and suddenly fallen through the floor. (Actually, the longer this house remodel goes on, the less surprising the floor surprise would be. But that's another post.) Does an ironing board count as a household appliance? It'd be my first IKEA household appliance if it does.

I'll add some more votives to my Whole Foods/New Seasons list as well. Those are the real candles that smell like real candles - IKEA candles are for light and fire; real candles are for scent. The WF/NS list is the one that includes high quality dried fruit for the stirring - on Stir Up Sunday - which is on November the 22nd this year - which is the Sunday right before Thanksgiving Day - which is why I'm listening to Pandora's choices for a station called "The Choir of King's College."

But don't tell my husband.
***In the Anglican Church, the Collect for the Sunday before Advent, or the twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity, which occurs some time in late November, commences ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people’, and all over the country this has given the day the colloquial name of Stir-Up Sunday. Brand reports a verse recited by children: ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, The pudding in the pot, And when we get home, We'll eat it all hot’. The day was taken as a marker to advise the housewife to start her Christmas preparations, and the grocer to see to the Christmas stock of his shop (Sussex Archaeological Collections 33 (1883), 252-3).


Cooks, cookery, and a last meal

This interview and story about Thomas Keller is well worth a listen. He understands food, eating, recipes, taste, and love.

Thomas Keller is the French Laundry guy - but down the street from French Laundry is the restaurant Ad Hoc, where there are no menu choices. You just order dinner, and you get what the cook's cooking - just like home. I'd take this guy's dinner choices any day! Keller has written this new cookbook, in which
Mr. Keller leads with his heart. He dedicates it to his brother Joseph and lays out in loving, exacting detail the recipes for the last meal he made his father. He reminds readers that life is better when you eat together with family and friends.
So I started looking around a bit. Well! No wonder I liked listening to Keller talk about food! He's yet another person connected to Michael Ruhlman, "the food writer who has been Mr. Keller’s voice on paper in each of his cookbooks."

Figures. I bet that if I looked for the various cooks Ruhlman has been associated with, I could outfit my own cookbook shelf with the best of the best and never need to look anywhere else for suggestions. I swear, Ruhlman's got a sixth sense about cooks and cookery. Flawless instinct, as far as I can tell.

Anyway, Keller's cookbook includes the details of that last meal. He has the sense and awareness - and fearlessness - to face what that meal taught him, as a cook and as a man. (Here's the NY Times article.) He talks about food that way - he says that you have to let go of fear, feel the food, love what you're doing. Never mind the burns, you'll learn. It's okay. Touch it.

Life is like that. It's delicious if you can let go of the fear. Never mind the burns. It's okay. Touch it.

Keller's words have connected me to something very large. We cook within a context, after all, and I'm a mom. And today is Veteran's Day. Before the horrible events at Fort Hood and all the news coverage, I didn't know about the custom of calling the roll, listening to the gut wrenching silence when each fallen soldier's name is called ... and not answered ... or not answered in a world where we can hear it, anyway.

And my daughter is in Afghanistan and may be moved to a different post. There is no way to know if I have already cooked the last thing I will ever cook for her, or if, like Keller's dad, she'll come home and live out her life in peace and safety. Her being there reminds me every day, at random moments, that there is also no way to know if my sons will ever come home, or if my husband will come home today for that matter. We never know. Life is like that. The part of me that weeps at the shattering silences in roll calls knows that life is like that. Knows, weeps ... and accepts because you have to let go of the fear, and never mind the burns, and go ahead and love.

When people ask me about my daughter, and whether it bothers me that she's in the Army, I always say, "Yes, of course. I'm worried about her every day. But I taught my children that everybody dies. What matters is why you lived." I taught them to never mind the burns - so I dance with glee when one of my sons says, "I totally blew it -- next time, what I want to do is ...." Go ahead, kids. Touch it. Life is scary sometimes, and sometimes you get burned, and you never know which meal will have been your last. It's all true.

And I promise you that Thomas Keller is right. "You learn by not being afraid, by not being intimidated by the food - just getting in there and enjoying it." And if the meal you just cooked turns out to be the last one with that person? "It's one of those things that happen, and in retrospect you feel blessed that that happened." Blessings on you, kids. And blessings on me. And never mind the burns.


These boots are made for walking ... sorta

Yesterday, I bravely hobbled into town (an hour away for a 12 hour day) in my snow shoe boots - Asolos - very old Asolos, which, it turns out, had died. Their soles came off (isn't that what happens when you die? Your soul comes off?) -- so there I was, in town, with a lot of day left, and my boots flapping a loose heel and dropping little piles of black eraser dust from inside of the sole, and I just wanted to cry.

I'm so so so so so tired of wearing heavy things on my feet. I hate it. I can't think with trapped feet, but I can't walk either if my boots are falling apart.

So we went to REI, and bought a pair of REI brand (made by Vasque) boots. These boots. Now both my feet are on the same level (unlike walking in one Velcroed-on removable cast and one hiking shoe), and they're all strapped in, and my footwear is not falling apart more and more with each step. Of course, at this speed, it would take a thousand years to wear out a pair of boots, so they won't be falling apart any time soon. (I feel like I've been thrust into therapeutic shoes after a ballet accident. LORDY, I hate heavy shoes.)


What friends are for

Friends are for nice emails first thing in the morning (thanks, Mike), sympathy when you break your foot, raised eyebrows when you cross the line, laughing when you laugh and crying when you cry, praying for your daughter the soldier girl, and catching your honking huge omissions when you work on diagrams of the human Self. What would I do without you, Jess? Here's the revision - dedicated to my friends - especially the ones who notice it when I'm not expressing myself as they knew I wanted to.


Another page for my project

(waaah! Nobody's commenting on my Human Studies pages!)

There's this one (a bit of a brain dump - too much info on one page), and there are these two (which I like a lot better and will probably use), and now here's a third page I think I'll be able to use. Don't they make any sense? Howcome nobody's saying anything about them?

Born persons

Not blank slates! Not formless blobs! Not empty vessels! Even newborn babies use language - actual language!

"Children are born persons." That's what Charlotte Mason was trying to communicate more than a hundred years ago. These are people, she said. These small humans are not formless, gormless, helpless blobs just waiting for us to do something with them.

Well, all these years later, here is more proof. I practically jump up and down and shout to anyone who'll listen when I find things like the newest research coming from people like Alison Gopnik, and then here, this morning, I have heard a report that newborn babies actually cry in the language intonations of their parents' speech! Newborn babies do that. That's a person lying there - not a blob.

Why I love my country

There's a lot wrong with our country, and what's wrong with our country is wrong in a kind of sticky, boiled-down, ultra-intensified way in the military. But there is also much - very much - that makes my heart swell with pride and admiration and my eyes run with tears.

From Morning Edition, an interview by Renee Montagne with Wade Goodwyn, this is one of those things:

Goodwyn: "Although you might think that an Army post is full of soldiers with loaded weapons, that is not the case. If a soldier is not on a training exercise, they're not armed unless they're M.P.'s. And as you might expect, the base's reaction was immediate.

"Sirens went off, a woman's voice began warning over loudspeakers that this was an emergency and it was not a drill, that everyone should take cover. Fort Hood was locked down and the area surrounding the massacre sealed off - and those buildings remained sealed, although the base reopened last night."

Montagne: "And I've also heard, Wade, that the other soldiers in the room, after the chaos and the initial shooting really jumped in and helped the wounded and the fallen."

Goodwyn: "Yes. There were reports that the soldiers came rushing to the fallen, tearing at their uniforms, taking them off and tearing them into strips, and bandaging the wounded. The military police responded very quickly. Without the speed of the first responders and the willingness of the soldiers and the expertise of the soldiers in treating the wounded, I think it could have been a lot worse."

These soldiers, rushing to the aid of the fallen -- it doesn't matter to me if they were the medical personnel that the building was full of or if they were soldier buddies getting ready to deploy or whatever else. It's the immediate sense of "us" and the response of "we" that makes me swell with pride in our troops. Whenever they can see what to do, they do it. They didn't wait for orders on this one.


What I did today

It's time to go put dinner into the crock pot. The morning has flown by because I was working on these. Tell me what you think!


Orienteering in the morning

Orienteering is the outdoor map-following thing. You have a map in your hand, and you have a compass, and you go - you look or follow or seek - you might find (at least, you might find your way home). There's a whole U.S. Orienteering Foundation with teams, and events, and all kinds of stuff (who knew?), and there are lots of families who think a good time is had by all when they're all outdoors with maps and compasses. Orienteering is one thing I would put into our days if I had homeschooling to do over again. At the time, I didn't feel like I could find my own way down the hill and back with 100% accuracy, but I made the classic mistake of the homeschooling mom. I thought I had to be the expert before I could do something with my kids. (forehead slap goes here - and I wonder why I had to learn this basic truth of homeschooling over and over again. Somehow, I could never remember from one subject to the next that we learn with our kids more than we ever learned prior to them.)

Anyway, as I sit here on my first quiet and alone morning this month so far, listening to NPR, looking at the blogs my Bloglines web crawler found for me today, sipping my coffee and consuming my yogurt (aaaahhh....), I think about the fact that this is how my husband starts his days too. We have coffee and the news. The news and the croissants on Saturdays. The news and the coffee, the coffee and the news. I think we're getting oriented for the day. Starting the day without this period of calm re-orientation feels like being thrust into a course without a map. The compass part of it is the Morning Prayer Office - but the map for this world is in the news of the day somehow. Or, it is if we're home and not on vacation, anyway.I think I started this habit for myself on the pivotal, now ubiquitously mythical, and rude awakening that oriented the whole country on September 11 a few years back. Our country's map before that was rather frayed and fuzzed at the edges, with whole chunks coffee stained or missing altogether. We were living in Pleasantville where the end of Main Street was just the beginning again. Oddballs like military people or members of the Peace Corps had been bringing home stories from off the edges of the map, but nobody had to listen to them - before the towers fell, we didn't have to listen.

But I don't listen to Morning Edition because I think there might be a disaster somewhere and I want to know about it. I'm not getting forewarned in order to be forearmed. Most stuff in life doesn't work like that anyway - a person can only "be prepared" for a limited number of things.

No, I listen in exactly the same way as I would take out a map before starting the car. I still do that. The availability of cell phones for getting other people to tell me where to turn, on-board navigation systems to read maps for me, and dumb luck notwithstanding, I still look at a map before I put the key in the ignition. I want to get oriented. Main Street does not end at the beginning, Madoff's auditor shoulda picked up the phone and at least asked a question or two, and I have serious doubts about the wonders of wine grown in Missouri. I just do. (New word for today: enologist)

And now I can work on some school stuff. I'm awake.

And his wife Donna's a photo genius!

Have you ever been to Michael Ruhlman's food blog? The guy is pure delight to watch, I tell you. He's another heir of Julia Child - food should be amazing, and it should be something anyone can do with a little practice. He loves technique, tools, and flavor, and I love to read his work.

But his wife! His wife and her camera can do THIS! Those, my friend, are shallots. Yes, shallots. Aren't they wonderful? I want posters and paintings and a volume of food poetry when I look at Donna's work. There's lots more - go on over and look. It'll do you as much good as a trip to a gallery - or Sur la Table - and it doesn't cost a penny to look.


Working Model

This is what I have so far for my Human Studies: Relationship to the Self course. We are supposed to be coming up with a model for the human Self. I call him Chakra Man. (Click on it to make it big enough to read.) The dark print san serif font words ("prioritize family," "move," etc) are from Blue Zones. It's fascinating to me that the newest scientific research shows that when we pay attention to each of the areas of the human recognized by the human sciences and also by the Eastern notion of chakras, we live longer and healthier lives. No matter which path I take into the model, the results can be overlaid and they line up wonderfully. I haven't quite figured out how to overlay the personality type theories, but I want to. This is fun!

Midterm Yawn

So ... we fell back. Yay. An extra hour.

But I think I completely squandered it somehow. Nothing deep or meaningful here today. I can't stop yawning.

Stayed up late on Saturday. Had a reeeeeallly long day on Sunday - which was a good day - All Saints Day on a Sunday this year, capped off by the Oregon Chorale in the evening. It was nice. But it was a lot in one day. And Monday started early and ended late with my Human Studies class, and today I'm absolutely beat. And I don't want to get sick. And I have a lot of writing to do. And I've thought of a good metaphor to explain the condition of this house about a month after I avulsionly fractured my foot (in three places) and acquired my autumn footwear.

My house looks as if it's been carried around for the last month in the bottom of a giant's coat pocket - a sort of woolly coat that tends to harbor lint and things.

What a complainer I am today!

Time to get on with the tasks at hand - namely, the writing of this PLA Children's Lit essay. That's the good news from the Monday marathon that was yesterday. I found a copy of the text I needed for only $5 at Powell's. Today, I get this thing moving. By the end of the week, it needs to be done, done, done. Ready to submit. Injured foot or not, I could use a bit of happy dancing.