Got 'em!

With apologies to Rat, and Mole, and Kenneth Grahame, Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats books!These are the quarter's books. I got the last of the pile yesterday, and today I must dive in and answer questions, and cogitate, and read, and write .... ahhhhh.... nothing half so much full of promise as the beginning of a new school quarter, in my opinion. I do love this.


Love/Not so much love

This is a continuation of the last post. I'm going over the materials for this course. From the science teacher - my instructor for this one - the person I'm going to have to please with the quality and quantity of my work - that person - from her, this is the last page in the syllabus. It's a paper-grading rubric.

Doing a little bit of laughing, a little bit of cheering and a whole lot of "what have I gotten myself into?" I didn't think instructors like this were still around! Glad I found one ... I think ...

Paper Guidelines

The point totals in parentheses represent points that will be deducted from grade if the paper violates the requirement.

____ Adequate referencing using CSE style

____ Appropriate references (15 pts)

____ ‘Effect’, ‘affect’, and ‘its’ used properly (2 pts each) (“Its” is never possessive)

____ No contractions (2 pts deducted for each contraction)

____ Sentence fragments (2 pts deducted for each)

____ Quotes – quotes not allowed (10 pts deducted for each quote)

____ Plagiarism: Copying sentences or changing only a few words (“0” for paper)

See me if unsure about what constitutes plagiarism.

____ Subject/verb agreement (2 pts each)

____ Proper nouns must be capitalized (2 pts each)

____ Misspelled words (2 pts each)

____ Subheadings (15 pts deducted for no subheadings)

____ Use of slang (2 pts each)

____ Arguments are presented logically and coherently and incorporate the techniques learned

in the argument and research component of the course (20 pts)

____ Quality of writing will be evaluated throughout the papers

It is possible to have more than 100 points deducted from grade; however, no permanent grade lower than ‘0’ will be recorded.

(Oh. Well, that's a relief. I wouldn't want my grade to be below a zero.)
(Quotes are not allowed??? This is going to be like trying to talk without using my hands! For Lit courses, you must use quotes - but not subheadings. For this course I have to avoid quotes and use subheadings.)

Class is in session now ... everyone listen up

Do you read this blog in a reader or web crawler or something like that? You might have gotten a notice from the first thing I posted today and then immediately deleted. It was too complicated to make clear, so I gave up.

See ... I started a course today. For this course, the following is an excerpt from the "Weekly Planner" page.
By signing up for one section of this ILM (or more), you are actually auditing all three. Every week, you are responsible for completing the work assigned in the "Joint Assignment" section plus the section(s) you registered for. To succeed in the section(s) you signed up for and to gain the most knowledge, ideally, you would participate in all three sections of the ILM.

ILM is "integrated learning module," and what that means is that the one course is actually three, three, three courses in one.

I've only signed up for three credits from this class - the science module. But to do this, I'll be auditing the three-credit faith and reason module, and the three-credit argumentation module. So ... I'd better get busy, right? Right.

Don't have the right book yet. Won't have it until later this week.

Um .... Google Books "limited preview" it is.

Read, read, read ... answer one of the questions for the week ... so far so good ... and then there's this sentence.
By dogmatically asserting the existence of a vital force, the vitalists often impeded the pursuit of a constitutive reductionism that would elucidate the basic functions of organisms.
Well, duuhhh ... Who doesn't know that?


Another good one from "my" school

It keeps happening. I'm beginning to think that some part of me knew somehow that this would be the Booklover's School. Next month, over a Friday evening and all day Saturday session (to be preceded by a reading of the text and followed by a properly done research paper), I'll take a one credit course called Interpersonal Neurobiology and Treatment of Depression. I borrowed (from the public library) the book we're going to use as the text, and I've been looking it over today. Now I know that I will buy this book, refer to this book, recommend this book, quote from this book, and keep an eye on the developments that proceed from this book and everyone referred to in it.

Honest and true, this is another real gem.

The title is underwhelming, to say the least. In fact, that's why I put it on hold at the library. I didn't think I'd want to own it, and I thought maybe once I looked at it, I'd drop the course. It's called (in stunningly boring reflection of anything that might be near it on the shelf) Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression. I know. Really, really uninteresting, right? Verrry loonggg yaaawwwwn.

But ... hm ... well, lookee here. Some of the nation's most interesting and multi-disciplinary health gurus du jour are on the back cover, singing this book's praises. That's interesting ... we've got Deepak Chopra, Christiane Northrup, Dean Ornish, Andrew Weil, Mehmet Oz ... huh. Okay, so let's look inside.

The flyleaf says that the author is "Dr. James Gordon, a Harvard Medical School-educated psychiatrist who founded and directs The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., has been helping his patients find their way out of the darkness of depression for the past forty years." "A pioneer in integrative medicine." He "believes that depression is not an end point, a disease over which we have no control. It is a sign that our lives are out of balance, that we're stuck."

Yes, that's interesting, all right. So I start reading - start with the introduction. That's where (I've finally figured out) I want to start when I want to be introduced to the author. Did you know that? The "introduction" is the place where the author shakes your hand and tells you a bit about himself. That's where you figure out who you're dealing with. If you don't care who's talking, skip the intro. If you're going to "consider the source" in a more skeptical way (or if your instructor assigned it), read it.

So I do. And I keep reading. And I start plowing through the first chapter, and then I start saying things on a Saturday morning like, "Hey! Pause the TV for a sec. Listen to this."

Wow. At last! Someone who's been around awhile (he did his residency in 1968) has seen that the West and the East, the ancient and the modern, the biological and the psychological/spiritual, the predisposition and the precipitating event(s) are all part of this picture for wholeness and healing and wellness and a good life, well lived. The history of our nation's blithe acceptance of the "disease" (often compared to diabetes) model for depression is in here. The science (and lack thereof) behind the pharmaceutical answer is in here - and so is a proposal for a more helpful use of that option. Options, reality, the glorious resilience of the human being ... it's all in here.

I really like my school.


Deepest drenching in the surf

Okay. I gotta say this. First of all, my delightfully talented and creative cousin makes this sort of thing, as I've mentioned before.

I've also mentioned, about fifty or sixty times, that the Oregon Coast is a sort of primal home for me - it calls and must be answered - it waters my inner deserts and soothes both skin and soul. Okay? Got that part? Me. At the beach. 's th'way it is for me.

I've also noted that this started early in my life, when I and my brother and my cousin looked like this. And she's still that cute, and, I still have that haircut. I think someone finally persuaded my brother to take his hood off.

But today, I found out that her sister, my OTHER cousin in that trio of cousins who, like their mother, could sing - in parts - with or without any kind of instrument - whenever they wanted to - and they were all beautiful and athletic and - still can, too. And they still are all those things ... huh? Oh. What was I saying?

Today I found out that the wool roving, sculpturally minded cousin's sister, my other cousin ... well, SHE does THIS! (She's also tech savvy and has it all so I can't grab it and show you. Go to it. The woman PAINTS, I tell you!)

But that's not even the thing that makes me a little fizzy right now. See ... the deal is ... both of these people have taken some photos of the beach. We might have grown up to three very different adult lives, if a person were only to look at our schedules or addresses, but me and my cousins? We are all exactly the same in one very particular way. To all of us, the beach is always there, the surf is always pounding and foaming in the background, the air is always a little bit moist, and there is always a little bit of sand in at least one pair of shoes.

I don't paint. I write. This is what I write about the beach, pictured here through the lenses of my cousins. (pictures linked to sites where you can see more)

Foam the edge of sea
the salt of tears and sweat and fear and victory drips
near my bare and sandy feet
emerging from the edge
of the great

For a year
and a year of years
I drowned
but admire now the print
of toes
pressing into sand
toes pressing on land's edge
not drowned.

Not in the sea but of it
coming up from water
not choked
ancient me, young again and wet.

Waves have pushed me onto shore
love surging after love
to answer
walking coming up and out.
Streams and rivers flow across my skin
where wind says

Today I do not die but live.
The fierce raw cry of
ancient goddess
finds sound in deaf and watered ears
I bring with me
the silence of the deep where sure
and dark
I died.

And yet I live.

Because I love a good diagram ...

...here's one I've just seen over at Despair.com

Jane's Fame

Any true friend of Jane's is a friend of mine.

I did a bit of research for my Lit course last year, and everything this woman is saying is what I found to be true as well.

"Clear thinking."
"Such an intellectual, and she's writing love stories."
"Acute analysis."
"A very sharp witted and at times an acid-tongued woman."
And ... this I'd never heard before ... a palliative care prescriptive for shell-shocked soldiers in the Great War!

And you gotta love this "Austenmania" cover for the April, 2009, Literary Review.I think I'll put Jane's Fame on my wishlist of 50th Birthday presents.


Cotyledon to Sprout

I'm not sure, but I think I've passed through the cotyledon stage. I think ... I think ... I might be turning into a real writer.

For one thing, from the deepest recesses of my grade school brain, I could remember enough of the word cotyledon to spell it well enough for Google to guess the right word. (I love it when that happens! Like a dictionary you just have to think at, and it opens to the right page.)

But for another thing, I started here, with this, and I just keep writing. I think it's turning itself into a story. (That's a "story" but not with a "plot." Thanks, Mr. JustSendOneThing.) Something has happened. It really does feel like I've gone from being inside of something to drawing life energy from it instead. I think I've sprouted.

And I think I can remember this process from a long, long time ago, when I was a child and learned some new skill that was part of being older now. I think this is the same thing. Whatever it is, it happens while everything outside of me continues as normal. Nothing looks different to anyone else. They're all talking to me as if they can't see what's happening, so I don't think they can see it. But it is happening. The world looks more dreamlike to me again ... only this time I am not afraid.


Spring Break Monday: managing the context shift

The quietly gray not-quite-brightness of a gently raining spring day is almost enough. Unless I want to do something detailed, I don't need to turn on lamps or overhead lights. I can hear the creek and the rain falling on the driveway's gravel and dripping from the budding lilac hedge. NPR's Morning Edition is streaming into my computer and out the speaker, and my coffee is really good today. This. Is. Nice.

I worked really hard last week to get my course work done, and I feel the satisfaction of it. Today is Monday in the week of vacation time before spring quarter. Youngest giant (with a nearly full beard now ... I think I liked it better shorter, but he ain't askin his mother for beard advice) is en route to older giant's campus to pick him up and bring him down here for the week. Or, he will be later. It's only 8:30 in the morning, and I have doubts as to his consciousness at this time. ("But just so you know, mom, he might be spending more time crashing on our couch in town than at home. He said there are a couple of concerts he wants to go to." -- Gotta like a kid who thinks to warn his mother of such things.) He worked really hard this quarter too. And he'll have his first composition credited to him and recorded by the combo for the annual album put out by the college this year. My boy's name in the liner notes. Yes, I'm feeling quite plump with satisfaction on the kid and school fronts.

I've also got a short story's plot story line bubbling up in my head. A guy I work with sometimes at the library, aka, Mr. JustSendOneThing, told me to stop thinking about the word plot - he thinks the word is messing with my brain and keeping me from writing the story. I think he's right. See ... this little flight of fancy has a whole story around it, and I short out when I think the word "plot" - but the story is lovely. It's waiting for me today, like a little bit of incredible chocolate secreted in the back of the potholder drawer. (I'm the only who uses potholders - everything in that drawer is pretty safe from marauders ... haha! I just now realized. All the marauders moved out of the house! I can keep my chocolate out in the open now. What an idea.)

And this is good stuff for the following reasons:
1. Dyslexics are often scary smart - please note: the ability to decode printed language is utterly irrespective of both intelligence and language prowess (I mean, seriously - listen to the PhD in Cognitive Science guy)
2. No. One. CAN. Multitask.
3. "Short term memory can hold between five and nine things, and that's all."
4. "Managing the context shift is much more effective than pretending to multitask."

(And I have a special affection for the world's dyslexics - not only do they usually end up with a kind of ingrained humility born of actual humiliation, but they are the world's most startlingly inventive thinkers. Don't believe me? Just listen to his practical solutions.)




1. Turn on the sound. It is necessary to this experience.

2. Watch the whole thing - do not despair in the middle.

3. Do a happy dance.


This is me, just sayin

Okay. I have a rant built up to overflowing. This. Is. A. Language. Rant.

1. Say "USE," not "utilize"
"Utilize is not an elegant variation of the word use; it has its own distinct meaning. When you utilize something, you make do with something not normally used for the purpose, e.g., you utilize a dime when the bloody screwdriver is nowhere to be found. If the screwdriver were there, you'd use it, not utilize a stupid dime for the purpose. Use use when you mean use, and utilize only when it's properly used to mean--to use something not normally used. The computer went off-line, so they utilized Mr. Wang's abacus, the one he liked to use. Despite the temporary breakdown, the computer's use-rate was up (not its utilization-rate)" (From the book Getting the Words Right, seen here, and thank you ever so much, T.A.R. Cheney and Burnham and Hutson).
2. The idomatic expression is, "fleshed out," not "flushed out." You might flush out the birds in the stand of brush so that you can shoot at them, but if you are making a point more clear by expanding on it, then you have fleshed out your point. You had the skeleton of an idea, and you put muscle on it.

And last but not least,
3. The expression is, "for all intents and purposes," not "for all intensive purposes."

I'm just sayin'.


Music for St. Paddy's Day

Just in case you want it ...

Go here for over 7 hours of music by some of their favorite Irish musicians. You'll hear a mix of familiar and new artists, including Mary Black, Solas, Danu, John Doyle, Donal Lunny, Connie Dover, Andy Irvine, Planxty, Grada, The Chieftains (of course) and much, much more! Sláinte mhaith!

The courage of roots

Perhaps they were more popular in the 70's, along with macrame plant hangers, "electric" colors in clothing (I had some pink socks my college roommate used to cover with a blanket due to their distracting color), and the mini, midi, and maxi lengths of skirts. Or, perhaps they are never really popular but just always around. Whatever the truth is about their popularity, the Bonsai tree has always fascinated and bothered me.

Do you like them? I am charmed by their miniature size and intricate shapes. That is what I thought Bonsai was - curiously shaped, little bitty versions of the proper, natural, larger ones. Not so much cute as curiously small and wizened. And sometimes truly magnificent. Living works of art. But ... there is something vaguely disturbing about this ... what is it?

Today I found out. While I was looking for something else, I found a page describing the psychology of fears. The authors asserted that the fear of going crazy is really the fear of being alone. The writing was slightly convoluted, but I read it a few times and I think I figured out what they were getting at.

If your intellect is not allowed to develop, you can have no real connections with other intellects. Cutting intelligence off at the roots keeps the small people small - subservient - non-threatening. Okay... yes ... that makes sense.

But then there was this reference to "a certain tree" in Japan which is kept small by constant pruning of the roots. "Murder," the page called it. Okay. I draw the line at the idea of "murder" being applied to plant life. Call me a megalomaniacal lunatic, but I think people are supposed to manage plants, with full powers of life and death wielded over the helpless photosynthetic organisms. I rolled my eyes a bit and read on.
When you don't allow the roots to go deeper, the tree simply grows old - it never grows up. It is a strange phenomenon to see that tree. It looks ancient, but it has only grown old, old, old, but it has never grown up. It has never blossomed; it has never given any fruits.

Oooohhh.... okay. Now I am paying attention. Bonsai trees really are beautiful. Yes, they are strange. And it's okay, I believe, to do this to plants. Trees trained by means of root removal are odd, but they are not victims of cruelty.

I prefer the espaliered fruit tree, bearing both blossom and fruit against a garden wall, or standing in exact and elegant rows, artistically trained into as much artifice as any operatic diva, and made as beautiful by it. Artificial beauty, admittedly, but fruitful beauty. (click on the trees for a good blog about espaliered trees)

Apply this horticultural thinking to people, though, and I see the fear thing. I understand the point of the article, and I agree. I, myself, have largely lost my fear of insanity as I have aged and expanded my intellect. I have found myself to be more and more a part of humanity, less and less alone.

But I'm never going to be an opera singer. I like to sing. I can read music. But the professional has both the organ and the passion, and I have neither. The espaliered fruit tree takes years to develop because it is a growing thing and must pass through its seasons of growth, carefully, always, constantly tended.

Is the alternative to be a Bonsai? If I can't have the glories of the espaliered artifice, is the alternative to grow old but never up? To become wizened without being fruitful?

The difference is the root structure. The old people I know and admire are old people with very, very deep roots. Their lives have held both blossom and snow, both fruitful years and lean ones. Bonsai old people are small. They look older than they need to because their roots never went far or deep.

Just as much effort goes into the Bonsai pine tree as the espaliered apple tree, I would imagine. There is a thought forming at the back of my mind now ... and it has something to do with fear, rootedness, old age, and the courage to go outside and take a walk.


Sometimes you're the windshield ...

sometimes you're the bug.

Sometimes ... a son calls wondering what to do about a sty in his eyelid (I hate it when my kids' illnesses are happening out there, where I can't do anything but give advice)

Sometimes, a final paper gets handed in for the Modernist Lit course (at last!)

Sometimes the soldier calls to say she's coming home a whole month earlier than she thought she would (probably - army probably)

Sometimes you weigh yourself and realize you're turning into a solid (ugh)

Sometimes you get a whole day for writing (almost uninterrupted)

Sometimes it's the day your dog died (Libby - out on the walkway, where she usually laid, so I didn't even notice)

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug.


Community is where you find it

Another great post from Melanie! Of course, she called hers This Could Have Been at Marylhurst.

Sometimes the trick in life is realizing exactly what is needed.
Sometimes the realization comes from others, others who are watching the struggle, who are figuring it out in community, who are volunteering various solutions ...


When I see this sort of thing

...then I know the most hilarious critter made by God was a person. "This Too Shall Pass," by OK Go.


Wait - one more thing

Thanks to Melanie, I have just now seen Indexed. Oh, this is GOOD. Check it out!


Over at the bubbling blog of author Gretchen Rubin, everyone has access to the record of all the research that has gone into her most recent book. This was just about the most publicly interactive bit of research I've ever seen. One day, I hope to follow in her footsteps and do the same sort of research, interviewing people, finding a hypothesis and testing it myself, looking up the science and the art of the thing ... this was really cool to watch as it unfolded. Her "One Minute Movies" are poignantly beautiful - and I love her list of Happiness Myths.

No. 1: Happy people are annoying and stupid. This is an automatic assumption that many people make.

No. 2: Nothing changes a person’s happiness level much.

No. 3: Venting anger relieves it.

No. 4: You’ll be happier if you insist on “the best.”

No. 5: A “treat” will cheer you up.

No. 6: Money can’t buy happiness.

No. 7: Doing “random acts of kindness” brings happiness. The emphasis here is on the word "random."

No. 8: You’ll be happy as soon as you… Falling into the "arrival fallacy" is something that many people (including me) recognize in themselves.

No. 9: Spending some time alone will make you feel better.

No. 10: The biggest myth: It’s selfish to try to be happier.

On a much smaller scale, inspired by Gretchen, I've started to experiment here - in my house - at my desk and in my day. What does it, I'd like to know? What makes a day start right, continue well, and end satisfactorily? It cannot be dependent on the "stuff" that happens in a day. That would be far, far too unpredictable and besides - I've already figured out that it's better to be a stable person than to live in a stable world.

So ... is it breakfast? It would be hard to find a habit more thoroughly documented as healthy. Everyone from WebMD to Mireille Guiliano will confirm that breakfast is essential to a good day.

Is it Morning Prayer? Some form of spiritual orientation in the upcoming day seems essential to mental and emotional health. I once asked my naturopathic doctor how on earth she manages to get through her day. All those people with all those needs - how does she stay clear from their energies? Their burdens? Meditation, she said. Every day she starts with quiet, and reminds herself of her place in the world.

For a long time, I was a bit soured on this concept - it was the "devotions" of the evangelicals that did it to me. I could no longer stand the either the highly emotional and ultimately draining experiences of the "good" days nor the blank and confusing lack of response I felt on the "bad" days. I kept looking for the right reactions - the right responses from inside my soul. Ick.

But ordinary Anglican Morning Prayer is not that sort of exercise. This equates much more closely to the meditation my doctor was doing. This is a first-of-the-day orientation within my life. Under heaven, among men, grounded in my own life. This is the daily playing of scales and practicing of arpeggios a musician does, and the spiritual equivalent of housekeeping. And it makes an enormous difference. ... So ... is that it? Is that the key to the day? (That's me in the blue dress - that's my piano behind me.)

Or ... maybe it's Julie Cameron's "morning pages" that makes the whole thing work. Lately they've been helping me ... and I wonder if they'd help more if I did these pages ... well ... you know ... in the morning. Oh, well. They work any time of the day for me. It's the writing thing I need, like I need water and air and movement and peace. For me, it's not "gotta dance," it's "gotta dash" - as in, dash off some words, scrawl, scribble, write, forge, frame, knock out, bang out, dream up, and pen. Gotta write.

The sun is all the way up now - above the fir trees on the sunrise side of the field. The day has begun. One thing's for sure. If I don't stop observing the day and start living it, it will have passed and no matter how well a day starts we never get a do over. I think I'll go make a protein smoothie and get my prayers said.


Item: Monday


--- course work to do: rough draft about Six Characters in Search of an Author due on Wednesday, remaining glossary items and annotated bibliographies to do for the Human Studies courses

--- next quarter's registration includes the rest of my PLA work. I'm getting nervous about it

--- packages to mail to Afghanistan today - the soldier wants her running shoes

--- I have posted some thoughts about Anglicanorum Coetibus over at my Anglicanism blog, for anyone interested

--- and I've changed my mind about my senior project. I don't want to write about the topic, "Is Happy Stupid?" -- or, I do want to write about it, but not for that. My Human Sciences courses have opened new doors for me this quarter. Best thing about school this time around: new doors coupled with the courage to open them. This is FUN!