"We Three"

"We Three"

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Biiiig sigh of relief...

Latest midterm is now history. Ha ha. My Western Civ teacher's tests are amazingly hard. There were nine terms (out of thirty on the study guide) that we were expected to know five things about each. And an essay, 2 1/2 pages long (in the BIG bluebook), and just for the fun of it, five multiple choice, true/false little questions that can be, well, tricky. Just glad it is over and I don't have to remember any more popes or kings or emperors, not to mention battles, wars and dates. For a while. There is another one coming up in April, but that is Mr. Spires, otherwise known as Good Will, who lets us bring outlines. I hope. Oh, and the geology midterm was a resounding success, 73 out of 75, brought me up to a 92 so far, and I am so grateful. A friend reminded me, excellence not perfection. I think I can do that.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Liberal education...

Today I learned we are living the the Cenozoic Period, of the Phanerozoic Eon, of the Quarterary Era, of the Holocene Epoch. I needed to know that. And there were no dinosaurs in California, as it was underwater when they lived. But the sabre-tooth tiger's name is smilodon californicus, because our state was once lousy with them once. And in case you are anxious to know about carbon dating, I learned that today, too, at least, the rudiments of how it works. You see, all elements have isotopes, variances in their atomic weight, which is the total of the protons and neutrons in the nucleus of their atoms. Carbon has 3: 12, 13 & 14. While we are alive, they exist in our bodies in equal amounts. But once dead, carbon 14 begins to decay. Its half-life is 5,000 some odd years. So by measuring the amount left, scientists can tell how old once living matter is. Crazy stuff to know. Probably not important, but terribly interesting nevertheless. And I hope I can remember it long enough to take my next test. Which reminds me, I have one tomorrow in Western Civ. Charlemagne, the Unam Sanctam, Constantine, and all those popes, Clement and Boniface and Urban and Innocent, with Roman numerals after their names. All of which will never be called into service again. Hopefully, they have opened up new neural networks, though. I learned that is Psych 1A. I think.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Out, out, damned depression!

The downside of getting sober is I get to see and feel how depressed I get sometimes. Spring is here, right? Wrong. It is cold and fragile out there; even when the sun shines, it is only a tiny window for the next storm to plow through. I schlepped the 40 lb bookbag to school today, in the rain and mud. Ick. Yesterday I was so unhappy, I managed to make a huge pot of chicken soup, vacuum the whole house, exercise for 30 minutes, bathe and exfoliate, all in an afternoon, hoping to stave off the dread spector of my own angst. Better today, and have a lot of studying done, too. It is a constant battle, though, with this inner demon. I put a prayer for healing in the angel box last night, too. Never hurts to hedge my bets.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Truth in advertising, that'll happen...

Ever notice that the gals in the commercial for eyelid lifting cream have the faces of 19 year olds? They should get a gander at my eyelids, poor accordianed things that they are. Don't feel like running out to buy this stuff at $35 a shot, oh nonono. Instead, I think I will just sink down into Basset houndedness, become that droopy, loopy old broad I have threatened to become for ages. I do draw the line at blue hair, though. And in case anyone is wondering, those stains that always wind up on old ladies shirts, just above the boob line (pretty low, actually) come from eating on the couch and watching Jeopardy at the same time. I have it on very good authority.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mystical me...

How boring life must be for those who live only in the five little senses, convinced that if they cannot touch it, smell it, see it, hear it or taste it, it just doesn't exist. Really, people, how pedestrian. There is going on all around me this amazing mystery. Take the other night, when I took a friend to dinner and a meeting. She proudly showed me a new bracelet, a gift from a lover. Then, later, she noticed it was missing. We weren't in a position to look for it, so I suggested a quick prayer to St. Jude, who has only once failed to return lost objects to me (once in a while, I need a little lesson in paying attention, that one cost me $150). We searched the car later, no bracelet. When we arrived at her home, we took both our dogs for a little walk, me following her. On our way back, there was the bracelet, laying right in my path. It wasn't there when we passed that way before, and she had checked to see if it was caught in her jacket earlier. Where did it come from? Oh, and it was wet from the rain, though laying in a sheltered area. Naturally, we were grateful it came back to her. And I want to remember that there are miracles happening all the time. Everywhere. Things that are beyond explanation, that exist even for those who don't believe in them. It is part of the sweetness of it all. Life would be pretty barren without that sweetness.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sobbing, again...

OK, I admit it. I am one of those soft-hearted, soft-headed people who watch movies over and over and always cry, without fail. It gets worse with each viewing, actually. Put on ET, and I just begin blubbering at the first plaintive note on that clarinet. And just to add a little more angst, I also buy the soundtracks, which I also blubber over. Currently sniffling through the music from Sense and Sensibility, the chronicle of the imprudent Marianne and the honorable Eleanor, and the injustices of English jurisprudence which left their family penniless on the death of their father. Actually, their gentile poverty looked pretty fullsome to me, and not a lot different than my current circumstances. And how lovely to be in that countryside resplendent with wildflowers and great vistas of uncluttered farmlands. At the same time, I am sitting Indian style on the bed, plodding through a study guide as long as my arm, trying to make sense out of about 800 years of world history. I really don't need the music to bring the tears today, Mr. Diaz has done the trick just fine.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Walking on dead people...

I took a cemetary tour this afternoon with my history professor. What a guy! He showed us the memorial to the earthquake victims who died 100 years ago this April. While most of the damage to San Francisco came after the quake, from the resulting fire, our little burg was leveled in seconds. Up the path, there is a tree that three men were once lynched from. Well, it's not the original tree; that one got chopped up for souvenirs. People really didn't have enough to amuse them in the good old days. We went to the back part, at the bottom of the hill, where the paupers are buried, so while I was trying to be ever so respectful and stay on the path, I did wind up walking all over the unmarked graves of the poor and indigent. In one touching plot, a woman had buried nine babies. How sad is that. And in another plot, there is a grave of the family slave, marked "colored boy". At least he got to rest eternally inside the fence in his next life. Much history there, including a descendant of Daniel Boone. Most of us bowed our heads by the Doyle plot, because many of us are receiving bounty from them in the form of scholarships endowed to the college. Interesting afternoon, walking on dead people.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Midterms, help!

Just finished two, back to back, in geology lecture and lab. All about rocks, igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. Some of them look an awful lot alike, like shale and slate, marble and crystalline limstone. And I know the teacher says she picks specimins that are comparable to what we have studied in our little buckets, but man, there were some surprises on the test in lab. We jumped up and down, pouring acid on those white ones to see if they fizz (calcite), or scratching away on the little glass thingy, or on our fingernails, or with our fingernails, and still scratching our heads. Considering there were about 45 of those suckers, I think Susie and I did pretty well. We studied and categorized bucket by bucket, then dumped them all out and did the whoe shebang, rock by rock. I decided that if I didn't know what it was, it must be wacke (pronounced wacky), because I could never remember that one. It looked like any hunk of stuff you might pick up by the side of the road, kind of gray and dull and not very interesting. Nature is infuriatingly diverse in the multitudes of stuff out there, and pieces of the same stuff can look might different, too. Whatever, we are moving on to reading topographical maps. Whoopee.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sweet memories...

My father was a butcher when I was growing up, until I was 14 and my folks bought a furniture store. I would visit Dad and he would give me a cold weinie from the case, which I always ate, but never liked. Sometimes he would bring home brains, and scramble them with eggs. I tried them, didn't find much to like. But I loved liver, and kidneys, and sweetbreads. For the uninitiated, sweetbreads are glands (no, not those glands), and they are a bitch to cook, because they have to be blanched and peeled (membranes, you know). But man, are they good. So when the family went out last night to celebrate Dad's 86th birthday at our local French bistro, all three of us "kids" ordered ris de veau, veal sweetbreads in a creamy marsala sauce. It was heaven on earth, even better when followed with a birthday chocolate mousse that we all shared. OK, the diet kind of went into a holding pattern for a few hours. But if I was going to sin, it might as well have been with those ambrosial glands.

Soothing the inner beast...

Despite the fact that these are frugal times, I contracted my artist friend to build me a canvas, 2 X 3 feet, to insure that I will, this summer, when school is a distant memory and a future dream, paint the picture I want in my living room. I already have the reference photo, an incandescent shot of my roses in the backyard. This one bush puts out blooms of many different hues: pink, orange, yellow and all shades in between. I caught it in the first light to creep over the fence it borders. It is positively luscious. And though the moment when I can begin is still 2 months away, I am already savoring that seminal moment when my brush first meets canvas, and the tooth of the fabric bites into the pigment. My method, which I developed to suit my temperament, is to put the whole aspect of the scene on the canvas at first sitting (well, actually, standing), all the colors in their assigned quadrant, so that it emerges with a brilliance that keeps me interested (I am a Gemini, easily distracted). Not to say that I am anywhere near brilliant in my artistry. I think the idea is to have a lot of fun, like a kindergartener with finger paints. Man, I loved the days when we did that. It was the only time I remember having permission to be delightfully messy. Oil paints are so wonderfully expressive, and very forgiving; one can always go back in and paint over any faux pas. Sort of what life should be like, right?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Soda pop dreams...

My mother would not let us drink soda when we were growing up. Instead, she mixed fruit juice with club soda for delightful fizzy summer drinks. Then Diet-Rite Cola came out, followed by Tab and Fresca. By then, I was on my own, and I thought this was wondrous, soda pop without all those calories. When I first got sober, I was addicted to Diet Pepsi (yes, I am a Pepsi-is-better-than-Coke person), and got nervous if I didn't have at least a six-pack in the fridge. And now I have come full circle. I bought a 36-pack of bottled soda at Costco that was (guess) fruit juice in fizzy water. I really love this stuff (only 5 calories a bottle). I drink at least one a day. And sometimes, I even mix cranberry juice with club soda. It's just that I always run out of one before I run out of the other. Life is so complicated sometimes.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Verrrry Interrresting...

Nothing changes. Ever notice that? Today, in Western Civilization, we heard about the separation of Chrisendom, the Roman Catholics in the West from the Eastern Orthodox church. It was known as the Inconoclast Controversy. The Emperor, who headed both church and state in Byzantium, wanted the Pope to follow his lead and destroy all the icons and statues, claiming that it was idolatry in his opinion. The Pope successfully managed to dodge the bullet for a long time, then just said no way, Jose. So we have two different brands of Christianity, even in the beginning. And the same stuff is going on today. Look at the up-in-arms Muslims rioting over a few Dutch cartoons! Is anyone as amazed by that as I am? What makes this so very important that one would lay down his life for it? Strange days, they never end.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

No fair!

Well, I always cuddle up every night with reruns of CSI on SpikeTV, because I didn't see them firstrun (that was back when I had premium channels and eschewed network) and I kind of have this William Peterson thing going. And last night, the first two episodes I had already seen. And wouldn't you know it, the third, which started after I took my sleepy-bye pills, was new to me, but I had to turn it off and crash. And this morning, the sweet little busdriver lady didn't warn me there was standing-room only, so I had to hang on for dear life as we bounced and lurched to school. Not only that, but she didn't remind me to duck my head, either, and I bopped it a good one on my way out the door (there was a sign, but who reads signs?). Then in lab this afternoon, when we were identifying our metamorphic rocks, Ms. Perlroth threw us another curve. I mean, if you had 12 different samples and 12 or 13 possible answers, you would think that your samples included an example of each, wouldn't you? Well, not so. There were two pieces of gneiss, and four different schists: garnetiferous, blue, biotite and muscovite. Susie and I were ready to tear out our hair. We went through three different classifications of four different samples till we got it right. It's a good thing, though, because I doubt I will ever forget these particular rocks. Now trying to do this #$^*&(^ homework for Western Civilization, and it begins with a trick question. At least, I think it is a trick. Maybe I am just all balled up in unfairness here. Whatever.

I never voted for Nixon...

Actually, the only president I ever voted for that got elected was Bill Clinton. Time will tell, but despite his runaway appetites, I think he did a fine job. Somewhere along the line, I switched parties, from Republican to Democratic, mostly because I had moved and needed to register to vote, and they were recruiting Democrats in front of Safeway. In truth, I was disgusted with my parent's party. They were trying to legislate the American family, and it made me nuts. Keep those smarmy, licentious old men out of my house and my lifestyle! But it was a politically astute ploy; cuddle up to the religious right, that bastion of archaic, rigid values while lying down with the corporations and rich. Never has this been more blatant than at this moment in history. I don't know about you, but I want my leaders to be smarter than I am. And that is surely not happening here. We have a C student in the White House, and he uses our army like they were little tin soldiers in a cardboard battleground. It boggles my mind. Even when everyone else thinks he is wrong, he puckers up his brow and sets his chin and heads out to make speeches full of buzz-words and spin. This nation needs a good semester of Critical Thinking.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Oh, give me a break...

It is national potato chip day. I know these things because I turn on the TV as I dress and ready myself to face the day. Good Morning America. What a lousy food to dedicate a day to. I have to admit, I don't remember the last time I ate one of those suckers. I will occasionally deign to eat a corn chip or two, at the Taqueria. But I draw the line there. Potato chips are all carbs and fat and sodium, and CALORIES. Really bad CALORIES. I spend my daily calorie allowance sparingly, on a muffin, here and there, or that whole strawberry cheescake I ate over the course of a week. Ice cream. At least ice cream has some protein, in with all that sugar and fat. I realize that all broccoli and skinless, boneless chicken makes for a dull life. But where is national raw almond day? Or national Wheat Thin day? Even they are better, baked, not fried. I guess it is just not a perfect world. In a perfect world, the garbage man would knock on the door to remind me to put out the cans.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Hoodoos, oolites and sills, oh my!

Now studying sedimentary rocks, stuff that breaks down and then gets stuck together again. Love those hoodoos and arches that form in the desert. Is that magical or what. And oolites, little pearls of silt that get plastered into, what else, oolitic limestone. And great formations like dikes and sills, rocks that are denser and get left behind by the rain and wind. My, this is quite a dynamic system, this little blue ball whirling through space. And I am beginning to get it. This is my favorite time of the semester, about a third into it, where the lights go on for me. I see that I can do this, understand and remember and prove it on tests (got 100% on the last quiz!). It has gotten easier as I go along, so those gray cells are getting super-charged again. Miracles happen.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Passwords and secrets and me, oh my...

It is now necessary to enter my user name and password to get to this page of my blog, where I can expound on all that stuff I have pinging around my head like renegade pingpong balls. This is, I am sure, a good thing. However, as usual, I didn't use my standard password, so had to wait for an e-mail after answering my selected personal question. What a pain! And why, oh, why would anyone want to masquerade as moi? Who out there wants to be an opinionated old broad? I figured out how to get the danged thing to remember the password, and now just have to remember my username. It is not, of course, my standard one, either.
Found the most wonderful spot today, Postsecret.com. There are some things people hide in the dusty dark corners of their tiny minds, and they seem to haunt them like malevolent spirits. This site lets you air them in the light of day, well, the light of the Internet, at least, and it must feel wonderful to do that. They range from unrequited love to the ugliness of child molesters, on both sides of the transaction. I am musing over the many secrets I have kept over the years, excluding the ones I already vomited up for my three 4th steps, and considering sending them one of the juicier ones. I'll match my secrets with yours, any day.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Tiny blessings...

One of the things I often talk to HP about is just please show up today, and help me be awake enough to notice. Well, I went to (soul-sucking) Safeway, because it was forecast as dismal for the weekend, and I thought some (light) popcorn and (sugar-free) hot chocolate was just the ticket. I also was hungry for a nice steak, something I indulge in rarely, and had begun to crave, again. And, as luck would have it, I was in the vicinity of one of the big stores, the ones that have cup holders in the shopping cart for your in-store Starbuck's latte. How very sophisticated can one get! Anyway, I ran into a couple of friends while plying the aisles, and gee whiz, most everything on my list was on sale! Even the Dreyer's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream that I didn't even know I wanted when I walked in! I spent $22, and saved $7.70! What can I say, it's a God thing.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Oh, frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I didn't make that up. Lewis Carroll did and it fits my mood today. Must remember that this school thing is about adventure, a personal oddysey through higher education, the curriculum as well as the vicissitudes and politics of the classroom. I was in the doldrums, lured by the siren song of perfectionism and self-deprication after my last battery of tests. Turned out I was lamenting over two tests that were actually scored at 85%, both of them, and that's a good grade for the first midterms taken under a new teacher. Then I got 100% on the essay test in American History, and today, finally got the Western Civ test back, and I got 90%. I think I am actually in better shape than I was last semester, when I was still sneaking up on an A in Psychology, treading water with an A- in Critical Thinking, and getting meager little Bs in Political Science. Whatever, spring is harder than fall, for sure. I am giving myself a vacation in the summer, just one class, probably photography, and I am getting out my paints to do a big painting of the roses for my living room wall. Sounds like a plan. And from now on, I am just doing the work, the best I can, and leaving the results in the hands of the powers that be. With just a little buttering up. Never hurts to hedge one's bets.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The surly bonds of earth...

I am particularly fond of that song I'll Fly Away, you know, the one that says "Some bright morning, when this life is over, I'll fly away". I want to do that today. But not in the way the song implies, oh, no no no. Just let me float over the sidewalk for a while, until my foot heals. It has deflated somewhat after my recent injury, but has now turned an alarming dusky blue accented with some great purple blotches under each ankle bone, and an archipelago of splotches at the intersection of foot to toes. Even swaddled in a generous wrap of Ace bandage, it feels tender and sore. And yet, I am grateful. My bones are 25 years younger than I am, you know, and bend admirably under pressure, which is more than I can say for my 61 year old mind, which sometimes sends me spinning completely out of control over practically nothing. There is more than one way to limp through life. I suppose this is the least drastic.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

So very American...

We did the annual lovefest over the Academy Awards. A gang of gals gathered here for the traditional salade nicoise, some amazing walnut bread, Italian white bean soup and cheesecake, very yummy. And we were prepared to diss the dresses, but no one really made too horrible a mistake with their wardrobe this year. Naomi Watts looked a little bedraggled, and Lily Tomlin, well, she's just Lily in her blousy top. Nicole Kidman was ethereal in her white gown, Reese gleamed in silver, but oh. my. God., Uma was goddess-divine. Lots of neutral colors, except for the Latin beauties, JLo in her olivey green and Salma in heavenly blue. I was happy about the choice for best movie, but really wanted Pride and Prejudice to win best score. This is my last bastian of annual ritual viewing. I have given up Miss America (too cheesy), and the SuperBowl ( Carolina whats?), but cling to the Oscars. I remember the streaker who ran naked across the stage behind David Niven, and the year Ghandi beat out ET as best movie (huge gyp). I remember the Indian woman who accepted Marlon Brando's Oscar, and Reese Witherspoon's speech reminded me of Sally Field's first acceptance, for Norma Rae. This is our very own artform, the Hollywood epic. And this year, it truly was about American values and sentiments. Just wish one of those gals had given me a truly awful fashion statement to gloat over.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

It all comes to pass...

My folks, in their mid-80s, had to put their aged daschund to sleep last week. Sarah was 15 years old, fat and sickly for the last year. I know they were hoping she would outlive them, and spare them the pain of her passing. Gosh, I remember when dogs were just there, and when one died, well, you got another and started over. We didn't dwell much on the old one. And I am there, in that crowd, my dog is the most important person in my daily life. I love my kids, my folks, my friends, but it is Boo I wake up with and go to sleep beside, who comforts me when I am low and shares my happiness when I am high. We walk together, and he travels like a bobble-head up in the back window of the car wherever I go. The only place he doesn't go with is school, and then he gets a couple of Milkbones to assuage my guilt. I knew when I got him he was temporary, and very likely, I will be saying goodbye to him someday. In the meantime, I savor every day we have together. It could all change, in an instant.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Hint, hint...

So, I was laying on the bed last night with a 16 oz. bag of frozen peas wrapped around my ankle, thinking how fast things can change. Just the simple act of stepping off a curb can change your life for a couple of weeks. Actually, it could have even more disatrous results, depending on your timing and the proximity of a Mack truck. I had just come from my parents' home, it was my mother's 85th birthday. And they were mourning their 15 year old dachshund, Sarah, who had just been given a ticket to doggie heaven. Now, I always thought their dogs were obnoxious little things, way too fat and totally unappreciative of me in particular, but I was horridly sorry for these two old folks, who, I am sure, hoped she would outlive them. And, after a little drive, I stepped off that curb in Sausalito. Good news, it looks pretty OK today, just a little swollen around the outside ankle bone and pretty tender, too, but walkable, with a little stutter. And how lucky is that. Really. So I am grateful, actually, and determined to watch where I step, for a while. Like maybe the rest of my little life.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What a guy!

We learned all about George Washington today, how he was ambitious yet came from humble roots, wanted nothing more than a commission in the British army, failed pretty badly at his first skirmish for them in the French and Indian War. He was 43 at the time of the Revolution, had acquired some land, 20,000 acres of which were usurped from his own troops as booty for service under the British. He wore a uniform of his own design to the Continental Congress, where, gee whiz, he was appointed the leader of the Rebels. Out of his first 10 battles, he lost 7. However, despite a large learning curve, he did become a great tactician and with the help of their former enemy, France, managed to defeat the Redcoats. He was very brave in battle, fought on the front line, which won him great respect among his generals and troops. After the surrender of Cornwallis, his generals were disgruntled because they had not been paid and were plotting a military coup against the fragile young government, and wanted George to be military dictator. He made a speech before them inploring them to change their minds, but he was not a strong orater and they were unswayed. Then he read them a letter from the Congress, but before doing that, he put on his glasses, stating that he had not only grown gray in their service, but blind as well. This so moved the generals that he didn't even have to finish the letter. So Washington made a pivotal decision in the life of our nation, not to allow himself to usurp power and establish this country as a monarchy. Isn't that interesting? One man, one moment in time, influenced the whole world, by not doing anything. I personally use that strategy often, when faced with difficulties, just step back, see what unfolds. And notice that though we have three branches of government here, the military is not one of them. Thanks to George.