"We Three"

"We Three"

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ready, set, paint!

My studio is almost ready for action. My summer project is to acquaint myself with my inner artist, slop paint around on canvas and see if talent lurks there. I have already rendered several, you know. It was a criterion of life with my wild-man artist guy at the house on the edge of the earth. I could put him off only three months before he had designated an easel, some pigments and scruffy brushes, and a place as mine. I never finished that first painting, but have done better on the ones since then. My favorite was done for my daughter (she actually asked for one, I was so honored). It was a Van Gogh homage, red sunflowers, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys to do. That is what I have in mind for this season of leisure. I have an easel paintbox, which is a totally self-contained artist studio, eminently portable, and plan on doing some en plein air studies (that just means on location, usually outside, al fresco) because it is necessary to capture the essence quickly, and hopefully, without too much thought. I find that thinking too much tends to muddy the waters where painting is concerned. When it is working for me best, I am completely absorbed. My artist friend says that his brush is to his arm as he is to God. When that is happening, marvelous things occur. So, here goes nothing, well, except a few dollars, some planning and a whole heap of courage.

Monday, May 29, 2006

There and back again...

I am without cable this morning, and fretfully waiting for the arrival of my satellite dish and DVR. Lots of things running through my tiny mind. Thankful I have risen out of my pitiful-me mode, when I decided that if this is all there is, stop the world, I want to get off. I always tell the women I work with that it is an OK place to visit, just don't move in, learn what you need to know, and trust it will be different soon (not better, mind you, but definitely different). And that is what happened to me, too. Now I have decided that having a man around should be like owning a very good bread knife (I do own one, because a friend's son was selling them, I think it cost an outrageous $30 and made my husband's eyebrows do that unattractive furrowing thing, but I digress). Anyway, once in a while, a fresh, crusty loaf of sourdough visits me, usually in the arms of a dear friend, and I reach for that handy, dandy knife, and it slices without mushing the bread, because it is uber-sharp and nifty. Then I put it away in its slot in the knife cube, and don't worry about it till next occasion. I don't think about it, don't worry that it is doing things that will hurt me or embarrass me, that it will not be there when I need it next. So trustworthy, my bread knife. And it would be OK if I never needed that knife again, too. Carbs are, after all, very nice, but best consumed in small amounts. And sliced oat nut and sprouted wheat bread is pretty wonderful, too, and far less hassle.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Deep thoughts, redux...

I don't know about you, but I find the new trend of portraying men as flaming caricatures, major dummies in love with meat and beer, refreshing. Finally, after decades of big-busted women bouncing around like pneumatic bimbos, culminating in the trailer-trash heiress Paris Hilton violating a sports car. It's our turn to ogle these muscle-brained idiots. So let's hear it for TGI Fridays for their all meat platter. Meat for meatheads.
And what about the History Channel doing an homage to George Washington, the General? My history text portrayed him as admirable in that he was always in the frontline, maybe because he was tall and they could see him. He was mediocre at best, and fortunate that the other George on the other side of the Atlantic sent better mediocrities to fight us. Oh, and we had the lay of the land and the ability to use it. But it was the French who really saved our butts. Which is funny, because very soon, we were fighting them. One wonders at the efficacy of studying history, because we have not learned anything. It is all still happening just like it used to happen.
And isn't it interesting that Al Gore, that endearing environmentalist guy, has produced a movie about global warming? I was all het up about this semester before last, and then I took Geology, and found that the vast part of what is happening is natural, an interglacial period, which the planet has experienced every 100,000 years or so. It's just that we haven't been around long enough to have any record of it. And yes, the emissions are speeding up the process, but unless we can find a way to tip the earth back to 22 degrees (it's currently at 23 1/2), there isn't a prayer of changing the fact that the east coast is going to be a lot further west sometime in the future. I actually felt a lot better when I learned this. It expiated any guilt whenever I leap into the car to go somewhere. And, yes, I want to help Al, as much as I can, too. Maybe we can slow down the process a little. That would be good.
OK, I feel better getting these weighty subjects off my chest. Now on to much more fun things, like weeding.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Weighty matters...

School is out, over, finito, adios. Whatever happens, I finished, albeit on a sour note. Geology lab final was a bitch, no other way to put it, and I didn't do well at all. Like, total meltdown. Just hope my body of work to date will keep me in the B range, but, oh well. Now thinking about other terribly important things, like why aren't there any magazines for us sizzling, sexy sixty-something silver foxes? I see lots of stuff for the fabulous forties, and even the still fabulous fifties. But I seem to be relegated to the AARP rag, which, by the way, has a picture of the 64-year-old Paul McCartney on the cover, looking pretty, well, old. What do they think happens to us after sixty? Are we all supposed to turn into Aunt Bea, who, by the way, was probably in her forties when she was ministering to Sheriff Andy and little Opie. I for one refuse to spread out like a banana-nut muffin and wear my gray hair in a sensible bun. Oh, nonono. In fact, I just went violently auburn, on the verge of punk. I could star in one of those computer generated movies like Charlese or Kate. OK, it's a little more Raggedy Ann than Brie Vandercamp, but I like it. Everyone knows I color my hair, anyway. Why not be audacious? And, hell, Paul's single again. Wonder if he likes redheads? Blonds have not been lucky for him.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Well, nobody died, at least...

Finals are over, and the last one, geology lab, kicked my derriere but good. I am still reeling. Part of it was limitations; I suck at reading maps. Part was just plain old brain farts. I couldn't remember some stuff. And some was just lack of attention in the face of other, more pressing concerns, like other finals. Whatever, now I get to do other stuff that doesn't involve much thinking, like the laundry, the dusting, the lawnmowing. I think a nap, first, though. And maybe a trip to the coffee joint for one of those frozen 10 million calorie ice cream concoctions. Sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sliding into home...

...on my little (well, not so little) butt. I have that incredibly difficult essay exam (that Mr. D must cackle over while dreaming it up) behind me. And, excellent news! He chose one of the two essay topics that I knew inside and out and understood, somewhat. So I feel pretty good about it. And even better news! I got an A in American History! Of course, I did some pretty serious butt-kissing in that class, too. All part of the curriculum, sorry to say. Academic politics, they should put that in the catalogue. Now have to review geology, where I know I have an A so far, in hopes that I can hold onto that slippery little sucker. All is well, and almost over. And though I sometimes feel I am circling the drain, it really is an illusion. I hope.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I'm doomed!

I have been wrestling with this study guide from Western Civilization for days now. Just lots of stuff to know, and most of it is clear, at least, and if I can remember it, the test will be a snap (it's an essay exam, in the BIG blue book). There's just one subject I cannot get my mind around, the role of religion in the 16th and 17th century, after the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and how did that affect the politics of the time. It was a murky period at best. Sad to say after the humanism of the Renaissance, religion was once again the central issue. And is anyone surprised that it is happening again, here in the 21st century? And as I follow the threads through the woven fabric of that time, it was also essentially political, not wanting a Calvinist in your parlement or ruling a section of your land. I guess the biggest lesson here is how little we have learned in the 5,000 or so years of recorded history. Nada. Zip. And all tricked out in this righteous claptrap. I loved the Cardinal's thinking in the Da Vinci Code, when he remarked the he was being "used by God" by killing off anyone who knew the secret. Thank goodness I took Critical Thinking and could see the fallacy there! Anyway, I will continue to plumb the depths of this burning question, because, dollars to doughnuts, this is the question that will end up on the exam. Tomorrow morning. Help!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Higher education is depressing...

Well, there's good news about global warming. Probably, our little addition to the atmospheric soup is not helping, but it is not the primary cause. We are in an interglacial period, because the earth is tilted at 23 1/2 degrees at the moment (it fluctuates from 22 to 24 1/2 as a matter of course), thus the poles are more exposed to sunlight. And, I heard that contrails, those streaky clouds that airliners leave behind, actually cool the earth with their shadows. So all this hoohaw is interesting, but not all that devastating. Earth will abide. It's life on earth that is threatened here, as it has been through many millenia. And we should all just get over it. Right.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Things change, volume CCCXXXIX

Aren't we glad we don't have to work with Roman numerals anymore? Change is good, right? Right. So, one of the questions on my home page is who plays Jack in the Jack in the Box commercials. Inquiring minds want to know. Alas, no one is talking. But aren't those commercials cunning? Unfortunately, the Burger King isn't. The Burger King is absolutely hideous, great big smiley guy, reminds me of a cross between Godzilla and the Cheshire Cat (and that cat was creep all by itself). And that Quaker Oat guy that the kids pull around in their American Flyer? Spooky. And all of this makes no matter whatsoever, except to note that once someone comes up with an innovative idea, like Jack in the Box did, everyone else thinks it will work for them, too. I don't think so.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

One Down, Three to Go...

Usually, I get better and better on tests in any subject, because I become familiar with that particular teacher's style and expectations. But Mr. S, just to be contrary, shifted gears for the final. Our midterms were essay tests, assisted with outlines (he is a peach for that). But the final was one of those Scantron monstrocities, a mixture of True/False, multiple choice and chronology questions. OK, the study guide helped, a lot, and I think I did well on about 90%, though I can be totally wrong when I am certain I am right. But if so, I hope the odds work in my favor on the ones I guessed at, and give me 50% right, because I may need that little edge. Usually I let go, and don't dwell on it once it is handed in, like, what could I do about it anyway. But I actually looked up one answer I wasn't sure of, and, bingo!, I did guess right. American History really didn't spin my beany, and the most interesting part, the Civil War, didn't come till the very end. What I learned was that every leader this country has had, at least up through Rutherford B. Hayes, had a particular agenda and all were as self-serving as our current Prez, even Honest Abe, whose idea of a peaceful nation might have included freeing the slaves, but he also advocated deporting them to colonies, and reimbursing their owners for their economic loss. Having lived 61, almost 62, years, I was still surprised by that. Anyway, American History is over, thank the gods.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Beginnings and endings...

I was reviewing my notebook journal, the one I kept on the pink pages in my spiral class notebook, all neatly divided by my (four) subjects. In the beginning I was just happy to find my classrooms, and once arriving, find that I was in the right place, and on the attendance role. Griping about the rain, feeling hungry, impatient, scared out of my tiny mind that I could not remember the seemingly unstoppable river of information they were pouring into me. Tiny triumphs on quizzes where I did remember most of it (9 out of 10 on the last one in Western Civ, whoopee!) crashing defeats when I received an 85 on a midterm (my lowest grade of the semester). Sometimes I felt a little silly getting onto the shuttle and doing this at all at my age. Other times, I was really proud of myself. I have not missed a single day at school since I started (OK, I left early once, but that was in Critical Thinking, and he never said anything worth writing down, anyway). I have volumes of notes to review tonight before my first final tomorrow. Not jumping around yet, but feeling pretty darned springy here!

Going toward the light...

I can see the end of this long tunnel, just up ahead. Last week of classes, and just another weekend of books and study guides. Just two more classroom lectures. Just another half dozen pages of notes. And this is the last day of the 40 lb bookbag! Yay! I have had a great semester, not better than the one before it, though. That will probably always be my favorite time, when I learned to juggle subjects and organize and pace myself, not to mention kiss-up-to-the-professors lessons. I think the teachers like to think us kids are interested in what they have to give us. Certainly it is best when they deliver the goods with enthusiasm as well as expertise. All my teachers were great so far, even the fireplug-shaped guy who taught Critical Thinking with appropriately pugnacious glee. Fully half the class was gone by the time the second paper was due. We finished that class with about a dozen of us hardnosed brown-nosed stanchions, determined to wring something out of this dry little guy. And now that I know about RateMyProfessor.com, that will not happen again. Imagine going in without a clue! Well, it's worked so far!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What a concept!

Once in a while, when the going gets difficult and I am bamboozled by life, when the darkness descends, usually because I have fallen into a pit I dug myself, I comfort myself with food. Actually, I build a little comfort into my daily eating plan, so that I don't binge, but extraordinary circumstances call for mega-nurturance. So I make myself what I call my "nothing green" dinner, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and country gravy, and corn. God, it's good! And, surprise, KFC is now offering all this in one bowl, with cheese on top. A bowl of carbs and fat and calories, oh my. I doubt it is as good as what I can whip up, but I bet it's pretty wonderful nevertheless. Got to try that, but hold the cheese, please.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Cinderella and me...

My first soundtract album was from Disney's Cinderella, little red 78 rpm record, little white record player. Bippity Boppity Boo. Great villain, that evil stepmother (my favorite shop in Disneyland, under the arch of the castle, the villain shop). I own the movie, of course. It's a benefit of having children, getting to own a library of Disney flicks without feeling self-conscious. And I hope I would do it anyway, were I childless. They keep me young. I love the Cinderella story. There have been many movies made about it, one with Leslie Caron and Michael Wilding. Another with Richard Chamberlain, who used to make me swoon as Dr. Kildare. And Julie Andrews did the Rogers and Hammerstein version on television, too. So it was inevitable that I would fall in love with Ever After, this sappy rehash with Drew Barrymore. Hey, it got two thumbs up, at least! I grabbed the DVD off the WalMart bargain table the other day, and have yet to watch it, since the movie has been on cable twice since then. I am actually saving it for a time when I can devote my full attention to its sappiness. When school is over. Soon. And if anyone is listening out there, I could use my Prince Charming, too.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Good vibrations...

Finals loom. Great news, though, none at 7 AM. Mr. S will let us take it next Thursday in class, at 9 AM, and Ms. P says she will be there at 8 AM, only. This is really fine with me, for sure. So I finish up with back-to-back geology and lab tests in two weeks, and then, SUMMER! Plans are nebulous, but include that painting I have been envisioning for my wall, a plein air contest at Marin Fair (imagine, painting out in front of people, all day). I need a big floppy straw hat for that one. Maybe some forays with the Monday Morning Artists, too. They travel about the County, selecting picturesque locations. Sounds like a deal.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mea culpa...

Now doing my act of contrition for yesterday, when I did nothing of any redeeming value. Well, except for the laundry, the ironing, the bed-changing and the garbage-putting-out. Among the things I did not do: studying, weeding, car-washing, and my eating plan. That's right, I pigged out. Well, kind of hard to actually pig, but I didn't eat much of any redeeming value, and I ate too much, like the whole stuffed salmon filet, oh it was goooood! And handfuls of that wonderful Costco granola mix with nuts and raisins and cranberries. And a whole bunch, like two cups, of the new Dreyer's Slow Churned Almond Praline ice cream. Yum. So I have already made the bed, drank a couple cups of coffee, gone to school, returned home to healthy lunch, weeded the backyard a little, and am now contemplating the car as it squats out front, awaiting its zen carwash. OK, I lied. I ate ice cream for lunch. Progress, not perfection.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Into each life...

...a little ironing must fall. Just did my semi-annual zen ironing. This is because I own very few things that require ironing (lots of nifty tees, long and short-sleeved depending on the season). Among the items that are now all sweet and wrinkle-free is my very favorite shirt. It has seen me through at least half a dozen weight gains and losses, and is old enough to have been made when large really meant LARGE. It is cotton, made in Bangladesh, blue and white striped in a faded kind of way. As it aged, it got mega-soft and wearing it is like being enveloped in a cloud that flutters about me lovingly. It bears some battle scars, a couple of small holes and some faint stains, too. But I am never parting with this shirt. There is love in every stitch of its being. I can't remember where I bought it, just that I have always loved it. When I was fat, it hid my girth. Not fat now, sort of medium, so it drapes admirably over a tank top. I can tie it at the waist and look very cosmopolitan, too. If I ever get dressed today, that is what I am definitely wearing.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Very interesting, Part IX

I am so hip here! OK, it probably is not the catch-word it used to be. Maybe I am actually fine? Whatever, I have made the trip to RateMyProfessor.com, and checked out all the teachers I have studied under so far, and found that, even without this handy-dandy website, I picked la creme de la creme, well, except for Mr. R, pompous pacer that he is. No one else liked him very much, or learned much more than I did, which was to kiss his you-know-what, and that worked very well indeed. Surprised to find that Mr. D is very well liked, though I find his tests hella-hard, and he even has a little chili pepper, which means the girls find him hot. Hmmm. Different kind of heat, for sure. And Mr. S, who I just adore, is sort of ho-humly thought of. He is on fire with his subject, kind enough to allow us to bring outlines to our essay tests, and he plays the guitar and banjo. Ms. P also has a chili pepper, and I can see that. She is a sturdy young woman, also very stoked by her subject, and the best teacher I have had so far. Very clear and linear in her classroom, and it makes geology come alive for me. She is my only sure A, and that is because there is little room for any subjectivity there; it either is or it isn't. Not like the mores of Sparta or the causes of the 30 Years War, which is more the opinion of the historian studying them. So, next semester, I have another criteria besides convenient times and General Ed requirements. What a hoot!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Room with a view...

I have decided that reality is totally subjective. In fact, we all live in our little reality bubbles, stewing in our little opinions and viewpoints. Usually, I float around perfectly happily in mine, and then I open my mouth and express an opinion that bumps me up against reality bubbles that conflict with me, and all hell breaks loose. Gee, it sure would be swell if everyone else's bubble looked and smelled like mine. Alas, not to happen. If I am vocal enough, a whole swarm of bubbles descend on me. Wrong! Change! Like, not happening. Not anymore. Now, I realize I can coexist with all these descenting opinions and (from my point of view) skewed, if not warped, viewpoints without contorting myself to appear to be agreeing with them. That's what makes it worth getting up every morning, the opportunity to be just who I am. And, occasionally, I do change my mind, and my bubble grows a little larger and more commodious. Always a good thing, growth. Anyone who disagrees with this little diatribe, rent Pulp Fiction. Now there's a really different reality!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rainshadow effect...

I am ready for my trek to the academic wasteland this summer. Lord, save me from the Civil War, topographic maps and Martin Luther! I think I reached my learning saturation point somewhere mid-semester, and have been spilling over ever since. Just 3 more weeks, 2 more quizzes, 2 more homework assignments and 4 finals, and I am done! Keeping my 4.0 is problematical, and could actually happen, if I can just keep going. In the end, I just keep remembering that when I worked, I did not get 2 weeks off in the winter, one in the spring, and 3 months in the summer, oh, nonono. This is ever so much better. Yes, it is.

Monday, May 01, 2006

American me...

OK, I am kind of torn about today's demonstration of our kind of illegal workforce taking a day to show us all how important they are to our economy. Welcome to America, where anyone can demonstrate about anything. Actually, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, California was supposed to have an open border with Mexico, anyway. See, I am learning things in school, really I am. I feel that we need to help our neighbors. I also feel that good fences make good neighbors (that's Emily Dickinson, in case it sounded familiar). And how are these people helping if they tax our health care system, make us incur huge costs to provide bi-lingual services in our educational system, and send all their money out of the country? If you want to work here, why not become a citizen, pay taxes, learn our language? If I went to France, would they print signs in English for me? I don't think so. Really, we are much too codependent here. It is not easy to leave one country for another. It takes dedication. Anyone who truly wants to be an American can do that, with some time and some effort. I know I was lucky to be born here; I am only a third generation native-born myself.