31 December 2011

Words of Wisdom

From The Little Bug.

On breakfast and coffee: "We will go to Starbucks and I will have a circle cheese sandwich and then I will say Yaaay!"

On potty training: "I will pee in the potty and then I will get a treat."

Happy new year!

We're spending New Year's Eve the way we usually do: traveling. It's so nice because it's less expensive and a lower-volume travel day.

25 December 2011

Guest Post: The Little Bug

My Little Bug wanted to send you all a Christmas message, so he put it here. Unfortunately, no translation is available. As he would say, "Happy Merry Christmas!"

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Merry Christmas! And Over-Looked Christmas Classics.

I hope everyone has enjoyed this Christmas Day, which is only the first day of the real Christmas season--there are eleven more, don't forget!

My family is engrossed in watching The Muppet Christmas Carol, which we all agree is our favorite version of the classic tale: Not only is it remarkably faithful to the story and spirit of Dickens' novella, but it also has Muppets! I've heard many of my friends share this sentiment, so while some may discount a film's sincerity and gravity if it has comical puppets, in reality, the Muppets deliver a timeless message of redemption in a palatable format that even small children can enjoy. There is often a misconception that A Christmas Carol is about the joy of some magical Christmas cheer, but it actually conveys sin, repentance, forgiveness, and grace, as well as learning not only to love others but to receive love (and even to love oneself). Not only that, but the lessons learned at Christmas are intended to transform us and change our lives throughout the entire year. Yes, Michael Caine and Kermit the Frog co-starred in one of the most Christian movies ever made. Christmas truly is a magical time of year.

So The Muppet Christmas Carol is well-liked, but it got me thinking about other over-looked or under-rated Christmas movies.

1. The dueling Christmas Carols: The 1951 Alistair Sim production is generally considered to be the definitive all-human version of the story, but while I was talking to my father this year, I insisted that I recalled seeing an even older (1930s) movie that featured possibly Lionel Barrymore or a similar character actor as Scrooge. A quick visit to IMDB revealed that MGM had done A Christmas Carol in 1938, and Lionel Barrymore (who performed the role on a radio broadcast special every year) was intended to be the star, but illness took him out of the picture and he personally selected Reginald Owen as his replacement. Owen was even made up to resemble Barrymore, so my confusion was understandable. My guess is that I saw it on AMC or TCM during the 1990s, so my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I know that I enjoyed it. The general complaint is that this film doesn't follow the source material as faithfully as it could, but what it lacks in textual authenticity it more than makes up for with production values (Victorian atmosphere, sets personally designed by set master Cedric Gibbons) and a gallery of fabulous character actors from Hollywood's golden age. Owen was a solid Ebenezer Scrooge; the Cratchits were warmly portrayed by real-life couple Gene and Kathleen Lockhart (with real-life daughter June as their on-screen daughter as well). Leo G. Carroll, a veteran of hard-boiled gangster-type movies, looked utterly convincing and natural wearing Marley's chains and grim countenance. The only one of the three Christmas spirits that stands out in my mind is Ann Rutherford, pretty-pretty and fully capable (a seasoned actress at age 17--you may also know her as Andy Hardy's Polly Benedict and the youngest O'Hara sister in Gone With the Wind) as the Spirit of Christmas Past, but I'm sure the other two spirits were great and I just don't remember them. Terry Kilburn was a bit too syrupy as Tiny Tim, but... it's Tiny Tim, which is as legitimate an opportunity as any for a young thespian to turn up the saccharine pathos. All in all, this Christmas Carol is worth a look as a companion to the British Sim and American Muppetastic renditions.
2. Little Women (1933): Tall, gangly New England tomboy Katharine Hepburn was born to play tall, gangly New England tomboy Jo March. The perfect confluence of director (George Cukor), performers (an utterly enviable cast of classic players), and source material (Alcott's proto-feminist tale of girls becoming women) make this the definitive and essential Little Women. While some would argue (and I would somewhat agree) that it's not really a Christmas movie overall, I always associate it with Christmas because it opens with a famous setup involving (spoiler, but have you really never read or even seen Little Women??) the March brood giving their Christmas feast and gifts to a needy family. Performances are excellent all-around, but standouts of the cast include Spring Byington (usually a ditzy mother in screwball comedies, but here delivering a beautiful turn as Marmee), young Joan Bennett as Amy, Paul Lukas as the usually-boring Professor Bhaer, and the incomparable Edna Mae Oliver as a pitch-perfect Aunt March. Frances Dee and Jean Parker are visually right and very competent in the more thankless roles of Meg and Beth. Ultimately, the messages of Little Women are the importance of family and the joy of finding and fulfilling one's true place in the universe. Even though (spoiler) Beth dies, after viewing this movie, one sustains a lingering feeling of peaceful satisfaction: "God's in His Heaven, and all's right with the world."
3. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944): As with Little Women, Meet Me in St. Louis is not a Christmas movie in the strictest sense. However, its climax, the emotional heart and most memorable scene in the film, takes place at Christmas, and this is the scene that gave the world "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", so, you know, game over. Another coming-of-age tale, Meet Me in St. Louis is light on real plot, but heavy on atmosphere and an emphasis on family and idealized 1900-ish Americana. In the aforementioned climax, Judy Garland as an older sister comforts Margaret O'Brien as they come to terms with the fact that, with their family's upcoming move to support their father's burgeoning career, it will be their last Christmas in the lovely Victorian house that has been their home all their lives. Judy sings "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" as both a reflection on the past ("Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore") and a hopeful look toward the future ("Through the years, we all will be together..."). The underlying theme of this gorgeous classic musical is the inevitable passage of time, emphasizing that it can be embraced rather than feared. The presence of three generations under one roof lends poignance to this theme. The direction by Vincente Minnelli highlights the beauty and incredible talent of his soon-to-be wife Garland, but instead of overshadowing the other performers, the incandescent Judy illuminated them with a special leave to shine in their own roles. O'Brien manages to be palatable in a role that could have been irritating if handled less skillfully; little Joan Carroll (talented in her own right) and pretty but boring Miss Lucille Bremer rounded out the family as the less interesting sisters, but they fit in smoothly with the ensemble and looked well in period costume. The very great Mary Astor (a mere 3 years after an Oscar-winning turn in The Great Lie and a portrayal of the most fatale femme in film noir in The Maltese Falcon) deserves specific mention for creating a magnificent portrait of motherhood in what could have easily been a throwaway supporting role. Finally, Marjorie Main (as the family's housekeeper) and Harry Davenport (as the sprightly, good-natured grandfather) enliven proceedings as recognizable and gifted character actors. See this movie at Christmas or any other time of the year!
4. Bachelor Mother (1939): This is a sadly and unjustly neglected screwball comedy from Hollywood's golden age. It starred one of the industry's brightest and most multitalented actresses, Ginger Rogers, who clearly didn't need Fred Astaire to make a movie--a good script and good director (Garson Kanin) were all Rogers required to create magic. Bachelor Mother portrays the fate of Polly Parrish, who has been hired as a department store clerk to help with the Christmas rush and ends up stuck with a baby when she agrees to hold it for a few minutes and the shopper never returns. Good-hearted Polly has no choice but to care for the infant while she tries to figure out to whom it belongs. Polly is immediately presumed to be an unwed mother, and in addition to providing fodder for the amusing situation comedy, the misunderstanding allows for breaking multiple Hayes Code-era taboos regarding depiction of risque out-of-wedlock birth and implicit class struggles. Cue Charles Coburn as the crusty-but-benevolent department store tycoon and David Niven as his formerly shiftless son. Cue Rogers' unique ability to combine rampant absurdity with down-to-earth working-class charm. Cue a happy ending that is satisfactory but doesn't feel forced or falsely sentimental. Cue pure (if lighthearted) cinematic delight!
5. Christmas in Connecticut (1945): Barbara Stanwyck was always competent and watchable. Christmas in Connecticut is less well-known than, say, Double Indemnity, and fans of that heavy noir drama may be surprised to see Miss Stanwyck handling comedy with a deft and delightful touch. This post-war flick has Stanwyck as the Martha Stewart of her day, a homemaking-expert columnist for a major women's magazine. As it turns out, Stanwyck's Elizabeth is actually a glamorous city slicker who has never cooked or sewed a day in her life, and she just invents material for her column. Her bluff is called when her boss shows up at her (borrowed) vacation home with a war hero in tow, bent on providing him with a real down-home American Christmas experience. The ending (Elizabeth ends up with the war hero, etc.) may be a bit predictable, but getting there is all the fun, as poor Elizabeth must figure out how to handle her reckoning day, so to speak. Mix it up with a decent script, good humor, and (yet again) a fabulous cast of supporting players (including Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardener, S.Z. Sakall, and Una O'Connor), and the end product is everything one could hope. There is even something of a proper post-World-War-II respect for strong women and their expanding roles in society. In fact, I'd like to watch it again, so I hope I can track down this little feel-good gem via Netflix or some other source.

22 December 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things: The Little Bug Edition

Am I the only person who despises reading blogs wherein the writer is a parent who dotes upon his or her offspring and believes said children to be full of charm and brilliance and possessed of qualities that render them a little lower than the angels? Just me? Okay, then. *ahem* Well, I have now become that which I most hate and fear. [I'm pretty sure there's a sobering and deeply meaningful moral somewhere in there.] The Little Bug is reaching the age of crazy and hilarious statements and I just may start documenting some of them. If you hate reading these kinds of irritating cutesy items, feel free to skip. I won't be offended.

Today: We were discussing fossils, because he's my child and therefore we're as likely to be talking about paleontology as anything.
First, "Fossils are called ants!"
And as I was still trying to sort out that first statement, he came out with "Fish fossils are angry."

Sure, kid, whatever you say.

14 December 2011

Good News In Fighting Slavery

It looks as if Google is putting some of its money and influence to good use: This article in the Sacramento Bee reports that it is funding a three-way effort (by IJM, Polaris Project, and Slavery Footprint) to fight human trafficking world-wide, particularly through educating and mobilizing people in the US.

09 December 2011

Public Service Announcement: Jeans for Curvy Girls

My dear fashion-conscious readers--I have made a sartorial discovery that has transformed my life, and no one is more surprised than I at the source.

I know I tend to harp on my own issues with finding clothes. I'm basically a tall, slim, curvy girl. I wouldn't have thought, based on simple observation, that I am particularly misshapen or misproportioned. However, I've deduced that nothing else could explain my situation, for it is virtually impossible to obtain off-the-rack clothing that fits my body type; apparently retailers manufacture their wares for everybody but me. I think the assumption is that slender women are built straight up-and-down, so there are no allowances for hips, rear, or bust.

I also make no secret of my distaste for certain kinds of "reality TV" programs, though I don't habitually watch many of them. I have a mixture of pity and disdain for people who put their personal lives on public view, because it seems somewhat unhealthy, although obviously they don't care about my opinion anyway. I've never been a fan of Lauren Conrad (to say the least). So imagine my total shock when I went to Kohl's, tried on a pair of jeans, and after deciding I loved them and I wanted to never take them off, checked the tag and discovered that they are from Lauren Conrad's LC clothing line. Well, with one pair of denim trousers, she has earned forgiveness from me for at least two seasons of The Hills. I just ordered two more duplicate pairs from the Kohl's website (I should have waited a week, because I paid $34.99/pair and now they are even lower at $27.99/pair--dang it!) because these jeans fit me perfectly: they are fashionably slim and slimming on the hips and thighs but then flare down from the knee to balance curvy proportions and allow boots to be worn underneath. Two different washes are available, but I went with the dark wash because it looks good enough that I can wear these jeans to work (with sweater or blouse, boots or flats) and still look professional.

I recommend these jeans to any ladies who (like me) have longish legs, round hips, and a waist that is small in proportion to hips and bust. Try them on at Kohl's if you are wondering if they will fit you as well. You can also check them out online: Lauren Conrad LC New Flare Jeans.

I am not getting paid to advertise this product. I just have so much frustration in shopping for flattering jeans that I thought I'd share something that I've found that actually works for me.

06 December 2011

Is it somehow ironic to mock a legitimate historical news source on my blog?

I've mentioned once or twice before, though I don't dwell on it, my curious and possibly irrational disdain for the New York Times. I'm no Hearst or Pulitzer, so I'm sure the NYT doesn't care what I think. However, it seems that they ought to have at least enough self-awareness to realize that they are heading down the path to becoming the grown-up journalistic version of twee. They are predictable, unoriginal, and drifting ever more toward just floating opinions and lifestyle features in a sea of trend pieces, unhampered by reporting of any actual news. The funniest part about it all is the fact that the Times continues to take itself VERY SERIOUSLY.

Think it's just Deb over in her rural Ohio corner spewing vituperative venom at the sleek and successful folk of New York City? Nope. There's a whole lot of people who notice the same issues and have cleverly let humor make the point for them.

First, from Salon.com, a satirical list of the NYT's "most e-mailed articles of all time". They're almost all brilliant. I love the shameless swipe at the overly-pious and self-promoting Nick Kristof, as well as the milder mention of Paul Krugman, who essentially vomits Keynes in every column and doesn't realize he might want to look into something else for a while.

1. The Minimalist: Ramen Noodles With Salty Packet Sauce
2. Poll Suggests Majority of Baby Boomers Intend to Cheat Death Indefinitely
3. Well: How to Cheat Death Indefinitely: A Guide for Baby Boomers
4. 36 Hours in the Gowanus Canal
5. David Brooks: Research Is for Liberals
6. Well: How to Burn Calories While Getting Your Kid Into a First-Tier College
7. The Pour: Using Oenophile Jargon to Rationalize Ordering the Second Cheapest Bottle on the List
8. Thomas Friedman: I Kinda Wanna Make Out with China
9. Maureen Dowd: Inscrutable Fake Dialogue Utterly Devoid of Context
10. A Thing Happened at Harvard
11. Magazine Preview: A Slightly Different Take on an Increasingly Common Diagnosis
12. Gail Collins: Shucks, I’m Adorable!
13. The Lede: Liveblogging the Assistant Deputy Comptroller’s Debate
14. Paul Krugman: Mr. Keynes, Please Stop Haunting My Dreams
15. Nicholas D. Kristof: Disadvantaged Individual From Developing Nation Overcomes Staggering Adversity to Become a Much Better Person Than Any of You
16. Modern Love: My Unrequited Crush on a Career in Narrative Nonfiction
17. Frank Rich: Newsmaking Politician Is a Hopelessly Out-of-Touch Feckless Hack
18. Tweeting Toward Bethlehem
19. Magazine Preview: Photographs of Michael Pollan and Alice Waters Surrounded by Vibrant, Abundant, Organic Produce Grown Three Thousand Miles Away From New York City
20. Lindsay Lohan Is the Name of a Movie Star
21. Away From the Headlines, One-and-a-Half Wars Apparently Continue to Rage
22. Editorial: The Lifeblood of Democracy and Western Civilization That Is Print Journalism Must Be Preserved at All Costs
23. Vows: B-List Celebrity and Regular Person
24. The Pour: The Best Wines for Getting Your Kid Into College
25. The Minimalist: No-Cook Cheese on Store-Bought Bread

Second, from The Awl, an utterly convincing parody of "The Most E-mailed New York Times Article Ever", by David Parker. If you don't get it, count yourself lucky: It just means you haven't read too much of the New York Times. The first few paragraphs:

It’s a week before the biggest day of her life, and Anna Williams is multitasking. While waiting to hear back from the Ivy League colleges she’s hoping to attend, the seventeen-year-old senior at one of Manhattan’s most exclusive private schools is doing research for a paper about organic farming in the West Bank, whipping up a batch of vegan brownies, and, like an increasing number of American teenagers, teaching her dog to use an iPad.

For the last two weeks, Anna has been spending more time than usual with José de Sousa Saramago, the Portuguese water dog she named after her favorite writer. (If José Saramago bears an uncanny resemblance to Bo Obama, the First Pet, it’s no coincidence: the two dogs are brothers. Anna’s father was an early fundraiser for Barack Obama; José Saramago was a gift from the President.)
Anna takes José Saramago’s paw in her hands and whispers in his ear. He taps the iPad and the web browser opens. José Saramago gives a little yelp.

“It’s entirely conceivable that a dog could learn simple computer functions,” says Dr. Walker Brown, the director of the Center for Canine Cognition, a research facility in Maryland. “Word processing, e-mailing, even surfing the web: for many dogs, the future is already here.”

In Anna’s bedroom, decorated with the trophies and medals common to young achievers, José Saramago is on Facebook, the popular social networking website. He’s helping Anna organize an event to raise money for her greatest passion: sustainable ibex farming.

Read the rest here at the original source. I'm serious. Read it. It's hilarious (if you've read the New York Times).

30 November 2011


Okay, for what it's worth, I've started looking at my blog stats out of curiosity. I don't get a lot of traffic, but it's at least fairly consistent. I've been mostly amused by the Google search terms that have led people to click on my blog, such as:
"black people hipster meme" (Huh?)
"uo on the rocks" (Huh?!)
"happy days potpourri" (If this is a product, I should get the manufacturer to sponsor my blog.)
"darkwing duck cartoon" (Aw, yeah)
"maternity clothes for skinny women" (So rude. Lol.)

However, I'm also quite confused and disturbed by the fact that the primary traffic source for my blog is a Russian site (domar [dot] ru, seeming more than a little shady as a money-making site). What is going on, Russia? Why me? Weird. Maybe I need to reevaluate my security measures.

MIA Again

Well, I really did fail again on my NaBloPoMo posting. I actually didn't even crack open my laptop last night. =(

Okay, so I've been baking quite a bit lately. I've made a few batches of some really good rolls. I've also been on a cookie-baking streak. Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and snickerdoodles have been on the menu. One thing that I've known before but not always put into practice is the fact that cookies (snickerdoodles in particular) actually turn out noticeably better (if you like them moist and chewy, that is) if you chill the dough before dropping it onto the cookie sheet and baking.

I remain convinced that The TMF Cookbook remains the best all-around cookbook ever. The recipes in there are fairly simple but effective. For example, the snickerdoodle recipe is a lot less complicated than ones I found in foodie blogs online, yet every time I use the TMF recipe my tasters declare the result to be the best snickerdoodle cookie they've ever tasted. Also, the pie dough recipe is so utterly foolproof that even I can make pies and pastries that are rich and flakey and utterly delicious, and all my family know that I'm actually not very good at the whole pie thing.

Hope my waistline can survive this holiday season!

28 November 2011

Hey, everybody!

I'm not dead, or even unconscious. Sorry for being MIA these past two days. I went to a football-related party (I know, shocking, right?!) on Saturday, which I'd already committed to, so I felt obligated to go even though I wasn't really in a party mood. In the end, I'm glad I went because I had a good time, but you know how it is when you have to go be social when you don't really want to (or that just me?). Anyway, then on Sunday, I did a lot of productive stuff around the house. None of my activities made for particularly good reading material, and I couldn't think of anything to write.

26 November 2011

Busy Weekend

Yesterday was Thanksgiving holiday; today was a day that I didn't have to work, but I was able to get some chores and errands done. It's never enough time, and I'm hoping I'll still be able to do cleaning and organization of my house. I also need to mow my lawn. And bake some pastries. And go to a party.

I'm kind of exhausted just thinking about everything I need to do, actually.

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I join with so many others in wishing the blogosphere (blogverse?) a day of gratitude and thanksgiving.

I'm grateful that my lovely friends Jill and Erica opened their home so that the Little Bug and I were not left at home, hungry and lonely, for the holiday. It's difficult to live so far away from family, but God has blessed us with friends that shower us with kindness and fellowship.

23 November 2011

The Bears Are Back Again

Actually, I just wanted to highlight the fact that if you read the Wall Street Journal article posted yesterday (below), you should not fail to also click on the comments, which are officially FULL OF WIN. I captured a few humorous ones.

22 November 2011

The Bears Are Back

People laughed when I was terrified about the possibility of bears in my neighborhood, but IT'S A REAL PROBLEM, YOU GUYS! Black bears may be less dangerous than grizzlies, but they are still dangerous.

21 November 2011

Best Quote of the Day

From someone at work:
"If your life was a movie, it might get bad reviews for being too far fetched."

It's funny only because it started me wondering. I never think of my life as being far-fetched or unusual. I have strong ideas about how my past cultural experiences have informed my worldview in a manner that differs from many of my peers, but aside from that, I wouldn't think my life is particularly interesting, unless you want to hear funny stories about when I was a TA for the biology department at university and got paid slightly more than minimum wage to haul dead bodies back and forth through the building. THAT was a good time, people. But an interesting person with a far-fetched life? I would refer you to either (or rather, both) of my parents, definitely.
Not only do they have amazing tales regarding tropical jungle treks and narrow escapes of a variety of natures, but they also spent several years in the concrete jungle of inner-city Los Angeles, and even now they are fascinating and fabulous people who retain their good humor as sensible SoCal hippies with a passion for simplicity, Jesus, church history, fiber arts, UCLA basketball, and so much more! They've never stopped having adventures. Basically, I think my parents are the coolest. But here, let me just show you a little bit:

20 November 2011

Coffee People Are Pretty Nice

We are very fond of our local purveyor of caffeinated beverages. We go there all the time. They give $0.50 off if you bring your own reusable cup, and they also have a daily trivia question that can net you another $0.10. Awesome, right?!

Today, the trivia question was "Would you rather be a pilgrim or an indian?" (sic) I stared, wrinkling my nose in perplexity.
Me: I don't understand the question. It doesn't specify what kind of pilgrim or Indian.
Barista: *stares at me*
Me: Do I get to pick which century I'd get to be a pilgrim or Indian in?
Barista: No. I can just give you the ten cents, okay?

18 November 2011

Trying Hard

Well, yesterday's Hipster Lord of the Rings find had me laughing, so I thought I'd track down something related to Harry Potter next. Surely, I thought, there must be a Tumblr site dedicated to Hipster Harry Potter. However, to my great disappointment, no such Tumblr truly existed. A Google search for "hipster harry potter" brought up some funny stuff, but nothing concentrated in one cool blog/site. I tried "emo harry potter" next, and again, there was not a dedicated space on the web for that particular niche of humor. I don't know why all the internet people are falling down on the job like this, but at any rate, here's one of the best memes that's been going around lately: Hipster Sirius Black.

17 November 2011

LOTR Makes Anything Better

And now, to lighten the mood, I offer you:
Lord of the Rings Hipster Humor!

You're welcome.

PSA: Human Trafficking Reminder

Long-time readers of this blog may remember that, among other things, I occasionally mention the work that is being done to fight slavery locally and around the world. There are many horrible situations that exists, so many that it seems almost hopeless to think of fighting the evil and changing the world for good. But we remember that the Lord is greater than any circumstance, and He has conquered sin and death. Our light shines brightest in the darkest moments. And once in a while, stories come to the front that confirm that rescue CAN happen and evil-doers can be brought to justice.

Nick Kristof just wrote a column detailing the prostitution of young girls in Southeast Asia. Thought it's not always the case, the stories he shares in this particular article have the beginnings of happy endings. [Note: For the most part, I don't promote articles from New York Times, considering it to be a rag of rapidly-fading journalistic integrity, and I don't always agree with what Kristof himself writes, but I will make an exception when he writes about human trafficking, because he is one of the few opinion columnists who consistently draws attention to this difficult human rights issue that many would prefer to avoid and sweep under the rug. In other words, we as people don't have to always agree on everything in order to work together to fight for something that we both believe in.]

I don't intend for this blog to become "grisly human trafficking stories central", but I might occasionally share a few ways that I'm finding to fight slavery and support truth, justice, and mercy in small steps.

16 November 2011

Downward Spiral

Has anyone else ever noticed that when you start to make mistakes, then things seem to just pile one upon the other till you have a whole heap of failure in front of you? That's how I feel about my life all the time. I try really hard to do the right things, and do them well, but so often, I feel as if I'm the most horrible, useless, irresponsible person on the planet.

I try so hard. I can do the basics. I keep my child fed and clothes, and we have a roof over our head and our living space is generally safe and warm. My cats are well-fed and healthy. We're all pretty well-adjusted. I haven't committed any crimes; I even drive the speed limit. I'm a productive member of society. I work full-time, and my supervisor and coworkers have had few complaints about what I do. I vote regularly. I support my church and my local public library.

Why can't that be enough?

But no, our society doesn't work that way. As evidenced by my to-do posts below, I always have so much to do, to stuff into those all-too-few moments in between working, commuting, mothering, cooking, cleaning... There are phone calls to make, papers to organize and file, best-sellers to be written. I have to provide snacks for the daycare or another activity. I'm the sole provider for my family, and I'm also the parent, the homeowner, the CEO and general manager of the household. And God help us if I don't serve 100% organic, locally sourced food, and if I don't exercise daily in order to keep myself looking like a bikini model. It's overwhelming. If I let one thing slip, everything else starts to go as well. How does anyone actually managing to hold a modern life together without spinning like a whirling dervish and then imploding from the craziness?

It's days like this that I want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and wish the entire outside world far far away.

15 November 2011

Film Review: Prince Caspian

Better late than never, I suppose.

I watched The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian in 2009, when my parents obtained it from Netflix. Initially, I was not too sure what I thought and felt about it. This is a movie that deviates significantly from the source material, and rather to its detriment, I believe. I'm pretty picky about that--I like films to stay faithful to the books from which they are adapted. But to my astonishment, there was something about Prince Caspian that I found very affecting, and it really grew on me.

It was only after I saw a video clip of an interview with director Andrew Adamson that it began to make sense. I can't find the clip now--I thought that it was one of the special features on the DVD but it isn't there, so I must have seen it online somewhere. However, I did find some print interviews that said the same thing as the filmed interview, including one in Christianity Today. Here is the relevant portion of the text:

Before Lion/Witch, a USA Today story referred to you as the son of "associate missionaries" in Papua New Guinea. Can you tell me more about that?

It's a difficult thing to get into. I'm sort of in the public eye, and I don't think it's fair to drag my family into it. So I don't talk about it a lot. But yes, we did move to Papua New Guinea when I was 11. My father worked at the university there, and my parents were involved in the church there as well.
Living in Papua New Guinea is an important part of my story in another way. When I tried to understand the Narnia stories from a kid's point of view, I realized that the Pevensie kids were going through something I'd gone through. I went to this country when I was 11, and Papua New Guinea has changed significantly since then. When I was there, I'd ride my cycle all around, a huge amount of freedom. Now there's a lot of violence and corruption. Basically, the place that I grew up in doesn't exist anymore, and for me, there's a sense of loss. I realized that's something the kids go through in returning to Narnia [in Prince Caspian]. They try to go back to a place they spent 15 years in, and now the place they knew is gone. And ultimately at the end of the story, for the older Pevensies, they have to let go.

It's something we all go through in our passage from childhood to adulthood, when we realize we can't go back to the innocence of our childhood. We can't get back to the house being as big as we thought it was when we grew up. And at some point you have to say I accept that—and move on and become an adult. To me, that was the heart of this story from Peter and Susan's point of view. And my own experience provided this sort of bittersweet, nostalgic framework for that.

How many years were you in Papua New Guinea?

From 11 till I was 18. So I still consider it kind of my home, because those years are so formative.

So, the person behind The Chronicles of Narnia movies, as well as the very successful Shrek franchise, is a TCK/MK from Papua New Guinea! He's just from the other side of the island, you guys! Suddenly, everything was clear. Prince Caspian had struck a chord deep within me, because it was like speaking to like. The person who made it has had the same struggles and changes that I've had, going from New Guinea to the modern Western world and realizing, with the advent of maturity, there is no way to really go back. Everybody may feel that way about childhood, but for jungle MKs, I think there's an extra sense of loss, because when the civilization of your home moves from the stone age to the 21st century in the span of a decade or two, it's different than anything anyone else can understand.

Just to be clear, the movie that Andrew Adamson made is actually only tenuously related to the book that C.S. Lewis wrote. But while I might have approved mentally of a film that closely paralleled Prince Caspian the book in terms of both plot and theme, it probably would not have wound its way into my heart the way that Adamson's version did.

Well played, Andrew Adamson. Well played. If I ever meet you (and I hope I do), I want to give you a hug and say, "What you tried to say with Prince Caspian? I get it. And I appreciate that you found a way, in your own medium, to communicate to the rest of the world a little bit of what it means to see the world through our eyes. We New Guinea jungle kids have to stick together, you know."

14 November 2011

Update on To-Do List (aka I'm So Boring)

True to form, I've accomplished some of the items on my to-do list, but they've been replaced by multiple other items, so I'm never going to come out ahead till I die, I think.

Things to do today and tomorrow:
Make dinner
Make lunches for tomorrow
Grocery store (again)
Call plumber
Home inspection to home warranty company
Call home warranty company
Call Dor-Mar
Call Dolores
Financial aid forms
Call school (again)
Aetna paperwork
Compost bins
Recycling (again)
Scoop cat litter
Clean floors
Clean bathrooms
Clean car
Install booster seat
Empty vacuum cleaner
Best Buy – bill and card
Home Depot – receipt
Microwave warranty
Black & Decker – blender
Sort/file paperwork
Thank you cards

Bake bread
Bake cookies
Pay daycare
School paperwork
Call school
Grocery story

13 November 2011

Some stuff done

The thing is, it seems as if I do a lot of work almost every day, and yet despite that, my to-do never shrinks. It grows. What is up with that?!

Anyway, in keeping with my tradition of being late for almost everything, I'll finally post a picture of my Halloween costume. I don't usually dress up for Halloween, but I had an arrangement with my beloved BFF Elizabeth--she was going to dress up as Rapunzel in Tangled, I was going to dress up as Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon, we were going to have a whole "kids' movies" theme going on... Elizabeth got the Rapunzel costume pretty well, but I discovered that there are very few items available for Astrid costumes, and absolutely NONE for a fully grown woman. I did some quick thinking, and decided that I could probably make do with a costume based on another beloved character from a popular series of films: Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter!

I think I didn't do too badly. I was able to pull together the outfit from clothes that I had on hand, and then ordered an authentic Ravenclaw tie (as well as hat and scarf, but they're not pictured here) from Amazon, as well as some spectre-specs. I hand-made radish earrings and a cork necklace, a wand, and a copy of the Quibbler. I actually really loved how most of it turned out, and I hope I have many reasons to wear the costume in the future. It helps that I think I share a lot of characteristics with Luna, including long blonde hair, an surprisingly analytical mind, and an otherworldly perspective. And of course, I'm a Ravenclaw!

12 November 2011

To-Do, mostly still undone

I was going to clean today, but some things came up that were essentially low-level emergencies. So my to-do list is mostly undone, and I'm not sure how it will get all done by Monday. Lots of interesting, important, maybe fun stuff coming down the pipeline, but it does tire me out just thinking about it. It's hard being a grown-up sometimes.

To-Do This Weekend - Updated

Things to do this weekend:
School paperwork
Aetna paperwork
Clean floors
Clean bathrooms
Clean car
Install booster seat
Bake bread
Bake cookies
Home Depot
Black & Decker
Call plumber
Grocery store
Sort/file paperwork

Pay daycare
Call school

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

A friend posted on Facebook several weeks back, asking for people's input on "things we wish someone had told us when we were in high school", as she'd been asked to speak at a high school retreat and wanted to make the message as meaningful and practical as possible. I gave her some input, and didn't think much about it for a while, but then I thought more about it tonight. Here are a few things that I wish I'd known (or just understood better) when I was in high school.
  • Embrace being a late bloomer. Early bloomers fade fast.
  • Respect and obey your parents. It's not just a pragmatically good idea; it's commanded by God, who doesn't take it lightly. Look at Romans 1:28-32 and notice that disobedience to parents is grouped with "every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity".
  • Things get better. College is a huge step up from high school.
  • Stand up for people, especially underdogs.
  • Learn to be a good follower, so that in the future, you can be a good leader.
  • Know what it means to really be a leader. Leadership isn't a popularity contest; it's a series of decisions founded in integrity.
  • Pray daily. Petition the Lord for many good things that He lays on your heart, but don't forget to also ask Him to (1) ready you for His service and (2) reveal step by step the path He has laid out for you.
  • You are braver, smarter, and more capable than you realize.

10 November 2011

Boring: To-Do

Things to do this weekend:
Pay daycare
Aetna paperwork
Clean floors
Clean bathrooms
Clean car
Install booster seat
Bake bread
Bake cookies
Home Depot
Black & Decker
Call plumber
Call school
Grocery store
Sort/file paperwork

09 November 2011


My dishwasher did finally get installed, and it works wonderfully. It's nice to not have to do all the dishes by hand and everything goes a lot faster in the kitchen. It's amazing how much we in developed countries can take for granted the labor-saving devices that are commonplace. Trust me, I will never again take a dishwasher for granted!

And as a bonus, a rehash of some thoughts that I may express on occasion: The secret to a fulfilled and fulfilling life is not in getting more but rather is in wanting less.

08 November 2011

More on TV

I was hoping to be able to watch a TV show and recap it for you here, dear readers, but as it so happens, this evening has not been conducive to such activities. I did a lot of useful things, like pick up my child from daycare, go home, make dinner, do some dishes, clean the cat litter box, talk to my SO on the phone, etc. But I didn't watch a recommended TV show and blog about it yet. I'll try to do better in the future (goodness, in what universe do I live, in which promising to watch more TV is considered a positive thing?).

One Week In - I FAIL

Hello, dear readers! I'm so sorry that I already failed to post on at least one day of NaBloPoMo. You see, I intended to post on my blog last night, but I fell asleep while putting my Little Bug to bed, and so that was what happened. That's life when you're a single parent with a preschooler.

This week has marked a few adventures already.
  • On Sunday, the Little Bug spent several hours in a pair of undies without any accidents. This is a huge milestone in our one-step-forward-two-steps-back journey through potty training.
  • On Monday, I started my low-key fitness routine that I hope to incorporate into our lifestyle. I've been doing some simple yoga in the mornings to build up my strength, balance, and flexibility. I haven't exercised regularly for a few years (since I was pregnant, in fact), so I'm very out of shape. Once I've achieved a basic level of fitness, I'll add more challenging routines and increase my cardiovascular workout. I'm doing exercises that can be done in my home, because it's really close to impossible to do outside workouts without a jogging stroller (plus winter is coming, which will preclude any outside stuff for 5 or so months) and joining a gym is too daunting (especially with having to put the Bug in yet another childcare situation while I do classes or a circuit, because I would hate just shuffling him from one caretaker to another when I just want to spend time being a real parent) and too expensive. My sister gave me a Jillian Michaels DVD that looks as if it will be incredible in a few weeks, when I finally will be able to do the workout all the way through instead of dying in the middle.
  • I've cooked and baked, and I'm pleased to report that the new stove is just magnificent so far.

06 November 2011


I may have mentioned before (or maybe I haven't) but when I watch a TV series, I become slightly obsessive about it. I prefer to start from the beginning, and watch to the end, which means that overall, I prefer to watch series that have already run their course. I've been burned before. I've started watching, gotten emotionally invested in a series, only to have it canceled mid-season or at the end of a season but with poor closure (see: Firefly, Angel, Veronica Mars). Other shows may as well have been canceled, having become so lousy that I didn't even follow through to any kind of closure (see: Bones). Still others I tried but I couldn't get into them (see: Lost). I've recently realized that while it may be on the verge of unhealthy, I need some TV in which to invest. I enjoy being able to lose myself in another world for just a little while, particularly when there are also cute clothes to be observed.

When in California last month, a few friends made recommendations:
Dr. Who
Downton Abbey
Warehouse 13

I've also gotten recommendations for:
Dead Like Me
The Vampire Diaries (the GFY girls like it, which is close to a recommendation)

I'm looking for other recommendations. Let me know in the comments.


I was reflecting recently on how many kinds of soap there are. Not just brands of soap, or scents, but the actual forms that the soap may take. For example, most people are familiar with bar soap, and then there's shower gel, and liquid soap, and foaming liquid soap, and the granular soap that is usually dispensed in less-well-kept public bathrooms. I've found, however, that most people in the US are not at all familiar with a certain sort of soap that is an opaque jelly that comes in plastic tubs. In fact, I've only ever seen it in developing countries. When I questioned some coworkers about it, none of them had even heard of the soap that comes in a tub or jar. Does anyone know why? Is it considered somehow a sort of lower-class or "third world" soap? Just wondering.

04 November 2011

More singing

You can imagine how proud I am that, in addition to sometimes singing "When He Cometh", the Little Bug now sings along to the theme song for Daria.


03 November 2011

Precious Children

I put my Little Bug to bed nearly every night, and he always asks me to sing him a song. He specifically requests a song he has termed "the precious children song". And I always comply. Sometimes I ask him if he wants to sing too, and he just shakes his head. So imagine my surprise when, night before last, he suddenly piped up and sang with me on the choruses (with almost all the words being correct!):
Like the stars of the morning
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty:
Bright gems for His crown.

The song is one that my parents sang to me when I myself was a tiny tot, under the title of "When He Cometh". It was one of the first songs I taught myself to play by ear on the piano. I don't know how widely it is sung in the general population, however. Here are the lyrics as I learned them.

When He cometh, when He cometh
To take up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morning
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty:
Bright gems for His crown.

Little children, little children
Who love their Redeemer
Are His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morning
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty:
Bright gems for His crown.

The Cyber Hymnal has a MIDI of the tune and slightly different words for the lyrics. I have to pull out my keyboard to play it, and learn it on the guitar as well. I want to pass on to my Little Bug all the sweet, simple songs that my parents gave to me, because they are a part of our heritage as a family and as believers. I've never forgotten the hymns that I learned as a child and consider them to have played a tremendous role in the development and sustainment of my faith. I have reason to think that my Little Bug is responding to the words, and though he does not yet understand the full import of what Jesus has done and is for him, he knows that somehow, somewhere, there is a Redeemer who loves him and holds him as His own precious child.

02 November 2011

True Thoughts About Greatness


Some mornings, when there's just a hint of chill in the air, I emerge slowly into the world of wakefulness under my pile of blankets and realize that all three of my boys are snuggled up with me in a jumble of coziness, and it's a moment of perfection that I want to somehow preserve and remember forever.

01 November 2011

November already

Can you believe it? November is upon us already, and with it, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the bold and National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) for the rest of us.

Today, November 1, is also Tuesday, so perhaps the time is ripe for a Tackle-It Tuesday assignment (even though it's already 4 pm in my time zone). For today, I guess I'll set up eye doctor appointments. [Hey, the key to succeeding is setting small, easily attainable goals... or so I've been told.]

In other news, I've been trying to get my little family on a healthier diet, and I'm still getting back into the rhythm of being able to create tasty, filling, but still healthful bag lunches. The end result is that I end up starving by mid-afternoon and have insatiable cravings for burgers and fries. Yikes. I need to make time to cook this weekend.

Oh! Speaking of cooking, I have big news! I've made a major purchase that will, I think, vastly improve my quality of life. I am now the proud owner of a new stove, a new refrigerator, and a dishwasher. When I bought my little cottage, it came with some appliances, including a washer and dryer (replaced a few months ago), a stove (30-40 years old, by my best estimation), and a fridge (20-30 years old). There was no dishwasher. I muddled along as best I could, because appliances are expensive, but while the fridge was at least functional, the stove was dying by inches. The oven never really worked, and then one of the four burners quit. I could still cook, but when the second burner went out, I said, "Enough!" I'm a frugal person, but when I'm down to a creaky old fridge, no oven, and only two working range burners, and I'm STILL having to do all of my dishes by hand, I will scrape together cash to bring my kitchen up to the 21st century. The fridge is great, and is rated at the highest level of energy efficiency. My nice new stove has worked well so far, and I've tested the oven with some excellent chocolate chip cookies. And the dishwasher is due to be installed this week (it's a more complicated process in an old kitchen than just plugging in a fridge or stove).

Well, I'm off to call the eye doctor. Cheerio, all!

24 October 2011

Weekend Random Post

I'm filing this under Friday Five, even though it's not Friday, because it still counts if it's still the weekend, right?

Remember when Candace did the "10 Day You Challenge", those series of posts on her blog? With answering different questions that counted down from 10 and all that? I tried to do it for one post, and half-heartedly at that, and I didn't do any more of those posts, mostly because I couldn't figure out enough stuff to write about myself. I just wasn't up to the challenge. Dear readers, I had to confront the fact that I'm not that interesting a person. I know lots of interesting people and a fair number of interesting facts, but I myself am the sort of individual who is paralyzed when required to make small talk, so I end up staring awkwardly at the walls and wishing the floor would open up and swallow me. Sigh.

But anyway, one of the challenges in the 10 Day You Challenge was 10 Secrets. Now obviously, if I posted ten secrets about myself, or even just one secret, on my blog, then it would be automatically self-negating because as soon as I pushed the Publish button, the information would cease to be secret. But I thought it might be a reasonable approximation to post a few items about myself that are not actually secrets but some things that people might not know. I couldn't think of ten, so here are five.

1. I was switched at birth. No, really. It's a somewhat long and involved story and my mother tells the best version of it (I myself cannot even recall the events in question), but the gist of it is that due to a logistical error, the hospital brought two babies each to the other's mother on the day when I was born. The other infant in question was Hispanic and male, so the mix-up was readily discovered and corrected, but it does make one wonder how often those mistakes could happen without being detected.

2. I have super powers! Just kidding, my powers are pretty much useless so I'm more of a simple freak of nature. I'm a synesthete, specifically possessing grapheme-to-color synesthesia. It means that I see individual letters in particular colors. It's not a useful skill.

3. I'm extremely clumsy. This is an odd confession for a graceful dancer to make, but the truth is that I have a habit of dropping things, tripping over things, bumping or walking into them... I'm notorious for hurting myself in bizarre ways (I've sustained more than one umbrella-opening-related injury). I suspect that most of my klutziness is rooted in absentmindedness, as I always have my head in the clouds and forget to pay attention to my physical surroundings. Dancing is easy: You have steps you've learned and choreographed routines that you've practiced, and as long as your stage isn't so small that you can't move, you should be fine. Life, on the other hand, is difficult and dangerous: You never know what could be coming at you at any given moment.

4. I consider myself to be an Asian-Pacific-Islander-American. It's no secret, nor is it particularly complicated, but many people don't understand this. I am a citizen of the USA and live in the good old Midwest, but was raised in Indonesia and New Guinea. I have identity issues, I guess.

5. I'm becoming more beautiful as I get older. I've thought this for many years, and it seems to just keep getting truer and truer. I'm definitely a late bloomer, a proverbial ugly duckling. I always felt plain in high school and college, and my experience with the opposite sex didn't build my confidence at all, but now that I'm 15-20 years older, I get a lot of attention based on my looks. I'm not convinced that my metamorphosis is related to any actual physical improvement, except perhaps the cliche about someone "growing into her looks", but rather I think that many people improve with age because we become more and more comfortable with who we are and who God has made us to be. We become lovelier because we love ourselves more in the sense of accepting the self that God loves, redeems, and sanctifies day by day.

21 October 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears FOR REAL

YOU GUYS! It seems as though my plan to input Animal Control as a saved contact on my phone was utterly prescient. As everyone on the planet now knows, there were wild animals (including, yes, lions and tigers and bears) on the loose in central Ohio the very week after I wrote that, some miles west of my house.
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/20/us/ohio-animals-on-loose/?hpt=us_c2 [Please ignore all the idiots posting in the comments section. This event ended up as a tragedy, but it is pretty obvious to any rational observer that it would have ended as a tragedy no matter what the outcome, because it was tragic to begin with.]

I was in California during the time when this whole thing went down, which is probably good, all things considered. I just wanted to post this to remind everyone that it's okay to be wary and alert, and bears (even black bears) DO get aggressive and try to attack people.

13 October 2011

Speaking of Sharks


Golf with sharks! But what I really want to know is, are these bull sharks now adapted to freshwater living? They washed up in a river and live in a lake. I must investigate further...

11 October 2011

Sharks (The Bears of the Deep)

For some reason, yesterday's post about encountering terrifying beasts in the great outdoors sparked in my mind a memory of reading somewhere (interview? Twitter feed? I don't remember) a comment from Mark Hoppus to the effect that surfers are the most hardcore athletes because they always have to be wary of sharks while doing their thing. Surfing, he says, is the only sport where monsters try to eat you while you participate. [I guess he's implying that World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons don't count as sports. Oh well.]

Now, I know that the actual percentage of surfers and other aquatic athletes who have been attacked by sharks is actually very low. But for the sake of comparison, I'd like to point out that the percentage of people who have been attacked by sharks while watching TV in their living rooms is approximately zero.

10 October 2011

BEARS!! (Forget the Lions and Tigers)

[Speaking of lions, tigers, and bears, those are all names of sports teams. I just noticed that! And they're all in Great Lakes states. Crazy.]

When I was a little girl (so, some decades ago now) my family used to sing a song that started out "The other day, I met a bear, up in the woods, away up there". Now, thank God, I have never actually met a bear up in any woods; all my bear-related experiences have been confined to zoos, except for this one time that I'm pretty sure I heard a bear getting into the garbage can at the cabin up in Three Rivers at Sequoia National Park, but since I didn't actually see the bear, I can't claim to have met it. I don't have anything against bears qua bears, but I just like them in their place, and their place is as far away from me as possible. I don't have a lot of fears (though the ones I do possess tend to have a paralyzing effect on me, but that's another story) and I'm really not a big "outdoorsy" person, but I have what I would term a "healthy respect" for Nature, particularly with regard to things that can kill and/or eat me. This plays into my unenthusiastic attitude toward camping, among other things. I'm not a citified wuss; I have jungle cred. It's just that I'm really not interested in leaving the comforts of civilization, if it means I have to sleep outside with only a thin sheet of synthetic fabric separating me from vicious hungry predators such as grizzly bears and mountain lions. WHO THINKS THIS IS A GOOD IDEA? But I digress.

Today's story is not about me. I've been seeing, for a few months, a very nice young man who happens to be native to Ohio, more specifically to a small town in Coshocton County. He (the Significant Other, or SO) invited us (the Little Bug and me) to join him at a family event at his ancestral home (his parents still live in the house where his father grew up). So yesterday evening, we hopped in the car and drove east on the freeway (through the city of Coshocton itself, which happens to have a Walmrt, and it's THE ONLY WALMART IN THE WHOLE COUNTY, which tells you a lot about this general region, i.e. IT'S RURAL OHIO, i.e. IT'S AWESOME), got onto a country road, drove a while longer, passed a little country church with some hilarious signs (one said "THE ONLY GHOST HERE IS HOLY", which immediately begs all kinds of questions about that church), then turned onto a rather narrow unmarked road that began to wind back and forth up a hill through a forest, and at that point, I started to wonder exactly how far back into the woods we were going to go. Not too much later, though, we pulled up to a house with several cars parked outside, and I figured that had to be the party place. And when we got out, we saw an old tractor under a tree. AWESOME!! The Little Bug wanted to play on it (because IT'S A REAL LIVE TRACTOR) but my SO said it wasn't safe because there were probably bees in it. Bummer. But still: TRACTOR BEES. Awesome, right? Then we were met by a coterie of nephews and nieces bearing tales of paintball shooting and black bear sighting. The bear story seemed rather doubtful, but the paintball story was real, and it was taking place on the far edge of the rather large yard, but I had the Bug with me, so I had to be diligent about keeping him away and I couldn't partake myself, though I might have wanted to otherwise. I glanced at my phone, though, and saw that I had no signal.
Me (to my SO): I don't have any cell phone signal!
SO: Yeah, me neither.
Me: I'm pretty sure almost every horror movie starts this way.
SO: Now you know the story of every day of my life growing up.
But with a couple dozen people milling around, most of them tiny tykes with energy to spare, there was little time to contemplate our severance from the outside world. Inside the house, we were greeted by hot dogs, birthday cake, and (apparently) a Waltons TV show marathon. I found this fascinating because I'd heard of something called The Waltons but never seen it before, and it is (apparently) about a big family that lives in a big old house on a hill out in the woods, and also it's (apparently) my SO's dad's favorite show. COINCIDENCE? I think not. But I digress (again).

After dinner, we toured the garden on the slope behind the house (very nice, if slightly grown over now that it's autumn), admired a mysterious fossil that the SO's dad had found while digging in the garden, and played some Scrabble. All too soon, it was late in the evening and high time for our return to our upscale metropolitan life. We said our goodbyes and headed out to the car, accompanied by a very large, very old German shepherd (I saw his food dish--it was the size of one of those big tin washtubs we used back in the old country). We were met outside by two older nephews who had been amusing themselves by wandering through the woods in the pitch blackness, and they told us, "Hey, you should go up and check out this deer carcass we found. It's just over there." We demurred, and I pointed out that if there really was a rotting dead carcass, I would prefer to stay away from it rather than seek it out. Also: WHAT IF THE DEER HAD BEEN KILLED BY A BEAR? I buckled the Bug in his car seat, jumped in the car post-haste, and was ready to head out as soon as possible. In reality, though, we had to creep back down the hill at about 20 miles per hour because it was that windy road and there were no lights anywhere.

On the journey down, I asked my SO if he thought there was a bear killing deer by his parents' house.
SO: There's any number of reasons why there would be a dead deer around, but probably not a bear. If a bear kills a deer, it eats it and doesn't leave much to be found.
Me: So there are too many people up there for the bears to stay around?
SO: Oh, there's black bears up there for sure. I've seen one.
Me: !!!!!
SO: That bear's gone now. It got captured and put down. Someone started feeding the bear, so it became dangerous.* It learned to expect the food and it would go up to houses expecting to be fed. So it came up and opened the kitchen door--
Me: Wait, it opened YOUR kitchen door?
SO: Yeah. That kitchen you were sitting in? It pushed open the door right there.
Me: A bear came in your house?!
SO: It didn't come inside. It just popped open the door because the door didn't latch. If it had come in, that would have been a problem.
Me: ?!?!?!
SO: My mom slammed the door shut really fast, and she and my dad shoved some furniture, I think a pot-bellied stove, in front of the door. And then my dad grabbed his camera to try and get some pictures. I was there in the house when it happened so I saw the bear.
Me: At least the bear just opened the door, and didn't come in. That was pretty polite, considering it was a bear.
SO: Well, it would've been nice if it had knocked first.**
SO: And can you believe it? Our dog didn't even bark once.

YOU GUYS. It was a long, roundabout way to get to the point, but this kind of thing is the reason why I live in a fairly populated area. Somewhere, less than an hour's drive from my home, a bear tried to go into someone's house. A BEAR. I always had a sense that if you were in a house, you were at least kind of safe, but it turns out that isn't necessarily true. I don't want to go into my kitchen one morning and find that I need to slam the door in some bear's face and barricade it with my kitchen table. What if the bear got mad? What if it wouldn't go away, like it was trying to make quota selling cookies or magazine subscriptions? Living in a house up in the woods really IS like living in a horror movie (no cell phone signal!) except that you don't need a serial killer with an axe or a chainsaw. The local wildlife can handle the murdering duties with no problem whatsoever. And while I do live within city limits, the thing is, there are miles and miles of wooded hills and empty fields all around this area. I am SO putting Animal Control as a contact in my phone, plus I'm planning on spending the vast majority of my lifetime in a place where I get four full bars.

Excuse me, I have to go hyperventilate now.

*Editor's note: Why would someone feed a bear? You can feed little puppies and kitties who've lost their mommies. You can even feed the birds (tuppence a bag) if you are so inclined. But you don't need to feed a bear. Bears are KILLING MACHINES, plus they are omnivores, so they can eat plants and nuts and berries and stuff, as well as innocent slaughtered animals and people. The bears can get their own dang food, is what I'm saying, so you don't need to feed them.
**Hilarious! I love his sense of humor.

06 October 2011

The Adventure Continues

Note: I wrote this at Christmas time, when I was with my family and we were watching Lord of the Rings, as we are wont to do. Somehow, this never got posted. I have no idea why. Maybe I wanted to edit it, or expand on some of the ideas. If so, I've forgotten now what I planned to do, so I'll just post it and if I have additional thoughts, I'll post with follow-up.

The LOTR film odyssey has proceeded apace through The Two Towers. I find a bit less faithfulness to the book in this adaptation, and it never fails to bother me. My father agrees with me that Jackson's most disappointing departure is a sheer misfire, a true detriment to the film version of this story: the total ruination of the character of Faramir.

In the book, Faramir is possibly the most truly and essentially noble character, not least because he is given many reasons and many opportunities to be less than noble and he rises above them all. Frodo is the central character of the story and Aragorn the standard epic hero born to greatness, and they offer many nuances to the trilogy. Like Sam (the courageous and noble everyman, or rather, everyhobbit), however, Faramir is relatable and provides lessons on rising above adversity and consciously choosing good over evil. Tolkien's view and his created world are essentially medieval, and a reverence for the code of chivalry and the feudal system is absolutely implicit in his writing. A titled but not royal character, Faramir represents every aspect of the ideal knight: a natural leader who inspires courage and faithfulness in followers both human and animal; a skilled administrator and commander; a great but humble warrior; a loyal subject; a devoted son and brother; a brilliant and disciplined scholar and student; a gentleman with consideration and respect for women and for people (and hobbits) that others might consider lesser and unworthy of regard. He is one of the few individuals who is able to resist the lure of the Ring, this being all the more remarkable because his own brother falls prey to that weakness. He is secure enough and wise enough that he accepts his father's injustice toward him and partiality toward Boromir, and dedicates himself to the service of Gondor. And he ends up marrying a strong woman whose fame and courage may exceed even his own, and he admires rather than resents her abilities.

In the movie, Faramir is unfortunately shown as a weakling who cannot resist the Ring, and he is rather whiny and petty, to boot. Ultimately, he makes the right choice after a series of wrong choices, but the damage to his character's integrity is substantial. I guess we just have to return to reading the books to enjoy the true essence of the greatest Captain of Gondor.

29 September 2011

Failure on Civil Liberties

I've been saying this for two years, but nobody paid attention. Why doesn't anyone listen to me?! Anyway, a liberal writer (Turley) in a liberal paper (LA Times) is calling Obama, former liberal darling, to account for his flagrant failure to follow through on his campaign promises to reverse previous administrations' policies that may be damaging to American civil liberties. Turley concludes that continuing Democratic support for Obama in the face of his repeated assaults on liberal values amounts to nothing but a personality cult. OH SNAP! I'm not one to count Mr. Obama out of the 2012 presidential race at this juncture, but when his once-slavish acolytes are now raking him over the coals, his chances are looking ever dimmer.

Technology again

It's great to be able to blog on my phone but now I can't think of anything to write. Technology isn't an end goal; it's only the means to an end. Humans will never become obsolete because they provide the telos.

11 September 2011


I'm blogging. While at the zoo. Just because I can. Mind-blowing.

I'm in the reptile house and it's bedlam in here.

08 September 2011


Got an app.

Joined 21st century.

And there was much rejoicing.

06 September 2011

10 Day "You" Challenge: Three Films

Candace is doing a daily meme that requires lists on a daily basis. I'm joining in the fun rather late, as she's already at #3 and it starts with #10. I might play catch-up, but for now, I'll list three films that I love (or enjoy).

1. Legally Blonde - I despise cheesy romantic comedies with inane plots and dialogue, unlikeable characters, etc. You know the kind of movie, churned out by the dozens and often featuring repeat offenders such as Kate Hudson, Katherine Heigl, or Julia Roberts. I have my idiosyncracies, however, and I'm allowed an exception to my rule of loathing. Legally Blonde is my exception. I love that movie, because it transcends its genre in a way that few films do. It's fresh and funny enough that I can watch it again and again, and some of the dialogue still cracks me up after all these years. One time I said "My hair's so now" and my sister automatically knew what I was quoting. Reese Witherspoon's fantastic performance is part of what really makes the movie. My one little complaint is that I find Luke Wilson 100% unattractive and unappealing, so I really wish they had found someone handsomer and more compelling as the male lead.
2. It Happened One Night - I'm doing a random sampling of movies I love, but this might make a list of my top ten favorite films of all time. What can I say? It's a classic, and if some of the elements (e.g. runaway bride, wisecracking newspaper reporter, flirty banter, upending of class/social conventions, to name just a few) seem cliched now, it's only because It Happened One Night did it first and best, and all those other movies copied its successes. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert won Oscars for their roles, and they're more fun to watch with every viewing. If you've never seen It Happened One Night, give yourself a treat and see it soon!
3. Ball of Fire - Since I've wandered into the light comedy camp, I'll just stay there for my third pick. Ball of Fire is another classic rom-com, this time with deft performances from dependable performers such as Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, ably assisted by a whole host of some of classic Hollywood's greatest character actors. What do you get when you mix a houseful of nerdy professors with a nightclub performer on run from the police? This movie! And when you add some gangster shenanigans, conga dancing, and a high-speed chase? More of this movie! A lot of the fun focuses on linguistic research, so clearly this is a crowd-pleaser, folks. But don't take my word for it. See it!

22 August 2011

Conversations on Facebook

Me: I truly thank the Lord for His many blessings in my life, including an ever-abundant supply of Snark Bait!
Snark Bait is the name of my Jonas Brothers tribute band.
Roland: Vincent stole my joke!!

15 August 2011


Facebook just suggested Nancy Pearcey as a "Friend" for me.

07 July 2011

Oh! What Sadness We Reflect...

...When our blogs we do neglect.

I saw a coworker posting on Blogger this morning and was shamed into remembering that I just haven't kept up with the blogging lately.

Things have been busy but fun. I'm relearning all the complications involved in being a homeowner. I'm working some overtime. I'm coping with being a parent of a 3-year-old. I'm doing stuff in my life, often failing, but then picking myself up, dusting myself off, and starting over again.

30 April 2011

Saturday's child

I like Saturdays. Really, who in western culture doesn't? One usually doesn't have school or work on Saturday, and it's the beginning of the weekend, so one can enjoy it without yet facing the Sunday evening let-down. I was also born on a Saturday, which makes me Saturday's child. In the old nursery rhyme, "Saturday's child works hard for a living". Oh, wait, that's kind of a downer, especially when compared to Monday's child ("fair of face"). But it's pretty upbeat compared to Wednesday's child ("full of woe"), so I'm not complaining. Fortunately, I do like working and being productive, so it's not as much of a drag as it could be. I'm sure my Saturdays will be pleasantly full and busy, as I'll be readying the house for move-in at the same time as I'll be packing up and readying the apartment for move-out. But it will all be worth it!

28 April 2011

Spring 2011 Update

Hello, faithful (I hope) readers! There have been many developments in our happy little life in Buckeye Land. The Little Bug and I have bought a house and will be moving into it soon. Exciting, to be sure, but also a lot of work and responsibility. We've also weathered some intense thunderstorms and a few close calls with tornadoes, and are really hoping that the weather will take a turn for the balmy and sunny.

Take care!

28 March 2011

An Education

I can count it a matter of good fortune, for many reasons, that last week included a visit from Debbie of Debbie's Garden, who came to spend several days with us and relish the Ohio not-quite-spring weather. Debbie and I have always enjoyed one another's company, and can while away many an hour over a pot of tea, discussing everything from theology to interior decor to home schooling. We are both very interested in education in general, not just home schooling, and we ended up having a conversation yesterday that, combined with a recent trip to an art museum, led me to ponder the roots of my own educational experience.

For the most part, I've had a tendency to perform well and achieve highly in school, which might cause others to think that I like school and embrace it as a positive institution. Not so! I spent the first few years of my formal education considering school to be boring drudgery and a huge waste of time, and found it to be intermittently so for some years following. I learned to read at the age of 3, and knew all my numbers, and I could do basic arithmetic not too long after that. Consequently, kindergarten through third grade, I performed rather poorly due to the fact that I believed school was a place one went for several hours a day in order to stare out the window and daydream. Why pay attention and apply oneself when the teachers just kept teaching things (such as letters and numbers) that one already knew years ago? To this day, I don't know why I wasn't given opportunity to perform more advanced work. My schooling nearly murdered my inherent love of learning.

Enter educational salvation in the unlikely form of the Calvert School Grade 4 curriculum. A year of being homeschooled provided the proper milieu, wherein I was removed from the traditional school setting that bred indifference or even hostility, and the subject matter revealed to my eager 9-year-old mind the great ideas, entire worlds just waiting to be tasted, then devoured. I can easily point to some of these books, for they are even now sitting (worn but still fully functional) on my bookshelves: Mighty Men and Famous Legends, small volumes of epic tales and historical figures that were specially adapted for young people, and A Child's History of the World, an archaic* but still readable tome that quickened my soul and truly changed my life. Literature and history flowed together in a torrent of humanity (aha! the humanities!). The ancient civilizations of Egypt, Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon leapt into my imagination and lingered there. I stumbled wide-eyed into high classical cultures and found myself doomed to wander between Troy and Athens, between Homer and Plato: a fate from which I have never since been freed, nor would I wish to be. I read the watered-down Beowulf, and Grendel (not to mention his mother) terrified me. Arthurian romances left me cold (still do) but I found myself resonating with tales from the Celtic, Germanic, and Nordic worlds. It might not be too strong an assertion to state that in those months, when I had not yet even two digits to my age, I managed to find and define myself in a profound way. I discovered the great sea of "other" and wrestled with the eternal struggle for balance between "same" and "different".

Those revelations of Grade 4 would have been enough to carry me, I think, through college and beyond. But as fortune (or God) would have it, Grade 5 held surprises of its own: none so soul-impacting, but still important in defining my life and the direction it would take.

The fifth grade found me once more in a traditional school setting, and once more, I resorted to daydreaming and window-gazing, to the (no doubt) frustration of my teachers. It was not rebellion but rather a retreat. I simply live better and more happily inside my head; I always have. But Grade 5 was the year that I ventured outside my head to first encounter SCIENCE, in the form of basic life science as taught by Mr. Renshaw. Somehow, it all just made sense to me, it was easy for me to learn and remember, and I liked it. Taxonomic organization appealed to my sense of fitting things into systems, and the cell operated in a manner that seemed utterly reasonable. Single-celled organisms fascinated me in a special way, and I particularly recall the thrill of seeing hundreds of them scooting around in a drop of pond water under a microscope: a tiny, previously-unknown world in which I could partake, if only as an observer for a moment in time.

My other courses that year were taught by Mrs. Renshaw [It has not yet been revealed to me why the Renshaws were chosen to play such a large role in the formation of my educational self, but such is the case.], and while I can't claim to have liked many of them except for social studies, one subject I really did love was Bible. Naturally, I'd read the Bible before, learned it, knew plenty of Bible trivia, but never before had I been trained in the methodical study of just one book of the Bible (in this case, Acts) over the course of an entire school year. I definitely remember filling in blanks in a workbook, and I am sure we also did contextual work by looking at maps and learning about Jewish, Greek and Roman history and culture. It was a strategic and disciplined approach that worked very well with a little girl of my temperament, and at 10 years of age, I did not find it too challenging at all. While I was not at the level of parsing Greek verbs or writing theological treatises, the work that we did for Acts was on par with what Bible classes did in my Christian high school. Be that as it may, I can definitely trace my love of scholarly study of God's Word back to Grade 5 Bible class.

I really believe that some essential part of who I am, who God made me to be, was formed and fed by my early education. Certainly, I have never lost interest in those topics that caught my attention during those years. Classical languages and literature, ancient and medieval history, the sciences, and most of all the Bible and theology, are still my favorite things to read, think, and talk about. Perhaps I was just immensely fortunate that God reached my heart through my mind, and at so young an age.

I'm interested in finding out how other people were formed by their educational experiences. Leave a note in the comments! Was it a book you read, a class you took, just one specific idea that you encountered?

*Editor's note: First published circa 100 years ago, A Child's History of the World is a product of its time and place, i.e. very Eurocentric. Deal with it. If you read it, judge it on its merits in a proper contextual format. If you use it as an educational tool, don't criticize it for its lack of political correctness; rather, supplement it with other materials that provide alternative perspectives and a fuller view of world history.

21 March 2011

Spring Cleaning

==> Drinking Triple Sec because you just want to finish it up and get the bottle out of the cupboard.

28 February 2011

Jane Russell died


I wish comfort to her family and friends. She was actually a fellow believer, so while her dear ones may mourn, they can have hope for the future.

End of February

And the end of Black History Month (which is kind of an odd concept, when you think about it).

I always remind people that there are lots of black people all over the world, not just in the US or even Africa, and many of them are still in conditions of marginalization or even outright persecution.

09 February 2011

February already!

It was 8 F when I came into work this morning at 6:30 am. I'm pretty sure my brain can't actually comprehend that, because I was reasonably okay walking from my car to the building (it wasn't windy) but I just kept repeating "COLD COLD COLD COLD" in my mind.

The Little Bug's daddy has been visiting us for several days, so that has given me a welcome respite from bearing the entire burden of parenting. I've had a few nice early mornings at work. I haven't had to plan and cook dinner after work. The Little Bug has been able to spend all day with his daddy instead of going to daycare.

Speaking of the Little Bug, he turned 3 years old on Super Bowl Sunday!

Anyway, that's the summary of the past week or so. I never like cold weather, and naturally, I like it less and less as winter wears on. I'm looking forward to spring with a wistful eagerness.

24 January 2011


I can't believe I let nearly two weeks pass without posting anything on my blog. To be honest, though, life has been kind of boring. I live in the midwest. It has been cold and snowy. The Little Bug and I have both been afflicted with the particularly virulent strain of flu that is going around this winter. We go to daycare and work, and make regular forays to church and the store as necessary.

Any energy I have to spare has been funneled to a giant cleaning/decluttering/organizing project that I have going on this winter. You can read about those efforts over at Simple Pleasures Magazine.

I've never liked winter, and I was ready for it to be over before it even started. Now, I'm VERY ready for it to be over. I'm hoping for it to get above freezing, at least, by the end of February. *shiver*

11 January 2011

Human Trafficking Awareness Day!

On this day, millions of people are in slavery, having no freedom, forced to labor with little or no pay and no hope of change, bought and sold like property. In fact, there are more slaves today than at any other time in history.

If you want to know more about this issue, check out a few resources:
International Justice Mission
Not For Sale Campaign
US Dept of Health and Human Services

09 January 2011

Newark Earthworks could become World Heritage Site

The Newark Earthworks are, along with a few other Ohio Hopewell-related sites, being considered for inclusion on a list to be submitted to UNESCO for possible designation as World Heritage sites. In other words, they're short-listed to get short-listed.

It would be a wonderful (and, to my surprisingly optimistic mind, not entirely unlikely) thing if the earthworks would make it to the official list of amazing things on the planet. First of all, Newark seldom is recognized for anything positive, and having a World Heritage site would raise this area's profile in a very good way. It could possibly even have a beneficial financial impact by bringing in tourist revenue.

Second, this would be good not only for Newark but for the earthworks themselves. Anthropologists and archaeologists have been surprisingly reluctant to invest much in studying these huge relics that are essentially the North American equivalent of Stonehenge. Becoming a World Heritage site would drum up interest in the earthworks from a scholarly perspective, AND it would increase interest and effort in preserving what (comparatively little) remains of these amazing monuments.

Third, the inclusion of the earthworks into the list of World Heritage sites will serve as yet another reminder of our shared heritage and experience. We have differences, yes, but in reality, we are all people and more alike than we are different. Whether I visit the Newark earthworks or another Ohio mound site, or Stonehenge, or the Colosseum in Rome, I get a sense of being connected with it all, a participant in the great stream of humanity. Anything, even just a really big pile of dirt, that causes us to pause, put down weapons, and look at one another as human beings, is something worth saving and promoting.

YOU can be involved in this effort. Read the article from the Newark Advocate, and consider possibly writing to the Office of International Affairs (e-mail jonathan_putnam@nps.gov) or signing an online petition. I sent an e-mail, so I can't vouch for how well the petition site works. The basic text of my e-mail to Jonathan Putnam is below so that you can just adapt it for your purposes if you don't want to write your own e-mail from scratch. The deadline is January 12 (this upcoming Wednesday).

Dear Jonathan Putnam,

I'm writing to urge that you and the Office of International Affairs continue to pursue the nomination of major Ohio earthworks, designated as Hopewell Ceremonial Centers, to consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage site. I would also urge you to add Ohio's Serpent Mound to the nomination to add to the possibility of recognition for this entire cluster of ancient monuments.

Despite being little-known even in the international anthropological community, these earthworks are among the most important and impressive prehistorical structures on the planet. The Ohio earthworks sites deserve to be recognized and appreciated for their significance and contribution to human history and culture.