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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Relief Organizations

Folks, the two organizations to which I've decided to donate for hurricane relief efforts (don't neglect your neighbors!) are the Salvation Army and Noah's Wish. The former is caring for human physical and spiritual needs, and the latter is helping out with the four-footed creatures--those it can't reunite with owners are placed with new ones. These groups and others--besides specific individuals we know in the affected areas--are going to need long-term support, but we should start right now!

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Story of Operation Recover Forks

Operation Recover Forks was launched at 9:30AM today. I had put on shoes before opening Alissa’s door, but after I opened it as far as it would go (more about that subsequently), I decided to pull on surgical gloves as well.

I may have to revise my opinion about Alissa being just evil. Now I believe she’s bad and crazy. You’d have to have a screw or two loose to live in the crack-house-style squalor to which her room has been reduced.

Torn, grimy newspapers cover the entire floor—two inches deep in the shallowest spots—with two-foot-plus mounds of soiled clothes and bags of garbage visible under this gray sediment in the corners. Also, among the newspapers there are dirty plates and mostly-empty food wrappers--all scattered wall-to-wall between wads of hair and dozens of discarded wire hangers. The two tables/nightstands in the room are one with the mess, buried under an accumulation of used glasses stuffed with crumpled microwave popcorn bags, bottles of makeup, and fashion magazines. The door can only be opened twelve to fourteen inches because of the pile of damp towels behind it and because of the trash on the floor. There are no sheets on the dirty mattress, which is half-off its equally filthy box springs. One window is propped open with an old telephone directory, and in the other the air conditioner was running.

I could only recover one fork. Thankfully, it was the silver one. It was in a stack of nasty, food-encrusted plates within reach of the door. I do not know where in the garbage the other nine are, and I did not want to search for them without long sleeves and jeans on. Neither did I want to endanger my health by shuffling through the waste to the window to turn off the AC unit. How gross.

Nate—whom I had summoned to see this disaster—suggested I might want to autoclave the fork before I used it. I figure two cycles through the washer will do the trick.

My mission over, I immediately washed my hands, then got out the vacuum and thoroughly cleaned my own room. I also put on a load of clothes and started the dishwasher downstairs (round one). It makes my skin crawl to think about the ghastly state of Alissa’s room. It’s a wonder we don’t have roaches the size of wharf rats.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina

Let's hope Hurricane Katrina--which as of 10 AM had maximum sustained winds of 175 MPH (ack!)--doesn't do a Samson on the Superdome (which is scheduled to be used as a shelter for those who can't get out of New Orleans).

Friday, August 26, 2005

Roommate Woes

Alissa is THE poster child for "WORST ROOMMATE EVER." She hasn't paid her portion of the bills (despite repeated reminder-notes), she leaves her crap lying around (and it's not just books and DVDs and other things of that nature which are fine, and I have no problem with, but moldy old flip-flops, empty shoe boxes, bottles and tubes of makeup and wadded towels), she's dirty (spots on the rug, smears of who-knows-what on the toilet seat, and spatterings of beauty concoctions all over the bathroom), and she's inconsiderate (we're missing more than ten forks and four or five plates from the kitchen, and they are no where else in the house...this isn't an issue of kleptomania, but of laziness--she takes her food up to her room and doesn't return the dishes and utensils when she's finished, but lets them attract ants upstairs).

All the Christians out there can be praying that this woman moves out--and soon!--and that a much cleaner, more decent individual comes to take her place. She can't be talked to (regular Rummynation readers will recall earlier confrontations), and she ignores other, gentler reminders. I am not a clean freak, nor am I a rigid stickler for promptitude or neatness in many respects. But good grief!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Babies are a Blessing!

I seldom watch television. I have so much productive to do, and there is so little worthwhile material on TV that the choice not to switch on the tube is not a difficult one. Tonight I decided to watch a bit, though, and found a favorite: the cable channel Discovery Health regularly airs a program called “Special Delivery,” which is composed of actual footage of women giving birth either naturally or surgically.

The program often features multiple-child pregnancies, or situations where the medical condition of the mother, or the position or age of the child places them at risk. I am fascinated by this show, and not just because many of my married friends have recently had, or are soon to have, babies. My father has been doing a lot of obstetrical anesthesia lately, a job he loves because he gets to see all these little people greeted by their delighted parents. I love to see how such tiny mites can survive, even when born weeks and months premature.

Daddy himself was a preemie, and a twin. He and his sister were born two months early, fifty-seven years ago. Each weighed about two pounds. A couple of the small infants featured on this evening’s episode of "Special Delivery" were twins weighing more than twice that, and they still encountered breathing and blood pressure problems that threatened their little lives. I am amazed, and tremendously thankful, that my Daddy and my aunt lived and throve, given their size and the rudimentary state of neonatal intensive care when they arrived. Two pounds is so tiny! I am also amazed and tremendously angry that people can kill such little people just because they do not want them.

Another baby featured on tonight’s program was a wee African American girl, delivered weighing one pound three ounces. Such a tiny mite, only a little bigger than her father’s hand. Ten fingers, ten toes, a small being who (the postscript at the end of the show said) is growing up fine, having overcome some of the commoner issues which occur in such very young babies. How can people claim that these people are not really people, that they are a “choice” whose continued existence is based on convenience and the circumstances of their conception? It makes me mad! Babies really are a gift from God, whatever their size, shape, or manner of arrival.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Harry Potter Personality...

Thanks to Andrea for yet another fun quiz!
You scored as Hermione Granger. You're one intelligent witch, but you have a hard time believing it and require constant reassurance. You are a very supportive friend who would do anything and everything to help her friends out.

Hermione Granger

85%

Albus Dumbledore

75%

Remus Lupin

65%

Ginny Weasley

60%

Ron Weasley

55%

Sirius Black

50%

Draco Malfoy

50%

Harry Potter

45%

Severus Snape

45%

Lord Voldemort

10%

Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com

Onions in the Fridge and Buns in the Oven

The onion on my shelf in the fridge is developing character. It’s not my onion. In fact, I have no idea whose onion it is. It may not even be the onion of any person currently living in the house—Kevin disavows all knowledge of said onion, remarking only, “It’s been in there a long time.”

Nate just came in from a weekend rugby tournament. His face and arms are a generous rosy brown—quite sunburnt. I asked him about the onion, and he said it wasn’t his. And Alissa doesn’t cook, so it can’t be hers. It may be Marianne’s…she moved out in December.

In the past week, two friends have called me to tell me that they are expecting small persons. Both of these offspring will probably be April babies, like my sweet niece and goddaughter, who is to meet her great-grandparents for the first time next week, and my honorary nephew, Micah, who I am looking forward to seeing again in the next few days. All the benefits of beauntification!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Icky Sticky Day

Wretched day at the market. Humidity was unbearable, and by the end I was dizzy and sick. Few customers, little foot-traffic. An Afghani girl three stalls down made $8 in toto. The woman next to me grossed $18. Then they had to pay $25 booth fees, leaving them in the hole. I was better off than most, but it was my worst day ever at Arlington. Still considerably above Eastern Market (may it rot), but lousy as far as bill-payment goes.

Trip to GA and helping brother move to Charleston, SC, was good and productive. And so, so busy I didn't have time either to blog or to translate that Russian book. Nor sleep much--I've averaged abt. 4 hrs. a night the last week. Must to bed, although its only 7--maybe I will actually be on time to church tomorrow!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Garlic and Art

I woke up at 4 AM this morning with an irresistable craving for garlic. Thankfully, I was spared the indignity of spooning crushed cloves directly out of the jar in the fridge by the presence of a piece of leftover baguette smeared with butter and garlic. I ate it all. This meant that when my mother opened my bedroom door this morning, she was almost knocked over by noxious fumes. Even my palms smelled garlicky. So, be glad you aren't within sniffing distance, dear reader.

In other news, I am making silk pillows to sell at the market ($12 for one 18"x18", $20 for two), chewing lots of high-powered cinnamon gum and drinking gallons of water so that I won't be olfactorily offensive by Sunday, re-glazing the less-than-perfect face tiles I made two months ago, and worrying about whether I'll be accepted to the September Arts on Foot show in downtown DC, a highly lucrative opportunity for which I need to buy a lot of jewelry components ASAP if I'm in--but I don't want to splurge until I get the good word.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Manet's Nudes and the Gospel of John

The Edouard Manet painting Le Dejeuner sur L'Herbe (1863) [reproduced below] has been familiar to me for a good two decades; I had never considered its frankly scandalous subject-matter and composition until I read an article about it several years ago.



I had simply accepted the presence of the female nudes together with the fully-clothed and serious-minded men, never thought about how odd it was that these women would have disrobed so casually, and that their formally-attired male companions would be unconcious of this incredible oddity. This example of my own analytical blindness came repeatedly to mind during the sermon this morning, which was on the text of the Gospel of St. John 6:35-63. Thanks to an online version of the New American Standard version Bible, I can quote this in its entirety:

Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven."

They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, `I have come down out of heaven'?"

Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, `AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."

Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever."

These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"

But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life."

Reading this passage, which I've probably read without a blink of surprise or a shudder of shock between fifty and a hundred times in my life, again this morning, I was struck by how totally repulsive a lot of the imagery that Jesus uses here really was and is. I've been reading this through my "Christian glasses," automatically (and not necessarily incorrectly) interpreting this as a preordination discussion of the sacrament of communion, and Jesus' sacrificial death, which it was to reflect. But this is also a really confrontational set of statements that blows to bits the condescending opinion of so many nice nonbelievers who twaddle on about Jesus being a "gentle teacher" and an "insightful prophet" but not the saviour of the world. It's a profound illustration of C.S. Lewis' conclusion in Mere Christianity that Jesus was either a raving lunatic, or a demonic liar, or God. There are no other options left open to us.

Once again I was reminded just how much Jesus gave for me, how he constantly, grace-fully, is knocking away the film of pleasant complacency which clouds my vision of his past and present reality, and how much I need to be discomfitted on a regular basis, chuck the comfortable know-it-all default setting, and get on with living for him. But whether I'll be picnicking in the nude anytime soon is another matter! :)

Friday, August 05, 2005

First Fiction Criticism

As my readers might have inferred, one of my great dreams is to be a writer. A writer whose work is published often enough and remunerated sufficiently for her to make a living off it, that is. So, I recently sent off a bit of fiction I'd been fooling around with to a critic, and I got a response this evening. Surprisingly, my less-than-mature attempt at fiction (which is not my strong suit; I love imaginative writers, but have always excelled at purely fact-centered composition, rather than spontaneous creation) was not dismissed out of hand. It was better, I was told, than much of the manure which he is forced to shovel in the form of unsolicited manuscripts, and had possibility, provided I could just figure out a plot, and cut out the extraneous verbiage. I quote:

"CP asks whether it's worth going on with. Well - yes, if there's a good story waiting to be told, then thought and care and polish and practice will bring it to the surface eventually. This is already better than the average slush-pile manuscript. However, to stand a chance of publication, you need something better than the average published manuscript. If CP sent this out as it is and tried to sell it, it'd be rejected. That's the bad news.

"Unless you do go on with things, even the fairly unpromising things, you'll never get anything finished; and often it's only when the story's all there that you start to see how to improve the way it's told."

Folks, I need a plot. Anyone have an idea going begging? Here's my introductory paragraph: "Our gods broke. My parents came home from the greenhouses one evening and all four of them were lying face down in the street, broken in half. They were hot and covered with dust." Please continue...

In other publication news, my piece on my brother's graduation and my grandfather's pleasure on that occasion appeared the other day in the Dublin Courier Herald, though I didn't get a by-line. At least they didn't change anything in it--it was a good article, if I say so myself. The name-removed (for privacy reasons) version follows:

Old Sailor’s Dream Comes True
by
CEP

When a Japanese torpedo tore through the hull of the USS Portland in the Pacific Ocean in 1942, flooding the compartment where Machinist’s Mate C--- T--- and his shipmates usually slept, most of the sailors didn’t consider going back into the area to retrieve anything. But T--- had a treasured possession, his dark blue wool uniform jacket, on a high shelf in his locker, and he waded through the floating debris to get it. Sixty-three years later—almost to the day his ship was struck—a jubilant T---, who has lived in Dublin, GA, since 1950, was wearing the coat again; the red braid on its sleeves was still bright and its front was adorned with jangling medals. “My dream has come true,” he remarked. “I have always dreamed of having a son follow me into the Navy.” He was in Pensacola, Florida, at the graduation of his grandson, "Bob" P---, from the U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School as a leading member of Honor Class 15-05.

Ensign P--- grew up hearing his grandfather’s stories of wartime service on the USS Portland, affectionately known as the Sweet Pea, and more widely as “the fightingest ship in the US Navy.” Aboard the Portland, T---(who left the Navy as a Chief Machinist’s Mate in 1947) participated in the pivotal Pacific battles at Midway and Coral Sea, besides multiple engagements at Guadacanal, Tulagi and the Solomon Islands. Transferred in 1943 to the USS Thomas in the North Atlantic, T--- spent a year hunting German U-boats, and was commended for valor when in February 1944, in the midst of a full gale, “at extreme hazard to his personal safety,” he made emergency repairs to the ship’s engines, which had stopped, rendering the Thomas vulnerable to the agitated sea and stealthy enemy submarines.

In Pensacola, T--- was proud to find that, sixty-nine years after he joined the Depression-era U.S. Navy, old sailors are still welcomed by the modern members of the fleet. Just before his grandson was sworn in at the base chapel, a white-uniformed officer with four bars of gold on his shoulder boards spotted the red braid on T---’s coat and approached to say, “Hello, Chief!” Though now part of this great tradition, Ensign P--- expects a somewhat different experience than his grandfather—his mother, J--- T--- P---(Dublin High School valedictorian 19--), hopes particularly that he will not have to wade through water to retrieve valuables from his onboard sleeping quarters, nor restart engines in the middle of winter storms. He has chosen to serve on nuclear submarines.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

If You Blog It, They Will Come...

I got my first official (comment-posting) visit to this blog from an ABE-forum buddy today, and am adding her own blog to my roll. On ABE (the Advanced Book Exchange), into which I have funneled much hard-earned money buying signed hardback first editions of my favorites, I visit the book-and-other-subject-discussion-forums regularly, and "Allegria Joy," who commented on the Yenta post, is one of my comrades there.

The forum book folks are a fascinating bunch--some have actually been published themselves, or work as editors. Others are actors, ferret-keepers, yuppies, grandparents and cat-lovers. Some are young and some are old, some in the US and others in the UK and Pacific Rim, but all swallow literature by the barrel, and I have been introduced to many new books and authors by their reviews and rants. Of course, what time I spend reading posts on the forum can't be spent reading bound hardcopy, or translating the Russian book (we're four chapters into it--a fourth of the way through!!), or posting to this blog.

...Or making jewelry! I've been on a tremendous creative kick the past two days, and have put together perhaps 15 pairs of earings, three necklaces, and two bracelets. Pictorial sample of the styles I make:



These are bracelets from my "Expressions" collection. They are random designs created of semiprecious stones, handmade glass, and sterling silver or rolled gold, components that I have left over from other pieces and put together with other odd bits of the same color. They sell for $28-$30 each. Last Saturday, I sold the orange and the blue ones in the picture--maybe the others will find new homes this week!

High School Stereotype?

Thanks to The Upward Call for linking to the following quiz...

You scored as Geek.

Geek

31%

Drama nerd

31%

Loner

25%

Prep/Jock/Cheerleader

19%

Punk/Rebel

19%

Goth

13%

Stoner

6%

Ghetto gangsta

6%

What's Your High School Stereotype?
created with QuizFarm.com

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Am I A Yenta?

I feel positively perverse eating melted cheddar and bacon bits on my midday matzo--thereby violating at one go the ham prohibition and the rule against simultateous meat and milk consumption.

And I got called a yenta thrice in a week--twice in Southern vernacular by my parents, and then in Yiddish at the Saturday market, where I was discussing the role of Pope John Paul II in the fall of the European communist bloc with a Polish girl who had the booth next to mine. I didn't deserve it the third time. Since when is history gossip?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hallmarks of Felinity

DeaconPaul and Paxifist were my kind hosts this weekend down in Mebane, NC. Petkya was his own lap-hogging sweet self, and the baby was bouncy and cheerful. And even ever-shy Katkya allowed me to stroke her back once--a great achievement, considering she was too frightened to stay in the same room with me just three years ago (when Paxifist rescued her and her kittens from a feral existence, found homes for the babies and adopted Katkya for herself). I IMed with a gallant fellow in the wee hours this morning, who initially mistook me for a nocturnal DeaconPaul, but with whom I ended up having an interesting "conversation."

In the past several days, my brother has left several amusing messages on my cell (allegedly from a Dan down at the Cococabana Lounge who is harassing me to pay up on my bar bill), and so, in a fit of nonsenquituriousness, I thought of him when I ran across #153 of the Hallmarks of Felinity website...but there are others which may fit, too.