Friday, January 31, 2014

men are human

I've lately been saying to any about to be married couple we come across that they shouldn't worry so much about roles and headship and submission. Certainly, they should worry enough to try to obey the scripture. The man should be a man and should love his wife. The woman should be a woman and should respect her husband unconditionally, even if he doesn't deserve it. That's the whole point. He imputes love to her that she doesn't deserve. She imputes respect to him that he doesn't deserve. And there you are, they should both seek Jesus and love him and obey him and not worry so much. 

But then it seems that sometimes young couples, and sometimes even older married ones, are confused and troubled and get into tussles and difficulties. And then I think the trouble is that neither of them knows how to be human. Try being a human being and letting the other person be human, I say, waving my arms around. That's one of the things that's being torn asunder and ruined in this declining civilization. So confused is the question of gender the very humanness of each person is actually obscured.

Last century Dorothy Sayers wrote so cleverly, "Indeed, it is my experience that both men and women are fundamentally human, and that there is very little mystery about either sex, except the exasperating mysteriousness of human beings in general. And though for certain purposes it may still be necessary, as it undoubtedly was in the immediate past, for women to band themselves together, as women, to secure recognition of their requirements as a sex, I am sure the time has now come to insist more strongly on each woman's--and indeed each man's-- requirements as an individual person."*

I would say that the time has far far past for women to band themselves together on that score. Sayers is quite right. The time has come to stop doing that. And having done it too too much, and for a century wallowed in a falsehood that being a woman is a great trial and every man must give way to the Woman, to the furthest possible extent that he even stops being a man, every woman should turn around and walk in the other direction and let the poor man be human. She has not loved him as she loves herself. She should repent. He is a human being and she should open her eyes and heart and see that he is one. Her life is not a great trial or burden. She does not suffer more than anyone has ever suffered because of her gender. He has not destroyed her by being a man, any more than the child she could or has born has destroyed her. 

It was a great shock, so long ago, for the west to discover that women are human. It will be a shock, now, a seismic shift, to learn that men are too.

*Are Women Human? Dorothy Sayers, 1938

Thursday, January 30, 2014

{phfr}:tired and busy edition, and it's still too cold

Today is my Shepherd's Bowl day and it's not a good moment for me to miss any school At All so it's going to be a long possibly tiresome day involving a trip to the store in this hideous cold and pushing the children solidly through the morning so that we have enough time to cook. And because I'm really tired and don't want to deal, it will be Regular Soup with ground beef, chickpeas, tomatoe, curry powder and whatever else.
I don't know if this should fall under 'pretty' per-say, with the hard expression in the eyes. But as usual I think it's really interesting. Especially as Gladys, who drew it, cried no matter what I did yesterday, even when I was trying to be nice. I cannot fathom the depths of her. 
Also, as a nod to Portlandia, observe that she Put a Bird On It.
Had a frenzied attack last Friday and coped with the huge pile of clutter in the Shepherd's Bowl Cupboard at church. This whole area was piled up with just stuff. Put it all away or got rid of it. Feel deeply happy to walk in there now.
I feel better when I actually to make my bed every day but Ashy and Frances figure out when I'm going to do it and then plant themselves down and glare, daring me to chase them out. I blame it on the horrendous weather. 
What more is there to say? Eat your food! Maybe, or, Sit Down! or Don't stab the table with your fork! I also think I said things like, "don't expect to move back home when you grow up! You better work hard and be respectful or you won't have any friends or any job!" I probably went on longer than that.

Happy Thursday! Go read Like Mother Like Daughter!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wordy Wednesday: a scene of domesticity and comfort

Finally cleaned out the fridge on Monday, after needing to do it for like a couple of years or something, while Matt baked a pizza for the kids and devised a divine chorizo, steak and egg concoction for me (and him). I took everything out of the fridge and piled it on top of the week's groceries which hadn't been put away and then poured myself a glass of wine and started scrubbing and slinging soap around while children ran up and down and smacked into my tippy piles of rotting sour cream and vegetables. Matt had on a debate between James White and some godless Arminean (just kidding, sounded actually pretty devoted to Jesus) where English people could call in and complain about godless Calvinists. Maybe I was on my second glass by that point. After I'd put everything back in the fridge I wanted there--essentially a quarter of the original putrid mess--instead of coping with throwing everything else away or flinging it down the sink, I opened the freezer and pulled out no less than twenty dead chicken carcasses and piled them on the floor. Launched into a heated marital argument about how many we actually needed to make stock. Couldn't find my big stock pot. Fussed and drank more wine. Discovered it in the garage with a frozen mound of milk curds left over from a failed attempt to make cheese with pasteurized milk. Dug out two inadequate pots and tried to stuff the goose carcass and smaller chickens in. Did locate pepper corns, finally. Collapsed in a chair with my glass and the gorgeous chorizo to freak out about the children smearing their pizza all over the couch and pouring their water on the floor. Watched three episodes of Good Eats and argued with the children about whether we should suspend all regular activities for the next month and just make everything Mr. Brown was making in exactly the same way with all the people dressed up and funny dialogue. Finally gathered all the dead birds off the kitchen floor and consigned them to the Binghamton 5$ blue bag and climbed into bed rather over come from all the activity.
What day was that? Monday. The Day Off.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

phase two

The first many years of parenting are an anxious and fraught time. The main worry is keeping the child alive for the next 24 hours and praying they won't fall out of the tree they're climbing, or off of the back of the couch which they are using as some sort of gymnastic device. And, of course, you want them to eat every kind of food and become literate and it's so perilous. There's so many possibilities for anxiety and despair.

But then you look around and see that they lived. You didn't somehow do something terrible that caused death. You didn't totally fail. They're actually quite good at balancing.

And then the next wave of trauma descends on you like a cloud, as it did to me last night.
Will They Be Marriageable?!
And Will They Ever Be Employable?!
And you see them sweeping the kitchen, or lying on the floor complaining, or shoveling food down their gullets, or narrowing their eyes at you and you realize I Still Have So Much To Do! I Can Definitely Still Fail. Keeping them alive was the least of it. 

So, excuse me, I have a big pile of socializing and correcting ahead of me today.

Monday, January 27, 2014

in which I confine my remarks to the weather

The snow is swirling wildly outside my window and the temperature apparently is falling another degree each hour. Matt has decided not to walk after all. Discovered, as I rushed along to church yesterday in my stupidly thin coat, that whenever I look out of the window or scuttle through the snow covered landscape, that I am always thinking only of summer. And more even, my mind has been playing tricks. When I open the door of the church and look at the cement slab, I see myself sitting with a cool drink and a friend and children capering around. When I go the other way, out towards the parking lot, I look up at the hills and see green everywhere. When I gaze dull-y out the front window at the big tree I see leaves unfurling.

And then I blink and see that it is really white and gray, not green, and feel the piercing cold, not the soothing balm of heat, and wonder if I am going mad. Maybe I am becoming a person who hallucinates. Maybe I am losing my mind. Maybe I'm developing some weird coping mechanism. 

So the weather is supposed to continue cold, to use an understated and inadequate word, all week. And I, I will continue to fuss and ask God why he doesn't love me. Why, I will ask, must I suffer? And God will tell me to stop complaining. And everyone else will walk around like nothing unusual or bad is blowing itself over the hills and frozen river.

Friday, January 24, 2014

frenzied friday

It will not surprise anyone that I have many opportunities to rush around and be insane during the week. There are only two uninterrupted nights for dinner altogether (don't feel bad for me, two is more than adequate to bear with children who can't eat anything without flinging half of it to the floor) and there's always something to interrupt a regular school day if we wanted. I know, in terms of the rest of America, we live a very calm and peaceful life but reality never has that much influence on my feelings. By any subjective measure, I'm petty sure I could use more time to do everything. The busyness of the week, however, can't hold a new florescent lightbulb to the weekend. The weekend makes the 'insanity' of the week look like having a picnic in a warm, calm, blue skied, bug less meadow.

From Friday, even with various restful moments, like date night and afternoon play, built in, we summit sharply and steeply up through all of Saturday's Sunday Preparations, through ghastly Family Movie Night, to the pinnacle of Sunday morning. And even then, the peak is really only reached midway through the 10:30 service, that moment in which, as I sit with bible open and pen poised, I draw a full breath of relief knowing that all of Matt's intense preparation has carried him through and he is Preaching Well. I am the premier sermon listener. I have read his text twice. I have said what I really thought, sometimes to the woe of us both when he has to go back and rework whole sections. I have implored him to leave the text and, for the sweet love of Jesus, Get Dressed because it's 7:55 and the first service starts at 8. And yet, as I sit in my pew, I am totally and completely helpless as the one whom I love stands exposed to stand or fall on the Word of God and how deftly he handles its vast depths. The moment I can zip my fancy pens into my tea stained pencil case knowing that when I walk up onto the altar and he looks in my eyes I can smile with true approbriel joy is the most spiritual rest I ever endure.

From thence we slowly climb down all the way into Monday where, at the bottom of the mountain, we lie down and are mentally blank. Then we rise up and pull ourselves together and start again. I always arrive at Friday both relieved and dread-full. We survived the week. Will we survive the weekend? Will we toil our way down from the mountain relieved and happy or piled high with anxious worry and work? Only God knows, but either way, the climb starts now.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

{phfr}: ordinary time

Gladys draws so well and so interestingly. So much of her stuff looks like it is right out of Millions of Cats, very detailed, dark. She barely ever colors anything in. And lately, her houses look like they have eyes for windows, which she told me was on purpose.
Also, I'm so glad we painted this room yellow. It's so cold and gray out but the room provides it's own light.
Fatty Lumpkin, Ermintrude (?), what am I calling her? She is so pleased with her new hat and coat. She smiled especially for this picture, wide mouthed, still for half a second so she could be photographed.
We own a treadmill, lying there in disuse down in the basement, and Matt insists on having a forty five minute walk five days out of seven, besides his hour long work out, but he won't use the treadmilll even though it's something like 20 below outside. He wraps himself up in all kinds of layers and goes out in it anyway.
Why does this fall under Funny? you ask. Shouldn't it be in a new category called Insane or Very Very Stupid? Yes, but I do derive so much pleasure from the the extraordinary personality of my husband. And Fatty Lumpkin, curled up in bed with me just now, pointed at him as he put on his mask, and gave a hearty belly laugh. A just and true reaction to someone who won't ever take any excuse to vary his routine for any reason ever.
Since we haven't fixed on any kind of systematic evening devotional I asked Matt if we could work on the catechism because it's becoming unruly and cumbersome during the school day. There are so many things we're trying to memorize I don't want to neglect the weighty matters of spelling rules and the multiplication tables just so all the children can perfectly rattle off all 146 questions of the shorter catechism from young children. I mean, of course the Jesus part is super important but the day is so short. Choices have to be made, I'm sure I frequently make the wrong choice.
So we talked about points one and two over dinner: Who made you, and What else did God make? Who made you was a nice reason to talk about the March for Life. What else did God make was too tempting to not talk about how terribly they treat their stuff. But then somehow we got to Adam representing all his posterity and why God would create the devil. And here is where childhood development is so interesting, because a fourteen or a sixteen year old child is very likely to have real existential angst about the idea of God being glorified by pouring out his just anger on those who have been prepared before hand as vessels of wrath. Whereas the six year old child thinks God beating down Satan is super cool and is prepared to spin around the dining room table making light saber noises. 

Go check out Like Mother Like Daughter's lovely new site!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

and they rose up to play part two

In my tired fog yesterday I went winding my way around Work and Play straight to children which is what I think about most often since I am so covered with them. But of course, when we are told "and they rose up to play" the intimation is that they rose up to do lewd and inappropriate things with one another all around the golden calf. It's not the playing of children that we're seeing, but the 'playing' of full grown idolatrous adults and it shouldn't, in this day and age be hard for you to imagine what I'm saying without me having to lay it all out. 

But the distinction I made yesterday is still helpful, I think, and so is the garden. Adam and Eve were given to each other for knowledge, intimate knowledge, companionship, mutual help and comfort, and that was not so much about recreation as about work. The person who plays around with a lot of other people is worshiping himself. Whereas the person who sets about to know another is doing work, self denying and sometimes hard, though hopefully very rewarding work.

The kind of idolatrous adulterous play manifesting itself around the golden calf leads necessarily to the opposite of things like mutual help and comfort. At the end of such a play you have ruination, hurt, and in the case of this tragic anniversary of Roe v. Wade, murder. God's mercy in that moment was extraordinary, that only 3000 perished and not the whole camp of Israel. We have endured a similar mercy as a country, as God has forborne our lewd play, our murder. I pray he has more in his hand and will rescue some from the fire of his wrath.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

they rose up to play

Somehow managed to push play on the bible without really being awake and so climbed into a partial consciousness as Israel was eating and then drinking and then rising up to play in the presence of a little gold in the shape of a calf. No big deal. Except then Moses and the Levites were killing anyone with the sword that looked crossways. (That's just my own early morning paraphrase.)

Obviously it is very stupid to be that idolatrous so soon after seeing God's rescuing power but it is the usual human way. We have the staying power of fleas and love to worship whatever we can find as soon as we can possibly get our grubby mitts on it.

The part that jumped out at me, again, was 'rose up to play'. I have a whole gaggle of lovely new little people in my Level One Atrium (Sunday School, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd)--two and sometimes three little boys, and five little girls twirling in their pretty dresses and shouting at each other. My first and main task, apart from the lesson and the singing, has been to develop a culture of Work. The child walks (not runs) into the room and fixes on something to Work with. Sometimes a child will walk in and stand about not landing on anything and then I come along on my hands and knees (feeling very old) and say, "Let me help you find some work. Would you like to work with the Good Shepherd? Would you like to polish? Would you like to trace? " and I run down the whole list of everything in the room that was put there especially for the child. It takes two months, usually, to get children to stop saying 'Play' and start saying 'Work' (longer for grow ups) but the difference is important.

Adam was given useful work in the garden. Useful, that is, for him. The work was prepared for him ahead of time. But the people of Israel rose up to play. They were hanging around not doing what they were supposed to do, and they landed on play. The atrium is supposed to be more like the garden then like Mount Sinai. The child gets to the mountain eventually, but when he is little, the garden of work is prepared specially for him. 

Of course, children should play. But even I know that the playing of children is useful for them as they grow. Their play is a kind of important work that sets them up to do real work later on. But now, in our culture, it is so hard to get anyone to stop playing and do any work. Even me, I chafe to think that I feel like I am always working and never playing. But there, in Exodus, the people were given work and rest, not work and play. But they didn't work or rest, they played. And they worshipped other gods.

This is, I am sorry, an incomplete sketch, but I have to go work so it will have to do.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

happy mlk day

It's so hard not to start every blog post with a weather update....
Maybe because every day in Upstate New York starts out cold and gray except for those in July and August. More so I think because there are so many things to be depressed about and the weather is a nice visual to lay along side each terrible thing that comes through all the various news outlets every morning.

So today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. An important and auspicious day made all the more necessary by the fact that there is still so much work to do to bring rights and equality (and I am a conservative, as you well know, so I don't mean by these words anything that a good 50% of America means by them) to all people in this vast and confused American Landscape. In celebration of this day we have our own governor, Andrew Cuomo, who lately mentioned in a TV interview so everyone could clearly hear him and no one could misconstrue his words, that people who believe that babies (that is, tiny people who nevertheless can't survive without the care and protection of another) shouldn't be allowed to go on living in New York State, likewise people who believe in traditional marriage. They, people who believe that babies are human beings who should not be killed before they are born, should not be permitted to live any longer in New York State.

This is terrible on so many levels but on this day, MLK day, it is even more terrible because the babies that don't survive to be born most often in this country are minority, mostly black, babies. What a legacy we have given Dr. King who gave his life to make a safe and prosperous life for a people with such a tragic and sorrowful heritage. I would say we haven't learned anything. We listen to the speech. We say a lot of nice PC sounding stuff. But when it comes down to it, we don't believe anything we say. 

May God have mercy.
And let me add my faint voice to those who are calling for Governor Cuomo's resignation.

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 quick take: first real week back in reality

Last week I blithely went about doing school as if it was the normal and right thing to do when on day two Matt found me wandering around in a glassy eyed stupor trying to coordinate between my right and left hand not to drop a massive vat of coffee on the kitchen floor believing, wrongly, that if a little bit of caffeine is helpful, a great deal more must be of The Lord.
 "What are you doing?" He asked me, since I guess an ordinary person couldn't immediately divine what I was attempting to achieve.
"I'm doing school," I slurred.
"Well, the main reason is that the children seem exceptionally stupid. But also, it says I should on the calendar. If you look at the calendar, it says it's January, and we're supposed to do school in January."
"Why don't you start next week and just go out for the afternoon?" He said. Like it was an obvious choice that I had considered but decided against when actually it was something that had never occurred to me in the whole course of my existence.
So I did. And it was marvelous.
So we started in earnest this week. And would you believe, a few days down made such a difference. Feel stupid for having to say it out loud. But there you are. You go along thinking that you're all that, that you can do whatever you want, and do all the work in the world, and then one tiny little holiday brings you to your knees in realization that you're a weak pathetic person who also must sleep and eat food. 
Also, miraculously, I carefully examined my plan and we should be able to finish just on time, if we really work hard. So you can see the fatal flaw almost immediately because who in their right mind wants to work hard. No one that I have given birth to. I feel like St. Paul, threatening, admonishing, berating even with tears to snatch them out of the jaws of judgement.
The only people who want to work hard are those who need constant help to do anything. Gladys and Marigold just want to Learn Something! Anything! Whereas those that can do quite a lot on their own just want to lie on the floor and whine and play with Legos. That was the first day. The second day was slightly better and then yesterday was almost sane. Someone even asked a question to obtain knowledge about something they didn't already know. 
Foolishly, I decided that Elphine and Alouicious are old enough to make lunch. Elphine for a week and the Alouicious. I don't know what I was thinking. Alouicious made soup from a packet yesterday (we'll start small, I thought) and besides coming in to ask me every tiny question because even though he was able to read the instructions he couldn't believe that they were true, he strewed soup all up and down the kitchen as if he was some sort of barbarian Hun cook coming to destroy civilization with noodles and synthetic seasoning. And then he was exhausted from the effort and couldn't cope with the idea of cleaning up so he just didn't and Matt walked in at the end of his long day and had  to crunch his way across the floor seeking out a broom. 
I make it sound like it's all a chore. There are myriad irritations as with everything in life. But they are basically small. I nurtured a glimmer of hope as I sat curled up next to heater toiling with each child through the most basic elements of language and numbers. It may be that they will learn and grow into reasonable people. I fail so much but I may not completely fail. It's the tiny seed of hope and the thin rays of sunshine into the school room that kept me sitting there until my voice was gone each day.
Nevertheless, when I woke this morning to the sound of Alouicious fussing and fussing and fussing and fussing about not being able to find his iPod even though he had carefully plugged it in last night as part of his preparation for Men's Bible Study and so someone must have come during the night and stollen it and how could he possibly be expected to read the bible from something like a book!..I prayed earnestly that he would get himself out the door and leave me with two hours of peace. Well, one hour because the little girls wake up at seven now (not 6:30 anymore!) and they always come in shouting.
But it's Friday, and so we only have to finish a little list of things we didn't get to and then go play at church for the afternoon. This is our ordinary and life giving rhythm. May it carry me all the way through February and March, those two worst months of the homeschool year. May we emerge on the other side smarter and holier than we are today.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We All Saw This Coming And We Knew It Was Bad {wstcawkiwrb}

I was mulling over the idea of linking up with Like Mother Like Daughter's 
Pretty Happy Funny Real {phfr}
today because it's snowing and I'll be clocking another solid day of school which means there'll probably something funny and cute and I could have taken a picture and carried on with the mundanity of my own life. However, I really wish someone would orangize an internet day for 
Stupid Stupid Stupid Stupid {ssss}
We All Saw This Coming And We Knew It Was Bad {wstcawkiwrb}
After all the kerfluffle in Virginia last year of an ACNA (that's the group that left The Episcopal Organization TM [see Midwest Conservative Journal] over its apostasy in rejecting the bible and the elevating and celebrating of same sex relationships inspite of what God has so clearly said) rector (that's a fancy word for Main Pastor) first having regular meetings for coffee and prayer and then later going on little organized tours around England with the Episcpal Bishop (that's the person who wears the fancy hat) of Virginia, who, no shock to anyone, married two women together in the Old Falls Church as soon as ever that faithful congregation had been flung out on its ear--after that it is no surprise that the Archbishop of Canturbery would confer special honor on this enlightened and reconciling rector who knows that doctrine and the bible are not so essential as how we all get along with each other. They will know us, you can just hear the muttering, by our love. Love love love. 

Of course the Archbishop of Canterbury wants everyone to just get along. All this division is pointless. It doesn't matter about the Bible, all you mind numbed Neanderthal "Anglicans". What's really important is that we stop fighting and get along with each other. We must reconcile because Jesus ate with sinners.

By bringing in an ACNA rector to preach at regular intervals from the pulpit of Archbishop Cramner who was willing, in the end, to die because of the word of God is a very bold way of saying There Is No Real Division Here. What you all are upset about is a secondary and unimportant issue and you need to Keep Calm and stand and kneel where liturgically appropriate. It's such a clever move. My hat is off to you, your Grace. You've succeeded in making me look like a flapping fundamentalist nitwit, like a divisive dividing divider. Me here with my brick church wall and my northeastern snow covering over the dying and decaying American Spiritual Landscape. Well done. Let's not really talk it out and tell the truth about how bad things really are, about how angry God really is with sin, about how many women around the world are being smudged out in black by a religious system that hates them, about how homosexuality actually kills the soul, about how sinful we all really are. Let's just have another bun and talk more about the weather. It's the Anglican Way and it's worked for a long long time. But guess, what, I'm homeschooling, that is, indoctrinating my children, and so are a whole lot of other people, against this foolishness. And everyone else isn't bothering to have children at all. So eventually it will just end because there won't be any more people to pretend that it's really working.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

spoiling children

Matt roasted a chicken on Sunday and, wonderfully, the children only ate half of it because of the potluck, so I cut the rest of it up and did it with onion, garlic, little sweet peppers, thyme, mushrooms and the rest of his gravy and then puff pastry not top. There wasn't any left. Not even a tiny speck. It's becoming so discouraging how much the children eat. There wasn't any breakfast left either--apples layered with brown sugar, butter and uncooked oatmeal and then baked for a while at 350 until bubbling and golden brown. I only made one pan. Stupid stupid. No growing child can be expected to eat only two bowls of baked apple and oatmeal (I'm sure this has already been invented, doesn't it have a name? Three layers. Apple, sugar, butter, oatmeal in that order?) and survive past ten in the morning. And because I guess I just don't have it together, I only have one tray of these for breakfast this morning.
And because I'm short sighted and foolish I've fallen into the terrible habit of heating milk for the children's tea and coffee in the morning. And me not a morning person. Matt came in shouting and waving his arms on Monday (Monday is his day for breakfast) at the request that he heat milk. "What have you done!?" He cried. 
"I'm sorry," I said, "I just think the coffee is better with the milk heated."
"Not for a seven year old!"
He's right, of course, but so am I. So, on that note, off I go to the kitchen because the piano teacher will be here in an hour and everyone will be starving to death.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

the domino effect or the twirling cupboard, you choose

Matt took Elphine out to lunch yesterday which could have caused a spiraling disaster of jealousy and woe, had anyone else discovered their whereabouts. I stood around in the kitchen lying. " I don't know where they are. Did you look downstairs? Hmmm. Oh well." Then the boys decided they wanted to play something complicated and difficult that would only be messed up by little girls. So the little girls sat on the kitchen floor just whining and whining. So finally I gave them a plate of cookies and a jug of milk and a little metal Malian pot of warm water with a tea bag in it and they sat around for like three hours eating and drinking and pouring tea everywhere. They kept coming back for more sugar even though they started out with a half a cup. But then there wasn't any sugar on the floor when they were done so I suppose I may draw an obvious conclusion. All the while I took everything out of the Twirling Cupboard (the pantry that has shelves that twirl which seems like a remarkably efficient idea but is really more dark and easy to loose anything you're looking for in the midst thereof) and tried to make sense of to all because every time Matt has gone in to cook anything he hasn't been able to find his cinnamon sticks and has blamed me. Every Time. So I found them. And cleaned out all the dirt. Even though I'd said I would spend the time folding laundry. I didn't do that so I will have to do it today. Which means something else that I was probably going to do will have to be put off for another time. And yet being able to navigate through the Twirling Cupboard will make other parts of the day easier. And that is the way it is. If you do one thing that you know you ought to do, you haven't done something else also important. But that's ok. If nobody whines or blames me, I will battle back the incessant feeling that I'm forgetting to do something important and just twirl in my own dark inefficient way.

Monday, January 13, 2014

whacking at the cobwebs

Last week it occurred to me that the internet, upon which I am now posting, is a narrow and confining place, just like lots of other areas of life in January. Everybody gets so excited about the new year and all the weight they're going to lose and all the changes they're going to make. The glow of Christmas is all warm and life giving. Volumes are spilled about how a new year will bring a new dawn of peace and good will. Everyone wants peace, after all, and it will be easier to go to the gym this year than it was last year. It just will. 

And then the first day back to work after all the debauchery and partying and those most ordinary and average amongst us (me) conclude that it was all a bad idea--the world peace, the thinner waste line, the super duper awesome new school schedule. No, life will go on as it did before. We will just spin in our own stupidity and quietness because nobody cares anyway. And the internet is the perfect way to live out this boring and life sapping dream.

After having read everything there was to read about Chis Chirstie and Obamacare and the new Gates book (not that I read the book, oh no no, the internet addict only reads accounts of other people reading books), I went ahead and read about how the Obama's marriage is falling apart and that poor ship full of scientists stuck in the Antarctic in the summer time in the ice (hee hee hee). 

But then it appeared that I had come to the end. There didn't appear to be anything else to read.

Six or seven more scrolls through Facebook and I was filled with deep rebellion. I have already twice digested the 26 things strong minded people don't do. I have looked at all the memes there are to look at and even laughed at them. I have read all the advice and looked at all the recipes and been warned against the massive and horrific evils of vaccinating and not vaccinating, Islamic terrorism, children leaving church, and been twice through the 50 things you can do to make your kitchen more efficient.

And I feel very mentally squeezed into a small depressing box. I've tasted all the fruits the vast interwebs have to offer (well...not all of them...I'm not totally stupid) and at the end of my long search I am bored and not a tenth as smart as Solomon and every other single person in history and the world who doesn't even have a tiny number of the books or written material I have in my own bedroom.

So then I reread Coctail Time (PG Wodehouse as I'm sure you already know) and I feel the life returning to my heart and mind. Vigor and hope are slowly coming into my limbs. I will go clean the girls room. I will write something else in a place where not everyone will immediately read it. I will sweep the floor. Maybe the Obama's marriage is really on the rocks. How should I know? Why should I know? It's not important or interesting. More interesting and important is my own stupefied soul and the ennui that is so constantly pressing in from the gray weather and the church's brick wall. I don't need to constantly be making it worse by looking at pictures of sunsets and duck ponds with words scrolled across the front. I say constantly, for that is how much my wretched phone feels like it is in my hand. And the words are always so bossy--Live one day at a time! Treasure each moment! Don't be anxious! Pray for the children! Care for others!

Give me a break. For real. A real unbossed, unpious, disurgent, slightly more intelligent break. 
Not from blogging, of course. Please don't you take a break from reading me. That wouldn't do at all. Just please don't make me, or even let me, read any more drivel. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

baby it's cold out there

In spite of me owning awesome new long underwear, the dog will not go outside for more than 37 seconds, which means I haven't worn it outside for more than five minutes. In fact, he won't even join us for school in the sunroom unless he can be held by someone. Likewise the cat, who normally arranges herself all over the school books, stalked up to me as I sat shouting at Elphine that 'took' is NOT spelled t o e k e or whatever she was writing on her paper as if the English Language can be subject to her every lazy whim or fancy, "English," I thundered, "is difficult and beautiful and you! will rise to meet its standards!"...where was I?...oh yes, the cat jumped on my book and hit me with her vicious claw and then stalked away and I realized that I had done something wrong.
What was it? you ask. 
I had left the curtain in my bedroom closed during the five minutes of sunshine that graced our polar vortexed tundra yesterday. She stared at me with deep deep rage and meowed threateningly as I tied it back lest she smack me again.
Someone posted on Facebook yesterday a list of old words that describe very particular things--like, there's a word for the moment of sun in the middle of winter that provides momentary mental health and physical warmth. I didn't save the post so for three days have been troubled by knowing that there is such a word out there but I don't remember what it is. It's the knowing that's so painful. If I had never seen that there was this word, I would be perfectly comfortable.
Actually I'd just be irritated by something else.
These pictures were all taken by me last night. After sleeping for an entire day, they rearranged themselves and went back to sleep here.
In the morning I had to make the bed with the dog in it.
He would not budge. He bared his ridiculous underbite at me and growled. 
I should have just chucked him out. But I controlled myself as best I could. 
I am not a brute beast. I can rise above the weather and my circumstances to live in beauty and self control. I don't have to stay in bed all day just because it's really cold.
Do I want to? Yes of course. It seems the best and most natural thing to do. But I can cope. I can get up. I can do something useful. Anyway, tomorrow it's supposed to be like 29 degrees so that should better. With snow. More snow. And then rain. And then snow. And then rain. Until baseball starts in April and then it will just be very very very cold rain. So much to look forward to in the days ahead. Maybe I will just stay here and see if I can find that list on Facebook. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

we're not going out today

So we're in Epiphany now. The tree was undecorated and hauled out last night amidst squabbling  and crying and general mayhem. Matt roasted a piece of lamb and we distributed the last of the Christmas cookies. 
I had set the table in the usual way as if it was no big deal but Matt was so crestfallen that I put everything away and started again with a cloth and a nativity in the middle of the table.
And some Christmas Baubles. Since we had no frankincense or gold or myrrh.
I'm the only person in the house who is delightedly thrilled that Christmas is over. It was fun and sparkly, but the pine needles everywhere were grating on my nerves and I'm ready to get everyone into their school work.
I prefer the children when they are working on something. They have become dull and entitled and crying whenever they don't have a candy in their grubby fists. It's a pity lent is so late this year because they could really benefit from it now. 
Read in a variety of places that yesterday, Monday, is the unhappiest day of the year as everyone goes back to work and realizes that they have already failed at their resolutions. I think the children would probably agree today. But I'm so happy. First, as Alouicious would so helpfully enumerate, I don't have to go out in the weather. Second, Matt cleaned out the fridge last night so I don't have to.
Third, we're starting out the new year not behind in school. Fourth, I've worked out a comprehensive chore list so that everything is equal again. Fifth, I don't have to go outside. 
Alouicious is much devoted to numbering everything. It's so careful and orderly. We've all gotten into the habit. And now, I must arise and make some kind of gruel so that the children might discover more reasons to be dissatisfied with their poor wretched miserable existences.
Stay Warm!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

reds and greys

Winter Storm Hurcules is bearing down upon us. Well, it's actually already here. Matt is out shoveling, bless him, and I am still in bed. The little girls are raging and shouting in their usual way. Ermintrude is snotting everywhere. I feel, in my soul, that I will soon be joining her--something about the terrible painful feeling in the back of my throat and the wooly fog in my mind and the sense of immanent death. It really feels to me like I am lying here wearing Alouicious' new helmet, even though I'm not.
They all look so exasperatingly healthy. Even Ermintrude is busting with energy. Wretched children.
We all enjoyed ourselves this last week, even to the point of it being just a little too much. Goose, Cornish Hens, an extra Turkey, a Beef Roast, little sweet peppers stuffed with blue cheese and then wrapped in bacon, Trifle. Yesterday, as I inhaled a tub of gumbo handed to me by a friend, I resolved never to eat anything again for a least three days. But then I split open a gorgeous sweet dripping red pomegranate and squeezed it into my glass of champaign.
All the eating, it's so delicious, but I do feel that if it goes on things will begin to unravel in my life and mind. A diet, or a fast, is what's called for in the first days of the new year.
And a fast would be fitting to mark the sorrow of loss, of grandparent withdrawal. We had such a good time with Matt's parents! Ice Skating, Star Wars, meal after meal after meal, little outings to the store, lots and lots of patient loving attention from someone who is not your mother and who thinks you should be allowed to eat as much candy as you want.
The stark cold gray of winter was genuinely suspended for a brief bright week of inside light and gold and red. For a fleeting moment I wondered if God is calling me to give up complaining about the weather in 2014.
But then I thought, that can't be right. Complaining about the weather is really who I am in my essential being. So for 2014 I'm going to just try to read a second book. I read one in 2013 so I feel up to the challenge of reading another one.
Beyond that, I plan to just take whatever God sends. Snow? I'll try to deal. Suffering? Hopefully that won't be what he sends but I won't say no. Inclinations to Prayer? Those I'll take. More work? Well, that's to be expected. Good rich things? So many good things were given in 2013 and God was so good, I know there will be many good things to accept from his hand.
Happy New Year!