Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I've decided

I don't want to get over her.  I just want her back. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Death of a Pet

When someone you love dies, be it a pet or a human, you grieve. 

Today we lost my beloved cat, Caitlin.  I had raised her from kittenhood and took her through 12 years of her life.  Last year, around this time, she stopped eating.  I poured food and  milk down her throat and bullied her back into fighting shape.  For a year, she was back to herself.  She bullied Tiger, she bullied our dog, she hogged all the food.  Not bad for a cat who barely weighed five pounds at her top weight.  Then, last week, I got worried.  She wasn't eating much anymore. 

This time, there was no saving her.  I tried.  Since Thursday, I made her drink, I made her eat, but at the end, she was barely moving, stiff, and cold.  Last night, when I held her, she tried to purr at me, and I knew for certain that this was it.  She was leaving. 

I've done this before.  I am a veteran pet owner.  The downside of the loving is the losing.  I try to explain that to Little Guy, who struggles right now with the concept of death and "gone forever."  This is his first real experience with it, and he's reacting the way a six year old does.  This is painful, this is sad, and that means this is something to be avoided.  If you ask him if he's sad, he'll tell you no.  If you ask him why he cries, he'll tell you he's not even as the tears are falling down his face.

He wants to get a new cat, something I think to distract from the pain.  We told him that wasn't going to happen for a while.  We needed to grieve for Caitlin.  A new cat could not replace Caitlin; it would simply be a new cat.    I'm going the whole "It's OK to miss her.  It's OK to be sad.  That shows that you loved her." 

I lie to him too.  I tell him that everything is OK.  I think that's a lie all parents tell their kids when it comes to death and dying.  Because, let's face it.  It's not OK.  It won't be OK for a while.  Someone we loved died.  It hurts.  It is, however, a fact of life.  It will take time for things to get back to normal.  I just opened a can of cat food for our Tiger cat and started bawling. 


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Life in a day

Watching the movie "Life in a Day" is a good reminder of two things. 1 - We are all connected and 2 - Someone always has it worse.  Everyone does what they can just to survive in some cases but they filmed their day because they were thankful for whatever life they have.

There are days when I am angry about the difficulties I've experienced, just as I am sure most people are.  But then I look at my husband and son and I am reminded how wonderful even the gloomiest of times can be.  It's good to see that I'm not the only one to realize it.  Everyone across the world feels this way.

It's important, I think, to examine your life on a regular basis.  I try to remember everything and take pictures as often as I can remember to document life.  I also try to remember my mistakes, so I can avoid repeating them.  As hippie as it sounds, I try to balance pragmatism with optimism, cynicism with trust.  This is harder than it sounds for someone who possesses a dry, dark sense of humor.

Honestly, I love people, but I detest the lack of common sense I see displayed all the time.  I love teaching and I adore my students.  I find it shameful how badly our educational system has failed us though... I know this is a familiar rant.  When I see how determined some of my students are, though, it gives me hope.  And teaching reminds me how lucky I am.  I am smart, clever and creative.  I desperately hope to pass those traits on to my son.

So, I like movies that examine the human condition and reminds me that we all have similar hopes and fears, and we're capable of great things and capable of great failings...  Sometimes in the same 24 hour period. And sometimes, the most amazing thing is simply that we exist, right here and now.  We speak, we breathe, we communicate.  No matter who you are, you matter.  This truly is life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Feminism, Femininity, and the V word

As one of my fellow bloggy friends pointed out, the word 'feminist' has become a bad word.  When did this happen?  And why? It seems that most people believe a feminist is someone who believes in the superiority of women, seeking to set themselves apart from their counterparts by changing e's and a's to y's and removing men completely from the cycle. 

"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle," as the saying goes.  Sadly, that was backlash to the equality movement, and it was totally understandable. To a certain extent, it still is.  Women still earn less on average than men.  They are also still expected to complete their standard workplace jobs and then go home and complete most of the typical "female" jobs.  Women were told they could do it all, be it all, have it all...  But it seems the men forgot that in order for the women to get anything close to fair, they had to share. 

So, women became strident and demanding.  When the mainstream became ashamed of some of their demands and claims, the detractors added to it.  "You don't want to be a feminist," they sneered.  "Baby killing, man hating, painting with their own menstrual fluids.  They are jealous of men.  They want to BE men."  It was simply another way to slip the vagina back into a neat, little, lace-covered box (pardon the pun). 

When I was in college, I took part in an underground production (at an all-women's college!) of "The Vagina Monologues".  I used a whip and wore my hair in pigtails, playing the part of a dominatrix.  I played the part of a woman comfortable with being a woman and having a very feminine power.  The idea of embracing sexuality and power was a little too risque for the school, so we performed via word of mouth from dorm to dorm to avoid sanctions by the hierarchy. 

It was really the first step in embracing true feminism.  There is nothing wrong with demanding your due.  It is not strident to want equality.  It doesn't mean you want to be superior, it simply means you want to be held as important.   But feminism is more than equality, it is also about femininity.  We are not men.  We will never be men.  We should not fight the way men do. 

In "The Princessa ", Rubin argues that we should embrace the power that women naturally have.  Our ancient ancestors saw the importance that women had in the lives of their families and in the life-giving connection to the earth.  Our industrialized society bound women in steel corsets, and we lost that connection to ourselves.  And now, it's worse. 

When women became afraid of being called feminists, it gave the misogynists a chance to swoop in and decide for them. Men are deciding how women should use their sexuality and their ability to choose.  It's time to stop being afraid of feminism and in effect of femininity.  I am a feminist, with all the strengths and weaknesses that go with being a woman and being human. 

Are you a feminist too?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Angry at Facebook rant of Randomness

Facebook decided that I was spreading viruses and is preventing me from commenting or updating on Facebook for 24 hours.  After scanning my computer to be sure that I did NOT have a virus (I don't, other than this sinus/chest thing which can go blow a goat) I decided that since I cannot randomly plod through the world at large and express my thoughts on it on Facebook, I would do an update of major randomness.

Homeschooling - We did stuff FOR SCIENCE today.  Little Guy learned about states of matter and converting material from solid to liquid to gas using water.  He also got to see "condensation" in action.  We also officially practiced the scientific theory and made hypotheses (guesses). One thing I hope my Little Guy understood after today's practice - just because a hypothesis is incorrect, it is not bad.  An incorrect hypothesis can often lead to a correct answer.  Yesterday, we planted some flowers out front for him. He got to pick out a wildflower seed pack at the local store and we found a suitable spot in the front yard.  We even marked down on the calendar when to start checking for seedlings.  

While we planted flowers yesterday, I put the ingredients for dough into the bread maker.  However, because I am me, I could not leave well enough alone and completely ruined the first batch of bread.  With a minor adjustment and a little patience, I left the next batch alone and ended up with a loaf that was edible. I also found ham on sale at Meijer for $.59 a lb and made a 10 pound ham for dinner one night (complete with a honey-brown sugar-brandy glaze).  It was delish.  Last night for dinner, we used some of the left-overs and some swiss cheese to make Hot Ham and cheese sandwiches.  I bet it would be even better on the homemade bread. 

Sprng is in the air and we opened up the porch for use last night.  The heat is supposed to go up to near 80 this weekend and, I must admit, I'm kind of excited about it.  Also, after next week, I will be on vacation for a week.  You have no idea how much I am looking forward to it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A trip down the old house lane

It was a wonderful weekend.  I love relaxing at home with my family.  When I work split shifts, I often find myself just wiped out during my free time.  I spend a great deal of time sleeping and recovering only to turn around and do it again the next day.  That is simply one of the reasons why the weekends are so desperately needed.  I get that extra day to recuperate. 

This weekend, we had a few errands to run on Friday.  Big Guy needed some new jeans since his were getting hole-ly.  I want to state for the record that I was perfectly fine with the state of his jeans, but then I'm not one to keep my hands off my husband.  In any case, we went to the closest Big & Tall shop only to discover that the cheapest jeans there were $50.  After. laughing inwardly at the thought of spending that much money on a pair of jeans, we had to decide where else to go.  Normally, we pick up our clothes from Goodwill or Salvation Army.  Big Guy, however, cannot find pants that fit him at the second-hand shops. He's too big and tall.  

We ended up going back to the shop in Elkhart.  We drove past the old house and discovered that A - they had put new railings on the stairs and B - whoever had moved in after us had moved out already, and the place was empty again.  Color me shocked.  That's what happens when you treat tenants like an endless, cheap resource.  However, it was nice to just drive by.  We didn't have to stop and we didn't have to go inside.  We just trundled on down to the shop to get Big Guy his jeans.  

However, the drive by did start Little Guy on his comparisons of the "old house" vs. the "new house" again.  The outcome hasn't changed.  He still thinks the old house is "rubbish," but he has decided that it is because of the ceilings.  When pressed for an explanation, he told me: "Our new ceilings are nice. Our old ceilings were rubbish and kind of...not good.". Make of that what you will...  

I spent the rest of the weekend and this morning hearing these types of comparisons.  While I am certainly glad that he likes where we live now, I am afraid I have broken him.  I really did not like our old house.  Obviously, he could tell.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome to February!

Classes for the month of February have begun, and the new month is underway.  My day started off too damn early.  Mornings are not my thing.  I am definitely more of a night owl.  So are the Big and Little Guys, it seems.  Both were less than pleased at waking up at dark o'clock so that I could get to work.  But, awaken, they did and off we went.  

My day has gone well thus far.  I am sitting at my desk on campus typing and working on my (visiting) iPad.  There is a slight catch though.  We are working with the iPads to prepare us for their introduction to the student body over the summer, but the books in my Fundamentals course are not compatible with the iPad.  The labs require the use of the program Flash... Which Apple does not allow iPads to install.  How will this affect the future of the iPad/Fundamentals integration?  I don't know, and, to be honest, those are concerns for someone higher up the pay scale than I.  

The iPad has already proven to be useful in multiple ways, and, I hate to admit, has started winning me over.  My ebook collection has grown significantly and I also downloaded some free books and apps for Little Guy, including a Lego Builder game app and a handwriting app that he can use to practice his handwriting.  Project Gutenberg has many of my favorite classics available for download, and I totally took advantage of that.  

I remember going on road trips when I was younger and taking two bags - one with the clothes I needed and the other full of books.  Something like this would have very useful to have in those days.  It certainly would have cut down on the amount of space I needed in the car!  Seeing how Little Guy interacts with this technology has also been fascinating.  

He really took to it like he was born with an iPad in hand.  He learned rapidly how to work it and get things done and he came downstairs the other night to tell me he really liked the iPad and could he please have one...  I laughed, but don't think it hasn't crossed my mind, especially with the sheer amount of educational software available.  However, there are certain things an iPad cannot do that are slightly more pressing - like cook food, since our microwave went out, or stir things really fast, since our mixer started smoking and died after we moved in.  I tell myself that someday we will get to a point where we can afford what we need AND what we want...  For now, I will make do with what we've got. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

iPractice makes iPerfect

The end of the month is nigh.  I finished the two classes for January and discovered that I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to try out the new iPad for the next month. This blog entry is, in fact, being typed out in the notepad on the iPad from my sofa while I drink tea and watch Law & Order: Criminal Intent.  It is pretty cool; I must admit.
Photo by Jeff Wilcox

I have some nice and relaxing plans for the weekend.  Practice with the iPad, fun times with friends, and then class on Monday, two in fact.  Next month will be a long month.  I have two classes next month, luckily, but they are split shift.  I'll start at 8:30 in the morning and end at 10 at night.  That is another reason I am thrilled to be able to play around with the iPad.

This month, I can use the iPad and get the practice I need in the four hour stretch between the classes.  I can already tell that I am going to love this.  I was able to get onto Project Gutenberg and download two classic favorites of mine: Phantom of the Opera and Persuasion.

Jane Austen is one of my favorite Victorian writers.  I think she gets a bad rap for being insipid and dull.  If you read her with an eye toward her actual purpose, she's absolutely hilarious.  Much like Swift's Modest Proposal, Austen wrote with an eye on satire and mockery of "polite society" and the common roles women filled in that society.  I am really looking forward to reading it again as well as checking out the possible uses of an e-reader.

The e-reader vs. book debate will be one I weigh in on later.  Right now, I still side heavily with the paper form of books.  At the risk of sounding like an old woman, these new fangled e-readers need to stay the hell off my metaphorical lawn.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The calendar never lies...

Courtesy of Getty Images
I've found my month passing by rather rapidly. Every time I look at my calendar, I am left feeling kind of woozy at the passage of the days. Since classes are only a month long where I work, I find teaching to be white-hair inducing when the months are incredibly shortened... As they were this month.
We lost the first day of class thanks to the New Year's observation. We then lost another day this month for MLK Day. It wouldn't be so difficult if this were a traditional school setting, but we teach on a 1-class-per-month schedule. I did the math (with great difficulty) and discovered that each day of class is essentially 1 week in a traditional setting. That means I am cramming 2 weeks worth of material into other classes throughout the month. So, I've done that, my students have learned something despite their best efforts, and the month draws to a close.

On top of the two class shortened month, though, I also managed to hurt my back part of the way through the month. Usually I can catch it before it really gets bad, but this month it went from zero to "OH HOLY CHRIST THAT SMARTS" in a day. At one point I woke up, judged my back pain as "not too bad", stood up, and immediately sat back down on the bed. Apparently the process of standing caused a muscle spasm and that never goes well. Big Guy bought me a heating pad and made sure I had ibuprofen, so I spent a week hobbling through the house and ensconced on our sofa with a heating pad on my back.

What all of this has done, more than anything else, is make me cranky. I am cranky, I feel old, and I am tired. I am behind on so many things that I want to do because I've been babying myself. But, I've also avoided things I NEED to get done... Like write. I haven't worked on my story at all since the changing of the year and I'm irritated with myself for it. Part of it is more than internal frustration.

I'm feeling angsty and frustrated with certain things. I just need to suck it up and get over it. Instead, I intend to focus on what I am going to do in the spring and summer as the seasons change. Little Guy and I have already been discussing what plants we want to grow. Little Guy wants to plant peas and tomatos for sure. I'm surprised he didn't ask for carrots! I know I need to get sage, basil, oregano, mint, lemon balm, and other delicious plants to grow. For the first time in a couple years I am excited about the growing season. We are no living in a place where things can actually grow!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Life is good

It was a rather Green Christmas

Coming down off the holiday rush always takes time. This season was no exception. We had a truly wonderful holiday, filled with friends, family, warmth and laughter. The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve we held no fewer than 3 parties. There was food and drink flowing, stories, jokes, and games... It was a good holiday.
Crockpot Mulled Wine - Recipe below

But, now we get into the long, slow stretch of the winter. The snow was slow i n coming, but it has hit Indiana with a vengeance. Between Thursday night and today, the brownish-green winter grass has been covered with a thick, white blanket of snow. When I went in to work on Thursday, it was in the mid 40's. When I came home that night, the temperature had dropped and the snow had started to fall. Looking out of our bedroom window at the street below, the neighborhood appeared abandoned. No cars had driven down the length of the road, leaving the snow pristine and unmarred by tire tracks.

Yesterday, we left to run a few errands and then came home to our nice warm house (what a change!) and good food prepared by Big Guy. Little Guy vanished upstairs. He was supposed to clean his closet and put his clothes in his dresser, but I heard the unmistakable sound of battle as his knights fought off the encroaching dragon. Our plan this weekend is simple (especially since Monday is a holiday). Stay home.

I woke up this morning and made a pot of coffee. Shortly, I'll sit on the sofa, curled underneath a blanket as I work on a blanket I'm crocheting. I've been burning through Law & Order: Criminal Intent on Netflix as I work, so that will probably go on again. Little Guy will hopefully finish putting his clothes away and Big Guy will continue to play his Civ 5 Christmas gift.

It's peaceful here. Life is good.

2 bottle cheap red wine
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges, cut into pieces
2 apples, wedged
Handful of cloves
Cinnamon stick

Put the cinnamon stick and cloves on the bottom of the crockpot, top with the apples and oranges.  Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top and splash in the brandy and rum.  Add the two bottles of red wine.  Don't worry about brand or type, get whatever is on sale.  Put the lid on the mixture and set on low for about 6 hours.  Stir once in a while and make sure the lid is on so the entire mixture doesn't evaporate.  It is remarkably sweet, good, and warming.