Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ambiguous

Siris' Comments on a clip from The Onion in which the essential meaninglessness of life is confronted during an NFL coin toss.

"What the Jags need to do, of course, is to recognize, perhaps by reading Simone de Beauvoir, that a distinction can be made between absurdity and ambiguity, and that what they are interpreting as the absurdity of human life is really the ambiguity of human existence, which allows for the creation of meaning through projects of freedom."

I hadn't heard about this absurdity/ambiguity divide before. I like the distinction as expressed above. Even though trying to concentrate on philosophic writing makes me want to smash things, I took a look at a passage of the de Beauvoir article "The Ethics of Ambiguity". (Thanks, Marxists.) I did not succeed in deriving anything more satisfying than the boiled down statement Siris gives above. So I have resolved to enjoy that and not smash anything.

We're off to watch colorful hot air balloons float around in the Albuquerque skies. If the winds calm down and the crick don't rise. We're guaranteed good chile, beautiful skies and a cousinpalooza (4 kids ages 5, 7 and 9).

Whether I neglect my blog this week or not, you should plan to visit the Domestic Sensualist, Bee's collaborative food project. Come sit in the kitchen and chat with the cooks. Both Bee and Julochka are nimble writers. I'm still trying to forgive Julochka for her refusal to capitalize, but I loved her mushroom gathering post.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vault

Mini post to say that I'm stuck on that word today. The phrase 'vault of the sky' popped into my head this morning as I was looking up at the cloud pattern against blue. Vault is a deep protected place for precious things, vault is a leap, vault is a high ceiling. The OED tells me that it means a curved ceiling supported by pillars. Or the space it covers. Or an underground space with a curved ceiling. Which all seem very different to me.

Tangentially, Wikipedia tells me that the word 'firmament' in the King James Bible was translated from the Hebrew word raqiya. And that word comes from a word that means “beaten out” in metalworking. The explanation says that the ancient Hebrews were extolling the handiwork of God who had somehow created the huge dome of the sky, as a humongous bowl of worked metal, infinitely beyond the capabilities of humans.

And then onto the Egyptian sky goddess Nut who is pictured as arched over the earth with the stars, moon and sun in her body. I can't find an image of her to link to that matches the one in my mind. And anyway she's not very vault like.

Vault.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dry bones

Giant flowers
Georgia O'Keeffe's art I learned as part of the New Mexican arts identity. (By the way this is the first time I've ever noticed that her last name has two ffs. Huh.) It was presented as high art but also our (white people who love the southwest) art. And the more I've looked the more I've liked it. No matter that the giant flowers were supposed to be labial. No matter that the cow skull with flower became a 70s southwest cliche. No matter that she is a feminist icon. (I'm fine with having feminist icons but what I mean is that they are set apart and not just allowed to be artists.) I am always rewarded when I look at her works. When I first saw a bunch of the paintings I expected that I would find the flowers inspid. But there is a lot of movement and pow in them. (Those are technical art interpretation terms.) The Steiglitz photos of her are bonus fun. She lived outside of Abiquiu (and that is the back of beyond, beautiful and far from everything) for her last 2o-some-odd years. I loved reading this article about a show of her works at the Whitney in New York. I wish I could go.

Agincourt
Did your way-back namesake ancestors fight at the English battle of Agincourt? Here's a way to check. This database allows you to search the records of combatants by last name. Thank you, universities of Reading and Southampton. I was chuffed to see my family name in there. It's pretty uncommon in the states and I was surprised at how glad I felt to see it listed. I was just friended on Facebook by someone completely unknown to me but with the same last name. I wrote back to see if he wanted to try and figure out what degree of cousin we are.

Cohousing
Ever looked at cohousing? It's commune lite with modern real estate considerations included. There's a local group that owns townhouses not far from downtown, on the same side of the city as we are now. We went to their Sunday potluck last weekend. It was pretty jolly and our kids loved their treehouse. I felt like I recognized most of the people we met. Later I realized that it must be because they seemed so Bay Area-n to me. So we have found the epicenter of Bay Area living in Lawrence. And as they are finding it hard to sell their units, we may start renting there in January. Amazing.

On the pro side: recent buildings in excellent shape; good price rental; nice garden, landscaping and common areas to share; good location on a quiet street; kids for ours to play with. On the con side: count me scared of committee meetings; change of school district. Nod spoke with our principal yesterday and found out that the girls would finish the year where they are if we move in the middle. That's a relief. Then they'd be at a new school in the coming fall. We are trying to decide if we want to put down a deposit now. I'm making Nod make his own pro/con list and for us to go through all the items on both lists. Trying to make well founded decision. Tuesday I was just crushed down by all the uncertainty and change. But I've bobbed back up since then. Renting is less of a commitment than buying of course. But then I would hate to jerk the kids out of school *again* after next year. I am trying to be the beacon for continuity and stability in shifting seas. (I suppose if I'm the beacon I should try to stay on dry land.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Breathe and link

I am having to remind myself that I don’t like pralinĂ© chocolates. There are some in my line of sight as I sit at my desk. The snacky drive is strong today. Let’s see, what do I wish I was eating… rare roast beef slices with horseradish. Little radishes and salt. Pastel petits fours. Dried peaches. Pretzels. I had better stop now before I start gnawing my phone book.

Asthma diagnosis
Mulling this over after meeting with the pediatric asthma specialist Tuesday. I am having a hard time accepting that Lexi has asthma, full stop. I was okay thinking she had seasonal asthma symptoms. But simple, huge asthma is rough. I feel sad that she has asthma despite the breastfeeding, grubby house, early exposure to a pet, childcare from one year old and playing outside with dirt. I was hoping all those immune system building things would protect from that condition. But maybe inheritance trumps. Her dad has a sad tale of allergy shots for years when he was a small kid. The specialist said that the field was pretty voodoo-y at that time. So it probably didn’t do poor Nod much good (even worse).

I’m trying to be productively skeptical and not just resistant. But there is one piece of evidence that doesn’t fit with the asthma dealio. Lexi’s worst day was the morning after her fever broke. She had poor color, was listless and when we got her to the Dr.’s office we found she had a very low blood oxygen number. But no coughing. The doctor quizzed me about this. He said it would go against asthma as the diagnosis and he asked whether there could be some degree of coughing that I don’t remember because it seemed “normal”. I said that could be. But I can’t remember any coughing that morning, just ominous silence from our L. Nod agrees with me. What could give her such a reduced blood oxygen level that wasn’t pneumonia, flu or asthma? Criminy.

I am forging ahead with the inhaler and nose spray, despite this question. I’m glad to have a preventive strategy for this winter. I hope it helps a bunch. And I hope I don’t get any chance to observe any more episodes where Lexi is so sad and poorly.

Thanks to Kottke, I have now read about someone who infected himself (and continues to do so periodically) with parasitic hookworms in order to cure his asthma. (I’m guessing this person doesn’t get to share bodily fluids very often.) Here’s hoping the pharamaceutical researchers unlock that mechanism by which the hookworms suppress asthma symptoms with all speed. Shudder.

Via the polymathic Siris here’s an article about a possible technique used to create the illustrations on the Book of Kells and other illustrated manuscripts. The theory is that illustrators used stereoscopic focusing to create such precise tiny lines. (The URL reads "Kell’s Angels" Someone's having fun.)

Viking Heat. Really? Enough women buy dom/sub time travel romance novels to justify publishing this? Fascinating.

I have farmer's market okra in my crisper and just found this recipe on Homesick Texan. I'm off to make it soonest!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Catchall

Bookslut's brief review is making me want to read this new book: War Damage by Elizabeth Wilson. And I bet the Danish will want to read it too. Sounds too racy for the public library but maybe the university library will pick it up. I'll mark my calendar for March to check.

Horrid pun that I am very fond of: Nod tells me that he is home for lunch, being frugal. I reply that he's playing his frugal-horn. So. Godawful.

I have been collecting Lexi every day at lunch and bringing her home for a dose of nebulizer medicine. Then I get her to eat a quick lunch and return her to her kindergarten class. As a bonus I saw my second grader today getting an eye test in the hallway. They really are out of room at this school. They had a little set up on one side of the hall and it seemed to be working well. Katy was concentrating on the letters while I gave her a quick head kiss and kept moving.
Lexi has an appt to see the dr. tomorrow morning and we will (fingers crossed) get the okay to stop these noontime doses. All of us are tired of the rushing. I imagine doing this for much longer and totally losing my sense of humor. Part of having a trivial job is enjoying the bliss of a lunch hour To Myself.

A spells list for professors a la D&D. An impressive list from The Little Professor, I would have this posted by my desk if I was a university instructor.

The children helped me make gingerbread two nights ago. It was the Joy of Cooking recipe, made with a stick of butter. It is spicy and fragrant and rich and wonderful. But do we (meaning I) need to eat more butter? We (see above) do not. I noticed that JoC also has a version using applesauce instead of fat. I am going to try it and we'll see whether the spices can make up for the lack of beautiful unctuous butter. I make a banana cake (recipe from Blue's Clues. Thanks for this and so much else, Steve!) that has no added fat. But I ice it with butter frosting because that makes it goooood. Also in this category, my boss brought us some pear bread she made this week. It was a no added fat loaf and it was tasty. But gritty in that pear way. So I think I'll stick to apples or prunes (yum) for my fruit substitutes. I am not renouncing butter but just exploring my options here.

Enjoy your weekend. If it's not rainy where you are and the skies are clear, please enjoy it for me. Huff, harrumph.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Return of the Neen

After Labor Day Sale
Back from the long weekend and feeling like getting reconnected. I can't spend the same amount of time on Facebook as I did over the summer but maybe I can make a weekly commitment. Now that we have a plan (bankruptcy, moving to a rental probably in March) my ambient stress levels are better. I am surprised to find that this doesn't make me want to socialize much but instead I feel hollowed out. Guess I'll watch and see what happens with the moods but am going to make some maintenance efforts anyway. Time to put some energy in to connections. So hi - I think I'm back.

Umbrella
A visiting university instructor asked me to open her umbrella in our copier room so it could dry. It had a composed b&w photo animal image: wolves, polar bear, grizzly and an owl on top. They're all pasted together in a way that suggests the animals sat close together for this portrait. It has a roughly triangular shape and with the owl on top it looks like it should be called Big Pile of Predators. Which I wish was a product name so I could ask, "Can you help me? I'm looking for a Big Pile of Predators".

Fishing
I got to practice my worm sacrifice with the kids yesterday. We visited the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park Kansas. As Nod said, it was pretty much Knott's Berry Farms with no rides. It contains a petting zoo (goats), extremely clean cows, a handful of playgrounds, an Indian earth lodge and teepees, and a fish pond. For $3 you get a cane pole with a bare hook and a little bucket of nightcrawlers. With these tools you find a spot to perch and try to get an itty bitty fish to eat your worm. I found a spot in the shade and was very happy. The girls loved it. Nod and I did too. So I guess they're old enough and we should get on with this fishing thing. Lexi even lifted a fish out of the water by herself. She didn't mind that it flipped itself off the hook before we could land it. The fish we saw were about 3 or 4 inches long. Nod suggested using a wounded one as bait but as far as I could tell there was nothing in that water that would have a big enough mouth to eat it. We all got a bunch of sun and walking and it was very good family fun even though it was in full holiday spate.

Wheeze
Lexi had an asthma flare up after her minor virus last week. Her fever went away and I figured she'd be headed back to school but the next day -- wham -- she was droopy and pale yellow and couldn't eat or do anything. Nod wanted to take her to the ER. I convinced him to go the Dr. office route so he called and communicated his worry in such a way that they told me to bring her right in. She was a sad customer. Her oxygen levels were very low. I didn't realize that asthma could attach so quickly. I hadn't heard her wheezing but I guess it was because she was taking such shallow breaths. We were sent for a chest xray to rule out pneumonia. No pneumonia and no flu (a relief since H1N1 is happening on campus here and there in the dorms) just irritated breathing passages. So we're nebulizing 3 or 4 times a day and giving her an oral steroid too. This round has scared me a bit. I am willing to do lots of nebulizer sessions as needed. But I may have to invest in some new DVDs.