Archive for July, 2008

“How many dwarves can fit in a hobbit hole?”

G’night everybody….

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Thunder rolls….

….and magically, mercifully, the screaming children from the daycare center are herded inside.

In more charitable news, the lantana I purchased last Friday has indeed succeeded in attracting the local hummingbird. Yay!

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Yes, this is going to be a kvetchy post. The “in my day, there was one payphone and one on-campus phone per hall and we all managed to survive” kind of post. If this seems too alien, go play at Target for the next few minutes…they will have more than enough STUFF to make the first semester of college more about consuming objects than about acquiring knowledge and learning to self-actualize.

Here’s what got packed on a typical late August day when I was in college:

Clothing, shoes, bedding, books, pens, pencils, ink, a few gewgaws, some weather-appropriate outerwear…..a back pillow, an extra lamp, a 32K Tandy 100 laptop, miniature disk drive and a dot-matrix printer.

Oh, and an indestructible philodendron known as “That Damn Plant”.

That was it. I didn’t think this way of living was especially spartan. Most of the time, my heart was in the classrooms, not my dorm room.

One year, I did share a room with someone who liked color coordination in general and the color lavender in particular, so we had a rug, pretty curtains, and a few other niceties. Another year I shared a room with someone who was very fond of movie posters, which meant that occasionally Harrison Ford would detach from the wall and fall on me. I just found that irritating and inconvenient; I realize many other women would have had a different opinion; some have told me so at length.

By the time I got to graduate school, where I lived in a small attic apartment, I’d acquired a few more things to put on walls [mostly free posters from library conferences], and several dozen yards of Christmas lights to brighten the low ceiling. Friends would send bits of shiny wrapping paper, and that would go up on the walls, too.

Apparently, left to my own devices, I create a small jackdaw’s nest of paperwork, writing implements, and small sparkly objects. [ I’m very lucky to have found a similarly inclined spouse.]

I don’t know what my current students do, left to their own devices. But I hope that they can focus on the essentials, and not on the decor — many of them, I know, are working multiple jobs in order to get themselves through school. They shouldn’t be burdened with “needing” the perfect objects in order to impress complete strangers.

Then again, how many of us preferred the frosting to the cake when we were younger?

Musical cue: “Back to College”, Act II, Avenue Q

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Anger and Beauty

If you happen to be in one of the neighborhoods with a Lebanese Taverna, you probably already know that you should go eat there.  If you haven’t yet, please do so.  Yum!

Yesterday, in between thunderstorms in DC, I took several trains to meet Angry, D, and WordT for dinner.  I didn’t get to go up to a complete stranger to ask “Excuse me, are you Angry?”, but there was plenty of wordplay to go around.

One of the unexpected delights, though, was comparing neighborhoods — turns out we’ve got some shared geography, so we could discuss what we knew of cities, rural areas, and weather patterns.  When you meet people online, you have no absolute idea of where they are, where they’ve been, what they value.  Certainly you see what they put on display for public consumption, but that leaves how much of an iceberg beneath the waterline?  And is it even the same iceberg?  [I’m thinking of some high-profile blog highjacking that I’ve seen recounted recently]

Most of the people with whom I correspond I’ve known for more than 10 years, and many of them I’ve met in person, but not all.  The moment when you meet someone in person you’ve known only online is a special one — when I finally met MDragon after years of emails, I was fitting together all sorts of stories together with a person I might have easily passed on the street and not given much thought to at all.

Except, of course, I had those stories; I knew a lot about where he’d been, and the places he hoped to go in life.  And he knew a lot about mine, so I wasn’t just another person walking through Jackson Square, either.

Last night I got to add two new people to my world. And great new food.*

In celebration, let me share some atmospheric wonders:  Look!  Up in the Sky!

*And yes, I’m using an additive sentence structure, but we’re on the web so supposedly that’s okay. [sigh]

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If you are going to bother posting the chapter titles of your books, could they maybe match the chapter titles visible in the Table of Contents facsimile posted at Amazon?  Thanks ever so much….

Speaking of the environment, the giant rudbeckia is in full bloom now, delighting local pollinators and tempting the goldfinches, who eagerly anticipate the arrival of seeds in the next few weeks.

Us, we’re anticipating the ripening of the figs.  Last year we feasted on figs for about two months and had more than enough for friends, church receptions, and random parties.

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Leia hates thunderstorms.  It is the one time she comes downstairs and actually gets close to people.  She takes up residence in the lower “house” section of the cat tree in the hallway, or she runs up to Malkin and rubs against him, sometimes crying.  Tonight I happened to be petting Malkin when she ran up to him, and so I almost got rubbed against, too.  She backed away from my at the last moment, but the fact that she wants to be near other mammals during times of stress is better than cowering under the bed in my office.

But I went upstairs to close windows, and she’s decided to be on the bottom step.  So I’m in the crook of the staircase, typing on my laptop, humming old Beatles’ tunes…..

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But here she is anyway:  Leia! 

A few days ago, when we came downstairs to give the cats their evening meal, there she was, very much the Princess, blocking access to the food [it’s in the low cabinet she’s sitting on]. I didn’t dare use a flash; we’re trying to convince her that people are not evil, and that being seen isn’t going to lead to unpleasant consequences.

With luck, there will be better pictures of her in the future. But for now I can at least prove that there is a Himmie in the house.

As I was typing this at my desk, which faces the window, away from the bed beneath which she hides, I heard crunching behind me — she’d come out to eat some kibble.  Then she moved into the doorway, and then out into the hall, to wash. This effectively “traps” me in my office, and my Beloved in the bedroom.  Some of you out there have already realized this means that whether or not we think we are making progress in domesticating this cat, she is finding ways to control the household just fine on her own!

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