06 December 2011

Pay Attention - Be Outraged!

Every once in a while, I get a call from my oldest brother. More rarely I get a call from the younger one, who usually calls just to talk, which is nice.  My older brother does that too, sometimes, but often he starts off the conversation with "I have something else to get your blood pressure up!"  He knows just what subjects push my buttons, and when he hears about something ridiculous, he's always eager to share.

Most recently, it was a story from Hawaii about a family, newly moved to the state, who went grocery shopping to put something edible in their new home.  While at the store, they shared a sandwich, saving the wrapper to pay for it when they were done.  Only, they forgot.  They came back inside as soon as they realized their error, only to be told the store had a zero-tolerance policy toward shoplifting, and the manager would have to call the police.  Both parents were arrested and spent the night in jail, which meant their two-year-old was taken into custody by Social Services.  Over a sandwich they intended, and tried, to pay for.

You'd be amazed how many stories like this my brother comes up with.  Here's one I experienced personally:  Over the past year I have helped start a local non-profit organization.  Our focus is on natural, healthy pregnancy and birth, and issues pertaining to the early years of childhood.  One of those issues happens to be vaccinations.  Believe it or not, there are actually arguments both pro and con.  We offer classes and discussion groups on this topic for parents to educate themselves so they can make an informed decision.  Based purely on the fact that we offer this information, a local moms' group told us that we are not welcome to post any of our classes, at all, on their internet group, because they aren't comfortable recommending people come to our events, since our children aren't vaccinated.  I'd just like to point out that nowhere in any of this non-profit's literature does it say anything whatsoever about the vaccination status of the Board members' children.

So many topics!  There is outrageous information out there about homeschooling (look up the Johanssen family, in Sweden), parents' right to make health care choices for their child, people's right to access the food they feel is necessary for their health, parents being shoved out of schools and told that what goes on in the place where their child spends most of his waking hours is none of their business...the list goes on and on.  Which is great for me, because I tend to have low blood pressure, and I appreciate my brother looking out for me.  Today, however, I didn't need his help.  I found an outrageous story all by myself.  Check out this article at the Washington Post, about what happened when a School Board member took the standardized test for 10th graders.

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.  There's always something...

Take a break on occasion though.  I'm pretty certain too much of this would make your head explode.

04 December 2011

Christmas Wish List

When I was a small child, my parents didn't believe in Christmas Wish Lists.  In retrospect I can see their point, that handing a shopping list to those who might be considering getting one a gift may not be in the best of taste.  At the time I thought it was particularly cruel that anything I actually listed on paper as being of especial interest was, as a direct result, less likely to appear under the tree on Christmas morning.  (But there is always the time-honored Hint, which is more acceptable, so all was not lost.)

When the Mad Scientist and I started our own family, we (read: I) had very distinct ideas about the sorts of toys we wanted our children playing with.  These included things like all-natural materials, no batteries, creativity-inspiring, and (on the part of the Mad Scientist) nothing with numerous small pieces.

Meanwhile back on earth, those things aren't in a grad-student's budget, and I ran up against early childhood training when it came to handing out a list of requirements to those who might purchase gifts for our children.  I read a blog of one mom who did this, but I really couldn't wrap my mind around it.  So our children ended up with lots of plastic toys, small pieces, and things that need batteries.  Also because that's the sort of thing you find at Goodwill, which is where mothers whose husbands are in grad school do their Christmas shopping.  My children seem to have survived this, so far, and I hurry to add that, as our families became more aware of our preferences, they did their best to respect them.

However, I still retain a deep-seated desire for simple, classic toys for my children, which is why I was so delighted to find this list of the 5 best toys of all time.  Interestingly enough, my children adore every item on this list and (not to spoil the surprise) nary a one of them will break the budget.  Good to stop and rethink that Christmas shopping list!  (I'm indebted to Ann Voskamp for the link I originally followed.)

03 December 2011

Advent Begins

It has been a busy Summer, and busy Autumn...a busy year, really, and I'm tired, and wondering where the days have disappeared.  But now we are counting down the days 'til the Coming, lighting another candle each evening, waiting for the Light.


The Advent Log idea comes from this book, which we will probably use as soon as I have time to dig it out of storage.  Meanwhile, we are using Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Devotional series, and really enjoying it.  (Something that has helped make the Jesse tree idea more interesting to the Monkeys.)

Zaccheus stands tall at the top of our Jesse tree, stretching, straining to see Jesus coming.  And we remember why we're waiting, and all those who waited before.

30 May 2011

Reply to Yusef Komunyakaa

How do you explain something like the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial to a six-year-old?  I wrote this not too long ago, after reading Facing It, by Yusef Komunyakaa.  (Go read that one first, or this won't make as much sense.) This was my response:

A Reply to Mr. Komunyakaa

Who
could look at this stretch
of black granite
without weeping?
Even without knowing
the heat of jungles,
stench of feet, rotting
in their boots, the
snap, crackle, pop
of rifle-fire for breakfast -
I look down
the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial
where every one of
58,022 names
belongs to a man
- a boy,
borne by a woman.
My hands reflected,
as I brush back my son's hair,
caress letters carved in stone,
my tears running
between the lines.

To all of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines, and to the families that love them, and who have also sacrificed - You are never forgotten.  Thank-you.

22 May 2011

Homemaking Helps

I've never done a product review here, but I'm so excited about this new planner I just have to share.  I dithered about it for four (!) months, then finally decided to just give it a try - it's only $8, for pity's sake!  And that's the first exciting thing about this planner:  It is very affordable. 

You select which variety you want from the options here.  They have page-a-day varieties, and week-at-a-glance.  There are two size options, and you can decide if you want daily Bible reading included or not.  I chose the half-sized week-at-a-glance.  I downloaded the file and put it on The Mad Scientist's thumb drive, then took it to Office Depot.  I asked them to put on a spiral binding and a heavier-weight cover, and this is what I got:


 Quite uninspiring, I know, and maybe at some point I'll Modge-Podge something pretty on there, but for right now I am most concerned with what is INside:


 This, faithful blog readers, is my life, organized.  This is every task required for maintaining a well-run home, listed and scheduled.  I love it!  (And I know you can't see it very well, but you can look at a preview here.  Samples of the other styles are at the bottom of the first page linked.)

For years now I have wanted to take a comprehensive list of household chores, and a calendar, and schedule them all out month by month.  Motivated Moms did all the work for me.  It includes everything from changing dish- and hand-towels, to clipping children's nails (routinely forgotten here, 'til I notice someone appears to have claws), to wiping off the refrigerator shelves.  And it's divided into manageable chunks, which is great. 

That means that, rather than "Clean Refrigerator" (which I absolutely wouldn't need reminding for, if I could fit that in anywhere, all at once) it says "Clean top shelf of refrigerator."  Much easier. 

Another thing that I've found is, every time I think that something got left out, it turns up within the next week or two.  For example, when it listed each refrigerator shelf individually over the last two weeks I thought "Oh, it didn't say anything about the door shelves.  I'll have to remember to do those with the corresponding shelf next time."  And then I turned to this week, and there it was: "Clean refrigerator door shelves."  Drawers were listed separately as well.

The great advantage of this planner, I find, is that it breaks things down into manageable chunks.  I frequently neglect my cleaning because I'm so overwhelmed that I can't start, because I don't know which thing to do first.  This tell me what to do, and I can relax knowing that everything else will come up in its own time.  I don't stress if I don't manage to accomplish everything on a given day, either, because I know it will come back again soon enough.  (I also love that "Take time for a craft or hobby" and "Pamper yourself" put in regular appearances.)

I paid $8 for the download and $5.75 at Office Depot to have it printed and bound.  A great price for a fantastic resource!

(If daily or weekly cleaning really isn't your thing, check out this post at Simple Homeschool, all about Once a Month Cleaning.  If I'd read that before I found this, I would definitely have given it a try.)

Please note: I have not received any compensation of any sort for posting this review.  It is simply my honest opinion, and was not solicited by anyone. 

21 May 2011

No one was raptured here

And The Hippie Housewife makes an excellent point about the take-away lesson.

What if today really had been the end?
 "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
~Annie Dillard
 For my part, I spent today thusly:  First I got up early and fed my family, then we piled in the car and drove about 40 minutes to a barn sale I'd seen advertised earlier in the week.  We hit a few more yard sales on the way home, and got three phenomenal deals (I think).  Then we went to my brother-in-law's house, and helped him pack up to move to his new place.  I watched the children with his wife while the Mad Scientist helped unload on the other end.  Then we came home and I sacked out with Monkey3 in the recliner. (Seriously, I have NO idea why I was so tired, but I'm suspicious my youngest brother being here, keeping us up 'til all hours catching up, may have had a bit to do with it.)  I awoke to a lovely dinner cooked by my beloved, and now he's out playing ball in the yard with Monkey1.  I just finished a tour of my garden, which is making very nice progress at this point.  So, overall, it was a wonderful Saturday.  Hopefully, the Mad Scientist will spend tomorrow on a planter behind a pair of draft horses.  (It's rest if you don't have to do it during the week!)  Maybe I'll take some pictures this time.  Have a restful weekend!

15 May 2011

He makes an excellent point

I've griped here before about the ridiculous ban on the sale of raw milk in this state.  (Apparently, Indiana is one of only 11 states that ban the sale of raw milk to consumers outright...solidifying my claim that, in some respects, this state has a long way to go.)  So I won't say any more about it, just give you this link, wherein a Washington Times columnist makes the point that lots of other raw foods, potentially containing pathogens, are sold every day.  So what is the FDA's beef with milk?  Shall we outlaw sushi, too?  (No, no.  That would be ridiculous!)

Here's another link, where the point is made that people obviously want acess to this stuff, and the only people objecting are the ones working for the government...that is, our public servants, on our dime.

Maine has found a solution, however!  And that is just one thing I love about New England.

09 May 2011

One advantage of being a Luddite

A friend recently shared a video with me that carefully explains how to turn off the setting on your smart phone's camera that imbeds your GPS location into each and every photograph, and says that this is crucial so that bad guys won't know where to find you and which room your children sleep in.

Ok, so what I want to know is:
  
Why is that the default setting on the phone?

Who needs to know the exact location where their photos were taken...THAT specifically??

Is this really making it easier for "bad guys" to find us?  Really?  I mean, you don't have to work very hard at it anyway.  If it takes two minutes, rather than ten, to track down this information, are we really any less safe?

Want to know how I spent Mother's Day Weekend?  I spent it watching the kids by myself, because my husband was taking a workshop to learn how to drive a team of draft horses, for farming.

(Saturday night we visiting a breeding farm for Belgian horses, watched a stallion collection (THAT was interesting!), and saw two mares being bred.  We also watched an ultrasound of a 12-day-pregnant mare.  Yesterday morning I drew a beautiful illustration of an ovum surrounded by sperm, and explained where babies come from.  Happy Mother's Day to me!)  :-)

Yesterday afternoon, we went out to the farm and spent the afternoon watching The Mad Scientist drive a team of draft horses around, planting oats in the pasture, and I got a bad sunburn and had a marvelous time.  The monkeys helped milk the cows and feed the horses.  I didn't make, or receive, a single phone call.  It was great.  I also didn't take any pictures, which was maybe not so great, but if I had, I'd have used this ancient little Canon Elph I have, which (I guarantee) is NOT electronically embedding the exact location where the picture was taken onto each and every photograph.

29 April 2011

Cold War, Monkey-style

At our house, we have an invisible contingent known (to the Monkeys) as "The Bad Babies".  Occasionally, they'll join this group, and I'll hear "I'm a Bad Baby!" or "Monkey2 is a Bad Baby!"  Followed, naturally, by a screech of protest from Monkey2.

Today, The Bad Babies were apparently fighting with a new group, known as The Good Babies.  Monkey1 had a solution:

"I know!  We'll just build bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER weapons!  And ALL the babies will be so scared of the BIG kids [that would be the Monkeys, I assume] that they'll stop fighting with each other!"

So what this mother would like to know is, WHY is this inherent in boys (because he certainly never learned that from US!) that this is a good solution to that type of problem??!  I need a copy of The Butter Battle Book from Dr. Seuss.

09 March 2011

Where's the logic in that?

This post was supposed to be full of chipper advice about the wonders of Freecycle.  On Freecycle, I found shingles for my chicken coop roof, paint for the walls, and wire for the enclosure.  My hens have finished their molting (mostly) and we've been getting three eggs daily.  The whole family loves the chickens, and we've had so much fun watching them and just enjoying them.

However.  This past Monday I went before the City Council to plead for my hens...and was turned down.  Because last year, the citizens of this city informed the City Council that chickens in the city were Not Acceptable - apparently, they are noisy, smelly, and the eggs (!) attract rats - and so the new zoning regulation that would have permitted them was defeated.

And despite the fact that MY chickens are quiet, clean, don't smell, and don't attract rats, there are No Exceptions.  Not here.

Chicago will allow you to keep an unlimited number of chickens in the city (as long as they are for pets or eggs, not slaughter).  Toledo, Ohio allows chicken owners to get a variance from the City Health Inspector, an exception to the prohibition against "farm animals" in the city.  But not here.  Apparently, these people know better.

The next time these people are walking behind their dogs with little baggies of poop (or wishing that their neighbors would), I hope they think about the fact that chickens don't poop in other people's yards.

The next time a dog barks madly at three a.m. right next door, I hope they think about the fact that hens never make a noise louder than a t.v. or a noisy a.c. unit, and that only during the day.

The next time they shake their heads about the filthy yard full of cats and dogs (or one dog, or whatever) down the street, I hope it crosses their mind that it is FILTH that attracts rats, not chickens.  I find the assumption that I would allow my chickens to be filthy really quite insulting.  (And, by the way, I don't leave the eggs in the coop.  We bring them in the house and eat them ourselves, silly people.)

But, there is no reasoning with Concerned Citizens.  So, having cried in front of the City Council ("Clearly this is a very emotional issue for you." they said.  As though no rational person would be frustrated or upset at having to give up their pets because other people are being ridiculous.), as well as the Mayor, I'm re-homing my chickens.  And to everyone who will sleep better at night as a result, I wish a dog next door who barks at three a.m.

22 February 2011

How to build a chicken coop for free

I found an ad on Craigslist several weeks ago, that offered 5 laying hens for $30.  How could I pass up that?

So we pulled out our stockpile of "this might come in handy", and looked it over.  Because chickens require a coop, of some sort.  Here it is:

Also available were several varieties of boards, two sheets of plywood (one long and skinny, one 4'x4') two rolls of linoleum, and a bucket of hinges.

We used the platform (formerly Monkey1's loft bed) for the floor, and cut the 2x4s in half for the corners.  Monkey3 helped:


We nailed them to the corners, using a square to make sure they were...well, square:
Monkey3 helped some more.
Monkey1 helped, too.  Once the 2x4s were on, he and Monkey2 wandered off to build a tipi:

It was a building kind of day.  We tied the 2x4s at the top with strapping:

 Next up was walls, and we didn't have enough wood for that, so we headed to the local building supply store.  But not to buy wood; oh no.  They pile their pallets out back, free for the taking.  We went through and picked the nicest ones, and came home with these:

(I still can't believe that was all just going to be thrown away.)  You know, getting pallets apart without wrecking the wood is really hard.  They use these twisty nails that think they are screws, and just really don't want to let go.  Kind of miserable, and my arms are still sore, but we did get enough wood for the walls.  We added more strapping around the middle, and screwed on the boards top, middle, and bottom.  The screws stuck out on the inside, which led to Monkey1's favourite part:


See the sparks?  That was even more impressive after dark.  But that came later...

That first day (Saturday) we finished the back wall and used the 4'x4' sheet of plywood for the floor.  We pieced it together, and left about a foot hanging off one end to floor the egg boxes.  We decided to stop, since it was getting nippy with the sun going down.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and we left the coop out in the yard to finish on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday morning we woke up to sleeting rain.  The plywood for the floor was mostly soaked.  We'd left a pallet on top of it, so that part was dry, but we knew we couldn't put linoleum down over a mostly wet floor.  We hauled it into the garage, and left it to dry while we headed off to church.

It actually did dry out, so we stretched the linoleum out and tacked it down before lunch.  A longer drying time would have been good, but we had a time crunch because (fanfare) we were picking up the chickens that afternoon!  (Stop shaking your head at me!)

We drove WAAAAAAY up north - about an hour - to the land of never-ending wind, and met the girl who was selling us the chickens at a BP.  She had her boyfriend with her, and the chickens in a cardboard box.  The monkeys wanted to see the chickens, so she pulled them out of the car, and pushed the flaps down a bit.  One hen poked it's head up through the hole, and the guy said (very quietly) "I am not chasing these chickens all over the parking lot." Just one more long-suffering male, dealing with a crazy woman.  :-D  She made the monkeys promise to take good care of her "ladies", and we headed home.

We carted them home (after a quick stop to pick up food, waterers, and feeders) and put the box in the yard, while we tried to finish up the coop.

It probably would have been good to start with a plan, but when you're making the best of what you've got, planning can be a bit difficult.  I suppose we could have sat down with our pile of junk and sketched out a detailed plan for what to do with it, but where's the fun in that?  So we had to pause, here and there, to figure out what was coming next.

About 8:30 we finally put on the egg boxes, hung the roost, and put the final wall on.  We used the long skinny piece of plywood for the last wall.  Cut in half, it fit perfectly.  We hinged both pieces at the bottom so we can open the whole wall for cleaning, or only half just to let the birds out for the day.

We covered it with a tarp, because we didn't have enough wood on hand to finish the roof...plus, it was late, and we'd been working hard all day.  The tarp was good enough for a while.

Final result:

For the egg boxes, we used a sheet of heavy plywood off one of the pallets.  The Mad Scientist built a u-shaped frame, inserted it into the coop, and screwed it to the 2x4s on that side.  He screwed the floor to the bottom, and we hinged the remaining plywood to the top.  It wasn't quite wide enough, so we filled in the back with a piece of strapping.
Total cost so far:  $3 for the tarp, plus three hasps and three latches for the two doors and the egg boxes.  (I don't remember how much those cost.)

Next up:  "It's not about what you have in your closet!  It's about who your friends are, and what they have in their closets!"  (Name that movie.)

08 February 2011

Negatives don't add up to a positive.

I received a very interesting comment on my Of Princesses and Frogs post, which I would like to reply to.  An anonymous commentor (who I hope wasn't my brother, since I always lose arguments with him, even when I'm right) stated:
If you consider yourself "a woman of strength, honor, resourcefulness, and intelligence, who respects herself, and these qualities, enough to hold out for those things in a life-partner" (which I am sure that you are!),then I believe that you learned to think for yourself and were not unduly swayed by the Disney movies YOU loved as a child. What makes you think that you will not bring up a daughter who can also think for herself? A person who can think critically and clearly can be "exposed" to all sorts of "influences" without harm to their true selves. In fact, it can be like dating, the real lessons learned are what you really DON'T want in a life-partner, so you can move on to the real thing.
There are a few problems that I see with this point of view, and to facilitate discussion, I decided to address them in a new post:

First of all, yes, I did learn to think for myself...after a lot of trial and error, involving decisions that I deeply regret, based on a romanticized view of life that was certainly not hindered by the Disney movies I watched while growing up.

I would prefer my daughter to learn positive lessons (i.e. "This is what is good, noble, true...") rather than negative ones (i.e. "Here is an example you should NOT follow.)

And while it is true that "A person who can think critically and clearly can be 'exposed' to all sorts of 'influences' without harm to their true selves.", I don't think that a four-year-old is really capable of that kind of critical thought. I'm certain that, when my daughter is older, we will be able to enjoy the fun aspects of these movies together, and also some good conversations about the less positive things they contain. But I will be waiting for that until AFTER she has developed the ability to look at them critically, rather than letting her see them now, when she will fall in love with the swooshy clothes and assimilate the ideas without first thinking them through.

I will add: If you're learning what you DON'T want by dating, that's a whole lot of negative experiences to carry with you through life. Again, I'd rather my children not learn their lessons by experiencing everything now that they shouldn't want for the future.

Further thoughts and disagreements welcome, as long as they're worded as politely as this one was!

04 February 2011

Of Princesses and Frogs

I was perusing old posts over at Prairie Mother, looking for her pumpkin pie recipe, when I happened on this post about the Princess Syndrome.  You know what it is:  Every little girl is a princess!

I typed out this whole comment over there, and then realized it was more of an entire post than a comment.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The "comment" was:

Yes, there is definitely a "Princess Culture" out there, and Disney is most certainly leading the charge.  I loved the Disney movies when I was growing up, but now, with a daughter of my own, I have avoided them like the proverbial plague.  When you really consider the messages they send, there is very little of value.

 Snow White is gullible and foolish, saved by a magic kiss.

Aurora is...gullible and foolish, saved by a magic kiss.

Cinderella is meek and obedient, saved by a Fairy Godmother and a troupe of animals to whom she has been kind (at least that's something positive).

Ariel...don't even get me started on her.  "But if I do that, I'll never see my father or my sisters again."  "But, you'll have your man!" the witch says slyly.  And that's ok by her.  Oh, and she's sixteen, belligerent, stubborn, and determined to have her own way.  And obviously completely mature enough to fall in love and live happily ever after. 

Jasmine, well, she's probably a step up as far as the feminists are concerned.  Which is to say, her father is preoccupied and out of touch, her boyfriend is a "bad boy" that she has to help rescue, and her pursuer is skanky and must be overcome by her wits and resourcefulness.  So if you want to teach your daughter to look down on all the men in her life and only rely on herself (and any magical genii she happens to find), Jasmine's perfect.  Especially if you like skimpy outfits.

Belle is pretty much the same thing, only she does it all with more clothes on.  So I'd say from Aladdin on, (chronologically speaking), the Disney princesses stopped being helpless females waiting to be rescued, and became the only intelligent people in the whole movie.  Not much of an improvement.

When I think about qualities I want my daughter to admire and emulate, I don't think of waiting around for her hero to find her, kiss her, and sweep her off to some type of happily-ever-after.  Nor do I want her to feel that she should be some type of super-hero female, relying on no one (because they're all unreliable) as she charges ahead with her own dreams and plans...hoping that some man will fall into her life one day and want to come along for the ride.  (Because make no mistake - the hero is still necessary for the princess.  The difference, now, is he's the sidekick, rather than the rescuer.)

I want my daughter to strive to be a woman of strength, honor, resourcefulness, and intelligence, who respects herself, and these qualities, enough to hold out for those same things in a life-partner.  I don't think she's going to learn that from the Disney cadre of princesses.  Any other suggestions for role models?  Because the ruffles and twirly dresses are hard to compete with, I gotta tell ya.

14 January 2011

How's that for a hobby?

I found this ad on Craig's List today, and saved the pictures to show you:

"10 or so tractors for sale. We have some h's, m's, a 300, and a super m. Some run some don't. Email for appointment to see them!"



I just have to say, you know this guy's wife told him he HAD to get rid of at least SOME of the tractors.  Seriously, "ten OR SO"??  He doesn't know how many tractors he has.  How big is a tractor?



I don't want to hear anything else about my yarn-buying habits, ever.  At least yarn helps keep the house warm.

These may look really cool, but they're not going to keep your ears and feet warm, and help insulate your house.

This, my friends, is a hobby out of control.  My yarn?  Doesn't even compare.

12 January 2011

Welcome to our regular edition of...

What your government spends your money on.  (Go read it; it's not long.)  Confiscating chocolate eggs, and sending letters requesting permission to destroy them afterwards.  I wonder how many cars with drugs in them went through customs while they were searching for and seizing these eggs?  Probably not many, if any at all, to be honest.  But still, doesn't it seem like there's something wrong with this picture??

As a side note, I had no idea I had consumed contraband eggs as a child.  And, funnily enough, I never came remotely close to choking on the toy inside (which, as you can see from the picture, is encased in a plastic shell inside the chocolate).  I must have been some kind of genius child.

Don't our politicians and border control people have more important things they could spend their time and OUR money on?!

09 January 2011

Here we go round the mulberry bush...

That's what home renovation is like, you know.  Round, and round, and round you go, and where it ends...wait, that's the game at the carnival.  Anyway, you get my point.  Fixing up the house is the never-ending project.  (The real one.  The scarf I knitted my brother for Christmas turned out to be just a poser in this regard, since I did finally manage to conquer it.)

So, off we go again:

When the Mad Scientist asked what I would like to do this weekend, I said "Well, I would really love to get the drywall hung in the bathroom.  By which I actually really meant that we should work on it together, but, as it turned out, my sweetheart sent me off to Sock Club yesterday, and hung it up himself.

Or he would have, except that he decided to check a pair of taped up wires dangling in the wall...which, it turned out, were hot.  (As an aside, I cannot tell you how many things like that we have found in the process of renovating this house, as well as the last one we lived in.  Hazard of old houses, I guess; no one followed code, or it hadn't been invented yet.)  So, first he had to crawl into the crawl space under the house to fix that issue, which is what he was working on when I got back from Sock Club.

Then my job was to keep the kids out of the way, and hold up the drywall, while he operated the drill.  It was more work than we expected because of the wires, but we did finally get it all up.

Now for paint, and trim.  What's that you say?  The hole?  Oh, that's a large pipe, which stuck out too far to put the drywall over.   Here we go round.....

Once that's figured out, we just have to take care of this:

Doors.  I need doors, for my own sanity and peace of mind.  There's nothing to be done with the space; I just need to cover it up.

07 January 2011

I'm still feeling ornery

So, in keeping with that, I present this list for your enjoyment/perusal.

I'd just like to say (since this is my personal space, where I can say what I think if I want to) that I found that list to be condescending and obnoxious.

Personally, I think maintaining the separation of work and home is more important now than ever, for precisely the reason mentioned.

I think that no e-reader whatchamacallit is ever going to equal the experience of sitting down with an actual printed item in your hand, and I know for a fact that magazines are actually doing better now than they have been for a while.  (I don't remember where I read it, sorry, but it was an actual statistic from an actual study, that I received in an actual piece of mail from an actual magazine.)  And I will never, ever, give up my books for a piece of plastic.  (No matter how convenient it is for traveling, it's just not the same.)

I think watches are still a practical and attractive method for telling time, especially since:

I despise cell phones.  I own one because it was given to me, and while I'm grateful not to have to have long-distance on my land-line, I still don't like cell phones.  Mostly because no one seems to understand the "off" feature.  My having a cell phone doesn't mean that I'm available 24/7 at someone else's convenience, and I wish that were true for a whole lot of other people, as well.

As for paper maps, I don't think GPS is an improvement.  Both are just as likely to lead you astray because they are out of date.  At least the paper map will do it without an annoying voice.  Paper maps have the advantage of not needing to be able to locate a satellite, which is pretty major if the GPS I have experience with is any indication of how well they usually work.

I don't do Facebook, and I never will.  For one thing, there's a few people with whom I have no interest in being "in touch", if that's what you call the total inanity that passes for Facebook "communication".  For another, when I want to contact someone I do it using a Real Letter (which I'll say more about in a minute).

The day the only way to own a camera is to buy a smart phone will be a sorry, sorry day in the history of mankind.

When I look at pictures, I like to have longer than five seconds.  I don't like it when a picture I'm appreciating fades into the next photograph before I'm done.  I think that digital frames have a place, but I find the idea that they will soon make regular picture frames obsolete frankly ludicrous.

And now, regarding letters.  I write letters.  I write letters with a fountain pen, on real paper.  I also write e-mails.  If I had to choose one over the other, I'd take a hand-written letter any day of the week, and twice on Sundays (except they don't deliver them on Sundays).  A letter is so much more civilized than an e-mail or phone call.  It doesn't require the person to drop what they're doing to talk (although I use my answering machine to avoid that; I'm not against ALL technology), and it invites leisurely perusal and a response in kind.  And the postal service is not going to become obsolete, leaving those of us who like letters bereft and crying, because no one has yet figured out a way to send packages over the computer.  So there.

Backing up a bit, if someone I'm talking with can't put down their phone for the time it takes to have a decent conversation, I'll find someone else to talk with.  Texting and taking calls while you're talking to someone else is rude.  If you have to take it, excuse yourself.  Talk to one person at a time.

And as for hiding, I'll just say this:  My phone isn't in my pocket.  It's not surgically attached to my ear, and I left it home.  Find me now.

I will agree with the author on a few things:  Renting movies is pretty silly, when you can get just about anything from the library.  I wouldn't be sorry to see wires disappear.  I like Craigslist as well as the next person, especially because I don't have to pay for the newspaper to read it.  I usually look things up on-line when I have a question, and can't imagine any question being so important that it couldn't wait 'til the electricity came back on.  The evening news probably isn't much of a loss, and cds do take up a lot of room.  And I have already eliminated commercials from my own life, by the simple expedient of not watching tv.

I could live without Craigslist, and I can probably live without knowing what a vampire bat's wings look like right this very minute too (but that's another post), so I don't think that Modern Technology is really going to be changing a whole lot, in my life.  Your mileage may vary, and I'm ok with that.  Just leave my books alone.

06 January 2011

Let's hear it for the "Fat Lady"

Because it's OVER.  2010 that is.  And I would say that last year could bite me hard on the hind parts, but it's already done that so many times I don't really want to think about it.  Lots of tough stuff, last year, and I am so So glad to see it end.   So all I really have to say, now, is "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out."

I hope 2011 is a better year for us.  We could sure use one.