Friday, August 16, 2013

First Week of Homeschool High School

The first week of "high school" started with a scream.  Several screams actually.  Brighteyes, now 14, has always been told the two skills she needs to master are math and writing.  She loves math and hates writing.  This hate fused with her early adolescent self-consciousness into a fierce desire to reveal nothing about herself that anyone might for any conceivable reason take a dislike to.  Even a simple assignment like picking out one item  mentioned in a paragraph from a set of four equally valid possibilities had her storming off to her room and slamming the door.

"I don't get it," I said to the door.  "You won't pick one for fear of what it might reveal to someone else about you -- and it's not like anyone outside the family is ever going to see it anyway -- but somehow you manage to pick out your clothes and dress yourself every day."

She opened the door and fixed me with a 14yo version of a withering glare.   "Nobody cares about clothes!"

I sent up a silent prayer of thanks that this child had never set foot in junior high.

Of course the real problem wasn't that particular assignment so much as what it represented.  Writing assignments were slowly but surely getting longer and more involved, and at 14 she could tell that this was going to end in pieces measured not in words but in pages.

Her father and I assured her that we would always love her no matter what she did or wrote, but she still had to do her work.  Late in the second day she eased out and handed me the completed assignment.  Since then it's been "let me get this done as quickly as possible so I never have to do it again."

Brighteyes and Sunshine got to pick some courses this year, and one of the ones they chose was gymnastics.  They're supposed to start at the end of the month.  It's the first time they'll be part of a larger ongoing class, so we'll see what happens.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Health Update August 15, 2013

"Hey, you've got a bone back here," my husband said, poking at my back.


"It was more padded until recently."

"I'm glad you said that.  You know that 10 pounds I lost so quickly?  I've gained all of that back, and another ten pounds.  And I've added an inch to all my measurements."

"You've clearly lost fat in the front and the back, and you stamina is way up, so I'd say you're putting on muscle."

"Yeah, but it's a bit of a bummer to have such an oddball physiology."

"I don't recall you saying that when you're pregnant, you who have 20-minute labors."

"Hey, it's not all bad!  And then there's the other sign my health is improving."

"We could have done without that."

"Eh, better out than in I suppose."

In addition to being a short endomorph with a physiology that runs backwards of "the standard" I also have PTSD.  Whenever I get to feeling really good, my hindbrain serves up a dose of repressed memories.  Since there's a damn good reason they were repressed, this is pretty much the textbook definition of No Fun.  It also takes time and energy away from my exercise regimen.  Not to mention my sleep patterns, emotional stability, appetite, oh just look up the symptoms.  But I'm seeing someone, and even though nothing is resolved yet apparently my subconscious is satisfied with the effort I'm putting into it.

So all in all I'm getting healthier.  It's a long and winding path to health, with nothing straightforward about it.  But it's going somewhere.

Old School Republican Goes Off On Tea Party Republican

The Mississippi Business Journal, a genteel bastion of pro-business sentiment for generations, denounced Mississippi's Tea Party Governor Phil Bryant in a magnificent rant of epic bullshit-calling:

RAY MOSBY: Paranoia strikes deep with Phil Bryant during Neshoba speech“Paranoid state: Transient psychotic disorder in which the main element is a delusion, usually persecutory or grandiose in nature.”
—Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life
ROLLING FORK — The Republican cheerleader camp that the fabled Neshoba County Fair has turned into in recent years is usually a lot more noteworthy when there’s an election coming up, but this year’s may go down as the one when the fellow in charge of this state relaxed, let his guard down and allowed a little bit of something either mighty presumptuous or flat crazy to seep out.

I am reminded of an old family story from my mother’s side. Quite a few years ago in a certain Delta county, a certain lady we’ll call Mrs. Smith, a fine old Southern damsel if ever there were such, had tragically lost her husband and at the funeral, consistent with the equally Southern tradition of nosing into the business of others, some concerned soul asked her what might she do in the wake of that loss.

Unnerved, and with stiff upper lip, Mrs. Smith immediately responded that folks need not worry, in that she could “fully lean upon” her son for any and all of her needs. Regrettably, that self-same young man was known by virtually everyone else in that gathered crowd to be a more than slightly addled-brained, shiftless, naer-do-well, unable to adequately take care of himself, much less another.
There was, as the story goes, a brief period of dead silence following her remark, which was then broken (perhaps not surprisingly) by a relative of mine who turned to the dear lady, took her by the hands and (perhaps not surprisingly) said to her: “Mrs. Smith, in that case, I fear you are leaning on a bent stick.”

That story, I related, in order to suggest this: If a certain speech at the Neshoba County Fair from this state’s highest elected official is any gauge, then the fine people of the great and sovereign state of Mississippi, not unlike that poor, long ago lady, just might also be leaning on a bent stick.

No doubt feeling the need to match his most ambitious Lt. Gov., who recited the entire Republican creed the day before, the governor of this state confirmed my long-held suspicion that he doesn’t get many calls for advice from NASA by saying something, that if taken literally, which I do not, would classify him as clinically delusional.

First, Gov. Phil Bryant said that after focusing on education and creating jobs in his first term of office, he will now concentrate on public safety. Fine. Good. I and the rest of the public are wholeheartedly in favor of safety.

But then the governor said something else. Then the governor said that he has a “divine responsibility” to oppose abortion, re-establish prayer in schools and protect gun ownership. And that’s not fine. And that’s not good.

“Divine responsibility,” governor? Really? Do you think yourself anointed by the Almighty to carry out what you perceive to be conservative Christian policies? Have you alone been “divinely” chosen as the one to do so?

Well, sir, if you do, then I have a constitutional responsibility to tell you something: The Blues Brothers were on “a mission from God,” Gov. Bryant. You aren’t. And you shouldn’t be. And if you really think you are, then you just might be a little bit wacky. Kindly see the highly relevant definition above.

Thinking you have a “divine responsibility” is a little bit like thinking you are Napoleon and a whole lot like what a competent psychiatrist would call a messianic complex.

This isn’t about your stated policy priorities, governor, all of which are wildly popular in this state and hence, most courageous of you to champion. But how dare you, sir, claim to fathom the mind of God and how dare you proclaim yourself the agent to carry out His wishes?

There is very little godly in politics, governor, and nothing divine at all in cheap, populist, political theatrics.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Low Tech, Long Term, and Vintage

"Take anything you want from that table."  The flea market vendor pointed to what looked like a small pile of mangled Christmas decorations in an old tin box.

"May I have the box?"  I had been lusting after vintage tin boxes all over the market but reminding myself I shouldn't splurge.

She dumped the contents out on the table and handed me the box and lid.  I thanked her politely and scurried away before she changed her mind.

On closer examination it turned out to be a mid-1970s recipe box.  This could come in handy.  We'd always kept our recipes on the computer, but with five people wanting to play games use it access had become an issue.  Going back to the old-fashioned way looked like a pretty good idea.  I put some index cards and a good pen inside, and started thinking about what to write down.  We did a lot of improvisational cooking.  Which recipes should be preserved for posterity?  Which version should be written down, and with how many variations?  What notes should go with them about when, where, and how it's served?

My husband, the family candy maker and fry cook, was enthusiastic about the idea.  "I could just take the card around with me!  We could get those clips, y'know...."

"Magnetic office clips come two to a pack.  We can put one on the fridge and one on the vent hood."

"What about the clip on a stem with a stand thingee?  I haven't seen those in ages, do they even make them anymore?"

"That, um -- you mean a menu card holder?  I'm pretty sure they still make those."
"Yeah!  That way you can carry it to whatever work surface you're using, and it's closer to eye level."
So we're entering a time of recipe examination, which of course is another form of self-examination.  It will be interesting to see what pops out.