Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ahhh, Bliss

So, here I am in Seattle (northwest side of the state). I got all the final papers and essay exams graded (it was nearly the end of me, but not quite), turned grades in to the Records Office (I only flunked one this quarter, which is really rather amazing for me), and the kids and I got out of Dodge. With the help of Benita (a dear friend of ours, for those of you who aren't on the Adventist grapevine -- she's married to Steve Schwab, if you are in the grapevine but haven't been following it lately). She drove over and picked the four of us up and drove us to their house in Seattle, and Scott will be driving over after work on Thursday.

I got through the last week on fumes, a lot of frantic prayer, and the knowledge that I was going on vacation if I could just survive! All three of the kids got very sick. In fact, the gradeschool shut down for two days because over half their attendance was home sick. Last I heard, the heath dept. was thinking the offending germ was an Influenza B. All I know that my three were sure sick as heck. Fevers of over 102, croup, all that good stuff. Steven's pretty much all better (judging by his level of pestiness to his sisters), but Emily's still a little "peaked," as my grandfather would have said. In between all this illness, I was giving a final and doing a bunch of grading. Mom and Dad had gone on a week-long trip to see family (test week is usually a great week for them to be gone, in terms of babysitting for me -- they had planned it to be as helpful as possible -- you know, when I wasn't teaching, and all that!), and Scott was working his usual 60-hour week with 5:30 a.m. starts. Whee!

But it's all over now, and I spent today shopping at Half-Price Books (greatest new/used bookstore EVER ... okay, Powell's is the best, by HPB is pretty darn good), drinking a lot of coffee, sleeping in while someone else made cocoa for the kids and turned on Looney Tunes for them to watch (aunts are FANTABULOUS), doing some ceramic painting, taking a nap, etc. (not in that exact order). We'll be here (Seattle) all week (I know that makes me sound like a Las Vegas performer), and head home on Sunday. I'll be posting some pictures of our adventures, hopefully (providing I don't leave the camera back at the house every time (the usual state of things -- can I get it implanted in my forehead?). What are YOU doing this week?

love, kristin

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Student Howler of the Week

My favorite howler-writing student (this is the same one who identified Hitler as the "Nazi leader in the Civil War") quoted the phrase "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" from the Deceleration of Independence in her final paper for me this quarter. You might have to re-read that sentence a few times. "Wait, George! We've got to slow this freedom thing down a little!"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chicken Update (We Are So Out of Hand Here)

Remember when I said, "We are getting eight chicks?" Hah. That was before the later stages of Mad Chicken Disease appeared in our brains. There are just so many cool breeds out there, and we are trying to raise/produce more of our own food, and Mom (Mom Bergman, I mean) is always up for any project you can think of (I love that about her) ... the upshot is we have ordered ... um ... 25 chicks. Stop laughing.

We'll raise 10 for eggs, and kill 15 this fall, with part of them going to Mom & Dad Bergman (I suspect we might smuggle one down to Mom Fry, too), part of them going in our freezer, and a couple going to whatever other poor saps we wrangle in to help us do the dirty work. I had just finished saying to Scott, "Fine. But I refuse to do the actual executions. I'll clean and pluck, but I can't actually kill them," when Emily broke in very calmly with, "Mom. They're chickens. Why are you so squeamish? I can't wait for fresh chicken dinner!" She is the weirdest combination ever of super-sensitive and ultra-practical. On the other hand, I think it's downright unfair to be someone who's willing to eat meat in its final, clean, tidy form but go all self-righteous about how it's not "nice" to do the dirty-work part (yes, I'm working on that part of myself!).

Anyway, Scott's been working like a fiend on the chickenhouse. We have discovered a direct correlation between him working on said project and the commencement of sleet and/or snow. (We are having such a strange spring.) Here's some recent proof of progress. The "box" on the side is how you can get the eggs without going inside the chickenhouse -- you lift up the little "roof". The chicken run will be on the left side of this picture, going around the north side of our garage/workshop. The chickenhouse has room for 12 full-grown chickens to roost and lay -- so we will have plenty of space for our 25 small ones; plus, there is an "addition" deal that can be built on if necessary.

Yesterday, the kids and I drove out to see some friends of ours who have two two-week-old bumper lambs they are bottle-feeding and raising. They (the lambs) are cute as heck (not to say the friends aren't cute!). Still, I think I'll stop at chickens for now.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Park

Well, last weekend it was (briefly, but it was) sunny, and we ventured out to our local park. It's really a rather decent little park, considering the size of our town. Of course, while we were there, we saw three separate families we recognized, including one couple who are parents of someone we graduated high school with (Jeremy, for those of you who know) -- it is, after all, a small town! I actually like that about where we live -- the seeing of people you know everywhere. I realize there are many people for whom that is practically as pleasant as bubonic plague, but it doesn't make me claustrophobic at all. Here are some pictures of our adventure (and why is it that no-one under the age of 10 seemed any less energetic after running around wildly for an hour?):

You might notice there is only one picture of Steven (and he's looking sort of odd and a little blurry). That would be because my camera does not do well with motion (that little delay on digital cameras is just a killer), and he considers any second at the park during which he is not in constant motion to be a sad, sad waste. I'm glad for children who: a) have a place to play; b) can play; and c) like to play. Wouldn't it be dreadful to have children who didn't have any one of those three things?

Love, kristin

P.S., does anyone else who knows what Sharlene's girls look like think that sometimes Emily looks very like them? It's the chin, the eyes, and the skin color. Um, is that her whole face? Considering that they are her cousins, I suppose that's not surprising!

P.S.S., my great-nieces and great-nephews are SO CUTE, I can't stand it. The twins' newest pictures are here and there are some absolutely killing pictures of Emma doing ballet and Jake at swimming class (goggles are always excellent) here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Your Wednesday Poetry

I found this poem by accident -- the original was lying on top of the copy machine, forgotten by the professor making copies for his or her class. (Have I mentioned how I love working in the English Department? Where else would I find poems to read, by accident, on the copy machine?) I find it fascinating for several reasons, and the more so because of the footnotes, which include things like:

* The "ghazal" is an ancient Persian, Urdu, and Arabian poetic form of "thematically discontinuous couplets ... [which] have a rhyme scheme ... and refrain ... and the last couplet includes the poet's name."

* The epigraph and first two stanzas are taken from the poem "Kashmiri Song" by Laurence Hope (actually Violet Nicholson).

* "The third stanza is borrowed from Emily Dickinson's 'I am ashamed--I hide.'"

* (This is not in the footnotes, but my own observation:) The last stanza has echoes of both Job ("and I only am escaped to tell thee") and Moby Dick's sort of inimitable beginning ("Call me Ishmael"). I think part of the fun of poetry is finding the allusions, the hidden influences.

Anyway, love it. Here it is:


Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar -- Laurence Hope

Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell tonight
before you agonize him in farewell tonight?

Pale hands that once loved me beside the Shalimar:
Whom else from rapture's road will you expel tonight?

Those "Fabrics of Cashmere--" "to make Me beautiful--"
"Trinket"--to gem--"Me to adorn--How--tell"--tonight?

I beg for haven: Prisons, let open your gates--
A refugee from Belief seeks a cell tonight.

Executioners near the woman at the window.
Damn you, Elijah, I'll bless Jezebel tonight.

Lord, cried out the idols, Don't let us be broken;
Only we can convert the infidel tonight.

Has God's vintage loveliness turned to vinegar?
He's poured rust into the Sacred Well tonight.

In the heart's veined temple all statues have been smashed.
No priest in saffron's left to toll its knell tonight.

He's freed some fire from ice, in pity for Heaven;
he's left open--for God--the doors of Hell tonight.

And I, Shahid, only am escaped to tell thee--
God sobs in my arms. Call me Ishmael tonight.

--Agha Shahid Ali