Monday, March 31, 2008

Pizza post

Brave Sir Robin is right about a lot of things.

Pizza is one of them.

Thanks for the recipe. Next time I'll remember to turn on only the lower heating element in the oven so the cheese doesn't brown before the crust is even cooked. Even so, it was good.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Owen Meany - Chapter 8

If I were a book, I would be A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.

We're taking a chapter a week, posted on Sunday mornings. Click for the posts on Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six and Chapter Seven.

(Take the Book Quiz yourself at the Blue Pyramid.)

We'll get the obligatory political commentary out of the way first...
So what if civil liberties were suspended for six months? So what that there could be searches without warrants? So what if people could be detained without counsel for up to ninety days?
Okay. Enough of that.

Bob and I spoke a bit last week, in comments, about whether present-day John is displaying signs of mental instability. That may be too strong a word for it, but I agree that his own descriptions of his behavior, at least in terms of his "addiction" to the news and inability to relate easily with the people around him, are not the words of a man at peace with himself or the world.

Certainly, the loss of his finger--and, more to the point, the circumstances under which the amputation occurred--have had an impact on his present-day outlook. We can better understand his insistence that he did not "flee" to Canada to escape the draft, and the complexity of his feelings toward those who did.

To say nothing of the complexity of his feelings toward Owen.

The two passages that stood out to me in this chapter show a John who, when not overwrought by his political convictions, is very aware of the passage of time; a lonely man who accepts--perhaps as inevitable--but does not embrace, the life he has come to lead.
Now we're the grownups we were in such a hurry to become; now we can drink all the beer we want, with no one asking us for proof of our age.
...pine pitch on your fingers is the same everywhere; and the kids with their hair damp all day, and their wet bathing suits, and someone always with a skinned knee, or a splinter, and the sound of bare feet on a dock ... and the quarreling, all the quarreling. I love it; for a short time, it is very soothing. I can almost imagine that I have had a life very different from the life I have had.

The final pair of quotes I chose from Chapter 8 have to do with Owen's personal life - his relationship with Hester.
I had the strangest feeling that anything between them was possible: that they did it and had always done it with abandon; that they had never done it, but that they might be doing something even worse--or better--and that the real bond between them (whether they "did it" or not) was even more passionate and far sadder than sex.

"I'm surprised she didn't beat the shit out of you for that," I said.

"SHE DID," Owen said; he turned his face away from the glowing light of the TV. "I WOULDN'T TELL HER WHAT THE PHONE CALLS WERE ABOUT, AND SHE THOUGHT I HAD ANOTHER GIRLFRIEND."

"Why don't you have another girlfriend?" I asked him; he shrugged again.


Owen grew up disconcertingly fast; we had several long, leisurely chapters about his childhood, and then suddenly the boys hit puberty and we started skipping whole years between anecdotes. It's harder to really "get" Owen as a grown man.

It's harder to have sympathy for his oddities when they begin to have real-world effects beyond the recasting of pageants and plays.

He has engaged in criminal behavior - and paid the price in several ways.

He has entered into a long-term adult relationship that is, at the very least, so fraught with issues on both sides that, while it presumably offers some comfort to both Owen and Hester, is clearly not a refuge or a safe haven for either of them.

And, at the close of the chapter, he makes and carries out a decision that has permanent physical and psychological consequences for John.

The one thing we do know, absolutely, about Owen is that his actions are driven by a profound and unshakable certainty in his faith, both in God and in his own role as God's instrument.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Girls & Grandpa

We went out to eat on Dad's last night here. We let the girls play with the camera most of the time and no good came of that, but I did take this one (and three others very disappointing versions of the same shot).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Morning dialogue

Robin, rummaging in sock box: Oh, no. There isn't any pair of ideal socks in here.

Me: You can check the dryer if you want to.

Robin: Oh, thank you. It's just, I'm hoping today will be an ideal day!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ba Dum Bum, CHING

So we're eating dinner, and Robin says, "Guess where the new English teacher is from?"

And I say, "I thought the note said she was from the United States."

And Robin says, "No, she's from Canada!"

And I say, "Oh. That's nice."

And Robin says, "Guess which part?"

And I say, "I don't know. Which part?"

And Robin says, "All of her!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Make a quilt, get a shirt

You know what I never did? I never posted a picture of the quilt I made for pidomon. And after threatening him with dire consequences if he didn't photograph it for me and everything.

So here it is:

And I'm not very smiley these days, but fair's fair, so ... here's the t-shirt he sent me in return. It says "Frogs" of course.

Thanks, man.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Monday, March 24, 2008

Robin's Room: A Transformation

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Heh, heh, heh.

The Gematriculator is a website that analyzes a blog or a piece of text and performs numerological magic upon it to determine where it falls on the scale from good to evil.

I'd like you to know that hosting this book discussion does not come without a cost.

Before posting this week's entry, my blog was 30% Evil and 70% Good.

Now, though? After all the politics - not to mention saying "shit" three whole times?

This site is certified 37% EVIL by the Gematriculator
This site is certified 63% GOOD by the Gematriculator

I blame Cheney.

Owen Meany - Chapter 7

If I were a book, I would be A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.

We're taking a chapter a week, posted on Sunday mornings. Click for the posts on Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five and Chapter Six.

(Take the Book Quiz yourself at the Blue Pyramid.)

Let's see ... the first thing I marked as I read Chapter 7 was Owen's comment about Hester's drinking:

"Why does she drink so much?" I asked Owen.
"What's that mean?" I asked him. "Do we have a generation of drunks to look forward to?"
"How do you know?" I asked him.
"I DON'T KNOW HOW I KNOW," said Owen Meany. "I JUST KNOW THAT I KNOW," he said.
That was on December 31, 1961.

[Distracted briefly by the Wikipedia entry on "Generations"]

I was born in 1969, so anything I say about the 60s--or, indeed, the 70s--is based mainly on hearsay. Still, as I understand it, in addition to the whole peace and loooooove thing, there was a lot of anger and action aimed at getting the United States out of Vietnam. So I think we can call Owen right about the first generation.

Was that followed by two generations of people who DON'T GIVE A SHIT?

It's hard to say. People do have opinions about ... oh, let's just say ... the current mess of a war the United States shouldn't be involved in. But there aren't massive demonstrations, are there?

And there's certainly someone who doesn't give a shit.

[There may be a commercial before the clip]

RADDATZ: Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting.
RADDATZ: So? You don't care what the American people think?
CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.

Oh, look. The next thing I've marked is about Ronald Reagan. doesn't surprise me that the president is "not affected' by the congressional hearings; he hasn't been too "affected" by what the Congress tells him he can and can't do, either. I doubt that these hearings are going to "affect" him very greatly.


Let's just move on. What else have I marked?

Today, the fact that President Kennedy enjoyed carnal knowledge of Marilyn Monroe and "countless others"--even during his presidency--seems only moderately improper, and even stylish, in comparison to the willful secrecy and deception, and the unlawful policies, so broadly practiced by the entire Reagan administration. The idea of President Reagan getting laid, at all--by anyone!--comes only as welcome and comic relief alongside all his other mischief!

Well, we'll have to forgive John (or, perhaps, Irving) for that one; who could have foreseen the whole Clinton thing, after all? At least that's well in the past, and we've circled back around to a President about whom the above could certainly be said.

What? It's not "well in the past" after all? ABC News, just this week, felt the need to ...


Also marked:



No, Mrs. Lish--I can answer you now. This was not what we could expect of our future leaders. This was not where our future would lead us; our future would lead us elsewhere--and to leaders who bear little resemblance to Owen Meany.

So anyway.

The Volkswagen part was most enjoyable, of course. You could almost see Irving wondering how far he could go with it. How bad could it get, and still be believable?

The faculty can trash the car, certainly. Could he somehow get the headmaster inside the car? Could he be stuck there? During morning meeting maybe?

It was very well done.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter photos

An Easter Egg Story

This is not a story about Easter eggs. It is a story about eggs, and it occurred at Easter time.

Just so you know.

I don't usually buy my eggs in trays of 30, but it's true I didn't specify, when Dad asked what we needed from the store, that a dozen or so would suffice. I also didn't specify, because I like to live on the edge, that he might look for a tray in which Egg #27 hadn't been sitting there, broken an unrefrigerated, for 10 days.

Fortunately, I smelled Egg #27 even before opening the plastic seal - I'm lucky like that. So I took it outside to open it.

Dad watched through a window.

I brought in all the unsullied eggs and put them away. Then I went back for the sullied ones. A couple of them had become very attached to Egg #27, and had to be pried off of the cardboard carton.

I always thought eggshells were porous. Isn't some sort of oxygen exchange necessary for the (hypothetical) wee little developing chicks? And if so, wouldn't the rotten egg-ness osmose into the neighboring eggs? Well, I was assured that no such osmosis would occur; that the unbroken eggs wouldn't be any the worse for wear for spending 10 days next to--yea, bathed in--the slowly rotting guts of Egg #27, so I went ahead and washed them off.

I think, though, that the consuming of those particular eggs should be a voluntary affair, so I also took the liberty of marking them so we'll all know which are which at egg-selection time.

By the time I had the sullied eggs properly situated and went back outside with a plastic bag in which to seal Egg #27, its neighbor to the west (which was also cracked), and the rotten-egg-permeated cardboard, I made an intriguing discovery.

It seems that dogs like rotten eggs. They also like rotten-egg-permeated cardboard.

Note to self: No kissing the dogs.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter procession

We'll be out all day, so I leave you with some photos Dad took yesterday of the girls and an Easter procession in the little town of Barva, where we lived when Robin was born.

(Note the soon-to-be-painted room through the door in the background.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A good day for it

Costa Rica doesn't feel like a third world country for the most part, but it is most assuredly still a developing country.

But I have to give them a lot of credit in some areas. Yes, our utilities are interrupted more often than we're used to in the United States. Yes, the infrastructure in general is having trouble keeping up with the march of progress. There are too many cars for our roads, insufficient telephone lines for our population, etc.

Yes, there is waste and inefficiency and red tape on a grand scale but, sometimes, you do get a glimmer of actual logic and forethought in the way things are addressed.

Easter Week is a major holiday here, and almost everything is closed from Wednesday on. Very few businesses are operating, and most people are off on vacation somewhere.

It's actually an excellent time to modify the national phone system.

Starting today - and it has, indeed, started today - we have eight-digit phone numbers instead of seven. All land lines have an extra "2" tacked on to the beginning, and all cell phone lines have an extra "8".

Very few businesses will lose calls because of this, because most people are on vacation and calling each other instead of their offices. And there are still four whole days of vacation for people to discover, remember, and get used to the change. And to update the address books in their cell phones - a non-trivial task, given the size of a cell phone's memory nowadays. Ask me how I know.

And let us not forget the updating of the web sites. I'm kind of proud of myself for remembering that one.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Was there really ever any doubt?

No. There was not.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Water, color.

Know when the water finally came back on?

10:00 p.m.

That's really, really late. But at least it came back. I heard today that there was some kind of major renovation or something going on in the water supply for this area. When it came back we had exceptionally good pressure, and it never went out at all today, so hopefully that's that.

Not that I didn't fill a bucket this morning and buy a 5-gallon thing of drinking water this afternoon, mind you.

Tomorrow's task is to buy paint for the color-reassignment procedure that is to take place in Robin's room this weekend.

A nine-year-old. A palette of thousands of shades, hundreds of them pink. Wish us strength.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fingers now stuck in crossed position

Well, the power went out too, for a while. But just for an hour. Hell, the radio even went out for a few minutes this evening. Guess it's just that kind of day.

But. The water is still out. It's 7:30 p.m., and utilities that don't get fixed during business hours...well, it's not a good sign.

Also? I know I'm starting to sound like one of those cleanliness-obsessed people, but I really really want to wash my hands. Like, really really.

It's trash night here, by the way.

Scooping the litter box? Check.
Accidentally getting some parrot poop on my hand while slinging trash bags? Check.
Reaching into the trash bag for a napkin on which to wipe off the parrot poop? Check.

Only, it wasn't a napkin.

Did I mention? Costa Rican septic systems are considered to be incapable of digesting toilet paper. So, it's...not disposed of in the toilet.

People. Hand sanitizer only goes so far. Please. I just want to wash my hands.

Crossing my sticky fingers

We have no water today. The water pressure has been low during the day for several days now, going back to normal at night.

But when I got home from the gym this morning it wasn't low, it was just plain gone. I can make my peace with not being able to shower - at least my clothes are clean. But I really really want to wash my hands. That sanitizer stuff is most unsatisfying.

We are getting toward the end of the rainy season, so it's true that the national water supply is probably on the low side. Last year we had some trouble with the power supply toward the end of the rainy season.

I sure hope this isn't that though. It's still another good month before it starts raining on a daily basis.

With any luck, they're doing some sort of local maintenance to the water pipes somewhere up or downhill from here. Of course, if that's the case, let's all hope they work quickly. Easter week is bigger than Christmas in Costa Rica, so if they don't finish by Wednesday at noon, it'll be at least next Monday before anybody gets back to it.

Crossing, as I say, my sticky fingers.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Owen Meany - Chapter 6

If I were a book, I would be A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.

We're taking a chapter a week, posted on Sunday mornings. Click for the posts on Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four and Chapter Five.

(Take the Book Quiz yourself at the Blue Pyramid.)

First of all, thanks to those who commented last week about my thoughts on the female characters.

I was especially intrigued by Deborah's observation that Mary Beth Baird and Barb Wiggin represented the classic virgin/whore dichotomy. That makes a lot of sense, and it makes me feel better about why those two characters were portrayed the way they were.

Certainly Irving is not unaware of issues such as gender roles and the impact they have on us. Observe, here in Chapter 6, the puzzlement with which John recognizes that his male cousins were sent to Gravesend Academy in part because of its "power to rescue those two daredevils from the standard fates of rural, north country boys" by virtue of its being a "good school" that would assault with "a host of new demands, of impossible standards," tiring them out, numbing them, civilizing them.

And yet, "Why my Aunt Martha and Uncle Alfred were less concerned with civilizing Hester remains a mystery to me."

So I feel better about all of that.

Moving on, this part appealed to me; not Owen's complaint about the movie The Robe, but John's observation about it:

This was a theme of Owen's--the Catholics and their adoration of OBJECTS. Yet Owen's habit of collecting objects that he made (in his own way) RELIGIOUS was well known: I had only to remember my armadillo's claws.
I don't suppose everyone does that, but I think a lot of us do. A particular object becomes a talisman, representing a person, an event, a time, or even a state of mind or aspect of ourselves that we want to hold on to or focus on, or return to.

Perhaps similarly, I was drawn to Owen's objection to The Ten Commandments:
And this, in turn, seems almost related to John's observation early in the chapter about his grandmother's objection to televisions in retirement homes:
...what Harriet Wheelwright always observed always confirmed her opinions.
Most of us hold our beliefs, especially political or religious ones, strongly. We see confirmation for them in situations or events that may not hold the same meaning for other people.

Our talismans, our miracles, our beliefs; they are all personal things. They don't look the same through others' eyes.

There were a few other things that caught my eye:

John being admonished, again, for his lack of Canadianness -
"...the same, critical message that Canon Mackie delivers to me, without cease. In short: You've been with us for twenty years; when are you going to take an interest in us?"
Again...I have lived in Costa Rica for close to that long. And I am similarly not focused on Costa Rican politics and times. I never have been. This is where I live, but I am not of here.

This chapter is, of course, just packed with parallels between the United States' past and present actions. Here's one.
...are they all the same--these presidential candidates and evangelicals who are caught with their pants down? Mr. Reagan has been caught with his pants down, too--but the American people reserve their moral condemnation for sexual misconduct. Remember when the country was killing itself in Vietnam, and the folks at home were outraged at the length and cleanliness of the protesters' hair?

And finally, the new headmaster's administrative style reminds me of something...

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I think that times when we have a lot of personal issues to deal with - times of growth and change - make a lot of us appreciate the need for order in our physical environment.

A lot of times, crisis points don't really coincide with the energy or the focus needed to actually maintain an orderly house, but the need is there.

It seems like we might be able to do some basic housekeeping today - maybe even some simple extracurricular projects like hanging the kaleidoscope quilt, which has been draped over the banister since I got it back from the show I don't even remember when.

In the spirit of all of that, Konagod's Desk Drawer Clutter Meme caught my fancy this morning. It is also eminently doable. You just:

Open up your desk drawers. Rummage about. List ten things you find there.

Yeah, that's about my speed. And my drawers are plenty cluttered and quirky enough to yield ten interesting things. (I think.)

Let's see...

  1. Old calendars. Two from 2004 (the full-sized hanging kind - one store-bought National Parks [of the US] and one freebie from Triad Auto in Greensboro, NC) and one single-page cardboard calendar cut down to just the 12 months - looks like it might've been 2005.
  2. Wow. Lots of diskettes - like close to 30. It's been a while since I even used a computer with a disk drive. Although the old laptop that Alex has been using since his bit the dust must have one. But I think I'd be afraid to put them into it anyway.
  3. A 10-gross box of nickel plated, size 1 safety pins, closed. (You can also get them open, which would have been preferable to me, a quilter.) (10 gross=1440. No, of course that's not too many.)
  4. Ooooh, and score. The quilting ruler I thought I lost, along with some rulers I never actually use.
  5. Melted rubber bands. Why do rubber bands melt? Every single pen and pencil in my drawer, along with a pencil sharpener, a mini flashlight and a bunch of other crap, is tainted and stuck together by the sticky mess of melted rubber bands. I could probably pick the whole thing up by one end and sell it as art.
  6. A watch I haven't worn in years...hey. It's still running. Wonder why I stopped wearing it?
  7. A 20 year old address book. It's one of those mass-produced personalized things. White plastic with a rainbow and "Jennifer's Address Book" on the cover. Most of the numbers are from high school and the first year of college. Oh, and a Costa Rican phone number written inside the back cover. I know because there are only six digits. Of course, now we have seven. And starting on [Googles the date] March 20th, we're going to eight. (Note to self: Let that fact into your conscious mind sometime real soon. You need to let people know about that, and update the websites too.)
  8. A 14 year old pair of glasses. I've never needed glasses for vision correction, but when I worked at the news agency back in the early 90s, I was at an old monochromatic monitor (green, I believe) for eight hours a day and the eyestrain was terrible. These glasses had only a mild prescription, but were photo-gray (you know, they change color in bright sunlight) and allowed me to work at the computer in comfort. Nowadays, the glass anti-glare screen does the trick. Oh, look! A second pair.
  9. A packet of Ass Kickin' Honey Roasted Peanuts ("Kick Yo' Ass Hot!") that I believe I got at a yard sale in, going by a random store receipt found in the same bag, 2004.
  10. A little scrap of pink fabric from a pair of those footie pajamas kids wear. I got the pajamas at a thrift store and used them to make Juila's first Halloween costume - she was 2.5 months old and went as Piglet. I had practiced the stitching I used to make the stripes on this scrap. I'm not sure if I kept it because I liked it or as a scrap or rag. Probably for sentimental reasons.
*Rereads list*
*Looks down*
*Scuffs toe of shoe on floor*

Okay. There might be a few housekeeping items I could address without even getting out of my chair.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Let them eat Pi

I don't know how much I'll be posting about The Whole Situation. Possibly quite a bit. Possibly not much at all.

But in any case, not today. Bob's got a bit on that, though, if you're in the mood.

Thanks to Brave Sir Robin, I am not without material today, for it is Pi day. 3/14. And, a while ago, it was even 3/14 1:59:26 (etc.)

In honor of the lovely Pi and, to be honest, because it's Friday, we will be having a pizza pie for dinner tonight.

And now I leave you with a photo from the weekend:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

And now we are three

It was three years ago today that I uploaded my first picture and wrote my first words on this blog. This, today, is my 758th post.

The blog's initial purpose was to provide news and photos of the girls to far-off friends and, mainly, family.

I didn't really expect it to take off, though, because the main reason I wanted to try this medium was that I have never been successful at holding up my end of one-on-one correspondence. I almost never wrote letters - even back when letters were all there were. I rarely make phone calls. I frequently leave emails unanswered.

Somehow, though, the blogging worked. And it evolved, of course. The purpose of keeping far-away loved ones apprised of my day-to-day life is still a very important part of the blog, but it has become much more than that.

Thank you, each of you, for visiting and leaving your comments. For caring about the day to day life of someone a lot of you may never meet. For making this Internet thing an actual community as opposed to an anonymous message board or a one-way exercise in self-involvement.

As I said yesterday, humans will reach out to other humans and connect with them through any medium that is available. I'm so very glad that this medium is available to me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

But...but...Coasting Richly??

Coasting Richly was always more than a reference to my status as a long-term resident of Costa Rica.

From the moment it occurred to me as a nom de blog, I recognized the truth of the phrase.


Richly, to be sure. But...coasting.

Well, I'm not doing that anymore, and it's time for a new name.

I'm making very conscious choices now, and I need a title that reflects that. And, hey. If it happens to place me near the top of folks' blogrolls? Well, I'll just have to live with that ;)

* * *


I am in the process of separating from my husband of 14 years. Early in the process. It's been two weeks and one day, in fact. That's pretty early.

I've had a lot of different reactions from the people I've spoken to about it. Some are immediately "on my side" - those who know me better than they know us. Others have gone, understandably, into "save the marriage" mode, in various ways.

I've heard horror stories. I've heard success stories.

And that's fine. The stories are...anecdotal. Each person, each couple, each relationship, is a world unto itself and, while the stories are interesting, they're not terribly applicable to my own situation; just as my experience may be interesting, or even instructive, to someone else. But more as a story than anything else.

* * *

I am doing something I don't think a lot of people do. I am choosing to step away from a marriage that is...not bad.

It's never been bad, in any sense of the word. It's never, and this is the important part; it's never--ever--been really, really good either. I have, for years, recognized it consciously as "not bad." It was only recently--and, in the eyes of my friends and family, precipitously--that I decided that "not bad" was, sadly, not good enough.

What did it take to make me really, really reexamine my life, and my marriage? To actually take (and to keep taking - it's a daily decision...hourly, even) a step I had never done more than skirt in the most superficial levels of my mind, even as I recognized more consciously that that my marriage was not what I would have wished for myself?

It took something big. Very big. To coalesce these quasi-conscious awarenesses into a single, conscious recognition. And to acknowledge it. And act on it.

It took something as marvelous, and as devastating, as falling in love with someone who is not my husband.

You all know Bob.

Yes, that Bob. Phydeaux. That's right, it's an Internet thing. Go ahead. Raise your eyebrows. Shake your head. Say whatever you've a mind to. I can wait, and you certainly won't be the first. It's fine.

Humans will reach out to other humans and connect with them through any medium that is available, because that is human nature. Even if neither of them has the remotest intention of entering into a deep and meaningful relationship; these things, they do happen. We don't get to choose. Little gifts from the Universe. Some of them are decidedly double-edged.

But here's the thing.

It's not about Bob. If--as has been pointed out to me, pointedly, by more than one caring soul--if, as I say, this relationship with Bob is "the real thing," then it will still be there in the future.

Its purpose in the present was to jar me. And jar me it did; to the extent that I really, truly acknowledged the things that I had been aware of for years--from the outset, really.

* * *

So what now?

Well, right now, Alex and I are simply living with the new reality. Giving it some time to sink in. I am standing beside him as he reels. We comfort each other as best we can. We have talked and shared more in the past two weeks than we had in entire years past.

Strikingly, working together to make this separation a gentle process by which the inevitable harm to all involved is reduced as far as humanly possible...may be our finest moment; the most wondrous thing we do as a couple, before parting.

I'm proud of both of us for the way we have handled the situation thus far, and I believe that we will have a strong relationship far into the future.

* * *

Updated to add:

Thank you, Mom and Dad. They arrived less than half an hour after I posted this. They're beautiful. And kind of quirky. Which is just right.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Or not

About 30% of the time, the new used monitor has a red stripe down the left side of all vertical edges defined by a meeting of a light area and a dark one.

Like, say...text.

They gave us a one month guarantee, though, so back it goes. Maybe not till we get another one though. The red stripe is waaaaaay easier to deal with than the ever-changing color casts of the old monitor.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quote for a Monday

You will never disserve your relationship--nor anyone--by seeing more in another than they are showing you. For there is more there. Much more. It is only their fear that stops them from showing you. If others notice that you see them as more, they will feel safe to show you what you obviously already see.
-- Conversations With God

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Owen Meany - Chapter 5

If I were a book, I would be A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.

We're taking a chapter a week, posted on Sunday mornings. Click for the posts on Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three and Chapter Four.

(Take the Book Quiz yourself at the Blue Pyramid.)

I was, it must be said, fairly uncomfortable with the way that Chapter 5 depicted the foibles of both Mary Beth Baird and Barb Wiggin as so very closely related to their gender, as opposed to their particular personalities.

This was especially evident in the final appearance each of these characters makes in the Pageant story arc.

Mary Beth is sobbing, overwrought, pathetic; making the adult John reflect, unkindly, on the kind of wife and mother she would one day become, and making the 11-year-old John want to hit her.

Barb Wiggin is, to be sure, a thoroughly unlikeable character. Yet it is not at all satisfying to see her "put in her place" by manly Dan, particularly when her reaction, her backing down, is attributed to the "marginal" authority she wielded in her previous employment as a stewardess.

I thought my discomfort with the handling of these two characters would be balanced by the brief foray into the world of the Dowlings, a one-trick pony of a couple whose mission is to challenge sexual stereotypes. But in the end, they were pathetic as well; "small-town world-changers" who were tolerated, joked about, ridiculous. Tedious eccentrics.

I do not, fortunately, take issue with Irving's handling of the other female characters; Mrs. Meany is certainly eccentric, and by no means portrayed in a flattering light, but she is who she is. She is not a caricature of stereotypical female behavior, she's just a female character.

Hester, Grandmother Wheelwright, John's mother; even Lydia and Germaine ... all are characters who happen to be female. They have strengths and weaknesses, and they hold up their parts of the story without falling into tired old stereotypes.

I did enjoy John's assessment of the different people who were available to him when he needed to talk (in present-day Toronto).

...the Rev. Mr. Foster offers scant sympathy for my worries, which, he says, are only in my mind. I love that "only"!

And the canon:
He is not exactly condescending, Canon Mackie; he is inexactly condescending.

I think it is a valuable thing, knowing the perspective of the different people you might discuss a situation with. You don't have to agree with someone, nor they with you, for the conversation to be productive, or instructive.

The conversation--well, John's rant--that followed, about Americans and the way they are perceived from abroad was, of course interesting to me as well, having lived outside the United States nearly as long as John, at that point, had.

But what made me laugh out loud a little was the canon's response:

"John, John," Canon Mackie said. "Your anger--that's not very Canadian, either." The canon knows how to get to me; through my anger.

"No, and it's not very Christian, either," I admitted. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry!" the canon said cheerfully. "Try to be a little ... different!" The man's pauses are almost as irritating as his advice.

I have never sought to be Costa Rican; I live in Costa Rica, yes, but not because I reject the United States or my identity with it. So while the whole issue of John trying (and, in the canon's view, failing) to be more Canadian was interesting, that wasn't what got my attention. It was the canon's response, and John's reaction to it.

"Don't be sorry!" the canon said cheerfully. "Try to be a little ... different!" The man's pauses are almost as irritating as his advice.


I am frequently to be found admonishing people not to be sorry for who they are or what they feel. And, in text, I am most assuredly given to little ... pauses as a means of conveying the rhythm of the words as I hear myself speaking them as I type.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Whiter whites, brighter brights

It's not new. It's not fancy. It's not sleek or sexy by any definition of the words. But it's here on my desk and it has no color cast.

Please give a warm welcome to the MultiSync XV15+ second-hand computer monitor.

I can see everything so much more clearly now.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Question. An Answer.

Q: How many nuts does a person have to try before concluding that perhaps the reason none of them fit is that something is wrong with the bolt?

A: About six.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Climbing trees

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Time's short and I don't know if I'll get back to the computer today. What to post? What to post?

Ummmm. So.

How've you been?

/Looks around for inspiration/

Well...okay, yes.

There's a lot on my mind and in my life right now. But I can't...well, I could. But I'm not going to post about it right at the moment. So...

Hmmm. Wonder if I could get away with another Mercedes Sosa video? Nah.


My monitor is all messed up and currently has a blue cast to it. So I can't tell what looks good. (Blue is, for what it's worth, the least offensive of the various color casts I get with this monitor these days.)

Silly Internet quiz?


Oh well. I didn't take Leap Day off. I guess I'll just coast through this one.

See you tomorrow :)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Went someplace pretty today

This is what it looked like.

Monday, March 03, 2008

One other thing about that concert

Mercedes Sosa is a very big name in her genre, which is Latin American folk music.

A lot of Latin American folk music is political, given the upheaval many of the countries in this region have experienced in the recent past. In addition to love songs and hymns to natural beauty, there is a whole class of musicians whose work is known as "Nueva Canción" (literally, "New Song"). Their music directly or indirectly deals with freedom, poverty and other political issues.

The Wiki article about Mercedes Sosa says, in part:

A supporter of Perón in her youth, she has favored leftist causes throughout her life. After the military junta of Jorge Videla came to power in 1976, the atmosphere in Argentina grew increasingly oppressive. At a concert in La Plata in 1979, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage, and the attending crowd was arrested. Banned in her own country, she moved to Paris and then to Madrid.
Still, that was long ago and far away - in several senses. The fans of Mercedes Sosa, Silvio Rodríguez and other members of the Nueva Canción movement tend to be politically aware grownups who love good music and also support the message behind it. They are well educated and, all in all, good folks to have a drink with. Not a rowdy bunch.

And the venue is small - it's an indoor sporting arena built around a basketball court, with a single-tier balcony all the way around. Its total capacity is 20,000, but when there are concerts, the stage takes up about a third of the floorspace and they cordon off about 25% of the balcony area, since it ends up behind the performer. Folding chairs are set out on the floor area not taken up by the stage, but really it's not worth paying extra to sit there, as the balcony has 16 steeply angled rows of bench seating - it's not that comfortable, but the view is good from anywhere.

Oh, right. I was saying. The venue is small (for such a big name - I also saw Sting there, years ago), and the crowd isn't likely to get too crazy. I wasn't surprised to see a few police officers standing around outside when we got there - you expect to see some at any public event. But, all in all, it seemed like there were more than might be called for at a grownup concert of music that is powerful and moving, but, musically, really quite calm.

Anyway, there was a warmup singer on when we got there. We found a spot halfway up the balcony, just even with the front edge of the stage. We were maybe 50 feet from center stage - I'm basing that on the width of a basketball court and where we were relative to it.

The place filled up while the warmup singer was on and then, during his last song, a dozen people or so filed in from a different entrance and took their seats in the front row of the folding chairs. The crowd started making so much noise, I finally asked Alex what was going on.

Turns out, that was the president of Costa Rica, seated front & center. (I hadn't paid attention to them as they came in, but once pointed out, I did recognize him.) Now I may have thought there were a few more police officers than necessary for a Mercedes Sosa concert, but there sure weren't that many. Maybe a dozen or so. No particular additional security was visible - none of the police officers came inside.

The crowd did a little spontaneous political shouting (anti CAFTA, which Arias is for), but were well behaved once the music started.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I had forgotten about this other song, which she also sang last night.

Owen Meany - Chapter 4

If I were a book, I would be A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.

We're taking a chapter a week, posted on Sunday mornings. Click for the posts on Chapter One, Chapter Two, and Chapter Three.

(Take the Book Quiz yourself at the Blue Pyramid.)

Those of you who are familiar with what is going on in my life right now will be not at all surprised to find that the parts of Chapter 4 that stuck out to me had to do with the future.

Owen and Johnny examining the contents of the dormitory rooms... "It was our lives in the near future that we were searching for when we searched those rooms, and therefore it was shrewd of Owen that he made us take our time."

That and, of course, Owen's rejection of COINCIDENCE.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


I will be seeing Mercedes Sosa playing in Heredia tonight.

A click a day for good causes

The Hunger Site The Breast Cancer Site The Child Health Site The Literacy Site The Rainforest Site The Animal Rescue Site

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