Monday, January 23, 2017

People are Talking

Well, actually, we're not. We're living in a society where people don't talk to each other anymore. Our conversations are much more superficial and meant, frequently, to change the other's person's mind.

Today, one of my professors challenged us to learn to be open to giving up our ideas because we've come to see that your idea is better than ours.

Better conversations, he charges, require hospitality. It's not just being nice (something I excel at), but making room for the person and their ideas in you mind and life. Hospitality requires engaging with them until they inhabit your world and dwell in your mind. It requires being willing to make room for people who are different than you, knowing you will be a different person at the end of the conversation.

I thought this a profound and important idea that I want to dwell in my own mind for a bit.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Fifth Beginning

Is anyone interested in participating in an online book club with me? I'm currently reading The Fifth Beginning by Robert L. Kelly. It's an incredibly intriguing book, and I'd love to discuss it.

With that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and post some of my thoughts from the first chapter, The End of the World as We Know It. (Quotes/notes from the book are in italics. My thoughts are in normal font.)

There is reason to hope. If something can't go on forever, it won't.

This thought got me through the delivery of two of my children. It can't last forever. But, I mostly think in this way in terms of short lived experiences, usually physically painful ones. What would it mean to realize this about everything? How would it change the way we approach each day if we think this way. This applies to both good and bad, large and small.

"In trying to be one thing, organisms reach a tipping point and become something completely different. This is what evolutionary theorists label emergent phenomena." Kelly believes that in addition to the power of competition, altruism and cooperation are essential components of evolution. He believes that the evolutionary process may, in fact, cause a restructuring of society in general to be one based more on cooperation than on competition.

I have recently been thinking about our social structure, specifically in the US, but also the broader world. When, I wonder, do we stop forcing everyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and start recognizing how important community is for everyone. We are a social species. We rely on each other for things that we can't or don't want to do, but also for emotional support. The idea that relying on someone else for something is a weakness is pervasive, but I do not consider it to be a true idea, or even a good one. Why must we be completely self reliant? Can anyone in actuality be completely self reliant? If you use the roads that the government creates and maintains, are you being self reliant? What about the fire department? At what point does the cooperation stop and the self sufficiency start? Why do we raise our families in isolation? Why do we no longer work as a community to raise our children, care for our sick and elderly, and provide for the common good?

At what point do we decide that it is important to have an educated people? Do we provide for the health and well being of our society as part of a greater cause because we want a healthy society? Or, do we continue to force people to provide for themselves, even when they are unable? At what point do we allow compassion to take at least equal place in ourselves with drive and passion?

These are some thoughts I've been having, and I'd love to talk about it.

A final quote:
Prehistory teaches us that humans excel at solving problems, that evolution has always been remaking us. Of course, as stockbrokers say, past performance is no guarantee of future results. We could indeed be headed to hell in a hand basket. But prehistory tells me that doesn't have to be the case; the future could be ours to make.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Week in Review 1-15-2017

My craft and study space. Not much studying going on here right now.

This was a crazy week. Gary and I both started school full time. Although we were both exhausted by the end of the week, we came through it relatively unscathed and excited for the semester. I also came through it relatively less sore by Friday than I was Tuesday. Wow. I'm going from a pretty sedentary life to walking about 5 miles each day, uphill both ways. Fortunately, I bought some new boots at the beginning of December that are both comfortable and warm.

These tiles make me smile. It feels like the designer was just doodling.

My favorite quotes and observations from the week:

From Spanish-
My teacher looks remarkably similar to a woman I know in Kentucky, has the same mannerisms, accent, and way of talking. She knows of no connection. Also, she uses the contraction "y'all" to signify the plural form of you when conjugating verbs, which amuses me to no end.

The view on my walk to school. Don't be jealous.

From Anthropology:
"That's a whole different bag of rabid monkeys."
My anthropology professor may be my favorite professor this semester, although he's running a close race with my physics professor. And, of course, it's early days yet.

Sometimes, if you can't see the sun, you just need to turn around.

From Physics:
"We're all stuck here because of gravity." Said immediately following a discussion on the fact that many of the students are in the class because they're required to take a science course to graduate.

An observation about the idea that in science, no theory, law or principle can ever be proven, only disproved.- It is a hard ting to accept, that you must always question everything you know, that advances or changes can come at any time. We are a species that likes hard and resolute facts. We have difficulty allowing fluidity into our thought process.

Quintessential desert architecture is all over campus.

From Honors course:
A little background- Fort Lewis, the college we're attending, does their honors program differently than other colleges. Rather than providing core content in more difficult classes, with more homework, more papers, etc, the school gives honors students a minor in philosophy.

My favorite moment with the honors course actually came during our orientation last Saturday. The director of the program described it as, "a community of people who are working to become better people so that they, in turn, can make the world a better place." I love that.

Bear has been with us for a year this week!

From English:
We're studying emojis, not my favorite thing in the world. I'm willing to embrace change, and even to attempt to change the way I do things. However, I question whether we should abandon one thing because another comes along, which may be easier but not better. We are a thinking species. I do not believe we should water down our thoughts to make them easier to deal with.

So, my thought from this class is this, and I would love for anyone interested to discuss it with me:

If we say that people are not reading, do we abandon the written word, or do we make sure people know how to engage with the written word, to struggle with it for the sake of the struggle and growth, to critically analyze the thoughts that are brought about by that reading?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Do Over

To enlist. To slam the door impulsively on the past, to shed everything down to my last bit of clothing, to break the pattern of my life - that complex design I had been weaving since birth with all its dark threads, its unexplainable symbols set against a conventional background of domestic white and schoolboy blue, all those tangled strands which required the dexterity of a virtuoso to keep it flowing - I yearned to take giant military shears to it, snap! bitten off in an instant, and nothing left in my hands but spools of khaki which could weave only a plain, flat, khaki design, however twisted they might be.
Oh, how this quote speaks to me. I am certain that, at least on some level, this is why I enlisted in the military at 17. I enjoy moving, not only for the new experiences, places, and people, but because I have the constant opportunity to remake myself. I can, if I so choose and have the discipline, toss aside the flotsam and detritus that is floating about my personality and life.

Note: I think that one of the wonderful things about starting an active reading practice is that I'm also creating the practice of journaling in a conscience way. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

When I was a young mother, after Gabriel was born, but before Xavier was born, I had a weight problem. My weight problem was that I was too skinny. No matter how much I ate, I couldn't gain weight. I was skinny in the way that causes you to have to get a weight waiver for being underweight, even though you have DD breasts. I was skinny in the way that you could buy the smallest size clothes in the store and still have them hang off you. I have a child like that, 6 feet tall and 135 pounds.

Anyway, I was complaining to Nonnie, my maternal grandmother, about this weight problem. She told me that Grandma Cat, her mother-in-law, had hated being skinny. People made fun of her for it. When she put on a lot of weight, my Grandma Cat refused to lose weight because she was so happy to not be skinny anymore.

You might ask yourself where I'm going with this story, but I suspect you already know. Before I got pregnant with Xavier, I weighed about 95 pounds. After I had him, I weighed 120. It was glorious. I weight a lot more than that, now, but I'm not unhappy. Certainly, I'd like to get back in better health. After my hysterectomy in April, my get back in shape train got completely sidetracked. But, honestly, I'm happy carrying a little extra weight. I hated being skinny.

So, why did I think of this? I have just started reading A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, recommended to me by a friend. I love it when friends know what I like to read. The main character absolutely adores food, and she reminds me of myself in that regard. I adore food, love it almost as much as I love my family. I like all kinds of food, and like to try new foods. In fact, if you want to prove your love for me, the best way to do that is to give me food. So, when the main character is described thus, "And Charlotte, whose one true love was food..." I fell in love. How can I not love a character who is both extremely intelligent and loves food?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Knit-A-Longs are very popular in the online knitting world. Some yarn stores and knitting groups host them, too. Lattes and Llamas hosts a very special knit-a-long to please the geeks in the knitting world while helping Child's Play Charity I discovered the geek-a-long in 2014, close to the end of it. I started to make the 2015 blanket, but found that the blocks didn't interest me enough. This year, when I found out the theme was going to be video games, I decided to make a blanket for each of the boys. I started out well, staying on top of the blocks as they were released. Then, I had a hysterectomy. Then, we started getting our house ready to sell. Then, we moved... You get the picture. I'm a little behind. Here it is November and I'm only halfway done with a year long project I had planned as Christmas gifts. Ah well. I think I can still get the blocks done in time for Christmas, but they'll have to wait until after Christmas to be joined. We'll see. I thought I'd show you some of my favorite blocks.

We're big fans of Plants vs Zombies here.

Isn't he adorable?

Mortal Kombat

Who didn't die of dysentery during the '80s?

Batman- need I say more?

This is what I have done of Xavier's blanket so far.

All the blocks I've completed.

I'm working on Duck Hunt, now.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


As I said in yesterday's post, Gary and I are both returning to school full time in January. Our younger two boys actually started public school in September. With Gabriel in college as well, this means that our entire family will be in school full time come January. Also, it means Gary and I will be college sweethearts.

But... It means I have to finally make a decision about what I want to major in. I am considering a liberal studies degree because that would allow me to pursue more than one path. I may even do that and add another major. We'll see.

Right now, I'm debating between Art Education, Native American and Indigenous Peoples Studies, Spanish, Art, English Communications, and adding Sociocultural Anthropology minor.

I think I can throw the Art Education, Spanish, and English Communications into a liberal studies degree. I can't be sure until I see my advisor on the 21st. In the meantime, I have to figure out all the choices I have and prioritize them.

I once had someone tell me that students shouldn't be allowed to skip grades because they were to immature to decide what they wanted to study in college if they did so. This, because I skipped a grade and dropped out of college because I couldn't make up my mind. The Navy was the right place for me at 17, though. And, obviously, my varied interests haven't reduced in number. Well, I'm not looking for a degree in accounting anymore. I did add art ed, which I'd never considered before a couple years ago. I'd also love to get a degree in fiber arts, but my school doesn't offer it. Maybe, after Dominic graduates from high school, Gary and I can go get our Masters degrees somewhere that offers fiber arts. ;)


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