Friday, August 31, 2001

There is such a strong pull not to study. W. B. Yeats said, "The intellect of man is forced to choose / Perfection of the life, or of the work" (quoted by Robert Giroux in his introduction to Elizabeth Bishop's collected letters, One Art, p. viii). Now I make no claim to perfection, but it seems that I must choose either graduate studies or life, and, having chosen to study, I now want life. But the reason I chose school in the first place was that I thought it would lead to the kind of life and work I wanted. And maybe it will, but the goal seems so far away, and I am impatient. So I push the goal even further away by not studying, i.e., WRITING.

While I was composing the above, I thawed out my homemade vegetable stock, which I then used to make a fantastic Risotto with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella (I used Smoked Gouda). Score another one for my pressure cooker (and for Life)! The recipe is from Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna J. Sass.

Now it's time for Work. Life activities this morning included: grocery shopping at Trader Joe's; taking my computer to the place where I bought it three years ago to see if they could install a USB port so I can hook up my scanner so I can post some pictures on this site, only to find a "For Lease" sign on the storefront (This activity could also be categorized as Work, because I will need a scanner for teaching someday.); reading a few entries at First Person Particular; making risotto for lunch; and, finally, writing a post for my weblog.

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

What next? First, cell phone conversations in restaurants and now people who don't remove their phone headsets even to eat.

I realize I just wrote two sentences with no verbs (and I can't figure out where the commas go). Omitting verbs is a well-established trend in television newscasting, as reported by--but, thankfully, not usually adopted by--The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
TERENCE SMITH: Today in Washington, around the country, television reporters, talking like this.

JOHN KING, CNN: Those negotiations continuing. Mr. Bush speaking to reporters earlier today: Suddenly optimistic.

TERENCE SMITH: Short, staccato bursts.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC News: Gary Condit today, the first sighting in weeks.

TERENCE SMITH: Fragments, not sentences.

[Reporters] JIM AVILA, NBC News: No natural enemies in North America, lives most of its life underwater.

TERENCE SMITH: Dropping most verbs, everything present tense.

CORRESPONDENT: A man alone as his wife sits in jail, admitting to killing her five children. Rest of online transcript

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

This blogging adventure has just shifted to a whole new level. I've been listed on somebody's links' page! Thanks, Susie!
Another lunchtime post from work. I don't really feel like writing anything. Has the thrill worn off? I can't maintain a regular weblog with links from all over the web because my main destination on the web is the WSJ, which requires a paid subscription. Popular culture, whatever that is, is not my interest, so there is a whole sector of the web I bypass. My studies seem to be getting more boring by the minute, so I really don't want to discuss them here. (That's not really true. It's just that I haven't checked anything off my [very long] list as completed in a very long time.) Maybe, instead of sitting at my computer for the rest of lunch, I'll go outside for a walk.

Monday, August 27, 2001

Finally, a successful attempt at studying. I went to a nearby branch of the public library. It is small, fairly quiet, and air-conditioned. The tall windows let in plenty of natural light, so it is a pleasant place to study.

The weekend. A friend got a new speed/power boat (29-foot Warlock--think Miami Vice, off-shore racing) so we went to Long Beach to test it out. There were two events going on, a poker run in which the boats go to specified destinations and pick up a card to prove they were there and a jet ski race. We were hanging around the edge of pack of boats that was getting ready to leave when the jet ski race started. The drivers wore helmets, and so many skis so close together churned the water to spray. It looked (and sounded) like a nest of angry hornets and could easily have been a scene from a scary movie.

Powerboating is an interesting "sport." A lot of money is involved, and a lot of time is spent in the harbour looking at each other's boats and discussing which one is the biggest and the fastest.
Today I am going to study first before posting a longer entry here about the weekend's activities.

Friday, August 24, 2001

My first attempt to post a picture. (Thanks to Susie at Raspberry World for sending me the HTML tags.) No, I don't work for Interweave Press, but I think they have wonderful publications about needle crafts, such as PieceWork magazine.

Thursday, August 23, 2001

Conducted successful experiments two and three using my pressure cooker. First, I made vegetable stock. Trader Joe's carries good ready-made stock, but Trader Joe's is a bit of a drive from where I live, and the stock still has a lot of sodium in it. At regular grocery stores, vegetable stock is made with high fructose corn syrup, not to mention up to 900 mg of sodium! Then for dinner tonight I made lentil soup using the stock I'd made. It tasted very good. I used a new recipe from The Bean Harvest Cookbook by Ashley Miller, a cookbook I found at the used cookbook store just down the street.

From another cookbok I found at the library, Eating Well in a Busy World by Francine Allen: "One of the simplest ways I have found to refresh myself from the numbness caused by long hours of shuffling ideas and papers is to immerse myself in the textures, colors and smells of things of the earth....[R]insing, chopping and cooking fresh foods not only leads to healthful meals, but can sensually delight and mentally relax the tired cook" (p. xi). And from Rosemary Radford Ruether: "[N]o theologian can be taken seriously unless he or she can cook" (quoted by John Goldingay and E. Schillebeeckx).

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

To those who've not yet discovered it, I offer the weekly Los Angeles Times Food Section. It's published every Wednesday and is available for free for one week at the website. The LA Times is one of the few newspapers in the country that still maintains a complete test kitchen and full-time staff. (I learned this on a Huell Howser program, which toured the kitchen and interviewed the staff.) The recipes are excellent. Besides feature articles with recipes (this week--eggplant spreads and dips), weekly columns include "Quick Fix" meals and "Wine." (However, I don't see the Wine column online.) The recipes often highlight the foods from the various ethnic groups/communities in the LA area.

Every January, the Food Section publishes their "Top 10" recipes for the previous year. I've even dipped into the archives a few times to get recipes, even though you have to pay a fee.

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

I watched the Gilmore Girls on TV tonight. I only recently happened upon the show, and I enjoy it even though I know that's not how people really talk to one another.
Blogger lesson of the day: When you edit entries on your current page and republish them, you also have to republish the archived entries so that any changes you make are reflected in the archives, too.
I'm going to try post something on my lunch break at work. It is a little distracting and not quite as easy as at home to get into the "headspace" for writing a personal diary.

In Sunday's Los Angeles Times Book Review, Seamus Heaney reviewed A Way of Life, Like Any Other by Darcy O'Brien. I read the review because it was by Seamus Heaney, and he reminded me why I love reading a well-written book review even if I never read the book itself. Heaney describes O'Brien's earlier works on Irish writers: "There was little sense...that Darcy himself was hitting his stride as a writer. These were maculate performances by someone with a gift for the immaculate." I don't recall ever hearing or reading the word "maculate." Of course, there is the immaculate conception and some people live in immaculate homes, but "maculate" never occurred to me. (It certainly would describe my house!) Heaney goes on to write that O'Brien's "at-homeness in places where he was slightly deliciously out of it, all suggested his artist's capacity for immersion and detachment." First, "slightly deliciously" is how poets write book reviews. Second, I wonder if the simultaneous experience of "immersion and detachment" is part of the urge behind online diaries and journals.

Speaking of Seamus Heaney, I recently purchased a double-CD of Heaney reading his new translation of Beowulf, an epic best heard out loud rather than read silently.

Monday, August 20, 2001

I have until 9 AM to complete this post. Then I am going to start studying. I just finished breakfast--toast, an orange, and tea with milk. Today's agenda: write weblog until 9 AM; study until noon; take shower, eat lunch, etc.; prepare for reading; drive out to school; photocopy essay from book I have to return; return recalled books; go to reading; come home and make dinner; wash dishes; pick up living room a bit.

Saturday I finished converting a top sheet to a fitted sheet. It fits perfectly! Saturday evening I went to a concert at church performed by the music director, Rudolfas Budginas. He's preparing for a five-concert tour of Hungary, so he played all Liszt piano works. Incredibly beautiful and technically dazzling!

Well, it's already just past 9 o'clock. I wasted a bunch of time looking for a listing of Liszt's complete works online to no avail. (Rudolf didn't have a printed program; he just told us what he was going to play before he played it. I want to make sure I have the correct titles of the pieces.)

Why 9 o'clock? C. S. Lewis writes about his ideal schedule in Surprised by Joy, a schedule he kept as a private student of Mr. Kirkpatrick.
[I]f I could please myself I would always live as I lived there. I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought to me about eleven, so much the better....At one precisely lunch should be on the table; and by two at the latest I would be on the road [alone]....Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the out-door world....The return from the walk, and the arrival of tea, should be exactly coincident, and not later than a quarter past four....At five a man [!] should be at work again, and at it till seven. (pp. 115-116)
What strikes me about this ideal existence is that Lewis's meals (even tea and coffee!) are provided by another person.

More on this subject another time. But now I must begin "the one thing needful" for this moment.

Saturday, August 18, 2001

NEWS FLASH!! I just solved the disappearing "post" button mystery while editing my most recent submission to correct a grammatical error. The bottom frame that shows the previous posts needed to be moved down a little so it wasn't overlapping the top "Post to...." frame. Oh, the satisfaction of small victories.
New obsession: sewing things for my duplex. Not that I've ever taken formal sewing classes or am very good at it, but growing up my Mum let me use her featherweight Singer sewing machine to make Barbie doll clothes. I've also sewn a few simple clothes for myself, and last summer I made curtains for my bathroom and a long curtain to replace my missing closet door. I found a very useful book called The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Home Sewing by Krause Publications. It has excellent sections on curtains and blinds and on making bed linens and coverings. It gives directions for making a flat sheet into a fitted sheet, which is handy for people like me who use a duvet with a duvet cover and therefore don't need top sheets. Other sections cover cushions, lamp shades, kitchen/dining table, and upholstery (too ambitious for me). Uh-oh. I was so excited to recommend this book, I typed too far and now my "post" button has disappeared again. What a bother. Now I have to cut and paste into a new frame, etc.

Got up early this morning, even though I was up until 2:30 AM dismantling a top sheet. Went to the laundromat and did two loads of wash. I like the large front-loading machines. They get clothes much cleaner than the top loading machines even when they're packed full. Plus it's hypnotizing to watch the clothes tumbling around. J. from work just got a new front-loading machine with a glass door. He says it's better than television; his children and cats sit in front of it mesmerized. Then I brought the wash home and hung it all out on my clothes lines. One of the simple pleasures I've enjoyed since moving to this duplex two years ago is hanging out the wash to dry. It's so quiet early in the morning; I don't have to worry whether dryers will be available when the laudromat is busy; I don't have to worry about shrinking my clothes; and the clothes smell so fresh and wholesome after hanging on the line all day, not to mention the satisfaction of using freely available energy (sunshine and wind). I only had to use the dryers a couple times last winter (but then that's an advantage of living in Southern California!).

Now I'm going to try and work on my paper....

Thursday, August 16, 2001

It's pretty hot right now. Another day of not working on my paper(s)....But I'm doing so many other things! Used my 20% off coupon at Bed Bath and Beyond to buy a Fagor pressure cooker this morning. My mother cooked with a pressure cooker all the time when I was growing up. The pressure regulator on the lid jiggled up and down once the pressure built up--the sound that lunch would soon be ready! I think I'll try beef stew tonight, even though it's so hot. One justification for getting the pressure cooker is that it takes much less time to cook beans, which I want to start eating more.

Monday, August 13, 2001

I realize it takes discipline actually to keep posting more or less daily on my site. Once again, I delude myself that if I THINK about it, it magically will get done. But no. Then it seems so boring to write about the daily details. Well, the details probably are boring to most but I'm going to go ahead and write about them anyway.

I think (!!) I just solved the disappearing button syndrome or at least came up with a workaround. If I right click in the Post to... box/frame and choose "Show Only This Frame," I can write longer posts and still see the buttons.

My adventure on Friday was to go to a favorite used book store and buy the Julian Green dairy/journal I'd seen there earlier (Personal Record: 1928-1939. Trans. from the French. Harper & Bros, 1939). I first read about Green's dairy in Fr. Schmemann's journal, and because some of my favorite books are those recommended to me by other people, either in person or in journals I read, I was eager to find Green's book. It did not disappoint me. Green was a young novelist living in Paris in the 1930s--he wrote this journal between 27 and 38 years of age--who visited the Louvre everyday ("I feel as though it has fed me and brought me up" [p. 61]). He describes the process of writing in graphic terms: "I try to write, but with a curious feeling that the words hate me, and that I am assembling them by force" (p. 96). I could keep this blog well-provisioned with quotes from Julian Green alone.

Saturday's and Sunday's activities were spin-offs from Friday's bookstore foray. I had bought another book there called New Papercrafts: An inspirational and practical guide to contemporary Papercrafts, including Papier mâché, decoupage, paper cutting and callage, decorating paper and paper construction, published by Lorenz Books, a beautiful book full of glossy pictures. It inspired me--as the subtitle promised it would--to start making all my own cards and giftwrap, but first I needed basic supplies, which required visiting a number of local art stores. I'm not at all artistic or "crafty"; however, once again, I like the IDEA of being creative. I did make one card and partially wrapped a photocopier paper box in wrapping paper so I'd have an appropriate place to store my supplies. All this activity (new website; new paper hobby; oh, and I need to organize my web bookmarks, which are in one huge file) is so compelling because, in real life, I'm supposed to be writing papers for my grad program. As Julian Green puts it: "I care for [dissipation] only when it is stolen from hours of work. The moment it becomes merely a means of filling up my spare time, I cease to enjoy it" (p. 77).

Friday, August 10, 2001

Just changed my blog status from private to public, with much hesitation about what I'm getting myself into. For reassurance, I've been looking back through some favorite journals and diaries that have been published in book form. Granted, the authors generally already had a public presence before their private writings were released, and the entries were edited either by the author or someone else. It would be interesting to find out if diaries more often are published before or after an author's death. I'll list a couple now and write about them later when I find out how to keep the "post" button from sliding under the frame above it when I write an entry longer than this. Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton; The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann: 1973-1983.
Little by little, inch by inch. I've now added my email address at the bottom of the page, thanks to help from CNET's free Web Building explanations. Next step: add it to the top.
At rebecca's pocket I read a helpful essay on the history of weblogs and the distinction between a weblog and a blog.

I need to figure out why the frame of the editing section in blogger disappears when I write longer posts, hidding the "post" button so I lose everything I've just written....
I need to start writing down the various paths I've taken to discover sites I like. I've been spending a lot of time at Raspberry World reading the weblog and journal posted there and following the links Susie highlights. I found her site via blogdex, which I read about on Monday in Thomas E. Weber's E-World column of the WSJ (you'll need a paid subscription) and which started me on this blogging adventure.

Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Message to Earthlink tech support re: Case ID#: P 3842646: I figured out the FTP problems I was having. But any further advice you might have on setting up and managing FTP directories and files so I can create additional pages would be appreciated. (I did find some information on the Earthlink Support pages.) Thank you.
This is a posting from work with J. and H. looking over my shoulder.

Tuesday, August 07, 2001

My next hurdle is to see if I can create a few more pages.
Experiment to see if I can add a link to The Atlantic Monthly magazine website.
Second/Third/etc. try of the day to FTP to my homepage.
First post on-line. Many ideas tumbling around my head until I actually start writing knowing I'm going to publish them to the world.