Friday, December 21, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I have decided, when people ask me what I can do with two MA's in the same subject, instead of hanging my head in shame and softly whispering "nothing," I will look them in the eye and declare, "Lord it over people who don't have two MA degrees." When people ask what I do, instead of claiming to be a temporary substitute, until I figure out what I really want to do, I will look them in the eye and declare, "I am the best damn substitute in Virginia Beach, and I am also an awesome wife!" There is no shame in enjoying where life has placed me. I will read books because I enjoy reading them, not because I bought them and so I should read them. I will enjoy crocheting because because it ties me to my grandma, and because I want people to know that I thought about them while I worked, not because there's some arbitrary deadline, like the birth of a baby or Christmas. I will enjoy cooking because it is fun, it is creative and I'm really good at it, dammit, and I want my husband to have a wonderful experience at dinner, not just gain sustenance. I will enjoy sex because it was created to be enjoyed! Screw what I know about my husband's past. Screw my past. And screw my husband like he's going to die tomorrow! I will exercise because I enjoy it, I enjoy looking good and having energy, not just because I have high cholesterol and I'm paying for a gym membership.
I will enjoy being me! Because I am smart, funny, talented and creative! Because I deserve to get to know who I am without all the goals, ambitions, and stress of always getting it done, doing it right and always needing something to brag about. This will be my year of NO STRESS, NO DEPRESSION, and NO WORRIES. This is going to be MY YEAR! I am going to be proud of who I am and what I do, even if you don't think it amounts to jack. Because you know what, I don't care what you think. This is going to be MY YEAR! That's my new mantra. Maybe you should try it to.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
We had a great time. We drank (only a little bit), we danced and we laughed a lot. We didn't win any prizes, but we still had a great time. Next year I'm going to buy a holiday dress!
Monday, December 03, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
This is what is called irony. See, I never wanted biological kids. I wanted to adopt. But my husband, for some odd reason, thinks I'm the best thing since vanilla ice-cream (for him, that's heaven), and he wanted to have babies with me. And because I love my husband (and he has green eyes), I agreed. It's also a lot cheaper to have biological babies than adopt, and I'm kind of cheap (we're also broke, thanks to his x). And I was getting excited about it. Thinking about having an alien growing in me. And alien I could talk to, read to, sing to (but only when no one else was around because my singing sucks). I was looking forward to rubbing my belly and feeling little kicks (but only little kicks). I was looking forward to seeing what part of me (hopefully the love of reading) and what part of him (hopefully his vast intelligence) the baby have. Would it have green eyes, like both of us? Would it have blond hair, like we both had as a child? Would it be smart? Would it be happy? Would it be worth it? And now, I may never know.
But I have discovered I have amazing friends and family. I've gotten e-mails and phone calls from all over. They've offered to pray, to listen to me bitch and cry, offered to come help, and one even offered to be a surrogate mother, which is really nice, but kind of creepy. And this comforts me, knowing that these people love me.
Since we wanted to start a family, one of the things I wanted to do was strengthen my faith. I want my children to know that my belief in God lives beyond weekly church services. I want my children to know that I believe in a living, loving, awesome God. I had really been thinking about my favorite Old Testament story. It's in Daniel, chapter 3. The Hebrews had been exiled to Babylon, but many of the young men served as advisers for King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar had this brilliant idea to build a huge gold statue of himself and then, when it was uncovered, everyone would have to bow down and worship it. Because he was so great. These three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused, because they worshipped God alone. Nebuchadnezzar was furious, and threatened to kill them, by burning them to death. Remember, these were men he knew personally. The men reply, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18) But even if he does not. That is faith. Faith without glory, without praise, even, one might say, without purpose. That's the kind of faith I want. (If you want to know what happened to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, you'll have to go read the story. At this point, the ending is not important to me.)
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I finally got to set up my Christmas village. I get a piece of this every year, but since I've always spent Christmas at "home" I've never set mine up. Yes, they're different sizes: that's because they're from different sets of grandmas and from different village sets. They're getting old and can't always remember what they've already given. Hence, Santa lives in a tract housing area; I have two of the same houses. I cut the duplicate out of the picture.
We also decided it would be a good idea to get the kids to get us, and each other, gifts. You know, trying to get them to think about the giving part of Christmas and not just the getting. So we did a little shopping, made easier by the fact that we also asked what they wanted (they have a list if you want to get them anything).
To top off this wonderful day, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens had a special preview of their Christmas lights for their members. It was amazing and the kids loved it (they wanted to go through it again, not the next time they're here, but right then).
The pumpkin pie I made from scratch didn't turn out (it didn't set), but I had also made brownies, which we enjoyed before we went to bed. And then, Praise the Lord! I realized that I could breathe and had been breathing all day. I was/am still blowing my nose every 15 minutes, but that's a huge improvement. Overall, I think it was probably the best day ever.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Him: Have you figured out what you have?
Me: Well, I have giant white patches on my tonsils and throat, so I think it's probably tonsillitis.
Him: What is that? Are you going to go to the doctor?
Me: It's an infection of the tonsils. I'm not going to go to the doctor because it's a virus, so they can't do anything anyway.
Him: I don't have tonsils.
Me: I know.
Him: So I can't get it, right?
Me: Well, since it is a virus, you could probably still get it. It would just settle in a different part of your body.
Him: Like my testicles?
Me (in all my sarcastic glory): Yes, it could settle in your testicles and then they would have to cut them off.
Him: I think I'll just kiss you on the cheek until you feel better.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
I needed the sleep (I slept 10 hours, a hard 10 hours). I realized that substituting is probably not the healthiest job choice out there. This epiphany occurred as I examining my left tonsil, which is currently twice as big as the right one. I need to get a flu shot. When I finally woke up yesterday, I did my pilates (to help me fit back into my pants), cleaned the kitchen and living room, did laundry. Then I went shopping for pants that don't cut off my circulation when I sit down. I found two pair and a skirt. Now my comfortable wardrobe consists of a black pair of pants, a black skirt, a khaki pair of pants, a khaki skirt. Thankfully, I rarely substitute at the same school more than twice a week. I also finished my latest afghan. It is pretty. You will just have to take my word for it because I feel too lazy to get up and take a picture of it right now. Overall, yesterday was a good day. We didn't have very many trick-or-treaters, which means there's a ton of candy downstairs (I guess I should be doing pilates twice a day, or I may not fit into my new pants very long).
My loose leaf tea just arrived!!! I love loose leaf tea. It tastes better, it is waaaaaay cheaper and it's better for the environment. If it's any good, I'll put up the web page.
I realized yesterday I hadn't blogged about the fact that I haven't been on anti-depressants for about three week now. I didn't mention it because I don't feel any different. At all. I can't tell even the slightest difference. And that makes me very, very happy.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Victor also received an afghan from my grandma. He finally got it on the 18th when we celebrated his 10th birthday (he still wears size 5 pants, although I noticed they were getting too short). Victor's favorite colors are red and blue, and he is in the cub scouts. He was very impressed with his afghan, especially the star, although he kept referring to it as his "afghanistan". When I would correct him, he would then pronounce it like my grandma does, afaghan. I guess it runs in the family.
My parents visited from the 18th to the 22nd. The kids stayed with us from the 16th to the 20th. We took the kids to the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. If you have kids and are in the area, you must go. It is a wonderful museum. It has both indoor and outdoor components, with living animals in both places. These represent the animals that live in Virginia, explains about ecosystems and talks about environmentalism and why it's important. All on a kids' level while still being incredibly interesting for adults. The best part, the whole thing only took about 3 hours. Long enough to keep everyone entertained without getting cranky and tired. Here's just a few of the very cool things we saw.
I don't know that I had ever seen a beaver before. They are so much fun to watch.
When I was married to my first husband, we lived in a trailer. One day, the dryer hose popped off, and one of these (a baby) popped his head into our trailer. It was a little spooky (and my cat freaked out). I will never live in a trailer again.
The visit from my parents was wonderful and I really enjoyed it. But we had had the kids the week before, and Wes's dad had been here and I had worked. When my parents left, I just wanted to sleep. I had a few jobs this week, two part-time, two full-day. Again, I loooooove Junior High. I am really surprised by this, but every time I substitute for them, I feel happy. Every time I substitute for high school, I go home feeling drained and slightly angry. I never would have known this though, if my advisor hadn't kicked me out of school.
We've been going over our finances again. When we married, my husband did not realize he had $70,000 worth of credit card and consolidation loan debt. He's in the navy and gone a lot and he just didn't know. More than half of that was debt from the ex-wife, the rest was his own stupidity. Well, we now have less than $30,000 in debt. We've been married for a little over a year and a half. He just got a raise and with me working (even if not a lot), we should have this paid off in another year and a half. At least I hope so. (I should add that he received a $23,000 bonus last year that went straight towards the debt. We will not be receiving another bonus for at least 2 years.)
That's about it here. I'm just cleaning and doing laundry and I trying to figure out what I'm going to cook for dinner. I hope everyone is doing well, and if you just need a pick-me-up, go look at my beautiful boots and purse!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I read Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve. This is a very poignant book about love, love lost, and the sacrifices we make for those we love. The book's central character, Olympia, age fifteen, lives in the final days of the 19th century. One summer, when with her parents at their summer home in Fortune's Rocks, she begins an affair with her father's close friend and associate, a man who is almost three times her age and married with four children. Their relationship is a loving and passionate one. Unfortunately, they are caught red-handed, at her 16th birthday party, no less, by his wife. Several months later, Olympia discovers she is pregnant.
This first part of the book causes quite the moral quandary. He is married and she is still a child, yet the story is so well written that you can feel their love through the pages. It is not based on physical desire alone, in fact, their intense physical passion results from their intellectual understanding of one another (she is incredibly well educated for a woman). After their child is born, he is taken away, where, she has no clue. She doesn't know if her lover even knew of her pregnancy. She suffers this loss intensely and spends the next four years trying to make up for the intense disappointment she has become to her parents. But she never repents of her actions. She wishes she could undo the hurt caused to everyone, but she cannot convince herself that the love she felt was, or ever would be, wrong. After four years of exile, she feels that she has lost herself and returns to Fortune's Rocks, by herself, to heal.
While in Fortune's Rocks she discovers that her son is there, that her lover placed him in an orphanage and that he is in foster care. She follows the family and discovers that although the family is poor, they love her son very much. She must decide: does she try to remove her son from the only family he has ever known and loved because she wants him, or does she let him remain with them. The court scenes are wrenching, her longing for her son, palpable. I will not tell you what happens in the last part of the book. I will tell you it has a "happy" ending. Not a sitcom happy ending, but an, all things considered, happy ending. Overall, a great book. I couldn't put it down and Olympia was a wonderful character to watch mature and evolve. I would highly recommend this book.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
My grandma had crocheted afghans for the kids. I told her Allison loved the color pink. Which she does. My grandma took that to an extreme. You may need sunglasses for the next picture.
Give your eyes a few minutes to re-adjust before trying to read. Needless to say, Allison loved her afghan. Her afghan that can be seen from space. Her afghan that glows in the dark. Her afghan, that is indeed, pink as pink can be.
As I mentioned, Wes's dad was here last week. He "watched" the kids while we both worked. I put watched in quotations because he watched TV downstairs while they played upstairs (and tore the blinds apart). I don't know why he even bothered. He kept saying he needed to take them to the store to buy them birthday presents. He never did. He said he would just mail us a check and we could buy them. But we don't have time for that, and he has never mailed us a check, even though we have bought presents to be from him since we got married. Whatever.
After everyone left we decided we needed to wind down just a little bit. We went to a wildlife refuge to bird watch. It was one we'd never been to before. It was on the beach. It was beautiful. We saw two new birds. And as we walked the boardwalk through the dunes, discussing what kind of wildlife they must have, we looked up and saw this.
It was really cool. Although it makes me worry about him when deer hunting season starts. But it was a great way to spend the day. The weather has been beautiful and it is bird migration season. And who doesn't love to spend time with their spouse.
Money has been a little tight. The navy has made a few errors on my husband's paychecks, along with recent travel, and we're really watching what we spend right now. With me working more and once the navy fixes the errors (he was supposed to get a rather large raise, but his paycheck was smaller than normal. How does that work?), we will be fine. But, with me working, I need new fall clothes. I have gained about 10 pounds since I moved here (that's a whole other blog). I don't have any dress pants that fit, and while the weather is beautiful, it is fall weather. The capri's just don't work anymore. The other day, I went to the store, and they had a sale going on. But not on pants. On purses. And I haven't bought a really nice purse in ages. And this purse was beautiful, and red, and more than 2/3 off its normal price. Behold its beauty and charm. I may have to work with no pants, but no one will notice because they will be admiring my beautiful new purse (I also have matching red boots that I bought last year).
Monday, October 08, 2007
The Master and Margarita takes place in Moscow during the Stalin era of terror (specifically the 1930s, since most of the Stalin era was an era of terror). This book is so magnificent, I don't really know how to describe it. Bulgakov uses fantasy to reveal the corruption and lack of artistic freedom in the Soviet Union. Satan lands in Moscow, along with his bizarre crew, and causes total chaos in the artistic community. We find out that his goal is to "save" the Master, a writer, who was institutionalized after he wrote a book about Jesus and Pontius Pilate. Intrigued yet? This book will make you think for days and days. If you don't know much about Soviet history, it might make you head to your local library to learn why this book was banned for 26 years after it was written. And when you finish reading it, you know you'll have to read it again, because you missed something. As for me, I'm going to start looking for Bulgakov's work, because he is indeed a Master.
Friday, October 05, 2007
I am slowly coming off my anti-depressants. I have been fine, but Saturday and Sunday, I freaked out. It was more money anxiety than depression. But I don't want to stay on the meds, so this week I called the school district and broadened the range of classes I am willing to substitute for. This will keep me busy, giving me less time to worry, and it will bring in more money. Thus, killing two birds with one stone. I already lined a job for all of next week.
My father in law and my step-children are arriving tonight for a week. Like I don't have enough to do. Wes was going to try to get time off, but with his new job, that's not going to happen. I hope Wes's dad was serious when he said he would watch the kids while I worked, because as I mentioned, I have a job every single day next week. Noooooooo, I didn't plan to be gone all the time when the house was chaotic. It just happened that way! The kids will be here a week, go home for the weekend, and then come back for a week (they're in year-round school). My parents will also be visiting the following week. October is going to be a busy month. That's ok though. I like busy.
I am crocheting an afghan for my grandma. I am very excited about this, but a little stressed out. She's been crocheting for 30 years. Hers will be the fourth afghan I crochet. I want it to be beautiful. Just like the 5 afghans we brought back with us and I shoved under the kids' bed, because we live in Virginia Beach and we already had at least 10 afghans. Maybe I should really crochet her 20 afghans!
In other disturbing news. Remember that other officer's wife, the one who is just a little bit slow (no, I am not being mean, she really does have a low IQ and she is aware of it). She is pregnant. And she is in shock that she is pregnant, even though she wasn't using birth control (I told you she was slow). She is freaking out. So we've been hanging out a lot (she doesn't have a driver's licence either). I'm a little jealous. I want to be pregnant but we have to wait to try because of the stupid navy. And then I'm afraid I won't get pregnant. I guess I should just quit worrying about it. There's not a whole lot I can do about it anyway.
We have new neighbors. They are nice. I like them a lot. I think we have new friends.
Have a great weekend. I'm going to go take a nap while I can.
Monday, October 01, 2007
We hiked a couple of different days. We identified a bird we hadn't seen before. But even cooler, we watched a Red-tailed Hawk fly around with a snake in its talons. Minnesota is beautiful and if it weren't so cold in the winter, I would consider living there.
Can you hear my biological clock over the internet? I really want one NOW, but my husband tells me there's a waiting period of 9 months. Since the lovely navy is taking him away from me again next spring, we're hoping to time things so he'll be home. I really hope it happens the way we want it to. Overall, the trip was great, even though we got stuck in Chicago for while. But when we got home, all hell broke loose.
My husband's new work schedule: 4 am to about 4 pm. I am so tired. Why? Because he wants me to go to bed with him at 8:00pm. Only I'm not tired. So I just lay there forever. And then when I do fall asleep, I wake up every hour because I'm afraid he won't wake up when his 3 alarms go off at minute and a half intervals, and then when they go off 5 to 9 minutes later, depending on the length of the snooze. It's only after he leaves for work, at 3:30am, that I'm able to fully fall asleep. That doesn't leave me a lot of actual sleep. But it gets worse, for Wes, not me.
The day after we got back, Wes's boss got fired. And Wes got his job (temporarily). In the military rank does not equal position. But today, Wes got promoted (see picture above). The promotion includes a pay raise (yay!), the new job doesn't (boo!). So now he has more work, crappy work hours and he's in graduate school. He's one tired puppy. Gotta love the navy.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
On that note, we leave for Minnesota tomorrow, so have a great week/weekend.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I think Wednesday was the worse of my illness. Thursday I felt much better and the weather was great. I went bird watching. I hadn't been in so long that just seeing a bird made me excited. Then, much to my delight, I identified four new birds. FOUR!!! It was very exciting. Two of them were large (the royal tern and the belted kingfisher) and two were tiny (the carolina wren and the ruby crowned kinglet). The kingfisher is a large blue bird. Even bigger than a Blue Jay, but with a white "necklace". He was beautiful. The ruby-crowned kinglet is only four inches small. Very cute, very tiny. I was very excited about all of this. Yesterday, Wes and I went to the botanical gardens and I didn't see any new birds, but he got to see the kingfisher and a wood-duck (and I saw a male wood-duck, which I hadn't seen before). We also got incredibly close to a Great Blue Heron. The weather was amazing and it was just really nice being outside with my husband.
However, today I woke up with the worst headache I've had since last November. I'm not sure what brought that on. I'm feeling a bit better now, but I think I'm just going to take it easy the rest of the day.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
But. . . I'm sick as a dog. My tonsils are so swollen I look like I have a double chin. My lymph nodes hurt so much I had to find a new position to sleep in. My throat feels like someone peeled all the skin off of it, rubbed it with sandpaper, and then set it on fire. Thankfully, I'm only teaching one class a day. I can make it through that. But by the end of class, I have no voice, I drag myself home and crawl back into bed. I have to get better soon. Mostly because it's been so long since I went birding that I've been dreaming about it for four nights straight. And the birds in my dreams are weird. I once dreamt of a robin that had nipples, like a cat. Anyway, I also have to get better soon because Wes and I are going to Minnesota next week. He's never met my Grandma, or any of my family that lives there. And my cousin just had a baby, so I can't wait to see her (and the baby). I'm excited about the trip, but I have got to shake this bug.
My peppers taste better than any pepper I've ever had. They are so sweet (the bell peppers, not the jalapenos). Really, really sweet. And red and green ones grow on the same plant, which makes me wonder why the grocery store charges $3.00 a pound more for red ones. Mine are only half the size of the grocery store ones, but they taste waaaaaay better. I love them.
Ok, gotta get some more hot tea.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Back to Tolstoy. I think Tolstoy was trying to come up with his meaning of life. As he got older, he split from the Russian Orthodox Church (the state sanctioned religion) in order to find a more personal religious experience. He wrote about this, although I haven't read any of his Christian writings. He was a complex man, one who wanted to treat his peasants right and use his fortune for good, but he was also a man, and fought to overcome his vices (most notably, those peasant girls). He had the time to realize there had to be more to life than just sustenance, and he was intelligent enough to think through the big questions. I think that's what War and Peace was all about. I guess it was his blog.
Wes's bachelor's degree is in computer technology/programming, or something like that. The navy will actually give Wes 2 years off from work to send him to school for his Master's degree. That one will be in computer engineering, but he won't start that for another year. Right now, he is using the GI bill to get a different Master's degree (like myself, Wes loves to learn for the sake of knowledge). He is interested in finance and stocks and bonds and all that other stuff. But, I don't think he knows quite enough for me to just hand over our (small) excess money and say, "go make us millions!" So he found a program that is Financial management and Information systems. The finance stuff will all be new for him (at a university level, he has actually read a TON of books about it) and my dad is a CFO, so he can always call my dad if he needs help. The information systems will be review. My husband spent this weekend writing his own excel program to chart our profits (with our non-existent money) and took apart the two computers he had previously built to fix them. My husband is very intelligent, and in these areas, he runs circles around me. Actually, I think he may be smarter than me, but I would never tell him that. But I am proud of him.
Well, I guess that's about it for now. I think I'm going to take a nap, and hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Today, Wes and I just took it easy. He starts graduate school tomorrow and I'll be starting work. So we've spent the weekend organizing and stuff. Today we grilled hamburgers and I cut up a jalapeno from my garden and put it on the burger. It was spicy goodness! And I used one of the bell peppers from my garden in the pasta salad. I like having a garden! Now I'm just stressing out over what to wear tomorrow. I'm sure I'll figure it out.
Hope everyone had a great weekend.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
One of my professors from UW often said that Leo Tolstoy wrote War and Peace to explain the Decembrist Revolution of 1825 (not the band, but the event the band named itself for). Therefore, before I begin to discuss the book, I'm going to start with a history lesson (Yay!). All historical information and any further information you would like can be found in A History of Russia by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky (a classic).
Unlike many history lessons, this one will go backwards, for reasons that will be evident later. In December 1825 Tsar Alexander I died, leaving no legitimate heirs. It appeared to most of Russia (meaning those who were educated) that his younger brother, Constantine, would be declared Tsar. However, he had previously married a Polish aristocrat and renounced his rights to the throne. This was not widely known. It also meant that the youngest brother, Nicholas I, was declared Tsar in his place. When the new Tsar presented himself to the military, in order for them to swear allegiance to him, several officers began a riot, claiming that Nicholas had usurped the throne from his brother. At this time, officers in the military consisted of the aristocracy, well educated young men, many of whom had been to Western Europe. It was rumored that these young men convinced the regular soldiers to chant "For Constantine and a constitution." However, the simple soldiers reportedly thought that constitution was Constantine's wife. Needless to say, a few officers and confused soldiers a revolution does not make. Most of the elite society believed that the officers would receive lenient sentences. First, it was the beginning of his reign, and heavy punishment would show the new Tsar to lack mercy. Second, and most importantly, these young men were aristocrats and nobles, who were well educated, and whose families had supported the autocracy for centuries. Regardless, Nicholas I gave them heavy sentences and the story of the Decembrists and their wives riding through Russia on their way to Siberia inspired others who opposed the Tsar.
According to my professor, it was this event that Tolstoy was trying to explain. How could the best and brightest, those who personally benefitted from the autocracy, decide they wanted a constitution? The simple answer, according to my professor: the Napoleanic wars. Under the previous Tsar, Alexander I, Russia had first fought against Napolean (along with the rest of Europe), made peace with him, and then fought him again, when he actually invaded Russia in 1812. This is the story told in War and Peace. I looked for and expected to find, the story of how the Napoleonic wars created the Decembrists. However, I should add right here, I did not find it. Or rather, I kind of sorta found it in two pages at the very end of the book. Now, my professor is much more intelligent than me, but I do consider myself quite intelligent also. Therefore, if I was looking for this, and didn't find it, how are all the people not looking for it going to find it. I must conclude that if Tolstoy did indeed write War and Peace to explain the Decembrists, he failed.
War and Peace is considered, by many, to be the best novel ever written. In Russia, people argue over who is the best writer, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. Now, I prefer Dostoevsky, but since Tolstoy is considered one of the greatest writers ever, I expected War and Peace to be a great story, highly readable, and that I would gain insight about the Napoleanic wars, Russian politics, Russian society and human nature. I did not. The book is divided into three volumes, of approximately 550 pages each. I felt that the first half of the book could adaquitely be summed up by reading Alexander Pushkins's Eugene Onegin, a much shorter story. The first half of War and Peace described the aristocratic scene, the love affairs, the intrigues, the nobility going broke and trying to broker advantageous marriages for their sons and daughters, the balls, the duels, the boredom, and only a small mix of politics. Although several of the characters are very well written, and you have to commend him for writing a story 1,600 pages long, it could have been much, much shorter.
Tolstoy actually praises himself for his description of the war, in the notes from the author. However, I felt his descriptions of the chaos, confusion, and futility of war could just as easily be gained by reading Red Badge of Courage or All Quiet on the Western Front. And again, both these books are much, much shorter than War and Peace.
However, I do not think the story, which is often fascinating, but quite longer than it needed to be, was not the reason Tolstoy wrote War and Peace. Throughout the book and in the Second Epilogue, Tolstoy delves into his philosophy of history. I believe this was his purpose in writing War and Peace. As these are by far the most boring part of the book, he probably felt he had to add a story to keep readers interested. In these sections, Tolstoy discusses history, the progress of history and so on. He argues about Great Man history (otherwise known as Dead White Man history). He argues about genius versus chance. He appropriates Hegel without naming him. He argues about whether or not God plays a role in history, whether we really have free will and whether history could progress without Napoleon and Alexander I. He discusses how history is written (political, cultural, by the victor). He was trying to figure out why men kill each other. Overall, he was trying to find the meaning of life, of history, of the world. This is his conclusion, "The activity of these people interested me only as an illustration of the law of predetermination which in my opinion guides history, and of that psychological law which compels a man who commits actions under the greatest compulsion, to supply in his imagination a whole series of retrospective reflections to prove his freedom to himself." This is not a bad lesson, only I didn't need to read 1,600 pages to get there. I already have my own theory of history.
Overall, I found War and Peace very disappointing. It is supposed to be the greatest book every written, by the greatest author ever born. Either I am too stupid to appreciate it, or too many people credit it with this title based on its length only. The story was good, but it was not worth the time of 1,600 pages. Perhaps I will pick it up in 30 years or so and will finally be illuminated, but for now, I remain firmly in Dostoevsky's corner and believe that the Napoleonic wars were the cause of the Decembrists, not because Tolstoy told me so, but because a very wise professor did.
Monday, August 27, 2007
On my way home, I picked up the kids. Wes had managed to score free tickets to Water Country USA because he's in the military. Now before you get all upset that us military people get everything, I would like to point out that Wes and I have been married for 18 months. Of that 18 months, we have lived together for eight months. Three of those months I lived in Madison while he lived here, but the rest is all because of the Navy. So, I think we deserve some free stuff to have fun. The kids had a great time and didn't burn. We had a great time and got a little pink, but no burns. Since I had spent the entire day before in the car, and then all day at the water park, I was just a little bit tired yesterday. And today.
We had a great weekend, but we found out some information that doesn't exactly make us happy. First, Wes's x told Victor he could get his ear pierced for his birthday. She did not consult Wes. Wes doesn't have a problem with boys getting their ear's pierced, he just thinks that Victor is too young. And he's very angry that she didn't consult him first. Secondly, the kids told me that due to some money emergencies (the cat, Victor's teeth, etc.) that their mom had to "borrow" all their birthday and Christmas money. This really upset Wes. On the one hand, the x left him for the "multi-millionaire" that she is now married to. And she has never worked, although we think she may work part time right now. On the other hand, these are his kids and he wants to make sure they are being properly taken care of. I think he may suggest to his x, when he discusses the ear piercing, that if they don't have the money to take care of the kids, even with the huge amount we pay every month, that perhaps the kids would be better off living with us. I hate the entire situation because it upsets him so much.
This is my first official harvest from my plants. We did pick one jalapeno last weekend for nachos, but this is the first time I picked more than one. And the plants are still covered. We're going to be eating peppers forever. That's ok though. It was fun, they taste better than the stores and our beautiful "back yard" of concrete was covered with something pretty.
Well, there is no food in the house, I have no clean clothes, I need to pay a few bills, and I really need to e-mail/call about 10 people. I hope everyone had a great weekend and I'm happy to say that I will be reviewing War and Peace before the end of the week.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
In other news, we had the kids this weekend and it was possibly the best weekend we've ever had with the kids (minus the sunburn). We went to the beach and had a great time. We played games, we played with toys, we went to church. We just had a great time. Although, the kids apparently think we play with their toys when they're not here. They asked, incredulously, what we did when they weren't there if we didn't play with their toys. Hmmmm. . . .I wonder!
Speaking of what we do when the kids aren't here, do you know how hard it is for two very tired, very sunburned people, one who has bruised his leg and pulled his groin trying to keep his daughter from being washed away by the ocean, have sex? Very difficult. But still worth it.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Me: oh yes, I got some.
Him: what do you mean? The house?
Me: no, me personally.
Me: Well, I've been stuck in the house because of the weather and lack of car, so when I noticed that it was overcast this afternoon, I decided to go to the park to bird-watch.
Him: Yeah. . .
Me: I thought it was moving the other direction, and when I got to the park, it was still sunny.
Him: Ok. . . .
Me: I had walked half way around the pond (a rather large pond) when it started to get really windy, began to thunder and lightening and started to rain. But it wasn't raining hard, so I figured it would moved pretty quickly through.
Him: Um hm. . . .
Me: Then it started raining really, really hard, and I was about 10 to 15 minutes away from the car, with no umbrella, so I took refuge in a group of trees and bushes. It helped with the wind and the rain.
Him: Ok. . .
Me: But it just kept raining and raining and I finally realized I couldn't possibly get any wetter, so I might as well head for the car. Besides, it started to slow down.
Him: Well, that's good!
Me: But it didn't. It got worse. It got really, really windy. I almost lost my balance more than once. And the wind was coming across the pond, driving that water into me and the rain was coming down sideways. It felt like I was being hit by thousands of needles.
Him: At least it wasn't hailing.
Me: I thought that too. And then it began hailing. (When I told this story to my mom, she broke in here with, "was your car ok?" My car is 10 years old, has 100,000 miles on it and I bought it with hail damage. Thanks for being concerned about me.) It was only pea-size, but I was still about 10 minutes from the car. Especially since I was trying to walk sideways so I didn't get hit in the face with hail. Hail hurts. It actually broke my skin in a couple of places. But I finally made it to the car and came home and took a hot shower.
Him: Didn't you think to check the weather channel before you left?
So I'm sure my family is wondering why I'm such an idiot. I hate hail.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I think I might get one squash out of my container garden. That makes it the world's most expensive squash when you consider the containers, soil, mulch and water. It better taste good. My one lonely jalapeno plant is covered in jalapenos, which is very exciting, until I realized we don't really eat jalapenos. Four of my bell pepper plants look like they will produce as well. And then I realized, neither I nor my husband really like bell peppers. Hopefully they won't taste anything like the store bought ones, because really, who wants to grow anything that tastes like that. My veggies will be delicious. And, apparently, very expensive.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Tiffany, I can't wait until you're on this side of the country.
And my husband comes home on Friday!!!!!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Upon entering my home, I realized that one of my (five) smoke detectors had a low battery. I figured this out because it was chirping every three minutes. I called to put in a work order, but it was 4:30pm and they said they couldn't get it done that day (Thursday). I managed to remove it from the ceiling and hide it in one of the other rooms (it was outside my bedroom door). However, it is now the end of Tuesday and no one has come to fix it yet. I'm thinking I'm going to take it to the leasing office and tell them they can keep it until it's fixed.
Other than that, not much. I got groceries, cleaned (a little bit), watered my plants (they're all still alive), started a new afghan and started reading War and Peace. Tomorrow I'm going to visit a new state park (the state park isn't new, but it's new to me). My husband will be home in about 10 days. I can't wait!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
This is my brother, my sister and me. The wedding colors were black and hot pink (hence the tie). My brother usually has this thing growing on his face that looks like a goat chin (not a goatee, a goat). He shaved it for my sister. Unfortunately I didn't get a good picture of Elise with her new husband.
This is me with my parents. Doesn't my mom look beautiful. Just about everyone fought back tears at the wedding. Justin's dad was the best man and at one point we were both tearing up, but then he caught my eye and winked at me. After that both of us felt fine.
I got to spend time with the most handsome boy at the wedding. But he's a little shy.
There's the little Phoenix. He was so good and so cute. He handed out Hershey kisses to all the pretty girls in the room, and then he handed them out to everyone. He found out that my mom hadn't gotten a piece of cake yet (the cake was pink with black polka-dots), so he got her a piece. "Nana, you stay right there until I get back. I'll get you cake. Don't go anywhere, I'll be right back." He's so cute! He danced all night too! We also had a photo booth, like the ones in the mall. It was a hit but Phoenix really loved it. He was just walk right in, no matter who was in there, but he was too short to show up if he wasn't picked up, so people let him in. Then he gave them instructions. "Ok, there's going to be four pictures." It was a wonderful day and weekend. My sister and Justin looked so happy and in love. Now I just need a week of sleep!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
And of course, I can't leave without a few bird pictures. This is a Great Egret in a tree.
This little guy is a juvenile Green Heron. He let me get real close, but then put up his little crest when I got too close. I love it, because it looks like a cute little mohawk.
I don't remember if I mentioned this, but I also received a diploma from UW for a Master's degree. That makes my second MA in the same field, but at least now I feel like I got something from UW (besides some of the best friends a girl could have).
Hope everyone is doing well. I need to eat something before the cab gets here.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Monday, July 02, 2007
But now, I'm just tending to my garden. These are my squash plants about a week and a half ago. They are now twice the size and blooming and hopefully I will have squash to eat before I leave for my sister's wedding. I'm afraid they will all die while I'm gone. But I still don't know anyone close enough to come water them (ok, I know one person who's pretty close, but she can't drive. And I don't want her in my house).
I have also been spotting more than birds. Last week, while at the wonderful, amazing, terrific Norfolk Botanical Gardens, I spotted this little guy. And got a picture. How wonderful is that!
It's a fox for all you people who don't get out much. We just stared at each other for a while and then he ran off. He was beautiful. I wanted to run off with him, but I got the impression he really didn't want me following him.
And that's it right now. I leave later this week for Dallas, TX for my baby sister's wedding. I can't wait to see all my family and Camille. But I wish they were out here instead.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
The kids left yesterday. I believe they gain their energy by sucking sleep away from everyone around them. The more sleep they steal, the more energy they have.
But the visit went well. I can tell I'm not depressed anymore because I handled the kids much better. I was more patient with them and was able to focus on the good things rather than the bad. We played a toooooooon of board games. I love board games. They make me laugh and smile and they're a great way to bond with the kids. Some of my best memories as a kid are playing board games with the family and I'm happy to pass those memories along to the next generation.
And we went to the local fair. Where the kids rode the same ride over and over again. At least we got our monies worth of rides. Overall, it was a great visit. I will leave you with these pictures of fun (notice I'm not in any of them).