Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The House Gun

My latest read is The House Gun by Nadine Gordimer. This is an amazingly well written book about a very unpleasant topic. An upper middle class white couple, in a former colonial African country, are horrified to find out their adult son has not only been arrested for murder, but he has plead guilty. This book travels through the disbelief, the horror, the thoughts and the actions of the parents as they try to understand, place blame and finally accept what they think they know about their son. The book also deals with subtle racism and homophobia in a newly freed and "liberal" country. This is not a feel-good book. There is no happy ending. But it is a thought provoking book. How would you act if your child committed a murder? Do you still love them? Whose fault is it: yours, your spouses, societies? Does life go on "normally" afterwards? I really don't know if I would recommend this book or not. It is amazingly well written and it does make you think about yourself and your beliefs. So maybe I would recommend it, with the warning that you're probably not going to feel great about it afterwards.

On that note, we leave for Minnesota tomorrow, so have a great week/weekend.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I got her phone number!

I haven't had the best luck meeting and making friends here in Virginia. The most famous of those I have befriended is probably crazy Dee, whom I am no longer in touch with. Since I was subbing for the same class everyday, I was able to meet people and get to know them a little better than "good morning". There was one woman in particular that I really liked and we seemed to have much in common. But I get nervous around people I actually like and thought I had blown my chances at making a friend. On Thursday, while chatting with her, and trying to impress upon her that I would make a GREAT friend, I got stuck on the topic of child molestation. For 10 minutes. CHILD MOLESTATION. FOR 10 MINUTES. And she has children. What the hell is wrong with me? I figured I had blown it. But, on Friday, she asked for my phone number and gave me hers. I'm trying not to get too excited (think crazy Dee), but I think this could be good.

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

Was ist das?

I love my German class. Not only have I learned more German in two weeks than I did in a year of taking classes (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration), but I love my kids. I only have 10 kids, but they are great. It makes me want my own class. But only one or two classes, not something full time (I'm lazy). And now I know I could teach middle school. Or at least 8th grade. The kids are so good and eager to learn and please the teacher. It's so nice to hear a student tell you they used your study trick and now they feel ready for the quiz. Or to hear the one very, very quiet girl speak up to tell you she studied for an hour. And it's the best feeling when they all ace their quizzes, AND tell you they're going to miss you next week. I'm going to miss them too.

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

Round and round

My sub job isn't as great as I would like. It's only two hours a day. But still, it's two hours a day and the nice office lady is trying to find me more work. And if I'm willing to work for only two hours a day, I'll get on her good side and then maybe she'll call me more often with more work. Yesterday I helped pass out school schedules (some poor child had the last name of Fagg), and then she let me leave. But I will start working again tomorrow. I will be teaching German, so it's appropriate that I'm not feeling well and have a bunch of stuff draining on the back of my throat. That stuff will make it much easier to pronounce German words easier!

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

School starts tomorrow

As a substitute teacher, I really wasn't expecting to get any work the first couple of weeks of September. I wanted to work, but figured everything would be covered. Oh, how wrong I was. I just got a call for a two week job, teaching German at a middle school. Middle schools didn't offer foreign languages when I was that age. Anyway, I'm nervous because it's a middle school. I'm not that nervous about the German. I took German. I went to Germany. How bad could that be? But I am happy that I have a job. I love working.

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.