Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Few Things

  • This Lent, I'm focusing on the d-word, archaically known as detachment. The saints know all about it. My more clinical, modern version of it would be disinterested. But I really like my vernacular version: don't care. To explain it simply, in all things non-essential, I will not fret, I will not calculate, and I will not care. 

  • In his book Catholicism, Fr. Barron translates one of the beatitudes "Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted," into "how lucky you are if you are not addicted to good feelings." This has stuck with me. It applies, almost daily, to the circumstances I find myself in, as those around me. I see this "addiction" especially in some of my young students, who are dependent on constant affirmation. I try to be thoughtful in meting out compliments, mainly to wean a person from this "addiction." At the same time I also take care not to be a scrooge in encouragement. The problem isn't that we savor the sweetness of compliment, but rather that when compliments are not forthcoming, we still have the will to go on. This freedom from the chains of good feelings truly sets us free. 

  • I am sick and tired of cooking.

  • KDM is reading Mark Levin's Ameritopia, which is having a strange effect on our dinner table conversations: we find ourselves discussing Plato's Republic and Sir Thomas More's Utopia. He is now on the chapter on Thomas Hobbs, which means he's very close to coming to Karl Marx. By virtue of all this, I feel the pressure of getting educated on the linage of Utopianism. 

  • My poor niece Mimi just took the dreaded TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) Test yesterday. She signed up taking the test without telling anybody because if the result is disastrous, nobody would find out. She told me only because she needed my prayers, and swore me to secrecy. I asked the Dear Lord to please humor this poor girl. She wants to study in the U.S.. TOEFL is a big hoop to jump through.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    A Little Nut

    Okay, I had a minute, and I looked at some pictures on my desktop, and saw this. This has nothing to do with the previous post, nor with anything of immediate relevance. I just thought I'd show you something which no one else will ever show you. It is a wall poster of a bygone era in my native land, China. The genre was known as the New Year Pictures. They typically hang on household walls till they yellowed and curled around the corners at the end of the year, just in time to be replaced by newer ones for the incoming year. Now I'm showing you this one because one exactly like it used to hang on the wall in our commune house built of wood and mud, when I was about 8 or 9. According to my Mom she bought it because she thought the girl looked just like me. And so said everyone else who ever saw it and compared it with me.

    In hind sight, as a little girl I was never that chubby. But by gosh, a poster girl looked just like me! My vanity was greatly satisfied and enlarged.

    Unless I explain, you would never be able to decipher on your own the meaning of the metal nut the little girl holds in her hand: you see, in our great Communist, Serve-the-People Republic, everyone was equal. Everyone was a small part of the great machine that was the State. As the title of the pictures declares: I Am a Little Nut. The tiny part of the great machine. That was her, and by extension, my, purpose of existence. Get it?

    The word on that box behind the little girl? It says: "Conservation."


    Really should be writing all the writable and infinitely more interesting things that happened to me the past several weeks. But it was not to be.

    When I got up this morning, KDM asked: "What are you doing today?" My answer: "Stuff."

    Truth is I didn't know what was to be on my plate. All I knew was that I was going to be busy.

    Turned out, it is a day of purging "stuff."

    As in, purging the pantry of outdated food, stale food, too-exotic-for-me-to-ever use food.

    As in, purging the cupboards of dishes, bowls, cups, saucers, glasses, 10+-year-old spices, among the last I spotted a cream of tartar someone must have sneaked onto the back of the shelf, because I obviously do not recall having bought it or ever having use for.

    As in, purging the drawers of extra measuring cups, disposable chopsticks, grocery twist ties, spoons who have taken a trip or two down the garbage disposal.

    And, much, much more.

    As in, purging the cabinets of an extra coffee pot, a deep fryer given to me a few Christmases ago, a crock-pot via the same only too large to keep on my crowded kitchen counter, and a bit redundant in view of my three enameled cast iron pots; of sets of pretty backing ware and fancy serving wares.

    And much, much more.

    I have now sitting on the kitchen floor three overflowing boxes of "stuff" for Goodwill, one large box destined to storage till I ask a few bachelor relatives if they would like to inherit their contents. One bulging garbage bag for KDM to dispense with.

    I haven't even gotten to the four closets yet.

    This, dear friends, is the reason I cannot be interesting. I have too much stuff.

    And I can't even claim, like my pal Jan did so facilely (see the comment box), that the stuff belonged to my husband. KDM doesn't have the above listed "stuff." He didn't even know they were in his house. He looked with wonder and amazement as I pulled one thing after another out of the cabinets like a magician pulling a succession of rabbits out of his hat.

    It is disgusting.

    When I'm recovered from self-loathing, I will post pictures from last week.

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Five Minutes Between House Chores

    I'm indulging in my first day of pure leisure in well over two weeks. In between laundry and organizing stray papers and stray painting knifes, and pretty much stray everything in my domicile, I take pleasure in strolling through my favorite art websites. One of the most exciting discoveries I've made recently is the YouTube channel called The James Kalm Report, by the New York artist Loren Munk. Here's a sampling of his report on artist, painter Lori Ellison, whose work I practically fell in love with at first sight: