Jabberwocky for 2005 January

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[Comments] (2) Alice and Jerry: When I was a little girl, I spent much time at my Grandma Call's house. I think it was because my mother never got along with me, and she wanted to get rid of me every summer. At any rate, there was an old reader at Grandma's house, Friendly Village, part of the Alice and Jerry series. There were not very many other books of interest to a kid, and I "read" Alice and Jerry often, eventually learning to read by reading this book. At some point, perhaps when my grandmother died, I took this book home with me, and with it I taught my own children to read. The stories and illustrations are wonderful.

The Alice and Jerry books have lovely watercolor pictures that turned me into an illustration snob quite young. The stories are also charming, but in the end, the whole series encapsulates a way of life that was dying when I was a child, and is now long gone. I don't know how much of Friendly Village's small town Main Street America aura actually translated into reality, but to a population traumatized by the depression and two world wars, the concept brought great comfort. It brought comfort to me, and I didn't even live through those bad years.

As an adult, I started collecting Alice and Jerry books, and have paid a pretty penny in antique stores for a couple of them. For Christmas, Leonard gave me enough books, bought on ebay, to double my collection, so now I'm all set for bedtime stories on a cold winter's night!

I note that Alice and Jerry were published before the 1950 postwar housewifely sensibility took root, so the books have Alice having adventures with Jerry and their friends, running up the creek and skipping down the road. Because I absorbed this paradigm (and had a rural childhood full of freedom and exploration myself), Dick and Jane, when I started school, set my teeth on edge. I think Dick and Jane really did their share to hammer the postwar sex roles into children, even after their mothers had been strong figures all through the first half of the century. The Dick and Jane calendar I received for Christmas last year finished off December with a whallop. Jane, Grandmother, and Sally are in the kitchen slaving away making cookies, and Dick is standing there with his plate in his hands, ready to eat.

Probably nobody realized this consciously, but subtly it influenced the role attitudes of a whole generation. Including leaders of the Church. Compare with Alice and Jerry, hanging off tree branches and pushing homemade boats up the creek. It's a healthy innoculation against textbook poisoning.

[Comments] (1) My 2004 Christmas Letter: Christmas 2004

Dear Friends and Family:

Happy New Year! At least we hope it will be. 2004 was a tough year worldwide, with war, terrorism, natural disasters, a presidential election which we will not discuss, and not even a new Harry Potter book to ease the pain. Here on this home front, itís been rough too, what with cycling in and out of the hospital and scratching to stay alive, but there have been a few bright spots.

I began 2004 in San Antonio, where I spent New Years with my sister Anne. I was on my way to Little Rock, taking a car to my son Leonard, who was there working on the Wesley Clark campaign. It was an adventure-filled trip, and after that I didnít go many places the rest of the year, just a couple of quick jaunts to San Francisco and Utah. Mostly my life is very quiet. I go to teach my class at the college, come home, go back to bed for the rest of the day, and then in the evening do some genealogy. I also stay busy being the bulletin typist and newsletter editor at church. This is harder than it sounds, because I have to chase people down and pound their news out of them, and then they argue when I try to take their picture. It reminds me of being on the school paper in high schoolĖsome things never change.

Leonard is still developing software in San Francisco, Susie and John are starting Johnís last ( ! ) semester at BYU, and Rachel graduated from UCLA this year and is home with me. I hardly ever see her because she is working two jobs, but itís nice to have someone in the house besides me and the dogs and cats and fishies. I still canít believe Iíve gotten all of my children through college. Ten years ago my goal was to live long enough to see them through high school, and here we are in 2005, looking at a new year, watching them build their lives, and wondering what the future will bring.

One milestone of 2004 was the passing of my father-in-law, Dalton Richardson. I was terrified of him when I first came into the family as a foolish bride, but over the years I grew to love him very much. It was a difficult and sad time for the whole family, but we derive great comfort from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that we can all be together again in the next life.

An adventure this summer was surgery to put a tube in my stomachĖa fairly rare procedure with a scary fatality rate, but the whispered hope that if it were successful, I would be able to be taken off the IV and catheter. That has not happened, but I think the quality of my life has improved a tiny fraction. I am always interested in scientific things, and todayís medical advances allow us to see things like the inside of our own stomachs, which I find fascinating even as other people are disgusted. The doctor said when he went in there, he was amazed that someone in such bad shape could still be alive and walking around, but I guess I just donít know any better, so I keep on keeping on. If I could get unhooked from these tubes, I would travel more, so we shall see what the future brings.

I am getting a new email address, and I donít know what it will be, but franny@inreach.com should be good until March, as is whitneyfrances@yahoo.com. So check out my weblog at www.crummy.com/jabberwocky for an update when I get the new address. I try to blog every day, so if you are ever wondering about me, you can go there to see, and you can even leave a comment by clicking on the little speech bubble by the date.

I close by sending my love to all of you. Letís raise a toast in this new year for memories of times past and the affection we share, and a hope for a future built upon faith, hope, and charity, which is the pure love of Christ. I remember the good times we have had in the past and look forward to a peaceful future.

Love, Frances

[Comments] (2) New Address: I have a new address--frannyw@sbcglobal.net. Please send me some mail, someone, so I can see it if works.

Bleah: It doesn't work.

[Comments] (3) What Today Bought: I thought I might make it through the day without bring sick, but during naptime Jellybean threw up on my bed, and it made me sick to clean it up. While Irma was here, I cleaned house with her, and then I spent most of the rest of the day reading one of my new Terry Pratchett books. Reminds me I should go to amazon and take all the books I got for Christmas off my wish list.

I spent two hours with tech support this evening and got my new email address to work. Trouble is, it won't work with Netscape, but that's a problem for another day.

[Comments] (1) Beansbeansbeansbeans: I have fifteen bean mix soaking ready to cook tomorrow. I wanted to make something like She Who Must Not Be Named made for the ward chili cookoff. It was kind of like Boston Baked Beans, only with fifteen bean. She was rude and wouldn't give me the recipe at the time; I hate it when people are like that.

I looked on the net and there are thousands of recipes, most of them using canned beans. Hello? Where is the financial savings in that?

[Comments] (4) Dilemma: I got a call on my cell phone this morning. It took awhile for me to find my phone, so I missed the call. It wasn't a number that is in my phonebook, so I called it back and said "You called me?"

A very hostile female voice said, "Who are you?" I said, "You are the one who called me, who are YOU?"

"My husband had this number in his phonebook. I want to know who he's been calling." "Well, who is your husband?" "Anthony." "Well, I don't know any Anthony."

So we hung up, and then I figured out it must have been one of my students. Anthony is a hard working boy, very dedicated and reliable. The light of his life, he says, is his little boy, and he is determinned to get through school so that he can support that baby. But a wife with that Attitude???

Anthony is registered again in one of my classes for next semester, and I'm wondering if I should take him aside and tell him this little story? Or should I just let her go on playing this little game of distrust until it goes blooey in her face?

I don't like getting involved with this, but now it looks like if Anthony and I ever speak by phone again, the woman will be hot on my trail. Grr.

I might add that one of the reasons I use my cell phone for work is because I don't have a phone on my desk. We have two in our "office" (I use the word loosely) but they are for like a hundred people to share and I never can figure out how to get my messages off.

[Comments] (20) Poor Little Orphan: I've decided that Sadie is going to have to find another home. I'm getting sicker and sicker, and I just don't have what it takes to give her the attention she needs. So this is official notice for those who have a vested interest in the dog. Do you want her--NOW? If no one in the family, I will offer her to my old roommate Evaun, and if Evaun can't take her, then put an ad on the bulletin board at the vets.

Gimmeabreak: Jamba Juice has taken the Strawberry Tsunami off its menu "out of respect for the tsunami victims." You can still order one though.

15 Minutes of Fame: Uncle David's restaurant in Brigham City, the Idle Isle, is listed on epicurious.com as one of the ten best small town cafes in the country. Of course it doesn't belong to Uncle David anymore, since he's been buried since the end of 1993. I wonder if we waltzed in there, would they still give us a free meal?

[Comments] (2) Meanwhile, Back on Discworld: I went to Barnes & Noble today and spend the gift card Don and Brett gave me for Christmas. I got three more Terry Pratchett books. I have already read the three I received for Christmas. I spent some time sitting on the floor figuring out what there is out there that I don't have. Of course, some of the ones I have read I don't have because Jeannette has them. Or Leonard maybe.

I don't know what Mr. Prachett is going to do about me because I can read faster than he can write.

I went to Amazon and took all the books I got for Christmas off my wish list.

I went looking for a piece of furniture to set up in the laundry room to sprout my seeds on. The seeds should be here tomorrow. The thing I ended up liking best was a "kitchen cabinet" that cost $99. That's pretty pricey, so I thought I'd look some more. I actually started out just wanting a folding table (the ones I have are too big) but if I get something with storage capability I can get the medical stuff off the countertop. (Yay!)

[Comments] (4) Ok So Let's Do This: How about this scenario. John and Susie come to visit their decrepit mother over Presidents Day and take the muffin back to Utah. Kristen keeps her until they move. Then John and Susie get her. and bring her back to California. Lucky she loves to ride in the car.

Her shots are due this month so I need to get her over to the d-o-c-t-o-r.

[Comments] (3) How Much Longer?: I asked Dr. Amin if he could give me a realistic estimate of how much longer I have to live. He said he can't because realistically he would have said I would have died years ago, and we've had some close calls, and he thinks I am here because of my spirit.

He says I don't have any of the life threatening infections that he could say, Oh, this one takes six days, or six weeks, or six months. So I should just go on day to day. Which I have been. But this day was spent in bed.

Weekend: I think I overdid it on Saturday. I worked in the yard, went to Target, and went to a movie with Doris Jackman. We saw Stripes. It was a cute movie with great appeal to nine-year-old girls. So today I am exhausted and came home after church to go back to bed.

I read one of my new Tery Pratchett books, Hogfather.

I hope my stomach gets better soon. Nothing, nothing, nothing stays down. Tuesday I can call and make an appointment with the stomach doctor.

[Comments] (5) Wimoweh: Dawn comes to the savanna. The Lion has hunted down a cardboard box, using great cunning and strategic skill. He has moved in for the kill, protecting the pride from the great danger of cardboard boxes. One cannot be too careful, on the savanna. Unfortunately, it was the cardboard box that contained the magazines to take to the Langley's. The magazines are no longer nice--but of course the Lion is! He yawns and rests amid the scattered bits of his victim. The Lion is very Brave, but even so, he defers to the Black Leopardess, and he runs from the Jackal.

Dawn will come tomorrow to the savanna. The sun will rise, spreading prickly shadows from the baobab trees. The Lion will walk, sleek and fearless. The sound track will play Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze", but they can't, really, you know, not on the savanna. The Lion has it all under control because you can't be too careful. On the savanna.

[Comments] (1) Mrs. McGregor: Joey Nations came over yesterday and helped me move bricks to box in a vegetable garden. We had room for five raised beds. Two of them are going to contain strawberries. Juan is going to remodel the sprinkler system to the new scheme. I have planted grape tomatoes--red and yellow, and bush cucumbers. They are "hatching" in the kitchen right now. I also planted a lot of lettuce and spinach out among the flowers. The rest of the vegetables I will buy already started at the nursery, which Doris Jackman says is indicative of the Decline of Western Civilization.

Probably the neighbor kids will eat some of the produce but oh well.

I was explaining to Juan why I moved the vegetable garden from the backyard to the street, and he understood instantly. "So it won't get holes in it." Which is a very kind and diplomatic way of putting things.

Aha!: My cucumbers are germinating!

[Comments] (6) Ugh!: Sitting around today with a fever. Going to try to go to Guilt and Lies meeting tonight though.

[Comments] (4) Who Steals My Purse Steals Trash: It seems like I just cleaned out my purse and here it is again, loaded with receipts, junk, mess, and crinkled currency. People give you scraps of paper with phone numbers, and where does it go? In the purse. Even the things that belong in there are kind of trashy, really. Library card. Golden Eagle Passport (whoa, I use this every single time I visit a National Park!) All kinds of various stuff. This purse needs a seeing to.

[Comments] (3) Discouragement: I did nothing but sleep all day. Tummy is very unhappy also. I wonder how much of my problem is really my health and how much of it is just plain discouragement?

[Comments] (2) Shake It!: We haven't had any little earthquakes in the last week. Hmmmm. Does that mean it's building up for a Big One?

[Comments] (3) Another Bad Day: I was getting ready for church and I fainted again. Rachel got me to bed and I didn't wake up until 6 p.m. Poor Gretel was outside that whole time. Those dizzy spells really take the starch out of a person.

[Comments] (2) New Semester: Today was the first day of school. It's good to be back. I had a bazillion people trying to get into my 8 a.m. class. Some of the ones that aren't going to make the cut are some very nice girls I had last semester. They came afterward and begged and sobbed and cried. I feel really bad about this.

I let them go earliish so that I could run to the bathroom, and still was late to my next class. I think it's going to be hard having the classes back to back. It was nice, however, that I was all done at 10:30 a.m. I came home and went back to bed, and now I feel pretty human.

We have some new student workers in the tutoring center. Change goes round and round.

I decided to make Lemon Bars for the placement reading on Friday. I'll have to see how much of it I can do in increments.

I have two girls I had when they were seventh graders at Chipman in my English 60 class, and a boy in my 68. The boy was a horrible kid; I hope he is nicer now. I gave them all what for for not listening to me back then; now they are stuck with me another goround.

Quick Quake: No quakes today, except one in Willows, which is pretty far away from here. There was, however, one yesterday. I didn't check the quakes yesterday because I was Out Of It, but I don't remember feeling it either. Usually if I'm lying in bed I can feel anything that is larger than a 2. Of course, that depends on where the epicenter is as well. Maybe I was really Out Of It.

[Comments] (2) Ahhhhh! They Got Me!: I made the mistake of reading the plea from the ASPCA while I was opening the envelope to get out the address labels they sent me. *sobs* Now I'm going to have to send them money.

[Comments] (2) Oh Me Oh My!: I think I mentioned that a boy I taught at Chipman is registered for my 9:30 class. He was a horrible kid as a seventh grader (but then, weren't we all?) He didn't do so well on his writing sample today. It looks like he never went to high school at all. So far his behavior has been decent, but does he ever have a gigantic attitude.

[Comments] (2) Flat!: So this guy thinks he is going to commit suicide, and he parks his car on the train tracks. Now lookit all the people killed and seriously injured. Innocent people, who never had a clue, and who probably would have sympathized with his angst but advised him that suicide is not the way to go because people get hurt. Suicide by hurting a lot of people is even more pathological.

When I was a kid we used to put pennies on the track to squish them flat. I had a flat penny I made in Salt Lake City for years, until I gave it to Leonard when he was a little boy. One day, Paul Oman put a windshield wiper that he found in the street on the track. The train duly squished part of it, but we decided that This Is Not Okay. Pennies, ok. Car parts, no.

[Comments] (2) Lemon Tree, Very Pretty: I made lemon bars to take to the placement essay reading in the morning. The lemon tree has been contributing its little heart out the last couple of months. They are getting very ripe, and it's time to bring them in and juice them out.

I was going to do that, but ever since I got up this morning I've been surviving by saying "IthinkIcanIthinkIcan". So I left a bunch on the tree and a colander full on the kitchen counter. Probably a couple of quarts of lemon juice left, all told.

This is a Meyer lemon, which you can't get in stores, and they are really yummy. Now that they are getting ripe, I've seen oranges that are yellower. The tree is starting to bud out for next year already.

No recent nearby earthquakes today, but one just happened in Cupertino.

[Comments] (5) Placement: We had 1600 placement essays to read this morning. There were about 27 teachers there, bt we didn't finish before we burned out. We read from 8:30 to one. I don't know where they will find teachers or class sections for all those students. It's a hard job because you have to stay mentlly alert all the time and evaluate carefully so that the student is placed in the class where they can be most successful. I have a headache now.

Lots of people ate the lemon bars and enjoyed them very much--a bit of a lift. When I came home I went to bed, and then when I got up I took lemon bars to my visiting teaching families. I also took back Sherrie Lewis's Christmas plate with some on it. Gretel went with me, and it was a nice long ride in the car for her.

Today I ate about 1/2 cup of consomme and a chunck of watermelon before I threw up. Then I ate a chunk of cantelope and three bites of pita bread. Threw up again. Also I have drunk a small bottle of cranberry juice.

While I was outside throwing up into the trash can, Becky Mooney came out and said "Are you all right". I don't know what to say when people ask that. I don't know what to say when people ask how I am feeling. The real answer is, hey people, I feel rotten. I always feel rotten. I'm DYING, for goodness sake. And not quickly and cleanly either, but slowly and painfully. But I don't think it pays to talk about it because what is the point? Doesn't change anything. So, I need to think of something to say that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings and makes them feel better.

[Comments] (1) Elisabeth: I am reading the fascinating memoirs of Madame Vigee Lebrun (the painter.) She was born in 1755 and lived through the monarchy, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and even after. I've always admired her art, so I picked up a copy of her memoirs. (In translation of course.) She knew just everyone, and tells all while never being catty.

Particularly interesting are the places where she evaluates paintings she sees. Many of them are famous paintings which will be familiar to the reader, and seeing them through Vigee Lebrun's eyes makes them come alive again. Just as interesting are the sections in which she talks about the paintings she is doing. I'm having a hard time putting the book down.

[Comments] (2) Poor Beans!: I cooked some beans today--or tried to. They are pretty old. I had to boil them all morning and they STILL aren't as tender as I might wish. Also, I thought I had celery, and I didn't. I thought I had bought some ham to cook with them, and I hadn't. I didn't have any summer savory. I know I planted some, but I sure couldn't find the plant. I didn't have a dried red chile ancho. I'm out of bay leaves, and I haven't bought more because I have ordered a bay leaf bush, which should be here in a couple of weeks.

All in all, it's a real meal of impoverishment, but the cornbread I made to go with the beans is yummy.

[Comments] (1) Regular Old Monday: I went to work, and I was soooooo tired and nauseated. I came home afterward and went back to bed with Tonks, and that helped some. My nurse spoke sternly with me about losing weight. Well, I can't help that. After I got up (Tonks stayed in bed) I graded papers and paid bills.

The snails have shredded my lettuce.

Jabberwocky for 2005 January

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© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.