Thank goodness for WalMart.

There is a girl in Russia who has just moved there this year. Her parents are going to be missionaries. Her birthday is next month. So we’re sending a package.

I couldn’t find any good stickers for the kids to make their own cards with. But WalMart had $.48 cards. And I managed to find 28 different cards, so all my kids from Marvelous Creatures will be able to write her an individual birthday card. Hurray!

I also found a necklace, sterling silver, with pretty blue and pink stones, shaped like a butterfly. I figured silver would be less likely to get stolen and it’s small enough I can probably stick it in a card. Hopefully they won’t even notice it with the other 28 cards.

In addition, because they were things on the family’s list, I bought fruit roll-ups and wet wipes, travel size.

Commonplace Book

Christopher D. Sessums wrote an article, “A blog is more than a communication tool”, which I found very interesting. “People blog for a variety of reasons,” he said. And then he gave some reasons for bloggers he knows.

None of them seemed to fit, exactly, the reason I love my blog, though outboard brain is close. Fame may be the reason I started my blog. I wanted to know and be known when I started. But then I discovered that the things I wrote about and the way I wrote about them were not riveting to everyone or even many people. And yet I still blog.


I blog to think out loud on paper. It makes my thoughts be more coherent. (I recommend it to my students; most of whom ignore the suggestion.) I must structure them in order to write.

Then there is the crux of the matter. If I write it down in my blog, and I remember, I can look it up later. I don’t have to remember everything. I don’t even have to remember what I filed it under. I can do a search and POOF! there is my recorded memory.

I use it a lot for ideas for my book.

I use it for notes for homeschooling, for teaching at the college, for teaching at the coop.

It is my commonplace book.

Commonplace books have their origin in the Renaissance as one means of coping with the information overload of that era. They helped students select, organize, classify, and remember key moral precepts.

Can you imagine that the Renaissance had information overload? If they have that, what do we have?

Commonplace books sanction the selection of passages made significant by personal experience and conscience.

I have several old notebooks filled with quotes that I no longer refer to. But my notes on my computer are available, even through years and changes of OS’s and software.

…the commonplace book is like a record of what that memory might look like”. The commonplace book exists to serve the commonplace storehouse of the mind, to assist the learner to master knowledge and wisdom…

That’s where the outboard brain comes in.

Reading the commonplace books of historical figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or any number of antebellum Southern ladies gives us an interior view of each person’s self-image and the words that motivated him or her.

We’ve already determined that we are all historical figures, thanks to American Digest.

And on the blogs we can read the blogger’s interior life.

I write what I think about. I write what is important in some way. I write things I want to remember. I don’t only quote, as commonplace books do. I go farther. I quote and show you where my thoughts went after that.

If you are not interested, that is okay. I am interested. And I will be interested later on, too. Sometimes, reading over my stuff, I am amazed at my banality. Other times I am in awe of my command of language.

Such is the life of a homeschooling mother who loves to read, likes history, and has written/is writing not-yet-accepted-much-less-published novels.

Homer Live

Or Homer lives. Or, YEAH! They found King Ajax’s house! 8,000 square feet with thirty rooms. Four stories tall. It’s not too far in time from my book. It makes a lot of what I wrote make a lot more sense. (Ha. History books are helpful, you know.)

ARCHAEOLOGISTS claim to have unearthed the remains of the 3,500-year-old palace of Ajax, the warrior-king who according to Homer’s Iliad was one of the most revered fighters in the Trojan War.
The city of Troy is believed to have fallen about 1180BC — at about the same time, according to Mr Lolos, that the palace he has discovered was abandoned and left to crumble. Ajax, therefore, would have been the last king to have lived there before setting off on the ten-year Trojan expedition.
The palace was built in the style of those of the period, including the vast acropolis at Mycenae.
Several relics of oriental and Cypriot origin were found at the site at Kanakia, such as bronze armour strips stamped with the emblem of Pharaoh Rameses II of Egypt, indicating trade or possible war in the 13th century BC.

These are the parts that I was most interested in, but you can read other cool stuff at the original article in the Times Online UK.

Return of History

Or maybe he should have called it the revenge of history. When we slough off something and then it comes back and shoots us in the foot, isn’t that revenge? Anyway, there is an excellent article at American Digest.

When I began to read I thought, “It’s not September…” But the article is incredible. Read it.

IN THE DAYS AFTER THE TOWERS FELL, in the ash that covered the Brooklyn street where I lived at that time, in the smoke that rose for months from that spot across the river, when rising up in the skyscraper I worked in, or riding deep beneath the river in the subway, or passing the thousand small shrines of puddled candle wax below the walls with the hundreds of photographs of “The Missing,” it was not too much to say that you could feel the doors of history open all about you.

Before those days, history happened elsewhere, elsewhen, to others. History did not happen to you. In your world, until that day, you lived in the time after history. There were no more doors in front of you, all history lay behind you. It was a given.

History did not happen to you.

That is one of the most insightful sentences I have read in years.

Why not 16?

I wrote that last entry about not sending E to college full-time when he is 16, even though I went to college then and had a great experience. Are you wondering why I don’t want to send E?

I thought you might be. Here are some of my answers. Truthful answers. You don’t have to agree with them, but here they are.

He’ll be young. I know that I felt old and mature at 16, but I wasn’t.

He’s not an extrovert. I think it is hard for him to make friends and I want him to have more experience doing it in a protected environment.

He isn’t sure what he wants to do yet. I knew at age 6. I want to give him time to make his decisions without the pressure of needing to make them.

I want him to have the experience of working before he goes to college. I went to a very privileged college. Most of us did not have to work. And the problem with that is that we had no idea what work was, what we would do if we didn’t go to college. Some people gave up, thinking that work would be easier than school. Maybe for them it was. But a college education is expected these days and I want E furnished with the necessary tools.

Also, I think I tried to hurry through college in order to get out into the real world. I didn’t understand that I was in the real world, but that I had it a bit easier. My husband did know this because he worked before he went to college. I want the boys to have that opportunity, too. And since we don’t have a business he can work in, he’ll have to be 16 to work.

Those are basically my reasons.

There are others that might influence me, but would not be decisive, such as:
College is expensive and as a homeschooling mom I’m not working full-time at a paid job.
He’s my baby! (Of course, if I went with that, I would never want him to leave home, so I am not going with that.)

When to go to college

I have been thinking about this today because my eldest is 14. And he is finishing up 11th grade. Next year I do not have any math options available for him. He has outstripped me and the home school group in our area does not appear to be offering a senior math. But math is his best subject. I don’t know that he loves it, but to him it is a game- fun and easy.

Even if math were available, I did not intend for next year to be his last year of high school. Though he will have finished a four year high school curriculum, I do not want him to go to college full time at the age of sixteen.

I went to college at the age of 16. I followed an aunt and her son, my cousin, in that. They both recommended to my father against it. But he had already agreed to let me go and so I went.

Though socially I may not have been up to the experience, my college life was mostly an extension of my excellent high school education. Greek was hard. Genetics was hard. History, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Medical Microbiology… those were not hard. I had many friends. Some of those friends I still keep up with. Others have moved on.

I enjoyed my college experience and I know now that it was a better situation than the alternative. My parents moved after my sophomore year, when I went to college, and they were in a much poorer school district. My siblings went from one of the top school systems in the nation to one of the worst. I did not.

Yet, here I am, just as my aunt and cousin did, recommending against it. And I’m the mother, so I will have final say.

But just because I don’t think he is or will be ready to move away from home at the age of 16, doesn’t mean I won’t be sending him to college. I will be. I will be sending him to college when he is sixteen for two classes a semester. That has always been my plan. And I had planned on him working too.

Now, though, I don’t know what to do about his math. I wasn’t expecting to have to think about this yet. I don’t know what the entry requirements and testing are. I don’t know who to ask… Although I could probably easily find out.

I just didn’t want to think about that yet.

Restaurant Foods that aren’t Nightshades

I am working on a list of restaurants and restaurant foods that I can eat without eating nightshades.

Skeeter’s- chicken strips, but no dipping sauce

Italian restaurant- Fettucini Alfredo with chicken

Zio’s, a chain Italian restaurant- Chicken and Cheese Tortellini Alfredo

Chili’s- breaded chicken on Caesar salad,
Note: You can’t get the grilled chicken. It has peppercorns.
Oops! I’m wrong. You can’t get Caesar Salad because it has both Worchestershire sauce and mustard in it. Drats!
Hmm… Very boring hamburger then. I’m not a big mayo fan and I don’t like raw onions or dill pickles.

Chuy’s: sopapilla with refried beans and chicken or fajita meat, but no toppings

Deli: Chicken or tuna salad, as long as they are not made with mustard and you order them without the tomatoes. Also a cheese, turkey, and bacon sandwich, as long as you order it as above. Mayo works on this.

California Pizza Kitchen: Tostado pizza with lime chicken, with the salsa/tomatoes on the side. (I can’t eat them, but R can.)

Fuddrucker’s: Skip the boring burger, since you can’t have the good stuff, and get the Mandarin Orange chicken salad. (Which isn’t on the menu at their website. Maybe the item is only available at our Fuddrucker’s.) If you want a burger, but want it a bit less boring, make it an ostrich or buffalo burger. (Buffalo is better.)

Mexican restaurants: Maybe cheese enchiladas. Refried beans. I like tortillas with refried beans, although they are a bit bland. Add fajita meat, fried onions, and some cheese… So I guess fajitas. But DO NOT get the salsas.

Some fajita recipes call for peppers, or they are used on the plate. I can’t have that. Other fajita recipes use Worchestershire. So I guess for fajitas you would have to ask or find out beforehand by calling and asking. (Ask again once you arrive. Some people will tell you what you want to hear or just won’t ask the right people. But you don’t want to die from someone on the phone’s bad advice. At least let your family know who you need to sue!)

Pizza: The crust, cheese, and any non-nightshade topping. Maybe try a new combo that you haven’t had before so you won’t be expecting it to taste the same as your usual.

To remind you:

Nightshade: Brinjal, Cayenne, Capsicum, Eggplant, Ground Cherry, Banana Pepper, Bell Pepper, Chili Pepper, Green Pepper, Red Pepper, Sweet Pepper, Paprika, Pimento, Potato, Tabasco, Thorn Apple, Tobacco, Tomato.

from Calgary Allergy

Other related posts:
Discussion of solanine in nightshades and how it isn’t really an allergy. But it acts like one. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” And an allergy by any other name hurts.
A collection of internet comments on nightshades that were relevant to me or my family.
Night Shade Allergies, my post with the most comments, I think.

One Week

Today is one week of going without the foods I am allergic to. No ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, french fries. No pizza, spaghetti, hot dogs with chili. No tacos, burritos, taco salads. No mashed potatoes, baked potatoes. No barbeque, neither cow nor pig. No small tomatoes to pop in my mouth. No spicy foods from Chinese restaurants and no sweet and sour either.

I’ve eaten nothing I am allergic to, not even a bite, in seven days.

So why do I still have aches and pains? And how long will it take before I know that the aches and pains are NOT related to allergy foods?

I remember my mom was told she had to go without for two years.

I don’t think she’s gone a week yet.

1123 Spam Comments

Well, if you have a blog with moderated comments, you should not take three days off from the internet. I came home to 1123 spam comments and they slowed my computer down to nothing. Thankfully after 40 minutes of not working my son suggested I email R. R fixed it in less than a minute.

Oh well.

Definitely need to update to WordPress 2.0.

Avoiding Allergy Foods

I am on my second day of trying to totally, one hundred percent, avoid my allergy foods. I know that I have severe allergies to them and that it brings down my quality of living. But I haven’t gotten off them for more than a day or two in about ten years. To make a big difference I have to be off them for quite a while.

My mother’s allergies to the same foods have gotten so bad that her throat closes off if she eats them. Her doctor told her she’d have to go two years without eating them to stop being so allergic. I don’t think she’s gone two weeks yet.

I thought, though that being off them might make me feel better. And I’ve been so wiped out the last week or so that I decided it was worth the effort and pain.

What am I allergic to?


I can’t have potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, any kind of peppers except black pepper, tabasco, ground cherries, pimentos, garden huckleberry, paprika, tobacco, and many medicines. Thankfully I’m not on any medicines except thyroid, birth control (That’s not nightshades, is it?), and vitamins.


The three Christian Peace activists who are still alive after their capture by Iraqi terrorists, the American fourth was murdered and his body dumped, have been rescued by a military operation.

The press release only says the men have been “released.” Not that they were rescued.

And then they blamed the people who rescued them for their capture.

“We believe the illegal occupation of Iraq by multinational forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq today. The occupation must end,” the co-chairman of CPT Doug Pritchard told a news conference in Toronto.

from Reuter’s

I am embarrassed that these people are Christians.

But at least they are only being captured and killed, not killing others like the Muslim extremists.

Do you remember?

I wrote someone last week about his daughter who died in 1993. I’ve never met the man and hadn’t ever spoken to him until today. But I loved his daughter and she died.

I wanted to let him know that someone, besides her folks, still thinks of her and misses her. So I’ve been looking for her folks’ address.

Last week I found a helpful hint in an old diary and I got on line and sure enough I found her name in her grandmother’s obituary. Her grandmother died fifteen months ago. But it listed her surviving relatives and so I looked up the family in Weatherford, because I knew she was from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I got an address and a phone number, but I wasn’t going to call the people. Instead I wrote and said that I knew Audra. I told them I had a few bad pictures of her and I wondered if they would like them.

Today her father called me. (I included my phone number.) He asked how I knew Audra and I told him. Then I offered again to send pictures and said I’d send a few things I found I had written about her- little things like she came to dinner and what we ate. So I wrote a two page letter and I pulled out the pictures from the sleepover that we were at together to copy and send.

I remember Audra. It must be hard for her folks. It will be 13 years ago this summer that she died. Her father said they remember every day.

What I Learned from the Premier

Short short skirts are popular in Atlanta.

Dressing up for a model call can range from jeans to a fancy party dress with knock ’em dead high heels. (I thought the more dressed up folks looked a lot nicer.)

If there are 200 people at a party, you won’t see everyone- maybe not even people you know.

My husband is a fame-aholic. I thoroughly expect him to go back to the reality TV show, this or next year’s version. But I’m sending him to the premier stag.

The Premier: We got to see the cut!

The guys running the whole thing said to come down and go in the middle room. (Not that we knew where that was. But we went down and hung around.) Eventually we figured it out.

We went in a smaller room, smaller even than the sky bar, and watched the show’s cut version for an hour with the sound on.

It was fun. It was hot. (Gorgeous girls in bikinis and sometimes only in half-bikinis.)

It was perfect for MavTV. Four of the photographers were young good looking guys who didn’t even wear shirts to shoot in. One of the models told one of the photographers, “You’re easy on the eyes, which is good.” (That’s in the uncut version.)

There wasn’t as much drama as I was expecting in the short version. They mentioned the girls who ran out on the show, taking their pay and their tickets without checking out of the hotel, and a boyfriend threatening to do a mob hit on the guy trying to get them to do the work they’d been paid for. They showed one altercation with a photographer and a model. They showed one model getting in trouble for trying to make trouble for someone else rather than admit she was the problem.

But that wasn’t the whole movie. Just an hour of the three shot and shown so far.

Then they came in, gave us DVDs of the complete show to date and passed out tee shirts. They say, “I am the best.”

It was fun to watch the show. People were into it, talking, laughing, telling jokes. “That’s me!” “That’s me!”

The Premier: Getting In

When we arrived the first time, they let us go up to the sky bar, the VIP area to get warm. But when we arrived the second time in the limo, they didn’t.

There were easily a hundred people, maybe more, in a crowd waiting for one guy to check their ID, their names, and let them in. It was very orderly, except when one of the models from the show wasn’t allowed to get into the sky bar. Then her boyfriend hollered out “They won’t let the models in.” and someone came up to help. (Several someones came to help.) Several people had bad views of the boyfriend. I just thought he needed some help and got it.

Crystal, another wife, talked with R and her hubby and I for a bit, but then they were engulfed in shooting, since her husband won the shoot.

One of the judges comes up and talks to R about some good ways to get shoots, telling him about a workshop he and his date are giving in May. R really wants to go. (Big surprise.) They talked about what a good workshop is and how to tell that it is a good workshop.

After BotB2, R knows the difference between a good workshop and a bad one. One photographer, whose work R really admires, was having a workshop. So R emailed him and asked if he would be teaching his techniques, or any techniques, at the workshop. The upshot of several emails was that the workshop was really just an opportunity to shoot beautiful women, not an opportunity to learn more about photography. He didn’t attend, obviously.

So we’re waiting there, in the cold, talking a bit. And this beefy guy in a suit comes into the crowd and starts talking loudly. “Okay folks. Let’s get out of a bunch. Let’s get into an orderly line. We don’t want to look like a bunch of hoodlums for the TV cameras. We want to look good.”

I don’t know what everyone else thought, but what I thought was not nice. “Buster, I’ve been waiting here for an hour to get into a room I could have been in the whole time if we hadn’t gone for the limo ride. My husband is one of the cast and so are all these people and we can just wait here, quietly, but in a bunch, without your help.”

I don’t know if I would have refused to move, but I didn’t move when he started trying to organize people. Right after that J came up and said, “let’s go.” All of the cast/crew folks went to the front and got in.

I hadn’t brought an ID. (It was a party!) I know. It was a party at a nightclub. I should have had my ID. I just didn’t think about it. I’d have thought they could see I was old, but J had to vouch for me to get me in. I don’t know if it’s legal, but I think it would have been silly to turn a 44 year old woman away for lack of a picture ID. Especially since I know some of the women from the casting calls were using bogus IDs. (One girl flashed her Costco card to get in.)

Then we sat in a tiny room, or stood mostly, for about an hour waiting for whatever to start.

I ordered a screwdriver. When it arrived it looked like muddy green water. I was a little apprehensive, but it tasted really good. My plan had been to have a drink or two every hour, to keep from being bored, but that was the only drink I had all night.

R left to go to the bathroom and, though I didn’t know it, he left his margarita with me. Since I didn’t know it, I didn’t pick it up or watch it. I think it was still sitting where he put it when he eventually got back upstairs, but if it was his, it had been there over an hour and who knows what could have been put in it. So he didn’t even have one drink the whole night.

The Difference Between Prolife and Prochoice in Euthanasia

I received a non-spam comment on my last post on Terri Schiavo. I don’t agree with the comment, but I see that the person who wrote it is articulate and has thought about the situation a lot. While I disagree with the author pretty much completely, the comment was interesting.

Because lots of people don’t go read comments, I am going to quote it here. Leigh wrote:

I do not need convincing or reminding of what transpired almost a year ago. However, I truely believe that you are misguided and perhaps are one of those that protested outsided with PEACHES among other items to hydrate Terri. If Terri’s husband was truely an abuser, it would have shown up and will show up with his current wife. As most abusers will go on to repeat their behavior. Your claims are very unsubstantiated. However, her eating disorder is not. Why not donate your time to hospice? Better yet roll up your sleeves and work in healthcare for the better part of 15 years such as I have and work with people that are tube fed. Terri had her day with the U.S. Justices and her family lost and they also lost her case in the media. Shame on them for trying her and putting her in such a unflattering spotlight with the media. If the ProLife would pull their heads out of their ***** and see that this was nothing but a power struggle and about a family that could not see that she was dieing everyday slowing, perhaps she would have died more peaceful without protesters and government interference! I suppose this is the way you want to die, having every measure when there really is no hope for you….This PROCHOICE gal will always be there to stop people like you. Thank you to the Hemlock Society which has been around for decades, and the new Oregon Laws that have been passed.

I answered Leigh in the comments, which is where I assume she will go if she wonders about my response. But I wanted to answer “up front” as well, because the points she raises are important ones and the different perspective is somewhat important. While I don’t think we need to present both sides of an argument (such as the ACLU was arguing with Tennessee license plates), I do think it helps to know both sides of the argument.

This presentation of my arguments is a little more fleshed out than the comment answer I put up, but it is in substance the same.

The first point you make is that if Terri’s husband were truly an abuser, it would have shown up.

Well, Dr. Michael Baden reviewed the autopsy findings and said that it DID show up. So what? One doctor can be discredited. True, but this is the same doctor who reviewed the autopsy findings on the fourteen year old boy and said that it was not sickle cell anemia that killed him, but asphyxiation from trauma. It turns out that for that case there is video that confirms Dr. Baden’s findings. Read the ABC article here. There is no video for Terri Schindler-Schiavo. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t correct.

Yes, if Terri’s husband was truly an abuser, and I know that for a fact no more than you know for a fact that he was not, it will show up with his current wife. But if you are aware of domestic violence issues, you will know that she will make excuses for him, that the trauma will be “self-inflicted” when she goes to the doctor or the hospital, and that she will not leave him. (This is the norm in domestic violence situations.) We may not know that he is, in truth, an abuser unless he kills again. And then it will be a little late for his second wife.

You say that Terri had her day with the US justices, but she didn’t. No one talked to Terri to ask her what she wanted; at least the courts didn’t. Some said that she could talk, it just took a lot of time. But she wasn’t asked to talk by the court. Instead they took testimony from other people and decided based on what the other people said.

Exactly how did her family put Terri in an “unflattering spotlight?” You mean the media found out that she had an eating disorder? I don’t blame her for that. Do you? Lots of people have eating disorders. Yes, I don’t want to have one and it’s bad for the person who has that, but most Americans don’t view eating disorders as self-inflicted damage so much as a problem the person has to deal with. I didn’t hear anything else unflattering about Terri.

Also, I do not understand why you say the family tried Terri. They wanted to save her life. If that took the court examining her life, so be it. Because her life had to be examined I can see that she was a bit “on trial.” Some would say, though it feels a bit flippant here, that, as Socrates said, the “unexamined life is not worth living.” In such light, the trial actually made her life more worth living. (Not that I don’t think it was worth living before.)

Now I will admit that if a patient is dying slowly the family is unlikely to admit that.

And no one wants their family members to die slowly in pain.

But there is a difference between not wanting your family member to die slowly, which she may have been, and in pain, which she was not, and wanting to kill a family member “relatively” quickly in pain. Terri Schiavo took 12 days to die of starvation and dehydration. That was not a quick ending by any definition that I’ve ever heard.

Looked at another way, we are all dying slowly in pain. Certainly most people’s bodies slow and get more problems as they age. Does that mean you are advocating that all of us should be killed quickly?

I fully realize that is not what you said here specifically, but it seems to me to be a logical extension of your point. (If you disagree, you might want to go check out the Netherlands’ experience discussed here on my blog and on the BBC and here and many other places.)

In answer to your statement of whether I want to die this way, having every measure taken when there is no hope for me, no, I don’t. But the courts did not allow Terri to eat or drink ON HER OWN, which she could do. I do not mind if the plug is pulled on my body if it will not sustain itself, though my husband wants the opposite. But if I can eat and drink on my own, then, yes, I want to be allowed to eat and drink.

There is a difference between choosing to let someone die whose body is incapable of sustaining itself and dehydrating and starving someone to death whose body is perfectly capable of sustaining itself if given adequate nutrition. That you do not differentiate between those two things is one reason that “prochoice” has such a negative connotation and why I will be around to oppose people like you.

There is also a difference, which you do not seem to recognize with your talk of the Hemlock society and the Oregon laws, between suicide- which is the person whose life is impacted choosing to die- and killing- which is when someone else chooses for the person to die. Terri Schindler-Schiavo did not commit suicide. She was killed. There is a difference.

Despite the fact that you want to stop me, if you are ever put in a position where someone wants to kill you, I will not support that, either. I can’t stop you from killing yourself. But I don’t want anyone to have the right to kill you or anyone else simply because you are sick. That is the difference, as I see it, in our positions.

While there are other points I could make, I think that I addressed the points of prolife v. prochoice adequately and fairly.

A bit off the topic, but responding to Leigh’s comment on what I should do with my life, rather than blogging on Terri Schiavo…

Why not donate your time to hospice? Better yet roll up your sleeves and work in healthcare for the better part of 15 years such as I have and work with people that are tube fed.

Personally, if I were in a job where I thought the best thing anyone could do would be to kill my patients, I would quit. I am appalled that she seems to offer her experience in the medical profession as a justification for being a proponent of death for a person like her patients.

Irish Names Not Irish

A student researcher found that many names that we now think of as quintessentially Irish are Catholic, English, and/or Norman.

Brian is about the only one I thought of that is Irish. Brighid…

One of my books, maybe two, will be on Celts many moons ago. Need to remember this and not give them the wrong kind of names.