Things I learned this week (October 8 – October 15)

I learned this week…

…that looking for the perfect pumpkin is serious business in my house.  Last weekend we went to our favorite pumpkin patch.   In a dusty, weed filled field, we searched – row upon neatly constructed row.  There were big ones and small ones, fat ones and skinny ones.  Some that where lopsided, some with twisted and gnarled stems.  The search was exhausting, but finally we spied him – our perfect pumpkin.  His color lovely, his skin roughly textured.  He had character.  We quickly deemed him worthy of the noble position of front porch sentry.  He would guard our door faithfully when the hordes of trick-or-treaters come knocking.  And there he will stay – until he rots or is stolen and murdered by the evil neighborhood teenagers.

…that I still loath Beowulf with every fiber of my being.  While I can appreciate the artistry of the piece, a tale of a heroic warrior’s adventures of dragon slaying just isn’t my thing.  Giovanni Boccaccio, I’ve discovered, is my thing.  It has everything I love in a story – jealousy, betrayal, and murder with a slightly sick twist.  In The Decameron, Boccaccio tells us of a knight whose wife is in love with his best friend.  The knight plots the murder of his friend, cuts his heart out and then instructs his cook to make an elaborate dish out of it.  As his cheating wife cleans her plate and licks her lips, he says:

“What did you think of that, madam?”

“In good faith, my lord,”…”I liked it very much.”

“So help me God,”…”I do believe you did.  But I am not surprised to find that you liked it dead, because when it was alive you liked it better than anything else in the whole world.”

From “The Ninth Story of the Fourth Day” The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio.

Yes.  Sick and twisted.  Definitely my thing.

…that I have broken my pledge to avoid the State Fair of Texas at all costs, two years in a row.  Last year my BFF Amy talked me into going.  I was powerless to refuse the only thing she asked to do while she was visiting from Florida.  This year, my resolve was crumbled by the most beautiful pair of blue eyes.

…that (in reference to the above) the Fair is still overpriced and crowded with rude, obnoxious people.  However, I did eat a Fletcher’s corny dog and a fried pumpkin pie.  Both pretty darn good.  Still, I don’t understand why anyone would coat their corn dog with mustard, then walk around trying to eat it.  Totally disgusting.

…that the discovery of the private study rooms at my campus library was a wonderful thing.  Sure, I don’t get to people watch and play my beloved “What if?” game.  I am saddened by that, but it is a small price to pay in order to avoid inconsiderate, germ-invested young people.  Plus, lack of distractions leads to increased productivity. I was able to get an entire blog finished on Tuesday and about 1000 words written in Retribution on Thursday.  Not too shabby.

…that technology is not always my friend.  This is the second time I’ve written this particular blog entry.  Very frustrating, but I am trying to look on the bright side – at least I didn’t accidentally delete the 21,000+ words I have managed to eek out for Retribution thus far.

…that I don’t get this whole Occupy Wall Street thing.  I saw an interview with one protester here in Dallas who boasted of quitting her job at Neiman’s so that she could protest.  Really?  What kind of message does that send?   Look, I’m all for exercising one’s constitutional right to assemble.  I understand that the country is angry, and rightfully so, but these folks need to consolidate their message if they want anyone with any power to incite change to take them serious.  Right now, they look like a bunch of campers making a mess at the local city park.  I feel sorry for the park employees who will have to clean up their mess once they are finally evicted.

…and finally…this week’s awww moment is brought to you by a crazy little squirrel who looks a bit like Einstein to me – well, if Einstein were a Russian squirrel with hairy ears.

Maxim Shipenkov / EPA

Things I learned this week (October 1 – October 7)

I learned this week…

…that it sucks when my ankles swell up to a size they’ve not been since I gave birth to my youngest child some eleven years ago.  It also sucks that it took three days to get the swelling to go down.

…that my doctor will look at me like I have grown a second head when I come in with a written list of things I wish to discuss with her.  I’ve been saving them up for the last year – since my last appointment with her.  I think I may have overwhelmed her.  I really like her, but I miss my old doctor.  She understood me.

…that perhaps I should stop self-diagnosing and informing my doctor of what ails with me before she has a chance to offer her professional opinion.  I think she sends me out for diagnostics just to prove to me that she is the one with medical degree.

…that I still hate Beowulf with a passion and I am still unable to retain the story.  This caused me a great amount of angst and embarrassment this week when I bombed a surprise quiz on the piece.  When I say bombed, I mean I received credit for one correct answer out of five.

…that I really am disgusted with the cafe on my college campus and am dismayed to know that this campus is the only one in the district its lack of sufficiently nutritious lunch choices.  I am planning an extensive letter writing campaign to rectify the problem.  In case you miss my previous post on this subject, you can read more about my recent experience [here].

…that it is absolutely wonderful to see the beginning of October.  I am looking forward to spending a few hours at my favorite pumpkin patch this weekend and heralding in the start of the best season of the year.

…that I enjoy studying with the older gentleman who sits in front of me in my Western Civilization class.  He is a lot like me, in school for the sake of learning and no other reason.  However, the slacker who sits at the end of my row, in the same class, can bite me.  I would be more than willing to share my notes and study guide with him if he actually put forth an effort to show up to class.  Does this make me a bitch?  Perhaps.   However, in the last couple of years, I’ve become very familiar with the two types of students that darken the door of my classes.  You have your worker bees – like me – and the mouth breathers, as I affectionately like to call them.  They are the late arrivals, the nappers, the texters, the food munchers, the “my dog ate my homework” excuse slingers.  And that’s if they even bother showing up to class at all.  These are also the ones who dissolve into a full-blown panic attack on test day and want to borrow everyone elses notes and study guides so that they may have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing.  I am an unsympathetic person by nature.  I feel that your lot in life is determined by your own actions.  If you don’t put forth an effort to advance yourself, then you have no one to blame but yourself when everything goes terribly bad for you.  This makes me very unpopular.  I couldn’t care less.

…that my beautiful daughter is obsessed with something called Invader Zim.  I don’t know if I should be disturbed by this or not.  It seems to be a far cry from her former iCarly obsession.  Perhaps it will pass soon.

…that nothing ruins a workout more than having a woman get on the elliptical next you with foul-smelling breath.  Yesterday, I was minding my own business, getting my grove on to some 70s era disco music, when I smelled something horrifying.  I looked to my left, the direction I thought the odor was permeating.  Next to me was a woman who I regular see at the gym.  I’ve been stuck next to her on the elliptical before and it was a slightly unpleasant experience then, too.  Yesterday, however, she must have eaten a whole bushel of onions the night before because she reeked.  It was so nauseating, that I had to leave the area completely.  So, unfortunately, I did not get my cardio workout in, and instead had to pass the time on the weight machines.  I guess it all worked out.  Today, she was there before me and I was smart enough to opt for a machine at the opposite side of the gym.  The air quality was much improved.

…that it has been one of those weeks where I am academically overwhelmed and creatively uninspired.  Hopefully, next week will be better and the Man vs. Beast segment will be back in full swing.  I do have some great stuff bookmarked and my ever diligent brother has sent me a couple of things I missed.

…last but not least…this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Fran, a fifteen year old gorilla who resides at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, and her encounter with a duckling who wandered into her enclosure.

Tom Warren / Solent News & Photo Agency

Fall Fever

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face.   ~John Donne

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.   ~ Emily Bronte

After such a brutal summer here in North Texas, and really, most of the country, we’ve been granted a slight reprieve.  I am sure it will be short-lived. Mother Nature is a fickle bitch.  She would never let us glide into fall without throwing an obstacle or two in our path.  Something to let us know how unworthy of her time we are.  Or perhaps it is her way of keeping us humble and appreciative of her gifts, however scarce they may be.  Whatever, the case, the taste of cooler temperatures have left us – at least me – craving more.   I refer to this insatiable yearning as Fall Fever. 

If I had to pick a season to be my favorite, it would be fall.  There is something about the air, the smells, the sights, that fill me up with all sorts of things.  Things I couldn’t begin to explain.  I feel my most creative during this time, almost like I’ve been reborn.  A strange notion, I know, given that most everything is in a downward cycle.  Trees are going dormant, annuals are shedding the last of their colorful blooms, birds are flocking to warmer shores.  Soon the first arctic blast will come barreling across the plains, rush in uninvited, and leave the landscape barren.  But until then, I am ready for the magic of autumn. 

I’m not a holiday person. 

Show of hands. Who’s shocked by this?  I didn’t think so. 

My distain for Christmas has earned me the title of Scrooge by many a brave person.  I’ll own that.  It doesn’t bother me, in the least.  I think Christmas is an over-commercialized holiday, shoved down our throats under the guise of being something holy.  I could go into a whole history lesson here, but I will refrain.  It will only piss you off and make me feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall.  Who needs that?  Certainly, not me. 

Fall is different.  Fall is all about Halloween and the harvest.  It’s a time of fun and frolic.  Apples, pumpkins, and spice.  Ghouls and goblins.  There is no pressure, just good clean fun.  Soon front yard haunted houses will take shape and pumpkin patches will begin to pop up, here and there.  For some, the State Fair is the event which ushers in the season.  I don’t go to the fair, if I can help it.  It’s one of those things on my list that I’ve done, didn’t enjoy, and will try to avoid at all costs.     

However, I do enjoy a good pumpkin patch with all the fixings.  To me, those are the reason for the season.  On October 1st every year, along FM 1171, the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch opens its gates and allows us onto their quaint and festive property.  There is kettle corn, face painting, a maze, a huge haystack, a hay ride and pumpkins – as far as the eye can see  – lots and lots of pumpkins.  Big ones, small ones, and every size in between.  I love it.  Pumpkins make me smile.  Indeed, a  gourd near and dear to my heart.

Cody, Cory, and Megan

I’ve spent many lazy Sunday afternoons at this particular pumpkin patch.  Usually with Megan and the nephews in tow.  We always have a blast.  The price is always right and they never fail to pick me out the best pumpkins in the place.  

My nephews won’t be here this year, but I plan to spend at least one Sunday in October there.  Hopefully, on a crisp day, with just enough breeze that I have to wear a sweater.   Megan and I will traipse through the dry grass and scan the rows of pumpkins, looking for just the right ones.  Pumpkin choosing is serious business.  After all, they are to sit in sentry at the front entrance .  Devotedly keeping watch as the ghouls and goblins darken my door, in search of candy and treats.  They have an important job, indeed.

A thankless job, however, for as November dawns, they will be forgotten – left to rot on the front porch.  Or worse yet, become a victim of the pumpkin kidnappers and murder in the streets. 

Ahhh…fall.  It is the most wonderful time of the year.

The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge