Wednesday, January 25, 2006

This week is tough. Steve studies, I study, we meet for house meetings, I work, Steve studies, I get distracted by housemates who start talking about linguistics (my weakness), then I study, then work over-time, we may find sleep, but never much.

Steve especially has been having problems. He tried to run a statistics program on our home computer, using the network to access the program. That caused the program to run really slowly. REALLY REALLY slowly. It worked all night and still in the morning didn't have a solution for him.

So today we take a new tactic. Steve sits in the lab at school where the all night process takes a mere five minutes, yet that doesn't make the homework easy. We'll be here late, his project is due tomorrow. I joined him to be moral support. I stay with him because I'm cautious about walking home alone this late at night. I blog to you because you are more interesting than Russian homework, and undoubtedly more interesting than my ESL homework. Ah, yet I should be a good role model. I will learn the instrumental case. I will successfully say "I like to drink my tea with WARM MILK" (All caps = instrumental), "I'd like to talk with TALL IVAN about my tea," and "The post office is between MY DORM and THE ZOO." It will excite me. I go, I study, I succeed.

E tak, poka! Do zavtra.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Fireplace

We have a fireplace in our home. It does us no good. The thing is so old, that the last chimney sweep to come look at it refused to go up and clean it. It sits in our living room of this old (at least 100 years old) house that we share with four other grad students. Each grad student has their own fire place, ours is especially lovely. Many of the others have been bricked in. We're not quite so lucky. So, when we moved in to our little room, we looked at the ugly fire place (that had a blanket stuffed up it so that rodents would not fall down it) and said, "This is ugly. Let's cover it up."

We duck taped a large piece of cardboard to the front of the fire place. We figured that would do for a bit, it actually IMPROVED the appearance of our living room significantly.

Today I am very glad we decided to do that. It appears the blanket did not hold up. I am sitting in said living room where, for the last fifteen minutes I've been surfing the web and checking my e-mail. About two minutes ago, I heard something drop softly to the ground inside the fire place. Now, every few minutes, I hear a scratch of sorts on the cardboard. (oops, there goes the scratching again.) Perhaps its one of our friends from last fall. (They've come back, by the way, and we hear them in our ceiling from time to time still.)

I've alerted Steve to the situation. He's taking an afternoon nap. He seems unconcerned. He continues taking an afternoon nap. I continue typing away. The rodent seems happy enough, not frantic or anything yet. I seem happy enough, and as long as the duct tape holds up, I am comfortable knowing that, if the rodent does not find his way out, we can un-duct tape the chimney after it starts to smell, and discover precisely what sort of rodent found its way in.

Ah, duct tape. How I love thee. Hold up against the rodent please.
Because if you don't...
I will no longer be calmly typing away on my computer. I will scream. Loud and long, I will scream. And stand on a sofa. I've never thought of myself as a particularily girly girl, but I know now that this is precisely what I'll do.

P.S. This is not really a picture of our fireplace. But it is a picture of an ugly fireplace, much like our fire place is ugly.

P.S.S. The rodent is starting to break through. I'm pulling my feet up, Steve is getting out of bed. I think I must go now.


(From Steve's point of view this time.)
So I am roused from my plesant nap by a wife insistant that this derranged rodent is going to come into our apartment from the fireplace. Laura is busy typing furiously (the above post) as an attempt to keep her nerves under control as the monster gets closer and closer to running amuck around our apartment. My reaction is to mutter something about a box to catch the poor critter, while Laura is outlining her plan of reinforcing the duct tape so that we can starve the beast into submission and only remove its rotting body when the smell gets to us (a murderous plan she outlined for all to see in the above post.)

After rummaging around for a bit, I decide to take a look at the critter, Laura, at this point really did stand up on the couch to escape the beast's inevitable escape. And that is when I realized that the wind, which is blowing pretty well today, seemed to be shifting the cardboard as the air pressure in the chimney changed. Alas our potential pet was only the wind. Having realized that our monster/critter did not exist (through a throughough examination of the fireplace, but only after first reinforcing the bottom of the cardboard) our murderous plots were given up, some laughter ensued and life returned to normal. The End.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

How does one mourn in/with community?

Natural disasters hit, friends become ill, family members pass away. In all of this, I always feel a bit awkward. How do I react? How can I help?

When blessings come, a new baby, a new engagement, I know how to support and rejoice with those around me. But weren't His words more than just "rejoice with those who rejoice"? I believe "mourn with those who mourn" was also in there. And that's where I fall short.

Sure, I can handle it when someone has lost a job, I know how to offer a few bucks, or take them out for coffee ("my treat") to lend an ear. I can handle someone struggling with school, or struggling to make ends meet, but when true tragedy hits, and someone looses what cannot be earned or taken back, I do not know what to do. When I, too, am mourning because I also lost what was lost, it is not so difficult, I can experience loss with the person in a more natural, less contrived way. It is when I have never experienced the loss felt by a friend, or do not know the person that has passed away, that it becomes more difficult. I want to express my sympathy, I want truly for them to understand that I am empathetic, but I do not want them to feel that I feel "sorry for them" in a way that makes their mourning process more difficult.

So, dear bloggers, please consider and answer my questions two.
1) How can an individual mourn with friends who have experienced loss?
2) How can a community (especially church, but any social community) practice "mourning with those who mourn"?

These questions are on my heart now; if you have any opinions, thoughts, antidotes, or insightful quotes, let me know, either here or by e-mail or phone.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


For the record, that last post was not written by me (Steve) but was instead Laura. You may have been able to tell the difference in writing style. For example, she did not use any allusions to decreasing marginal product in her post. That is a dead giveaway. Also, you will note that everything was speled corectly. That is another sure sign that I did not write the post. The fact that we have these misunderstandings between us is a great example of the decreasing marginal product of labor, in this case the labor input into the blog writing (had to tie it in somewhere).

I still love birds, and happen to enjoy the raucus flocks of robins and starlings which congregate in our trees, waiting patiently for warmer weather in the north. It is like drunk undergraduate college students on spring break. Except that there is no beach and they are birds, not people.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


My dear old high school friend (who hasn't updated her blog in a year, ahem!) came screaming to my front door yesterday.

What caused her to scream? Why, BIRDS!
Lots of 'em, scads of 'em, sitting in our tree tops waiting for some poor soul to walk underneath them so that they might scare (or at least flabbergast) the passerbyer.

Do I blame her? No, I've screamed a similar scream silently every day for the last couple of days (since we returned home). I feel as if I am in a Hitchcock film. There are thousands of birds, hundreds of birds, and they're all out to get me.

They continually fill the air in the mile radius surrounding our house. I'm not sure why. Sometimes they perch for about 15 seconds, then they all fly again. I used to think I liked birds, now I just think they're scary.

A story to illustrate the point:
When we got home from the airport Sunday night, we opened the car door, disrupting the eighty or so birds above us. Many birds fleed the scene. A robin tried, but failed. He floundered out of the tree, seemingly drunk, and proceeded in hitting the overhang of the roof not one, or two, but three times before he flapped to the ground. There he flailed about like a bad rap dancer, and then lay motionless for about two minutes. Just when we thought he had passed on to a better world, he began dancing, just for a minute, and then lay still again. Our ride from the airport suggested putting the poor bird out of his misery, I said I'd had enough for the evening, and I thought we best just ignore it. I was disturbed enough as it was, I did not want to run the poor thing over. The next day, hang over complete, the bird had disappeared. I was relieved.

This is but one instance of the bird mayhem that has decended upon our home.

Disturbing. Very disturbing.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?