Tuesday, November 27, 2007

23 Things To Do Instead of Studying Slovene Today

Clean the dead leaves off your plants.
Walk your dog.
Clean your boots (muddy from dog walk)
Read the news (in native language)
Read the news in Slovene and pretend you're studying even though you're really looking at the pictures and making up your own captions.
Make a sandwich.
Look out the window.
Eat a sandwich.
Mist the plants (Lord knows they don't need watering; you did that yesterday instead of studying)
Clean out your schoolbag.
Look at pictures.
Browse the internet.
Put up some holiday decorations.
Do class prep.
Check the weather and move plants inside or outside accordingly.
Re-organize bookshelf.
Brush the dog's teeth.
Clean the sink.
Play with the cat.
Put away some laundry.
Think about vacation.
Update your blog.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A holiday I miss

Thanksgiving is one holiday that I really miss. It welcomes (nay, encourages!) our unabashed love for food and family, and --like so many other holidays now-- does this without at all recognizing its humble beginnings. So, put down that turkey leg, wipe that gravy off the front of your shirt, and reflect with me for a moment....

(if this were TV there would be one of those spirally things at about this point that lets you know we are going to have a flashback....)

A long long time ago in a land far far away from the Americas, some sure-fire reality TV-show candidates took off on an epic and somewhat misguided journey over the sea. I`m talking about that plucky young group of adventurers that arrived via the Mayflower of course. Knowing they`d never return home they took with them all of the most important things they would need to secure their future, things like the clothes on their backs, drinking water, and some soon-to-be mouldy grains and seeds. I understand they originally had two ships but had to ditch one of them because it leaked very badly (which is not something one wants in a ship) so perhaps they did start off with a lot more. But I digress.

The crossing itself was very stormy. At one point, the ship’s main beam cracked and had to be repaired using a large iron screw, which marked the coining of the oft-used phrase, ˝We are so screwed!˝. When the passengers sighted Cape Cod, they realized that they had failed to reach Virginia, where they actually had permission to settle, which marked the coining of Homer Simpson`s oft-used phrase, ˝D´oh!˝

But of course, in spite of the lack of amenities such as roads, buildings, or bathrooms, and nary a Wal-Mart in sight, they decided to stay and began the long, arduous process of starving to death. Fortunately they had some good neighbors--namely, the native Americans-- who took pity on them and brought them casseroles until they could get on their feet. Well, actually I think they showed them how to grow corn and catch fish, but I`m sure it all ended up in a hotdish of some sort. The pilgrims were thankful for this kind help, and the ones that survived the winter had a big bash following the next year`s harvest. They invited the native Americans and everyone partied for three days. This expression of gratitude continued through the generations, first in the form of trading beads, muskets, and snug blankets in a wool/smallpox blend (dry clean only), finally metamorphosizing into the celebration we have today.

So, be thankful for food, for health, for family and friends, and for the native Americans for not grudging anyone a plate of maize gruel, or whatever it was that sustained those first pilgrims -- guaranteed to be a step below what you`re enjoying today! Oh, and thank the turkey, too. And the farmer that dispatched him. Lord knows if most of us really had to wring the neck of their own Thanksgiving turkey, we´d all be eating a lot more pasta.

Lastly, almost everyone learns from their mistakes and the pilgrims were no different. Here is a list prepared a short while after the initial Mayflower landing. Hindsight is 20/20, you know.

"Certain Useful Directions for Such as Intend a Voyage into Those Parts"
By Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow

as published in Mourt's Relation : A relation or journal of the beginning and proceedings of the English Plantation settled at Plimoth in New England, London, 1622

"Now because I expect your coming unto us, with other of our friends, whose company we much desire, I thought good to advertise you of a few things needful.

"Be careful to have a very good bread-room to put your biscuits in. Let your cask for beer and water be iron-bound, for the first tier, if not more. Let not your meat be dry-salted; none can better do it than the sailors. Let your meal be so hard trod in your cask that you shall need an adz or hatchet to work it out with. Trust not too much on us for corn at this time, for by reason of this last company that came, depending wholly upon us, we shall have little enough till harvest. Be careful to come by some of your meal to spend by the way; it will much refresh you. Build your cabins as open as you can, and bring good store of clothes and bedding with you. Bring every man a musket or fowling-piece. Let your piece be long in the barrel, and fear not the weight of it, for most of our shooting is from stands. Bring juice of lemons, and take it fasting; it is of good use. For hot water, aniseed water is the best, but use it sparingly. If you bring anything for comfort in the country, butter or salad oil, or both, is very good. Our Indian corn, even the coarsest, maketh as pleasant meat as rice; therefore spare that, unless to spend by the way. Bring paper and linseed oil for your windows, with cotton yarn for your lamps. Let your shot be most for big fowls, and bring store of powder and shot. I forbear further to write for the present, hoping to see you by the next return. So I take my leave, commending you to the Lord for a safe conduct unto us."

Love and hugs from SLO