Lotsa news

I’ve been sick. Again. This time it was a relatively mild cold followed by fluid trapped behind the eardrum (blocked Eustachian tubes) resulting in REALLY awful pain for two or three days. I went to the doctor on Friday, hoping it wasn’t an infection (I went through all those bouts of cold-ear infection cycles when I was little, and wound up getting tubes/grommets, which was a pain in the bum. In addition I took so many antibiotics in those days I’m a bit hesitant to take more now unless it’s really necessary) – and luckily it wasn’t. But the doctor pretty much said all you can do is ride it out, and take painkillers. The Panadol wasn’t cutting it (I was having to spread it out to six-hourly doses, as you can only take eight tablets in a twenty-four hour period), so after talking to the doc I also interspersed that with Nurofen (which I was relieved to discover you can take while breastfeeding) and that made a big difference.

My ear’s still blocked though, and it is a huge pain having to sleep on my right side, instead of the left, which I’m used to… and yes, the whole thing has been blown up well out of proportion because it’s all I can think about lately.

After a horrible Saturday morning of pain I dosed myself up to the point where I could get out of the house, and I went and met my friend Megumi down at the Frank Kitts market. I’m getting my wedding dress (and bridesmaid dresses) made by one of the stallholders there, Kate of Bobbysoxer. I didn’t want a traditional white pouffy dress, and I really, really, wanted the bridesmaids to get dresses that they would actually want to wear again. So a month or so ago we went round to Kate’s place and tried on dresses… and these are what we’re going with:


(Sorry it’s a bit blur-tastic; I was doing a bit of quick breastfeeding at the time and I think someone else took the photo.) But isn’t the material gorgeous? Steve is getting bow ties made from the red material for his groomsmen, and he’s going to get one for himself made from the white. Plus we’ve got enough of the white material to (I think) whip up a dress for bubba, so she can be the baby bride! (Hehehe.)

OK, next topic: food.

We have been so slack and lazy with cooking lately (the lack of sleep may have something to do with it), that we’ve just been making a few “old reliables” rather than anything particularly exciting. Curries, spag bog, even omelettes, etc. Takeaways most Fridays (usually from the very excellent Legend Thai, Yummy Curry, or Ming Du). But yesterday was something of an exception, with a lovely walk in the Botanic Gardens (alas I took no photos on my digital camera, even though I actually brought it with me, instead taking pics on the Pentax, still with my first roll of Kodak Portra that I’m dead keen to see developed), and then lunch at the Picnic cafe. I had a gorgeous potato and feta hash, but again, no photos, as moo was extremely unhappy and we had to take turns taking her for little wanders around the rose garden while the other person ate as quickly as possible.

When we got home Steve went out again to do our weekly grocery shop (that man is amazing), and when he got home I had somehow got myself all homesick for the apple fritters that my grandmother used to always bring over to us when she came to visit. Now, if you live in the States, you might be thinking “what’s the big deal?” – well, here in New Zealand, this is what an apple fritter is. To which I must respond: no, no, no, no, NO! (OK, maybe just one ‘no’ would have been enough there.) In my tastebud memories, the apple fritter reminds me of Washington, my grandmother, another life, an earlier time (which, as a side note, is why I think I’m getting so homesick for Washington and Oregon these days; now that Leila is here I’m thinking all the time about my own childhood).

Fritters like these.

Only I had no apple juice at home, so I had to keep looking. In the end, I made these, and while the fritters of my memories closely resemble the other link, these were absolutely, positively, without a doubt, bloody excellent, and I will definitely make them again.

Here’s what they look like:


Oh, oops! I seem to have eaten that one. You need me to get another out so you can see how they turned out? Well, if it’s for the good of the blog…


(Poor light as I’ve just taken this on the fly at my desk. Yes, I’m a bad blogger!)

They are great with coffee.

Next topic (I told you I had lots of news!): education.

Say what?

Hear me out here. Just because I’m a stay at home mom (I like to pronounce it “mahm” in my strongest American accent) now, it doesn’t mean I really want to sit around reading bodice rippers while the little one snoozes. (Hm, although…) I always feel a bit refreshed when I’m reading something that challenges my brain. And though my university career was a bit meandering (meaning I did cover quite a few interesting subjects), I’ve always felt some regret that I never really took in what I studied and tried to understand it at a more fundamental level. (Apart from a few life-changers, including Heart of Darkness, Doctor Faustus, The Wasteland, and pretty much everything I read during my Old Norse class.)

So – the other day I bought a copy of Susan Wise Brown’s The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had for my kindle, and man, it is great! (Yes, that is one of those Amazon Associate links. I live in perpetual hope.) Her approach to reading is that it is a serious enterprise (obviously not for your average bodice-ripper, but for THOSE BOOKS, the tough ones. The ones you want desperately to get through but often can’t), and as such it requires a bit of structure. Enter the trivium, comprising the grammar, logic and rhetoric stages.

The Grammar stage is all about the “what” of your reading. Understanding what you have read, and summarising things as you go through. But Brown’s approach is to not dwell too much on the things you don’t understand yet. That’s for later stages.

Logic is about piecing everything together once you’ve read the book. It’s about asking specific questions (and answering them!) to cement your understanding of the book, and the author’s intent (and whether or not they were successful). The logic stage looks at everything from structure to your own reaction to the text – and always asking “why?”

The Rhetoric stage is focused on debate, on an exchange of ideas between like-minds, and on composition. It’s about taking the ideas from the book and making them your own.

I confess I think I’m going to have a little trouble working through the last stage. The book suggests finding a friend or partner who you can pair up with, who will read at roughly the same pace as you, and who you can either talk with, or write to, about your subject in a formal sort of way. I would LOVE to find someone who’d be keen to try this out.

In any case, I quickly wrapped up what I was currently reading (the very awesome The Drowned World) and have started on Don Quixote. So far, it’s great (though I have a little difficulty laughing at poor old Don Quixote; I feel so sorry for him). And bonus points for being able to start my Well-Educated Mind experiment with a book I already own and wish I had read.

I think what I’m going to do, regarding the whole W-EM thing, is to come back and post my chapter summaries once I’ve finished the book, and perhaps put some of my musings up here. I’m still not one hundred percent sure about how I’ll approach the Rhetoric stage, but I have a bit of time to think about that.

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