Friday, November 30, 2012


Ta da!

This one was a lot harder than last year's. Part of that is because I got hit pretty badly with a respiratory infection that left me flat on my back for about five days in the second week, so I didn't get much done then. Despite a strong start, I was behind for most of the month:

Parts of this one were just really hard to write, too. Some days it was hard to even get a thousand words out, and, oddly enough, that had nothing to do with the content. I actually like this story better than last year's. I think it was just more complicated, and there were times when I was trying to feel it out and didn't quite know where it was headed yet.

 But here we are! 50,000 words. Unfortunately, my novel is really only about three quarters of the way finished. It's all plotted now, the path is clear, but unless I want to be really mean and end it with a cliffhanger, there's still a decent amount left to write. It's a good thing that December is unofficially National Finish Your Novel Month.

I'm going to go order my winner's shirt now and donate. The Office of Letters and Light is a wonderful group of people who keep NaNo and its sister programs running each year. I want to send them brownies and sunshine, but for now I'll send them my money so that they can keep being awesome.

Victory dance!

Goodnight, everyone! I'm going to go read all those books I've been missing out on!


Saturday, November 10, 2012


While I've been busy noveling, a poem of mine has been published. It's in the first issue of Californios: A Review from the Ends of the Earth, released just today. This is my first published creative work (*party!*). You can download and read the whole issue here:



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Round 2: Fight!

It's that time again!

A progress-tracking widget will be installed in the sidebar in the near future.

Wish me luck!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Open Letter to My Refrigerator

Dear Fridge,

Thank you for keeping our perishables moderately cool. In order to help maintain a higher level of comfort in our home, we are instituting two new rules. In the future, please refrain from peeing on the floor. Also, please refrain from headbutting members of the house and causing nausea-inducing head pain. These are house rules which everyone must obey.


Members of the House

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Life on Fast-Forward

Pictures, you guys!

So...summer came and went a lot faster than I anticipated. It was very...busy, and full. There was a lot of work--a LOT of work, a whole. lot.-- and a few injuries, but there were many good things. Things like this:

-Our third wedding anniversary! With waffles!

-Family camping trip to Calaveras Big Trees. Hello, giant sequoias!

-A road trip to Texas to visit a dear friend for her birthday, complete with with birthday cake, pink unicorn piñata, and poetry readings.

-The Alamo! Davy Crockett!

-The Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace--Nixon Now!

-Family weekend in Solvang: weather that required a heavy sweatshirt at night and hot chocolate and heavy blankets to sleep under, more pastries than anyone could ever eat, and one of the best dinners I've eaten in a long, long time (from the Succulent Cafe: tender molasses braised short ribs with cinnamon apple chutney and green beans, served over creamy parmesan grits; lavender crème brûlée for dessert)

-Ostrich Land on the way back from Solvang. We fed ostriches and emus, and I brought home an ostrich egg.

-My first ever sailing trip. We sailed a large keelboat, I helped raise the mainsail, and we zipped in and out of the tall ships out on the water for the Tall Ship Festival at Dana Point at sunset.

And now it's back to school! I'm teaching one new class this year (Plato) for a small group of extremely dedicated and wonderful students (they made Plato Play-dough and cookies for the first class), so I'm doing a lot of reading in preparation for that. Lots of stuff I haven't read before (Alcibiades, Ion, Laws, Theaetetus, Euthyphro, Apology, Sophist, Statesman...all leading up to an extended study of Republic), but it's really good. And eleventh graders are totally capable of reading and understanding this stuff! They can see what Plato's doing, and can even appreciate the humorous and ironic parts! It's so good.

One of my ninth grade Logic students excitedly told the class last week that the chapter we discussed "opened a whole new window into theology" for her, specifically the part where the text discusses the significance of Jesus being the incarnate Word of God, and why it is so important to us as Christians that Reason Himself came down and was enfleshed.

My seniors (third-years) are hard at work already, asking excellent questions and working earnestly to better understand their faith, and my tenth graders (first-years) are beginning to allow their minds to be [painfully, slowly] stretched. Pray for them. I think it's going to be a good year, but I think it will be especially difficult for some of them. They don't like not having answers.

Here's to another year!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Uh-oh: A Dessert Tale

So I'm home sick today, and have been for the last two days. Josh was kind enough to make me soup for dinner last night, but tonight I'm home alone.

So I decided to have toast for dinner, 1) because I haven't really been hungry all day but I promised Josh I would eat something, and 2) because I really don't feel like cooking or preparing anything. Toast is doable. Toast is good. Toast is my friend.

So I made one piece of Avocado Toast (the capitalization makes it sound like a real meal, right?), and then the uh-oh happened: I accidentally discovered possibly my new favorite dessert. Not favorite because it beats all else in the taste category, but favorite in the it-takes-less-time-than-choosing-a-movie-on-Netflix category. And it was pretty darn delicious, too. This is a very dangerous combination. Reader, beware:

1. Toast one piece of bread. We use whole wheat in this house.

2. Spread with Trader Joe's Cocoa Almond Spread. It's like Nutella, but with almonds instead of hazelnuts, and it's got a darker chocolate flavor.

--See, most people would stop here (Nutella on toast--been around for ages), but I'm crazy.--

3. YES THERE'S MORE. Top with MARSHMALLOWS. We currently have the little baby marshmallows for hot cocoa consumption, so I just pushed a whole bunch of them into the Spread until it looked sufficiently delicious. Regular marshmallows would probably also be awesome.

4. Toast the toast once more in the toaster oven until the marshmallows reach a wonderful caramel color on top.

5. Consume. Relive rosy memories of family camping trips.

6. If you're me, repeat until your brother starts calling you "thunder thighs" again. 

Nota Bene: We own both a toaster and a toaster oven. I am partial to the toaster and its abilities to lightly toast both sides of the bread and leave the middle slightly soft, but deliciously warm. Josh likes the toaster oven because it allows you to put stuff on top of your toast while it's being toasted (..."isn't this what the oven is for?" I ask...). So we ended up with both because people were nice enough to give us both for our wedding and because we're that serious about toast. For today's toast, I used the toaster to toast the bread in the first place and then the toaster oven to melt the marshmallows.



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dinner, Improvised

I bought some ravioli at F&E after work today, intending to use a jar of marinara already at home to make an easy dinner (still recovering from last week). However, when I came home, I discovered that the jar of marinara was imaginary! (We didn't actually have any.) We had no tomatoes, so I couldn't make my own marinara. We did, however, have red bell peppers. So I decided to make a creamy roasted red pepper sauce. Since the sauce was going to take a while, I decided to also make an appetizer: stuffed mushrooms. Everything was really good, and way better than the meal I originally planned.

Stuffed Mushrooms: I made fried breadcrumbs (one bread-butt turned to crumbs in the food processor, and then sauteed in olive oil over the stove until they're nice and golden and crispy), and then since we had no sausage, I chopped up a few small slices of turkey kielbasa in the food processor until it looked like well-crumbled sausage. I threw that into the pan I'd used for the breadcrumbs and cooked until it was browned a bit. Then I chopped up some spinach (in the food processor!), and then mixed the crumbs, kielbasa bits, and spinach together with some parmesan, some garlic salt, and Italian herbs. I stuffed some mushroom caps with that mixture, drizzled them with olive oil, and put them in the oven for about 15 or 20 minutes at 350 degrees. I wouldn't change a thing about these. They were really really good, pretty cheap to make, and quick, too.

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: I followed this recipe, but substituted maybe half a teaspoon of dried basil for the fresh basil (some foul critter has been stealing mine every time a new leaf grows); used low fat milk and a tablespoon of butter instead of half-and-half because that was what we had, and omitted the rest of the butter from the recipe; added a little bit of cornstarch to thicken it up; and I only had mozzarella and parmesan, no Romano, so I used a combination of those two. Josh and I both thought the sauce was worth making again, but we also both thought it could also probably be adjusted slightly to make it really stellar (I thought maybe roast one tomato with the peppers; Josh suggested adding a little cinnamon for more depth), but it was really good even as it was. We served it over F&E's chicken and mozzarella ravioli and their spinach and ricotta ravioli.

Good dinner. Goodnight.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Overtaxed. (Non-monetarily)

I've been ramming myself into the brick wall of exhaustion all week, and it finally knocked me over this afternoon. All week I've been working all day in order to come home and work some more until midnight. Today I had to get up early to run our program's booth at a conference (By myself. Being yelled at and questioned by a crazy person that security had to come and remove from my booth.), and by the time I got back home, I could no longer string together a coherent sentence.

For me, exhaustion normally manifests itself in one of two ways: I either (1) sit down on the couch and become mentally and emotionally vacant for about a day as I watch television episode after television episode on Netflix, or (2) I experience a temporary existential crisis; my emotions reach maximum volatility (weeping for no explainable reason, irrational anger, snapping at my husband: "No! C.S. Lewis did NOT say that, it was Walter Miller in Canticle for Leibowitz... Stop being so gnostic!"); and usually I end up wandering aimlessly from room to room, sitting somewhere extremely uncomfortable without being able to muster the energy or will to get up (or feed myself, so my blood sugar plummets and I feel even worse), and eventually I lie face down on the floor shouting "I'm not real!!!! I'm not a person anymore!!!" at my husband. Because I no longer feel capable of being human. I can't think, can't act rationally, and I feel overwhelmingly guilty for it.

Today, it was all of the above.

I am sooooo ready to be done with this academic year.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear Students,

This is why I won't give you an A.

Every semester. EVERY SEMESTER I have to deal with students and parents who are disappointed, frustrated, or occasionally enraged because I am not giving them/their students higher grades on their assignments. Every year, parents tell me that last year's tutor would have given their student an A, that my expectations are unreasonable, and that I'm ruining their students' lives by dragging their GPAs down. And, to add a whole new angle to the article, because I work in Christian education, parents sometimes also imply that my commitment to quality work is unchristian. "Jesus only requires our best work, and my student is doing her best," they tell me, or "Is there no room for mercy in your philosophy of education? Why must you insist on a standard of perfection?"

I try to tell them that good work (and nothing else) is good work, that an A is not the only good grade, and that when their students actually earn an A, they know that they will deserve it. Sometimes they trust me, struggle, learn, and grow. Sometimes they drop my classes after they accuse me of being heartless, tell me I'm too young and don't know what I'm doing, verbally abuse me (sometimes in person, sometimes over email), and complain about me to my boss.

Hearing someone else verbalize this struggle is a balm to some of the still-raw wounds I'm carrying from this year. I've got two weeks left until summer.

Lord, have mercy.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

E-books and Gnosticism

I've read exactly one full book on Josh's Kindle. I really enjoyed the book, but felt strangely disoriented  as I read. So disoriented, in fact, that I cannot even recall the name of the book or the author. If I wanted to recommend it to someone, I couldn't, and this makes me feel uncomfortable.

The folks at the Circe Institute Blog have posted an argument by Warren Farha about how e-books are essentially gnostic technology and lead us to a sort of Docetic relationship with books. He makes an interesting case. I disagree with his fear of the dreaded Google-god, and ultimately I think that Google Books is a fantastic tool for research. I don't think you should read every book electronically, but being able to search online for books and use Google Books as a starting point for your research, to get a sense of the current scholarly conversation, or to read for mere facts or information is, I think, a good thing.

I've been reading Adler and Van Doren's How to Read a Book for the Logic class that I'm teaching, and they argue that there are multiple ways to read a book. I think it might be acceptable to read digital books for information, but I think I want to say right now that it is better to read physical books for understanding. I'm not sure if someone who has read The Odyssey digitally has read the same Odyssey that has been read for thousands of years. Adler and Van Doren warn about the "bookful blockheads," those who have read widely but poorly, and I think that this is ultimately what Farha's main concern with Google Books boils down to: the possibility that as we abandon physical media for digital, students who have not yet learned to read well may be hindered by the technological crutch. It might produce intellectual laziness. I think it's the same kind of laziness that comes from the availability of calculators. People I know have overheard local college students--college students!--who were unable to come up with the product of six and seven on their own. They had to pull out their iPhones to check. I don't want to sound like a fuddy-duddy. My father is an engineer, and I know how much time a calculator can save. I think it's an incredibly helpful tool, but I also think that it's sometimes misused. I think e-books might be like that, too.

I think Farha, after dismissing the sentimentality of the aesthetic objection to e-books, gets a little sentimental himself in his defense of matter. I don't think that the aesthetic arguments (or the sentiments!) should be rejected so easily, but I do think that Farha may be right in some ways. The immateriality of an e-book explains rather adequately to me the disorientation that I experienced when I read That Book I Can't Remember. When I read a book by Lewis, beyond the surface-level information I glean, I usually feel a fondness for Lewis, and I store away my experience of reading (and my understanding of how my thoughts and sentiments have been affected by reading) in a little library card catalogue drawer in my mind where all my Lewis thoughts and sentiments go to be synthesized and integrated. Reading That Book, I have no sense of the author. I had thoughts and sentiments while reading, but I have nowhere to file them. They contribute to no greater picture. They don't help me understand the author better because I don't have the foggiest idea who the author is. I can't even tell you if the author was male or female. If I wanted to read more, or heck, even read the same book again, I'd have to browse each title on the Kindle until I found one that jogged my memory. The relationship between the reader and the author was nearly sundered when I read That Book.

Maybe it's because I'm a visual person. Maybe other people don't experience disorientation while reading e-books. I don't think there have been enough studies on the effect of reading digital media yet, but it would be interesting to see if my experience of disorientation is isolated or shared. 



Friday, April 6, 2012

ThinkRight 2012

So, um, Josh and I (and some of our friends) are kind of in this commercial for a new iPhone and Android app that launched this week. Some of our friends made it, and they were on Hugh Hewitt's show on KRLA this week promoting it. Within two days, it became one of the top ten reference apps in the iTunes store, even beating out the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app. Check out the website, and maybe think about buying it, but at least watch the promo video!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


We signed up to receive a CSA basket every other week, and have been working through the contents of our first one over the last week and a half. We get our second one tomorrow, so I wanted to try to use up some of the stuff we still had (potatoes, chard, turnips, Meyer lemons). I was able to make everything with stuff we had in the fridge, no grocery shopping involved, so that's a win in my book.

Tonight's menu:

German Himmel und Erde (mashed potatoes, turnips, and apples) with kielbasa
Sauteed chard with parmesan

Turned out pretty well, actually. I sliced the kielbasa and mixed it in with the potato/turnip/apple mixture. The saltiness balanced out the sweetness really well. The chard got a thumbs-up from Josh, so I proclaim it a success.

: )


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Earth Feet, Loam Feet

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. From GRIN (Great Images In NASA).

Sometimes I experience a deep, sudden, terribly urgent and almost panicky desire to be an astronaut. I feel like if I don't walk on another planet before I die, my life might be wasted. On all kinds of other levels, I know that my life won't actually be wasted if I never do this, but it still makes me feel anxious sometimes. Looking at this picture induces that panic. I blame science fiction.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

[Un]happy weekend!

Thursday night: Work work work! Grade grade grade! Must finish all the grading!

Friday, 12:45 am: Whew! All the grades are in! Rejoice! Now for some much needed sleep. I wish my back didn't hurt so much right now.

Friday, 7:00 am: BLEEEEEEEEEH WHY DO I FEEL SO AWFUL. Did someone feed me thumbtacks while I was sleeping? Because my throat really hurts...Oh well, I guess I'd better go to my five-hour long meeting.

Friday, 3:00 pm: When did it get so dizzy and hot in here? I'm going to lay on the couch for a while. It's a good thing I took the rest of the afternoon off... And apparently I have a fever. Yay.

Saturday morning (eleven hours of feverish sleep later): Huh. More fever. Also, I need a water trough, stat. I wonder if I have Strep throat...Two of my students had Strep throat a week or two ago... [Web MD search tells me I probably have the plague or terminal cancer.] Hm, well I don't have white spots, so it's probably not Strep throat.

Sunday morning: Huh. White spots. Medicenter time!

Sunday, two and a half hours of waiting room time later: Yay! Strep throat! Boo, not allowed to go back to work until Wednesday. Which means I have to find a sub for Tuesday. Anyone want to go to Temecula???  :(

Dear students: in the future, feel free to give me your essays, but please keep your infectious diseases to yourself. Sincerely, Mrs. B


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Morning thoughts:

Sneezing explosively with oatmeal in your mouth is the worst. Almost as bad: cleaning sneezed oatmeal off of your laptop.

Monday, January 23, 2012


I finished my first Latvian Wedding Sock this weekend. But I can't post pictures because now I need to grade a million papers before Thursday. Ugh. I really hate the end of the semester. Even if I've been relatively responsible with my grading all semester, I still have at least 10-12 solid hours of grading ahead of me that I couldn't have prevented and that I can't pass off to my grader. Darned term papers... And I still have to go to work like normal. So that's like 8 hours in the office to come home to several hours of grading. Whine whine whine.

Okay, I'm done. See you in a week.


P. S. Also, today I discovered that chestnuts are disappointingly icky. This week is not starting off well.

Friday, January 6, 2012



A poem can be a broken little thing:
An injured insect buzzing with one wing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I have a feeling that I will finish the first sock and not attempt the second one for, oh, say at least a year or so...