Failure

For much of my life I was pretty sure I was faking “it” — whatever “it” was.

Piano?  I would win competitions big and small, teachers (and judges) would ask me how many hours I practiced, and I would feel obligated to lie and  give them many more hours than I was putting in.  Suppose I really had practiced that many hours?  I could improve the mechanics, but I knew I would never have the true talent.

In high school I met HS Boyfriend and his best friend; they were two of the smartest people I have ever known, and I had them convinced that intellectually I was in their league.  I was not.  This is not self-deprecation, it is the truth.  I was really good at memorizing: if I could read it, I can remember it.  My ability to memorize pretty much anything got me through college and medical school — if nothing else, I had the mechanics of learning down.

Tonight, The Teenager mentioned the possibility of going to see the movie Lincoln — and the conversation deteriorated from there:

“Who was Lincoln?”

“A president.”

“Which century?”

After a long pause . . . .

“1500s.”

Wow.

The Teenager is in 10th grade, she has read about the Civil War in history texts as well as in fictional works.  We have discussed slavery, Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., and yes, Abraham Lincoln — we have done our best to supplement the meager history offerings of the public school system, and clearly someone has failed.  I would love to blame “the school,” but that would be wrong.  The Teenager has failed, and it is not the school’s fault, nor is it our fault.  It is her fault, and her failure.

Which brings me to “faking it.”  She does her homework religiously, she attends classes, she takes her tests.  She is a straight A student.  I don’t know if she really believes she is a good student — I suppose it depends on what she believes are her goals and responsibilities, and how she defines “education.”  My daughter has an academic facade that can bear no scrutiny.

When is a child’s failure no longer the parent’s failure?  DH thinks he needs to keep plowing ahead until she is eighteen.  I do believe The Teenager will be reading parts of Battle Cry of Freedom over Christmas break.  Bless his heart, he was always an optimist.

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The Girls

This week we are critter-sitting:

And this fur ball:

Yes, she really does like being upside down . . .

And of course,

. . .  who doesn’t understand why anyone would want to be upside down!

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CSA Share Week 24:  kohlrabi, leeks, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, turnip, parsnip, parsley (gave away), napa cabbage (gave away), collard greens, butternut squash, mini spaghetti squash, eggs

Recipes:  Greek stuffing, roasted vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnip, parsnip, kohlrabi, butternut squash, acorn squash), Three Sisters Stew (butternut squash, onion, leeks, kidney beans, corn, carrots, kale)

Red Chair Listens: Masquerade

I used to be able to read and knit, but I have become much less capable of multitasking as I age.  DH says that’s because humans were never meant to multitask, and he can point to many studies that show that people who claim to be good at multitasking are in fact deluding themselves.  Anyway.  These days I listen and knit:  BBC Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra, Librivox (very uneven quality), audiobooks.  The more interesting the book, the less I knit; the multitasking rule apparently still applies.

Our local library has a decent selection of downloadable audio books  and sometimes I take a chance on someone I have never read.  The latest listen was Walter Satterthwait’s Masquerade, set in 1920s Paris and starring Pinkerton detectives Phil Beaumont and Jane Turner.  As a rule I don’t go in much for historical fiction, mainly because I tend to be fairly stringent about historical truth, so the whole idea of “historical fiction” seems an oxymoron.  But once in a while, I get sucked in when a writer does his research and knows how to write.  Masquerade was a fun romp until it started getting bogged down in its own wittiness — which fortunately did not happen until about 3/4 of the way through.  I don’t know if my impatience was because of the actual writing or because of the narration; I suspect it was both.  The name dropping (Hemingway!  Gertrude Stein!  Scott and Zelda! ), the caricatures, the knowing references — they became just a little too twee, spun on just a little too long.  So much cleverness, then deflation, and an ending that left me thinking, “Really?  Why bother?”

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CSA Share Week 23:  collard greens, kale, broccoli, onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, acorn squash, butternut squash, leeks, eggs

Recipes:  Three Sisters soup (Hopi black beans, Mexican red beans, onion, leeks, butternut squash, collard greens, corn), roasted vegetables

CSA Share Week 22: white cauliflower, purple cauliflower, collard greens, broccoli, onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, turnips, butternut squash, green onions (gave away), flat leaf parsley, eggs

Recipes: steamed broccoli, roasted vegetables, cauliflower marranca (from Mollie Katzen: Moosewood Cookbook)

Being a Collector

From the latest Santa Fe trip:

Little Dancer

Oil painting from Raymond Nordwalll, whose art gallery I have always managed to miss because it is tucked in a little alley off Canyon Road.  I went back four times to look at her . . . .

She is just a little girl, dressed up for her first ceremonial dance, and she looks at us and says: “I’m smiling and is this all right?”  It is the perfect expression, the one that little kids have when they are about 4 or 5 and they are asked to smile for the camera and instead of smiling, they do that fixed show-all-the-teeth thing that is half-way between a grimace and a smile.

I hope Raymond Nordwall continues to paint children — he is a natural at it.  One of the reasons I love this painting is because she evokes history and culture and spirituality without insistence.  She is at the beginning, when all things are possible.

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CSA Share Week 21:  garlic, spinach, collard greens, leeks (gave away), green onions (gave away), flat-leaf parsley, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, eggs

Recipes:  roasted root vegetables, spinach with pesto capellini, rice and beans with collard greens