Friday, December 24, 2004


I don't know why I haven't had any time this week, there haven't been any of the extra pressures of last year. But it has been hard to get ready for Christmas. We have a peaceful Christmas at home then go to Vieques with my family, back Jan. 4.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

catching my breath

Grades are in, the box of presents is mailed. Too much to do still, but at least Christmas doesn't come until the end of the week. I feel like I'm finally beginning to make a little progress on the stuff that got backed up during such an overwhelming semester. I got in a 32 mile bike ride yesterday and a one mile run this morning. It was supposed to rain and snow today; it is getting very cold tonight so I guess the cold front went past without any precipitation.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


It was 47 F when I went out riding this morning, with a chilly wind. I was mostly warm enough, but my eyes tearing from the cold wind somewhat spoils the fun. My toes were cold; I guess I need to break down and buy a pair of bike shoes large enough to wear two pairs of socks.

Then I went to help out at a babysitting fundraiser at my son's school. Not my thing.

I still have a set of exams to grade.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

sunny day

I took most of the morning off and got out on my bike. I didn't feel sore, but I didn't feel particularly energetic. But I felt happy.

I enjoyed reading one set of exams, for an interdisciplinary honors course on computers and society. I gave students the option of writing a science fiction story for their takehome final, and most of them took me up on it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Here's a photo, finally:

Sunday, December 05, 2004


We left home late, as usual, and got to the campground around 9:30 pm Friday night. Our hut was supposed to have our name on it, but we didn't see any names on any of them so we just took an empty one. We did find that there was a bathroom building with electricity (labeled adults only) as well as the facilities provided for boy scouts: showers and porta-pot style toilets with partial walls around them. We climbed into our sleeping bags feeling pretty cold but warmed up quickly. I thought one of my kids was snoring softly but when I got up during the night I realized it was a man in a tent near our hut.

I woke up early and needed that time to shower and get organized and get breakfast (oatmeal and a hard boiled egg and sausage). I rode out of the campground about 7 and met my riding partner at the nearby school where the century rides started. We were early and it was hard to figure out where we were supposed to check in, but we did succeed in getting an early start, about 7:45. The mass start must have been late, as we were 10 miles or so down the road before the pack passed us.

The day started out cloudy and chilly, but not too cold and only a little wind. We took turns leading and in such flat conditions kept up a faster pace than I ride at home: we averaged something like 14.5 mph for the first 25 miles and then 14.2 for the first 50 miles. For the first 30 or so miles we were close enough to the front pack that there were policemen directing traffic at major intersections. Pleasant steady riding. I felt riding behind someone made a significant difference in the effort required, so a couple of times when I was leading I speeded up a little to fall in behind someone who passed us.

I didn't feel any pain until about 60 miles. After that I was intermittently aware my legs were sore. After we rode the only hill, over and back on a big bridge, my riding partner had problems with leg cramps, but we kept going. That part of the route was particularly pretty farm country.

I started out with orange juice in my water bottle but then switched to water. I tested my blood glucose at about 68 miles and was surprised it was 85, as it usually goes up with the stress of extended exercise. I had been eating something at each rest stop but my thought was to take in less carbs as the ride went on. When I saw that 85 I ate a half a banana and a rice krispies treat and drank some gatorade--I figured I must be pretty close to out of fuel.

When we got to the rest stop at 84 miles they had just closed it down, and we realized we weren't going to get to the last one, which served shrimp and grits, before it was scheduled to close at 3:30. At 90 miles I decided I was going to peel off when we passed the camp, not ride out and back the last 5 miles to a closed rest stop. But then a sag car told us they were saving shrimp and grits for us, and when we got to the camp I decided to keep going. I was hurting pretty much by that point, but it was mostly sore muscles, I wasn't feeling completely out of energy. The shrimp and grits were really good.

I rode away from the rest stop before my riding partner as I realized I was cutting the time very close and he needed to try to make a phone call. I actually had recovered a little and felt pretty good riding the last 3 miles back to the camp entrance, for about 101 miles total. But then I felt desperate trying to hurry down the sand driveway of the camp. I tried to ride when the sand wasn't too soft and eventually I did fall over and burst into tears. I got to our campsite about 4:30 and had time only to change my clothes, not even to take a shower, before we walked the one mile sand driveway back out to the camp entrance to catch our bus to dinner. The dinner was well organized and good and the emotional collapse I was feeling from the physical exertion faded. I didn't see much of the boat parade but did see the fireworks.

It isn't my first century; when I was in college I rode a few 100 mile days when touring and rode in one organized century that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first 100 mile bicycle race in the United States. But it is the first time I have ridden over 100 miles in almost 30 years. I bought my new bike in July (I rode my husband's bike for a week or two before that), so I have been back riding about 6 months.

Friday, December 03, 2004

the last day of classes

Done. I'm tired. Glad of the break of going back to Charleston for the bike rally. Wish us luck with roughing it in an unheated hut at a boyscout camp:

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Good news!

The nuclear stress test was normal! No more tests needed.

nuclear stress test

It didn't start out well--they had to stick me 5 (yes five) times before successfully getting an IV started. I then waited quite a long while, but it was my cardiologist himself who finally showed up. He was clearly thinking as he watched my heart rate go up, and he let me go until I said I was getting close to my limit. I reached a heart rate of 201, comfortably. The abnormality in the EKG didn't show up this time--he had the previous results in front of him and apparently this time it was just different.

They put the radioactive material in me while I was on the treadmill and then I got to go eat before going under the camera. This time lying absolutely still for 20 minutes was harder--my nose itched. The doctor said he will call with the results tonight.

Monday, November 29, 2004

bicycling on the flat

We had a nice Thanksgiving at St. Christopher on Seabrook Island. I was serious about biking while we were there to prepare for Festavelo. It felt very strange to be riding on the flat (and a bit boring). No coasting down hills! I think the uniformity of the motion could cause more muscle fatigue over 100 miles.

I had the resting nuclear test today, and it seemed peaceful. But I didn't learn a thing. Tomorrow is the stress test.

Monday, November 22, 2004

settling down

I had a smooth trip back from Texas yesterday. I didn't push myself at the conference and that worked fairly well. I heard some interesting papers and had some useful conversations. I also walked under the bat bridge, though the bats had already migrated south. Actually, the main thing that was noticeable was the smell, even walking over the bridge.

We are going to St. Christopher for Thanksgiving, which should be some stress relief. My nuclear stress test is scheduled for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. I'm still hoping to ride a century the following weekend if everything checks out ok.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


The visiting speaker left early this morning--I spent significant parts of the last three days taking him around. I'm going out of town Thursday for a professional conference. The nuclear stress test probably won't be until the week after Thanksgiving. I should be glad it didn't work out to schedule it for tomorrow, since I don't know how I would have gotten everything done to be ready to go away, but I just want this mess over with.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

better idea

I'm trying to get the nuclear stress test scheduled--it could end up as soon as tomorrow. The cardiologist did say that it is not as accurate as a catheterization--85% instead of 99%. I think he is more interested in structural information and I am more interested in functional information. I did hear that everything was normal on the echocardiogram, which reinforces my hope that this is going to turn out to be nothing.

I realized deep down this is reinforcing my feelings of being contaminated. My current approach to that is that I want to learn to harness the darkness inside me, not try to tear it out.

Monday, November 15, 2004


I did get a suggestion from another doctor (at church) and wrote my cardiologist that I wanted a nuclear stress test instead of a catheterization. He said "we can do that."

The cardiologist called me on my cell phone as I was on the way to a lecture by a visiting speaker. After the lecture I had to hurry to Greenville to pick my husband's aunt up at the hospital, where she was ready to come home after recovering from surgery. Home after 9 pm.

Friday, November 12, 2004

whether to get a second opinion

Someone told me my cardiologist is too quick to do heart catheterizations (to a 5-year-old with a hammer everything looks like a nail). From a cost-effective medicine point of view it may well be unnecessary. But given that I enjoy pushing myself on my bicycle, I think I want the definitive answer to the question of whether there is any blockage or whether this is just a false positive.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

interesting study

Ok, I found a study (Mora (2003) JAMA 290:1600-7) that says that the finding on my EKG (depressed ST segment with exercise) is not associated with increased mortality among women on a 20 year followup study. The factors that correlated with increased mortality were low exercise capacity, low heart rate recovery (HRR), and not achieving target heart rate--all of them things where I am above average.


I indeed flunked the stress test. If I'm lucky it may be a type of false positive that is fairly common in women. But if I'm unlucky it is a blockage--I have to have a heart catheterization to check it out. Currently scheduled for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, unless I want to cancel a trip in order to do it sooner.

stress test

My heart rate goes high when I exercise, and my doctor wanted me to have that checked out. I had the stress test this morning, first having the fight I expected with the doctor conducting the test, who didn’t want to let me go above the normal maximum heart rate for my age. Luckily I had anticipated the problem and could say that my cardiologist had promised to tell the doctor conducting the test to let me keep going. I did get within 5 points of the highest heart rate I have observed, but I was nowhere near pushing myself to the maximum—I was puffing but could still talk. The doctor conducting the test wouldn’t let me go any farther because there was an abnormality on the EKG. I got a call from my cardiologist’s office that he wants to see me today, and I also have an echocardiogram scheduled.

Now I’m scared. I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds in the last year since I was diagnosed with diabetes, and I’ve been getting into serious bicycling for 4 months. I feel great, and I’m having fun. Exercise clearly has an unusually strong effect on me—my reaction is if it were a drug it would be illegal. The physical changes have also been very important to me in reinforcing my healing journey. I’m so afraid of being told to stop. I could push myself a little less hard, but slowing down very much would take the fun out of it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


I really felt complimented today when someone said to me "you must have an amazing tolerance for stress."

Saturday, November 06, 2004

cold weather bicycling

It was 46 degrees when I set out this morning, and I went back to the house twice for additional clothing. I cut off tubes from an old sock to make wrist warmers. I ended up fairly comfortable, but feeling it was harder to move because I was bundled up. I got in a good three hour ride.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

depressing election

I had some hope for our Democratic candidate for senate, but she lost by 10 points. What was even more depressing was that president and senate were the only races in which there was a choice--for congress in my district and for all state offices that were up for election, Republicans were running unopposed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

fall break

I had Monday and Tuesday off and I guess I let down some, but now I feel desperate that I haven't done more to catch up. I did get a couple of good long bike rides, and signed up to do a 100 mile event the first weekend in December (near Charleston, where it is flat!). I felt last week that finally I had gotten through the therapist transition, but clearly it is going to take me a while to work through the feelings.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


I realize that ending with the therapist I have seen for two and a half years brings me indirectly into facing that my mother won't change, won't meet my needs. I have acted on that basis for years, but this experience takes it to a deeper level.

Friday, October 29, 2004


and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5.5)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

new life

This is one of my photographs from the photography retreat at the convent last weekend. My daughter had a wonderful time and I got into it too.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

the wall inside me turned into a horse and I rode off

This is an old picture that feels like an important symbol right now. I only just realized that I did it almost exactly two years ago.

I wrote a post yesterday that Blogger seems to have lost. I'm just terribly busy with work and having been away two weekends in a row. My last appointment with my old therapist is Thursday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

boarding schools

Christ School does a good job of the elite boarding school look. It was a strange experience for me, as I went to boarding school in 10th grade and for the first two months of 11th grade and it wasn't a success for me. But my son has much better skills at being a part of a group than I did, and he isn't afraid of being a beginner. His teacher, who just moved to Montessori from teaching in the public schools, agrees that public school wouldn't work for him. And we have so few choices around here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

moving forward

Things went well with the new therapist today. I am amazed by how I have learned to have the confidence to say: "this is what works for me." That grew out of my experience of being diagnosed with diabetes and taking the approach "my body, my science experiment."

This afternoon I take my son to visit Christ School.

Friday, October 08, 2004


Someone I know said it helps her when she gets stressed to remember that she is dependent on God every minute of every day. I'm trying to feel out how to feel reassured by that.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Hosting a speaker yesterday took a lot of energy, though I enjoyed her very much. I did get home a few minutes after six and take a bike ride right away. I have changed, that I made that a higher priority than eating supper. It gets dark just before 7:30 now, but I won't have that option for long. It is going to be an interesting month, dealing with change in my support system when I am so busy.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


I am going to be changing therapists (though it really hasn't sunk in yet). It is for me an experience of saying "I deserve to have my needs met," which feels like an amazing and radical thing to do. The person with whom I have been working deserves a lot of credit for my being able to get to that point.

Monday, October 04, 2004


I was pleased to see someone who did the 100 mile ride in under 5 hours write about the killer hill:
I feel sorry for anybody doing that ride who didn't know about Maw Bridge in advance. It's pretty shocking to see that wall appear in front of you. Even some of the guys in the front racer pack gasped at the sight of it.
I went back Sunday and rode it again because I had a new heart rate monitor and wanted to see how high my heart rate would go on a really serious hill. I hit 195, stayed above 190 for at least a minute. I guess I get to be a member of the Hummingbird Heart Club (by the simplest method my predicted maximum heart rate would be 171).

Saturday, October 02, 2004

met my goal

It wasn't long after I got back to bike riding in June that I set as a goal riding 100 km in an organized ride called Ride for the Raptors. Training for a particular goal is actually something I had never done before, but I took it fairly seriously because I didn't really know how my body would react. Two weeks ago I rode 7 hours testing my blood sugar every half hour, and found I didn't have problems with going too low or too high.

Today was the big day. I was a bit disorganized--had to drive 10 minutes home again because I got there and realized I had forgotten my water bottle. I started the route a few minutes after the mass start. In the first 5 miles I passed several people, which was encouraging. It was a little misty and while riding through some open farmland I couldn't figure out what I was seeing way ahead of me on the road. It looked like two people dancing. It turned out to be two roller-bladers, who were doing the 25 mile route. I had trouble settling down at first--it was a distraction to be in the new situation of an organized ride. There were about 250 riders, it wasn't a huge ride, and after a while I saw very few people.

After the first rest stop at 14 miles I settled down and started feeling tempted to do the 100 miles instead of 61. I decided I had better not since I hadn't gotten an early start and my husband would worry about me if I got home so much later than I had said I would.

I knew the biggest hill was at about 30 miles. I had made it up twice before, but after 10 miles of riding, not after 30 miles. Actually, if anything it was a little easier this time, or seemed that way because I almost caught up with a young man on a mountain bike. After the hill the route went through the town of Six Mile and I stopped and bought a hamburger. It had taken me just under 3 hours to do 35 miles, which was a little better than I expected. I wasn't at all pushing myself to go fast.

At 40 miles the 100 mile route rejoined the 61 mile route, and a couple of groups riding in formation passed me. I didn't see the person from various newsgroups who I said I would look for. There is a pretty good series of hills around 50 miles and I did them quite comfortably. It was getting hot (the high today was 85) and so sometimes I was grateful for the wind but there was one section of slogging into a headwind. I filled up my water bottle at the rest stop at 40 miles but it was empy by the time I got to the rest stop at 53.5 miles. I wasn't dragging when I got to the last 10 miles, I actually rode faster the last mile or two because I saw if I pushed a little I could complete the 61.3 mile route in 5 1/2 hours.

I'm pleased with that--if I take out the 15 minutes for the lunch stop I averaged 11.7 miles an hour. Still pretty slow, but I had had been a little discouraged when I first started riding further that I didn't seem to be averaging much faster than 10 miles an hour.

My husband and kids set out to ride the 25 mile route, knowing they weren't going to make it all the way. They made it about 8 miles, which is as far as we had gotten when practicing, and they said they would have gone a little further if the person who was driving the sag wagon hadn't wanted to finish up. They had a good time and want to get ready to go further in the next local organized ride in the spring.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

not better

The issue was the things that he isn't comfortable with my doing. Some are boundary issues, some are his issues. I said if I didn't try out things that make me uncomfortable I would have a very narrow life. He said he does so in his life, but not in his work (in therapy). I said that is a lousy role model and he said don't take what he does as a role model.

But that is how it works. And it has to be real.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Gave back tests today in one class and gave a test in another class. I haven't even printed those out to grade. Got the last Science, Technology, and Society speaker pinned down, though the next question is a committee to evaluate STS courses, which turns out to be complicated. I did get in an hour's bike ride before I went to a 2 hour plus college curriculum committee meeting. We took a quick trip to WalMart because my daughter has finished crocheting a scarf and wanted more wool desperately. Tomorrow is a little less pressed, except there is a lecture I really want to hear on Womanist God Talk. I hate to think how long Friday's univeristy curriculum committee meeting will take, but I will have to leave early. Put that all together and I don't have time to worry much about the question of whether to change therapists. This weekend's excitement is going to be a 66 mile bike ride. Then next week I will be able to get more information to make the decision.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


A box of memorabilia of my first father (who died when I was not quite three) arrived yesterday completely out of the blue from a cousin I haven't talked to in years. It included this high school graduation picture.

Friday, September 24, 2004

There's a famous story:

A Buddhist teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students,

"Why are you riding your bicycles?"

The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!"

The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do."

The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path."

The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world."

The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo."

The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel."

The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings."

The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming."

The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle."

The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

slapped on the wrist

We had a wonderful speaker on Science, Technology, and Society in Monday and Tuesday. Due to a miscommunication with the committee member who contacted him and to his particular situation, I offered him an honorarium higher than the other speakers. It turned out that what I offered him is high enough that it was supposed to either go out to competitive bidding or be justified as a sole source procurement at least 28 days before he arrived (we only made the arrangement with him a month ago). So today I had to write a letter apologizing for my mistake and saying that I now understand proper procedures. The instructions ask for what will be done to discipline the person making the mistake, but I simply said I took responsibility for my mistake and would make sure it wouldn't happen again. It brings up a lot of childhood feelings for me. Yes, I know I'm bad, I won't do it again.

Friday, September 17, 2004

frustrated again

It didn't work for long. But I won't write about that. Tomorrow (Saturday) my son needs to be at school (1/2 hour away) at 5:30 am to go to a Lego robot workshop. I'm hoping against hope the rain will have stopped so I can at least go home and get an early start on a long bike ride. I need more experimentation with what to eat when I ride long distances. Then Monday my daughter needs to be at school at 5:30 to go on a four-day field trip to the coast (if it isn't cancelled because of the next hurricane). I'm very much a morning person, but that is pushing it, particularly since I've been wound up and not getting to bed early enough.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

theory of healing

The person I work with and I are in agreement that the key to healing childhood pain is to bring it to the surface and experience it as fully as possible. To me the next step is to change the past, to do something to make it come out differently so it is not just retraumatizing (at the very least, that in re-experiencing it I am not alone with it as I was then). He said he believes in that too, but my way of doing so is new to him. I do it through action, not words, either experiencing being comforted and taken care of or some symbolic ritual (like handing a marble back and forth).

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


A better day today. The committee chair who was unhappy yesterday with the curriculum I had struggled to put together was happy today with the revisions I made.

On my personal journey, I think I've finally worked through a situation in which I was feeling unsafe and unsupported. Once some of the issues were resolved, I picked up a marble as a symbol. The other person said the marble was a symbol of what we are handing back and forth, so I handed it to him. It took him a while to figure out that I wanted to actually hand the marble back and forth. But I think he is beginning to really see the advantages of using that kind of symbol and wants to learn.

Monday, September 13, 2004

bike humor

I got a laugh today from a captioning contest for this photo:

Suggestions from rec.bicycles.misc:
"The peloton outfitted with the latest in GPS technology, hits a magnetic anomaly on Fillmore St"
"Helping a fellow biker, the breakaway pack searches for a lost contact lens"
"The BIG ONE drops California into the sea, as the remainder of the men's field weaves its way up Fillmore Street for the last time."
"Where did you say the finish line was? I know it's around here somewhere..."
"The Shriners trade up. Replace headgear too."
"Timothy Leary plays one last prank."

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

the doctors don't know

The community that supports my approach to diabetes is at the newsgroup One of the members of that community has being doing her own research in the medical literature and has compiled quite an impressive collection of information on innovative approaches to diabetes. For example, doctors will say that type 2 diabetes inevitably progresses. But no research has been done following diabetics who actually keep their blood glucose in the normal range--what is defined as tight control in the studies is significantly above the normal range.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I said Friday I need to learn to be more flexible

Yesterday I was going out for an early morning 35 mile ride (which still takes me over 3 hours). I had 1/2 cut of granola with a peach on top and a little heavy cream--a high carbohydrate treat. As I was getting ready to leave I pumped up my tires and the rear tube failed at the valve. I didn't have a spare tube and I knew my bike shop was going to be closed that day (small town with big-time college football, many stores close on football Saturdays). I wanted so much to go out riding that I decided to take the tube out of my husband's front tire and put it in my tire. I actually checked both sides for pinching before I inflated it, but somehow I did end up with it pinched and it blew when I tried to put the wheel back onto the bike. I burst into tears. I was too upset to go for a long walk to work off that granola and my blood sugar did go high and then crash--I felt hungry most of the morning. I drove to a bike shop 20 miles away and bought three new tubes and I got in a ride in the late afternoon. But I guess I have to be more careful about high carb breakfasts and eat my extra carbs when I am safely out on my ride.

Actually there was another funny story yesterday when I finally did go out riding. This isn't a very bicycle-oriented area, and they have put in lots of traffic lights that only turn when a car is waiting. Some of them have pedestrian buttons and some have no way for a bicycle to cause the light to turn. When I went out for my ride the football game was about to start and the traffic had pretty much cleared but there were two policemen still directing traffic where my neighborhood road meets the main street of town. I said to one of them that my problems is I don't trigger the demand light, and he started telling me what he described as one of the funniest things he had seen--a student jumping off his moped late at night to hit the pedestrian button to get a green light. Meanwhile the other cop is holding up cars and motioning to me to cross the street. So I didn't point out that there is something wrong with a system that forces us into running red lights.

Friday, September 03, 2004


Some enterprising person did a scientific experiment where they divided diabetic volunteers up into two groups. One group hiked uphill 3-5 times a week for a vertical rise of 600 meters. The other group hiked downhill the same distance. Both groups took a cable car the other way. A glucose tolerance test after two months showed a 9% average improvement for the group that hiked uphill and a 25% average improvement for the group that hiked downhill. The conclusion is that eccentric muscle work is more helpful for diabetes than concentric muscle work. I think it is an amusing scientific experiment.

trusting God

Sometimes I'm able to take the attitude that if what to do isn't clear, just wait for the answer to become clear. I'm naturally a fairly action-oriented person; I'm sure there are other people who need to push themselves in the opposite direction. But for me it was helpful to hear someone say yesterday that she struggles to let go of trying to control everything and trust God. That is another way of going in the same general direction and putting the two together makes something stronger (at least for me).

Thursday, September 02, 2004

experiential learning

I'm teaching an honors seminar this fall on computers and society. I told the students that this course would be about experiencing the online world, not just studying it. At the moment we are doing history and it is harder to do, but I have them writing blogs and I had those who know how to program computers spend a class period teaching those who don't know how it works. Judging from the people who have written about it so far it seems to have been a successful exercise. I find it interesting that I am stressing the experiential in my teaching at the same time that in my own inner journey I am emphasizing I need to focus on what I can experience rather than what I can understand.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

so many

things to do. I've got late afternoon meetings and evening meetings the rest of this week, but I did get in a good bike ride of a bit more than an hour yesterday. I'm trying to shift my focus from going far to going fast, but this terrain is so hilly that I'm mostly thinking about hills. My 16 mile ride has 6 hills where I am in first gear for half a mile.

Sunday, August 29, 2004


We were talking about trusting the journey in Sunday school today. One person said he thinks of the line "I learn by going where I need to go." The poem is The Waking (1953) by Theodore Roethke.

Friday, August 27, 2004

still struggling

I found myself saying "I don't want to know alternatives." It is so hard for me to have confidence in myself and what I am doing in my inner journey, alternatives feel like criticism that my way is making it harder. I look in the outside world like I have confidence in my own opinions, but all of that doesn't feel very solid. I felt terrible about saying I don't want to know alternatives; I feel that is indefensible and doesn't match up with my own values. The person I was talking to said: "you don't have to defend it."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

science, technology, and society

There seems to be an opportunity for this program to grow, and people who are enthusiastic and just want someone to do the organizing. Do I want to do that? I tend to wait for opportunities to fall in my lap and this one seems to be doing so in a big way.

Monday, August 23, 2004


Very busy with a guest speaker here today and tomorrow.

I got my new Brooks bicycle saddle and, as I had hoped, right from the beginning it is more comfortable than the modern saddles I tried (despite the scare stories about taking 6 months to break in). I rode almost 40 miles Saturday on my old saddle. The first 4 1/2 miles were with my kids, which was stressful, but they are psyched to work their way up to do a 15 mile ride the first weekend in October (to the first rest stop on a 25 mile route). I rode about 20 miles Sunday on the new saddle and didn't come home sore.

All of that keeps me from getting too upset about the memory issue, but I really don't know how to trust myself the way I need to in order to get through this.

Friday, August 20, 2004


A person I work with says that research shows that memory is very unreliable, so his approach is there is no way of knowing what really happened, just work with the feelings. He said he had had experience of having to realize that his own memories (topic unspecified) were systematically distorted, but he wasn't in any way trying to lead me in that direction. I find his views very threatening. I don't want to claim that all memories are literally true, but if I can't believe that my memories average out to a reasonably accurate summary of at least part of my experience then how can I trust myself? And if I can't trust myself then how can I change my world view from the one I grew up with to one that works for me and my children? He says he supports me in believing myself. It isn't going to be easy for me to do so knowing how he sees the issue.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

summer is over

Classes start tomorrow. I'm desperately trying to finish a few more revisions to the Forest Service manuscript so I can send it out. I did get my syllabi done yesterday. I'm trying to figure out a new exercise routine, but it isn't going to be easy to find time on weekdays to bicycle.

I did go out for about an hour and a half in the middle of the day today. A young guy dressed up as a very serious cyclist passed me, and then when I turned onto another road he made a u-turn and turned onto the road I was on and passed me again. When I turned off that road I wondered if he was going to do it again--I was going to call out to him "You shouldn't be proud of passing me--I'm old enough to be your mother." Actually, I was pleased with myself he didn't leave me behind too quickly.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

took a dive

I was riding my bicycle today through a mill town and got chased by a dog (a hound). I was going fairly fast downhill and figured I would soon leave the dog behind. It didn't work--the dog was going faster and tried to cut in front of me and I hit it and went flying. I lay a while wondering if I could move, but it turned out I was just scraped and bruised, no muscle or joint pain. Someone came out of a house to help me but when the pain receded I decided I would ride home. My bike was a little out of adjustment but still worked.

My daughter's first question was: "Is the dog ok?"

When I took my bike to the bike shop to be readjusted there were some people hanging around and I asked what to do about dogs. One man said that he yells: "off the couch!" figuring that will get the dog's attention.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


I balanced this Sunday, but it represents balance I am going to have to try to find again tomorrow. It went into balance with a satisfying click.

Sunday, August 08, 2004


We had a lovely vacation at Kanuga. We took bikes and the kids got into biking on dirt roads, while I took some lovely rides (see for example: Apple Festival Challenge Ride, except I went around the mountain). I also swam the swim half the length of the lake (about 1/4 mile round trip) 4 times. I didn't get my final rewriting done, but I did get through the interviews I needed to check for material I wanted to put into the manuscript.

Saturday, July 31, 2004


We head off today for a week's vacation at Kanuga. I'm looking forward to hiking and am also going to take my bike. We are exciting that this year we finally got a cottage.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I picked my kids up from sleepaway camp today. The most interesting story I heard so far is that my son said the first day they were playing capture the flag and one of the boys in his cabin was much too rough with my son and my son got upset (which probably means cried). He said the other boys made the one who was rough apologize. I hope for that kind of positive culture at a church-sponsored camp, but it is a relief to hear it actually happens. Particularly for my son, who doesn't tend to take action about problems.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

bike saddle

I've ordered a new leather saddle for my bike. My first assumption was surely the new technology was better, but I've tried two modern women's saddles and both were so much worse than my old leather saddle. I may regret it when I start breaking in a new one. Going to the bike shop to discuss saddles was my mid-day break--I wrote 9 pages today. I've got all the chapters drafted now, though a good bit of material still to feed into the later ones.

Monday, July 26, 2004


I can hardly walk down stairs, I am so sore from our hike. But it was worth it to do something special.

I discovered unexpected good news today--I had written more than I remembered of chapter 6 last summer. Only one more chapter to go, and then some smoothing and integrating material from interviews.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Table Rock

We hiked the trail to the top of Table Rock today--as something special to do while the kids are at camp. It's 6.2 miles, 2000 feet vertical rise. Two pints of water each wasn't enough in 90 degree heat. A good break from my writing--I've been writing 5 to 7 pages a day on the Forest Service book. Hoping to blast through finishing it.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

new bike

I bought a bike! I didn't get to ride it further than home from the store last night, and I was so excited to ride it this morning I had trouble sleeping. But my morning ride turned out to be more shakedown than joy. I threw the chain once, I wasn't happy with my new saddle (compared to my 30 year old leather one), the cleat was loose on one of my shoes, and I didn't do my usual 16 mile route any faster than on the old bike. The bike shop is a half mile from my house so I will keep taking it in until I get things right.

Monday, July 19, 2004


I went to the convent Thursday evening to do a full two days of silent individual retreat Friday and Saturday (I came home Sunday morning).  I hope another time I can do a silent retreat where I am still and wait for God.  This one was pretty noisy in my head--I wrote 24 pages of what is in effect a journal, several pages on a short story I have been writing intermittently, and 5 pages on the subject of dependence.  I had some sore muscles in my shoulders when I got home, I think from writing so much.  God was leading me--I put something that happened to me into my short story and that inspired me to pick up one of the books I had brought with me: The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community by Harlan Lane.  That book turned out to inspire me to think in new ways about dependence.  I was struggling with some issues of being alone, and I had a powerful experience of not being alone with those issues.

Monday, July 12, 2004


My father was released from the hospital, in good physical shape but with some minor language problems. He said now when he reads the New York Times the stories seem poorly written and stupid.

I'm struggling with bad memories from after my first father died.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

family news

My second father (stepfather) had a mild stroke Friday night. He sounds fine except for some memory and word-finding difficulties and he hopes to get out of the hospital tomorrow. It feels weird because he is almost 80 and until this point had slowed down so little (still played tennis, etc.). It also brings up feelings from my first father's death.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

car shopping

I stopped by the car dealer we have bought from for 15 years to see if they had anything that met our needs for a fairly low mileage used minivan. When the salesman took me in the meet the manager, the manager said: "cyprus green Voyager, live in Clemson..." He had been the salesman who sold us our current minivan in 1998. I remember vividly too--I told him the price he was offering us was garbage (there were various rebates from Chrysler, but no discount from the dealer). He did finally get us a better price on that car, but only because my husband and I are good at doing the good cop bad cop routine, and I'm the bad cop. I suspect he isn't going to be able to come up with a good enough price this time, since the car he has that is closest to what we want has an awful lot more options than we care about.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


I have been saying I don't know who I am. I don't mean in the conventional ways--I'm happy with my husband, my kids, my job, my church, and the area I live in. And yet as I heal my inner pain I also feel I am losing an anchor. I finally found an analogy that I hope makes clear what I am feeling. Imagine a person who went deaf in early childhood and grew up in deaf culture. If that person chose surgery to restore hearing, he would suffer a terrible loss of identity. What would it mean to no longer be a deaf person?

I went looking for such a story and I found one story in progress. But it doesn't capture well the attitudes of deaf culture towards cure.

Monday, July 05, 2004


We had a dry May and most of June, and the lake was dropping fast. We worried about another drought where the shallow arm of lake behind our house would become a meadow again. Then we had a lot of rain--the place where we pick blueberries overflowed a 5 inch rain gauge in 4 days at the end of June. The lake looks a lot better. I suppose we are back now to a normal pattern of afternoon thunderstorms. But they can be frustrating. Yesterday we took a family hike and a thunderstorm came up and we got drenched.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

July 4th

This morning in church we sung America the Beautiful (719 in the Episcopal hymnal) and I was struck by the second verse:
O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America, America, God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.
I wish the people in power would take in that idea of loving mercy more than life (not to mention self-control and liberty in law).

Friday, July 02, 2004

learning new things

At the spiritual directors training residency in May, one of my fellow students spoke of his commitment to learn something new every 6 months. He has MS, and believes that making new brain pathways is particularly important for people who have MS. He had learned new things varying from New Testament Greek to Yoga--the more different, the better.

I grew up in a family where the idea of adults learning new things was not seen as anything but embarrassing. There was a certain standardized set of skills (riding a bike, swimming...) that it was very important to learn as a child. But that isn't where I want to be any more, in fact I realized part of the appeal of running to me is that I haven't done it before, while I'm not likely to do anything on a bicycle that I haven't already done when I was into cycling in college. I rode a century ride then, a recreation of the first organized century ride.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


If anyone invented the internet, it was the National Science Foundation. But the organization has ended up with a web-based system for submitting proposals (called Fastlane) that is so bad it is mindboggling. I tried over and over again to update the information they had in their system on me, and it kept telling me that email addresses with blank spaces weren't allowed. Finally our grant specialist cracked the problem, she hit delete several times before typing in my email address. Apparently the form was prefilled with several of the forbidden blank spaces. I don't know if the problem is that NSF developed its system too early and now is stuck with a system with older and less forgiving technology or the issue is that described by the astronaut who said that it wasn't encouraging to realize he was sitting on top of a rocket built by the lowest bidder. (The quote is variously attributed to Michael Collins and Alan Shepard.)

Sunday, June 27, 2004


Yesterday I biked 11 miles. Today I took a walk of over an hour, and in the middle of it I ran 1/4 mile on a track. And my hip hurts--not while running (or walking home) but afterwards. Very frustrating; I really want to run.

Secretly I'm inspired by reading the book Slow Fat Triathlete, by Jayne Williams. She started with a short kind of triathlon with a half mile swim, a 12 mile bike ride, and a 5 k run. I could easily do the bike and I've at times done that kind of swimming, but I am getting nowhere on the running.

Friday, June 25, 2004


I took my kids to the ophthalmologist and my son has become more nearsighted and my daughter now needs glasses too. I knew with two nearsighted parents there was little chance of them escaping, but I guess I hoped they would be more like my husband, whose nearsightedness is mild, than like me. It looks like they are progressing faster than that.

It is scary how much glasses cost. And it isn't just a matter of replacing the lenses with the new prescription, the frames don't last. I wore the same model frame for close to 25 years (replacing them with identical ones maybe every 6 years), until about 8 years ago, but now the frames from two years ago are no longer made so it isn't possible to get replacement parts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

home again

The picture is from the Estabrook woods in Concord.

The trip went smoothly, though it was hard to be in a place with so many years of tradition, having changed my lifestyle so much. The kids expect to go to the bakery for donuts every morning. I took advantage of the bicycles there to try out bicycling and it did work for me, though it isn't my first choice. So now I need to get one of our bikes at home fixed up.

Friday, June 11, 2004

off to Chatham

We leave tomorrow morning for 10 days in Massachusetts, mostly in Chatham. I expect to be checking email occasionally.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


One of my other attempts at balance today was in exercise. I took a short walk, which aggravated my hip towards the end, and spent 15 minutes on our exercise bike. I have a deep aversion to TV and the bookholder for the exercise bike is broken, so the problem is finding a way to enjoy it. I've got a 3 CD set of Tom Lehrer--those might do me for a little while.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


My hip that had been stiffening up after running started to hurt today. I suddenly realized I had felt something like that before when I had bursitis in my knee, and I happened to see an expert who confirmed I have bursitis in my hip. Frustrating: just when I was getting to the point that I could feel a difference from the running, now I have to take a break from it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


I set an early alarm so I could arrive before sunrise at the dike where I run in hopes of seeing the transit of Venus. I read a story about it in the Economist that made me want to see it for history's sake. I've seen a total solar eclipse, but never a transit of Venus. In fact I found the fully exposed and fully developed 4x6 film I made in high school for observing the partial phases of the solar eclipse, and got them out for the transit of Venus (though they are faded and chipped). But then when I went out the door I discovered it was raining lightly.

The rain actually stopped when I got to the dike, so I could run. I haven't figured out how to deal with eyeglasses (very nearsighted), rain, and running. When I walk in the rain I use an umbrella.

Monday, June 07, 2004

becoming an associate

I had a good retreat and was received as an associate of the Order of St. Helena. The friend with whom I first went to the convent came, which was special.

From the first time I went to the convent, one of the things that struck me was that when the retreat was over instead of everyone dispersing, the sisters were still there, still singing the same services four times a day. It is that sense of being part of an ongoing community that led me to decide to make a formal connection.

Friday, June 04, 2004

heading off again

I'm leaving later this morning for a retreat at the convent, where I am intending to become an associate. I have come to feel that the sisters are my safe family and that it is time to make a concrete commitment to that.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


My greatest fear about this summer is that I will not get the manuscript finished that I have promised to finish. I'm feeling a little better because I have had three very productive days. I've treated myself by quitting early after I have written three or four pages and doing foolish errands, like driving 50 miles to East Flat Rock to order a new pair of custom orthotics, when my old pair hasn't worn out yet.

Monday, May 31, 2004


I have walked in the early morning for years, and made the commitment to get up at 5:30 am to walk this past fall when I had to leave the house earlier to get my son to a new school. After diagnosis I got more serious about walking every day and added another steep hill.

At the residency I found that early morning walks on the flat beach just didn't seem like exercise any more. So I started running, which I haven't done in my life. I was proud that I could run at a slow pace for 15 minutes down the beach without getting winded. And I really like the feeling of my body burning fuel more intensively.

So when I got home I went out and bought proper shoes, and consulted my massage therapist about what additional stretches I should be doing. He said I may be the kind of person who gets a strong endorphin high from running. I think that is probably true--I'm making myself take two days off from running a week but I really don't want to. I've had some other kinds of knee trouble in the past and he cautioned me that overuse turns to injury very easily. I never in my life imagined I would turn into a person who loves running. I'm trying to keep my expectations low--whether I continue to or not it is an interesting experience.

Friday, May 28, 2004


A friend sent me a poem that means a lot to me:

for tides to come and go

for the unanchored
to still

for desire to settle into silt
and sanctify the waters.

Nancy Williams

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

chronic disease

I was looking for the source of the phrase “The way to
live the longest is to acquire a chronic disease and take good care of it." I found that attributed to Sir William Osler in 1901. I also found it quoted as: "The way to longevity is to develop a chronic disease early in life and learn to live with it" and as “If you develop a chronic illness and take the best possible care of it, you will live a longer and healthier life than those who do not have that advantage.”

In that search I came across a fascinating speech by Mark Vonnegut (son of Kurt) reflecting on mental illness. After several serious psychotic episodes he became a pediatrician.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

home, tired

Seabrook Island

An intense and wonderful retreat with the Sursum Corda Spiritual Directors Formation Program.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

heading out

Today at DuPont State Forest

Tomorrow I leave for the second residency of my spiritual directors formation program, so I won't be posting for a week.

Friday, May 14, 2004


I thought I had finished a paper, then was told I had sent in 22,000 words when they had asked for 8,000 words (I remembered that I had checked the word count when I was writing and it looked like it would come out fine, not how many it was supposed to be). Today I sent them a version under 8,000 words (by telling only a small piece of the story). I've been working on organizing funding for a project on Science, Technology, and Society, and that seems to be moving forward. Tomorrow I am accompanying my daughter on an all-day class in nature photography. Sunday I leave for the second one week residency of the Sursum Corda Spiritual Directors Formation Program. I just got seven proposals to review.

One of my goals for this blog was to put the different parts of my life in one place. But sometimes they look a bit ridiculous together.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


I was moved today reading Real Live Preacher on The Truth about Snow. I've never been convinced by the idea that we can act our way into believing, but I certainly don't make an intellectual decision to believe. As in so many deep things, I make a leap of trust and see how it works.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

cost-effective medicine

I'm disturbed by stories saying diabetes screening is only cost-effective for people who have risk factors. I had the risk factor of having had a large baby, but my blood pressure and lipids are good and I am under 55 and have no family history so I wouldn't have come up otherwise. I'm so glad I insisted that my blood sugar be tested, which my doctor didn't think necessary, rather than not getting diagnosed until I had complications like many people.

Basically, screening isn't cost effective because people who are diagnosed early don't benefit very much. But that is clearly the fault of the medical establishment--people who are diagnosed early can do a lot to prevent complications and slow the progression of the disease, if they get helpful information from their doctors and use it. They don't. They get the American Diabetes Association recommendations, which recommend a fairly high carbohydrate, low fat diet. That maybe helps prevent heart disease, but it certainly doesn't slow the progression of diabetes. And they don't get an explanation of the costs and benefits of different approaches so they can find one that is comfortable for them.

Monday, May 10, 2004

mother-daughter retreat

The mother-daughter retreat at the
Convent of St. Helena was a big success. The fish in the pond liked to nibble fingers.

Friday, May 07, 2004


I spent years trying to heal the self-punishing attitudes towards food I grew up with and resenting deeply doctors who told me to lose weight. I changed physicians when I was diagnosed with diabetes--I had finally gotten the message to my family practitioner not to talk about my weight, but he really didn't know what else to say. Controlling my blood sugar is causing me to lose weight and that may help the diabetes and certainly gets me credibility for how I am managing it. I don't actually see that any of the many things that I was told I could fix by losing weight have improved for that reason, but clearly the way I am eating (plus more exercise) is good for my health and for how I feel. What I am doing is very different from what I grew up with--my mother's motto is "if you aren't hungry you aren't losing weight," while my experience is that if I keep my blood sugar from spiking I don't get hungry and therefore lose weight without trying.

Still, I am so hostile to being told to lose weight by doctors that I am pleased to see a new book is coming out arguing that the focus on obesity as the cause of health problems is a prejudice not well supported by the evidence. There is an extensive article in the Guardian based on the book.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


I'm trying to clean up my desk, and so putting away books I taught from this semester. I reuse a few textbooks, but for a lot of the books I assign I pick new books every year. For my book on recent techology I was disappointed by Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back. The students seem to have liked it but I thought the analysis not very interesting. I liked Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology much better. The best book I read with a class was Flight: My Life in Mission Control by Chris Kraft. An amazingly good read, particularly for a book by an engineer. I may assign it to my honors freshman engineers; it might give them more perspective on what it means to be an engineer. And at least it would counter the old prejudice that government employees don't work hard.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Clemson is instituting a Science, Technology and Society requirement in the fall of 2005, and so I wrote a preliminary proposal for a seminar to encourage faculty to develop new courses and learn more about the field. The weird thing about doing this is that nationally the field is in decline--it is not clear whether the National Association for Science, Technology, and Society is still functioning. At least I'm not going to send in membership dues on a form that says it is for 2001-2002 membership.

Monday, May 03, 2004


I just bought two used laptops--I hope it will turn out to have been a good deal. The home wireless is wonderful--instead of replacing our desktop that has lots of problems we find we want a laptop each. I need to see about moving our wireless link so it reaches more of the house.

Thursday, April 29, 2004


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

learning disabilities

I just copied supplemental material from some follow-up testing my kids had, right after reading about some interesting research on Wampum. What struck me in the research is that it was the first thing I had seen that might explain why my son turns his head away when doing close work. But how can he at the same time be an extremely fast reader, with reasonably good comprehension? I have wanted at least to find a pattern into which my children fit, but perhaps that is the wrong impulse. My kids don't fit the standard pattern of ADD and phonological problems and so I look for alternative patterns. But my experience has not been of finding patterns that can tell us what help will make a difference. Instead, what we have found is some activities that somehow myseriously work (like piano lessons for my son starting at age 6) and some things where the child somehow mysteriously finds a way (like my daughter going from fairly severe dyslexia to a reading fluency score over the 99.9 th percentile). I think there isn't an answer, only the willingness to keep trying and openness to whatever seems to work.

Monday, April 26, 2004


Classes are done, though I have exams to give and grading still. My son has gone on a field trip, getting back Friday morning on the overnight train, so I don't have to leave the house at 7:30 to drive him to school. I got some rest over the weekend, though I didn't sleep well again last night. I feel in a better place in the work with C., though that only means in a better place to face what is deeper.

Friday, April 23, 2004

the rocks balance again

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

the fifth sentence

Shelley inspired me:
  • Grab the nearest book
  • Open the book to page 23
  • Find the fifth sentence
  • Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions

  • "Law, who sat in the nose of the rocket wearing goggles and what appeared to be a leather football helmet, announced that he intended to fly to 3,500 feet and then bail out."

    The rocket in question contained 900 pounds of gunpowder--it exploded but Frederick Rodman Law was thrown clear and survived to continue his career as "The Human Fly." This happpened in New Jersey on March 13, 1913. The book is William E. Burrows, This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age (New York: Modern Library, 1998). The story of the meme is

    Tuesday, April 20, 2004

    Seneca, SC

    Friday, April 16, 2004


    I've always been troubled by the interpretation of the story of doubting Thomas that says that Thomas didn't need to touch Jesus's wounds (the text doesn't say one way or another). I feel so strong that Jesus would have wanted his wounds to be touched, would have wanted that human caring. Only on a few special occasions can we literally touch each other's wounds. I was once blessed to literally touch a friend's scars as she struggled with shame about selfinjury. Yesterday C. said he wouldn't touch my tear. We actually found a good alternative, but it still feels like such a strong turning away from the deep, wet, dark world where the pain grows.

    I want to tell the story of the Frog Prince as I heard Robert Bly tell it almost 25 years ago. For some sense of that, see Anne Sexton's telling.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2004

    three questions

    I took up a challenge to ask three questions, so I will answer them myself.
    Are you happy?
    Yes, despite everything I am struggling with, I am.
    Do you think NASA should have a program to send human beings to Mars?
    I can't justify it, but I do.
    How long do you want to live?
    90 years. No more than that.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2004


    I took my son for an evaluation by an orthodontist. He wasn't quite as bad as the chiropractor I saw last year, but there was some of the same kind of disguised hard sell of standardized solutions. I kept trying to separate the cosmetic and the functional issues and the orthodontist wanted to keep them lumped together, only he never used the word cosmetic, but rather said aesthetic. He carefully showed me the improved profiles on before and after pictures of some patients. I'm going to get a second opinion, not because I doubt the treatment choices but because I just feel so uncomfortable with the orthodontist. I still don't know whether to do it at all--my son's problem is mild. It would take full braces for two years to treat it because all the teeth need to be shifted a little.

    Monday, April 12, 2004


    For the first time, my church did the Great Vigil of Easter at 6 am on Easter instead of Saturday evening. Amazingly, I got both my kids there (kids were invited to come in their pajamas, and they liked that idea). Once we were settled the lights were turned completely off for the kindling of the new fire (with a flint) and then the readings from the Hebrew Scriptures were done by candlelight. When we got to sunrise, the black paper was removed from the windows and we all said "The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!" (The lights were also turned on--the church unfortunately faces west and it was a cloudy day.) We had small bells or chimes to ring every time we said Alleluia. Somehow those bells took the joy inside me, not in any dramatic way, but a seed. When my kids went out after communion (it was a 2 1/2 hour service) I had two sets of bells and smiled whenever I rang them.

    Friday, April 09, 2004

    Good Friday

    But there are no exceptions.
    We can lay it down or have it
    wrested from us.
    We are almost there already.

    Barbara Crafton

    Thursday, April 08, 2004

    Maundy Thursday

    I heard yesterday that Maundy comes from commandment, the great commandment to "love one another as I have loved you." This is the one extra service my kids usually want to go to, because at our church we wash each other's feet. They think that is cool. I signed up to keep the vigil at the cross tomorrow from 5 to 6 am. It is an intense time for me.

    Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    letting go

    The larger scene is here.
    Oh God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our heats; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne: through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    That was the confession used in the service at Christ Church, Greenville, today. The priest said it is used at the altar of nails at Coventry Cathedral in England. We each held a nail as we said confession and received absolution, then left our nails on the altar when we went up for communion. I saw the dove nesting on the cross when I went out into the graveyard after the service.


    What improved my view of the world yesterday was fighting with the lab to get lab results that my doctor hadn't received. The lab wasn't organized to give the results to me despite the doctor writing "please release results to patient" but I did succeed. I went to church at 5:30 and the gospel was Jesus throwing the moneylenders out of the temple. Nice to know that anger is godly.

    I recommend real live preacher's raccoon stories (thanks to My so called lesbian life).

    Tuesday, April 06, 2004


    Still fighting limits that hinder my journey, and learning that I can't win. Hurts a lot. Walking through holy week feeling the pain.

    I had an annual physical today, and the funny thing was that after I told my doctor I have so much more energy since I have been carefully controlling my blood sugar, she told me my iron was significantly low (10.2 where normal is 12-14). I needed a lot of iron supplements during pregnancy and they didn't cause me any problems, so it seems easily fixed.

    Friday, April 02, 2004

    something I needed to hear

    Maya Angelou said:
    'You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better...'


    Today is my daughter's 11th birthday. It feels like a milestone because she is growing up so fast, but it is also hard to meet birthday expectations. She told me last night she wouldn't come out of her room until 6:30 this morning so that I would have time to get her presents ready. She thoughtfully requested a flourless chocolate cake for dinner tonight, which fits my way of eating a lot better than other kinds of cakes, so I got that made last night after I got home late and tired and drained. (I halved the recipe so the ingredients were 4 eggs, 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, and 1/4 lb. butter--I figure 16 grams of carbohydrate per serving.)

    Thursday, April 01, 2004

    letting go

    I released my small wooden duck into the river today. Three times it came back to me as I walked along the shore, and three times I threw it back in.


    I went to a lecture yesterday that talked about pro-anorexia web sites. The speaker, who is an English professor, talked about the rhetoric of the sites. What she was seeing was the authors of the sites claiming the right to define themselves and control their own bodies. But she couldn't bring herself to say that was a good thing, as feminist as it is.

    I have followed web pages by people with multiple personality who choose not to integrate (an example), which also goes against standard medical/psychological advice. As I have followed some of these pages, such as Magdalen, I have been struck that a number of them have come to integration after all. They just went by the route of empowering themselves rather than following the guidance of therapists. I did ask a question about that and the author of the paper said that she has seen that happen with pro-an web sites too.

    I don't feel comfortable drawing a conclusion either.

    Wednesday, March 31, 2004

    medicine and technology

    My history of american technology class is reading Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences. Tenner has a couple of chapters on medicine but he makes too many points and so I confined myself in class to two. One was the obvious one that as medicine can do more things it costs an increasing proportion of our gross national product, a trend that cannot go on forever. The other came from what I have learned about diabetes--I talked about how technology (and policy decisions) determine where you draw the line of when you will diagnose a disease. If you can't measure it or identify a clear set of symptoms, you can't diagnose it. Before blood sugar testing diabetes could only be diagnosed or monitored if blood sugar was above 180, when sugar starts to appear in the urine. Now we can measure problems long before that, but when do the advantages of diagnosing a person start outweighing the disadvantages (extra cost for health and life insurance)? That depends not only on what doctors can do for people but also on whether people will be willing to change their lifestyles.

    Monday, March 29, 2004


    Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light Himself.
    It struck him dead: And serve him right!
    It is the business of the wealthy man
    To give employment to the artisan.
    Hilaire Belloc, 1911

    Thursday, March 25, 2004


    I balanced this last week and it was still up today.

    C. has a policy of not having symbols visible in his office. He does have one large and three small wooden ducks as part of the decoration. I found a matching small wooden duck, and added it to his collection. When he noticed it he put it away in a drawer. I said what harm is there in another duck, and he said he would think about it. Today he said that he had decided he couldn't have the duck I had given him out. Only he had gotten mixed up and he gave me back the wrong one. When I said I thought it was the wrong one he was quite convinced that he was right and I was wrong, until I pointed out the feature that proved which one I had given him. So I could have not only had my duck in his collection, but had one of his ducks in return. But it didn't feel right to trick him.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2004

    The Roman Rule

    "The one who says it cannot be done should never interrupt the one who is doing it."

    That came up in a discussion of new drug trials in Australia on as an attitude to take towards people like the diabetes educators.

    Today I did a home test of my Hemoglobin A1c, which measures how well I have controlled my blood sugar the last two or three months. I was thrilled to get a result of 5.5. In October my A1c was 6.5. One explanation of what the numbers mean says:
    A healthy person without diabetes will have an A1C between 4% and 6%. If you are diabetic, the closer your A1C is to 6%, the better your diabetes is in control.
    The average A1c of people with diabetes in the United States is 9.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2004

    diabetes educator

    I've been in contact by email with a diabetes educator at one of the local hospitals. I wanted to check the person out before making an appointment, to make sure she wasn't hostile to the approach I am following. She replied that my approach was great if it worked for me, but then she said I should be aware that everyone eventually gets complications. I asked her if she had any evidence for that, as the approach I am following results in significantly lower average blood sugar than even the intensive therapy groups in the long-term studies that have been done (who had much lower rates of complications than people following the old recommendations). As the discussion continued, it became clear that she was dubious of the intensive approach I am taking. She doesn't want to promise anyone that if they work hard to keep their blood sugar in tight control they will be able to prevent complications, and I suspect she doesn't even suggest tight control as an option. She clearly feels caught between the endocrinologists, who are recommending tighter control of blood sugar, and local doctors who still tell their patients goals that are years out of date. It is a nasty position to be in--I'm sure the first thing diabetes educators get taught in their training is never to undercut the authority of the doctor.

    Update: I contacted a diabetes educator at a different nearby hospital and she said they are required to teach the Amercian Diabetes Association guidelines in order to be eligible for insurance reimbursement. She also gave me the "diabetes is progressive and incurable" message: "Diabetes IS a progressive illness, so don't deem yourself a failure if what you do this year doesn't work as well next year." The evidence is very clear that the progression can be slowed way down, but the standard advice ignores that completely.

    Monday, March 22, 2004

    back to work

    I had a most unproductive vacation, but I guess I needed that. I feel sharper in the classroom, despite having to reconnect to where I was more than a week ago.

    Sunday, March 21, 2004

    fake mashed potatoes

    I guess that keeping my carbohydrates low to control my blood sugar is getting to me more than I realized. I made fake mashed potatoes and I thought they were great. The recipe calls for steaming a large head of cauliflower until fairly soft and pureeing it in the food processor. I added a tablespoon or two of butter, a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt, and some salt and pepper. Next time I might add some fancy mustard. It certainly looked like mashed potatoes, but my husband thought it just tasted like cauliflower. I like cauliflower, so that didn't bother me.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2004


    I'm actually not uptight about where I am on the issue of forgiveness, but I got thinking about it after catching myself saying twice in the last few days that I don't want to forgive my abuser. I have trouble understanding that forgiveness doesn't have to mean saying "she did the best she could." But the more fundamental issue right now seems to be that I feel a need to see her as bad because then I am different from her. I don't feel very secure in saying I may have some of the same impulses inside me but I'm different because I don't act on them. The whole issue of the relationship between feelings and action is difficult.

    Friday, March 12, 2004

    spring break

    I'm starting my spring break, and despite my complaints about not getting much of a break I feel the relief of tension. My daughter has the same break but her school offers daycare Monday-Wednesday. My husband and son have a different break, so I will need to continue to leave the house at 7:30 each morning to take my son to his school. I am a natural morning person, but an hour of exercise and then leaving the house at 7:30 is pushing it.

    I have one set of tests to grade and two papers to finish writing, one on a woman scientist and the other on discernment in spiritual direction (for the spiritual directors training program I am in). After that I don't know what the next priority is.

    Thursday, March 11, 2004


    I don't deal with changes in schedule well. My day got turned around today, and it really threw me. I was gearing up to let some stuff out, and now I have to wait several more days. I should have decided to do something for myself with the time, but the small idea I had wasn't absorbing enough to distract me from thoughts of all the things I need to get done.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2004

    mammogram followup

    I got a call last week that there was some question about my mammogram and they wanted me to come in to have more xrays taken. So I went in today, and had two more views taken, then the radiologist looked at those, then they took two more views, then the radiologist decided they needed to do an ultrasound. They did the ultrasound and then the radiologist told me they didn't see anything suspicious, just some normal fibrous tissue. After going through so much it is hard to absorb the word that it is nothing.

    When I first got the call to come back, my first thought was at least I have done everything right. This mammogram was just a year after the last one (and I haven't even quite hit 50). My thought was "If there is a problem I won't have to blame myself for what I didn't do."

    Tuesday, March 09, 2004

    post-tenure review

    One week later, my post-tenure review package is done. It actually turned out to be less painful to have it come up a the last minute, instead of having it hanging over me for months. I'm very grateful to my friends who wrote letters for me quickly.

    It is an example of the worst of the current emphasis on assessment. The process is like being back in elementary school--various documents must be in a notebook in a given order. I resisted the temptation to decorate the notebook. So we jump through this extra hoop, and what is accomplished? I asked a couple of people and everyone thinks that no one has yet been fired at this institution as a result of post-tenure review.

    Monday, March 08, 2004


    We went to Kanuga for our church's annual retreat and were there for the first spring weather. We took a family hike to Wolf Mountain, which has a view back toward Kanuga's lake, with a cross on the far side. The downside of the beginning of spring was that the gnats drove my daughter crazy. They didn't bite, but they were very persistent face flies. I think the black spots on my picture must be gnats in front of the lens.

    Friday, March 05, 2004

    it's not about me

    Working on issues about my father's death a month before my third birthday, I went further into what I have inside me about what my mother felt at the time. And I realized that a lot of her confusion came from issues she had from when she was a child and her parents divorced. I've felt that I was as a child terribly caught up in her confused feelings, because I didn't have any other role model of what I might feel about my father's death. But now I see her feelings came from her past, they had very little to do with what was actually going on. All that confusion and guilt is her stuff, it doesn't have anything to do with me. It is a weight I suddenly don't need to carry any more. My first reaction is shock at being less important and my second reaction is to feel confused and out of balance. It isn't easy being freed.

    Thursday, March 04, 2004


    The weather has turned spring-like here and the days are longer.

    research areas

    For a post-tenure review I need to write a description of my current and future research, and I decided I wanted to write about the past as well. I have done history of the space program, history of women in science and engineering, and history of forestry (environmental history). Amazingly when I try to put that all together it actually looks not like random wandering but like a a coherent story. I'm asking very much the same questions about forestry that I was about the space program, about the intersection between research and everyday practice. The history of women in science weaves in and out of that.

    Tuesday, March 02, 2004

    white flour

    I put the bread I make for the kids in the bread machine last night on the timer, so it was ready just before we got up. It is made with a cup of old-fashioned oats and three cups of bread flour. I don't eat that bread any more, I make grown-up bread with oatmeal, barley bits, coarse ground whole wheat flour, milled flax, and vital wheat gluten. But today I was tempted by the smell and decided not to make a big deal of denying myself, so I ate one piece. I did check my blood glucose more often, curious what the effect would be. I spiked briefly to 150, though by 1 hour after eating it I was down to 135 (my goal is to be under 140 at one hour). At two hours I was at 95, which suggests that my body reacted to the spike by producing too much insulin, too slowly. It shows how careful I have to be if I want to keep my blood glucose from swings, which if nothing else make me feel hungry at the strangest times.

    Monday, March 01, 2004

    trusting the process

    I have recently subscribed to a daily meditation that I like very much: the Almost Daily eMo's from Geranium Farm. Today Barbara Crafton writes:
    Spiritual grown is usually not thunderous; it is usually incremental, in tiny steps, a little at a time. It is the direction of all the creatures of God--we are all hard-wired for growth. Diminishment is not our vector; our vector is toward greater depth. We are made that way.
    That is particularly what I needed to hear today as I struggle to bear facing some difficult stuff in me.

    Friday, February 27, 2004

    big government

    I showed part of a video in one of my classes today, "The Electric Valley" by Ross Spears from the James Agee Film Project. At one point Arthur Morgan's son talks about the controversy that forced Morgan to resign as head of the TVA. He says that the greatest loss is of Morgan's vision of what good public administration can do to improve society. I heard it as a socialist vision of social engineering, and what struck me is how foreign that now seems. I once wrote an article about practical uses of satellites that assumed the concept of the public good as a justification for government programs, but the concept is fading fast. The film was made in 1983.

    Thursday, February 26, 2004


    I've been thinking about a friend who said that she liked Ash Wednesday because it is the only day we get to walk around saying publicly "I am a sinner." That sounds negative and it had some of that edge for her, but I think it also felt positive to her because she wasn't the only one doing it. I started thinking how to put that in more positive terms. I decided that it is a good feeling to walk around with the message on my forehead: "I'm not perfect" instead of being afraid that people expect me to be.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2004

    Ash Wednesday

    For a number of years I got stuck on Psalm 51, particularly the line "I am a sinner from my mother's womb" (in the translation in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer). But this year what struck me were some lines from Psalm 103:
    For as the heavens are high above the earth,
    so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.
    As far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our sins from us.
    I went to the 7 am service and our interim priest was enthusiastic with the ashes. If my students ask me about the ashes I am happy to talk about it, but it feels awkward to bring it up if they don't ask. I think I should have--after my first class a woman who is sitting in on the class as a typist for a deaf student came up to me and asked me what happened to me. She thought it was a bruise, that I had been in a nasty accident.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2004

    what moved me Sunday

    From St. Francis, by Nikos Kazantzakis, St. Francis speaking:
    Deep down in the bowels of every man, even the saintliest ascetic, there sleeps a horrible, unclean larva. Lean over and say to this larva: "I love you!" and it shall sprout wings and become a butterfly.

    Monday, February 23, 2004


    I went to Dekalb Farmers Market Saturday--it says something about living in rural South Carolina that I happily drive two hours each way several times a year just to buy food. One of the things I usually buy there is fish, as Sams Club has good salmon but not much else is good here. The bluefish were too small and so I hesitated and then bought a 10 lb striped bass. I grew up eating striped bass from the Atlantic Ocean, but they have become a significant fish in southern freshwater lakes, and this was listed as a lake fish. The interesting thing about buying whole fish at Dekalb is they don't clean it until you buy it. The person cleaning my fish asked me if I wanted the head (my daughter vetoed that) and whether I wanted the roe. I was surprised but said yes, so I got a set of roe looking very much like shad roe. I cooked it like shad roe with butter, vermouth, lemon rind, and capers and it tasted similar but was considerably softer, almost creamy.

    We ate the fish baked last night and tonight I will make chowder. I've always made a chowder with bacon, onions, potatoes, fish stock and cream. Since I don't use potatoes any more I decided to check recipes, and interestingly the fish chowder recipe Legal Seafoods has on their web site doesn't include potatoes. I will reduce the amount of fish stock and then I can certainly skip the flour. I'm torn whether I consider bacon is an essential ingredient or whether I want to try their recipe as written.

    update: It was good, but I missed the bacon.

    Friday, February 20, 2004


    A very interesting quiz that will tell you what dialect you favor. I scored as barely yankee, which I suspect does reflect how long I have lived in the south now (getting close to half my life). Thanks to Chutry Experiment.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004


    A friend pointed out that the newspaper article about the car accident says of my father: "At one time, when he was a sophomore at harvard, his talent at fashion design won him the editorship of the fashion section of the Radcliffe News." My friend was pointing out that this was ironic, as I am as uninterested in fashion as you can get. My father ended up an art historian working for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in what used to be called the Department of Decorative Arts.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004

    legal records

    Five years ago I did some research on my father's death in an automobile accident in 1958 and obtained a death certificate and found out that the driver of the other car plead guilty to manslaughter. Suddenly now I am back obsessed with the topic again, and it is very frustrating trying to find more information. What I need is someone in Massachusetts who would be interested in doing a little research for me, but all I can find is endless companies that do background searches of court records for the last 7 years. I can't figure out how to find an individual who does such work and would be able for a reasonable cost to look at the last 40 years.

    Friday, February 13, 2004


    The thing that cheered me up today was When Encountering a Stop Sign, which I happened upon thanks to Baraita.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    a picture from Ecuador

    Doing laundry in a stream near Otavalo, Ecuador, Dec. 31, 2003.

    Monday, February 09, 2004


    I've always hated the line "things that don't kill you outright make you stronger" and the Christian variants about how God doesn't give us more than we can handle. Not true. Many people are crippled by pain that is more than they can handle. I don't feel crippled, but there was no good in my father's death a month before my third birthday, leaving me unprotected.

    Friday, February 06, 2004

    biology and gender

    The idea that that homosexuality is inherent (for example the idea of a gay gene) has generally been appealing to the gay community. Obviously there is the danger that a biological approach can lead to seeing homosexuality as a defect that can be fixed, but it should lead to better policy to see homosexuals as an inevitable part of the community not as people who have chosen a bizarre lifestyle. The greater danger is that our biology will take away our choices--if you have a particular gene must you be gay, or if you don't you can't be? I do not think people would be happier if they could find out with a blood test.

    And yet there is something so seductive about having biological evidence for who I am. I finally found out the results of the rest of my lab tests, and my testosterone was 67 in a reference (normal) range from 15 to 76. The doctor had originally speculated it was high and suggested medication, and my reaction was very clear that I like being masculine. Clearly it is more important to my identity than I had realized, though I am very happy with the life I have chosen.

    Wednesday, February 04, 2004

    more politics

    I will get off the subject soon, but this has been an exciting primary. Edwards won by a lot more than the polls beforehand would have suggested. Looking at the results for the counties in this part of the state (where the African-American population is much lower than in the rest of the state), Kerry did somewhat better in the cities and Edwards in the country. Turnout was better than predicted but still low. In one 99% black urban precinct turnout was relatively high, 26 percent of the 1,636 registered voters, and the results were: Edwards, 33.2 percent; Kerry, 31 percent and Sharpton, 18.5 percent.

    Somewhere I heard that people in South Carolina (assumably white people) were saying they voted for Edwards because he is "like us." I'm afraid that says it all. One of my favorite stories about diversity comes from a professor at MIT who is African-American. She said that she heard an older MIT professor bemoaning how much more diverse MIT has become. He said about teaching at MIT: "It is no fun anymore. They don't want to be me."

    Tuesday, February 03, 2004

    medical records

    My doctor's office has tried three times to get the results of some lab tests, but only half the results have been delivered. I spoke to the lab today and got someone who promised to try to track down the missing results. I asked for a copy to be sent to me as well and she said "We can't do that; you can only get them from the ordering physician." I said that the law says I own my medical records. She said: "Oh, that is a different procedure, you need to come in and fill out a form and pay a fee." You don't get your rights unless you know what they are. Though I'm not sure that would get me the information I want, which seems not to be at the lab at all, only at the hospital where the analysis was done.


    We were supposed to have an icestorm last night here in the upstate, but it never got that cold. Still, it is a cold rainy raw day. When I voted about 10:30 am there was no one else there, but that is a quiet time.

    Update: The sun came out around noon.

    Monday, February 02, 2004

    South Carolina Primary

    Some thoughts I sent to the Talking Dog:
    I'm in a university town in South Carolina, and mostly what I hear is people trying to figure out who can beat Bush. I have an African-American friend, very liberal, who says she is going to vote for Clark for that reason. The trouble is, there is no general agreement about who can beat Bush; people argue for Kerry, Clark, Edwards, and even Dean. I wouldn't be shocked if Kerry won the primary here, because of the poll that said he was the only one who can beat Bush. Fear of liberals is much less prominent than usual (besides, all the conservative Democrats have already become Republicans). I have heard that Sharpton is giving inspiring speeches, but my guess is that most people are more concerned about beating Bush than about making a statement. Education here is really hurting here, mostly because of state and local tax cuts and budget woes, but I haven't heard many people talking about that or any other specific issue.

    One wrinkle is that South Carolina does not have party registration, so non-Democrats can vote. In fact, Republicans can vote in the Democratic primary now and still vote in the Republican primary for Senate in June. The "Loyalty Oath" has been dropped. Crossover has been a concern in previous primaries but has never turned out to be a big issue. I thought of voting for McCain in the Republican primary the last time around but I couldn't bear the thought of pretending to be a Republican, particularly since I always see neighbors at the polling place.

    Another wrinkle is that there are projections that 40 to 50 percent of the voters will be African-Americans. Kerry is hoping that Clyburn's endorsement will be influential.

    Polls are here, but I don't think they mean much.