Friday, August 2, 2013

Quick takes

If I can't manage a whole blog post, surely I can do quick takes, right?  If I start a day early?  Maybe?


The weather lately has been perfect.  Mostly it's been cool and breezy, some days even breezy enough to keep the mosquitoes off!  We can actually use the back yard sometimes!

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but we live two blocks from the Shenandoah River.  As a result, there is really nothing we can do to keep from being overwhelmed with mosquitoes.  The back yard, being shady, is so thick with them we usually don't go out in it all summer.  Within two minutes you're swarmed with them; while you're slapping one, another is getting the back of your neck.  The front yard isn't usually so bad, but we still have to stay in after three p.m. or so during mosquito season.  Only a good windy day keeps them under control at all.


This cool weather has had a few effects: one, we've been going to the park or on a walk almost daily.  I love that.  It's a huge mood booster to get out of the house, and the kids behave better when they'd been out as well.  The downside is that I get so physically tired that I don't want to do anything when we get home!

Another effect of the cool weather is that I am so strongly reminded of being pregnant -- since I've gotten pregnant in the late summer and fall twice now -- that I actually feel sick.  I know for certain that I'm not pregnant, but when the breeze hits me I suddenly feel kind of like gagging.  It's weird.  I think it's the smells in the air this time of year, which are actually very pleasant, but remind me of being sick.


This past week we discovered Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.  It's a spinoff of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which we all love, so I was hopeful.  Unfortunately I hate it.

I like Mr. Rogers for the following reasons:

*He talks about feelings a lot and how to manage those feelings -- an important lesson.
*It's live action and slow-paced, so it isn't overstimulating.
*Mr. Rogers has a nice voice I like to listen to, not a shrill fakey one like EVERY other kids' show I've ever seen.
*It has a lot of real-life stuff, like meeting people with disabilities or learning where milk comes from.  I loved the episode where a fireman shows off his mask and explains what to do in a fire, or when Mr. Rogers goes to a restaurant to show what you do at one.
*Mr. Rogers was a real person, who really did care, and it shows.  When he says "I love you just the way you are," he means it.

Daniel Tiger ONLY has point 1.  It's a show about feelings.  But it's animated, jazzed up, fast paced, run by imaginary animal children, and SHRILL.

There is one improvement made on the show, which is that the songs are improved a bit and sound a little less like what someone made up in the shower.  But even there, they don't seem to know what the point of those songs was.  Why change "It's such a good feeling to know you're alive, it's such a happy feeling when you're growing inside," to, "It's such a good feeling to play with a friend, it's such a happy feeling when they lend you a hand"?  Not everything has to be about playing with other kids.  I liked how Mr. Rogers talked about things that you can do and feel all by yourself.

Daniel Tiger doesn't look like the Daniel Tiger in the original show, who was gray and very quiet and shy.  That was kind of the point of Daniel, that he was not a typical tiger and he needed to learn to love himself the way he was.  But the new version has a Daniel who is very much a typical tiger and has no particular personality.  In fact, there are no personalities.  O the Owl (is that X the owl's son, or little brother?), Katarina Kitty Cat, Prince Wednesday, etc., have no actual defining features besides looks.  What happened to bossy X, sensitive Hen, crotchety Lady Elaine?  Lady Elaine does appear, but she looks very boring and typical instead of being rosy-cheeked and wart-nosed.

I do like the songs about feelings, like "When we do something new, let's talk about what we'll do," or, "Grown-ups come back."  Marko's been singing them, and I don't mind them.  But when I tried to sing "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" and Marko wanted me to only sing it the way Daniel Tiger does ... I decided I can't let him watch it anymore.  I want to sing the old songs.  It's like the directors didn't realize a sweet, long song while Mr. Rogers puts on a sweater and changes his shoes would teach my son to put on a sweater and shoes!  That's an important part of the show, you can't replace it with animation and sparkles and backup vocals!


Yeah, I'm a little mad about it.  So I went to YouTube to watch the old show the way we used to, and it was TAKEN DOWN!  Every single clip over five minutes appeared to be gone!  Netflix doesn't have it, we don't have Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime ... I think we're out of luck.

I think Mr. Rogers would be ticked.  After all, he testified before Congress in favor of VCRs, because he wanted parents to be able to tape his show and watch it with their kids whenever they wanted.  And now that he's dead we're not allowed to watch his show anymore.  *angry face*


This has honestly got me wanting to make a kids' show myself.  I don't have time or energy or resources, but if I did, here's what I'd make.

It would be live-action, and the hosts would be a grandma and grandpa who lived on a farm.  Mostly it would be just them, showing you around the farm and the different chores they do.  The animals would all be important characters.  Sometimes they'd go to town and show you the different people there, or they would get visitors to the farm like the mailman or the vet.  And sometimes the grandkids would come and they'd sing songs and play games.

Every episode, there would be a "classic literature" bit, where Grandma or Grandpa gets out a book of poetry and reads some famous children's poems, like Edward Lear or Lewis Carroll pieces.  That would be the only part of the show with animation, illustrating what's happening in the poem.

There would also be music, both classical and children's stuff, and also crafts like basket-weaving and cooking that the hosts would show you how they do.  There would be lots of talk about feelings, both monologues (like Mr. Rogers used to do) and examples, like if Grandma and Grandpa were angry at each other, or one of the grandkids was scared of something.

It would be awesome.  I'm just throwing that out there in case anyone has the ability to make it, and wants to release an episode every week for free on YouTube.  You totally should.  Or I will, when I'm old.


We are seriously contemplating getting chickens.  Because we live in town that is stupid and regressive, there are legal implications, so if we do, I probably won't tell you about it.  But I heard a rooster crow in the neighborhood just yesterday, so it's not like we'd be the only ones.  I do have to ask my neighbors though.

My dream is to have a chicken tractor with two or three hens for now.  That would take care of most of our egg needs, as well as keep the weeds down in the backyard, and perhaps root out some of the bugs.  And it would be good practice for when I have a homestead and go in for chickens in a bigger way -- laying hens and meat birds, all free-ranging in a fruit orchard.  (No place buggier than a fruit orchard!)  I've got my heart set on Australorps for that setup.  But for now, I'd take whatever I could find on Craigslist.  You can get a laying hen on there for $12.  Since the tractor can be made from salvaged materials, this would be a very low-cost project.  Cheaper than our dog, anyway!


Despite squash bugs AND squash borers in the pumpkins, slow-growing broccoli, and late tomatoes, we are eating green beans and carrots at least.  Michael's a fan!

More quick takes are at Conversion Diary.


Enbrethiliel said...


#1 -- I was going to recommend taking a few lit candles with you when you go outside, even in the daytime, but a friend told me that's the trick for getting rid of flies, not mosquitos. =/ I hope you find a natural solution.

#3 -- I don't remember Daniel Striped Tiger that well, so I went to YouTube and watched some old clips . . . It turns out that everything really special about his character flew over my head as a child. I'm appreciating him better now. But the performances of his songs (I'm thinking of the duets with Lady Aberlin) are very rough, and riding more on the singers' sincerity than on their talent. If others have covered those duets, I'd love to listen to other interpretations of them.

#4 -- THAT'S AWFUL! I know that there are copyright issues and all, but as you've pointed out, Fred Rogers didn't care about those details. His first thought was always for children.

#5 -- What a great idea! I know it's good because Disney and Nickelodeon are never going to touch it. =P

#6 -- Backyard chickens are cool. I know someone who bought all female chicks. (I'm not sure what he had to do to get them laying when they got older, but I do know he returned one of the chicks to the store when it became obvious it was male.) Anyway, his family now has more eggs than they can eat and his daughter earns pocket money selling them to the neighbours! So good luck with this one! =)

#8 -- That's great news about your garden and your boys enjoying healthy food! =)

Enbrethiliel said...


I can't believe I got #7 wrong . . .

Kate P said...

Hi, Sheila! I have been enjoying your comments over at Seraphic's and thought I'd drop by.

You already had me at "My mom is an INFJ" (me too!) but Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was and still is a much-loved show in my family. My mother was grateful it was on TV right before my dad came home from work because it mellowed us out in advance of his arrival from a long commute home. We still make references to the characters sometimes.

My parents now get much use from a VHS tape of when Mr. Rogers visited the circus, to entertain my one nephew. I don't know if you have a DVD or VHS player but there are videos you can buy used. Or check with the public library's video collection. I'm a shopper for books and DVDs if I can't borrow them.

Sheila said...

Enbrethiliel, you can buy chicks in batches of all males, all females, or mixed. I want to buy layers instead because raising chicks is a good deal more complicated and requires special food and housing ... and hardly anybody will sell you just TWO chicks. They go, like eggs, by the dozen it seems.

You don't have to do a thing to get them to lay, though -- they just start up when they're old enough. No rooster required, so long as the eggs are just for eating instead of hatching.

Kate, welcome to my blog! Seraphic is one of my favorite bloggers.

I really had better check the library at the very least. I can't imagine they wouldn't have at least one DVD of Mr. Rogers. He's as classic as you get.

The Sojourner said...

I need to start telling people now that my son wants DVDs of old TV shows for his birthday/Christmas. Mr. Rogers, pre-Elmofication Sesame Street, the classic Kratt's Creatures... (Have you ever seen Wild Kratts? My baby sister thinks it's the best thing ever and I die a little inside every time. Y U sell out, Kratt brothers?)

Sheila said...

No, I haven't! I'll have to look it up.

Entropy said...

Buying chicks isn't that much more complicated and the chicks are cheaper than $12 ea! You can buy them individually at Tractor Supply or any Feed store in the spring. I bought mine from a local farmer for $2 ea! Your big chicks will still need a covered area to roost/sleep and of course, nests to lay in.

Good luck, no matter what you do. Your kids are going to love them. Mine have so much fun chasing and carrying them around. Though I did have to shoot my rooster after he attacked my son. Can't have that.

ps. We *love* Wild Kratts. I think they went to animation because they're getting old. heh.

The Sojourner said...

Lol, probably. Now I want to look up how old they are on Wikipedia.

Kratt's Creatures is still the best.

Enbrethiliel said...


I never saw the Kratt brothers on TV because the show wasn't syndicated over here. The live-action science shows I remember best were the 80s version of Mr. Wizard, 3-2-1 Contact, and Beakman's World. (There was also Dr. Fad, which encouraged kids to think like engineers, but it had more of a game show format.)

The one I got the most out of was Beakman's World, but I recently reviewed a few clips available on YouTube and was not impressed by the frenetic pacing and overacting. But I do remember that when Beakman's original companion Josie (Dr. Who reference intentional!), played by Alanna Ubach, left the show, I noticed a decline in quality even as a child--and those clips I watched over the weekend were all from later seasons. So it may not have been all that bad at the beginning. The snot episode was particularly memorable. LOL! And it was Beakman who gave me the line: "Electricity isn't a thing; it's an event." There were great moments.

Anyway, there are a lot of Kratt's Creatures episodes on YouTube, too. They're really fuzzy, but I might start watching to see what the fuss is about! =)

Another educational show I liked was Encyclopedia. It was a short-lived series because they did only twenty-six episodes (one focussing on each letter of the alphabet), but it had creative ideas, great writing (not just dialogues and monologues, but also songs!), and competent actors who were clearly having fun. It was like theatre rather than like TV.

entropy said...

S, Martin is 47 (b. 1965)!

E, you should check out Bill Nye the Science Guy; he's way better than Beakman. And I have a halo of nostalgia over 3-2-1 Contact!

Never heard of _Encyclopedia_ but I'm going to see if I can find it. Sounds cool.

Enbrethiliel said...


Bill Nye's show wasn't syndicated over here, either, but eventually heard about him! He certainly looks less manic than Beakman. =P

Just this evening a little bit of my childhood died . . . I learned that one of the actors on Encyclopedia was also a sex worker at one point. =( After an hour of "research" (Hello, Google!), I feel a bit reassured to know that he put that stuff behind him before he was cast in this children's show--and I'd personally overlook it because he delivered good performances and the show itself stands up. But it's still off-putting, and I think I should add this as a caveat because I gave such a positive recommendation of the show in a previous comment.

love the girls said...

Sheila writes on a post elsewhere on another blog : "Because I'm such a terrible feminist (the horror!)"

this is bit off topic, but I'm rather surprised to read the above from a Christendom grad.

Is feminism common? My daughter, who graduated from Christendom this year and says she hung out with the more liberal kids would never describe herself as feminist, nor is she. And I know times change, but I'm a Thomas Aquinas College grad and none of the girls there would have ever described themselves as feminist.

Nor would any of the girls I have known over the years who have gone to either school describe them selves as feminist.

Years back I used to work in DC in right to life with a number of Catholics who considered themselves to be feminists, in fact back then as a traditionalist I was the unusual one in the movement.

And so I wonder, what do you mean by feminist.

love the girls said...

I should add, when I asked my daughter about the use of the term at Christendom, she said it was used, but it was meant more in terms of taking back the term so that it signified motherhood and such, but the context you used the term was virtually the opposite.

Sheila said...

Oh, dear. That opens a whole can of worms that I haven't yet worked up the guts -- or time -- to broach here yet. I have in mind a whole series of blog posts about Catholic feminism, but I haven't written much on the topic here so far. You can check out the tag "women" (linked on the sidebar) for what I have written, but it's pretty scant.

Feminism among conservative Catholics, particularly Christendom grads, is not at all common. In my case it was attending there and seeing chauvinism in action that made me a feminist. Many of the guys were quite willing to hold open doors or be otherwise "chivalrous," but if I tried to have an opinion about anything would pretty much hint that I didn't know what I was talking about because I was female. In extracurriculars, at least the ones I chose (newspaper and debate society) I found again and again that women were expected to proofread, fetch pizza, take minutes, but not to write editorials or to take on leadership positions. I also had one professor who said that women possessed less of the image and likeness of God than men do, because we are less rational. That went over like a lead balloon with me -- especially seeing that 12 out of 14 of the summa cum laudes in our class were women, despite being a majority male class!

To summarize a few of my opinions:

*I don't think women should be priests. The Church has spoken on that, so the case is closed. Anyway if Jesus had wanted women priests, he surely would have had them -- it's not like he otherwise bowed to cultural pressures about treating women as less than equal.

*I do think women are equal to men in capacity as well as dignity. Except for purely physical tasks, there aren't many jobs women can't do just as well as men.

*I think it's very important for a parent to be at home with the kids. I don't think it's very important which one it is. In most cases women prefer to be the at-home parent, but I don't think a man who thrives as an at-home parent is "less manly" or that there is anything wrong with him. I think if more men did more parenting, it would start being a more respected vocation. And then maybe there wouldn't be such a stigma in leaving work early to pick up kids, taking parental leave, or taking a few years off of one's career. It would be expected that this is what parents do, and most people are parents.

*I'm a wife and mother full-time and I love it. But I have enormous respect for women who choose other paths, and I don't like the thought that people are pressured into my vocation when they aren't called to it. Women can be abbesses, teachers, presidents, scientists, and whatever else they want -- they don't all have to be full-time mothers. They don't have to get married or have kids at all if they don't want to.

*Sexism is real and we see it every day. Stuff like objectification of women in TV commercials, an excessive focus on women's appearance, hiring biases in certain jobs (STEM fields tend to prefer men, teaching and librarianship are biased toward women), rape culture, etc.

*I feel like conservative Catholics, in their effort to distance themselves from radical feminism, often swing too far the other way. Women loudly decry feminism and talk about how much they love "submitting" to their husbands; men mock feminists as brash or strident and make sexist jokes. I don't think that's very Catholic. JP2 called himself a feminist, and wrote wonderful stuff about women. Worth a read.

How's that for a start? At some point I'd like to go more in-depth with all this stuff and actually explain where some of these ideas come from, but that's a start.

love the girls said...

I really appreciate your comment.

A few quick observations :

I'm surprised at how the boys treated the girls, either times have changed or perhaps it's an east coast thing, but the girls at TAC were accorded equal respect intellectually by the boys.

Of course, given that all classes at TAC were discussion, how could it be otherwise given the empirical evidence?

And your prof was correct, men do more perfectly possess the image of God, fallen nature likewise passes down through the father. Perhaps if your prof had brought up that aspect first the girls would not have been so displeased at their position in the ordering of creation. Better yet he should have better explained the underlying reasons for the statement.

Unfortunately, he probably expected more fertile soil than existed for his comment.

It should be noted that the difference between men and women is an accidental difference, but the difference does exist and with it comes natural accidental differences proper to those accidents.

With those accidents comes the proper ordering of society where it is proper for a woman to be with the children. True, not all women are equally maternal, but that doesn't change the nature of their positioning within society any more than a masculine woman should be placed within combat.

Sheila said...

In fairness, MOST of the men were very respectful, especially in class. There were just a few bad apples who truly believed themselves to be gentlemen, while not even noticing the ways in which they sidelined and disrespected women.

My professor was accurately describing the opinion of St. Thomas Aquinas, if that's what you mean. But considering that Aquinas thought that women were defective men who might be formed because the south wind was blowing at the time of their conception, I hope you forgive me if I don't take his opinion here as gospel. The class was rigorous and many of the students agreed with him. But I, despite having "fertile soil" in the sense of completely understanding his arguments, still disagreed. Is that so incomprehensible?

Look here. You have just marched onto my blog and dictated to me that I am wrong and you know better. I don't know you from Adam. If you want me to believe you, you'd better give me an actual reason.

Or should I just believe you because of your masculine prowess at reasoning, which my poor womanish intellect can't comprehend?

Belfry Bat said...

Since Adam has been mentioned: Eve was led astray by the serpent "the most cunning", a type of the devil who had rebelled from the beatific vision; but Adam was led astray by Eve, of whom cunning is never suggested. Eve was led astray through an argument (though a wrong one), but Adam asked for no argument at all.

I'm perfectly willing to entertain the proposition that men and women think differently; I'm perfectly willing to entertain the proposition that Benedict and Francis think differently. I've no interest at all in the proposition that nature of women is further from God than the nature of men, given that the human closest to God who isn't God is Mary. And we celebrated this yesterday.

Enbrethiliel said...


Now, I didn't study St. Thomas Aquinas at all in my (super-secular, post-modern mecca) university, but assuming that he has said that men have more of the likeness of God because they are more rational, what philosophical answer do we have to that?

Bat, I personally don't buy the Mary argument because we're talking about fallen nature here and Mary was redeemed before she was even conceived. But out of curiosity, if you were also in one of those Philosophy classes Sheila and LTG are describing, what did your professor say when you raised this objection to St. Thomas's ordering of creation?

Belfry Bat said...

Oh, if we're talking about fallen natures, why not study whether more violent crimes are committed by men rather than women, or whether more men than women commit violent crime? (these could theoretically have opposite answers, as it happens; I don't know, but I suspect, even with the ongoing abortion catastrophe, men have a long head start on both accounts).

For your other question... it's hard to do this quite honestly, since I'm able to edit and take my time to think, here.

1) "and He said, 'Let us make man in our own image... ' ... in his own image he made them, male and female he created them"

1') review the account of the Fall, as above

2) to exclude from reason what a capable mother does in her soul and brain to know and bring up her children, or to suggest that what a capable father does in the same regard is more reasonable or (to use the word in its thomistic sesne) conveniens is an abuse of language, if by "reason" we primarily intend the Divine Nature. God compares himself to both of these things.

3) the science of aristotle, esp. as regards the determination and development of sex in persons, and on which aquinas relied is woefully incomplete and has been superseded; among mammals, the principle indeed inheres in the male's contribution, but this belongs to the ordinary ordering of our created natures; moreover, since it is necessary, for generation, to produce both male and female offspring, ("and it was very good") it can hardly be called a failing in the male contribution when one happens and not the other.

4) In Ezechiel and elsewhere, it is clear that God wants all his people (both as a people and individually) to know that He is their God by analogy with how a wife knows her husband; and it is clear tradition handed down that this knowing encompases sense, sentiment, wisdom, and reason; yet it defies reason to think that God would have us understand our natures in terms of an inferior nature, or the knowing of Him by an inferior knowing.

love the girls said...


Forgive me for commenting on your comment. I didn't realize the error.

Nor was I thinking in terms of intellectual capacity when I spoke of fertile soil. There is as you know an expectation that those who attend schools such as Christendom have a background to see the world through certain kinds of eyes.

My daughter would not have been ruffled as you were, and my error, still are.

I appreciate your replies, and leave you to your thoughts on the matter.

Sheila said...

LTG, I was trying to get you to give a rational argument why my professor was right, not head for the hills. What I meant was that you can't wander up to a blog, announce "you are wrong and your professor is right," without backing that up in some way because I don't know you. Otherwise it comes across as just patting me on the head and telling me I'm dumb because I don't already agree with you.

E asks how we are to answer Aquinas. I say very simply: he takes as given a point that is never proven, that men are more rational than women. He probably assumes it because women of his time had no education, and perhaps also because he didn't know very many women. But no matter how long I hear the drivel that men are the head and women are the heart, it seems to me that both men and women possess intellects AND feelings. Men and women might express those differently -- it is more accepted for women to appeal to emotion than it is for men, and men tend to enjoy a knock-down, drag-out debate more than most women do. But that doesn't make women less rational in any sense.

And considering that women do as well in school as men, even when the teacher is a man; that women excel at all kinds of careers and not simply motherhood; that many women, when given the opportunity, have been very savvy leaders (see: Elizabeth I, Isabel of Spain, Maria Theresa of Austria, Cleopatra, Margaret Thatcher, Boadicea, etc.); that historically women have mastered such crafts as brewing, midwifery, and textile work which aren't any easier than comparable "men's work" .... it seems there is plenty of evidence to suggest women and women are equally rational.

And yes, as BB pointed out (thanks!), Aquinas was woefully mistaken when it comes to basic biology. It's what comes of just believing everything Aristotle tells you about science. So his sources of information are flawed from the start.

Enbrethiliel said...


As I said, I've never rigourously studied Aquinas, so I hadn't known that what he said about men being more rational was a postulate (and an assumption) rather than a conclusion.

Now excuse while I go and sow all your contributions in my fertile soil. ;-)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...