"Like the study of science and art, accounts of historical events can be intrinsically fascinating. But they have a wider significance. I believe that people are better able to chart their life course and make life decisions when they know how others have dealt with pressures and dilemmas---historically, contemporaneously, and in works of art. And only equipped with such understanding can we participate knowledgeably in contemporary discussions (and decisions) about the culpability of various individuals and countries in the Second World War. Only with such understanding can we ponder the responsibilty of human beings everywhere to counter current efforts at genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"...we humans are the kinds of animals who learn chiefly by observing others---what they value, what they spurn, how they conduct themselves from day to day, and especially, what they do when they believe that no one is looking."
----Howard Gardner, from The Disciplined Mind, published in 1999

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Is Gumbo a Matador? Where Did Brick Get a Trident?; or, Procrastinating with Neroli

Last night I attended the first class of the second summer session of my school. Our instructor discussed her policy with us. We are dismissed earlier than the scheduled time, with one proviso: we are then to follow through to make up the time online by reading and digesting the online resource she provides, write a reflection on the resource, and then post it to a community board. The class is then able to read each other's reflection. Each student must also respond to one other posted reflection, thereby instituting virtual collaborative groups.

Dear reader, I awoke this morning with the Very Best of Intentions. I first replied to your comments. I wanted to write a post, one that addressed my need to cultivate mudita in my approach to this class. (Often when I meet people that I admire, dear reader, for their talents, I feel as if my learning curve will be most steep in order to keep up; in short: I can become intimidated if I am not careful. This is something I would not wish for you, dear reader, so it makes sense that I should work to avoid it for myself.)
I began to read more commentary on mudita. Time passed, as it always does. I resolved to visit the online resource for my class, and so I did. I began to type notes as I read.
Then Little Guy awoke. It was a beautiful morning, so we had breakfast together, and went outside. LG wanted to practice riding his bike without training wheels, and he needed some moral support; a male and female cardinal pair were chatting and flitting back and forth, and in the name of scientific inquiry, LG and I felt it best to take tea on the back porch and observe this charming pair so as to determine possible nesting locations, and therefore, best avoid disturbing the Happy Couple; soon it was time for lunch, and for the prepping of dinner.
One thing led to another, as they say, dear reader, and to make a long story short, we were driving on our way to see the World's Largest Hershey Kiss, Big Guy in tow, as his work shift was complete.
Is it real? LG asked as we approached the Venerated Object, the World's Largest Hershey Kiss.
Dear reader, he was answered by the wall of chocolate aroma we walked into immediately after he uttered the question, several yards away from the Kiss Itself.
Can I tell you in words how wonderful it was to be in the presence of such an object?
To celebrate, I had to buy the boys their chocolate confections of choice at the Artisan Chocolate stand: beautiful miniature chocolate pastries, served on a golden disk, eaten at a table beside the Kiss Itself.
Feeling happy and Good About the World, the boys began a favored activity: riffing on things that make them laugh. Thus, not only was I treated to a bite from each serving of pastry (fudge-filled shorbread, chocolate ganache-coated marble cake), I was a happily captive audience to my boys re-enacting a Mystery Science Theatre clip
and the gang fight scene from Ron Burgundy

My homework?
I managed to finally complete and submit it before the writing of this post.

What helped me was chocolate: the World's Largest Kiss-induced happiness, courtesy of LG and BG, and my Chocolate Mainline Happiness, the recipe which follows.

Neroli's Chocolate Mainline Happiness

Bring to a near boil:
1.5 cups water

1 heaping teaspoon jasmine tea (Earl Grey would also do quite nicely).
2 plump green cardamom pods, crushed.
Steep for 3 minutes. Strain into a deep-walled saucepan, and place the saucepan on a warming burner on the stove.

1-1 ounce square of 99% chocolate. I've used Scharffen Berger; it blends ever so nicely.

Add chopped chocolate to the strained hot tea in the deep-walled saucepan.
Whisk vigourously: not only to blend the chocolate, but to whip and froth the chocolate.

Pour into your favored drinking vessel.
Inhale the scent and drink happily, dear reader.


I have lots of neckties said...

I enjoyed your reflections on the distractions in our lives that assist us in procrastinating. Procrastination is, I fear, one of the things that would keep me from successfully working at home and telecommuting. Of course, my motivation level would undoubtedly be greater if I had more interesting work than I currently have. Even then, I’m afraid the TV might be too much of a distracter to overcome.

I can see it now: OK, I’m going to get started on this work, but first just this one episode of “McHale’s Navy”! And then, after I finally had gotten down to business: There. I spent an hour on that task. Let’s take a break and see what’s up with “Judge Judy”! Oooh, look! The “Beverly Hillbillies” are on after that!

Your posts of late have succeeded in conjuring up good memories for me. First it was the cherry-picking, and now it’s your references to “Anchorman.” I saw that with my daughter three summers ago, on a self-created double-bill with “Dodgeball.” We had a great time watching these two movies and laughing together. She absolutely loved Steve Carell as Brick, and she marveled at his obvious pride when he killed that guy with the trident. (Wait a minute…can what I just wrote be interpreted as my good memories are based on a guy getting killed with a trident??!?)

min said...

I love procrastination!! Isn't it really just smelling the roses?

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Ah ha! Now I know what to do with the cardamom seeds and the tea! I agree with Min - smelling the roses - it IS what life is all about - the other stuff is fine, but...!

neroli said...

Dear Lots Of, I'm glad to be stirring up those good memories for you---thanks!
We absolutely adore Brick as well--Steve Carrell's performance in that movie was absolutely sublime. Please don't worry about procrastination too much---you always manage, and admirably so!

Min, you're absolutely right, of course! And that's the crux of my problem---given my love of roses, literal and figurative.

Artist, your seconding Min's motion makes me even more glad I "procrastinated."
I use cardamom for many things---but do try the Mainline!
(now I'm sad that I didn't replace the chocolate I used up yesterday!)