Puzzling Through Chaucer’s Feminist Intention in the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale

Well, I’d like to report that my student’s term paper is complete and I feel confident about the outcome.  That is not so far the case, though I feel confident that we WILL figure out the problems we are currently having and will adjust our body paragraphs just so to fit that refined premise.

These papers are like a jigsaw puzzle with lots of pieces spread all over the table, but no picture for guidance.  As pieces get put into place, slowly the image reveals itself.  At that point, new awareness enters and the process speeds up.  That is what we are aiming for early in the am.

Right now, I am going to bed.  Up at 6 am with a rested mind.

Trusting my subconscious will work out a few arguments while I sleep…

Here’s to intellectual curiosity.

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The Wife of Bath, Chaucer and Me

The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and her Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is taking up a good deal of my time these last few days.  One of my beloved college students and I are actively taking on two literary critics in what her professor calls a “literary conversation” regarding the Wife of Bath’s feminism vs antifeminism. This is a eight to ten page paper that requires coming up with an original claim, bringing in two critics and then refuting their claims with evidence from the primary source material, aka The Canterbury Tales.  That may sound simple to some, but let me assure you that it ain’t all that simple. My student has done a great job of reading lots of secondary sources and coming up with great quotes. Our next task (which has been ongoing for the past several days) is to construct a cogent argument that makes use of the information we’ve learned through the research.  In other words, paring down everything that does not somehow refute the critics’ claims and/or strengthen our claims. Eliminating information that is not right on point can be tough, but it is necessary when constructing a paper that flows easily from one point to the next.  The truth is we stopped tonight because my eyes were starting to cross from fatigue.  I have been working all day with college essay kids. We will resume at 9:30 in the morning since the paper is due on Thursday.

I enjoy this process. Great for keeping the mind sharp and honing analytical skills.  Just not so good to try to do late at night after a long day’s work.

Heading around the block with the dogs.

Talk tomorrow.

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Nico and Luna Visit

We had our grandbabies last night and for part of today.  I’m surprised that I am still awake at 9:52 pm since I am usually worn out by the time they leave.

This morning we got up early and worked on the Christmas tree.  Here are a few photos of that event.

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Then we went to church.  My goodness, it’s been a while since I’ve had little ones in church. Luckily we sat on the back row so Nico, Luna and I could visit St. Damion’s chapel several times just so Nico could walk around.  It’s a little tough on an eleven month old to sit still during a high mass.

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When we returned home, we ate lunch and then walked the movie, “Home.” Ray went sound asleep and I dozed as the kids watched this movie. I’ve already seen it at least four times, so I was content to rest, relax and allow my mind to drift.  When it was over, Luna turned to me and said, “I love that movie.”  Me too.

We headed out to the back garden after the film.  Luna has a little “room” which the plants surround and she calls it her house.  She played amid the bushes while Nico and I went from bush to bush, looking at and smelling the flowers.  Lovely.

Ray took them home around 5 since I had students arriving then.  I just finished with my last student and took the dogs around the block.  I couldn’t help but think that a trip around the block with the kids would’ve been a good idea too just to get them up and out.

Now I am going to bed.  This has been a full-enough day.

Good night to all.

Talk again tomorrow.

Back Home

After spending the last two days in Ontario at the LA Episcopal Diocese convention where we elected a bishop on the eighth ballot, I am now happily back home with grandbabies visiting for the night. Nothing makes me happier than having these little tykes around so all is well in that regard. As for the convention, it was my first and there were some contentious moments because we have some controversy within lthe diocese right now that has brought division, but overall it went remarkably well. The new Bishop won me over when he discussed the value of listening to one another so we can all feel heard. That is often much easier said than done; however, I can see the basic truth in his statement and am going to strive to listen a little better in my life.
Right now, I am heading to bed. The babies are aleep but they will wake early. I need to be rested.

At the LA Episcopal Convention Today Picking a New Bishop

I have spent the day at the LA Diocesan Convention in Ontario with several fellow St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood parishioners and clergy. We are voting on the next bishop for our diocese so this is an important time. We’ve had three ballots so far for the bishops and I am happy to say that my first choice, Father John Taylor, is so far pulling in the most votes. Still, there has to be a certain number of votes from the clergy as well as from lay people so there could be a few more ballots tomorrow.

I am reminded today of how lucky I am to have a church family like St. Thomas, the Apostle. What an intelligent, opinionated, loving and quick witted bunch! My life is so much richer because of this lovely quirky crowd.

Here we are at dinner tonight:

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Repost: Piano and Other Life Lessons

When I was growing up, I took piano lessons from Miss Virginia Baird. She lived in a brown-boarded two-story house on the corner of Main and 9th Streets, and she had at least thirty cats that lived in that great big house with her.
Miss Virginia loved most to talk about what was happening in school with the other kids, but she also managed to teach me how to read music and play the piano. From age eight until fifteen, I went to her every week, and she filled countless black and white composition books with her careful, flowing script.  I played “Moonlight Sonata,” “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and “Tarantella,” and graduated up to harder pieces by Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Year after year, I pushed on those black and white keys under Miss Virginia’s watchful eye. Slowly, I developed a basic understanding and love of music.
I remember thinking that Miss Virginia must be lonely. Her only friends seemed to be her sister who lived around the corner, her students, and her cats. She got dressed up every evening to walk the block and a half over to Miss Belle’s house for supper. I saw her at dusk many a night in her “Sunday best” dress, a black shawl draped over her stooping shoulders, and lace-up old lady shoes on her feet.
One day when I was around ten, Miss Virginia asked who was the cutest boy in my class.
I shrugged. “Philip Sewell is pretty cute,” I said. “And Allen Sanderson.”
She leaned so close that I could see the fine blonde hair on her rouged cheeks. “Do you know who the handsomest boy was in three counties when I was growing up?”
I shrugged. “No, ma’am.”
Miss Virginia’s eyes lit up behind her glasses. “Why, Len, it was your very own daddy.”
I heard how pleased her voice was. I smiled.
Miss Virginia leaned closer and said in a loud whisper, “Did you know that he and I used to date when we were young?”
I looked over at her and marveled. My Daddy and Miss Virginia?
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Later, at home, I sat down at the kitchen table while Daddy was making himself a ham sandwich and decided to get the story straight. “Do you like Miss Virginia?” I asked.
Daddy spread Miracle Whip on two pieces of white bread and glanced over at me. “Of course I like Miss Virginia.”
I leaned back, my bare feet touching the cool linoleum of the kitchen floor. “Did you know her when you were younger?”
Daddy cut a thick piece of ham and put it on his bread. “Sure I did. We’ve both lived here all of our lives.”
I reached over and took a little sliver of ham off the plate that had fallen from his knife. “Was Miss Virginia nice when she was younger?”
He glanced at me. “Well, if you’re asking me if she had all those cats like she does now … no, she didn’t. Those cats came after her mother died.”
I got up and went over to the refrigerator to get milk. “Her mother?” I asked as I got down two glasses and brought them back over to the table.
“I’m thinking you’ve decided you want a sandwich, too,” Daddy reached over and got out two more slices of Wonder bread.
I nodded. “What about her mother?”
Daddy reopened the jar of salad dressing. “Well, her mother got sick when she was pretty young. Miss Virginia decided to take care of her instead of getting married and having a family of her own.”
I watched as he cut another piece of ham. “Miss Virginia says that you two used to date.”
A pained expression came across his face. “Oh, my goodness, that was a hundred years ago.”
I looked at him carefully. He wasn’t denying that it happened. “You actually dated Miss Virginia?”
Daddy looked very serious. “I went out with her one time, for heaven’s sake.”
I sat and contemplated my father and Miss Virginia together. Did this mean that Miss Virginia could actually have been my mother instead of Mama? “She says you were really handsome.”
Daddy smiled in a bashful sort of way. “Well, I did have my pick of the ladies…”
That went back to my basic question. “Then why would you EVER date Miss Virginia?”
My father looked at me and sat down. “Len, you can’t ever judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
My mind instantly went to Miss Virginia’s black lace-up old lady shoes.
“Miss Virginia made a lot of sacrifices in her life to help her family. Her mother needed her and she was there for her until the day she died. Unfortunately, by then it was too late for Virginia to find a husband and have children of her own.”
“Do you wish you had married her?”
Daddy reached over and ruffled my hair. “And miss your mother? I don’t think so.”
I felt relieved. “Well, I think she still sort of likes you,” I said. “I could tell by her voice.”
My father smiled. “Well, she might be lonely, you know, living in that big house with just all those cats.”
I got up and went over to the stove. “Well, you ought to know that Miss Virginia talks like you were her boyfriend.”
He chuckled. “I swear it was only one date. And she was pretty back then.”
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The next time I went to Miss Virginia’s house, I tried to imagine how she might have looked when she was sixteen years old, all dressed up, and going out on a date.
The minute I sat down she asked, “Did you ask your daddy about when we were young?”
I thought about what Daddy had said about her being lonely. “Yes, ma’am.”
“And what did he say?” Her eyes were big behind her bifocal glasses.
I glanced down at her shoes, then looked back up at her. “Daddy said you were very, very pretty.”
Miss Virginia’s eyes lit up and she giggled. “Oh, that George Leatherwood,” she crooned. “He’ll be a rogue to the day he dies…”
And I’ll remember that happy look on Miss Virginia’s face for the rest of my life.
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Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay

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