Friday, January 13, 2012

The notoriety of it all.

I've been busy reading. First up on the list was Leslie Carroll's Notorious Royal Marriages, a book I had started before but suspected I hadn't finished. Turns out I did finish it that first time but I couldn't seem to put it down, it was so depressing. Being royal did mean power and money-most of the time-but it also was synonymous with heartache and depression. Henry VIII? Went through six wives and never found true happiness or contentment and worried to his dying day about the state of his soul because of his rift with the Pope (although it seems he never contemplated reversing his decision). Eleanor of Aquitaine, my personal favorite, was imprisoned for fifteen years because her husband, Henry Plantagenet, cheated on her and she had the temerity to be upset by it and to take action. She outlived him, however, and devoted herself to her sons, so I imagine she wasn't completely unhappy (although three of her sons died before she did, including her beloved Richard).

Then there were the modern-day royal marriages. Prince Charles had a girlfriend but she wasn't quite good enough for the royal court (which is rather funny, considering the antics of many of its members, living and dead) so he was instructed to find a proper royal womb. Diana fit the bill, and then millions of people tuned in to watch her walk down the aisle. Problem was, of course, that Charles had no intention of giving up his mistress. Diana could take action, however, something many of her predecessors could not do (although in other courts it seemed to be acceptable to discretely take a lover after the heir was born). She took lovers of her own and then decided to truly get back at the royal family, dishing about all the dirty laundry via the media. I must say I "hurrahed!" at this point, because I rather saw her as standing up for all the other English queens that had no voice (upon consideration I must add that I do not condone that action, but I completely understand why she did it). Then Diana's life came to a crashing halt and Prince Charles was free to marry the love of his life. It appears that there is some friction there, however, because Camilla is finding the life of a royal to be somewhat constricting.

Whew. That was only one modern marriage, but I think it's a good stopping point. That's not the only book I've been reading. I finished Dave Ramsay's The Money Answer Book this morning and my head is brimming full of ideas. It also put to rest most sympathy I had for the "we are the 99%!" protesters who have been sitting around and doing nothing, although they are asking for free money (which is a misnomer, someone is paying for it). Although some undoubtedly are having trouble finding a job I refuse to believe all of them can't find work. Wealth doesn't come easily (unless you inherit), most people have to sacrifice some creature comforts in order to attain it. I think we've (as a country) gotten away from the idea of hard work, pay cash, don't buy things unless you can afford them. I'm always amazed at the people who own nice cars yet live in dump heaps and have cable television yet complain they have no money. You can survive without those things and be happy.

Of course, there is an economic gap, and apparently that is something of concern because a shrinking middle class is not beneficial to an economy. I'm not an economist, neither am I a politician. I am, however, the daughter of an immigrant whose father and mother worked long, excruciating hours at a grocery store to save up enough money to eventually own their own business, several boats, and the latest in electronics and gadgets. On my mother's side I'm the descendant of many people who worked hard, saved hard, and now are wealthy. Right now I work full-time, my husband is ROTC and National Guard and working part-time and, in case that wasn't enough, going for his engineering degree. It's the first semester we haven't taken out loans (although of course that wasn't planned and at first I was really upset by it) and we will survive. Not only that, we will (if we stick to the budget, which is hard to do, I will be the first to admit) be able to put some money into savings. Upon graduation we won't have an increase in our living expenditures, although Damm will be making more than we pull in now. We'll be attacking our school debts, saving up for retirement, for our kids college funds. We don't have cable, we have an old car, we eat lots of rice and beans (although I do include enough variety in our diets to make sure we are healthy and that the kiddos are thriving), we don't go out to eat often and we won't be buying a home until we have enough to plunk a sizable amount of cash down. All that to say: if we can do it and have hope of being debt-free with a comfortable retirement and the ability to assist our kids, so can everyone else.

I will add (because I'm me and can't get away from putting myself in other people's shoes, even when I don't want to) that I don't like people being out on the streets, I don't want kids to go hungry, and I want everyone to find gainful employment. I might have little sympathy with the protesters (who seem to have gone away for the most part) but I do have empathy.

But enough of my sermonizing. Work hard, save hard and give hard. Now "hard" doesn't look like "hard", because I've typed it too many times. Does that happen to anyone else? When you look at a word too long and it looks weird? Anyway, Wulfa out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fidgety.


And bored. Fidgety and bored. It happens regularly this time of year. I would just console myself with the thought of another semester starting but, for me, that is not happening. So my brain is restless, and nowhere was that more evident than in church this past Sunday. I normally pay attention, take notes, and I was doing that, but the hair distracted me. It did not move. It was completely hair sprayed into place. After watching this phenomenon for a while I turned my attention to the other hair styles in the room, noting those that were obviously hair spray-plastered and those that were allowed to move freely. I definitely appreciate the free-moving ones; the other ones are rather scary. Wasn't that fascinating? Elucidating?

I did think of expanding my culinary abilities. So far I have made macaroni and cheese (not from a box!), reduced-calorie macaroni and cheese (once I figured out how many calories were in regular macaroni and cheese), Irish Soda Bread, Bread Machine breads and tonight I'll be trying a new chicken recipe. That only takes up so much time, however. So I decided I would grow herbs in my kitchen. I don't particularly like herbs, but it would be a learning experience and would expand the brain parameters. I haven't begun yet; this is a rather new resolution.

I also got the ambitious bug and began adding non-fiction books to my Nook wish list. After doing that it occurred to me that I have a slew of books I have bought but haven't read/finished, like Barbara Mertz's "Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs", and "Our Lincoln" by Eric Foner (edited by him, rather), and other ones I'm too lazy to get up to check the titles of. I might also resume my forays into classical literature. My mother made sure I had a good grounding; I've read Austen, Bronte, Chaucer, de Cervantes, Dickens, Dumas, Hawthorne, Homer, Melville, Poe, Shakespeare, Shelley (adored "Frankenstein"!) Sophocles, Swift, Stevenson, Tolstoy, Twain and Voltaire (among others). I haven't read Steinbeck or Faulkner, though, and I didn't read "Moby Dick" (I read "Bartleby the Scrivener"). Neither have I read Dostoyevsky; I've tried but was defeated. A long ways to go, then, to round off my adventures in literature.

And now I'm off to decide which non-fiction book I will start (or finish) first. This might be somewhat distracting; I bought each book in a spasm of delight because it was simply amazing! I love the subject matter! etc. Never, ever let me loose in the history section of any bookstore. It's bad.