Fainting Victorian Damsels

Mr. Wright’s comments on several delicate personalities working themselves up into a froth of hysteria over non-existent threats is worth reading. (Click through the links to the Vox Day post as well, for more amusement!)

Nags and termagants indeed. It’s almost as if women need to be protected from the harsh realities of the workaday world! Quick, we must ensure that no woman ever works in any position which might expose her to criticism from unhappy customers! This will, of course, result in all the women employees being assigned to night-shift truck unloading and janitorial services while the male night-shift truck unloaders and janitors take over positions like customer service and manager, but no sacrifice is too much when it comes to protecting frail flowers of femininity!

Oh, look: when you criticize a girl, she cries.

woman, on the other hand, behaves in a professional manner: she doesn’t insult her employer’s customers or cry when receiving criticism.

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Reading

I think I’m supposed to be reading more of the Related Works Hugo category stuff, but at the moment I’m not that interested in nonfiction. However, having looked at the remaining pieces of the voter packet, I seem to have saved the most-anticipated for last: Riding the Red Horse and Transhuman and Subhuman. I’ve probably read all or nearly all of T&S before on John Wright’s blog, actually.

In any case, my procrastination of the “assigned” reading has lead me to read 1632 and Live Free or Dieand I have to say I quite enjoyed both. I’m afraid that, coming out of the fantasy genre as I did, most “hard” or “milsf” had never really appealed when I’d read the covers of the books at the library. But I think my tastes are broadening. Which means there’s probably a lot of good stuff out there that I haven’t read yet. Yay!

Oh, and I also read American Ghoulwhich was entertaining. I do love a story in which sociopathic murderers get what’s coming to them at the hands of the protagonist. Thumbs up!

I even picked up the sequel to 1632 at the library. I may even go so far as to hunt for hardcopy at the used book store, since I suspect J will like it. The Troy Rising trilogy is all at the library, too – but it appears that American Ghoul doesn’t have anything more out yet.

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Four vs six

I really, really want a bigger fish tank for my cichlids.

A 125 gallon, six-footer, to be precise.

This isn’t to say that I’m not happy with my four-foot 75 gallon tank – not in the least! But it’s a matter of aesthetic scale. My planted tank is four feet long, 2/3rds as wide as the 75, and has a good number of much smaller tropical community fish as tank inhabitants. Other than the 5″ pleco, the largest fish there is perhaps barely 3″ long. The one-to-sixteen length ratio gives a very pleasing sense of space. (I realize that to attain this ratio with a fish that reaches 6″ at adulthood would require me to have a 240 gallon eight-footer, but I figure I need to step up slowly to that level. And move into a different house where the main living space is located on the ground floor.)

“Multiple tank syndrome” is a common ailment among the aquarium hobbyist community, but J is having none of that. So my only hope for more water is to convince him to let me go bigger! :D I’ll have to bide my time, though. Maybe wait a couple years until we get our ducks in order and move out to the country. I might actually manage to convince him to let me get an 8-foot tank if I can find a sweet secondhand deal and have somebody else move it!

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Let’s Move!

My favorite diet blogger is Tom Naughton, the guy who did the Fat Head movie – not least because his family moved out to the sticks and started farming! One of the things he talks about is how biochemistry influences behavior – basically, if you’re eating the wrong things, your body goes into “storage” mode: you get fat – and you become a couch potato. In that order. Not the other way around like the calories in – calories out folks think.

Well. I have a bit of data to add to the pile. If your guts are very, very, very sick, you can be a couch potato and still be losing weight. After realizing that my implementation of a low-carb diet was killing me by inches, I decided that I would have to do something a bit different. I went for potato starch and probiotic supplements, and started eating steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast – while continuing to try to keep my intake of wheat and sugar low.

Over the course of a couple months, my guts got better – better than I can ever remember them being. It’s been weird and great at the same time, though they’re still delicate.

But one thing that’s been a HUGE difference is that for the first time in my life, I can’t sit still! I’ve always been a big reader – “Horizontal Harriet,” my grandparents would call me, for lying on a couch reading for endless hours – but ever since my guts started healing, I’ve found myself less and less tolerant of physical inactivity during the day. (In the evening after I’ve tired myself out, that’s a different story.) I just can’t sit around reading things for hours without interruption anymore – even things I find quite interesting!

SO. MUCH. ENERGY. It’s crazy – is this what being healthy feels like? Sure, I still have slow days when I’m not feeling well, especially if I’ve pushed things too far and stumbled into “typical American” diet choices. But suddenly the superwomen who are always doing all sorts of things have started to make more sense to me – they probably just have very healthy metabolisms, whereas I definitely don’t.

Now to leverage that energy into weight loss – well, that’s the hard part, since I do struggle with the temptation to overeat and eat the wrong (sugary) things. Especially at night. It’s a work in progress for sure!

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Fishwater

This week one of the “big chores” on my to-do list was “clean fish tank filters.” I run XP3s on the 75 and the 55 – canister filters with baskets you can fill with whatever media you want. I’ve got mechanical, bio, and chemical filtration in them right now, after having run my tanks without chemical filtration for some time. The filter pads needed rinsing and I wanted to check the Purigen, because I’m not sure yet how often I will need to recharge it.

I have trouble with creating good routines, so I figured I’d write the date of the last time I cleaned the filter and charged the Purigen on masking tape and stuck it onto the filter. Bingo – date on the side equals total guilt-free tank maintenance and no wondering “how long has it been since I cleaned this?”

Now that I’m gardening more intensively, I figure that my “livestock” can help out more than the plants in their tanks – the mulm* from the fish filters is going into the raised beds instead of being rinsed down the drain. I’ve also started running my siphon hose out to my beds – by sticking it out of second-story windows! I’m not sure how fertile that water is – when I’ve tested the nitrate content previously, even in the bioload-heavy cichlid tank the nitrates are well below 20ppm, perhaps because I’m using Seachem Matrix as biomedia. (The appearance of red algae on the rocks tells me that dissolved organics have been running fairly high, however.) I’m guessing the planted tank water is probably not full of nutrients – but I might as well water my plants with the water I’m getting rid of anyway.

*Mulm is partially decomposed fish poo and plant detritus. It only stinks if something goes badly, badly wrong, so cleaning the filters is less gross than you might imagine. Dragging the canister out from under the tank and sanitizing the sink after cleaning are actually the most annoying parts.

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In the Garden

When we bought this house (a foreclosure) the very first thing we did after closing was to start improving the landscaping, which had been terminally neglected for many years. Last year’s big projects were re-grading and reseeding the front lawn and building raised garden beds for the back yard, projects which are paying dividends now! The front lawn is no longer a disgrace, and the back yard is providing food.

While we were redoing the front yard, we took the opportunity to expand the flower bed – but due to its orientation (north side of the house, gets morning and evening sun) and a sizable Bradford pear, that patch of ground has been difficult. Sort of “too shady for full sun plants and too sunny for shade plants.” (The rabbits don’t help, either!) Last fall I put in a few reblooming azaleas, and despite the harsh winter, all three pulled through. I don’t know how well they bloomed, since we were in Europe at the time, but I’m hoping they’ll do well in the shade under the tree. But I’m determined to have a pretty front yard – even if that means doing more outdoor care than I’ve done previously!

I’ve been walking around the neighborhood to see what other people are doing with their yards – mostly evergreens. I have one dwarf blue spruce, unfortunately sporting a bare patch where I let the roses overgrow it while I was ill last year. Some people do have rose bushes, but those tend to be in full sun, rather than my patchy shade. The Knockouts bloom quite well during their first flush in the spring, but afterwards they’re a little anemic. This year I’m going to try fertilizing them on a schedule, since the soil is quite poor, and see if some extra nutrients will give them a good boost. (They also get chewed by sawflies, so really I ought to spray regularly too.)

But even with azaleas and roses, the bed is still fairly bare and unfinished-looking – so I went and picked up some hostas from the nearest garden center. I’ll definitely have to water regularly throughout this season at least, since I’ve planted them in the tree’s “rainshadow”! But I’m hoping that having a whole bunch of them will help with rabbit nibbling in the spring – when I tried a few hostas before, the rabbits would eat the new shoots as soon as they poked above ground.

I got four different varieties – two fairly large specimens, a “blue”-leafed one and one called Guacamole (no kidding!) as the centerpieces, then a kind supposedly more sun-tolerant with bright yellow centers for the edges. I also got a few cute “mouse ear” hostas for sidewalk edging – those must have been popular, because when I went back for more “melon” hostas there weren’t any mouse ear hostas left!

Meanwhile the surviving Minuteman hosta from previous years is growing in the shade bed in the back yard, which I filled with a few potted shade plants I’d bought previously and a packet of mixed flower seed – as well as chives, onion, and garlic. One onion that I had left over from last year is blooming, which is interesting, and maybe I will get it to reseed itself in that bed. (The chives certainly spread happily to nearby containers after blooming!)

The strawberry plants didn’t produce much this year, but then, they’d barely been hanging on in a terracotta strawberry pot until last fall, and I’m not really up on the whole trimming the runners bit. The raspberries and blackberries seem to be quite happy in their bed – setting fruit on the old branches and throwing up tall canes that gives me hope for a good harvest next year! I’ll have to pinch the tops so they don’t grow too tall and figure out some kind of support structure. The peas I planted in the front of that bed aren’t growing that well, though.

Meanwhile in the “sunny” raised bed, I got a volunteer sunflower, the wild blackberry stem survived and is growing its own cane (covered in thorns, of course), the blueberry bush has a few blueberries growing, the container raspberry bush is growing quite low and compact (it took the worst frost damage of any of them, so isn’t setting much fruit) – and the peas grew into gigantic tall things! Apparently I shouldn’t have put them in the front of that bed! Next year they’ll go in back. There’s a pair of bell peppers behind them that I’m hoping will grow nicely in that spot – I have the worst trouble with bell peppers, but every year I’m always trying again. It’s as if our yard is too hot for them – they get all wilty, even when they’ve got plenty of water in their Earthbox, and so I end up having to shade them.

The tomatoes, on the other hand, love the heat. Last year I was totally overwhelmed by the Sweet 100 cherry tomato – I think I’ve got its offspring growing in odd crevices all around the yard! I said I wouldn’t plant another one this year and plant roma instead, but then my BIL promised to come pick extra fruit and take it, so I went ahead and got another indeterminate cherry tomato along with the beefsteak tomato. I had grand plans of making a PVC trellis modeled after one I saw on Pintrest, but with our long vacation, that plan came to nought and we ended up changing our A-frame support into a large box support for the tomato vines. Hopefully they’ll look nice all year this way instead of forming a gigantic tomato tower and growing along the ground by the end of the summer.

I planted lettuce from seed, which worked out really well once I covered the box to keep the birds out of it. It seemed the house-sitters didn’t harvest any while we were gone, though I encouraged them to take all they wanted! I sliced the tops off for salads and it’s starting to grow back – we’ll see how long I can keep it going before the heat makes it bolt. I’ve got it in the shadiest spot in the yard – but even in the shade it can get very hot with the sun reflecting off the house!

In any case, that’s what I’ve been up to lately, around doing the regular household chores and watching the latest Hugo kerfluffle.

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Fisking: What We Get Wrong about Women Submitting to Their Husbands

Oh boy. Look what showed up in my Facebook feed – shared by my BIL, liked by his feminist sister, and one of my premarital counselors(!).

What We Get Wrong about Women Submitting to Their Husbands

First red flag: it’s posted at something called “Relevant Magazine.” Hooboy. Nothing like a warning up front that the contents will be lacking in reason, logic, and any brush of actual informed knowledge on any serious matter! (I suppose I could be judging the website wrongly based on a single article, but somehow I really doubt it.)

The other day, I tuned into a show that’s turning some heads. It’s called Submissive Wives’ Guide to Marriage and it aired on TLC in mid-May.

The show follows three couples who claim to be living the life of a “submissive wife” and vouch that this has been the saving grace to their happy marriages.

The show’s main character, submissive wife Tara, says that the motto of a submissive wife is to: “Help her man, serve her man, submit to her man and sleep with her man.”

While I’m all for helping, serving and sleeping with my husband, the show left me feeling empty and wrestling with some serious questions I’ve struggled with in light of this really important, yet delicate topic, often only partially discussed in Christian circles.

So, woman watches reality show on television, and the testimony of a submissive wife who has the courage to say on television that she’s a happy, submissive wife gives this “counselor and relationship specialist” the FEELBADS.

As a counselor and relationship specialist, the truth of the matter is that I’ve seen this concept of “submission” defined and redefined in so many ways. Sadly, I’ve seen it used to fulfill selfish agendas and aid in manipulation, and at times, even abuse. As a Christian, I’ve grown up in conservative circles hearing conversations about being a “submissive wife,” but sometimes not as much about establishing a loving marriage.

Now as a counselor and relationship specialist, what kind of relationships are going to form the majority of your experience? That’s right, the BAD ONES. The ones where people are struggling with particularly difficult sins.

Now, “submission” itself is never set forth as a list of actions which all of us Pharisee-inclined humans would really, really like to have. There’s no divinely mandated set of rules. God just says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” Now, that’s pretty darn submissive, if you’re a Christian and attempting to wholeheartedly follow all the Lord’s commands. It doesn’t mean you don’t cry out to the Lord when you’re in pain and confused with how His Will seems to be going for your life, however. (See: Book of Job.) Christ doesn’t expect His Church to be a silent doormat in the face of pain, but He does expect us to keep following Him even when it hurts.

As I look through Scripture and even zoom in on the Ephesians 5 passage where this idea comes from, I see so much more about love than submission. In fact, the word “love” is used in some way, shape or form more than twice as much as the word “submission” in the referenced passage. There is a significant umbrella of love that is foundational to this concept, but so many times, it gets overlooked.

Yes, there is love involved in submission: that would be “the love of God,” which is the foundation of Christian obedience. But I expect our feminist Christian relationship counselor to elide right over 1 Peter 2 and 3, where wives are commanded to submit to unbelieving husbands as a slave to a harsh master, and drop God’s command to wives so that she can start talking about God’s command to husbands instead.

Training a wife to submit to an unloving husband is like training a child to swim without water—it simply misses the mark, because there’s so much more to it than the superficial strokes. It’s so much deeper than that!

Called it. Oh, no, it’s okay for Christians to ignore the fact that a woman who is already married really is called to submit to an unloving husband. I suspect that condition – believing wife married to an unloving pagan husband – happened fairly often in the early days of Christianity. However, that cultural context is quite different from what we have to deal with today. Ours is much, much easier. Women even get to pick their own husbands!

Too many women have been bogged down in unhealthy and dangerous relationships yet answered with the simple concept of “submission,” rather than getting the real help they need to tackle and heal the root problems in their marriage.

There’s more to a healthy marriage than submission, and that more is found in the unconditional, life-giving, marriage-nourishing love of Christ that has to be both given and received by husband and wife. Maybe it’s time we zoom in on that.

No doubt many women have indeed been bogged down in unhealthy and dangerous “relationships” that they should have gotten the help to break off before they married the guy. And no doubt there is an acute lack of resources to help women who are unhappily married, since the modern solution in many churches is “just get a divorce!” But notice Satan’s lie: “love of Christ that has to be both given and received by husband and wife.”

NO. That is false. The only thing a wife needs for her submission is the love of Christ given to her alone. The Bible is clear that a wife married to an unbelieving husband is just as bound by God’s instruction to submit as women with believing husbands are. Maybe her marriage won’t be “healthy” or happy, but it will be GODLY on her part – the only part of it under her control. God will wipe away every tear – in Heaven. In the meantime, He tells us that following Him will be difficult and painful.

Now onto the next section: “Have we placed our own cultural gender roles on a spiritual concept?

Another thing I found myself questioning throughout the TLC show was the idea that “submission” meant that a wife has to learn to be a good homemaker. I can confidently say I don’t see that anywhere in Scripture.

I guess our “relationship counselor” has never read Proverbs 31.

One theme that kept shining through this particular show is the idea of creating  “a happy husband” through cooking, cleaning, laundry and sex.

I won’t deny that most men, my husband included, love and appreciate the things their wives do to show them love. But isn’t there a difference between acts of service toward our spouse and biblical submission? Could it be that we have placed our own cultural gender roles on a spiritual concept?

I truly believe we’ve done the concept of biblical submission a terrible disservice by lumping it into the category of simply being a good homemaker. Not only so, but I believe that many women who aren’t necessarily gifted in this way may feel slighted and offended by the thought that the reflection of their submission and love is measured by the cleanliness of their house or the quality of their cooking.

Once more, an element of truth to make the lies slide down easier. Submission isn’t graded on how well you keep house. Since, you know, submission is an attitude, not any one particular action. You could be the best homemaker in the country and still keep an attitude of rebellion in your heart. Considering there were college girls who couldn’t do their own laundry when they moved into the dorms, an emphasis on not being totally incompetent at caring for your own basic needs as an adult sounds like something that our culture actually does need to (re)start providing young women.

Submission may not be synonymous with acts of service, but a wife who despises doing the very household chores that everyone has to do because her husband will also benefit from her labor is signaling quite clearly that she is rebellious and unloving, not submissive. The answer to the FEELBAD of “Suzie is a better homemaker than I am” is to stop coveting your neighbor’s skillset and start practicing your own. You don’t have to be “gifted” to keep a clean and tidy house! Oh, and if you’re offended that someone who cooks better than you is seen as a better wife… jeez, get over yourself, sugarcube. Obviously “better wife” is only graded on how hot your sex life is, but they can’t obsess over that on TLC. (Alert for the humor impaired: this is a joke.)

Next section: “Have we focused too much on the superficial without tackling the heart of the issue?

Yup, and the one focusing too much on the superficial without tackling the rebellious heart of the issue would be… Debra K Fileta, who is offended that some women have found happiness in their marriages through fulfilling a calling to be domestic champions. The following section – which I won’t copy/paste here – is nothing more than Debra admitting that she struggles with the temptation to cling to control, then going on to testify that she’s at the point where she’s surrendered some control, but only because she trusts her believing husband. It’s apparent that Debra has not surrendered control to God, and that she doesn’t really trust God’s instructions for wives to submit. Once again, she skips over all that difficult “wifely submission” stuff and prefers to talk about how it’s her husband’s “love and submission to Jesus” that gives her the confidence to let go.

So what happens if he goes through a midlife crisis and becomes an atheist, but doesn’t abandon the marriage? Would Debra still submit to her husband, as God has called her to do?

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”  Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.”

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