Friday, December 28, 2007

Where have I been?

The answer is sick. I spent a day in bed with a bad cold turned to flu and another day on the couch with the same complaint and an extracted tooth. I'm still not quite up to speed but I'm hoping to recover and be posting a bit more regularly soon. I've got some books to review as soon as I can take the time to sit down and do it.

Why I write

I want to spin a story out of nothing, to paint the tale of the people in it against a blank wall in vivid colors, to make their world real for the time it takes to tell their story. I want to tell the kind of story that stays with you long after the covers of the book are closed, that enters into your life in some quiet way. I want to tell a story that smiles a little, that cries a little, that faces the darkness and comes out stronger.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Living by a different time

Or perhaps I should have said, living by a different calendar. You see, myself and my family are Old Calendar Orthodox Christians. *NOTE: I am not getting into The Debate here. I am simply telling how this has been a part of my life. Those of you who are not Orthodox may be confused here, but don't worry. If you don't know what I'm talking about, the note doesn't apply to you.* Being Old Calendar means that our church life is thirteen days behind everyone else. For instance, today is the 7th of December OC, not the 20th. Our worldly lives use the usual Gregorian calendar (anything else would be a tad awkward) but our religious lives operate on a different time frame.

Around this time of year the difference seems startlingly apparent. Practically, it means that December 25th (Gregorian) isn't Christmas. It's the feast of St. Herman of Alaska. Similarly, January 7th isn't just another day--it's the Lord's Nativity. It means that certain dates have great resonance for us which the rest of the world doesn't even think of, while other dates are far less busy than they are for others. For myself, New Year's has always seem stuck in the middle of St. Herman and Nativity.

Since my parents are converts we experience some of the more "normal" excitement surrounding December 25th. We generally open presents from our non-Orthodox relatives on that day so they don't think we've forgotten about them. But in a way, it's their day not ours, and our hearts really glow more at the thought of the beginning of Orthodoxy in America than sugarplums and snow fairies.

I like having this very literal sense of Orthodoxy operating on a different temporal plane than the rest of the world. I like that Christmas for us remains uncomercialized, still wonderful for its sacredness, not for its presents. Though, of course, I like the presents.

This is killing me

We're taking care of a dog for two weeks. She's a lovely little spaniel and as sweet as they come. But that's not the point. The point is, I was taking her for a walk this morning and we passed a house that had a sign with "Christmas" "Jesus" and "Remember Him." The decorations on the house were a Christmas-y train and an inflatable Santa.

Oh, the irony.

It always amuses me when people profess support for a certain position but then don't follow up on it with their actions. Of course, I'm not a huge fan of most yard Nativity scenes either since I find most of them corny in the extreme, but at least you're decorating your yard according to your stated principles.

Back to the dog, for a moment. As far as walks go, she pulls a lot. Which is fine, but it's certainly a different way of going around the neighborhood. Instead of sedately wandering down the street, I'm pulled along with about forty pounds (an estimate, probably far off) of Dog on the end of the leash. Dog in a new place with lots of interesting smells, no less. It only got really bad when she noticed the flock of birds in the grass up ahead of us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Update

Just a quick personal update. I'm swamped by finals and stressing out about a paper that is refusing to be written, which is why I haven't posted much lately. Unless the paper manages to write itself by the time I go to bed tonight, don't expect to see me around until Saturday or Sunday.

But have a happy Windsday! (What's left of it.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Quote from my current reading

"I just try to warn people who hope to be published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. The thing you had to force yourself to do--the actual act of writing--turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony."

--Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p. xxvi

Good writing

A forum I visit is having a writing contest based on the prompt "Winter." To get some ideas I re-read Wallace Stevens' "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." Good writing like this fills me with a certain satisfaction that nothing else can. I'm not saying that it's the best satisfaction, but it is peculiar to writing, a certain voice that says "yes" very quietly when I finish it. Then I am left with feeling of great space and often sigh deeply and look out of the window, if I happen to be near one.

It's a strange way of judging a piece of writing and certainly entirely subjective, but I can't deny that those writings which cause that reaction are in a special category and are those which I am most likely to touch very gently when they are sitting on the bookshelf, to put somewhere easily accessible. They're the ones I tend to return to again and again, both reading them and thinking about them.

A short list of these:

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"
The Blue Sword
The Thirteenth Tale
"Death be Not Proud"
The Rosemary Tree
"The Lake Isle of Innisfree"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

School things

I had my last class of Medieval Art and Architecture today. Very sad. I really enjoyed that class since it was a subject I was interested in but didn't know much about. It was also very well taught and set up. I had brief crazy thoughts of switching to an art history major, but they died a quick and painless death. I'm an English major through and through.

My schedule for next semester is as follows:
Russian 232 (fourth semester)
Upper level creative writing poetry
Intro to Anthropology
Intro to Biology

The last two take care of the last of my general education requirements.

My study abroad application is in. Now I wait until March to find out if I'm accepted or not.

I'm busy with finals, so I'm not sure how much I'll be posting until the end of the week. Next week I have two finals on Friday and a paper due by Saturday, but the beginning of the week I'll have no class and no tests.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My namesday


It's the Entry of the Theotokos into the temple and therefore my namesday. My parents gave me a beautiful woven bookmark with an icon of the Theotokos on it.

I've always liked my namesday because it's a quiet and tender kind of feast.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

November Reading List

The Amber Spyglass--Philip Pullman: Probably my least favorite out of the three books. I feel that it's too preachy and unequivocal to be a good story. It also seems to me that Pullman's language is much flatter and less interesting in this one.

The Farthest Shore--Ursula LeGuin: One of the Earthsea series. It was probably my least favorite out of all of them, although I love Lebbannen. I would still re-read it, and it's Ursula LeGuin, so it can't be bad.

Don't Let Me Be Lonely--Claudia Rankine: For my poetry class. A beautiful set of poems. I think there are a few parts that would be disturbing for some, so tread carefully if you object to violence.

Tehanu--Ursula LeGuin: I like this book overall, although LeGuin becomes very explicitly feminist and there is a little, um, interesting bit at the end. But overall, a very satisfactory finish to the Earthsea series.

The Good Thief--Marie Howe: Another book of poetry. Very beautiful poems, although pretty explicit in places, so I can't just recommend it.

A Man Lay Dead--Ngaio Marsh: A re-read. I love Inspector Alleyn.

Enter a Murderer: Ditto the above.

A Passage to India--E.M. Forster: For Literary Theory. It was okay. Not great, though.

Brinkley Manor--P.G. Wodehouse: The man is a genius. This is the one with Gussie Fink-Nottle and Aunt Dahlia and Madelyn Bassett. And Jeeves and Wooster, naturally.

Morality for Beautiful Girls--Alexander McCall Smith: The third in the Botswana detective stories. I really like these books for the simplicity of the language and the main characters.

The Kalahari Typing School for Men: Ditto the above, except it's the fourth book.

The Inheritance of Loss--Kiran Desai: Another Literary Theory book. Not my favorite. Enough said.

Death of a Peer--Ngaio Marsh: This could well be one of my absolute favorite Ngaio Marsh books. I love the Lampreys and I love Roberta Grey, and I love Inspector Alleyn.

The King of Attolia--Megan Whalen Turner: Have I mentioned how much I love this series? Because I just discovered it this summer and I can't stop reading it. It's amazing! Loves Gen and Attolia and Eddis and Sophos and....

A Clockwork Orange--Anthony Burgess: One of the most interesting books I've read in a long time. It's written in a made-up street slang which derives from Russian. Since I'm taking Russian I had fun deciphering the meanings. But it would be really confusing if I didn't speak Russian! It's very dark and violent, so be warned, but it's definitely a good read if you can handle it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Icons

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling very cold and empty. No particular reason, just the early morning gloom that I sometimes wake up with. I got out of bed and dressed and went into my prayer closet (I do literally have a prayer closet, or rather I have my icons and prayer books on a bookcase in a closet) to do the Morning Prayers.

I wasn't really thinking about it, but at the end I reminded myself to kiss the icons that are on the top of the bookcase and hung on the walls. As I did so, I realized that I'm not all alone. The icons reminded me that there is the cloud of witnesses St. Paul talks about, the Church Triumphant, which prays for us if we ask it. I literally felt so warm and joyous! It was such a remarkable change from what I had been feeling just before.

It strikes me as interesting that I needed that physical contact with wood and paint to remind me of the Scripture. I needed my cloud of witnesses there. I think that is one of the reasons I love the Orthodox church. It recognizes that we do live in a fallen world and need our senses raised up to heaven.

My "prayer closet"

A blessed day

Today is the Old Calendar beginning of the Nativity Fast AND St. Herman of Alaska's feast day AND St. Paisius Velichkovsky's feast day! It ought to be a blessed day if any of them are!

St. Herman

Troparion, Tone 4

Blessed ascetic of the northern wilds/and gracious intercessor for the whole world/teacher of the Orthodox Faith/and good instructor of piety/adornment of Alaska and joy of all America/holy Father Herman/pray to Christ God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion, Tone 8

Monk of Valaam and beloved of the Mother of God/new zealot of the desert-dwellers of old by thine ascetic labors/having taken prayer as thy sword and shield/thou didst reveal thyself as terrible to demons and pagan darkness/wherefore we cry to thee O saint Herman/pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.

St. Paisius Velichkovsky

Troparion, Tone 4

O Paisius the joy of Russia/the boast of Athos and the wonder of Moldavia/by thy divinely inspired teaching, thou dost direct us to the found of wisdom and salvation./And now enjoying in heaven the vision of Christ God,/entreat Him to grant us His great mercy/and save our souls.

Kontakion, Tone 1

As a patristic bee, O Father Paisius,/thou didst gather the precious pollen, collecting and preserving the teachings of the Holy Fathers,/ and the golden honey of sanctity produced in thy hive/thou didst bequeath by God's Providence to the last Christians/to guide us in leading a God-pleasing zealous life./Therefore let us struggle while it is still day/with the time and weapons which God has given us.

St. Herman on Orthodox Wiki
St. Paisius on Orthodox Wiki

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I did it!!!

50, 015 words and I'm not done yet! But I'm an official winner. The proof:



And you know what? I can't wait for next year. Even though I have no idea what I'll write about.

Almost there

I'm at 49, 659 words. And I'm not going to bed until I'm a winner. Actually, I think there's a little more story left to be told, so I may be more than a winner.

I'm excited, but a little sad to think that soon I'll be leaving my characters for awhile. Oh well, I have other characters just languishing for a little attention.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ramblings

I just decided that I wanted hot chocolate even though I've had tea several times already today. Unfortunately, that meant that I had to go fill up the water pitcher, which meant walking down the hallway again.

Drat.

Well, it's filled now, so chocolatey happiness will be arriving soon. And I won't be able to drink it after Wednesday, when the Old Calendar Nativity Fast starts. And if you don't know any of those capitalized words, it's all right.

I hate feeling like I have so much to do! I also strongly dislike those helpful people somewhat older than myself who, when I express that feeling, respond, "It'll only get worse." Not really what I wanted to hear, although I'm sure it's true. But I still haven't written anything in NaNo today, I need to continue my study abroad essay, I need to write a poem which is different from all the other poems I've written for that class, I need to do Russian homework, I need to do laundry, I need to return books (honestly, that one's not happening), I need to write up my Christmas gift/card list STILL, I need to post about the novel we're reading for my literary theory class, I need to finish the prizes for the giveaway winners (no, I haven't forgotten, yes, they're almost done).

And it's 7:00. I'm procrastinating. But I also want to update this blog, so I don't feel this is a waste of time, especially as I had to wait for the water to travel through the water filter anyway. But it's done now and I have (proverbial) miles to go before I sleep. So au revoir!

Art History resources

These are a few resources that have come up recently in my Art History course (Medieval Art and Architecture). These would be helpful for homeschooling, or for anyone interested in this sort of thing.

Turning the Pages: A British Library website where you can look at a number of original manuscripts online and turn the pages with your mouse. It is amazing. The Lindisfarne Gospels, The History of England by Jane Austen, and Mozart's musical diary are a few of the possibilities. Did I mention how cool this is?

The Bayeux Tapestry on Youtube: An animated version of the Bayeux Tapestry. Honestly, the music is my favorite part. I got Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, and O Fortuna.

Make your own Bayeux Tapestry.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thankfulness

Molly tagged me for this meme, so I guess I'd better do it. I actually didn't even notice that she'd tagged me until now, and unless I finish it I'll forget. So here goes:

5 Things I’m Thankful For Meme:

1. Write down five things that you’re thankful for.
2. Tag five friends who you’d like to see participate in this meme.
3. (Optional) Include a link to this post and encourage others to place a link to their completed meme in the comments section of this post so we can keep track of the thankfulness running around the blogosphere.

I am thankful for:

1. My parents. You may all say, "Aw, how sweet" if you wish. It's true. They gave me so much that I cannot even imagine life without. I mean, Orthodoxy, homeschooling, writing...man the list just keeps going on and on.

2. Books. No, seriously, this isn't a frivolous one. I should just make a collection of all the wonderful quotes about books there are out there. But here's one of my recent favorites, from a movie version of Arabian Nights: "Stories tell us how to live and why." And that's so true. There is a reason I am an English major. Books are so much a part of my life, it's slightly ridiculous. As you can probably tell, if you spend any time around this place.

3. God. Well, maybe this should have gone first. I mean, yes it should. It's first in importance. But I'm typing these as I'm thinking about them, and so often we start with the mundane (not that my parents are mundane, but you know what I mean) and move up. I don't have a conversion experience, or a time when I accepted God into my heart. He's just always been there. And now I work at deepening and strengthening my relationship with Him, growing and learning ways to serve Him. But I hope and pray that it will always be there.

4. Chocolate. Okay, this one is frivolous. But I am also thankful for it. Dark chocolate, of any sort...so amazing. I'm done.

5. Hmmmm.....I guess this one would really have to be friends. I don't know how I would make it all on my own! So many times my friends have given me the encouragement and guidance I've needed desperately. Thank you all.

And I'm never sure who's reading this exactly, so if you'd like to, you're tagged!

What ho!

I know I said I wouldn't be online, but guess what? I found wireless in the living room. Evidently it doesn't go all the way back to my bedroom, which is where I'd always tried it before.

Thanksgiving was nice. We had a few people over for dinner from church.

I've been enjoying the Alexander McCall Smith books. My mom and I have been reading them. My family tends to pass books around to each other. Anyway. That be my book update.

And I'm at 43,000 words at NaNo. If I write 2,000 words a day for four days, I'll win. I hope it works!!

Time for lunch!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bye for now

I'm going home for Thanksgiving, so I'll be off-line until sometime Sunday. See you then!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thinking about language

I've been taking Russian for the last three semesters. It's an interesting language to study because it's so much more subtle than English. Russian makes all kinds of distinctions that English doesn't bother with, or at least doesn't bother with anymore. For instance, if you're going somewhere on foot you use a different verb than if you're going somewhere by transport. And then there's the imperfective/perfective question: is this a repeated action or are you going to/have you done it one time and one time only? English really only uses "to go" in these situations. Well, I guess you can count "to drive" and "to ride," but that gets a bit iffy.

And then there's "where." English uses "where" for "Where are you?" and also "Where are you going?" and "Where are you coming from?" Russian uses a different word for each of these. My professor explained it in terms of where, whither, and whence. Which is interesting, because suddenly I understand so much better how both the Russian and the English words function. This is true of whom as well. Before I studied Russian I couldn't point out the direct object of a sentence to you and I don't know if I had even heard of indirect objects. But because Russian uses different cases for the subject, the direct object, and the indirect object, I can now figure out what they are in English. Most of the time.

Which leads me to this: sometimes the things we study make strange connections to entirely different areas. I mean, who knew that studying Russian would clarify English grammar for me? I guess there is some correlation there since they are both languages. But I just wrote a paper from my art history class which relied heavily on the ideas of the historian of religion Mircea Eliade, whose work I had first read in my Celtic Spirituality (Christianity, although it didn't say so) class first semester.

And leads me finally to this: let your mind make connections. We usually get our education in discrete packages: this is art history, this is math, this is English, this is Russian. We don't have to leave them in those discrete packages. Cut the string and let them be friends. Okay, yes that metaphor was a little strange. But you get the point. There are interdisciplinary connections. Explore them and see where it takes you.

Quilts

This was written a loooong time ago--as in August 15th. I was waiting to sew up a square to photograph and then our camera went on the fritz and then I came to school. So here's the incomplete post.

I mentioned in this post that I was planning to start a quilt. Well, this did indeed happen and here is the proof:


It's a nine-patch quilt, which means that each square is made up of nine smaller squares sewn together. These are some strips of three which will in turn be sewn together to make the larger sqaure. I'm trimming excess thread.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yipes

It is most definitely hailing outside. Glad I'm indoors!

Beowulf and Tolkien

Given my track record with films made out of movies that I enjoy, it's perhaps not surprising that I am very, very dubious about this new "Beowulf" film. I mean, they cast Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother. And apparently she has no clothes on. Something tells me they're not too worried about staying true to the text, or even the spirit of the text. And I wonder if they'll even include the later parts of the story, you know when Beowulf fights the dragon. This is a pity because I, along with some other important people like J.R.R. Tolkien, see that part as pretty central to the story as a whole.

There's also this strange mis-conception going around the internet that Beowulf inspired The Lord of the Rings. Well, of course it did, there's no getting around it. It's part of the "leaf-mould" that Tolkien talks about in a few places. But the whole point of the leaf-mould is that it cannot be reduced to any one tree. It combines and disintegrates and becomes something different, a rich compost. So to say baldly that Beowulf was the inspiration for LotR is ignoring the complexities of any author's inspirational process and especially Tolkien's.

Read the poem, ignore the movie.

Thoughts on blogging

I wrote a post awhile ago while thinking about why I sometimes find it difficult to find things to blog about. I'm still thinking about that topic because it's interesting to me and I think I've found a few more reasons.

I don't have the life experience. I know that's not entirely true. I could have blogged a lot more about our cross-country move and its effects on me than I have, and there is a post about that floating around in the back of my mind. I could actually blog a lot more about college and being Christian on a non-Christian campus. In some ways it's not a good reason. But I think that there is some truth to it. I've never been married or had my own house or apartment. I'm just starting.

The other big one is that I'm afraid. Oh, I know it sounds silly! But, unlike some other bloggers (can't think exactly who at the moment) I had already been part of different online things and so I had seen how quickly a seemingly innocuous topic could turn into an all-out flame war. I don't want that to happen here and I'm afraid that if it started I would shrivel up in a little ball and die. I tend to over-react. So I've carefully avoided most controversial statements and, in some ways, most of the interesting topics. I think this is going to change, but it will definitely take some time. Little baby steps here people!

On an entirely different note, I was looking for that earlier post and came across my review of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. I hope this doesn't sound completely conceited, but I crack myself up sometimes.

Friday, November 16, 2007

~I spent an hour this morning straightening the Children's Lit section in the school library and I'm still not done. It was really messed up. At least I'll be able to finish it tonight and my OCD heart will be able to find peace.

~It was raining today and I forgot my umbrella, which means that I had to go a) to Russian b) from Russian to the library and c) from the library to the dorm in the rain. And I do mean rain. Not just a little sprinkle today. No, today had to be the day it was pouring. I arrived back here somewhat damp

~I enjoy candied ginger.

~I'm still not sure why all the angst this week. *shrugs* I think it's over now. [There was angst this week, but it wasn't apparent on here. And, as I said, I think it's over now.]

~I'm at 33,040 words on NaNo. YAY! Maybe I can make it to 35,000 tonight. That would be spiffy.

~Music and the decline of western civilization at the Common Room. I told this story there, but I'll tell it again. Last semester I took a basic group singing class and one of our assignments was to research a favorite singer and bring in an example of their music. For our actual singing assignments we were singing arias, art songs, folk songs, and a little musical theatre. I was the only one in the entire group who brought in a classical singer. I think my friend Anna did a classically trained singer who sings rock, but every other person in the entire room (this was probably 17 other people) did some sort of contemporary musician. The poor professor wrote on my assignment sheet, "Thank you so much for not doing a pop singer!"

~It made me happy when the DHM replied to my comment on that post and said that the HG and I are kindred spirits. I like kindred spirits, even when I haven't met them in real life.

~I like chocolate too.

~I'd like to move off campus next year because I am having major issues with fasting this year. But I'm not sure how that would work with money, especially if this summer is like last summer and I can't get a job. So....if you wouldn't mind praying about that, I'd appreciate it!

~We have a new quote on our door: "Then do not be so quick to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends." ~J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NaNo day 14

I reached 30,000 yesterday! Yay! And I've only gone through 17 pages so far. I'm feeling a little more hopeful about this. So the goal for today is 32,000, maybe 33,000. (It would be nice. I'm not promising anything.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NaNo day 13

I haven't written anything yet today, so this is really an update for yesterday. After yesterday I'm at 28,114 words. I've begun to go back and add scenes in as it became clear that I wouldn't be able to reach 50,000 just by going through to the end of the plot. I've still got 20,000 to go. I hope I can make it. On the other hand, I have time, so I can stop and think about it after I go as far as I can, if I need to.

Personally, I am officially in love with my main characters, which is not a bad thing.

Well That's Never Dry

Some amazing friends of mine are putting out their second CD, "Well That's Never Dry." You can listen to sampling from it on this page.

And here's some more information about their band, Living H2O.

Monday, November 12, 2007

War poetry

A poem for Veteran's Day, written by a young man who died in the Great War that sparked our observance of the holiday.

The Dead

These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
And sunset and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.
There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width a shining peace, under the night.

Rupert Brooke, August 2, 1888-April 23, 1915

Wilfred Own, another talented poet, died only a week before the armistice was signed. He died going over the top, just as so many other young men had.

J.R.R. Tolkien, one of my favorite authors, fought in France and lost two of his three best friends there. His experiences in the trench, I believe, greatly shaped how he portrays war in his books. From his foreword to Lord of the Rings: "One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was not less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead."

I do not consider myself a patriotic person as such, but let us honor the sacrifices that these men and many others like them (and now women) have made and continue to make.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Halfway!

I'm halfway there! 25,205 words! I'm very excited. I'm also taking a break. I've pretty much accepted that I'm going to have to go back and flesh out the novel to reach 50,000 but I wanted to do that at some point anyway. Let's just hope I don't turn on my inner editor and go frantic about the bad grammar.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Another NaNo update

At 19,291 words and haven't done any writing so far today. I'm starting to worry that I'll run out of story and have to go back and add scenes to make it to 50,000. But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

NaNo day 7

I'm currently at 15,329 words. I want to try to get to 16,500 by the end of today which would be exactly 1/3 of the way through. I think I might make it, but I'm going to take a break for a bit. Eat some chocolate, do some homework, maybe read for a bit.

Incidentally, today I wove a P.G. Wodehouse quote into my novel.

"All the same, she could not think why he kept the minister of education around. The man was a pest, a wart, and a pot of poison."

"The kid is a pest, a wart, and a pot of poison, and should be strangled!" ~P.G. Wodehouse, "Jeeves and the Chump Cyril"

I wish I could claim that I remembered this quote off the top of my head, but I didn't. I used a search engine. I did, however, know that there was one like it out there somewhere.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

NaNo update

I know I haven't posted anything for a few days. I'm currently at 10, 759 words. My roommate and I moved rooms yesterday and it wreaked havoc with my wordcount. I haven't written at all today--I'll update when I do. I'm hoping to get to at least 12,500. Obviously I've lost my excess word count, but I'm hoping I can get it back if I keep going.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Giveaway winners

Yes, I did say winners! I felt bad that 68 people entered and only one of you would win, so I picked two names out of my bowl. Congratulations to Jennifer and Chris (who posted as Anonymous)! I'll get in touch with you shortly.

To everyone: Thank you so much for expressing so much interest in this giveaway! Wow! I honestly thought maybe ten people would enter. Guess I was wrong! I wish I could make one for each of you, although I would never get my NaNo novel done if I did that. I will most likely have other giveaways if Shannon does them, so keep your eye out.

Friday, November 02, 2007

NaNo day 2

I met my goal of 2,000 words again, even went a bit beyond, for a grand total of 4,176. Just keep plugging away...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaNo day 1

So, the first day. I reached my goal of 2,000 words pretty easily but I don't want to build too much on that. Still I only have one class tomorrow and I wasn't as exhausted today as I usually am at the end of the week so maybe I'll be able to crank out some novel.

October Reading List

This was actually a terrible month for me and reading. *SIGH* At least I read some good books!

Instead of Three Wishes--Megan Whalen Turner
The Thief--Megan Whalen Turner
Boy Meets Girl--Joshua Harris
Once and Future King--T.H. White
The Tombs of Atuan--Ursula LeGuin
The Golden Compass--Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife--Philip Pullman
The Man in the Brown Suit--Agatha Christie

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Giveaway

Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer is doing another giveaway and I've decided to participate. I will be giving away 1 illustrated quote, of your choice. You can also tell me what you would like to be pictured, but please keep in mind that I probably won't be able to exactly reproduce what you want and that I may add to the design as my whimsey takes me.

For other examples of my work see here, here, and here.

How it works:
--Leave a comment on this post between now and Friday the 2nd at 9PST. You do NOT have to be a blogger to enter, but if you're not, please leave a valid email address--I won't publish your email address unless you specifically say that you don't care.
--Wait for me to do the drawing. I will try to announce the winner sometime on Saturday.
--If you win, I will email you so we can work out details.

Have fun, and check out some of the other giveaways!

EDIT: If your comment hasn't appeared it's probably because you included your e-mail address and I'm not publishing those. If you didn't include an e-mail address, or if you really have doubts about whether it went through, feel free to comment again but be aware that I will only count each commenter once in the drawing. Thank you all for your interest!

EDIT 2: I've posted the winners!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sometimes you just have to laugh

In case you didn't know, I'm the administrator over at IDD. We get some...odd ads at the top of the page. Sometimes they have something to do with the content of the thread, but quite often we just look at them in wonder. Today, for instance, I popped over to be greeted with an ad for "Imperial German Headgear: Museum Quality Reproduction Pickelhaube, Field caps, Visor caps." I have no idea what sparked this particular ad, but it makes me quite amused.

Book Joys

My awesome friend Jessica gave me a $15.00 gift certificate to a local used bookstore and I had some books that I wanted to sell, so I headed over there today and ended up with $22.00 to spend. So I got:

The Eyre Affair, paperback, for $7.00
Betsy and Joe, paperback, for $3.50. The lowest price this book is selling for on Amazon is $30.00!
Return to Gone-Away, paperback, for $2.00
Spindle's End, paperback, for $3.25
The Man in the Brown Suit, paperback, for $3.00
The Tombs of Atuan, paperback (a really nice copy), for $3.50

All of these added up to $22.25, so I paid a quarter for six books, one of which is worth considerably more. Yay!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mustaches!

This was evidently a featured blog on Blogger awhile ago. Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century. The mustaches are impressive and the humor is good.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Possibilities

I hope I spelled that word right. I think I did, only now that I'm looking at it, it definitely looks...strange.

Moving on.

Students at my university generally study abroad, if they're going to, their junior year. I'm a sophomore now and have to apply if I want to study abroad next year, which I do.

In England.

My school has a program in London which has classes in the city and takes excursions to places like Bath, Wales, Oxford, Cambridge, and Stratford-on-Avon. I'd be living there for four months. Now, does that not sound like the coolest thing ever?

So here's the catch. I'm not guaranteed admittance. I need to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork and write an essay between now and November 30. (Coincidentally, this is also the last day of NaNoWriMo. Yes, I am insane.) And I need to make sure that finances work. So, I guess this is partly a post letting you know what's going on in my life, and partly a request for some prayer that I get everything in on time and that the financial aspect works out and that I get to go, if it's God's will.


In other news, my family is coming to visit me and go have a picnic. Yay!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I really am alive!

And back from a wonderful, blessed weekend in California. (I just typed "week" instead; I think it was wishful thinking on my part.) We stayed in two houses right on the ocean--one of them about as close to it as you can get. We saw lots of seaweed, a dead cow (yes, I still think that's funny), lots of seals, and, most importantly, all of each other. It was a great time together as a group and one which, although we didn't do all the activities that were planned, felt immensely productive.

For me personally, I was so entirely burnt out on everything before the weekend--schoolwork, cleaning my room--you name it. After the weekend, not only have I not had the "post-conference blues," but I've felt so rejuvenated! God really blessed us.

I'd show you pictures, but the only ones I have are ones which I didn't take.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gone for the weekend

I'm going to California for a church youth leadership conference. Leaving tonight and I'll be back very late Sunday night. So I'll see you...sometime after that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I've done it

The gauntlet is down. The hat is in the ring. I've passed the point of no return and burnt my bridges on the way.

I'm doing NaNoWriMo 2007.

My author profile.

I'll probably feature some bits from the story at different point throughout the month. I promise that I won't post a whole chapter like I did last year. Still not quite sure why I did that...And before you die in agonies, let me say that the chapter looks quite different now.

And if the beginning of this post made you think I'm writing a P.G. Wodehouse parody, I regret to say that you were mistaken.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It's so much more friendly with two

My sister came to visit me at college this weekend and we had a glorious time. We wandered around downtown, buying books and chocolate and looking at a number of neat little shops. We had dinner at an excellent Thai restaurant, and we watched several movies. (Beware the Groove!)

But most of all we were together. I don't mean to imply that my friends at college aren't wonderful, because they are. My sister and I have a special bond. We get annoyed and angry with each other occasionally, but we're also the kind of sisters that have read so many of the same books and watched so many of the same movies and listened to so much of the same music that we can practically read each other's minds and we can finish each other's sentences. I have a personal theory that we could also communicate solely through quotations, but that's a different subject. To be together, just the two of us out of our family, was lovely.

And it's true. It's so much more friendly with two.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Elizabeth Bishop

Schoolwork has swallowed me up again, but I return, if only briefly, with a poem. It's been running through my head the last few days as I have searched for three separate things.

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is not disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss the, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

~Elizabeth Bishop

I truly admire Bishop's command of the villanelle. She makes this complicated form look completely effortless.

Please pray for the Common Room family! Their dear Equuschick is in the hospital with a bad horse kick.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Orthodoxy comes to America

Today is the 213th anniversary of the arrival of Orthodoxy in America when St. Herman, St. Juvenaly, and the missionaries with them landed in Alaska.

Glory to God!


St. Herman of Alaska

Psalm 102

As I was doing the Typica this morning, the first Antiphon caught my attention. What a wonderful expression of God's mercy and love!

Psalm 102 (Orthodox numbering, it's Psalm 103 for everyone else)

Bless the Lord, o my soul; blessed art Thou, O Lord. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all that He hath done for thee. Who is gracious unto all thine iniquities, Who healeth all thine infirmities. Who redeemeth thy life from corruption, Who crowneth thee with mercy and compassion. Who fulfilleth thy desire with good things; thy youth shall be renewed as the eagle's. The Lord performeth deeds of mercy, and executeth judgment for all them that are wronged. He hath made His ways known unto Moses, unto the sons of Israel the things that He hath willed. Compassionate and merciful is the Lord, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy. Not unto the end will He be angered, neither unto eternity will He be wroth. Not according to our iniquities hath He dealt with us, neither according to our sins hath He rewarded us. For according to the height of heaven from the earth, the Lord hath made His mercy to prevail over them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our iniquities from us. Like as a father hath compassion upon his sons, so hath the Lord had compassion upon them that fear Him; for He knoweth whereof we are made, He hath remembered that we are dust. As for man, his days are as the grass; as a flower of the field, so shall he blossom forth. For when the wind is passed over it, then it shall be gone, and no longer will it know the place thereof. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity, even unto eternity, upon them that fear Him. And His righteousness is upon sons of sons, upon them that keep His testament and remember His commandments to do them. The Lord in heaven hath prepared His throne, and His kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the Lord, all ye His angels, mighty in strength, that perform His word, to hear the voice of His words. Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts, His ministers that do His will. Bless the Lord, all ye His works, in every place of His dominion.

Text from the Online Readers Service Horologion

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I'm not waiting for Prince Charming

This is part of an ongoing series of "controversial posts" I've been writing at my LJ. I haven't posted any of them here until now, but I think this one needs to be shared. I'll say the same thing I do there: you don't have to agree. Really. If you don't agree with me, say so. :) I want to hear your opinions. Doesn't mean I'll change mine, but I like to hear what other people think. Just be sure to be kind and respect my opinion as I promise I will respect yours. Unless it's so far out in left-field that I decide you don't deserve it. But that would only be if you think that Orthodox Christians are actually Gnostics (not making this up). In which case I reserve the right to biff you one with the Cluebat of Orthodox Righteousness.

I'm not waiting for Prince Charming.

I know some of you may be confused by that statement. I am, after all, fairly vocal in my support of "dating with a purpose," or courtship, if you want to call it that. I'm even the administrator (along with a staff of several wonderful young ladies) of an online forum called I Don't Date. Have I suddenly changed my convictions? No, not really.

But I repeat: I am not waiting for Prince Charming.

I am waiting for my husband.

I am not waiting for that mythical someday when a perfect man, a knight-in-shining-armor, rides in on his horse and scoops me off and carries me off to his castle where we live happily ever after. I am not waiting for that day because it will never come and believing that it will is only harmful to myself and to my future relationship with my future husband. (This is not to say that I don't love Pre-Raphaelite art as much as anyone else, just that I don't believe it will happen or ever did in the way we tend to think of it.)

You see, my husband, while I hope and pray that he is a wonderful and Godly man, is just that: a man. He is not now nor ever will be perfect and to imagine that he will is only setting both of us up for heartbreak.

Because what happens when he fails me?

He will fail me, just as I will fail him. And if I cherish the dream of a perfect man only to find that he is not so perfect after all (and I am talking larger failings than leaving his socks on the floor here), what will that do to my trust in him? How much harder would it be to find forgiveness for him and his failings in my heart? Yet would I not hope for that forgiveness myself? I would. And God calls us to forgive our fellow strugglers.

So no, I am not waiting for my Prince Charming. I am waiting for the man that I hope to laugh with, to cry with, to sing with, to read with, to live with, and to worship God with. I know that there will be hard times to come, just as there are hard times now. I know that my own sinful tendencies will rear up their ugly heads just as his will. And you know? I can only pray that God will bring us through them, whatever they be. But I can also refuse to fall into the trap of idealized thinking that is implicated in that phrase, "Prince Charming."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Things of little consequence

Things that make me happy: warm socks, striped, Chopin's "Polonaise", the fact that I am done with my homework except for the conclusion of the essay, an actually hot shower.

Things that make me puzzled: the fact that I moved my arm three inches and my elbow cracked.

Things that make me slightly sad: I want a cup of tea (herbal) but I know I must away to bed.

Hopefully a bit more substance tomorrow!

EDIT: I have a blog label for tea. That makes me happy too.

Business

Or busy-ness. I think the second is what I was going for.

I realize that I haven't posted a thing since Sunday night. I've been horribly busy with school since then. I haven't forgotten about this blog, but I've been going for a long time, and I'm not done yet. I have mountains of homework, besides cleaning my room and all sorts of other fun things to try to get done.

I'm sorry. Please bear with me! I promise I'll post some this weekend--maybe even on Friday (my great one-class day).

Also, please pray for me that I won't lose my mind in the next 24 hours.

Off to class now.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

September reading list

I can't believe it's October already. This month I turn 20. Yikes.

September wasn't a great month for reading, but it wasn't terrible either. A grand total of 23 books, and several great ones in there!

The Princess Academy--Shannon Hale: I enjoyed this book. Not the best I've ever read, but certainly not mediocre or bad. I enjoyed Miri's character very much and I also liked her close relationship with her family. Moreover, the ending is not what you might expect while being extremely fulfilling.

The Well of Lost Plots--Jasper Fforde: Jasper Fforde is always wonderful. In the third Thursday Next novel, a pregnant Thursday has gone into the BookWorld to escape the clutches of the Goliath Corporation. While there she deals with gramasites, rogue JurisFiction agents, and much more. Very enjoyable.

Light Thickens and Photo Finish--Ngaio Marsh: The next-to-last and last in the Inspector Alleyn series. They were....alright. Quite honestly, they made me glad that there were no more because Alleyn didn't have the charm and interest which makes the earlier books so readable. Black as He's Painted and Last Ditch were much better.

Sunshine--Robin McKinley: Reviewed here.

Busman's Honeymoon--Dorothy Sayers: Reviewed here.

Something Rotten--Jasper Fforde: The fourth in the Thursday Next series and the best since The Eyre Affair. Thursday is back from the BookWorld with her son Friday and Hamlet, who wants to see how he is portrayed in the outside world. Complications and hilarity ensue, especially since Yorrick Kaine, the corrupt book character, is still around and is causing anti-Danish feeling.

Inkheart--Cornelia Funke: I've read rave reviews for this book. Maybe it's the fact that I read it while I had a cold, but it didn't seem quite that good to me. It was definitely engaging and interesting, and I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I'd read it again, but as of this reading it won't be on my favorites list.

The Hostile Hospital
The Carnivorous Carnival
The Slippery Slope--Lemony Snicket: The beginning of the end of the Series of Unfortunate Events. All three were fairly typical Snicket.

Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid--Lemony Snicket: This handy little book has many of the best quotes from the series, although it's missing one of my favorites which means I'll have to read The Wide Window again. A must for any Snicket fan.

Holy Women of Russia--Brenda Meehan: Reviewed here.

The Grim Grotto--Lemony Snicket: This is where the series gets really, really good. The characters become more complex, the situation less formulaic. *cheers*

The Penultimate Peril--Lemony Snicket: Again, one of the best in the series. Still complex as the Baudelaires face hard decisions and overwhelming mystery.

The End--Lemony Snicket: Best book in the series. Highlight for spoilers: I cried when Count Olaf dies. I really wasn't expecting to do that. For everyone who hasn't read it, just know that this book answers many questions while leaving many others unanswered. Some people die, some people live, and the end of The End is ultimately both rewarding and frustrating.

The Wizard of Earthsea--by Ursula LeGuin: I'm still not sure what I think of this book. My favorite fantasy books draw me right in and make a part of the story and this book never did that in such an overt way but I kept reading which really tells me what a good writer LeGuin was!

Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography: The author for this is fairly obvious. Loads of Snicket fun. A few more questions are answered, at least in part, while even more questions arise. Typical.

Spiritual Counsels--St. John of Kronstadt: A wonderful book from a wonderful saint. Before reading this I wasn't quite sure why so many people found St. John so wonderful. Now I know. If you're Orthodox, read it.

The Beatrice Letters--Lemony Snicket: Letters to and from Lemony Snicket and the two Beatrice Baudelaires. Not as good as any of the other extra Series of Unfortunate Events books.

Island Magic--Elizabeth Goudge: Her first book. Not as good as some of her later ones, but still quite spiffy. And it's Elizabeth Goudge, which makes me happy. And the du Frocq family is absolutely charming.

The King of Attolia--Megan Whalen Turner: The third in the series which begins with The Thief and continues with The Queen of Attolia. I did not know this book existed until very recently and when I discovered it did, I was ecstatic. Just as marvelous as the other two books in the series, which is very marvelous indeed.

So, that was my month book-wise!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Holy Women of Russia: a review

Holy Women of Russia
by Brenda Meehan

Since I grew up in the Orthodox Church I grew up hearing and reading Lives of Saints. In a way, Brenda Meehan's book seemed a great deal like a non-Orthodox version of those Lives. Meehan does a fabulous job of presenting the lives of the five women she examines in a respectful manner. At the same time, it is very clear that she is not Orthodox and does not speak from that point of view. Specifically, it is very clear that Meehan wants to apply several aspects of modern feminism to the women she writes about. This jarred for me in several places, but I appreciate that she realized that the women worked within a system rather than rebelling against it.

One of the most interesting aspects of the whole book comes in the first line of the introduction.
I have had great difficulty writing this book. I am convinced now that it is because the women I am writing about--vibrant, spiritually intense women--didn't like the way I was originally telling their story, making it part of a dry analysis of the rise of women's communities in nineteenth century Russia....these women jumped up from the pages, refusing to be neatly contained within my chapters and withing a framework that stressed the sociohistorical at the expense of the spiritual. They insisted that I listen to the inner stirrings of their hearts and take seriously the spiritual paths they had trod. And I think they also wanted to say that holiness and spirituality are timeless.
I think that it was Meehan's allowance for that point of view which takes this book from the realm of academic research into a real evaluation of the lives of five Orthodox women who tried to serve God in their own ways. It takes them seriously and it asks how we can follow their lead--even those of us who are not Orthodox. Later in the introduction Meehan says, "These women believed, and shock us into believing, in a world in which virtue has meaning." This book is a wonderful introduction to five holy women who sought to find virtue in others and cultivate it in themselves.

Highly recommended.

Sunshine: A review

Sunshine
By Robin McKinley

I wanted to like this book. And on a certain level I do. Rae is a very likable character and one who I feel a lot of sympathy for and identification with. I want to do what she does, except with books instead of Sunshine's Eschatology and the giant cinnamon buns. And being me, I don't mind a lot of the aspects that others might find highly dubious. By this I mean the vampires.

On the other hand, a story that I would otherwise greatly enjoy was largely ruined for me by the smuttiness. Lots of smuttiness. I can deal with a little bit, but Sunshine contained quite a bit more than I could quite take.

Which is really sad, because Robin McKinley's writing is wonderful. I love almost all of her books and the fact that I can't whole-heartedly love this one makes me unhappy. It is also sad because at its bottom Sunshine is a story of good and evil, of light and dark. But it is what it is and so I cannot recommend it. I wish that I could, but in all conscience, I can't.

They've killed it. They've killed it dead.

So. This will be greatly distressing for all fans of The Dark is Rising Sequence. They're making a movie. And the trailer looks beyond horrible. It'll automatically come up if you click on the link above. Go look at it and then discuss with me how awful it is.

Okay, you're back.

~The setting is no longer England? What? The only people with British accents are Merriman and the Rider.
~What's up with the Lady? Why does she look kind of "Wicked-Witch of the West" like?
~He needs help talking to GIRLS????
~He's interested in MAGGIE???? That's definitely....which brother is it....Max?
~HE'S STEALING SOMETHING??? Unless that's a sign, they're definitely nuts.
~Again, the setting is no longer England. That just kills it. You can't have that lovely sense of agelessness the book gives in America. Sorry. Just not possible.
~He has issues with his family? One of my favorite parts of the book is the way he and his family are really loving. Yes, there are a few minor quibbles, but overall they get along well, and when it comes down to it, they're united.
~Merriman is just wrong all over. What happened to old and craggy? We are talking Merlin here.
~Oh, so the Seeker is a warrior now? Not quite so sure about that.
~What happened to all the birthday and Christmas/dark/light symbolism.
~His "powers" are "awesome."

Just for the record, I have deep problems with some aspects of the "Dark is Rising," namely the specific rejection of Christianity. But they're still well written books that deserve so much better than this.

On a happier note, this is my 200th Blogger post. Yay!

Friday, September 21, 2007

It's The End

That is, the 13th book in A Series of Unfortunate Events. I'm on page 64. And I'm worried. What if people die and I don't want them to? What if the Baudelaires never meet back up with the Quagmires? Who is Beatrice? How will they ever find anything out in their current predicament? Why does Ishmael worry me?

These are questions I can't possibly answer until I finish the book. So I'll take a deep breath and keep reading.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A quote, a quote, my kingdom for a quote!

Yes, I do know that is wrong. Shush!

“And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain rolled back and turned all to silver glass, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

One of the most beautiful quotes ever. I wish I could write like that.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weddings

I went home this weekend for a wedding at church. It was very lovely, although having the reception outside may not have been the best idea. It was cold.

At any rate, it struck me once again that the Orthodox services are so rich, so full of grace and symbolism and reality. I don't believe that any other denomination can claim that in the same way (sorry my Protestant and Catholic friends). I'm deeply thankful that I am Orthodox.

Tomorrow is the start of another week. To (mis)quote Anne Shirley, one with "no mistakes in it." I'm grateful for that as well.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I am Christopher Robin

Or at least I've felt remarkably like him for the past few days.

Sneezles

Christopher Robin
Had wheezles
And sneezles,
They bundled him
Into
His bed.
They gave him what goes
With a cold in the nose,
And some more for a cold
In the head.
They wondered
If wheezles
Could turn
Into measles,
If sneezles
Would turn
Into mumps;
They examined his chest
For a rash,
And the rest
Of his body for swellings and lumps.

A.A. Milne

It continues, but it's a rather long poem, so I'll just say if you want to read the whole thing, find a copy of Now We are Six, which also contains such gems as "Solitude," "King John's Christmas,' and "The Knight Whose Armour Didn't Squeak."

And that's Friday Poetry

Thursday, September 13, 2007

FAW: Maud Hart Lovelace

I suspect that there are several generations of girls out there who remember Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy books with a great deal of fondness and who will lament with me the fact that they are now going out of print. (Seriously, sad day here!) Where else did we learn about eating dinner on a cloud, the Big Hill, pony carts, and the color green? Betsy, Tacy, Tib, Winona, and the whole gang are as much a part of my childhood as Winnie the Pooh (by which I mean the book) and Anne Shirley. They are sweet while avoiding schmaltz.

Incidentally, the more minor books in the series, Carney's House Party, and Emily of Deep Valley are both just as good as the Betsy books, although somewhat different in tone.

In the end, I think that everyone who has read the Betsy-Tacy books will know exactly what I'm talking about and those who haven't won't. Which means they should go read the books, as soon as possible because they're likely to disappear. Seriously, several of them are getting more and more expensive on Amazon, which is sad because I wanted to buy copies.

Interestingly, much of the series is based on the life of the author and most of Betsy's friends are traceable to friends of Maud Lovelace.

Favorite Books
Betsy-Tacy
Betsy-Tacy, and Tib
Betsy and Tacy go Over the Big Hill
Betsy and Joe
Betsy and the Great World
Betsy's Wedding
Carney's House Party
Emily of Deep Valley


Handy Links
Maud Hart Lovelace on Wikipedia
The Betsy-Tacy Society
The Betsy-Tacy Homepage
The Betsy-Tacy Catalog

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

FAW: Gerald Morris

The first Favorite Author ever! It was very difficult to decide who should be featured first. I'm actually not sure why I picked Gerald Morris. But I did.

For those of you not familiar with his work, Morris is the author of a series of retellings of Arthurian legends, commonly known as the Squire's Tales or the Squire series after the first book, Squire's Tale.

As with almost any favorite author, there are several facets of Morris' work which stand out to me. The first is probably the most important: He really does have an honest appreciation and love for his source material. His retellings somehow manage to stay Arthurian despite the blatant anachronisms. There are anachronisms all over the "original" Arthurian legends anyway, so it probably doesn't matter that much. But his characters do feel medieval, not 20th century made over, at the same time that the problems they face are very much current and real.

There are his characters, who are often brilliant. While the major figures of Arthur's world (Gawain, Arthur himself, Guinevere, Galahad, Lancelot, Merlin, Kay) appear, the main characters are usually, although not always, obscure or completely fabricated. Terence, the real hero of most several books, is both engaging and believable. Gaheris, Lynet, Luneta, Eileen, and the rest all are memorable and interesting people.

The books are also just plain funny. Ask my sister. We quote them to each other all the time, probably ad nauseum for the rest of the world. We fought over who would get to read The Quest of the Fair Unknown first. (She stole it from me. It was checked out on my card.)

And finally, while the books are definitely not preachy, they are moral. There are good guys and bad guys (a few of the classifications are surprising and most of them are not set in stone). There is a sense of fighting for something, and of a desire to find a purpose.

Highly reccomended for approximately 10 and up. I mean the up. They're aimed for children but they're definitely readable for adults as well.

Favorite Books
Squire's Tale
The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf
The Lionness and Her Knight
The Quest of the Fair Unknown

Handy Links
Short author biography
Interesting autobiographical sketch
Review of the Savage Damsel and the Dwarf

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Busman's Honeymoon: A Review

I finally finished Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers. It's the very last in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. I warn you here and now, this review will include spoilers for both Busman's Honeymoon and Gaudy Night so if you want to avoid those, this review is not for you.




To be honest, this book is a bit of a let-down for me. It's not that there is something wrong with the book itself. In fact, it's a perfectly respectable book in a very good series. But it comes directly after Gaudy Night, which is possibly the best "mystery" ever written and certainly the best book in the series. Moreover, it is the book where Lord Peter and Harriet actually end up with each other, after something like a four book extended courtship. To end with that, and then to begin the final book, just after Gaudy Night, with letters, mostly to and from people we have never met before and will never meet again, feels like a mis-step. This is a hard admission to make for a Sayers fan but it is true.

On the other hand, giving us the Dowager Duchess' diary is quite lovely in a certain way. For one thing, I love the Dowager Duchess. She is majorly funny. For another, she has a perspective on Peter that no one else, certainly not Harriet, has. The line about this being the "magniloquent Peter of twenty years ago" really gave me a sudden picture of the Peter of twenty years ago.

There are certainly lovely parts to the book. I like that Peter and Harriet's honeymoon is not all romance and roses. For one thing, it seems more real without being overly realistic (if that makes any sense whatsoever--they don't end up hating each other nor getting a divorce), and for another, it was the right choice for Peter and Harriet's characters. Finally, despite their difficulties, the book does end happily for them, although not for Frank Crutchley.

In the final analysis, this is a good book and one which I would certainly reccomend. It is only faulty in coming after Gaudy Night and not maintaining the absolute pitch of that book.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Favorite Authors Week

This is a new feature I've thought up. A Favorite Authors Week is likely to be declared at any time, with or without waring. During that week I'll post as often as possible (I make no promises) on a favorite author--a new one each day.

These posts will not really be about the author per se--that is, they will not be biographical precis. You can find those on Wikipedia. Instead, I hope to examine what it is exactly about their writing which makes me count that particular author as a favorite. I'll also try to include some interesting and/or fun links.

You're free to join in the fun. You can either participate in one of my Favorite Author Weeks by posting about your own favorite, or you can even declare one of your own. In either case, I will link back to you if you comment and give the address of your post(s). I even made a graphic.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


In addition, all Favorite Authors Week posts will be included in a new sidebar category.

So consider the first one begun!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Goodbye

Probably most people know by now, but Madeleine L'Engle died yesterday. She was one of the best writers I've ever had the pleasure to read. It's a bit sad to know that she's gone, although it is a comfort to know that her writing will still be a clear and lovely as ever.

Wallace Stevens

I'm not a big fan of Wallace Stevens, to be honest. I can think of several other modern poets whose work I enjoy much more. But we read this poem in my poetry writing class yesterday and I sort of fell in love with it. I do that sometimes with poems by poets I don't really like. The plum poem by William Carlos Williams, for instance.

Anyway. Here it is.

The Poems of Our Climate

I
Clear water in a brilliant bowl,
Pink and white carnations. The light
In the room more like a snowy air,
Reflecting snow. A newly-fallen snow
At the end of winter when afternoons return.
Pink and white carnations--one desires
So much more than that. The day itself
Is simplified: a bowl of white,
Cold, a cold porcelain, low and round,
With nothing more than the carnations there.

II
Say even that this complete simplicity
Stripped one of all one's torments, concealed
The evilly compounded, vital I
And made it fresh in a world of white,
A world of clear water, brilliant-edged,
Still one would want more, one would need more
More than a world of white and snowy scents.

III
There would remain the never-resting mind,
So that one would want to escape, come back
To what had been so long composed.
The imperfect is our paradise.
Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
Since the imperfect is so ot in us,
Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.

And that's Friday Poetry.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A collaborative poem

We wrote collaborative poems today in my poetry writing class. Each of us wrote five questions and five answers, none of which had anything to do with each other. Then we paired up and combined questions and answers in some way. Here's the final contribution from my partner and myself.

What does the wind think as it blows?
Soft winter snow.

What is love?
In the dark stillness, a fawn sleeps.

What do animals think about?
Clouds are never rabbits, but only sheep.

What is color?
Songs die out, but music is eternal.

Is there a place where in never rains?
In the dark of the moon, wolves howl.

Why do lobsters turn red in the pot?
A momentous journey.

How do we gain confidence?
Once, I saw two eagles race in a canyon.

What stops a breath?
Green is not the color of life.

Why do pigeons always sit on statues?
The distant roar of waves.

Why does the sea tug at our hearts?
Thunder of a roller coaster.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Nature and God

"Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me."

~C.S. Lewis

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fr. Seraphim Rose--25 years

Today is the 25th anniversary of the death of Fr. Seraphim Rose, one of my personal spiritual heroes, and, in my belief, a saint.

I wrote about him a year ago here. I won't repeat all of that since none of it has changed. Let me simply say that Fr. Seraphim has inspired me and countless others. In fact, I wonder sometimes if my family would be Orthodox if Fr. Seraphim had not been who he was.

Here are a number of resources and links concerning Fr. Seraphim.

Articles by Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim Rose

Fr. Seraphim Rose, on nominal Christianity

Christianity and Suffering

Forming Young Souls

A thread on Fr. Seraphim in a Catholic forum

Saints of Christ

Excerpts from Fr. Seraphim's writings

Pastoral Guidance

Lives of a Saint--article from Pomona College
Personal Reminiscences from Fr. Ambrose Young

Photographs of Fr. Seraphim

Relating to non-Orthodox

A number of posts on Fr. Seraphim

Interviews on Fr. Seraphim


Holy Fr. Seraphim pray to God for us!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

August reading list

Ta da!

Once again, I'm just going to list them. If you have any questions or want to hear my opinion on a certain book, just ask!

In the Teeth of the Evidence--Dorothy Sayers
Sleeping Murder--Agatha Christie
Murder at the Vicarage--Agatha Christie
The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady--Gerald Morris
The Blue Sword--Robin McKinley
After Many Days--L.M. Montgomery
The Gentle Falcon--Hilda Lewis
Cheaper by the Dozen--Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth
The Children of Hurin--J.R.R. Tolkien (if anyone can tell me how to add accent marks, I would be most grateful)
Black as He's Painted--Ngaio Marsh
Last Ditch--Ngaio Marsh
Belles on Their Toes--Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth
A Schilling for Candles--Josephine Tey
Belle Prater's Boy--Ruth White
Grave Mistake--Ngaio Marsh
Betsy and the Great World--Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy's Wedding--Maud Hart Lovelace
The Thief--Megan Whalen Turner
The Queen of Attolia--Megan Whalen Turner
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency--Alexander McCall Smith
Birds, Beasts, and Relatives--Gerald Durrell
All Things Bright and Beautiful--James Herriot
The Daughter of Time--Josephine Tey
Tears of The Giraffe--Alexander McCall Smith
The Hero and the Crown--Robin McKinley
Carry On, Jeeves--P.G. Wodehouse
Lord Peter--Dorothy Sayers
Now We Are Six--A.A. Milne
Outlaws of Sherwood--Robin McKinley
Miss Pym Disposes--Josephine Tey
The Franchise Affair--Josephine Tey
The Body in the Library--Agatha Christie

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Illuminations, Part 3rd and last


Great Kenneth Grahame quote. The actual illumination is not as oddly shaped as it appears in the scan.



This is part of St. Patrick's Breastplate.





Not an illumination, but a painting I did. I think I took the scene from a postcard.


Happiness is...

leaning out of your window at ten o'clock at night while two of your friends search for the middle of your tape dispenser which one of them had thrown out of said window.

Ah, college life!

Friday, August 24, 2007

The final controversy

Evidently Tsarevitch Alexei's remains may have been found. From the article:

Prosecutors said Friday they have reopened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the last Russian czar and his family nearly 90 years ago after an archaeologist said the remains of Nicholas II's son and heir to the throne may have finally been found.

The announcement of the reopened investigation, while a routine matter, signaled that the government may be taking seriously the claims that were announced Thursday by Yekaterinburg researcher Sergei Pogorelov. [...]

The find comes almost a decade after remains identified as those of Nicholas and Alexandra and three of their daughters were reburied in a ceremony in the imperial-era capital of St. Petersburg. The ceremony, however, was shadowed by statements of doubt — including from within the Russian Orthodox Church — about their authenticity.


That's the truth! Probably most people accepted the story about the remains that were found in 1991, but there is definitely doubt about whether those remains are actually the saints'. "Bones of Contention" from the Orthodox journal Road to Emmaus is a good exposition of those doubts.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Notes of an inconsequential sort

A busy day here--I finished The Children of Hurin (loved it, hopefully more complete review soon), picked up fallen pears and trimmed kiwi plant vines, harvested blackberries, cut out 9 1/2 inch squares for a quilt, and worked on my book inventory.

Now everyone has left but my father and he's taking a nap. I'll get to the library later on; I already have a list of books to look for.

I go back to school in two weeks. That's nothing short of amazing.

Today is the last day before the Dormition fast. I believe that it's actually the strictest fast except for Great Lent.

And that's about it for now.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday book reviews

I haven't reviewed a book in over a month (shame upon me) but here's a link to the Saturday book reviews at Semicolon anyway.

My brother has just returned from a camping trip, so I must away!

Friday, August 03, 2007

July reading list

I haven't reviewed any of these. Whoops! But here's my reading list for July anyway. I may post reviews of some of them eventually.

I'm just going to list the books I read. If you want to know more about any of them, just ask.

The Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
The Ersatz Elevator--Lemony Snicket
The Vile Village--Lemony Snicket
Blood Feud--Rosemary Sutcliff
The Eyre Affair--Jasper Fforde
Death Comes to the Archbishop--Willa Cather
Midwinter Nightingale--Joan Aiken
Bird by Bird--Annie Lammott
The Nursing Home Murder--Ngaio Marsh
Killer Dolphin--Ngaio Marsh
The View from Saturday--E.L. Konigsburg
Clutch of Constables--Ngaio Marsh
The Book of Three--Lloyd Alexander
The Witch of Clateringshaws--Joan Aiken
The Road to Yesterday--L.M. Montgomery
A Long Way from Chicago--Richard Peck
The Mysterious Benedict Society--Trenton Lee Stewart
The Hollow Kingdom--Claire B. Dunkle
Ella Enchanted--Gail Carson Levine
When in Rome--Ngaio Marsh
Lost in a Good Book--Jasper Fforde
The Quest of the Fair Unknown--Gerald Morris
The Book Thief--Markus Zusak
Tied Up in Tinsel--Ngaio Marsh
The Black Cauldron--Lloyd Alexander
Taran Wanderer--Lloyd Alexander
The High King--Lloyd Alexander
The Red Fairy Book--Andrew Lang
Jill the Reckless--P.G. Wodehouse
The Giver--Lois Lowry
The Dark is Rising--Susan Cooper
The Orthodox Veneration of Mary, the Birthgiver of God--St. John Maximovitch
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club--Dorothy Sayers
Strong Poison--Dorothy Sayers
Lord Emsworth and Others--P.G. Wodehouse
Squire's Tale--Gerald Morris
Calling on Dragons--Patricia Wrede

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Slogging on

It's so easy to for me, to fall into a victim mentality, to start thinking about how wronged I am. I should have this, I should have that, I should have some money, I should have more books, I should be in a relationship, I should have nice clothes, I should have a farm, I should have a perfect family, I should have a perfect church.

I mean, everyone else does, right?

Well, even laying aside the fact that everyone else definitely does not have all of that, it shouldn't matter. God made me who he made me and gave me what he gave me. Josh Harris has a great story about that in Boy Meets Girl. He likens life to a painting class where everyone is told to paint a certain subject but they are all given different tools to work with. I'm just starting to really realize it for myself.

Of course, it's one thing to have a realization. It's another entirely to put it into practice. I think when we come to that point, we can only put our faith in God, gird up our loins, and jump in. We will undoubtedly fall, but as St. John of Kronstadt said, when you fall, get up. When you fall down again, get up again. I have to think this way or else I'll remain in the Slough of Despond and that way lies spiritual death.

So instead, let me remember St. Paul's words. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light."

Illuminations, part II

A little later than I said they would be, but better late than never!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Another one that's just pure watercolor.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

From the Psalms. This was really an experiment with different Celtic designs.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This was a present for a friend. The words are an Orthodox prayer, the knot is often used as a representation of the Trinity.

Part 1 here
Part 3 here

Old friends

Yesterday was a delightful day. Almost a year after moving into this house, I finally got all of my books unpacked! (Well, except for the box that's coming back to school with me--but there was no room for those ones anyway.)

Let's think about what this means:

All of our L.M. Montgomery books--all 15 of them.
All of my Elizabeth Goudge books
Five Agatha Christies
The Boat Who Wouldn't Float
Barrie and Daughter
The Avion My Uncle Flew
Our picture books! Barbara Cooney, and Minnie and Ginger, and Drummer Hoff Fired it off, and...and....

I was very excited. Excited to the point of standing in front of the new bookcase with all of the books on it and cooing, the way people usually do when confronted with a new baby or a romantic picture, while my sister rolled her eyes.

I have my books back!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Iluminations, part 1

For some years I have enjoyed making illuminations. Mine are far less sophisticated and complex than the ones featured in that article. But I enjoy making them and decided to share a few.
This was a very early one. I didn't even have real ink. That's calligraphy marker and watercolor.


This is just pure watercolor.

I'll have more tomorrow. (Hopefully.)

Part 2 here

Part 3 here

The walk

It is very quiet as I set out on the familiar way; only the rough scruffing of my sandals against the sidewalk, the distant roar of traffic, and the whispering of the wind in the trees can be heard. The air is cool and full of scents: pine needles, wood smoke, fresh basil, and the sweet smell of nearing rain while overhead the grey clouds come rolling in.

I mark the way by the flowers I pass. The first of any note are the lavender bushes outside an orthodontist’s office. A few bumblebees make their way from flower to flower. Next are the small orange poppy-like flowers which grow around a telephone pole. Now they are closed for the evening but I greet them all the same. A few weeks ago the next landmark would have been the opulent purple petunias hanging outside a business but they have been taken down and so there is nothing more until the very end of the route: two beds of flowers outside a bank. Quite honestly, I don’t know what a single one of the flowers here is, but I have come to know them quite well this summer and I am happy to see them again.

As I walk, I let the wind blow my skirt and my hair about. I love wind. If I wore tighter skirts and had short hair I would forever feel that I was missing something glorious. I feel a bit as though I was the subject of a Waterhouse painting, “Windflowers” or “The Tempest.” The glory of the rush of the air makes me think of all sorts of bits of poems and they weave themselves together in my brain.

Here is the destination. I go in, return the library books I was bringing back, and check out a few more. Then there is the walk home, during which I think of nothing in particular and notice even less.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Notes from the second talk

Dr. George Bebawi
Christian Witness
My Life in Christ Conference, July 13, 2007


Christianity is the revelation of God incarnate.

If you are ashamed of being human or of God, the Incarnation will be alien to you.

4 facets of human nature:
1. Free will
2. Love
3. Development (of conscience, etc.)
4. Growth

Difference between Christianity and Islam is freedom.

In Christianity, if you start with humanity, you come to God, and if you start with God you come to humanity.

Islam is slavery to the law of God.

In Christianity you are the child of God; God came to save us from slavery.

Christian witness can also be teasing and humorous.

Buddhism has as its goal the lack of self.

In Christianity we witness to the great project of being completely human; sin makes us less human.

Christ is the Lover of Mankind.

God’s greatest desire is to be in each of us.

If God is out of my life:
1. I lose the sense of infinity
2. I am shapeless
3. I lose help
4. I experience inner death

With faith in God we are able to look beyond our being.

Our modern life has succeeded in making us dependent on things outside ourselves.

Solzhenitsyn: they have taken our wives, our cars, our names, and by taking everything they have lost their power over us.

We have a center of life and if we are Christian our center of life wants to be like God.

If we lose God our center of life becomes shapeless but with God we have a shape.

Communists, Nazis, have no God and so they have no center and no aim to become like God.

God is not a Big Brother waiting for you to make a mistake to punish you.

It is a great thing to lean on God Who is our help.

When we pray we look for infinite help.

Prayer opens.

You discover Orthodoxy by listening to the Liturgy; we sing our theology.

If you want to look at the difference between religions, look at the prayer.

The death of the heart, life is dead.

You are ignorant of yourself.
You have an inability to love others.
You have a life without God.
You have the inability to forgive.
You make something material the goal of life.

Christ destroyed death by giving us life.

Protestants only know Biblical texts; they cannot go beyond them.

Most of the Lord’s teaching is in parables.

Keep your eyes on daily life; talk about God, but do it in the way Christ did [i.e., simply and by means of stories.]

We are rich in stories.

We receive the power of divine love through communion.

The secular world is full of war, violence, distrust, greed, etc. all covered up with lies.

We all seek truth.

Truth in Christianity is a person; in the secular world it is a chain of ideas.

An idea is in your head and can be replaced; a person is a reality.

Needs are the most powerful element in the secular world; they make us slaves.

It is fine to secure our needs, but not to be slaves to them.

Needs are a vacuum cleaner that suck you into secular life.

Secular life breaks us but Christ came to make us whole.

Christian witness is about healing broken souls.

You can imagine anything you want about God, but did God reveal it to you?

Sacrificial love is nowhere except in Christianity.