Monday, December 29, 2008

One step at a time

I've got lots to do today--packing books, housework, and multiple other random bits of things. But I've fixed my computer screen and gotten my letter to my homestay lady ready to send, so that's good.

I've actually been doing some writing the last few days. (!) What with finals and then moving it's gotten a little pushed to the side. But I finished my NaNo novel for 2008 and went back to an old beginning of a story. I've also got a few short story ideas floating about in my head.

And now I'm off to Do Something Useful. Toodles!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

St. Herman's day

Today old calender Orthodox Christians, like myself and my family, celebrate the feast of St. Herman of Alaska, one of the first and greatest Orthodox missionaries to America. There is lots of good information out there on his life and contributions to Orthodoxy, so I won't go on about that. If you're interested, I'm sure OrthodoxWiki would be a good place to start.

I've been thinking about a couple of things though. First, I'm glad that we American old calender Orthodox have something to celebrate today. With most of the country and lots of the world celebrating Christ's birth, it can get a little lonely over here in our corner. But we can celebrate St. Herman and his life and works.

Second, I'm very glad that Orthodoxy has such a good track record as missionaries. Orthodoxy has always been very respectful of indigenous cultures and ideas. While we don't bend the truth, we do adapt customs. And I think that's a very healthy thing. We have to spread the word of God, certainly. But we have to spread it with understanding and love, not with the sword and threat of violence or with blind disregard for the people who are supposed to receive it, as has all too often been done. St. Herman, like all Orthodox missionaries I know, was respectful and loving. Even today, the Alaska natives talk about him with love and honor. I read once that for them, to be an Alaska native is to be Orthodox. That says something to me about the success of St. Herman's mission.

At any rate, while most of the world is opening presents and eating turkey or ham and such, we'll be having fish. And maybe later on we'll watch a slide show of the Alaska wilderness where St. Herman spent most of his life.

Today, I'm thankful for what I've been given.
Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it today. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed day. And if you're in the Pacific Northwest, build a fire and have some blankets and tea. Because it's COLD.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Linkage

I've had this enormous build-up of links in the past couple of links.

The Tale of Despereaux trailer: I'm not wildly thrilled. At least from the trailer it looks like they've cutified it.

NYTBR Outtakes: An interview with Markus Zusak. I really need to read more of his books.

I'm YA and I'm OK: An interesting musing on being a Young Adult writer. (Personally, I think the whole category is a lot of hooey.)

Why Jane Austen matters: Just shows that people have a much higher capacity for understanding than most want to allow.

E-mail error ends up on road sign: Is it wrong that much laughter was my immediate response to this?

Wax ornaments: I want to say that my family or someone we knew once made these? But I could be wrong. Not sure.

Over-earnest: Excellent post from The Common Room on parental expectations.

Embracing Story: Another excellent post from The Common Room on Story.

Pride and Prejudice as Facebook: Also known as Sheer Genius. I especially love "Lydia Bennet and Kitty Bennet joined the group 1,000,000 Strong Against the Officers Leaving Meryton!" Because you know there would be a Facebook group for that.

Lemony Snicket posts! How can you not love that?

November book list

I'm tired, but nonetheless I am bringing you the November booklist. You'd better all appreciate it. :)

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce: A sweet children's story. Very definitely fantasy, if you object to such.

Skellig by David Almond: Reviewed HERE.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip: I've heard several people say this is their favorite McKillip. Not so much for me (so far it might be Alphabet of Thorn). It's fine, I enjoyed it, but it's not my favorite.

Wolf Tower by Tanith Lee: Reviewed HERE. NOTE: I'm currently stuck in the beginning of Wolf Star. We'll see.

Harrowing the Dragon--Patricia McKillip: Short stories. I really liked this. It's hard to beat a good short story collection.

The Talisman Ring
The Spanish Bride
An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer
: Definitely a fan of Talisman Ring and An Infamous Army (which made me BAWL and laugh, sometimes on the same page), not so much The Spanish Bride. I couldn't quite believe in Juanita as a character, which kind of ruins it.

The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge: Reviewed HERE.

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card: Reviewed HERE.

The Riddle-master of Hed
Heir of Sea and Fire
Harpist in the Wind
by Patricia McKillip: A trilogy. Very nice although they didn't feel like the "usual" McKillip. This is an observation, not a criticism. They felt a bit like a grown up version of the Prydain Chronicles. A bit.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: I guess technically I didn't read this. I listened to the author read it. Which might be even better. Man, I loved this book.

The House on Parchment Street by Patricia McKillip: It was okay--I liked the realistic description of interactions between happen-to-be-related children, but I'm not keen on ghost stories in general. They just...don't do much for me. Bar The Graveyard Book, but that's different


City of Ember
by Jeanne DuPrau: Excellent. A word of advice though, if you are planning to read the book DON'T WATCH THE MOVIE TRAILER. Seriously.

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula LeGuin: Probably my favorite of all the Earthsea series. Which I am a fan of anyway.

Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey: I liked this book a lot. The only problem with it was combination of the really short chapters and two narrators. Until I got into it a bit I kept getting mental whiplash.

At the Corner of East and Now by Frederica Mathewes-Green: Excellent book for both the baptized Orthodox and those interested in finding out more about it.


The End of the Affair
by Graham Greene: For school, but I loved it. Seriously loved it. It made me cry and all in all I just thought it was beautiful.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr: Sigh. I was okay with the first book--not wild, but okay. I thought I might as well read the second one and I was more than not wild. I didn't hate it. I just didn't care very much. It was interesting to see Niall from the first book in a different perspective.

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley: This book is in my top five of all-time favorite books ever. I read it obsessively in middle school. I still love it. And I love the cover of my copy which is miles better than the awful one that was on the middle school copy.

The Street of Five Moons by Elizabeth Peters: Dare I say I have a new (slight) addiction? I can't heeeeelp it. (Schmidt! Dashing thieves! Art history!) I blame Leila. There is some content, although it's pretty understated.

Movie Shoes by Noel Streatfeild: I definitely have a Streatfeild addiction. Okay, maybe it's more like nostalgic love. I like Movie Shoes because the plot gets varied a bit and because it contains what I choose to interpret as a veiled jab at the butchering of stories in movie adaptations.


The Thief
by Megan Whalen Turner: Can we just accept that I really, really, really love this series? Cause I do *insert obligatory Gen fangirl squee*. Did I mention fourth book in 2010? And without dancing bears, with baths and sparring.

Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright: Another MAJOR nostalgia read. It's been awhile for this one and I felt like I was seeing old friends again after a long absence. Uncle Pin and Aunt Minniehaha! Villa Caprice! Othello!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Update

I have been largely absent for the past week or so. Why? Well, I've been working on a 25-30 page analysis of Pride and Prejudice and North and South. At this point, I've got 32 pages and have yet to write a full intro or conclusion.

So. I have some things to say, but they might be on hold for a little longer. I'm hoping to get my November book list up today, but we'll see. I'm not promising anything.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tired

So tired right now. Today was a day of some misadventures--my baked potato dish took longer than I thought it would and the apple cider vinegar tipped over on my bed and spilled all over my mattress. I worked for six hours, two longer than usual. That was definitely tiring. I did have a nice, albeit brief, chat with my adviser about my 25-30 page paper. I'm trying to work on that right now, but the brain, it is not focusing. I'm thinking maybe a snack and a break and then we'll try again?

I know this is all fairly boring, but I'm trying to give a little sense of my life. And right now my life is homework, work, homework. I'm hoping for a little space to breathe soon.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Re-reading

Re-reading The Thief, again. I can't get over how much I love this series and how impatient I am for the next book to come out. I've heard rumors of a 2010 release date. Please? EDIT: According to Publisher's Weekly, these are more than rumors. YES!!!

I also can't get over how differently you have to read this book the second (or sixth) time through. See, The Thief is one of those books that managed to take me totally by surprise. I think I knew that something was up, but I didn't know what. You read it again and all of a sudden certain lines have this very different resonance. You read the other books in the series and then read it again, and a whole nother set of lines have a very different resonance (some of them make me wince because I know what's coming and it hurts).

Incidentally, I more than highly recommend this series. The second book opens with an extremely distressing sequence of events but it ends beautifully. There is some language throughout all three, but nothing too awful. And they're amazing. I've got almost my entire family hooked on them.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful day everyone!

I'm off to Olympia with my family soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A quote

“I didn’t become a Christian because somebody with a Bible badgered me till I was worn down. I wasn’t persuaded by the logic of Christian theology or its creeds. I met Christ. This was, at the time, a big surprise, and pretty disconcerting.” At the Corner of East and Now by Frederica Mathewes-Green, p. 3

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Goodreads

Just a quick housekeeping note: I've put all the books I've read for the past five years up on my Goodreads account. If you're interested, feel free to take a gander. Also, feel free to friend me if you have your own account.

Now I'm off to churn out some words for NaNo.

Speaker For the Dead

Speaker For the Dead
by Orson Scott Card

I read Ender's Game way back in August and somehow, in spite of being completely blown away by it, forgot to write it down in my book notebook and therefore forgot to review it here. But it was amazing in that way that only really, really good sci-fi can be. I will try to be as non-spoilery as possible here, but if you haven’t read Ender’s Game, you should probably do that before reading this review. Seriously, go read it.

After I read Ender’s Game I didn’t read any of the sequels because I didn’t want my perception of the first book to be ruined by potentially not-so-great books in the series. I’ve had this issue a few times which leads me to be wary of series in general, especially those I know weren’t originally intended to become series. But then I talked to two friends who told me that the whole series was good and possibly even better than the first book and I should read it. So I ordered Speaker For the Dead and stayed up ridiculously late reading it one night. I think maybe the latest I have ever stayed up reading. But it was totally worth it. Because this book is even more incredible than the first, in my humble opinion, of course.

It picks up three-thousand years after the events of Ender’s Game. Ender Wiggin is now a name spoken with disgust since people now see him, not as humanity’s savior, but as a Xenocide, someone who wiped out an entire race of ramen, intelligent beings who share many characteristics with humans. What none of them know is that the Speaker for the Dead, Andrew Wiggin, who travels from world to world as an itinerant Speaker is Ender Wiggin, still young because of the effects of inter-planetary travel. No one except his sister Valentine knows his real identity or that he is the original Speaker who wrote The Hive Queen and The Hegemon. He is still tortured by the guilt of what he did, still trying to work out some kind of reparation for it by Speaking the truth.

When Ender receives a call to go to Lusitania, a colony of Brazilian immigrants which is fenced to protect the colonists from the piggies, the only known ramen, his life and the lives of those on Lusitania begin to unravel. As he questions their foundational beliefs, he exposes ugly truths. It is only then that they are able to reach some kind of healing, that they are able to go on.

I loved Ender in the first book. I think you have to, for the book to work. But in this book, I loved him even more. For some strange reason, I have a soft-spot for characters who break my heart and Ender did that several times.

I did have some quibbles with this book. Card’s Mormonism made a sudden appearance at one point, which meant that there was part of the book that I had some problems with. On a more minor level, I’m not sure how no one in three thousand years connected “Ender Wiggin” with “Andrew Wiggin.” However, I can see how if you are thinking of Andrew Wiggin, Speaker for the Dead, Ender Wiggin, Xenocide doesn’t really pop into your head. So I guess that one is just me, being bothersome.

“How do you know there wasn’t something that he touched kindly? Someone who loved him, who was blessed by his love? Destroyed everything he touched—that’s a lie that can’t truthfully be said of any human being who ever lived.”


I can't wait for the next book.

The Scent of Water: A review

The Scent of Water
by Elizabeth Goudge

When I was younger I really didn’t like this book. I liked almost every other Elizabeth Goudge book out there. But not this one. I think that Cousin Mary scared me. Anyway, my grandmother gave me her copy when they moved, about five years ago, I think. Eventually I thought, well I should really read it to make sure I don’t like it before I sell it. I read it and I loved it. Which is all to say, sometimes there is a right time and a wrong time to read books.

I don’t really have a lot to say about this book besides read it. It’s beautiful. So here are a few quotes.

“Most of us tend to belittle all suffering except our own…I think it’s fear. We don’t want to come too near in case we’re sucked in and have to share it.”

“….one of those moments when the goodness of God was so real to her that it was like taste and scent: the rough strong taste of honey in the comb and the scent of water. her thoughts of God had a homeliness that at time seemed shocking, in spite of their power, which could rescue her from terror or evil with an ease that astonished her.”

“If one’s intellectual equipment was not great, one’s spiritual experience not deep, the result of doing one’s damned best could only seem very lightweight in comparison with the effort involved. But perhaps that was not important. The mysterious power that commanded men appeared to him to ask of them only obedience and the maximum of effort and to remain curiously indifferent as to results.”

“You want to love and you can’t, and you hate yourself because you can’t, and all the time love is not some marvelous thing that you feel but some hard thing you do.”


Wolf Tower
by Tanith Lee

I enjoyed this book when I read it—it got a little star in my book notebook which is the equivalent of about a four star rating—but now that I’m thinking about it later, I’m realizing that this was essentially an apathy rating. I wasn’t blown away by it but it was solidly good. There were a few quibbles I had.

First, Claidi’s voice seemed a little unsettled to me, like the author wasn’t quite sure how old she was or how old the readers were. Sometimes it seemed very young adult, sometimes a couple of years younger. I suppose you could make a case for that given that Claidi was both very protected and forced into adulthood. However, it felt less like a device and more like an actual problem.

Second, what with the beautiful gardens and the Waste and the balloons, I kept making these connections to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was extremely distracting. I was expecting the whole way through for it to suddenly fall into some sort of back-story for the Oz books. When it didn’t, I was just confused. Now, granted this may be the fault of my mind making connections where it shouldn’t. But really, when you start talking about an oasis in a desert called the Waste and then add in balloonists, I start to get suspicious.

All in all, I enjoyed this, despite these issues. I’ll be interested to see where the series (four books) goes.

Recommended.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Awesome

Stephen Colbert takes on Jane Austen.



Hat tip to AustenBlog.

Question for my readers

I've been doing a series of posts over at my LiveJournal called "Orthodox Things" in which I try to elaborate a little bit Orthodox culture as I've experienced it. Would you be interested in me re-posting those here? Please do keep in mind that I am not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination. But I know that several of you expressed some interest in hearing more about how Orthodoxy impacts my life and I think this might be a good beginning. Let me know.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Links

Quentin Blake talks about and demonstrates his process as an illustrator. Very cool.

Penguin is issuing sets of books. I wish I had more money because then I would buy this one and this one and this one. Sigh.


Hat-tip for both of these to Bookshelves of Doom.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

October booklist

Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones: This one was odd, in a good way. It felt dream-like.

Fool's Run by Patricia McKillip: The only sci-fi McKillip I've read so far. I liked it, although in some ways it felt more like fantasy than sci-fi.

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey: One of my all-time favorite books by Josephine Tey.

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer: A wild romp, complete with unlikely heroes, crazy siblings and duels.

Witch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones: Eh. If you're on a Diana Wynne Jones kick, go for it. If not, there's no real reason to read this one.

Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters: Leila at Bookshelves of Doom was reading this one. Looked fun, so I picked it up. It was fun. It's one of those that if I'm ever in the mood I'll read another in the series but I don't feel any particular compulsion to keep going.

Better Than Running at Night by Hillary Frank: Eh. Young Adult in a style I don't often enjoy. "Realistic" teen fiction. Well, I suppose it is realistic for some people but it's not for me and it didn't touch anything in me.

A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Schlitz: It took me awhile to get into this, but after I did it was worth it. A tale of mystery and horror. Be aware that several of the main characters are involved in conducting fake seances.

Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock: Somewhat in the style of Ella Enchanted, but I like Ella Enchanted better. It was sitting on the shelf at work and I finished it in one four hour shift. Not amazing, but not terrible either.

Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer: A comfort read. There's something so magical about Lucinda Wyman and her year of New York life.

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer: I enjoyed this one a lot. While I often grump about Independent Girl raised in Unconventional Manner Thwarts Male Authority and Makes Her Own Way, Georgette Heyer often manages to pull it off without annoying me. Maybe it's because her plots feel like plots, not Message in Disguise.

Stopping for a Spell by Diana Wynne Jones: Short stories. Not wild about it.

Downright Dencey by Caroline Dale Snedeker: I enjoyed this one a lot. One of my favorite classic children's books. There is some major of-its-time description of a Native American character. But it's still a lovely read.

Away Goes Sally by Elizabeth Coatsworth: Another comfort read. I always loved the bear and the house on a sled. Next up: Five Bushel Farm.

The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip: I've found myself really enjoying Patricia McKillip's work and this was one of my favorites so far. Very haunting.

The Year of Jubilo by Ruth Sawyer: We revisit Lucinda from Roller Skates, several years older and suffering from the recent loss of her father. This has a very different feel from Roller Skates. Older and less exuberant. But Lucinda is still Lucinda and it's a beautiful book.

The Foundling by Georgette Heyer: Probably in the top 10 Georgette Heyers for me. I liked that the main character was male and he was interesting on top of it!

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer: This one, not so much. Nothing wrong with it, but it didn't stand out in any way from the rest.

The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones: I didn't like this one terribly. It was confusing and felt almost claustrophobic. Meh.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Again, for school.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: Also for school. I'm always struck by how much they changed Bessy Higgins' character for the movie. Also the ending. Can I say, as period-incorrect as the ending of the movie is, I like it much better than Gaskell's? Oh well.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson: Sweet story of a family struggling to re-adjust after WWII. Not amazing, but very nice all the same.

The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia McKillip: I couldn't keep several of the minor characters straight, but I got enough of the plot to enjoy it a lot.

Leerie by Ruth Sawyer: Eh. It's a typical late 40s-early 50s romance: sweet and innocent. But it lacks the dash of the Lucinda stories

Seven Miles to Arden by Ruth Sawyer: Ditto Leerie.

Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones: After several disappointing Diana Wynne Jones, we're back on track with this one. Quite nice.

Chalice by Robin McKinley: I re-read it because I'd gobbled it down so fast the first time. Just as good on a second go.

Dragonfield by Jane Yolen: Short stories. Very lovely and haunting.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede: I've loved these books since middle school. They turn fairy tale conventions on their heads but do it in a fun and sweet way.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Things I have learned about myself recently

*I can always be bribed with free crayons. Chocolate is also acceptable.
*Procrastination is the name of the game.
*I do actually need sleep sometimes. Who knew?
*I am in love with Sweets from Bones. If you have not seen the latest episode (aired yesterday) go watch it. Particularly the last few minutes, but that won't make sense if you haven't seen the rest of the ep.
*I dislike a messy room, but often not enough to actually clean it (right now would be a good example).
*I'm an emotional sap.
*Muslin curtains fluttering in the wind=happiness.
*Wind in general=happiness.

And now I'm off to try and knock off some NaNo-ing. No, my paper is not done. But I'm at two (almost three) pages, so I'm giving myself a little break. A break involving more writing. (But fun writing, she tells herself forcefully. Right, self answers her. Fun.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh my gosh, guys

I bought my ticket to London. *faints*

Skellig: a review

Skellig
by David Almond

Michael's baby sister is ill, and to top it off, he's had to move from his old home to a new one, a real fixer-upper. In the garage he finds a mysterious man with a secret. With the help of a new friend he tries to find a way to save his sister and rescue the mystery man.

This was a lovely story. I won't presume to say what it is about, but to me it says something about family and love and a great deal about wonder and hope. While I could have done without some of the emphasis on evolution, it was still a beautiful book. I liked that Almond was able to include a character who is homeschooled but is not antisocial or psychotic and is in fact wise beyond her years. I picked this one up on a whim but I'll definitely keep my eye out for more of his books from now on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

YAY!

This is genius:



From Will Write for Chocolate.

All shall be well

Woo hoo! My philosophy class has been canceled for the day! I hope everything's okay with the professor, but I'm glad to have extra free time. Also, my P&P seminar has moved into a new stage where we'll pretty much be meeting with the professor once a week and writing on our own the rest of the time. I'm meeting with him today.

My room did not get cleaned last night. Did I already say that? I kind of feel like I did. Oh well. I did get my curtains put up.

I also watched House. Anyone else watch it regularly? If you do, I have only this to say: Whoa. Whammy of an episode. I loved the part where House is talking to Wilson and Wilson says something and House gets his AHA! look on his face and Wilson says, "I just gave you the answer, didn't I? You're now going to walk out of here without saying a word." As House walks out the door he replies, "Nope."

We had quite the rousing discussion in my English class this morning. Veered off of Milton and onto free will/predestination. Take that, people who say that a secular school hates religion. Ahem. I will try to be kind, really. I put my two cents in, but I felt like people were kind of misunderstanding me. Hopefully that can get cleared up on Friday. Incidentally I realized this morning that I accidentally read ahead in that class, so I have like two pages of reading for Friday. Yaaaay.

Last night I had this feeling that yesterday had been a good day but I was setting myself up to have an awful day today. So far that prediction has not come true and I hope it continues to not come true.

I do need to:
~call the travel agency about tickets
~fill out my ballot
~clean my room
~wash dishes
~figure out somewhere to put my picture
~figure out some way to keep my curtain rod from sagging
~meet with my professor
~get everything ready to go to the bank
~check my mail
~e-mail my priest and his wife (evidently they have a birthday present waiting for me at home)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

*wipes away tears*

If you have read Pride and Prejudice and have never seen the 1940 version with Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson go rent it NOW. We just finished watching it and it was possibly the most hilarious thing I have ever seen. I won't reveal all of the plot twists, but suffice it to say that Lady Catherine is quite a character, Mr. Darcy is sweet and shy, and the ladies all wear dresses at least forty years too late.

See the trailer:




And the first proposal scene:




If that doesn't convince you, nothing will.

This is terrible, but I kind of want to own this version. When I am sick and unhappy it would cheer me up and restore my faith in the unintentional hilarity of humanity.

By the way, this is my 401st post on this blog. Pity I didn't notice the numbers earlier. We could have had a party.

More fall

I've been thinking more about it, and I think one of the reasons I love fall so much is that it's going towards winter, towards death and hibernation. But instead of being boring, grey, and quiet, fall is gorgeous. I look forward to fall's colors all year. It reminds me a little of the one thing I really like about Nietzsche's philosophy: the idea that we should not be merely resigned to our lives but instead we should affirm them. It also reminds me of one of my absolute favorite e.e. cummings poems:

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold


of november sunset

(and feeling that:if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

My mission for today: to live in a fallish way.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall days

I was really grumpy today until Sam and I went to an orchard where we drank apple cider and ate doughnuts and sat in the sun and talked.

I really love fall. It's a season that somehow feels very peaceful to me, even when there are storms and rain and wind. I think I've decided it's my favorite of all the seasons.

Dinner soon...not sure where we're going tonight. Probably somewhere cheap and Asian.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life

A somewhat productive day today. I slept in because I did not sleep well at all last night and I'd been tired all day yesterday. I still felt a little groggy all day.

Working on my P+P paper. I'm going through North and South now, marking all the parts I think are relevant. I'm almost done with it. Then I have to go through both books and organize the relevant parts. Then I have to make some kind of a thesis. Then I have to write the paper. Oh. Joy.

I'm complaining a lot, but I am interested. I am engaged. It's just a lot of work, especially since I'm using two texts which means twice the reading, twice the social commentary, etc.

I have nothing on Thursdays until 5 pm and then I have work from 5-6, swing at 7, Bible study at 8, and the Office at 9. Most of these are optional, if they really need to be, but they're kind of my scheduled people time so I try not to miss them. I am an introvert, but having a single has impressed on me the value of people time.

My room is really messy, but our independent Bible study tomorrow will force me to clean it. I am resolved.

Okay. I think I'm going to do some more reading and then maybe figure out something to watch.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The birthday

So...my birthday weekend. I went home Friday night--my mother came up and picked me up after work. When we got home I watched a little of "House of Flying Daggers" (good movie, a few FFW scenes) and then realized I needed to go to bed.

Saturday we worked on getting the house cleaned up a bit and food made. Two frineds came over about 11:30. We talked a bit and then ate lunch. Bratwurst or hamburgers, potato salad, tomatoes, pickles, and carrot sticks. My father was working until 1:00 so we played Taboo and Clue until then. When he got home we had cake and I opened presents. Rested a bit, talked to my sister, and went to Vespers and Matins. It was a really nice day, full of good things and people who love me.

Today we went to church, came home and then I left about 2:15. It was a great blessing to have communion.

The day ended nicely with dinner (at the cafeteria, yes I am lame) with friends, Mulan, and white chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream. *falls over* That stuff is amazing!

And now....the presents! (Click on the pictures to see them full-sized...I can't fiddle with them right now as I need to go to bed.)

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My father made me spoons. Which is just super cool! I'd been hoping he would make some for me sometime but it was nice to get them now.

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My friends gave me an English tea. Scone mix, Twinings Earl Grey, Nutella, digestive biscuits, mushroom pate, lemon curd, rolls, an English cucumber, Devon cream, smoked salmon, English cheddar cheese with carmelized onions. All in a lovely basket!
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Close-up of the basket

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My sister painted me a picture! Isn't it lovely?

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Books...yes, my brother gave me the King of Attolia.

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Second hand baking pans.

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Origami

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My gag joke from my friend Nick--he made the cover to fit on some random book...because he likes to get me mad by talking about Jane Eyre as if Jane Austen wrote it.

And! The gift that you can't see because it was taking all of these pictures...a digital camera! It was really sweet of my parents to get it for me.

Not pictured: a red sweater (YAY!), a cream shirt, and a traveling skirt.

So...some good, some bad. At the moment I'm tired which is not helping my attitude. Hopefully sleep and a new day will.

I also realized when I got back that my alarm clock would have gone off at 8:30 am both days. Ooooops. Sorry neighbors. Maybe I should give them some of the cookies I made last week.

Prayer

"God is truth, and my prayer should be truth as well as life; God is light and my prayer should be offered in the light of the mind and the heart; God is fire and my prayer should be ardent; God is perfectly free, and my prayer should be the free outpouring of the heart."
~St. John of Kronstadat, Spiritual Counsels

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ta ta

I'm off to work and then my mother is coming to pick me up and take me home for the weekend. I'll be back sometime Sunday afternoon. See you then!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More on Twilight

I saw someone in the cafeteria wearing a Twilight shirt.

Uh.

For some reason my initial reaction to the books was fairly balanced and mild but now I'm kind of in this "WHY???" stage where people are annoying me. I think it's mostly a counterbalance to the people who are like: "tHis iS thE greAtest bOok EVARRR!!!!!!!!!!!!" Uh, no. It's not a terrible book, but it is NOT the greatest book ever. There are issues of writing and plot that should probably have been addressed by the editors. Like tightening up that first 150 pages.

I am also vastly scared by the number of people who think Edward is the most perfect human being in the whole world. I know there are extremes of fangirldom for almost every book/movie/tv show out there, and I squee over a good number of characters myself. (Gen, Ned, Lord Peter Whimsey...) But Twilight seems to breed them for some reason. And, sorry Team Edward, I just don't see it. I mean, from the first book I like him better than Jacob who basically is just like, "Dude sucks." But if you find it extremely romantic for a guy to watch through your bedroom window while you're sleeping before you're even officially together, I just don't know what to say to you.

Also, he sparkles.

Now, I'm not, not, not saying that you can't enjoy these books! There was certainly some part of me that liked the one I've read. What I am saying is that you can't claim them as great literature, or great YA literature. (Robin McKinley, Ursula Le Guin, Madeline L'Engle, Megan Whalen Turner and L.M. Montgomery are much better choices. Lloyd Alexander too. And Robin McKinley even wrote a vampire book.) If you want to keep your hoard of S. Meyer books around for when you need that kind of book, go for it. Who am I to judge? I am reading through Georgette Heyer one after another. Just give up the claims to eternal glory.

YAY!!!

I just got an e-mail.

The King of Attolia* is waiting for me in my mailbox.

I'm now somewhat tempted to ditch all the responsible things I had planned to do today and read instead.



*the book, obviously. The alternative would be a little creepy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I love books!

So yesterday I went to check an e-mail account that I use solely for signing up for stuff. One of the things that's associated with that e-mail is my Amazon account. And in all of the unread messages there was one reminding me that I had a refund coming from an order that never arrived to me. So, I had $17.96 to spend on Amazon. :D

First I bought The King of Attolia because I have the other books in the series and I WANT that one. Then I bought Gentian Hill by Elizabeth Goudge because it's always been one of my favorites and I don't own it. Good thing I only bought two books, because shipping was quite high.

So in a few days I will be receiving a package. With BOOKS in it!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Passion

I just finished watching "Amadeus"--and before you music majors (are there any of you out there?) or general music history buffs jump down my throat, yes I know it's a fictional story without much of the truth about it. It was still interesting. And it was Mozart. Mozart is my comfort music. Seriously, I'm having an awful day, I start listening to Mozart, it gets better.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about.

See, the thing I noticed about the character of Mozart in the film was how much he was committed. Sure, he was interested in a lot of frivolous, worldly things and frittered away his time and money. But he also spent hours working and working and working. He was passionate about his music.

It strikes me that I need some of that passion. Not that I need to kill myself by working too hard. But I need to care, not just exist. This applies in my spiritual life and in whatever I do as well.



[NOTE: For those of you who haven't seen/heard of "Amadeus," I'd probably approach it with caution. There are definitely some FFW scenes.]

Saturday

Pretty nice day today. Went to Saturday Market this morning with Jessica and bought apples and farm fresh eggs. The man I bought the eggs from could seriously have been friends with my parents thirty years ago. Also, he has an ADORABLE daughter who was wearing a darling smock-dress-thing.

I haven't gotten anything like as much as I needed to done today, but I did clean up a bit and work on my paper a little. And then we went out to dinner--sushi, very delicious. It was at this place where the sushi is on plates on a conveyor belt and you pick out the ones you want. They're priced according to plate, so the red plates are $1.25, the yellow plates are $1.65, etc. I ate a fair amount and ended up paying about nine dollars, which is not at all bad for good sushi. I ate almost all the $1.25 plates and they were quite yummy. Especially the crab salad.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I'm in love

with John Donne. (I think I'll end up being the girl who cried wolf...someday I'm going to make a real, honest to goodness Announcement, and everyone will zoom by it because they'll think I'm just being silly again. Anyway, John Donne.)

No, but seriously! The man was incredible. He wrote about faith and love and death, some of the themes that devolve into cheesiness and cliches most often, with wit, humor, and extremely original images. And not the sort of images that you read them and go, Oh back when they were writing them they were fresh, but now we're used to that sort of thing. No, no, no. His words are just as fresh four hundred years later as they were the day he penned them.

Holy Sonnet 1

Thou has made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Ty grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.

(Adamant is a magnetic stone.)

See? Amazing.

Some of his love poetry is fairly bawdy, but not all of it. He also wrote Meditation 17 which, if you have not read it, is astounding.

In other news, I am trying to avoid the plague that is going around campus. By plague I mean cold type sickness not literally the plague. Although if it was literally the plague Sam would be excited. She likes diseases like I like books. And John Donne.

Also, it was CHILLY today. I even have on a sweater. And my red Attolia earrings. Because they match the sweater, not because it's cold.

It's so funny to look at pictures of myself with long hair now. In some ways I still feel like I have long hair--I keep waiting it for it to whip around the breeze--but I like the length I have it now. It makes me feel younger and older at the same time.

This entry has been rambly and all over the place (which is what rambly means...we like tautologies, we do!) but fear not. It is ending. I am off to cook dinner.

P.S. Pushing Daisies tonight. SQUEE!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Not a great day today. Too much to do, not enough of it got done. And there was some personal stuff going on.

On the upside, it was sunny this morning, which is good for my rose bush. It's trying to bloom again (!!!) and I've been worried about the fact that we are entered the Rain. Also received a previously unread Diana Wynne Jones book from the library which is always a good thing.

I'm trying to remember that God is good and not let myself get weighed down in the bog.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

September book list

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: This book is amazing. You should read it, if you haven't already.

The Pooh Perplex: Fake literary criticism on Winnie-the-Pooh. Funny for an English major, but not really interesting for anyone else.

Warlock at the Wheel by Diana Wynne Jones: Short stories. I enjoyed them, but I'd already read several, which made them a little less exciting.

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer: Definitely one of my favorite Heyers. Quite amusing.

Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer: Definitely not one of my favorites.

Sweetblood by Pete Hautman: Lucy, a diabetic, believes that diabetics were the origins of the vampire myth. Meh.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer: Reviewed HERE.

Simon the Cold Heart by Georgette Heyer: It was okay, but not a favorite.

Changing Planes by Ursula LeGuin: LeGuin is almost always great (I failed to get through Left Hand of Darkness). This was no exception. A travelogue from different "planes," which you reach only when you're in an airport.

Out of Patience by Brian Meehl: This was a fun read, but nothing more. Kooky band of characters and a Curse.

Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones: Normally, I love Chrestomanci, but this was only okay. Definitely read the rest of the series before this one.

Wild Roses by Deb Calletti: This was hard to read for me. It struck far too close to home in some places.

Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones: YAY DWJ!

Pistols for Two by Georgette Heyer: Short stories. I enjoyed them a lot!

Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer: Unusual main characters, but the resolution seemed a tad strained.

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer: Definitely a favorite!

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall: Even better than the first book. In my opinion, this one puts the Penderwicks firmly in the ranks of classic children's lit.

Chalice by Robin McKinley: Amazing. Reviewed HERE.

The Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones: Really good DWJ.

The Doctrine of Christ by Bishop Dmitri: This would be very good for a catechumen or someone interested in Orthodoxy, but I didn't find it terribly challenging.

Tales of the Black Widowers by Isaac Asimov: A series of mystery short stories centered around the Black Widower club. There are more, thank goodness, because I really enjoyed these!

Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer: Meh.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley: The more I read this book, the more I love it. Even though I keep saying I can't recommend it. And I can't--I'm also surprised every time by how much stuff there is in there. But...I still love it.

The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip: I've tried reading The Tower at Stony Wood several times and have never gotten through it. I think I just had the wrong book, because this one was excellent.

Hidden Turnings ed Diana Wynne Jones: It was okay. Not wild about it though.

The Toll-gate by Georgette Heyer: Another one that was okay but not great.

Erosion by Jorie Graham: Poetry. I didn't like it as well as Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, but it was good.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey: I love this book.

A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner: Nice book, probably about the 9-12 age range.

Owl in Love by Patrice Kindl: I hate to put it quite this way, but this book is in the same vein as Twilight (teenage love, fantasy) but better. Much better.

Instead of the Thorn, Barren Corn by Georgette Heyer: These books are quite similar. I was not fond of either. They're set in about the 1920s.

The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez: Mystery set in Oxford. Meh. I skimmed the last half.

Comments

I just went through the entries on the first page and responded to comments there. So if you left me a comment in the past few weeks and I hadn't responded, I probably have now.

Planned for this weekend:
~The September book list
~Why I don't like the idea of listing traits for your future husband to have

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Argh

I'm bored, tired, and I have a paper to write. This is NOT a good combination.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Things that make me happy

Beef stroganoff for dinner.

The honey spice cupcake sitting on my desk.

A book waiting for me at the library.

House, Bones and Pushing Daisies all tomorrow.

Peter, Paul and Mary.

Starbuck's Hazelnut Hot Chocolate.

Sunshine (book and actual light).

A day without classes.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bits and pieces

When I got up this morning I felt as if I'd woken up from a long bad dream. Which is a metaphor. I slept very well last night. It's just that I felt, for no discernible reason, as if all of my failures and falls of the last few weeks had been washed away and I'd been given a brand new start.

That's a lovely feeling.

Leila at Bookshelves of Doom put up the last Big Read post for A Tale of Two Cities. Naturally, she quoted the end. Naturally, I cried. Oh, Charles Dickens, what you do to me.

I'm missing old friends a lot this morning. I know I won't see them for some time and I want to be with them. I want a community instead of me, muddling along by myself. I guess that's one of those things where all I can do is pray.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hello again

We just finished dinner...yes, a little late. It was good though. We had chicken breasts cooked in soy sauce, water, ginger, and garlic, steamed rice, and green beans and mushrooms cooked in the same sauce as the chicken. Yum.

I worked six hours today and my brain is gone. A little more money, but man, six hours is hard. So I'm going to do homework and clean up a little and then try to get to bed EARLY. As opposed to really, really late, which has been the M.O. for the past two days.

I'm sorry this isn't a terribly deep entry. But like I said, my brain is on vacation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday quote


"In His hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land."

Psalm 95, 1-2 (KJV)

[This was my post for today for The IDD Blog.

A question

So, I've been pondering a bit, and I decided to ask all my lovely readers (that's you) a question. What would you like to see more of on this blog? Bits of writing? Book reviews? A recap of my day (that would be pretty boring)? Something else entirely? Let me know.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Twilight review *SPOILERS*

I actually read this, what, a couple of weeks ago? Something like that. Anyway, I feel that Twilight is like a Twinkie (I’m totally stealing this metaphor from cleolinda, by the way). If you actually want something that’s going to fill you up, you eat real food. But sometimes, even though you know that Twinkies are sugary and full of preservatives and don’t have a natural ingredient in them, you want a Twinkie.

I have a few major problems with this story and a few things I thought were okay. Major problem no. 1: The first 150-200 pages. They were repetitive and annoying and full of teenage ANGST. I mean, I knew Bella and Edward were going to get together from the beginning and I wanted them to just get it over with already. However, once we actually reach something approaching a plot, the book becomes a lot more decent. I actually think it has something interesting to add to the vampire genre. Except for one thing (Major problem no. 2): The sparkles. No, seriously. We’ve just spent all this time with Edward angsting all over the place that Bella doesn’t take seriously enough that he’s DANGEROUS, I tell you, DANGEROUS. Trouble. Angst. Angst. So what does he do? He takes her out to a meadow and walks out in the sunlight and SPARKLES. I almost fell off my chair laughing. Maybe it’s just me, but a sparkling vampire (sparklepire to borrow from cleolinda again) does not seem all that threatening. Kind of the reverse.

I do also have some philosophical issues with the whole stalker thing and how obsessed Bella is with Edward after so little substance. But I’m sure it’s been said before, so I’ll leave that alone.

I’ll probably read the rest of the books because…Twinkies are addictive. (Cheese puffs also work for this analogy—I will eat far too many of them.)

There were also some individual lines that I want to point out the ridiculousness of. Sorry, major Twilight fans.

No one was going to bite me. p. 14 I suppose this was supposed to be funny and somewhat eerie, but I just found it annoying. Seriously.

Once I got around the cafeteria, building three was easy to spot A large black “3” was painted on a white square on the east corner. p. 15 I don’t even know what to say about this one.

Today I was worse than usual because my head was so filled with Edward. p. 75 Sigh. Yes, we know.

I shivered and rose quickly from my place of concealment p. 139 Okay, I know Bella is a big classic book fan, but “place of concealment”???? If her whole voice was like this, it would be one thing, but it’s not.

The rocking movement of his walk. I snorkled over this one. Really?

I wondered if it should bother me that he was following me; instead I felt a strange surge of pleasure. p. 174 YES. It SHOULD bother you.

I’d given more information than necessary in my unwilling honesty, and I worried that it would provoke the strange anger that flared whenever I slipped and revealed too clearly how obsessed I was. p. 230 Well, at least she admits it. That’s the one thing where I do feel a little okay about the whole obsessed thing. I mean, it’s strange, but Bella does make a conscious choice to be obsessed. I don’t understand it, but I can sort of accept that choice.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A (not so) Brief Introduction

Note: I realized some time ago that I never posted a proper introduction when I started this blog. This is my attempt to rectify that situation.

The facts are these:

Life
I am the oldest of three children.

I was born at home. I smiled at my father when he held me for the first time. I weighed 4 pounds, 10 ounces and was ten days late. The day I was born the stock market dropped dramatically, leading the media to dub it “Black Monday.” My parents renamed it Golden Monday.

For the first two years of my life we lived in an apartment building with other families from our religious community. My friend Kathryn was born eight months after me and a day after my parents and I were baptized into Eastern Orthodoxy.

It snowed on my second birthday.

When I was two, we moved to Maine. We moved to a small town where we lived in a small grey house that was a meadow and a road from the sea. There were woods behind us. I ate rhubarb straight from our neighbor’s plant and grew tadpoles in a plastic bucket. I lost a red balloon. My father worked in a boatyard and we had a garden that amazed our non-compost conscious neighbors.

The spring after I turned four the boatyard my father was working at folded. Faced with the possibility of long-term unemployment with one child and another coming very shortly, my parents made the decision to move back. It rained the day we left and my friend Nicole’s mother cried in our kitchen.

A month after we returned my sister was born. I played house under the peach tree in the garden with my godmother’s oldest daughter for hours. I started “Children’s Garden,” our homeschool version of kindergarten where I learned how to knit, make bread, read, and write.

When I was six my great-grandmother, who lived in Ohio, died. At her funeral my great-uncle asked my father if he would be interested in buying her house, the one she and my great-grandfather built when they got married in 1927, at half the market value. My parents jumped at the chance.

We lived in that house for thirteen years.

My great-grandfather had owned a fair bit of land originally and though he had to sell it off when the Depression hit, he had saved a lot and a half for the family. We had a huge vegetable garden and we planted fruit trees. My brother was born when I was seven and a half, the last of the family. I was homeschooled until I was ten, when I entered public school. I was in public school all the way through high school.

The summer after I graduated from high school my family moved to the Pacific Northwest. The move has been very strange for me, having spent so much of my life in one region. I plan to move back to the Midwest after I graduate from college.

Where I am now
Currently I attend a private four-year liberal arts college in a small city an hour from my parents. I’m a junior English major and I love it! I do live in the dorms. I don’t know what I’ll do after college yet, but it will be something with books because that’s what I love. My love language isn’t touch or speech, or any of the other ones. It’s feeding people and shoving books in their hands.

In spring 2009 I will be studying abroad in London for four months. I’m incredibly excited about this! It still seems unreal to me; I don’t actually believe I’m going even while I’m filling out the paperwork.

My faith is incredibly important to me. I believe in traditional Orthodoxy.

I write poetry and prose. I’m currently revising a novella-length story begun as my NaNoWriMo in 2007. I should probably be doing that right now.

Interests
Books, reading, flowers, gardening, cooking, embroidery, knitting, singing, writing.

Favorite Authors (a partial list)
L.M. Montgomery
J.R.R. Tolkien
Charles Dickens
Jane Austen
Robin McKinley
Maud Hart Lovelace
Dorothy Sayers
Megan Whalen Turner
Elizabeth Goudge
Elizabeth Gaskell

Favorite Music
Mozart
Rachmaninoff
Chopin
Verdi
Puccini
Tchaikovsky
Some Bach
The Chieftains
Eisley
The North and South soundtrack

Favorite Poets (another partial list)
John Donne
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Elizabeth Dickinson
Christina Rossetti
Dylan Thomas
Rupert Brooke
W.B. Yeats
W.H. Auden
T.S. Eliot
e.e. cummings
Wallace Stevens

Favorite Flowers
Lilac
Lavender
Roses
Lily of the Valley
Peonies
Violets
Daffodils
Forsythia
Marigolds
Chrysanthemums
Geraniums
Columbine
Pansies

Hobbies
Reading far too much, handicrafts, ignoring the messiness of my room, quoting whatever pops into my head randomly.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chalice

So, first let me say that this is a beautiful book. (See pictures here, here, here, and here.) The title and Robin McKinley's name are both embossed. There are these beautiful bee decorations sprinkled throughout the book. Without the dustcover, the book is dark red with the author's name, the title and a bee in a circle embossed in gold on the spine. The type is nicely set and very readable.

I don't like summarizing plots, so I'll just give you the blurb from the website.

"As the newly appointed Chalice, Mirasol is the most important member of the Master’s Circle. It is her duty to bind the Circle, the land and its people together with their new Master. But the new Master of Willowlands is a Priest of Fire, only drawn back into the human world by the sudden death of his brother. No one knows if it is even possible for him to live amongst his people. Mirasol wants the Master to have his chance, but her only training is as a beekeeper. How can she help settle their demesne during these troubled times and bind it to a Priest of Fire, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone?"

Mirasol as a character is a lot like the "typical" McKinley heroine (and hero)--well-intentioned and highly likable but also thrown into a difficult situation and struggling to do the right thing. The book gives very little background, only doling out information as we reach certain points in the story. I felt that this worked very well in giving a sense of Mirasol's overwhelment. (That should be a word but evidently it isn't.) I liked the fact that while she clearly Does Things, they don't need to be male things (much as I love, say, Hari).

This book has the richness of Sunshine but it is very clearly its own story. I found it extremely well-written and engaging and just...beautiful. Very satisfying. I hope some more people read it soon so I can compare notes!

(Pictures from Robin McKinley's blog.)

Yeep!

So, I was going to write up a nice post about The Penderwicks on Gardam Street and how much I enjoyed it, but then I got a notice that Chalice has arrived.

You'll see me when I'm done reading.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

SQUEE

Amazon informs me that my copy of Chalice has shipped and should arrive by FRIDAY.

I can't wait.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Faith

“In the last resort faith is an act of will, inspired by love. Our love may be chilled and our will eroded by the spectacle of the shortcomings, folly, and even sins of the Church and its ministers, but I do not think that one who has once had faith goes back over the line for these reasons…If He is a fraud and the Gospels fraudulent—that is: garbled accounts of a demented megalomaniac (which is the only alternative), then of course the spectacle exhibited by the Church…in history and today is simply evidence of a gigantic fraud. If not, however, then this spectacle is alas! only what was to be expected: it began before the first Easter, and it does not affect faith at all—except that we may and should be deeply grieved
“It takes a fantastic will to unbelief to suppose that Jesus never really ‘happened’, and more to suppose that he did not say the things recorded of him—so incapable of being ‘invented’ by anyone in the world at that time…” (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 250, p. 337)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A poem

When You are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

W.B. Yeats

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Books

"Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of theses small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things you don't get in real life--wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift."

~Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p. 15

Monday, September 08, 2008

August reading list

A bit late...sorry!

Life is So Good--George Dawson: Touching memoir of the grandson of former slaves who learned to read at age 98.

A Tale of Time City--Diana Wynne Jones: Not my favorite DWJ. Nothing wrong with it, I just wasn't blown away like I usually am.

The King of Attolia--Megan Whalen Turner: I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about how much I love this series. But I love this series.

You Can Go Home Again--Gene Logsdon: Memoir of one of the sustainable agriculture types. Very interesting and some great thoughts. Mild language warning.

Sprig Muslin
Duplicate Death
Lady of Quality
Unknown Ajax
Beauvallet--Georgette Heyer: Again, I read too much Georgette Heyer. I'm trying to work my way through her books so that then I can just read the ones I know are good.

Fire and Hemlock--Diana Wynne Jones: Re-telling of the Tam Lynn legend. Very well done, I thought. It would be nice to read this and The Perilous Gard back to back.

Fragile Things--Neil Gaiman: Collection of short stories and poems. Some really great stuff in there, but MAJOR content warning for several of the stories.

Beauty--Robin McKinley: Not my favorite McKinley (and she wouldn't be hurt by my saying that) but a great comfort read.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow--Jessica Day George: Well done re-telling of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." I'd never read a re-telling of that particular story until this year and now I've read two (East by Edith Pattou is the other.)

The Penderwicks--Jeanne Birdsall: Fun story in the tradition of the Bastables and Melendys, I'd say, although not quite as well done as either. Still, I'm glad to hear that there's a sequel.

Strong Poison--Dorothy Sayers: One of my favorite Sayers. I mean, how can it not be?

The Doors of the Sea--David Bentley Hart: This is a fascinating book written from an Orthodox perspective on the problem of God and suffering. It was recommended by Deb. I want to write more fully about it.

Betsy's Wedding--Maud Hart Lovelace: Another huge old comfort read.

Deerskin--Robin McKinley: This book is wonderful and I don't recommend it to anyone. The subject matter is very difficult to deal with and I had a very hard time with it. But it's a great treatment, IMO.

Keturah and Lord Death--Martine Leavitt: I must be somewhat morbid, because I like books with Death as a character in them. I read this some time ago and it was just as good the second time around. Highly recommended.

The Homeward Bounders--Diana Wynne Jones: Not my favorite DWJ, but nothing wrong with it either.

The Saturdays--Elizabeth Enright: If I have children, they will be intimately acquainted with the Melendys. That's all I have to say.

Spiderwick 2: The Seeing Stone--Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black: Meh. Not wild about these, although the illustrations are really nice.

Up a Road Slowly--Irene Hunt: A book that I always think I'm going to like just slightly more than I do. It's still pretty good though.

A Study in Scarlet
The Sign of Four
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
His Last Bow
The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes--A. Conan Doyle: I'd never actually read any Sherlock Holmes and I decided this needed to be remedied.

Because of Winn-Dixie--Kate DiCamillo: You can never go wrong with Kate DiCamillo. A sweet story about a girl and her dog.

The Case of the Missing Marquess--Nancy Springer: A take-off on Sherlock Holmes. There was a bit too much Message for my taste. And I would love to have a novel set in the Victorian era where the heroine is fine with corsets and sewing. Seriously. Not everyone hated them and rebelled.

The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie--Jaclyn Moriarty: This was tons of fun! I liked it even better than the first book, The Year of Secret Assignments, partly because I kind of identified with Bindy.

Pride and Prejudice--Jane Austen: For school, but it's nice to have an excuse to read Austen. :D

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saturday notes

I'm really loving "Early in the Morning" as done by Peter, Paul and Mary. You can see a video of them performing it live here.

This morning we went to a local farmer’s market where I bought beautiful and delicious Gala apples, half a bouquet of dahlias, and a bunch of fresh basil. A friend has the other half of the bouquet.

Since then I’ve been cleaning my room and writing a few letters. I also managed to get a few more of my decorations out—the ones that really mean something to me and aren’t just tchochkies. (Which, incidentally, means teacup in Russian. Just thought you might like to know that.)

This evening we’re going out to dinner…somewhere. I’m kind of hoping for Asian food as I haven’t had any in AGES. MONTHS.

One of my friends and I are also planning to get a meal plan where you have only 3-4 dinners covered for the week and cook the rest of the time. I’ve found that I enjoy cooking, and I get so tired of the cafeteria food here. I think my mother will be worried about that choice, but with two of us, I think it’s realistic and feasible.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Yum!

So I just made shortbread. It's ridiculously simple and the only expensive part is the butter. Which is better for you anyway, but I understand if you're like, I'm not going to blow a pound of butter on one thing!

But it's so gooooooood.

Anyway, the recipe:

1 lb butter (REAL BUTTER NOT MARGARINE)
4 c flour
1 c sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together by hand. I recommend doing this literally by hand as it's much simpler. Especially if you forgot to soften your butter.

Mix in flour 1/2 c at a time. At a certain point, you won't be able to use your spoon/fork anymore and you'll want to go back to the hand mixing. If you're me, you might never have left. Anyway, when the dough leaves the sides of the bowl, you're good.

Press in a pan. Score the top lightly and prick the squares with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and leave sitting in for 10 more minutes. Cut while still warm and soft. That's it. Seriously.

If you feel like splurging on the butter, you can't go wrong with shortbread.


In other news, I have ordered Twilight from the library. I want to see what all the fuss is about. Although I suspect it'll be one of those things where I go, "WHY am I doing this to myself? Why am I still reading this?" And then keep reading.

In still other news, we have had some seriously gorgeous weather the past few days. Which is good because, make no mistake my friends, the rain, it is coming. I enjoy the rain for the first month. Although I left my umbrella at home, so we'll see how much I actually enjoy it this year.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Morning thoughts

I'm back at school! This semester I'll be in a single in the dorm I was in last year. Next semester I'll be in London.

The sun comes in quite pleasantly even through my closed blinds. With the fan going it's cool enough right now that I don't have to open the windows (and therefore don't have to remember to close and lock them on the way out the door).

I approve of Celestial Seasoning's new boxes. At first I went: OH NO!!! They have changed it! But they've still got the correct Celestial Seasonings flair.

On the list to do today:
~Work on putting things away
~Buy books
~Go to Safeway for essentials like Lady Grey tea and Ritz crackers
~Talk to the librarians

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Camping trip

Back from a family camping trip--the last hurrah of summer so to speak, as after this we all go back to school and work. I have a week before I go to school and I don't know how much I'll be around during it. But once I get back to school and wireless internet, I'll be posting a lot more than I have been all summer. In the mean time, my pillow and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are calling my name.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Zucchini Bread

This is a recipe for eggless, dairyless zucchini bread. I made it a few days ago because we're currently in the Dormition Fast (I love Wikipedia). It would also be suitable for any vegan types out there.

Fasting Zucchini Bread

6 T water
1 c oil
2 c sugar
2c grated zucchini
3 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
1 T vanilla (yes, a tablespoon)
1/2 c chopped nuts

Mix water, oil, and sugar. Add grated zucchini and beat. Add flour, soda, and salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and nuts. Mix. Pour into two 9x5 inch greased loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool and remove from pans.

You don't need to use a mixer for this--it goes together nicely by hand. Of course if you're short like me, that means holding the bowl in the crook of your arm because the counter's too high and THAT means hoping the batter doesn't go all over what you're wearing. Or wearing an apron which I always forget to take off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ta-da!

My weekly post is up at The IDD Blog. It's called The story of a rose bush.

But eventually I picked myself off the floor and thought, “Well, it is not dead yet. True, the buds have all fallen off, and the leaves are sadly depleted. But there are still some leaves. So I won’t give up on it yet.”

Take a gander if you're interested.

Monday, August 18, 2008

ARGH

Today has just been a frustrating day for some reason. I'm not sure why and I'm not sure what's been going on. It's cool which is lovely, and grey which I'm not really complaining about and the combination reminds me of Connecticut. But...I feel grumpy and I think I was just grumpy at my mother when it turned out we'd been thinking of entirely different storage unit things.

I made zucchini bread, but I can't eat it because we're having Vigil and Liturgy for Transfiguration tonight and since I want to take Communion, I can't eat anything. And I'm already hungry. And Vigil starts at six. *headdesk*

Have I mentioned before that I get cranky when I don't eat?

Also, everything costs too much money. And life is a howling wilderness. I think I need a do-over.

Moreover, I have a list of things to do as long as my arm and most of them aren't getting done.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Assorted

1. I just put all of my monthly reading lists under a tag--"monthly reading lists."

2. I also updated the list of books I have checked out from the library.

3. I have pictures of my rose bush. They are actually from some time ago and that rose has fallen and three (THREE!!!) new ones are blooming, but you'll get the idea.



The July book list

The Quiet Gentleman
Devil's Cub
A Civil Contract
April Lady
Friday's Child
Charity Girl

All by Georgette Heyer. Yes, I read too much Georgette Heyer.

Here Lies the Librarian--Richard Peck. Not as good as The Teacher's Funeral, but still a fun read.

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones. A sequel to Howl's Moving Castle, which, if you'll remember, I loved. Not as good, but it was nice to meet up with Howl and Sophie again.

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. A much beloved book in need of a re-read.

Thrones, Dominations by Jean Paton Walsh. It's sort of by Dorothy Sayers, but Paton Walsh wrote most of it. It's not D.L.S.'s Lord Peter, but the story didn't bother me too much.

Iris, Messenger by Sarah Dewing. All right, but for modern adaptations of Greek myths go with Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series.

Larklight by Philip Reeve. Great book! Zany sci-fi set in a pseudo-Victorian world.

The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones. Just as amazing the second time through.

The Arkadians by Lloyd Alexander. Very nice Alexander.

The Problem Child by Michael Buckley. I remember absolutely nothing about this book. Oh wait! It's a somewhat wild re-imagining of Grimm's Fairy Tales. It's meant for children/young adults. I wouldn't let the children read it and I'd recommend Jasper Fforde for the young adults.

The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones. Another great DWJ, this one in the Crestomanci world. I definitely enjoyed it.

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages. Very beautiful, haunting book about the Los Alamos community during World War II.

Fair Weather by Richard Peck. All about the Chicago World's Fair. Lots of fun.

A Tiny Step from Deepest Faith by Marjorie Corbman. This book was amazing--I highly recommend it to young adults and teenagers.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I. Love. Eugenides.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I love this book, although part of me longs for a sequel because I like tidy endings.

Farthing by Jo Walton. There are some content issues with this book, unfortunately, because it says some very important things. Set in an alternate universe type thing, it's a detective story set in an England which made peace with Hitler.

The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones. You very seldom go wrong with Diana Wynne Jones, and this was at the top of her form.

Howl's Moving Castle by DWJ. Yes, again.

The Queen of Attolia. I. Love. Megan Whalen Turner. (I also kind of want to be her when I grow up.)

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers. This has always been one of my favorite Lord Peter Wimsey books, although it doesn't touch Gaudy Night.

The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable. Quite respectable fantasy. Not sure I'll ever re-read it, but it wasn't bad. I definitely sense a series coming on though.

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. Latest in the Percy Jackson series. I still loved it, although I have to say that the whole "I like Annabeth but I can't tell her, aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!" thing is getting old.

House of Many Ways by DWJ. Another Howl sequel. I liked this one better than Castle in the Air, but not as much as Howl.

Welcome to Wahoo by Dennis and Ellen Carr. Waste of time.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Evening light

A few pictures I took in our backyard the other evening.

The fuchsia blooming.


Blackberries ripening--I picked probably a quart of them this morning and there are still tons left on the bush.


The pear tree with garden shed in background.


Garden shed with herb garden and raised vegetable beds.

Fuchsia again.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm hyperventilating!

The library website informs me that House of Many Ways has been shipped to my branch library. It may be in my hands in less than 24 hours. I cannot wait.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Of blueberries, life, and dreams

We picked blueberries this morning. Our departure was a bit delayed by the fact that my sister shut her finger in the van door, but we made it eventually. We picked 17.8 pounds and plans for blueberry muffins and other deliciousness are underway. It was at the blueberry place that I heard the Amusing Sentence of the Day:
"Learning more stuff is good!"

Folks, I couldn't make this up if I tried.

As we drove up, we saw what was evidently the girls of a large family getting into their van to drive away. They all had long hair and long skirts on. I felt that recognition--you know? When you see someone else who's trying to live differently than the rest of the world? And then I realized they probably wouldn't think I was trying to live differently because I have short hair and, horror of horrors, a skirt that only comes down a few inches below my knees. But that's all right. I know that I want to live a certain way and if that's not evident from the moment someone lays eyes on me, it might be a good thing.

The blueberry place was away out in the country and I realized again that I do want to live in the country when I'm older. Or at least, not-in-the-city--somewhere where we can have some land and gardens and a few animals. I know that's a dream of mine, but at the same time I wonder if that's what God wants. Maybe He wants me to help street kids in Chicago or something. I guess, in the end I have to just know that God knows who I am and what I need and what I can give better than anyone else, including myself. But...I really want that little bit of land and a nice old house.

And then I came home and ate left-over chicken and read I Capture the Castle. Now I'm trying to figure out what to make because I am in a baking mood and wish to feed someone. This is partly why I love Sunshine even though I don't usually recommend it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Book notes

I am currently re-reading I Capture the Castle. How can anyone not love a book with that opening line? "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

I just started reading Farthing by Jo Walton. She thanks Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, and Peter Dickinson in the beginning.

Speaking of Peter Dickinson, I decided to buy Chalice, the new Robin McKinley without having ever read it. I never do this. (If you are puzzled over the connection, they happen to be married.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm back!

I actually returned home on Tuesday night, but I haven't had a spare moment to let you all know I'm alive until now. I had a wonderful, wonderful time. Pictures are already on Facebook, amazingly enough.

It was the best conference yet.

I wish it wasn't over.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Good-bye for now

I'm leaving eaaaaaarly Monday morning to fly to Indiana for the My Life in Christ Youth Conference. I won't be back until next Tuesday and I won't be online until Wednesday afternoon, probably. I don't know if I'll be on at all tomorrow, so good-bye for now. I'll see you when I return.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Big read

I think I may have posted this before, but I'll go ahead and post it again. Why not. Just a few questions though: Why is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe listed separately from the rest of the Narnia books? And why is Bridget Jones on there at all? There's nothing wrong with her, but really!

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list on your own blog so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

WATCHING MOVIES DOES NOT COUNT!!!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird
6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Which is a total of...forty-two, I think.