Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A brief review, two ways


As the winter turns to spring-tinged-with-summer, my doldrums lift and my days are filled again with sunshine and book-reading. After the bleakness of winter, and the increased screen-time that inevitably comes with the prolonged dark and house-bound months, I'm ready to toss everything and live outdoors with my books. Over the last few weeks I've read one book after another, and spent as much time as I could outside.

This pattern of perpetually having my nose in a book is utterly familiar and delightful. It primes my writing pump with vigor and fills my mind with ideas and joys and depths. But it does cut one off a bit from the world (and not just because you're curled up in a chair). Even while reading heightens perception and encourages analyses of the outside word, it also builds up the life of the mind. I find myself more in my own head, and realizing sadly that few others have this rich inner life that comes from books. It becomes difficult to share my life with others since it so often has to do with fictional characters, story ideas, what-ifs, plot-points. Irish hills, Welsh-cakes, rhymes and themes and descriptions. Life, the universe, and everything.

But it's brilliant, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've even been staying up till midnight to finish re-reading books I already know the endings to. Words and stories have such draw and immense reward. I still haven't been able to delve into some of the thicker, chewier books that take up a good deal of time. I'll get to those. For now I'm trying not to lose momentum, and I'm enjoying the light reading in sunshine, and the pleasant pull of mysteries.

The package that arrived one happy Monday morning! 
One of the books I read recently was Outlaws of Time by N.D. Wilson. A brilliant piece of work, but no surprise there. Full of vivid characters, and a striking sense of place. You feel the scorching sun, and hear a rasping voice over your shoulder, sense the bond of true comradeship at your elbow. All these things Wilson has done time and again in his 100 Cupboards series and Ashtown Burials. His writing is drenched in the glory and magic of the universe, ringing with truth and decision, hardships and bubbling joy. As always it is a strong story of good versus evil, and of making your stand, not because you know you will win, but because it is the right thing to do.

The story follows Sam Miracle on an adventure filled with sacrifice and loss, change and responsibility, allies and enemies. He travels through time with a new friend, Glory, and across the wild west. He develops a strange, inseparable partnership with a couple of snakes, and meets Wyatt Earp, along with a few other unforgettable characters. Faced with the chance to save his sister, and possibly the whole rest of the world, Sam has to make hard decisions, not to mention overcome a great many difficulties in his path. It's a grand story, riddled with humor and filled with hope, as well as good old fashioned adventure.

And on a side-note, someone did a brilliant job with the making-into-book bit. The hardback is gorgeous--colors, texture, gold-stamped letters--the slipcover is soft and touchable, complete with raised lettering and intriguing illustrations. Right down to the blue and gold color scheme, this book is a treasure inside and out.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Home



I'm reading up on the Lanier posts I've missed, and in her review of The Lifegiving Home she says,

"[Describe] the one thing about your place on earth that most speaks 'home' to you"

I'm a bit late in the proceedings to put my thoughts in the comment section, so I'll put them here:

Food. That's it more than anything else, for me. Stepping across the threshold to the rich fragrance of a roast, with carrots and gravy. Or stirring up a potent curry, steaming rice, and having someone walk in and say they could smell it the minute they reached our corner of the block. Tea, well-steeped: offering a cup to someone as soon as they come in; two-handing a steaming mug after school or work while Mama cooks. The kitchen is my home on earth, I think; however much I love and need books in my life, or intelligent conversation. Feeding people is that down-to-earth connection and love that means home to me. Extending and accepting hospitality: whether that's a cup of tea in a tent, or a jar of nutella while I sit on your kitchen counter. Even when I'm not in my own house, cooking, eating, or sharing a cup of tea will always be that moment of home.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

On Girl Power, Hermione, and Watsons

Here's an interesting article I came across yesterday:


I found it very thought-provoking, which I always appreciate: something to mull over during the work day. I need intelligent and opinionated minds to engage with, and take that sharpening wherever I can find it. So, in the spirit of critical-thinking and mindful discussion, I would like to respond to a couple of comments bell hooks made about Hermione. There are principles here that I believe not only affect the fictional character, but have weight in our lives as well. 

Hooks takes issue with Hermione as she grows up, calling her 'passive, and 'frumpy' in the epilogue. But I think it can be argued the other way too. I don't think anyone should say that that woman on the platform is not beautiful, intelligent, and strong. The important thing is that she knows who she is, not that she always comes across perfectly. The truth is, some days you put in a full day's work and then come home to a child who throws up all night. You can't tell me she can't juggle work and family. But you also can't tell me she should come out looking as spotless as ever. Some days are hard. And I think there is great personal power in the fact that she's seeing off her children in a casual setting, but she has the brains to talk down a criminal (or duel him), mediate a debate, and possibly fix the train. I love that.

I would also like to address something hooks said about Hermione's intelligence being put in the service of boy power. For one thing, it was Hermione herself who put her talents in the service of another. That is power. You wouldn't have a problem with a man putting their talents to someone else's use, so why would you have a problem with this? Secondly, the reason Hermione puts herself in that position is not just to help a friend (although that is a worthy cause), but because it was the most expedient means to an end: defeating the greatest enemy of the wizarding world.

One more point: just because someone has remarkable intelligence and talent that shouldn't be demeaned, it does not mean they were meant to lead or even that they want to. Some brilliant minds are Watsons.* They were meant to support other minds, turning the world from a secondary position. It is their superpower. And that should be celebrated as well.

*see: Sherlock Holmes, (and no pun intended, Emma)
(& fwiw I think epilogue-Hermione/Emma looks brilliant)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A haven

 I cleaned my room yesterday, so that I would have a peaceful spot to retreat to. It should help my productivity in the coming year--to have a very separate, ordered space for refreshment.
books and notebooks close to hand


color restoration



reading spot



workspace 

stillness

Friday, January 1, 2016

to remember in 2016

And a Happy New Year to You!

It's so very interesting how each year is so vastly different, and yet whenever the New Year comes around I find myself in a woefully familiar feeling of apprehension, as if somehow I aught to magically get my life in order every January 1st. (You may have noticed, keeping my sentences short was not one of my resolutions this year.) Every year of course has enough trouble of its own, not to mention the fact that around these holidays I'm also doing a lot of sleeping-in and other forms of vacational lolling, which do not precipitate an inordinate amount of organization. So I'm telling that silly part of me (that feels ambiguous anxiety at the sight of a blank-slate year ahead) to be quiet and have a cup of tea, while I get out a pen and paper in an attempt to discern my actual priorities for the coming year.

First of all, Jesus please take my new year. I cannot handle it on my own, even a little. Take last year too, and all its successes and blunders... that were somehow not the successes and blunders I had anticipated this time last year. Help me make the right goals and resolutions, and continue to give you my every day. But mostly, may I grow in You.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Feeling stressed?

I recommend these things for this busy season:

Read a few verses: Like these

Do some yoga: yoga with Adriene is my favorite, and here's one just for stress relief.



Read a seasonal book: Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon, or The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
I listen to both on unabridged audio every year at this time.

Fold some paper: whether it's these fun origami stars, or wrapping presents while watching a holiday episode of your favorite show, a bit of 'paperwork' can be good for the mind.

Watch a Christmas movie: old classics, cheesy new ones, or obscure ones like this: A Child's Christmas in Wales, based on a Dylan Thomas poem. It's delightfully cozy and atmospheric, with a nostalgic sense of place, and has found its way into my personal Christmas traditions.



Light a candle or two, or eight: Today is the sixth night of Hanukkah, and while I don't always get around to lighting the menorah, I love to remember God's work in that story, his promises. An extra reminder, as we light our Advent candles too, in wait, but also in joy that our Messiah came.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Monday



For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.








Sunday, November 29, 2015

En route


departing
 over snow
pentagon!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Microfiction: poetry: triolet pt. 2


***

A while

It’s been a while
Since I’ve seen your face
I miss your smile
It’s been a while
It seems a mile
Since you needed space
It’s been a while 
Since I’ve seen your face

Microfiction: poetry: triolet pt. 1


Sailing

Cresting a wave
Chasing the sun
Tomorrow to save
Cresting a wave
Sailing as brave
As the maiden run
Cresting a wave
Chasing the sun

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Microfiction: Poetry: Clerihew

some non-winning entries of mine from the writing contest. DEFINITION OF CLERIHEW HERE.



Jane Austen

Writerly Jane Austen
Didn’t live in Boston
But England, writing books on gents
And ladies of romantic bents

***



Teddy Roosevelt

The mighty Teddy Roosevelt
Went on safari, procuring a pelt
Rose to president, but went on to bungle
By dying of fever he caught in the jungle