In lieu of trying to belong to any number of societies: Chesterton, Sherlock Holmes, the Inklings, and so on: I propose and establish one of my own. Don your intelligence cap at the door; dust off your logic and imagination; did you bring your inspiration and encouragement? We are shapers, my friends; lit lamps; light-bringers. Bring quotes*; poetry should be uplifting and thoughtful, or witty and clever, (or both). Humor is encouraged; laughter is invited back. Pull up a chair. Anyone for tea?
* C.S. LEWIS, J.R.R. TOLKIEN, SHERLOCK HOLMES, G.K. CHESTERTON, N.D. WILSON, AND P.G. WODEHOUSE, ARE ENCOURAGED
Sure enough, I had found Jupiter in the Eastern sky, right alongside the Twins, Castor and Pollux. Over to the right, just as I had expected, was Orion. From there, I couldn't see many other stars from my window, but I still waved the phone about, seeing what was out there in space, whether I could see them or not. When I pointed it at Will, I was told that (way beyond him in space) was the constellation of Neptune; above my head was a Pegasus, and over a little I found Perseus. These made me grin, and I told Will that it was a lot more fun looking at constellations when I knew a little mythology. I know what all the names are now! (Thanks Rick Riordan, for getting me interested!)
|we don't actually have any snow just now, but if it wants to fall, that's fine by me!|
|(Because flame-retardant icicles is a revolutionary concept)|
Twice-baked potatoes -- a particularly delectable tradition that Ben and I started several years ago. We stuffed ourselves with this rare treat after carrying down countless boxes and bins and setting up the tree. Then we set about with lights and glittering balls, tinsel hanging off our ears and Psych's Christmas episodes on in the background (Ben and I like to add our own traditions to the mix). He and I enjoyed a happy jumble of Bing Crosby, Shawn Spencer, Michael Bublé (of course!), Perry Como, Diana Krall,The Chipmunk song, etc. We would have added the Christmas episodes of NCIS if we had them. We like a little cop-show with our Christmas cheer. ;)
|One must have ginger-spice cake of course|
|our German twirling nativity|
|~tree is in the diningroom this year|
|meatballs and pasta; roast acorn squash, beets, and carrots|
I've been experimenting with art these days, in different forms and mediums. I've never been much of a hand at drawing, haven't tried painting much; if I'm in any sort of hurry my pictures look like a three-year-old's. But I wondered what I could do if I took my time and just enjoyed myself; setting a leisurely pace, trying things out to see what I could do, and having fun with it. And I decided to inspire my first attempts by my love of stars, and add appropriate quotes.
I didn't actually plan this all out in advance. My idea for this theme came while in the process of embroidering this. I had such fun I thought I'd share them.
This next is my favorite art-form. I'm not even sure what you call it... layered paper art, I suppose. I've been making these as long as I can remember; inspired first, I think, by the show Little Bill, and the child's picture book Feast for 10. But I had never tried to mimic any famous works. As you can see this is a rough representation of Van Gogh's magnificent 'Starry Night', with Sarah Williams' "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night".
|The last few books I've finished|
"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home." --Anna Quindlen
|my current stack--Prince Caspian is, of course, a re-read|
"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
--Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J. K. Rowling
"'It may be only blackmail,' said the man in the taxi hopefully."
--The Tiger in the Smoke, Margery Allingham
"Anyway, I said savagely to myself as I tried to lift a large and very clumsy suitcase down from the baggage rack, anyway, it is my father's old home, and I've always liked antiques, and I suppose an ancestral house is always more interesting than--'Oh, drat it! Ouch!'"
--The Sherwood Ring, Elizabeth Marie Pope
"The Friday before winter break, my mom packed me an overnight bag and a few deadly weapons and took me to a new boarding school."
--The Titan's Curse, Rick Riordan
Following is a bit of verse, dedicated to our beloved Jack and all true Narnians. Each stanza "fits" one of the books. Just tickles it, really. But I hope it reminds you a bit, of the glory of Narnia....
by Olivia original work, note blog copyright
I have a small library of my own. Our house is a library to hundreds, probably thousands of books. Personal books, books chosen with care, books kept over the years or received as gifts; books carefully saved for; stacks from dollar-a-bag-sales; but each kept for a reason. Some are new, but most of them are old. I wouldn't know how to live without being surrounded by books. Books are my life. And libraries are the extension of that. A place that, like my home, is filled to brimming with books; an open door to knowledge, imagination, and comfort.
Public libraries are to me, a boon and a privilege (my eternal gratitude, Benjamin Franklin). How many people have been introduced to a wealth of knowledge in those aisles of books? Introduced to stories they would never have known, been able to read stacks of books that they needn't buy... able to acquire wide-spread literacy and a vast array of knowledge from books one might never own.
I'm glad to be part of the organism of a library, even though it's a very small part. I clean the library, you see, which I find a very peaceful and satisfying job: contributing to the order, restfulness, and helpfulness of a library. I go about my job surrounded by books, and feel in some way that my work is for the books themselves. I am left alone with books for hours, and it doesn't matter that I can't be reading them just then; like the best of friends, they keep me company, they wait, they are satisfied with silence.
You know the feeling of those particular friends with whom you needn't speak? Perhaps there are many other people about, or perhaps you are alone together, but either way you feel no inclination to conversation. But you will be reminded of something that makes you smile, and you have only to look over at your friend to know that they are thinking the same. You share in silence a series of private jokes and appreciate your shared views on your surroundings. Books can do that. Even without opening the covers of the books, I can feel the camaraderie in the crowds of people I know and love from those pages. There are hundreds of shared moments, and secret codes and private jokes that I share with those characters. In a library I am in good company; there are so many characters in a library—quite a diverse lot—and I don't know them all. In fact I see many that I hope to meet one day, like the man at the edge of the crowd, or the girl looking out the window. And for those characters that I very much wish to keep at a distance, there is generally a good-natured army with which I am already acquainted, to keep them at bay.
So yes, the company of books makes my work seem enjoyable, and anything but lonely. The thing is of course, that it makes me want to return to the library when it is actually open, to peruse at my leisure, and lose myself in a new book. There is also a great sense of security in having a key... the thought that, if all else fails, I can let myself into the library. That ultimate safe-haven. A consoling fortress. I'll be able to just sit there with the books and breathe.
It was only recently that I actually read Peter Pan, and I enjoyed it so thoroughly that I rather think I appreciated it more than I might have years ago. But no matter. I shall read it to my children when they are young and when they are old. It is brilliant nonsense; it captures imagination somehow, and how children (and people like me) see the world. It gives one categories.
My Neverland began, like so many others, as that childish island of make-believe and indians and stories read to me—before I had ever heard of Peter Pan, or really begun to read anything at all. And entirely unaware of the fact that Wendy had 'played mother' before me, I gravely cared for dozens of imaginary children, and had all sorts of nonsensical adventures. But as I grew, I read more and more; so instead of disappearing, my Neverland just grew as I did, and now contains all those many places: the thymey downs of Narnia, and the cliffs of Exmoor; the misty expanse of Middle Earth, the riverbank, platform 9 3/4.... there's the beast's castle, and a merrel in the rafters of a great hall; miles of open sea, dotted with sails...
I miss the country for this very reason: the perspective of immensity--miles of line-fence, square mile upon mile of shimmering crop-fields dotted sometimes with great round bales; overhung by that broad and ancient sky. It's only over the prairie that I see that expanse so markedly. These days I cherish any chance I get to just lay and watch the sky, or listen to the wind through fluttering leaves.
The Stark games have been a great opportunity for sunshine and a bit of country air. Most of the games are in the country, but home games are the best. Last week there was practice at Stark before the game. I drove Ben, and played catch with him a bit to warm up his arm. And then I just lay there in the good clean dirt and grass and air. That great blazing sun and summer breeze was just what I wanted, and it was certainly conducive to writing.
I watched the American flag rippling between the light-poles on the opposite side of the field. Corn and soy fields stretched to the horizon, broken up by groves and farmyards. The corn is beginning to tassel. Killdeer were flying about, squawking; other nameless, distant birds flitted about, adding to the general peace.
I've begun rereading A New Song again. It's such a very summery volume, and I'm in the mood for Mitford again. Jan Karon has such a way with words; turning the ordinary into something lovely. There are several books that I associate vividly with the hot summer sun. A New Song is one of the them. Linnets and Valerians is another. It's amazing how strong some associations can be. There are other books that immediately put a song in my head, a song without correlation except that I listened to it while I read those words for the first time...