Friday, December 30, 2011

'A Jane Austen Education' book


A Jane Austen Education (how six novels taught me about love, friendship, and the things that really matter) by William Dereciewicz, while not necessarily a cheerful book in and of itself, gives me hope for the post-moderns. Dereciewicz, a book critic and former associate professor at Yale, professes in his new book that of Jane Austen's six novels Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility were the hardest for him to swallow; this is by no means surprising as these specifically focus on social virtue which is completely foreign to the post-modern mind. Things like inner-knowledge and self-awareness - which both Fanny and Elinor practice - is elusive for most of us. In her book, Jane Austen's Philosophy of the Virtues, Emsley suggests that Fanny does not only consider what is best for herself, but what is best universally. "Part of Fanny's wisdom involves not just the strength of her own mind and the rightness of her own judgment but also the ways in which she thinks in the context of tradition and authority..." Tradition and authority....hmmmm....these grate on the modern ear as well, but I was encouraged by Dereciewicz's allowing Jane Austen to teach him, and through his book, me. He resembled many who have made so many assumptions about Austen that are based on the movie adaptations at best (or would that be worst?), but as he reads her books his assumptions melt away to be replaced by revelations about himself. He states, 
I was used to thinking about growing up in terms of going to school and getting a job...If I had been asked to consider what kinds of personal qualities it might involve -- which I doubt I ever was -- I would have spoken of things like self-confidence and self-esteem. As for anything like character conduct, who even used such words anymore? (p.51)
This book is by and large autobiographical. Yes, it is about Jane Austen, but it is more about Deresiewicz and how he was changed by reading her books. If read as an autobiography his book is rewarding. If read as a definitive work on Austen...not so much. I enjoyed traveling along with him through Austen's books, learning along with him, being reminded of why they are important to life. But I can't help but know that there is still a piece of the puzzle missing for him. The 'why' of it all. Why do we care? Why do we need to practice the social virtues? God is the implicit missing link in this chain of social virtue - it is the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, & Love which provide the soil for the classical virtues (Prudence, Justice, Wisdom, etc.) and the social virtues which then arise from them both. I still felt that he was missing these key things, although it is absolutely encouraging to see an iron-clad post-modern mind willing to really listen to Austen's works and let it speak to them, rather than re-interpreting her to fit their ideology. Even a modern mindset is no proof of invulnerability against the art & the thought of Austen - what an encouraging thought.

However, there is a great deal more to say, and much farther to go. When, for example, he tells us that Henry was trying to show Catherine how absurd the social conventions of her day were (p.88), or when he tells us that Anne's "family simply didn't matter to her anymore" (p.183), he is translating her books with a post-modern eye; misrepresenting Austen's essential elements. Austen's practicing of the virtues is not to avoid pain or increase pleasure (i.e. to be 'happy'), but rather the change of self which involves wisdom and leads to true and lasting joy. He writes, however, that Emma changed his whole way of thinking about life. "I still loved modernism, I just no longer believed it was the only way to make art, and I certainly didn't think it was the way to live." (p.34) The fact that he was willing to be changed by Austen gives me hope that the virtues of which she wrote will someday find a way into his soul.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quotes from 'The Inimitable Jeeves'

You always were a fat-headed worm without any soul, weren't you?

Young Bingo dived in like a homing rabbit.

He smirked in the most gruesome manner.

The old lemon is slightly clouded.

The good old persp. was bedewing my forehead by this time in a pretty lavish manner. I don't know when I've been so rattled.

I was feeling about as cheerio as possible under the circs.

He was one of those supercilious striplings, who give you the impression that you went to the wrong school and that your clothes don't fit.

She had a penetrating sort of laugh. Rather like a train going into a tunnel.

I flung open the door. I got a momentary flash of about a hundred and fifteen cats of all sizes and colours scrapping in the middle of the room, and then they all shot past me with a rush and out of the front door; and all that was left of the mob scene was the head of a whacking big fish, lying on the carpet and staring up at me in a rather austere sort of way, as if it wanted a written explanation and apology.

A roll and butter and a small coffee seemed the only things on the list that hadn't been specially prepared by the nastier-minded members of the Borgia family for people they had a particular grudge against, so I chose them.

He chuckled like the last bit of water going down the waste-pipe in a bath.

(Don't you wish you could include some of these one-liners in your everyday conversation?)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas songs, of course!

I am sure that you all would be much deprived if I didn't re-post two of my best-loved Christmas songs:

Monday, November 28, 2011

happy Advent!

Luini, Bernardino
Le sommeil de l'enfant Jesus - the sleep of the Child Jesus
Louvre, Departement des Peintures, Paris, France

happy Advent!

The Virgin and Child Embracing, Francesco de' Rossi (Sassoferrato)

from 'Sleep and Poetry'

This is a favorite excerpt from the poem Sleep and Poetry by John Keats. These lines inspire me out of everyday doldrums to see life accurately - with all the magic it possesses.

But off Despondence! miserable bane!
They should now know thee, who athirst to gain
A noble end, are thirsty every hour.
What though I am not wealthy in the dower
Of spanning wisdom; though I do not know
The shiftings of the mighty winds that blow
Hither and thither all the changing thoughts
Of man: though no great minist'ring reason sorts
Out the dark mysteries of human souls
To clear conceiving: yet there ever rolls
A vast idea before me, and I glean
Therefrom my liberty; thence too I've seen
The end and aim of Poesy.
~John Keats

Friday, November 18, 2011

quotes from 'Jill the Reckless'

'Barker!' His voice had a ring of pain.
'What's this?'
'Poached egg, sir.'
Freddie averted his eyes with a silent shudder.
'It looks just like an old aunt of mine,' he said. 'Remove it.'

This woman always made Freddie feel as if he were being disemboweled by some clumsy amateur.

...the little dinner at Freddie Rooke's had not been an unqualified success. Searching the records for an adequately gloomy parallel to the taxi-cab journey to the theatre which followed it, one can only think of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. And yet even that was probably not conducted in dead silence.

If there is one thing that startles a well-bred Londoner and throws him off his balance, it it to be addressed unexpectedly by a stranger. Freddie's sense of decency was revolted. A voice from the tomb could hardly have shaken him more.

There are men who fear the repartee of a wife more keenly than a sword. Derek was one of these. Like most men of single outlook, whose dignity is their most precious possession, he winced from an edged tongue....She did not speak the words. If she had an edged tongue, she had also the control of it.

Lady Underhill, having said all she had to say, recovered her breath and begin to say it again. Frequent iteration was one of her strongest weapons.

He was fond of children, but they made the deuce of a noise and regarded jam as an external ornament.

No wonder Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoi's Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day's work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city reservoir, he turns to the cupboard, only to find the vodka-bottle empty.

He was a snub-nosed boy. His ears and hair were vermilion. His name was Ralph. He has seven hundred and forty-three pimples.

He stared again at Jill. The inspection was long and lingering and affected Jill with a sense of being inadequately clothed. She returned the gaze as defiantly as she could, but her heart was beating fast. She had never yet been frightened of any man, but there was something reptilian about this fat, yellow-haired individual which disquieted her, much as cockroaches had done in her childhood. A momentary thought flashed through her mind that it would be horrible to be touched by him. He looked soft and glutinous.

'Don't you worry, honey!' advised the well-meaning girl who would have been in her element looking in on Job with Bildad the Shuhite and his friends. 'Don't you worry!'

'I say,' said Freddie in an awed voice. 'He's a bit of a nut, that lad, what? He reminds me of the troops of Midian in the hymn. The chappies who prowled and prowled around. I'll bet he's worn a groove in the carpet like a jolly old tiger at the Zoo at feeding time. Wouldn't be surprised at any moment to look down and find him biting a piece out of my leg!'

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In Defence of P. G. Wodehouse

My husband and I were talking over the radio broadcasts that P. G. Wodehouse was involved in during WWII when he made the remark that those who came to Wodehouse's defense were thinkers as well as writers, Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell. While those who criticized, strongly criticized, him were not, notably, A. A. Milne and Sean O'Casey. I recommend Orwell's essay In Defence of P. G. Wodehouse.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Easy Yogurt

Delectable Homemade Yogurt
  • 2 qts (8 cups) milk (put the 2% back, you know you want the whole)
  • 2 pkgs (10 g) yogurt starter (or 1/2 cup plain yogurt, such as Dannon)
1. Bring milk to boiling point, stirring occasionally if you feel like it (I never do).
2. When it looks frothy and starts to rise up it's ready to be taken off the heat (you can use a thermometer, 180F/82C).
3. Let it cool until you can put your finger into the milk and hold it there comfortably (or if you like to be precise about these things 108-112F/42-44C).
4. Place your starter or yogurt into a small cup or bowl and mix in about 1 cup of milk until well combined. Add this mixture to the rest of the milk, stir to combine.
5.  Place in a covered container or glass jar(s) until it magically becomes yogurt (about 5 hours, depending on the temp. of your kitchen). You will know when it's ready when you tilt your container and it doesn't act liquid like plain old milk anymore. Place in fridge (it will continue to thicken as it cools).

Nota bene: I have a small side oven, and I like (when the milk is a cooled and ready to go into incubation) to turn it on to 100 degrees for 2-3 minutes, turn it off (don't forget that part!), and then place the mixture into the warm, friendly environment, and shut the door till ready. If you're slightly mentally negligible like me, do yourself a favor and tape a note on the oven knob so you don't accidentally turn it on for something else and ruin your luscious yogurt. Also, don't let anybody tell you that you have to babysit this; just go about your day while it cools and incubates. (If you need to leave it to incubate overnight that's fine too, it may be a little tangier.) No micromanager required. But do keep an eye out while it's on the stove, I frequently let it boil over. :(

This is so good plain or with honey (a sprinkling of flax seed is also acceptable). The combination of yogurt and honey Has been referred to as "the food of the gods", just so you know. Now don't you feel regal.

To make Greek yogurt simply place chilled yogurt into a cheesecloth, place cheesecloth into a strainer, place strainer over a bowl (to catch the liquid called whey), and place in fridge until desired thickness is achieved (about 6 hours). See below.

Now for recipe No. 2: One of my favorite things to do with my yogurt...

Lemon Yogurt Sorbet

2 qts (32oz) plain yogurt
1/2 freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger, optional
1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup honey
Mix everything together and freeze in an ice cream freezer (or if you don't have one, freeze in your home freezer about 3 hours, stir really well, freeze some more).

And recipe No. 3: My favorite thing to make with Greek yogurt...

Vietnamese (but really originated in France) Yogurt

3 cups plain Greek-style yogurt
9-14oz sweetened condensed milk (depending on how sweet you like it)

Whisk together. (Stir in any remaining sweetened condensed milk into iced coffee.:)) This yogurt could possibly be the best thing you have ever tasted.

Yogurt is so versatile, use it to make dips, shakes, dollops on your soup or in your fajita, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (as King Mongkut of Siam says). 

A bit of trivia:
I always wondered why the milk must be heated, well, now I know. It is heated to kill any undesirable bacteria and to denature the milk proteins so that they set together rather than form curds. Who knew? For more interesting info.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's just me, folks.

Is it me, or is life zooming by? I didn't want to go to sleep last night because I knew that when I woke on Saturday morning my weekend would be over before I blinked. I'm telling myself that it is just a stage in my life and it won't be this way forever, but I'm just not sure I believe me. Homeschooling this year has kept me rather busy. Ever heard of unschooling? It's a term I've run across quite a bit lately on blogs and such. If you ask me it sounds divine. My children quietly teaching themselves all sorts of cool interesting things all of their own initiative, but, come on, what's more likely is that after not long at all my offspring would resemble Jethro Bodine.

It's not just lack of time; there's also a certain key something that inspires writing that's been hard to locate since May when my mother passed away. I still have the desire to put thoughts to paper, but can't. Perhaps there's something unsettled in my spirit; she was my sweet mum after all. And perhaps it's supposed to be that way, but I have missed ye olde blog. There's something satisfying about writing (even if I have no talent in that direction): it restores the tissues.

I have also found that reading P. G. Wodehouse restores the tissues. I've been reading him nonstop since my mom got sick and he's wonderful. I've been trying to keep up with the funniest things he says HERE. My noble aim in life is to collect all of his hardback books that Overlook Press is printing. I've got about 30, so... what?... about 66 more to go?

I recently read Jill the Reckless which in a way seems to parallel Wodehouse's own life. Jill is in England, engaged to an Englishman (Derek) who is climbing the political ladder, some unforeseen circumstances bring her to America (after her fiancee breaks the engagement) where she meets up with a man (Wally) she knew as a boy in her childhood. Wally is a great comfort to Jill and understanding of her in a way that the stiffer Englishman is not. Anyway, there for a bit the suspense is on as to which of these fellows she will link up with (Derek briefly tries to win her back): the good-looking suave Englishman or the American who has a twinkle in his eye and a joke on his lips - unless is comes to defending Jill, then you'd better watch out! But of course she ends up in America just as Wodehouse did. The Englishman is not hated or even disliked, but pride makes him misunderstand circumstances and takes Jill all wrong... much like the English did with Wodehouse. Jill realizes she loves the American and, "Peace stole into Jill's heart as she watched the boats dropping slowly down the East River, which gleamed like dull steel through the haze. She had come to Journey's End, and she was happy."

I love how Wodehouse has that impressive knack for showing you a picture with words, "Mr Goble stared again at Jill. The inspection was long and lingering and affected Jill with a sense of being inadequately clothed. She returned the gaze as defiantly as she could, but her heart was beating fast. She had never yet been frightened of any man, but there was something reptilian about this fat, yellow-haired individual which disquieted her, much as cockroaches had done in her childhood. A momentary thought flashed through her mind that it would be horrible to be touched by him. He looked soft and glutinous."

And I'll never tire of his biblical references, "'Don't you worry, honey!' advised the well-meaning girl who would have been in her element looking in on Job with Bildad the Shuhite and his friends. 'Don't you worry!'"

I'm always learning a word or two that I'm not familiar with such as his reference to jezail bullets. As it turns out Jezails were very personal weapons which were commonly used in India, Central Asia and parts of the Middle East, and, interestingly enough, was the weapon which wounded Dr. Watson. Another phrase Wodehouse uses in this book is the French phrase, je ne sais quoi, literally ‘I don't know what’, a certain something, an intangible quality that makes something distinctive or attractive. Which Jill possesses...and so does Wodehouse for that matter. I do hope it's catching.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


These are some Southernisms I've collected. Which ones are just American sayings and not necessarily exclusive to the South? I wouldn't know. I know I've heard them here, but the only thing I remember about living up North is the snow being deeper than I was tall.
My personal favorites are, either fish or cut bait and that dog don't hunt because I love the way my husband says them. I remember my grandma telling my sister and me not to "meddle" in her things. Which ones are your favorite? Do you know of any that aren't listed here?
(The sayings with an asterisk are the ones that my Yankee friend informs me aren't exclusive to the South.)

aim to (plan to do)

as easy as sliding off a greasy log backward (very easy)

*barking up the wrong tree (on a path that will lead to wrong conclusions)

be like the old lady who fell out of the wagon (you aren't involved, so stay out of it)
busy as a stump-tailed cow in fly time (very busy)

carry on (to carry on foolishness)

caught with his pants down (surprised and unprepared)
chugged full or chalked full (full and over-flowing)
chunk (throw, toss)
clodhopper (heavy work shoes or large shoes)
'coon (raccoon)
couldn't swing a dead cat without hittin' one of 'em (in reference to a large group)

crazy as Cooter Brown (perhaps involving drunkenness)

directly (in a little while, or a couple of weeks)

Dixie (Southern States of the U.S.A)
Do go on! (you must be joking)
*do-hicky (substitute name - like the terms whatcha-ma-call-it or thinga-ma-jig)
*don't bite off more than you can chew (don't attempt more than you can accomplish)
*don't count your chickens before they hatch (first know the results)
don't let the tail wag the dog (the chief is in charge, not the Indians)

either fish or cut bait (work or make way for those who will)

even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then (everyone is sometimes lucky or right)

falling out (disagreement)

fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down (really super ugly)
feisty (being frisky)
fixing to (about to)
*fly off the handle (angry and lashing out)

*got the short end of the stick (treated wrong; unlucky)

go hog wild (have a good time)
don't go off half-cocked (having only half the facts)
go to bed with the chickens (in bed early)
go whole hog (go for it all)
got your feathers ruffled (upset and pouting)

*have an axe to grind (have a strong opinion)

He can get glad the same way he got mad, or else he's going to die unhappy. (self-explanatory)
hey (hello)
*hold onto your horses (be patient)
*honey (affectionate term)

I do declare! (usually meaning 'my goodness' or some such expression)

I feel like I've been chewed up and spit out or *I feel like I've been run over by a Mack truck (feeling poorly)

I may've been born at night, but it wasn't last night. (I know what's going on here.)
in high cotton (rising up in society)
in a coon's age (a long time)

*laid up (ill, hurt, unable to work)

*like a bump on a log (lazy and doing nothing)
*like two peas in a pod (act and think alike)
mend fences (settle differences)
mess (one who carries on, "He's a mess.")
meddling (getting into things, "Don't meddle in my business!")
much obliged (thank you; hope to return the favor)

my dogs are barking (my feet hurt)

not much going on upstairs (mentally vacant)

*opening up a can of worms (bringing up something unpleasant)

piddle (waste time; doing nothing)

playing opossum (playing dead or pretending to sleep)

reckon (think or suppose so)

She could ruin a two-car funeral. (she ruins everything)
shindig (dance or celebration)
scarce as hen's teeth (so scarce, probably nonexistent)
*sight for sore eyes (Nice to see you!)
sorry (inferior quality, worthless, lazy)
*spring chicken (young thing)
stomping grounds (familiar territory)
sweet talking thing (has a good line)

*tacky (something the Emily Post of the South would not approve of, it could be anything from a snub to wearing white shoes in November)

tacky tacky (the frozen limit of tacky)
tall drink of water (tall and thin)
that dog don't hunt (story doesn't add up)
that takes the cake (surprised)
*tight (stingy with money)
*too big for one's britches (someone's full of themselves)
*two shakes of a lamb's tail (done quickly)

wait on (serve or assist)

Well, shut my mouth (shocked and speechless)
What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? (You are getting off the subject.)
white lightning (moonshine whiskey)
worry-wort (one who worries all the time)

yonder (employed when giving directions-  a ways off)

some sources:


Robert Duvall sings...

Watching Tender Mercies again made me remember how much I liked this movie the first time I saw it years ago. I'm not a fan of most country music - excepting Duvall, of course. These are a couple of songs he sings in the movie. Also I was wondering, in the movie when he's in the garden talking to his wife after his daughter dies, does he say, "I don't trust happenings" or "I don't trust happiness"?

I've Decided to Leave Here Forever

Wings of a Dove

(That's a really great nose scrunch he's got goin' on there.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away

I am tired of reading reviews that call A Good Man brutal and sarcastic. The stories are hard but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism... when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror. ~Flannery O'Connor
Many critics of Flannery O'Connor "have hold of the wrong end of the horror", wondering what could be wrong with the gal for her to write about things so "grotesque" and "disturbing"! On the other hand (for there are two!) "her work is praised, fawned over, and cleverly ignored through tiresome academic gobbledygook..." (Failed Hermit). It seems as though neither group is able to (or wants to) recognize Jesus as the hero of O'Connor's stories (as Robert Drake puts it) and we, all of us, are in need of being changed by grace. John Desmond in his book Risen Sons writes, "...A major theme in her work, is the theme of deceptive consciousness; the mind's capacity for distortion in apprehending the real and its proneness to closure when impinged upon by the divine.

In one of her letters, O'Connor writes, "All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful." Desmond says, "By denying his true spiritual grotesqueness man also denies his possibility for becoming the New Man through spiritual transformation and transcendence." However, "Even those characters who reject the threatening possibility of a higher mode of existence paradoxically achieve a partial transcendence through loss...brought about by their violent displacement from a former mode of existence."

O'Connor's style is summed up in something Eliade said about his own writing, "In my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace. Their heads are so hard that almost nothing else will do the work. This idea, that reality is something to which we must be returned at considerable cost, is one which is seldom understood by the casual reader, but it is one which is implicit in the Christian view of the world."

Not everyone is comfortable with being changed by grace. One doesn't like to pull back the curtain, as it were, and see one's own freakishness. "Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one."(O'Connor) Can we recognize it? Are we ready for even "our virtues to be burned away"? Can we stop pushing away redemption at the cost of the self-sufficiency we think we have? Do we believe, as Desmond says, "that we can achieve wholeness exclusive of the divine"? If so, that is truly grotesque. And we are "in need of being disturbed." (Failed Hermit)

"If the promise of the Resurrection seems muted in O'Connor's world, it is because that world has denied it."(Joyce Oats) Read O'Connor's stories and see that they are full of Christ's Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. Recognize that she uses "the grotesque...because people are deaf and dumb and need help to see and hear."(O'Connor)

More bits of wisdom from Miss Flannery:

"The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make them appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the blind you draw large and startling figures." 

"Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.

"I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted."

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."

"You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd."

"Only if we are secure in our beliefs can we see the comical side of the universe."

"The Catholic novelist in the South will see many distorted images of Christ, but he will certainly feel that a distorted image of Christ is better than no image at all. I think he will feel a good deal more kinship with backwoods prophets and shouting fundamentalists than he will with those politer elements for whom the supernatural is an embarrassment and for whom religion has become a department of sociology or culture or personality development."

Drink this in with your morning coffee...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sticks in my craw... (Boss)

Okay, so I'll admit it. I love westerns. On our last anniversary I asked my husband to take me to see True Grit starring Jeff Bridges (which I loved) if that tells you anything. Watching Open Range again I realized how many memorable quotes there are in this movie. Here are some of my favorites.

Boss Spearman: A mans trust is a valuable thing, Button. You don't want to lose it for a handful of cards.

Charley Waite: Tell you the truth, Lord, if there was two gentler souls in this world, I never seen 'em. Seems like old Tig wouldn't even kill birds in the end. Well, you got yourself a good man and a good dog, and I'm inclined to agree with Boss here about holding a grudge against you for it. I guess that means Amen."

Sheriff Poole: I've got a warrant sworn out for your arrest, for assaulting Baxter's men.
Boss Spearman: We got a warrant sworn out for attempted murder of them who tried to kill the boy, who's layin' over there at the doc's tryin' to stay alive. Sworn out another one for them that murdered the big fella you had in your cell. Only ours ain't writ by no tin star bought and paid for, Marshal. It's writ by us, and we aim to enforce it.

[Charley has explained his strategy for the upcoming fight] 
Boss Spearman: Sounds like you got it all worked out.
Charley Waite: Yeah, except the part where we don't get killed.

Boss Spearman: I ain't gonna let you do it, Charley. You do this, you ain't no different than Poole or Baxter or that gunhand of his that murdered Mose.
Charley Waite: Him killing Mose is how this started.
Boss Spearman: We come for justice, not vengeance. Now them is two different things.
Charley Waite: Not today, they ain't.
Boss Spearman: Step aside!

Mack: Shame what this towns come to.
Charley Waite: You could do something about it.
Mack: What? We're freighters. Ralph here's a shopkeeper.
Charley Waite: You're men, ain't you?
Mack: I didn't raise my boys just to see em killed.
Charley Waite: Well you may not know this, but there's things that gnaw at a man worse than dying.

Boss Spearman: I believe you have a friend of ours in your jail. His names Mose Harrison.
Sheriff Poole: Yeah, I got him here. He started a fight in the general store.
Boss Spearman: Mose don't start fights. He just finishes them.

Boss Spearman: It ain't right to walk away without a word.
Charley Waite: Well what do you want me to tell her, Boss? We probably ain't gonna make it? Be a big fat comfort.

Doc Barlow: I'd say 'to good health,' gentlemen, but then I'd probably be out of business, wouldn't I?
Boss Spearman: We'll drink to good health for them that have it coming.

Monday, August 1, 2011

art: part duo

This is the first ever Octopus Rapunzel. Don't let that thoughtful smile fool you.

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This is E-man's depiction of Bamboo and Douglas using Expo dry erase markers. Below are the subjects themselves looking very serious for their first portrait. You would too.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dante's Prayer

The song Dante's Prayer by Loreena McKennett is sad and comforting.

And HERE is a video, although I prefer listening not watching.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

book 7

With the release date of the movie based on the second half of the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows just around the corner, you may like to peruse these earlier posts. So who's going to see it?

money, money, money

I had an inspiring conversation with my sister today about the economy/debt/credit cards/budgeting/otherbadwords, and I was reminded of some blog posts a friend of mine wrote on that very topic. They are witty and true to life. Anyway, if interested- check it out. (Listed in order.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Y'all enjoy these. Exaggerations? Only for some of us!

Advice for Northerners moving to the South:

Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed on how to use it shortly.

Just because you can drive on snow and ice does not mean Southerners can. Stay home the two days of the year it snows.

If you DO run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in the cab of a four-wheel pickup with a 12-pack of beer and a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help them. Just stay out of their way. This is what they live for.

You can ask Southerners for directions, but unless you already know the positions of key hills, trees and rocks, you're better off trying to find it yourself.

REMEMBER: Y'all is singular. All y'all is plural. All y'all's is plural possessive.

Get used to hearing, "Y'all ain't from around here, are ya?"

Don't be worried that you don't understand anyone. They don't understand you either.

The first Southern expression to creep into a transplanted Northerner's vocabulary is the adjective "big ol'", as in "big ol' truck", or "big ol' boy". "Fixi n'" (as in "I'm fixin' to go to the store") is 2nd, and "Y'all" is 3rd.

As you are cursing the person driving 15 mph in a 55 mph zone directly in the middle of the road, remember: a lot of Southern folks learned to drive on a John Deere, and this is the proper speed and lane position for that vehicle.

If you hear a Southerner exclaim, "Hey, Y'all, watch this!", get out of his way. These are likely the last words he will ever say, or worse still, that you will ever hear.

Most Southerners do not use turn signals; they ignore those who do. In fact, if you see a signal blinking on a car with a Southern license plate, you may rest assured that it was already turned on when the car was purchased.

If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the most minuscule accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store. It does not matter if you need anything from the store. It is just something you're supposed to do.

Satellite dishes are very popular in the South. When you purchase one, it is positioned directly in front of the house. This is logical, bearing in mind that the dish cost considerably more than the house and should, therefore, be prominently displayed.

One last warning but probably the most important one to remember: Be advised that in the South, "He needed killin'" is a valid defense.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I'm not really a big fan of most mixed drinks, but am partial to this one. You must try it. I don't have a name for it's classy, cool, smooth, fun...How about

The Cary Grant
makes 2

2 tablespoons chilled whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/3 cup-6 tablespoons vodka
1/4 cup triple sec
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 small mint sprigs (for the garnish)

Shake all ingredients (except mint) together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, and when you shake- wake it up! don't rock it to sleep. Pour into 2 glasses and garnish with a mint sprig each. Drink up.
(Note: Candied ginger in place of the mint would be worth a try.)

A reporter in search of information wired Grant's agent:  "HOW OLD CARY GRANT?" Grant happened to read the message himself, and wired back  "OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU?"

Saturday, June 18, 2011

interesting film

This is a film about an alternative cancer treatment. Very interesting. HERE is where you can watch it free online (until the 20th, I think), or see below to buy.

business as usual...

This is what's going on in the back of my car on the way to swim.

E: Red Dead Revolver (video game) is really cool.
A: Is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Samurai Jack still your favorite?
E: Nah....
A: E., that means you are growing up. You are getting mature, because Red Dead Revolver is a pretty big game.
E: Red is a really good shooter.
A: Well, I read a story about a girl who was a really good shooter. Her name is Annie Oakley. She was really real and she went out in the woods and shot deer when she was eight years old! I have the book of it, but I haven't gotten a chance to read it all yet. How old is Red (on Red Dead Revolver)?
E: Um, about 23.
A: When she grew up Annie Oakley married a man who was a really good shot too. She could shoot blindfolded. Can Red shoot blindfolded?
E: Um...
A: E., remember on Tom Sawyer how Huck Finn turned and threw that knife at that tree? He said his father had taught him that. Injun Joe had killed his father.
E: Why did he kill his father?
A, Oh, they have that on a lot of movies. Where the child wants revenge, like on Prince Caspian. Remember when they thought Tom was dead?
E: Yeah! Yeah! And remember on Anne (of Green Gables) how they thought she was dead (He's laughing.). Her boat came back and they were like, “We killed her and she's dead now! Whaaaaaa!” (He's waving his arms to demonstrate.) That was so, so funny! It was the best part of the movie.
N: But did she die?
E: Nah, Dilbert saved her.
A: Gilbert. It's Gilbert. Mom, do we have to put on sunscreen? It's in the evening.

on parenting

This is a good little article on parenting.
It really is all about perspective, isn't it?

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Die before you die. There's no chance after."

 How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis's greatest work of fiction, is the deepest and most layered of his books, and was also Lewis's favorite of his own works. But it is also a very simple myth, a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. Manganiello says, For Lewis the “grand miracle” of Christianity is its character of a “true myth” that merits our “imaginative embrace.” This myth surprises Orual by the joy of its truth in the Person she meets face to face at the end of her life.

I am reminded of the movie, The Saint, with Val Kilmer, and the quote, "It takes three miracles to make a saint." Psyche 1) sacrifices herself to the "Brute", she 2) sacrifices, at Orual's demand, her husband's trust in her, and 3) she goes through Hades to get beauty for Orual. When Orual goes to see Psyche after her first sacrifice, Psyche tries to explain to Orual what has happened. "You won't understand the wonder and glory of my adventure unless you listen to to bad parts." After Psyche endeavors to make Orual understand the true nature of her marriage to the god of the mountain Orual responds, "If this is true, I've been wrong all my life, everything has to be begun over again." There were many times when the truth was there for her to see, but she "put it aside" (ch. 14). Orual begs her sister to return with her, to which Psyche responds, "No, no, Maia. I can't come back to you. How could I? But you must come to me." (ch. 11) She explains the nature of her husband, "Don't you think a dream would feel shy if it were seen walking about in the waking world?"

Orual does not understand, nor attempts to understand, saying, " How can you know if you have never seen him?" (ch. 14) Orual threatens to do harm to herself unless Psyche spies in her husband, thinking what she is doing is out of love for Psyche but it is really selfishness. In response to Orual's demands, Psyche says, "You are indeed teaching me about kinds of love I do not know. It is like looking into a deep pit. I am not sure whether I like your kind better than hatred...Whatever comes after, something that was between us dies here." (ch. 14)

Because of Orual disbelief, both sisters must perform labors. Psyche completes the tasks while Orual bears the burden. The god tells Orual, " You shall wonder the earth. You too shall be Psyche." Through this she is transformed. As Peter J. Schakel puts it, “Her life of toil and suffering—physically in battle and mentally in toil—rather than death, becomes her sacrifice.” She slays her old self, offering it as the sacrifice. Manganiello says,

To her great surprise Orual learns that she “bore the anguish” while Psyche “achieved the tasks” (312) of sorting seeds of grain, acquiring golden wool, fetching a cup of water, and descending to the Deadlands. By sharing these seemingly unbearable burdens, Orual anticipates the kenosis, or self-emptying of Christ (cf. Phil. 2:5–11), that Hopkins called “the great sacrifice.”

Orual marvels at how this “way of exchange” or substitution can render any one happy. But this is precisely what she witnesses: Psyche “was merry and in good heart. I believe, from the way her lips moved, she was singing” (310–311). Psyche’s actions resonate with the key notes of the Old Testament song of the suffering servant. Her naturally Christian soul prepared for its great mission from the time in her youth that she showed compassion for the people of Glome in their pain. As Orual tells her, “You healed them, and blessed them, and took their filthy diseases upon yourself” (47).

Psyche’s willingness to be purified by a series of trials prefigures the great self-offering of Jesus, who “for the joy set before him, endured a cross” (Heb. 12:2). Since the god advises Orual, “You also shall be Psyche,” she is set to experience the same blessedness that results from partaking of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) or from “atonement.”...
This central paradox also operates in the powerful closing scene of the novel, in which Orual sees the “most dreadful, the most beautiful” face of the god of the mountain. “Even the love between the sexes,” to quote Lewis, “is, as in Dante, ‘a lord of terrible aspect.’” By participating in Psyche’s sufferings (cf. Col. 1:24), then, Orual begins to see the “terrible beauty” of justice tempered by mercy and fulfilled in love.

As the Fox tells Orual, "We are all limbs and part of one Whole. Hence of each other. Men and gods, flow in and out and mingle." Even the Fox, with his "doctrines of Glome and wisdom of Greece" (ch. 13) begins to see that he has misled her, saying, "I never told her why the old Priest got something from the dark House that I never got from my trim sentences. . . . Of course, I didn’t know. I don’t know now. Only that the way to the true gods is more like the House of Ungit. . . . The Priest knew at least that there must be sacrifices."

The Fox now begins to see the truth of Colossians 3:10-11, "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."

In her article, Facts, Mysteries, and Epiphanies, Kathryn Lindskoog writes,

There is no overt reference to Christ in Till We Have Faces; in fact, there is not even any reference to Hebrew monotheism. But there is a clear reference to Eros, the "Brute" bridegroom of Psyche. (In Christian tradition, the divine bridegroom is Christ: " the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee," Isaiah 62.5.) Just before Orual's transfiguration, she heard voices say "He is coming. The god is coming to his house. The god comes to judge Orual." Suddenly "The air was growing brighter and brighter about us; as if something had set it on fire. Each breath I drew let into me new terror, joy, overpowering sweetness. I was pierced through by the arrows of it." "The only dread and beauty there is was coming, was coming." This echoes Dante's experience at the end of Paradise: "So my mind hung in abeyance, staring fixedly, immovable, intent, its ardor increasingly enflamed by the sight. Anyone who sees that Light becomes a person who would not possibly consent to turn away to any other sight; for the good that is the object of all desires is ingathered there in its fullness, and elsewhere it falls short of its perfection...For Orual (and C. S. Lewis), the answer is an encounter with divinity himself. At the end of her adventures, Orual realizes that before the face of God all questions die away and even all words die away.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Great Divorce

After reading The Great Divorce, my thought was, "I can't believe I haven't picked it up before now!" It's a short, noteworthy, excellent read. And I hear there's talk of a movie adaptation.


Last month, I wrote about the book, Manxmouse, and how it was a childhood favorite of J.K. Rowling's. Another such book is Grimble by Clement Freud. Rowling states, "Grimble is one of funniest books I've ever read, and Grimble himself, who is a small boy, is a fabulous character. I'd love to see a Grimble film." I've only just finished reading Grimble and Grimble at Christmas to my children, and they seemed to like it so so. I can see the appeal in Grimble, and understand what Rowling means, but the story does seem a bit flat and the secondary characters are very secondary, meaning you hardly get to know them at all. Clement Freud writes in the same manner as Roald Dahl, and one is constantly reminded of Dahl by the illustrations of Quentin Blake in Grimble. However, Grimble does not, in my opinion, possess the same magic of the stories of Dahl and Rowling. Grimble was a fun read, several funny parts, but not near enough, and in need of stronger characters. What do you think of it?