Sunday, August 28, 2005

Basic update

I am, in case you haven't yet heard, co-directing Macbeth this semester. It should be delightful, but quite, quite busy.

Last week I began my new job, made it to every class, read piles of reading, and had quizzes in Greek and 20th Century Europe.

Firinnteine's sister is visiting, and she gets to stay with Kay and myself. We've had a grand time. Friday she arrived, we deposited her stuff in my room, went to Leesburg, had dinner at Moe's, and then went contra-dancing at Glen Echo. We got out at midnight and stopped for mango-raspberry shakes on the way home. :-)

Then Saturday I mostly tried to do school.

Today being Sunday, I am going to try not to do school. I look forward to a properly worshipful Lord's Day. He is risen!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Tea, among other things

Very well. The semester may now begin. I have served someone a cup of tea.

I have also put up my corkboard (without making any holes in the walls), one clock successfully and one unsuccessfully (and great was its fall), and all my Chinese lanterns.

I have been to two and a half meals in the dining hall, a talent show, a night walk, a luau, and a session of singing in the stairwell. There are still piles of full boxes in my room and empty boxes in the hall. I have walked into the wrong room twice. My computer is WORKING!!! (Thank you, Megan!) I have met many freshmen and talked to many old friends, and oh, it is good to do so. I begin to see how good heaven will be, if it's so right and encouraging to see them after only a summer's separation. I could very easily be discouraged about graduating, but--well, I mean to pull a Sarah Lewis and bless all those about me this year instead. (If you catch me whining, please sit on me, or something.)

It is late. Signing off for now.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Home, sweet home

A friend of mine (not Finnja, a different one) recently came up with this list. She's trustworthy.

Oddities Commonplace in Los Alamos

[All items on this list are completely factual observances of life at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the city it created- no embellishments, upon my honor! Ask any Los Alamosian and they’ll probably add a few to the list.]

-Thunder on a clear day (experimental explosions on Lab property)

-A lady taking her herd of goats for an evening stroll around the neighborhood (there is also a couple to take their horse-drawn wagon around the neighborhood)

-Mailbox number written in binary code

-Physicist jokes instead of blond jokes

-Engineer jokes instead of rabbi and priest jokes

-Black socks worn calf-high with loafers/sandals and Bermuda shorts

-Signs reading “Food only- no chemical or radioactive material” on refrigerators at work

-Missing secrets and spy scandals

-“Danger- Explosives” signs on fences along the morning commute route

-Comb-overs and Einstein hair

-Hazardous Materials Amnesty Day- a day when Hazmat collects oil, antifreeze, cleaning solvents, highly corrosive acids, and radioactive material from Los Alamosians wishing to dispose of them

-Armored vehicles with machine gun nests on top

-Quantum mechanics discussed with gusto at Starbucks

-Ears popping from elevation change without leaving city limits

-Road closures due to nuclear material transfers in progress

-A Ph. D. is not impressive

-Pants waistbands worn closer to the ribs than the waist

-Ancient Indian ruins and the world’s second fastest supercomputer within eight miles of each other

-Guard towers, razor wire fences, and armed uniformed guards

-A league sports team with a fuel array diagram to a nuclear reactor on their jerseys

-No one thinks the previous item odd in any way

-Kids quite honestly don’t know what their parents do at work, and even spouses are a little fuzzy on details

-In the darkness of a movie theater during Hollywood’s latest spy thriller in which a secret foreign military base is depicted, a disgusted voice calls out “That’s not what it looks like!”

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Introducing the culture ninjas

If you look to your right, you will observe some changes in my sidebar. Chief among them are the removal of author-quotes (they were getting old) and the introduction of a new section, "Attempts to change the world." is a new site just launched by a friend of mine. Finnja is widely-read and speaks Latin better than I do. He understands T. S. Eliot and happily abuses the Bard. He is comfortable with opera, death metal, and Five Iron Frenzy. This tongue-in-cheek site is a fair product of his eclectic personality.

He is not a typical Christian conservative (presuming the ideal exists). He will not be reviewing typical Christian conservative cultural products (and certainly won't like them simply for the genre). In fact, as far as I can tell, he likes no genres simply for the genre. I disagree with him on a lot of things, and when we do happen to approve of the same thing, it's generally for different reasons. You'll probably disagree much of the time too. But visit the site. And feel free to argue with him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Stargazing and sisters

Have I mentioned that the soror and I make an awesome team? We rock. We incandesce. No kidding. I shall explain.

This summer, I have been making friends with the night sky. You might remember my post from mid-June or so--yes? Anyway, the project went on hold for most of July, due to work, company, and clouds, but I restarted it yesterday. I have now identified pretty much all the constellations visible around 11 pm at my latitude. (It's very convenient, because the Milky Way is out in force. Find the constellations in it, and then it's easy to find everything else relative to that.)

I've done it mostly by means of The Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky, which is a navy blue book of a pleasant size to hold in one's hand, full of maps and charts and lists and star-names and history fading off into legend. So one wanders out into the yard, inquiring of one's soul whether the Corona Borealis is between Hercules and Lyra or between Hercules and Bootes. One remembers distinctly that she had it last June, but alas, a crown does not endure to all generations! So the hopeful crown-seeker consults the sky, seeking the sign (or more probably the thing itself) to no avail, and wanders back to the light pouring out from the kitchen window, contemplating the map entitled "The August Sky." One discovers the Corona is, in fact, sort of triangularly between Bootes, Hercules, and Serpens Caput. One searches the heavens, and lo and behold it is where it ought to be. Delightful, the way that works.

Meanwhile, the sister got out the telescope. She fiddled with it, figured out what the different lenses were for, and by dark and mysterious means, she has learned to work it. Naming stars: I can deal with this. But pointing technology at them: that's something else entirely!

We were talking tonight--I have the book-knowledge and she has the technical knowledge! I know what to look at and she knows how to look at it!

That is cool. As I have said, we rock.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Quote of the day

Indy: "He's got a two-day head start on you, which is more than he needs. Brody's got friends in every town and village from here to the Sudan. He speaks a dozen languages, knows every local custom. He'll blend in, disappear; you'll never see him again. With any luck, he's got the Grail already."

Brody: "Does anyone here speak English? How about ancient Greek?"

Thursday, August 04, 2005


No sooner had I entered the English School [at Oxford] than I went to George Gordon's discussion class. And there I made a new friend. ...His name was Nevill Coghill. I soon had the shcok of discovering that he--clearly the most intelligent and best-informed man in that class--was a Christian and a thorough-going supernaturalist. There were other traits that I liked but found (for I was still very much a modern) oddly archaic; chivalry, honor, courtesy, "freedom," and "gentillesse." One could imagine him fighting a duel. He spoke much "ribaldry" but never "villeinye."

Barfield was beginning to overthrow my chronological snobbery; Coghill gave it another blow. Had something really dropped out of our lives? Was the archaic simply the civilized, and the modern simply the barbaric?

--C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Today I shall extol the excellencies of Weatherford peaches. The farmer's market we stopped at on the way home from Texas was in Weatherford; if ever you happen to pass by that way, I can recommend stopping, too.

I don't have a picture of Weatherford peaches, but here's a detail of their courthouse.

And these are some scarecrows I made friends with at the farmer's market.

In bins quite close to the aboveshown scarecrows, we bought peaches, sunny spheres of sweetness. Aristotle said the sphere is the most perfect shape, and in this case, he's not far wrong. A boxy peach would just be wrong.

These peaches inside are the color of crystallized honey, only brighter. Picture a peridot. Leave it about that tone, but instead of green, color it more like sandstone. Now make it juicy. That's what these peaches are like. And the heart around the pit has these ruby threads coming out from it, like rich embroidery. (Yes...the peach has a stone at its heart, I must confess.)

The taste is as nectar, fully its proper peachiness, but sweeter than usual. But it still has that acidic bite which reminds one that, however close to the Form of the Peach one has ascended, yet Weatherford Peaches are still mortal.

And tonight for dessert this most perfect fruit was sliced and endowed with whipped cream. Yum!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Texas, from whose bourne a traveller returns

I am a tired puella. I have driven and ridden 1500 miles in the past five days. You see, I went to an uncle's [first cousin twice removed's husband's] funeral, which was Saturday. I discovered this fact Thursday morning.

So I got up, cancelled appointments, went to Beall's, redid my schedule, helped my boss entirely redo my department, worked at church, came home, and packed. That night we drove to Grandma and Granddad's.

Next day we got up distressingly early and drove to Fort Worth. We checked in, unpacked, and went to the funeral home. We meant to go to Auny Ruby's, but by the time we ate, it was past nine at night, and that was just not happening. Dinner was at the Black Eyed Pea, and it was really, really good. I'm sad the one closed in Albuquerque.

Saturday morning we got up early and went to the funeral. It was a very Christian burial: for which I was grateful. Their church put on a nice reception afterward, and Emily and I were allowed to go explore downtown Granbury for about half an hour, take pictures in front of the courthouse, and visit bookstores and antique shops before we went to Aunt Ruby's for the afternoon.

We got to know an entire branch of the family that we hadn't seen for a while--Heather and Jeff's branch, including their siblings, Andy the brother-in-law, parents, and step-grandma.

They, being quite grown up, had stocked up well on wine, and a funny exchange came when their mother, Aunt Sue, accidentally spilled some on the kitchen floor.

Andy: "There are some cultures that would put you to death for that."
Me: "What cultures?"
Andy: "Fraternities."

Well, then. I had been thinking more of the ones that poured a libation before each meal to appease the gods. So I said so. (After all, there wasn't much to do but talk!)

The sister: "She's appeasing the linoleum gods!"

We really need to write a story involving linoleum gods. I mean, that is about an idol made with hands... yeah.

Yeah. So then we made the film, had chicken casserole, and went back to the hotel.

We got up Sunday morning, didn't get to go to church :-(, and drove back to Portales. We stopped at Weatherford: they had a really good farmer's market and a courthouse, at which we took pictures. We also stopped at Lubbock and went school-clothes shopping because Penney's was having a particularly good sale.

And then today we came home. We stopped at Santa Rosa for lunch and further courthouse photography. :-)

And that's why I'm a tired puella.