Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hedgehog with mushrooms

Lunch with old friends sure is pleasant, especially when they know rather more about what you're learning than you do. Today I had pizza with my entire high school accountability group--extraordinarily rare, since we are or have been scattered from Southeast Asia to California to Mexico to Texas to Cruces to Virginia and back--and all their mothers and various other female friends and relations came too.

I got to chat with Anna the Penpike about Russian. She actually speaks it, somewhat, and laughed very hard when I explained that you spell hedgehog with an e with two dots and a snowflake. She then shared that her favorite thing to order in Russian was "with mushrooms," "s'gharchmi" (?), just because it was so cool to say.

My Russian now consists of "hedgehog with mushrooms." Yozh s'gharchmi, anyone?

Merry Christmas!

So I have a sword now. And a dagger. And chapstick. And a book about Robin Hood and another about C.S. Lewis. And a teddy bear in a red-flowered hat. I could take over the world. Especially because of the chapstick.

We had a thoroughly traditional Christmas at my house, which is as much as to say, nothing worked quite like it was supposed to. Mom got sick, so Grandma and Granddad didn't come and the sister and I made Christmas dinner. Sort of.

I stayed up late Christmas Eve baking pies--a terrifying thought in itself, actually. But they turned out. We got up and cooked. I discovered that I'd forgotten to put celery on the shopping list for the stuffing, and somehow it didn't seem the done thing to substitute cabbage, so I just made it with onion alone.

The sister got the turkey all ready and put it in the oven--and sometime between midnight and nine am, the oven had died. Kaput. Dad took it apart and fiddled with it and it was just dead. So she put the turkey in one crock pot and I put the celery-less dressing in the other.

That left the rolls, which I've never heard of anyone putting in a crock pot. Ah--but we have a bread machine, sitting on the counter! I'd never actually used this bread machine; it was a replacement for the one that died, that I did know how to work; and also I couldn't find any bread flour. I rummaged through the freezer and found Hungarian High-Altitude Whole Wheat Flour. That looked promising. After unsuccessfully searching the entire recipe book shelf for the bread machine manual, I did what I ought to have done immediately and asked Mom. She, of course, found it for me. Water, between 80 and 100 degrees....butter...Hungarian High-Altitude Whole Wheat Flour...salt...honey...put the kneading bowl in the machine....choose all the settings...splendid.

We went and opened presents. My dagger was good for flinging tissue paper in the air and opening taped boxes, and I screamed quite a lot when I opened the sword.

Of course, crock pots take longer to cook than ovens, so we had macaroni and cheese for lunch, and had the turkey for dinner. The kneading bowl thing didn't catch in the bottom of the bread machine, so it came out a nasty unkneaded and inedible lump instead. But the turkey, dressing, cranberries, and whatnot were all very good.

It was a merry Christmas. Not so much because of the presents (even the sword and books), but because Jesus came to earth, and lived as a man, and died and was raised on the third day. And for that reason, Christmas is, and always will be, merry. :-)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gift tags, among other things

A very merry Christmas season to you all!

It has become obvious at my house that the birth of our Lord is coming very soon, and with it all those odd and traditional tasks that take over one's living room. Presently the area between the couch and fireplace and TV is overwhelmed with brilliant tissue-papers and red and silver papers and broad ribbons in tupperware bins, with a great many tea cups and CDs and movies in between. (Because, of course, we like to drink tea and watch movies while wrapping!) Dad expressed it rather well, the other night, by saying it looked like Christmas had struck.

Last night, all during X-Men II, I made a dozen or two gift tags. We hardly ever buy them; why bother, when all you need is a bit of cardstock and a stamp? I've got seven or eight colors of ink and a whole boxful of mouse-stamps, not to mention colored pencils to bring out the red of their peppermint swirls and Santa hats, and so I sent them dancing across the paper-scraps.

One series of tags featured a little one peeking out from an ornament, hat dangling. The next showed a mouse overcome by the glories of peppermint, trying to stuff the entire sweet in his mouth at once. Another had a mousely maestro, sheet music and stick in hand. The stamp didn't show his orchestra, so for each tag I got to invent one for him. One director got a flock of bluebirds (yesterday we had a brilliant bluebird sitting above our garage), and another a whole blizzard of snowflakes from my little snowflake punch, and a third got a snowstorm of little Celtic knots, and a fourth the stars of the sky, like Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth. Another series had an artistic mouse, reaching up to paint. In the spring, I find that mouse usually paints flowers or butterflies, but last night he preferred ornaments and stars dangling from garlands.

This morning I thought perhaps what I needed for my next gift tags were quotes about wrapping things in brown paper. This naturally led to Chesterton's chalk essay. I pulled it up and read it (one should read Chesterton very often), and discovered what I ought to have known anyway, that while Chesterton is extremely quotable, it's hard to reduce him to quote-sized bits. He's sort of long-winded just for the fun of it.

I love the way Chesterton goes to draw, despite no particular artistic ability. That's kind of the way--most of us are, actually. Wrapping presents is an art that most of us have to do whether we can or not, and so, I would suggest, is making gift tags. It's a happy thing, especially if you have lots of colored chalks or pencils at your disposal. So, not at all pretending to be anything like complete, I will quote the first two paragraphs of Chesterton on chalk, and include the link, which you may consider a hint to go read it in its entirety. :-)

I remember one splendid morning, all blue and silver, in the summer holidays when I reluctantly tore myself away from the task of doing nothing in particular, and put on a hat of some sort and picked up a walking-stick, and put six very bright-coloured chalks in my pocket. I then went into the kitchen (which, along with the rest of the house, belonged to a very square and sensible old woman in a Sussex village), and asked the owner and occupant of the kitchen if she had any brown paper. She had a great deal; in fact, she had too much; and she mistook the purpose and the rationale of the existence of brown paper. She seemed to have an idea that if a person wanted brown paper he must be wanting to tie up parcels; which was the last thing I wanted to do; indeed, it is a thing which I have found to be beyond my mental capacity. Hence she dwelt very much on the varying qualities of toughness and endurance in the material. I explained to her that I only wanted to draw pictures on it, and that I did not want them to endure in the least; and that from my point of view, therefore, it was a question, not of tough consistency, but of responsive surface, a thing comparatively irrelevant in a parcel. When she understood that I wanted to draw she offered to overwhelm me with note-paper.

I then tried to explain the rather delicate logical shade, that I not only liked brown paper, but liked the quality of brownness in paper, just as I like the quality of brownness in October woods, or in beer. Brown paper represents the primal twilight of the first toil of creation, and with a bright-coloured chalk or two you can pick out points of fire in it, sparks of gold, and blood-red, and sea-green, like the first fierce stars that sprang out of divine darkness. All this I said (in an off-hand way) to the old woman; and I put the brown paper in my pocket along with the chalks, and possibly other things. I suppose every one must have reflected how primeval and how poetical are the things that one carries in one's pocket; the pocket-knife, for instance, the type of all human tools, the infant of the sword. Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about things in my pockets. But I found it would be too
long; and the age of the great epics is past.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cookies and hedgehogs

Yesterday was the end of work for the year, and boy was it a day. People cancelled and failed and came late and came way early and had emergencies, and a patient brought us the most wonderful Hawaiian cookies (no sugar or butter, just condensed milk!), and UPS was most inconveniently 23 hours late with a delivery, and I got to go out to lunch with a friend.

AND, in the cracks (there were lots of cracks), I got to do language stuff. It appears I'm kind of accidentally learning Russian. I cleaned out the 2006 files and discovered there were also 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002 files in the cabinet--which explains why it was rather full. Then I made new 2007 folders, and labeled the monthly ones in English, Russian, and Farsi. :-D

The Russian for "hedgehog" is "yozh," and it's spelled with two letters, an e with two dots above and a zhe, which looks like a snowflake. We also discussed another letter, which is either a lambda on a lampstand or else a virus; office opinion varied. The hedgehog reminded me irresistibly of Pride and Prejudice quotes.

To Mr. Darcy: “Don’t just put her in the chair; be gentle. Do it kind of gingerly, like picking up a hedgehog.” Ben
“Girls are not hedgehogs. It makes us sound prickly.” Lisa
“Have you ever seen inside a hedgehog’s mouth?” Ben
We had not.
“Hedgehogs are really cute until they open their mouths and then they’re kind of scary. You remember the ROUSes? They don’t really have mouths like that, but hedgehogs do.” Ben
“You don’t tread on hedgehogs.” Hebda
“Granted, but..” Ben 3-2-06

Right before lunch, Lisa (not Thacia) and I amused ourselves with online translators. I found a whole lot, but it took three tries to find one that could translate "hedgehog" into Russian. There was one that tried to tell us "como esta" meant something very unlikely, I can't remember what. That, naturally, led to Latin and the immortal cookies of the previous post.

I came across one of my office-notes, covered with phone numbers and names and dates and Celtic knots and scraps of foreign characters, and found this word: "YE-sharitzeh." I can't remember what it means, why I wrote it down, or even what language it is. I thought it was probably Farsi, but then I was pretty sure it looked Russian. Being inconveniently American, I'd written it out phonetically in English letters, so the script doesn't even help identify the thing. Upon consideration, it might be Polish.

I think I'll go eat a cookie.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Crustulum immortale

I don't know if you remember freshman year, when we were down in Town Hall practicing for our Latin final by declining immortal cookies.

Well, today Lisa remarked that immortal cookies would be the sort of thing a heavenly host would serve. ;-) She blames the coffee and too much Fox TV.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yesterday's quote of the day

"Your bamboo looks like it's going to take over the world."

--The sister (who is HOME!!!)

Quote of the day

"After Christmas I'm going to clean out my closets because they're starting to look like Dillard's."


I know how she feels!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Certus sum

Certus sum enim
quia neque mors
neque vita
neque angeli
neque principatus
neque instantia
neque futura
neque fortitudines
neque altitudo
neque profundum
neque creatura alia
poterit nos separare a caritate Dei quae est in Christo Iesu Domino nostro.

Romans 8:38-39, Vulgate

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Of scissors and paper

My December office project has been making paper snowflakes. We tape them up on the windows, door, cabinets--everywhere relevant. I even made icicles drip off the laundry sign. It's a beautiful thing.

Celtic knotwork and paper snowflakes, it seemed to me, would be particularly nice together. Therefore, for most of December, I've been trying to transfer the basic patterns. It's much harder than I supposed.

My first few attempts taught me the difference between paper and holes. It's not enough for the hole to be in the right place; in order for the paper to look like a thread, the hole has to have the right shape.

Then I discovered that the angles of the threads have to be continuous. They can and must curve, but if you have a "thread" heading down and at the fold it starts randomly angling back up like a mirrored beam of light, well, that sort of kills your design.

I made a few pretty and vaguely Celtic ones; or like a Gothic rose window, rather, one was. I also made one that looked like six aliens joined at the ears and holding hands.

My current problem is getting the pattern of threads to work out. I really thought I had it last night, and I was so excited. I even put these awesome hound-heads at the six points. But then I noticed that instead of having four intertwining threads, I actually had two pairs of parallel threads. Bummer, dude.

Today I've been working on straight pieces of paper, trying to get the pattern right. There was an odd one today that had two patterns going: the middles were like four exactly-offset sine waves, and the folds reverted to the pairs-of-parallel threads.

Geometry has never been one of my great skills. But I will make Celtic-knot snowflakes.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More on cell phones

I found a blog by an associate professor of philosophy/psychology who discusses, in this post, a curious effect of cell phones. Given the more-or-less ongoing cell phone debate from Firinteinne's blog, I thought y'all'd be interested. So: what think you?

Song of the Day

We of the office declared today's song to be "Drill, Ye, Tarriers, Drill." Not, actually, because of the drilling, but because I wanted sugar in my tay.

Every morning about seven o'clock
There were twenty tarriers drilling at the rock
The boss comes along and he says, "Keep still
And bear down heavy on the cast iron drill."

And drill, ye tarriers, drill
Drill, ye tarriers, drill
For it's work all day for the sugar in your tay
Down beyond the railway
And drill, ye tarriers, drill
And blast, and fire.

The boss was a fine man down to the ground
And he married a lady six feet 'round
She baked good bread and she baked it well
But she baked it harder than the hobs of Hell.

The foreman's name was John McCann
He cert'ly was a blamed mean man.
Last week a premature blast went off
And a mile in the air went big Jim Goff.

And when next payday came around
Jim Goff a dollar short was found
When he asked, "What for?" came this reply
"You were docked for the time you were up in the sky."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why the moon?

Here's another article, asking why, exactly, we all want to go to the moon.

Because we can, and it's cool, I say. Countries have been funding exploration a long time. But I guess statesmen want more impressive answers.

Quote of the day

"I see you do not favor the gangly youth."

--the good doctor, observing my reaction to a visiting spider

Sunday, December 10, 2006

If one can understand, one should thank God

There is nothing like reading a medieval scholastic to remind yourself just how contemporary you really are. For instance, today our sermon was on the Incarnation. (An excellent sermon—really, really good—worked in Athanasius and the Nicaean Creed and the Council of Chalcedon—I highly recommend clicking on the Crossroads link to the right and downloading it ASAP, if you were not so fortunate as to have heard it live.:-) ) So I was motivated to come home, start a fire in the fireplace, and curl up with my cat and Anselm of Canterbury's On the Incarnation of the Word.

This work is a sort of open letter to Pope Urban II, refuting the claims of one Roscelin of Compeigne who thought that the Father and Spirit must have been incarnated too. He started out rather oddly, to my way of thinking.
“And I ask this lest anyone should think that I have been presumptuous, as if I should think that the strength of the Christian faith needs the help of my defense. Indeed, if I, a despicable little man, were to attempt to write anything to so many holy and wise persons existing everywhere in order to strengthen the foundation of the Christian faith, as if the faith should need my defense, I could of course be judged presumptuous and be perceived as someone to be laughed at.”
You know, perhaps it is rather arrogant of us, but I have yet to read in any modern work of apologetics an apology for writing it! Is it not cool to find someone who thinks of Christianity as so firm, so unshakeable, that intellectual defense is almost superfluous? We in the culture wars (or the edges of them, anyhow) tend to forget that not everyone has been in such an intellectual free-for-all as we are.
“And before I discuss the question, I shall make a prefatory comment. I do so to curb the presumption of those who, since they are unable to understand intellectually the things the Christian faith professes, and with foolish pride
think that there cannot in any way be things that they cannot understand, with unspeakable rashness dare to argue against such things rather than with humble wisdom admit their possibility....If one can understand, one should thank God; if one cannot, one should bow one's head in veneration rather than sound off trumpets.”

An energetic rebuke to ecclesiastical troublemakers, who in their self-confidence apparently always have and always will make nuisances of themselves. Understanding is a gift from God, as he rightly points out, and not the inviolable birthright of man, as per the high Modernists and Rationalists and Humanists.

“For some beginners, presuming to rise to the loftiest questions about faith, typically roduce trumpets, as it were, of knowledge trusting in itself. They do not know that ersons think they know something, they do not yet know, before they have spiritual wings through solidity of faith, how they should know it. ...'Unless you have believed, you will not understand,' [Isaiah 7:9]. “...And when [Paul] was instructing Timothy to serve 'as a good soldier' [I Tim 1:18], he added, 'having faith and a good conscience. But some, rejecting these things, have made a shipwreck of their faith' [I Tim 1: 19]. Therefore, no one should rashly plunge into the complex questions about God unless the person first have a solid faith with the precious weight of character and wisdom, unless a persistent falsity ensnare the person who runs with a careless levity through many little diverting sophisms.”

Ayup. Yup. Free will debate, right there. Somebody...maybe Augustine...or was it Socrates? or Cicero? Don't think it was Socrates, actually, since he was before Aristotelian logic...was concerned about the effects of teaching logic to students too immature to deal with it, who then use it like a lunatic with a sword, chopping up useful things with their new toy.

“And all should be warned to approach questions concerning the sacred text of Scripture carefully. Therefore, those contemporary logicians (rather, those heretical logicians) who consider universal essences to be merely vocal emanations, and who can understand colors only as material substances, and human wisdom only as the soul, should be altogether brushed aside from discussion of spiritual questions. Indeed, the power of reason in their souls, which ought to be the ruler and judge of everything in human beings, is so wrapped up in material fancies that they cannot extricate themselves from the fancies.”

Look! There's nothing new under the sun! I think that denial of universal essences might be an early form of postmodernism and the colors a version of materialism. :-) I'm not sure what he's talking about with the human wisdom only being the soul, but I'm getting a great mental image of medieval logicians getting hopelessly cocooned in sheer rainbow-embroidered cloth, kind of like Delenn in B5. :-)

More seriously, I really like Anselm's emphasis on approaching the Scriptures rightly and reverently. One should submit oneself to them and try to understand them rightly and humbly. They are, after all, true and sufficient for life and godliness. But he might go a bit far. If you think certain people are unfit to understand Scripture—there you have a problem. Some people indisputably are blinded and will use them wrongly, but are we then to judge who can and cannot access them? Do we deny learning to people because they don't have the faith, or do we give people as much truth as we can in the hopes it will increase their faith? The Spirit changes the heart; all we can do is be faithful to proclaim the truth. “How can they believe if they have not heard?”

I've got to go with the Reformers here. If you give the people the Bible, some of them will use it wrongly, and heresies will pop up. But isn't God willing to risk that? How can we do less? I'm modern enough to want learning to be available to anyone willing to chase it, but medieval enough to set up guidelines, normative ways to go about it. I consider this blog post a case in point. I, a mere receptionist in the mountains of New Mexico and a girl at that, am reading one of the greater thinkers to come out of Christendom—and arguing with him!

So how do we curb this arrogance leading to heresy, if not by declaring some people unfit to read Scripture? Are we doomed to endless freshmen classes ignorantly wrangling over foreknowledge, and a few veering into Open Theism? Anselm argued that dumping the hard questions on people without the faith to deal with them actually led them, the people, to shipwreck their faith. Is our way, then, a failure of love toward our weaker brothers?

Does, therefore, “Credo ut intellegam”-- “I believe so I might understand”--actually limit knowledge, or does it just set up one as ontologically prior to the other in the learning process? I think it's a true saying, but I don't think I want to take it where Anselm did.

“I believe, Lord; increase my faith!” If one can understand, one should thank God.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Nativity Story

Lewis, I think it was, distinguished between a story you follow to find out what happens and a story you follow so as to attend to the telling. And he considered the second the higher form-- “There is hope for a man who has not read Bosworth; but what about the man who 'has read' Bosworth, meaning he thinks he does not need to read him again?”

“The Nativity Story” tells a story we know the ending of. But I liked the telling. It was very Middle-Eastern. The characters mostly spoke English, but they had strong accents. (I kept hoping a Roman soldier would burst out into Latin. I don't think any ever did, but the soundtrack was partly in Latin. Christus natus est.) The accents helped a lot in making the lines more believable. No modern American (except a few lit majors) goes around saying “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” but Elizabeth did, and one could believe she really said it. Many of the lines were taken directly from the Christmas story. I appreciated that.

All the characters, really, fit with appearance and lines and personalities. Mary started out decently pretty but not supernaturally gorgeous, but she became more beautiful as the movie progressed. By the time they reached the stable, one admired her very deeply. Joseph, I think, is a tough one to characterize. This movie left me really liking him. Besides being a good and decent man, he even showed some sparks and remnants of wit at times. The wise men, too, made me laugh. They came, the traditional three, with their traditional names and nationalities. And (yay!) they rode camels and brought gifts.

How can it be that God used three pagan stargazers to worship at the coming of His Son? How is it that the heavens themselves told forth His advent and those who could read the signs understood? And what a mystery, a difficulty, to choose an unmarried girl for a mother! All things—a tax scheme, Zechariah's turn to sacrifice in the Holy of Holies, the rise of empires and paranoid rulers and the habits of shepherds—came together at that time, that place, and in the fullness of time God was born of a virgin.

This story brings peace and a sword. There is the sound of weeping in Ramah, of Rachel weeping for her children, and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more. Many died. The story starts with death; the soldiers slay the innocents and then we jump back in time to the coming of John the Baptist.

I'm not sure what was up with the angels. The Christmas story being what it is, and angels being a major plot element, the filmmakers chose to include them. They came; not Homeric or, worse still, Miltonic creatures in mail and walking around with the other characters as if they had a perfect right to be there, but they came. Whenever possible, they were elided and their messages told secondhand. A bird was the sign of their presence. When Gabriel himself did get screen time, it was usually during the daylight, which is kind of odd. But he was male and moderately awe-inspiring and, like the other characters, Middle-Eastern, and the hem of his robe melted into the background. We culturally don't quite know what to do with the supernatural in novels or films, and at least he was there, so I rather approved.

I'm not sure if it's actually a great movie. It was done well (it was not incompetent or dorky) and faithfully, and it proved that Sayers was right and “the dogma is the drama.” It avoided all those tiresome apocryphal subplots, like Peter's king-angst in the Narnia movie. It did a really good job getting you to admire Mary and Joseph. But I wonder if it's more of an aid to devotion than a great piece of art per se—like hymns. Maybe it is. Some of you who are better at actually analyzing movies will have to weigh in on this one.

But for all that, it made the Nativity story come alive. I cried in the first thirty seconds and earnestly sang carols all the way home and for a good hour thereafter. As someone once wrote in an entirely different context:

“It communicates truth, and does it effectively, if perhaps not brilliantly. ...When poetry that my instincts tell me is mediocre is most of the way towards provoking tears of joy, it’s just real tough to be very hard on it.”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Okay, it's official.

I have the coolest office in the world. We got bored this evening about 4:50, waiting for our last two patients. So we pulled up Much Ado online (non-dial-up connections are beautiful things) and read the good bits aloud. I got to be Beatrice...and Verges...and Beatrice some more. And a little Leonato.

I also got to talk about Eden Troupe costumes. :-D Do you remember Dogberry and Verges' capes? The long one that belonged to Creon and the little short one from what's-his-name in Antigone? A glorious thing. And then there were those splendidly reused vests from Don John and Don Pedro/Macbeth/the poets and musicians. And the boots...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Word of wisdom of the day

"If you're fly fishing, and the lure bounces, it's too cold."

--the good doctor

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Identity crisis

A patient just walked in, looked at me, and said, "You're not C---." To which I immediately replied that I was.

So now who's having my identity crisis??

To quote Lord Emsworth: "What? What? What?"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Modernity in a nutshell

The great difference between astronomers and philosophers since Copernicus and Descartes is that they had precisely the opposite idea: the astronomer has cried in desperation, “I'm not the center of the universe!” while the philosopher has cried in desperation, “I am the center of the universe!” Perhaps the only thing these great Fathers of Modernity really have in common is despair.

--Steve Fuhry,

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Quote of the day

"I feel like a noodle-snagger." Mom

Me too!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

At the library used book store

The scene: me and an elderly man rummaging through the quarter and free carts, respectively.

A noise came from the direction of the library proper. Chunk...chunk...chunk.

He said, "I can hear ya comin.'"
The lady with her cane: "Well, at least I am comin.' I can hardly believe something which I just heard in there."
He said, "What did you just hear in there which you can hardly believe?"

She chunked a few paces closer and stopped by the free cart. "The librarian in there who had never heard the riddle of the Sphinx. A librarian! The riddle of the Sphinx!"

He replied, "I don't know the riddle of the Sphinx."
She replied, "Oh, yes you do."

I wandered into the used book store proper and left the conversation. But just before it faded entirely from my hearing:
"Look what I found. A book on how to pick your rest home."
She laughed. "Well, you don't need that!"
He asked, "How long do you suppose it'll be before we need it?"
She said, "Oh, someday we will..."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Quote of the day

"Right! Ready to get my teeth sharpened--ready for Christmas dinner!" Patient

It was just a cleaning....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Of steaks and trees

Grandma, as you may or may not be aware, had her hip replaced last Monday. ("I did a very good job," said her surgeon. "I am very good, very fast. Thirty-nine minutes!") Her nurse Ellie May has ordered her on no account to bend over for a month, and you just don't disobey Ellie May. So, my parental units and cat and I hied ourselved thither on Friday after Thanksgiving to clean her house and put up her Christmas tree.

The house, being Grandma's house and therefore perfect, didn't actually need cleaning, but we cleaned it anyway. It was a little dusty was all. We got it all done Saturday morning.

So about eleven-thirty we piled in the car (leaving the cat in Grandad's shop) and went for a steak lunch a K-Bob's. If you've never been to a K-Bob's, I'm sorry. There are half a dozen in Texas and four or five more in New Mexico, so you'll just have to visit. While we waited for the Ranch Houses to cook, we played with my little purple Camaro. Our family has a long-standing restaurant game, where you get a point each time you roll the car just hard enough for the front wheels to fall off the edge but the rest of the car stays on the table. We played it with that same purple Camaro on our family vacation back in the late nineties at a K-Bob's in Elk City, Oklahoma, that we ate at on our way out and was closed when we came back. This particular game, Daddy won with three points to my two.

Then we went to Hobby Lobby and stood in their front vestibule for twenty minutes or so, checking out their forest and picking the Very Best Tree. We all scattered inside, checking out the ornaments for the ladies' tea and ornament exchange, the scrapbook paper, and the metal Celtic crosses (half off). I finally misplaced Mom entirely and had to call her on our cell phones. Grandma decided which was the Very Best Tree and Daddy and Grandad wrestled it into the trunk and bungeed it down, and dropped Mom and me off at the mall, and went home to wrestle the tree into the house. I found a pair of boots and two dressy tops, finished the entire mall, and had time for a coke and burrito-like egg roll in the food court by the time Dad and Grandad picked us up.

Allow me to digress a moment. Friday night, Dad and I watched _Casablanca_ for the first time. It's a good movie, but what astounded me was how well the woman dressed. She was genuinely beautiful--a rarity, I think, in movies with a supposedly drop-dead gorgeous protagonist, and I begin to understand some of the film criticism in Richter a little better--and she dressed like a lady. Wow she looked good. The garments at the mall did not look like something out of _Casablanca_. Winter dresses, for reasons I really don't understand, are all sleeveless and generally strapless and backless too. How come sleazy people in 1942 dressed so much better than nice people in 2006? I don't think this is fair.

End digression. Eventually we all collected ourselves back at the house and Mom put the Very Best Tree together in the middle of the living room. Dad and Grandad ran to Wal-Mart for ...I forget what, two or three things, and Mom and I drag the ornaments out of the unlocked closet in the long room upstairs. It's a very lengthy and short closet, so I have to hunch all the way to the back where the ornament bins are kept. I wend my way past exercise bikes, giant styrofoam gliders, kites, "Happy Harvest" scarecrows, and manage to get the ornaments out. We open them up...and discover there are no ornament hooks.

No fear! Dad and Grandad are still at Wal-Mart! I called them and discovered they hadn't left yet, and requested ornament hooks. Then Mom sent me upstairs to pick out the Very Best Tree-topper. I found a lovely gold-and-cream angel in the top of the bathroom linen closet, sitting on top of a vinegar bottle, so I brought her down. It struck me it was kind of what the Pythia did--sitting on top of a chasm breathing fumes all year--so I named the angel Pythia. She fit splendidly on top of the tree, though at one point, hanging ornaments, I looked up and there she was...tilted forward...looming over me. Rather scary, being loomed over by a Pythia. Anyhow.

Dad and Grandad made it home with "Christmas with the Kranks" but not ornament hooks. They couldn't find any and asked two employees, who both said they were out. On the basis of two witnesses, then, they quit looking. "Kranks" is a funny movie, genuinely funny. As they snuck and lurked and cowered before their neighbors, we hung ornaments as best we could without hooks. We finished about the time Mr. Krank got arrested for borrowing his neighbor's tree (with permission). And our tree, unlike his, looked really pretty. I think it made Grandma happy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Quotes of the day

"I tell you, working at the lab is pretty grim these days. We've been taken over by the Huns." --a patient

"I'm going to read your book on oral pathology."
"Oh, how exciting. You must need to sleep."
"No, I'm just trying not to be hungry..."

Sunday, November 19, 2006


"Pro corpore eius quod est ecclesia"

His body...which is the church. Latin is great because it makes you slow down and think about the words.


I've been reading Ryken's Christian Imagination, and, in conjunction with Ben's marginal notes, it's about incarnation too; about the literary incarnation or bodying-forth of ideas and words in the concretes of this character doing that in such a place and time.

The Bible talks about individuals imitating Jesus, but it sounds to me like it's also a church-wide thing. "God may always be here, but I want someone with skin on," said the little boy. That's exactly what the church ought to be doing: being Jesus with skin on.

The church, too, is made of particular people in a certain place and time. Lewis talked about that in Screwtape Letters. The trouble with humans is that we think of The Church and have a terrible time connecting that grand and glorious Body with our pew-mate who never can sing on key. It's got to be a renewing of the heart and mind, and vision, to see each other as we've been told we really are--and to see myself that way, too. Don't know about y'all, but I don't feel like much but the skin these days.

Jars of Clay's new song "Dead Man" relates too. "I'm just a dead man/lyin' on the carpet/can't find a heartbeat/Make me breathe/I wanna be a new man/tired of the old one/out with the old plan..."

How high is the stature of the fullness of Christ!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cyrano de Bergerac

Rather to my surprise, I haven't yet been able to find any blog-reviews of PHC's "Cyrano de Bergerac." It was well worth reviewing, so here goes.

I had the pleasure of seeing Cyrano three times. The first night, I inquired of the ushers which might be the best seat, and they directed me to the front row--but mentioned there might be audience participation. Excellent. The stage was already half-filled with fruit-sellers, classy Frenchwomen, pickpockets, and soldiers, all pointing out to one another who all was in attendance that evening. I sat in the front row and was immediately greeted as the Chief Magistrate's wife. This was well and good, but then another lady came along and greeted Mr. Kanary beside me as the Chief Magistrate!

The milling onstage continued. Three musicians sat on the steps, playing happily. One wore Don John's vest from Much Ado and another the gold vest that had belonged to Don Pedro and Macbeth. David Carver and Nic Isley minced in, complete with the noblest of high heels and lace. Soldiers burst in past the usher Caleb Krautter, announcing they didn't have to pay. The pickpocket nearly got Dr. Veith's Blackberry. (On Friday night, Dr. Mitchell got the pickpocket in a ninja-grip, from which he was only extricated by the intervention of Krautter.) Peasant women flitted around, one of them in Beatrice's "terra-cotta" overdress. Maggie Dougher, in a private interview, confided that she patched it herself.

The leading lady Roxane (Cate Pilgrim) attracted much attention as she walked to her seat, closely followed by her duenna (Kelly-Christelle Orsini), the slimy de Guiche (played by Ben Adams in a wig and burgundy velvet), and the hopeless younger lord (played by Jordan Estrada, also in a wig and turquoise velvet). Then the baker Ragueneau (Justin Jenkins) entered, to much cheering, and we learned he paid for his ticket with cakes and cream puffs.

The rumor drifted out that Cyrano himself had forbidden the star of "La Clorice"--which we were there to watch--to appear for a month. There, before our very eyes, he appeared. So did Cyrano. With a shout and a rush John Anderson established himself onstage, utterly impervious to the crowd's booing. "I shall clap three times, and on the third clap, eclipse yourself," he told the star. And it was as he said. Cyrano finished his brilliant gesture repaying the theater owner (Jonathan Bales) with his entire month's pay, held in a bag that I think was made from leftover red Much Ado boot leather.

The soldiers and ushers reappeared in the next scene as starving poets in ragged and dirty shirts made (I later learned) from Antigone curtains and dragged by the poets themselves through Lake Bob mud. The famous Eden Troupe bench made its regular appearance, as did the Much Ado lantern, the Ideal Husband fans, and--my personal favorite--the witches' dresses. The sleeves had been sewn up and they became nuns' habits for Maggie, Kelsey Stapler, and Kaylyn Carlson. Upon inspection, the nuns' white over-dresses turned out to be Siward and Young Siward's flappy things with the red crosses removed. In Eden Troupe, all things that can be redeemed, shall be.

What else is there to say? The acting drew one into the story. In the scene with the duenna, Roxane, and de Guiche (when they were running late for a lecture on The Tender Passion), I stopped to simply admire. It was humorous, but also believable. Cyrano swashbuckled, taking on a hundred men and then denying everything the next day. He told of his trip to the moon with such wit and style as drew in de Guiche, going (as he thought) to marry, as well as the audience. The bold Cadets of Gascony, despite near-starvation, put on a brave front before despised commander and beautiful lady alike. One of the best lines was from Cyrano: "You, play cards. You, dust your caps. I shall read Descartes." The Cadets made their final desperate charge out the back door with a flourish and roar as would have made any thane proud; and as it happened, most of them had been thanes. Mr. Adams actually turned de Guiche into a sympathetic character in the end.

Each night I saw the play, I believe, it improved. The single inconvenience was the rapidity with which Mr. Anderson delivered his golden words. But every time I caught more lines, and it was a beautiful thing.

Congratulations, Christy and Sarah! Good job, cast and crew! Cyrano was a wonderful addition to the Eden Troupe annals, and I'm thrilled I was able to be there.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Quotes of the weekend

“Dulles has many things, but many of them are not hot air balloons.” Carolyn 11-9-06

To Carolyn: “You're going to be with your own kind.” Mom 11-9-06

“Ben A. is coming to McDonald's? I think that's an ontologically negative action.” Meredith 11-9-06

“Close-quarters killing moves are not romantic.” Bales
“I tell you, yes they are. Tonight—Colton and Cate—that hand thing—” Ben A
“You're right.” Bales 11-9-06

The occult element at the Renaissance Fair: “That's because they don't have the most authentic part of the Renaissance: the stake.” Bales 11-9-06

“Is this a Star Wars fan club or a Zahn fan club?” Krautter
“Both!” Carolyn 11-9-06

“Soul and enrollment: it'd be kind of nice to keep both.” Emily-Rose 11-10-06

Mr. Compson: “He's some kind of dissolute Southern gentleman.” Dr. Hake 11-0-06

Quentin Compson: “He waited till the end of the year to commit suicide so the money wouldn't be wasted.” Abby C.
“Small comfort.” Dr. Hake
“Do it BEFORE finals!” Holcomb and Jennifer S. in unison 11-10-06

“The intellectuals were wrong about every major issue of the twentieth century.” The Assistant Deputy Director of Public Communications Liaison Something 11-10-06

“Let me tell you, as a Christian and a conservative working within the Beltway, a lot of the time you feel like a vegetarian at a cattlemen's convention.” Assistant Deputy 11-10-06

“And praise God we're not automatons or potatoes.” Assistant Deputy 11-10-06

“George W. Bush is the greatest liberator of Muslim women in the history of the world.” Assistant Deputy 11-10-06

“Christy, Christina, who cares?” Ben G. 11-10-06

“Are you quite alive yet this morning, David?” Sarah P.
“No, not yet.” David C. 11-10-06

“Where's all your hair, Ben?” Dr. Hake
“Oh, it comes and goes.” Ben A. 11-10-06

“We need to clone Dr. Smith.” Dr. Gruenke
“No. That is NOT a good idea.” Mrs. Smith
“You'll learn in rhetoric that what is unique is praiseworthy.” Dr. Smith 11-10-06

To Carolyn: “Pardon me, haven't you left?” Dr. Smith 11-10-06

“It was kind of a joke there for a while that you wasted your brain cells on celebrities.” Dr. Gruenke 11-10-06

If you take out a rat's hippocampus: “You've got an extremely dumb rat with brain damage.” Dr. Gruenke 11-10-06

“All soybeans have a collective soul?” Carolyn
“It actually begins to make sense biologically.” Dr. Gruenke 11-10-06

“I can be very skeptical, especially when I don't believe something!” Bales 11-10-06

“God is bigger than a piece of clip art.” Ben A. 11-11-06

“I believe I just heard Philip Cole say, 'And that's why God created knives.'” Natalie H. 11-11-06

“Actually, I’m an angel.” Mike H
“Actually, I don’t think you could be an angel, because you never have to announce ‘Don’t be afraid,’ when you enter a room.” Emily-Rose 11-12-06

“If I haven’t figured out my life by the time I graduate, I’ll be a mail-order bride or something.” Emily-Rose 11-12-06

“Again, how did you end up in your family?” Ben G.
“Transmigration of souls.” Ben A. 11-12-06

“One day my friend Domenic and I got an even odder request: we had to find and destroy a septic tank.” Scott 11-13-06

“I think the class revolted and demanded Augustine.” Ben A.
“Pretty much.” Rachel M 11-13-06

“What's with Eden Troupe guys and shaving??” Emily-Rose
“If you had a beard...” Jordan 11-13-06

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Quote of the day

"And if you add spaghetti to your hair, you'd better cook it first."

Mr. Rutherford regarding Crazy Hair Night

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Quote of the day

"Metaphysical poetry is highly civilised, and humanity is only highly civilised by fits and starts."

T.S. Eliot, Turnbull Lecture III

Unconnected thoughts

I got a whiff of summer this weekend. Wading pools--new inflatable rafts--shower curtains--they all smell like summer. They say of all your senses, odors are most closely connected to emotions in your brain. I unwrapped that shower curtain and the fresh plastic sent me straight to June.

Secondhand Lions was just as good a movie the second time around as the first. If you haven't seen it, you should. As soon as you can. There is a bit of language, but--it's a good movie. My dad is still happy from it.

The office got a brand-new, snazzy, hi-tech coffeemaker yesterday. It's black and red and spacey, and when we arrived this morning, there was a brewed pot waiting for us. True, it came on two hours too early by mistake, but these glitches happen.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What about them chickens?

The difference between logical positivism and analytic philosophy on the one hand, and Cartesian dualism on the other, rests with their views of reality. Dualism sees mind and body, or objectivity and subjectivity, as both real and valid. The problem is how to relate them. Positivism and analytic thinking argue that the lived world, subjectivity, wonder, awe, and so on do not exist as irreducible reality. They are totally reducible to the simples of fact.

Ricoeurian thinking contrasts with Cartesian dualism and with positivism and analytic philosophy by saying all three movements should see themselves as having wrongly excarnated object from the lived world.

This is from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which, oddly enough, is trying to make wonder the key to reality. That seems a rather weird Quintessence to pick.

I have this suspicion that fact, subjectivity, and all other things are unified in Jesus, in whom we live and move and have our being. I have no clue what that works out to exactly, but I just suspect they're never going to figure it out as long as they ignore Him...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Today's quote of the day

"It's amazing what unemployment will do for availability to God."

Marian regarding her spur-of-the-moment missions trip this spring

Yesterday's quote of the day

"You look like something with Italian feet!"

Mom to me. I was wearing my new, brown satin, embroidered, long-toed, $2 high heels.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Quote of the day

"Hello, my husband made an appointment for me and didn't tell me the name of the dentist. Can you look and see if you have an appointment for me on November 7th?"
--Phone caller

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What, will these hands ne'er be clean?

According to a recent study, guilt really does make you want physical cleansing, and, barring that, some sort of good deed to make up for it. Budziszewski and Shakespeare nailed it again.

Scientific American: Washing Hands Reduces Moral Taint

Grateful again for forgiveness.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Quote of the day

Today's quote of the day requires a bit of context. Tonight was Awana's "Dress Like a Bible Character" Night, and also my night to lead council time. I talked on Martin Luther because I thought we needed to distinguish him from MLK, Jr. I did it in the first person, from his wife Katherine von Bora's perspective, dressed as Katherine. I know she wasn't a Bible character; I fudged a bit. But I certainly wouldn't have been brave enough to waltz around church in a nun outfit if everyone else weren't dressed up too! I thought it went quite well and got several compliments. But the proof of the pudding...

Quote: "Was Martin Luther King's wife in the Bible?"

Runner up quote of the day: "I'm the guy the good Samaritan beat up."

A study in contrasts

"We're ready for you!"
"I got back just in time."
"Yeah, you didn't even get a chance to look at your magazine."
"Well, it was about cooking, and I don't cook. But I'd rather do that than this, to be honest."

"This was the most fun I've had all day!"

As another contrast, I've enjoyed the patients both days. The one quoted from yesterday came in an hour and ten minutes early, looked crestfallen when I told her that, then disappeared to Hallmark. As she left, I very nearly convinced her to take away the fleece jacket that's been hanging in the waiting room since January.

"Well, it's a nice jacket. Oh! It's a medium! Just my size!"

"Try it on!"

She tried it on and modeled it for me and the teenager also waiting. It fit perfectly.

"Well, I've been wanting one to go with these pants..."

"I'm sure nobody would mind you taking it."

"Well, I'd feel funny since it isn't mine... Maybe someone will come in one day and need a jacket." And she resolutely put it back on the hook and fluttered out, agreeing that if it were still there at her six-months appointment, maybe she'd take it then.

Today, I started tallying what the patients do with themselves while waiting.
Sudoku: 1
read a magazine: 4
nothing: 1
read a book: 1

In other news, I'm losing the day's rubber band war.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Further firewood adventures

Today Mom and I went out to split some firewood. Lilly the cat felt the need to come out with us.

“Let's try to split this one.” We each take a swing at a giant log, and miss entirely. The next time it goes in way off to one side and sticks. We yank it out and try again. This time it lands pretty much in the middle. We keep going until we've got a crack all across the top. Then we start banging the hatchet in with a hammer. Lilly complains at the noise. The log kind of cracks. We go to pull it out. It won't pull out.

I lean my foot against it and Mom wiggles the handle. The entire log falls over. She lifts up the handle, log and all, and bangs it on the nearby concrete two or three times. It doesn't crack, depressingly. I stand on the log and wave the handle up and down, and the log rocks gently up and down too. Lilly paces up and down the fence. I end up riding the log-and-axe kind of like a stick horse. Mom goes in and gets the camera, and just about the time she gets it turned on, out creaks the axe.

So we wedge it a bit further down the crack and hammer some more. It gets stuck again. I stand on the log and Mom wiggles that handle. It eventually comes out. We flip the log over and try to crack the other end.

Mom: “I think it won't split because of this.” She gestures at a sticky-out branch disrupting the wood fibers.
Me: “Oh, sure we can split it!”
We chop and hammer.
Mom: “This must be physics. Or geometry.”
Me: “I think it's math plus muscle, and we're out on both those!”

About this time we decide we need a boy. With all due respect to Gabi and Megan, our girl power just wasn't getting the firewood split. Unfortunately, there were no boys handy, nor men either.

So we went through the gate, past the lilacs and Tex's grave, and got some long but thin branches off the woodpile. We balanced them across two of the unsplittable logs and bunged away. They chopped into fireplace-lengths very obediently. Mom found a mid-size log and split it most admirably while I dragged a few more. One of them turned out to be a former 2x4, nicely weathered, and it looked like it needed to have "To the Beach" painted on it and hung in the entryway, so I put that chunk somewhere we wouldn't accidentally burn it.

We decided the woodpile was entirely big enough, and came in and built a fire. Then we collapsed in our respective chairs.

Lilly said, “My, wasn't that enjoyable?”

Time, or something

"The gods confound the man who first found out
How to distinguish hours! Confound him, too,
Who in this place set up a sun-dial,
To cut and hack my days so wretchedly
Into small portions."

That quote was at the top of my Sunday School handout this morning. My teacher soon declaimed thus:

"Hang on, I'm formulating a quote. 'For the sake of tomorrow's hope, do not forsake the moment.'" Mr. R 10-22-06

And thereupon he passed along to another group.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Practical rhetoric

This morning as I was doing my thing, I heard a nine-year-old boy in the waiting room, playing with his rubber lizard and engaged in a bit of rhetorical analysis.

"I think I should start my own insurance company so this can be my mascot," he told his mother. He recited the entire Geico gecko commercial about trusting the gecko for lower car insurance rates rather than some guy you know. He thought about it. "But it doesn't make sense to believe a gecko if you know and trust the guy."

There's nothing like an ethical appeal, even among lizards and their boys.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I love having world enough and time for a twenty-minute walk each way to buy a latte at the new coffeeshop in town. It has wireless... ::delight::

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Peace out, Lizard."

Micaela of the red pigtails exited the church, aiming that line at me, complete with the peace hand sign and the chin thing that usually comes with. The "Lizard" really was vocative.

Life is good. :-)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Quote of the day

"The more they talk about unity, the more complicated it gets."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fire and shopping

It's a Sunday evening, and a juniper-wood fire crackles away softly in the fireplace. Two tongues of flame rise from the cinders, and red-glowing sticks—wood no longer, only ashes that have not yet collapsed--lie crazily in relief against the blackened bricks.

I'm drinking a cup of coffee. The beans were from “Trader Giotto's,” as the ricotta packages say. Coffee reminds me of HRC, soon going to Italy, and of the spaghetti lunch fundraiser I'm decorating for in a mere two weeks.

We went to Santa Fe this afternoon for lunch, printer ink, and fabric to decorate with. I found a vaguely Italianate red-and-yellow calico on the clearance rack, but it turned out to be misfiled and not on sale at all, so I settled for eighteen yards of cappuccino-colored muslin. I'm going to drape it above the serving hatch and as curtains over the windows. Mom has a giant piece of heavy blue, red, and mustard upholstery cloth, which ought not be cut, that I think I'll hang over the end wall. That room is so vast and bare and cinder-block-ey. The big fabric can be an arras. Polonius, beware.

The fire is being ornery tonight. For some reason, the logs and sticks refuse to land where I want them, but hang off the grate or perch at acute and slippery angles instead of the nice, neat latitude-and-longitude layers that hold still and burn in place until crumbling to ashes.

The sticks really do glow. There's no other word to describe it. For a moment there, half a dozen of them were sticking up and glowing solidly, making patterns in the dark fireplace like Ent-fingers or tree branches against the sky. It was a little eerie, the sort of thing that would have been appropriate under the witches' cauldron in IV.1.

Or perhaps I've just walked down too many aisles of Halloween decorations. They're highly in evidence. In fact, at the Mexican restaurant where I had lunch yesterday, the Grim Reaper (rather taller and more inflatable than I had ever imagined him) stood guard over the cash register, his ragged sleeve creating a canopy for the girl at the cash register to peer through.

Probably most people who get into the whole Halloween thing don't mean anything particularly spiritual or devilish by it. But I have my doubts about it. It can't be good for a culture to be saturated, even for a season, with all that is most ugly and fearful.

The fire has died down. There are hardly any flames at all, just a dull red under-glow.

It can't improve the soul to make your living manufacturing giant rats, plastic tombstones, glow-in-the-dark jack o'lantern stickers, and suchlike. The Reformers and Dorothy Sayers talked a lot about the value of work, but “the only Christian work is good work well done.” It may be work, and presumably people make money doing it, but—is it worth doing? Is anyone truly better off because they can buy a bloody amputated limb? There are probably legitimate times and reasons to buy such things—like dramas—but I wonder. Can you really be motivated to do your work well if your work is creating ugliness for its own sake?

And the worst of it is, these Halloween aisles have a strange attraction and make the Christmas aisles next door look tame. For some reason, I want to walk by the fake ghouls and gremlins. What on earth for? I guess if I, who love the One who takes out the real ghouls, am attracted, I don't have to wonder why others are too.

I suspect we'd be rather less enthusiastic about putting an imitation disintegrating human corpse on our front doorstep if we had to walk by real dead humans, like the crucified slaves along the highway after Spartacus' rebellion; we'd like it even less if we'd known and loved those humans. But at the same time we decorate for Halloween, our prisoners are executed cleanly (or not executed, as the case may be, no matter what their offense) and our cemeteries are tucked away in back corners, where we do not walk through them on our way to church every week. We have such short memories. But the image of God is still in people, though twisted and uglified by the fall, and I do not willingly celebrate the corruption of the body.

Once I think about it, of course, the Incarnation is much more radical than mere human death. It was through Easter that Halloween was done away, and through Christmas that Easter was made possible. “On that beautiful, scandalous night...” Humans ought to die. God made us upright, but we have sought out many devices. Yet He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, and the sting of death, which is sin, has been removed. Blessed be His name! As I was talking about today with Lisa, when sin is dealt with, the devil can't really hurt us any more.

The wood at odd jaggedy angles has burned away, and I put a central piece of the juniper trunk on the fire, straight across. It still has branches sticking out all round that caught brightly. I added a few more sticks parallel to and right across it. It's burning well.

For our God is a consuming fire.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


It suddenly struck me that since they've redone the solar system, the old "My very energetic mother just served us nine pizzas" won't work as an acronym to remember the planets anymore. Horrors! So I invented one inspired by Con Law. (Blame Jupiter; that's where the key J came from.)

Many vacillating experts may cause justiciability since undefinable nuances promote constitutional excesses.

(My apologies to Dr. Farris. Someone reply with a better acronym, please!)

Discord in the solar system

Our dwarf planet, the one formerly known as 2003 UB313, has been given a name--Eris, the goddess of discord. As it was her size that convinced astronomers to define planets and dwarf planets, the namers thought it rather appropriate. And her moon got named Dysnomia, after Eris's daughter, who was the goddess of lawlessness.

Eris is way out beyond Pluto, in the Kuiper Belt, which is an excellent place to put discord. If they find she has another moon, I think they ought to call it Paris. All in all, I think the name rather appropriate too--and I'm thrilled they didn't really call it Xena.

On missing appointments


Especially don't when you particularly tell me the day before that you'll be there.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Lorac

A poem for October.

The Lorac went chog-clogging down Parsley Street,
Hopping and skipping with big chocolate feet.
His striped furry footfalls made a marigold dance
In the window-box garden of two ancient aunts.

Under the rainspout that drained the church roof
He landed and splashed, then slipped on with a whoof
That astounded two bullfrogs from their own youthful peeps
Into full-throated croaks, each croak ending in leaps.

The Lorac then loped up emergency stairs,
Fifteen rickety flights that careened through the air,
To borrow a broom and the janitor's bucket,
To sweep an old doorstop where someone had mucked it.

The Parsley Street Park was deserted that day
Except for those uncles with checkers to play.
They grumpily told the loud Lorac to leave,
So he did, and came back, bringing peppermint tea.

He brought it and turned like his cookies were burning,
And bounced down a path for some mud-puddle churning.
Neither uncles nor aunts ever saw him again.
Nor have I; maybe someday we'll learn where he's been.

Quote of the day

"When the cat's away, the mice will play--oldies."

--Patient regarding the office music in the good doctor's absence

Funeral music

I think I'm disturbed. O you who were in Poetry last year, what do we make of this cultural phenomenon?

LONDON (Reuters) - James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover" is the song most requested at British funerals and remembrance services, closely followed by Robbie Williams's "Angels," according to a survey released on Monday.

Research for the Bereavement Register found just over a half (51 percent) of people ask for a specific song be played at their funeral and 79 percent have talked with family and friends about possible song choices. The survey of 5,000 people also uncovered some unusual final choices for the final goodbye with rock songs like "I'll Sleep When I am Dead" by Bon Jovi, competing with classical tracks and soul.

"The top 20 really shows how far we have come in terms of saying goodbye. Gone are the dirges of yore, instead we are seeing contemporary music that is
easier to relate to," said Mark Roy, founder of the Bereavement Register, which
removes the names and addresses of people who have died from databases to reduce junk mail.

The top 10 requested songs were:
1 - "Goodbye My Lover" - James Blunt
2 - "Angels" - Robbie Williams
3 - "I've Had The Time Of My Life" - Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley.
4 - "Wind Beneath My Wings" - Bette Midler
5 - "Pie Jesu" - Requiem
6 - "Candle In The Wind" - Elton John
7 - "With Or Without You" - U2
8 - "Tears In Heaven" - Eric Clapton
9 - "Every Breath You Take - The Police
10 -"Unchained Melody" - Righteous Brothers.


...they're blaming the Amish school shooting on "a society awash with guns."

Can I blame it on a society awash with messed-up people, please?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It figures: or, the scheme and the limerick

Fear not, here goes nothing, say I.
Ask not; await not my reply.
It’s not a catastrophe;
It’s only anastrophe,
Syntactically slightly awry.

--proper credit is owed to someone, possibly an "omnipotent online dictionary." I heard it from Becca. Today was definitely anastrophic.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Quote of the day

"After I get out of here, I'm going to go play with my mental blocks."


Saturday, September 23, 2006

The woodcutter's daughter's tale

I awoke this morning later than my wont, much encumbered with the cat. I petted her a time, arose, and made a pot of coffee and a hearty breakfast before retiring to peruse a chapter of the Holy Scripture and then the Saint Athanasius. You may inquire how a mere woodcutter's daughter would come into an acquaintance with such as these, but I was blessed with a better education than most in my time, whether male or female. After reading, I sat back and Contemplated Life, much as a friend of mine once did in Madrid.

I was aroused from my contemplations, not by a Spanish drug deal in my vicinity, but by the voice of my father inquiring if my mother was ready to go. “Go?” I shouted. “Where?"

“Hiking!” he replied. “Do you want to come?”

I certainly did, so I replied in the affirmative and clothed myself appropriately with much haste. Woodcutters, as you can probably imagine, do not ordinarily go for strenuous hikes with no purpose beyond the pleasure of the walk, but my father makes his living helping to reckon the finances of our local alchemists and weapon-makers, and only chops wood on weekends, and therefore has not partaken of that sad dislike.

The day was a beautiful particularity of late September at its best. The air was cold, particularly when the wind blew, but the sky almost clear and the sun hot. Across the valley fresh snow glistened on the highest peaks. Wildflowers bloomed. This is a good year for the yellows and purples: chamisa, mountain asters, sunflowers. We stopped at a trail near a mesa and hiked along its base, orange cliffs against blue sky. We took pictures—many, many pictures. I filled my memory card; though admittedly it already bore the results of two prior expeditions.

Upon our return home, Dad purposed in his heart to take out half a juniper tree in our front yard. It had been mostly dead for several seasons, and furthermore this year winter is setting in cold and early. So he pulled out the great saw and, when it was quite prepared, I joined him. We cut down the dead half, sliced off the branches, and generally took it apart.

It took us the full afternoon. Our front yard filled with piles of brushery. When we cut logs, we discovered that junipers have red hearts, much like cedar! They smelled like cedar also. When we expressed our surprise to Mom, she said, “Oh yes, juniper is related to cedar. I thought you knew."

We came in an hour or two before sundown and I started making Cornish pasties for dinner. I have long desired to try my hand at them, and some time ago in my researches found two different recipes. They were pretty similar, except for different amounts, so I sort of melded them and did my own version. I did use store-bought pastry, for the lateness of the hour and the hunger of my long-suffering parents, but the filling I made with beef, potato, carrot, onion, and celery—and they were very good. I understand in the high medieval era, pasties were a royal dish, but pretty soon the Cornish miners started making them because they were easy to transport into the mines for lunch. For a while they'd put meat in one half and fruit in the other, for dessert. You really can put anything in a pastry. I highly recommend them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The mushroom lady returns

As I fiddled with phone calls and paperwork this morning, I heard the mushroom lady back in the opertory, explaining to the good doctor how to pickle a mushroom.

“You poot it in boiling water--”
“So you don't actually boil the mushrooms?”
“No, no, just poot them in it--”

In due time she left, and Dr. M came up to the front desk laughing. Yesterday the dental lab guy came along early in the morning for a long chat. He left a box of doughnuts (very good doughnuts, I might add) and in exchange Dr. M gave him a good pickled mushroom. He loved it. The lab guy also pickles mushrooms—we have a jar of his shaggy manes in the fridge—but he wanted her recipe. So this morning Dr. M asked her for it.

“I asked her to write down her recipe, and she did—in Russian! So when the lab guy comes, I'm going to give it to him.” He went away chuckling.

The lab guy came and retrieved it. I gather his response was, “Great! There's just one problem—I don't speak Russian!”

By now I'm understandably curious about the mushrooms. The good doctor, also, has determined I need to try them. So we go to the back room and he brings out the jar.

“I usually eat them with a paperclip.” He goes to the shelf with the denture-pokers and scrapers and prodders and pencils, and pulls off a paperclip bent into a big U. “It's a sort of fancy cocktail fork. This is how we sterilize it.” I grin and watch him pull out the gas burner. A flame about two inches tall shoots up, and he heats the ends until they're good and black. He flips off the burner and pokes the paperclip down into the cold pickle juice--“So you don't brand your tongue”--and handed jar and clip to me.

I stabbed an edulis bolitis, curvy white top on a stem almost as broad and round, dripping, dill leaves still clinging to it. It was good. It was enough to make me turn hobbit.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Nothing new under the sun

In the most recent edition of Scientific American, the article “Darwin on the Right: Why Christians and Conservatives Should Accept Evolution” (Michael Shermer, October 2006) explained that:

The watchmaker God of intelligent-design creationism is delimited to being a garage tinkerer piecing together life out of available parts. This God is just a genetic engineer slightly more advanced than we are. An omniscient and omnipotent God must be above such human-like constraints. As Protestant theologian Langdon Gilkey wrote, “The Christian idea, far from merely representing a primitive anthropomorphic projection of human art upon the cosmos, systematically repudiates all direct analogy from human art.” Calling God a watchmaker is belittling.

Remarkably enough, I was reading Athanasius this evening and came across this.

Others take the view expressed by Plato, that giant among the Greeks. He said that God had made all things out of pre-existent and uncreated matter, just as the carpenter makes things only out of wood that already exists. But those who hold this view do not realize that to deny that God is Himself the Cause of matter is to impute limitation to Him, just as it is undoubtedly a limitation on the part of the carpenter that he can make nothing unless he has the wood. How could God be called Maker and Artificer if His ability to make depended on some other cause, namely on matter itself? If He only worked up existing matter and did not Himself bring matter into being, He would be not the Creator but only a craftsman (On the Incarnation, 1).

The question, of course, is whether intelligent-design creationists do think God is a tinkerer or carpenter. May it never be! There is an alternative to a god of the available parts, besides evolution, which Shermer did not discuss. Let me make mention of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, which Athanasius used against Epicureans, Platonists, and Gnostics, and which young-earth creationists use against theistic evolutionists:

...But the impiety of their foolish talk is plainly declared by the divine teaching of the Christian faith. From it we know that, because there is Mind behind the universe, it did not originate itself; because God is infinite, not finite, it was not made from pre-existent matter, but out of nothing and out of non-existence absolute and utter God brought it into being through the Word. He says as much in Genesis: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (On the Incarnation, 1).

Nor has Shermer's so-called “Protestant theologian” read enough Tolkien. I know nothing of Langdon Gilkey, but I think he has not the mythopoetic mind. There is a direct analogy between God the maker and we the sub-makers; not that we have created a god after the Modernist image, a soulless watchmaker,* but our Maker has made us like Himself and so that we might become more like Him.

Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Disgraced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
man, sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind (“Mythopoeia” 55-64).

It is [Athanasius'] glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away (Lewis, Introduction to On the Incarnation).

Blessed are the timid hearts that evil hate,
that quail in its shadow, and yet shut the gate (“Mythopoeia” 81-82).

*Shermer goes too far in his contempt of watchmakers. I bet he has not read Longitude, nor ever lacked a timepiece.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Quote of the Day

Overheard in my waiting room:

Mrs. C: "How long have you been married?"
Mrs. G: "58 yrs."
Mr. G: "Well, 58 here in a couple months."
Mrs. G: "How long have you been married?"
Mrs. C: "60, just a couple weeks ago."
Mr. G: "Well, you started before we did."
Mrs. G: "My little sister has been married 61 years…"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Quote of the day

"I'm not here for you, I'm here for your magazines."

This morning, decently early, a woman wandered into our office and started surveying the side-tables. I asked her, "Would you sign in, please?" and she responded with that flabbergaster. She had an appointment next door, and their waiting room was full and anyway she liked our reading material better.

So I laughed and told her she was welcome. She made herself at home, smear of chamisa pollen across her chin, bike helmet and gloves, lime-green sweatshirt, tennis shoes, and all. She asked if this was a dental office and then settled in with a copy of "This Old House."

Pretty soon she asked to borrow a phone book, and then a sticky note to write a number on. I supplied both--highly entertained--and then she almost forgot to give back the sticky note pad. I reminded her, and she laughed and said, oh, she didn't need sticky-notes; it was duct tape she'd been out of that morning.

Then she collected her things and sat outside on the wall, well within hearing range through the screen door, and over her cell phone discussed buying stocks. She kept recommending things she'd read about in magazines.

Eventually she betook herself to her appointment. She was a character.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Just be a hero already

I'm re-watching the Lord of the Rings movies. Tolkien himself is so good, I'd forgotten how irritating the movies' king-angst is. Aragorn just isn't sure he can take the kingship; he's not sure he can get out of Isildur's karma; he loves Arwen but he kind of thinks she should go to Valinor; he's not sure about anything until finally Elrond, who doesn't like him much anyway, tracks him down in the middle of the wilderness to give him the re-forged sword. Theoden has king-angst once he discovers his son died, and then again at the battle of Helm's Deep. Even Faramir has a version of angst, though his is the unloved-younger-prince angst. They gave Peter Pevensie king-angst in Narnia, too.

Meanwhile, my sermon this morning was on covetousness, idolatry, contentment, and complaining. The general connection is that if your first love is God, you won't covet things, and you'll be content and not complain. If you're not content, it probably means God is not first. Conviction!!

Whiny kings are just...despicable, actually. So are whiny saints. I think we're supposed to sympathize with them as "human." Who wants to be that kind of human? We've been mocking the Israelites in the wilderness a long time. Give me a good thane, an Athanasius who "stood firm when the fashion shifted all around him, and as his reward he remains when the fashion has shifted away" (Lewis).

I'll try not to be a whiny saint, either. Forth Eorlingas, and let us make an end as will be worth a song.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Wired magazine wrote an article about the wiki-phenomenon: online publications anyone can access, write, and edit.

I'm ambivalent. Wikis strike me as ultra-democratic, with all the freedom, abuse, and Tocquevillian logistical problems that go with that. Bakhtin and the anti-authorship crowd would approve. On the other hand, Wikipedia at least does seem to work, and I'm always consulting it about something or other.


Rowling and Macbeth

I daresay a number of you have found this already, and as I recall we talked about it, but I thought it was still interesting. :-)

"If neither boy [Harry or Neville] was pre-ordained before Voldemort’s attack to become his possible vanquisher, then the prophecy (like the one the witches make to Macbeth, if anyone has read the play of the same name) becomes the catalyst for a situation that would never have occurred if it had not been made. Harry is propelled into a terrifying position he might never have sought, while Neville remains the tantalizing ‘might-have-been.’"

--J.K. Rowling, FAQs,

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Quick update

Quick updates from my quadrant of the universe:

--I went to my grandparents' house for the weekend. We had a good time, I think; we watched a lot of episodes of Remington Steele and Hogan's Heroes, and it rained all day Sunday, and we kept going to Clovis.

--The Bible bookstore in Clovis has many good features, including a good CD collection and a coffee shop, but its book section made me grumpy. The fiction made me grumpy because it was mostly romances and fantasy serieses involving dragons (I love dragons, but there were far too many of them. Whatever happened to "solitary creatures"? These dragons were practically a hive mind). The "theology" shelf made me grumpy because it was very short and the only book on it I wanted to read cost too much.

--I shot my dentist today good and proper, right in the heart with a rubber band. It wasn't as cool a shot as he made at me last week, though. He was sitting at his desk in his office, and got me clear over at the front desk. I think I was on the phone.

--It did not rain today over my lunch break. It's far enough into the season, too, that the shadows fall differently than they did in June, and now I get a sunbeam at the picnic table. So day I over lunch I sunbeamed, read T.S. Eliot, and wrote doggerel. O that I were a poet....

--I climbed a cottonwood yesterday and today my back muscles complained with a most satisfying soreness. I feel like I accomplished something.

--Bible study dinner was pretty entertaining. We told zipline stories, lake stories, boat stories, cousin stories, uncle stories, restaurant stories, and physicist stories. For instance, I learned that it took eleven theoretical physicists, an assistant, and a girlfriend to divide the check at a restaurant. The girlfriend, I think, mostly sat back and laughed. In response, I told how many church staff members it takes to change a light bulb. Four: two pastors and two secretaries, at least when the bulb is high up in a fixture in a very dark ladies' bathroom. :-)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Postmodern medicine a philosophically scary thing. I recommend this article to your attention.

What's even scarier than the bad information, bad rhetoric, and bad thinking, is the idea that some of these people may be practicing in a hospital near you.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Quote of the day

"I should say that where the feelings are, there the mind will be also; and that you cannot think with Aquinas unless you can feel with him also."

T.S. Eliot, The Clark Lectures II: "Donne and the Middle Ages"

Definite definition: Pluto is a Dwarf Planet

Sad days. Pluto isn't a planet; it's a dwarf planet, along with Ceres and 2003 UB313. Here's the IAU's official position:

The IAU members gathered at the 2006 General Assembly agreed that a "planet" is defined as a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

This means that the Solar System consists of eight "planets" Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. A new distinct class of objects called "dwarf planets" was also decided. It was agreed that "planets" and "dwarf planets" are two distinct classes of objects. The first members of the "dwarf planet" category are Ceres, Pluto and 2003 UB313 (temporary name). More "dwarf planets" are expected to be announced by the IAU in the coming months and years. Currently a dozen candidate "dwarf planets" are listed on IAU's "dwarf planet" watchlist, which keeps changing as new objects are found and the physics of the existing candidates becomes better known.

The full report of the conference is here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Near Taos

A former road leads to a former house.
Mud returns to mud.
Green is in this season.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Quote of the day

"We sprung a leak right over the drama section."

--worker at a used book store yesterday, explaining why Shakespeare was in piles in a back room

In other news, my mother is back from Virginia and I have sent out the quote list from last spring. If you didn't get it, let me know.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A planet by any other definition

It looks like there are soon to be 12 official planets in our solar system: the 8 classical ones, three "plutons" including Pluto, and a dwarf planet called "Ceres." (Query: why is a rock way out there beyond Pluto named after the harvest goddess? My classical roots are shriveling with confusion...) Still, it's pretty cool. I like it when we define words and then accept the consequences. :-)

This article from the International Union of Astronomers covers the debate.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bookshelves and opera

Today I successfully got my mom and sister off. They're on the way to VA.

Then I cleaned all the books off my big bookshelf and stacked them around the room. They always say books expand in volume when they're all over rather than on shelves, and they seem to be right.

I really did have a reason for that, actually: it was all in the cause of decoration. I dismantled the bricks and boards and painted them black on the back patio.

To liven things up, I put on Macbeth: the Opera while I painted. :-D Great stuff, especially once I discovered the libretto and a translation. It's very operatic, in Italian (being by Verdi) and sort of reminded me of a cross between Dante, Shakespeare, and Gilbert and Sullivan. Strange combination. Their Lady Macbeth was a soprano of sopranoes, and the production (for reasons entirely mysterious to me) not only eliminated Young Siward entirely but managed to get Macduff on, Macbeth mortally wounded, and Macduff off again in thirty seconds flat. Then, of course, Macbeth got to sing his dying aria. Then the grateful commoners swarmed around Malcolm singing their undying gratitude for saving them from the tyrant. I like singing along with opera, especially Italian opera theoretically set in Scotland!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's a rather relaxed Thursday.

I finished my calling and filing and whatnot around two, and only had the patients to amuse myself with. We had them neatly spaced out at 40-minute intervals, but first there weren't any and then three of them piled up in the waiting room all at once.

While we waited for the first one, we played with the XM radio. Generally we listen to the classical station, but it has a habit of getting stuck on one composer or era and taking several days to recover, and so this afternoon it was time to branch out. We tried the forties station, the Starbucks station, rock, Christian rock, the Disney kids' station, and country, and finally wound up with fifties. We made a brief excursion to the seventies, mostly for the fun of it, but the first song was indecent so we knocked it back to the sixties.

In due time one of the pileup, an adorable elderly lady, finished her appointment. She plopped down in the other receptionists' chair to call her husband, and while we waited, she watched my screensaver. I had pictures on it--pictures that Kay sent me of England and Europe, pictures from Chincoteague and school, and a few pictures from around here. It turns out her husband was stationed in Europe during WWII, so she recognized quite a bit of it. We chilled for, oh, fifteen minutes, and then when her husband turned up she made him sit down and watch the screensaver too! :-)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A fairly normal day

My alarm, as is its wont, woke me up this morning before the sun. Tea and toast, and combs and suchlike, and Daddy and I left for work. It had rained all night and scraps of mist still clung around valleys and mountaintops. We took the secure route, which meant a stop at the guard station to show them a badge (in his case) and photo ID (since I'm a non-badge-holder accompanied by a badge-holder). How many dental receptionists have to go through security checks on their way to work, I wonder? As we passed the non-secure route, the traffic was very, very backed-up. They're redoing the road to pretty much everyone's inconvenience.

Dad dropped me off. I started a pot of coffee, listened to fifteen messages, and opened the curtains. The only messages of any particular interest were about a contested late fee. We let them win.

An early patient was late due to the traffic tangle. Four patients missed appointments, which was extraordinarily bad. They weren't teenagers, but otherwise competent adults. Mondays are hard on us. I called all the patients scheduled for Wednesdays and pulled their charts before lunch, which is about normal. It started raining midmorning.

I spent the afternoon going through the mail. Insurance sent me sheafs and sheafs of paper. Frankly, I didn't want it!

Things got exciting about three when the power went out. It really was a splendid rain; it filled the gutters and half the sidewalk, and if I hadn't been wearing a brand-new pair of khakis, I would have gone puddle-jumping. As it was, I was severely tempted. Oh the glories of an enthusiastic rain!

Daddy came to get me and we dashed down to White Rock. I tried to organize a party for Thursday-I've been meaning to do this all summer and now we're down to the last possible moment--with partial success. See, three of the debate bunch have been in three different college productions of Much Ado. So we need to watch them, right? Well, one guy doesn't have a copy. So we thought we'd watch two versions. But then one of the others is only playable on some obscure media player which none of us have. So that leaves the PHC version. And we will watch it Thursday...if people actually make it. :-)

Then the sister and I went to Bible study. It was the best all summer, I think. We did Ephesians 3, and admittedly kept going off on bunny trails, but in between--we talked about grammar. And other things, but it kept going back to the grammar. Ephesians 3 is indescribably cool anyway, and when you combine it with intelligent discussion--oh, great happiness!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Come and mourn with me a while

Today we had our beloved cat Tex put to sleep. He escaped a coyote in single combat, didn't care for cattle, acted as Head of Household Security for fifteen years, and loved us.

Maeror mortis conturbat nos.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The simple things

I took a 4-cup coffeemaker to work, along with my "Final Draft Booksellers" mug, a random spoon I inherited somewhere along my collegiate career, a thing of milk, and a clearance-aisle container full of sugar. I shoved a shelf full of germicides and rubber gloves and odd bits of denture-making machinery aside to make a spot for it, and took over another shelf in the cabinet for the filters and sugar. It made me happy.

I had to fine a great many people, mostly teenagers, for missing their appointments or canceling them with less than 24 hours notice. If you have a teenage child, and send him to the dentist all on his own, and trust him to make appointments, and he assures me on Thursday he'll be there Monday morning, it seems to me he ought to be equally responsible for getting to the aforementioned appointments or taking the consequences in the form of a bill. But there are those who differ. And I do hate fining people. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. A simple thing, but one which makes dentists and associated persona very happy!

And I'm in the middle of most amusing book: To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. It's time travel, Victorian, all about a cathedral, and keeps referencing Tennyson, Latin, and murder mysteries. It even talks about Lord Peter and Jeeves by name.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Quote of the day

Dentist ::flipping his cool England tea mug around by the handle:: "I bet your cup won't do that."
Me ::with paper coke cup:: "Nope, mine isn't that cool."
Dentist ::discovering tea stains inside his cool England tea mug:: "It is cool, but it's pretty gross."

In other news, we did a bit of research on the three Anglicans martyred by Bloody Mary on Broad Street near Balliol College, Oxford, in 1555. They were Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer: the Cranmer, the Book of Common Prayer Cranmer.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Quote of the day

I love Dr. Hake...

"I had a good friend living and working in Iran right up until the end (under Khomeini, some years ago). He knew another American learning Farsi, who cheerfully greeted her garbageman as a "refrigerator" each week. No wonder they think we are strange! ... Maria Von Trapp said angrily (to a vegetable salesman in New York): 'Twenty five cents?! I could become (German bekommen, to get) a cauliflower myself for twenty five cents around the corner!' "


I had adventures last night. I started by getting home from work late, because the finances were all tangled up. Somebody entered something as negative instead of positive and it messed it up good and proper.

So I dashed home, made dinner for Daddy and me because Mom and Em were in Albuquerque, and then went up to Bible study. This is the girls' Bible study, led by Sophie, not to be confused with the mixed Bible study at the Gac's. After it was over, Sophie goes, "I have to make the cakes for Abby's wedding on Saturday. Wanna help? You can spend the night." So I did.

I didn't actually touch the cakes. I cut out parchment paper. I find it ironic that, having this very week decided cake-baking and cutting with scissors were not my gifts, I then proceed to stay up till three-thirty helping bake cakes and cut with scissors!

And for a girls' Bible study, there sure were a lot of guys around. Last time I went, several brothers, her dad, and a random other boy all walked into the room where we were--the cellar--you have to work to get to their cellar--and all got kicked out. Last night most of her brothers were gone, but the remaining one had just gotten his wisdom teeth out, so when I arrived he was lying on the couch in the other end of the room, completely out of it. Pretty soon he got up, all perky, wandered around without his shirt on, demanded steak, tried to get Jack Daniels for painkiller and Sophie made him take his prescribed medication, drove himself to the store, got food, and invited hordes of guys over. It was something else.

Sophie's aunt, a drama coach and aspiring playwright, also turned up. She wandered in and out of the kitchen dramatically and loudly, discussing the play she's currently directing and trying to figure out how to make it funny. The lines, apparently, are kind of hopeless, so I tried to rummage through my Macbeth thoughts and asked if there were any funny actions they could do. It didn't sound like it. She decided she'd have to rely on props and considered and rejected alien antennae and medieval dress.

Also in the middle of cake-baking, I sat and read aloud an article from Home & Garden magazine about barbecuing symbolizing our desire to break through the thin crust of civilization to our primitive roots. (I mixed my metaphor, but he didn't.) It was, actually, astoundingly good New Historicism criticism. Thoroughly wrong, of course, but he was well-acquainted with Claude Levi-Strauss and also referenced Freud. It was even well-written. But of all the remarkable things to find in a normal magazine--!

So then the guys watched a crude German cartoon and the girls watched Guys and Dolls. I'd never seen it before, but it was splendid fun watching the original of that song Edie did for the talent show--the one about getting sick from not enough romance. :-) I like Edie better. But that's natural. Around three-thirty I crashed on the couch Sophie's brother had vacated.

This morning we had coffee problems worthy of Chincoteague. First, the grinder messed up--it was probably my fault--and Sophie spent about 40 minutes knocking the stray beans out of its innards so it would grind again. Then the coffee pot had issues. I think it was clogged or something, and at one point it was set to self-clean. We finally got enough really strong coffee out of it for Sophie to make frappuccinos!

Then I went to church, to Sonic for a round of cokes for my family doing something at church, to church again, to the gas station, home to feed the cats and grab my very overdue library books, to the post office and library, home to check messages and make sandwiches and arrange to go see Lady in the Water tomorrow night after the wedding, back up to church to deliver the sandwiches, to the theater to buy tickets--Sophie's sister gave them to me free, which was so nice of her--and then I got back and discovered a postcard from KCP and a package from Kay!

So I've now been home for about three hours out of the last 32. And I have wonderful friends. I miss you guys, but home is not looking entirely bleak these days, either. :-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Life and whatnot

--wedding shower
--church ladies' coffeehouse and poetry night
--ten pages of Macbeth scrapbook, including a rather clever two-page spread involving red banners like the Macbeth's
--Mom's birthday, and cake-baking therefor

--I need to become better at foreign languages.
--I love warm, sunny mornings on which I can roll down the windows as I drive to work.
--I love rainy afternoons too.
--Baking cakes is not my spiritual gift. Nor is cutting straight lines with scissors.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Andsaca story...

Is done.

Is not "done," exactly, in the sense that I want to publish it. But the project as for DRW, is done.

I owe you all a long newsy blog post, having neglected you so much in order to work on it. I actually have two or three in the files. I wrote 'em when I meant to be working on it but wasn't and wasn't near an internet connection.

But they're sort of out of date and I don't feel like posting them. In fact, I'm tired. But I'm really glad it's done.

Talk to you in the morning. :-)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Meet the intrepid Peabody

My sister got her new car!

It's a '98 Intrepid, in beautiful condition, named Peabody after the intrepid Victorian Egyptologist.

She's been looking forward to this day a long, long time. She's wanted a car for years, and now she has one. :-)

She and Dad test-drove it Saturday, called to buy in Sunday, and learned it had already been sold. But then today Dad got a call that the other buyer's check bounced, so we could have it after all.

And here it is!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Life is just a bowl of cherries

Yesterday at church someone invited us to go to her house and pick cherries because they couldn't use them all. So after the church picnic, Mom and I did. We spent about 15 minutes and got more cherries than our family can use, either. They turned out to be really good cherries. :-)

So we took them home, washed them, and invited a few people over for games. We fed them guacamole, coffee, and cherries: oh happiness!

The game of choice, you'll be fascinated to know, was apples to apples. Some of the best choices: Forlorn--giant squid; neglected--Emily Dickinson; cold--my dreams; delicate--bagpipes. :-) I lost good and proper. Ah well. After about two and a half hours of this, we got bored and moved into the living room, where Em and I dredged out our two acoustic and one electric guitars, and had a bit of a jam session. I forgot how much I enjoy live music, especially from good musicians, which I am now more motivated to become.

We still have a lot of cherries.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Emily and I saw Superman Returns tonight. It just didn't do it for me. Probably part of my trouble was that I never really saw any Superman before.

I knew Lex Luthor was the bad guy, but I wasn't really convinced. And this movie didn't convince me he was nasty until about half an hour in, by which time I rather liked him. He made classical references. He was educated. He looked like Dr. Vanderpoel and even had Vanderpoelian mannerisms. He was daring, thorough, and decisive. He listened to symphonies and opera and had a good sound system. There was some conversation, that was supposed to prove he was nasty, but it was all talk until he and his henchmen started beating Superman around on the island in the most unimaginative manner possible. With kryptonite, of course.

And in that same half hour, Superman spectacularly failed to gain my sympathy. He was cute. Really cute. He was ridiculously strong and capable. He made flashy rescues: a plane including Lois Lane saved from crashing, snatching people out of midair, stopping gigantic globes from squashing his editor: and he had several annoying scenes consisting entirely of basking in crowds' adulation. His main trouble was winning the heart of Lois Lane, who now had another good man--a live-in boyfriend, but a very solid guy. (Richard proved himself a good egg over and over. Lois doesn't deserve either him or Superman, though she is sweet and remarkably pretty.)

Superman's mother isn't as cool as Spiderman's Aunt May. Granted, it would be really hard to do. Superman's editor isn't as outrageous as Spiderman's, either.

The moral of the story didn't really make sense to me. They repeated the phrase, "The father becomes the son and the son becomes the father" several times in a significant way, but I'm not sure what they meant. Em was explaining it to me. I guess it has something to do with the old movies, but l didn't see them. "With great power comes great responsibility" is blunt, but at least it makes sense.

One thing I found rather interesting was the smoking theme. Superman exhorts Lois not to smoke, and Lex Luthor does smoke. On Lois' last "what do I do now??" moment, she pulls out a cigarette and then decides not to light it. I'm glad smoking is painted negatively, because it really is bad stewardship of oneself, but--it's so heavy-handed, and I just wonder at their priorities. There are such a lot of worse vices than smoking.

Upon consideration, I think the movie suffered from pacing and characterization problems. It would have been better if there had been more characterization through action early on, and if there hadn't been so much denouement. Not much really happened after the dramatic final battle.

There were good moments. Superman's friend, Jimmy I think his name is, is a uniformly good minor character. He's funny. :-) Richard, as I mentioned, is a good guy. The son is okay, though I wish he had more superhero moments. The opening credits were utterly Star Wars, theme, wonky font, spacey background, and all.

In my opinion, the best line of the movie was "We had some trouble downstairs. Brutus is dead. He was hit by a piano." Although, "These pictures are great. They're iconic. They were taken by a twelve-year-old with a camera phone" comes close.

So...yeah. I enjoyed Superman, but I didn't think it was as good as Spiderman. I actually liked X-Men 3 better, too. I say this, fully expecting at least half of you to disagree with me passionately. :-)