Thursday, May 25, 2006

And we're not home yet

I've been reading this trip.

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats--T. S. Eliot
The Four Quartets--T. S. Eliot
Murder in the Cathedral--T. S. Eliot
Deadman Switch--Timothy Zahn
The Book of the Dun Cow--Walter Wangerin
The Once and Future King--T. H. White

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Of graduation and many things, including dragons and an island

I'm not even sure where to start.

I guess I should affirm that I did really graduate on Saturday. Yesterday, that would be. That was a good day; I wasn't quite sure it would be, but then various things happened. Drs. Bouchoc, Vanderpoel, and Hake spoke at the commissioning: good words, words of comfort and reminder and longing toward our true home, a reminder that we are going to the country ruled by the True King. I did not cry all day.

The ceremony itself was good. The robe and mortarboard helped: far from feeling silly, it made me feel official, in place, as part of a company of academics who have been wearing such odd garments for the last five or six hundred years and may well continue wearing them. I appreciated the formality. Another good blessing: God kept anything disastrous from happening.

Only as Jonathan or somebody reminded me at lunch, now I have "B.A." after my name. How peculiar.

I did go to lunch; my sister, parents, and grandparents were there, as was my friend Sarah with her husband and baby whom I hadn't ever seen. I was delighted they came. And Jonathan and his family came, as did Guthrie, Thacia, Trissie, Rose, and Kelly-Christelle. All of you, I am so grateful you came. I only wish I could have talked to you each, more, properly, instead of only briefly and in snatches. Not that I have anything really to say, but I wanted to say it to y'all.

In the afternoon I was granted about four hours to do my final packing and cleaning. I needed them. Thanks to Lisa, who helped me throw things away and allowed herself to be bequeathed many things. Further thanks to Jennifer, for further bequeathals. Thanks to Mr. Kanary and to Ben A: they did the final loading. Thanks to my sister and the Ethertons, for they helped the final cleaning, and Eric, who took apart our bathroom shelf for us. :-) These thanks look very dry and rapid-fire, but believe me, they are sincere. It is a very good blessing that I got packed, cleaned, and checked out; I find that far more stressful than finals.

I had a weird blessing while I was packing. I discovered at the last minute a mug which had gotten missed. It was my leopard-spotted mug, which my RA Kerri gave me, and I loved it. There wasn't room for it, there really wasn't. And it was cracked. But I loved it. So I while I wrestled over what to do with the thing, I washed it. And I dropped it. It broke good and proper. I felt like God was reminding me that my time at school is over: He will systematically break all my dishes which I love in preparation for what's coming later, and it will be well worth it. So it both saved me having to pack it and reminded me of my place in the universe. As I said, it was a weird blessing. :-)

The evening brought a contra dance. I didn't know if I'd be able to go at all, and I was. I danced my fair share of the dances and maybe more, considering how scarce PHC gentlemen were. Yet they were all which we could have requested: most considerate about not leaving anyone out. All us ladies were given turns. Thank you, guys. The Bluemont group which organized the dance was so kind: the ticket lady let me in at the student price, and they even had a "Congratulations PHC Graduates" cake. They did not need to do that, but we appreciated it, I think.

And I got to say goodbye to many, many of my friends. I shall not list you all, for you know who you are. But I am grateful, very grateful, to have gotten to say goodbye to you.

Today we got up and came to Chincoteague. It is as lovely as I remembered it; much warmer, which is nice, still almost intolerably windy on the beach and still half-enchanted in its forests. The houses are still cute and the McDonalds right where we left it. It is good to be here with my family, though oh so different, and I think about you from the Red House everywhere on this island. On the beach we found a dead stingray, many disintegrated crabs, a lot of seagulls, and rather fewer good shells than in March; perhaps I shall post more about our trip to the beach later. Beaches were good inventions.

So here I sit, blogging away on my beautiful new computer. Thacia, I've named it "Chrysophylax Turion," after the silver-loving dragon Farmer Giles tamed and after the computer's kind. (Ben, I thank you again for reading that story. I think I know why it suits you to read Tolkien: it is because you love him, and love brings knowledge.) I knew I should call my computer "Turion," because it's a good name, very Narnian and Tolkienian, besides being the model it is, but the first name gave me problems. My sister was the one who pointed out that I should go for a dwarvish, dragonish, or astronomical first name, because Turion would sound just silly with a lot of earthier names. My computer is a lover of metals, not wood.

I must speak to you, my longsuffering roommate. I know I have not expressed to you remotely how much I appreciated your good counsel, fashion advice, compliments, longsuffering while I packed (or stressed) and cleaned (or wrote DRW instead of cleaning), and caritas. Remember, puella: the coffee and grace were sufficient for the time. Now we get new supplies.

And it will be good.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sentences the first draft of my Milton paper actually included

The protagonist, known as the Lady, is a fictional character and not a historical person, but she was written to be played by the Earl of Bridgewater’s daughter, who was of course a historical person.

They have a discussion in which he tries to be clever and she defends herself eloquently despite being glued to her chair.

This sonnet actually possesses some sonnetly and literary qualities, as opposed to his usual prosy sonnets.

This could be because after he got married, writing poems about the beauty of other women could be problematic, and it is almost certainly due to maturation on his part.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Came the rain puddling

From a gray sky
Came the rain thrumming,
Dripping down windows,
Puddling the walk.

From the dry dorms
Three girls came wending
Along the walk
Through the deep puddle.

In the gray raining
Came three dry girls
To the wet puddling
Where they went splashing.

To the dry dorms
Came the three girls
Under a rainbow
With puddle diminished.

Books I think I shall read (or finish!) this summer

T. H. White: The Once and Future King
Christopher Paolini: Eldest
Sir Thomas Malory: Morte D'Arthur
Edmund Spenser: Faerie Queene
T. S. Eliot: Murder in the Cathedral
Tasso: Gerusalemme Liberata
Timothy Zahn: lots of things, starting with Deadman Switch because I've got it
Walter Wangerin, The Book of the Dun Cow
Various murder mysteries for my summer reading group

Any other recommendations?

The boating day in pictures

Here you may see the boat belonging to the Haunt of Macbeth. I'm the lady of Shalott; the boat, likewise, is called "the Lady of Shalott," because the poem says she wrote that round about the prow. The alien, however, is named Walter. He was our snake prow because it was supposed to be sort of Viking-themed and we couldn't find any snakes for the prow. :-)

The lady of shalott was permitted to rise from the lake and felt most literary.

There was a good turnout.
This is the Great Conglom-eration, manned by the most fearsome landscaping pirates. There was an awesome sea battle, won by them, about which I started to write a ballad but haven't finished yet because it's finals week. :-)
And in the evening we docked the boats and Lake Bob resumed its usual quiet demeanor. Till next year...

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Dangers of May: or, Sir Thomas Malory is very strange

This except is taken from the Morte D'Arthur, book 18, chapter 25. Yipes.

For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May, in something to constrain him to some manner of thing more in that month than in any other month, for divers causes.

...Therefore, like as May month flowereth and flourisheth in many gardens, so in like wise let every man of worship flourish his heart in this world, first unto God, and next unto the joy of them that he promised his faith unto; for there was never worshipful man or worshipful woman, but they loved one better than another; and worship in arms may never be foiled, but first reserve the honour to God, and secondly the quarrel must come of thy lady: and such love I call virtuous love.

...therefore all ye that be lovers call unto your remembrance the month of May, like as did Queen Guenever, for whom I make here a little mention, that while she loved she was a true lover, and therefore she had a good end.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I am what I am

I consider myself basically happy. My future is tremendously uncertain: I could be literally anywhere on the globe in another three months, doing anything. Or I could be home, still job-hunting. It is hard to leave, to go from the known and liked to a gray mystery. But God is good. It is written that He has ordained good works for me, from the foundations of the world, that I would walk in them. That is an encouraging thought.

Yet at the same time I love where I am. It took me a couple years to get reconciled, but now I see the beauties that do not reveal themselves to a casual transient. I know the rhythms of weather and plant and lake and groundhogs, of papers and plays and classes and chapel, of pleasant people all with the weirdest habits and ideas, most of whom I'll miss very much. I have sung the songs, and delight in their repetition and their newness. For the newest thing is not the one that has never been seen before: that way lies jadedness, perversion, and death. "How old is Spring, Miranda?" I never have to come back, but I wasn't here under compulsion to begin with.
I love the eccentricities and godliness of Dr. Hake, who glories in his Redeemer and always tries to come up with a new metaphor and circumnavigates the Bob daily with his prayer cards and has absolutely no fear of "what's done," possibly because he doesn't know what it is and possibly because he thinks what isn't done ought to be! For there is a greater reality than culture, and people are more than the literature they've experienced.

It's hard to be a joyful formalist with universal-truth and traditional tendencies, in a world of harsh laughter, free verse, and divorced and diverse ideas. It's quite impressively unfashionable. I think all my positions are true, which is why I am what I am, but I wish that others did not mind so much. It would be easier if I were a better writer. As it is, I will imitate better writers and write what I am given and keep track of my grammar and punctuation. For I believe that the mechanics of language matter, even if they are "only" customary.

I don't think I'm out of touch with reality. Some people are so worried about the "real world," as though we are not living now: they seem to think that the edgy and raw is more real than the good. It's not that the good is predictable: far from it: Jesus stepped on toes everywhere He went: but the good is good, even if He's not tame. And it's true and beautiful, for I believe in that old triumvirate. Misery is not prior to happiness. It has the upper hand in this world, but it was not and will not be forever.

As it is, I will bring my gold, dimly minted in the likeness of a far-off and unseen King, to His temple. For my gifts are His, and I am grateful that He gave them to me. If I'm wrong, and mint the portrait on the coins badly, please tell me.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The mystery solved: Dr. Hake brings the Viking Empire to Lake Bob

(An ASE.)

The Viking Empire Strikes Back

I would like to invite you all to enjoy a pleasant late afternoon and early evening of boating on our own Lake Bob the day after tomorrow. Let us celebrate the close of classes and take a short breather before the final umph of exams.

You might want to prepare specifically for one event (to be held, probably, around six o’clock), a "race" of sorts from one end of the pond to the other. Contestants will be judged not simply on how fast (or whether) they reach the other end, but also on ferocity of face paint, creativity of headgear and overall costume, and, of course, the originality of their "boat." Our definition of boat is quite broad, but it must be something that keeps most of you out of the water most of the time. I myself will be riding an alligator.

Mr. Cox will also be taking a picture of us (from a window of Red Hill, probably also around six o’clock) on the pond. We would like to get as much of the student body as we can on the pond at once for this picture. So come looking your best (!).

There will also be a "zip-line" for the more adventurous that will drop people into the pond. So, ladies, be sure your denture adhesive is fresh, and, gents, give some thought to those toupees. In fact, you will want to either remove all removable body parts or be sure they are fastened securely before you go down.

Ice cream will be served.

We will be giving rides on a small sailboat (whether permitting). If you are a good sailor and would like to help with this, please see me. We will also be giving rides on a small train of three rafts. We are hoping we can find a jet ski/wave runner to serve as locomotive (slow speed! You want zip, go down the line!). If any of you know of one we could borrow for light duty use, please let me know. If not, I would like to ask several of you with pretty good upper body strength to pull the rafts with a kayak. (You are welcome to go as fast as you want!)

If you have or can borrow a small craft (kayak, canoe, rubber raft) please bring it. We are requiring all non-swimmers to wear life jackets when on the water. (Do you know how deep Lake Bob really is?!? Or what lurks in its depths…) So please bring one if you have or can borrow one. For the desperate, Walmart sells a wide variety of "boats" for almost nothing.

Note: this is a boating/zipping, not swimming, event. The stuff in Lake Bob is not exactly water, and prolonged exposure (not to mention ingestion) may cause lower body parts to destabilize. So, shorts and shirts are fine. No bathing suits.

Please pray for God’s blessing on this event, for good weather, and for safety!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Keepin' it real

The Purcellville Gazette's latest issue contained a review of our Pride and Prejudice. David Sackrider spoke kindly of us, indeed, he spoke kindly of us when he reported on Macbeth, too, but he still rather took me aback. I detected what you might call a worldview collision. I'm not trying to refute him exactly, and I may misquote him slightly, because alas I don't have a copy of the article with me and it isn't online yet, but I'll try to exercise charity. :-) He got me thinking.

He started out the article talking about how we were "keepin' it real" without baggy jeans, cell phones, or i-pods. Rather, we got it across by the characterization. Well--yes, precisely. The story works because it's a good story, and the characters are real people. Eden Troupe assumes that all people, in all times, are the same kind of thing--namely, human--and therefore old stories can be quite as relevant as new ones; possibly more relevant, because less blinded by our own culture's idiosyncrasies. Regency humans were living people too, and that's one reason Jane Austen is still so popular: she was a good artist who could create people recognizable as such. It frankly never occurred to us that Pride and Prejudice could be less real because it wasn't set in the twenty-first century.

The i-pod comment threw me for a loop. What in the world would make someone think that reality was determined by the presence or absence of i-pods?? I guess if you define "world" to include only our present material reality, then technology looks more important. Probably if you assume that you can determine your reality, either in a New Agey, ubermenchish, or just plain secular way, then technology is really important, because technology helps you do it. Or maybe technology is just the most interesting thing presented to us, and so we start defining our universe around it. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I suppose I was coming at the question differently. Life is more than i-pods, and the body more than fashion. We, like the medievals, are accustomed to seeing people in every story, in Paradise Lost, in Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah, at Troy, in Jerusalem, in Rome, on the Grail quest when being tempted by fiends disguised as maidens in black silk, in the court of Queen Elizabeth, in Jane Austen's book about the Bennets and Darcys and Bingleys, and even maybe in modern stories about Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The fact that hardly any of these people wore jeans struck me as a complete irrelevancy; I myself don't wear jeans all the time. The medievals had a habit of ignoring cultural differences entirely and illustrating even Biblical characters in contemporary medieval garb; historical costuming accuracy is rather cool, but their way emphasized the immediacy of old stories. They say when Shakespeare put on Julius Caesar, the senators wore Elizabethan doublets.

Yet I don't want to ignore the difference that clothes make to a person. There's something about living up to how you dress. I think outfits have customs attached to them, like words have connotations as well as their denotative meaning; one behaves more formally when wearing a Liberty Ball gown, and the militia stands up straighter when in uniform. When you put on the robe of righteousness which is Christ's, you become more inwardly righteous. Yet--you are a person, no matter what your clothes, and therefore a story about you has the potential to be interesting and applicable to other persons.

Shyamalan's "The Village" is an interesting case in point. Perhaps the movie is more "relevant" because of its ending, but I'm not convinced.

Which brings me to an observation I made this morning at church. We sang the Doxology, and our worship leader--an excellent fellow--said we were going to sing it in a way that was "more relevant." This involved adding drums and guitars. That's it. The only difference I could find. I inquire, with some concern, if songs without guitars and drums are therefore less relevant. Modus tollens would indicate so. Don't get me wrong, I like drums and guitars. I actually prefer them to organs, though organs have their good points too (like the fact Helen loves them:-)). But--what??? The relevance of truth is determined by which instruments you use?? Yipes!

I hereby assert that God determines reality, and as long as that is quite straight, details like fashions in worship, clothes, philosophy, and technology suddenly become a lot less important. Pride and Prejudice, anyone?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Evidence of the Swim


Sad tidings

Alas, I must bear sad tidings. The number of goslings is now only six; the seventh is no longer of Lake Bob. I fear it was young Fortitude that met with his doom in the form of a snapping turtle...or a snake...or who knows what. :-(

But Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice seem to be waxing fat and browner. They've definitely put on some weight since Wednesday. Dante and Beatrice seem fine too.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


"I may be reading black lesbian critics, but there are goslings. That makes things tolerable." Jennifer

So we named the seven goslings (only six visible here) after the seven virtues at the top of Dante's Purgatory: the three theological virtues are Faith, Hope, and Charity, and the four cardinal virtues are Justice, Temperance, Fortitude, and Prudence. Just for the fun of it, we named the parental geese Dante and Beatrice.

In other news, Dr. Hake was swimming in and measuring Lake Bob this afternoon. His motives are, as always, as mysterious as the deeps of the Bob, and almost certainly more worth fathoming. I predict something highly entertaining is in the works. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Flowers for May Day

Twenty-three gold crimsoned flowers,
While I was out in fields a-Maying
Were left in secret in our bower,
A springly gift spring stress allaying.

Not only roses, candies also,
Were wrapped in clearest floral wrap.
Attached we found a note—but who
Could have left these? King or satrap,

Soldiers, vagabonds, sons of a river?
The card was left unsigned; yet we
Do thank the encoded dubious givers.
Your kindness I show for all to see.