Friday, December 31, 2010

Many happy returns

A year ago yesterday, our little Meggie made the transition from being an inner child to an outer child. She's brought us so much sunshine.

Of course, she liked her cake and duckie, and the rest of the party. But the pink laptop from Auntie Emmy definitely took the cake, as it were. She's slightly possessive. I think her reasoning is, if she's not allowed to play on our computers, why should we play on hers?

Happy birthday, darling.

Christmas in Korea

Those wild, wicked South Koreans made a "dangerous, rash act" this Christmas. They put up a giant Christmas tree within sight of the North Korean border, with a cross on top and all lit up. And then, they put on Santa hats and sang Christmas carols around it.

Wicked, I tell you.

I love it.

Thanks to Cranach for finding this.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas was here

Meg's stocking, with Atcha Bear waiting. (She named him.)








The high chair, ready and waiting for a Christmas breakfast eater to come and keep it company.


The countdown board confirms it - Christmas is here!









The new duck, found on Christmas clearance in Lexington. We named her Lexie.





My, there are a lot of shoes by that door. And a Grandpa.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The twelve days of Christmas

Merry Christmas! We're all at my sister's for the week, and having a lovely holiday. My whole family is here, and my parents hadn't seen Meg since the wedding in March. Then there were a lot of presents, and I do love Christmas presents. :-)

Meggers has been having a grand time. She's confidently tottering around on her feet, as of the Friday before Christmas, and so she walks back and forth and down the hall and back to the living room, and then gets waylaid by the carpet line and sits down looking surprised. As for toys, what an amazing thing! Somebody presented her with a pink stocking with things in it! She very competently reached in and pulled them out. She doesn't quite have the knack of opening wrapped presents, but that was all right, because when the paper was off, there was a farm set with little people and animals and some equipment - and a very soft teddy bear named Atcha - and a block cube with a whole bunch of shapes - and a book about Bethlehem that sings and flashes lights. Pretty much amazing.

This is the cutest little townhouse Kyte has, incidentally. The famous color-coded bookshelf is still here, and every single wall in every single room is adorable. I don't know how she does it. The downstairs bathroom is a beach theme, with a photo of the Beach Boys, a shell candle, and a surfboard picture frame of her and Ryan. The upstairs guest room is that perfect French country antiques look. Jonathan and Meg and I are staying in her studio, which is white and bright and airy with colorful kites hanging from the ceiling and gorgeously-patterned colored pillows over a white down duvet. She's really got an awesome talent for color.

The only one who isn't thrilled is the cat Irony. Meg is not only a cute similarly-sized rival who plays with her precious family and laser pointer, but she's loud and enthusiastic, and Irony has to hiss at her whenever Meg gets too close. Irony spends a lot of time sitting on top of chairs where Meg can't reach.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Waiting for Elmo

It's cold. I have a kind of sore throat and a really long to-do list.

But Jenny made my day by posting the Sesame Street version of Waiting for Godot. YAY!



Thank you, Jenny! http://jonathanandjenny.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow day green chile soup

Richmond makes me smile. They were predicting some snow and then sleet and freezing rain for today, so last night they closed the schools. We got up this morning - no snow. It started about 9:30, and as of 1:00 we've got maybe an inch and the entire town has shut down. Jonathan's campus is closed, and while his office is technically open, his boss told him not to risk coming in. Not that I'm complaining, mind you! Never complain about a snow day!

So for lunch I made a lovely simple green chile soup.

2 stalks celery, diced
1 green onion, sliced
1 green chile, peeled, de-seeded, and diced
1 can of Campbell's cream of chicken and mushroom soup
Shredded cheddar cheese

Saute the celery, green onion, and chile in a little olive oil. Add the canned soup and a can of water, and heat. Top with cheese. Serves 2.

I never said it was gourmet, but it really hit the spot. :-) And the snow is still coming down.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yes, Eureka, there is a real meaning of Christmas

I finally read Thrones, Dominations, the unfinished Sayers book the Jill Paton Walsh took in hand and completed a few years ago. It wasn't as good as a pure Sayers, but it was better than some of the mysteries I've been reading lately. She didn't so much ruin our beloved characters as flatten them out: everybody's characterization got less nuanced and more sledgehammer-like. The Duke of Denver and Lady Helen came off worst of all, although Peter became so sensitive as to be slightly henpecked (Peter!! Henpecked by Harriet??). She tried really hard to keep Sayers' contemporary attitudes and worldview, but a modern apparently just can't. Not on marriage: not on class. A pity. Also, the solution to the mystery was kind of perverted, so I wouldn't recommend it for young readers.

The long-awaited Eureka Christmas episode came out this week! Spoilers! It was called "O Little Town," and I think they'd been watching Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, because Taggart, in a life-long pursuit of Santa, has developed a shrinker-ray for presents that shrinks Eureka! Oh noes! So Jack and Taggart figure out how to take Dr. Drummer's (guest star) magic energy snowball thing and throw it at the EMP shield and reverse the shrinkage.

There were some genuinely funny moments, but I don't think the writers of this episode ever watched Eureka. Taggart's thing is hunting with big guns, right? And Jack is a huge baseball fan, right? So when the time comes for them to go up in the sleigh (I am not making this up), throw the snowball at the shield, and shoot it, what do the writers do but assign Jack to the gun and Taggart to the pitching. Huh? But then, the writing on Eureka this whole season has been lazy. They did get a bunch of new writers on, I know. The dialogue isn't that funny, the plots aren't particularly scientific, and the characters randomly do things totally out of character. Too bad. Also, I really wish they'd hurry up and get Jo and Zane sorted out, or at least advance their story somehow. That's the most interesting subplot at this point, now that the parallel world is more or less at an equilibrium. Sigh.

It's also a pity that Eureka is such a metaphysically empty world. It really is. They do a whole Christmas episode, leaving out even the vaguest hint of Christianity (of course), and this is what we wind up with:
- Christmas isn't about being with your blood family, but being with those you're with (and hopefully love) - Jack's, Jo's, and the nameless snowed-in kids' subplots.
- Everybody makes their own Christmas magic. Allison's subplot was she tries so hard to make things wonderful for her kids, because her parents were straight-up scientists and she never got a present from Santa.
- Growing up doesn't mean you have to stop believing in magic and eating candy canes (at least, so Dr. Drummer/Santa tells Jo).
- Science doesn't work on Santa. You can't capture him and study him, but he'll be back next year - Taggart's subplot.
-Fruitcake has like a million calories, especially when it's shrunk so a whole fruitcake is in one bite.

Seriously? That's the best meaning of Christmas you've got? They know science isn't enough, and there's a better myth, if you like. Imagine a world where a happy God invented people and parsley and astrophysics because He wanted to, and because having them was better and awesomer than not. Then imagine people messed it up. Then, imagine God Himself was born as a human person, to live here for thirty years, be murdered, but be so intensely full of life that He swallowed up death. And, if you want to, you can join this God, and He will swap your death for His life, and your depressingness for His happiness. Incidentally, this means you can investigate this world - i.e. do science - all you like and only learn more about this God because it tells you what He's like. Science has meaning; life has meaning; language even has meaning. Altogether a more satisfactory state of affairs.

Eureka ignores God, and in their metaphysical flailings they've lost science too. We get to wish for Santa and eat candy canes? Seriously? I really miss the scientific plots. Come to the light side. We have cookies! And a philosophical foundation for them!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Victory!

I would like to share photographic evidence of my first wrapped present of the season. And we're still in the first week of Advent, so I call that a success. Woohoo!

I'm actually kind of shocked at how well Christmas presents are coming this year. I did a little bit in October and November as we came across stuff. Wednesday night I ordered a round of something, which I hope will be fabulous, and yesterday morning Meg and I went to the mall and got quite a bit more done. Then, since last night was Jonathan's late night, Meg and I got most of the haul wrapped. She likes curling ribbon, and will fling it over her shoulders like a feather boa. So cute. She's total girl.

In other news, the Target dollar bin Christmas music is really good. Yay!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In which I mistake my child for a breakfast food

Don't worry, she's fine.

This morning my sweet husband let me sleep in. After he got out of the shower, he came back in and said, "Can I bring you an egg?"

"Ooh, yes! Though what I really want is coffee. CAFFEINATED coffee, please."

So he brought me Meg and went down while I fed her. We followed in due time, and sure enough, that elixir of caffeinated happiness was perking and smelling wonderful, but there were no frying pans or eggs or anything egg-related around.

So I said, "The coffee smells wonderful! Thank you! Did you decide not to do the eggs?"

He gave me a look of complete bewilderment. "What eggs?"

"Didn't you ask if I wanted eggs? Earlier?"

"No..."

"But..."

"Are you sure you didn't ask me for eggs, and I said 'okay' without hearing you?"

"It was after your shower. I didn't dream it - I dreamed about the birch tree and the moon, but I'm sure I was awake about the eggs. You asked if I wanted an egg, and I said yes!"

He laughed. "I asked if you wanted Meg."

Oh.

Not that I don't love her, but she's not good for breakfast. So we had toast with strawberry jam.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vizzini goes to Eureka

The Eureka blog just leaked that Vizzini will show up next season -- all right, the actor Wallace Shawn will, to be precise. He will play a relationship auditor there to inspect Jack and Allison. Oh my...

The real question: will Jack dare go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quote of the day

"The important thing about wearing a pig on my head" -- and he flopped it over, obscuring my vision -- "is that it can become a pig on your head. That's right: it's a tactical swine." Jonathan

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy St. Margaret's day!

Today is St. Margaret's feast day! Happy Meggie day, everyone!

A tip of the hat to Firinnteine for letting us know. :-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The most unique recipe I've seen all week, and a different art

Fascinating. They've found and tried Marilyn Monroe's stuffing recipe, which she wrote out on the back of some letterhead. It's unusual - no broth, but three types of nuts and tons of other ingredients - and who knew she was quite a good cook?? The article suspects she made it for or was inspired by her (briefly) husband Joe DiMaggio's Italian family. I'd somehow managed not to know she'd married him. That makes two things I've learned about Marilyn Monroe tonight.

And in a complete change of pace, 650 Philly opera singers burst into Handel's Messiah at Macy's last weekend. I actually teared up a bit watching it, though I think they may have lost the pace a toward the end. The Improv Everywhere ethos is spreading, which is interesting - I think we're getting tired, culturally, of prefab everything. And how cool is it that 650 reasonably competent singers got to belt it out about God's glory in a shopping mall? :-)

An afternoon at the ballet

My sweet ballerina friend gave us two tickets for her current performance, and another sweet friend watched the baby, so Jonathan and I got to go! On the way I had a terrible time being Megless, but once we got there I did just fine.

The show was "Studio Two," comprised of three parts: a "Valse Fantasie," "After Eden," and "Always, at the Edge of Never."

"Valse" was lovely and traditional, classical music, six dancers, the women in classic pink ballerina outfits with tulle skirts. The lone guy was in a fluffy white shirt, white tights, and a pink cummerbund, which was mildly scarring but still within the realm of "it's ballet so run with it." They lilted and drifted around the stage, looking effortless and like every little girl's dream. Very fun.

"After Eden" was a meditation of Adam and Eve immediately post-fall - not one of your more cheerful moments in world history. They did a lot with modern dance moves, dramatic lighting, and a certain amount of striking poses and rolling around on the floor. I heard a lot of rave comments from people sitting around us. It was written and choreographed in the 1960's, which I could see. It reminded me of some of the artsy moments from old musicals, like "The Theater" routine from White Christmas. And, ultimately, it's about alienation on lots of levels, so it wasn't supposed to be uplifting. It was well done, but I just don't understand dance very well and it didn't do as much for me.

After intermission, they showed an introductory interview and "Always, at the Edge of Never." The interview helped. The choreographer was playing with themes of "falling through time," rhythm, and momentum, and explained how he'd considered using a Beethoven concerto but went with this "wild" and "primal" piece by a Finnish accordionist instead because of the difference in how the dancers reacted to it. I could see that. The piece had a steady, almost bagpipe-like, bass thumping drone beneath the melody, which varied through all kinds of noises. Part of the time it sounded like jungle noises - no, seriously - and the bass thumping eventually fell out of your conscious listening, but it got inside your head. The piece had different passages, almost different acts, through which the narrative? scenes? meditative aspects? would change. Whatever he was doing, the Finnish piece was definitely the right choice -- Beethoven would have been entirely different.

Meanwhile, there was this long red fluorescent line running horizontally along the entire front of the stage, which lowered so gradually that only about halfway through did I notice it was closer to head-height than the ceiling. I think it symbolized time. The dancers got to where they'd have to slide along the floor under it, or do a lift to help another over it. There was some narrative movement to it, but Jonathan and I couldn't follow it. Urban jungle was the best I could place it. It started with five dancers standing around in trench coats, and another trench coat-garbed man carrying a limp woman on-stage. She revived and they started dancing. Toward the end the first lady starting having stylized fights with the others, like a sandwich, so she and another would block punches with a third dancer in between. I wondered if her aggression was supposed to be drug-induced? Jonathan saw a couple points when the dancers did stop-motion or slowed time. The trench coats disappeared and re-appeared. But what the story was, or whether I'm thinking too meta-narratively, I'm not sure. There was definitely something going on. And it was dramatically effective -- I've rarely seen an audience so fully engaged.

So we had a lovely afternoon, and lots to talk about on the way home. :-)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Yummies

I tried this recipe over the weekend, and it was pretty much amazing. It might be more accurate to say I was inspired by it, because I didn't actually follow the recipe so much as re-visualize it as a chicken pot roast using what I had on hand, but the combination of sweet potato, rosemary, and white wine was definitely inspirational. Coming home from an evening of errands, with crusty bread and a stack of fresh library books -- I can highly recommend it. We were sad there weren't any leftovers.

Re-visualized Chicken Pot Roast

2 large frozen chicken breasts
1 cup of green leek tops, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, sliced
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 long sprig fresh rosemary, leaves pulled off
garlic? I can't remember if I actually put any in
1 cup white wine
1-2 cups water
salt, pepper

Put everything in the crock pot and cook on low for six hours. Eat at dusk with crusty bread and your handsome husband. :-)


In other news, I attempted an apple-cranberry pie. Next time, I will use more apples, fewer cranberries, and much more sugar.


This fall I've been slightly haunted by butternut squash. Last fall it was pumpkin; this fall it's squash. Mama B. brought spiced butternut squash soup and brought up this whole concept of sage butter to go with, and I love it. What you do is get two or three tablespoons of butter, and melt it, and saute a few sage leaves until they're a bit crispy and the butter is brown. That's it, but it's enough. Ohh is it good. Tonight I didn't do anything fancy to the butternut squash, just steamed it in the baby-food maker, but with sage butter on top it was wonderful. Meg just barely got her serving of squash tonight, but I was good and left her some. I saw a recipe for butternut squash pasties I think we might need to try.

My colors this fall have been purple and gold. It makes me sound like a marauding Assyrian, doesn't it? Partly that's because those colors have been available a lot this season, but partly they're just gorgeous. I've got a mustard-yellow sweater from my sister that's been perfect and goes with everything.

Even the woods wore gold. It was a little like hiking in Lothlorien, with the beeches standing in for mallorns.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Meg walks! and I read books

We're all excited at this end because Meg took her official first unsupported step on Monday. It was just one, and she took a spill right after, but she's so close. She knows it too, and has taken to crawling on her hands and feet, legs straight. She hasn't ventured out by herself again, but she's sure cruising along the furniture.

I've been reading quite a bit lately, which is always fun. Some of the highlights:

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson. This is a fairy tale set in modern Ireland. The premise was mildly entertaining, and I liked it for all the music. The main character and the fairies were always fiddling and dancing, and Thompson even put a tune at the beginning of each chapter, usually relating to that chapter's events. I didn't so much care for the way the priest was the villain (in his monomaniacal urge to rid the countryside of fairies, music, and dancing, he nearly destroyed time). It was a bit creepy, but mostly because I kept thinking it was going to get creepy and it didn't. I think one thing I like about Celtic stories is the way they force an author to reveal his loyalties. Either he will come down on the side of Christianity or against it. It's very hard to be "neutral" when the fairies get involved, though Gerald Morris and Lawhead partly manage it.

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. Keller is the pastor of that huge Presbyterian church in New York City. I'd read an interview with him and his wife in which they admitted to liking Tolkien, so I was inclined to like him going in. Now I know I like him: he mostly quotes authors and philosophers I know and respect. He's pretty sound, though I differ with him on creation. Keller's great gift is, Lewis-like, being able to drop the Christianese and speak to ordinary, intelligent unbelievers in their language and make theological sense. It's a wonderful quality, but a little like having college friends come home for a visit - my worlds are colliding! A couple of his chapters actually really encouraged me and were relevant in Bible study on Tuesday. I wish I could remember what they were.

Kilt Dead by Kaitlyn Dunnett. A cute murder mystery about a forcibly retired Scottish dancer. It was a fun, quick read, though about page thirty I was demanding she get a lawyer to deal with the harassing police investigator and that didn't occur to her till about page seventy, after she saw the lawyer for something else entirely. Also she seemed shocked and hurt that a small town would gossip about her morals when she moved in, purely platonically, with an eligible bachelor. As it turned out, the gossip was later fully justified, and in an incredibly off-hand, boring way too. (Sheesh.) Our Heroine had read far too many mysteries herself to excuse her actions in the final chapter when she confronted the murderer all by herself. At least she told someone where she was going, and was able to be rescued before the good-for-nothing threw her off the roof. Anyway, it was adequate enough I do intend to read the sequel Scone Cold Dead, which conveniently I have already checked out, and it inspired me to go upstairs and sketch out a better plot myself. When I get it published I'll let you know.

A Dismal Thing to Do by Charlotte MacLeod, writing as Alisa Craig. I've liked MacLeod for years, but I'd never gotten around to her Inspector Madoc Rhys books until just lately. The mysteries are usually respectably constructed, and her characters are quite the characters. I was incredibly impressed by a previous book, in which Janet got kicked out of her room in the middle of the night by a promiscuous roommate and had to take refuge in Madoc's. In contrast to Kilt Dead, they had a discussion about where Madoc should sleep, and voted for the library, Janet being of the opinion that when they slept together it should be special and mean something. Sensible people! Madoc and Janet are newly married in this one and, as Madoc said, it's a poor investigator who can't find a can of oil for squeaky guest-room bedsprings. So we're all happy. This particular plot was a little contrived, but it was fun to run around with Janet and Madoc and all of Janet's relatives in the heavy snow, with explosions and people getting shot and moonshine-running and whatnot. Keeps life exciting.

AND... I have The Chestnut King, by N.D. Wilson! I didn't even know it was out yet, but the new Glen Allen branch had a copy of it sitting there on the shelf. So I checked it out. :-)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reformation day

Pastor Joe did a children's sermon today, and it was such a crackup. "I have just one question for you guys today. What day is it today?" "Halloween!" "That's right! It's Reformation Day!" Love it. He's always hilarious.
My own child is going to dress up as a blue fairy once she wakes up from her nap. My mom bought the wings for her about six months before she was born, and on Friday I made the skirt to go with. I used blue tulle and a layer of sparkly white tulle, and I think it turned out rather pretty. (White elastic would have been better, but you work with what you've got, right?) I also added the organza flower-poof to the back of the wings. She's going to wear this with a white leggings with silver dots and a white shirt. I can't wait. :-)

What we can't decide is what to do with ourselves this afternoon. I was going to have a party, but the initial guest list didn't work out and I never got around to inviting anyone else. We would kind of like to go hiking because it's a lovely day, but I'm having trouble finding anywhere good nearby. I just can't tell from the online guides what would be fun with a small child, what would be dorky, and what would be insanely overambitious. Oh, and I'm irrationally opposed to paying entrance/parking fees. I really want to go hiking in New Mexico, preferably at East Fork, but that's not convenient for a day trip. Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Beethoven's fifth, salsa style.



I love it. Meggie liked it too - she sang and danced along with it. But then, Beethoven's Fifth is one of her favorite songs. And then Jonathan introduced me to this gentleman, who specializes in improvising tunes into various styles. Pretty fun.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall leaves, a power outage, and related adventures

I've been trying to get this post written for a week, and life keeps happening. Anyway, last Friday afternoon I noticed that the tree outside my bedroom window was casting a gorgeous golden glow on the wall opposite. I was going to note this fact to the wide web, but then I discovered I'd gone off and left my power cord at the library, and by the time this had been rectified my afternoon was mysteriously over.

Then I had kind of a surreal experience. Out front, the ground was covered by bright red and yellow leaves. I went out the back door and had to blink a few times, because everything was in drab greens, grays, and blacks. Leaves on the ground in October aren't supposed to be black. Something had obviously drained the world of its proper color! Was there a weird filter on my glasses? Were my eyes having trouble adjusting to outdoors?? HAD SOMEONE STOLEN MY WARM TONES?

I looked up. The big maple out back had no red on it at all. The green leaves were turning black and falling off, and that's what I was seeing all over the grass. What a disappointment.

On Wednesday, day before yesterday, it was hot and muggy as all-get-out. Finally, late afternoon, we had a five-minute tropical storm blow through complete with tornado warning. The rain pounded down in a thick gray wall, and when it blew away, the power had gone with it and there was a beautiful deep puddle on our front steps!

So Jonathan and I jumped in it, and then we folded boats and set them asail. Mine carried a cargo of jewel-toned leaves.


We came inside and dried off our feet and waited for the power to come back on. I lit candles. We staved off dinnertime with handfuls of Cheerios. I played with my new camera until it ran out of battery.

Meg woke up. By this point it was really dark, despite candles. So we all packed up and went to IHOP for dinner, where we played Pass the Pigs and Meg helped eat our hash browns and flirted with the waitress. And when we came home around 8:30, the power was back on. Yay!

Thursday mornings, Andi comes over with the twins she nannies and we try to do crafts. So yesterday I revved up the evil-minded sewing machine, which had been working great earlier in the week, and... it had ceased to work. The machine worked just fine if I cranked around it by hand, but the foot pedal would go up and down and fail to relay any information to the machine. The power returning must have fried its circuits. I can't think what else could have done it. I think it has bitten the dust for good this time. Sad days! But all is not lost - Andi kindly lent me her sewing machine so I can put together Meg's fairy skirt.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Meggie status report

I can't believe how big Meggie is getting. At small group, Lisa commented that she's looking more like a girl and less like a baby, and it's true. She's getting taller and more dexterous and positively agile. Right now she's at the pulling-up and cruising stage, and can stand on her own a little. She can walk a little with help. Nothing below waist-level is safe from her curiosity.

She's learning new things every day. This week she learned how to clap her hands. She pairs it with a knockout grin, and pretty much comes out seriously cute. Then today I caught her crawling into the laundry hamper we use for a toy bin. She just swarmed up the side, settled down matter-of-factly on the music cube, and from that more convenient vantage point grabbed her theoretically off-limits changing pad, which she pulled out, unfolded, and waved around. Then, when she was done, she carefully tipped the hamper over and crawled away. Hilarious.

She and her daddy have a favorite game: he puts things on end tables, and she takes them off. She and I have a similar game: I put laundry in the dryer, and she pulls it out. She also likes books, board and ordinary. She'll sit on the floor and flip through pages. She's actually mostly very gentle with them, and enjoys pulling off dust covers.

She's just short of ten months old right now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Doings

We're all healthy again, and happily socializing!

On Sunday, we helped with Sunday school, and sat next to friends during the service. Then that afternoon, Josh and Rachel came by to retrieve the wedding presents we'd transported back for them, and were astonished at the pile of, um, other stuff that they were expected to find a home for: things like serving dishes, and disposable coffee cups, and the guest book, and poker chips. I explained that people just kept bringing stuff out to our car, and what were we to do? I hadn't even done most of the loading and packing. ;-) We had coffee, bread pudding, and a nice long talk.

It was a lovely sunny day, so after they left we went for a walk and gathered rocks from the creek bed for a scheme I had. We went home by way of Jonathan's law-school friend Kris's house, so we popped in and asked him to dinner. So he came and hung out, and after he left I brought in my potted plants from the front porch. Bertie Woozle, the Original Schefflera from my dentist's office days, had waxed and grown fat in his new bigger pot, so in the interest of fitting him inside our apartment I cut off some sprigs and stuck them in butter-dishes of water on the kitchen windowsill for a nice jungle effect. The other plants were pretty leggy from the summer too, so I trimmed them all round. We'll see if they survive inside. And we put Meg to bed, and went out with a chart for a spot of stargazing.

On Monday, Meggie and I got together with a friend of hers from the church nursery. They got along about as well as not-even-a-year-old girls are likely to; they seemed vaguely pleased with the company, and would occasionally swipe each other's blocks. Meg had a grand time with Story's toys, though, and played with all the ones with interesting sound effects. We mean to try it again next week at our house. Then we spent the afternoon grocery shopping and going to the library.

This morning we stuck around home. Meg and I bundled up (it was a cloudy, chilly morning) and swung, slid, and bounced up and down on the teeter-totter at the playground. She really got a kick out of it, I think. Then we looped round to the office and got a cup of coffee, and home.

For my afternoon's adventure, I made Rebecca's famous scones. I haven't made scones since I've been married because I was kind of intimidated and anyway thought I didn't have a blender that would work, but then I discovered a stick blender tucked way far in the back of my evil appliance-eating cabinet - apparently a wedding present - so I gave it a shot. And they were wonderful. I put craisins and chocolate chips in them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A birthday, a wedding, another birthday, and no funerals

I was going to title this post something about birthdays and weddings, and it struck me that since major life events were under discussion, I ought to make it clear from the beginning that nobody died. Just so you know.

Anyway. The first birthday in question was mine, last week; Jonathan took me out for dinner, and we went to Red Lobster. Their cheese biscuits are just as good as ever, and their new coconut shrimp with pina-colada sauce is amazing. Definitely yum. Meggie behaved herself and ate mashed potatoes, and the tableful of young guys next to us behaved themselves, and rebuked one of their own for swearing around a baby. Which was pretty great too. Jonathan was a darling and got me a jacket and a sweater, and Mama B. got me a dress to wear to the wedding, and then Mom sent me a whole bunch of fall clothes - gorgeous red and flame colored tops - and everything fit - so I made out like a very fashionable bandit this year. :-)

The wedding was Josh and Rachel's. Congratulations, you guys! We went up Friday and helped decorate and then onto the rehearsal dinner picnic and bachelorette party (both great fun). Rachel's sister-in-law came through and did a great job whipping the decor into shape, ably assisted by the groom's mom and sister and Lindsay, the maid of honor. Josh almost missed the rehearsal because of all the going-out-of-town-for-the-long-weekend rush-hour DC traffic, but the great thing about being the groom is that the rehearsal will wait for you. Convenient, that. My Jonathan stood in for him at first, and then he stood in for a groomsman, and then he stood in for two grandparents at once, so he really pulled his weight at a rehearsal he didn't even need to be at.

The New Mexico contingent was there in force, including spouses and the new little Emma, which was awesome. Only one of the old debate team was missing. (And we really missed you!) Josh was the last of the debaters to get married. I really enjoyed this wedding because on one side, it was New Mexico people I knew, and on the other side, it was college people I know. The bachelorette party was great (and very decent) girl-time. It was a very sweet weekend.

Friday night, we stayed with Frank and Christi, who showed us pictures of their new granddaughter, who had just occasioned the second birthday in question. She's an absolute doll. Yay!

On Saturday, we got up and got slightly lost on the way to the church, but were still there before the bride. When she arrived, I went out and assisted with the photography, and came inside to discover some slight pandemonium in the kitchen. So I pitched in. The inimitable Finnegans made everything better - and it all turned out great. Whew! My only complaint is that I didn't get to talk to everybody at the reception that I'd have liked to, especially college people. If you were there, and I didn't talk to you, I'm so sorry. We should catch up.

But I don't think the bride would have noticed anything short of a complete lack of cake, anyway. She was absolutely walking on a cloud. When they recessional-ed out of the sanctuary, they drifted through the reception room, and right on through the opposite door, and the photographer had a terrible time tracking them down again. So cute.

I have pictures up on Facebook. I didn't get many of the bachelorette party because my camera doesn't do well in low light, and I didn't get many of the reception because I was running around, so I can't wait to see other people's pictures. Post them soon, please!

Walpurgis Night

I came across a reference to "Walpurgisnicht" in a mystery I was reading; previously I'd seen it as "Walpurgis Night," and it occurred to me I didn't know what it was all about. So Jonathan and I looked it up on Wiki and in the dictionary of saints we picked up in Scotland.

St. Walburga/Walpurga was an English nun, the niece of St. Winnibald, in the eighth century. She went with him as a missionary to Germany - hence the "nicht" version. She was trained in medicine and wrote a vita of another saint, and when Winnibald died, she took over rule of his monastery. Her relics were moved to Eisenstatt and caused a well of miraculous healing oil to flow from a rock. She apparently died on May Day, so that became her feast day.

Walpurgis Night is known as the time when witches fly to their creepy rendezvous. Apparently there's no particular connection to St. Walpurga except that May Day was a previous pagan feast day: it's not like she was known for fighting witches, or anything. The saints dictionary speculated that one of her symbols, the three ears of grain, might be a transferral of the pagan fertility stuff, but her more usual symbol is a flask of oil.

So now we know. Interesting.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Dishwasher sirens (I wish they'd wash our dishes)

Hello, readers. We really are still alive. We all came down with various ailments last week - Meg's sniffles, earache, and associated distress was the most impressive (two doctor's visits), but I got the loudest cough. Jonathan was only sick one day, lucky duck. I still kind of sound like I'm dying, but basically we're healthy again. I'm grateful!

This evening, we were talking about how hard it is to keep on top of dishes, because we don't dare empty the dishwasher with Meg around. It has this magnetic attraction. She zooms straight over to it with her awesome lightning-speed crawl and starts cheerfully removing all the silverware, with a special emphasis on knives. If there is no silverware available, she'll grab plates and toss them on the floor. When thwarted, she will cling to your knees and wail.

Jonathan's take: "There are mythical Sirens living in dishwashers that sing songs only infants can hear, trying to lure them into a sudsy doom." Turns out he was reading the Nodwick blog. So timely. So true.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eureka - 4.9 "I'll be seeing you"

We finally got to watch the Eureka mid-season finale this weekend! (There was a one-week delay before airing it, and an 8-day delay before putting it on Hulu.) It was very exciting. Much to everyone's shock, Allison died. She actually died. Poor Jack!

But happily, this was a tale of wuv, twoo wuv, and they're in an alternate timeline anyway, so Allison was only mostly dead. (Yes!)

It went something like this. Jack and Allison regrettably woke up in the same bed. (Why don't people get married at this house? Is SARAH the bad influence, or Jack? What do Zoe and Allison's kids think about all this nonsense?) They were deliriously happy and got a 911 call from Fargo at the lab, so they walk in at the same time, very much together. Jo and Fargo take one look at them, and after some teasing, get to the point. The EMP thingy is still missing, the one Beverly got Trevor to steal for its power core, and the General is not happy, but also Henry has found a spot where all background radiation is being damped.

Jo and Jack go through Trevor's archives, and Henry and Allison go check out the anomaly.

Meanwhile, in the secret cloaked warehouse hiding the stolen EMP thingy, Beverly shows Trevor her newly-completed bridge device with which she proposes to send him back to the forties. Why he believes her motives I can't imagine, since she just finished lying through her teeth and he knows it, but he does. Maybe she wants revenge for her or her father's respective imprisonments? Obviously, she's up to no good. But she makes a power surge just as Allison and Henry arrive, so they get in the car to flee-- but too slowly-- and the blast knocks it over, killing Allison inside.

Jack had been unsuccessfully trying to get them on the phone, so he came along just in time to help drag her from the vehicle. He gets mad and drives the Jeep into the cloaked warehouse and tackles Trevor, just in time for them both to go back to the forties. Jack explains to Trevor what's going on. And, it turns out they opened a new wormhole, so they follow their past-selves around and basically watch episode 4.1 again from various perspectives, while avoiding the military authorities searching for (either one) of them! So awkward.

But actually, they figure this could be just as well, so they keep trying to mess things up to change the future so Allison doesn't die. But the time-stream keeps correcting itself. Just as Trevor gets their time-machine doodads put together to take them back (apparently he's done it enough that the science is no longer even worth wasting screentime or drama on), Jack has the brilliant idea of leaving himself a message in the archives so that he'll be able to stop Allison in future.

We watch an alternate future, in which he gets the message from himself, and leaps in his Jeep! He rushes to the cloaked warehouse, and tells Allison and Henry to run! And he crashes through the invisible warehouse door! And Beverly and Trevor both stop and stare at him, very understandably.

Just about then, Jack and Trevor shimmer and their second-time-forties selves appear in place of their future (current?) selves. Trevor's come-back doodads worked just like they were supposed to. Meanwhile, Beverly, with her keen sense of self-preservation, snuck out the back door while the going was good.

Jo arrives with the military, and they secure the missing device and all of Beverly's goodies. This means Trevor and Zane are cleared. Jack explains to Allison and Henry that Trevor made his mistakes right, and we suspect that they're now friends. (Trevor is a much better sport about losing Allison than Jack was.) The only downside is that General Mansfield is demanding a full investigation. Uh-oh.

Deputy Andy and Jo go to release Zane. At this point, he's kind of less interested in his arrest for treason than why Jo -- who in this timeline always despised him -- broke up with him and had his grandmother's ring. Zane, being actually very intelligent, can tell that something is going on with her, Fargo, Jack, and the gang.

Jo doesn't want to talk about it. Jo insists they never meant anything to each other. Jo is a very unconvincing liar. Zane dramatically kisses her and says, "That didn't feel like a first kiss!"

But before Jo can gather her wits, Zoe cheerfully pops into the sheriff's office to take Zane out to celebrate his release. Zane lets Jo go, but he's not done with this mystery. Oh, no.

Meanwhile, Jack gives Trevor an alternate identity so he can go make a new life for himself, if he wants. (But what will the General say when he disappears?) Trevor thanks Jack, and adds that he's going to do some traveling courtesy of some smart investments on this most recent trip back to the forties. Just before the credits roll, we see Beverly driving away, telling someone on the phone that things didn't work out as planned. Dramatic music!

So that was the mid-season finale. I was pleasantly surprised they didn't leave us with a major cliffhanger. We can expect a special Christmas episode and the rest of the season sometime next spring, and it looks like the Christmas episode is going to be a musical or something. This should be interesting.

In related news, Henry made an appearance on White Collar recently. :-) He was some kind of high-up federal marshal, and his character there was almost as awesome as in Eureka, though quite different. His name wasn't Henry, though. Go figure. He got to collude with Peter and Neal in bringing down a dirty marshal and vindicating a wrongfully accused FBI agent. That episode had some really sweet cars, too. I hope his White Collar role is a recurring one, because he was pretty fun there.

Monday, September 06, 2010

September

I'm vaguely astonished it's September already. School time, yes; school always starts when it's still hot out, so that's fine, but September? Very strange. I don't miss writing papers, but I kind of do miss buying school supplies and going to class. On the up side, this means apple season is almost here, and cool-enough-to-use-the-oven season. Yum.

The September Anthropologie catalog is up, and it's inspiring and lovely as always. The clothes are fine, but what I really want is the scenery. Yes, I'd like to order a prairie and two mountain vistas, with a paint horse - can you ship them express, please? I don't know where they did that first photo shoot, but it looks like the high plains and mountains of New Mexico. "My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here/ My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer..."

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Eureka: "Stoned" and "The Ex-Files"

I'm happy to report that the last two Eureka episodes have been good again! And there was much rejoicing. Sadly, next week's will be the mid-season finale, to be picked up again with a single Christmas episode and then the rest of the season sometime later. Sigh.

Despite the title, "Stoned" had no drug references whatsoever (at least that I caught). When Jo tries to rebuild her house (that someone blew up with his cheating rocket, LARRY), the local archaeologist teaching at the high school finds an ancient human bone and puts the construction on hold. Regrettably, several people associated with the dig turn into stone too, slowly and from the outside in. Whoops.

Even though the archaeologist was one of Zoe's favorite teachers, she cleverly and scientifically figures out that he was trying to pull a hoax with an aging potion he used in class. Zoe gets turned to stone too - and Jack finds the potion - and Allison reverse engineers it for a cure - and the local spa owner pitches in with a micro-mist to get it through the victims' petrified pores so it'll work. And they live happily ever after.

Well, kind of. Jack and Allison finally have their Define the Relationship kiss, so they're happy. Zoe and Zane really are sweet on each other, so Jo is not a bit happy. And, in a bizarre cliffhanger, Trevor has a clandestine meeting with... Beverly?? Beverly, for those of you who may not recall, was the horrifically sexy therapist from Season One, who was thankfully hauled off for treason. She made a regrettable brief return a couple seasons later in which she took Allison's son hostage and then escaped via a teleporter thingy, never to be seen again. So, naturally, when they brought Trevor back with them, it didn't occur to anyone to warn him she was Trouble.

"The Ex-Files" was quite a ride. Nathan turns up in Jack's office, re-materialized from the space-time warp and sarcastic as ever. Then Tess turns up at Alison's and chews her out for dating Jack. (Hello? Tess dumped Jack, so what's Tess' problem?) Zane shows up at Cafe Diem and is nice to Jo - nice like pre-parallel Zane. He says he's going to break up with Zoe and everything. Fargo's fifth grade-nemesis, a smart-aleck girl, turns up still as a fifth-grader and gives Fargo an earful whenever he lets General Mansfield boss him around. (In Fargo's defense, Mansfield is technically his boss.)

Just to finish out the weirdness, Beverly reveals herself as the daughter of one of Trevor's friends from the forties, which friend mysteriously turns up as well, and they convince Trevor they are part of a large web of scientists out to protect the world from evil superweapons, like the EMP generator being tested that very day at Eureka. And Only Trevor Can Save Civilization. Here's the computer code. You'll know when to use it.

They soon discover that Nathan, Tess, nice Zane, and the smart-aleck girl are hallucinations that nobody else can see. It really does cause some hilarious scenes. Meanwhile, the General is there to oversee the EMP weapon, which doesn't work right because Beverly is aiming an oscillator at it. While Fargo and Zane fiddle around with it, trying to keep it from going off, Trevor sneaks up to the computer and enters Beverly's code. It causes a minor explosion, which makes the General order the EMP transported away from Eureka, much against everyone's recommendations.

But Beverly and her dudes had actually been manipulating Trevor (surprise, surprise) and captured the EMP machine for themselves. He came back to her, all hurt, and she showed him what they really wanted: the EMP's power supply, with which they have fixed the time machine and will send him back to the forties! Ta-da!

Meanwhile, the rest of them have been exorcising their hallucinated friends. Jack gets rid of Nathan by telling Allison he's loved her for years. Allison gets rid of Tess by admitting to Jack that she's terrified of another relationship (seeing as the last one went rather badly, Nathan dematerializing on their wedding day and all). Fargo gets rid of his nemesis by out-politicking the General. And Jo...

Jo gives Zane back his engagement ring, that she's been wearing around her neck all this time, and says she's over him and he can date Zoe if he likes.

But it turns out she's telling this to parallel Zane, not hallucination Zane. Parallel Zane says, "Why do you have my grandmother's ring?"

And just then they come in to arrest Zane for messing up the EMP device (thanks for setting up a fall guy for Trevor, Beverly).

Whew.

What I want to know is, why does everyone in this episode act like the EMP is the next horrible atomic bomb? It's actually much more humane than conventional weapons, because it doesn't kill people or even destroy buildings. It knocks out electronics. Yes, this will mess up a high-tech society and cause disruption in communications, mess up the food supply, that sort of thing. But it's not like an EMP actually fries people or razes entire continents to dust. It is possible to live a happy life without your cell phone. Just saying...

Cool things from Brandywine Books

The BBC has up a 26-minute documentary on Tolkien from 1968. It's rather sweet - you get to see Tolkien himself saying some of the quotes attributed to him, and sharing a couple funny stories I'd never heard before. We even get to watch him at a fireworks-and-bonfire party. There are also interviews with some of his students, varying from fan-clubbers to one earnest chap who despised LOTR as avoiding the really important things, like politics. (That one doesn't even merit a response.) The cinematography struck me as quite the period piece, complete with creepy synthesizer music. Hat tip to Brandywine Books.

Also from Brandywine: this cool youtube video on thinking and loving God. I wasn't sure where it was going, but it turned out to be an ad for the desiringGod 2010 conference. Well worth a watch. Too bad we won't be remotely near Minneapolis at the beginning of October.

And... also from Brandywine: a review of Heat Wave, the Castle tv show tie-in book, which I've been kind of wanting to read. I had no idea Lars Walker was a Castle fan.

Seriously, Brandywine has the best blog. They pretty much always have something interesting going on.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Found

"Next, and with deep humility, [my apologies] to Balliol College - not only for having saddled it with so wayward an alumnus as Peter Wimsey, but also for my monstrous impertinence in having erected Shrewsbury College upon its spacious and sacred cricket-ground."


"There was a new porter at the St. Cross lodge, who heard Harriet's name unmoved and checked it off upon a list. She handed him her bag, took her car round to a garage in Mansfield Lane*... *For the purposes of this book, Mansfield Lane is deemed to run from Mansfield Road to St. Cross Road, behind Shrewsbury College and somewhere about the junction between the Balliol and Merton Cricket grounds as they stand at present."

Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night, from the "Author's Note" and page 5.


View Larger Map

Dorothy Sayers would put in a footnote about her changes to the Oxford map. I have always rather wondered about Mansfield Road and St. Cross Road, so for all you readers who have also wondered, Google Maps knew.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

It amused me!

I come across all kinds of fun stuff. Today, it was this interview with Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies. She's talking about her upcoming death scene, in which she's dueling Molly Weasley (one of the awesomest scenes of the entire book series), and fell right off a table backwards. Hee!

Also fabulous - the career of Wallace Shawn, or as one blogger put it, Wallace "Princess Bride" Shawn. He IS Vizzini! In addition to a great many other parts, he's a regular voice for the Pixar movies, doing such classics as Rex the Dinosaur and the evil insurance boss from The Incredibles. He also did some Star Trek, Stargate SG-1, The Revenge of Kitty Galore, a Kung Fu Panda spin-off, an American Girls movie, Ally McBeal, and, oddly enough, Freud in something called "Hotel New Hampshire." He has fun. IMDB is great.

This morning I had on my old long white linen skirt and an equally aged blue t-shirt with pink flip-flops - nothing fancy, believe me, though it coordinated with Meg's outfit. So we were out for our walk and I was pushing the stroller along, when we noticed a semi parked in the neighborhood. It looked like a moving truck, but the side had some faded lettering that appeared to read, "Complete cage fighting," which was different. About then the driver stuck his head out and said, "Hi, how ya doin'?" "Hi!" I called back. "Do you need directions, or are you good?" "No, I'm good. I just thought I'd say hi because I liked your dress!"

I'm not sure what to say to that!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We're back!

Over the weekend we took a quick trip... to Canada! Jonathan's family was kind enough to send us up to visit Baba and Aunt Cheryl, who needed to meet Meggie and me.

We flew up Friday. We had about a 1:00 flight out of Richmond (yes!!), so we didn't even have to get up at the crack of dawn. Meg did fairly well on the planes. She had a couple of minor meltdowns, but nothing too bad, and anyway she was teething, so that was perfectly understandable. The air train in Newark ran into technical difficulties and took about 20 minutes to deliver us to our new terminal - we never did find out why. We made our flight just fine. Oh, and when you switch terminals there, you have to go back through security. Incidentally, you now have to take off your belt for security, as well as take off your shoes and pull your laptop out. So despite packing very light (for a baby), we still had six bins, bags, and a stroller to send through the machine. We wouldn't carry so much on if they didn't charge you to check anything. ::rolls eyes::

In Toronto, Customs was very professional but the lines were long. Meg just barely made it, mostly by smiling at the people behind us. We got a very cheerful taxi driver in a turban, who told us how wonderful President Obama is, whereas Bush was "just cowboy." He also tried to tell us how great socialized medicine is. I was very polite. We made it to the hotel in Toronto around 7:30 and made an executive decision not to try and see Baba that night. So we ordered a pizza, put Meg to bed, and watched Eureka.

Saturday we got up, had a lovely breakfast at the hotel restaurant, at which Meg charmed everyone, and then over to Baba's. As it turned out, she had had quite the Friday too, and it was just as well we hadn't tried to come over. No matter what the taxi driver said, Canadian medicine has issues. Poor Baba.

But she was delighted by Meg. We spent all day hanging out. Baba even got out her good china to feed us lunch! I felt special. Later on, Aunt Cheryl and several of Baba's friends came over the meet Meggie too, and then we went out for a fancy dinner, where Meg dropped three spoons on the floor and charmed the staff. Just as we were preparing to leave, the waitress put her hands out to pick her up - so I let her - and she walked off to show off the baby to the others! I was like, what? what? what? Did she just swipe my child?? But it was okay. She gave her back.

Baba wanted us to come breakfast with her Sunday morning before we left, so we did. We took lots of pictures. At the airport, we had a terrible time finding the international departures line, and then trouble finding the right customs paperwork, but it was done in the end. And we'd left plenty of time. At Newark we had amazing pizza for lunch and went through security again.

We couldn't get seats together for this last flight, but Jonathan hovered and the owner of the seat just across the aisle from me was kind enough to swap with him. He was Donny, a Scottish musician, and Jonathan got to sit next to his bandmate Eya. Eya was awesome. He had big piercings and tattoos, including a men-at-arms pattern that went all around his forearm, and Celtic knotwork even on the palm of his hand, and it was pretty hardcore. Eya and Jonathan and Meg all went to sleep, so I talked to the Filipina stewardess who pulled out a hidden seat in the aisle next to me. She knew the hospital where I was born and actually used to work for an accountant in the area. Very cool.

Then we got to come home! It was good to go, and good to come back. Meg was glad to see her own crib, I think.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eureka: "Momstrosity"

It kind of was a monstrosity, too.

The world did not almost get blown up. We had no seriously sweet science, though there was quite the chase scene. The dialogue wasn't crisp and witty. The episode started with a little robot spying on Jo in the shower, and really didn't improve notably from there. The episode, to sum up, was not awesome.

Actually, I take it back. The opening scene was the chase scene through the woods at night with a giant plasma-gun-wielding robot named Tiny, from episode 4.2, after them, in which Fargo got to toss off another Terminator quote. The first scene after the credits was the Jo-in-the-shower flashback.

Anyhow. Basically, Jack, Grant, Fargo, and Kevin go camping and the evil robot comes after them. Jack and Grant get into a childish slanging match over Alison, which Kevin rightly walks out on in disgust, and they have to go find him. The best thing about this dismal scene is that Jack finally decided he'd compete with Grant and make a shot at Alison for reals.

Everything that came out of Zane's mouth was either dirty or bad advice.

Alison didn't do anythizng dumb this week, but then she didn't do much of anything.

The house SARAH infects all the AI's in town with emotion code (I think? It was pretty unclear), and Deputy Andy fell in love with SARAH after a brief but embarrassing crush on Jo ("Has anyone ever told you your pH is perfectly balanced?"). Andy finished off the episode by spending the night with SARAH. We don't know. We don't ask. Zane was supposed to cure all the computers emotionally, but conveniently left Andy alone, so no doubt we'll have more computer-skank.

Meanwhile, Henry told Grace that he was from the parallel world, which she took badly. Henry moved out.

They never did explain what the tiny robot was doing around Jo. They blamed Kevin, because it was his school project, but apparently it wasn't Kevin's fault.

Yeah... I hope this is just a mid-season slump and they get their act together. Nobody is happy. Drama is fine, if it's dramatic drama, but not a round of misery. I want my old awesome Eureka back.

Book reviews

In between work, Meg, housework, and guests, I've been reading lately. Some of the fun new books I've come across:

Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson. I'd heard this recommended, and when Kanary spent the night with us, he was kind enough to bring us a copy. So I devoured it in its entirety within the day. :-) Wilson is a literary heir of C. S. Lewis. You know how at the end of The Last Battle, they get into the new Narnia and the sunlight is brighter, the colors more intense, the peaches more flavorful, than anything in this world? That's what Wilson does for our world. He talks about everything - philosophers, quarks, flamingos (real and artificial), creepy things wasps do, raking leaves, and, of course, Tilt-a-Whirls - and shows us a world spoken by God that can lick your materialist narrative hollow. The book is different, and not precisely comfortable, but it's good.

God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible by Adam Nicolson. This book we found at our church library. I haven't quite finished it, but it's fascinating on its own and in contrast to Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl. Nicolson's premise: The KJV could only have come out of a particular culture like King James, that managed to combine such contraries as Donne's sermons and racy sonnets, the barren sanctuaries and elaborate Inigo Jones mansions, and an entire generation of scholars that channelled all that brilliance and wordcraft and secular and sacred energy into one exuberant tapestry of words: specifically, the Word of God. He calls the KJV the cathedral that Renaissance England never built. I like it. Also, I'm learning a lot from the mini-biographies he sprinkles throughout. At one point he talks about the man that hounded the Pilgrims to go to the new world, and how that man was actually pretty tolerant by Jacobean standards, and rather bored by the whole Scrooby affair.

To jump back a thousand years or so, I read Bloodline by Katy Moran. I picked it up because it looked like decent historical fiction set in early Britain, the warring tribes, Mercia, King Penda, that era. And so it was: well written and researched, a lot like Rosemary Sutcliff. I can recommend it. My main beef with Moran is her anachronistic attitudes. Her character was very modern about disobedience and not wanting to belong to anyone (i.e. no lord). What we get out of the "The Wanderer" poem... doesn't back up that sort of attitude at all. Also, Christianity. I don't mind if characters hate Christianity for the reasons that people back then hated it; people have been hating Christianity for a long time. It's kind of expected. But it did irk me that instead of characterizing it as a dangerous interloping new religion that was going to make their gods angry, she made all the Christians foolish, stupid, or hypocritical. Furthermore, her tribal religion was a comfortable thing that didn't require, say, the occasional man thrown in a bog or burnt alive in a wicker basket. Neither God nor the gods were particularly real to her. Which is a pity. She had a tiresome afterword too, that patronized Bede (!). He was a monk who wrote the first history of England, which had good results, but you know, monks have their perspectives and we don't really have to take them seriously.

In retaliation, I picked back up Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which I've been working my way back through since about last Thanksgiving. Bede wasn't just a monk. He was pretty much the most brilliant, cosmopolitan scholar Britain had produced to date, and an interesting writer, even in translation. His history did focus on the church in England, rather than a more political history, though there's plenty of politics. Bede did his research, found original documents, and interviewed eyewitnesses, so he's actually quite reliable. But as for "perspective," people don't seem to realize that being a monk entails believing in a God who will get you if you lie, so it behooves monks to tell the truth. Of course, he did think what you believe matters, right down to the date of Easter, so if you find belief a little off-putting, I can see why you'd want to dismiss him as just a monk...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Arrgh!

Ack! This trailer - it - it distinctly looks like Zane is taking Zoe out on a date. No, no, no! All wrong! In any case, too many Z's for one couple, but mostly just NO.

On the plus side, Nathan is coming back. :-D More complications for Jack, but we missed him. While Henry and Alison were fiddling around with the exotic particle issue, Jonathan and I talked about how much they needed Nathan there... it's exactly his thing.

Eureka updates

We have been keeping up with Eureka. There have only been two episodes since I posted last, because there's now a one-week delay before they put them up on Hulu. (Sigh.) As always I'm including spoilers in with my commentary, so be ye warned.

Brief synopsis: In "The Story of O2," it's space week in Eureka complete with a rocket race to the moon, and some oxygen stuff gets loose (ahem, Alison) and we sincerely hope Eureka doesn't get blown up. In a subplot, Jack goes to Harvard to see Zoe. She's still herself and just fine, but a care package accidentally turns Zoe's science project invisible, so Jack and Zoe chase this invisible cat all over the Harvard dorm. Awkward. Also, back in Eureka, Larry blows up Jo's house.

In "Quitting Time," Alison makes herself obnoxious by insisting Grant quit smoking now. Meanwhile, a wormhole is opening up between Eureka-that-was and Eureka-that-is, and stuff keeps materializing from then to now. It turns out that Grant has exotic faster-than-light particles in his body that are not only tearing him apart, but have a magnetic-like attraction to 1940's stuff, and if they don't cleanse him of them, the two times will implode into each other. They figure out how to reprogram his anti-nicotine nanobots into anti-exotic-particle-bots, and the wormhole is cured. Meanwhile, Fargo and the VIP from Warehouse 13 get a bizarre romantic (?) thing going. Apparently being stuck together lying on double-tap land mines creates quite the emotional bond, but I'm thinking some of it was just unnecessary.

Alison is really starting to bother me. It's like, she arrived in this parallel universe and left her common sense in the other one. To elucidate. Alison's main change in the parallel universe was that her son Kevin no longer has autism. He's a regular, smart teenager. As far as we can figure, Alison is freaking out about how to relate to him, and so she does really bizarre and un-Alison-like things. In "O2," she tries to cheat for Kevin in the rocket race by putting contraband stuff in his rocket's fuel. The old Alison would never cheat.

In the most recent episode, Alison went all bossy-pants and made Dr. Trevor/aka Charlie Grant quit smoking. She could have been cute, but mostly she was just overbearing. He's fresh from the nineteen forties, for goodness' sake. It was culturally accepted then. Give the man a break. Besides, he looks so incredibly Humphrey Bogart cool with that hat and the cigarette.* Yes, he ought to quit, but once he said he was going to, it was just unkind to threaten to sic Martha on him and snatch his last one out of his hand. Then she gives him that nanobot blood-scrubbing patch on his neck, which is nifty, only she conveniently forgets to mention that it will give him a nasty shock if he tries to light up another one. It's just all very... bossy-pants of her.

Other interesting developments: since Larry also cheated by leaving the self-destruct out of his rocket, he blew up Jo's house, so Jack offered her his spare room as an alternative to the town jail. It would be highly inappropriate, but they're so definitely not interested in one another, it mostly came across as sweet. But seeing as Jack was totally sleeping with Tess (may she stay long in Australia), I feel like having Jo as a roommate is pretty mild. Hopefully it won't take too long to get her place rebuilt. In the meantime, she hogs his couch and watches reality TV and is good for him.

Jack needs to get married. Seriously. At this point I'm starting not to care to whom. He obviously wants someone - his sister Lexi, a live-in girlfriend, even Jo for a roommate. It's so frustrating - Jack liked Alison, Alison picked Nathan, and Nathan died, and then Tess arrived and left. Jack finally picked Alison, and they come back and Tess is an issue again. So he gets rid of Tess, and now there's not only Grant the rival, but Alison starts being a brat. Jack can take back his ex-wife Abby for all I care, though she'll have to negotiate a truce with SARAH (the house).

Enough of that. Zane is coming along nicely. One of the random forties things that materialized was... a bullet in Jo's chest. Oops! But Alison was able to operate and get the bullet out with no particular problems, and Zane was good enough to come sit by Jo's bedside and bring her a magazine. Also he called her "Jo-Jo," which he did back when he liked her (even though he did it to annoy her). So that's encouraging.

Henry is still not sure about being married. Jack was able to reassure Grace that Henry doesn't have another girlfriend, but naturally it's hard on her having her husband be so non-husbandly. I guess a surprise marriage would take a while to work up to. He asked her to dance at the end of the episode - progress.

Most remarkable of all: Fargo has a thing going with Claudia from Warehouse 13! She's the "crossover" character from the Warehouse 13 show, which I haven't seen. Whereas his old girlfriend Julia was nerdy in most of the ways Fargo was, Claudia has a major punk streak. She shows up with purple dye in her hair and big black-and-white sneakers, and doesn't encourage Fargo in his dorkiness at all. She may make a civilized human out of him. She's quite... uninhibited. I think I like her, but I'm not sure yet. She's certainly a fun character.



*No, gentle reader, I do not recommend you emulate this. But he does look cool - it's a plain fact. Alison knew it, and probably that's partly why she fell for him.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Smothered burritos

In other news, I finally figured out what to do with El Pinto green chile sauce and how to make New Mexico-style-tasting smothered burritos - two questions that have been afflicting me pretty much since I got married and left New Mexico. Afflicting, I tell you. And they're wonderful - the burritos, not the affliction. Anyway, this recipe doesn't even heat up the house in the summer, which is nice.

To make them, you will need:

1 mostly-full jar of El Pinto green chile sauce
1/2 lb hamburger
1/2 lb sausage (like Jimmy Dean, not like kielbasa)
1 onion, chunked
flour tortillas, fajita size
1 can refried beans
grated cheddar

Fry together the hamburger, sausage, and onion until cooked through. Warm up the refried beans so they're easier to work with. Spray a crock pot. On one side of a tortilla, layer refried beans, a spoonful of green chile sauce, and some meat. Fold in both ends, and then roll up the burrito from the end with the goody. Put it seam-side down in the crock pot. Repeat. After you've got a layer of burritos, spread a little more green chile sauce over the tops, and cheese if you like. Continue until you're out of meat, tortillas, or room in the crock pot. To finish, spread them very generously with cheese and turn on the crock pot until it's all melted.

As I said, they're pretty much wonderful. I bet this would be a good meal to take for a potluck, too.

An introvert goes to church

"I am fairly certain that even if you could give me a million years worth of Sunday morning gatherings, I would still never connect significantly with anyone in them."

I like the article by Rachel Starr Thomson. She's so right: Sunday morning meet-and-greet time is not conducive to meaningful fellowship for us introverted types. She's also right: doing a job, or going to a retreat, or making an effort in other ways is totally worth it. Personally, I like weekly small groups.

Which reminds me: I need to decide if I want to teach Sunday school this fall, or set up coffee, or what...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

We rode the ferry from Jamestown to Scotland

We really did. You didn't know you could take a ferry from Jamestown all the way to Scotland in half an hour, did you? Of course, it helps if it's Scotland, Virginia. :-)














The birds congregated on the pier.













No consumption of alcohol. No smoking.

On the way to the ferry, we stopped at the beach. It was a wonderful beach. There were rocks and trees and sand, and pretty shells. I took lots of pictures and Jonathan built a sand castle, with a gate and towers and a White Tree of Gondor smack in the center.

We also rescued someone's orange Frisbee from the water and made an imitation sunset. If nobody claimed it, I was going to give it a good home; but somebody did.

It was a really lovely day.

True happiness, Meggie-style

Meg's new favorite toy is paper. Yesterday I had to rescue two sheets of guitar chords and a map from her cute little grasp. Today, as I was cleaning out my magazine pile, I tossed a couple her direction.

She picked up a photography magazine, selected the third page from the back, ripped it out, and started chewing. Bliss.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mila's daydreams

This blog is just too fabulous. What is her baby dreaming about?

...Look and see.

Hat tip: Design Mom.

The smell of summer


Dad photographed this mushroom-stand just after a rain at Rabbit Ridge, across from the Valle Caldera in New Mexico. You can see droplets still trickling down that green leaf. Aren't they delicate, dainty little fungi? His photography impresses me.

Here in Richmond, just before dinner, we had quite the thunderstorm, with downpours, power outages, fried internet, the works. Meg (miraculously) slept through it all. Jonathan dodged dead stoplights and fallen trees on the road home, and I had to light a candle to find the peanut butter.

Summer smells like wet air after a rain, and it tastes like peaches, bacon, and coffee. I'm excited because for breakfast tomorrow, we actually have all three of those. The peaches are even sliced already.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Eureka - season 4, episode 3

In Eureka 4.2 last week, mostly we watched the characters grapple with their new situation. Deputy Andy (the robot sheriff from a previous season) figured out that they'd been in the forties, but his memory got wiped, so it was still a secret. The five travelers decided to keep it that way.

They posted Eureka 4.3 today. Spoilers ahead! Fargo got to celebrate his (parallel) ascension to lab directorship by dealing with an enraged zombie infestation, but unfortunately, he got zombified too. So did Jo, but she held it together quite well, considering. She not only didn't kill Zane several times, but her last action before losing her mind completely was to handcuff herself to a pillar so she wouldn't accidentally kill anyone else. I love Eureka. She did pull a gun on Jack, but no harm, no foul, I guess? Jack did, incidentally, save the world again, with Tess and Allison's help.

We got further confirmation that Henry's parallel wife is awesome. Grace pulled a really great prank on Henry and Dr. Grant and made all their tools disappear as they touched them. They were convinced they'd ruined time-space somehow and were sending pliers and screwdrivers back to the forties. It's hard to do, but every single scene she's in confirms that she's just right for him. I love it. Dr. Grant even teased him about developing a crush on his wife. Henry's in good shape if they never make it back.

I was so proud of Jack! He ended the episode by breaking up with Tess. I hadn't expected the writers would let him deal with that for several more episodes. He did it really well, and told her that they shouldn't move in together (so true, for so many reasons), that he knew that job in Australia would be perfect for her, and that she'd be really happy there. He may have even managed it so as not to have a mortal enemy for the next few episodes, but I wouldn't bank on it.

Scary things

Meg has officially reached mobility. She's been pretty active for a while. The other day, for instance, I was lying on the floor of her room trying to nap, and she would roll into the desk, wail, roll back my direction and kick me, roll off into a corner, wail, and come back and kick me some more. It was not a successful nap, though it was pretty funny. Then last night while we ate dinner, she amused herself by rolling around the kitchen floor and finding things she oughtn't have, like dryer sheets and paper towels, which she shredded very efficiently.

But today she showed off for Kay by sitting up - not remaining when put into a sitting position, but actually going from lying down to sitting up - and none of us even saw it happen. ("Jonathan, did you sit her up? Kay, did you? Well, I didn't either!") We think she went through a kind of sideways crunch and then rolling up to do it. And not ten minutes later, she made her first official hands-and-knees, forward-motion, crawl. It was only one step - but crawling it was.

So I had a mild meltdown this evening. She was sitting up, holding a plastic comb like a guitar, and chattering/singing away to herself, and I just slightly lost it.

To top it off, Wal-Mart was out of baby gates. Uh-oh.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Slimming my closet

Meggie and I went shopping yesterday with a friend, and I found an adorable blouse. It's tomato red with cream polka dots, short puffed sleeves, and a V-neck with a dainty Peter Pan collar. It looks exactly like a forties or fifties garden party. And it was on really good clearance - even better than the tag claimed. Happiness!

I was especially excited because it qualified as the "cute top I can dress up or down" that was on my List for the fall. Items like "khaki pants" might be hard to find, but at least they're straightforward, but a really great shirt is elusive. What with changing sizes post-Meggie, my small closet, normal wearing-out-as-garments, and just trying to be organized and thrifty, I'm trying to make my wardrobe streamlined and really awesome. I don't want fifty boring sweaters. I want a few perfect pieces so I'll look fabulous at all times!

In that context, I was interested to come across this article in the New York Times about "shopping diets" and the "six items or less" project. Basically, a bunch of people are deciding for one reason or another that they have entirely enough clothes. Some decide not to buy anything for a year, and others want to see if they can wear six items or fewer for a whole month. Not only can they... but their near and dear don't even notice!

I think this is culturally a very healthy impulse. Interestingly, they found that modern clothes don't hold up well under that kind of frequent wear. The lady interviewed mentioned that as a challenge to clothes makers. I'm reminded of Tom Sawyer, whose Sunday best was referred to as his "other clothes," from which you learned the size of his wardrobe.

Readers, do you have a wardrobe plan or fall shopping list? What's on it?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

To think that I should live to see this day!

"A Christian endeavor of almost 2,000 years could be substantially completed by 2025. Protestant translators expect to have the Bible - or at least some of it - written in every one of the world's 6,909 living languages." Read the full Denver Post article here.

Talk about high adventure. Talk about projects worth doing. Talk about prophecies being fulfilled. Come soon, Lord Jesus.


Hat tip to Brandywine Books. They find the coolest news, seriously.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mystery cleared up

When we watched the Eureka 4-1, it started with "previously in Eureka" that Jack and Tess broke up. I figured I'd just missed that episode, because there were one or two I hadn't seen, but we just watched them (re-watched, in one case), and sure enough, it hadn't happened. Season 3 ended with Tess giving Jack a ticket to Australia to come visit her.

However, someone linked writer Jamie Paglia's twitter post about it. The break-up was in a deleted scene and will be on the DVD. There we are. In any case, it wasn't much of a break-up, since they were back together by the end of 4.1.

And... it's been confirmed that James Callis, playing Dr. Trevor Grant, is in (at least) ten episodes. Paglia goes on to say that the parallel story arc will be twenty episodes long - quite a season. Yes!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Eureka - Founder's Day

Eureka season 4 is here! The first episode is up on Hulu, and what an opening it was. They've set up a situation with plenty of plot for the whole season, and I really hope they string it out for a few episodes, because it's a fun one. And we have an awesome new character. He's on the new title banner even, which gives me hope that he's here to stay. He's got a great hat.

Okay, go watch the episode now if you object to spoilers, and then come back and read the rest of this post. ;-) First of all: Tess. I didn't like Tess when she first turned up. She wasn't right for Jack. I still think she isn't right for Jack. He needed to get together with Alison, which could have been okay after Nathan heroically melted or de-timed or whatever it was (and I was just getting reconciled to him), and then everybody would have been happy. Well, Jack and Alison and I would have been happy. Only that didn't happen. I was finally getting reconciled to this Tess character when they got rid of her and I was rooting for Alison again. And NOW THEY BROUGHT TESS BACK. Aargh!

Second: Fargo. Who in their right mind would have put him in charge? This can only end in disaster - very humorous disaster, probably involving a swing dance since he didn't get to go to that other one. Incidentally, I want to see Pierre Fargo, Fargo's grandfather who was resurrected from cryogenic sleep in whatever episode that was. He would be perfect in season 4. I predict he hangs out with the new guy, though if I'm remembering the chronology, he didn't go to Eureka until the fifties, so that might not have worked. But now that we're in that parallel universe, all bets on chronology are off. Who knows what's going to have changed. Maybe Fargo got put in charge in the parallel world because Pierre Fargo rose to importance after Dr. Trevor Grant was out of the way.

We thought the time travel itself was quite well handled. Eureka is still so Eureka, even sixty years ago. You've got the scientists, and the overbearing military types, and very similar jail cells, and Jo can still mop the floor with mere military men, no matter their credentials. The contemps were just as smart and well characterized as the moderns, which was nice. The time-travel science was a little hazy, but at this point, we don't really care. Eureka has earned its scientific stripes, so to speak, and we're willing it to run with it.

They've set up several bittersweet plots in the parallel universe. Jack will, of course, just be confused about the Tess/Alison thing, but he needed to make up his mind anyway. Henry will likely be anxious to go back to the original universe, though it depends on Grace. Unless, oh no, what if parallel Kim isn't dead?? And poor Jo, about Zane! Parallel Zane is so not an improvement. Who knows what Fargo will do. He might decide he prefers the bronze Archimedes, or get drunk on power, or something. Alison might decide she likes the parallel universe better because of her son, whose name I can't remember. And Trevor... what if he decides to stick around for Alison?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mall-shoppers beware

She really tried to talk me into believing in God the Mother. She also believed in the Trinity, consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so I'm not quite clear where the Mother fit into all this - shape-shifting, maybe?

To her credit, she had an actual Bible with her, of reputable translation, and kept thrusting verses under my nose. She assured me that she was only saying what Scripture said, and she wouldn't say it if it wasn't in there! I really tried to make sense of her claims. I think she was arguing that:

a) when God created male and female in His image, that proved His image was female;

b) that we're living in the end times, so the verses about mysteries being revealed in the end refer specifically to God being female;

c) the verse in Galatians about "if anyone preaches a different Gospel, he is to be accursed" doesn't apply to this new revelation because it's the same gospel;

d) When Paul is talking about the Jerusalem that is above and the earthly Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem is female, so God is female.

e) Something about "elohim" being plural, and sure that might refer to the Trinity, but it could also be interpreted as referring to His/Her femininity.

A lot of other things came into it too, like the order of Melchizedek, though I have no idea what he did to deserve that. Nobody had ever taught this poor girl how to construct a coherent argument.

I could have escaped more quickly, but I figured that if she was talking to me, at least she wasn't talking to someone else. She was so enthusiastic, so dressed up, and so utterly lacking in theology and logic. I encouraged her to keep reading her Bible, and said I thought that she would find it wasn't really saying what she thought it said...