Happy Hobbit Day!

Happy Tolkien Week!

Happy Last Day of Summer!

(And as the Autumnal Equinox is tonight at 11:09,)

Happy First Day of Fall!



Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,

Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.

[Credit to “Hafiz”, who wrote it, and to Jamie, who showed it to me. 🙂 ]

These are some of them.

  • summer reading lists
  • basset hounds
  • air conditioning (seriously)
  • days off
  • picking blueberries on days off
  • peanut butter and blueberry jelly sandwiches
  • trips to the beach
  • getting books in the mail
  • local honey
  • cucumbers from the garden
  • ponds
  • wee turtles
  • discovering new authors (quite by accident)
  • setting my facebook language to English (UK)
  • really, really good blogs
  • this book
  • google reader
  • fire light
  • really good Mexican food
  • porch swings

to be continued…

I don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about Hell.  In fact, you could probably say that most of the time,  I make a deliberate attempt not to think about it. But ever since I read this terrifying description of it in Lewis’ anthology of George MacDonald a few weeks ago, I’ve had a hard time making my brain  avoid it.

I think I have seen from afar something of the final prison of all, the innermost cell of the debtor of the universe…  It is the vast outside; the ghastly dark beyond the gates of the city of which God is the light–where evil dogs go ranging, silent as the dark, for there is no sound any more than sight.  The time of signs is over.  Every sense has (had) its signs, and they were all misused:  there is no sense, no sign more–nothing now by means of which to believe.  The man wakes from the final struggle of death, in absolute loneliness as in the most miserable moment of deserted childhood he never knew.  Not a hint, not a shadow of anything outside his consciousness reaches him… Soon misery will beget on his imagination a thousand shapes of woe, which he will not be able to rule, direct, or even distinguish from real presences.

-George MacDonald [116]

Every once in a while, I come across a passage in a book that, while I’m certain the author didn’t intend for it to be,  I find incredibly funny.  Take for example this passage from Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter.

Sally wanted to take the broom and clean the parlour.
“It’s clean as a ribbon,”   said mother.
“If you go in there, you’ll wake the baby,”  said Lucy.
“Will it kill it if I do?”  asked Sally.
“No, but it will make it cross as fire, so it will cry all the time Peter is here,”  said Lucy.
“I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t scream every minute, anyway,”  said Sally
“I hope it will,”  said Lucy.  “That will make Peter think a while before he comes so often.”

That made Sally so angry she couldn’t speak, so she went out and began killing chickens.
(p. 74)

Ha!  Sally, it would appear, has anger issues.  😀

I love how at Easter, we christians will sometimes greet one another by saying “He is risen”, to which the reply comes,  “He is Risen indeed”.  Sources that know (okay, wikipedia) tell me that this is known as the Paschal greeting.  Well, yes, and I love it.  I wonder why we don’t say it more often, though.  I mean, it’s as true every other day of the year as it is on Easter.   And not only is it true, but it’s a fundamentally true.  It’s a Big Truth.

Oh well, maybe it’s a good thing that we have special words for special days.

Today was a special Day.


He is Risen.

So, just in case you were unaware, this has been a pretty great weekend.  That Spring arrived on Saturday is undoubtedly the chief cause of this pretty greatness, but there were other things, too.  Things like:

  • buying cheese at the Amish store
  • plotting the acquisition of new (used) books
  • Google Reader
  • Discovering new park benches within walking distance of work, whereupon to set in the sunshine and eat lunch and read books.*
  • SPRING!!! (It’s worth mentioning again.)
  • Emergen-C and its restorative effects
  • attending a live performance of Romeo & Juliet*
  • planning week-long trips to the beach in June
  • strawberry short-cake
  • books in the mail*
  • spell checkers
  • having episodes of House and The Office on dvr
  • finding another bookcase to house more books
  • good advice from friends to practice blogging

*events occurred on friday, and were great enough and close enough to the weekend to be included.

It’s been brought to my attention that I’ve been somewhat negligent in my new year’s resolution to blog more. Yes, well. Ahem. 
In my defense, February has proven to be quite a busy month for me. My car died…a tragic, yet not entirely unexpected event which forced me to hone my skills in begging rides and sometimes even entire cars in order to maintain my employed status. 
 I took a trip to North Carolina to buy a new (to me) car and found myself in the middle of the biggest snow storm they’ve seen since 1989.  I did get to throw a snowball into the ocean, though. 
Speaking of snow, it’s snowed approximately 287 feet here since February 1st. Aside from earning a masters degree in the science of snow shoveling, I’ve also developed sleeping patterns similar to a grizzly bear. Hibernation is nice, by the way. 

Okay, I admit it. I’ve never been very good at the making or keeping of New Year’s Resolutions. While I almost always have the best of intentions, one of three things usually happens:

A.) January 1st rolls around, and, being in the grip of my semiannual winter cold and convinced I won’t live to see the first bloom of Spring, I renounce the making of resolutions as a luxury reserved for those who don’t have one foot in the grave.   By the time I recover, I’m so relieved that I’m not going to die that I forget all about resolutions.

B.) Having in the previous year come up with all manner of excellent resolutions for the betterment of myself and the world around me, and with every intention of implementing them first thing on New Year’s Day, I somehow manage to forget all about them and not recall them again until a week after Easter.

C.) Having neither forgotten nor been too sick to make them, I happily and with a profound sense of accomplishment set about implementing all of my brand new resolutions. This lasts until about March, when most, if not all, have been labeled “impractical” and are abandoned.

Given this less than impressive track record, one might think that I’d give up on this whole business of making New Year’s Resolutions, that I’d direct my energies in more fruitful directions.  One would be wrong.  🙂

Maybe I’m just hard-headed (I could probably produce some witnesses to testify to that effect), but I prefer to think of myself as an optimist.  Either way, here, for your consideration, are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2010:

  • Blog more often.  I started blogging on xanga almost four years ago, but have fallen away from it in recent months (due in part to some really gross and inappropriate stuff starting to show up on xanga’s front page).  My goal is to write a new post at least once a week (maybe every two weeks, during busier months).  This new wordpress blog is my first effort in that direction.
  • Read 50 books.  This is a goal I’ve set myself for the last two years, and it’s one of my favorites.  Among others, I’m hoping to read more Gene Stratton-Porter, and to finish the works Jane Austen.
  • Spend more time in the Bible.  I hate to admit it, but my Bible reading in recent months (years?) has been sporadic at best.  My goal is to read at least one chapter a day, preferably more.   I’ve been at this since January 1st, and it’s already become an essential part of my day.  I really, really wish I’d started this one sooner.  (Also, I’m debating about whether or not to count the books of the Bible toward my 50 book goal.  Hmm…)
  • Read through C.S. Lewis’s George MacDonald Anthology.  I’ve been taking a passage out of this every morning after my Bible reading and a devotion from My Utmost for His Highest.  Seriously, it’s the best time of the day.
  • Learn to use my spiffy new camera.  Last year I bought myself a very nice Digital SLR camera from a very nice Canadian camera store (thank you, eBay!).  Now it would be very nice to learn how to use some of the settings beside “automatic”.  🙂
  • Watch less news.  By news, I mostly mean political news.  It stresses me out, makes me cranky and/or depressed, and frankly, I’m sick of it.
  • Watch less TV.  I watch too much tv.  Way too much.  Besides, less tv means more time spent with a book…or listening to music…or walking around in the sunshine.  Yes, much less tv.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are only 341 days left in this year, and as you can see, I have a lot to do. 



p.s.  I’m sure that there are some people who will say that January 24 is far too late to be writing a post about New Year’s Resolutions.  I’ve decided that those people are mistaken.  😉

While I didn’t reach my goal of reading 50 books in 2009, it was, in terms of good books read, new authors discoverd, and time spent with old favorites, a banner year.  The total comes to 28, including three audio books, listed here in more or less the order I read them.

  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    This was the first book I read in 2009 and was one of my favorites.  An incredible love story with a truly unique twist.  I have to admit, there was too much strong language and explicit behavior for my taste, but otherwise, this one is definitely recommended.
  • A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
    A Christmas present from a friend and highly enjoyable.  One of my favorite quotes: “There is a certain amount of kindness [in the world], just as there is a certain amount of light,” he continued in measured tones.  “We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows.  Choose a place where you won’t do harm — yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    One of those books I should have read when I was small, but didn’t for some reason.  I’m enjoying playing catch up.
  • At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman
    I found this most excellent book recommended on this most excellent blog, and I’m so glad that I did!  In this book of essays, Anne Fadiman (one of my new favorite authors) writes about everything from ice cream to arctic exploration.  Highly Recommended!
  • The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
    It was C.S. Lewis, therefore it was brilliant.
  • The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
    Recommended by a friend.  Quite entertaining.  Maybe the best book I’ve ever read about unicorns.  🙂
  • How Far She Went by Mary Hood
    Recommended by the same friend as above.  Dark and painful and beautiful.
  • Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
    I loved this book almost as much as “At Large and At Small”.  Every book lover should read it.
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    I’m so glad I didn’t let my poor opinion of “Of Mice and Men” stop me from reading this.  One of the best novels I’ve ever read.  Highly Recommended.
  • Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
    I can’t believe it took me this long to read the Anne books.  Anne (with an ‘e’) Shirley very quickly became one of my favorite characters in all of literature.   I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series this year.
  • Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson
    Sad and beautiful.
  • Sense and Sensibility
    I love Jane Austen.
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
    Annie Dillard writes about trees and sky and wind and grass and things like they’re part of her soul.   I’m pretty sure they are.  Highly Recommended.
  • The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
    Also very good.
  • Tree and Leaf by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The only thing I’ve ever read by Tolkien (other than his letters) not set in Middle Earth.  Like Lewis, he’s just Brilliant.
  • Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
    I enjoyed this one, too.
  • Rereadings edited by Anne Fadiman
    Several authors talk about the books that have influenced their lives.  Interesting.
  • The Dark Tower and Other Stories by C.S. Lewis
    I read that there was some controversy over whether Lewis actually wrote the story fragment titled “The Dark Tower”.  It was a little odd, I admit.  I loved “Ministering Angels”, and “The Man Born Blind” was one of the best short stories I’ve ever read.
  • The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
    Ha!  I’m sure you know what I think.
  • Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me by Andree Seu
    Another author I found recommended on someones blog.  I don’t even want to try to describe her writing, because there’s no way I could it justice.  Just go read her.  You won’t regret it.
  • We Shall Have Spring Again by Andree Seu
    See above.
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    This was a reread, but it had been so long since I’d first read it, that I’d forgotten much of it.  Of course I loved it.
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
    This book has been sitting on my shelf for ages, but to be honest, I was a little intimidated by it.  To say it was beautiful and magnificent would be a grievous understatement.  Highly Recommended

(Audio Books)

  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed listening to John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) read this book.  Seriously, it’s incredibly awesome.  If you’ve never heard it, just let me know and I’ll be glad to share.
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
    Brilliant because it was by Lewis, but nothing special as an audio book
  • The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
    See above.


Happy New Year, everybody! 
(and Happy Reading!)