Tuesday, December 30, 2008

like old times

Christmas has come and gone and I am back in the city for New Years. One of the highlights of my time spent at home was going back to a place I thought had been passed and gone forever. Not the place physically but a place of relationships. I went back to the barn for a visit and found Joan working there again (filling in for a few weeks) and began to work there again myself as much as possible (around family commitments etc). At first it was the same old catch up interaction that I have experienced every year since I left the barn but then we just naturally went back to the way we were for the years I worked there. I never expected to be able to do that and it made me really happy (and really sad that I am not there still). I love it when God surprises us with unlooked-for blessings. He is so good.

Monday, December 15, 2008

doggywog

I believe it was around this time last year that we welcomed Dundee into our home (literally at that point although she's an outdoor dog now). So to commemorate this anniversary, here's a picture of her taken last week.

struggling

It has been quite a while since I have posted a quote from Oswald Chambers. The end of today's entry from My Utmost for His Highest struck me especially because I often think about the reasons to read a book and benefits derived from such an activity:

The Author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in you for utterance.


This along with a line at the beginning of the entry reminded me of a comment a friend made last night while discussion types of artists. He said that artists are either Mozarts and Beethovens: either ideas/inspirations come easily or they have to be worked out with a struggle. I definitely see myself more on the struggling side of the line. Unfortunately, in a lot of ways, I would rather not bother with the struggle which is why this following quote is pertinent to me:
If you cannot express yourself on any subject, struggle until you can. If you do not, someone will be the poorer all the days of his life.
Of course, I think this depends on the quality of the sentiment struggling to be expressed...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

frozen chicken wire

from the bit of ice storm we had last week

Once more unto the quotes, dear friends...

I realize that I have been behindhand in writing out some of the quotes that I have been gleaning from books and because I am also slightly behindhand in the gleanings I feel a remedy of one might help the other. I have finished re-reading Emma and part of the time I had my quote/note book (I would combine the two words but am prevented by the difficulty stemming from their similarity) with me and so gleaned a few felicitous quotes. I love Austen's style and, although many of her turns of phrase are only seen perfectly when viewed in full context of the plot and what has gone before, I did manage to find some quotes that are quite as good when lifted from the pages and set by themselves.

Having been attending, for the past few months, country dances in my small town, I am finding that I understand and have experienced many of the feelings described as surrounding such events in Austen's work. I believe that I may have posted something further on this topic earlier so I will suffice it to say that now that I am in the habit of attending these dances I gladly put myself in the place of the young people mentioned in this quote:
It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at a ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind; - but when a beginning is made - when felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt - it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.


Being, as I am, interested in linguistics, grammar, and also the imagination, I laughed at the following quote:
Such an adventure as this, - a fine young man and a lovely young woman thrown together in such a way, could hardly fail of suggesting certain ideas to the coldest heart and the steadiest brain. So Emma thought, at least. Could a linguist, could a grammarian, could even a mathematician have seen what she did, have witnessed their appearance together, and heard their history of it, without feeling that circumstances had been at work to make them peculiarly interesting to each other? - How much more must an imaginist, like herself, be on fire with speculation and foresight!


Finally a quick quote that mirrors what I often experience:
Emma denied none of it aloud, and agreed to none of it in private.
I know this is not a good thing but there you have it.
And there you have three lovely quotes from one of my favourite authors.

Oh, I'm just booking

One of the aspects that I have enjoyed most about this section of my life is the oodles of time I now have to dedicate to reading and discussing books. Any books that I want. Books that I have been meaning to read for ages. Books that I have been acquiring at an astonishing rate at used book sales and the like. This is indeed a recipe for true bliss. The one problem, the fly in the ointment as it were, I am now facing is that my desire to read books has outstripped the time it actually takes to read them. As I am reading (or contemplating reading) one, another pops into my head as a great one to read next and I'm off again. If I read several at the same time I don't feel as though I'm getting through any of them fast enough (and often the less-interesting at the time fall by the wayside and never get read when perhaps I would otherwise have been interested at a later date). But if I read one at a time I feel as though I would find it too narrow to accommodate my ever-changing tastes. So instead of savouring whatever it is I am free to read at the time I spend energy looking forward to what I will be able to read next.

But, to state the obvious, this is a wrong view to take. The goal is not to rush through as many books as possible merely to be able to check them off the list. That I do believe in this viewpoint is evident from the fact that I enjoy re-reading a good book, even sometimes on multiple occasions. I know I should take the time to taste each book as I'm chewing them. I would ideally like to remember enough about any book I've read to be able to discuss it reasonably well with other readers (my poor memory for details often gets in the way of this but I do believe it is something that should be worked on and not merely used as an excuse for lack of intelligence). I do know that there are too many books out there to read within a lifetime. Skipping from one to the next is not the way to garner any enjoyment from them either. It's strange because I generally already have this outlook on most aspects of my life. I realize that I am not able to take every career path of which I can think. I realize that there are pros and cons to everything; things that I would like and dislike in every possible situation and that the best way to go through life is to enjoy whichever situation one finds oneself in at the time. But why is it so hard for me to find a similar contentment with books?

Perhaps this book-ADD stems from the very fact that I have a new-found freedom to read anything. When I was younger I was limited first by age/comprehension, then by resources (I had completely sucked dry the content--this word obviously excludes the multiple trashy series fobbed off on kids--of the children's section of our local library by the time I was twelve), and time (working almost full-time while in High School), and finally at the time when I entered the English program I made a pact with myself that during the school year I would only read assigned books. This is one of the first opportunities where none of these limitations apply and I haven't found another way to narrow down what I am reading. I'm not sure that I want to place limitations but I do wish to start enjoying and remembering whatever book I do happen to have in hand at any particular moment. In general I have a decent attention span, I just need to find it in this aspect of my life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

so happy together

After a hiatus that lasted for months (with occasional, slight reconciliations that only served to highlight the estrangement) I am finally on good terms once more with my camera. I spent the better part of a week back at home and, other activities being suspended while the outdoors outdid itself in its decorations, I spent a fair chunk of the time out and about the house (obviously said in a Canadian accent. How else would I speak?). I think I took around 300 pictures. In looking over them I realize that, as is usual with me, of those pictures approximately thirty percent are of my wonderful puppy, and the rest are of plants/trees/sky/ice/snow etc. Oh, there are three pictures of people on the camera from the week but they were not taken by me and are an unfortunate shade of yellow because the lighting inside was not great. We got a new car this week and, instead of taking a picture to show what it looks like, I instead have several pictures of the icicles dripping from the grill and the hood. I'm hopeless. I have determined to have my camera about me more now that I have resumed my former relationship with it and hopefully this will result in more pictures that other people would want to see, pictures that will be helpful to posterity.
But all this aside I shall post some of the pictures that are not helpful to posterity but that I really like for their picturesqueness.





Saturday, December 06, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

long roads

Yesterday was a day marked more with discussion than rest but in its own way that discussion was refreshing. I spent most of the afternoon (when not playing a horse in a little girl's game) discussing aspects of running a household with my mom and a mother of ten. In so many ways they posess a wisdom that only comes through experience. I have always tried to learn things without having to do it the hard way and it is true that there is a certain amount of preparation that is possible before going through what they experienced but at the same time I doubt I will ever be able to arrive at the place where they stand without having personally travelled along a similar road to get there. What will life bring?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm sinking

I was checking my blog archives (that word gives the illusion in my mind of a much larger body of text than it actually describes) today and have come to the conclusion that my blog is much less interesting these days. It seems as though the less frequently I post, the less interesting my posts become. So this is my way of attempting to rectify the situation: writing a boring post. Good job Janice.

However, I would prefer to think of it as a pledge to try to write better and more frequent posts in future. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

writing

It has happened to me a few times that I have written something and then, on returning some time later to the same work, have completely forgotten about it. Not merely forgotten in the way that one occasionally forgets the ending to a book one returns to after a time of absence from it before re-reading but rather forgotten that it had any connection with me. I have occasionally accused my broter of the authorship but eventually have to believe that it indeed was my own fingers that typed (I would say penned but if that were the true case the handwriting would be a dead give-away) the piece. I find I sometimes forget these things I have written more than things I have merely read. I say this because often when re-reading another's work I have the feeling or knowledge that I've read it before but occasionally my own writing appears as untouched territory to my eyes. It makes me wonder if perhaps I write in a trance or if another part of my brain is working than the comprehension or memory retaining section. The creative process is fascinating--as is the root of that word: the Latin fascinum meaning a spell. The process also certainly may be considered inexplicable. I wonder if others have similar experiences with their writings.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

first snow

Two days ago we got our first snow of the year. Well, not counting all the piles of snow that fell in the first half of this calendar year. I suppose I should more accurately have said the first snow of the season.

Yesterday morning I resumed a bit of my photographic habits and stalked around the building looking for good pictures. I was checked a little by the idea of our friendly neighbours not appreciating my taking pictures with their building in truth innocently as the backdrop but possibly construed as the subject. Images of being dragged into a room with a table and a glaring light and having my camera smashed to find the film (my interrogators, of course, are unfamiliar with the new digital technology) and trying to explain in simple English that I wasn't trying to spy on them danced in my head.

None of that happened but it made my adventure feel a little more aventurous. I succeeded in my goal of capturing a few good pictures and so returned, safe, to my room. Here is possibly my favourite from the bunch:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

sacrifice

A couple weeks ago I heard a quote I really liked and have since received a copy of the chapter from which it came. I am enjoying the chapter and just ran into the paragraph that I remember so thought I should post it here:
Sacrifice is at the center of the work of salvation. Sacrifice is God's way of dealing with what is wrong in history, which is to say, what is wrong with us, individually and collectively. It is God's way of dealing with sin.

Sacrifice. All the ways we have of dealing with what is wrong with the world, whether that wrong is named "sin" or not, are in stark contrast to this. Our typical ways are through force (getting rid of what is wrong by destroying it or containing it or policing it), by education (teaching people right from wrong, and hoping that when they know the difference they will do what is right), by entertainment (distracting people from what is wrong with the world by giving them excitement and diversion, temporary vacations from the wrong), by economic improvement (providing incentives and opportunities to improve peoples' lives so that they will not out of despair and desparation, anger and retaliation, make a further mess out of things). None of these approaches is without merit. All of them in ways small and large make the world better. But none of them are God's way of accomplishing salvation. God's choice is sacrifice.


This is taken from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (incidentally this is a line from G.M. Hopkins) by Eugene Peterson.

Monday, October 20, 2008

clip

Rob Brydon's description of Russell Brand from Annually Retentive--a show of which I would desire to see more.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The view from my window

This is a small part of what I see when I wake up every morning:
I have four windows in my room and I have been able to keep them open ever since I moved in. I love the fresh air and the occasion bits of conversation that blow into my room during the day. I love the sound of the rain or the lonely clacking of a pair of heels that punctuate the darkness as I lie in bed at night. I love the bright sunshine that floods the room every (sunny) day. I love my new room. Perhaps to those of you who have always lived above ground, this pleasure of mine is nothing spectacular but having resided for the past 15 or so years in basement bedrooms this new light is a luxury. I actually believe that this room is quite decent even by above-stairs standards being quite large and having an ensuite bath. I think it might be difficult once I have to move to reconcile myself to whatever room I will have next. I am truly spoiled.

Friday, September 26, 2008

the same paths



This area is beautiful this time of year. I am running along the river every morning and it really brings back those five-year-old memories of when I used to bike every morning along that same river to come to this very place.

I have had no battery charger for the past few weeks but last night I managed to get one that works so hopefully I shall soon be able to document the beauty of this season and perhaps post some of those pictures. But while we're waiting for new pictures I don't mind posting nice ones from previous years.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

to brown

Once again I am tardy in my colour change with the seasons. Perhaps, though, I can blame it on the fact that Autumn itself crept up on me and from the other fact that I am not sure which day was the equinox (if that is what determines the change) this year. However I may have been mistaken or misled, it is now Autumn and this is now brown.

I used to dislike brown. I found it to be an objectionable, useless colour along with orange and various horrid shades of decent colours (mustard yellow, olive green etc). I have since then discovered that there is beauty in more than just the obviously beautiful, that contrast adds variety and interest.

I remember a story from when I was young about a silly duck (or goose probably) who thought that some ingredients in cake, being objectionable in themselves, should be removed to improve the taste of the cake. But without baking soda and whatever other ingredients she disliked, the cake was a disaster. I am not saying that brown has a use only as a rising agent, but that often we don't appreciate the workhorses in our appreciation of the more pleasingly showy externals.

So in honour of brown, I shall keep this template until winter breaks through with its icy blue.

Friday, September 19, 2008

closing thoughts

I have finally finished Bleak House but I will quote it one more time before moving on:
[she had] a predestined aptitude for doing something objectionable.

He had so long been thoroughly persuaded of the weight and import to mankind of any word he said, that his words really had come to sound as if there were something in them.

One thing I do enjoy about Dickens is his excellent descriptions and his way of encapsulating the essence of a character within a short sentence or two. There were a few places where the going was heavy but for the most part I think I shall miss ploughing through Dickens as I turn to lighter material in the next little while. I still have to read Dombey and Son and Little Dorrit (I'm possibly forgetting one or two other novels of his) and I'm sure there are many of his novels that I wouldn't mind reading multiple times but there is still something special about the first run through a novel that is usually missing the second time through (even if the plot has been forgot in the mean time). So as much as I am happy that I am reaching my goal of reading all of Dickens, I am also sad that the end is approaching.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It has begun

With the RA-ing duties having commenced a couple weeks ago, I have had the chance to plan and prepare two community dinners. So far they have been successes and I am happy in this aspect of my stay here. I find that as much as I would dislike having to plan supper every day, I rather enjoy planning a large one once a week. I also find that I enjoy following recipes but then, once comfortable with them, of playing with the flavours a bit. I made up a dessert this week consisting of oatcakes covered in peaches with caramel sauce on top. I must say I love the caramel sauce and am quite pleased that there is now a jam-jar full of leftovers to dispose of in some way or another.

Another new development is that I have been running most mornings. This is quite singular for me because I hate running. I love biking, skating, walking, playing sports in which one must run, crawling, rolling down hills, dancing, singing... wait. Anyway the point is that I do enjoy active activities for the most part but I have always preserved that little place in my hate for running (or jogging if you like). Why this new development you ask? Why indeed! I can't quite explain but since I've started I have decided to give it a running chance and try to get over what I can only figure is a mental block that tells me I hate it. The consequences might be interesting. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jane of many talents

:)

She works both as a finger puppet and as a fridge magnet. Does it get any better than this?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

island view

All of my trip out west was good but this part of it was both relaxing and good.

Friday, August 29, 2008

bleak reading

I, in general, love Dickens' books. I havn't read them all yet but am slowly working through the ones still unread whenever I have an extended amount of free time to fill. Bleak House has been near the end of this list; I've had it for quite some time but its title seemed less promising of a delightful read than others (such as Dombey and Son). Its position on the list moved, however, when I found that I now have access to a mini series on the book. I love mini-series in general but I also generally wish to read the book before venturing into movie-land. I therefore resolved to read Bleak House next. Leaving shortly after forming this resolve on a trip involving various flights and other opportunities to read while waiting for something, it was a simple decision to bring this book with me. I have now read halfway through the book and must say that I am really enjoying it. It seems a little more mature than some other Dickens I have known. So far (one must make this reservation when reading Dickens) it is not really bleak at all. There have been several episodes within the story that have been less than happy but this is what gives it the feeling of being true to life. I am happy that it was bumped to the top of the list and am looking forward to finishing it and watching the miniseries.

Monday, August 11, 2008

ch-ch-ch-changes

As a fast-approaching wedding and vacation eat up the rest of my summer I realize that I have only a couple days in which to prepare for those two events and for the changes that are coming this fall. I am moving out of this room which I have inhabited for the past five years and into another space. It is not really a difficult move by any standards: the location is but a ten-minute drive from here, I don't really need to move furniture and, best of all, I can leave various and sundry behind on the shelves since it is my brother who will be moving into my newly-vacated room. I'm just complaining a bit because it feels as though the time has been stolen away from me. I know that I have a hand in all these plans and changes but I guess I feel as though I should be given more time to adjust. Life really is wonderful but it is always easy to feel sorry for one's self.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Does it get any better?



I think I'll be reeling from this Matt Costa kick for quite some time but that's perfectly fine with me.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

possible consolation

Suspicion concerning life:
if chocolate chips are eaten and enjoyed at a decent rate (such as perhaps a handful per day) over a length of time, the enjoyment may possibly reach or exceed that which may be derived from a one-time deal of a batch of chocolate chip cookies (especially when shared around indiscriminately as is my wont).

One must, after all, search out and weigh the merits of the various options.

will I ever learn?

Fact of life:
if one opens the chocolate chip package and begins to eat the contents prior to making chocolate chip cookies, there is a chance that by the time one wishes to make said cookies that there will not be enough chips left for such an undertaking.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

literary questions

I have often wished to write reviews on here of books I have read or, barring that, even a quick comment on broad impressions in response to books I have been thinking about. What generally stops me in this is a feeling that I do not want to judge a book before I have completed it and perhaps chewed over its contents for a while. So while I am reading a book I try to reserve judgement and by the time that such judgement ideally would be ripe I am deep into the next book with all thoughts of the previous one as dim memories of syne.

I do wish to work around this tendency and not just post some interesting quotes but to engage with the material and themes and express my true opinion (something that I often have a hard time getting out). To start with baby steps I shall in this post answer a couple questions I found elsewhere concerning books. Perhaps the resulting discussion will prompt and prod me into a resolve to continue discussions of the like on a deeper level.

What kind of book are you most comfortable reading?
Novels. In particular the huge Victorian tomes that frighten so many people away. I would say that for recreation and ease of reading there are always lighter novels comparable to candy that are a joy to escape into occasionally but would not sustain a steady diet. I love the complex and beautiful writing and insights into human nature that generally abound in a good novel.

What kind of book do you love to hate?
I generally despise the cheap historical fiction books that frame modern anxieties with a show of historic accuracy. I understand that all historic fiction draws attitudes from modern thought. This is understandable because we are all a product of our own time but there should be some connection between the event shown in the book and the central thrust of the book. If the anxiety is social unrest, then to place the plot in a time of riots and such makes sense but merely to use a certain time-period to display the depths of one's research into that time is rather shallow.
In a slightly different vein, this is not about a book in particular but I look down on the modern trend to appear deep by being obscure.

What was the last book that you surprised yourself by liking?
I think it would have to be Elizabeth B B's Aurora Leigh. I thought a novel written in verse would combine the worst aspects of both genres yet it seemed to do the opposite. Some parts did tend to drag on but for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What was the last book that you surprised yourself by disliking?
I can't think of the last book that I thought I would like that I haven't liked. I'll have to think of this a little more. Actually I was surprised that I did not enjoy Gaskell's Cranford as I had anticipated. I still ended with enjoying it but it took me more than my usual effort to stay with it and complete it. Once finished, however, I look back with fondness on the book and hope that those who are thinking of reading it will also stick with it and find the small treasures hidden within its pages.

What book would you take with you if you knew you would be marooned in the near future?
Well the Bible is a necessity but as I suspect they are referring to entertainment reading I think I would pick something along the lines of all of Austen's work in one volume. I don't think that's cheating since they are often bound together and it is not an overly unwieldy tome. Perhaps if the three volumes of Tolkein's Ring cycle were together that might suffice also but I don't remember having seen them in one volume before.

What forces you to read outside your comfort zone?
Being in an English degree leaves one at the mercy of required courses and assigned reading. Just having graduated I am now looking forward to a life of ever-narrowing scope and opinions. I can't wait!
In seriousness, however, I often look to friends who may have different likes/dislikes than myself to recommend their favourite books. I do enjoy finding merit in books that I would not have considered myself.

And so ends the short quiz. I enjoyed thinking about the answers and I hope that you enjoyed reading them and that they made you think about what your answers would be. I'm feeling stimulated towards further and deeper discussions over literature so hopefully that will transpire in time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Perception

From an interesting article in the New York Times on mirrors

In a report titled “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Enhancement in Self-Recognition,” which appears online in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Nicholas Epley and Erin Whitchurch described experiments in which people were asked to identify pictures of themselves amid a lineup of distracter faces. Participants identified their personal portraits significantly quicker when their faces were computer enhanced to be 20 percent more attractive. They were also likelier, when presented with images of themselves made prettier, homelier or left untouched, to call the enhanced image their genuine, unairbrushed face. Such internalized photoshoppery is not simply the result of an all-purpose preference for prettiness: when asked to identify images of strangers in subsequent rounds of testing, participants were best at spotting the unenhanced faces.

How can we be so self-delusional when the truth stares back at us? “Although we do indeed see ourselves in the mirror every day, we don’t look exactly the same every time,” explained Dr. Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. There is the scruffy-morning you, the assembled-for-work you, the dressed-for-an-elegant-dinner you. “Which image is you?” he said. “Our research shows that people, on average, resolve that ambiguity in their favor, forming a representation of their image that is more attractive than they actually are.”

When we look in the mirror, our relative beauty is not the only thing we misjudge. In a series of studies, Dr. Bertamini and his colleagues have interviewed scores of people about what they think the mirror shows them. They have asked questions like, Imagine you are standing in front of a bathroom mirror; how big do you think the image of your face is on the surface? And what would happen to the size of that image if you were to step steadily backward, away from the glass?

People overwhelmingly give the same answers. To the first question they say, well, the outline of my face on the mirror would be pretty much the size of my face. As for the second question, that’s obvious: if I move away from the mirror, the size of my image will shrink with each step.

Both answers, it turns out, are wrong. Outline your face on a mirror, and you will find it to be exactly half the size of your real face. Step back as much as you please, and the size of that outlined oval will not change: it will remain half the size of your face (or half the size of whatever part of your body you are looking at), even as the background scene reflected in the mirror steadily changes. Importantly, this half-size rule does not apply to the image of someone else moving about the room. If you sit still by the mirror, and a friend approaches or moves away, the size of the person’s image in the mirror will grow or shrink as our innate sense says it should.

What is it about our reflected self that it plays by such counterintuitive rules? The important point is that no matter how close or far we are from the looking glass, the mirror is always halfway between our physical selves and our projected selves in the virtual world inside the mirror, and so the captured image in the mirror is half our true size.

Rebecca Lawson, who collaborates with Dr. Bertamini at the University of Liverpool, suggests imagining that you had an identical twin, that you were both six feet tall and that you were standing in a room with a movable partition between you. How tall would a window in the partition have to be to allow you to see all six feet of your twin?

The window needs to allow light from the top of your twin’s head and from the bottom of your twin’s feet to reach you, Dr. Lawson said. These two light sources start six feet apart and converge at your eye. If the partition is close to your twin, the upper and lower light points have just begun to converge, so the opening has to be nearly six feet tall to allow you a full-body view. If the partition is close to you, the light has nearly finished converging, so the window can be quite small. If the partition were halfway between you and your twin, the aperture would have to be — three feet tall. Optically, a mirror is similar, Dr. Lawson said, “except that instead of lighting coming from your twin directly through a window, you see yourself in the mirror with light from your head and your feet being reflected off the mirror into your eye.”

This is one partition whose position we cannot change.

I think I'm going to have to check out this last experiment even though it makes some sense on paper it makes no sense to my senses. I wonder if it because the mirror itself gets further away and our perception of thie image is smaller once we move but that the image stays the same. Crazy.

Extract

from Charlotte Bronte's Villette:
There is a perverse mood of the mind which is rather soothed than irritated by misconstruction; and in quarters where we can never be rightly known, we take pleasure, I think, in being consummately ignored.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

frustration

I think that it is generally true that while riding on a high we should expect to hit a low shortly thereafter. I just got back from our church's quatrannual international conference. The week was soaked in communal prayer and was truly blessed. I was drained but was given so much more than I gave (as is usual in God's math. Gotta love it.). On my return home I had a couple things to arrange for the accomidation of a fellow who had travelled with me from the conference. It seemed fairly straightforward and I was happy to show some hospitality.
*****
Little did she know... ah, I can't wait to get to heaven and see the true scope of the dramatic irony in which our lives take place.
*****
I will not write out the details since it will come out at this time as a complaint but suffice it to say that I have never had so much trouble trying to get in touch with people and organize something that seemed so simple. On top of it all, just as I had thought everything was arranged and out of my hands, another complication has arisen. But I am praying about it and going to have a good night's sleep and I'm sure it will all look different in the morning. I'm sure I'll laugh in the morning.
I am so thankful that God has given us humour.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

O Simon

In an addition or continuation of the last post I would like to say that as a side-effect of my new habits I am beginning to hear Simon Amstell's voice as the constant narrator in my head. Now normally, when I read or write things or think them in my head I have no consciousness of a particular voice or accent or tone unless it puts me in mind strongly of something in a particular genre. For example, if I heard "perspicacity" I would think of it in an upper-class English accent and if I heard "you can't handle the truth" a few good men would pop into my head providing they were small enough. However now amost everything has become a joke with me. The tortured tones of irony and suppressed laughter while reading something of a serious nature has permeated the most sombre of materials and I will not even attempt to start with how much more hilarious his voice renders things that are funny to begin with. I just can't get him out of my head but that's okay.

laughable

I've become hooked on watching numerous clips from various and sundry British quiz-type shows. I say 'quiz-type' because the primary purpose of these shows seems not to be to ask and answer interesting question (as the category 'quiz show' would suggest) but to take the opportunity to display their utter mastery of dry and, well, British humour while answering these clever questions cleverly. Basically these people are my heroes.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

photo flop

I have one thing to complain about my camera: it takes terrible pictures at night. This is usually not a problem since most of the pictures I take are the type to be taken during the day but times do arise when I would wish the night vision were better. Take last night for instance. I decided to take the night off from volunteering at Bluesfest and actually watch a show. I arrived before the sun set and staked out a place by the stage. Corb Lund was playing and I got a decent picture of his set. Then I waited around between the shows and got some funky shots of my food, feet and face. Then Feist came on. Now if this were a world that revolved around words and if alliteration were the goal, I would have got some funky Feist photos too. Sadly for literaphiles such as myself, this is not the case. The world runs on much more prosaic rules and if my camera does not do well at night, it will not take good pictures of objects at night no matter what the potential in the alliterative sphere. So despite the fact that I was front row at the Feist show, I have little pictoral evidence. Corb Lund (first on stage) My food
My feet
My funny face

Feist but in no way funky. Perhaps it was going for 'fuzzy'. If you can't figure out what's happening, she's casting her shadow on a white screen. I was over to the right so it shows some of what's behind the screen.

Monday, June 23, 2008

pink again

I seem to have missed the commencement of summer. Perhaps it is due to the fact that it hasn't let off raining all month. I really shouldn't complain since we seem to get the whole bag of weather each day so we are not really missing the sun but this strange weather has just disoriented me. I think another factor is the fact that I have spent the majority of my time indoors this month. Thinking back to other Junes I have known, it is the complete opposite. No wonder I have problems remembering which season it is. So I am late in changing my blog colours. But better late than never.

Friday, June 20, 2008

filler


It's been several weeks since I last posted so I thought a quick pic would fill the gap until I feel like writing more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

updates


Last Sunday a friend gave a slide show presentation of the trip she took to Asia last summer and it hit me again how blessed I was to have gone on my trip last summer and how much I really do miss the people and places I visited and perhaps will never get to see again. This week I tossed off a few long-overdue e-mails to some of the people I met on the trip. I have had a few responses and updates in return and it reminds me again of how my life is not the only important one on the planet. It also gives me several opportunities to chuckle over the various language bloopers and mis-used figures of speech (with full understanding that I have nothing in my basically unilingual-state on my multilingual correspondents) that they write in good faith.
So I answer in like good faith while resolving never to marry someone whose first language is different from mine (communication is hard enough at the best of times). As much as I am planning on not marrying any of them, I do miss them a lot and wish that I could be more involved in their lives and develop a deeper friendship with each one of them. This mixed-bag of feelings gives birth to a similar mixed-bag of feelings on my tentative plan to do a longer-term bout of teaching English overseas. It's such a rich experience but hard to leave. But I suppose we shouldn't give up on a good thing merely because we'll miss it afterwards.

Monday, May 26, 2008

snippets

A few weeks ago I discovered on my computer a document containing various flights of fancy I had indulged in during my essay writing lock down at the end of the fall term. I must have been fairly out of it while writing the various poems and paragraphs that make up this document because once I re-discovered them it took a while before I believed that I had written them (I went so far as to accuse my brother of the authorship before I was finally convinced of my own culpability in the matter). Anyway I have had fun looking at some of my own stuff from the point of view of someone who has never seen it before. It's a strange feeling.

Here's one poem where my main concern is structure to the detriment of any ease of understanding. I feel like I should like to polish it a bit but instead will just write it out as it stands. It's different from what I normally write and I don't know if I like it or not but anyway.

Framed
Does rhyme suppress thought?
Too structured and constricting?
If within verse I cannot frame
My pleasant musings, I ought
(You may not share my shame)
Not force my feeble pen to writing.

We build our pretty houses over
Structures quite unsightly
The frame is not what is seen.
If an artist a canvas doesn't cover
The paint remains in pots, clean
But is it art? Quite unlikely.


So this is what happens when my brain is put under severe pressure to write other things. I guess something's gotta give.

Monday, May 12, 2008

yappy

While Gma heads down to the wilds of Omaha I am taking care of the house and dog. I know that we were fortunate to get a dog that is already trained and pretty good in the house and not too large and all that jazz but there's something about small yappy dogs that I just don't find appealing.

Perhaps my distaste has more to do with my championing of the low-maintenance approach to most things (from my appearance to my plants to my diet and, well, pretty much every other aspect of my life). Perhaps I am merely balking at the fact that this dog has to be walked thrice a day and, when put in the backyard, tied on a rope (which action includes subsequent untangling of rope from various objects in the yard and elsewhere at various intervals throughout the day).

In my previous experience with the canine species (specifically those under my care) the extent of one's necessary involvement was the placing of food outside the door at various periods throughout the day. Since this generally fell under the cleaning of scraps from a meal, it could almost be seen as a chore that wasn't even directly connected with the animal. Now I have always enjoyed spending time far above and beyond the quick shove of the food bowl out the door kind of relationship with my dogs but it was always a voluntary task. I didn't have to take the dog to do its business. It was always mature enough to handle anything like that itself. And I most certainly never had to pick up after my dogs. I am beginning to see why my parents held out with the rule of no pets in the city and am not quite so upset with them that we didn't get a dog until we had moved into a place with lots of room for them to roam.

It is much the same way with plants (as just one other example). I love gardening but give me a houseplant and I'll kill it. I do this not entirely willingly but then perhaps it is my subconscious telling me to free myself of encumbrances that makes me neglect them to death. I don't mind other people having houseplants but I see no use for them myself especially when I forget about them so readily. The beauty of a garden outdoors is that there is no need to water and you get half the year off tending it (at least when one is this far north).

However, when I am looking after someone else's things I generally take better care of them and have not killed one of Gma's houseplants yet so there is hope for poor Haley...

Friday, May 09, 2008

epistles

I dipped into an old favourite this past week when I read Dear Enemy, the sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs. Although it is the sequel, I read it before I had discovered DLL and whether it is for this reason or not, I prefer it to its predecessor. Both these novels are written in an epistolary mode and (although it renders their endings slightly awkward) I thoroughly enjoy the result. I think it's a form that is under-used.

On finishing the book I also found myself longing for that time when letter writing was a common part of life. In my youth I had several pen-pals and always enjoyed writing and receiving letters. I found that the process of posting the letter was the biggest hold-up to my sending out the missives. I used to dream of the ease with which the charaters in books would simply write the letter and let a servant worry about the posting end of it.

In the past few years I have lost my pen pals and had forgotten how much I was missing in this fact until I read that book. Oh to be back in the time when such a remark as "This is where Mrs Darcy used to write her letters every morning" would be commonplace. I suppose were I to have a showcase home and have my housekeeper give tours she could use a similar line when passing the computer room but it still has not the same impact as passing through a rich library by a writing desk in the same way that an e-mail is a poor washed-out cousin to the almost out-dated letter.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

nightlight

I've been busy and away for the past little while and it looks like I may continue to be for a while so I thought I should post a little something to fill the gap. Here's a picture from my recent trip to Quebec City.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

my ice cream with hot sauce day

I had one of those strange Canadian weather moments yesterday as I headed out to my (last ever undergrad!) class. The snowbanks were almost as high as ever yet the temperature was +15 or so (Celsius) with a beautifully warm sun to heat things up even more. It is not unusual to have strange and seemingly paradoxical weather systems in close proximity in Canada; my Mom frequently quotes someone who said "In Canada it's always 40 degrees...above or below zero." But I've never experienced both at once.

It reminds me of the story I read in one of my readers when I was younger (this is a great post for not citing references) about a spoiled prince who, having run out of things to demand, came up with the idea to crave a dessert that was both hot and cold at the same time. This demand came with the punishment of death to all the cooks if they could not come up with it in a certain amount of time. Of course all the cooks wracked their brains and feared for the receptacles of said brains until, with the deadline quickly approaching, one of the kitchen boys heard of the reason for their fright and quickly came up with the solution. He made ice cream and poured hot chocolate sauce over it. I'm not sure if he's credited for the invention of both these things or merely the concept of serving them together. Either way, I'm sure you've guessed why this story in particular stuck in my mind from the myriad of snippets that I read as a child.

All that to say: as I sauntered to the bus in a tanktop, walking beside snowbanks that still are taller than I, I felt the novelty and thought that I should take a picture to keep this moment in more than just my thoughts. I don't think that this novelty of tanktops on snow will take on such popularity as sauce on ice cream but I think they're both worth noting.
On my way to class beside a snowbank that still rises above my head. 07 April, 2008

architects of change

Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not political legislators, who implement change after the fact. art exerts a profound influence on the style of life, the mode, range and direction of perception. Art tells us what we know and don't know that we know.

You can't tell anybody anything he doesn't know already.

-William Burroghs


I like the two points being made here. I don't know if I fully agree with the second. I'll have to think about it a bit more. It does tie in with the concept of education that connects its function to the roots of the word itself--a leading out of knowledge already possessed. I do agree with it to a certain extent but the jury's still out whether I take it as a complete model of how things work.

Monday, April 07, 2008

someone to love

My brother accused me of cynicism the other day. Perhaps I am tending more in that direction as I age but I am in good company as Elizabeth Bennet says: "the more I see of the world the more I am dissatisfied with it" so what can I say?

This following is a video of the Fountains of Wayne (the band that is probably best known for "Stacy's Mom") song "Someone to Love". There are many reasons that I love this video. I am a fan of the band (also for many reasons) because I love the way that their songs usually tell stories, the way that they pump out consistently great melodies and catchy rhythms etc, I like that they have a song with "Janice" in the title (there aren't that many out there!), that they aren't hugely popular but have a decent following and I like the fact that they wrote the song "That Thing You Do" for he equally great movie of that title. I also enjoy the video because it features Demetri who plays Demetri (they're so good with finding original names!) in the last episode of The Flight of the Conchords (you know, the one who joins with Bret in the 'Original Flight of the Conchords' and plays the keytar...good fun). The video stays true to the style of Fountains of Wayne and I would say even improves a bit on the story it illustrates (and is that not the point of a music video?).

I inserted the first paragraph into this post because of the ending of the video (which I enjoy thoroughly. I think it makes the video). In a way it's cynical but it also sheds light on the reason they cannot find love. but then I don't want to give too much away so I'll leave it at that.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Compostable Clothing

What with the dryer sending out enough sparks for it to be deemed broken and my ever-present laziness combined with the poor weather outside these past few days, I am almost out of clean clothes. But with necessity as the mother of invention, I have thought of a great idea: one use, compostable clothing. These items would need to be strong enough to hold up in a rainstorm or worse, of course, but would easily break down once disposed of. It would be the equivalent of paper plates in the clothing aisle. One would not necessarily use them with any exclusivity. Some may stock a bunch as a back-up when situations (such as the one I am in at present) present themselves. Some may supplement their usual clothing habits with the occasional freebie. It would remove the problem of loaning one's clothing and never getting it back: there is no need to return such an item. The list seems to go on and on. I think I have hit some great idea.



But since technology has not been able to keep up to my lightning-quick smarts and there are no compostable clothes in my drawers at the moment (along with all the other really good things that are not in my drawers) I shall have to hope for some good weather so I can hang some of this laundry to dry outside.


These pictures were taken last year towards the end of March (just a few days earlier than it is now) and there was no snow around. Not only was there no snow, the grass has the first tinges of green and I have been wearing tanktops and t-shirts in nice spring colours. I have a feeling that this will be a late spring.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

This Song Is

About abhorrent astronauts
bombing boring bins
crash into catastrophe
deadly dumbing din.

Everybody's eating Everest
faking forkfuls fine
good-for-nothing gargoylesques
happily hitting hine.

Isthmus is in Indonesia
justly jousting jammers
a kind of kine cacophony
with leaping lively lemurs.

Many men make mustard mud
none need neater numbers
over oily ocelots--
pummeled pasty plumbers.

Quirky queens quail quietly
'round rather fun rum-runners
saying sweets so sickening
their tummy-tums take tumblers.

Under udders ukuleles
very vilely vanish.
Wonkily (when wounded wound)
Xavier examines Xerxes.

Yuppie Yonkers yowls to your
zoned and zonked zebras.
Yet two more lines are necessary
before this song can leave us.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

revolutionary thoughts

So I have, within the past few days, gone from being quite content playing music in my spare time to thinking of the possibility of writing music to actively sitting down for that purpose and brainstorming about a possibility of starting a band. Who'd have thought? As much strangeness as this has brought into my life, one of the strangest aspects of this whole shift is how those around me seem to be taking it (quite easily and happily) in stride. I thought the "I'm forming a band" line would meet with more than the "Oh, what kind of music will you play?" response especially when it came to my close kin and friends. I am surprised that they are not surprised because the idea had never entered my mind before and seems like such a revolution of my whole way of thinking (and this is from one who avoids revolutions like the plague) that I cannot imagine how they do not see how the whole world has changed with this change in my thoughts.

Perhaps they do not realize how seriously I have been thinking about it. Perhaps they consider it to be on par with an "I'm going to my friend's house this afternoon to play duets" level statement. In a way perhaps they are right and it will never get past that point but I suppose to my way of thinking it has more to do with the attitude with which I am entering this scheme. This whole mental process is showing me that I have a whole (albeit fairly-underdeveloped) side of me waiting for the spotlight. Who'd have guessed. Perhaps this is more like those situations where everyone around you can tell you are in love while you're still oblivious to the fact. I do love music and would love to have it as a greater part of my life but I had never thought that it actually would be. Perhaps again they are more comfortable with the idea since I am actually still working towards that day-job which I shall inevitably be told not to quit once I get any of this music out...
And then there is that great perhaps that they figure by indulging my whim that it shall soon sputter out.
Well, I guess only time will tell that one whether it's right.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

thoughts on genius

I have, in the past, thought to myself (and I believe expressed to others) that as much as I love and could not live without my various favorite forms of artistic expression, I lack that certain something that signifies the spark of genius. I have always tended to copy rather than create: sticking to the notes on the page, only drawing things from life or pictures, merely finding fun angles for photography of normal objects (although I'm not sure how this last could be any more creative), writing essays on assigned topics. But I begin to wonder if perhaps I merely copy because I have not been brave enough to put out the effort to be more creative. How much genius is merely blood, sweat and tears in disguise? Perhaps what is holding me back is that there is more hard work involved in the creative process than that in which I would wish to be involved; perhaps I am settling for second best because I have not the will-power and self-discipline to reach for the best.
I believe that I have been given a decently working brain, been placed in situations that have given me the opportunity to advance and exercise this gift, and am fairly creative in a basic way (otherwise I would not be drawn to creative hobbies in the first place). Why can I not take these gifts and advantages and do something with them?
Recently I have been daydreaming of how nice it would be if I could write songs. It is not a coincidence that I am teaching myself the basics of guitar and am finding that many good songs have fairly simple chord progressions behind them. What is stopping more people from writing great, catchy tunes? Does it come back to the presence or absence of that little thing called genius? Could I be a genius in heavy disguise?
Perhaps my problem is that I didn't actually get those star-studded daydreams of being famous out of my head right and properly while I was younger and am now feeling the effects. Of course one aspect that is more sobering to consider is what I would like to get out of this genius (were it to visit me in the first place). Am I looking to become famous (who needs that?) or do I want to bless other people?
Contentment is a character-trait that I have never had to strive after. What I have to guard against more is staying out of ruts. So how do I differentiate between an honest assessment of my lack of skill and merely passive resignation? Where is that nice balance where I know that I am reaching as far as I should?
Speaking of discipline, this is a great discussion but one that I should probably have saved for a time after my final papers have been written. Procrastination is an old friend and this time around I have even considered doing my Latin homework early to put off settling down to write papers... How am I ever to be a genius and reach for things above if I can't even get down to the simple, uncomplicated work of the boring, non-inspired duties of life?

I am ready

for this:

Anytime now...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

inspirationless quote

my gmail account occasionally gives me a quote to ponder while reading my emails. The one that most recently popped up was something along the lines of: "Shoot for the moon because even if you miss you'll land among the stars." Cute. But what kind of astronomical system does this genius believe himself to be a part of? There's a long way to go past the moon before one reaches any stars. Even the ancients knew this simple truth. They placed the moon's sphere inside of and separate from the sphere of the stars. In our present-day understanding of the system, there's an even greater gulf believed to separate these two destinations in question. In a move to make the quote meet more rigorously with standards of truth I would propose that it be changed to something more like: "Shoot for the moon because if you miss it you'll end up in empty space which is where all those over-achievers belong."

Just being green

Since it is the first day of spring, I have switched the colours of my blog to correspond, as I have in the past, to the changing season. Fairly predictable change such as this is a good summary of my life, I think. So green it is. In the past I have always enjoyed green but not so much for myself. I have never really worn any green. I know this because I often found it hard to follow the green theme on St Paddy's day (and even harder to go for the orange instead). However, within the past little while, my hunts in second hand stores have come up with more and more green clothes and I find that I really like them too. In celebration of the new green look both for me and my blog, here's a picture of my favourite guy surrounded by green.



I know it isn't the greatest picture of him but it falls nicely into the green theme

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

in a cottage-cheese cottage...

making rude easy

So I have officially joined the ranks of be-headphoned humanity. I bought an mp3player and bring it just about everywhere. I am in love and for me there's no looking back. Before the inevitable hue and cry drowns out everything I should assure all that I do understand that often headphones, whether intentionally or not, are often a means of cutting off communication and the potential for common courtesy in public and this is a bad thing. I, myself, in my observations while on my frequent tours on our public transportation system have observed numerous cases in point that illustrate both of those unfortunate outcomes from the practice of wearing the phones. This was a consideration while I debated for some months (perhaps even years could be used as a legitimate measurement of the time of deliberation) with myself over whether I should get one.

I do believe that objects in this world are not evil in themselves but that mankind is able to use them to evil or good purposes. Just as money is not the root of evil (rather it being the love of money) so mp3 players are not the root of discourtesy. Rather it is the discourteous people who have the mp3 players that then use them as another extension of themselves and spread the ill-effects for all to participate in.

This is not to go against the fact that some accessories make being rude that much easier. I have watched several people get out of conversations by pretending that they are receiving a call or text on their phone where, without such a useful device, they might otherwise have had to resort to more basic subterfuge such as feigning deafness or inattention. Perhaps through these new technologies it is easier to give ourselves comfortable excuses that may not look quite so much like blatant rudeness.

An unfortunate aspect is that not only can this accessory make it easier to be rude when one wishes it but it also tends in that direction for even those who may have no intention to act in that manner but do not understand the potential susceptibility to such social patterns inherent in the device. When one is cut off from the world around by means of a sweet pair of headphones, one cannot but miss it when a friend calls one's name from outside of one's peripheral vision.

So how to surf these social shoals safely was the problem on my mind that I determined to attempt to, if not solve, make myself sensitive to before I would allow myself dwell too long on the benefits and enjoyments that I knew I would derive from the ownership of such a device. One obvious help, if not a complete solution, is to leave the volume low enough to hear most of the noises in one's immediate environment at least partially. This does, obviously, detract from the full enjoyment of the music but I take the point of view that I am happy even to have music along and that I can save my times of full stereo enjoyment of these songs to when it doesn't have an adverse effect on my relations with other people. I have also thought how this policy is rather safer than not for the owner of such a device because by being more aware of the surrounding environment one not only is able to contribute more to it but also to avoid potential safety hazards to one's own person. Along with being more in tune with the events around my person while in public and listening to music, I also try to continue to engage in the types of communication that are not solely based on the aural sense. Not being afraid of eye-contact and always being ready with a smile are small ways that I try to maintain communication with my fellow-passengers of life and brighten everyone's day.

I also hope that I shall be just as ready to give up whatever may be preoccupying my attention if someone attempts to talk to me (okay, as long as they are not the creeper type), reserving my moments of musical enjoyment for when I am not engaged with another person. And that leads me back to the fact that I love my mp3 player. The one aspect that I am slightly disappointed over is that not all my favourite songs will fit on it but, on the bright side, I get to switch them up every once in a while so I am reconciled to its limitations because now my dream of having a soundtrack to my life is slowly being realized. Now if only this public to which I am attempting to maintain such courtesy as I am able would (competently and regularly) break into the chorus of a beautifully choreographed dance in the middle of the street to the duet that I and my true love will sing while dallying amongst the flowers, my fantasy would be complete.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

a touch of sky

Spring seems so far away but with it officially beginning about a week from now I am given a shard of hope that it may once again rise from the death of this winter and bring fresh hope.

advantages in authorship

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome, in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place. Thrice blessed be this last consideration, since it enables us to follow the disdainful Miggs even into the sanctity of her chamber, and to hold her sweet companionship through the dreary watches of the night!
(opening of chapter 9 in Barnaby Rudge by Dickens)

Ah bliss.

Monday, March 10, 2008

the cherubic chaffinch

I have waited to post some of my favourite quotes from Aurora Leigh in hopes that I would have time to connect some of my thoughts around them and perhaps glean quotes from elsewhere that support and further illuminate the topic but I have come to the conclusion that it is perhpas better to write out the quotes within the amount of time I have now then not at all. If I have more time later I may come back and deal with them more thoroughly but this shall have to suffice for now.
The bird's not moved, that pecks at a spring-shoot;
Nor yet the horse, before a quarry a-graze:
But man, the two-fold creature, apprehends
The two-fold manner, in and outwardly,
And nothing in the world comes single to him,
A mere itself, - cup, column, or candlestick,
All patterns of what shall be in the Mount;
The whole temporal show related royally,
And built up to eternal significance
Through the open arms of God. 'There's nothing great
Nor small,' has said a poet of our day,
Whose voice will ring beyond the curfew of eve
And not be thrown out by the matin's bell:
And truly, I reiterate, nothing's small!
No lilly-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim;
And, (glancing on my own thin, veined wrist,)
In such a little tremor of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude.

Truth, so far, in my book! a truth which draws
From all things upward.

-E.B.B.'s Aurora Leigh Book 7, lines 800-828

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sunshine

Since the Mr Pitiful video had no embedding, I wanted to put another of my favourites on here for those who wish merely to watch it from here rather than go through all that trouble of going to youtube. So here's Sunshine (also by MC):

I think I'm going to make a mixed CD with a sunshine theme. There are lots of good songs out there along that line.

flower

it's about time for another picture.

Matt Costa


This video was my first introduction to Matt Costa. I've been hooked ever since.

Monday, March 03, 2008

consolation

In the exhaustless catalogue of Heaven's mercies to mankind, the power we have of finding some germs of comfort in the hardest trials must ever occupy the foremost place; not only because it supports and upholds us when most require to be sustained, but because in this source of consolation there is something, we have reason to believe, of the divine spirit; something of the goodness which detects amidst our own evil doings, a redeeming quality; something which, even in our fallen nature, we possess in common with the angels; which had its being in the old time when they trod the earth, and lingers on yet, in pity.
Charles Dickens' Barnaby Rudge Ch 47
Don't quite agree with his whole theology here but like the central idea. I also appreciate this fine example of a paragraph-long sentence. Perhaps I should show something like this to my profs when they accuse me of being too wordy.

Friday, February 29, 2008

repetition

For say a foolish thing but oft enough
(And here's the secret of a hundred creeds,
Men get opinions as boys learn to spell,
By re-iteration chiefly,) the same thing
Shall pass at last for absolutly wise

Aurora Leigh (book six, lines 4-8) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thursday, February 28, 2008

bundled

Since Winter has us in her strong grasp and seems not to care to let go any time soon (after all, the groundhog did see his shadow), bundling up in sweaters and scarves and hats and mitts and coats and boots and all the other assorted miscellany that comprises our defence with which we arm ourselves in order that we might survive the cold often can be viewed as a tedious necessity.
But why do circumstances have to be considered merely tedious? This picture is a simple example that those tedious items can be as beautiful as they are useful.

hollow honesty

Men who are thoroughly false and hollow, seldom try to hide those vices from themselves; and yet in the very act of avowing them, they lay claim to the virtues they feign most to despise. 'For,' say they 'this is honesty, this is truth. All mankind are like us, but they have not the candor to avow it.' The more they affect to deny the existence of any sincerity in the world, the more they would be thought to possess it in its boldest shape; and this is an unconscious compliment to Truth on the part of these philosophers, which will turn to laugh against them to the Day of Judgement.

excerpt from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

hair


While I was home for reading week, I got a haircut. I don't usually bother too much with things like that since my hair is curly and a cut that I've paid for looks the same as one I've given myself once the magic worked into the styling after the cut works off. But a friend of the family has been cutting my mom's and my brother's hair for a while now and I thought I might as well take the opportunity when I had it. I had also been considering the possibility of some sort of bang since my forehead is rather higher than not and any means of covering the face could be seen as an improvement.

So I got a haircut. I really like the result. Not only does it look nice straight but also has a nice shape when curly. Our friend cut a short layer near my face that could act as a bang but also pulled back at times when I don't have time to take care of it.

My mom commented at the time that it makes me look older and in reply a friend commented that it rather made me look more my age. I suppose that could be a good thing but afterwards I have been pondering whether I shall have to start acting my age now that I can't fool people so much. Hmm.

But I really do like pretty much everything about this new haircut and was not even pained by the sight of the many inches of hair that littered the floor when I stepped away from the chair.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Morning Glory

The flower that often does not even last the day. Yet it displays such beauty for the short period it has been given.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

my major

Music or English Lit?
I spent last evening talking music with a couple music majors and other music lovers and found myself wishing that I had become a music major. On reflection, however, I am happy that I decided to follow English and keep music as a hobby. It is a hard decision what we want to do in life. Who knows, I may have been able to go through for performance and make music my life but I didn't. I love being able to have music always there to go to. It's my retreat when other things just get to be too much. I don't know but that if I had it as my central activity I would not look at it the same way. In the way that I have occasonally found that books I liked previously were occasionally ruined by studying them in class. Now this isn't always the case so perhaps I would find a deeper connection with my music than I have now.
I don't know. All I know is that I didn't chose that path but I am happy that I am able to dabble in music still. On the side is better than not at all.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Colour

Life has presented a rather monochromatic hue the past little while. Many people talk of the winter blahs and give many causes for this effect. One of the main ones for me is the lack of sunlight and colour. Today I went to school wearing my fun yellow hat that always reminds me of the beach along with other light and bright articles of clothing and accessories and it worked: my friends commented that I looked like summer (and no, we know no one by that name). So I have decided to attempt something similar with this blog and dress it in some bright colours reminiscent of summer.



I would like to note in closing that none of the pictures were changed in any way. The smokebush leaves are that colourful on their own (with the late-afternoon sunlight filtering through). It's so beautiful.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

On Reading

Or else I sate on in my chamber green,
And lived my life, and thought my thoughts, and prayed
My prayers without the vicar; read my books,
Without considering whether they were fit
To do me good. Mark, there. We get no good
By being ungenerous, even to a book,
And calculating profits, - so much help
By so much reading. It is rather when
We gloriously forget ourselves and plunge
Soul-forward, headlong, into a book's profound,
Impassioned for its beauty and salt of truth -
'Tis then we get the right good from a book.

-Elizabeth Barret Browning: Aurora Leigh 1.698-709

Ferns

Since flikr has decided to throw me off the free ride and disabled my 'pro' account (one unhappy result of which is that one may only see the last 200 pictures--which change is rather worse than a decimation of my 7,000+ pictures) because I had been with them too long without paying, I shall be posting pictures perhaps a little more regularly than I have recently (which isn't really saying much...).

So after that overly-complex sentence, I shall let the picture speak for itself.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

my evening

I have been living a rather retired existence for the past few weeks. Emerging from the house to do my duty (and occasional pleasure) as a student most days but spending most of the rest of the time alone. Through this time I have been fairly good at keeping up the appearance of both myself and the house. Today on arriving home from class I decided to do a bit more thorough cleaning and get some laundry done (I was running out of clothes) so I changed into an old pair of pj pants and a tee shirt and got the laundry started and cleaned out the nasties in the fridge (resulting in hands that stink of mouldy cheese. Mmm.) consolidating all the containers by the sink so I could wash them later. I just sat down to the computer to get some homework done when my Aunt and Uncle arrived. Apparently another Uncle and Aunt were stopping by to drop off a new purchase later on. The first pair leave and I have time to turn back to resume working when the second pair arrive.
I am not concerned what my relatives think on finding me doing homework in pjs with different piles of stuff around the house waiting to be cleaned up but the point is that, although this is quite acceptable and understandable behaviour, it is not what I generally engage in. Had they arrived any other night they would have found the aspect much more presentable. I'm glad it was nothing embarrassing but I think it just goes to show how people will always show up when one is at one's worst.

Thursday, January 24, 2008