Friday, April 29, 2005

My life of leisure is over, thank heaven. I've acquired a second job as a server at the Sweet Oregon Grill, where I hope to work as much as possible and make vats of money. This is unlikely, but we can still hope.

I recently read both Delia Sherman's novels, which I have mixed feelings about. The Porcelain Dove was, I think, the better book, but didn't hold my interest as well and collapsed a bit at the end. As for the other--though I knew Sherman and Ellen Kushner were an item, I didn't realize until I started reading Through a Brazen Mirror that it was considered "queer fiction" (how irritated I am to lose that most excellent word!). Hrmph. My main comment is that if you can't even make homosexuality normal in a fantasy setting (it's YOUR OWN WORLD--you can do whatever you want with it!), I'm not going to be very convinced that it's normal in the real world.

I had other things to talk about, but my brain is too scattered. So I leave you with this highly unsatisfactory post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I'll have to remember this. It reminds me a lot of the descriptions of birth in Spiritual Midwifery, though without the psychedelic grooviness.

My mind is a whirlpool of thoughts today, brought on a number of things. Every time I visit my mother's new house, I want to stay there out in the country, away from the craziness of this life. And things are really crazy right now, with finances, plans for the future, a new job, etc... But I'm also continuing to chew over the ideas in Beyond the Shadowlands--what a great book. I'll have to jot down the dialogue going through my head as I read, and if it's sharable I'll post it. My brain is getting some much-needed exercise, plus I'm inspired to re-read all of C.S. Lewis' books. Hard to ask for much more from a book!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A few lines from Wendell Berry:

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

from A Timbered Choir
I've given up on Seeds of Deception. I was going to be diligent and at least skim through the rest of the book, but I just couldn't. Rob Waller, Mind and Media's Reviewer of the Week, was kinder than I was, but still said about the same things. It's just not very good! However, I've started on my next book, and it is excellent. Of course, it's hard not to be excellent when you're talking about C.S. Lewis, but I'm sure there are those who could manage it.

Wayne Martindale is a scholar who's spent years studying and teaching on Lewis, and has written a lucid, intelligent book called Beyond the Shadowlands, about Lewis's views of heaven and hell. This is something not talked about much, since no one can claim to have true knowledge of the subject, but as I read this book I'm realizing how important it is for Christians to know. There are so many people who have no concept of heaven and hell, picturing the former as eternity spent sitting on clouds and strumming harps, and the latter a fiery pit with pitch-forked demons. Frankly, neither image is particularly appealling or particularly distressing. We need to look forward to heaven with yearning and cringe from the thought of hell, and we need to be able to inform non-Christians about these things as well. Lewis had amazing insights about the after-life, often using mythology to illustrate his point, and Martindale does an excellent job of gathering the information into one place and elucidating on it. I know I need to hurry up and finish it so I can get on to the next book, but I want to savor every word and give myself time to think about the ideas. There've been precious few books on my nightstand lately that have given me food for thought, and this is a welcome change. Highly recommended.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

After talking with Jack about midwife and doula training, I decided to go to the library and pick up a couple of books on the subject. Bad idea. As if the biological clock weren't ALREADY in overdrive! Last week I read Catherine Taylor's Giving Birth, and while the first part made me mad, I loved the second part and have been freaking Odious out by occasionally sighing about how much I want a baby. Taylor is a journalist who decided to research natural childbirth after becoming pregnant with her second child, and shadowed a number of different midwives in order to write a book to inform women of their options. Having been born at home myself, I've always had a definite opinion on the subject, and am tremendously grateful to my mother for making my first experience in the world a wonderful one, and for creating an immediate strong bond between us. I think it's one of the reasons that my family is so intimate! It's unfortunate that most women don't know how safe natural home birth is, and how much more pleasant and fulfilling than a drugged, induced hospital birth. I got very angry reading the first part of this book, as she describes her experience with nurse-midwives and the birthing center in a hospital--I suppose it's better than most hospital births, but for women expecting traditional midwife care it would be greatly disappointing. In the second part, however, she trains to be a doula, attends several home births, and finally decides to give birth at home herself. It's wonderful and inspiring and I can't wait.

Friday, April 08, 2005

In honor of National Poetry Month, a few lines from one of my favorite poets:

Myself unholy, from myself unholy
To the sweet living of my friends I look--
Eye-greeting doves bright-counter to the rook,
Fresh brooks to salt sand-teasing waters shoaly:--
And they are purer, but alas! not solely
The unquestion'd readings of a blotless book.
And so my trust confused, struck, and shook
Yields to the sultry siege of melancholy.
He has a sin of mine, he its near brother,
Knowing them well I can but see the fall.
This fault in one I found, that in another:
And so, though each have one while I have all,
better serves me now save best; no other,
Save Christ; to Christ I look, on Christ I call.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins

His rhythm is beautiful--perfect for reading aloud. I've loved his work ever since sitting in on a senior oral exam at St. John's and being amazed that a whole 25-page essay could be written on one poem.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Catching up on blogs after only a weekend away is quite a task! I guess I'm not quite so dedicated a blogger as some... But I had a lovely weekend, marred only by Odious's absence--thanks to a scheduling snafu at work, he was unable to join me and our friends in Seattle on a delightful trip to Victoria. I'd decided when we moved here that I was not about to waste my proximity to another country again--it's most appalling, I think, that despite being hours away from Mexico for 7 years, I never took the time to visit that country. So, now I can add Canada to my short list, and will certainly return at the soonest opportunity.

Despite two of our party possessing passports still under our maiden names (one of which--not mine--was also 4 years expired!), we crossed the border with no problems and caught the ferry from Tsawwassen in good time. I may, at some point, post photos, but they are not developed as yet. The trip through the islands was calm and beautiful, and views of the rugged remote forests and mossy coasts put me immediately in mind of Charles de Lint--he describes just this sort of country in Memory and Dream and The Wild Wood . Once in Victoria, we eventually found our hostel on the Esquimalt peninsula, and knew ourselves blessed. It's an old house on the water, and could easily have been an expensive B&B with its lovely grounds and charming private rooms, but fortunately for us, the owner (who also works as a clown along with her companion Spike the Wonder Dog) has kept it shockingly inexpensive and inviting to the impecunious. Some of those latter seem to have made the place their semi-permanent home, which only adds to its charm--we chatted with three men, and others appeared out of the woodwork during our stay. One of my favorite things was the trampoline in the backyard, but the treehouse, canoes and kayaks, three dogs, two cats, chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs were awesome too. And, after a good night's sleep, we investigated the mysterous "office" and found it to be a cosy little kitchen with a dining table set for breakfast. While chatting with the owner about her upcoming gigs, we feasted on cereal, toast, yoghurt, a delectable fruit salad, oj, coffee, and tea, all off beautiful china on a real tablecloth. Yes, this was a hostel--a far cry from the barracks of London and Paris!

Though I could have easily spent the entire weekend at the hostel, we had a wonderful time poking about Victoria, dining at both the city's vegan restaurants (the joys of Orthodox Lent!), which were actually quite good; enjoying live music (Peter, Paul, and Mary with a Celtic flair) in a pub; buying goodies from Roger's Chocolates; and wandering along the waterfront. We also spent a long time in the Maritime Museum, which turned out to be much more fascinating than I might have expected. The best part was the first section, which covered local history and the history of shipping in Canada--amazingly interesting, with lots of placards that were well-written and full of history. Since I hadn't had much time to read, I found myself devouring the words of the said placards--maybe why I enjoyed it so much... But it made me realize that not only do I know nothing about Canada (other than the two facts unknown to my companions, viz., that the country has a prime minister rather than a president, and that it is part of the British Commonwealth), but I know so little of world history! There's so much to know, and after reading How the Irish Saved Civilization, I'm realizing how everything is connected, and one small action may have huge consequences over the course of time. So now I'm inspired to read history and get myself eddicated. I think I'll start with that Stephen Ambrose book about Lewis and Clark, which I've been meaning to read since we moved here.