30 November 2008

Weekend Pictures

A few pictures of the Feeney's house, where I spent Thanksgiving.

The kitchen was very busy on Thanksgiving. I think there were about 25 people at the Feeney's house that afternoon. And yes, they all were fed in abundance.

The nook of caffeinated delights. Behold the coffeepot, bearer of good tidings to sleepy college students! Honey, hotpot, and cabinet-full-of-tea played a starring role as well.

View out the kitchen window to the snowy backyard.

Three cheers (or more, if you'd like) for leather furniture.

Happy friends! From left to right: Mary, me, Tonia, and Natalie.

27 November 2008

Thankful Thursdays: This One's Obvious

It's Thanksgiving! How appropriate. I hadn't even thought about the fact that Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday when I instituted "Thankful Thursdays" this summer. How about that? Today I am most grateful for the Gospel: for the salvation which comes by grace, through faith, by the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ our Lord. No matter what else is going on, that's a constant source of joy!

Right now, I'm at Mary Feeney's house in Indianapolis. This morning we peeled potatoes, made salad, sliced baguettes, swept floors, rolled piecrust, arranged furniture, and other preparatory party sorts of things. I felt right at home. The Feeneys have friends and family coming over this afternoon, and it should be a lovely holiday. I'll try to post pictures later.

26 November 2008

Well, This is Interesting!

I find this really intriguing. My friend Mary told me that she'd taken the Myers-Briggs personality test and was surprised at the accuracy of the results: I gave it a try, and wow...it's good! Apparently, I'm an ENFJ (Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Judging), a type which various sources label an "Idealist Teacher," a "Mentor," and a "Sage." I recognized myself in almost every facet of the ENFJ description. If you've never taken the test, you should. If nothing else, it'll provide you with ten minutes of entertainment. :)

25 November 2008

Good News in Computer-Land

Thanks to Raj the outsourced Indian at Dell Tech Support, my computer's up and running. Hurray!

Ok, yes...I'm sure that my ethnic stereotyping is extraordinarily rude to poor Raj (or whatever his name was). But I didn't mean it that way. He was very nice and helpful. I won't hold his near-undecipherable accent against him. ;o)

Mellifluous Mondays (sort of): Carrion Comfort

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.
-"Carrion Comfort" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918

20 November 2008

Thankful Thursdays: A Crisis Averted

My laptop has gone postal. Thankfully, however...

1) The warranty has not run out, so I can get a new hard drive for free.
2) I'm on a campus full of computer labs.
3) Gwen is letting me borrow her external hard drive, and I haven't lost any of my documents!

Technology is great when it works, but when it doesn't, what a pain. Things could be so much worse, though, and I'm just grateful to have my term papers safely stored somewhere else. :)

17 November 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: The Gather'd Storm

"The keener Tempests come: and fuming dun
From all the livid East, or piercing North,
Thick Clouds ascend; in whose capacious Womb
A vapoury Deluge lies, to Snow congeal'd.
Heavy they roll their fleecy World along;
And the Sky saddens with the gather'd Storm.
Thro the hush'd Air the whitening Shower descends,
At first thin-wavering; till at last the Flakes
Fall broad, and wide, and fast, dimming the Day,
With a continual Flow. The cherish'd Fields
Put on their Winter-Robe, of purest White.
'Tis Brightness all; save where the new Snow melts,
Along the mazy Current. Low, the Woods
Bow their hoar Head; and, ere the languid Sun
Faint from the West emits his Evening-Ray,
Earth's universal Face, deep-hid, and chill,
Is one wild dazzling Waste, that buries wide
The Works of Man."
-from Winter by James Thomson

Yep. It's snowing in Hillsdale! Winter has officially begun (even though Thanksgiving hasn't even passed yet). And now we all have to pull our snowboots out of the closet, wrap ourselves in wool and feathers, and brave "the keener Tempests" as we tramp off to class. This should be fun.

16 November 2008

More Adventures with Yeast

Here we have the results of my latest kitchen experiment: a recipe from King Arthur Flour, hence trustworthy. Though I am still somewhat frightened of yeast (it's alive, for Pete's sake!), this turned out quite well.

Vermont Oatmeal-Honey Bread
2 cups boiling water
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 to 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tablespoon salt (I'm going to use a little bit less next time)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant or "rapid rise" yeast
1 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the boiling water, oats, brown sugar, honey, butter, salt and cinnamon. Stir to melt butter. Let mixture cool to lukewarm.
Add the yeast and flours, stirring to form a rough dough; knead (about 10 minutes by hand, 5 to 7 minutes by machine) until the dough is smooth and satiny.
Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour.
Halve the dough and shape each portion into a loaf, placing in two greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch bread pans. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the loaves to rise till they've crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour. (I actually let them rise uncovered in a warm oven.)
Bake the loaves in a preheated 350°F oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from pans immediately and let cool on rack.
Betsy and I sampled one loaf for our mini tea party this evening; it was delicious with a drizzle of honey. I'll use the rest of that loaf for breakfasts throughout the week, and the other one is going to the Mu Alpha house posthaste.

15 November 2008

Psalm 104

"O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. . .

"Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in His works. . .

"I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord."

13 November 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Convocation (and that which it represents)

Today was Fall Convocation 2008 at Hillsdale College. Essentially, we all dress up, congregate in a old beautiful church, watch the professors parade around in their academic regalia, give out the Daughtrey Teaching Award (which Dr. Jackson won, hurray!), listen to inspiring speeches, and remember why we came here in the first place: to learn. To pursue the truth humbly, eagerly, and thoroughly. To grow through our studies, learning how to glorify God and love our neighbor more and more every semester.

I am so grateful for a college of conviction, rooted in absolute truth.

12 November 2008

An Accidental Addiction

So I'm definitely addicted to caffeine.
If I haven't had any within an hour of waking up, I get a headache, and without several cups of coffee or tea throughout the day, I'm even sleepier than usual. (Granted, it's the time of the semester when everyone is tired 24/7, but still.) Ironically enough, I didn't even try to get hooked on caffeine; it only happened because I was so cold, I started drinking coffee at every meal in Saga. Apparently, my brain got used to it and now cannot survive without said coffee. Blast.
I'm not planning to "go cold turkey," but cutting back to two cups of caffeine a day would be a start, yes?

11 November 2008

In Defence of Chick Flicks...

Only good chick flicks, of course, along with Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables, Disney princess movies, and every fairy tale in which the knight in shining armor saves the day. Westley may be a fiction, but why shouldn't we set the standards high? Ideals need not blind us to reality.

"If what mothers mean by a good match, is the alliance of a man of position and means-- or let them throw intellect, manners, and personal advantages into the scale-- if this be all, then we grant [that] the daughter of cultivated imagination may not be manageable, will probably be obstinate. We hope she will be obstinate enough. But will the girl be less likely to marry a gentleman, in the grand old meaning of the sixteenth century? ...Will she be less likely to marry one who honours women, and for their sakes, as well as his own, honours himself? Or to speak from what many would regard as the mother's side of the question-- will the girl be more likely, because of such a culture in her imagination [that is, images planted by The Princess Bride or Pride and Prejudice], to refuse the wise, true-hearted, generous rich man, and fall in love with the talking, verse-making fool, because he is poor, as if that were a virtue for which he had striven? The highest imagination and the lowliest common sense are always on one side."
-George MacDonald in "The Imagination: Its Function and Its Culture"

Mellifluous Mondays: More Frost

A day late, here's a beautiful poem by Robert Frost. It's called "Bond and Free." The contrast between love and thought, passion and pure reason, reminds me of the debate which has recurred in my Englightement-era literature class this semester. Is is better to operate under the dictates of reason, free of this world's distractions and error? Or should we listen to human feelings and compassion?

Or . . . can we simply embrace both? I think the answer lies there, since clearly, God gave us both faculties, not to oppose but to complement one another.

Love has earth to which she clings
With hills and circling arms about--
Wall within wall to shut fear out.
But Thought has need of no such things,
For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings.

On snow and sand and turn, I see
Where Love has left a printed trace
With straining in the world's embrace.
And such is Love and glad to be
But Thought has shaken his ankles free.

Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom
And sits in Sirius' disc all night,
Till day makes him retrace his flight
With smell of burning on every plume,
Back past the sun to an earthly room.

His gains in heaven are what they are.
Yet some say Love by being thrall
And simply staying possesses all
In several beauty that Thought fares far
To find fused in another star.

06 November 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Echinacea

I'm sick (recovering soon, or such is the hope) and therefore sucking down vast quantities of Vitamin C and echinacea. I am so grateful for natural remedies like these, because they do help, and I do not have to visit the health center and pay for a batch of artificial antibiotics.

Isn't it amazing how a beautiful flower can also yield a potent medicine? I love how God works so many levels of goodness into His creation.

05 November 2008

Political Thoughts

I'm not happy that Obama won. But neither do I think that McCain was God's gift to mankind, and much less do I think that O's win spells disaster for life as we know it. I've had enough of these ridiculous prophecies: "Socialists will overrun America! Every other child will be aborted! Taxes will rocket through the roof!" Please, people. He's only the executive. The House holds the power of the purse; the Senate has more influence on laws than the president ever will. You should be worrying about our liberal legislative branch more than our liberal president. Constitutionally speaking, Obama can't make any of that awful stuff happen unless he orchestrated a Nazi-style coup d'etat and pulled the wool over the entire nation's eyes on the force of his own rhetoric. And pardon my French, but if he pulled that off, we'd damn well deserve it.

. . .

I live on a very conservative campus. I can only imagine what an uproar there will be today. A couple thoughts on the common responses I'm seeing:

1) Fear. How about these reassuring words from Scripture? "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). "Kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations" (Psalm 22:28). "God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth." (Psalm 74:12). If the Lord truly is King over all the earth, a paltry president should not worry us.

2) Hatred. Guess what? Obama is not the devil incarnate. He is simply a sinful man in need of God's salvation, and who knows, the Lord may be at work in him even now. I'm praying that He is. Nothing can stand before God's irresistible grace, not the most hardened heart and wayward soul. Do you think that it was any easier to save you?

. . .

All that said, I do think we're going to hell in a handbasket. Socially and politically, we have rejected so many of the foundational truths of our freedom that it would be hard to extricate ourselves from the downward spiral. Without respect for our constitution, and (more importantly) without the individual virtue that's required to make a republic work, we're never going to recover. The United States may not collapse, but it will soon look very different from what the Founders had in mind.

03 November 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: A Sad Woman

Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea,
London has swept about you this score years
And bright ships left you this or that in fee:
Ideas, old gossip, oddments of all things,
Strange spars of knowledge and dimmed wares of price.
Great minds have sought you-- lacking someone else.
You have been second always. Tragical?
No. You preferred it to the usual thing:
One dull man, dulling and uxorious,
One average mind-- with one thought less, each year.
Oh, you are patient, I have seen you sit
Hours, where something might have floated up.
And now you pay one. Yes, you richly pay.
You are a person of some interest, one comes to you
And takes strange gain away:
Trophies fished up; some curious suggestion;
Fact that leads nowhere; and a tale for two,
Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else
That might prove useful and yet never proves,
That never fits a corner or shows use,
Or finds its hour upon the loom of days:
The tarnished, gaudy, wonderful old work;
Idols and ambergris and rare inlays,
These are your riches, your great store; and yet
For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things,
Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff:
In the slow float of differing light and deep,
No! there is nothing! In the whole and all,
Nothing that's quite your own.
Yet this is you.
-"Portrait D'Une Femme" by Ezra Pound

This woman leads such an empty life, filled with "idols and ambergris and rare inlays" but void of family or lasting friendship. At worst, I think, she might be a courtesan ("great minds have sought you, lacking someone else"). At best, she's simply a crabby woman who refused to marry for fear of losing her independence, and now pays dearly in loneliness.