30 April 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Looking Forward

These are all the wonderful things I have to look forward to in the next 10 days.

-Finishing our Wives & Daughters marathon
-Finishing finals forever and ever
-Throwing away and/or burning old papers
-Giving people graduation presents and cards
-My very last meal at Saga
-Walks outside once the rain goes away
-Tea and brunch with little sisters
-Tea and brunch with some pretty amazing juniors
-Voice, piano, and organ recitals from Tricia, Cameron, Kathryn, and David
-Shakespeare in the Arb: The Taming of the Shrew, huzzah
-Rummaging through closet and finding random things I had forgotten about
-Exploring my desk drawers and finding more random forgotten things
-Dinner with Lambda Iota Tau at Dr. Freeh's
-Dinner with music department seniors at Prof. Holleman's
-Dinner with the honours seniors and Dr. Raney
-Dinner with Judith and the Whitley RAs
-Celebrating Gretchen's birthday with an ice cream adventure
-Celebrating Joy's engagement with, well, who knows what . . .
-End-of-semester orchestra concert
-Lots of baking in order to use up my remaining yeast, sugar, and eggs
-Swing dancing a few more times
-Finally finally finally seeing my parents and siblings and Jared and Grandma NEXT SATURDAY!

I'm sure I have forgotten some things, but wow, that is quite a list. I am an incredibly blessed woman.

28 April 2009

At Last

I can't believe the semester is over, or that I will never take a class at Hillsdale again. I'm trying not to think about the immensity of Life After College, and instead, am thanking God for how much I have learned during the past four years here.

These are the last things written in my notes for each class this semester.

Western Heritage Revisited
Discussion of "Letter to my Children" by Whittaker Chambers
"Western culture now lacks a moral will. Either it lacks a purpose and will altogether, or its purpose is a depraved one. We have lost a conviction to do good; we have no morally acceptable purpose. What does Communism do? It gives us a will, a purpose . . . To reject it, therefore, we need more than reason, which only supports it. Our soul must revolt if we are to stand against Communism. The soul of humanity must be resurrected if we are to oppose the new rational system. We can't oppose it with its own weapons. Conviction of soul is necessary to reject ideology. Capitalism is just another materialist ideology; we need Christ."

Utopian Fiction
Discussion of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein
"Humans have a spirit: this is what humanizes our intellect and body, unites them and rescues us from what Walker Percy calls 'angelism-bestialism.' Men need chests, to quote C.S. Lewis. Men need a soul to combine our angelic intellect to our animal bodies . . . Where do we get our human personhood, then? If not from biology alone, if not from social conditioning alone, where does our free will come from?"

Oral & Written Spanish
Discussion of "Dos palabras" by Isabel Allende
"Usos buenos de las palabras: ensenar, hacer alegre, dar esperanza, expresar belleza o amor, comunicar la verdad. Palabras pueden herir o ayudar. Son poderosas y necesitamos usar este poder con cuidado, en una manera positiva. La noche, la oscuridad, es como la vida del coronel antes de que llegue Belisa. Ella trae luz consigo, en sus palabras y el amor."

[Good uses of words: to teach, to make people happy, to give hope, to express beauty or love, to communicate the truth. Words can wound or help. They are powerful and we must use this power carefully, in a positive manner. Before Belisa arrives, the colonel's life is like night and dark obscurity. She brings light with her, in her words and in love.]

History of England (Quote 1)
Discussion of Britain's House of Lords
"Pretending that tradition never changes is a sure way to destroy that tradition. It will get overrun by time, which does change whether you like it or not. So you must be flexible with form if you intend to preserve the essence."

History of England (Quote 2)
Discussion of the Prime Minister's Role
"Personality is a package for ideas . . . you can't win if you wrap ideas in newspaper. To be prime minister, you had better be a good speaker and a charismatic leader. If you're boring, you drag down the entire party, for which you are supposed to be the representative. It's not your reputation alone that is on the line, but the whole party, because as its leader, you are its embodiment."

Western Heritage Since 1600
Discussion of "A World Split Apart" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
"Modernity has run away from the old norms. Yet it is always an option to live life well. Often this means living an ordinary and 'small' life. Why is this so much harder than grandeur? As young idealists, we often fail to see how much of life is taken up by mundane things. The great challenge, then, is to live the mundane life well. To live it all well. To seek God's glory everywhere-- to be a vessel of His grace in all life's details, whether high or low."

27 April 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Blooming

"Loveliest of trees" by A.E. Houseman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

There aren't any cherry trees around here, but we do have magnolias, and they're pretty amazing. Though the tops broke off in a heavy snow last month, the lower branches are blooming away with the most joyful springtime gusto, filling the air with magnolia perfume. When the petals fall on the brick sidewalk, it looks like one big bridal procession.

23 April 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Levaquin

So . . . I don't like medicine. I think I've taken a grand total of ten aspirin tablets during my entire collegiate career (that includes when I got my wisdom teeth out). I prefer suffering a headache and chills for a few days to getting the flu vaccine. And antibiotics are for losers.

Well, this semester I was a big loser, because I have been on antibiotics twice! Yikes. Most recently, I contracted cellulitis, inflammation of the skin cells. Hence my face looked like a puffer fish for a couple days.

Thanks to a very strong antibiotic (Levaquin) my face is just about back to its normal proportions. The stuff gives me a slightly upset stomach, but that is better than an infection spreading to my brain or something.

20 April 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: College-Appropriate

"A Timely Consumption of Drink" by James Kenneth Stephen

There are people, I know, to be found,
Who say, and apparently think,
That sorrow and care may be drowned
By a timely consumption of drink.

Does not man, these enthusiasts ask,
Most nearly approach the divine,
When engaged in the soul-stirring task
Of filling his body with wine?

Have not beggars been frequently known,
When satisfied, soaked and replete,
To imagine their bench was a throne
And the civilised world at their feet?

Lord Byron has finely described
The remarkably soothing effect
Of liquor, profusely imbibed,
On a soul that is shattered and wrecked.

In short, if your body or mind
Or you soul or your purse come to grief,
You need only get drunk, and you'll find
Complete and immediate relief.

For myself, I have managed to do
Without having recourse to this plan,
So I can't write a poem for you,
And you'd better get someone who can.


Now, I'm no teetotaler. Mojitos make me happy, steak tastes much better with Merlot, and rum is so very delicious. Oh fiddlesticks, I love booze . . . but only when I'm sober enough to enjoy it. After that, it's no fun. Overall, then, I concur with this cautionary poet: as a cure for pain or a route to happiness, alcohol leaves just-about-everything to be desired.

Unfortunately, quite a few people at college haven't learned this yet.

18 April 2009

I Am Weird.

As if we needed any more evidence of that . . .

But to prove the point, it has recently been brought to my attention that I eat some very strange things. Crunchy pears. Unsweetened yogurt. Raw spaghetti noodles. Slightly burned toast. Carrots with peanut butter. Apples with ricotta cheese. Orange marmalade on a spoon. Frozen brownies, frozen grapes, frozen muffins. Cold chili, cold fettucini, cold pancakes. Kidney beans for breakfast. Pickles and chickpeas for lunch. Sometimes I open a can of tuna and eat it plain, without salt or mayo or anything.

Where did I get such odd tendencies

16 April 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Rescues

1. The sun rescued me from rainy day depression by actually coming out today, along with warm breezes. No-jacket weather.

2. Vanessa rescued me from paperless despair, by brainstorming with me for an hour (and finally inspiring me to write about the failure of Pauline love in Brave New World).

3. Gwen rescued me from befuddled indignation with my computer by explaining that my new power cord has the wrong voltage. Not a happy discovery, but at least I know what's going on now.

13 April 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Miraculous Awakening

"The Year's Awakening" by Thomas Hardy

How do you know that the pilgrim track
Along the belting zodiac
Swept by the sun in his seeming rounds
Is traced by now to the Fishes' bounds
And into the Ram, when weeks of cloud
Have wrapt the sky in a clammy shroud,
And never as yet a tinct of spring
Has shown in the Earth's apparelling;
O vespering bird, how do you know?
How do you know?

How do you know, deep underground,
Hid in your bed from sight and sound
Without a turn in temperature
With weather life can scarce endure
That light has won a fraction's strength,
And day put on some moments' length,
Whereof in merest rote will come,
Weeks hence, mild airs that do not numb.
O crocus root, how do you know?
How do you know?

09 April 2009

Considering Sin on Good Friday

"The things we have done wrong seemed, or mostly seemed, small at the time. The word of encouragement withheld, the touch of kindness not given, the visit not made, the trust betrayed, the cutting remark so clever and so cruel, the illicit sexual desire so generously entertained, the angry answer, the surge of resentment at being slighted, the lie we thought would do no harm. It is such a long and tedious list of little things. Surely not too much should be made of it, we thought to ourselves. But now it has come to this. It has come to the cross. All the trespasses of all the people of all time have gravitated here, to the killing grounds of Calvary."
-Richard John Neuhas

Our sin is serious, and if we deny that, we deny the plain truth of history. Look, sin was serious enough to kill Christ. It grieved Him so much that He gave His life for its defeat. Don't deceive yourself into downplaying your own faults; God died because of them, and God doesn't make pointless, melodramatic gestures. He had to die. It really was that bad.

Resurrection comes later . . . hope and forgiveness comes later . . . but for now, just think about your own complicity in Christ's agony, and acknowledge the shame that is rightfully yours. Mine. Ours, as members of the treacherous human race.

Talk about inducements to humility.

Thankful Thursdays: Arrivals & Departures

Bright yellow daffodils.
Snail mail from Rachel.
Frequently blue skies.
Flip-flops and sunglasses.
Spicy Thai chicken.
Easter happiness.

Nasty wet snowdrifts.
Dehabilitating ankle injury.
An empty refrigerator.
Reading Marx and Engels.
My thesis.

08 April 2009

Good Brownies.

This is a great recipe. I got the original from Recipezaar and modified it a little bit; feel free to toss in a cup of chocolate chips, perhaps chopped walnuts or pecans, sprinkle on some powdered sugar or add a buttercream frosting. But these brownies can hold their own without frou-frou additions. Moist yet firm. Just sweet enough. Ah, chocolate bliss!


1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, beaten with fork
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1) In large bowl, beat together oil and sugar.
2) Add eggs and vanilla, and whisk until mixture is smooth and pale yellow.
3) Add flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder; stir until completely combined.
4) Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until brownies are set in the middle and pulling away at the edges (and an inserted toothpick tests clean). Cool on rack.

06 April 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Some A.A. Milne For Ye

"Us Two" by A.A. Milne, from Now We Are Six

Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
"Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too.
Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.

"What's twice eleven?" I said to Pooh.
("Twice what?" said Pooh to Me.)
"I think it ought to be twenty-two."
"Just what I think myself," said Pooh.
"It wasn't an easy sum to do,
But that's what it is," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what it is," said Pooh.

"Let's look for dragons," I said to Pooh.
"Yes, let's," said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few--
"Yes, those are dragons all right," said Pooh.
"As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That's what they are," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what they are," said Pooh.

"Let's frighten the dragons," I said to Pooh.
"That's right," said Pooh to Me.
"I'm not afraid," I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted "Shoo!
Silly old dragons!"-- and off they flew.
"I wasn't afraid," said Pooh, said he,
"I'm never afraid with you."

So wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
"What would I do?" I said to Pooh,
"If it wasn't for you," and Pooh said: "True,
It isn't much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together, says Pooh, says he.
"That's how it is," says Pooh.

02 April 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Sooo Good!!!

1. No coat today: 65 degrees and sunny.

2. My honors thesis was turned in at the beginning of the week, with the presentation scheduled for Monday. I can't believe that I'm almost finished. What will I do without my thesis to keep me company?

3. Beautiful music and the friends who make it. Metropolitan Piano Trio last night, Mu Alpha concert tonight, MA formal on Saturday. That should keep me going through a weekend of presentation prep.

4. Lots of advertisement opportunities for my online classes.

5. Oh . . . last but not least, the senior scramble is on. And it entertains me greatly.

01 April 2009

Too Busy to Pray?

"It matters little whether you are the mother of active children who drain away your energy, an important executive in a major multinational corporation, a graduate student cramming for impending comprehensives, a plumber working overtime to put your children through college, or a pastor of a large church putting in ninety-hour weeks: at the end of the day, if you are too busy to pray, you are too busy. Cut something out."
-D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation

Ouch. That hits home. Too busy to commune with the living God? Too busy to cast my cares upon the One who cares for me perfectly? It seems impossible, but it's what I tell myself every time I cut my devotions short. . .

HT: Pure Church