“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
--- Max Ehrmann, 1927-
If you could put anyone you know on Prozac, who would you choose?
How do you feel about public displays of affection?
You are going out for the evening. If your partner objects to what you are wearing, would you change your clothing?
What item that you don’t currently possess would you most like to have in your home?
Check it, peeps. Feels like I'm back in high school!
What stresses you out?
What are your secret talents?
One of the major changes we recently underwent at Chez Ducklings is directly involved with my husband's facial hair. Never one to look the same for too long, he's been experimenting with full bears and full heads of hair in the past couple of years.
When we first started dating early last year, he had a lot of hair on his head. It was between 4 and 6 inches long, thick and kinked, and he didn't use conditioner. That's a lot of hair to try to manage without conditioner.
About a month after we started dating, he shaved the sides and left the middle long - a mohawk. He bleached it and dyed it light blue. THIS is how he met my family - and how I met his, incidentally.
In April he shaved it all off and went bald for the summer. He buzzed it really short again in the fall, a couple of months before the wedding. After that, he started with the beard.
He kept a full but trimmed beard for a while, and then shaved it off a few months ago when it got hot. he also went bald again.
I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere toward the end of summer, he decided to stop shaving all together and let everything grow until the end of October. He had 'needs a haircut' length hair, and the beard was going on 2 inches long. He could even hold things in it - pencils, mostly. It was hilarious, and awesome, and maybe a little bit out of control.
Last Friday, it all went away. GONE. It's quite a change. The top of his head was a little stubbly by Friday night, prickly by Saturday, and certified scratchy by Sunday. His hair grows pretty quickly. In a couple more days, it will be soft like fur - my favorite.
In a way, my relationship with books 'takes a page' from my relationship with God. You probably don't know much about my relationship with God, and I can only sum it up by saying it's multi-faceted. If it could be objectified or illustrated in some way, I think books would do a great job. Let me explain.
One facet of my relationship with God is that long-standing deep loyalty, showing lots of wear and tear. He's been with me through some major ups and downs. I've relied on his steady hand and turned to him again and again to find something comforting and safe and familiar.
Sometimes God is a reference or a teacher. His opinions and writings (the Bible and words from other believers) help guide and shape my world view. When I don't know how to answer a question, I check the scriptures and various interpretations to see what's there.
And then there's the awe/respect thing. I recently had a conversation with my mom about the type of church services I prefer. My family gets the most from 'charismatic' services, where it's more than just a contemporary setting (aka chairs and a band rather than pews and a choir) and extends into a more adoration-oriented worship style. Me, I prefer a service that has more of the traditional, austere feel. I like the deliberately guided service and the old hymns. I like to approach Sunday mornings as a time of commitment and devotion and learning, not necessarily fun and entertainment and energy.
My bible collection demonstrates all of this pretty well. I have an illustrated Precious Moments bible that I've had since very early childhood. It's pretty old by now, but I've carted it off everywhere and I still like to look at the pictures. I also have a 'working bible' - the one my private school gave me in the 5th grade, and I've done all my studying and reflecting in this bible. The cover is falling apart and has been taped back on once or twice, and there are lots of marks and notes inside. I also have a 'beautiful' bible - it's leather-bound with my name embossed on the cover. I keep this one at the office in a special cover. There are a few others floating around - an NRSV edition my brother and I bought together, a small 'backpack' bible that I keep in the glove box of my car, a Spanish/English parallel bible, and a really pretty tapestry-covered one that my brother gave me for Christmas a few years ago. Between my husband, who is in seminary, and my own history as a Christian, we have at least a whole shelf of them - or would, if they were all in the same location.
In what ways do your relationships with books mirror other relationships in your life?
Did you even know I'm a knitter? Well, I am. And I have been for a couple of years now.
I'm a little bit slow, and not as prolific as a lot of knitters, but I do love it. I miss knitting if a day goes by when I don't pick up the needles.
One of the things about me is that I am a 'monogamous knitter' - which means I only like to have one project going at a time. The vast majority of knitters, however, are polygamous. They've got a PILE of things in various stages of completion - we call these works in progress, or WIPs. But not me. I move through it slowly, so only like to have one thing clamoring for my attention at any given moment.
Unless it really is a HUGE thing, or a really really complicated thing, in which case I will sometimes take on smaller, more portable, more TV-watching appropriate projects. You can't really take a giant afghan on an air plane or to a doctor's office without getting all kinds of funny looks, after all.
There are all kinds of other ways to categorize knitters, too. There are different ways of holding the yarn when you're using it, for example. There are those who like the yarn to come from the outside of the ball and others like it to come from the inside. Some folks group up by the types of fibers they like (or refuse) to use. And then there are product knitters vs. process knitters - people who like to knit for the knitting, and people who like to knit for the stuff it gets them.
I do not know if I am a product knitter or a process knitter. I really love the process, it's true. But it's hard for me to knit something just for the sake of knitting it. I am NOT one of those knitters who has a stack of lovely knitted things that will make a perfect gift for somebody someday. I have to know the intended purpose of the item before I make it, or else I won't get motivated to make it.
I'm not as prolific as I'd like to be, because I don't have a lot of spare time, and what little spare time I do have gets carved up between responsibilities (like laundry) and other fun stuff (like reading and watching Clean House). I've cranked out a few pretty cool things so far, though. I'm wearing some fingerless gloves I made over Memorial Day weekend, for example. I take a mesh knitted bag to the market and grocery stores. I just finished a beautiful shawl that will be so nice to wear when spring comes back around. I keep my chapstick and other little doodads in a felted bowl on my dresser. And as soon as it gets to be scarf weather, I'll be wearing this super cool chevron scarf that I worked on this summer.
Knitting is probably the only thing in my life that is pure contentment and satisfaction. It fulfills me more than anything else. I wish I could knit full-time, and maybe someday I'll be able to. It might actually be a passion of mine - but I don't think I've ever really had a passion so I have trouble identifying something as one.
I don't know why I've neglected to display this side of my real life on the blog. My goal is to change this, starting this week. So get ready for some fiber, the old-fashioned way!
My husband cringes when he sees some of my books. His mother and his grandmother were both librarians, so he feels a deep respect for books. Books are to be cared for, not torn or dog-eared or marked up.
I too have a deep respect for books, but mine is based more on a perception of relationship. Books are awesome - they are such awesome things. They carry our thought, our history, our traditions, even our subversion. They are important.
There are some books that I treasure, because they have been with me for a long time. One of these books is my tattered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. I got it in the 8th grade, and it has been marked up, written on, taped back together, bent backward at the spine, highlighted, dog-eared to kingdom come, you name it. It's been loved. I have a nitty-gritty, you-are-my-lifeblood relationship with this book. We have been through the ringer together, and the more worn it gets, the deeper our relationship has gone.
Another book I treasure is The Christmas Cat. This is a Christmas storybook that I've had for as long as I can remember. I think my Grandovie gave it to me, but I'm not sure. I actually have two copies of this book because I thought I'd lost the original and I found an old library copy for sale. I treasure this book by keeping it very safe and in very good condition. I expect this book to show some wear because it has been through several moves, and it's old, and it is in fact displayed and read at least once a year.
Some books, I will dog-ear. These are the 'reference' books - idea books, clutter control books, self-help books, whatnot. I'll fold down the very tip corner on a page that relates to me or speaks to me. These guys are the workers. They're meant to be used, and their value is in their information. I don't necessarily LIKE the look of dog-ears, but I very much don't like the look of flags sticking out all over the place. One of these days I may get diligent and make a brief 'index' to post-it in the front cover. Any kids out there who need a service project?
And then there are those books that are revered. I have a beautiful set of leather-bound autobiographies of Christian people and specific works I really admire - Corrie ten Boom, Brother Andrew, CS Lewis's Screwtape Letters, etc. They're beautiful. I've read them all once - because books are meant to be read. But a number of these, I wanted to keep re-reading. So I bought cheap paperbacks. These are some of my most favorite books, and they are beautiful, so I want them to stay beautiful, but I also want to read them without hesitation. Hence the duplicate.
In general, I appreciate the aesthetics of books. I try to take care not to bend the covers of paperbacks. It's really annoying to me if a book doesn't lie flat. I try not to let pages or groups of pages get bent - again with the flat. But I'm not offended if a particular book looks worn. Books are meant to be read, loved, and invested in. You can't invest in something by sticking it on a shelf and looking at it.
BEST CHOICE I EVER MADE, short of marrying my husband. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this CD, and incidentally I am shattered that I can't find it anymore. He is so talented, and you don't really get a good feel for what his music is really like if you're stuck listening to a studio track. This CD is just him and his hand-drummer. I am not a good reviewer at all, so I will leave my ravings at this: AWESOME.
The drawback is, I got spoiled. I don't really like most of his radio releases because I know how much better they would be, live. They're basic and crude and have so much potential but ultimately are a let-down.
I have been yearning to see him in concert, in a small or smallish venue, for a long time now. We're talking years. Like 6 years. That's kind of a long time. And the reason I've been waiting so long is that he has never come to my town. He's come near my town, but never close enough to be attainable for my tight budget and need for not driving back home at 3am. Resignation and despair.
NOW. Shift gears a little bit.
All the cool kids know about Pandora by now. If you're not cool yet and you want to be, the transformation is simple: check out www.pandora.com and enlightenment will come to you. On my pandora, I have a particular station that plays several of the songs on Jason's latest record, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things.
I definitely want to get this one, to bring my Jason Mraz CD Library to a total of 2 albums. I can already tell that I will love it. It's just a matter of time.
Enter my dilemma, with some dallying at the beginning.
We are having a whirlwind Thanksgiving. The plan is to leave town Wednesday evening to overnight with my family. Get up early and finish driving to Brian's homestead. Friday or Saturday, drive west to Asheville to hang out with (and in my case, meet) two of Brian's cousins - and oh yeah, attend the farewell concert of Brian's favorite folk singer, in his (the singer's) home venue, which is something Brian's wanted to do for more than a decade, he says. And then eventually we will end up back in Richmond sometime Sunday, to collapse and return to work.
Did you catch that? We are in an entirely different state on the day before and the day after Thanksgiving. To see family. Many hours away. For a holiday.
If you're smart, you know where this is going.
Jason Mraz is going to be in RICHMOND at the NATIONAL on the day before AND the day after Thanksgiving. In case you aren't paying attention, I live in Richmond. He's coming straight to my town. Not DC, not Charlottesville, not Virginia Beach. Richmond. (Well, maybe he's going to those places too. I don't know.)
I have waited for SIX YEARS for this day (these days) to come, and now that they are on the books, I won't be able to make it. I won't be able to go!! To a concert I've waited 6 years to come to fruition!!!
I love you, Jason Mraz, and yet I hate you, so so much, right now. You have toyed with my heart and I am growing weary. I have been loyal and supportive, defending you to nay-sayers and expounding on your virtues, but I don't know if I can last another 6 years.
If I have done my research correctly, then my conclusion that this, ladies and gentleman, is a pheasant, and more specifically, a hybrid of a Golden Pheasant and a Lady Amherst's Pheasant, is correct.
I would like you all to meet our pumpkin. We picked him up at the Lakeside United Methodist bazaar last Saturday. They had some GREAT pumpkins - all shapes, sizes, and various stages of smoothness and otherwise. We were charmed by this guy's knobs and bobbles all over. I'd never seen one myself, actually, and it was instant attraction. We haven't discussed whether or not to put him under the knife. It would require careful planning, but I know Brian has the skills and vision to make something fantastic, should we choose to interfere with nature.
The Setup, from the Booking through Thursday website:
Okay–here was an interesting article by Christopher Schoppa in the Washington Post.
Avid readers know all too well how easy it is to acquire books — it’s the letting go that’s the difficult part. … During the past 20 years, in which books have played a significant role in both my personal and professional lives, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them (and some might say several others’ shares) in my library. Many were read and saved for posterity, others eventually, but still reluctantly, sent back out into the world.
But there is also a category of titles that I’ve clung to for years, as they survived numerous purges, frequent library donations and countless changes of residence. I’ve yet to read them, but am absolutely certain I will. And should. When, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works.
So, the question is his: “What tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?“
SO MANY. There are so many books I have kept around because I am just waiting for the day for the right mood to strike, the right amount of free time, and optimal interplanetary alignment to cause me to pick up "that book" and get it read.
I appear to have made the commitment to read more books this year, as evidenced by my have-read list (look over to the left), which is already tremendously longer this year than it's been in a long time. The majority of these are books that had sat on my shelves, through two moves, just waiting to be read. Some are books from the library that I'd been meaning to read for years (the Narnia books, Friday Night Knitting Club, Kitchen Privileges). Only three of these books are new acquisitions (Wild at Heart, Sushi for Beginners, and Balzac) through PaperBackSwap. Peace, Evensong, Monk and North Haven are required reading for the class I'm taking. All the rest are mine and had been mine for quite some time.
You should probably know that I cull my books at least once a month. I've also stopped requesting books on PBS unless I really need or really want them - no more 'hey that sounds good' requests. My ultimate goal is to have my collection whittled down to just the essentials - the most loved, most useful, and most sentimental books. And I'm proud to say that the out-going stream is a little swifter than the in-coming one. I'm also making good friends with the neighborhood library branch. In the meantime, I've got shelves and stacks and piles to get through.
Right now most of my reading is for my Theology in Literature class. It's a great class and I love the reading list, but I do have a moderate amount of baseline frustration that I'm not making any "progress" (and in fact, I'm ADDING to the list of tomes I ultimately want to read). But with that said, a sampling of the titles up to bat once I finish the class include:
First Things First, by Stephen Covey
The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron
Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller
As usual, we'll see what book ends up screaming the loudest when I'm browsing for a new read.
You may or may not be aware of the tiny dog living in our house. He is 3 years old, his name is Eli, and he likes to wear sweaters when it's cold, which can be loosely defined as 'October through April.'
There seems to be a general acceptance of the idea, at least in the circles I frequent, that there is a big difference between the two. The main thread of the argument is that anyone can read and learn - become educated, that is to say. But not everyone can take their own knowledge base and analyze it, apply it to theories and circumstances, or essentially 'do' something with it.
Education can expose a person to all sorts of new ideas and perspectives, but that's all just input. Intelligence is where education is measured. It's the output mechanism. And you can be very intelligent without having much education.
I, myself, have always struggled to flex my intelligence. The education part has always been easy for me - I love learning, taking in new knowledge, making connections, cross-training, and whatnot. I was labeled the 'smart kid' for a while, because I could spit back any fact I'd come across in the previous several years. I could figure things out pretty well, too - including the 'mechanisms' behind standardized tests, so I generally aced them. I loved, and aced, algebra, because it was all about figuring out which rules applied to which strategy.
It was always the 'analytical' assignments that tripped me up - the abstract thinking (geometry) and those proofs you had to do in philosophy. You can't approach these the same way you would a formulaic problem in algebra or all the nuances in a poem. (Incidentally, I do much better with poetry when I can see it.) And abstract art? I could stare at it all day and say how it makes ME feel and even enjoy the experience, but figuring out the artist's intention is maybe not the easiest part for me.