Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Life Under Compulsion by Anthony Esolen



Last week I finished a book by one of my favorite authors of cultural commentary, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child  by Anthony Esolen of Providence College.  It's a follow-up to his Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.  However, it's not written in Screwtape-esque style as was the first one.  As you would expect if you've read anything by Esolen, the prose is well crafted, lucid, and fluid.  I'm looking forward to attending a conference in April in which he will be the plenary speaker.

Here are a few choice quotations from the book~

If you are not in love with beauty and goodness, you will be clutched by the drab and the listless if not worse.

What happened to this freedom-making education?  The short answer is that John Dewey happened to it.  Dewey, mild of temperament, was as narrow-minded a reformer as the world has ever been plagued withal.

Every encounter with what is good--the chivalry of General Lee, the willing poverty of Mother Theresa, the shy greathearted youth of Alyosha Karamazov--can expand the soul; it helps to set us free from the compulsions of false goods, which Christians have long grouped under the headings of the seven deadly sins.  Every encounter with beauty--the glint of a simple word in a poem by Herbert, the meditative subtleties of the late Shakespeare, the sweet charm of a ballad by Burns--can expand the soul; it helps to set us free from the heavy accretions of the drab, the dull, the mean, the spiritually sluggish, the smog of contemporary workaweek life.  Every encounter with human truth--Jane Austen deftly showing how little we know our own motives; Dickens revealing the meaning of "economy" in the cheerful and charitable housekeeping of Esther Summerson, his finest heroine; or Shakespeare offering us the foolish Lear, mad and childish and yet 'every inch a king'--can expand the soul; it helps to set us free from the common delusions of our time, the lies we believe and the lies we tell.
 That's just a taste.  Perhaps I'll post more another day.  Now, I'm off to read Esolen's latest release, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hannah's Birthday

Hannah's 20th birthday was yesterday and we no longer have teenagers.  I'm not exactly sure when I got old enough to have two children in their 20's.  I think it happened last week, because the week before I was still 25.  Or at least in my mind I was.

Hannah has relaunched her Etsy shop and has some lovely quilted and knitted items.  She will be adding embroidery at some point as well.  Her prices are reasonable.  Click on the picture in the sidebar to visit.

At Hannah's request, we had a quiet celebration at home with Elizabeth and her family and a big bucket of chicken from KFC (plus sides).  Our family tradition is for the birthday person to choose what's for dinner.  Some years have required a lot of preparation and cooking, and other years, like this one, I get off easy. :)  Some highlights~

A new computer!  Necessary since this 6yo one is dying. . . 


You can never have too much Tolkien.

Two candles for two decades

An excellent father and his two girls (Photo credit: Elizabeth)

Instead of cake, we had low-carb cookies and frozen yogurt.  I followed this recipe.  They were very easy to make.  Each cookie has about 1/4 teaspoon of confectioner's sugar, so they are not super sweet, but the almond flour has a good flavor and there was plenty of butter.  The texture was excellent, too.  I used sugar-free apricot preserves for the jam.  Definitely a keeper!



Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Little Sewing

I made this pillow yesterday afternoon.



Not the embroidery.  That would have been a truly superhuman feat to have done the embroidery and sewn the pillow all in one afternoon.  Hannah did the embroidery from her own design.  She is an embroiderer extraordinaire!  It was a gift for Christmas last year (as in 2014. . .) and I promptly decided I wanted to make a pillow from it and promptly went out and bought the materials.  I not so promptly put it all together yesterday.  Not that I didn't do any sewing in the past year.  I did, but just not this.  Other things keep taking priority.

So anyway, here it is in all its glory.  The quote from Jane Austen reads, "They are much to be pitied who have not been given a taste for nature early in life." 


Bonus pic~


Mist on the pond last week



Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Ice Storm That Wasn't

The mega gigantic ice storm that was supposed to hit Thursday night fizzled.  We twice had a little ice overnight that melted in the morning.  Missouri was closed on Friday, so I got a day at home I wasn't counting on, which was much appreciated, but which turns out was unnecessary.  I don't mind, though.  I've been running on all cylinders since the beginning of December and an extra-long weekend was just what I needed.

Around my house since Christmas~



The amaryllis is finished, but the paperwhites are coming on.  I meant to plant these in time for them to be blooming about now, but note the above paragraph. . .  I love to have flowers blooming indoors at this time of year!


We had a cold snap right after Christmas and got a little snow.  The woods and the pond are beautiful this time of year!  (Not that I was actually outside when I took this.  Brrrrr!)




Dave is now the proud owner of a canjo.  




Hannah surprised by the camera~




Spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa's 😊

                   




This tree is five or six years old, we think, and it's blooming for the first time!  It's either a lime or lemon tree.  I guess we'll find out when the fruit appears. . .

                           

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas

Today is already the seventh day of Christmas!  We try to observe the entire twelve days, so the tree and other decorations will stay up through January 5, I am still listening to Christmas music, and there are Christmas goodies floating around.

I try to time the planting of my amaryllis so it's blooming on Christmas Day, but this year I missed by five days.  Regardless, that gorgeous red is such a welcome burst of color at this time of year.



My 86-year-old mother has been paring down her Christmas decorations and parceling them out amongst her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  She gave me this sleigh and reindeer a few weeks ago, which I remember from my earliest childhood.  Even the presents are old.  I'm so happy to have it!




The grandkids decorated wooden Christmas trees in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  It was a two-step process: paint the trees one week and add glitter, pompoms, and shiny snowflakes the next.  Hannah is my trusty sidekick and is always willing to lend a hand.




The nave of our church was even more beautiful than usual Christmas morning!  

Photo Credit:  Dave

I didn't take many photos Christmas Day (too busy!) but here's one of the table I snapped in a hurry~




We are unabashedly Lutheran.  Read about the symbolism of Luther's rose here.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Advent

A glimpse of Advent happenings at our house~


Advent is all about preparation.  This week I've been preparing by baking Christmas cookies.  Here, shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate and pecans or chocolate and sprinkles (for the kids!)~




It snowed last week and the pond froze over.




The grandgirls spent the night and helped us decorate the tree~




Hannah took them outside to play in the last of the snow.  I stayed inside and took this through the kitchen window where I could keep an eye on the baking cookies. :)


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Catching Up

So much going on!  All of it good (thank you, Lord!), but it definitely keeps me hopping!  A brief recap~

The mixed herb jar was a belated birthday gift from my sister.  I don't have anything
like it and I love it!

This year's fruitcake.  This is Dave's favorite Christmas treat.

This year's Advent wreath

This year's first snow
Photo credit:  Elizabeth