Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ June 30, 2011


Remember this post in which I showed you the dreary view out my kitchen window? Well, I have a new house now which has a fabulous view from the kitchen window! Look at this!

And this!

And this (taken by Girl of the House)!

One of the things I missed most while living in Appalachia was the wide open spaces of the Midwest. Those darn hills kept getting in the way of the scenery! Instead of feeling claustrophopic, I feel like I can breathe again. I missed the cornfields too and now I can see one from my backyard. *sigh of contentment*


We had a pet rabbit for four years, but there were no wild rabbits in our old neighborhood. This little guy (gal?) visits almost nightly with a few friends and relations.

Here's another backyard visitor. I've never seen robins as big as those around here!

Man of the House and I visited the only antique store in town last Saturday. Sadly, it's going out of business. Happily, everything was half-off, so we nabbed these crates for Girl of the House. Two real, gen-u-ine dairy crates and one fruit crate. She loved them! Here she is giving them a clean up. (She doesn't know I took these. Aren't I sneaky?)


Cat of the House apparently likes opera. Girl of the House was listening to a CD of famous soprano arias, and he plunked himself down right next to the CD player!

(Black cats are exceedingly difficult to photograph!)


Man of the House is painting the hallway. It and the living room were a muddy tan/green/gray-ish color that was about as appealing as cold oatmeal. As an added bonus, it sucked any and all particles of light right out of the air. I knew I couldn't survive a winter with my sanity intact with that color. We've finished with the living room (pictures of which I will show you soon!) and are on to the hallway now. We chose a subtle, cheerful yellow which has made all the difference in the living room. Here Man of the House is in the primer stage. Even that has made a huge difference!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Classical Education, Classical . . . Liturgy?

My family has been part of the classical education restoration since 1995. In terms of the contemporary movement, that's a long time. Man of the House teaches Latin, Greek, and ancient literature. We have both taught at a classical Christian school. We've attended ACCS conferences. We have read most of the "right" books, and we even agree with some of them. ;-) We attempted/are attempting to educate our own children in the classical tradition. (I use the verb "attempt" because I know we have not really captured classical education in all its fullness. Having so far to come in our own education leaves us starting out behind, but I believe by God's grace our children are better off than we were. Our hope is that they will contine recovering what has been lost with their own children.) We've been around the modern classical movement for awhile.

When it comes to being Lutherans, we are newbies. It's only been two and a half years since we made the move officially, but we have a good five years of prior study, prayer, and discussion to our credit. During those two and half years we have come to greatly appreciate the historic liturgy. Even Girl of the House prefers it. Lying just under the surface of my active thoughts during the divine service is an awareness of the connection the liturgy has to the church of the past and the saints who have gone before us. The richness and timelessness of worshiping the Lord using the very forms and words that the early Christians used is unequalled by any other mode of organizing a church service that I have ever participated in . . . and I've seen quite a few. After these few short years, I cannot imagine going back. I would miss the liturgy too much, and I'm thankful for faithful Lutheran pastors who still use it.

Now, what have these two paragraphs to do with each other? They raise a question in my mind: Why don't those who espouse classical education also espouse classical worship more often? We classical educators, whether in schools or at home, spend a lot of time looking to the past when it comes to history, literature, educational methods, etc. We rightly extol the timeless classics of past centuries, but we participate in worship that employs modes and methods that are anything but timeless. Contemporary worship services and praise songs pass their freshness dates within a few months. The historic liturgy has been around for at least a millenium and a half. It is an inconsistency I didn't see myself until my family moved to a liturgical tradition. So what I'm offering here is food for thought. If we go to so much effort to bring classical education to our children, should we not also give them classical worship?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #24

With life just beginning to settle down, I'm having trouble posting book reviews on time, but hopefully I'll be back on schedule soon. I thoroughly enjoyed this week's book, Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton, perhaps because I'm married to my own modern-day version of Mr. Chips. I've long been a fan of the 1939 movie, and it was fun comparing it to the book. The literary Mr. Chips is just as endearing as the live-action Mr. Chips, and the movie does a wonderful job translating Hilton's book to the big screen. I especially appreciate the way Mr. Chips (whose real name is Chipping, by the way)embodies the Christian doctrine of vocation. He wasn't terribly ambitious, he knew his strengths and limitations and lived accordingly, and he faithfully and steadily labored to teach his students and help train them to take their places in the world when they grew up. He understood that small tasks performed quietly and faithfully reaped big results, and he didn't expect great acclaim from simply fulfilling his vocation either. But he did receive personal satisfaction and a sense of doing something that mattered, a sense of serving something bigger than himself. We in the twenty-first century can learn a lot from this man forged during the height of Victorian England.

For some reason, I had always had the idea that Goodbye, Mr. Chips was Hilton's memoirs of his time as a Latin master in an English boys' school. I don't know where I got that idea, but it was totally wrong. Hilton was an author by trade who penned this novel in homage to schoolmasters everywhere. Goodbye, Mr. Chips was his most popular book. If you'd like a light, quick summer read, then you won't go wrong with this little gem. It is delightful!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pretty Happy Funny Real ~ June 23, 2011


As you know, we moved last week for Man of the House to begin a new phase of life as pastor of a Lutheran church. These were sent to us from a parishioner as a token of welcome. Aren't they gorgeous?


Raspberries right in our own backyard! These were given to the former pastor by a parishioner, but of course he couldn't take them with him when he left, so here they are for us. They are yummy!


This may not be laugh-out-loud funny, but this kind of mushroom always makes me smile. It's been cool and misty around here lately, and a whole circle of these popped up in the church yard. Did you know that a complete circle of mushrooms is called a fairy ring? Isn't that delightful? I would show it to you, but alas, someone knocked down most of it before I got a picture.


This little beauty is the the light fixture for the backdoor of the parsonage. I'm hoping we can get it replaced one day, but in the meantime, at least it works. :-)

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Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #23

With no interent to distract me (it hasn't been hooked up to our new house yet ~ I'm writing this hasty review from Man of the House's new office), I've finally finished Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff. I loved it! However, if you're not a fan of 84, Charing Cross Road or have never read it, you won't get a lot out of Q's Legacy. In this book, the author tells the story of 84: how she came to write it, how it grew to be a cult classic, and how it took on a life of its own and was eventually adapted into a stage play. (The movie didn't come out until 1987, six years after Q's Legacy was published, and so isn't included in the book, obviously.)

The "Q" of the title refers to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (rhymes with "pooch"), a Cornish author who used "Q" as his pen name. He taught at both Oxford and Cambridge and is probably best known for the Oxford Book of English Verse. As a young woman who had to drop out of college for financial reasons, Hanff studied Q's books on writing, which inspired her to delve into the riches of English literature, which in turn led her to begin writing to Marks and Co. in the quest for inexpensive copies of books she couldn't find in New York City. And this in turn eventually led to 84.

Q's Legacy is a witty and engaging book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who already enjoys 84. If you don't, skip Q. If you don't know, get thee to the nearest library and read 84 (and watch the film too!).

Update: We are still busily unpacking and painting and with no internet yet, my online time is limited. I hope to return to regular blogging soon!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #22

Hi, everyone! Moving Day is tomorrow and there are some last minute things to take care of, so today's review is short and sweet. I listened to another Miss Marple book this week, this time narrated by Joan Hickson, who played Miss Marple in the BBC series in the 1980's. She is as delightful in an audiobook as she is on screen! In fact, Agatha Christie actually told Joan Hickson that she (Agatha) hoped she (Joan) would play her beloved Miss Marple. The book, The Tuesday Club Murders, is a collection of short mysteries loosely woven together and is the book in which Miss Marple is first introduced. I enjoyed it very much.

I hope I will be able to get back in the swing of reading (rather than listening) this week, but we shall see. I'll leave Q's Legacy at the top of my queue as I am thoroughly enjoying it and think I will be able to squeeze a few minutes of reading into the days as an escape from unpacking. The next time I post here I should be in the Midwest instead of Appalachia. See you then!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ June 9, 2011


I like to hunt for blue and white transferware in antique and thrift shops. If money weren't an object, my collection would be huge, but since it is and I pass up many an overpriced piece, my collection grows more slowly though more thriftily. :-) Dinner plates are by far the easiest to find; I estimate I have about 30 and all of them different. What's not so easy to find are serving pieces, especially at a price I'm willing to pay. So I was absolutely positively thrilled to find this beauty for $8.50 a year or two ago. It's Wedgwood and in perfect condition! It hasn't yet been packed, so I thought I'd share it here. The picture is of the White Swan, a coaching inn in Warwickshire dating from about 1350. Maybe someday I'll get to see the real thing!


I have two "happy" pictures to share. The first is of Man of the House's alb hanging from a closet door after being laundered. He wears this when conducting the divine service, and this Sunday he is assisting at our home church, including preaching the sermon. (He finished his interim position on May 29.) It will be our last Sunday before hitting the road on Monday for his new pastorate. It makes me happy because it makes him happy to minister in Word and Sacrament.

The second picture is of Girl of the House in her room sitting at her desk amidst boxes and other detritus from packing up. Why does this make me happy? What you can't tell from the picture is that she is listening to Hamlet of her own accord. Be still my heart!


Girl of the House and I visited a friend and her new baby this week. So what's so funny about this picture? Nothing, but if you could have heard this little guy laugh, you'd have thought it was pretty funny too. He was infectious!


My "real" picture is related to our imminent move, but you already knew it would be, didn't you? There are boxes, boxes everywhere! But the packing is going well and we are even a little ahead of schedule. Everything's a mess! All week I felt like my kitchen was a haven of neatness and tidiness amidst the flood of boxes and bubblewrap, but no more, alas. We began packing up the kitchen today.

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AN ASIDE: I am not doing very well reading this week's book, so I added an audiobook to this week's line-up. Hopefully I'll get back to "regular" reading next week!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #21

I wish I could have met Agatha Christie. As someone interested in out-of-the-mainstream educational methods, I would have asked her how her own unorthodox education contributed to her ability to create such ingenious crime novels. I would have also asked her about her views regarding human nature. She seems to have held no romantic illusions about the universal goodness of man. I don't know her religious views, but it is obvious in her books that she is operating from a Chrisianized (if not outright Christian) moral conscience and worldview. And I would have liked to get a peek into the mind that concocted one of my very favorite literary characters, Miss Marple, the sharp-as-a-tack, elderly English spinster who solves complicated mysteries by relying on her knowledge of human nature gained by living in a typical English village.

A Murder Is Announced is my favorite Agatha Christie book so far. (I've read a handful.) I like the way quiet, unassuming Miss Marple sees what no one else sees and cuts through evidence and circumstances like a hot knife through butter to get to the truth. I like her old-fashioned sense of morality and her treatment of people as people, even the murderers, for whom she often displays sympathy while acknowledging the proper place of justice in civilized society. Nobody expects much of Miss Marple, and she always surprises them. People aren't always what they seem on the surface, and sometimes digging a little deeper reveals a true gem like Miss Marple.

A Murder Is Announced revolves around a murder mystery game gone awry. The ending is unexpected, of course, even though the author gives plenty of clues as to the identity of the murderer throughout the book. She also does a good job of quietly misleading her readers, which is what a good mystery does. It was a fun, light read that also appealed to my love of all things British.

I listened to a recording of this book narrated by Rosemary Leach. (I'm sorry I can't remember which company produced it. It's already back at the library, and I've forgotten.) She did a good job, and I especially liked her characterization of Mitzi, the paranoid foreign cook.

Being in the middle of packing for our move on June 13 and everything being in a state of general upheaval, I'll do my best to keep up with this reading challenge, but don't be too surprised if you don't hear from me next weekend. It'll be like the flight from Egypt around here!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ June 2, 2011


In the summer, the evening light is so luminous through this window over our fireplace. Look at the shadows it throws on the wall through the lace curtains. There is something about the evening light that always gives me such a feeling of contentment and well-being. I will miss this little spot when we move.


I haven't mentioned it much here, but Girl of the House has had a challenging year due to a chronic condition which became acute. She has borne it with grace and patience, and I am happier than I can say that she is a bazillion times better than she was a year ago. Thank the Lord.


This is from the same photo shoot (I use that term loosely) as my {pretty} picture. Look at the left side and you'll see our Martin and Katie Luther bobbleheads. They always make me chuckle!


And speaking of chronic conditions, Man of the House has suffered from migraine headaches for twenty years. They have truly been a thorn in his side, but over the years and through much trial and error he has learned how to squash them pretty quickly, all things considered. This is what he does: at the first sign of a migraine, he drinks a strong cup of coffee and takes two aspirin. About an hour later he drinks a dark beer. If he can get a nap, all the better, but even if he can't this combination really helps. (A midwife friend told us about it.) Man of the House discovered a few years ago that if he addds smoking a pipe to the routine, the cure works even better. So that's what he's doing here: curing his migraine! (I took this picture through the window without him knowing it.)

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