Friday, August 28, 2009

MacBeth and Julia

...or, "no one ever had to know what goes on in the kitchen."

So, I'm making baguettes, and I have a brick in the oven hot and ready for that all important burst of steam that makes a baguette have the best crust on the planet (including the planet), when I open the oven while holding my bowl of cold water ready to receive the brick, and spill it masterfully on the oven door...making a marvelous puff of steam. I closed the oven quickly to preserve the steam.

Perfect baguettes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Pumpkin is Taking Over

We planted "giant" pumpkins just to see what we'd get. After a cold wet sunless spring, the pumpkins were slow. Now they seem to have taken off.

Female pumpkin flower, with guests--beetle and bee!

Our biggest pumpkin, upon which all our hopes lie.

A bit of perspective.

Yes. The two pumpkin plants took over the entire yard. We could practically see them grow.

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Jumpin' Jerusalem Artichokes!

With bees.

A bee from behind

The big picture--What a crop!

Collecting pollen

Caught this fine bee just as it flew off the flower. You can see the pollen it's carrying:

Jerusalem artichokes are a native plant, with flowers for the bees, and tubers for us. Grow some!
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Friday, August 21, 2009

My Novel Life, courtesy of Red Cardigan. Thanks, Erin...what fun. This'll be fun for the kids, too as a launch point for a writing/discussion seminar.

My Novel Life

1. If my life were fiction it would be set underwater city with a marine research center.

2. Right now I would be wearing...a jumpsuit made from a bio-mimetic fabric that dries quickly.

3. The biggest crisis I would be facing would be...discovering that jellyfish have complex brains that we just never detected, and they want revenge (we are not sure why...!).

4. My biggest joy would come allergen-free atmosphere, a constant ambient temperature, and regulated humidity.

5. The most frustrating daily challenge would be...making sure the kids pick their equipment up off their bedroom floors.

6. Looking out my window, I would see...squid. Giant squid.

7. The other characters in the story would be...3 geeky scientists, a quirky literature professor, monks in the St. Brendan's-Under-the-Sea Monastery, 2 humorously competitive graduate students, and a full orchestra. The acoustics at St. BUTS are perfect.

8. An essential element of a happy ending would be...My kids growing up and deciding to raise their kids right here in Sea-town.

See how Lindsay answered, too!

Tonight's Rainbow

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

All Things Considered--The C. S. Lewis Seminar

Last Saturday I was blessed to be able to attend a seminar presented by the NY C. S. Lewis Society. I have known of the society for several years, but have never been able to attend the meetings, or any other events sponsored by the group. But things came together this weekend, and not only did I have Saturday free, but the seminar was only two miles away. I would not miss this one!

The website said that walk-ins were welcome on Saturday, so walk in I did, and I was graciously welcomed. The folks in the society are delightful. The morning began with a choice of several open fora...those in the room were all active in the discussion. It was difficult to choose which of the fora to attend. In the end, I chose a packed room with a lively discussion of The Screwtape Letters, and another group session on the Space Trilogy. Just being in a room full of folks who had read and enjoyed the Space Trilogy was electrifying. I laughed (and so did everyone) when I told the group I had attempted a reading of Out of the Silent Planet right after I had finished the Chronicles of Narnia--when I was 8 years old. No, I did not get far; but I do recall that the first sentence stuck with me--The last drops of the thundershower had hardly ceased falling when the Pedestrian stuffed his map into his pocket..., so that when I picked up the long-forgotten books again at 22, I melted into the first sentence, and immersed myself into yet another world from Lewis' imagination. I have reread them several times, and have the set via Audible...the kids claim these are the creepiest books we have ever enjoyed together. And we have enjoyed them!

One of the participants in the Screwtape discussion described a lesson he does with students after they have read the book (or a bit of it, as he readily admits): Have the students each write a letter as Screwtape...what advice would a devil give his modern "patient?" Again, thinking back on my eight-year-old self, I also recalled asking my father if he had ever heard of C. S. Lewis. "Oh, yes," replied my father, "He wrote The Screwtape Letters." I wondered out loud what that could be about. "It's a set of letters from one fiend to another," my father explained. Well, that surely did not appeal to a second grader. Nor would the college-level assignment. But it would appeal to my older students now.

I attended two other sessions before the main talk in the evening. The first was on The Abolition of Man, with Dr. Christopher Mitchell, Wade Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College (IL). Dr. Mitchell spoke about the work of many Lewis scholars with whom I am not familiar, so I have some reading to do! The other session was on illustrations for the book At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald. I found this particularly engaging, as several weeks ago I gave a talk on nature imagery in children's literature, and cited that very work...but my edition is unillustrated! The speaker, Robert Trexler, had a Powerpoint presentation of the history and social circles of the illustrators, starting with Arthur Hughes and the pre-Raphaelites, and continuing through illustrations from various editions. I shall certainly endeavor to find some older editions just for the sake of the art.

The last speaker, Prof. Pearce, writer-in-residence at Ave Maria University, was a delight. Trip took a summer class with him last year and "liked" it (high praise from out-of-the-silent-teen), but he did not tell us what a charming and fun speaker Prof. Pearce is. His topic, "Narnia and Middle-Earth: When Two Worlds Collude," included some familiar tales of the relationship between Lewis and Tolkien, but he told them is such an engaging way as to make them seem more real.

One more note on Pearce: He told us of some personal--er--matters in his past, and credited Lewis with turning him around (I think that's what he was saying). I have also said that Lewis kept me Catholic. That's the kind of influence Lewis has had on people.

Did I mention that I bought books? I purchased Narnia and Beyond, Remembering C. S. Lewis, and a third book which I seem to have misplaced and the title of which I cannot recall at the moment. Some would say, "too many books!" Ha! And I picked up an issue of Touchstone and the St. Austin Review, both wonderful periodicals.

(Clicking "Publish" though I know there are typos...I'll correct them soon!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Remembering Ryan--Prayers for His Family

Ryan Barrett died in a drowning accident on Thursday evening. Please join us in praying for Ryan and his family.

We remember Ryan for his sweet personality, his love of music, and his gentle faith. He was a good friend to my children, and a delight to have in our homeschooling circle of families. We will miss him.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Messing Around...

Annika (left) and Paul (right) sailing with friends on Conscience Bay. Sailing out, far from shore, and jumping into the bay cooled them off on the first really hot day we have had all summer.
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