one of my favorites

24 November 2008

I've found the make of the china I've loved for awhile now--it's Wedgwood's Queen's Plain pattern. It's elegant and rustic at the same time, and its warm white compliments other colors beautifully--can't you imagine it against softly colored tablecloths with softly colored napkins folded on top? Its simplicity would ground and showoff my eclectic collection of patterned dishes so well.

The unfortunate part is that it's also discontinued and therefore rather expensive, so I'll have to assemble my collection slowly, piece by piece. But then, that's the way I've always collected china (and I've collected dishes and serving pieces for years).

Word File

22 November 2008

Cynosure: the object of attention, usually strong attention.

example: That spider scuttling down the wall--the thick-bodied joint-legged hairy-representative of all that came with the curse of Genesis 3--was now my cynosure, its ugly form stamped upon my screaming eyes, my reeling brain.


21 November 2008

When I was in the Lake District in England, I learned the term, "ethical consumer," and learned that we need to care enough to know from where we get our food, clothes, electronics.

Are we supporting local shops or major corporations? What is the business itself supporting, which we end up supporting with our patronage? Fair trade? Abortion? Certain political figures? Becoming a responsible consumer will seem overwhelming in no time, as you must pick at, ease, and tug information out from the tidy-looking product on the store shelf--but it's our duty to unravel its secrets as we shed our complacent materialism and store-bought ignorance. With this in mind, try tackling one shopping-category at a time and develop responsible habits in that area before moving on to the next.

I started with the category of food. Hey--why don't you come along with me while I shop?

Okay, for most of us, comestibles are only available at big supermarkets, but I choose my store based upon proximity--Harris Teeter is only 1.5 miles away, and those who work there make sure they always display a friendly, helpful face to those who shop there (and in transitory Hampton Roads, friendly service is not always a given). The big green cardboard monster offering free sugar cookies to "kids of all ages" is a great business strategy, for they've gotten more of my business that way than any other. I lock my bicycle up outside and head inside--tonight's menu? chicken risotto and bacon-wrapped green beans.

I already have the onion and garlic, but I need the green beans. I look at the fresh ones, and there are a few options, including some organic beans, which I must check out. I don't like their plastic packaging, but let's see where they were grown--hmm, all I see is that they were packaged in Ohio. What about the French beans next to them? Similar packaging, but again, a vague reference to where these were grown with nothing but a "product of the USA." Well, that's a start, but I hope we can do better, especially for those prices (about twice the price of the regular fresh green beans). I think I'll check out the frozen green beans, and if they were grown in the US and are cheaper, settle for those because what's fresh isn't looking much better.

The meat department is nearby, and there I'll get the chicken breast. Humane living conditions is my utmost priority when it comes to animal products, so I only scan the organic, cage free choices. The breasts are at least twice as much as the regular--$10 for four little breasts! That's out of the question; after toying with the idea of using other cuts which appeared to be cheaper, I decide to forgo the meat; afterall, I'll still get flavor with the chicken broth. As for the bacon, there is nothing organic, but one company made my choice easy, for it was "certified humane," marked with a label I'd never seen before. Hey--I'll use the bacon in the risotto, too! I do love the stuff, so adding it to everything on the dinner table appeals to me.

Chicken broth is my next item. Again, I only want the cage-free, possibly organic, variety, so I'm left with three choices--oh, a low sodium version? Kristen, immersed up to her eyebrows in nursing school, delivers a diatribe against sodium every time she visits. 70 mg per serving instead of 570 for the regular organic? Fabulous. And the price is only a tiny bit more than non-organic.

The Arborio rice is another easy decision, for there is only one bag--and it has "eco--" in the title. Check.

And that's it. I purchase it all at self check out and pile it into my reusable bag, which I stuff into my bike basket before heading home.

Word File

18 November 2008

Desuetude: state of disuse or practice

example: Although she earned her black belt several years ago, the desuetude of her skills made her question her ability to defend herself against a surprise attack.

in league with the best

"The next time you think you have an excuse why God can't use you, consider the following:

"Noah was a drunkard, Abraham was too old, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses was a murderer, Gideon was afraid, Samson had long hair, Rahab was a prostitute, Timothy was too young, David had an illicit affair, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Job was bankrupt, John the Baptist ran around in a loin cloth, Peter was hot-tempered, John was self-righteous.

"The disciples fell asleep while praying, Martha fretted about everything, Mary Magdalene was demon-possessed, the boy with the fish and five rolls of bread was too obscure, the Samaritan woman was divorced more than once, Zacchaeus was too small, Paul was too religious, and Lazarus was dead.

"No more excuses!"

-author unknown

What I'm Reading

17 November 2008

I recently finished reading C.S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy, the account of his lifelong pursuit of that which he calls Joy and how the Divine Mercy at last intrudes into his heart. The first several chapters lull us into reading it as an autobiography flavored with the matter-of-fact candor of Saint Augustine, for Lewis, too, uses past experiences as the hard frame around which he molds the more important examination of his belief (and disbelief) in the divine, the examination which prevails over biographical details by the conclusion. In contrast to Augustine's lilting spree into metaphor and prayer, however, Lewis paces himself by the scholar's beat. His sometimes endearing recount of his boyhood play-land of Boxen, his voracious appetite for mythology, his childhood friend's encouragement to appreciate the "Homely," retains the underlying rigor of the scholar's singleness of purpose, to write how Joy pointed the way to his Savior. Joy, he writes,

was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer. While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts. When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter. He who first sees it cries, 'Look!' The whole party gathers round and stares. But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold (130 of this edition).

Surprised by Joy is a rather short book at fifteen chapters holding titles like "The First Years," "Renaissance," "The Great Knock," "Guns and Good Company," and "Checkmate"; but it proffers Lewis's testimony to how the "great Angler played His fish" (116). The experiences, the philosophies, the friends He placed around Lewis ultimately caught hold of the athiest and pulled him into the Kingdom.

Word File

Prevaricate: to mislead, to lie, to evade the truth

example: When confronted about the broken jug, the little girl twisted her hands and whimpered that the puppy scared her. Her prevaricating did not, however, distract me since I had prohibited her from touching the jug already and since they had no dog.

Word File

14 November 2008

Contumacious: obstinately disobedient

example: Although I coaxed and wheedled, snapping my fingers and ultimately shouting "Come," my dog remained transfixed, his four contumacious feet anchored to the floor.

Reggie's bedside manner

07 November 2008

Reggie gets a new bed each Christmas, but this year, it didn't quite make it to the holidays before ... well, it was done for.
Mom, Kathryn, and I took him to PetsMart so that he might pick out his new bed and faithful companion (very very faithful companion) for the next few months. Actually, we picked it out for him because all three of his focusing neurons scatter the moment he steps inside the dizzying array of smells and sights. We picked out a tasteful bed and brought it home, tentatively expecting a reenactment of last Christmas's glee as he received his one and only gift. Believe me, he never left its pillowy depths that whole day.

But this new bed? He hates it. He barely even deigns to touch it.

It's a mere pillow size, he says, barely big enough to support my head.

Oh, I hate it. Why is this happening to me??

Oh the size of's gone, it's gone.

Look at me...

photo courtesy of Kathryn

evolution of a librarian...

06 November 2008

Kathryn's been walking around in her apron this evening like she'! I love donning my own vintage apron as I tidy or bake because not only does it protect my clothing, but it also puts me in the mindset for whatever task I'm embarking upon. It's rather like dressing up for tests--you know, putting on that nice skirt and jacket and doing your hair all nicely so that you look polished and competent and think thoughts are polished and competent. It's simply dressing for the part.

But that's not what I'm writing about, so pardon the detour. As you might know, I've been seriously considering earning my master's in library science (MLS) in order to become a reference/research/instructional librarian in an academic institution. With this in mind I've arranged to spend a few weeks shadowing the librarians at Regent University, particularly those who work in public services. It's been so helpful to see what may lie on the other side of graduate school, the day to day routines and tasks that come with the work. Each of the librarians and staff members has been very accommodating, especially my liason, Marta. I'm getting more and more excited about my career!

Thus far, I've peeked into several departments at Regent Library, including the reference desk, circulation, periodicals, acquisitions, cataloguing, technical systems, and today I even sat in on the reference meeting. Here are some particular things I've learned in my hours at Regent:
  • it's imperative that I gain practical experience while earning my degree. The credentials are useless without applying the knowledge, and application is what employers are looking for.
  • become fluent in the language of technology. It's not worth the money to hire a librarian who cannot use the computer. Like it or not, technology is fast becoming the library's framework, and it is a useful tool.
  • that second master's degree sets the applicant apart and enables her to specialize in a particular department, something which is almost necessary in academic libraries and collection development, reference instruction, and all the rest that comes with the job. I was rather crestfallen to hear that I need to commit to earning two master's degrees rather than just the MLS, but now that I hear that I can land a job with the MLS and then earn my second while working--and probably find tuition reimbursement among my benefits, I'm delighted to have that opportunity. So...a master's in Southern literature? Medieval theology?

I've gotten the course descriptions from University of Kentucky's school of library science, and I will also look into UNC at Chapel Hill and Greensboro, both schools in neighboring North Carolina. Each of these three schools are part of the academic common market, granting Virginia residents instate tuition, which, need I say, helps me tremendously.

wandering the apple orchards

03 November 2008

On Saturday my family (except Kristen) drove up to Charlottesville for one of the last weekends left us for apple picking.

First we hit the North Garden Apple Festival...

set amid the colorful leaves of fall...
where plenty of apples were set out for sampling and purchasing...

and more were chopped and stewed in vats of apple butter.

Craftsmen set out their wares, including handmade brooms, baskets, glassware, cheese, and condiments.

A nervous looking calf and goat were penned up for petting...
and bands played throughout the afternoon...

as odd school-buses creaked by...

We wandered the stalls and, in the orchard itself, ate a delicious concoction of spiced apples and marscapone cheese served with artisan bread before heading to Carter Mountain Trail to pick our own apples.

Bins of Staymen, Pink Lady, Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Pippen, Winesap, and various guords allowed folks to get fresh apples without heading to the orchards...

but we ventured to the orchards to pick our own from the fruit-laden branches

or the ground beneath...

It was good to support local (well, reasonably local at three hours away) orchards and to wander among the trees, crunching the juicy fruit as we picked it. We took home several pounds as well as the odd apple cider slushy and some fabulous cider doughnuts which look like the doughnuts Lady dips in coffee in Lady and the Tramp!

Holy Ghost Wiener Roast

In celebration of fall, Rebecca, Kristen, Brandon, Kathryn, and I attended Triple R Ranch's "Holy Ghost Wiener Roast" on Friday night, where hundreds of people gathered for hotdogs, square dancing, bonfires, rock climbing, hay rides, pony rides, cider (American kind), and good music. What a delightful few hours! We met up with some friends who work at Triple R as well as the odd family or two from my old church and passed the time away dredging up old memories and making plans for new ones.

We ended up spending most of our time sitting by the fire, so after realizing that most of the venues were closing up, we beat a hasty retreat to the hayrides where our friend, David, was driving one of the tractors. There's nothing like the smell of hay and thousands of glimmering stars to draw one's soul further into the country. Although we were packed onto the wagon's bed, the deep darkness isolated one from the other in a cozy, intimate communion with the world around us--until one corner of the bed erupted in squawks and squeals over brushing up against some brittle leaves.

We finished out the evening listening to the Hunt Family Fiddlers, a family of nine that plays Celtic and American classics, singing and step-dancing to the some of them. Kristen bought one of their cds, and we listened to it on the dark and twisty-turny way home. You can read about the Hunts on their blog here.