Living Simply

My Beloved and much arrant sister has returned from her wastreling  in the arid hills of Texas! Oh joy and jubilation! There is nothing that can replace the real live company of a close sister. Although we have not had as many adventures together as we did when we were little, jousting with the old read in the garden, building castles and walls and towers then knowing the down! Ah such fun times! squabbling over books and writing make believe letters back and forth!

Sadly the necessity of working gets in the way of our sisterly companionship. Sigh.

Furthermore, she is desirous of me to write more. Quite strangely insistent. In fact she wants me to write about a TV show called “Avatar: The Last Air Bender” and in remembrance of our good times together as  little girls, I shall be very stubborn and write about something else entirely.


Sometimes things are too complicated in life. Complex  things can be beautiful and intriguing  and they can reveal many true, good, and beautiful things, but for me the most beautiful and the best things happen, or are revealed through simple things.Some of the most beautiful and revealing pictures that I have seen are not from the great masters (though I have MUCH to say on those, they are the love of my life…), but the simple illustration in my favorite  telling of St. George and the Dragon, where Una, the princess is in the role of Mary, or the Church depending on how you read it. It is through these pictures that I first came to  a beginning of an understanding the grace and strength  there is in true womanhood. It also taught me much about humanity and men. Strange, huh. Everything is intertwined! OoooOOooh!

And it is amazing that something with so many pagan elements (Fairy Queen and going her castle when this earthly journy is over, etc.) can be so Christian. It is a great testament to the universality of the Faith, that even though there are things that just plain arent compatible with it, it can still take what is good, the seed of truth that every culture and faith contains, and bring it into harmony with Truth. Ah, the beauty of our faith.

Simplicity can be beautiful and illuminating, but it simplicity also offers a rare moment for joy and amusement. Take Disney’s animated tale of Robin Hood. Oh joyous jubilation of of witty and charming script, beautifully draw animation and a simple, direct story filled out with characters that do not need moments of weakness to make t hem human (despite their animal forms).

Such childlike things have a clarity and simpleness that is not commonly found in grown-up writing, yet for all that, these works of art are for adults as well.  The child like belong especially to God, but that does not mean ‘the immature’, it means the simple, the wonderfilled.  It means being so ready to love and be loved, that it is not even a question. And these things of our youth often draw this out more than things that are considered ‘for adults’.

Oh, dear, I find that inadvertently I have been talking about “Avatar” all along. Ah, yes, it fulfills all these things, and more. It is a charming tale and I invite you to sit down and watch it slowly, and enjoy it! Then still your mind and think.

And Sister, this does not mean that you have won!



P.S.  Zuko is awsome!

Epic Meme Saturday: An Apocalyptic End to the Meme

If it was truly the end of the world I would not bring a book, that would be pointless as I shall have no need of it, either being in Heaven and experience the Beatific Vision which is better than anything word can give, or I shall be in Hell, and I don’t think I would really care about books in Hell…

However, the end of the world, the end of technology, the end of how this culture perceives life, an Apocalypse, would call for a very special book indeed. It would have to be foundational to what is good about our culture, it would have to exemplify what it means to be human, and contain the foundation of Christianity. Well, I think the only thing that really does that perfectly is the complete works of St. Thomas Aquinas.

St. Thomas wrote a massive amount, both of philosophical, theological and poetical. He wrote this hymn;

Pange, lingua, gloriosi

Corporis mysterium,

Sanguinisque pretiosi,

quem in mundi pretium

fructus ventris generosi

Rex effudit Gentium.

Sing, tongue, the mystery

of the glorious Body

and of the precious Blood,

which, for the price of the world,

the fruit of a noble womb,

the King of the nations, flowed forth.

Such beauty truly belongs to man as human and as children of God! St. Thomas is called the Angelic Doctor for a reason and his lucid prose is a joy to read. (Though due to modern understandings of words it can be a bit hard to get used to.) Plus, I am sure that throughout his entire library of work the great saint quote the entire bible, new and old testament, so that is an added happiness! Hmm… lovely.

Although it would not be the easiest thing to read as a the world as we know it is crumbling apart, I think it would be the thing that I most want to preserve.

Epic Meme Saturday: A Fairy-Tale Honeymoon

A book that I would bring on my honeymoon. Oye jehmoie! I don’t know if I would bring a book on my honeymoon. At least, not any of the books that changed or formed my life. Those books are so very important that I would either read them with my beloved before we married, or take longer over them than a honeymoon would give (for reading at least). Books of such importance should not be kept waiting.

If I ever get married any and all books on my honeymoon would have to be of the sort that are meant to be read by a fire and under the stars, so that would include …. Patrick McManus books!

Though those are not quite as romantic as I might want. So maybe not…maybe G.K Chesterton’s Fr. Brown mysteries, they are thrilling and enchanting; perfect for snuggling up before a fire! However, there is one drawback to those stories; they are never shallow (not the drawback, I am coming to that…) and some times they are quite deep! That is the draw back! Although it is a requirement to think deep thought and have deep discussions with my new spouse, I think not right before bed (which is when you have fires) because I would be too busy being comfy. So perhaps that would be a better travel-book.

Arra, this is harder than it seems!

Alright, last possibility is fairy-tales! But not just any fairy tales, because I can only listen to so many of Andrew Lang’s stories without going to sleep (though that might not be a bad thing), so they must be special and exciting! That leaves me with Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories! They are witty and charming, just right to right to read and giggle over and rambunctiously enjoy!


Epic Meme Saturday: In a Land Far, Far Away

Well, in my most learned and delectable mind, I think that a favorite setting means a place where I would want to live. (Please note how I conveniently twist it to mean something that I want!) Oh, of all the places I would love to live! Narnia, the Enchanted Forest, Middle-Earth, Prydain, Al-Amarna, The Old-Kingdom…. Actually, not the old kingdom, too many undead there!

There are so many beautiful and wonderful worlds that would be a joy to see. Yet the one I have read that is the most beautifully described is a place called Mistawis. It is a land of mystery and enchantment, where raised eyebrows mean the end of the world (though occasionally the world keeps on spinning despite the eyebrows), cardinal flowers lighten the swamp like ribbons of flame, and islands appear as amethysts. Here a mysterious man is found with crocked eyebrows and a dark past.

Ooh, the possibility gives me the shivers! But this land of deep magic has dangers, evil men who would kidnap the fair maiden from her first dance, a cruel mother whose petty tasks might cause her daughter much suffering… oh, all the traits of a true fairy tale!

But it isn’t. The Mistawis is a real place, in Ontario Canada. Sounds prosaic, right?! (Well, don’t google it for images, I did and I was very disappointed. They had only a few of actual scenery!) But the Mistawis, as seen through the eyes of Valency Jane Stirling Snaith from L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle is that Land of Enchantment where strange and wonderful beauty lies just ahead and ever under her fingertips. If you have the eyes to see it.

Yes, there are many places described by books that I would like to see, but only here would I want to live.

Epic Meme Saturday: Supercailfragilistucexpialidosious

Literary references that would win my heart…oh goodness, Thalia is right there are many ways that would be interpreted.

Well, there are so many books or idea that are quite lovely and would convince me that the person who knew them is someone I would love to get to know better. there are a few though that would assure me that the employer of them is not only well-educated and has a wonderful sense of humor, but also has great strength of character.

First there is that ever fateful and ever quote line from The Virginian “When you call me that… SMILE.” It may be very simple and maybe a tad too recognizable for common usage, but the ideas behind it are wonderful. for who would not admire someone who would righteously stand up for his own honor! After all, it is a sin to calumniate another’s name, so I think it is wrong to let other abuse you, either to you face as Trampas did the Virginian, or behind their back, as the Virginian stopped the same from doing to Molly. Besides, someone who could say that in a right context and not look like a fool would be a very rare thing indeed, with the ability to maintain this own dignity and the strength to not be cowed by another.

Another reference that I would love to hear some one use would be Blake’s poem Tyger, Tyger! Not the first stanza, but the middle (third)

What the shoulder, what the art

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat

What dread hand and what dread feet!

Ooooo, it makes me shiver! Though I have no idea how such a quote could even be used in a normal conversation, the person who could pull it off well would be admirable indeed and I would be most desirous to make their further acquainted.

Also, any one who managed to use the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidosious” in a sentence would be my every lasting hero.

So far, all these quotes are things that would raise a person in my estimation, but to truly captures my heart as only the one for whom measures up to my silver yard stick and who will fit me as  the falcon’s feathers fit the falcon, I reserve two references.

The first is “This isn’t Spaghetti, its army noodles with ketchup!” oh, you who know what this is from will know why I love it so much. It also ties back to one of my earlier posts.

The second is very corny, but very beautiful all the same. it is Farm Boy’s humble “As you wish” to his beloved Buttercup. Though I have no wish to be likened to that quintessential blonde, that one phrase has a lot of meaning behind it. Probably a great deal more that the author thought. that one sentiment expresses true love, and I am not talking about the sad impression of true love that one gets from the movie and the book The Princess Bride. It is a reflection of the love that we are meant to have for God. God, as all loving, all good and all-knowing, loves us perfectly and wants only what would make us happy, truly happy, which usually is not what we think would make us happy. (strange how that works out…) and so by saying to God, “not my will but yours be done” we are submitting to His perfect wisdom and love in perfect confidence and love. And that is what I would desire, (not to be god, ug that would be awful!!!), but for my spouse to have love and confidence enough in me to trust that I would do only what was best.

So I am a sentimental sod, but I like it!

Epic Meme Saturday: Ah, the Books of Youth!

I wish I could say that I have a lot of books by, say . . . G.K Chesterton or Shakespeare or something intelligent like that. But I can’t say that because it is not true. Alas I have no impressive collection of classics, or great library of the Great Books! What I do have is almost the complete works of Lloyd Alexander (I think I am missing one or two of his more mature books, hence the ‘almost complete collection’).

If, as a child, you ever saw the animated movie The Black Cauldron, then you have encountered Mr. Alexander in a very perverted form. That movie is a combination of the first two books of his Prydain Chronicles, and it is nothing at all like the actual story, except for the barest minimal for them to keep the name.

The real story is placed a mythical land that is based on Wales and contains real mythical figures such as Prince Gwydion. It introduces you to new and charming characters like Fflewder Fflam, Gurgi, and Eilonwy.

The author spent several years in Wales, and so it does not feel as though he is describing places or people that are not real, it feels as real as the mountains outside my window, and the story he weaves is one of growth, as children grow into men and women, and a world grows from a primordial place filled with unstable magic, into a land that is lived in and loved by man. For a book aimed at children it is strangely beautiful and deep.

Another story told by him is called The Arcadians, a simple and charming book filled with oracular chickens and stories that seem strangely familiar. A young bean counter escapes from the palace of the Bear King just in time to save his life (for he overheard a plot to cheat the people out of their food) and runs into a Poet (who was turned into a donkey because he drank from a fountain sacred to the gods) who goes along creating stories that turn even the smallest happenstance into an amazing tale; for instance he says that in his case, it would have been better that, instead of a donkey, he had been transformed into a flower at the side of the pool, or was turned into a woman. They have enough adventures without his storytelling though, as in his travels he encounter a very young Pythoness, a goat people, a horse people, a cunning sailor who has been wandering for ten years trying to go home, a king who yearly demands a tribute of seven maidens and seven young men for him to kill, and a host of other adventures. In the end he must return and stop two evil advisors from persuading the Bear King (who is not all that bright) to sacrifice himself to stop the famine in the land. Sound familiar?

Yet for all the retelling of the old tales, he weaves them into something that it at once united, (not nearly as sporadic as my jumbled words might give the impression) and something entirely new. It is not a retelling of the myths, but it has its own life, its own vigor, and its own story. Aih, what bliss!!

Not all his books follow along these lines; some have magic some do not. The range of lands that his stories is vast; from some that could be likened to Wales, to something that is similar to Persia or Arabia, to a small country town in what could possibly be called Germany. And they are all a joy to read.

I will always love and re-read his books, even though they might not be as impressive as the complete works of Charles Dickens.

Epic Meme Saturday: What Lovely Names!

Oh, cruel world!

There are so many wonderful characters that, character-wise I would love to name my children after, yet I would feel so guilty saddling a child with such a name.

I love Barney Snaith from L.M. Montgomery’s book The Blue Castle, but after that strange purple and green giant dinosaur thingy, I don’t really think I could do it!

Or Arthur from The Shadow of the Bear! But I don’t think I could quite bring myself to do that either. That name carries so much extra weight.

Or there are some names that I like, and I like the character, like Marek Sixfinger in The Hollow Kingdom, but I don’t think it would be a good idea to name a child after a goblin. There is something that is rather insulting about that . . .

But there are two names and two people I would feel very good about naming my children after, Lucy and Edmund from the Chronicles of Narnia! They are good a virtuous children, despite some rough spots in the beginning, but if I were child I would be proud to be names after them! They are everything that a child needs; courage, love, enthusiasm, and all the little things that go into the fostering of a person that is a joy to know. And they have what every adult needs: a child-like attitude towards life!

I might have a little bit of a problem with the name “Edmund” because it can really only be shortened to “Ed” which in America is . . . I don’t know . . . redneck? But ‘Edmund’ is so romantic! And ‘Lucy’, from Lucia I think, means ‘light’, which I think would be a lovely thing to be named after.

Plus, if I named my children after Edmund and Lucy Pevensie I could say to them whenever they were thinking of being bad, “’Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia,’ so uphold you dignity as one!”

Epic Meme Saturday: Best (Love) Story

Yuck! Mushy love stories!? Gross.

Pull a random “romance” from the dark and frightening caverns of a library’s paperback fiction section and it very scary. Though, to tell the truth, I have never been able to actually read a whole one of this type through, I pull it off the shelf and see the cover with a beautiful woman on it and a man without a shirt and with rippling abs and I cannot bring myself to open it!!

No thank you, no books about love for me.

You see, what I object to in books about love is that you can’t set out to make a story about love. Love does not work that way! For, although it is the very reason for our existence and should be the reason behind every action, it is not so simple that it can be reduced to The King’s Daughter, who loves perfectly and always succeeds, not is it so earthy that the man with rippling abs can explain everything about it. There has to be more to the plot that love.

(Except for the Bible, that is the ultimate love story without being smarmy, but then, that is God for you. Only He can show love perfectly.)

However, good wholesome adventure stories which happen to have true love in them are quite lovely! Take the story of Conan and Anne, in The Red Keep.

As a young boy in Medieval Normandy, Conan saves the life of a young girl, the daughter of the Lord of the Red Keep (a castle made of red stone), as she is left for dead among her slain family, she is taken back to castle of Conan’s lord and there she grows up, always dreaming to reclaim her fief. While Conan, whose only ambition is to become a knight, is completely oblivious to her hopes and dreams, and her growing love for him. (Though I was never sure why she would love the idiot he was in the beginning). Then something happens to turn his world upside-down and he is faced with challenges and choices that help him to grow from being as cocky boy to a wise and competent young man.

Finally, at the very end he realizes why he fought so hard against his enemies, why he fought for something that was not his own; it was because through her eyes he was shown something good and desirable, something that was larger than himself. And on her part, Conan gave her hope in a hopeless situation.  He gave her something to relay on other than herself, and in this way made her gentle and not the fiery little wild-woman that her red hair implied.

This story is not about love, for most of the book they are not even together! it is a story about life, it is a story about friendship, it is about courage and honor, deceit and treachery, it is about adventure and secret tunnels!

But it has love in it (as life does) as a purpose. And it is the life in the book that makes the love real, not the other way around.