O Dies Propitie!

A most felicitous 13th of June to you all!

Today happens to be the 37th birthday of Chris Evans, and my parents’ 37th wedding anniversary.

But more significantly, where this blog is concerned…

We have noted that this is the birthday of Dorothy Sayers: academic, playwright, essayist, novelist; thinker, wordsmith, professor of the Christian faith; and inspiration for this blog, such as it is in this 8th year.

Given that she was born in 1893, this is the 125th anniversary of her birth: her quasquicentennial!

That being the case, it is good, right, and salutary to share some of my favorite lines of hers – possibly for the second or third time, but no less delightful for it!

 

“I think my mother’s talents deserve a little acknowledgement. I said so to her, as a matter of fact, and she replied in these memorable words: “My dear child, you can give it a long name if you like, but I’m an old-fashioned woman and I call it mother-wit, and it’s so rare for a man to have it that if he does you write a book about him and call him Sherlock Holmes.”
Clouds of Witness

“Still, it doesn’t do to murder people, no matter how offensive they may be.”
Five Red Herrings

“Do you know how to pick a lock?”
“Not in the least, I’m afraid.”
“I often wonder what we go to school for,” said Wimsey.”
Strong Poison

“Well, we’ve only just got back from Ithaca. Bob is fearfully excited about a new set of burial-places, and has evolved an entirely original and revolutionary theory about funerary rites. He’s writing a paper that contradicts all old Lam-bard’s conclusions, and I’m helping by toning down his adjectives and putting in deprecatory footnotes. I mean, Lam-bard may be a perverse old idiot, but it’s more dignified not to say so in so many words. A bland and deadly courtesy is more devastating, don’t you think?”
“Infinitely.”
Here at any rate was somebody who had not altered by a hair’s-breadth, in spite of added years and marriage. Harriet was in a mood to be glad of that. After an exhaustive inquiry into the matter of funerary rites, she asked after the family.

“Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?”
“So easy that, to tell you the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober.”

“How fleeting are all human passions compared with the massive continuity of ducks!”

“The only ethical principle which has made science possible is that the truth shall be told all the time. If we do not penalize false statements made in error, we open up the way for false statements by intention. And a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.”

– all from Gaudy Night

Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval; if he were compelled to regard himself, day in day out, not as a member of society, but merely (salva reverentia) as a virile member of society.
…He would be edified by solemn discussions about “Should Men Serve in Drapery Establishments?” and acrimonious ones about “Tea-Drinking Men”; by cross-shots of public affairs “from the masculine angle,” and by irritable correspondence about men who expose their anatomy on beaches (so masculine of them), conceal it in dressing-gowns (too feminine of them), think about nothing but women, pretend an unnatural indifference to women, exploit their sex to get jobs, lower the tone of the office by their sexless appearance, and generally fail to please a public opinion which demands the incompatible. And at dinner-parties he would hear the wheedling, unctuous, predatory female voice demand: “And why should you trouble your handsome little head about politics?”
If, after a few centuries of this kind of treatment, the male was a little self-conscious, a little on the defensive, and a little bewildered about what was required of him, I should not blame him. If he traded a little upon his sex, I could forgive him. If he presented the world with a major social problem, I would scarcely be surprised. It would be more surprising if he retained any rag of sanity and self-respect.
– “The Human-Not-Quite-Human,” Are Women Human?: witty and astute essays on the role of women in society

“Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined?”
– “The Lost Tools of Learning”

“It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it. The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ.”
– “Creed or Chaos?: Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster”

“In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”
– “The Other Six Deadly Sins”

Last, but certainly not least:

“The Egotists’ Club is one of the most genial places in London. It is a place to which you may go when you want to tell that odd dream you had last night, or to announce what a good dentist you have discovered. You can write letters there if you like, and have the temperament of a Jane Austen, for there is no silence room, and it would be a breach of club manners to appear busy or absorbed when another member addresses you.”
– “The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers”

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100! or, 2017 in retrospect

One of my Facebook friends did a 2017-in-retrospect post, and I decided to try imitating him.  Did mine take a fortnight longer to assemble?  Well, yes.  Surely this comes as no surprise to any of you.

In no particular order (but roughly chronological), these are the top 100 things that made my year.  Not all were necessarily happy items or events, but many were.

  1. Singing at church, either as part of the choir, a trio, or solo
  2. Learning to use Noteflight, both to create my own sheet music (!!!), and to rehearse difficult pieces without a piano
  3. Making a point of using my favorite tiny teacup
  4. Visiting George, Amanda, and their daughters throughout the year: gathering violets, eating sushi, making coasters, playing board games, sledding, reading about Wee Gillis, etc.
  5. Keeping a list of daily to-dos/accomplishments for later review at work
  6. Following proper channels to address a dangerous situation in my apartment building, with eventual results.
  7. Helping my brother with his corned beef feast fundraiser.
  8. Asserting some style with regard to luggage, aka buying a cuter duffle bag in an attempt to stop overpacking on short trips.
  9. Rediscovering audio books
  10. Visiting Hanners in VA and being able to join her other friends for her baby shower
  11. Having monthly dinners with my brother Mark,
  12. and using them to check in with each other about our goals.
  13. Attending absolutely zero weddings.
  14. Celebrating my first niece’s first birthday
  15. Reading a lot of fluffy books: Flavia de Luce, Trenton Stewart, Maryrose Wood, and (okay, less fluffy) Fredrik Backman
  16. Playing Pokemon Go – which, every once in a while, causes you to meet a 60-something-year-old professor who shows you how she’s walked 1000 kilometers playing it.
  17. Helping with a cocktail class – thus being behind the bar at The Last Word.
  18. Getting out my paint to make some pretty vibrant watercolors.
  19. Writing a whopping 14 blog posts for EC. Which is still more than anyone else *gives other muses shifty eyes*
  20. Making homemade vegan Nutella.
  21. Winning a GoodReads giveaway!  Even though I haven’t finished The Benedict Option yet.
  22. Celebrating Shrove Tuesday with folks. We were fully prepared to have a pancake-flipping race, but then it rained.
  23. Being mildly useful at my brother Mark’s house.
  24. Making Deb’s rhubarb chevron bars.
  25. Learning all manner of things from the AADL Summer Game (and going some places I wouldn’t have gone without it!)
  26. Getting some amount of vegetables, and lots of dill, from my brothers’ gardens
  27. Learning the recipe for this chickpea salad to use said dill.
  28. Getting more fish in my diet (also to use said dill, some of the time).
  29. Continuing to be a person who reads fanfiction.
  30. Experimenting with using aquafaba (both for vegan chocolate mousse, and for cocktail fizzes).
  31. Singing Missa Solemnis in Detroit and Toledo.
  32. Laughing with Em over Beer and Board Games.  Also, watching the fabulously awful Crimson Peak.  And Psycho, for the first time ever.
  33. Visiting Dad’s side of the family in June at the JAS III Memorial.
  34. Hang out with Jem and Maddie.
  35. Keeping up with various friends by going to brunch together.
  36. Buying a MacBook Pro.
  37. Combining bourbon, Carpano Antica, and Benedictine without seeing someone else do it first.  Which might mean I accidentally made a Preakness?
  38. Taking some lackluster marketing materials at my firm and improving them substantially
  39. Sharing Dorothy Sayers with more people
  40. Watching The Tempest at this year’s Shakespeare in the Arb.
  41. Encouraging others to sign up for library cards
  42. Visiting Mom’s side of the family in May and July
  43. Watching a lot of the Great British Bakeoff.
  44. Started listening to 90.9, the classical station, in order to be less heartbroken.
  45. Utilizing InfiniteLooper during work or workouts or cleaning marathons.
  46. Improving my approach to eyebrow makeup, if slightly.
  47. Going to Stratford, Canada with my friends to see Guys and Dolls (for the first time), 12thNight, and HMS Pinafore.
  48. Starting to get Mum and Dad ready to move out of Warwick
  49. Learning some Gaelic (or, well. Faking it convincingly) in honor of Bob
  50. Finally reading The Handmaid’s Tale
  51. Taking charge of preparing music for the Tolkien feast, including a book of popular pub tunes for everyone to sing
  52. Learning some fundamentals of CSS and HTML with CodeAcademy
  53. Getting into Rundle D on LearnedLeague (when I’d previously been in E) and not being immediately kicked back out
  54. Trying Blue Apron for free, so as to have Opinions about it, and actually cancelling timely
  55. Trying a jackfruit (they really are the party fruit!), passionfruit, and mirto.
  56. Celebrating St. Augustine with readings and poires St. Helene.
  57. Taking a winery tour of the Old Mission Peninsula to celebrate my roommate’s finishing grad school
  58. Hanging paper and tea towels to liven up the walls.
  59. Taking care of certain aspects of home maintenance; tightening screws on closet doors and saucepan handles is very satisfying.
  60. Starting a ketogenic diet.
  61. Catching Carbon Leaf at The Ark.
  62. Tugging a friend onto Tumblr *steeples fingers wickedly*
  63. Joining the St. Paul Young Adult Bible study (after years of frustration that every Bible study seemed to meet during the workday)
  64. Using Google Calendar more than I had been, to some effect
  65. Buying ice skates, and actually going skating with them at least once.
  66. Discovering the musical stylings of Lizzy Shell! I meant to blog about this woman for you – suffice it to say that I love her lyrics a lot.
  67. Celebrating the feast of Crispin Crispian with French food and Henry V excerpts.
  68. Figuring out an apartment-friendly Quiet Workout, and doing it somewhat regularly.
  69. Measuring self and keeping keto for two months.
  70. Utilizing Google Doc of tracking/rewards/goals to encourage myself,
  71. and checking in on a daily subreddit as well.
  72. Walking through my first corn maze!
  73. Bidding farewell to my brother from the firm we’ve both worked at since 2009.
  74. Celebrating the feast of St. Bruno at Chartreuse, which restaurant we’ve been wanting to visit for years.
  75. Losing twenty pounds and fitting into things I hadn’t fit in, and buying smaller jeans: a thing that has not happened in the past decade.
  76. Drinking tea/coffee without sugar and liking it, and similarly, doctoring my soda water with Regan’s No. 6 orange bitters and not missing potables.  For the first time ever, I’ve used an entire bottle of bitters!
  77. Adding Glitter and Gold to my list of Songs That Make Most Any Task Possible.
  78. Attempting a bodyweight fitness routine – I’ve a long way to go, but the idea of potentially being able to do a handstand eventually…it beckons.
  79. Finally reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  80. Singing in a 300-person celebration chorus for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation
  81. Actually hitting the unsubscribe button on some things.  Doubtless I should hit it a few more times, but still.  Progress.
  82. Facilitating my roommate meeting one of my co-workers, as well as my friend Ruth.
  83. Buying new blush for the first time in a very long while.
  84. Roasting radishes and spaghetti squash, to my own enjoyment.
  85. Finally reading Macbeth.
  86. Hearing and seeing Chanticleer with friends.
  87. Singing Bernstein’s 3rd symphony with the NY Philharmonic and Jeremy Irons.
  88. Meeting my second niece, Lucy Rose.
  89. Buying winter boots that actually cover a part of my calves and fit.
  90.  Watching my nieces (while at least one parent went on a hunting trip)
  91. Celebrating my 30thbirthday with my roommate and friends
  92. Finishing Frankenstein, which has plagued my “currently reading” on GoodReads for 3 years.
  93. Joining George in a December writing challenge, even if I didn’t write much.
  94. Observing Our Lady of Guadalupe and my roommate’s explication of why tequila is a second-class relic.
  95. Watching Stranger Things (and part of ST2).
  96. Sending out Christmas cards. Have I had some of said cards since 2011?  Yes.
  97. Negotiating various new systems: new attorneys, new phones, new court sites, and so on.
  98. Receiving my first ever live Christmas tree.  Did it still have needles by Christmas?  Well, a few.
  99. Assisting my roommate with yarn (having gotten better at using the swift and having improved my detangling strategy).
  100. Hearing the Boys Choir of Ann Arbor and thus discovering a deep fondness for “Carol of the Stranger.”

What were the highlights of your past year?  Here’s hoping that 2018 includes just as much learning and growing!

Joy’s Joys

Back on Dorothy’s birthday, I spent the day sharing quotations of hers on Facebook. They came from her fiction, her non-fiction, and, in at least one instance, from her letters. Among these choice bits was the beginning of “The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers” – better known here as her description of the Egotists’ Club:

The Egotists’ Club is one of the most genial places in London. It is a place to which you may go when you want to tell that odd dream you had last night, or to announce what a good dentist you have discovered. You can write letters there if you like, and have the temperament of a Jane Austen, for there is no silence room, and it would be a breach of club manners to appear busy or absorbed when another member addresses you.

Somehow, the idea of announcing one’s dentist, of all things, captured my imagination the most.

In the spirit of sharing one’s humblest joys, one’s most quotidian triumphs, one’s practical delights…here are my joys of late:

– Yesterday I bought a MacBook Pro. Not without trepidation, mind, as I have always been a PC user. But after my beloved Samsung fried, and my far-less-beloved Asus came to have an inoperable wireless card and tracked poorly…well, I basically went without a home computer for a year, using my smartphone instead, and growing steadily more frustrated by my lack of keyboard.  The new model glows with promise: the promise that updates will not overwhelm me, that I need not pay a subscription to store my own documents, that I might go forth to join others in sub-creation.

– Not unrelatedly, having obtained the equipment to do it, I have started learning about the nuts and bolts of coding in HTML.  My programming brother recommended this course of action to me, and it is perhaps the closest a Muggle gets to reading a book of spells: when you assemble the necessary elements (be they ever so boilerplate) and press “Run,” behold!  These curious ciphers and characters LIVE!  If you did it properly, anyway.

– I have been getting so much delight from the Ann Arbor District Library Summer Game.  But that’s a whole other blog post, it turns out!
AADL summer game top graphic

– The people around me have reminded me of delightful things.  My flatmate reminded me of how delightful Brideshead Revisited is, by preparing a picnic for us to eat on the solstice while reading excerpts of “Et in Arcadia Ego.”  Emily reminded me about that most adorable composition tool, Written? Kitten!   Katherine and Ike, friends from Hillsdale that I hadn’t seen since 2012, drove through the UP before meeting me in Lansing for lunch and a good few hours of catching-up.

There have been other delights this summer – volunteer dill, stars-and-stripes pie for Independence Day, reading Gaudy Night aloud, brunch at Aventura, the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter coming out, revisiting The Great British Bakeoff, and watching The Tempest in the Arboretum.

Truly, these be joyful days!

In Natales et Pascha concurrentes

It is, for a little while yet, the 25th of March: the day the Church celebrates the Annunciation, whereby the Word was made Flesh.

It is also Friday, and we call this Friday good: for it is the day our Lord Jesus Christ climbed the shameful gallows-tree, transforming its shame to glory, trampling down death by death, bearing all sin in His sinless body to save us from our sin.

That these two great days occur together is apt, and rare; it will not occur again for 141 years.  On that account, John Donne wrote a poem (both here, and in the 2 prior links).  George Herbert also wrote a poem on the subject (item 67), this one in Latin, and that is the one I wanted to share:

Cum tu, Christe, cadis, nascor; mentémque ligavit
Una meam membris horula, téque cruci.
O me disparibus natum cum numine fatis!
Cur mihi das vitam, quam tibi, Christe, negas?
Quin moriar tecum: vitam, quam negligis ipse,
Accipe; ni talem des, tibi qualis erat.
Hoc mihi legatum tristi si funere præstes,
Christe, duplex fiet mors tua vita mihi:
Atque ibi per te sanctificer natalibus ipsis,
In vitam, et nervos Pascha coæva fluet.

Translated the best I can (after years without Latin practice, but with the benefit of some dictionaries):

When you, O Christ, fall, I rise;* it bound both my mind
And one of my members a little while, with you on the cross.
O how unlike, to me, that birth from the divine will now spoken!
Why do you give me life, when for yourself, Christ, you reject it?
I would even die with you: life, which itself you disregard,
Receive: unless you give such, as was given to you.
This would be a sad legacy for me if you would bestow death,
Christ, your death will doubly be made my life:
And yet, when I would be sanctified through your birth itself,
In life, and strength, your Passion coeval will flow.

*Alternately: When you, O Christ, die, I am born…

A friend has offered this (far superior) rendering:

As you die, o Christ, I am born: and my mind is bound
a little while with your limbs, to the Cross.
O what different destinies – of the man born, and the god.
Why do you give me life, which you, O Christ, renounce?
That I might die with you; take from me the life that you misprize [disregard],
unless you give to me a suffering similar to yours [??]
And if you grant to me – miserable creature – such a death,
o Christ, then your death would doubly be made my life.
And thus might my birth be sanctified to you
in life, and strength will flow from your sacrifice.

Drinks in Remembrance: Alan Rickman

You’ve heard, I’m sure, of the sad fact that Alan Rickman died of cancer last week. 69 years on earth, and suddenly he is gone.

Colonel BrandonWhether you loved him best as Hans Gruber, Severus Snape, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Professor Lazarus, Metatron, Marvin the paranoid android, Judge Turpin, Colonel Brandon, or someone else entirely – solely himself, perhaps – I’m sure you, like me, will miss him.

So here’s a tribute.  Raise a glass (or several!) with me.

Severus Snape (modified from Backyard Bartender)Snape cocktail
1.5 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum (having only Myer’s, I used that)
.5 oz Fernet Branca
.5 oz falernum
dash Peychaud’s bitters (alas, I have no lavender bitters)
dash creme de violette
dash rose syrup

Nancy has a delightful explanation for her Snape concoction (which was the original reason I sought out Fernet Branca and falernum, to be honest).  Having no lavender bitters, I attempted to make up the difference with some other floral additions.  As she says: strong, dark, complex.

Half-Blood Prince cocktailHalf-Blood Prince
2 oz dill-infused gin
1.5 oz green ChartreusePotions Master cocktail
spritz of absinthe
.5 oz lime juice
dash chamomile bitters
Stir with ice and strain into an appropriate goblet.  This is my nod to the Potions Master and the head of Slytherin House: herbal, complicated, very green, full of venerable spirits.  It’s a lot like a Last Word (equal parts gin, Chartreuse, lime, and Maraschino), but sourer.

Severus Snape (alternate)
1.5 oz CynarCynar (Chee-NAR)
I wondered if perhaps there were a simpler approach to Snape.  This is one such attempt, applicable to Sorcerer’s Stone Snape: a straight shot of Cynar, which is a drinkable bitter made from artichokes (ie, instead of an intensity which requires but a few drops in a cocktail, it’s dilute enough to consume on its own).  It’s complex, vegetal, dark, and (of course) bitter.  An acquired taste, but when you love it, you really love it.  Harry Potter, of course, finds Cynar innately suspicious.  He would; he’s only 11, after all.

Random potion bonus:

7 bottles

Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.

Alexander Dane cocktail
Alexander Dane (as Dr. Lazarus)

1.5 oz cognac
.5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
.5 oz blue curacao
.25 oz lemon juice

The thinking here was that Dane is Very Serious Business – “I played Richard III!” – not-quite-obscured by something brightly colored and mildly ridiculous.  Overall: shiny and enjoyable.

 


Colonel Brandon
Colonel Brandon cocktail
2 oz gin (I used Hendrick’s, but a London Dry would probably be better)
.75 oz lemon juice
.75 oz creme de cassis (blackberry liqueur)
.5 oz St-Germain
dash of plum bitters
I had the idea to make something rather British and proper, but also sweet enough to appeal to those moved chiefly by their sensibility.  It turned out to be a bit cloying, so throw in some sturdy Calvados or genever to bolster it: something befitting a man of action, one who needs an occupation lest he run mad.

Alan Rickman himself:
When my roommate and I made Tom Hiddleston cocktails, we found the most difficult one was Tom himself; not having met him, we could only work from a particular face he sometimes presented to the public.  The same difficulty attends Alan: by several Alan Rickmanaccounts I’ve read, he was everything kind, generous, funny, and generally delightful (but de mortuis, nil nisi bonum and all that).  So Thalia’s suggestion was to capture the unique quality of his striking voice by the use of something dark and deep.  The thing that came to mind was scotch.  If you’re a purist, sip it straight; if not, try a sort of modified toddy:

1 oz Laphroaig scotch
1/2 oz Drambuie
Fill teacup with hot water

It’s sweet enough not to be totally off-putting, but it is very very strong.  The smoky smell spread throughout my dining area and kitchen.

That seemed a bit overwhelming, so taking a cue from my friend Amanda, I tried to go the coffee route:

Alan Rickman (alternate)Alan Rickman tipple

1/2 oz Kahlua
1/2 oz Frangelico
1/2 barspoon (ie, 1/4 tsp or so) pimento dram (allspice liqueur)

Ideally this would have been mixed with coffee or espresso, to represent Alan’s liveliness and how engaging he was.  But it was quite late by that point, and prudence won out.  I hope to have a bit of a film festival before long, and see how a caffeinated version of this fits into it.

Alan, here’s to you.  We mourn your passing, but are glad you were there to depict Very Interesting People for a time.  You delighted us, and we will miss you.  Always.

Things My Father Taught Me

Earlier today, the pastor of my parents’ church asked Facebook, “What’s the best thing your father taught you?”

I found that I was hard-pressed to give one solitary item, since my dad has taught me so much: in words, by his example, and by virtue of what he emphasized in day-to-day life.  He catechized me well, taught me the principles of being a good student, and gave lots of other pieces of practical advice:

  • Ask interesting questions!
  • Call the city when you see a water main break.
  • Use a tape measure beforehand to be sure the furniture/ item will fit.
  • Learn how to type (this one not by example, but by making each of us kids practice 5 minutes with FastType for every 20 minutes of computer games).
  • There’s no such thing as a garment with too many pockets (this by the example of having our mother add a second breast pocket to several of his shirts). There’s also no such thing as too many flashlights.
  • Try to buy American when you can.
  • Wear shoes in places like the garage or the basement, where there might be nails or live wires afoot.
  • “Don’t watch the ads, children.” Also: look away from violent TV shows. Don’t put the television in the middle of family life; if you must have one, keep it in the basement.
  • Honor the cook by being seated when he/she brings the food. Clearly address someone by name when you want him/her to pass you food. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, return thanks to the Lord for the good land he has given you.”
  • “Is there a way to graduate early?”
  • “If you borrow a woodsman’s axe, you are borrowing his livelihood. If you borrow my pen, you’re borrowing my livelihood. So make sure to return the pen to my hand, where you got it.” The same goes for his Swiss army knife.
  • “What have you learned from this?” Usually asked at the very moment we realized that a bad situation was at least partly our own fault.
  • “When you leave a house, wish God’s peace upon it.”

I’ve recently come to appreciate that it isn’t always the case that a man with three sons and one daughter treat them alike in dignity. From the time I was young, Dad told me that I could be at the top of the class or be the “head of the company.” Thus Dad taught me that, though I am different from my brothers, neither my thoughts nor my person are worth less than they are.

He taught me that memorization of Scripture is important; invoices are also important; writing the date on things is useful; the items you own require maintenance; the items you buy represent a certain amount of time invested to earn the money so be sure it’s worth it; and that strawberries demonstrate that our God loves making beautiful things.

Last (and probably best), Dad always told me “I love you, but Jesus loves you even more!

What did your dad teach you?

Alphabooks: G is for Gladness

G: Glad You Gave This Book a Chance

Last November, I went to visit my friend the Mead.  That week was full of tea-drinking, book-reading, meal-sharing, and general delight.  Among the books I read was Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop.Death Comes for the Archbishop

For years (and despite Melpomene writing about it, apparently), my impression of the book was that the title said everything about it: that somewhere, an archbishop (who knows where) lies sick and eventually dies.  I had no idea how that could constitute an entire book, and figured it was puffed full of useless detail, ecclesiastical history that meant nothing to me, and maybe the fallout from the archbishop’s death.

Then there came a point where a friend related a section of it: a corrupt priest uses his position to enslave the people living on a particular plateau, and they eventually revolted and killed him.  I figured the whole book featured this corrupt priest, and the revolt was the book’s climax.

But in fact, the corrupt Friar Baltazar Montoya is only a story within the story, as related to Father Jean Marie Latour by his guide Jacinto as he journeys around New Mexico.  Latour is the actual focus of the book, and as far from Montoya as can be: he is gentle but determined, content to read at home but observant of all his duties.  True, death comes for him – but from a long way off, so that he spends decades in service to build up the Archdiocese before death arrives.  His friendships, both with a fellow priest of France and with those in his diocese, only deepen in that time:

“Where there is great love there are always miracles,’ he said at length. ‘One might almost say that an apparition is human vision corrected by divine love. I do not see you as you really are, Joseph; I see you through my affection for you. The Miracles of the Church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.”

Of course, not all things are so permanent.  This book starts in the 1850s, and so Cather is describing a land which has since been swallowed up by people and change and industry.  I am not quite sure I can see the landscapes, but at times I very nearly feel the whisper of the air on my face:

Beautiful surroundings, the society of learned men, the charm of noble women, the graces of art, could not make up for the loss of those light-hearted mornings of the desert, for that wind that made one a boy again. He had noticed that this peculiar quality in the air of new countries vanished after they were tamed by man and made to bear harvests. Parts of Texas and Kansas that he had first known as open range had since been made into rich farming districts, and the air had quite lost that lightness, that dry, aromatic odour. The moisture of plowed land, the heaviness of labour and growth and grain-bearing, utterly destroyed it; one could breathe that only on the bright edges of the world, on the great grass plains or the sage-brush desert.

The plot, per se, is somewhat loose; there is not one central event but in fact the tracing out of a man’s whole life: his journeys, his labours, his difficulties, his conversations.  It is a life to make one glad.

Happy Birthday, YouTube

YouTube has been in existence for 10 years now.

This makes me wonder if there’s a way to convert solar years to internet years, because ten years on the internet is pretty much forever, right?  There are times when I have to stop and ponder the fact that, in fact, this particular service has not existed as long as I have, that the entirety of my childhood and most of my adolescence were spent without it.  Not to mention that which has followed in its train: widespread GIFs.  Vines.  Videos on Facebook.  Videos EVERYWHERE.

Then there’s the plenitude of it.  That one site can be the place to listen to music and share performances, to give DIY instructions, to find TV shows or movie clips, to document one’s family, to vlog, to share cat videos…

How did we exist without a convenient spot for cat videos for so long?!  The mind, it boggles.

Other folks, in celebration of ten years of cat videos, have made lists of YouTube’s most-viewed offerings.  While I’ve nothing against the surprised kitty, Sweet Brown, David after the Dentist, or NyanCat, I figured I’d share a different selection.  These aren’t quite “videos you must watch to be my friend,” but they’re close.

And like unto it (kind of):

British ads are better:

Here’s a viral throwback:

And then there’s this delight:

Honorable mentions go to Axis of Awesome’s 4 Chords; Eddie Izzard’s Death Star Canteen sketch (with Legos!); OK Go’s song So Here It Goes; and In Demand.

What YouTubes have you made all your friends watch?