Thursday, January 12, 2023

Old and new

In this relatively recent era of social media posts, one of the experiments in personal habits I have wanted to try in the last few years was to use some of my social media accounts for a quick share of something, but then allow (or push) myself to examine that same something in a more expanded way on this site. 

For example, sometimes I quote things or share a photo with a quote on my other social media accounts, but often the more in-depth ideas or thoughts, I either write in my notebook or worse, post and then carry-on, thinking no more about it. Writing it out in long form and publishing it here means I can do a better type of thinking, even if it amounts to just a string of jumbled thoughts. Whereas the initial spark often comes from something underdeveloped, but still notable to share quickly elsewhere in a truncated format. (So apologies in advance, if depending how this experiment in writing habits goes, you see something here that you've seen me post elsewhere. I had more to say about it or I'm talking about it again.)

The sheer pace and pressure of our modern lives can easily crowd out time for reflection. ~ Os Guinness, The Great Experiment

So in this case, I liked this Author's Note at the end of The Picts and The Martyrs that Laura and I have been reading aloud together for a very long time. (It's part of the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome which I started reading aloud to Seth. Laura was very little when we started those early books, so she has suggested after we finish this one, we start the series over again.) 

And the part that strikes me is that his stories came out of his childhood adventures and memories and he could not help writing it. He had such fond memories that he wanted to create stories that will give others memories of reading good stories of sailing, adventures, mishaps and camaraderie. His childhood play with siblings was a gift and he in turn, gives that back to his readers as another gift for generations to enjoy. They have made movies of some of his books and we have enjoyed one of them so far. We have made memories reading these books together, laughing over the plots and the funny things the characters say and guessing what the outcome will be and in watching the movie together.  I even made a bunting for Seth years ago to remember these stories. Many families have other books and series that they also enjoy good memories together.

I've been enjoying a collection of C.S. Lewis essays borrowed from the library entitled, Of Other Worlds. I'm only on the second essay because I was reading them quickly and then slowly over the last two busy months. In this one, he discusses both reading children's stories and writing for children and many of you have likely seen quotes attributed to him about this topic. Here's a paragraph that I wanted to especially note as someone who still reads 'children's books' on my own and who also is purchasing, recommending and even sometimes coaxing certain books onto the children in my life. 
In this short glance at the Bastable Trilogy I think we have stumbled on a principle. Where the children's story is simply the right form for what the author has to say, then of course readers who want to hear that, will read the story or re-read it, at any age. I never met The Wind in the Willows or the Bastable books till I was in my late twenties, and I do not think I have enjoyed them any less on that account. I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last. A waltz you can only like when you are waltzing is a bad waltz.
When I am in places like libraries or bookstores where books are on display and full cover art is visible, it's tempting to despair over the titles that are being promoted to voracious and reluctant readers alike. Okay, I actually do despair, but I'm not going into that here.  
Social media makes it easy to get clicks and responses by posting photos of such displays and adding commentary highlighting whatever issues you see. It's like the posts where people share ugly architecture and homes. I get the idea, it's terrible; now share the good ones, that ones that last and are read with pleasure at any point in your life. 
Lewis defends his principles:
The modern view seems to me to involve a false conception of growth. They accuse us of arrested development because we have not lost a taste we had in childhood. But surely arrested development consists not in refusing to lose old things but in failing to add new things.

Like Lewis, I'm still adding new things to my life and changing through this growth, but I still retain a taste for the good old things that my childhood gave me.

Currently reading, but not previously mentioned in this post:

  • Anne of Avonlea (re-reading as I go back through the series now that Laura has read them all so we can talk about them together)
  • The Island of Sheep (I have a lot of Buchan novels so I'm reading all of them.)
  • How to Get Away With Myrtle: A Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery (this would be me reading a book I suggested to Laura at the library and decided to bring it home anyway...)
  • For the Family's Sake (a re-reading suggested by Carol at Journey & Destination)
  • Mrs. Miniver (re-reading)
  • Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America (a curious biography, found on my FIL's shelves this past autumn)
  • Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World (found for free as a pdf)

Saturday, January 07, 2023

easing into January

The Christmas decorations have been pared way back and some fresh cut cedar branches are now on the mantle in place of all the nutcrackers and their companions. The railing is still wearing various garlands and lights as the mornings and evenings are still quite dark. The kitchen window was refreshed with a houseplant desperate for daylight and little houses to cheer up the necessary kitchen work. Small cedar pieces and candles keep our dining table from looking too forlorn while I settle into the winter cooking of soups and stews, roasted meats and vegetable stir-fry concoctions that keep us eating well and using up veggie and meat scraps. 
Laura resumed her schoolwork this week knowing that almost all of her friends are still on Christmas break, but we took two weeks in November to visit my family so we are back at it, although she led the way this week picking her own assignments and timetable. She declared it a "fun week of schoolwork".
I didn't dare disagree although I need to spend more time on creating a more formal Term 2 schedule. But after a whole week of not shopping for anything, I had to load back up on groceries and household needs and I was ready to just chill in my living room roost for the last two days. So that's why there are three long December posts even though I started this January one first. 
For our first church lunch of 2023, I cooked up a favorite Sage Rice Pilaf dish and roasted a lingering squash, using the halves to create one savory and one sweet portion to try.  Cranberries, pecans, brown sugar and butter for the sweet and Everything Bagel Mix, walnuts, feta  cheese and olive oil for the savory. It felt good to get back into the kitchen after crashing a bit on the weekend. (Seth and I brought home McDonalds for everyone after our trip to the city. Oh the horrors we endure...)
The sun has been in battle with the grey sky most days so when it breaks through, it feels like a whole new world. I haven't been outside at all so I'm very overdue for some trail walking and fresh air.
On Wednesday, I finished an errand with Kate just in time to get back to the river by our house and take some sunset photos before zooming back up the steep hill we live on to have a Costco supper of Chicken Penne Alfredo and settle back into my novel reading. 
Happy New Year of our Lord to you! 

December as we knew it (Part 3)

(Because these posts are so long, they are each taking up a page on my site, so you can look for the other December posts in the Archive sidebar where they are listed by their individual titles. Or you can use these links to open up a new page for each post: Part 1 and Part 2.)


The rest of December was food and family time. We shared the hosting with my in-laws, taking turns between our two houses and swapping food items back and forth to keep us all fed and lazy. By the end of the week, traveling family members said goodbye and I began to dismantle much of the Christmas decorations. 
On Saturday afternoon, the end of December, I was ready for a change so Seth and I went into the city for a walk-about to enjoy the mild weather and mostly sunny skies. We peered in windows and browsed open shops, admired old buildings and the Christmas decorations. We got back to the car with about a minute left on our parking receipt and congratulated ourselves for our impeccable timing. 
On Sunday, the first day of January, we went to church, ate lunch together and then in the evening, the kids and I finally found time to watch my favorite Christmas movie with them, A Child's Christmas in Wales. It was the perfect way to end our Christmas vacation.
Monday, Seth was returned back to school after one last family lunch together and I prepped for an attempt to get back into our schoolwork. 
Thanks for following all of these long December posts. 

January is next and with only a week on the calendar spent, that New Year post will be a breeze to get through.