Thursday, December 30, 2004

It's a dog's life

My poor dog does not like children. Specifically, she doesn't like the children that happen to be my niece and nephew. I don't suppose that should be too surprising: she's a 9ish year old dog who has had to share the house with only my mom and dad for the past three years. She has a room to herself, and her room is actually the biggest room in the house (we used to call it the Rec room. Now, it's "Sheena's room"). She doesn't play with her chew toys anymore, and can't be bothered to go fetch a dirty stick that you just threw ten feet out of her way. When we come home from Hamilton and GrandRapids and such, she is generally excited, because there are more people to take her for walks and to pet her and scratch her belly while she lazes apathetically on the floor.
When the grandkids come over, it's a different story altogether. First of all, these mini people have the audacity to steal any and all attention away from her. Second, they take over her floor, and there are toys strewn everywhere, in her cage, in her spot behind the chair in the livingroom, on beds that she used to be able to sleep on! Third, and probably the worst, these little people have the idea that they must annoy her to the best of their ability. In fact, they probably make it their goal to do so each day. Reuben got a new fire truck for Christmas from "Unca Dave", and he thought it would be pretty fun to let Sheena play with it as well. Growling comes from the next room over, and when Auntie Jenn goes to see what's happening, she sees Reuben standing on Sheena's tail, driving a fire truck over the poor dog. "Sheena like it? Sheena like the fire truck? It's Reunen's!" Sheena leaves Reuben in that room, only to encounter seven month old Nadine in the next room. How nice and pretty the puppy looks! Soon there are little hands grabbing onto the floppy ears of my poor dog and pulling. Sheena is freed from the grasp and escapes downstairs.
Yesterday, Grandma and Aunt Marya and Uncle Eric and Auntie Jenn and Reuben and Sheena went to the "big hill" to tobaggan with crazy carpets. Despite my best efforts to get the dog onto a crazy carpet, she wouldn't come down with me, but every time someone went down the hill, we'd let go of Sheena's leash and she'd pick up the handle in her mouth and chase us down the hill. After Aunt Marya and Reuben went down the hill together and Sheena chased them down, Aunt Marya picked up the crazy carpet and the leash and put Reuben's hand in the leash to walk the dog up the hill.
This must have been a moment of complete and utter humiliation for that dog. You could almost read her thoughts as she tried to grab the handle away from the two and a half year old. "You think that I'm actually going to let that little thing walk me back up the hill?! He's smaller than I am! I can do it very well on my own, thank you very much!" They played tug-of-war for a few seconds, Sheena grabbing a little closer to the handle every time, until, with a final yank, the leash was freed and Reuben was on his bottom. Sheena picked up the handle in her mouth and trotted up the hill, sat next to me and laid the handle down gently in my lap. I couldn't breath, I was laughing so hard. What a dog. I think she'll be pleased when she's got the house to herself again next week.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004



My dear brother and I having a "sing along"... Good times. Too bad he had to leave for Grand Rapids this afternoon. Sigh. But, the rest of us are still around. And there will be more good times to be had.

Monday, December 27, 2004

In sickness and in health...

Why is it that sickness seems to descend so rapidly onto those in their vacations? Last Christmas, I remember feeling very ill, but the only reason why it bothered me so much was because I was scared that they wouldn't let me fly to England if I was sick. This year, just 24 hours after I arrived at home for the holidays, I could feel that twinge in the back of my throat and felt the fuzzy feeling in my head growing stronger. I napped for five hours one afternoon, and proceeded to sleep for another 10 hours that night. (I suppose that sleeping could have also resulted from my lack of sleep the night before...well, the 1.5 hours...) Although my body-rattling cough would seem to suggest otherwise, I currently feel fabulous. Which I'm very excited about, of course, because besides the fact that being sick is generally no fun, we're having our family Christmas tomorrow evening, and those kind of nights are always more fun when you aren't collapsed in a heap on the living room floor.
My sister-in-law, Sarah, has the incredible misfortune to be sick also at the moment, and I feel rather badly for her. I'm sick, and that sucks for me. However, it's just me. She has another one dependent on her, my little niece Nadine, so it makes the whole situation a little more sour. Not only is it very tiring for her to be sick, but they're still up in Exeter with her family, and have a 4.5 hour drive ahead of them to come here for the Van Breda Christmas. That's nothing exciting to look forward to. My brother David is a working man, and as such, his holidays end on Wednesday, so he must return to Grand Rapids. I do hope and pray that existing sickness and fevers subside so that we can all get together this Christmas-- it would be rather a shame if we couldn't, because both Dave and I are planning to be in Japan next year at this time. Sigh.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

It's tradition!

Well, December 25th has officially passed us by once more: another Christmas serivce, another ham dinner, and another day well spent with family playing games. This morning, the church choir sang a song interspersed with bible readings that quickly overviewed the story of Christ's birth, death, and earthly mission. It was a neat idea, but the song bothered me somewhat. The first line, and only line that I can remember, declares that "We are the reason for the season!" huh.
I know what they're getting at: if it hadn't been for us, Christ wouldn't have had to come and become human and die. But does it sound strange to anyone else to be declaring that joyfully in a song, that "hey, look, WE sinned, so it's cause of US that we get to celebrate Christmas day!" I think that we can get enough of that attitude, that it's all about US without singing those kind of songs. How about, for one day of the year, we take the focus off of ourselves when we're singing?

Anyhow, whilst talking to Brian tonight, I remembered that, in addition to not having my Christmas shopping done, I also do not have my Christmas poems done. (Our family Christmas is on Tuesday) Now, having just finished my creative writing course last week and handing over my portfolio containing 25ish poems, I'm not so anxious to write for a deadline again so soon. But it must be done. It's tradition. Every year since I can remember, my family has chosen names for Christmas among the kids. Along with a gift for the sibling and for each parent, we must write some sort of an original poem. My mom had the presence of mind to start collecting them early on, so there are "poems" that I wrote before I could spell and not long after I could actually write. They don't rhyme. They don't even make sense. But it is kind of fun to read them after so long. Some of them are limmericks, some are to be sung to the tune of 'Jingle Bells,' some are based on traditional poems such as 'The night before Christmas,' and some are just words scrawled on a piece of paper an hour before presents are to be opened.
A few years ago, the fateful year of the fake Christmas tree, I wrote this for my mom:

Without the first regard for me,
You did away with our real Christmas tree.
Never get a fake one, I tried to push...
but anyhow, here's something for you to put
on this plastic, pseudo Christmas bush...


Can you feel the love yet? :) My mom's poems are all nicely printed out on the Dot Matrix printer of the Commodore 64 persuasion, but the rest of ours are usually scrawled out in the shaky cursive writing of one in early elementary school. I'll leave you with a poem that I wrote back in 1992. 9 years old, just remember that, folks. Don't judge me for who I was....

To my dad who is really quite rad:
We got you a gift
but we hope that you will not have a fit!
It is not a boot,
but I ought to quoat,
"Where there is love
there is a dove!"
but it's the thought that counts!
love Jenn


Yep. With a poem like that, it's definitely the thought that counts.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Exciting news!

I have an interview with JET in Feb. for a teaching position in Japan for next year!! The three days of rushing around with applications and references and photocopies were worth it after all.... Thanks God!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Friends. I have no shortage of amazing people that God has put into my life. And the fabulous thing about all of my friends is that they don't all come from the same walk of life, and have experienced very different things than I have. Granted, there's a certain extent to which you can't escape the whole similar Dutch experience, but even within that there is the tendency for various childhood situations and high school and university decisions made differently for good or for bad. I'm quite a fan of this, because when it comes to getting opinions from others, I know that the opinions are more than the views that I might like to hear.
Something that I have always struggled with is advice from friends. I rely on my nearest and dearest friends who know me the best to comment on my life, openly, freely and honestly. If I'm being an ass about a situation, I know that I will be told that my behavior doesn't line up with my character, and that I should smarten up.
However, the fact of the matter is that occasionally, I've received honest advice from caring, close friends that I don't know how to reconcile to the situation at hand. For example, I've had a good friend or two advise me against Japan. They presented their reasons, or rather, one presented reasons, the other was just intent on, "I'm not comfortable with you going, make sure that you really think about what you're doing," and so on and so forth to the point of making me incredibly nervous but with no cause attached to it. I think that I know myself fairly well, as far as knowing one's self goes, and I think that I've made smart decisions in the past, for the most part. I have no reason to look at any past experiences and say, wow, chances are they're right, I decided to move away to BC and to England, and look at what a mess that turned out to be! See, both of those experiences were amazing, and I feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to experience what I did in both of those places. There were points in each that I would have turned back if I had the choice, but overall they were amazing times.
So this begs the question. Do my friends know something that I don't know? Do I sometimes have to just thank my friends for their concern, and carry along on my merry way? I'm rather a huge fan of making decisions with an awful lot of prayer, and my friends know this as well. I have no misgivings about Japan, even with all of the prayer that I've devoted to it. What of the valued advice of friends? I know that they have my best interests at heart, which is why I have no idea what to do with this kind of a situation....

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

To Jimmy, with love

When I was growing up, Saturday was the good day in the week. Our fresh, young bodies would wake us up at the crack of dawn, just in time to watch the Littlest Hobo on TV. However, being the well-mannered children that we were, we knew well enough that we were not allowed to watch the TV without permission: so, at five thirty in the morning, a troupe of little feet would pad to the door to the master bedroom, tap on the door and crawl on top of mom or dad, asking if we might watch TV and get ourselves some breakfast. How considerate and honest of us, we thought, mom and dad otherwise wouldn't have woken up for another three or four hours, and they never would have had to know that we were watching TV!
After the Littlest Hobo, a brief science show called "Did you know??" made way for our all time favourite, "My Secret Identity." The mailbox rattled, and the comics arrived! Second to the comics was the TV guide, where we immediately surveyed the evenings possibilities. Stephen looked for which episode of Star Trek was playing, David checked out who the Leafs were playing, and Marya and I went straight to the description of the movie playing that night on "Saturday Night at the Movies" on TVO. The arguing and debating began already at 8am, as to who would get to reserve the TV for that evening.
Once everyone was up, the TV went OFF, chores were written on the chalk board ("clean room: S, M, D, J." "vacuum: D" "Sweep: S" etc), half hour time slots of piano practicing began, and books (being read while "cleaning" our rooms) were taken away. The afternoon often consisted of a trip to the library, grocery store or mall, but mostly we spent afternoons outside climbing trees and playing games of back yard baseball with ghost runners.
Baths then took place while mom made the dough for pizza, and when we were all scrubbed squeaky clean, we'd sit down in the oven-warmed kitchen for some of the best pizza I've tasted in my life. When all had eaten and the Today was read, arguments that began brewing in the morning about the evening TV schedule came to fruition and because we had already seen that movie, or because the Leafs had a night off, the dispute would be settled, always resulting in at least one pouting child. Nevertheless, it was those evenings that we all watched either Hockey Night in Canada (Holy mackinaw!) or Saturday Night at the Movies together. We didn't have a VCR, so the movies that I grew up on were those movies, North by North West, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Sabrina, Cracked Rear View Mirror and many, many other classic movies. Mystery, romance, adventure in African jungles, we watched them all, and I love those movies. Some of the most popular movies that have been released in the past several years are remakes of the 1950's movies, and there's a reason for that: those movies, while perhaps cheesy, have good plots, good actors and did well for the technology that they had back then.
The actors were, in my opinion, that much more talented than those that you find nowadays. Sure, Harrison Ford is a good looking man and can convincingly portray a super-hero president, but I'd like to see him act as well as he does in addition to singing and dancing like Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire or Danny Kaye! We just watched It's a Wonderful Life this weekend, which stars the illustrious Jimmy Stewart. Look up his work biography, and you'll find some amazing classics: the afore mentioned Mr Smith and Wonderful Life along with such great films as Harvey, a story in which the 6'something Mr Stewart's best friend is a 6'something invisible rabbit. It doesn't get any better! You can take your Vin Diesel and his xXx-- I'll have Jimmy Stewart any day.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

What I'd rather be doing right now....



Somehow, I'm inclined to believe that climing a palm tree on San Juan beach in Spain would be a little more exciting than writing a take home exam... I could be wrong.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

I am not Martha Stewart.

Now I know that may come as a surprise to some of you who have seen the pristine condition in which I keep my room, but yes, alas, 'tis true! Along with the ladies of the Sugar Shack, I decorated my *own* house for Christmas and planned my *own* Christmas party, both for the first time! The Christmas tree, as lovely as it is, did not come from the back yard. If I was on top of things when I moved in back in May, I suppose I would have planted a sapling and fed it "miracle grow" all season and then gone out to chop it down. But I wasn't really thinking. Anyhow, the decorations were bought at Canadian Tire, since I left my glass blower and wood carving tools at home in Belleville. Again, must not have been thinking! The boughs of branches on the wall are in fact, tied together with store-bought ribbon, though I did make the bow myself.
Anyhow, I had as much fun preparing for our soiree as I did socialising at the soiree! I love to bake, when I know that it will be appreciated. And as experience has told me, the gentlemen tend to appreciate the baking just that much more than the women (sorry ladies, but it's true). So, bake I did. Cinnamon sticky buns, a cinnamon bun wreath, a pudding trifle... the ladies also did some excellent baking to fill the table. It smelled quite spectacular in our house, but I might say that it was a bit of torture not being able to eat the food...
The kitchen was decorated as best as it could, and we tried to disguise the fact that it was a lowly townhouse with icicle lights and candles (nope, we didn't make the candles ourselves, either. Martha really would be disappointed!).
People arrived, and after a while we really were one big happy family... games played, food eaten, some wine corks popped... when all 23 had arrived, we pushed ahead with our gift exchange, which I must say, really was a blast. Ducks, frogs, Lindors and Bailey's flew across the room from hand to hand to hand, and some good friendships were both made and lost as the presents traded hands. After all was said and done, we did indeed watch "It's a Wonderful Life," with my hero Jimmy Stewart, and herded all out the doors by 3:30am. Oh what a night!
Now as I said, I'm no Martha Stewart, but if I might express a guilty secret, come Christmas time I sometimes wish I was. I mean, there's only so much credit one can take for things bought in a parking lot or superstore, you know? ;)
My favourite part of the evening was, without a doubt, all of these friends in one room, some knowing eachother for several years, some meeting for the first time, but all having a blast. I love my friends!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Now I lay me down to sleep...

...I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.

This prayer that I sang every night before bed as a child recently popped up in my mind once again. It's a cute prayer, but what a strange one for a little child to sing right before bed! Nothing like reminding a child of her own mortality right before being left alone in a dark room for the whole night. My best friend and her dad always sang a similar prayer, though a little more 'comforting.' Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Shepherd guide me through the night and keep me safe till morning's light. I never really liked one prayer above the other, I was probably quite ambivalent and didn't actually realize that when I prayed every night, I was talking about death.
Now this isn't to say that I think it's a bad prayer. I'm just saying that it's strange to remind a child every night that she might die that night. But then I got to thinking: it's not such a bad thing to be reminded of your mortality every night. When did I stop praying that if I die, could I please be with God? (And I'm not even going to bother trying to defend the body/soul dichotemy that this prayer suggests) As soon as my prayers became more "adult," they were filled with requests of blessings for myself, my family, pleas for help on tests, for snow days... Gone was any thought of dying in the night or even day, for that matter. God will protect me and I'll live forever. That's the thought pattern that most of us live with now. Would it hurt to pray the simple prayer above more often as adults? Just because God loves us and is with us and protects us doesn't mean that ill will never befall us. I think that I need to remind myself a little more often that the fact that I'm not a little five year old girl anymore does not mean that in the grand scheme of things, I'm still as helpless and just as in need of holding God's hand as I was then.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Never ever have I ever...

...had such a strong desire to not write a paper. It's due tomorrow morning, 10:50. And it's for Hackney. I wrote my worst paper for him last year, and got an A. It really was a fantastically horrid paper, which is why I'm not very inspired to write this paper tonight. I've got three of the ten pages written, and I fear that it might (once again) be a long night of bs-ing. On the other hand, if you want to have a Jungian or Freudian analysis done on your childhood to examine how present the Oedipus complex was, give me a shout. However, if you actually did kill your father and marry your mother, I don't want to hear it.
Why am I taking a psych minor anyhow? Will someone be good enough to tell me that?

The only happy things right now are:
1. The chocolate that Dan just brought me
2. the Mulled Cranberry drink from Second Cup (found a package of it in my drawer...)
3. The prospect of being finished all of my papers by the time I go to sleep tonight/tomorrow morning
4. the soothing sounds of MWS's first Christmas album coming out of the speakers

A Scholarly Bunch

Last night I had the pleasure to accompany a fine group of folks to Roy Thompsen Hall for a fine taste of musical delicacies. BVO described it pretty well on his site, I'm not sure that I can do better.
We took our seats last night (on the balcony, of course) only to look down and gaze upon a bare stage, with the exception of five music stands set up in a small semi-circle and on in front for the director. The bell dinged, the lights went down, and eight Tallis Scholars clad in black took their places at their respective stands. They took up so little space on the stage, but even their first clear notes and perfect tones of O magnum mysterium swelled to easily fill the whole of the Hall. It was beauty manifest in sound. A particular highlight was when the sopranos and altos left the stage and the men sang a piece on their own. I'm not sure as the the title of their piece, but there is something about the harmonies of all male voices that can't be captured in anything that women will ever be able to sing.
As to the Scholars as a whole, there was not a singer who sang louder, had better pitch, or had cleaner tones than the others. The blended so well together that they might have just been one voice split into seven parts. A fantastic evening.
Incedentally, I skipped my last Missions class of the year, but I'd more than do that again in a heartbeat to have another evening such as this.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

And They Were Sore Afraid

I had the chance last semester to sing the Messiah in England with my host and the choir that she was a part of. They were short several altos, and she thought that because I could belt out various songs around her house that I could learn the Messiah in three weeks with only three performances, whilst writing five papers and taking side trips to London to see plays. Wisely enough (or unwisely, perhaps) I declined the offer. I had no idea what performing the Messiah would require, though I knew that I was slightly too busy to participate. Looking back, I have mixed feelings of my decision. Yes, I had a lot of work to do, but to sing the Messiah with Marion's (semi-professional) choir! And there is so much more involved in learning it than I ever thought possible, so to do it in only three weeks....but singing it with a British choir!
I suppose that, in my mind, I had already sung the Messiah so it wouldn't be too difficult to learn again. Mistake: I learned this semester that there is a *great* difference between singing the Messiah for young people and the actual real deal. For one, there's a lot more solos in the actual Messiah than the Jr. And for another: there's a little word called "melismas."
This semester has been a mix of emotions for me in terms of rehearsals and practicing. In September, I was so excited to be back in choir again after a year of absence. However, by October things were starting to drag. I was enjoying learning some of the choruses, I had developed the routine of hitting a practice room once a week to "nail" some of those melismas down, but the rehearsals themselves almost seemed tedious. It occurred to me that perhaps one of the reasons is that we didn't perform as a choir until November 11, Remembrance Day. Normally we sing at an Evensong or something else, but the only thing that we had done was Grandparents day, and even then it wasn't any of the first years. After Remembrance Day, things seemed to gain momentum, and I had a lot more energy to bear the rehearsals. In fact, the closer we got to December, the more productive rehearsals were, and the more fun I had.
This past week scared me, though, in terms of both the rehearsals and the performances. It wasn't so much the singing that I was scared of; it was the fact that half the songs I was singing, despite enormous amounts of time practicing on my own, I didn't know. My fears were embodied and brought to fulfillment in Friday night's performance. Due to my lack of knowing the pieces, I wasn't able to watch Dr T as well as I should have been, and I take a huge chunk of the responsibility of the Alto problems. I freely admit to messing up on my favourite pieces, "The Lord Gave the Word," and many other pieces. One thing that I will admit: the hallelujah chorus gave me chills. It was worth going through Friday night in order to sing that chorus the way that we did. The Amen, as most know, did not go so well. I don't know that there's much more to say besides the comment that was passed around at The Brassie on Friday night: "What a train wreck!"
All day on Saturday, the Amen was not far from my mind. While getting ready for the performance that night, I must have listened to the recording of it ten times, not singing along with but feeling it. It sounds like a cliche, I'm quite aware of that. However, the sound that I was left with after Friday was not encouraging, and I needed to replace what was there. From the very beginning of the Saturday performance, I was excited. I could hear every single part of the choir: I felt as if I was a part of the choir, singing the choruses together, as opposed to Friday night when it felt (to me) as if we were all singing (some) of the choruses on our own, en masse. I had fun, and I could feel the presence of God among our choir, in the choruses and in the solos. Elation is the only word that would be fit to describe what consumed me a quarter of the way into the Amen. Well, elation, thankfulness and praise would be more accurate. I wasn't crying by the end, but my entire body shook as we sang the final measures, our director doubled over in tears. I have never been more thankful for the opportunity to be in choir.
This year is the first year that the Christmas concert has actually been performed twice, and in my opinion (and knowedge) this is the first year that the second performance has been so needed. I realize that a majority of the audience on Friday night won't have realized that we absolutely butchered the Amen of the Messiah as few have done before. However, if that was the last note of choir for the semester, I shudder to think of how it would have affected our coming semester. As it stands now, there is not a choir member who did not put his heart and soul into what we did this weekend, and there is not a member who did not experience the gift that God gave us last night. That performance has already touched how the choir will come together to sing next semester, both on tour and in concert. Thanks be to God! Amen!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Deck the Halls (and the trees)

When I was still living at home (before I came to Redeemer), every weekend that was closest to Dec 5th my dad and I (and who ever else wanted to join) would go out find a Christmas tree for our living room. Granted, it wasn't the 'picturesque' traditional version of getting a tree. Instead of driving out into the country to a tree farm, we would visit various tree lots in the parkinglots of Food City, the Quinte Mall, Canadian Tire, and where ever else we had seen them set up in the week previous. After we found 'our' tree, rather than getting out the saw and making the kill, we'd point out the tree to the sales man and he'd grab the trunk with his thick leather glove, pound it down onto the ground a few times to rid it of the excess snow, and we'd put it in the car and bungee the trunk shut.
After the tree sat in our basement for a few hours, drying out and filling out its branches, a few hours of setting up the tree would ensue with mixed emotions and exclamations. Like clockwork, my mom would gripe and pronounce that this was the last year that we were getting a real tree! I knew that these afternoons were extremely stressful for her, but from my end of things, there was nothing in the world that I would rather be doing than getting pricked in the fingers by the needles as I helped to straighten the tree. Before any decorations were allowed to adorn the tree, one pivitol step remained: securing the tree to two walls with fishing line. We learned, after several years of waking up to our tree on the ground, to use this as a preventative measure rather than a cure after the mishap.
It was always a race to place the first ornament onto the tree. We all have ornaments that belong to us, so the idea was that we each wanted ours to be the first one on. My favourite first ornament was always a little red sleigh made out of painted popsicle sticks, a Christmas present from many many years ago. Lights, garlands, beads, ornaments and tinsel.
It never looked like a tree from a magazine. I wouldn't have wanted it to. They look so fake, so unloved. Each ornament on our tree has a different story behind it, and has a reason for being on our tree.
When I was still small enough, I would lie under the tree looking up into the needles and lights, smelling the fresh sap and pine. I imagined myself into so many different places when I was under that tree.
I don't think that I could count all of the times that I would wait for everyone to go to bed, or even just get up at five in the morning, go into the living room and plug in the tree. I have rarely known moments as peaceful as those were, as I sat hugging my knees to my chest, the curtains open, watching the dim walls reflect the constant light of some strands on the tree and the uneven pulsing of others. Sometimes it would be snowing and I would sit infront of the open window, inhaling the frost bitten air into the deepest part of my lungs. These were my moments, the moments that God made for Jenn.

I was disappointed when my mom finally followed through with her statement three years ago and we got a fake tree. Somehow, they're just not the same. They don't have the same feeling behind them, they don't give you the hassle of going to find a tree and fitting it into a trunk and screwing the stand into it and scratching and poking you like real trees do. That's exactly the point, a lot of people will probably respond, that's why a fake tree is better. But just because it's less hassle doesn't make it the better choice. Some things in this world are worth the effort, and to me, Christmas trees are some of them. Mind you, I don't refuse the fake tree. In the end, the same ornaments are placed on it with the same sentiments behind, and last year I still got up in the middle of the night and turned on the tree and hugged my knees and just watched. There isn't an object in my house throughout the rest of the year that embodies as much love and history as our Christmas Tree.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Green like Percy

I have been introduced to a whole new world of comparisons. At least with colours. For example, Christmas trees are green like Percy. My sweater is blue like Thomas. Laura's clock is red like James. If anyone (outside my family) actually knows right now what these references are to, I don't know whether to applaud you or block TVO and PBS from your chanel rotation.
I spent this past weekend with my whole family, which includes now the six of us (as it has for the past 21 years), two in-laws and a niece and a nephew. Reuben, my two year old nephew, has developed an obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine. Whereas most two year olds need a blankie and a teddy before going "night-night," my nephew needs his blankie and his two train engines, Thomas and Percy. He can even tell the difference between them in the dark because Thomas has three wheels on each side and Percy only has two. Smart boy.
We all learned quite a bit about Thomas and his friends this weekend, it's really amazing what a two year old can teach a room full of adults about trains! At one point, Reuben decided (while he was eating a cookie) that Percy had to sleep in Auntie Jenn's bed for a little bit. It was no surprise then (or at least, it shouldn't have been) that when Auntie Jenn went to bed, she found cookie crumbs on her bedspread, on her pillow, and under her pillow and under her sheets. Ah the joys.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A little disclaimer: I didn't mean for this poem to turn out sounding so depressive: I just wanted to play with words a little... Cook said that "and" didn't deserve to have a line of its own in a poem, so I gave "and" a poem of its own.

[the space between]

and


is nothing
is an empty word



empty:
clear
vacate
deplete

you [and] me

you
[deplete]
[vacate]
[clear]
me




you [empty] me

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Oh the weather outside is ...frightful...?

Cousin John had a calendar in First year that gave him advice every day. One day, the advice read, "Never fall in love with someone who doesn't get excited by the first snowfall." If people went by that rule, I don't think that there would be too many people falling in love.
It seems to me that I don't know many people who could qualify as "typical" Canadians. What's the greatest stereotype of Canadians? That we all live in Igloos and love winter and all things snowy. Funny. I have very few friends who love (or even remotely like) winter, and less who tolerate snow past the first snowfall. What is it about winter that people despise so much?
I will be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of summer, but I will concede that it has benefits. For example, going swimming and waterskiing, playing beach volleyball, rollerblading by the bay, having barbeques and bonfires, going camping, and the list could go on. I don't like the stifling 30degree heat with humidity rising at 98%, I feel as if I could suffocate in that kind of weather. However, I don't think that I would like to do away with the season all together. Why do so many want to do away with winter all together?
Granted, cold temperatures and snow are not the best for car owners. This time of year requires many to plug in their cars overnight and go out early in the morning to remove snow from the driveway and the surface of their cars. But does *no one* else enjoy shovelling snow?! I can't be all alone in this aspect.
Think about the simple pleasures of winter. It's a warm (-2degrees) January night and it's not dark out because there is so much snow floating down that a blue-ish orange-ish light is reflected everywhich way. The flakes are clumped together and as they float they grow in size, collecting other clumps of snow. As they land on the branches of trees, they make soft noises of settling down. If you take a step or two, you can hear the freash snow squeak and crunch under your boots. There are snow drifts just the right size to fall back into; it's a surprisingly soft and gentle landing. If you look up into the sky, you can get the feeling of being in a snow globe. The flakes create a mezmorising and random sight; it is so quiet that the only noise heard is the tinkling of the snow. It lands softly on your cheeks, nose and lips and melts within seconds. The only thought going through your mind seems to be: "what I wouldn't give to be on the beach right now, in 30 degree weather!"
Insanity. That's what I label it as. I'm sorry, I've tried to understand the position of those who dislike winter, but I've not yet been sucessful. How can you not be excited about the first snow fall? Or the second or the third? How can you write off winter without even attempting to acknowledge the magnificent creation of snow and the way that it changes the world?
And please: if you don't like snow, don't be too quick to rain on the snowmen of those of us who like it: while we don't live in igloos, we do live in a country that is prone to recieving large amounts of snow in the winter. I'd rather be living in a state of excitement about snow and winter than live in a state of depression due to the dreary cold weather for four months. If it's too cold for you, go put on an extra sweater.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Countries of Existence

Six months and fifteen days ago, I was in Oxford, Endland, preparing to come back to Canada. I was horribly home sick. Right now, I would love to go back to England. I'm horribly home sick. I was going through someone's England blogs this afternoon, and I found this post:

What I will miss about England: crooked middle lines in the road, scaring sheep, british comedy at my fingertips, quaint cosy villages miles from anywhere, the impossibility of feeling dutch saturation, no one here hates me and I don't hate anyone here, the trees possess more personality than some people I know, so do the clouds, french tourist girls asking the way to Christ Church College, oxford swag, temperate weather, cheap wine, cheap cider, cheap beer, traffic circles, centuries-old wood panelling, plethora of Travis music videos, Blackadder, Bertie and Jeeves, the love of books, castles, lush green grass everywhere, Evensong.

What I won't miss: diesel engines, cellphones twittering every 3.7 seconds from any and all directions, suicidal currency exchange, 2 reoccuring weather patterns: a hanging 4 o'clock sun or overcast, every meat is mystery meat, prawn flavored chips, single-pane windows, train delays, the smell of wet dog in the kitchen, Jenn flicking me in the back of the head everytime she walks past, mud, BBC2.


With the exception of the french tourist girls, the Travis music videos and the suicidal currency exchange, I actually miss everything on both of those lists. Oh, and I guess the whole "Jenn flicking me in the back of the head everytime she walks past," as I can't say that I've ever actually done that to myself in the first place.

Someday I'll go back.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Can you hear it? The crooning voice from the eighties accompanied by drums, a guitar, a synthesizer and back up singers. His voice is powerful and a little rough, yet touching. The girls fall left and right for him and his sensitive lyrics.
Admittedly, Bryan Adams can sing well, and he deserves the attention that his voice gets. But I was talking about Michael W Smith. I'm not sure how easy it is to confuse the two, but a friend of mine disagreed the other day. He said something to the effect of, "I think I could easily confuse Michael dub-ya with Bryan Adams. Actually, I think I have confused them before." Interesting.
Listening to the old-school Michael really brings me back to nights of doing dishes back home in Belleville, having towel whipping fights and massacring such hits as "Rocketown" and "Cross of Gold," back in my glory days of 5th grade. Sigh. Those were the days.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

It only takes a spark...

Have you ever noticed how much heat candles can produce? In the centre of our floor right now are nine canldes of various shapes and sizes. The aesthetic affect is actually quite beautiful, it looks rather artistic. However, with the house that we live in, the artistic look is the last reason that we're lighting these candles. Picture a Redeemer Dorm, one of the townhouses. Sitting at your desk, feeling a draft come through the wall... A furnace that is turned on, but not really emitting anything other than slightly-warmer-than-outside-but-still-colder-than-the-house air. Now, to the credit of our house, it has beautiful hardwood flooring. However when your house is in the condition that I have just described, the flooring really does only make it feel colder, if not actually make it colder in here. Not really wanting to fork out the cash for extrememly high gas bills, Kenny and I discovered the warmth of candles. Mind you, we do seem to be going through them quite quickly. (Donations are being accepted)
So here I sit, with the glow of the computer screen and nine candles lighting the room. As Kenny said, it's a good thing we know Jesus; otherwise we might be taken for being in a cult or having a seance.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Oh the inexplicable excitement of connecting two disciplines in a paper! We have entered the stage of Christian Philosophy that deals with the Postmodern and the like. Strangely enough, I am almost finding myself at home with the readings that we are required to do. I say almost because, as I have stated before, I will never be "at home" with the terms used in academic articles, and I will never pull a very complete understanding and meaning from the articles. However. I realized last week (though in actuality, I should have realized this last year first semester) that English and Philosophy currently overlap to a large extent.
I know the terms that we are discussing, and what is more, I can apply them to what I have read and studied. For instance, in Philosophy this past week we read about Derrida's deconstructionalism, the moving from metanarratives to mistrust of all narratives, the death of the author, and much more. These are all ideas and theories that I've already studied! I've read Fish, Hutcheon, Derrida, Foucault and more. The concepts of time and narrative can be exemplified in novels that I studied with Dr Bowen. I'm not in any literary criticism course, nor have I taken one, but Dr Bowen is fond of presenting these ideas and theories to her students in upper level courses, and I'm extremely fond of her for doing so! I'm no longer drowning, and it feels great to have a life preserve.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Oy Vay

It's that time of year again. The leaves have almost all fallen (except for the stubborn leaves on our Oak tree, they've been dead now for two weeks and refuse to let go), the temperature is dropping , slippers are becoming a necessity, and lo and behold, it's Paper Season. Every semester at this time, I create a list of all of the papers that I have to write, what class they're for, when they're due and when I aim to have them finished. And every semester at this time, I tend to ignore the little schedual that I have made for myself.
The more papers I have to write, the more intimidated I am to write them, and the more I procrastinate. However, the more I procrastinate, the less time I have to write more papers. The less time I have to write the papers, the more I become stressed out and intimidated, and the less I write the papers. It really is a vicious circle.
To top it off, since first year I have become progressively inspired to to the best that I can do on each assignment, which always leaves me in a bit of a bind because when it comes down to it, I can't do the best that I can do when I write the paper the night before it is due. What a quandry.
I rush around, I stress out, I complain about how much I have to do, and yet--when I have a free day, I can't even write a quarter of a paper. I've been writing a ten page paper now for the past six days, and I've got three or four pages completed. This presents quite a problem when I have so much else to do but don't do it because I feel as if I should finish one thing before moving on to the next. Sometimes I feel as if (to quote a wise Brit by the name of Allistar Dutton), I'm wallowing in the quagmire of stupidity.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A year ago this past weekend, I was passed out on the couch in Dorm 26, high on drugs and oblivious to the four bleeding crevises in my mouth. Some might have said that I resembled a chipmunk, others might have said that they had never seen me give such dirty looks when they tried to tickle or tease me: "you're *not allowed* to do that to me when I'm sick!!" Thankfully, all four of my wisdom teeth are out, so it's a procedure that I will not have to go through again. It's crazy, looking back at last year, how many things are so different now than they were then.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

On travelling...

I was so preoccupied this afternoon making a mental list of things that I couldn't forget to bring with me back to Hamilton that I forgot about 5 things that I thought were too obvious to forget. Never underestimate the memory of Jennifer Van Breda. Or should I maybe say, never overestimate. As the cliche goes, I'd forget my head half the time if it wasn't screwed on so tightly....

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

From the producers of "Reality TV: A contradiction in terms?"....

...comes A Degree of Degradation. This hot new reality TV show made it's debut last night at 8pm, to critical acclaim and much applause from viewers.
A Degree of Degradation was filmed on the campus of Redeemer University College throughout this past week. The aim of this programme is to point out the uniformity of Reality Shows, ranging from the casting bias to editing-room bias to, of course, the bias of entertainment.
Co-director and producer Rebecca Barnhoorn commented, "Blood, sweat and tears went into this production: I pricked myself while we were casting and I started bleeding, both Jenn and I were sweating buckets when we presented it, and Jenn was (more or less) crying when it seemed as if the final product had been deleted."
There has been reports of national syndication for A Degree of Degradation, but they have yet to be confirmed. For scheduled viewing times, please call The Shack or leave a comment on this site.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

My Inadvertant Career as a Model

While touring Britain for three weeks this past April, one of my dear companions took photo after photo of Sam, me, and the English/Welsh/Scottish countryside and cityscape. If he had his camera in his hand, chances are that he was taking pictures- even if the camera was behind his back. In May, he sent an email informing us that he was going to be putting on an art show in the Gallery at Redeemer, and would we give him permission to use pictures with us in them?
There's one of Jenn in the cloisters at Durham or Salisbury, I think, with the face being pretty much the focus of the picture. Oh, and one on the castle mound with Jenn way off to the left side and too tiny to really recognize.
I'm not quite so sure what I think of this yet, but of course I gave permission, I think he's a great photographer. However. The picture of me in the cloisters...sketchy. I don't think that I've ever seen myself look more confused in any other picture, and he's making it the focus of the picture? huh. Goes to show I'm not an artist.
Anyhow, the point of all of this is: The opening for Joel's show, British Isles Through The Digital Eye, is on Oct 22, this Friday evening at 7:30. I can't go, because I'll be enroute to Toronto to hear the Ely Cathedral Choir sing, but I encourage people to go and check it out- I've seen what he can do with his camera, and there's some beautiful shots!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Like, totally!

Last Christmas as I was getting a ride back to Belleville with a friend of mine, I heard something that struck me as odd. We were conversing about marks or something that's not significant at the time, and my friend said, "I definitely almost failed that exam." It was strange, I had never heard the word definitely used in a context such as that. In high school I was constandly hearing phrases such as "that was some definite spillage," but this was new. I thought nothing else of it until I returned to Redeemer in January, and Rach said "I definitely got that movie for Christmas two years ago!" You either get something for Christmas or you don't, how can you definitely get something for Christmas?
I heard the word used several more times before I went to England, and upon my return, it seemed as if everyone had jumped on the definitely bandwagon.

"We definitely have to go to the drive in this summer!"
"He definitely just ingored me!"
"I definitely had strawberries in my lunch."

When I was just starting to tire of the over-usage of it, I definitely started to use it myself. The more I heard it, the more I said it: it's a viscious cycle.
"Definitely" can be defined as without question and beyond doubt. Using that definition, the sentances above still make sense, but it seems like an unnecessary qualifier: "I without question and beyond all doubt had strawberries in my lunch." Really. I'm happy for you. I wasn't really questionning or doubting that you did.
Do you remember the days of "seriously" and "totally," and even "like"? Definitely perhaps sounds a bit more "refined" than seriously and totally, but it is employed exaclty the same way. "We seriously have to go to the drive-in this summer!" "He totally just ignored me!" We use these three words exactly the same way, even though they have quite different definitions: Really intending what is said; being in earnest, not jesting or deceiving; In a total manner; wholly; entirely.
Even the placement of the word as moved with the new usage of it: "we should definitley keep that recipe" to "we definitely should keep that recipe." Why the change?
Why do we feel so much that we have to qualify everything that we say? Can I not be trusted that when I say "I had strawberries in my lunch," I actually had strawberries in my lunch? Is it actually possible for our conversational language to exist without words such as that popping up all the time?
I definitely hope so, I'm seriously getting tired of saying and hearing these words, and I totally think that we need to think about the words that we use and the significance of each word to what we're saying.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

October

Silent night, holy night
and I open my thin curtains and expect
to see snow; white and piled high on grey tree branches
and so detailed that if I reach out to catch a frozen
white crystal on my warm fleshy
finger I couldn't begin to draw the sharp
complex edges before it melts into a little puddle
on my finger.

Do you hear what I hear
and I want to open my window
and rest my elbows on the cracked vinyl
sticking my head out the window so I can see the frozen breath
pour out of my mouth and red nose and taste
the woodstove smoke in the air. The quiet tinkling
of the snow landing, like soft raindrops on crystal
will form a melody with the icy wind
that sneaks around the corners.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
and I see the rain snaking
down the window, dis-
torting my view of muddy
grass and the weatherman
says a balmy
sixteen degress
tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Messiah

December 3 (at Redeemer University College) and 4 (Downtown Hamilton), Redeemer Concert Choir will be performing the complete Handel's Messiah. This is the first time that the choir has been able to sing a programme twice at Christmas, and it's very exciting to look forward to! Although there are twice as many tickets (becasue of the extra performance), they are selling quite quickly. There are still some tickets for students available for $7, but once they are gone the price for students will be $14. Just a reminder: if you want to come hear the choir sing (which you all should), get your tickets pronto or you'll be sitting under the balcony, which are honestly the worst possible seats in the house. Call the Redeemer box office or stop by the office!

So how do you *know*?

I think that most people who know me can attest to the fact that I like to have quite a say in what happens in my life. Granted, I don't always shine when making decisions, however if you want to see me pissed off, don't let me give any input.
Whether it is in friendships, relationships, classes, trip planning, or even making dinner, I like to feel some measure of control of what happens: I like an ordered world. (you wouldn't be able to guess that by looking at my room, though.) Things have to make sense to me, and if they don't, I think about them until they do. Some might call this obsession, I prefer to label it as "Over analyzation."
Over the past year, Kenny and I have made the decision to go to Japan, or some other Asian country for a year following graduation. When asked what we're doing after grad, the usual reply is "Well, we're going to go to Japan for a year to teach English as a second language so that we can have a new experience and make lots of money to pay off our OSAP." Sounds logical to me.
However. More than once in the past three months, I've opened my Bible to the book of James and a little passage catches my eye every time:

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't to it, sins. 4:13-17

Let me tell you, that is a very intimidating section to read when it mirrors exactly what you have just been telling everyone. So let me amend that: If it is the Lord's will, Laura and I will go to Japan. But how do we know that it's the Lord's will, one way or another? I struggle very hard with the issue of hearing God. I very much have come to believe that God has given us common sense, a more "general" revelation of himself, if you will. If I waited to do something until I knew that God was telling me "It's ok," I have a feeling that I would never do anything! Is that just a lack of faith on my part, though? Or is there truly something that I'm just not getting when praying?

You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not recieve, because you ask with wrong motives... 4:2-3

Does that mean that when I ask about Japan and don't get any response, that that is a response in itself, because my motive for going to Japan is to pay off my debt? Or am I asking completely the wrong questions?
There are so many things in this life that I don't understand. I don't understand why I, at 21, have to go home for Thanksgiving and see my father suffer as much as he does, to the point of having to move into a nursing home shortly. I don't understand why some people have trouble keeping job offers from cluttering their desk and why my brother, who has a family to support, isn't offered one job. So basically, I don't understand a plethora of issues, and this one just seems to be cropping up right now: can we know God's will when he doesn't tell us?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

What's in a name?

At long last, we the girls of 1043 Upper Wellington have named our house. I'm sorry to say, Andy, that the chosen name is not "Smellington Wellington," I hope you can get over that. Anyhow. My dear housemate and the future Mrs Snoek thought long and hard, and fittingly came to the conclusion of The Sugar Shack. Good times will be had at the Shack, this I promise.

Sugar, Oh honey honey:
You are my candy girl,
and you've got me wantin you!


Cheers!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

To be completely honest,

I love talking to people, but I really don't enjoy spending large portions of time in academic debates or discussions. Many a time and oft have I argued with RobJ about the differences between him and me academically, but it has only been within the past few weeks that I have been able to put my finger on why the differences exist. Rob is (along with a host of my other friends), in my opinion, an intellectual. Why do I consider him an intellectual?

Well, let me describe what I consider the intellectual students. They can frequently be heard in the hallway, classroom, livingroom or cafeteria pondering the accuracy and role of history, debating the validity of philosophies, and arguing the docterines of theology. They make a hobby out of their courses: they read books of philosophy and history during the summer for fun and never seem to tire of it in the least. They can pull something completely arbitrary out of a reading and make it the thesis of the article. They are the students that walk into class and ask important questions and make references to two different philosophers and a historian when answering a question in an English class. I'm not in any way trying to criticise them: I'm just proposing my view of the "intellectuals."

Suffice it to say, then, that I'm not an intellectual on any level. Yes, I like learning- that's why I'm at Redeemer. However much I'm intimidated by my courses, I enjoy them and I love my profs. But. (there's always a "but.") When I step out of my classes, sometimes I'll chat with my friends about my courses, the implications of what we just learned, and sometimes I'll just catch up with them and what's been going on in their lives. I dn't have a burning desire to spend an hour arguing about liturgical worship. When I read an article, I'm afraid to say that, despite being an English major, I basically just read the article and can't seem to find the gift of "reading between the lines." I love reading my novels, and could probably spend weeks on end reading Atwood, Munroe and Wodehouse, but I really hate disecting books. I always have.

This is not to say that I don't have any academic ambition: I promise you, I'm not simply a lazy student. I'm just not an intellectual. I love words, and I love talking about words. I have been lamenting for the past two years that Redeemer has managed not to have a Latin programme. I would love to sit down with Dr Loney for as long as it takes and learn everything he knows about etimology. This fascinates me, and granted, this is the one area of academia that I could chat about for hours outside of class. Except that I don't have the knowledge base required to do that. Anyhow.

I don't want to disappoint anyone with the information that I'm sharing here, I just want to make it clear that although a huge amount of my friends are intellectuals and I love them for it, I'm not one. If you've put me in that box, I'm sorry to do this once more, but please take me out of there. (I hope that's not another one of your first impressions gone out the window....)
The trees in Hamilton are rapidly exchanging their various greens for the bright hues of yellow, red and orange. There is one yellow branch in the middle of the oak tree in our front yard that glows through the rest, as if it's on fire. A burning bush.
The drive along the 403 was magnificent at 9am this morning, the foliage along the road showing off brilliant colours while RobJ blasted his favourite Gloria.
East of Toronto, however, there is only a brownish-yellow and a green. I was rather looking forward to coming home and visiting the Frink Centre or the Presque'ille boarwalk with my family, trudging through the fallen leaves and admiring the leaves still clinging to the branches. It gives me hope, however, that come reading break, the leaves will most deifinitely be cashing in their chips in Gilmour. (I think that the perfect opportunity for Martin-crashing would be about that time.) Imagine, the whole of Gunter Lake reflecting those colours. Gliding a canoe across the still surface in the early morning, the fog lifting to reveal entire forests on fire with change. Forget Reading break, I want to go now!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Love's Labours Found

A friend of mine from Atlantic Baptist University has just informed me that the ABU Administrator of the Oxford Programme will be at Redeemer on Friday, and that he will be bringing along recordings of our award-winning production of "Love's Labours Lost." It should be interesting, considering the fact that I believe that it's a copy of our dress rehersal, not the actual performance. But I could be wrong. In addition, it also apparently contains a recording of our Valentine's day variety show. I think I'll have to watch this tape before I show anyone else....

I just recently received an email from Rich's aunt Susan, with whom Sam and Joel and I stayed for a few nights in Ely, just outside of Cambridge, England. Her husband Ron is in the Cathedral Choir in Ely, and that choir will be coming to Canada for a tour this month. They'll be singing in Toronto on Oct 22, mark your calendars! I'm not sure of the cost, but I know that it will be worth it. I went to a large number of Evensongs throughout England and Scotland, and this choir was one of the better ones, as far as I'm concerned. It could be that I was biased, actually *knowing* someone in the choir, but still, I thought they were fantastic. Definitely not the sort of choral music that you'll have regular access to here in Canada. Let me know if you want more information, I'll see what I can find and pass it on from there.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Here and there

"I hate going to readings. I try to avoid them if I can help it: I think it's so boring, listening to someone else read!"

Interestingly enough, the above quotation came from Joy Kogawa last night at a reading of hers that I attended. I wasn't sure if she was trying to tell us that we were boring people for coming to listen to her, or if she really didn't want to read to us, but whatever the case, it was an enjoyable reading. Obasan, her most recognised book, was on my reading list for Canadian Literature in my second year. To be quite honest, I don't quite remember the book very well, as I dedicated most of my attention that semester to The Handmaid's Tale. However, I went with Diana, and enjoyed myself. Joy is a very petit little lady, with a great talent and a resolute mind. She began her reading by giving a little spiel about her opinion of war: in essence, there is no such thing as a Just War, nor will there ever be. Following, she read quite a striking few chapters from the end of Obasan, detailing the immediate effects of the bomb dropping on Japan, imagery that I think will be forever ingrained into my mind. It's at readings like this that I wisht that I had a small audio recorder: my mind needs things written down immediately so as to not forget everything entirely.

This evening, I attended Craig Bartholomew's Inauguration Ceremony. The choir was, at one point, supposed to sing Beati for this, but we were squeezed out of programming. Shame. Seeing some people on stage made me remember something that my mom told me: when she took her philosophy course at Trinity Christian College, Justin Cooper and Jacob Ellens were both in her class, and her professor was Calvin Seerveld. Now that's a fun class, eh? Apparently the former two were the eager participants in the class....
Anyhow, I learned a new word tonight: Putative. I'm not sure if I know exaclty what it means, yet, as I have no dictionary. I'll check it out tomorrow. Fascinating speech by Craig, though I'm afraid a large portion of it went quite over my head (surprise). I was quite impressed that I could recognise several names that he threw out, and even that I could have a bit of back ground info on them. I'm not a complete lost cause, I think. Once again, I could've used an audio recorder. Anywho. I've exhausted my brain for the day.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Garrison Keillor, in his collection of short stories entitled Leaving Home, wrote several times in several different wordings, "Thank you God, for this good life and forgive us if we don't love it enough."

After events this week, that quotation has been running around my head, but perhaps a little modified:

Thank you God, for these good friends and forgive us if we don't love them enough.

Daryl, it's so awesome that you're alright--your frienship has been such a blessing to me over the past three years! I am so thankful for each and every one of you, my friends, forgive me if I don't show it as much as I should!

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Price of Culture

Wouldn't it be nice if culture was affordable? In the space of this semester, I have the opportunity to participate in several cultural events, but I must decide what, if any at all, I will put money towards.
This weekend in Toronto, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Opera is playing, and for a mere $29, those between the ages of 18 and 29 can purchase excellent seats. Much to the dismay of most of the others in my class, The Handmaid's Tale was my favourite book in Canadian Lit 222. Needless to say, I would love to be there this weekend.
This coming Wednesday, the Shakespeare class is going to Stratford to see A Midsummer Night's Dream (I believe that's the play they're seeing) and there are extra tickets available. I don't get the chance to go to a Stratford play nearly enough, so it goes without saying that I'd very much like to be on that bus on Wednesday afternoon. (And it would also be fun to see my brother and his family for a bit before the play!)
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is something that I have wanted to attend for quite some time, and James told me sometime this summer about special deals for students. I've been looking at the scheduled concert listings for the year, and there is more than one that I wouldn't mind attending before the end of December.
Great Big Sea is making it's way to Hamilton for an October 21st concert. I'm finding this one quite hard to resist, because I saw them in London two years ago, with my sister and best friend, and we all had a blast. They put on a good show.
Redeemer Concert Choir is performing Handel's Messiah in December, however, I have no choice about this event, I will be participating in it. We have the opportunity this year to perform it twice, which is very exciting because normally, despite all of the work and effort put into our concerts, we only get one night to perform. One concert will be on Dec 3 in the Redeemer Aud, and the other will be downtown at a location that I am currently forgetting. I do hope that everyone's planning on attending at least one of the concerts (or I'll personally hunt you down and ....I don't know what). So, my dilemma for this issue is one of purchasing the CD for the Messiah: it will be an amazingly good purchase and will definitely aid in helping learn the music, but again, it's still $$.
Anyhow, I obviously can't participate in all of these events, much as I would love to. I keep thinking that I can justify all of them, saying, well, I don't have money right now, but next year I'm spending a whole year in Japan (or where ever) to make money, so shouldn't I be able to splurge now? Sigh. I know that's not the way it should go though. Why does it have to cost so much to be cultured?!?!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Confessions of a Fourth Year English Major

Let me be the first one to express my absolute horror and disbelief at the fact that there can exist a fourth year English Honours student who owns neither a dictionary or a thesaurus. And let me also be the first to admit that that student is Yours Truly. It's true, I'm guilty. Amongst all of the Anthologies of Literature on my new bookshelves, you will not find one single dictionary. Though, in all fairness, I don't believe that I have ever claimed to be the "model English student." This fact is already quite evident to those of you who have noticed spelling errors or grotesque gramatical mistakes. (I have an intense dislike for proof-reading)
However. Now that we have dealt with the shock of the above statement, I will proceed to explain why this issue matters at this particular point in time. I'm learning a new language this year. However, it is not French or Latin or Spanish, or even Dutch: it is a language infinitely more difficult for me to grasp, and I have usually never been one for difficulties with languages. This language of which I speak is the language of Philosophy.
Normally when taking a course in a foreign language, I don't feel overwhelmed by any great degree, because chances are, there are no students in the class who can actually understand what the professor is saying. Everyweek, we study a new list of vocabulary words and are quized on the previous week. We learn how to tell time, how to order food, and how to speak to someone else in this new language. It would be somewhat ridiculous for Roberto DiFranchesco (the Spanish Prof) to assign a fifteen page paper in SPA102, because he knows that although the students have already taken one semester of Spanish, there is not nearly enough of a base to create a paper of that length- the structures of the sentantces, the terms, and the vocabulary is simply not advanced enough to handle that task, even if it were merely discussing the antics of Raquel Rodriguez in Destinos.
In my Christian Philosophy class, however, I was overwhelmed the moment I entered the classroom two and a half weeks ago. One of my friends aided in this feeling by commenting to another friend, "Well. This doesn't look like a very promising crowd now, does it?" Hmm. I was probably the least promising of them all. I am a child of books and novels: I love to read, but I don't "do" philosophy. My intro to Phil course was in the second semester of my first year, and I took it with Gideon Strauss. We watched some excellent movies, memorized the Tin Can Theory, and I did a project on Plato's two-realm theory. I did not learn the language, or even the introduction to the language of Philosophy. To be fair, he set a disclaimer at the beginning of the course: If you're not serious about learning this information, don't come to class. He told us that it was possible to get an A merely by completing the assignments that were given, and he was true to his word. His concern (from my point of view) was not to teach students philosophy, but to teach students how to love philosophy. Plainly and simply, I was not interested in loving philosophy, so I did the work, completed the course and passed with an A. And I can't tell you anything about any philosopher except for Plato. (and even that's sketchy)
So here I am, enrolled in PHL 261 with Craig Bartholomew, feeling somewhat as if I'm treading water in the middle of the ocean, without the aid of any floatation device. I have no vocabulary in Philosophy. I don't know one major philosopher from the next. I found myself borrowing my housemate's dictionary last week to read Plantinga's Inagural Address-- I had to look up at least three words in almost every paragraph. I don't have an encyclopedia of philosophical terms in my head that I can reach into at will; I don't know any of the isms that are scattered randomly through discussion in class. Kierkegaard, Tertullian, Kant, and Dooyeweerd do not signify anything in my vocabulary, which represents a significant problem, considering that the major paper for this course is 15-20pp on Dooyeweerd.
RobJ just wrote a blog encouraging non-philosphers to get courage and speak up and participate; the language that I have have been learning for the past three years is English Literature. It is as if I have been taking French for the past four years and step into a 300-level Spanish course: both languages are based on the same principles and therefore have similar root words, but if I open my mouth and start speaking french instead of Spanish, I'll look (and sound) like a right nit-wit.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A lazy afternoon of literature

The absolute highlight of my weekend arrived on Sunday, with the annual Eden Mills Writers Festival. For those of you who have never heard of this delightful event, I shall set the scene. Eden Mills, located just north of Guelph, is a quaint little hamlet that boasts of one main street, a small hotel that resembles a cottage, and an old mill located on the small river that runs through the town. In my opinion, this town could very easily be likened to a small British town. In 1989, Canadian Author Leon Rooke launched his book in a public reading outside the General Store, and invited others, such as Michael Ondaatje, to share in the event. Thus was the festival born. Every year, it is held on the first Sunday after Labour Day, and has been, for the past four years, an exclusively out door event. Over a thousand visitors crowd the streets of Eden Mills on the festival day every year, to hear readings by prominent children's authors, adult authors, aboriginal authors and fresh talent. These readings take place in venues ranging from meadows to back yards to riverside property, and the environment is genuinely relaxed and informal, as the reader has little more than a small podium and microphone, and the audience has nothing but a square of grass on which to get comfortable. Between reading segments, visitors are encouraged to walk the few streets in town and browse through the tables set up by individual authors, publishing companies, and fundraisers selling newly published books, older books, and books to be signed by the authors.
On my first Eden Mills experience last September, I had the pleasure of hearing George Elliot Clark, Robert Munsch, and Alister McLeod, among others, read some of their new and older works.
This year, I arrived twenty minutes too late to hear my favourite childhood author, Jean Little, read, but I decided to visit "The Fringe," a site where new prospective authors were receiving their first chance to read their material for a larger audience. Much of what they read seemed to be dedicated to the events of 9/11, which was appropriate, being the day after the third anniversary of "the Fall Events."
Leon Rooke read a narrative poem/short story of his in the most interesting manner: to me, it almost seemed as if he was singing it in a way that Anglican Priests sing their liturgy. Was he meaning to make that connotation? I'm not sure, and it would help quite a bit if I could remember the title of his poem in order to read it myself.
Stephen Heighton, a poet who visited Redeemer this past year for a poetry reading, read eight selections out of his new publication "Address Book," all based around people that he came across while transferring contacts from an old phone book to a new one, and reflecting on those that had drifted away, died, or vanished from his world altogether. (Just as a side note, when he was reading his voice sounded so similar to Keanu Reeves that it almost coloured my view of him, but he sounded intelligent enough to redeem himself.)
Finally, one of the highlight authors to appear was Anne-Marie MacDonald. Not only has she written two full length novels that have been nominated for and won awards, but she has the title playwrite [Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning Juliet)] and actress [Where the Spirit Lives] on her resume. She read--or almost acted--several selections of "Where the Crow Flies," to the delight of the entire audience. I think that shall be the next book on my "to read" list.
It is such an excellent way to spend an afternoon, and for those of you in the Hamilton area next fall, I highly encourage attending this experience. It might seem as if this event will only be enjoyed by "the literary type," but if you enjoy listening to people tell stories, check it out. I promise that you won't be disappointed.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Weekend fun

Despite the fact that I failed to do any readings for class, I think that I had a very balanced weekend. Friday evening was spent in the company of my fellow Oxford Alumni at the Coach, which was rather relaxing and the environment was slightly reminiscent of English cottages and pubs. I'm quite sorry to announce that, although the Coach does carry Strongbow, a British Cider and my drink of choice whilst in England, they manufacture it differently for international pubs than for their own local brew. It's still better than beer, though.
On Saturday, a collection of us Sunday afternoon volleyball folks got together to play in a tournament for Andy's friend's Stag and Doe. We played a total of eight games throughout the day, and I'm sorry to announce that we lost every last game. (James, Ben, RobJ, Dan, where were you when we needed you?!?) Besides the horrible loss of 25-6, we managed to keep our heads above water with respectable scores hovering around 25-21, 25-23, etc.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

And the peasants rejoiced

LATE BREAKING NEWS------ The Misses Diana and Crystal Fraser have returned safely and soundly to the humble abode on Upper Wellington!! They appear to be in tact, all in one piece, and fairly sane. Well, as sane as they were before they left the country, to be sure. :) Thanks be to God for preserving their family throughout the whole ordeal-- and from the bits of stories we got from them tonight, it was indeed a huge ordeal! Crystal has already left us to be with her girls on campus (*sigh*), but it absolutely made my week to see her, if only for half an hour!
They were in the part of the Bahamas that was apparently hit the hardest by Hurricane Frances-- when the storm started through the bahamas, it was travelling at 15 mph, but by the time it reached them, it was at 4mph and then it stoped right over them, so they were in the eye of the storm for a full 24 hours -- total devistation around the whole island. Anyhow, our girlies are back home, and our house is now complete: Kenny, Me, Barnho, Diana, and Osanna. Here's to the coming year at our house!! (We have yet to name the house, and we're currently welcoming suggestions....)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Looking back on my first three years at RUC...

If there is one thing that scares me about this school year, it is that this year marks my final year at Redeemer University College. I'm a fourth year! Who would have thought? If I may, a few reflections on the past three years....

I decided in grade six that I was going to go to Redeemer after High School. Why? I'm not sure what my reasoning was, I had never even been to the school, but Redeemer was definitely the school for me. I therefore procedeed to tell both my brother and sister, when they enrolled at RC two years later, that they were following me to school. When it was finally my turn to hand in the applications for University, I didn't even bother to look at any other schools. I got up early on Labour day, bid a quick and teary farewell to my bestest bud (who got up at 5am to see me off!) and headed off with my mother and my worldly belongings to the scary world of college. Registration was nerve-wracking, but my dorm seemed to be a hit- my RA was sweet, and some girl named Becky had a really nice mom...
I went through what I consider to be a fairly typical first year. Our dorm baked a cake or cookies every day for the first two months, I ate cereal for breakfast, lunch, supper and midnight snack, and I gained 20lbs. The core courses didn't excite me very much, and within a month, I ruled out a major in both Social Work and Sociology. A good friend told me, "Jenn, in twenty years when you look back on your time in college, the things you'll remember are the memories with friends, not the test that you only got a C on." This piece of advice was sufficient enough to encourage nights of 4am fun and very little studying for tests. My roommate ended up hating me, but that was ok, because I was convinced that I had met "the One" for me-- and after spending three months with this third year student, over 40 hours a week (that's a full time job!), my heart was kinda trampled on a bit and my dormmates and some wonderful new friends were left to pick up the pieces of me and bandage everything back together. These new friends of mine turned out to take a keen interest in me, and invited me to join in their dorm for the following year, and I accepted with great inthusiasm. First year came to a close with a very low GPA and the summer was spent answering phones and returning and exchanging printers and binders: "Thank you for calling Staples Business Depot, how may I direct your call?"

My second year opened on somewhat of a sad note: my 93 year old grandmother--my only remaining grandparent-- passed away, and while everyone else was moving in on Labour day, I was in Chatham with my family for the funeral. Once moved in, however, the year got off to a great start, and I completed all of my readings for the first two weeks of school. I got along great with my dormmates, and got to meet (and peek into the lives of) some amazing boys living next door. I soon found myself enmeshed in this group of people, my initiation into it perhaps being completed when, one night, I recieved a welt the size of a tennis ball on my butt from a too-successful towel-whipping from one of the boys. (This, I might add, was completely unprovoked and is still in the process of being avenged.) Our dorm was not clean, and was perhaps one of the more problematic dorms on campus, but God's presence was very clear in almost every situation. I chose an English major, and almost on a dare, made it an honours-- I had to prove to myself that I could do it. I tried to be dilligent with my studies and papers, and managed to succeed in raising marks, but as any student will tell you, a first year GPA is a hard thing to raise. I swore off the male gender for the year, but ended up dating someone in Grand Rapids, which meant hours upon hours of sitting in a car on the weekends to visit. Second year also marked my entry into choir, which was one of the most amazing things to date that I have done at Redeemer. I remember sitting in practice on the first day, and instead of warming up with the rest of the choir, I sat there listening, thinking that if a group of people singing a scale or tongue-twisters or the like could sound so beautiful, what an experience it will be to sing with these folks in a concert! I almost left Redeemer after second year to persue a writing major at Calvin, where the programme is a little more advanced than at Redeemer, but after meeting with the faculty there and going on choir tour with Redeemer, I was convinced to stay for the remainder of my University career. The Michigander and I broke up shortly after that decision, and I had so much more time on my hands after spending all of my weekends in a car! I learned how to two-step, made my first visit to Hess Village, and decided to go to BC for the summer with Laura Kenny. Oh, and Sam convinced me to apply for the Oxford programme.

After an amazing summer in the mountains, I returned to room with one of my first year dormmates who had decided to RA. I fully intended on concentrating on my already-present friendships and only sort of getting to know the girls that I was living with as I was going to be leaving for England in January (I know, I'm such a snob!), but God blessed us with such an amazing group of girls that I couldn't help but desire a real and deep friendship with each girl. I had no intention of getting involved in any relationship, seeing as how I was leaving the country in a few short months, but regardless, an interest arose and between that, my girls, my friends, and my first senior level English classes, I was a very busy girl. It broke my heart to walk by the choir room and hear them practising without me, but I wasn't able to be a part of it due to my one-semester attendance for the year. I left Redeemer very reluctantly in January, and it wasn't until I was actually settled into my room in England that I actually became excited about the semester. Stratford, London, Oxford, Charlbury.... the programme was absolutely nothing like with thought it would be, but the semester was an unforgettable and phenomenal experience nonetheless. Spain was thrown into the middle of the trip, and I had the chance to practice my very limited vocabulary of Spanish (Unfortunately, Don Fernando and Raquel didn't seem to have a whole lot to do with ordering food in a restaurant....). I experienced the thrill of being in a drama for the first time since highschool, and I "wallowed in the quagmire of stupidity" for several days after I lost a fifteen page paper for my Independant Study and had to rewrite with half the sources of the first paper. School finished, and I travelled here, there and (nearly) everywhere in England for three weeks with two guys. I returned home to Ontario to a month of unemployment, the end of the aforementioned relationship, and three months of work at a hat factory.

And that about brings us to today. I'm quite sorry, I didn't realize that a few memories from each year would contain that much information--so much has happened, and this was only a fraction of my life. I have indeed been blessed.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I have sat down many times to write my story, and almost immediately I come to a hurdle. How do I write my story, while not writing anyone else's? If I were to record only the events that involved myself alone, I'd have merely a handful of pages of notes containing such actions as: "Started school on this date," "name of first boy I liked and all conversations---" wait, no, that wouldn't even work. Every story, any event in my life worth discussing, is shared by at least one other person.
My birth, for example, very obviously contains the two crucial characters of my mother and my father, yet that is the beginning of *my* story.
My elementary school years have a large cast of classmates, teachers, siblings and neighborhood kids.
Any mischief in which I could be found was closely associated with my best friend.
These stories, then, are not sole mine to reveal, not mine alone to tell. By revealing my end of any tale, I'm leaving all others that were a part of it in an involuntary position of vulnerability. Or, what could be worse: by telling my story, certain people will learn that certain events have shaped who I am today--events that were not meant to be part of my story form chapters in my life that are not listed on the table of contents for even the keenest eye to see.
But here we are. My story is a kaleidoscope of shards from the lives of others, just as pieces of my story are intermingled with someone else's story. Every tear, every smile, every thought and every scene in my memory compiles to create a story that unique only to me. The question that I must ask, and with which I struggle: how honest should I be in telling my story, in revealing thoughts and memories most poignant to building my character, which are also most revealing about others?

Sunday, August 29, 2004

An affair to remember

So. The weekend has come and gone, though I really do wish that it was still here. Dan is right on the ball today and has already posted pictures of Gilmour fun on his blog. The two pics of Tina and I arm wrestling must be explained, though. One rainy and dreary night at the farm in Charlbury, Tina and I decided to see how well matched we were for an arm wrestle, and the result was a five to ten minute battle of stubbornness. In the end, I gave up and gave the win to Tina, though she calls it a tie. So, we rematched on Sat evening, and after a full five minute fight, she overcame me. I put partial blame on the waterskiing that I did earlier in the day, but Tina also put a tooth right through her lip so she wasn't quite herself either.
I'm quite sure that this weekend, as a whole, was concecrated "Pick On Jenn" weekend without my knowledge. While the weekend was one of the most enjoyable that I've had in quite some time, I found myself the victim of antics ranging from being dropped in the water to verbal abuse to poking and tickling. My sincere thanks to RobJ and James, however, for refraining to throw me into the lake on Friday night.
At this point, I'm going to go find a heating pad and one of those heated magic bags to comfort my aching muscles- due to the whole attempt at slalomming yesterday, I can't look sideways without turning my whole upper body, and can't bend over to pick anything up for the life of me.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

A mere 87 days after beginning work at the sweatshop, I have logged my last day. Though I am quite sure that they did their best to kill me before I got out of the door. As I told Nate this afternoon, I feel as if a tap labeled "Energy" on me has been turned on all week and there's naught but a drip coming out now. While I am not sad to be leaving that place of employment, I did think it rather kind of them to buy me a black forest cake and give me a nice little cash bonus.
At our Bible study tonight, we read the end of Hebrews, and accordingly had a number of discussions on faith. The Hall of Faith, chapter 11, begins with the following verse:

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

The whole chapter goes on to list and briefly describe notable characters of faith to be found throughout the Bible, encouraging the readers to live a life of faith like those before had lived, keeping their eyes on the coming world so that God was not ashamed to call them his own.
The discussion that we had on this turned to living lives of faith, and making decisions and waiting on God. My question is this: do we have enough faith when we make decisions? I realize that it is important to wait on God and pray about a decision, but do we too often use the excuse of "God hasn't told me yet what to do" just so that we won't have to make some sort of decision that will affect us in an adverse way? I'm not sure that I'm being clear with my question, though it makes sense in my head. In Isaiah, it says that whether we turn to the right or the left, God will go with us. So do we sometimes just need to jump in with both feet, after wieghing the issue against previous experience and knowledge, and have faith that God will bless us in our decision?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Yams tomorrow, Yams yesterday...

...but never, never yams today. Or is it Jam? ;) I haven't seen Alice In Wonderland in far too long. Anyhow, I discovered yams this week. I think they might be my new favourite veggie. In fact, I have a pan of them in the oven right now, tossed with a little bit of olive oil, garlic, basil and oregano.... mmm.

My roommate has gone home for the evening, Crystal and Di are in the Bahamas, so I find myself sitting here in my house by myself, at a loss for what to do. I have become so accustomed to always being with other people that when I have an evening to myself, I feel lost. No-- more than that -- I feel as if somehow, I'm being left out of any fun that's happening anywhere in Hamilton. Gone is the list of things that I want to do but never have the time when other people are around-- call someone I haven't spoken to in a long time, sit and write random verses and passages, work on my scrapbook from England, play the guitar.... Gone is the memory of this past weekend-- games on Friday night with some awesome people, breakfast on Sat morning at Ikea with more awesome people, wedding reception in Peterborough for Jo and Steve, volleyball Sunday with more awesome people and goodbye party for James sun night... It's not as if I don't have any sort of a social life or amazing friends, so why does an evening at home alone intimidate me?
I think that my perception of it somehow must be quite off-- actually, I know that it is, I'm just not sure why. (Excuse my while I psycho-analyse myself for a moment) I really need to look at an evening alone less as being abbandoned and more and given a chance to breathe - goodness knows sometime in the near future I'm sure I'll be praying for it. While I won't be doing everything the whole semester with the same group of people, as was the case last semester, I'm sure that I'll have company for almost everything that I do regardless. That being said, I look forward to this semester, and I'm thankful that I'm so blessed to have so many good friends to spend all of my time with! I can't get over how many incredible people are in my life, and I just keep meeting more, even in the summer when there's not many folks around to begin with! (Some, who are staying around and I'll get the chance to continue hanging out with them, some that are moving away... :( )
So while I'm sure that there are many wonderful and fun things that are happening tonight, I think I"m good with just sitting down with my bowl of yams, pondering my last day at work, and doing a bit of writing.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Oh the harsh and bitter disappointment of unpacking a purchase and finding that not all the right pieces are in the box! Laura and I bought a shelf at Ikea on Saturday and didn’t get the chance to set it up until tonight. So there we are, all excited to build our little shelf so we can display our pictures and give our books a home. We open the box and begin to follow the instructions: only to find out that they gave us two of the exact same piece, instead of a piece mirroring the other. Sigh. No bookshelf for the next couple weeks, I suppose. But hey, a good excuse to go back to Ikea for the breakfast special again! Anyone wanna join in on the fun?

Singing in the Wardrobe

Early in June, I decided to read the Narnia series for the first time by myself. I’ve actually never read them before- when I was little, my mom read the whole series to me probably three full times, but until I bought the set for myself in England, I had quite forgotten about reading it. Indeed, there are perks to riding the bus every morning and afternoon for an hour each- lots of time for reading.
As I remembered, I loved the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. But I think that perhaps my
favourite two books of the series might now be The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle. I
found myself completely captivated by the imagery in both, and absolutely longing to read sections out to somebody. (Most of the folks on my bus in the morning sleep, though, so I was on my own.)

In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful that he could hardly bear it.
....Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices’ more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up on the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out– single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen it and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves that were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.
“Glory be!” said the Cabby. “I’d ha’ been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this!”
(Magician’s Nephew, Chapter Eight.)

I love it that the world of Narnia is created by song. To me, it conveys the power of music, (or
beautiful noise, what-have-you) that Aslan would have chosen to create by breathing the breath of life through song. But then we all know that I have kind of a weakness or soft spot for music.
There is so much of both of those books that I would love to post here, and maybe I will post it all at some point, but if I were to really copy all that excites me in those books, I’d be typing out
whole chapters. I’m not quite sure how parallel The Last Battle is to anything that happens in
Revelations, but it definitely made things a great deal easier for me to picture and understand, and I do feel better for it. These books don’t take long at all to read, I read the whole series in a week just on the bus to and from work, so if you get a moment to yourself, find a copy of either of these books (or both) and take a gander. I think I might read them again before long.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Do you ever have one of those days when all of the emails and posts that you type end up being deleted before you get a chance to press that critical publish or send button? Well, I'm having one right now.

As I was browsing some new (to me) blogs this afternoon, I came across
this. Joel Haas and his friend have compiled a list of tips, or rather, advice, to guys in or wanting to be in a relationship. Looking at it from the femal perspective, I'd have to say that it's a pretty insightful little post, and the young gentlemen of the world would do well to take a gander at it. I was talking along some similar lines with Robj the other day, and was astounded to learn that what seems blatantly obvious to females, apparently doesn't even strike the average male. The subject of that is this: Women appreciate things that they don't have to ask for at least ten times more than things that they do ask for. For example: A massage spontaneously and freely given is so much sweeter and even more relaxing than one that has been requested. Why? It's all in the mind. Because it was given without request, it shows that there was thought behind the action. If you have thought about that, then you have most likely thought about other things as well- what needs or wants does that person have, and how can I fulfill them in a way that will be appreciated? Easy. Take whatever action is needed and do that without being asked. That's not so hard now, is it?