Music and Christmas

For the fact of hardly blogging in two months, I have a very good excuse: the fact that almost all my free time for said months has been spent recording. Music, that is.

The tricky part was that I meant the music for a Christmas gift for my parents ... it's really my first time behind a studio mic, with the exception of one quick demo several years back ... and since it had to do with Christmas, I couldn't just get on my blog and explain why I wasn't posting, because that would have informed my parents.

Christmas Eve came, and I played the disc for Mom and Dad, and they liked it :-D

Since some of the music is of my own creation--i.e., not bound by copyright to others--and since it's not half bad, if I do say so myself, I'll be posting a few songs to the web soon. Not tonight, but maybe within a couple of weeks here.

Stay tuned ...


Thoughts of the Month

Sometimes the human brain gets so full that it might consider reversing Number Five's cry of "Input, Stephanie, input!" to "Output!" I hit that point about two weeks ago. Too bad it wasn't tonight, as I might have had more mental energy that way.


Bella came to town last week and Lou and I saw it. It made me cry. It took me about three hours afterwards to figure out what all was going on, as past and present and future appeared intermittently throughout the story. But it was a good story, and well acted. I really have to compliment the cinematography too--I loved the way they filmed it. As a drama, I found it pretty emotional and one scene was really hard to watch, but I'm glad I saw it. At some point I'll have to watch it again; it seems like the kind of thing that one gets more out of with a second viewing.


Dan in Real Life made me snicker, but if I wasn't the only one who caught the Harry Potter reference, then at least no one else snickered aloud. It's in there. I promise--you can look for it. But if you have the choice whether to see Dan or Bella, see Bella, because that's a better movie. I liked Dan in Real Life, especially since it was part of a hang-out afternoon with Dad. But seriously--when did tempestuous, tantrum-throwing, nonsensical teenage infatuation become the standard for romance? I'm not talking about the precocious adult-in-a-teen-body thing that Disney usually tries to pass off as reality. I'm talking about a bratty, rebellious fifteen-year-old acting like a bratty, rebellious fifteen-year-old and getting held up as a good example. That just did not seem believable to me.


Usually I try to read one book at once and read it through. But lately I've had far too tall a stack to plow through it rhythmically and methodically, one at a time. This might have something to do with joining a book club. Or it might have more to do with the fact that not only did I join a book club, I asked my boss for recommendations, decided that I shouldn't own a Dickens book that I hadn't read, got intrigued while looking over Lou's shoulder at his book, got a book I'd long wanted to read as a gift from him on the anniversary of our first date, ordered two books from Amazon and swallowed them whole (not literally) ... and that doesn't include all the basic stuff that I might pick up just because I want to. The floor of my room now looks like a library exploded.

The Napoleon of Notting Hill, a Chesterton novel, made some hilarious and bizarre--but interesting and accurate--points about humor, passion and Chesterton's favorite target for his satirical efforts: the materialist philosophy. I love the way Chesterton writes. Every time I read him, I think "There goes a man who loves the English language as I do."

The Story of a Soul, autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, brought tears to my eyes about every third page. She was a little, cloistered Carmelite nun who begged the pope to let her enter the convent at a very young age--fifteen or sixteen--and she lived only to the age of 24. The simple pouring out of her heart into a few pages took her posthumously from unknown to international appeal; and reading it, I can see why. Her words continue to come back and convict me of my own selfishness and coldness. She expressed a love for Christ that one rarely sees the likes of in this world.

Dickens' Great Expectations left me with alternating opinions of how much I liked it. I wanted to smack the main character far too often for ease of reading. But he did eventually become the man he ought, and that helped. The "happy ending" that Dickens finally went with was certainly better than the original he penned, but I would have liked a little more of it :-)


A few years ago, the understanding of the awful realities of uncertainty and suffering hit me at the very center of my heart. It wasn't a cataclysmic or tragic event, but I remember the day--a cold March or April day, gray and drizzly, floating in an orange raft on the Wenatchee river just above the low-head dam at Dryden. I never went near that dam--we were taught how to stay well away--but I knew the theory of what would happen to anyone or anything trapped in its power, and somehow the knowledge of the dangers of moving water connected in my mind with the fragility of life. It sounds clichéd to say that I have never been the same after that moment, but it is the truth of the matter.

A Dominican priest named Fr. Vincent Serpa, who appears now and then on one of the podcasts I listen to, recently prescribed a few minutes' daily meditation on the crucifix for help in the growing of faith. The thought of the crucifix often comes to mind since then. Yes, we need the empty cross, the knowledge that Jesus is risen. But nothing reminds or inspires me to accept my own suffering like the sight of that wasted, beaten body hanging by nails on wood.


It's ten o'clock--time to give my unfortunate wrist a break and go read. Good night.


I Am Not Gone

I have not died. Nor have I forgotten my blog, or lost interest in it. It's just that not all of life's moments are bloggable, and the last several weeks have been composed of a lot of unbloggable moments.

Life is good, but thoroughly busy right now--this last week, for instance, encompassed two birthdays and an anniversary as well as Thanksgiving.

I can't promise to blog in the next few days. I will not promise not to, either.


Random Note

Somehow, yesterday, I managed to kill a spider with my elbow.

I have no idea when or where. There wasn't much left of it when I found it.



A Couple of Movies

Really, I should have put my computer in a more convenient place. This room is so consistently chilly right now that I have a hard time convincing myself to enter even for the internet.

That aside, there are a couple of movies I've heard of recently that look really interesting. Bella isn't making it to a theater near me ... yet ... but it won the Toronto Film Festival People's Choice award, and--if the radio station on which I heard about it has their facts straight--the last time that award was taken by an indie film, it was Chariots of Fire. Right now they're trying to get wider distribution on it, as it was just released in limited form yesterday. It's supposed to be an excellent story.

Expelled has an agenda, and it's not attempting to hide that at all. In this film, Ben Stein challenges the teaching of Darwinism as incontrovertable fact. As someone who doesn't think Darwinism is incontrovertable fact, I'd probably go see it anyway, but with Ben Stein and his smart-aleck sense of humor doing the talking, well ... it ought to be hilarious. It comes out in February of 2008, and after seeing it I'll have to post a review.

If any of y'all see either, let me know what you think.


This Post Courtesy Of ...

The cable guy ... I mean the real cable guy, the one who comes, hooks up the cable system, and leaves again without doing anything Jim Carrey-like ... and Florence from Comcast, who spent half an hour on the phone with me and is one of the best CS reps I've ever talked to, and my blessed roommate and her boyfriend, who drove out to the Comcast office with me last week, and my dad and my boyfriend, who set up my computer after the move.

I am back online, and the "D" in ":-D" is just not big enough to match my grin right about now.

The move is complete, other than figuring out where my bookshelves go so I can unpack the books instead of having to box-dive for anything to read. It took me four hours to move, and about three times longer to go through several years' worth of junk mail mixed with things that might have my social security number thereon. I hate sorting mail. I have a similar distaste for scrubbing baseboards and window-locks, but it is done, on the old apartment at least. Now I just need to give back the three keys, which will reduce the number on my keychain to nine.

The new room has a little less view from the window, but what falls within sight is pretty. The room itself is still light and has its own baseboard heater (which means I can get one place in the house just as warm as I like it, although that comes with the fear that I may kick off my comforter in the night and set the house afire.) It feels like home in that room, with my closet all clean and my bed made, the nightstand replete with lamp and Bible and assorted other books, the painting Mom gave me--in which she made me look like the da Vinci portrait of Danielle de Barbarac in Everafter--hung on one wall, and my blessed old Guild in the corner.

Here in the "office", surrounded by an unreasonable number of cords, I also feel quite at home. My synth wants warming up and one weekend is long enough to be without the internet.

As I have other things to do on the internet before wrapping up tonight, this is all for now. But I shall return, oh yes.


Maybe I'm Easily Amused, But ...

I wonder anyone expects a fax like this to be taken seriously.

Against all my proofreader's instincts, I am going to attempt to reproduce exactly the errors in this, merely because it made me laugh so hard.

Here you go, courtesy of the "Central Bank" of a country you can all probably guess:





A couple of notes on this:

I have not been communicating with Fraudster. Nor do I wish for any Poblem. As I have no communications with anyone pretending to be government officials, or have any long overdue contract funds, I do not expect to receive it, whatever it may be. And as to those further "deatials", it looks like the Central Bank is the one trying to do the "de-frauding", although I suspect personally that they are actually the defrauding party.

Finally, I hope this will be the last communication they of the Central Bank will communicate with me, but I highly doubt it.

This post comes to you courtesy of my boyfriend and his laptop computer, as I still do not have internet set up at home. This cannot, however, be blamed on Comcast and affiliates; the fault lies with the moving process itself.



I am disconnecting my computer from the internet either tonight or tomorrow morning, so this is the last post until either a) I get new internet, or b) I get tired of waiting for new internet setup and post from work; probably the former. Which means that if you hear nothing from me for a long time, you can blame it on broadbandoffers.com. They screwed up my Comcast account a year ago and it may or may not be resolved. Last I heard, they said it was and Comcast said it wasn't.

Probably I should have complained to what Gilligan once called the "Begger Burger Bureau", but I have a life and that didn't happen. Ah well. But I am not sending that modem back, as according to all MY records, I bought the thing at full price.

Anyway, I'm not going too far; though I will likely not be able to get online at all over the weekend, my work computer will allow me to reconnect to the outside world after hours on weekdays, at least.

I shall return.


A Good Post about Culture

My boyfriend yesterday posted an excellent commentary on youth and adulthood in our society--the kind of post that I had to take a deep breath and say "Wow" after reading. Click here to read his thoughts.

... In other news, I stuck my head in a fly paper yesterday, accidentally of course. Fortunately it was a clean fly paper. But it was still gross.


Ten Days' Miscellany

Autumn is my only consolation for the end of summer. This year, as we never really had much of a summer, the advent of colored trees and cool windy days is particularly welcome, especially when it comes with blue sky.

I am watching the trees redden from my bedroom window in this apartment for the last time. In just weeks, I will be moving with my roommate into the house she just bought. The roommate is far better worth keeping than this apartment, but I will miss the view from my window very much.

The delight of autumn to me is the approaching holidays. Weird it may be, but I am looking forward to any and all of them. I want to make fruitcake and hot buttered rum and go to church and read The Christmas Carol and get in some real family time.

I do not like moving at all, but it is a good chance to offload some unnecessary stuff. It is also likely to put a wrench in the blogworks for a couple of weeks here, but I'll do my best to keep up.

I believe that I now deserve the title "Internet Junkie." Anyone who has an account each with Blogspot, Myspace, Xanga, Facebook, and LiveJournal, and a Blogspot dedicated to Harry Potter, has a couple of major problems: one, how to check and update so many sites without spending waaaay too much time on the internet; and two, how to remember all the blasted passwords. The non-Blogspot accounts are mainly for keeping up with friends, so I don't generally post on them, but anyone may feel free to check out my Harry Potter blog, which is not on this account. I named that blog after one of my favorite scenes in Deathly Hallows and used my general "LibraryLily" for the url and account name.

Part of the problem with having so many passwords is that online banking wanted me to have another, which was supposed to change every ninety days and never be written down. I have now successfully locked myself out of my own online bank account. This did not make me happy. Fortunately for me, there is always the telephone, and this bank has decent customer service.

Speaking of telephones, I upgraded my cell to a white KRZR the other day. It cost much more than I expected to spend, which made me feel guilty. On the other hand, after two weeks' use I absolutely love that thing.

And ... I'm off. But before I go, a word to the wise: If you fall asleep at ten-thirty PM when you only meant to sit down to read, and you wake up at 12:30 because your boyfriend realizes that it is time to go home before the neighbors start wondering: Whatever you do, do not brush your teeth before getting into bed. It wakes you up, and will keep you awake till 4 AM, which has bad effects on one's mood. Then, when people dial your number in the morning looking for Barbara, and you are not Barbara, and you did not really need to wake up at the time they called you, you will feel much more grouchy than you would have had you only gone straight to bed and to sleep. Your toothbrush will be there in the morning.

I do not generally advocate poor dental hygiene, but so be it.


Farewell, Madeleine

In Googling A Wrinkle in Time to figure out the name of the planet Camazotz, I came across the news that Madeleine L'Engle had left this world just days ago.

I know few details of her life, but if her books speak much about her--and art always does speak of the soul that creates it--she was a woman of both great intellect and great heart.

A Wrinkle in Time and its sequel, A Wind in the Door, have few equals among young-adult fiction for spirited characters and beautifully dramatized truth. Meg's work as a Namer in the second book, at the time I read it, taught me as brilliantly as does the courage in Rowling's stories.

Mrs. L'Engle has gone, I am sure, to a better place--but will be missed here.


Silhouette Post

My new post is up on Silhouette; the last one for awhile as the editor-in-chief and his wife are taking off for China in a couple of weeks. A couple of last-minute articles from other Silhouette contributors will hopefully appear next week.

The blog will likely reorganize when its managers return. In the meantime, bon voyage to Justin and Naomi. How we'll miss you!


Meditations on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"

Fair warning: This is a very long post, and it contains massive spoilerage about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. These spoilers include more than just the ending; they include key scenes from the story. If you have not yet read the seventh and final installment of the Harry Potter books, and if you ever intend to, this will ruin it for you--go no further.

* * *

The flu has its advantages. I hate the feelings of it--queasiness, headache, weakness, cough, congestion. But almost nothing else gives me this anymore: the excuse to lie down all day and read novels.

I have been a novel-reader all my life, and have attempted nearly every genre. Murder mystery, Western, romance, classic, juvenile, sci-fi, historical fiction, literary, fantasy--I've read, and enjoyed, something in each.

Occasionally I come across a book that is something more than entertainment; more, even, than entertainment that gets me thinking. The books that get me thinking are rare enough. Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead was such a book--I thought it over for weeks afterward. Catherine Marshall's Christy was another; when I get to the line "The joy of the children was in his voice" it generally brings tears to my eyes.

Rarer still, however, is the novel that lifts me out of my petty, selfish struggles and into its pages--this greatest of all types of fiction. A book like this causes me to wrestle on its stage alongside its characters. When I close such a book, it leaves me unfit for reading any other story for awhile; its sense of completion and the strength of its resolution prevent me from being willing to visit other fictional scenes of chaos and climax. The book itself becomes, for a time, sufficient beyond all other books save one--and that one is the very real story of God and all of us.

Charles Dickens' The Christmas Carol is, for me, one of those greatest-of-all-novels. Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is another. Jane Austen scored twice with Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. There are only a few more I can think of. Among these, of course, is the Harry Potter series.

They say Joanne Rowling had her moment of inspiration on a train. I wonder if that train took her into, or out of, King's Cross Station.

* * *

I require time, solitude, and silence to deal with some of my deep questions. Not, of course, that such dealings are not acted upon by outside forces. Sometimes the sky helps, with its vast outward-opened expanses of light and color and the infinite. At other times it is the loving understanding that I know to be present in my life even when I am by myself. Always there is God--at my best I firmly believe this, working in those mysterious ways of his. Often, those ways turn out to be good stories.

* * *

In the silence of my own room yesterday, head too sore to tackle non-fiction, I completed my third cover-to-cover read of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

And I loved it, the way I loved the first HP book that whole blessed first week a year and a half ago. I loved it the way I loved the scene in Dumbledore's office at the end of book 5, where Harry shouts and throws things and Dumbledore explains the prophecy and the power Harry has "which the Dark Lord knows not."

Love. It could seem, at the end of book 5, almost too cheesy to be believed. But "In the end it mattered not that you could not close your mind", says Dumbledore to Harry. "It was your heart that saved you." Voldemort, as evil a villain as ever walked and talked and killed among the pages of fiction, found inexpressible torment in attempting to possess a grief-consumed Harry, who expected death to reunite him with the godfather who died for him.

* * *

J.K. Rowling quoted two Bible verses in book 7. She did not quote John 15:13. She did not need to. Her story said, clearly, "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Of many examples of sacrificial love revealed throughout the first six books, that of the appropriately-named Lily (considering the linking of lilies to purity and to Easter) proves both salvific and prophetic. Lily stands in front of her son's crib, arms flung out to protect, and pleads with Voldemort to kill her instead of her son. Oddly enough, that is what Voldemort--quite unintentionally--did; he killed her, and her act of sacrifice made it impossible for Voldemort to kill her son.

It was looking back on the sacrifice of Lily Evans Potter that made me realize, before the release of Deathly Hallows, that Harry would probably have to do the same thing. I was convinced that Harry would survive, though, if for no other reason than genre. JKR did not write an embittered, Hemingwayan drama. She wrote for an audience still innocent enough to believe that the good guys win.

* * *

I am an adult. I am well acquainted with the feeling of despair pulsing through my heart, poisoning my mind and emotions. Because of this, I hold ever-so-tightly to the childish notion that good will always triumph in the end. It is my link to sanity. This world does not hold perfect happiness for me anymore--the completely unspoiled, wonder-filled, Christmas-morning happiness that I knew as a child. It does hold great happiness and wonder, now; God willing, that will continue. But it is not perfect. That perfect happiness depends entirely on what happens after death.

* * *

"It is the unknown we fear when we look on death and darkness; nothing more."

Dumbledore says this to Harry in--I believe--book 6. The unknown frightens me much more than it ought. All my life I have been ready, willing, anxious to make my peace with whatever 'powers there be.' Perhaps my greatest fear is that I have made my peace with the wrong god--that I'll wake up on the other side of death to find that Jesus wasn't who he said he was and some other being would send me to a place of torment forever.

I cling to some very specific things to give me confidence in life after death. The illuminated face of an aging, blind monk, interviewed for the documentary Into Great Silence, as he said "A Christian need never fear death." The light in Argie Blackburn's eyes as he sang of heaven, not two years before his own death. It is silly, perhaps, but I rarely doubt God when I look into the brilliant mystery that is the sky to me. I lean on the faith of others, and even on the stories of visions. I lean on the truths Rowling put into her books--"... the true master of death does not seek to run away from death, for he has accepted that he must die...."

I lean, for the protection and salvation of my soul, on the love-driven sacrificial death of one whom I believe to be--as He claimed--the Son of God.

"The last enemy to be destroyed is death." Joanne Rowling put those words into the finale of her series. They come from 1 Corinthians 15:26.

* * *

Here and there in Deathly Hallows, I find word choices which seem a little less strong, less smooth, than in the first six books. I wonder if the deadline, the pressure, put too heavy a burden on rewriting and editing.

But book 7 has hardly anything, really, to complain about. Throughout the first six books are scattered scenes of great power, bursting forth from the already strong undercurrent of the story. None of the books have so many of these as does book 7.

The action is all well-drawn, but action doesn't necessarily catch at my heart--or even my attention--like the emotional sides to the story, the character and relational development. One of the first times the story really gets at me is on Harry's birthday, when Ginny calls Harry into her room and gives him the only gift she can think of: one heartrending, passionate parting kiss. Ron's rude interruption and the obvious, though hidden, emotions of both Harry and Ginny added to the impact of the moment. It rang both true and deep for me. I'm a romantic; a romantic in love, at that. What can I say?

The scene in the graveyard at Christmas is magnificent: vivid, hushed; the light and caroling coming from the little church, the snow, the moments by the various graves. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" is written on the grave of Dumbledore's mother and sister; Christ's words expressing Dumbledore's repentance. Harry's unveiled sorrow at the graves of his parents: Lily, her birthday three days after mine; she was three months older than her husband, which strikes me, I guess, because I am a little older than Lou. Lily and James, killed on Halloween; their son, alive because of their sacrifice, tasting despair; Hermione quietly conjuring a wreath of Christmas roses for Harry to lay on the graves.

Ron's return, his rescue of Harry from the icy pool and the Horcrux, and his battle with the Horcrux itself some minutes later--Ron has never hidden his emotions well, but here Rowling lets us see clearly what has tormented him over the years and especially in the previous months. At the end, the Horcrux is destroyed and his eyes are wet. It just makes Hermione's kiss, given much later, all the sweeter.

The death of Dobby and his burial was one of the best scenes in the book. It needed to be, as it became the turning point for Harry in his quest. But I loved the fact that the last words Dobby spoke were Harry's name; that Harry dug the grave by hand, without magic; that Harry and Ron and Dean buried the faithful little elf in clothes of their own; that while digging the grave, amid sweat and blisters and grief, Harry learned to trust Dumbledore even through incomplete information and to close his mind to Voldemort.

The whole chapter where Harry walks, willingly defenseless, to his own death ... is indescribable. His sudden, focused awareness of his living body, especially the frantic beating of his heart--"perhaps it was determined to fill a lifetime's beats before the end"--and the interaction with his parents and Sirius and Lupin through the Resurrection Stone--I held my breath and ached all the way through this; and when his eyes first met his mother's, it brought me to tears.

And Voldemort spoke the Killing Curse, and Harry winds up talking to Dumbledore in a clean, white, practically empty King's Cross Station. Dumbedore is living after death; Harry can choose to 'go on' in death or go back and attempt to defeat Voldemort, finally and completely. Harry hears the whole truth, at last, from Dumbledore; clean and unaltered, lacking the bitterness of Aberforth, the twisted nastiness of Rita Skeeter, and the blindness of Elphias Doge. That scene is beautiful and pure and hope-filled and symbolic on many levels.

One of the most poignant moments in the whole series--arguably my favorite--comes in the epilogue. To explain this, I must talk about Severus Snape. I am not one of those who thinks that Snape was the 'unsung hero' or the 'best character' in the series. Snape forfeited his right to Lily quite thoroughly; and, in later years, could not overcome his hatred of Harry's father enough to treat Harry fairly, even though he protected Harry for Lily's sake. But don't get me wrong: the courage Snape displayed, especially after Voldemort's return, the obvious changing of some of his principles, and his enduring love for Lily were beautiful things. He died looking into Lily's eyes, as replicated in her son. That scene, powerful in itself, was of course not in the epilogue. Neither, I might add, was further information on most of the characters--an act of both bravery and genius on Rowling's part.

What was in the epilogue was a scene between Harry and his second son, who resembles him closely--the only one of Harry's three children to inherit Lily's eyes. Eleven-year-old Al Potter, who has clearly inherited a lot more than looks from his father, is as fearful of being placed in Slytherin house as Harry was at the same age. Harry kneels to speak with his son eye-to-eye and calls him by his full name: Albus Severus. Harry's forgiveness of Snape--and of Dumbledore, for that matter--is complete; more than that, it includes honor and great gratitude. "Albus Severus, you were named after two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin, and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew."

* * *

J.K. Rowling, in an interview around the release of Deathly Hallows, described the book as being, in the context of her Christian faith, about her 'struggle to keep believing.' This is clearly, and beautifully, expressed through Harry's feelings about Albus Dumbledore.

Dumbledore plays a God-role to an extent here, much as Harry portrays Christ in other ways: not as a direct, Aslan-style allegory, but as a type. Harry finds reason after reason to distrust his old headmaster: Elphias Doge's determinate blindness, Rita Skeeter's slander couched in hazy facts, Aberforth's anger and his story, the sheer confusing difficulty of the task Dumbledore set Harry and the important information Dumbledore intentionally withheld. But in Dobby's grave, driven by the force of grief, Harry finds--not plain fact, but reason and will to trust. He chooses what to believe. The struggle is well-described here:

"That old berk [Doge]", muttered Aberforth, taking another swig of mead. "Thought the sun shone out of my brother's every orifice, he did. Well, so did a lot of people, you three included, by the looks of it."

Harry kept quiet. He did not want to express the doubts and uncertainties about Dumbledore that had riddled him for months now. He had made his choice while he dug Dobby's grave, he had decided to continue along the winding, dangerous path indicated for him by Albus Dumbledore, to accept that he had not been told everything he wanted to know, but simply to trust. He had no desire to doubt again; he did not want to hear anything that would deflect him from his purpose.

* * *

Joanne Rowling, you will probably never read this, but I must at least say thank you as I may. For submitting to the pressures, the deadlines, the hassles of fame and the dependence of fans. For sharing your creativity, your struggles, your humor and ideals with millions of people you will never meet. Your books have led me to an understanding of courage and love that has helped me face my own life and mortality; courage was a lesson I thought I had lost forever. You have played a role in the rebuilding of my faith and of my confidence in the ultimate triumph of good. And you have told me a beautiful story; one of the best, and one of my favorites, that I've ever found among fiction. I hope you enjoy your freedom and return to a more "normal life"; you have well earned that rest. God bless you.


A Little Nostalgic Hilarity

Though I have never attended a conservative Catholic university: if I might judge from this video, the experience is not that different from attending homeschool on a farm in Montana :-D

To all of you who know what I'm talking about, you will surely enjoy this video made by Josh Houde of Franciscan University of Steubenville. Ahh, it brings back the memories.

Click here to watch The Awkward Song!

Noone's ever asked me that before! I don't know ... could it be smallpox? or pertussis? or polio? Oh, I know! It's ...


p.s. ... and yes, I still believe in Christian marriage, and I still intend to have more children than apocalyptic environmentalism allows :-D


Another Miscellany Post

"An artist needs time to do nothing but sit around and think and let ideas come to him," Jacob Kahn said to me one afternoon on that porch after I had sat on a chair for hours, gazing at the sunlight on the water and the sand and the houses farther up along the dunes. "Gertrude Stein said that once. She was an impossible human being. But she was wise." --from 'My Name is Asher Lev' by Chaim Potok, page 239

That idea is true for writers as well as artists, and that is why new posts have not appeared regularly on this blog all summer. One needs time to do nothing but sit around and think and let ideas come. It should be illegal for summers to get this busy.


I went to church this morning in wind and rain. The thermometer shivered around fifty degrees. It is August. "It" has no business being anything less than sunny and at least 70.

But the leaves have begun to turn. I noticed it three or four days ago, but did not admit it until today.


I have gotten more exercise this weekend than the entire summer gave me. Between helping a friend move (there were stairs involved) on Friday, square-dancing and waltzing at a wedding on Saturday, and walking today, I feel good. Sitting too much in chairs leaves one feeling frail. Back in Montana, when I played on a volleyball team, kept sheep and horses, and ran in the wind because I liked the feeling, I felt like a sturdy farm girl.

Of course, I could have gone camping and huckleberry-picking with my boyfriend and his family for the next two days, but I opted out because after two years' distance from my rock-climbing and whitewater rafting days, I have decided that camping is just not little Jennifer's cup of tea. It isn't bears that bother me, or sleeping on hard ground; it is getting dirty and not being able to get clean that irks me. But I will go with them sometime, and I am sure I will enjoy it.


The wedding yesterday was the second this summer, one Saturday immediately following the other. I used to think wedding traditions were all pointless. I have seen reasonably traditional weddings that seemed unreasonably pointless--not, thankfully, among my close friends. But I have changed my mind about wedding traditions. Had it not been in my head to do so before, it would have been after those two weddings.

The first wedding had a lovely reception, and the bride was one of the more beautiful creatures I have seen in some time. The ceremony, however, was officiated by a woman. A woman, moreover, wearing floral print. She prayed to "The Creator" without getting any more specific than that. The vows contained lots of sweetnesses about things like "my arms being your home", but absolutely nothing that I recall about "for richer or for poorer" or "in sickness and in health", let alone "till death do us part". I am not fool enough to think that because it meant nothing to me, it meant nothing to them. But I would not have felt married.

The second wedding was Christian: Catholic, to be exact, though all the bride's family was Protestant. The groom's brother, a Jesuit seminarian, gave a long but lovely homily based on the three Bible readings chosen by the bride and groom. The bride's brother and sister(?) sang the hymn "Come Thou Fount". The bride and groom memorized their vows, which I thought rather daring, but it worked out beautifully. They said the simple, basic promises that have been said at Christian weddings for centuries. "For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part." The deacon performing the ceremony blessed the rings and officiated the vows with a few brief words that emphasized the sacrament and its solemnity and joy. Perhaps it would have meant nothing to someone, but for me it confirmed clearly why people go through the bother of the giant expensive social and religious ritual known as a wedding.

And then we square-danced at the reception, and my shoe fell off and I stepped on Lou's feet but he never stepped on mine, and at one point during a mixer dance I was partnered with a small girl and she was the "guy", and after awhile my legs went to jelly and Lou and I sat under the tent and watched, with amusement, as the energetic and good-looking newlyweds and about fifty other people danced the Virginia Reel.


After church today, I finished reading My Name is Asher Lev and took a three-hour nap. I woke up to find that the rain had stopped and that the sun had pushed its way through the clouds in places. The wind blew strongly, and it all appealed to me so much that I decided to take a walk that has become something of a ritual for me.

I have taken this walk only three times, counting today. The idea is to start from the bottom of the Taylor Stairs--everyone in Bellingham knows the Taylor stairs--and walk to Boulevard Park, continue on the waterside path toward downtown, take the cut up to State Street and go up Boulevard Road (or Avenue, or Street, or Lane, or whatever) to the stairs that go up to Forest Lane. From there, I continue up the block to North Garden Street, turn left, and go up around the school and past the dorms, down West Campus Way and onto Bill McDonald, which goes back to 21st, and a right on Taylor takes me back to the bottom of the stairs. It takes me about an hour and a half at a steady pace.

Last time I made that walk was last September, and the time before that was in the spring. Each time, it has been an opportunity for me to relax and just think. I get very much into this, so much so that I hardly dare even to talk to myself. No, I am not crazy.

The first time I thought about what it is to be loved, and recognized the ways in which I was loved. The second time came right after I broke up with my first boyfriend; the day was windy and drizzly and autumnal, and I worked out a lot in that hike.

Today, I detoured a little bit and walked around Knox, effectively making my route even longer (it is long, at least, for someone who sits in chairs all the time and hardly ever gets out.) But I did less serious thinking than the other trips. I looked up at patches of blue sky through still-green leaves. The cool wind made me think of autumn, which made me think of transition. The sun got hot in the brief pauses between the wind's blowings, and I thought to myself that it is absolutely shameful for a woman to sweat as much as I do.

Unwittingly, I found myself narrating the trip to myself in short, tortured little sentences like Chaim Potok uses. This became annoying about halfway through the trip. Unfortunately, it did not stop.

I walked past churches of three different Christian denominations and centers of two other religions. I found "Power to the People" stamped on the sidewalk and laughed at Bellingham for its odd ideas about democracy and socialism, and for the fact that it chalks its philosophies on the streets. "Free Tibet" had been chalked on Taylor last year. Moving from one aspect of popular philosophy to another, I thought of the fact that the most hated people in Western society right now are those who fit all of the following categories: white, male, straight, Christian. I thought of the fact that the two best men I have ever known--my dad and my boyfriend--have been all of those things (as have a few of the bad but nearly all of the good men I've met), and that the gentlest, most loving treatment a girl could ever want has come to me from those two. Western society appears to be mistaken. As if I needed further proof of that fact.

It was a good trip. And now it is midnight, and I have to get up at six-thirty. There will have been little point in taking a three-hour nap today if I don't go to bed now.


New Silhouette Post

My article for this month is in here at Silhouette. Happy reading to those who choose to check it out :-)

The article did not come easy this time, perhaps because with the other pieces I had a distinctive idea that I felt strongly about. This one feels a bit more random, and I edited it quite a bit for overstatement.

Maybe I should start taking ideas for next month now, instead of putting it off till the last weekend again. Anybody have suggestions? Feel free to use the comment box!


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

There shouldn't be any spoilers in this post ...

Having pre-ordered the book within three days of hearing that pre-orders were being taken, I was among the first group to run up to the shipping door of Village Books last night and exchange the yellow "Golden Snitch" for a copy of the book.

Rachael drove me home, both of us jigging with excitement, neither of us planning to sleep until we had some serious reading done. I haven't heard from her yet, or Chris, about whether they've finished it; although Chris, who as an East Coast resident got his book three hours before I did, left me a voice message at 4 AM his time to tell me to brace myself.

And, for the first time in my life, I stayed up all night. I finished the book.

Fair warning here, to anyone who is at all likely to take nightmares: I didn't stay up merely out of a need to know the end, although that helped. I stayed up because parts of it creeped me out so much that no way did I dare to face sleep without the resolution. Very little in the other books has affected me that way (granted, I didn't read any of them for the first time between midnight and 7 AM). This is no children's book, and it is very dark, so if earlier books left you unsettled, go cautiously; at the very least, don't read it alone or after dark.

Not enough people have yet read the story to justify me in posting any particular details, so I'll restrain myself from that. As to general thoughts on the story, however: at first I wondered if I would like it at all, and at one point felt furiously certain that I'd hate it, that there weren't enough pages left to contain an explanation that could justify what I was seeing. There still remains one decision a very important "good guy" made that I really struggle with, even disagree with.

But the other day I read a slice of an interview with Joanne Rowling done some time back. I had heard that she was a member of the Church of Scotland, that she claims to "go more often than at Christmas and Easter" (a rather cryptic remark that people will probably take a couple of different ways.) The interviewer, however, had commented on her books being secular. The article recorded her response as "Um, I don't think they're all that secular".

She wasn't kidding. They're not "all that secular".

Don't get me wrong--the main characters didn't suddenly drop to their knees and profess Christianity, not that that is what makes a story Christian. Nor is the story a clear and accurate descriptor of salvation theology, or any such thing, not that it attempts to be. What I will say, though, is that the allegory drawn is in its own way comparable to certain points in the most well-known works of those two venerable Christian fantasy writers, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

... and, after the final two chapters inspired me to that half-laughing, half-crying act that womanhood practices so naturally, I have to say that I liked the book.

But some time must go by before I can say more--others need the chance to read it. I need to re-read it, which will not happen immediately; there are three people waiting to read my copy, and I've put a lot of time into Harry Potter lately and should turn my attention to other things.

Happy reading, to all of you still in the process :-)


I’m No Cassandra Trelawney, But …

In about 31 hours, we will have the very last Harry Potter book.

I’ve worked on predicting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows since reading HBP over a year ago. Now that the release of the series finale is at hand, my “predictions” have morphed more into thoughts, but here they are. As you'll notice, I'm rooting for a happy ending:

Harry. I think he’ll lay down his life but survive. If I had to bet on whether or not his scar is a Horcrux, my bet would be no--but I’m weighing the lines “Voldemort put a bit of himself in me?” and “[Voldemort] … could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force [love] he detests” and it’s a tough call. Also, the “Lily’s eyes” factor is supposed to be very important; I think that will have to do with his seeing someone through compassion--Snape, maybe?--at a crucial time, gaining him some necessary knowledge for his quest to destroy Voldemort.

Voldemort. He’s going down, oh yes.

Ron. Does something great--I think he’ll take out some key Death Eaters or maybe even a Horcrux. He might even take part in a battle with Voldemort this time. He’ll be there for Harry, and live to tell the tale.

Hermione. That blessed logical brain of hers and her loyal heart will give us a sight of her courage in a way we’ve never seen it before. Then she’ll live to marry Ron, who will eventually get himself together where she’s concerned.

Ginny. She’s going to be there for some battle action. Like she’d stay away! I hope she casts a bat-bogey hex on a Death Eater or two in the process. She’s Harry’s girl for better or worse now, even though he’s felt the need to distance himself while hunting Voldemort (that distance probably won’t last all the way through his search.)

Dumbledore. There’s still the portrait in McGonagall’s new office! That will prove important.

Fred and George. J.K. Rowling has informed us that at least two characters die. These are two of my top bets. But if they go, they’ll go down in the proverbial blaze of glory.

Draco Malfoy. I think he’ll defect to the good side at the last minute and die a hero.

Neville. Also one of my top bets for getting AK’d, but I bet he takes Bellatrix Lestrange with him. If he lives, though, I think he’ll be the one to teach at Hogwarts. Herbology.

Luna. “Ravenclaw will have its day” in the tabloid editor’s daughter--the girl who believes in strange things but represents the house best known for its intelligence. I, personally, hope we get to see a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.

Hagrid. My other top bet for “most likely to die.” Which means that Hermione will inherit Grawp. But he’ll be faithful to the last.

Minerva McGonagall. Lives and reigns as good-hearted-but-strict headmistress of Hogwarts.

Percy Weasley. Likely to get knocked off early. He’d better make up with his mom and dad first, the git.

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Live to see their grandchildren--Bill and Fleur’s kids, Ron and Hermione’s kids, Harry and Ginny’s kids.

Viktor Krum. Poor guy doesn’t stand a chance with Hermione after Ron gets to her, but I bet he finds Harry one of the Horcruxes.

Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin. If they live, they are sooo getting married :-D

Mad-Eye Moody. I think the old Auror will have one last good fight, and if he survives it, will get a good retirement somewhere--though he’ll never stop watching for Dark wizards.

Sybill Trelawney. It’s a very bad, bad thing if she gets out of Hogwarts. That will probably happen.

Peter Pettigrew. No way will he make it through this one. But he has a debt to pay to Harry before he gets what is coming to him. A very, very big debt. I don't think he'll jump in front of Harry to protect him, but I do think he'll thwart Voldemort in a somewhat more subtle way.

Severus Snape. Also going to die, but Harry is going to get past this anti-Snape vendetta. Too much of that is bitterness and not enough based on solid evidence. I think Snape is a double agent, all right; mostly evil, but as we all know, there’s something key about his role that Harry doesn’t know about yet (and neither do I.)

That covers my biggest ideas about book 7. I should have that book read by Saturday afternoon, if all goes as planned, and will look forward to posting thoughts sometime in the days following. Got predictions of your own? Let me know.


Random Moment for the Day

... watching my MS Word auto-correct change "deeper" to "beeper" for no apparent reason. Weird.

I have now finished re-reading all six Harry Potter books, and am working up the list of predictions for posting on Friday.

Three days ...


Harry at the IMAX

Two posts in one week is pretty good for me lately, si? I promise to slow down on the Harry Potter blogs soon and post about other stuff. But these are two very intense weeks for us happy fans.

Last night a group of us went up to Canada for an IMAX showing of The Order of the Phoenix. Here I should say that generally speaking I have not cared much for the movies; my strong appreciation for the books only partially extends to the films, both for technical strength and for story value (besides the fact that they differ so much it's hard for a diehard fan to enjoy the change.) And I definitely wouldn't take young kids to these, especially not this movie.

But I was pleasantly surprised. While some of the acting still falls below standard (the three Dursleys will apparently never learn), for the first time I really enjoyed Gary Oldman in the role of Sirius. Daniel Radcliffe continues to grow into his talent, Rupert Grint did well and Emma Watson is getting the hang of it. But Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood was the best surprise of all. The girl came out of nowhere and brought her role to life, even without mentioning Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. Since Luna is one of my favorite characters, this helped make the movie for me.

The other great thing belonged specially to the IMAX presentation: the 20 minutes of 3-D through the Department of Mysteries scene, beginning with the flying on thestrals. If any of you HP fans have the chance to see the 3-D IMAX version, believe me, it's worth it.

Of course, there were the usual story abbreviations; particularly notable in the Cho Chang thread. Most of the time, though, considering that they had to fit a 700+ page book into a 2.25 hour film, the cuts made sense. The Weasley twins' spectacular exit, happening on their first major prank instead of the second, was a good example of this. I enjoyed that scene :-) And semi-props to the script-writers for, after cutting so many important Dumbledore lines in the first four films, taking the biggest one out of book 2 and giving it to Sirius.

Other things I really liked:
  • Dumbledore's Army (superb)
  • The rescue of Harry from Privet Drive
  • Neville
  • Harry's throwing off of Voldemort's attempt to take control of him
Things I did not like:
  • The dementors-in-Little-Whinging scene; Mrs. Figg's reaction was too understated
  • Harry actually giving Lucius Malfoy the prophecy
  • Dumbledore looking nonplussed at Umbridge
I also have kind of mixed feelings about the portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange, but the more I think about it, the more appropriate it seems. And her hair and makeup was amusing :-P

The book itself still trumps, though. I'm glad to still be working through it, as it'll be nice to go back to the full story for my Great Chronological Re-Read. Current place:
"What sort of diversion is it?" asked Ron.

"You'll see, little bro," said Fred, as he and George got up again. "At least, you will if you trot along to Gregory the Smarmy's corridor round about five o'clock tomorrow."


It Finally Happened

After a year and a half, I have at last written a full article on Harry Potter.

Over that year and a half (and before), I have heard plenty of argument for and against the Harry Potter series. There may be little point in my adding a few thoughts to an already overwrought debate. I may convince no one of the good of these books; some people will respect my opinion because they know me, even if they disagree, and those who do not know me will likely continue to hold their own opinions :-P But I had to at least offer mine.

I can respect a difference of opinion about the stories; good, wise people approve and disapprove of almost everything. In regard to the basic question of whether or not the books are good, though, my answer, after a year and a half’s intimate knowledge of the stories, is yes.

Because it is generally Christians who take issue here, I will admit that these are secular books with a basically secular worldview, and due to this there are things for Christian parents to consider. One may disagree here and there with J.K. Rowling on what is right and what is wrong--but her good and evil are truly good and evil in an intensely human form, fraught with very real complexity and underscored by important values. And as I firmly believe, a good story such as this innately reveals truth--yes, even Christian truth.

There was so much that I wanted to say that would not fit inside the 1,000 word limit (my final word count was something like 998.) I wanted to talk over the Jeremiah Films video and the issues I took with it, starting with the fact that the terms “white magic” and “black magic” never appear in the books. I wanted to point out the books’ beautiful emphasis on standing up for what is right, even--if necessary--in the face of authority, and to delineate the strengths and weaknesses of various characters that show off the intricate truths of good and evil in possession of humanity. I wanted to say that I would put these books in league with Alice in Wonderland, The Lord of the Rings and Narnia. I wanted to expound upon the notion of allowing kids to grow into the books gradually, and why I think it such a good idea.

I didn’t have time, so I’m saying it briefly here. I will not ask anyone to read these books, unless they plan to speak publicly against them. But I am a Christian, and I am in favor of the books, and when I have children at a certain level of discernment they will be allowed to read the books as well.

Check out the full article here at Silhouette.

Current place in The Great Chronological Harry Potter Re-Read:

"'Come on, the quicker we get on the bus the better,' said Tonks, and Harry thought there was nervousness in the glance she threw around the square. Lupin flung out his arm.


A violently purple, triple-decker bus had appeared out of thin air in front of them, narrowly avoiding the nearest lamppost, which jumped backward out of its way."


Hebrew and Busyness (and HP)

After three weeks of a six-week beginner's class, I wrote my first two sentences in Biblical Hebrew today. Here is the second:

It says: "Rachael and I said words about Harry Potter."

No, seriously, it does. My teacher, Rachael, loves the books as much as I do. She laughed out loud when I wrote that up on the board. And that was as close as I could get to saying that we "talked about ...". I don't know whether that is how one would say "talked" in Hebrew or not; mostly, I just wanted to get all the vowels in the right places and not make too many mistakes on the words. Which I did, actually--one of those words is out of order, now that I think about it, and Rachael already corrected the ending on it. All part of learning, I guess!

Rachael has us reading Genesis 37 for practice at recognizing the letters; the story of Joseph's dream. Learning to pick out words--pronouns, roots, noun gender and conjunctions--fascinates me, as does working with its alphabet. And to begin to "read" the Bible in its original language ... Too bad the class is only six weeks :-)

Current place in TGCHPRR:

"Back in the kitchen, Moody had replaced his eye, which was spinning so fast after its cleaning it made Harry feel sick. Kingsley Shacklebolt and Sturgis Podmore were examining the microwave and Hestia Jones was laughing at a potato peeler she had come across while rummaging in the drawers. Lupin was sealing a letter addressed to the Dursleys."


Mid-June Miscellany

The sun has come back, after hiding behind some very wet, cold clouds this past week or more. Its return makes me think that my sleepiness for the past several days has had less to do with lack of sleep and more to do with lack of light and color. I do love summer.

We can all agree that there should be less of certain types of physical contact happening around our school systems, but this goes beyond absurd to literally unhealthy. It goes to show that the more society loosens its morals, the more rules (especially stupid ones :-P) it is forced to put in place to protect its citizens. Still ... who thought that was a good idea?

Well worth reading:
this post by the Saint; which controverts, for instance, the fuss of "experts" that "we are shaped by our environment", like that's intrinsically a bad thing.

Current place in TGCHPRR:

"Lupin's office door was open. He had already packed most of his things. The grindylow's empty tank stood next to his battered old suitcase, which was open and nearly full. Lupin was bending over something on his desk and looked up only when Harry knocked on the door.

'I saw you coming', said Lupin, smiling. He pointed to the parchment he had been poring over. It was the Marauder's Map."


Books and Papers

Perhaps, in my last post, I should have defined the word soon.

About a week ago, though, a new post of mine went up on Silhouette. Feel free to check it out :-) ...In other Silhouette news, Justin made Relevant Magazine with his excellent post "Mourning Eve", Naomi has intriguingly delineated personality types at the bowling alley and worked Anne of Green Gables into the mix, and Jessi has asked us all what is on our must-read list this summer (girl after my own heart! When I have a little spare time to leave a comment, I'll tell her about Harry Potter and the Confessions of St. Augustine.) There's more good reading there too.

Current position in The Great Chronological HP Re-Read:

"Harry was watching the painting. A fat, dapple-gray pony had just ambled onto the grass and was grazing nonchalantly. Harry was used to the subjects of Hogwarts paintings moving around and leaving their frames to visit one another, but he always enjoyed watching it. A moment later, a short, squat knight in a suit of armor clanked into the picture after his pony. By the look of the grass stains on his metal knees, he had just fallen off."


The Time Has Come

...to start, once again, where it all began:

"Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much...."

And no, I have not forgotten about my blog, or tired of it. I will return. Soon.


Jerry Falwell

I didn't know too much about the man, to be honest, though my heart goes out to his family right now.

But after seeing the way his death has been handled in the media spotlight, I'm inclined to cheer at the remarks of Ann Coulter and Kathy Shaidle. At the very least, I found their comments refreshing. The Bellingham Herald article was so ghastly that even a coworker of mine not known around the office for his conservativism said laughingly that maybe someone who liked Falwell should have written out his life-timeline.

Ahh, I do love a little right sarcasm, though. It lifts the spirit, and besides, it made me laugh out loud. These articles are worth reading the whole way through, but here are a couple of highlights:

Ann Coulter:

"From the news coverage of Falwell's death, I began to suspect his first name was "Whether You Agree With Him or Not"...

Let me be the first to say: I ALWAYS agreed with the Rev. Falwell.

Actually, there was one small item I think Falwell got wrong regarding his statement after 9-11 that "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians – who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle – the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

First of all, I disagreed with that statement because Falwell neglected to specifically include Teddy Kennedy and "the Reverend" Barry Lynn."

Kathy Shaidle:

"Lastly: everyone is replaying Falwell's post-9/11 remarks. Had I been Falwell, I'd have said instead: "For once, let's give homosexuals, abortionists, radical feminists, the ACLU and the People for the American Way a hand, everybody. After all, this is the first major tragedy in the last 50 years that they had absolutely nothing to do with..."

Funny thing is, Falwell turned out to be absolutely correct in his own weird way: leftists are falling all over each other to side with radical Muslims now. The Left had nothing to do with September 11, 2001 -- but from September 12/01 to today, they've been trying to make up for THAT ball drop, big time."


Montana Miscellany

To anyone who wonders why I've failed to post much in the past two weeks, I can explain in part at least by saying that last week was spent in Montana, where computer access never quite made the priority list.

Congratulations to my 'best friend' Briana, newly-graduated photography major, for whose celebrations of achievement I made the trip! If you've never checked out her work, you can view some of it by clicking here.

Montana owed me after its cold--literally, 15 below zero--welcome last time. The Big Sky State made up for its less-than-affectionate treatment of a former resident by treating me to sunshine, highs in the 70s at least, and a couple of spectacular thunderstorms. Briana and I took refuge in the library during Thursday's storm, watched the rain and lightning out the windows, and fell asleep in chairs in one of the reading corners.

It's hard to believe, now, that I've lived in Washington as long as I lived in Montana. Maybe childhood always seems longer in looking back than other dispensations of life. Be that as it may, Briana and her family are of the kindred-spirit sort that with them, the conversation and habits of friendship fall into their natural, relaxed ways with little regard for the passage of time.

Even after a fair amount of experience, it still amazes me that only a couple of hours took me from my sister's goodbye to my friend's hello, hundreds of miles away; that the same brief amount of time took me from my friend's hug on sunlit Montana tarmac to my boyfriend's kiss under slate-gray Seattle skies.

Flying back--maybe because of the extra 5,000-foot-drop in elevation--always turns my hearing inside out so things sound louder inside my head than entering my ears from outside. This is a royal annoyance when, upon getting off the plane, one goes straight to church service in a cathedral with an real (not synthesized) pipe organ. That beautiful instrument still sounded good, though.

On my last night in Montana, a bunch of us stayed up way too late watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Mr. Bell and I punctuated the movie with regular interjections like these: "Nothing like the book", "Not in the book", and "Funny, but not in the book." I'd forgotten how far the movies' scenes deviated from the events in the books. Order of the Phoenix is probably going to make me angry, but I plan to watch it anyway.

I did notice one thing, though, from that re-watch of movie #3: the scene where Lupin points out that Harry has his mother's eyes. Somewhere I seem to recall hearing that J. K. Rowling commented on that little conversation as basically prophetic. Here's the quote, thanks to www.imdb.com:

"You know the very first time I saw you, Harry, I recognized you immediately. Not by your scar, by your eyes. They're your mother, Lily's. Yes, oh yes. I knew her. Your mother was there for me at a time when no one else was. Not only was she a singularly gifted witch, she was also an uncommonly kind woman. She had a way of seeing the beauty in others ... Most especially when that person couldn't see it in themselves.... You are more like [your parents] than you know, Harry. In time you'll come to see just how much. "

That made me think. I've been considering the importance of Harry's inheritance of "Lily's eyes" as having to do with others looking in, not Harry looking out. Hmmm...

Sixty-seven days and counting!


Happy Mothers' Day

...to the woman who taught me darn near everything I know

and whose love for me has held unwavering for well over 29 years.

Love you, Mom.


New Post

There is a new post of mine over at Silhouette, in case you want to see it. This post, however, has more to do with my shame at having not posted last weekend (or any time since the weekend before.)

Silhouette has me really excited, though. There's some good writing among these bloggers, most of whose work I'm just getting to know. We've got quite an eclectic group, both in style and perspective, and it's well worth checking out.

On a totally unrelated topic, I need to figure out when to start my compulsory chronological re-read of the first six Harry Potter books in honor of the upcoming finale. The reading needs to conclude near the release date for book 7, but not go past it. It took me one month, the first time, to read all six books at least once (three of them might as well have been twice) but that needs cushioning nowadays in consideration of other demands upon my time and the fact that I know how all of those end now.

What can I say? I finally found something to be good and nerdy about. My boyfriend finally picked one up for the first time tonight. He's only just made it past Hagrid's first revelation to Harry, but I'm all curious to hear what he thinks ;-D


Heroes and the Stories Worth Reading

"In order to preserve the vigor of the moral faculty, it is of the utmost consequence to keep young people as ignorant as possible of the crimes that are generally thought most disgraceful to human nature. Suicide, I believe, is often propagated by means of newspapers. For this reason, I should be glad to see the proceedings of our courts kept from the public eye when they expose or punish monstrous vices." --Benjamin Rush*

We've all heard far more than necessary about Cho Seung-Hui; frankly, I think a brief mention of his name in the bottom corner of some newspaper article would have been enough. "Murderer identified as Cho S. &c; senior at VA Tech" covered all the information anyone other than his poor parents needed to hear. Heaven knows, keeping the information to that sentence might have offered them some much-needed mercy.

The current journalistic culture of "too much information", which has so willingly provided us with the ability to peruse the internal workings of a diseased mind, only arouses morbid curiosity. "But it raises awareness", someone will say. Sure it does--especially in those most likely to repeat such a crime by imitation. If anybody wants awareness, a simple list of warning signs of such mental disorder will suffice. Awareness itself is no cure, anyway, but that's a subject for another time.

Here are the real stories of the Virginia Tech shooting, the ones worth telling and re-telling. You've heard them, I'm sure, but here they are again:

Professor Liviu Librescu, survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, barricaded a classrom door with his own body and told his students to flee. His intervention allowed several young people to escape through the windows before he was gunned down. He died on Holocaust Remembrance Day, giving his life to save others.

Ryan Clark, resident adviser in the dorm where the shooting began, in the words of one friend "would do anything to help [his friends]..." He died coming to the aid of another student.

Zach Petkewicz is still alive, as are all the other members of his class--because upon hearing the shots come closer, he came out from behind the teacher's podium, where he'd initially hidden, and got his fellow students to help him push a table against the door. The gunman managed to crack the door just enough to empty a clip of bullets into the room, but Zach and the others continued to push against him. After reloading, Cho went looking for easier prey, leaving Zach's class unharmed.

Those are the people we should hear most about; theirs are the minds that should be brought to public attention and revealed for awareness' sake. They--like Columbine student Cassie Bernall, who admitted her faith in God despite the gun held to her head, and who died at the hands of Cho's idea of a martyr and hero--are the people we should remember.

Just one more thing: The most insightful piece I've seen on the Virginia Tech shooting yet is this little post on grieving by Kathy Shaidle, a conservative Christian commentator from Toronto. Though she doesn't write gently, she put down some real truth in this article. Give me "Amazing Grace" over "My Heart Will Go On" any day.

* from "An Inquiry into the Influence of Physical Causes upon the Moral Faculty", 1786; quoted from Benjamin Rush: Signer of the Declaration of Independence by David Barton, 1999 WallBuilders Press, p. 122