"It was a glorious storm." "First-rate, for those that like them and don't have to put up with those who don't." -Gaudy Night
Yesterday we did have a glorious storm, a regular gullywasher. It started looking ominous round about lunch, while Becca and I amused ourselves with her poetry homework, and by two, two-thirty it was dusk-dark and grumbling. Then the rain rain rain came down down down, and the grumbles turned to a positive temper tantrum, and a draggled patient reported seeing lots of sparks when a particularly exuberant strike struck a transformer across the street. Our power stayed on, rather to my surprise, but the internet died.
I stood in the doorway and watched it fall. It made waterfalls over the eaves and filled the gravel catch-ditches and flooded the sidewalk.
I'm fond of rain, especially when I don't have to be out in it. We had a nice hike the other day, Dad and I did. It hadn't rained for about two weeks and the air was full of that nasty haze that we get around here when it's been too dry. So we hiked down the Falls Trail and a lady coming back told us the falls were dry. I didn't believe her because Frijoles Creek is never dry. Tourists, honestly, but how could even a tourist miss the waterfall? But we got there, and sure enough, no falls.
Then the clouds came up, and we...were out in it. It was, in fact, really wet. Just about the time it'd stop and I'd start to think I might be getting dry, it would rain again. I have lots of pictures. But coming back, there was water at the Upper Falls, so the rain was worth it. I love rain, I really do, but it's much nicer to stand under cover and watch it. :-)
This morning was full of after-rain-ness. The dew covered Olwen. (I refer to my car, of course, but just saying it sounds like something from a fairy tale, or maybe The Destruction of Sennacherib.) All the bushes and wildflowers gazed soggily at the highway, shaking their leaves and enjoying the day. Sunflowers are out: the sunflowers are in full force in every ditch and along every road: I love sunflowers. And the light has that cool, pale, bright fall feel to it.
I wore a jacket to work this morning, for the first time this season.
My wonderful sister, who knows me extremely well, brought me this book from Morocco. It's dual-language in French and Arabic. I don't actually know either, but I can read the characters for both and guess. (Latin and Farsi are beautiful things, even if they are both Indo-European.) She, on the other hand, can read Arabic somewhat. So we comfortably flopped on the floor together and made what we could of it.
It was traumatic! It's a picture book, so we assumed it would be nice. It was not. I missed most of the finer plot points, but with words like "sahara" and "jamal" and "loups" and "mort," we were able to pick up the gist. It was about a camel who gets separated from his caravan, and the wolves eat his carcasse.
On that disturbing discovery, we went and petted the cat.
"I avoid my hearing aids whenever possible. When you have hearing loss, you get accustomed to not hearing these obnoxious sounds—machinery, and music. The hearing aid people will say that hearing is a precious things. I say controlled hearing is a precious thing. You hear what you want to hear, and see what you want to see, too." --patient
So I was playing Apples to Apples last night, and you know they say the green cards supposedly describe your character. Well, that's sort of like trusting fortune cookies, but anyway, last night I got two cards: "virtuous" and "fuzzy."
And, just for added fun, the red card that won me "virtuous" was "exorcism." :-D
I won't precisely say "It's a Christian poem!!" I like Tolkien's analysis, that it's probably written by a Christian looking back at the ancient ways that have faded: close enough to love their good points, and Christian enough to discern what they are. I love Beowulf. I love the intolerable distance of the narrative, the bright glimpses into a grey world, the loneliness of iron and muscle against a monster with the cursed legacy of Cain, the author's language that has been described as "built" rather than flowing. I don't want to be Beowulf (miserable thought), nor yet marry him, but I love reading about him.
I like Beowulf because it's impressively not a modern work. It follows a lot of narrative rules we still go with, but it comes from an entirely different mindset and so ignores others completely. For instance, the hero does not have an affair with anyone, particularly the queen. In fact, the hero has no love interest whatsoever. It's refreshing.
Do you remember the commentary on the DVD for The Incredibles? The producers were talking about how the villain had to penetrate the Incredibles' very house and kidnap Jack-Jack, because that has a certain zing for the audience that no external attack can imitate. I just noticed that Beowulf starts with Grendel attacking--the hall. It's the king's house, and the symbol of Home for the whole kingdom. (That's another bit of the ancient mindset I like: the country is bound up in the middle, with the king and his capital, rather than by the exact borders he rules.) Beowulf, in a tense moment equal to anything in Bourne Ultimatum, lies awake in the dark waiting for Grendel to bring it on. Life is good.
The link talks about sacrifice so that others may live. Yes. It also talks about braggadocio as a sort of vow. It's very nice, living in a country where monsters don't generally eat you in your sleep; it's also nice that in countries where there are such hazards, they have the opportunity for heroes. There you can see what a man is made of. Beowulf is explicitly contrasted with another guy at the feast who's full of himself, but Beowulf delivers and the other slinks away with his tail between his legs. Beowulf may not be quite Christian enough to appreciate humility, but he is ancient enough to appreciate honor. I like that too.
"Poets Billy Collins and Tess Gallagher comment on the relationship between writing and housekeeping. (Anyone who's ever been a student will recall how sparkling clean your house got the day before a big paper was due.)"
Yup. Definitely. Marian once told me she could always tell when I had a deadline for that very reason--of course, Marian being Marian knew most of my deadlines better than I knew them myself. :-) I still think it very good for all our souls that they had us do the dorm chores.
The rest of the article was pretty good too. It reminded me of Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking. Thanks, Firinnteine, for the link.
Me: "Ack! You can do what you like with the magazine. Even recycle it." Becca: "Burn it." Me: "Burn it! Do you have any idea what kind of--carbon footprint you're leaving??" Becca: "Magazines turn cool colors when you burn them." Me: "You're right. I bet we could make a safe firepit in the woods out back..."
This article by Camille Paglia caught my attention (thank you, WorldMagBlog)--and she says art needs religion. The article does get crude in places, and also she's overly hard on the Puritans, but if you're up for it, as Dr. Bates put it, just blush and keep reading.
As for my two cents: yes, Protestants tend to be dismal at the visual arts per se. We just don't do that. I live in Northern New Mexico, and I love the way artistic whatsits pop out of the woodwork--literally, most of the time. I get a kick out of adobe and tile and murals, and the restaurants and coffee shops selling original paintings as a matter of course, and how Santa Fe fights graffiti on the power boxes by preemptively spray-painting odd designs on them. And I have frequently noticed how the artistically interesting stuff generally comes from people with whom I disagree theologically, philosophically, and/or morally. I would love it if we could put paintings of the saints in our church hallways--but I doubt that's going to happen.
But there are hopeful signs.
Scrapbooking is one of them. My church ladies, a whole contingent of them, are skilled scrapbookers. It may not be "high art," yet, but it's particular and a labor of love, and I suspect the itinerant Italian church painters weren't actually that "high" themselves--sort of like Shakespeare, who gets a halo of greatness that almost blots out his earthier moments.
Another thing: Paglia caught onto the rise of homeschooling, but she didn't mention how artistic they can be. Not all of them, of course, any more than all public schoolers are. But a lot of my homeschooled acquaintances are very accomplished musicians, or literary critics, or authors, or pencil-sketchers, or actors and directors, or filmmakers, or dancers. Homeschoolers are quirky, but they tend to follow what they love creatively.
We may not make murals of the saints, but we do make movies about them, fact and fiction, and some of the movies are even pretty decent. Just off hand, I can remember Amazing Grace, The Passion (all right, which is of Christ Himself), End of the Spear, and Second Chance.
Paglia is exactly right that we've mostly cut ourselves off from the artistic tradition, and that ought to be remedied. But people create: it's an imago Dei thing, and they can't help it. Art is not dead in evangelical circles, but maybe it's a little--blind?
Now to the Farsi. Today's word is...well, one Katherine of France had a bit of trouble with. It's the elbow. The Farsi is "Aranj," as in an orange, only not. An elbow the size (or color) of an orange is kind of a scary thought.
Now for the quote: Henry V, III.4. KATHARINE Et le coude?
ALICE De elbow.
KATHARINE De elbow. Je m'en fais la repetition de tous les mots que vous m'avez appris des a present.
ALICE Il est trop difficile, madame, comme je pense.
KATHARINE Excusez-moi, Alice; ecoutez: de hand, de fingres, de nails, de arma, de bilbow.
ALICE De elbow, madame.
KATHARINE O Seigneur Dieu, je m'en oublie! de elbow.
I would just like to make an announcement: my sister is back in the state! HURRAY!
So yesterday my family and Kay and I all trotted to Albuquerque to retrieve her from the airport. It was a lateish flight, so we were forced to go down early and play. We had some leftovers before we went...and had a 3:00 second lunch (tomato bisque and rolls on a patio)...and toured Old Town and had 5:00 ice cream (mocha fudge and raspberry sorbet)... and shopped a bit more and met my parents for 7:30 dinner (salad and French onion soup with a raging rainstorm outside)... and shopped a bit more and retrieved the sister, and then, strangely enough, over to IHOP for sustenance and talk.
We had taken, as a mission (because shopping is always more amusing with a mission, however insignificant) my two watches with dead batteries, and it was our intent to hit every jewelry store in Old Town till we found one that could put them into working order again. We parked and went into the store right there. The salespeople were really anxious to help, but didn't sell batteries, but we should try Naranjo's three buildings down. We tried Naranjo's. It was one of those century-old buildings with uneven floors and the smell of having been in a time warp for the last few decades. A little old lady took my watches into the back room, and perhaps fifteen long quiet minutes later came back. Hurray! It's not that I couldn't just buy a new brown watch--it would have been only a bit more expensive, and a lot faster, since one of them had been out for several months--but it's nice, I think, to have things that aren't completely disposable. Besides, Grandma gave me one of them and I'm attached to it.
So we'd completed our mission on the second try, and just touristed for the rest of the afternoon. :-) The old church dominated the plaza, with thick adobe walls painted inside and a lovely gardeny garden out front. Old Town was full of beautiful jewelry. We admired the turquoise and the amethysts, the lapis and the Nantucket-blue stones from the Dominican Republic that were named something I'd never heard of before. We looked at the sidewalk vendors and expensive Mati place and random semi-upscale tourist shops. We like jewelry.
The salespeople were a perpetual source of amusement. One artsy lady in an artsy store said how much she liked my necklace (hot pink wooden beads). I didn't tell her it was $7.50 from a teenager store--though possibly she was buttering me up because I was a customer. There was another clerk who talked interminably to his buddy about local boxing. And then there was the young guy who spent a long time showing us amber, and I did finally buy some earrings from him. I'd been wanting amber earrings for quite a while. I think they, and the ice cream and batteries, were our only purchases in Old Town.
We finally did get the sister home. It's so good to have her back. She showed us what she got in Morocco, and we had some little presents we'd gotten for her because we missed her, and a cheerful time was had by all.
She brought me a dagger, an antique silver-worked something-or-other hard-bargained from the medina, with a curl to the blade and a Five Nails of Fatima design on the sheath. HAPPINESS!