Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summer-y: Pipes

My little- rather, my youngest brother (seeing as he’s taller than me now), Whit, got a bagpipe practice chanter for Christmas, and during the school year he’s taken lessons from a teacher at his school. For free. This summer he’s gone a few times to her bagpipe practice group that meets in a church building, and each time the pipers have been eager to work with him and basically give him more free lessons in between their own practice. Perhaps they’re afraid the art is dying out, and they love it too much to ask for money before passing it on.

Well, the other evening I went with Whit to practice to watch and listen and let my Scottish blood tingle. I was quickly interrogated as to whether I played too (no), whether I wanted to (perhaps some day), and at that I was handed a chanter and guided by one big burly man (with a reddish-blond beard), while Whit was interrogated on his practice or lack thereof and worked with through a new song. Our mom had left for a quilter’s meeting across the street, so when we came out I informed her that I now had a borrowed practice chanter and the ability to play the scale! More like honk and puff and screech out the scale, but at least I know where the notes are and how (after a bit of blowing) to make something a bit like a note emerge.

The moral of the story: If you’re around a bagpiper and have some slight wish to play the instrument someday, beware! ;)

Summery-y: Brothers, Tea, Movies, Silliness…

What have I done with brothers? Hmm. Dishes, making fruit salad and zucchini bread, laundry, listening to Adventures in Odyssey, library trips… Whit and I have been having a nice pot of tea every night and watching an episode of The Waltons. We just ran out of Earl Grey, though, to which I am a recent convert thanks to my friend Catie. ;) I’m also trying to finish sewing a lovely grey skirt that should help my wardrobe a lot. Yesterday Isaac and Whit’s friend Daniel came to spend the night, and we watched the first three Star Wars episodes. We were going to watch the last three today, but I think the boys are having more fun on the computers.

Patience, Rael needs to learn. Been wanting to have a Lord of the Rings marathon too, she has. But marathon watching all the time not good it would be! Getting worse are her sentences, so stop now she must. To write later she will try.

Summer-y: Art Camp

For the last two weeks, my mom taught art classes for kids at a nearby museum, and I got to be her paid assistant! That was a blast. The first week we made books, and the second it was imaginary things/creatures (the most fun). It’s heart-wrenching, meeting kids from broken homes, bashing heads with a few difficult-yet-lovable ones, wanting to take home the sweetest little shy ones, and then saying goodbye, hoping to see them next year.

Some of those kids acted like they’d never played with paper and glue before. Some liked to copy the examples, while others went off in wild directions with painful enthusiasm. We had to go from saying, “Don’t use all the pipe cleaners; someone else might need some!” to “I can’t tell you exactly how to do it. Be creative, and use more paint!”

Among other things, they made a multitude of pipe-cleaner princesses, robots made from tin cans, a mermaid playing basketball, a UFO invading a castle while the people were out shopping (one of my favorites), and a wardrobe door that opened into a forest of popsicle-stick trees and a sky of white button-stars on a felt background. And it was a delight to see tables and floor covered with so many feathers, beads, buttons, sequins, googly eyes, pieces of cardstock and tissue paper, pencils, scissors, and web-like strings from the glue gun (operated by myself, with peeling fingers and huge popularity as reward), that one could tell at a glance fun was had by all. Then there was cleaning up on Friday. But t’was more than worth it! In a few weeks I’ll be helping some other teachers with two more weeks of it, but I don’t think it could be quite as enjoyable as doing it with my own dear creative mum. :-)

Summer-y: Books

My summer reading thus far:

(Warning: long post ahead!)

The Silmarillion
– J. R. R. Tolkien

In my records, it looks like my third time to read it, but I it felt more like the fourth... Still wonderful, less confusing each time. You must read bits aloud; Tolkien’s language is poetry. Part of this I read for my Monsters in British Literature class, but of course I had to re-read it all.

Love Your God With All Your Mind – J. P. Moreland

Not extraordinary, but a good reminder that we Christians are indeed called to use our brains for the Lord, and have more reason for seeking understanding and being logical than anyone else!

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

I can’t believe I never read this before! Brontë lacks Jane Austin’s witty humor and is indeed darker, as I heard before, but the romantic in me was swept up with Jane in her story. Plenty of dark and stormy nights, and brooding mysterious characters, and fires and mean aunts, and the lively not-exactly-pretty heroine whose morals are even stronger than her strong independence. It seemed a bit feministic in spots, at least for the time it was written, which may be its one drawback. Still, I very much enjoyed it.

The Story of Liberty – Charles C. Coffin

This is a reprint of a history book for children from the late 1800s. It chronicles the story of liberty in Europe, starting with the Magna Charta and goes all the way to the Pilgrims. My mom read this to us years ago for homeschool, and I had such vivid memories of its impact that I had to read it myself. This is no dull textbook! It reads like an exciting tale, focusing in on important characters and painting them in striking ways so that we remember them. I want to read this one to my children. Coffin also wrote a sequel mainly about the early days of America, called Sweet Land of Liberty, which I still need to read.

Pilgrim’s Inn – Elizabeth Goudge

I credit my discovery of this gem to Lanier and Gretchen of the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship. After noting some names of their recommended authors, I began to watch at the used bookstore and library. My goodness. I haven’t been this enthralled by characters like this in a long time. Goudge’s writing is a delight, like fresh cold water, and I hated coming to the end because the people were already my own dear friends! As Gretchen pointed out in a recent post, there is a bit of a trend to romanticize nature, which I hadn’t consciously noticed. Maybe because it’s one of my own faults. But it also made me more thoughtful of how we can love people despite their oddities and flaws, and yet want them to get better too. There is so much insight here. Definitely one of my new favorites.

Elizabeth Elliot – Passion and Purity

I read this about five years ago, and was amazed at how different it seemed! Back then, at seventeen, I knew it was a good book, but everything was still vague and theoretical. Maybe because I was more emotional, I was also hungrier for pure theory on how God wanted romance to work. Now having been at college and felt a bit more the rigors and pains of waiting for my man, sometimes thinking I knew who he was, I connected Mrs. Elliot’s own story so much it was almost frightening, and her advice was exactly what I needed.

The Black Caldron – Lloyd Alexander

This was just for fun. I read this first of the Prydain Chronicles a while back, and just now got to this one. Based on Welsh myths, these are just fun books. My favorite characters may be the lovable-Gollum character, Gurgi, or the bard Ffleddurw Fflam, whose harp strings snap when he stretches the truth, and who fights much better than he sings (but of course thinks highly of his barding skills). A bit predictable and not the greatest philosophy, but makes me hungry to learn Welsh and read the original myths.

G. K. Chesterton – Orthodoxy

Chesterton was a Catholic writer from about a hundred years ago, and this delightful little book of his keeps jumping into my thoughts and conversations weeks after I finished it. I read some Father Brown mysteries before, and in our online Thinklings group we went through the hilarious tale of Manalive!, but this book may be up with Mere Christianity on my list. It seemed almost every sentence could be a quote. Chesterton’s exposition on his journey to becoming a Christian is, as he says, not in the general way of apologetics. He doesn’t prove Christianity is true. But he shows in more ways than I can count why it might be, and perhaps even more, why it’s the most appealing. I’m not doing this book or its author justice. Just read it if you haven’t.

Princess Academy – Shannon Hale

My mother dear read this and wanted me to read it. It’s a story about a mountain girl named Miri whose village is prophesied to be the home of the future princess. A school is started to educate the girls for a year before the prince comes to choose his bride. It’s full of twists and surprises and interesting descriptions of a village that exists entirely to mine marble-like stone called linder. And of course teen-aged girls and a mean school teacher. (Are school stories going to be overdone by the time I finish Melod’s story? Grr.) I enjoyed this, but I may have spent too much time not doing other things because I had to find out what would happen. Interesting, but not my favorite.

Law and Liberty – Rousas John Rushdoony (Currently reading)

My dear pen pal gave me this for my birthday, but until now I haven’t been disciplined enough to get very far into it. It’s good stuff, written in the mid-sixties, about how true liberty only comes from laws based on Biblical morality. It’s reminding me of why it’s important that Christians be involved in politics, and even the purpose of law:

“Laws grounded in the Bible do not attempt to save man or to usher in a brave new world, a great society, world peace, a poverty-free world, or any other such ideal. The purpose of Biblical law, and all laws grounded on a Biblical faith, is to punish and restrain evil, and to protect live and property, to provide justice to all people. It is not the purpose of the state and its laws to change or reform men: this is a spiritual matter and a task for religion. Man can be changed only by the grace of God through the ministry of His word. Man cannot be changed by statist legislation; he cannot be legislated into a new character. The evil will or heart of a man can be restrained by law, in that a man can be afraid of the consequences of disobedience.” (Rushdoony, page 3)

The Cross and the Call – Aaron Gruben (Currently reading)

This is an extraordinary epic tale of a young man named Peter who goes on the Crusades, rather in the vein of G.A. Henty, full of good characters, adventure, mystery, history, and the call to Biblical courage and wisdom. I can’t tell you to buy it yet, because it’s a manuscript I’m reading for a friend, but when it is published I think you will never find a more interesting, more researched book written by a vet student! ;)

Summer Summery intro: Hello again!

For all my dear friends who have not seen a letter from me in ages, or have fruitlessly checked my blog and seen neither hide nor hair of me (nor the written equivalent), please accept my apologies. My excuses are of course very good and interesting, as are those of all procrast- ehem, that is, highly-occupied people… Anyways, here is a series of catch-up posts, broken up so we can pretend I’ve faithfully written them over several days instead of in one day’s spurt. ;)