Friday, April 29, 2011

Yarn and Easter Egg Dyes

One of the lovely things about being a liturgical Christian is that you don't need to get all your holiday done on one day. Easter is fifty days long, and if you don't get all your celebrating done on Easter Sunday itself, it's fine.

We didn't dye our eggs till yesterday. And when we were done, there was, of course, dye leftover.

And I had this yarn:

Pretty, but I'm not really a peach person. I bought it along with something else I really wanted once upon a time on Etsy. So I cut off a couple of pieces and test-dyed them. Here are the little dyed bits sitting on the unaltered yarn:

Blue! Green! Much more me. So I started the dye process, assisted by a little girl with pretty Easter-egg colored nail polish on:

I ended up with this:
Turning it over, I found that I'd been overly-ambitious and that it wasn't such a good idea to stuff three skeins of yarn into one Corningware dish - see the undyed peachy stuff underneath?

So I added some food coloring and heated it again. I got most of the peach stuff out, though there's still a bit here and there. Here it is when I was re-skeining it over the backs of two dining room chairs:

The cool thing is, I did get the long color changes I wanted. Instead of being variegated, it actually has a long length of green and then a long length of blue and then a long length of purple.

Here it is all pretty and dry:

I admit that it's not quite the color I was hoping for, and still a little too pink to be perfect, but for a first try I'm pretty pleased!

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

"Is this a purely hypothetical question?"

Jess: hey, you know what would make the twins really easy to tell apart?
Jess: If one of them had bangs
Jess: isn't that a good idea?
Adam: um...
Adam: I suppose.
Jess: well
Adam: Is this a purely hypothetical question?
Jess: LUCY thought it was a good idea.
Jess: And, no,
Jess: no, it isn't.
Adam: hehehehe

Sunday, April 24, 2011

the Lord is risen!

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The sun arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.

-from Easter, by George Herbert

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Saturday, April 23, 2011

just in the nick of time! Gamgee's Easter vest

It is so bright. So very bright. But the boy likes it, and I figure a bright color is just right for Bright Week:

If you think of it, please keep him in your prayers, as he's being baptized tomorrow.

A good Holy Saturday to you all,

Jessica Snell

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Links! Hobbit holes, Lars Walker, the sexual revolution, and more!

Do you want your very own hobbit hole? Check this one out!

I think I might have my husband hooked on Lars Walker's books. Here's his review of The Year of the Warrior. Given his reaction, may I suggest that if you're looking for a Father's Day gift, this might be a good one?

Anthony Esolen's essay, "Sexual Revolution: Defend It, If You Can", can be found here and is well worth reading. An excerpt:

Sex—both the distinction between man and woman, and the act that unites man and woman in the embrace that is essentially oriented towards the future—is a foundational consideration for every people. When we ask, “Will a man be allowed to have more than one wife?” or “Will husbands and wives be allowed to divorce at will?” or “Will unmarried people be encouraged to behave as if they were married?”, we are asking, whether we understand it fully or not, “What kind of culture, if any, do we want to share?”

Last week I mentioned that we'd enjoyed a great new vegetarian recipe this Lent, but then I didn't give you a link to the recipe. I'm sorry! Here it is, the super-yummy black-bean pizza. (I leave off the avocados, but that's just because I - heretic Californian that I am! - don't like them that much.)

"Dear Auntie Leila: I don't know what to do for Easter." Good stuff.

Also good: "Men of Easter: John".

Semantic Drift: "Prevent"

There are some old words that no one uses anymore that I love, but there are even more old words that everyone uses, but uses without the old meanings, and I miss those old meanings.

"Prevent" is a great word that has come to mean only "stop from happening". But it used to mean something more like "came before" or "went around in front of".

You can see it in the King James version of the Bible, in verses like Psalm 79:8: O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.

The Psalmist is not asking God's mercies to stop him, but rather to go before him. When it comes to etymology, "pre" is obviously "before" and I'm guessing that "vent" means "come" (like the Spanish "venir").

Isn't that a great word? I know there's no real fighting against semantic drift - well, no really fighting-and-winning - but I am tempted when it comes to this word.

Especially because it seems like it would be such a useful word in prayer - just see how many times it's used in the older translations of the Psalms! How many times a day do I want the Lord to prevent me? As many times a day as there are times in a day.

Lord, prevent me as I go. Go before me. Let me abide in your footsteps, moving behind you as you go.

It's a good word.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Looking back on this Lent

My favorite part of this Lent has been the Bible memorization. I’ve not gotten nearly through as much scripture as I’d hoped – I’d hope to memorize all of John 14-17. But I have got chapter 14 almost all the way down. And it’s been really, really good. That passage of scripture is so dense, it’s almost like I can’t pay enough attention to it to get what it’s saying unless I memorize it. It takes that level of attention. It’s that dense, that packed with meaning.

Anyway, one of my most precious memories from this Lent is when my son – who’s being baptized on Easter – asked me why we couldn’t see Jesus. And as I started answering him, I found that I knew exactly what to say. I hardly ever know exactly what to say! But, you know what? Why we can’t see Jesus is exactly what John 14 is about. I’m going, He says, to the Father. But I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. I’m going to send you the Spirit, and He will remind you of everything I’ve told you . . . I would never have had all of that right in my hands, ready to answer my son, if I hadn’t memorized it. The grace of God to me, and to Gamgee.

Pastor Kang was right. Scripture memorization makes it easier for the Holy Spirit to guide us and instruct us. I experienced that this Lent. It is something I don’t want to give up when Lent is over.

Where Lent Meets Ordinary Time

Have you noticed that, by the way? That your Lenten disciplines tend to spill over into your Ordinary Time life? It seems like every Lent I take on at least one discipline which I totally bomb (this Lent, that would be reading Dante), a few that are good, but that I just don’t get at as deep a level as I eventually ought (food fasting, this Lent), and at least one that I was ready for, that I don’t ever give up again. I always remember my first Lent, when we went vegetarian for the first time. We’ve been eating vegetarian regularly (not exclusively, but as a regular part of our lives) ever since. It was a good that lasted. I think scripture memorization is going to be the one that sticks for me, this year, please God.

I love Lent. I rarely enjoy Lent. But I do love it. It is such a good tool in God’s hands. I always learn, I always grow. I often think I learn more from the places where I fail than the places where I succeed. (I’m thinking hard about why it’s been so hard for me to read the Purgatorio, why I dislike food fasting so heartily . . . no hard conclusions yet, but lots of grass to ruminate.)

Some Conclusions Anyways

I sometimes think the purpose of fasting is to make it clear to us what sinners we really are. Not in a defeating, accusing way (the way the Enemy likes to make it clear to us), but more the way tiredness reveals the two-year-old-ness of two-year-olds. The voice you hear isn’t the diabolical, “well what did you think you were, you scum?” but the fatherly, “you really are tired, aren’t you small one? Come and rest.”

As Lewis pointed out, our good moods often aren’t, as we’d like to suppose, evidence of our virtue, but evidence of our full bellies and our health. Take away food or health or rest and you can see how weak you really are. But fasting, in its orderliness, reveals that to us in a way that we can stand. It doesn’t destroy us because it is intrinsically linked to prayer, and so as soon as our weakness is revealed, there we are in the presence of our Father. And there our weakness isn’t despair, it’s joy, because He is ever ready to supply our lack. Praise God!

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

a snood for everyday

Isn't "snood" a perfectly ugly word? So sorry I couldn't think of a prettier way to word the title of this post!

Anyway, I've made this pattern before, but I wanted to make another one; this time I wanted to make one that would go with just about everything.

So I picked a crochet thread about the color of my hair: just plain brown. I like the result:

I think I'll get a lot of use out of this, though probably not until the winter comes 'round again. During the summer, I really like my hair off my neck please, and even this hairstyle is too hot for comfort.

But during the winter, this is an easy, simple way to wear my hair, and now I have an everyday snood, a work-a-day snood: it's the blue jeans of snoods. ;)

Snood, snood, snood. If I say it over and over again, will it sound less ugly? SNOOOOOOD. Nope.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Monday, April 18, 2011

Links! - Marie Curie's daughters, a Dutch superbus and a gospel-sharing priest

Just a few links today!

I remember reading a biography of Marie Curie when I was young, but I'd never heard about her daughters. Wow, what a story!

I want a Dutch superbus! This think is like the Batmobile meets and 24-passenger van (is there such a thing as a 24-passenger van?); it's amazing.

This story about an evangelical (as in, evangelizing) Catholic priest is inspiring! I think Father Tony has the right idea! We should all share our Lord's love as easily and as cheerfully. (Hat tip to Conversion Diary for the link.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday Scripture Readings

I got a double-dose of a lot of the Palm Sunday readings, because the St. James Devotional Guide readings matched up with what we read in church today*. Because of that, I'm actually remembering to blog about something I noticed in church today.
Matthew 27:18 says: For [Pilate] knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.
And that reminded me of Proverbs 27:4: Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
I don't have much to say besides simply pointing it out. But it is interesting to me that this, at least in a direct, practical sense, was what slew Jesus: envy. The envy of the chief priests and the officials. Who can stand before envy? Not even Him, on that day.
But, of course, He chose to submit Himself to that doom, He chose to submit Himself to death, so it isn't quite what it sounds. And He triumphed three days later. Against death. Against all sins. Even envy.
So, I'm not sure what it means or, I guess, how much it means. But I think those two verses next to each other are interesting. It certainly makes me want to check my own heart against that particular sin.
Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell
*In the Anglican church, Palm Sunday is also known as "Passion Sunday" because we read through the entire account of the Passion from one of the gospels on this day each year - this year it was Matthew.

the final Easter dress

I didn't get a good picture of the whole thing, but this should give you the idea:
I made a lining with a flounce around the bottom to help the skirt stand out a little bit:

Now I just have Gamgee's vest to go!

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Thursday, April 14, 2011

lots of lace!

I've finished all three dresses!

Well, I've finished all the crochet-work; I still have to line one of them, so I have no good pictures of that yet. I lucked out on Bess' though, because she has a slip from another dress that fits perfectly under the one I made, which saves me making a lining. Here's the dress:

I made the skirt (see the pretty skirt?)

using Doris Chan's Walking After Midnight pattern. It's a pattern for an adult skirt, so I took out a couple of the pattern repeats in order to make the waist smaller, and then I added a bodice of my own design, stealing the shell stitch pattern from yet another book.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. But Bess? she's pleased with how twirly it is:

Quick Book Reviews: What I've Read Lately

-Bujold, Lois McMaster. Cryoburn- Second time through this one, and while it wasn't the gut-punch it was the first time, I think I was able to read it more slowly and appreciate it more.


I read an Amazon review of this that really frustrated me, because it complained that the ending of this story was just tacked on. FOR THE SAKE OF ALL THE LITTLE FISHIES IN THE OCEANS, PEOPLE. This might be the most thematically brilliant book I've ever read. The entire book was about death. And as soon as I got to that last chapter, and realize what was about to happen, my jaw dropped. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Could anything else have been a fit preparation for the death of the Count? And the last little paragraph, from Cordelia's perspective, reminding us of Ensign Dubauer of long ago . . . it's the glory of the series format that allows you moments like that. Wow. Wow, wow, wow.

And yes, I cried. Again.

Brown, Harriet. Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia

- A book about anorexia as a family problem, and not just an individual one, written by the mother of a daughter with the disease. One of the fascinating things about this book was the way the mother was forced to anthropomorphize her daughter's disorder, in order to have an enemy that wasn't her daughter herself. A hard and hopeful book, but in the end, mostly hard.

Oliver, Lauren. Delirium - I was hoping for something Hunger Game-ish in this book, and it is similar in that it's a YA book set in a near-future, corrupt-government, post-apocalyptic setting. Easy to read (I mean that as a compliment - the author did the work for the reader, as the author ought). But I think the story suffered because of the narcissism of the heroine. She was only concerned about herself and not, like Katniss, concerned for others. There is a little sister figure who is in just as much danger as the heroine, and throughout the entire novel, I was waiting for the heroine to worry about the little girl's future and safety, but she never did. That was disappointing.

Also, in this sort of story, the premise always addresses a problem in contemporary society. In the Hunger Games, for instance, we're challenged about our habit of watching other people's pain and destruction for our own entertainment, and about our blindness about the suffering in the rest of the world. In this book, we seem to be challenged about how we view love and passion as something scary and disruptive . . . except that I really don't think that's a danger in our society. Our society embraces love and passion - I mean, we try to sell things by implying that they'll making you passionate and make people fall in love with you. I don't think anyone needs to worry about Americans becoming passionless. So, the whole time I was reading it, I was distracted from the narrative by how misplaced the social commentary seemed to me. The author seemed to be spending all of her time yelling at social conservatives and Puritans who, to be frank, really aren't in command of our culture anymore. Why spend your time yelling at the losers? To push us further off the side of the hill we're falling down anyway?

But, all that said, the narrative is interesting, and just as an entertaining story, this book has a lot to recommend it.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - This time through, what really struck me were the characters of Lupin and of Sirius Black. I admit, I half fell in love with Lupin this time through. He is, possibly, the most heroic person in the whole series. He's almost an archtype of the repentant sinner: a man who knows exactly who he is, and holds himself always ready to be dismissed if his weaknesses are going to cause anyone harm, never complaining about his burden, but always ready to do good when he's allowed a part to play. I think his humility is the most attractive thing about him. Great character.

Sirius Black is a great foil to Lupin, because of his pride. He was fun to watch this time through because this time I knew who he was, and it was easy to see, with his arrogance and his ferocity (watch him drooling in his eagerness to kill Wormtail) how he is related to the Malfoys.

As so often happened, the secondary characters stole the show.

- Moon, Elizabeth. Kings of the North - Follow-up to the book I reviewed here, and another good one. I came downstairs the morning I was reading it, excited about picking up my book . . . and then slumped in disappointment when I realized there was no more to read.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

returning to the Anglican church

When we left the Episcopal church, some of our friends who left at the same time started attending an Anglican church about forty minutes away, saying, "It's not too far to travel for good Anglican worship."

At the time, thinking of trying to keep four young children happy and quiet through long car ride and formal service in an unfamiliar building and then long car ride again, I thought sarcastically, Well, maybe not for you.

It was an uncharitable reaction, which I knew even at the time, and happily I thought it and didn't say it, because this past year, as we've attended our local evangelical church, his words have continued to echo in my head - it's not too far to travel for good Anglican worship - it's not too far - and every time I remembered them, I found myself more and more inclined to agree.

Time after time, I found myself leaving our local church frustrated, angry, and sometimes even in tears. I couldn't reconcile what I'd learned - what I'd become convinced of - in Anglicanism with the way I was worshipping every Sunday. I wasn't acting in concert with my convictions and I was miserable.

After a year, my friend's statement didn't seem impossible. It didn't make me feel wistful. It made me feel convinced. In speaking to my husband, I found that we had separately come to the same realization: we knew we weren't where we should be. We knew we'd made the wrong decision. And when you make the wrong decision, you know what you should do? Repent and make the right one.

So now we're driving forty minutes every Sunday in order to take part in good Anglican worship. And I've never been happier.

I'm not altogether sorry we spent a year at our local evangelical church. We were pretty battered after our old church decided to stay Episcopal and it was good to attend a church that was geographically close and theologically sound. Their children's program was amazing and we knew our tithe was going to support the work of the gospel around the world. The people were welcoming and kind and I am still incredibly grateful to them for their ministry. I am glad they are in my city. That church is a haven.

But staying at our local evangelical church was like staying in a foreign country when I had no reason to be there. And not even a weird, unfamiliar foreign country. It was more like staying in Canada. I like Canada. I grew up in Canada. I'm happy Canadians are my neighbors. I'd visit Canada any time you gave me a chance. And if I had a job to do there, I'd happily live there again. It's a good place.

But if I don't have a reason to stay there, I'll come back to my native land, thank you. I love my neighbor, and I'm grateful for his hospitality and kindness, but I'd rather live in my home.

Staying in our local nondenominational church was like trying to be Canadian when I had no good reason to change my citizenship. When I tried to be an evangelical, I was upset and scared and unhappy. I was, simply put, homesick. I think we chose without praying about it enough or, rather, without listening patiently after we prayed. We chose the easier thing because we were scared of the harder one. But the easy thing isn't easy if it isn't right. I'm an Anglican* and I ought to be in an Anglican church if there's any way I can be.

And I hope God can help me be as good an Anglican as my friends in our local church are evangelicals. Their faith inspires me and I praise God for them.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

*Hmm. Maybe a slightly evangelical one. ;)

Book Review: Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling

This book, by Robert Kunzman, is a survey of six conservative Christian homeschooling families, scattered across the country. Kunzman visits them each twice and interviews them and gives them all a survey, trying to discern their attitudes about education, democracy and the intersection of freedom and tolerance in a diverse society.

Kunzman's primary concern about homeschooling is whether such indoctrination in the Christian religion can result in citizens capable of considering the points of view of their fellow countrymen, even when those points of view are vastly different than their own. Can a homeschooled child listen to ideas and values that are foreign to his with any kind of fairness?

To his credit, Kunzman embodies his own values. The portraits he draws of these six families are fair and kind, and while he highlights the problems each family has, he goes to great trouble to highlight their virtues even more. He disagrees with them in several areas, but he does them the honor of disagreeing with their best arguments, not their weakest ones, which makes him a better author than almost any other I've read on the subject.

As in most books like this, some of the families come across much better than others. And unlike most authors, who would put the scary families first in order to draw you in with sensationalism, Kunzman opens and closes his book with the two best families, which is more than fair, it is kind.

I don't agree with Kunzman on every issue, but I really enjoyed reading this book. The family portraits are fascinating - and alternately encouraging and disturbing - and the issues he raises are certainly worth thinking through.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


outside my window . . . a lovely day. Cool and sunny and the air still smells fresh from the rain earlier in the week.

I am listening to . . . More Mumford and Sons. How can I not love a song that starts "Serve God, love me, and mend"? That quotation from Much Ado is one of my life's mottos . . .

I am wearing . . . a long-sleeved, forest green shirt with a cowl neck. I'm enjoying my long-sleeved shirts while I can, because pretty soon the weather will take its summer turn downhill into the 90s and stay there for months, and all I'll be able to stand wearing will be sundresses and tank tops with shorts.

I am so grateful for . . . Lapsang Souchong tea. Smoky goodness. Also something that needs to be enjoyed before the summer weather begins in earnest.

I'm pondering . . . prayer and obedience.

I am reading . . . The Way of Kings, Hearing God, the Purgatorio, Acedia & Me.

I am creating . . . My eldest daughter's Easter dress. I'm on the yoke, which is the last bit to do, save pressing and lining it.

around the house . . . I have an amaryllis blooming above my kitchen sink. I picked up several flower kits (pot, dirt and bulbs) on sale for $1 after Christmas, and am planting them one at a time, spacing them out so that I always have flowers.

from the kitchen . . . I made black bean pizza last night. It's definitely our favorite new vegetarian recipe discovered this Lent.

real education in our home . . . We're getting ready for my daughter's first science fair. I'm so proud of her, because instead of just a project, she's decided to do a real experiment. She's making three different varieties of paper airplanes and testing them to see which will fly the farthest.

the church year in our home . . . Lenten cooking. Crocheting the kids' special Easter outfits. Having some serious theological conversations with our son, who is getting baptized at Easter vigil. I'm so excited for him.

recent milestones . . . I've got both of the main characters of my novel back to England (most of the novel takes place in France, but the dénouement takes place in England). Getting them back onto their native shores feels like an accomplishment to me!

the week ahead. . . We've got the science fair coming up and I've got a doctor's appointment, but other than that, it's a refreshingly normal week. I hope. :)

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lace-Making and Things that Are Better Left Unsaid

When you make lace, what you're really doing is framing negative space.
It's what you leave out that leaves space for the eye to delight in the structure of what's there.
I've been experimenting with lace-making lately, in my hobby of crochet. And as I work with yarn and hook, the structure that grows under my fingers reminds me of the work of writing a story.

All the things you shouldn't say
There are two parts of writing. First, is the trying to figure out what happens. Not making up what happens, mind. Trying to figure it out. Walking around the story and poking it and trying to make it give up its secrets. Whistling and glancing around pretending you're not paying attention so that maybe the story will go ahead and act itself out and then you can wrestle it down and figure out the plot.
Second is the writing. Which is, essentially, sitting there and watching the scene in your head and saying, "I can see it. But how to I say it?" In the scene I'm working on, there are a million things I could write about. There are three people there. I could write about how they look, how they sound, how they feel, how they smell. I've got one point-of-view character - I can write about how she feels at every moment of the story (and how we feel changes from one minute to the next, and the scene is many minutes long). I can write about what she thinks about what has happened to her, what is happening to her and what she thinks is about to happen to her. I can write down every word that comes out of the characters' mouths. And we haven't even gotten to setting. Or theme. Or action.
But if I wrote everything I can see happening in the scene, the scene would be as long as the novel ought to be. I have to choose. What is most important, what tells the story, what moves it forward, which details tie it to every other scene in the story? And once I have chosen which parts of the scene actually have to be on the page, I have to figure out which words will convey those parts.
Sit. Stare at the scene in my mind. Ask, how do I say this? how do I say it, how do I say it, how do I say it? Choose some twelve words. Read them. Tweak them. Start trying to write the next sentence.
It's no wonder I always feel like I'm leaving too much out. Writing seems to be a matter of choice, and when you choose one word, you are always not choosing every other word in the universe.**
But it's like making lace. You leave space for the eye to wander in, and that lets the eye behold the structure. You don't want it to be crowded, you want it to be ordered, you want it to be creative. You want it to be beautiful.

You want the eye of the beholder to have room to do its work.
Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

**Thanks, again, to my friend Elena, who is the first person who ever pointed out to me that this is what all choice consists of. Every time you say "yes" to one thing, you're saying "no" to everything else in the universe.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Yarn Recycling

Recently, this:
Became this:
i.e., a thrift-store sweater became a little bit over 1200 yards of 100% wool laceweight yarn, in a color I love: bright, bright blue. Maybe for a shawl? Or a lacy scarf? Or, well, lots of lacy scarves? (1200 yards is a LOT of scarf.)

And this weekend I found two new sweaters I'm very excited about frogging*:

The sweater above is half angora, half lambswool. The one below though, that's the real treat. Can you read the tag?

100% cashmere. Cashmere. Yeah, cashmere yarn is neither in the fun money part of my budget nor the gift part of my budget. (Check out this link for an idea of what it usually costs.) But, a men's large sweater at the thrift store? Definitely in the budget. It was hard to find - you could tell that most of the cashmere sweaters at the thrift store were there because someone had accidentally thrown them in the dryer, i.e., you had a sweater whose tag said "extra large" but it looked like it might fit a ten-year-old snugly. You can't pull good yarn out of a sweater that's shrunk.
But this one is in great condition. And it's sooooo soft. I hope it frogs well, because if so, I'm going to be one really happy fiber artist.

And some friends of mine might be getting really soft scarves for Christmas.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*The term "frogging" a sweater comes from the way "rip it, rip it" sounds when you say it aloud.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Links - Lenten prayers, Lenten sonnets and learning to dye (not die! for once!)

Wow, check out this prayer from the Orthodox matins service for the fifth week of Lent:
I am like the man who fell among thieves, O Master of all, for I have fallen among my sins and have been cruelly wounded by them. Yet leave me not without healing, O Lord who camest not from Samaria but from the pure Virgin. Jesus, Name that means salvation, have mercy upon me.
More here.

Over at the Lenten Ascent blog, my friend Elena is not just reflecting on Dante's Purgatorio, she's couching her reflections in sonnet form.
Due to this post, I am now going to be on the alert after Easter for Easter egg dyes at 90% off. Apparently you can use them to dye things other than eggs.
I don't know if Britney Spears does have a mental disorder, or if fame is just really corrosive, but I found this a (mostly) compassionate and thought-provoking essay about her and the odd path her career and life have taken. (Language warning, especially if you venture into the comment section.) I read this and the SAHM-mom-I'm-the-same-age-as-her part of me says, "huh," but the author part tilts her head and says, "hmmm . . ." and starts trying to understand and plots start spinning in my head.*
Now, onto good music stuff, have you heard this woman's voice? She reminds me of Ella Fitzgerald (and the drum+water glasses thing is cool too):

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell
*This might be terrible of me. I realize that.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Over at Quotidian Reader, Willa talks about commandments and about freedom. She starts by quoting Chesterton's observation, "The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted; precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden," and then, after also quoting St. Paul's "everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial," observes,

Looking towards the beneficial and the constructive, to what plants good seeds and cultivates them, is HARD, harder than just obeying the rules. Like it's harder to draw a picture that is a faithful depiction of something real, than it is to connect the dots or color in a pre-made form. But apparently God wants us to be engaged in the endeavor, as freely as possible. He gave us this ability to cooperate with Him and He doesn't want us to bury it in the ground so it will stay safe and unused, it seems.

And that's just the start. It's such a good post; go read the whole thing.

And then, a second link that makes me want to take notes: Austin Kleon's How to Steal Like An Artist. This one I'm not just linking to, I'm bookmarking it, so that I can go back and be reminded of what he says when I need reminding. It's a list of ten things he wished he'd known in college, and includes gems like this:

An artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: hoarders collect indiscriminately, the artist collects selectively. They only collect things that they really love.

There’s an economic theory out there that if you take the incomes of your five closest friends and average them, the resulting number will be pretty close to your own income.

I think the same thing is true of our idea incomes. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.

And this:

The question every young writer asks is: “What should I write?”

And the cliched answer is, “Write what you know.”

This advice always leads to terrible stories in which nothing interesting happens.

The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s write what you *like*.

Write the kind of story you like best.

We make art because we like art.

All fiction, in fact, is fan fiction.

And I'll stop there, because otherwise I'd end up quoting the whole thing. Go read it; it's awesome.