Saturday, May 28, 2011

Links! Harry Potter, bats and disasters

Wow, this open letter from Alan Rickman upon the end of the Harry Potter movie series is pretty awesome.

Oh my, if you thought you were having a bad day, you should read about author Robin McKinley's day. It involves 410 (yes, 410) bats in her attic. (But it also involves a note from Elizabeth Moon . . . so it can't be all bad.)

These maps of the US that show the likelihood of various disasters in different regions of the country are interesting. My question is: why is there a spot in the middle of the country that's prone to earthquakes? I understand why the states on the Rim of Fire are prone to them, but what's that hot spot near western Tennesee?

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Log Cabin Scrapghan

I know I'm posting lots of blogs about crafts and links and not much else, but that's because it's the end of the school year, and I'm giving myself a bit of a break from all things writing-related, so that I can concentrate on finishing the year well.

Of course, I'm still jotting down lots of blogging ideas, so I have a dozen or so half-started blogs in process. At some point those will become full-fledged posts, and this blog will expand again to include more than just, "ooh, interesting!" and "ooh, pretty!" :D

In the meantime, I think crocheting is keeping me sane. It's so rhythmic and soothing. And the results are so satisfying:

I wasn't sure who this blanket was meant for when I started it. It was just an effort to use up odd bits and bobs of leftover yarn.

But as I finished it up this past week, my little Anna kept coming over and petting it, and talking about how pretty the colors were. So I think it's found its owner.

Working on this scrapghan has been very satisfying. You know how nice it is to use up the last can of something you bought ages ago that's sat in your pantry for forever? Or to finally drag out and plant the seeds that have been sitting in the cupboard since last fall? It's that kind of feeling. "Look! I took something that could have been tossed and instead found a use for it! I imposed order! I made room for beauty!" Honestly there's something right and proper about that. Something satisfying. It's not the same as internal order, and not as good, but I think sometimes that imposing external order - ordering the tangible - gives us the picture we need - the necessary example - for imposing order on our hearts. It's like this, whisper our crafts. What God wants to do in your heart is something like this. Let Him be to you as you are to this craft. Let Him have free reign to make the beautiful thing He can already see in the raw materials. Give over and watch. Give over and be made new.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Links - death, Thor, & more

Anne Kennedy on funerals. Very cross-cultural, very Christian. Right on.

Pro-life, pro-death? My husband explains how you can be both (sort of).

I can't help but like this one: apparently moms of twins are superwomen! (Biologically speaking.)

A review of Thor from an expert on all things Norse. His observations on how the film-makers were unable to truly imagine a pagan god are particularly interesting.

Need help remembering how to play "Rocks, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock"? This handy chart should help.

Where do writers get their ideas? As Patricia Wrede explains, it's not so much where they get them, but what they do with them once they have them.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

pretty green and gold

An easy little project, just a crochet chain stitch with seed beads added. But so pretty!

I'm in the middle of finishing a huge afghan project, but took time off to make this little necklace. Totally worth it!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quick Takes

Seven Quick Takes is the brain child of the brilliant Jen Fulwiler. Find more Quick Takes here, and while you're there, subscribe to her blog, because she's a great writer.

And onto the list!

1. Is it impious to call Ezekiel "the Flannery O'Conner of the Bible"? They really do seem to have a lot in common: crudity, vivid imagery and a terrifying sense of the holiness of God.

2.There are a couple of magazine subscriptions we receive every couple of months even though we never signed up for them. One is a men's magazine that's less scandalous than some (everyone's clothed, but barely). Happily there's a trash can right next to our mail box. In it goes!

But this week, also without us ever asking for it, we got a rosary in the mail. With Pope John Paul on it. That is not scandalous, but it will probably also never find use inside this house, given that we're Anglican.

Still . . . a publication full of scantily clad women vs. a Catholic rosary? The variety present amongst our unsolicited mail astonishes me.

3. I worry about the state of grammar in our household. On the one hand, my eldest daughter spontaneously rattled off a list of pronouns ("him, her, their, theirs, it, its . . .") when the word "pronoun" was mentioned in conversation at my parent's house the other day. On the other hand, I overheard this argument between my three-year-old twins recently, as they fought over seating space:

"There no plenty room!"

"Yes there ARE!"

3. Have you ever bought a big bottle of Pedialyte when your kids were sick, only to find that it was a 24-hour bug, and they were well before half of that bottle was used? Breaks my frugal little heart. BUT, I discovered that there is such a thing as Pedialyte pops. They come in plastic, freezable tubes, sort of like Otter Pops, but filled with Pedialyte instead. (They even come in store brands.)

The wonderful thing about them is that you only use the amount you need, and the rest of it can stay, unfrozen, in the cabinet until you're ready to use it. You don't even have to freeze them - you can just open a pop and pour it into a cup for the poor, pukey darling.

I just pass it on in case anyone else might find it useful. Though I hope no one actually needs the knowledge, as pukey kids do not equal the awesome.

4. My husband pointed out that referring to myself as a "fiber artist" in my one of my posts was kind of geeky. (At least I didn't say "fibre artist".) I said, well, "crocheter" sounds funny. And "hooker" is even worse.

He replied that I could pronounce the first one "croshitter."

I married such a helpful guy.

6. I read a blog comment today that stated that abortion rights shouldn't be thought of as a "women's issue" because stating it that way inadvertently confirmed the "gender binary" as a norm (i.e., that there are only two sexes and only one of them needs abortions). I'm just boggling at that a bit, and sharing my bogglement with you. You're welcome.

No, seriously, I think it's sort of horrifying that the conversation has gone that far in some quarters. Or at least, that it's gone that far in a non-theoretical sense.

7. I think I figured out why three-year-old twins are such trouble. When my oldest was that age, and wanted to do something, she'd ask me. When my son was that age, he'd ask my eldest, and my eldest would say, "Let's ask Mom."

But my twins? They ask each other. And they always think it's a good idea. And I don't find out about it until they are miles into their new creative endeavour.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

I didn't know that I liked thousand-page-long fantasy epics.* But Sanderson might have convinced me otherwise.

The first and most obvious thing to say about The Way of Kings is that it is a bit over a thousand pages long.

The second thing to say about it is: you won't mind. In fact, if you're like me, you'll get up the morning after you finish the thing and be disappointed that there isn't more to read.

It's not compelling because it's suspenseful - although it does get suspenseful at the end - but because it's interesting. The setting is the most striking thing about it: the Stormlight world is fully realized, and its features and curiosities only become more interesting as the plot unfolds - plants that grow rock shells around themselves to withstand the infrequent, raging winds the scour the plains, the odd bits and pieces of myth that hang about the edges of the world, occasionally, astonishingly proving to be more than myth, the huge monsters with gem hearts hidden under their carapaces . . . it's all bizarre and vast and beautifully coherent.

But even though the setting is what's most striking, what's most compelling about the story is its characters, especially Kaladin, a surgeon-become-soldier-become-slave. (It cannot possibly be an accident that "Kaladin" sounds like "paladin".) Kaladin reminds me of Cazaril from Bujold's Chalion books, and he has a similar character arc. And this is where the thousand-page length of the novel really becomes a virtue: the length of the novel allows Kaladin's slow transformation from a beaten man to a leader to feel realistic. It happens so gradually you don't realize what's going on until you have hundreds of pages to look back on. But when you do look back, you go, "Ahhh . . ." and happily settle in for the next hundred, just to see how our hero is going to change in response to the next impossible challenge.

For me, the only place the story dragged was during the flashbacks. Happily, the flashbacks are short (comparatively) and infrequent. I kind of wish they weren't there, because they interrupt the flow of the story and, though often action-heavy, they seem slower than the rest of the book.

But that's a really minor quibble. The flashbacks, especially because they're short, are totally worth it for the enjoyment of the rest of the book.

The theology of the books (like every good fantasy, it has a theological element) was the least compelling part of the book for me. It's nothing like as insightful as the theology of Chalion. But it's also very clear that, well, that the theology of the first book isn't clear. The characters don't know much about what's going on with the gods in this first volume, and we readers know only a little more. It'll be interesting to see where he goes with it in later books; the plot does lead me to believe that we'll get a clearer picture of it in future volumes, since a lot of the plot is driven by the characters' search for knowledge. So far, it seems to be more of a Greek pantheon situation, where they gods are not so much more than men, and so you sort of have to read it accordingly, with due discernment.

Wonderful read though. Recommended.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

*The Lord of the Rings totally doesn't count.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Links! - Lent and Saints and Poetry and, and, and . . . I dunno. Lots of stuff. This one is long, folks.

I missed momco3 over the last couple of months! But she's back with a blog entry about what she learned during Lent. Go read!

Here are a couple really good posts by Simcha Fisher about the saints and how to think about their often-imperfect lives. The first one ends with a tagline that almost speaks for itself, "I like the way he did it better than the way you don't," and the second one is labeled "For Some Reason Saints Act Like Human Beings." I like this part:

God is the light, and the saints are various types of lamps: Some produce a lovely glow; some produce a brilliant beam. Some make more heat; others are better for atmosphere. Some are for ballrooms, some are for bedsides, some are for keeping traffic orderly. The light inside is the same, but different styles show that light in different ways. A surgeon wouldn’t use a Tiffany lamp in the operating room—but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the Tiffany lamp. It’s just not the right one for that particular job.

I honestly think this is just as helpful an observation for Protestants as it is for Catholics, maybe even more so, as we tend to look more at the saints still alive with us than the ones who have gone ahead . . . and heavens knows, the behavior of the saints still alive can make you crazy sometimes. (Chief among them myself. Heh.) Anyway: great post, great thinking-through of the subject. Very helpful.

This entry starts slowly, but I love, love, love the end. Reminds me so much of Adam and me.

Apparently there's a Children's Poetry Laureate, and it's currently Mary Ann Hoberman, who wrote the wonderful "The Seven Silly Eaters" (current favorite storybook here at Casa Snell).

If I liked pink just a little bit more, I'd totally go for this needlepoint sampler. It's so cute!

"The less you have to give up, the easier it is," Kelly says in her post "Babies and Marriage". It's a neat meditation on having kids early in marriage, and the character growth that has to ensue.

My friend has a review of "Moulin Rouge" on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. I watched it about the same time he did - back in college - and remember it as both beautiful and disgusting. His review does a great job of explaining what's behind both of those impressions.

David Wilkerson (of "The Cross and the Switchblade" fame) died recently; Lars Walker has a tribute.

I thought the Duchess of Cambridge's dress on Friday was perfect, but I also loved this slide show of past royal wedding gowns, narrated by the curator of the collection.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell