Sunday, April 29, 2012

finished my first Jaywalker!

Now, if I just make a second sock, I'll have actually done something useful. :)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In the spirit of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" . . .

If you teach your daughter to crochet, your son with have to resign himself to having sharply-turned-out dinosaurs.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What makes foul language foul?

I read an interesting blog entry today, over at 777 Peppermint Place, about foul language. The author, Linda Yezak, has a really good point, I think, about semantic drift: the English language changes with each generation, and what used to be "foul language" becomes normal speech, acceptable in front of any audience.

She has a poll on the bottom of the entry, because she does a lot of editing, and is wondering which words she should be red-lining as possibly offensive to Christian readers. I voted, and then wrote this comment:

. . . the words you mentioned don’t necessarily bother me. I put foul language in two categories: profanity and vulgarity. Profanity (using sacred words, usually one of God’s names, as swears) bothers me greatly. Vulgarity doesn’t bother me much at all, though its overuse does. I mean, the great difference between “bowel movement” and “sh**” is that one is fancy and one is common. It’s not a value difference, it’s a class difference. (It’s interesting, btw, to study our words for bodily functions and see which derive from French – i.e., came over with the aristocratic Normans – and which have Saxon origins – i.e., became lower-class words when the Saxons became a conquered people.)
I think it’s wrong to use foul language in order to offend someone. It’s wrong to cuss someone out. I think it’s wrong to use the name of Jesus to curse. I think it’s sad if you use vulgarities because you don’t have a rich enough vocabulary to use anything else. But I think that it’s appropriate to use it sometimes (e.g., when you hit your thumb with a hammer? it’s appropriate to say something less than pleasant!).
But I might be wrong! The problem with words is that you can't be sure that your understand of their meaning is the same understanding held by the person you're talking to. Maybe when you say "sh**", you're thinking, "this situation is as disgusting to me as a bowel movement" - in other words, you're making an analogy. But perhaps the person who hears it doesn't think of the literal meaning of the word, perhaps when they hear you they think about the social meaning - about how using that kind of language means that you're someone who doesn't care about the strictures of polite society, you're someone who doesn't care about the rules, you're a scofflaw, a care-for-nothing.

You've got to think about connotation, not just denotation. That's what makes it such an interesting subject: language has layers. There's the dictionary meaning, and there's the meaning-in-context.

What do you think?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, April 23, 2012

Getting Geeky About "Once Upon a Time": "The Return"

This episode really brought a bunch of plot and character threads together, didn't it?

Oh, one thing before serious analysis: Emma's hair has bugged me for forever: gorgeous, perfect, long, loose blonde curls on a cop? Really? But then I heard someone (on TWOP, I believe) point out: she's the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. She essentially is a fairy-tale princess. So she has fairy-tale-princess hair. So now I love it.

Right, "The Return". (SPOILERS from here on out.)

I love the confrontation in the beginning between Regina and Mr. Gold. Along with Emma, I think these two characters form the heart of the show. I'm not a gamer, but watching them still makes me want to assign them alignments, role-playing style. Mr. Gold would be either a true neutral, or a neutral evil - he's bound by his own code of "deals", but while he doesn't go out of his way to cause trouble, he has no compunction harming anyone who is in his way. And part of what makes Regina such a fantastic character is that she's the true lawful evil: she is the law: she's the queen. It's her country, her town. But there isn't a spark of beneficence in her.

And I think this is what leads her to underestimate Mr. Gold, again and again, because the most natural way to misunderstand someone else is to assume that he's like you, and then to be surprised when he acts like himself.

The Baelfire storyline in the fairy tale world was fun mostly in how it set us, the audience, up for a fall. It was easy for us to figure out that Booth was Bael before Mr. Gold realized it, which made us feel very clever. Which made the twist at the end so much more effective, because we were set up for it right along with Gold, and got all the fun of the reveal surprising us precisely because we thought the reveal had already happened. Way to go, show!

And Emma's vow at the end to reclaim her son was great. Emma's disbelief in the curse has been growing wearisome over the past few episodes, and I've been longing for her to start pro-actively trying to break it. But I'll take her pro-actively fighting Regina; it's a good enough substitute for now.

And the fact that we found out more about the nature of the curse (i.e., why Rumplestiltskin was willing to create it in the first place) means there might be more action on the curse-breaking front soon.

Now for Some Wild Speculation
Since Booth isn't Baelfire (right? I'm not the only one thinking he might still turn out to be Bael, am I? why wouldn't Bael lie to his father about who he was?), we're left with the question: where is Bael? And here's my wild speculation: I think Bael might turn out to be Henry's father. Because Mr. Gold being Henry's grandfather would just be too, too awesome for words. (Can you imagine Regina's rage if that turned out to be true? It could mean an end game that put Gold and Emma on the same side.)

Okay, that's my geeking out for the week. Fairy tales are so much fun. Let me know what you thought of this week's episode!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

p.s. And Sidney in this episode? Wow. Pretty sad. I have a feeling he's going to end up locked in the basement of the mental asylum along with Belle.

Links: How to Grieve, and plays that tell us how to live

"A Time to Mourn":
In light of the fact of the reality of death, how do we relate to other people? “Love ‘em while they are warm!” Ask: "Who can I love right now? Who can I forgive right now that is still alive?" Death is so final and dead bodies are so cold.
 BBC Shakespeare Dramas:  - including, in the cast of Twelfth Night, David Tennant of Doctor Who fame. Subscribe now, because these free podcasts have expiration dates.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, April 20, 2012

Praying Through the Psalms

Today I'm talking about praying through the Psalms as a devotional practice, over at Regency Reflections.

C'mon by, and let us know how you use the Psalms in your prayer life too!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

daybook for 4/16/12: back from Bright Week

outside my window . . . it's dark. I'm back to blogging late in the day.

I am listening to . . . an old ballad. I don't know the name - it's from my husband's playlist, not mine - but it's mournful and beautiful both.

I am wearing . . . workout clothes. I went straight from the "30 Day Shred" to making dinner, to reading to my daughter, to putting the kids to bed, to doing the dishes. Now I'm sitting, and boy won't that shower be nice when I get to it at my bedtime.

I am so grateful for . . . my kids.

I'm pondering . . . how the Trinity is the gospel. (Thank you, Dr. Sanders!)

I am reading . . . The Deep Things of God, as noted above. I read the chapter on salvation today, as I sat in the shade and minded my kids while they played at the park. It started slowly, but it grew to a glorious crescendo. I think the last half of that chapter was worth the price of the whole book.

Also, I'm careening towards the end of Essie Summers' autobiography. It's a long and chatty book, but it's also like a time capsule back to the time just after the second world war - and the world she takes you to is all about domestic life and the writing life. I'm fascinated by it. So many differences from my days in the particulars, but such similarities in overarching themes.

I am creating . . . my contemporary romance. Today I wrote my heroine halfway through a very uncomfortable conversation. Because you should always make your heroes uncomfortable by showing their embarrassments instead of making your readers uncomfortable by skipping over something you've made them anticipate.

around the house . . . almost time to switch out the kids' clothes for the next-bigger sizes. I can just feel it.

from the kitchen . . . made fried rice today. Made it extra eggy because yesterday we were treated to real Thai cooking and I felt I ought to at least try to live up to our hosts' good examples.

real education in our home . . . reading good books to the kids. Still. Always. Read a chapter of "The Tower of Geburah" with Bess and the younger ones got a good dose of Henry and Mudge.

the church year in our home . . . finishing up the Easter candy. :D

recent milestones . . . for the kids? Our twins were baptized at the Easter vigil service. For me? I rewrote/edited my last novel, and am sneaking up to "The End" on the current one.

the week ahead. . . oh, if I have my way, just a good, ordinary week.  That never seems to happen, though.

picture thought . . . um, I have no idea if I've posted this before, but if I haven't, shame on me. (My friends are nerdier than your friends.)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, April 9, 2012

off for Easter week

Happy Easter, everyone!

I'm taking Easter week off from blogging, in order to spend time having fun with my family.

No promises that all said fun will be quite as goofy as this:

(You can hardly tell us apart, can you?)

But it might be close.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Progress on the Chain Reaction Afghan (crochet)

I've finished two new squares since the last time I posted about this scrap blanket. First, "Intertwining Loops" by Victoria Hewerdine Thornton (I'm thinking of backing this one, since it'll provide so little warmth):

Then, "Snow at Midnight", by Marion Braum:

And here are all nine completed squares together:

Eleven to go!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Compromise Isn't Inherently Evil

Simple Mom has a fascinating guest post today by Corey Allan entitled "Want a Great Marriage? Don't Compromise".  I really liked some of his points - he has some good stuff to say about how bitter thoughts about what your spouse owes you on occasions when you don't insist on doing things your own way can corrupt a marriage.

But I think he's wrong about compromise. Here's the comment I wrote over there:
I think the primary problem with this article shows up in your last sentence, which frames all conflict as a strict either/or. Sure, sometimes one person is right and the other wrong, and then talking it out (carefully and kindly) is what’s needed. But sometimes you’re both wrong, or you’re not wrong, but you’re missing information and need to learn more in order to gain the needed perspective.
The other problem is that earlier in the article you’re talking about wants (golf, visiting, etc.) and then later on in the article you’re talking about matters of principle. I don’t think these can be handled the same way. Giving up my wants sometimes makes me unhappy, but giving them up *is* a matter of integrity, because I promised to love, and love involves putting someone else before yourself. It’s charity to sometimes have steak when you like chicken better, you know? It’s not compromising my personhood – lying about my preferences would be, but not insisting on them isn’t.
Finally, I think you’re right about the poisonous effects of bitter *thoughts* about reciprocity, but a great deal of the poison can be drawn by just speaking those thoughts aloud to your spouse. There’s a huge difference between unspoken resentment and an honest statement of, “Okay, we’ll do this thing you want, but you should know it’s going to take a lot of effort on my part, so afterwards can we do this other thing that I like?” That’s good and honest and helpful. (And compromise. :D )
But even though I disagree with some of what he said, I think it's a great post, and really interesting, and I recommend it to you as food for thought worth chewing on a bit.

And then come back here and let me know what you think too!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, April 2, 2012

Exercise DVD Review: Killer Buns and Thighs (Jillian Michaels)

This is a review of Killer Buns and Thighs, a new-ish Jillian Michaels exercise DVD.

Level 1 - Lets get the time thing out of the way first: this is advertised as being about thirty minutes long; the workout itself is 37 minutes long by my clock, and the whole first level, including intro and stretching, is a full 40. Truth in advertising? Not so much.

Now, the workout is excellent. I was feeling the promised burn by the end of the first circuit, and not just because I'd been roller-skating earlier. This first level is a nice mix of the familiar (squats and lunges) and the innovative. I really liked some of the yoga and martial-arts inspired moves, including going from a very low lunge up into Warrior 3, and a combo move that involved front kick, side kick, and back kick from karate, with a squat in between each kick. The plie squat with heel raises? Ouch. The static chair pose on one leg? Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Level 2 - I can barely begin to express the terrible, terrible, terrible things Jillian managed to think up for this level. It seems like everything in here is either isometric or plyometric or both. Let me just list a few of the terrible, terrible, terrible things:

-one-legged burpies. ONE-LEGGED BURPIES, people. This means you're squatting down on one leg, jumping back into plank on one leg, jumping back up into a squat on one leg, and jumping up into the air on. one. leg. Owwwww.
-reverse squats. You start in "goddess squat" (name from yoga), which means you're down as far as you can go, flat-footed, bottom just above the ground. Then you go up into a normal squart, i.e., your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then back down. And start over. Ow, ow, ow.
-star jumps. I just . . . so you start in a squat with your feet right next to each other, all curled up. Then you jump up, arms and legs wide, as if you were in the second half of a jumping jack, except you're way up off the ground, in mid-air. Then you gather yourself back into the starting position before you hit the ground. It's like a very extreme version of a jumping jack.

And on and on it goes. Let me say this: you certainly get your money's worth on this level.

Level 3 - Not so bad. A few repeats from her "Ripped in 30" DVD. Definitely some pain, but I liked this level - especially the one-legged deadlifts. That hurt good.

Conclusion? Great DVD. When Jillian puts her mind to it, she makes the best exercise DVDs out there.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell