20 March 2011

The Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie

As one more step in my reading goal, and the beginning of another reading challenge - read about that challenge at the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge here - I have finished The Secret Adversary. I have read many of Agatha's books, but this was my first one that included the sleuths Tuppence and Tommy.

Like every other book of Agatha's that I've read I was absorbed. Yet with this particular one, it took a bit. The story as a whole was good, but was thinner than some of her other work. I know now that it was only her second publication, and it makes sense. I wanted more of Tuppence and Tommy; I was well into the story before I really cared for them. It may be that if it was any other detective story, I might not have continued after the first chapter or so. However, because I've grown to trust Agatha, I knew she would make me happy in the end. And she did.

Tuppence and Tommy are the best of friends, have been since they were children, and go into business together as amateur detectives. A series of events lands them a job with a mysterious Mr. Carter, who needs certain papers that a Jane Finn is thought to possess. Many times they are thrown off the right track, and both come close to death, but in the end Tommy sniffs out the culprit of it all, the anarchist Mr. Brown.

The two main characters grow close, despite their uptight Englishness - which Agatha seems to be poking fun at throughout the book - and we are left wanting more of them both. I liked best a portion of the book where Tommy finds himself caught in the nasty rendezvous of the well organized anarchists. While hidden away, Tommy sees and hears many of the members arrive and report to a meeting. They gather around a table, at the head of which sits a bearded German. Each crook gives a number instead of their name, each one coming from a different level of society, and some from different countries. Eventually Tommy is caught, we have to wait many chapters to find out if he's alive, but the descriptions of the evildoers are classic.

17 March 2011

I just watched the sun set

And now I remember colors and light.

As I rotated slowly backward, the sky was an alive and burning yellow - the yellow threw itself into orange, an orange that gave way to mild blues and pinks. When I looked straight up, there swayed regal purple and sorrowful blue. Looking into the sky like that is like looking into a deep pool of water; it swirls and changes with new currents, and flows one color into another.

I sat still. In the grass, only interrupted by a few sleepy birds, I sat still. Oh, how long it's been since I've been that still for that long. Finally I rose and looked up, only to see the mirror of the sun. I stood still. The moon, not quite full, was already throwing its share of color on the darkening sky. She was veiled by a thin dress of cloud, and, like her sire, surrounded by ribbons of blue and purple.

I can't help but think of what MacDonald said through Anodos in Phantastes: "The moon, which is the lovelier memory or reflex of the down-gone sun, the joyous day seen in the faint mirror of the brooding night..." and, "the enchantress moon...with her pale eye...sank into my soul..."

And now I remember colors and light.

15 March 2011

High Tech Toys for Boys

As a father, I want to give my two boys the absolute best. And these days there are so many things out there to buy. I just searched a little bit on Amazon to see what kinds of toys are being advertised on their main page, and it's all very eye-catching. In fact, my older son said, "what's that-and-that-and-that-and-that?" when I first got on the site. There's everything from remote control cars, to train sets, to four wheelers, to movies - and not to mention video games, scooters, singing toys, guns that shoot, guns that make noise, and the list goes on...

Don't get me wrong, my son has many of the things listed above, and I'm sure he'll continue to get use out of them and have great fun in the process (and I will too). But what's got me to thinking about all of this is the fact that I'm discouraged with the level of imagination that I see day to day at school. I can't seem to get into some of my student's brains, can't seem to get them to explode on a book like I used to do. I want them to be excited about the ideas they read about, but mostly they seem bored.

10 March 2011

He is here

So much of what I'm feeling and thinking recently has to do with where I am throughout the day. Of course, when I'm at home, I'm thinking about being at school, and when I'm at school, I can't wait to get home. That's just part of who we are as humans - we can't quite grasp the present, can't quite see things the way they really are.

I just read a great post on The Good Book Blog called, "Hello, My Name Is YHWH." (It's a great site, by the way.) The author of the post, Kenneth Way, refers to an article he read himself about what the

08 March 2011

Martha Baum's Paintings

I don't know much about art. A few years back I was out of work, and I would go to the library almost every day (oh, that was good in so many ways!). My first stop was the art section where I would grab the same copy of van Gogh; I would turn to the same pages every day: The Road Menders, Starry Night, and anything else of his with trees. There was just something about those colors and the way the lines moved my eyes over them - I couldn't get enough.

These days I don't look at much art, but I've stumbled upon Martha Baum's paintings. For some reason I thought of those days with van Gogh when I saw her work, which is not much like his. Yet, something in the colors, again, makes me go back. There's also something about lots of the subject matter. Many of her paintings are of boats, and it's these simple works that I like so much.

05 March 2011

The Poetry of C.S. Lewis

I've been a Lewis fan since I was a young boy. I started with The Chronicles of Narnia in my preteen years, only to read and reread them many times since. When I go back to those seven books, I travel not only to Narnia, but also to my childhood. That's the beauty of a book; those experiences you had so long ago roll back under your nose and you breathe them again. I remember well sitting on our front lawn on a sunny day in southern California reading about Prince Caspian and his rebel forces. I remember the rainy days too (as close to winter as we got), curled up in front of a fire, galloping through the air with Fledge. Now I look forward to making those same kinds of memories with my boys. In fact, I just might look forward to those times even more fervently than I look back and long for another day full of reading as a child.

01 March 2011


Toward the end of January I started to carry a book in the halls of my school. Most students walk by without making eye contact, even the ones I know (sometimes especially the ones I know). One student, though, seemed to make it a point to poke fun at the fact that I "always have my nose in a book." After a few consecutive encounters with him, I asked,

"Do you like to read?"
"Well, no, not really."
"Hm, I think you might like some of the stories I read..."
"Yeah, but if my friends saw me carrying a book, they'd just laugh."
"Ah, I see. Don't you think the skills you'll gain from reading are more important?"
"Yeah, I know."
(Surprised at how quickly he responded in my favor) "Yeah - there are some great things to read out there..."
"Yeah, I know."
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