29 February 2012

Words are Few

My mind is tired. I'll let the pictures talk today (er, this week). 

27 February 2012

A Sunday Drive

Last night I found out I'm not as adventurous as I thought; I am no Huck Finn, nor am I Ishmael or even close to a Charles Wallace. My family is out of town, so I decided to take a drive into the countryside with my camera. I intended to get out of the car - I didn't, that is, until I came back into town.

I was looking for water (so I told myself); I was looking for a path off the road; I don't know what I was looking for, really. I may have found it if I had stopped and walked - I didn't. But the park was nice. Sorry. The pictures aren't great, but it's what I got over the course of an hour or so tonight. It was fun even if I didn't walk the country.

Oh, and the deer were much more curious than the cows.

22 February 2012

Quality or Quantity?

Last weekend was one for the record books. With the exception of June and July, I can't remember a recent weekend that was better for our family. We didn't do anything special, in fact there were times when we didn't do anything but sit on the floor and laugh at the silly antics of our boys.

The height of our rest together came Sunday night when we played hide-and-seek before bath time. It's the best when our two year old counts with his eyes open and runs to your hiding place with as much joy as if he didn't know where to look; or even better, he is so excited about his new ability to count to ten that he counts along while he's hiding nearby.

We haven't laughed like that as a family for months. It was quality time.

I'm wondering though, do our boys care whether we're laughing and having a grand time, or would they simply prefer the presence and attention of their parents?

20 February 2012

Write a Letter

The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis is one of those books (or volume of books) I plod through; I read several things at a time, but this work is one I put down for long periods, pick up now and then, and read slowly.

Several weeks ago I came across this:
It is the immemorial privilege of letter-writers to commit to paper things they would not say: to write in a more grandiose manner than that in which they speak: and to enlarge upon feelings which would be passed by unnoticed in conversation.
Lewis was a teenager when he wrote that. A genius for sure.

I am often convicted when I read his work, but this time Lewis shines a light on something rather simple: letter writing. The volumes mentioned above total over 3,000 pages, I doubt I've even written 20. Times have changed, but time has not; I can't help but think the writers of long ago, and not so long ago, used their time more wisely.

15 February 2012

Ordinary, Common, or Familiar?

Monday I mentioned that I'm reading Walking on Water, by Madeleine L'Engle. She is challenging me to think about my faith, and the reality of things, in a new way; she's presenting me, again, with childlike faith. It's been great to read this reflection on art and creativity right after reading Wind in the Door, which has in it some of the same ideas - however, in this nonfiction book she makes clear that ideas she presented in her fictional work are to her "probable impossibles."

Like time travel for instance, she presents it as a skill mankind has lost.

This line of thinking about what's real pushed me to think on the concept of ordinary things. We all have an idea of what is holy, what is acceptable to God, and what is common, those things we use for our own good each day. And what is it that makes us sort out the holy from the common? What is it about the lofty ceilings of a church that are so much more acceptable to God than a loft in a barn?

Well, nothing.

13 February 2012

Origin of Man O' Clay

Today I'm participating in the Origins blogfest brought on by: DL Hammons, Katie Mills, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Matthew MacNish. Thanks to all of them for hosting!

Hop around a little from any of the links above and read how this same dream of writing got started in so many different ways.

As I mulled over my dreams of writing, I realized I can't quite place where, or when, mine began. Somewhere between my home school days when my mom made me write every day in that stupid journal, and those late nights during college when I sat in my empty room with a passion to write and nothing to write about, I just knew.

I knew I had to tell stories.

And I guess I've come a decent way from what my mom got out of me; "I just want you to write whatever you feel like writing." Many feverish minutes later she read, "I hate this journal, I hate this journal, I hate this journal..." Sorry mom - and thanks, too.

10 February 2012

Book Trends: Attracting the Distracted

I mentioned recently that I was reading James Patterson's Maximum Ride, which I enjoyed. The day I finished it I immediately picked up another book, one I was very excited to read: A Wind in the Door, by Madeleine L'Engle. This is the second book in L'Engle's Time Quintet, coming after A Wrinkle in Time. (Now that I've finished that as well, I'm reading Walking on Water, by L'Engle, which is a must-read).

These two books were published three decades apart, the latter first, and I can't help but note the difference in layout for reasons I'll try and explain. The experience of Maximum Ride was a somewhat new one, mostly because it is the definition of a page turner. Each chapter is hardly two pages, sometimes barely one, and I flew through it. I didn't notice the effect this had on me until I opened A Wind in the Door; I found my eyes darting over the full pages of L'Engle's work, and my fingers itched to move. I felt like I had been driving 90mph and then had to slow down to 30 - you know that feeling? It's as though you're crawling.

The thing is these books probably had about the same word count, and I'm guessing they were both written for the 12 and up crowd (though L'Engle might have said something like, "Emphasis on the up"). However, A Wind in the Door is 211 pages, Maximum Ride is 413. The result: I read much slower, especially because the older book was thick not only in appearance, but also in content.

08 February 2012

Refuse to be Random

I've not totally figured out why so many people are attached to the idea that being random is somehow beneficial. In high school several teachers had posters that read, "Practice random acts of kindness." At the time I thought that was cool, it made me think about doing things for others. Now I see the folly in it.

First of all the idea doesn't quite work. If you set out to do something random, it is no longer random. The thing you thought was random is now something you've set your mind to. And I guess that's the point: our random acts should instead be intentional.

Then there's the trickle of randomness into relationships - especially romance. If a couple is no longer spontaneous, their love must be dead. And the danger to most marriages is that people go into them thinking the romance will remain random, spontaneous, and "alive."

My marriage is alive, yet I don't think I've been spontaneous in loving my wife in years. And the truth is I can't afford to be.

01 February 2012

Do You Like My Blog?

Teralyn Pilgrim over at A Writer's Journey is putting on a blogfest today called Critique My Blog. Click on the link to see her blog or the launch page.

So, do you like my blog? I'd love to know what you think.

Here are some of the things Teralyn posted as far as doing your critique:
  1. Appearance: Does it appeal to you? Is it too busy, or too plain?
  2. Layout: Is it difficult to navigate? Is it cluttered, or sparse?
  3. Frequency: Does the blogger post too often? Not often enough?
  4. Content: Are the posts interesting? Unique? Are they focused, or all over the place?
  5. Quality: Are the individual posts too long, too short, too sloppy, or too generic?

Jump in! Whether you are participating in the blog hop or not, I'd appreciate your thoughts. Take a look and leave a comment on this post. Thanks!

IWSG: When You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say

Once again, thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting the IWSG! Check out the launch page at the link above and join the fun!

I don't know how many times I've heard it, and that little saying might be cliche, but it's a worthy saying. I've said it in my classroom countless times - and I don't even have to finish it, I just say, "Hey, if you don't have anything nice to say," and the student usually says, "Don't say anything."

The same is true of writing. And although nice isn't quite the right word - maybe worthwhile fits better - the idea is the same.

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