Friday, December 25, 2009

Boldog Karácsonyt!

Last night after Christmas Eve Liturgy, I asked Gyorgy, who is from Hungary, how to say "Merry Christmas" in Hungarian.
The answer? Boldog Karácsonyt!

So may I wish all of you
Boldog Karácsonyt!
Or Feliz Navidad...or Buon Natale...or Joyeux Noël...or Bon Nadal...or Zorionak Zuri...or Boas Navidades...or Natale Hilare...
or a very, very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Book Review: The Idiot

It's actually been almost two weeks since I finished it-but I recently finished reading Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot. I started reading this book around October 15 and it took me until December 8 to finish it. It is the second work by Dostoevsky that I've read (my first being The Brothers Karamazov when I was in my late teens at the recommendation of my brother's friend, Mark) and it will not be the last. I do enjoy Dostoevsky-even if my friend Katie calls him "The Russian Virginia Woolf."
My reading of this book was born out of a conversation with my friend, Kyle, while looking at classic literature at Barnes & Noble back in August. He had just finished The Brothers Karamazov and had loved it-like I had a few years earlier-and was looking for more works of classic literature to read. And we saw The Idiot on the shelves. Neither of us had read it but since I had more experience with Russian Lit (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Pasternak) I told him I would (eventually) read The Idiot and let him know what I thought of it. Well, it took me forever to read it (mostly because I was busy with school) but I finished it and I'm ready to say what I thought of it.

To best explain my reaction to this book, I have to explain how I evaluate a book:
  1. Is this book interesting?
  2. What is the author's main theme/message?
  3. Was the main character likable?
  4. Do I agree/accept the message the author is trying to get across?
  5. How does the author's background/historical context affect this novel?
So to review this book, I'm simply going to answer those five questions.
  1. Yes, this book was interesting; as most Russian novels are, the plot dragged at times but for the most part it was pretty great.
  2. Beauty will save the world; the main character (Prince Lev Nikolayovich Myshkin) actually says this at one point.
  3. Yes and no-Prince Myshkin (aka The Idiot) was likable sometimes but other times I wanted to punch the guy in the face for making (what I deemed to be) dumb decisions.
  4. Yes, I believe that beauty (if we identify Christ as the source of all beauty) will save the world. Dostoevsky was a Christian, as I recall.
  5. Dostoevsky strongly disliked Roman Catholicism, the Jesuits, and the European nations and their inhabitants. And this leads to my main gripe with the book. I was loving and enjoying the book until shortly before the end when Prince Myshkin goes off on a rant against Catholicism, the Jesuits, and the Pope. And later on, Madame Yepanchina rants against how horrible and uncivilized Europe and Europeans are. I find some of this logical due to Russian history. But a lot of this is Dostoevsky's personal opinions/dislikes/grievances/biases. For me, these rants kept the book from becoming a personal favorite.
So I give this book four out of five stars. It was good but it could have been better.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

But I DON'T want a snow day

So it's snowy out here in West Michigan. And we're under a winter weather advisory. So all the freshmen and sophomores (and some upperclassmen too) are clambering "SNOW DAY! SNOW DAY!" for tomorrow or Thursday or Friday...since we're expecting a lake effect blizzard indefinitely.
I don't want a snow day. I'm a senior. I have several large papers/projects due between now and this coming Monday. One of them is due tomorrow. In two other classes, tomorrow is the last chance I really have to see/talk to my professors before large papers (and a final exam) are due. I need classes tomorrow.
Plus, there's this whole momentum thing. I'm basically done writing the papers; I just need to turn them in...and in one case finish writing once I get the edits from the professor-some time tonight. But I'm on a roll. I'm ready to deal with that paper and just push through until Thursday when I get the exam question bank for my American Lit final and then turn in a final and a paper on Friday. And then I have the weekend to relax and study for American Lit and put the finishing touches on my Spanish Lit paper due on Monday. I'm on a roll; I'm ready.
But a snow day? All I'd do tomorrow is lie around, watching movies and reading books. Trust me; I do not need or want a snow day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Some Like It Hot

So today I was bored. I have at least one major assignment due every school day this week except Thursday. And I was bored. Go figure. This boredom led me to decide that I would make my own pasta sauce. This way I would have something to do that had nothing to do with "the Christian family as social foundation in Uncle Tom's Cabin" or my ten-minute play or philosophy AND I would have yummy pasta sauce for the next couple of days.
I went to the grocery store and bought sausage, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes (and cereal and tricuits but those are irrelevant). I went home, did more homework, and went into the kitchen to cook. I diced garlic and onions and cooked them up with the sausage. Then I opened the can of diced tomatoes and smelled something spicy. So I looked at the can. I had bought diced tomatoes WITH GREEN CHILIES. Crap. But I poured them into the saucepan on the stove, added tomato paste and water, and then turned on the heat. Then I liberally added parsley and fresh basil (from the basil plants growing in my window sill). When the meat, garlic, and onion were done cooking, I mixed them in with the tomatoes and spices. Then I cooked up my spaghetti and mixed some pasta and some sauce together.
It was spicy. But it was good.
Verdict? I never would have thought of this on my own. But it was good. I'd probably do it again-on purpose.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Are you being served?

Are You Being Served? was a 1970s BBC comedy show set in a department show. It is now in reruns on late-night PBS.
It's also a question to which I can answer "yes."
My left knee has been bothering me a lot lately. So this morning I was on crutches. I'm actually using them in general except when going to class and to work right now.
This morning, I went to UCO Foundations with my crutches. I drove to the women's household and then drove to the class with them. They helped me carry my things around and blessed me with their willingness to help me. Lauren even helped me take my shoes off when we went inside the house.
Service is a huge part of being a Christian. We are called to serve our neighbors and put their needs ahead of ourselves. But learning to be served is also a part of our calling. This past August, I spent four days on crutches and spent that time learning to ask for help and to accept service even when it required admission of weakness on my own part and allowing myself to be humbled.
But I'm getting better at asking for help and accepting it when it's offered. This morning, I trusted someone else to pour me a cup of coffee and put creamer in it. And I let someone else get my breakfast for me.
I think that I'm not the only one who has trouble with this. But I think it's important to allow ourselves both to serve and be served. We have to be able to both humbly serve others and accept service humbly.
It's not about us. It never was. It's about Him. And He lived humility in action.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No, seriously, take the cranberry sauce

So last night after UCO, we went out to a restaurant called Uccello's which has great drink and appetizer specials after 9pm. Needless to say, our merry gang is often found there on a Wednesday night. Somehow, we didn't end up leaving until after midnight-due to some issues with waitresses and general craziness on the restaurant's was busy there.
So, I didn't get to bed until like 12:45am and didn't fall asleep until around 2am. But without fail, as it always does on Thursday mornings, my cell phone alarm went off at 6:40am telling me to take a prayer time, eat breakfast, shower, and head to work. So I did.
Today was Thanksgiving Dinner Day at GVSU Campus Dining's Main Location...aka my place of employ. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, "jewel vegetable medley," mashed sweet potatoes, and vegetarian shepherd's pie...and that was just at one of the stations; there are three entree stations in all.
I told my supervisor that I was running on about five hours of sleep and that if I was being crazy...well, I hadn't gotten enough sleep. Well, I did all of my work as requested and seemed to be doing well considering how tired I should have been...and wasn't.
So then, at 11am, we started serving food. (My Thursday shift is from 8am to 12pm.) And I was in charge of carving the turkey. (I was apparently cutting the pieces too large; I could care less.) The woman I was working with was serving the cranberry sauce, the potatoes, and the veggie medley. Most people just wanted turkey and taters.
Now I love cranberry sauce. I know my mom makes it using real cranberries and doesn't just use the canned stuff. But I love cranberry sauce and cranberry juice and dried cranberries...and pretty much all things cranberry. (I blame Grandma Jo for this; she always has had cranberry juice at her house for as long as I can remember.) And cranberries are good for your kidneys; I read my juice bottles.
Well, these kids didn't want the cranberry sauce; admittedly, it was the canned stuff, which is no where near as good as the real stuff. So I started telling people that they wanted cranberry sauce. I told them it was good for their kidneys. I told them that I love it. And most of them just laughed at me.
They probably thought I was crazy. Here is this hyper, perky, happy girl encouraging them to eat cranberry juice for the sake of their kidneys. What is her problem?
Answer: God gave me joy in the cranberry sauce. I'm not a morning person. But when God gives me joy, I can peel parsnips, de-leaf thyme sprigs, clean a massive soup pot that holds over 1,000 servings of soup, and serve turkey dinner to complete strangers who rarely say "thank-you" or acknowledge my existence. And I can do it all with a smile and a "you really do want the cranberry sauce" thrown in for free.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rantings of a Disgruntled and Unmotivated College Student

"'November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year,' said Margaret, standing at the window one dull afternoon, looking out at the frostbitten garden."
-Louisa May Alcott's Little Women

It's like 58 degrees and sunshine today. And it's about half-way through November. That's not what I call disagreeable. And I've got a problem with that. November feels like September or October. I know that finals are less than a month away. But I don't feel like it. And it is keeping me from actually buckling down and getting motivated about school.

This rant would have been a lot longer but I got distracted and am going to do homework instead like a good kid.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Last fall while in Spain, my friend Kayleigh and I frequented a small store called Tea Shop. It is a chain and it is fabulous. They are similar to Teavana in the States selling tea and accessories and offering free samples. Behold how good and pleasant it is to offer poor college students free samples of delicious teas.
Tea Shop sold only loose-leaf teas. (Ah, delightful!) And for Christmas, they made special teas with cinnamon and orange peel and vanilla and deliciousness. This came in four varieties: black, white, green, and red. Red? Huh? What is this red tea of which you speak?
That was basically my reaction to it. Well, Kayleigh told me that it was rooibos.
Ah! said I. Then a puzzled look overtook my face. What's rooibos?

Rooibos is: " a member of the legume family of plants. The rooibos shrub can grow up to 2 meter in height. The erects red coloured rooibos stems contain many dark green needle shaped leaves. The rooibos shrub produces small yellow flowers in spring through early summer. Each flower produces a one seeded small bean. Roobos has a long tap root, sometimes up to 2 m in length, enabling the plant to survive periods of drought." And it is from South Africa and can only be grown there. (Source)

So I bought some cinnamon Rooibos tea from Arbor Teas recently. And it smelled like wood-chips. No me gusta. I brewed a cup but made it too strong and didn't like it.
Then I made another cup today. But I didn't fill my tea ball as full and I didn't let it steep as long.
Now, I recommend it.
I also recommend cinnamon black tea from Arbor Teas. And the chamomile tea I was drinking while blogging the other night, that's also delicious.

Basically: drink more tea.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tea and Knitting

Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world. ~T'ien Yiheng

I'm currently sipping some chamomile tea at the end of a long day. I could just go to bed and let it end. But I think that first some tea and a bit of Gipsy Kings will make everything go down much more smoothly. Chamomile tea, this a bit of loose leaf from Arbor Teas, soothes me and helps me sleep. But it also reminds me of Spain. My first morning in Spain I got sick and my host mom made me chamomile (or manazanilla) tea to soothe me. It really w
orked. And now I find this pale golden liquid one of the most soothing things in life.

I'm actually crocheting right now. But earlier today, I finished my first cabled knitting project: The Irish Hiking Scarf. Please see photo:

The color is lovely, the texture is fantastic, and I'm just plain happy with the thing. And I can cable! I'm really very proud of myself for completing this pattern.
I'm actually planning to start this scarf again-probably tomorrow-to send a to friend who is living in Northern Ireland for a year. It won't be the same color but it will still be fabulous.

And if you're wondering, the tea is helping me forget the din of the world. It's also my fourth cup today. This (and the name of the blog) might tell you something about my affection for tea. (And only two of the cups were caffeinated.)
Tea soothes me, calms me. And it does help me get going in the morning and close off my day as it ends.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I CAN CABLE!!!!!!!

I learned to cable knit yesterday.
Well, okay a couple of weeks ago, I figured out how to do it from a YouTube video. Go YouTube!
Then I found this pattern on Ravelry.
So Wednesday, I bought yarn and needles for it. And I cast on yesterday.

And now, I have a little scarf growing. And it has cables. I'm freaking proud of myself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I love Tuesdays. This semester, Tuesdays are my favorite days. Mondays, I have three classes and women's group every other week. Wednesdays, I have three classes and UCO. Thursdays, I work and then go to class. Friday, I work and then go to class again. Both of these days I get up obscenely early and greet the sun while cleaning frost off my car. I work every other Saturday. This Saturday, in addition to working, I'm taking the Michigan Basic Skills Test so that I can become a teacher. I'm not saying that any of these things are bad. I'm just saying that as an INFJ, I like having some time to myself, my crocheting, my books, and my tea.
Sundays are good days but they are different. They are for prayer, reflection, and recovery. They are not for studying.
But Tuesdays are for studying and relaxing and reading and crocheting and knitting and grocery shopping. I have one class on Tuesdays and I get paid every other Tuesday. Aren't Tuesdays starting to look attractive?
Today, I went and picked up my paycheck. (Thanks, Grand Valley!) I quickly deposited it in the convenient on-campus ATM for my bank. Then I went to class (American Literature until Walt Whitman) and crocheted my way through class-per usual. After class, I went over to the library and checked out Dostoevsky's The Idiot. I've decided to read it. I haven't started yet-been busy with other things. But I'm looking forward to it; I like Russian novels in general, especially Dostoevsky.
After this, I went home and ate lunch; it now being about 2:45pm. After this, I did some grocery shopping and came home. And then, I started in on my homework. This is why I love Tuesdays. I can do homework in peace and no one bothers me...
Until Kyle sends me a text message asking me to go to some "dumb meeting" for UCO at 9pm. "All you have to do is sign your name," quoth he. But basically, I was the only one who could go.
Right...way to ruin my Tuesday, Kyle. I love my Tuesdays because they're own, my precious...
Okay, Gollum, stop it.
And then it turned out that Kyle made a mistake and the meeting was yesterday. So I got to keep my Tuesday to myself.
So I made dinner. I'm a bit proud of this. I baked a chicken breast with sliced apples, potatoes, and onions-all of which I sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar. First off, it was delicious. And secondly, I have leftovers! Leftovers are clutch because tomorrow I have three classes, I'm volunteering at the GVSU Study Abroad Fair, Nicole and I are going yarn shopping, and then there's UCO. I think something/someone ate my Wednesday. But I'm sure it will be a great day. I have great confidence. But the leftovers are great because I won't have much time to make lunch or dinner tomorrow.
But I've gotten a good chunk of homework done. I've found a knitting pattern with which I'm going to practice cable knitting; it's supposed to be the ideal beginning cable pattern-SCORE! And now, I'm sitting in bed listening to the Servants of the Word's CD, "Sing a New Song to the Lord." I might start reading The Idiot now. Or I could do my American Lit homework for Thursday. Or I could do one and then the other.
That, my friends, is the beauty of Tuesday.
(Parenthetically, Tuesdays will probably not be my favorite day of the week next semester. C'est la vie.)

What is your favorite day of the week?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review: Sophia House

So you probably don't remember this but back in March I read and reviewed a book called Father Elijah: an Apocalypse. The book amazed me and thrilled me.
Over the summer, I borrowed the other books in the series (Children of the Last Days) from Dr. F-Strangers and Sojourners and Eclipse of the Sun were the two that really stuck with me. (They both get 4.5 out of 5 from me.)
This past weekend, I borrowed Sophia House from the good doctor. I read it quickly...probably to the detriment of my American Literature and Modern Spanish Novel studies. Oh well...I only have one class tomorrow. I can read then. This book really touched me.
It was not perfect. But it was good. Set in the 1930s and 1940s, it explores Pawel Tarnowski, a Polish Catholic, who protects the young David Schafer, a Jewish teenager who will one day become the Father Elijah of the first book in the series. It explores Pawel's faith journey and David's childhood. And it does get into the social/political situation of Europe on the eve of World War II and during the war. It's really intriguing and insightful.
It does explore some really rough issues. It is decidedly not for children. It tackles sexual assault and the struggles/temptations against/towards homosexual behavior.
But it is a good book. And I recommend it.
I give it 4.5 out of 5.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

So...I finally finished Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Quirk Classic's latest literary contribution to the world, last night.
I give it four out of five. It was good and funny. It did a relatively good job of holding true to the original story. But it just wasn't as good as P&P&Z. I did enjoy it and it's definitely worth a read and a laugh.
Like I said with P&P&Z, if you think it's heresy, don't read it. But if you want a good laugh, go for it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Do Not Neglect the Gift that is in You

For my Modern Spanish Novels class, I am currently reading and writing summaries of five articles evaluating the life and writing of Carmen de Burgos, a Spanish writer who lived from 1867-1932. She is known for her feminism and her work for women's rights. As I read these articles, I read about various individuals' commitments to feminism and all the rights that women supposedly need to have. Yes, we need to have the same rights as men. But we all need to have our rights based on three ideas:
1) My rights end where yours begin; if doing what I want to do hurts you, then I can't do it.
2) All of our rights come from God. We were made for him and by him.
3) We live not for ourselves but for the Lord.

But on to feminism, I know that women needed rights in the early 20th century. I know that things were very different. But I think that now (in 2009) feminism has gone too far. I am criticized by people I know for my desire to "just" (as one friend put it) be a teacher or my desire to be a stay-at-home mom someday. As a 21st century, I should want more. I should do more. I can be more than "just" a teacher and a mother.
Feminism has liberated me from the proverbial kitchen; it just didn't realize that I wanted to be in the kitchen.
I see being a teacher and a wife and a mother as more than simple jobs or roles in the society. I see them as callings from God, vocations. And I see them as vastly important vocations that are absolutely necessary for the survival of our faith.
Motherhood...what higher calling is there for a woman? What woman has been more exalted by God than his own mother? In my humble opinion, Mary is our model, our rule. And as she said "Behold the handmaiden of the Lord! May it be done unto me according to your word." (Lk 1:38) and "Whatever He says to you, do it." (Jn. 2: 5)
That is our rule. As women, we are called to submit to the Lord's will. And for me, that means following in the footsteps of a woman who was called "blessed among women" (Lk 1:42).

And teaching? That one (to my way of thinking) is Scriptural. We are called to teach and to educate in the Word of God. But this verse has always struck me: "Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment." (James 3:1) I know it refers to spiritual teaching. But in today's world, I think that going out as a teacher means that I will be teaching my subject matter but also teaching with my way of life.
As Paul told Timothy, "Do not neglect the gift that is in you..." (I Tim.4:14).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

That was quick

Last night, while on page 91 of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I announced to the world that I had started to read the book. That was about 18 hours ago.

And of about 11am...
I finished it! And it was fabulous!

I loved it. It made me laugh so much. And I would recommend it to most people who wouldn't be morally offended by the idea that someone (Seth what's-his-face) would drop zombies into this classic love story. Here's the deal. If you think this is heresy, don't read it.
I've heard a lot of people say that it doesn't go far enough. But I'm not sure what "far enough" is. He didn't really change the story. He just added sentences and changed a few words. Oh, and they put pictures in.

It's definitely better than Facebook stalking Great-Aunt Geraldine. But if you really want to know, she's watching Funny Face and drinking a Long Island Iced Tea.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Well, I've given in...

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press. Drop whatever you are doing; it probably isn't really that important. You can facebook stalk your Great-Aunt Geraldine tomorrow; she'll still be watching Fred Astaire movies and drinking vodka shots.
Much greater news has happened upon you.
And no, it's not Barack Obama's admission that he was black BEFORE he was elected to the presidency.
It's bigger, better, and makes more people laugh.

Last Tuesday, I went to (shameless plug for them; they should pay me for that one) and purchased two books: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the newly released Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. I also bought the soundtrack to the movie Newsies but that's irrelevant.
The books arrived over the weekend and I'm now 90-odd pages into P&P&Z.
So what do I think of it? READ IT!!!
Buy, sell, run, whatever you must...but it's a must read. It makes a great book even funnier.

And maybe someday I'll write a blog post about how the use of zombies in the novel reflects the status quo role of women in the Regency-era marriage market.
Or maybe I'll save that for my doctoral dissertation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Opinions, please

I had to write the following poem for my Creative Writing class and I need some feedback. I think it sucks. But I want to know if you think it contains any imagery, metaphor, or other artistic bullcrap.

Yarn over, pull through

After seventeen months, I finally finished it

With one slip-stitch-

And a knot.

Seven feet long, pink with four white stripes

We made Alex stay until two in the morning

So I could have more witnesses to my triumphant moment.

Ben was there for the beginning-

When I was seventeen and naïve.

Alex was there for the end-

But they’ll both be there for more.

Yarn over, pull through

It’s three o’clock in the morning

And Kyle and I are tired, too tired.

Alex and Nicole are laughing and giggling-

About something, who knows what.

I crochet while Kyle talks,

Talks about dumb stuff

I say stupid things that no one will remember

Or maybe everyone will.

And he just laughs-but not at me.

Yarn over, pull through

Twelve hours is a long time in a car

Too long when you’re sick

Twelve hours across the vast expanse of rock and field that they call Ontario

A land of golf courses and Toronto and blah

But on a green couch with Ben as I crochet

It’s all worth it.

Annie teaches Miche to knit.

Alex even tries.

But I won’t teach Ben. He’ll mess it up.

Or do something wrong.

Yarn over, pull through

Cary Grant is suave and debonair-

Kyle’s hero.

Jimmy Stewart is softer, slighter, but still strong-

Alex’s hero.

Friday night at the movies-

Some of the old meet a new generation

Rum brownies, crocheting, Alex, Annie, and an old movie-

It’s a plan-a tradition-

If you will.

Yarn over, pull through

Blankets, scarves, mittens, hats, sweaters-I’ve made ‘em

While driving, while talking, while movie-watching

While with Alex, with Annie, with Ben, with Miche, with Kyle-

And with others-and in many places

Spain, Montreal, and home

Many colors, many ideas

Yarn over, pull through,

And end it with a slip-stitch-

And a knot,

But there’ll always be more.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Crocheted Musings

My esteemed institution of higher education deems it an exceptional idea to give us both Labor Day and the next day off. This affords us more time to do homework and enjoy the end of summer. It also prevents us from having a fall break in October. And let me tell you; I would love a break in October-even if it were just one or two days off.

In my case, this break has included more crocheting that usual.
This weekend, I bought four skeins of a beautiful gray medium weight yarn. Two of those skeins are now a beautiful gray sweater that is hanging in my closet while a third is being turned into a slouch hat for winter. And the fourth will probably become a scarf to match the hat.
I worked on the sweater while watching movies and while hanging out with friends all weekend. Now it just needs buttons, which I'll buy soon.
And the hat seems to be coming along really quickly.
I blame Ravelry for my spurt of creativity. Ever since Jenny Pink introduced me to the site a few months ago, I have found some amazing patterns for things that I've long wanted to make but just haven't known HOW to do it-or how to find a good, easy to follow pattern.
But now, I know. They have a lot of free patterns (and many more that you have to pay to use) that are pretty easy to follow.

I may also start taking more requests from people.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Un año después…

It's been one year since I left for Spain.
I think today will be a much more peaceful day than 1 de septiembre de 2008 was.
I just have two classes and a skype date with Kayleigh-a friend from Spain.

I finished my first knitted blanket on Sunday night; I'm so proud. Now I need money to buy the yarn so I can start my first crocheted sweater. I found a pattern online (thanks to Ravelry) and am super excited to start making it. I also have a knitted sweater I'm hoping to start someday soon. But that one requires special new needles so that will be a while in coming. I'm also not sure what yarn to use for that project, so it's really going to have to wait.
(I left the cord for uploading pictures from my camera at my parents' house, so pictures of my new apartment, my new blanket, and other things will be a bit in coming.)
I didn't knit this much before I went to Spain. Or crochet this much... Or drink this much tea...I drink at least two cups a day.
But I really think that going to Spain was a good thing for me.
Plus, how else would I have ever gotten to go to Rome for the Feast of St. Cecilia at the age of 20?
Spain was-despite all the rough spots-so worth it.

Now if only I could find my cell phone charger...I never had that problem in Spain. (And I did have a cell phone there.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Random Notes and Quotes

First off, I am hereby admitting that I am obsessed with knitting and crocheting. I need more yarn money and I want to finish my current knitting project-it only needs one more skein-so I can start on my first crocheted sweater. And I'm already crocheting a pair of socks for my dear friend, Lynne. Oh, and then there's a sweater I want to crochet too. But I need to buy new needles first.
I have a problem. I know it.

Secondly, I have news on the migraine front. I've been taking Imitrex-as mentioned in a previous post-for the past 17 or 18 months. It kills the migraines but makes the Cecilia sick. A few weeks ago, I started losing my memories. I would take the meds and keep doing things just to get through the nausea. But when I woke up the next morning, I had no memory of any of it. I mentioned this to my friend, Kyle, about a week and a half ago. He asked me if I had talked to my doctor about it yet and I said no. Well, yesterday I did...and they're taking me off the memory-destroyer and they're putting me on something that hopefully won't kill the memories.

Thirdly, I heard my friend Sam say this a few days ago:
"So Christina, Fr. Mark told us today that Obama isn't necessarily the AntiChrist. Like, he could be but it's not definite."
Someone else asked Sam if he was upset and he responded "Yeah, kinda."

I spent August 9-18 at Campus Outreach Academy, leadership training for University Christian Outreach. (This was where I overheard Sam and Christina talking.) One morning, Christina walked into the bathroom where I was getting ready and announced, "I'm Louis Quatorze."
I guess the Sun King is her favorite European monarch. For my part, I defended Ludwig the Mad.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

This was my facebook status this morning: "Cecilia is stressed and overwhelmed and needs money."
It is the story of my life, really. But some days, it's much worse than others. This was one of those days. You see I poured my birthday money into going to Campus Outreach Academy-a UCO leadership training thing that I'll be doing from August 9-18. And so I don't have much money left.
And then my dad received some money-over $100-through some basically miraculous circumstances. And my parents decided to give it to me.
This is a huge answer to prayer and I really am so grateful to God for his faithfulness.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Please Pray

As you should know, I spent this past fall studying in Bilbao, Spain. Bilbao is the largest city in what is known as the "Basque Country." This is where the Basques-obviously-live. Until about 1300, the Basques were an independent nation. And until the mid-1800s, they still lived in relative anonymity and peace. They were allowed to do as they pleased and their ancient (pre-dating Christ) laws were honored by the Spanish government.
In 1939 Francisco Franco came to power in Spain and began suppressing all "non-Spanish" cultures. This included the Basques, the Catalans, and others. In 1959-in fact on July 31, 1959-at the University of Deusto-the school where I studied-the anarchic and pro-Basque group ETA was formed. ETA is an acronym for a Basque phrase meaning "Basque Homeland in Freedom."
Initially, ETA was merely a political group but quickly grew into a terrorist group. They have killed hundreds (over 800, I believe) of people-largely people connected with the Guardia Civil-a branch of the Spanish Army. They are currently hiding out in France for the most part.

On Wednesday, July 28, 2009-ETA struck again in Burgos, a city in northern Spain. See this news article. No one was killed but there were several injured.
And then today, Thursday, July 29, 2009, ETA struck again in Majorca. See here for more.

Please pray for an end to this violence and that the Spanish and French governments can bring those who are responsible to justice. Also pray for peace within Spain especially in the Basque Country as all of this continues to unfold. Pray for the souls of the men killed today and for their families. Pray for those who were injured yesterday. And pray for those responsible.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Crafting my way through a migraine

Fact: I have migraines.
Fact: I LOVE knitting and crocheting. And I'm getting into jewelry making.

When I have a migraine, I'm supposed to take this medication called "Imitrex" which is supposed to make my headaches and their posse go away. The problem with this is that the drugs make me really nauseous (which I generally already am from the migraine) and so I can't sleep for a really long time after taking the drugs.
So I read. And I craft. It helps me get through the pain and nausea.
I'm making blankets and a baby scarf and socks.
But whatever gets you through it...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sweet Dreams are Made of Cheese

That references a misquoting of this song by the Eurythmics.

I know what I'd really like to do with my life. I'm studying to be a teacher. And that is amazing. I really want to teach kids.
But there is something else that I want to do. But I don't see it being possible.
I want to own a shop sells tea, coffee, coffee drinks, handmade goods, and cookies and brownies made to order. Basic idea: you come in, pick out the cookie dough flavor or brownie flavor that you want, choose your mix-ins, and then we bake it for you while you wait. And while waiting, you can sit and drink a beverage of your choice, look at our knitted and crocheted goods, maybe do some knitting and crocheting of your own, and get some tips for your knitting.
My mom really likes this idea and has this dream that some day the two of us will be able to do it together.
But we can't financially do it right now.
But we really want to do it. And God willing, we will do it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What are we coming to?

Mark is still my little friend. He told me yesterday that I'm too crunchy to be eaten-thank God. So now, he just follows me places and sits next to me and tells me about how all boys grow up to be soldiers and all girls grow up to be medics.
Last Friday, he called me "Garbage Can" but he was "just playing around," as he told his father when I told Mr. Sneeze.
Later that evening, I told another Mark (who is almost thirteen years older than my little friend) about being called Garbage Can. He laughed and told me that I was nothing like a garbage can because I'm not "big or green or smelly." And apparently, garbage cans are not beautiful.
Another guy friend (who is 22) commented that he missed the days when you could express your interest in girls by calling them names and abusing them. However, he admitted that as he got older, he realized that the girls don't really like being hit or bitten or insulted.
I think the little guy is cute and funny-but I wouldn't appreciate it if a 22-year-old bit me or hit me or insulted me. At some point, it stops being cute.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Elizabeth, you're breaking my heart!

So this morning, I went to the Sneezes and was greeted with fresh pancakes for my birthday breakfast. After I ate my breakfast, CeCe came into the room with a fresh from the oven cupcake with a lit candle and they all sang "Happy Birthday" to me-in English, Flemish, and Polish. However, as young Mark sang, we realized that he had said "Happy Birthday dear Elizabeth" as he sang.
So after I blew out my candle, his mother and I asked him who Elizabeth was. He points at me and says "You-DUH!" And then he kept calling me Elizabeth or Lizzie the rest of the time I was there.
I've spent twenty-one years believing that my name was Cecilia. And then today, a seven-year-old challenges that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

All things are edible...apparently including my face

So I saw little Mr. Mark again this evening. And I got my face bitten. Well, it was my cheek and he didn't break skin and it was a playful bite. But's my face, not his.
And apparently, I'm not the only person to whom he does this stuff. I was telling Ben the story and he says, "Oh yeah, he once ran up to me and punched me in the kidneys-like IN the kidneys."

I like the kid better when he's pretending to be a cowboy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

But that, dear children, is called cannibalism

This morning, I went over to la Casa de los Sneezes to tutor Colette, Cecilia, and Marita Sneeze as well as two other children.
And then Mark Sneeze (age 7) comes flying up to me in the kitchen. "Ribs!" he cries, pointing at me. "She's got ribs."
"Umm, I need my ribs," says I. "But you can have my leg." And I stuck my left leg out.
But he kept pointing to my ribs.
"But Mark," his mother told him. "It isn't nice to eat a lady's ribs."
"Flesh!" he cries, grabbing my arm.
"Mark," his mother repeated in a warning tone.
So the little boy runs away and grabs an orange toy gun. He points it at me and then at himself while telling me that I am "under arrest for the murder of not letting me eat your ribs."
And then I walked away.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pickles to Pittsburgh

1) MY VOICE IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yes, Donal, I really missed talking; that was why the last blog post was so long.

2) The Red Wings are in the Stanley Cup playoffs and they're playing Pittsburgh. The Wings can win and the Penguins can go eat pickles. (Pickles to Pittsburgh is also the name of a(n awful) sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.)

3) I need a job. Badly.

4) Greg finished reading The Ultimate Guide to Femininity. He said it was good. But he does not understand why women love it because (in his opinion) it makes fun of women.

5) I still need a job. Maybe I'll go write Sense and Sensibility and Zombies.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Silence Spoken Here

Some of you know this already, but I seem to have contracted a case of "allergy-induced laryngitis" over the weekend.
On Saturday, I drove out to Grand Rapids to attend the wedding of my friends, Nate and Amanda. The wedding was lovely and I was able to meet my dear friend (and former house-mate) Christina's then-twelve-day-old son, Gabriel; Gabriel is now 16 days old. Below is a photograph (edited in Picasa by yours truly) of my older brother, Greg, holding young Gabriel. As you can see, both are quite handsome.

After the wedding, I got back in my faithful car and headed off to the reception with my passenger and friend, Steve. As we drove, I noticed (and he didn't) that my voice was getting lower and raspier. I thought this was a BIT odd but didn't really say or do anything about it. The quality of my voice continued to diminish and people began to notice. At one point, I was dancing with a guy who told me that I sounded "like a girl but with a really deep voice." Thanks, Chris...
The voice continued to slide and shortly before 9pm (the time Steve and I had designated for our departure for Ann Arbor) it completely crapped out. I could barely speak and my throat hurt a lot. So I went over to remind Steve that we were leaving in about 10 minutes and he went off to the dance floor. I took his seat and sat there watching the dancing with my good friend, Kyle. Anyway, Kyle and I were sitting there and we started talking because he was concerned about me. We learned that if I move my lips slowly, he can read my lips. And then I started having an asthma attack. Being a good friend, he ran and tried (but failed) to find my purse, so I had to go after him and get it myself and retrieve my own inhaler. BUT HE TRIED!
And then after I started breathing normally, he grabbed Steve and told him that it was time for us to go home. And then he gave Steve absolute orders to keep me awake. So we set out for Ann Arbor. And Steve very faithfully kept me awake.
The next day, I got up and my voice was more gone than it was the day before. So I went to Mass at Christ the King and then went home to while away my time. I had decided to essentially seclude myself from the world because it was too difficult to attempt to communicate with the rest of the world-even my own family.
Sunday night, I discovered that Kyle's twin brother, Alex, also had allergy-induced laryngitis but his had started before mine had so he was (gradually) getting better. But it was nice to have a partner in silence-even though we didn't see each other until Tuesday.
Last night, I went to UCO-Ann Arbor's prayer meeting. Alex was there but he's more talkative than I am. His laryngitis is closer to being gone than mine is. I'm now on day five and I can talk but I have a rapsy voice and it's physically still really hard for me to talk. My allergies are killing my throat. But I have allergy meds and claritin and books to read and movies to watch.
And hopefully this will all be over soon!

Speaking of books and movies, I have two really brief reviews for you.
Brideshead Revisited: Three out of Five; it's 11 hours long and while it's decent, it kind of drags after a while. Plus, I stopped feeling sympathy for the protagonists during hour 8 out of 11.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Three out of Five; it's decent. There is A LOT of immorality. The story is supposed to be moving and beautiful. But I was distracted by the immorality that is supposedly "spiritual."

That's one long blog post. I think that's enough from me for one day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This suits the blog

"I’m not going to commit to a kettle because once you take that step, that’s citizenship."
-Hugh Laurie on moving to the United States of America and buying a house

I feel this applies to my fascination with tea.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

They said it...and I didn't

So the following are few great (in my humble opinion) quotations from my life.

1) Back in late March, I went to a baby shower for my friend, Christina. At some point, I was sitting on the couch with Christina and her cousins (and my friends) Charlotte, Clare, and Theresa when we overheard someone ask Christina's older sister, Anna, "Where did Dominic come from?" (Dominic is Anna's 11 month old son.)
Christina looked at me and said, "Well, I can tell you that."
Then Anna started explaining why she and her husband chose the name Dominic. And the five of us on the couch all looked at each other and said, "Oh, that's what she meant."

2) About a week ago, my dear friend Mary and I were in a coffee shop talking about something (that wasn't funny) when Mary just started laughing hysterically. I looked at her, concerned, and asked if she was all right. She told me to (discretely) look at the table behind me. And there I saw a man in his late thirties or early forties working on his laptop. And on the front of his laptop was a sign which read "I ENJOY CLASSICAL MUSIC. PLEASE INQUIRE WITHIN. (newly single)"
And then we couldn't stop laughing.

3) On Sunday, my brother and I were at coffee and donuts after church when we saw a birthday cake with the words "Happy 50th Birthday, Iran" on it.
Well, Iran is either much older than fifty (by some reckonings) or younger; the Islamic Republic of Iran is 31 years old.
And then we realized that this birthday cake was for Ivan, a man who is probably in his sixties.

Well, Happy Birthday to Jimmy Stewart! He would be 101 years old today...if he were alive.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Back to It...Again

He says so far it's really slow.

Ben told me, "Don't tell me he's reading P&P."
I did anyway. I'm a great friend and sister.

Alex said, "I think he told me about that."

I said, "I don't think he'll like it."

And you can quote me on that; I just did.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why I am not Supporting Athletic Bilbao

Today, FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao face off in the final of "La Copa del Rey." So we have Catalunya against the Euskal Herria. (Catalunya is the name in Catalan; Euskal Herria means "Basque Country" in Euskera.)
This is not merely a soccer match. This is a political moment.

Read this:
"Barcelona president Joan Laporta has once again combined sport with politics, as he commented on the upcoming Copa del Rey final between his side and Athletic Bilbao.

Speaking at the official dinner ahead of the match, Laporta said, 'These are two teams that represent a very important social mass in their countries.'

The use of the word 'countries', referring to the autonomous communities of Catalunya and the Basque Country, is unlikely to go unnoticed."


There is cultural/ethnic identity and then there is taking things too far.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The blog needs a new header

So I'm experimenting with my own (meager) artistic abilities to create a new header for the blog. And I want your opinions on them.

Option #1 Option #2

There are three other options (all of which are on facebook) but I don't like them as well as I like these three.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Patience: Hush, child; you couldn't possibly understand

"Hush, child; you couldn't possibly understand" is a Peter Kreeft paraphrase of several chapters of the Book of Job.
I have also realized the inherent truth wrapped up in that statement. I cannot understand the ways of God.
This week, the Sword of the Spirit held its International Women's Conference at the St. John's Retreat Center in Plymouth, Michigan. This conference occurs every four years and this year, it was the Word of Life's turn to host. (WOL is my home community.)
On Monday afternoon, I received a phone call requesting my services as an interpreter for a talk that would be given in English on Tuesday afternoon; it needed to be interpreted for the Hispanohablantes present. I agreed to do this. Going into it, I was nervous but it went well-over all. I had to do some simultaneous translation that was far from planned. But it went well. And I'm glad I did it.
While I was at the retreat center, I ran into a woman named Rosario who is a leader in the community in Vitoria, Spain-which I visited while in Bilbao. It was SO good to see her. And she asked me when I was going to return to Vitoria. I replied soon.
The day before, a young man from Vitoria with whom I am facebook friends asked me when I would be returning to Vitoria; I replied when God provides me with the time and the money.
Today, I took two women from Honduras to the Twelve Oaks mall in Novi. It was a lesson in patience as I translated between them and various sales clerks. But it was good.
This evening, I attended a social event for all Word of Life women and the women attending the conference. While talking to a woman from Glasgow, she asked me if I was planning on doing a GAP year. I said yes, I was thinking about it BUT I want to wait until after I graduate. She asked me if I had met any of the women from Spain who were with us. I said yes.
And then I realized that I'm being recruited-by both Man and God. I think I'm supposed to do a GAP year-after I graduate, por fa- and I'm supposed to go to Vitoria.
If this is indeed the will of God, then I will do it.

I'd also really like it if the Red Wings won.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On Second Thought

Dear Jane Austen,

I have read all of your books-excepting Sanditon and the stories you wrote as a child. And I have a few complaints. First of all, very few guys I know enjoy your books. Now maybe you don’t mind that. But I am a bit tired of mentioning your books and immediately see eyes rolling and boys sighing and suddenly they’re all on the floor sleeping when all I said was “I just finished reading Persuasion and now I need a new book to read.” But we can’t talk about Red Wings hockey like I wanted now because all the boys are on the floor sound asleep. They won’t even give you a chance because you have this reputation as the empress of chick lit or something like that.

Now I understand that you were a good writer. And I know some men who appreciate that. I know some guys who like your books. I know men who have given you a shot and admitted that you’re a decent writer but you’ve got nothing on Patrick McManus. (Sadly, they’re right.) You also have nothing on J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis and I really prefer their writings. The movies of their books are also more fun. I’d much rather watch someone fight off Orcs in Moria and then fight the battle of Helm's Deep and then more battles after that than watch the prejudiced Lizzie Bennet marry the proud Mr. Darcy. Or is it the proud Lizzie and the prejudiced Mr. Darcy? It’s so hard to remember or decided. Although, I do need to thank you for one thing; all of your titles are clear except for Pride and Prejudice. I know who Emma is. I know who is Sense (Elinor) and who is Sensibility (Marianne). I know where the titular Persuasion comes into play. I get that Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park are the settings of their respective novels. But who is pride and who is prejudice?

Furthermore, you unwittingly inspired thousands of movies and plays and books. I’m not entirely sure that I’m comfortable with this. The famous P&P rivalry/dynamic is mimicked in Shop Around the Corner in the 1930’s. Okay, that was fine. But then there was every other chick flick made between then and then End of Time. The same dynamic is present in 1998’s You’ve Got Mail. It’s in Bride and Prejudice, which was inspired by Pride and Prejudice. You’ve got a million girls around the world in love with Fitzwilliam Darcy or Joe Fox or whoever is the latest incarnation of him-including in 2003’s Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy. It’s a bit boring.

And what is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO great about Mr. Darcy anyway? Okay so he’s handsome and he owns Pemberley. Hot Fuzz! But he’s so proud and arrogant and conceited. I don’t think he ever really learns his lesson. Oh, sure, he does great things to woo Lizzie. He makes her sister marry Wickham and takes care of everything for them financially. And he does it all because he loves Lizzie and he wants to marry her-not because he’s a good and decent person. I’m just not that crazy about Darcy. I’m not really sure that he ever has a change of heart. I know that Captain Wentworth has a change of heart. And Emma matures and grows up. But Mr. Darcy just kind of sits there and says, “I’m rich. Worship me. Marry me. Have my babies. Your family is stupid.” Okay, her family is ridiculous. But come on, Jane. He needs a little maturity.

Oh and I’ve always liked Persuasion more than Pride and Prejudice. I like You’ve Got Mail. And I love Shop Around the Corner but I’ve always been a BIG James Stewart fan. Colin Firth is decent but he's no Cary Grant.

I also think you would have enjoyed Gladiator and Braveheart.

Sincerely yours,

A Concerned Fan