Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sunday afternoon on the Potomac

A half-mile hike through the woods

Looking for fossils

 That thin blue line on the horizon is Maryland

From the observation tower at the edge of the woods

Monday, September 29, 2014

St. Michael and All Angels

Archangel Michael Trampling the Devil Underfoot
Simon Ushakov (1676)

“Ye that excel in strength.”

~Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Service and strength, God’s Angels and Archangels;
    His Seraphs fires, and lamps His Cherubim:
Glory to God from the highest and from the lowest,
    Glory to God in everlasting hymn
        From all His creatures.

Princes that serve, and Powers that work His pleasure,
    Heights that soar to’ard Him, Depths that sink to’ard Him:
Flames fire out-flaming, chill beside His Essence;
    Insight all-probing, save where scant and dim
        To’ard its Creator.

Sacred and free exultant in God’s pleasure,
    His will their solace, thus they wait on Him;
And shout their shout of ecstasy eternal,
    And trim their splendours that they burn not dim
        To’ard their Creator.

Wherefore with Angels, wherefore with Archangels,
    With lofty Cherubs, loftier Seraphim,
We laud and magnify our God Almighty,
    And veil our faces rendering love to Him
        With all His creatures.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Lord's Prayer in Old English

My fifteen year old daughter is reading Beowulf now with Angelina's excellent Great Books II class, so just for fun she and I watched Benjamin Bagby's wonderful performance of the first third of the poem, in Old English, with a harp.

And that inspired me to brush up my pronunciation of the Lord's Prayer in Old English in order to share with y'all, only the recording I first learned it from was taken down from the internet a decade ago, and I don't really like any of the recordings I've found on YouTube, and the online written pronunciation guides are just confusing me.  So I decided to post this anyway before I chickened out.  My apologies if you're an Anglo-Saxon scholar and know how this is supposed to sound. 

Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum
si þin nama gehalgod
tobecume þin rice
gewurþe þin willa
on eorðan swa swa on heofonum
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us to dæg
and forgyf us ure gyltas
swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum
and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge
ac alys us of yfele.


~*~ ~*~ ~*~


The Poetry shelf, which contains maybe 2/3 of my collection
There's more in the school room, and in my bedroom,
and on the table by my rocking chair, and . . .

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

So, this is what I did instead of nature notebook

Motifs found at Tangle Patterns, chosen because they reminded me of the florets on the sunchoke flowers.

Trying to give my children something to imitate . . .

Inspired by Silvia's latest post on nature journaling, when I took my walk this afternoon, I took lots of pictures of the Jerusalem artichokes, which are in their glory now and brought in one flower, so I could sketch it.

I stared at this flower for several minutes trying to figure out where to begin.  It's a LOT more complicated than I'd realized, and I'm not at all good at drawing what I see.  Finally I decided to draw just one petal . . .

. . . and while I was staring at the flower I noticed that all that complicated stuff in the center was made up of curlicues like this:

Then I noticed that each curlicue was growing out of a tiny flower like this:

Ah!  Now I remember -- Jerusalem Artichoke is a relative of the sunflower, so this is a compound flower.

The bees love it

[And by "something to imitate" I mean the habit of paying close attention and keeping a nature journal.  They can all draw a whole lot better than I can!]

Friday, September 5, 2014

Beauty for Truth’s Sake, Chapter 3: The Lost Wisdom of the World

“this world of patterns and relationships”

The Quadrivium

The assumption of this system of education was that by learning to understand the harmonies of the cosmos, our minds would be raised toward God, in whom we could find the unity from which all these harmonies derive: Dante’s “love that moves the sun and the other stars.” Thus the quadrivium would prepare the ground for the study of the highest contemplative sciences: philosophy and theology.

The idea that the cosmos is built on mathematical harmonies, and that numbers themselves can be a path to God, flowed from Pythagoras and Plato down to the Middle Ages, where it influenced the cathedral builders and later the artists of the Italian Renaissance. It was also one of the essential factors in the birth of science . . . .

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

“Numbers are a map of the beautiful order of the universe, the plan by which the divine Architect transformed undifferentiated Chaos into orderly Cosmos. Cultures didn’t necessarily learn this from each other but only had to look at numbers and their relationships to see how they revealed harmonious models which are the same everywhere and at all times [quoting Michael S. Schneider in Constructing the Cosmological Circle].”

Yet our present education trends to eliminate the contemplative or qualitative dimension of mathematics altogether, reducing everything to sheer quantity. Mathematics is regarded as a form of logical notation, a mental tool with no relation to truth except the fact that it assists us in manipulating the world. This elimination of the symbolic dimension of mathematics is largely responsible for the divorce of science from religion, and art from science.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Rose Window, Chartres
image via Wikipedia (cropped)

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The Pythagorean-Platonic tradition at the core of the Liberal Arts developed the following symbolic associations with the natural numbers:


The Unity of being, transcending all that exists. It is often represented by a circle, or else by a point. One is the number that when “squared,” i.e., multiplied by itself, produces itself. Symbolically, One is not the first in a series of numbers, but the number-beyond-number that includes all others, equivalent in that sense to the modern conception of infinity . . . .


If one is the source and archetype of Unity, two is the beginning of Diversity. It represents polarity and division, and also feminine receptivity and fruitfulness. In a Christian context it often signifies the separation of matter and spirit. Duality can also symbolize the beginning of the process of creation, which in the book of Genesis is described as taking place through a series of separations or polarizations (heavens and earth, light and dark, etc.). The division of Adam’s unity into duality gave us male and female . . . .

~*~*~ ~*~ ~*~

In nature there is no zero. Some writers on number symbolism therefore regard it as an interloper, whose introduction as a placeholder led to the loss of awareness of the symbolic properties of number, and especially of Unity (displacing it from its position at the beginning of the number series), creating a framework for the development of atheism . . . .

Personally, I am not so sure. Zero could also be taken as the ground of being, and a symbol for the return to one. Perhaps the mistake lay not in introducing zero, but failing to read it symbolically.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I’m two days late, but I’m linking to Dawn’s Wednesdays with Words anyway.  Be sure to read her quotes, and check out all the links.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


[This recent post from The Imaginative Conservative, Men in Hats: An Endangered Species, reminded me of a post I wrote in the spring of 2007 about my husband's hats. He still has the tweed driving cap and wears it in cool weather, but the others have had to be replaced.]

Over at Favorite Apron talk has turned to hats for men, and it inspired me to set off again in search of information on the proper wearing of hats, no easy task.

After wearing a hat to work every day for nearly twenty-two years in the Air Force, Mike wanted me to get him something to wear to the office where he works as a civilian in his retirement (hah!) and of course he needs something on when working out in the sun around here.

This latter was easy enough to find - we bought this leather one, which is especially nice for cool damp weather, at the local feed store.

And this one that he wears in warmer weather, was practically a no-brainer:

Notice that neither of these hats is a cowboy hat, which would have been by far the easiest thing to find.  They are everywhere -  the feed store, the Tractor Supply Store, Wal-Mart, gas stations, the mall... everywhere.  But Mike doesn't own a single pair of cowboy boots, and since we own neither cows nor horses it's not likely that he'll ever own a pair.  It's my opinion that man's hat (well, probably a woman's too for that matter, but we're talking about men's hats here) ought to go with his shoes, and his shoes ought to be appropriate to the activity at hand.  Mike usually does his farm work in the rubber boots you see here, or in a pair of leather military issue boots, and the straw farm and leather outback hats seemed to be more fitting than anything else I've seen.

A harder task was finding something for him to wear to the office, and this is where I first started trying to find out what the etiquette is for what kind of hat to wear where.  There's some information on proper behavior when wearing a hat - taking it off in church, for instance - but precious little about different kinds of hats and when and where it's appropriate to wear them.

My 1950s copy of Emily Post's Blue Book of Social Usage is not very helpful since not only is our lifestyle not formal, but we don't even live in a formal era.  I'm not opposed to moving slightly in the direction of more formality, hoisting the culture up so to speak, but I certainly don't want my husband to look ridiculous - like he's in a costume or something.  He doesn't even own a suit, so whatever hat I chose for him needed to be dressier than his farm hat, but still informal.

I don't have a photo of the first "office" hat I bought for him, but it was a straw hat along the lines of the one above, but smaller in scale - a narrower brim and such.  For the fall, I finally hit upon this wool tweed driving cap:

Nice, isn't it?

His office "suit" is usually an oxford-cloth shirt (sometimes flannel as you see above), trousers, and burgundy oxfords or brown loafers, with a sweater (pullover or cardigan) in cool weather.  Casualish, but nice.

But now it's spring again and I was still dissatisfied with his old warm-weather office hat, not to mention the fact that it was falling apart, being a pretty cheap thing, so I've been looking around again, asking the questions, What is the right style?  and What is the right material?

My daddy never wore hats, but I remembered something he told me about my grandfather.  Granddaddy was an engineer (that is, he drove a train) and a farmer, so he usually wore his pinstriped overalls and engineers cap, and boots, but he was also the mayor his small town for many years, and of course, the men of that generation always wore a suit to church.  Daddy told me that Granddaddy had four dress hats:  two felt ones (a black and a grey) for winter, and two straw ones (a black and an ivory) for summer.

So, armed with this information, I set off hunting for some kind of dress hat in straw.  My mental image was of Bogart - a fedora of some sort.  It took a lot of googling around, but I finally found something I really like - a Panama.

I chose this putty color over either black or ivory, thinking that those colors would be too formal.

Well.  Another time, maybe I'll discuss actual hat etiquette - from an historical perspective, at least.  There seem to be only about three rules for wearing hats nowadays, but I'm in favor of moving in a slightly more formal direction, and there's no reason to reinvent the wheel, now is there?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The communion of the saints

[First posted on this date in 2003.  We're still friends with all these dear people.]

It is such a blessing to meet people for the first time and to feel so close to them right away, like they are close friends or family members you haven't seen in a long time.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a young woman in Oklahoma, who happened across my blog and noticed that we live in the same town where her father lives. Since he does not go to church, she asked me if she could come with us the next time she visited her dad, so of course I said, "Yes."

This Sunday morning, Kelly and three of her friends (Kelly M, Lisa, and Robert, brother of Kelly M) came to the base chapel with us. We all ate lunch at the fellowship hall after the service, then they came home with us and we spent the rest of the afternoon talking and getting to know each other, and what a delight it was!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fresh paint

This is the color we're using for our new laundry room. It's kind of a robin's egg blue, and you can see in the pictures below how it changes color a bit depending on the light.  I love colors that do that -- more blue in some lights, more green in others.

When you read advice on choosing paint, you're usually told that the color will be much more intense on the wall than it is on the little paint card, so you should decide on which shade you like, then use the one that's one step lighter than that.

It doesn't work that way for me. I guess I'm afraid of getting too intense a color, so I naturally pick something that's lighter than what I'd really want. And then I put it on and I'm always disappointed with it.

But this time I ignored the advice and bought the color I liked best.

And this time the color is perfect.

Monday, September 1, 2014

What I've been doing instead of reading math

* Going to the Y and hurting myself on the treadmill.

* Going to the Y and hurting myself in the pool.

* Lying around regretting my life choices.

* Reading light, fluffy fiction -- Dandelion Cottage, free for Kindle, recommended by the Deputy Headmistress.

* Reading light, not-so-fluffy fiction -- The 101 Dalmatians, which was my favorite book in the 5th grade.  Bill Peet did a wonderful job translating the book to screen for Disney, but if you've only seen the movie you've got to read the book, too.  It's delightful and poignant.

* Playing an insane number of rounds of Net Game -- I can't tell you how soothing it is to line up all those pieces properly and see the whole thing light up with power.  It's like a drug.

My high score just before leaving town in July, which I have not been able to top since. 
This is driving me crazy.

* Also Mahjong, but it's not nearly as satisfying as Net.  Too much chance involved.

* Eating avocados, my number one comfort food.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ Interruption ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

A moment of silence for this poor dead hummingbird my son just brought me.

So tiny and beautiful

The real thing is much smaller than this picture.  It's not even three inches long from the tip of its beak to the end of its tail and its wings are only a little larger than a dragonfly's.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Now, where was I?  Oh, yes. What I've been doing instead of reading math.

* Blogging stuff like this.

* Overseeing the final stages of our long-anticipated new laundry room.  I think we started this project four years ago now.

* Reading about right brain / left brain differences.

* Trying to read the backlog of Peter Leithart articles in my feed.  He must be an angelic being -- it seems that he has no need for sleep or food.  Just reading and comprehending what he writes about would be a full-time job for me.

* Instigating a heated discussion on Facebook, which didn't do anyone any good.

* Lying around regretting my life choices.

Wait.  Did I say that one already?

* More Net game.

* Coffee.  Lots of coffee.

* And chocolate.