Long week. My lack of posting here hasn't meant a lack of reading, just a lack of time to actually reflect on/write about anything I'm reading. I've been busy, both with ordinary life and with the stress of continued job hunting as D. and I continue to try to find some ways to pay our bills. Meanwhile, winter has struck our little corner of PA with a vengenance again. After an amazingly balmy and springlike day on Thursday, bitter cold roared back into the Ohio River Valley on Friday. Booper girl loves it, but then she was born in the 'Burgh! She keeps saying "it's not really, REALLY cold" and "it's not as cold as snowmen." Meanwhile, her poor southern mommy is freezing and donning my heaviest, warmest socks.
Our friend Travis preached an amazing sermon at church this morning. I'm still chewing on it. Reflecting on the gospel story of Jesus healing the paralytic (the one who was lowered through the roof by the four faithful friends) he spoke of Jesus always going "deeper, wider, and higher" than we could possibly imagine or expect in his response to our faithfully bringing someone into Jesus' presence. "Deeper" -- Jesus gets to the root of the person's real needs. "Wider" -- Jesus enlarges everyone's vision to reveal more of who He himself is. "Higher" -- Jesus points Godward and orients us and readies us to praise (and gives us cause to praise). So much there my heart needed to hear.
I went to a movie yesterday. Yes, an actual movie in an actual theater! Dana knew how much I needed a break, and how much I'd been wanting to see "Nanny McPhee." So when it came to our little inexpensive theater in town, he practically pushed me out the door. Having two hours to escape into a hilarious and charming fairy-tale was bliss. Emma Thompson's done it again with her brilliant screenwriting and fine acting. She made a far scarier and funnier nanny than Mary Poppins. Colin Firth was wonderful in the role of the bumbling, vulnerable father to seven out of control children. And any movie where both Angela Lansbury and Derek Jacobi get cream cakes in the face is worth seeing. (There's a dancing donkey too. Really, you should see it. Lovely fun!)
I guess I've been in a fairy-tale sort of mood. Several days ago I finished a little book called The Lost Flower Children -- still trying to decide what I thought about it. I liked it, but I'm not sure if its really a purebred fairytale. In the end, I'm not sure the author, Janet Taylor Lisle, could decide whether or not the magic was real or not...or whether or not she just wanted to leave that question to the reader. Part of her point, I think, was that the real magic of the story lay not in the legend of the garden fairies that Nellie came to believe in (which may or may not have been "true") but in the love, encouragement and hope provided by Aunt Minty for Nellie, and the healing that fully entering into the fairy story helped provide. I hope the approach wasn't entirely a half-hearted modernist cop-out. I have to confess I liked the "real world" aspect of it, the notion that the deepest magic of all might be ordinary but very real love. Plus I liked the openness of the ending, when the reader doesn't know for sure whether or not the real fairy teapot has been found buried in the garden. It reminded me of a story I wrote several years ago in which I laid out conflicting claims to a character's identity, and then at the end brought in a momento/artefact which would seem to cement the character's claim as to who she was. But I never quite came out and said who she was and left it to the reader instead.
Today I finished Jon Hassler's latest novel The New Woman. Last I had heard, Mr. Hassler was ill with Parkinson's disease, and I wasn't sure if he would write another novel. So what a pleasure to be able to return to Staggerford, Minnesota (one of my favorite fictional towns) and to the company of Agatha McGee (one of my favorite heriones). I was a bit nervous going into the story since Agatha is now 88 and living in a nursing home, but she doesn't seem to have lost much of her spunk. In fact, she seems to be getting a bit more flexible and tolerant in her old age. And Hassler's as deft with dialogue as ever. I did feel it fizzled a bit plot-wise -- it felt more like a character study of Agatha than a riveting story -- but I enjoy her character so much I didn't mind.
Have been working with some metered/rhyming poetry again -- playing with iambic lines and also with ballad stanzas. On that last, I've been reading Emily Dickinson and having fun aping her style. Mostly just keeping my writing muscles moving.
There lived a girl in Ambridge gray
And a tired girl was she;
She wished for sunshine and for light --
That tired girl was me.
Or how bout' this one?
The need for light is very strong
An elemental urge
To rid the cave of shadows drear --
And let the sun come in