Monday, January 30, 2017

Watch It

Do you ever feel like you're being watched?

I ask because I've noticed some odd things popping up around the house.

 Things that look like security cameras, sometimes with accompanying boxes filled with wires and electronics.
I'm sure it's just my imagination.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Poem of the Week: The Darkling Thrush

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
      The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.

HT Poetry Foundation

This has to be my favorite thing I've ever read by Hardy.  Usually I find him unbearably nihilistic, but this poem, with it's openness to hope, is just lovely!  I think it's an interesting companion to the Winter Bluejay poem.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Happy 50th Anniversary!

To my Mom and Dad!
Thank you for your beautiful example of marriage as a relationship of faithful love and service, serving God, each other, and everyone you meet!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Happy Birthday, Klenda!

 Klenda is 18!  She's officially an adult!

This is super special to me because she nearly died as a baby.  Her life was saved with major surgery, but we were only given a 5% percent chance of  being completely  physically normal- and she hit that 5%!

Actually, she may have overshot the mark a bit!

And here she is, this bright, lovely, talented young woman who brings such joy to our lives!

I imagine turning 18 was pretty special to her, too, so we had a party with her friends
 And a party with extended family.

And a party with "just" the 8 of us!

In which she was given hats, obviously.

18 Great Things About Klenda

1. She looks great in hats.
2. She can do Parkour.
3. She loves tea.
3. She is an amazing artist and writer!
4. She makes a killer chocolate buttercream pie.
5. She helps out without being asked.
5. She's a thoughtful and loving daughter.
6. She's a super supportive sister.
7. She brings me tea!
8. She loves to go to Adoration.
8. She's fluent in Bionicle and Transformers!
9. She draws amazing pictures on napkins and post-it notes.
10. She's a loyal friend.
11. She's a Eucharistic Minister.
11. She can speak in iambic pentameter.
12. She has a beautiful singing voice.
13. She's the BCC's resident artist.
13. She can play piano, recorder, and kazoo.
14. She loves to try new things.
15. She sometimes runs in slow motion so I can pass her.
16. She's an amateur nutritionist.
16. She's a deadly punster.
17. She loves to cook and bake.
18. She notices when someone is down and cheers them up.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Poem of the Week: January


Image from Old Farmer's Almanac
O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire, 
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn 
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn 
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire 
The streams than under ice. June could not hire 
Her roses to forego the strength they learn 
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn 
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire 
In vain to build. 
        O Heart, when Love’s sun goes 
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease, 
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace. 
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose. 
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows, 
The winter is the winter’s own release.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Running for My Life

Well, here's a post I never thought I'd write, but it's been a long time coming!

I run on a path along this stream
After 20 + years of being mostly sedentary, I've actually started  running.  Running wouldn't have been my first choice of exercise, mostly because I've had joint problems in the past.  That and I couldn't run a block without being winded. Running did not sound fun.

But.  Sue runs with her kids, and it made me realize how important it was to be an example to my kids about exercise being a normal part of a healthy life.  I just didn't like to exercise, so I didn't do it.  Not the best example, and not good for my health.

But I started thinking about it.  God sent me a few other IRL friends that run, and I started wondering if this was possible for me.  How can you tell the difference between a reason and an excuse?

Here's what physically worked for me:
-Good (motion control) shoes, and running on level paths turned out to be the key to running without joint pain.
I needed good shoes!
-Using a Couch to 5K running app is what made running in an ongoing way possible.  It's an objective way to see improvement.

Here's what mentally worked for me:
-Separating my intention to exercise (and be more fit) from my intention to lose weight.
-Listening to music (it energizes me and makes running fun)
-Discovering that doing a little works better than doing nothing.

Seriously!  The App is theoretically an 8 week plan where you run 3 times a week.  I started in mid-September and I am in the middle of Week 5!  I often can only fit in a run once a week (and occasionally less), and I often have to repeat a day or week, but I've just kept going, and it's enough- enough to feel better all day and enough to run farther.

I started running 30 seconds at a time, and I can now run for a mile and a half (with a walk break half way through).  I have a lot more energy, and I just feel better than I have in a long time.

And Mxyl, Klenda, Zorg, and Oob run with me!  I like to think they are extra encouraged by the fact that they all run faster than I do. I don't mind.  I run slowly, but faster than I would if I were still on the couch!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Poem of the Week: A Winter Bluejay

 A Winter Bluejay

 By Sara Teasdale

Crisply the bright snow whispered,
Crunching beneath our feet;
Behind us as we walked along the parkway,
Our shadows danced,
Fantastic shapes in vivid blue.
Across the lake the skaters
Flew to and fro,
With sharp turns weaving
A frail invisible net.
In ecstacy the earth
Drank the silver sunlight;
In ecstacy the skaters
Drank the wine of speed;
In ecstacy we laughed
Drinking the wine of love.
Had not the music of our joy
Sounded its highest note?
But no,
For suddenly, with lifted eyes you said,
"Oh look!"
There, on the black bough of a snow flecked maple,
Fearless and gay as our love,
A bluejay cocked his crest!
Oh who can tell the range of joy
Or set the bounds of beauty?

Poem: HT Poem Hunter 
Image: HT GSchneider

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Poem of the Week: The Journey of the Magi

The Journey of The Magi

T.S. Elliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped in away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This:  were we led all that way for Birth or Death?
There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt.  I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
HT: Poems for Epiphany

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Do you differentiate between movies and films?  To me, it's the difference between novels and literature.  Some novels are literature, and some are just fun (or not so fun) reads.

What sets films (and literature) apart, in my own mind, is depth.  A film speaks on multiple levels and it tries to show something important about the larger story.  If, at the end, there's nothing to talk about beyond "Wow, that was great! Did you see..." it was probably just a movie.

I like both movies and films.  I have times (especially when I'm tired) when I would rather watch a really bad (cheesy) movie that an excellent film! On the other hand, a great film can express truths which can be expressed in no other way. I suppose that can be said of plays, poetry, novels and so  forth, but I first experienced it in film, and it occurred to me that understanding the language of film was something well worth passing on to the Zoomlians.

So we've been watching a lot of great stuff.  We started with Akira Kirasawa's Seven Samurai. We love his movies!  To me, every single movie he made asks the same question: What does it mean to be a good man? And in every single movie, any individual frame makes a picture you could put on your wall. We've also recently watched his Hidden Fortress, Sanjuro, and Yojimbo.

We followed that with John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven.

It was really interesting to see the same story told from a Japanese perspective and then an American perspective. 

If you watch both, the different ends of the movies explain precisely the difference between Japanese and American film making!

Then we did Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (I know, what is it with us and sevens?).

Bergman's films are all intense, and the three that I've seen (this, Wild Strawberries, and The Magician) all deal with death, memory and the meaning of life.  Seventh Seal explores all three in the specific context of faith.

A knight, returning home from the crusades, finds his country scourged by plague.  He meets death (literally) and challenges him to a game of chess, played out as he travels to his castle.  Along the way, he meets many kinds of people, each responding to the nearness of death in their own way.

If Kirasawa asks what a good man is, Bergman asks what makes a worthwhile life.  The movie is richly layered with symbolism, and is worth watching multiple times. Teens and up.

Other great films we've watched this past  year: 2001, Macario, and we're about to rewatch The Island.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ten Things We Did Instead of Blogging Last Month

In the order we did them:

10.Chemistry! Lots of Chemistry.

9.We made sushi!

8. We had a great time visiting family!

7. We made tiny snowmen.

6.We made awesome cup towers.

 5.We cat sat.

4. We ate Old Bay on everything.

 3.We gave presents!
2. We made ninjabread men.
1.We had a fabulous time together!
First snow!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...

...the Zoomlians bring to you a pile of quirky internet toys:

Koalas to the Max!

 Or, if koalas aren't your thing: Ducks are the Best! 

Maybe you like sticky hands (unless you have a toddler).

And when all else fails, try browsing the archives of Cute Overload!

Happy Twelfth Night!

One last toy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...

the Zoomlians bring to you: our favorite version of the Holly and the Ivy! Stick with it through the "normal" first 45 seconds.

I do not know the main singer, but a dear friend was one of the back up singers!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

On the Ninth Day of Christmas...

... the Zoomlians bring to you: Masters in This Hall.  I love this carol, but could never catch half the words, so I'm using a video with the lyrics!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

On the Eighth Day of Christmas...

... the Zoomlians bring to you: Best Wishes for a New Year!

Hope you're off to a great start for 2017!