Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Starting the New Year on this last day of the old year

With George Herbert:

Prayer the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The Soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian Plummet sounding heav’n and earth;
Engine against th’Almightie, sinners tower
Reversed Thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world-transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune which all things hear and fear;
softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted Manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the souls blood,
The land of spices; something understood

Listening to Malcolm Guite and the ringing of the bells  here. 
"be dressed in Christ, you are well dressed"
Soar into the New Year, ladies and gents!

                                                                       angel from the Louvre  in Paris 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Couldn't we make these Jane Austen Teapot Cookies?

One blogger shows how here.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Meditating on this joyous painting:
Angels Dancing Before the Sun
Giovanni de Paolo

The painter came from a wealthy family of wool merchants in Florence.
He held political post under the Medicis and built several buildings.
He commissioned work for the Santa Maria Novella ( church) from
Fillipi Lippi, Bernini ( sculptures) and more. He even  translated and 
copied Boethius and Aristotle.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Song of Stars : A Christmas Story

Sally Lloyd-Jones reads her new book:

a day of gifts

IN the mail: 

--- Wendell Berry book from folks I have worked with for years 

-- Chocolate from Europe

-- fresh evergreen wreath which is now on the front door. ( L.L. Bean) I had just put up 
   white lights around the door. Looks pretty. ( From #4's girlfriend's parents)

-- eating turkey ( belated Thanksgiving) that always comes with a honey baked ham  
    dinner from a brother in law and his wife. Need it tonight! This is a tradition. 

Blessings upon those dear friends and family.

Listening to The  Colors of Christmas by John Rutter while waiting on dinner
to cook. This is a fun youtube to listen to : 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent Calendar

I had a lovely Christmas lunch at my friends house. She  had a "presentation" 
of an Advent Calendar :Jacquie Lawson. Never too late to jump in and very cheap.
You can be transported to an English Manor. Not Downton Abbey but 
almost. It is magical. 

Then tonight I was lead to Rowan Williams poetry. He is the former Archbishop of Canterbury. You might remember him marrying Prince William and Kate. '

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

© Rowan Williams

Monday, December 16, 2013

Small things

Can be big things like:

- we got our tree and decorated tonight 
- daughter-in-law almost got bumped off the flight on Friday night 
coming back from Chicago to Knoxville to graduate. She took a week long
prep class for the PA Boards. She did arrive in a delayed overbooked flight 
and did graduate. Read here
- son arrived on a delayed flight from London yesterday. His comment:
" everyone drives on the wrong side of the road!" 
- fun dinner last night with 2 sons, one daughter-in-law ( a teacher) , and 
a daughter 
- Home for the holidays!

Here is David Tennant reading HOW HIGH THE SKY and Small Mouse 
Big City. 

Here is a site from the British Library releasing illustrations from  
the 17th to 19th century books.  
This article says to applaud the British Library!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Packing up again

Yes, heading out again . This time over the Appalachain Mts. to Knoxville
for my daughter-in-law's graduation. Physician Assistant! Right in the middle or 
near the middle of her two year Grad Program  , she married my #3 son. 
It was her two week break in June. So excited she is done and proud of her. 

#4 son comes home from London on Sunday. 

Things I have finished:

- My class today ended  with a heraldry project of Coat of Arms showing the past, present , 
and charge( hopes ) for each family in the future. I love projects and creativity.

- Enchanted Cornwall by Daphne du Maurier. I have not read her books but somehow
found this book in the library , mainly to learn more about Cornwall. It is a memoir and 
she tells all the books she read as a child , how her imagination was kindled and she 
knew then she would be a writer. As an author, she met Arthur Quiller-Couch and his 
daughter became a very good friend. His family asked her to finish his last manuscript ,
Castle Dor.

- suitcases from the trip are in the attic!

Things I have not finished:

- Christmas cards: slowly getting them in the mailbox. Long distances first , then 
closer in to my state last. 
-no tree up yet
- stack of books: Christmas ones and library books ( Shirley Hughes has a new chapter book. She wrote Alfie and Annie Rose books which I stepped into in London)
- almost done with shopping, not quite

And I fell today. This morning I  hit  my knees and even skinned one. I felt like I was old and young at the same time. A skinned knee is childhood and not being able to keep from falling made me feel old. My dear daughter said:
YOU are NOT old! You just walked for 10 days in London and Paris. ( isn't she sweet)
My slipper tripped me as I was going into the foyer from the kitchen and I just couldn't 
stop myself from falling. Boom onto my knees. Going to be sore tomorrow and black and blue. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Glory Be to...

                                                     Adoration of the Kings, Jan Gossaert
                                                              painted in 1500-1515
                                                                   oil on wood
                                                           National Gallery, London
                                                              larger view here

Can you see the depth of the painting? 
the view
the angels flying in 

An article to read from The Guardian which begins:

The small Belgian town of Mechelen is a quiet place. It grew rich on wool and once made the finest lace in Europe, but it's not hard to guess that the main attraction for many residents these days is its proximity to Brussels, just 20 minutes away by commuter train.

The neat streets are studded, however, with a number of startlingly grand buildings, dating from the glory days – the decades in the late 15th and early 16th century when the town was the heart of the territory of the powerful Dukes of Burgundy, who had long since expanded northwards to control an area that stretched from Switzerland to the North  Sea. 

It was also the home of an extraordinary artist: Jan Gossaert.

Groot Market above
Christmas Market below in Groot Market on a clear night


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

the weekend

I saw Fra Angelico's angels. My daughter sparkled as she saw some first at the Louvre.
"Mom!" We both sighed, filled with awe, stunned by beauty. Florence. He painted on
the walls of San Marcos Monastery. I want  to now him better and his work. My students
studied him this Fall and it is the halos that always capture us. Would that we would be seen
with such reflection of Christ.  Advent.

Wrapping up "school" this week and keeping Christmas slowly and unhurried coming
towards us. My husband and daughter sang in our church's Christmas choir service
Saturday and Sunday night. Here are the two songs the teen choir sang. If you don't know
them, they  will resound with beauty. Here is the Westminster Abbey Choir:

Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day

O Magnum Mysterium

Friday, December 6, 2013

What is a weekend?

I think we are getting back to our normal time . 
Getting up that is. The week has been a jump into 
my life. No day of rest until the Sabbath.
 It has gone well and now is the weekend. 
Advent Sunday #2.

Advent Sunday #1 was spent in London at the 
Candlelight Advent service at Westminster Abbey. 
4:00 pm. Dusk 4:30 pm. Completely dark. 
You couldn't take photos in the service.
The choir of young boys and men ,
the ones who sang at Prince William's 
wedding, lifted my heart up to the top of the high
ceiling.Very high. I was silenced by the beauty. 
I was stilled in my heart. God's presence.

This week I have been so deeply moved by these 
Advent devotions from Biola University here.
I can't wait to see the next day's painting, music, 
and reading. It has been a long time since this sort
of hunger for beauty has been kindled. Please take 
a look and read on each day. A feast awaits.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

what day is it?

We are back.
Would turn around and go back over the ocean tomorrow.
BUT Christmas is coming and a graduation ( daughter-in-law to be
a PA) and it seemed  like Monday all day.

Seems like we already had Christmas in the UK and two days in Paris.

I did have two turkey sandwiches on the trip.
Delicious. Both had stuffing and cranberries.

More soon when my brain is on the right day!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I sold a book on Amazon and had an email asking why I charged
more for the postage than what it costs to send it. 
Well,I got an attitude. 
You know how that goes. Something else to do and deal with. 
 Well, I had to find where Amazon suggests the 3.00 plus 99 cents. 
I sent an email and she responded. We went back and forth for about
5 emails, turning into conversation! A wonderful one.  
Well, now I am smiling. I had sold her an Anne Graham
Lotz's  Bible Study book. 
 Ended up blessing each other at the very end.

Heading out at the end of the week for Thanksgiving week. 
The days are marching towards our suitcases very fast.

Have a very good time with family and friends and turkey. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This event is now fully subscribed.

This event 
and this event
and this event,
then this event.

Those Brits have a way of saying "Sold out!"

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday with my sister



Oh, so very thankful for this dear sister of mine!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

All ending with -ness


 Playfulness: an awareness of the formative power of the local environment,
 human and natural, and stability.
 Wendell Berry's idea of the importance of "knowing where ( we are ) , and the
 pleasures and pains of being there."

 Timefulness: Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier, Living Gently in a Violent
 World,  the sense of having all the time one needs, unhurried,
 the cadence of Glory.

 Nuancefulness: coined by Calvin Seerveld, the awareness that there is a
 stratum of truth beyond fact. Beauty.

Words to live in. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

blue sky

Crystal blue sky as I look out the kitchen window.
My heart is lighter. 
All hotel rooms booked for the trip plus to my daughter in law's graduation
in December from Grad School. 
Now to plan our days. Any tips for jet lag?

We saw Macbeth yesterday. It was filmed at the Manchester International
Festival and took place in a desconsecrated church. The setting added to 
the performance. The performances by Kenneth Branagh and Alex 
Kingston ( Macbeth and Lady Macbeth) brought a record sell out 
in July in 9 minutes. Watch a trailer here

In the opening scene,  the battle scenes are in the wide center aisle
which is covered with dirt. It rains so now it is covered with mud for the
rest of the play. You are in everything from mud to daggers to sleep walking 
to witches and the high ambition of Macbeth. 

Tremendous acting for the famous scenes: 
Lady Macbeth's "Out damn spot" as guilt devours her. She is sleepwalking and 
still washing blood off her arms and hands. Kingston plays it with torment. 
Macbeth hears her howl then the news of her death. He starts out with 
"Tomorrow, tomorrow..." and the camera fixes on his face. His composure
breaks down to such pain that he barely whispers the last words:  signifying nothing.

There is a beauty beyond words in  their performances of  the beautiful poetry
of their lines. We see Macbeth lay hold of his own glory and ransack Scotland
to  a culture of evil. I couldn't help thinking of our current days with the violence 
in our land. Very good well written review here

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dreams do come true

Once upon a time............

A son spends a semester in London, southwest on the Thames,
and of course, we want to visit him.
So we book a flight and a hotel and plan the days.
Then an idea pops into our minds.
The girls' hearts.
So we book the train through the Chunnel and plan our days.
Then, where do we stay?
Working on where to stay  and how to get around under ground or above ground.

Any help with the City of Lights?
Need to book a hotel for 2 nights. Seems like a FB request that you see
all the time but I won't go there!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

funny how an hour makes a difference

Doesn't it?
We all commented on how dark it was at dinner last night. 
Then it is nice to get up in the light. 
I live with a rooster and he likes to get up in the dark. 
I just don't understand. 

Somehow in October the holidays seemed far away. 
We turned the page of the calendar and here are the 
holidays. There seems to be much responsiblity with 
Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So here are words from a friend who sent them 
to me for a good night's sleep:

Sleep in peace tonight. Narrate all the goodnesses of the Lord to you
today and "He giveth his beloved sleep."

Monday, November 4, 2013

the hardest letter to write

You don't send an email for a sympathy note. 
No, ma'am.
You put pen to paper.
You sit and think.
Open your Bible.
Find any journals to pull from for quotes or even prayers for the family.

This morning I sent  6 sympathy cards in the mail.
This had weighed heavy on my heart. Three funerals  and I wasn't able
to go to any.  Crafting comfort words is hard. I watched my daughter
and husband stop with pen in hand and think. Each had short full sentences
right to the heart of the person we were writing. These words are to comfort. 

Next hardest is Thank You notes. You have to reach in again to 
find words , not common ones, to present a  bouquet of gratitude before the 
person you are writing. This writing is to bless.

Least hardest is Birthday cards. I wrote one of those this morning, also.
It can be hard but the card was great from Trader Joe's. This cousin
always makes me laugh so I had to find a funny one.  You know you
must make a birthday card signficant. You are paying almost 50 cents

My mailbox was full as the mailman came by this morning.
I did have one letter in the stack of my mail.
From the birthday cousin!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Jesus Story Bible

I am back to share these wonderful audios from Sally Lloyd-Jones:

Listen here.
I need to hear this.

one day to the weekend

It is Halloween and we only had one, two , three.
Oh well. 
There is a bowl of kit-kats, Reese's cups, and tootsie rolls.
I could offer you some!!

Tonight, I have been listening to this podcast from the guys down in Rock Hill, SC
which is right down the road and about 30 minutes from my house. 
Andy is interviewing Pastor George Grant on Gospel Neighboring.
 Excellent. Listen here
Take the time to hear two young pastors with a seasoned one discuss
how we live in our neighborhoods. 

Very good week. 
How about you?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Brandywine Books

I happened upon this blog by an author who John Wilson of Books & Culture
featured in a podcast. I don't usually listen to the podcasts. Who has time?
You do when something makes your ears perk up. Miss Oreo, our cat , can be
sound asleep but then she perks up with a sound in the trees outside.
Well, it was the description: A tale set in Norway shortly after AD 1000.

Right where we are in history. It reminds me of Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Unset.
( Pultizer Prize writer) This writer has this on his blog:

"The Christian joy, the Gloria, is of the same kind; but it is pre-eminently (infinitely, if our capacity were not finite) high and joyous. Because this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men - and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused."  

- J.R.R. Tolkien
The podcast is here. and the author is Lars Walker. ( From Minnesota)
I have to dig in more to see what I think.
I have a stack of Hagiographies to grade, another blog to write ( Childlight ),
and a stack of books from the previous blog and my class. Hope to have 
found a good new writer, at least to me. Do you know of him?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

good reading

A fall Book Club breakfast and a good book discussion by this author 
put joy in my heart.  It was at my friend's house on my
Fall Break from class. You can see here.  If you haven't read The Little
Way of Ruthie  Leming by Rod Dreher, put it on your list. It is a layered
book of more than his sister dying of cancer. It will resonate somewhere in
your life with family, community, and even calling. It is a true story about  relational

Next up is Tim Keller's new book on Pain and Suffering. The two  books seem
to hold each other in a category, don't they. I am reminded of Lewis' title
The Problem of Pain. I read it a long time ago but I must reread a Lewis
book in honor of his 50th anniversary on Nov. 22.
How about this from his book:

“You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. "

From The Rabbit Room writers , celebrating their Hutchmoot conference, is 
an anthology of stories, poetry, and wonderful illustrations.
Vol. 1 was wonderful. Now Vol. 2 is even better. I have read many of these writers and 
their blogs. 
Fiction by Walt Wangerin, Jr., Jonathan Rogers, Lanier Ivester, and Sarah Clarkson

Non-fiction by Jeffrey Overstreet, Eric Peters, Russ Ramsey, G. K. Chesterton, Andrew Peterson, Jennifer Trafton, and Thomas McKenzie

Artwork by Jonny Jimison, Eric Peters, and Zach Franzen

Poetry by Andrew Peterson, Jonny Jimison, and Rebecca Reynolds

The Molehill: Volume 2

For homeschoolers, new book about journals and commonplace books and nature
notebooks: The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater. I know her from the Childlight
Conferences. THIS is GOOD!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

to celebrate 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice

The Real Jane Austen

I stopped to look on the library shelf and there is another 
Jane Austen biography.  The skeptic in me whispered 
something negative in my mind but then I saw the subtitle:

A Life in Small Things

Very intrigued now. 
It is the first book I looked at tonight and started to read. 
Paul Johnson, the British historian and columnist for The Guardian, 
said of Paula Bryne's first book, Jane Austen and the Theatre, 
" the best book on Jane Austen." In 2011, Paula made a BBC
documentary about her discovery of Jane Austen portrait , thought by many
experts to be the only professional portrait of the novelist painted 
from life.. Byrne lives in Oxford to another writer Jonathan Bates ( Shakespeare 
scholar). It was written to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and 

So with all this information, I opened the book. 

The portrait: 

Image from Jane Austen: The Unseen Portrait?

The pencil drawing on vellum is inscribed "Miss Jane Austin" on the back. Byrne insists that "apart from the striking family resemblance", this was the first clue as to the identity of the sitter..
"They believe it dates to about 1815, before Austen died in 1817."

Author talks here:

I found this series on The Real Jane Austen:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Notes From A Tilt-a-Whirl

N.D. Wilson's book on wonder and life is excellent. 
So excellent that I wanted to read it again. This is my third  
reading. There's a saying "too many books and not enough 
time" but I will make time for N.D.'s non-fiction. Here is a sample:

“The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not try to pretend there is no danger. Train them. Give them sharp eyes and bellies full of laughter. Make them dangerous. Make them yeast, and when they’ve grown, they will pollute the shadows.” 

He put in words how we raised our boys and one daughter. I am not 
sure they are dangerous, but  what he means is they will make a difference.
 Make them yeast to change the world. 
Mine are still rising but I think they will push up and into
the world to give grace and more grace to those they love and their neighbors.
Wilson writes in a circular fashion so be prepared in this book for a ride 
up and around the tilt-a- whirl. He is well read. He crafts sentences that will 
make you stop and go back to underline and read the words again. 
He is "Spot On!"

Reviewed for Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze.

Friday, October 11, 2013

been to Italy tonight

Somehow went from The Murmuring Cottage on Tumblr ( yes, misspelled)
to two handwork blogs from Italy. Always hitting the translate to
find such beautiful embroidery here and here.

It all started with this photo :

and I found a youtube on her blog to make them:

You know how it is. You get started looking and there goes a few hours.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Weekend in the Big Apple was wonderful. 
Today's sky was too.
I am fighting a cold since returning yesterday but it is good to be home.
Missed that hubby of mine. We have been on separate trips recently and 
now it is good to BE home. 

I loved all I heard and tasted and have a small pile of books from 
Hearts and Minds Bookshop and new notecards to write letters from 
The Morgan Library and The MET. I can't resist. 

Edgar Allan Poe exhibit opened at the Morgan. 
I love this museum/ home of JP Morgan. 

I was thrilled to walk into the NY Public Library and see their 
Children's Book Collection which is like the Morgan. First editions
and letters and photos. Just thrilled. 

I heard Christian Wiman, a poet , read his work and glare up to the screen
with demise at it not in the right structure. He couldn't take it. He said to 

turn it off. It needs to be in stanzas, needs to be in couplets. A true 
artist. The form makes the poem. It helps the reader hear. His favorite
poet: George Herbert.His recent days are marked with a blood cancer.
I was moved by his readings and intensity. 
 Read more at the American Scholar:

Poetry, for me, has always been bound up with this unease, fueled by contingency toward forms that will transcend it, as involved with silence as it is with sound.

Interview by Eric Metaxas here

Monday, September 30, 2013

Heading into the first week of October

and to this :

So the suitcase is open to be packed.
Be back next week to tell you about it.

I usually go to the city with my sister during this time but this came up.
Here is Lanier's wonderful writing on her sister  and a trip to NYC
at The Rabbit Room.

Friday, September 27, 2013

It just was a beautiful Friday

I must say that everyone here where I live said " Isn't it gorgeous outside."
September wore her most lovely dress today!

Now I almost forgot to read BLOGS this week. Have to check in with 
some friends and family. Blogs  bring refreshment to my heart. Doesn't 
it yours? Thank you all for writing and posting thoughts and funny 
stories and very , very dear ones and teaching me.

 Hearts are opened . We look in  and somehow over this machine,
                                          a knot is tied. 


                                               Wasn't she adorable? 
                                       I am not sure where this was either!

Monday, September 23, 2013

It just was a beautiful Monday

IN looking for a September poem to post, I found this funny Billy Collin's poem
and so even if it is not your birthday today or even this month, he will make 
you chuckle. He did write it last year which makes him 72 this year. So 
that makes Cheerios the same age. Never would have guessed he was THAT old. He is in Russia right now as a sort of Poet Ambassador. If you happen to be in NYC in a month: Billy reads at the 92nd Street Y on October 21. Then he will be in DC and then Atlanta and so on , Prairie Home Companion 
in Minneapolis on Nov. 2... all this from his Facebook page. 


One bright morning in a restaurant in Chicago
as I waited for my eggs and toast,
I opened the Tribune only to discover
that I was the same age as Cheerios.

Indeed, I was a few months older than Cheerios
for today, the newspaper announced,
was the seventieth birthday of Cheerios
whereas mine had occurred earlier in the year.

Already I could hear them whispering
behind my stooped and threadbare back,
Why that dude’s older than Cheerios

the way they used to say

Why that’s as old as the hills,
only the hills are much older than Cheerios
or any American breakfast cereal,
and more noble and enduring are the hills,

I surmised as a bar of sunlight illuminated my orange juice.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

the sound of music


Coming down after the quiet of weeks .
Coming down for hours on the dry ground.
Who would have imagined this summer with all the rain we had. 

Our cat got dirty in the dusty ground this past week. 
She had a slight reddish tint on one side. Clay dirt here in the Carolinas.
Here she is years ago : 

Friday, September 20, 2013

in the mail

This came in the mail and I thank Sarah:

Longen for a pilgrimage said Chaucer.

When We Two Walked ; a Pilgimage in Spring by Rita F. Snowden
A walking across England to Canterbury and not from London. 
I can't wait to start reading. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


 I love this sentence:

“My mom could make an ordinary afternoon an event.”

This quote was from Lisa Jo Baker on A Holy Experience in July.
She grew up in South Africa.  Here is her blog

My mom here in this photo with  the oldest of what turned out to be 8 ( by 1961 when my youngest brother Jimmy was born).   This is September,  1955 as he went off  to Mount Hermon Prep School in Mass.  from Long Island, NY.
I had been born in May. Actually, my mom had twins( I have a twin brother) as #5 and #6. 


          My sister in law who married the guy in the photo above when he was 35 , my mom, me in the big glasses, and my youngest brother Jimmy.