Wednesday, 27 January 2016

World Wednesday: Keats Creative Addition

    One really great thing about university was how it motivated me to finish projects. Having a deadline and upcoming critique often inspired me to polish up assignments to a much greater extent than I ever have with writings begun on a personal whim.

   On that note, here's a poem I wrote in my second year at OLSWA which I think really benefited from the rigour of school.

This is a creative addition for Keats, inspired chiefly by his concise language and rich imagery. John Keats was part of the second generation of romantic poets, and besides his emphasis on self, nature, and senses, his poetry also incorporated deeper reflection about reality. Following in the train of “Ode to a Nightingale”, I explored in this poem the lyric speaker’s sadness over morality and desire to know what death truly is. He despairs of man’s ability to understand death through reason and believes instead that imagination can transcend time and discover truth. But even imagination might not be enough . . .

On A Winter Glade
I halt as sorrow hurls against my breast
And jolts me from the hurry-beaten way
And does my feelings like my breath arrest
To spy a glint amid Erebus grey:
A forest glade enclosed in polished glass
And white new-felled; its statue chambers poise
In an eternal stance and bid me thus
To stay and not to pass,
Forsaking all the jostle and the noise
Of jaded rush, our futile business.

O see the laden boughs like brittle edge
Of flaking crust; see glittering facets sheer,
And icicles poised flawless from a ledge
In stillness never broken by the fear
That plagues the ticking toil of running days,
Corrupting pleasure found in love and life,
The bridal blush, the gift of infant birth,
Each fleeting as a phase,
Marking transient respite from the strife,
Then puffed away like lingering echomirth.

A bitter biting breeze attacks my heart;
Its pinching stings my cheek with cold despair
And threatens newfound hush to tear apart
When life takes on consistency of air:
Each field of beggars topples in a blow
While kings and pharaohs bow, their scepters fail;
Death in a mighty rampage rages on
With shining scythe of woe.
I look to check his stride - to no avail,
His step will hasten to my side anon.

Who is this monarch dread that treads the earth,
And looks upon protest with mirthful scorn?
Our books have sought to view his baffling girth,
Our brains to probe the essence of his thorn.
Yet ever brains meet soil ere thought is done,
And books turn dust, ere ever page is turned
And man abandons such a hopeless quest
With resolution none,
Relinquishing the truth that he has yearned
For long, he holds his head and craves his rest.

Yet silence of this winter gives me cause
To hope; to try imagination’s spell,
To steal intimate into a pause,
Arrive where reason failed, and excel,
Suspending the rotation of the world.
Here Cupid’s darts themselves are pierced with frost,
Here Jupiter’s bolt frozen in mid flight.
My very tears are pearled
And hang immobile; not a gem is lost,
Beheld forever under crystal light.

Here sheets enclose a feather bed of snows
Where Hades’ crown is lately set aside;
He lies, fell beauty, naked in repose,
Throughout whose sleep must ruin, idle, bide.
Cool marble are his lips and mighty brow
His hoary hair a mass of stone-cold coils.
I look on him with wonderment beguiled,
This pale king that now
Heart’s-eye is victor o’er, so stern and royal,
This giant Death, defenseless as a child.

At last to know the face I hold in awe!
To understand the captor, caught alone!
Whether to flee his great embrace so raw
Or seek oblivion tendered at his throne?
If he be tyrant or deliverer?
If he in truth bear such an iron fist,
Or rather gentle hush to stem our moan?
No more shall I demur:
I reach slow hand toward his wan cheek, kissed
with rime – one moment – soon all will be known . . .

Yet wait! What if my warm touch break the spell?
Or sunbeams stretch and yawn, come out to play?
Might not a flush of springtime in this dell
the picture shiver, melt, and fade away?
I hesitate and waver in alarm,
And see my spirit’s firm foundation quake,
That sculpture such as this cannot enthrall
With everlasting charm.
Look! Even now I see a droplet wake,

And slip along a branching arm and fall.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Touch of Colour Tuesday: "Paint Me a Starry Sky"

   I am re-designating Tuesdays :D They are now days for a painting or drawing, whether old or new. This one is from 2012.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Seasonal Sunday: Deep Winter Duvet

   Outside the fluffy white blanket is growing, and we are cozied up indoors. It's a very indoorsy time of year. Sipping lots of hot drinks, watching tv shows, cuddling with Mr. Droolface. Enjoying family time. Almost the only times I venture out into the cold are my twice-daily trips to take care of the chickens and bunnies, who are huddled under heatlamps in their own small houses.

  I do miss sunshine and long walks, but they will come again. So for now, it's time to embrace the season of hibernation - unless you are one of those admirable folks out cross-country skiing or such like. Then enjoy yourselves and I'll see you inside sometime!

   Ben's newest toy is an i-watch, which he found for a steal price. He's been itching to get one of those around his wrist since they were announced, so he's as happy as a clam trying out all it's features.

   And Perrin is growing quickly. All that boob milk is like a powerful elixir, even more potent than Treebeard's ent water. I had to put away all his cute little 0-3 month clothing a while back, reminding myself that it will probably be worn by another baby some time in the future, that way I don't get too sad about it.


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Self-Care Saturday: Adult Colouring

    For my birthday, my mom got me The Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book by Johanna Basford. She didn't know it was on my wishlist!

   This bestseller is at the forefront of a new trend of adult colouring books. It seems tons of others besides myself find it therapeutic to colour inside the lines. Especially to those who aren't artistic themselves, or those who simply don't have time or energy to produce original art at certain times, it gives the satisfaction of orderliness and the nourishment of producing something beautiful in the real world. Seeing the colours blossom in front of you without having to do a whole lot of creative work.

   Of course I don't intend that a colouring book should be a replacement for my own artwork, but at certain times (like stages of baby-induced sleep deprivation), I just need something mindless yet soothing to refresh myself. And Facebook does not quite fit the bill.

   Here is the first page I've been working on, stealing a couple minutes here and there in my day to make it spring to life. I'm really enjoying it!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Mindful Monday: Enjoy the Process


   Checklists. I love checklists. And without mine, some important stuff would never be remembered. Sometimes I need them for daily things, like feeding the animals, or even remembering to drink water. Sometimes they are checklists of reminders for Ben (while trying to avoid nagging, of course), but things that would easily slip both our minds if I didn't have them written down, like needing to call the mechanic. And then there are the once-in-a-while projects - cleaning the fridge, polishing silver items - to remember when there are scraps of spare time (haha).

   Also there is a great satisfaction to checking off what's been done. Finished. Completed. Nicely tied up with a ribbon on top. Mmmmm - check!
   A large part of me is driven by what is accomplished in a day. How much is getting done.

   As I'm sure you can guess what I'm about to say, however, this has a few dangers. Here are the three that strike me the most:

1. Never letting myself be finished.

   If I have the idea that I can only be satisfied and enjoy life when everything is done, then I'd probably be better off just giving up altogether. The only way that could happen is if I could somehow freeze time just when the house is pristine, the bellies full and the baby asleep. And then nobody ever eat again. Or move, cause dust might collect.

2. Forgetting what has already been accomplished.

    One day I had the idea to make myself a "done" list, rather than a "to do" list, cause I find once things are done, they vanish out of my mind and all I see is all that's left. It can get discouraging. I didn't make that list, but I think it would be a good exercise. To write down each thing you accomplish as you do it, and then at the end of the day to have a positive list of your successes, rather than only thinking of what didn't happen. I need to give myself credit for all the hard work I do, not just beat myself up for what I can't get to.

3. Not living in the present.

   This is the worst of the lot, I think. Checklists can tempt one to be far too goal oriented and miss the present moment. I read a blog post about type A (likes to have things under control) women married to type B (laid back) men, and how they can complement each other, if they appreciate their differences. The author said that type B sees life as a video, rather than a snapshot of what currently needs to be fixed. They know everything will happen in it's time and that it is all a part of just living.

   I'd like to get on that page, if I can. Not that I want to stop making lists. They are extremely useful and often enjoyable. But I don't want them to stop me from appreciating life while it is being lived. Some projects being started, others being finished. Some messes being cleaned while others are being made. Enjoying the experience of being right in the middle of this big crazy life with the people I love. Enjoying the process. From that viewpoint, a day spent (like today) holding a sick congested baby upright so he can breathe, getting my husband fed, and sharing some laughs together, is just as good as a day where I check off my whole list.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

World Wednesday: Circumcision

   I learned something fascinating a few weeks ago on the subject of circumcision.

   I didn't learn it from Robin Hood Men in Tights though. The Hippie Housewife was listing reasons on her blog why circumcising baby boys is not beneficial. I have read and heard many similar arguments before, especially from followers of attachment parenting and similar parenting styles. Primarily that it is a traumatic procedure and has lasting bad effects by leaving the penis without it's natural protection.

   The practice of circumcision is much less common today than it was in previous generations, as many parents are recognizing it as unnecessary and damaging. My husband and I never even considered circumcising our newborn son (not that I blame mothers and fathers who have in the past, thinking it was just what you were supposed to do).

 As a Roman Catholic, whose faith heritage originates in Judaism, I always wondered about why God required circumsicion as a covenant sign in the old testament. I thought it might have to do with a practical health reason (like how he commanded the Israelites not to eat pork, as one could easily get sick from eating it in those days), but apparently that is not the case. Many sources I have read say there is no health benefit to circumcision. In that case it seems like a cruel thing for God to require, and not very affirming of the goodness of his creation.

   On the other hand, traditional Jewish circumcision, as I learned, is much less painful than modern medical circumcision. It always took place on the 8th day after birth, when blood clotting is highest, and they supplied the child with means of comfort. It was also a clean sharp cut rather than a clamp.

   What I was even more interested to learn was that it originally did not mean what we think of, which is the full removal of the foreskin, it was just a little "clip at the tip", waaaaay less traumatic or destructive.

    I definitely can't claim comprehensive knowledge of the history or details, but I did find THIS interesting scholarly article concerning how the custom came to change in Jewish history. The author, Rubin Nissan, says that periah, "the splitting and peeling back of the mucosal membrane of the foreskin, thus fully uncovering the glans penis", was not the command given to Abraham by God. He suggests it is an interpretation put forward by the rabbis at at time when Jews were assimilating into gentile nations unnoticed by disguising their circumcision. In order to keep Jewish identity distinct, the rabbis required full periah as part of the law.

   Nissan says it is important to distinguish between the "sacred and unchanging" text of the Torah on which Judaism is founded and the social contexts which have changed and modified in response to culture.

   This makes a lot more sense to me, that circumcision as we know it was not the requirement of our loving God, but a change in practice brought about by people because of their social situation.

   I'm still not quite sure why God would have chosen to ask even the minimal circumcision of his people; it's something I take on faith, like many other difficult aspects of Christianity, trusting that his reasons are greater than my understanding. But learning things like this aspect of history help me to remember that when I am tempted to make a quick judgement, the truth might not always be as it first appears.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Family Friday: New Year 2016

   Not a lot of resolutions going on here this morning. I spent New Year's Eve sick on the couch with chicken soup and watching funny bits from interviews with British actors before an early bed - still better than wearing adult diapers in Times Square! 

   Therefore I am not jumping up to wave at my kitchen with a sparkling wand and lay my relationship with dirty dishes to rest. I might be considering slowing down on the Christmas goodie consumption, but not with an awful lot of commitment. But when I did try to think of what might be a theme to our lives in this upcoming year, my mind rested on Family.

   Without too much explicitude (ha - a new word! feel free to adopt, people!), I believe that we will probably be re-figuring out the role of extended family in our lives - not a bad one, I hope - we love you all dearly - but at the same time finding our identity more as our own family unit. Dad, Mum and son. Husband, wife and the love-made-flesh between us. Team Bee.

   When we married, as Fr. Hattie pointed out in our prep classes, we gave each other new identities that we hadn't had before. When Perrin came into existence, he gave us new ones yet again. We have the ability to embody Love in the world in our own unique way, and for that we have to be able to be there for each other unshakeably, no matter what massive waves there are to ride. If we bury our own selves, wounds, joy and all, into the core of our definition in Love, then hopefully we will find a way to reach out again to our loved ones and all the wounded who show up in our lives.

   With any luck we might find something even more worthy to attempt than clean-kitchenliness.

  A Happy and Fruitful New Year.