Looks Like They’re All Closed!

Snow.  Predicting 6 – 12 inches.  I will believe it when I see it. I grew up in Pennsylvania where it really snows, and in St Louis, we have never experienced a really big snow like I remember from my childhood.  Ok, once, nearly 12 years ago when I was expecting Calvin, it snowed enough right before Christmas that they closed I-44 for the day.  But in the combined 6.5 years we have lived in St Louis, that’s the only big snow I remember.

I am weary from a variety of things this week, and you might think I would want the kids to go to school.  But I don’t.  I was hoping for a snow day tomorrow, and I just checked one of the local tv channel websites.  It looks like all the schools around our area are taking the day off tomorrow.  Happy February!

Miss Bennett, May I have this dance?

When I open my web browser, sbcglobal/yahoo is my home page.  Very occasionally, I glance down at the links before I move on to what I logged on for in the first place.  This morning, when I should be doing work, was one of those times.  I came across this, and I thought some of my blogging friends who enjoy Jane Austen might have missed it.

Also, the writer of the above-mentioned post is the author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, which might be an interesting read.

This, That, and the Other Thing; Baedekers Included

First, this:

Procrastination–I have a big project to complete, so I am finding every manner of activity to do instead of working on the project–blogging included.

Second, that:

The project I am completing involves a lot of data entry. Arrgh. So I am sitting with my laptop on the sofa and watching a movie while I enter the data. When I come to a stopping point, I do a little web surfing. This is not the most time-effective way to complete a project, but it makes me feel less like I am working on a Saturday. I won’t do all the work like this; I’ll buckle down and get it done on time.

I am watching a movie that I love, so I don’t have to really concentrate on it. I can hear it in the background, and enjoy the familiarity, the comfort of it. It is A Room With A View by EM Forster. Say what you may about EM Forster, but I enjoy his books. I can overlook his opinions that I don’t agree with to just enjoy the plot. I’ve read this book multiple times, and I enjoy the movie from time to time. I received it on DVD as a gift for my birthday last year, so now I can just put it in whenever I please.

I recommend this movie highly if you enjoy British period films. Helena Bonhomme Carter plays the principle female role, and there are other British actors that you’ll recognize. My only disclaimer is that it has some brief male nudity that is shot distantly, so it isn’t horribly scandalous. However, once I forgot to mention this to someone when I recommended this movie, and I lived to regret that mistake. Never again.

The Other Thing

The other thing I did today was shop for pants for my eldest son. At the beginning of the school year, a mere 4 months ago, we bought him several pair of school pants and a few pair of jeans. Now, at the halfway point of the school year, he has grown 3 inches! His pants are what we affectionately referred to as “flood pants” in the old days. When he is standing, they rest about a half inch above his high-tops. At his current height, size 18 in boys’ sizes are too short. So, today I went to Old Navy to purchase the smallest waist men’s pants available–28. I am expecting them to be a tad loose at the waist, but hopefully we will no longer have a view of his ankles. He is camping with scouts this weekend, so I have to wait until tomorrow to see if my pants errand was successful. If it was, I will be a devotee of clearance racks at Old Navy. I hardly ever set foot in the store because I can’t really afford clothes from there, but there sale prices were reasonable and the clearance rack was an excellent place for the budget conscious to shop. Mark even scored a pair of pants from the clearance rack and a pair of jeans from the sale selections!

Baedekers included . . . I just threw this in because chapter 2 of A Room with a View is entitled, “In Santa Croce with No Baedeker,” which begs the question, what is a baedeker? If you really want to know, go here.

500+ Page Book Robs Time from Missouri Woman

For my birthday last summer, I received a couple of gift cards to book stores. I love browsing through books, so it was fun to go spend a little time picking out some new reading material. I came home with Girl Meets God, a memoir about a young woman’s journey of faith. I actually read bits of this before, but I wanted to read the whole thing. I also picked up The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. I had no prior exposure to this book, but when glancing in the classics area, the back cover copy caught my attention. Finally, I purchased Lady’s Maid by Margaret Forster. This is another book that I got because I liked not only the cover copy, but also the illustration and design style of the cover. (A matte finish on a paperback book always calls to me.)

Sadly, I didn’t read any of these books before 2007 ended. But after the new year was underway, I got involved in Lady’s Maid. It is the culprit who stole away many hours of the past week from my life. It is the life story of the personal servant to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. You might think you have to be a Browning lover to enjoy this book, but that is not the case. I am actually only vaguely familiar with some of her work. The life of Wilson, Browning’s maid, is intriguing. Following her, her attachment to her mistress, and her attempts to live her own life while caught in a life of true service is really compelling.

Wilson wanted to please so much. She quickly earned a spot in the heart of her mistress. Soon she was indespensible to Miss Barrett, and she even risked her position and livelihood to help Miss Barrett secretly marry Robert Browning and then left England with them so they might live their lives abroad.

The core of the book deals with the struggle Wilson has finding her place in the world and in her relationship with her mistress. If she had been a less competent servant, in some senses, her situation would have been far less complicated.

In some ways, Wilson’s struggle is not unlike our own to know how to live as individuals while still faithfully serving Christ. There is a constant back and forth in our minds and hearts as we try to navigate life with some sense of personal identity coupled with a life submitted to our Master.

Much of the time, I found myself despising Elizabeth Barrett Browning as I read, despite the fact that Wilson was devoted to her. One thing that pulled me on through page after page was my desire to see what Wilson would do after Browning died. While I don’t wish to give away the ending, I will say that I was not emotionally satisfied with it. I wanted more triumph, more personal accomplishment for Wilson than the author gave.

The afterward of the book explains how much of the book is based on fact and how much is purely fictional. This was helpful for me to accept the ending. The author, Margaret Forster, has also written a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, so I felt the book was likely more authentic as a result.

As I think about the parallels I saw between the maid’s life of service to her mistress and my life of service to Christ, I see my own flaws. I think I am sometimes pulled through life by my desires to have more triumph and personal accomplishment, too. So while nothing about the author or this book is specifically Christian, I came away feeling a need to submit more to Christ–to recognize that my identity is truly in Him. Our rewards on not often given in this life, and it is good to be reminded of that. This is the Scripture passage that came to my mind when considering these thoughts:

Colossians 3:2-4 (English Standard Version)

2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

I recommend Lady’s Maid purely for its good writing and interesting story. But it is also worth reading to spur on thoughts about your own life. For me, my relationship with Christ came to mind. For someone else, it might be a relationship with an employer or some other authority. Don’t get me wrong, the parallels are not complete. For one thing, Christ will never disappoint me as Mrs. Browning was capable of disappointing Wilson. But I always find fiction more worthy of my time when it opens up my minds to think about my own situation, and to hopefully, improve it.

Praise God for Pseudophedrine

I am an allergy sufferer.  I am also prone to sinus infections, especially this time of year.

I had a doosey of a cold/laryngitis thing right at Christmas time, and last week, another cold arrived on the heels of that.  I ran out of pseudophedrine last week, and I have been without it for about 5 days because stopping at the drug store to purchase more has not been convenient during any of my other errands.  Each night I would curse myself for not taking the time to stop because my head would be throbbing.  Then I would wake up with more sinus pressure than I have had in quite a while.

I rue the day that meth labs complicated the lives of sinus ailment sufferers. For the last couple of years, those of us who depend of pseudophedrine have had to show go to the pharmacy counter and ask for the pills that give relief to sinus pressure.  We have to show our drivers licenses and sign either a form or a terminal so that a record can be kept of how much of the stuff we buy.

I appreciate the fact that the government wants to keep meth labs under control, but if I wasn’t required to sign for the stuff, I could have picked some up in the grocery store aisle the other day.

Despite my complaints, I am still thankful that I can still buy pseudopherine.  I bought my supply at lunch time today, and now, less than 90 minutes later, I am at last breathing normally.  Praise God for Pseudophedrine!

Take a Box of Kleenex

I had the rare opportunity to attend a film in a theater last night. I went to see The Kite Runner with a couple of friends from church. The movie was excellent and elicited so many emotions, I haven’t really processed them all yet. Mostly though, I cried.

There’s a brief mention of the movie in this NPR movie review. Here’s a Christian review from Christianity Today. It critiques the story telling and cinematic elements of the film more than I think it merits, but it does summarize the plot nicely and offers good information on the issues in the movie that one might want to consider for a teen who wants to see it. (My personal take is that this movie is only appropriate for a mature older teen to attend with a parent and to then discuss it.)

I really liked The Kite Runner, and I encourage anyone who is trying to choose a movie to see at the theater to choose this one. But don’t forget to take a box of Kleenex.

The Jane Austen Book Club

I wanted to see this movie that came out in the late fall. With life’s many commitments, I never fit it into my schedule. When I saw the preview, I guessed I would like the film but wouldn’t just love it.

One day in November, I was wandering through Goodwill, and I stopped to peruse the books. I came across the book on which the movie was based. I bought it for 70 cents, and I was able to read it over the Christmas holiday.

The premise is no surprise. The book is about a group of five women and one man who read several Jane Austen novels together and meet monthly to discuss them. It follows the group chronologically over the period in which the group meets. Each chapter deals with parallels between the Austen novel being discussed and the lives of the book group characters. It is truly a character driven story, but there is enough plot line to pull the reader along.

The matriarchs of the group are Jocelyn and Sylvia. They were high school friends who became lifelong friends. Jocelyn is single and a dog breeder. Allegra is the daughter of Sylvia. She is struggling with her personal relationships, and she has moved back home with her mother who has just separated from her father. Bernadette is retired and older than Jocelyn and Sylvia, but she is more like the eccentric aunt than a matriarch. She has been married several times has lived in many places. Her comments on Jane Austen always lead to a monologue about something from her own eclectic history. Prudie is a high school French teacher–probably in her mid-to-late-thirties. She questions the status of her love for her very loyal and stand-up husband when she thinks of Jane Austen. The last group member is Brigg, the only male in the group. He was invited to join the discussion by Jocelyn, whom he met at a science fiction convention that was meeting in the same hotel as one of her dog breeding meetings. Brigg is suspect from the beginning because he is a man and he had never read Jane Austen in the past.

There’s really not a lot of discussion about the Jane Austen novels. There are opinions given here and there, but no comments are really substantial. This book is truly a commentary on how readers relate the details of their own lives to Austen’s novels. It shows the timelessness of Jane Austen. I think is reflects how most book discussion groups actually happen. A group meets to discuss a novel, but they end up talking about how the novel speaks to their own situation. They end up getting to know each other. This book shows that the rise in popularity of the book group is reflective of a need for people to build relationships–to be a part of a group.

I enjoyed this book enough that I plan to check out some other fiction by Karen Joy Fowler. I also still plan to see the movie, but I guess it will be on DVD. Maybe I’ll have to invite a group over to watch it with me!

Where Does their Profit Come From?

So, I heard a story on the radio today about a group urging Craigslist to clean up their act regarding the trafficking of human beings. Hearing this story, led me to think of the question I always ask about Craigslist–how does it make money?

So I did what anybody does today when they have a question. I googled it, and got this answer.

I am still processing what I think of the site I use to find wanted items at an affordable price being used for such a horrible practice.