29 April 2015


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 119

During the previous meeting, we saw that virtue sometimes requires the balancing of two values that seem to be opposites--like humility and a good reputation. We get something similar today in the pairing of solitude and society.

To seek society and to shun it, are alike blamable extremes for those living in the world, and it is to such that I am speaking. By shunning it we indicate disdain and contempt for our neighbour, and by seeking it we imply idleness and inactivity.

We should love our neighbour as ourself, and it is not a proof of love to shun him; whilst as a sign that we love ourselves we should be content with our own society, that is to be alone.

"First think of thyself and then of others," said St. Bernard. If then you are not called upon to receive or enter society, remain by yourself and hold converse with your own heart. But if you are rightly called on to join in society, then go as in God's sight, and mix with a free and loving heart amongst your fellows.

For this discussion on "social" virtue (my term, of course)--or how to bring holiness into friendship, conversation, recreation, and other non-religious ways of interacting with the world--I thought I'd feature a cover design with more than one person on it. This also happens to be the cover of my own copy. (Don't you love Millet's Angelus?)

20 April 2015


Reading Roulette

If I had to state a single reason for why all the books on my "TBR pile" stayed there for so long, it's because I'm hung up on the idea of "the right book at the right time." There have been several times when I knew that I wasn't giving a book a fair shake but didn't know when I would be able to, and I don't like reading that way. To compound matters, I'm really indecisive: I've wanted to make a dent in this pile for the longest time, and haven't because I can never decide which book to start with!

That's why I really like this "reading roulette" system, in which someone else gets to pick the next book for me. For one thing, it really helps that someone else is making the decision. I don't mind letting others tell me what to do when it comes to non-essential matters . . . and when it's fun. For another, there's a built-in synchronicity to this method that takes care of all my timing issues.

3 Books for My TBR Challenge
That Other People Picked for Me to Read

18 April 2015


Locus Focus: Take One Hundred and Fourteen!

It took six months, but now I am finally CLEARING my Return to Faerie Land Locus Focus challenge! We have looked at settings from a reimagined Beauty and the Beast, an embellished Twelve Dancing Princesses, and a reconstructed-from-scratch Sleeping Beauty; and today, we end as I had always hoped to end, with a nearly unrecognisable Snow White. Who knew that she would be as hard to find as she is hard to kill? =P

17 April 2015


Character Connection 49

Hosted @ The Introverted Reader

Maybe I should do Locus Focus the way I do Character Connection: that is, only when something inspires me to blog about it. =P In my experience, however, settings don't provide the same sort of inspiration that characters do. In any case, I'll have to figure something out for when I finally finish my Return to Faerie Land challenge. And I will have to do that before June, for reasons that I hope long-time readers are already excited about! ;-)

16 April 2015


Theme Thursday 13

Remember the Theme Thursday "scavenger hunt" I'm doing on my own now that the host and all the other players have moved on to other things? Until a few days ago, I had completely forgotten the next theme on my list. I'd be more embarrassed by how long it took me to get to it, were it not for the perfect synchronicity of a time travel novel having the honour of pushing me back to 17 March 2011.

This Week's Theme:

14 April 2015


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 118

It just figures that I'd forget my copy of Introduction to the Devout Life at the office right before my Holy Week and Easter vacation leave! =P But I'm actually kind of glad that I did. The opportunity to work on a blog post, however objectively good, would have been too much of a distraction during these important holy days--so it's a good thing that I actually got to do what St. Francis de Sales has been advising, instead of not doing it in the most ironic way possible! =P I also finally made my general confession on Maundy Thursday; and alongside the ex opere operato effect, the Achievement Unlocked psychological dimension was considerable. It turns out that my difficulty getting through this readalong pick (What? You didn't notice?) had a lot to do with my feeling that I shouldn't have moved on yet. But now I can move on . . . and to a very interesting section!

The queen bee never settles in a hive without being surrounded by her swarm, and charity never takes possession of a heart without bringing in her train all other virtues, exercising and bringing them into play as a general his troops. But she does not call them forth suddenly, all at once, nor in all times and places. The good man is like a tree planted by the water-side that will bring forth its fruit in due season, because when a soul is watered by charity, it brings forth good works seasonably and with discretion . . .

But there are some virtues of universal application, and which should infuse their own spirit into everything. We have but rarely opportunities for the practice of courage, magnanimity, and great sacrifices. But every action of our daily life should be influenced by gentleness, temperance, humility, and purity. Some qualities may be more eminent, but these are the most needful. Sugar is more agreeable than salt, but salt is in much more universal requisition. Therefore we should be rich in these everyday virtues of which we stand in such perpetual need.

Until now, this spiritual manual has been about prayer and the sacraments. We're starting to be more active and outward here--to see how the ripples of devotion can spread widely in our own lives and in the lives of others. (By the way . . . do you like that purple cover? It would have been perfect for Holy Week, had I been able to do what I originally planned to do. =P)

10 April 2015


Reading Diary: When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster

"Listen, girls. You mustn't tell a soul, because it's a great secret. We're going to plant the class tree tonight, and I am chairman of the ceremonies. Everything is ready--the costumes are finished and the plans all arranged so that the class can get out to the place without being seen. The freshmen haven't a suspicion that it's going to be tonight. But they have found out that I'm chairman of the committee, and, if you please,"--Mildred's eyes grew wide with excitement,--"they've been tracking me for a week. They have relays of girls appointed to watch me, and I can't stir without a freshman tagging along behind. When I went down to order the ice-cream, there was one right at my elbow, and I had to pretend that I'd come for soda-water. I have simply had to let the rest of the committee do all of the work, because I was so afraid the freshmen would find out the time. It was funny at first, but I am getting nervous. It's horrible to think that you're being watched all the time. I feel as if I'd committed a murder, and keep looking over my shoulder like--like Macbeth."

Before Jerusha "Judy" Abbot (and Sallie McBride!) got to go to college, Patty Wyatt was there. And she was pretty fun! Although we can't quite say that they all crossed paths while at school, I'd like to think that Patty was exactly the sort of confident senior who would have made poor freshman Judy feel like an interloper. Not because she would have bullied our beloved asylum orphan, but because she takes her world of culture, learning, and class trees entirely for granted, while for Judy, it is something completely new and amazing.

It is something new and amazing to me, too: there are so many things about Patty's life as a middle class American girl at the turn of the twentieth century that I naturally find very strange. You might say that I am the Judy of When Patty Went to College . . . or at least the Judy of its reading. =P Which makes you, dear readers, the "Daddy" figure who gets all my letters! So let's talk about those trees . . .

06 April 2015


F is for Ferguson

Today I move another book from the CLUTTER pile to the CLEAR pile . . . and get closer to CLEARING another old reading challenge from my CLUTTERED list of shame!

So far, it has taken an average of eight months to write a Young Detectives post about a Mystery novel written for Young Adult or Middle Grade readers. That's pretty slow blogging, reading, and scavenger hunting--something that I'd like to change this year.