Happy Valentine’s Day

A little early, I know.

Watch this clip and laugh about how absurd and hilarious love can be. And how could you not smile at –

Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of
the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
No, the world must be peopled! When I said I would
die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I
were married.



Lap Chicken

Inevitably, when it’s January and below zero, one of our chickens is in need of a little TLC.

Sometimes it’s Miss Lou, who got to spend a day in a grapefruit box because she was old and tiny and it was too cold in the coop for her. (This is one of my favorite chicken photos.)

“Happy New Year” says Miss Lou

Or, more famously (although not cold-related), Ziperban spent a month on our freezer healing from her broken leg. I can’t give you a photo of that, but you can nonetheless view coverage of her election or read her obituary.

Anyways, it’s been below zero here for the last day or so, and this morning we found a chicken outside. Not sure how that happened – she must have snuck out when the door was open during chores last night. So, a flighty brown leghorn (who is no-way cut out for low temperatures) has won herself a place on my lap, while we wait for the cat box/chicken house. (My brother is (slowly) bringing it up to the house.) We’ll keep her inside for the day. She seems quite healthy, actually, although I’ve been hearing occasional wheezing. But I was amused by her presence on my lap, especially since I’m practicing knitting cables. One doesn’t usually knit with a chicken on your lap.

Wanwood Leafmeal

If I write you a letter, there is a decent chance that I will write a Hopkins poem on the back of the envelope.

It’s fall, so I felt justified in pulling out “Spring and Fall” for a letter today – and you all get it too.

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

-clicking image will link to source-

Because we all know

that women are bastions of hysteria. Thank goodness that 13 of the 14 bloggers at The Gospel Coalition are calm, collected, rational men, and that one of them had the goodness to use his position of authority to pass along some helpful advice for those so unfortunate as to have to interact with the dramatic sex.

[Sarcasm aside: I don’t actually follow The Gospel Coalition. But I have some friends that do, and occasionally links to their stuff pop up in my internet life. I’ve long been annoyed (but not particularly surprised) by their pretty horrific male:female ratio. And pertaining to this article, I don’t have any particular beef with the advice: yes, eating normally and sleeping normally, etc. is a pretty good idea. But it’s a pretty good idea for males and females, I think. I’ve needed to be reminded of this. But so has my brother, who gets weepy and crabby beyond compare when he’s sleep-deprived. Sure, on the whole, females might need to hear this advice on a more regular basis than males. But the pronouns in this article are entirely feminine, which – I think – suggests that drama is contingent upon being female. Which is not okay. Ever heard of rest cure? Or read The Yellow Wallpaper?]

Race Matters

This is something I’ve been wanting to write about for awhile. It’s part and parcel of my job this summer, I suppose.

For instance:

Today one of my youth asked me if I’m the sister of the farm director. I said no. She looked confused – “Aren’t all of the staff brothers and sisters?” No, Halima, all white people are not siblings. Neither are all black people siblings. You’re not Marco’s sister.

Another in my group doesn’t care to remember (he’s quite smart; he could) his group members’ names. We had to fill out a form that included a list of all of our group members. He wrote: “Mohawk, scarf [referring to one of my Muslim students], white guy, white girl…” Yes. His group leader, after almost two weeks, wasn’t “Abby” or “Abigail”, but “white girl.”

My most recent immigrant asked me when I came to the United States. It hasn’t yet occurred to her that there are lots of people that are born here. And that it’s pretty safe to assume that blue-eyed white people (of which I am one) fall into that group.

We all laughed over a story told by my Puerto Rican student, who (as a 15 year old) lost his (European) mother the first time he visited a mall in the US. Too many blond-haired and blue-eyed women, and they all looked the same.
So, there’s that.
There’s also what I’ve been reading lately. Like Americanah, which I really, really loved.
And I read, for the first time, White Privilege, as part of my work orientation.
Also, I should also mention some PostSecret postcards that I had to examine during training for a community organization. (I tried to find the  postcards in question and couldn’t. At least not easily.) They all dealt with race in some way. One of the postcards read, “I became a pro shoplifter once I realized unassuming white women are invisible.”
This line in particular has stuck with me. I think about it every time I go into a store in this neighborhood. Unassuming white woman walks in the door. Will a staff member ask me to check-in my backpack or tote bag? Will I be greeted warmly, or followed around?
Anyways, I don’t really intend all this to lead up to a certain point about race. Except for this, a vague sort of admonition to my past self who was understandably naive about race: race matters. At least in this country, for now. In rural WI, maybe not very much. But here, and in lots of other places in this country, yes. It does. A lot.

8 lbs. of ricotta and (almost) 2 lbs. of chocolate later…

This is in our fridge. (Our second fridge, that is…)

chocolate ricotta mousse

Chocolate ricotta mousse. And I never want to eat it again, because it’s really rich stuff and I consumed far too much in the process of taste-testing. (In my defense, it really did require taste testing. I made eight batches, using different kinds of ricotta and different kinds of chocolate and I needed relative uniformity among the batches.)

So, the mousse is ready.

(Side note: if you follow the link because you’re interested in making the recipe, note that I added sea salt. I also had to quadruple the honey for some batches because I was using “pure cocoa mass” – aka dark dark unsweetened chocolate.)

The little cheesecakes are ready too!

cheescakes - Copy

C. is so impressive. She’s made pretty much everything for this party: the little cheesecakes, the chocolate muffins, the raspberry oatmeal bars, the butterscotch blondie bars, the chocolate peanut butter bars, the lemon bars, the pecan bars, and the fruit popsicles.

M. is doing cream puffs and rhubarb crisp. (Yes, please note the present tense…)

Besides chocolate mousse, I was assigned to presentation. That was a good assignment, since presentation is my favorite aspect of party-planning. Yesterday morning before church I made piles of pinwheels, some of which are shown below:


to be arranged with red lanterns, old Coke bottles, and mints. It’s cute and fun.

That’s our party. B’s party, I guess.

Now I should stop blogging and go work on “data interpretation” (ooh lah lah) because I’ve been excused from party prep in order to do so.

A real blog post will come soon, I hope. There are reminders in my phone to blog about “emotions/affections”, “rock of safety” and “doubt/validation.” Who knows if I’ll remember what I was thinking about when I made those reminders, but they’re reminding me nonetheless.



This is how I roll.

15 minutes until I need to leave…

so I’m doing some inventory on the blog.

For a week in Georgia, culminating in a wedding, I have:

2 pairs teva sandals

1 Jamie Smith book

1 pair “Bosnia” pants and 1 scarf also from Bosnia

lots of bobby pins

1 pint “veggie pellets”, aka Pirate’s Booty

2 pairs ballet flats

1 Merold Westphal book

many RadioLabs

1 string of pearls


1 large (,ugly, etc.) GRE math workbook.

There. Everything you needed to know for your Monday morning.



ferns and water1

noots and sticks

rock and falls

leaves and shadows

This last weekend I enjoyed puttering around woods and waterfalls with my grandparents and J. We spent time observing full spring creeks (rivers?) as they churned over and down rocky beds. And exposed cedar roots, raw and blood-red, holding the river-bank separate from the cold water. And much moss. Moss with starry looking fingers-extended, soft cushion-like moss, moss joined to interesting rocks, moss on live and decomposing trees. And “driftwood”, or whatever one calls water-smoothed wood left on creek banks after the water has receded from its highest point. And ferns, new ferns springing up, and old ferns turned with leaves into a paper forest floor, pressed by who knows how many feet of snow for a long, long time.

We also watched for birds. And wondered whether half mud-disguised tracks might be the tracks of a wolf. And drove on pretty washed out back roads. And I took photos, as well as videos narrated with my cheesy voice.

It was a good time.

Meandering Entry, also known as: “Sometimes I Wonder…”

…who I was a year ago or two years ago and so on and so forth.

I suppose we all wonder this. But I especially think on this question as a college student, since college students tend to be sort of obsessed with all things identity, perhaps because our identities turn over so rapidly. Every semester, I think, I’ve had a keen sense of substantial growth. Every semester involves cheerful laughter over “Oh dear, I did think I was so intelligent, and look at what I’ve just bumbled into: a whole huge collection of ideas that I’ve never thought about before.”

But along with this sense of discontinuity and rapid change is also a feeling of odd continuity – at any given point, I find myself reliving a year ago. Last spring the warm weather made me viscerally anxious, as I recalled writing my EMW paper and preparing for the Mayterm to follow. Today the empty hallways of 3rd L (everyone’s outside studying) and the logic exams I’m carrying with me bring to mind how unhappy I was over the semester’s end a year ago.

That was my philosophy semester, that ridiculous semester when I decided I wanted to get clear about the funny discipline of philosophy and become be less confused by the conversations of my older classmates. It was also a test of my own inclinations, I guess – would I still like philosophy after a semester full of it?

It worked. Two seminars unapologetically threw me into conversation with those classmates. I learned a lot from them, in both content and method. Medieval philosophy filled in yet another gap in my grasp of the history of philosophy. Logic was, well, logic. I was good at it and it did affect how I think.

In many ways, that semester set the agenda for what I’m thinking about right now. I’ve been writing book reviews this morning for my independent study on metaphor theory, something I first started wondering about last January. The chain of questions that’s behind my honors project (which is up next…!) began with a furious realization one morning in my philosophical theology seminar. And said seminar shaped substantially the big sys theo paper I wrote earlier this semester.

On the whole, it was a great semester, last spring. (I usually have great semesters, actually, so it wasn’t unusual in that respect.)

Well, drat, I’m just meandering. I guess what I want to say is this: I was pretty sad last May to have that semester end. And I’m pretty sad to have this semester end, right now. Perhaps I shouldn’t be; this has been a bad semester as far as semesters go. Still, I’m sad to have finished up the four-course history of philosophy sequence. Sad that one of my favorite-ever classes (sys theo) is over. Sad to be (almost) done TAing which has been pretty much the best ever, as J. would say. Sad to be saying good-byes that have to last until January.

Yes, this is pathetic; the intensity of my love for semester  beginnings outweighs my dislike for semester ends, and I have to have the latter to have the former.

I would add a list of “thing to say to year-from-now me”, but I guess that isn’t a list for a blog. I’ll write it up elsewhere. That way, next spring, when I’m wondering, I won’t have to write an oblique blog entry about it.

Hey, I’ll try to save the post with a photo that I like from my friend Ken. It involves clinging to things – which sort of relates? : )

“Mouse, desperately” [click to follow link]

That Elusive Mean

Any chance of getting myself somewhere in the cheery middle between the extremes that are being full of one’s self and being entirely unhappy with one’s self? (Strangely and fittingly enough, the two extremes are often one for me…)

As my piano teacher used to say before solo/ensemble days: “Abby, just remember, someone will play better than you, and someone will play worse than you.” Helpful perspective. But that doesn’t cut it at the end of the day.

I’ve wondered about this before. I don’t think I was wrong then.

Neither do I think I was particularly helpful, then.

So I’m still wondering about it.

And I’ll leave my wonderings with a photo that (I think) sums up nicely the sort of mean I have in mind. Taken by my junior dean in Bath. I look happy. Not especially beautiful. But content to be as I am, taking photos of the Roman baths and my classmates and listening to my audio guide in between times.

So that mean: contentment, happiness, cheerfulness. No self-despising and no self-aggrandizing. Visual below.