February 24, 2012

Fancy Friday: The Architecture of Books

Today's Fancy Friday post is on a bit of an odd topic:
Libraries.
I think the architecture of libraries is one of the loveliest forms of buildings, because I think books are some of the loveliest things God has given us in this world. 
Lovely things deserve lovely homes, and here are just a minuscule fraction of the thousands of fantastic buildings created for the housing and lending of books.
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The Benedictine Monastery in Admont Austria

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The Bristol Central Library

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The British Reading Room in London, England

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The Central Library in Vancouver, BC Canada

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Library of the Dutch Parliament

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Jedi Archives (Okay, let me be a nerd. It's fancy, alright!?)

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Library in Utrecht, Netherlands

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One of the stairways in the New York Public Library.
I got to spend many hours there last Fall, and it is far and away the most fantastic and stunning library I have ever had the fortune to be in.
The entire first floor is a museum dedicated to literary history.
They have the original stuffed animals of Christopher Robin, original manuscripts by T.S. Eliot, Cumming's typewriter, Charlotte Bronte's traveling writing desk, Virginia Woolf's walking stick, George Washington's original copy of his resignation speech, original prints by Audubon that are as big as me, ancient cuneiform blocks, and so much more.
And that's just downstairs. 
Upstairs they have... 
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Books upon books upon books upon books.
It's the most beautiful thing I've ever beheld.

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One of the Oxford College Libraries, Oxfordshire England

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Parliament Library, Ontario Canada

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The Gabinete Portugues De Leitura Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

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State Law Library, Des Moines, Iowa

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Trinity Library in Dublin, Ireland

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University of Washington Library.
(Road trip to Seattle, anyone?)
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As I said, these are just a few of the thousands of beautiful libraries in this world.
I'm off to go finish baking my Chocolate Pots de Creme, brew some tea, read Samuel Tayler Coleridge, and listen to La Triviata for the next hour or so.
(It's on afternoons like this I realize why I'm going to end up an old maid with ten cats that drink milk from blue china saucers: what kind of guy even puts up with stuff like Coleridge, Pots de Creme with tea, and opera music, much less enjoys it? No one I know! So cats it shall be! Anyone know where I can get some nice blue china saucers?)

February 23, 2012

Run With Patience

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Fact:
I am not a patient person.
I'm not necessarily the type to stand there, tapping her foot in piqued intolerance, but I most certainly am not good at waiting or, as Shakespeare would call it, "Bearing it out" (even to the edge of doom!).
So I my conscience is always stung whenever I read the opening passage of Hebrews twelve.
"Wherefore, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
I fall abominably short of the mark when it comes to patience, especially as it pertains to the weights and burdens of this world.
I'm brought to these thoughts and meditations today by my recently observing that a year- to the day- has past since a hundred thousand different things were set in motion- a domino effect almost- and I have come to know more burdens and besetting weights than I ever thought I would carry.
It has easily been the hardest year of my rather short existence.
Thankfully, it is also a year most of which I cannot recall outside of hazy, flat pictures in my mind: living in a state of malnourished starvation throughout said year will do that to you.
Regardless of what I can or cannot remember, though, I am still struggling with, and may for many years to come, the repercussions of what I did to myself, to my body.
I'm still struggling to carry the weight, the burdens of the past, the present, and the future.
And I am not doing so patiently.
But, upon rereading the verse, you will see that it doesn't instruct us to bear the weights with patience, but to lay them aside completely.
The difference between the two is the difference between living as a stranger to Christ, and being one of the saved, the loved sheep of His fold.
Bearing the weights of the world, carrying the sins, they are all what we do before we come to know Christ.
But, upon salvation, it is realized that Christ died so that we would not have to bear them, not even so that we would have the strength to, but so that we could lay them aside completely.
I, in all my sin, deserving fully the weights and burdens of this life and the fiery punishments, have been saved from having to carry the weight and suffer the eternal flames by the pure Son of God, who-in His infinite love for me- bore it all, and worse, in my place.
In your place.
So that I would not have to carry the weight of my own well-deserved burden, so that I could, instead, lay it aside,
He died. 
And so that I could claim this gift, He rose again.
I am constantly left in awe by this feat of love that was done on my behalf.
And yet I still am impatient.
I have the impertinence to look up and ask "Why?" when things aren't going how I so desire them to.
I am ridiculous enough to attempt to practically rip both the control of my life and the heavy burdens out of His capable hands, and place them wholly upon myself.
I am short-sighted enough to try to bear these pressing, difficult, heart-breaking burdens myself.
Why am I doing this?
My life, although ultimately quite short, looks like such a long road from where I currently stand.
And I can tell you it's not the path I'm looking at that makes it seem endless, for who can tell how long they will live?
It's the load I'm trying to carry by myself.
How to give up this burden? 
How do I,
Miss Impatience,
Miss I-Want-It-Now
(And this pertains to most everything: college, love, time, laughter, relief)
Build patience?
Well there's some excellent news out there for both me and any of my readers who struggle with the waiting game and their burdens as well.
"Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" - James 1:3
That's it.
The very complex, simple answer.
The very burdens I'm trying to carry are the things that will build my patience. 
Because, as I well know, they build my trust and faith in God.
They make me turn to Scripture and prayer,
They lead me to meditations like this, in which I see that I must let go the burdens, 
Give them to God,
Trust Him, 
And focus more on running towards Him, and less on what is surrounding me as I run.
And the trying of my faith, 
The building of my trust,
Will be the building of my patience.
No matter how long the road,
No matter what the load,
Look to the prize, 
Though there be miles to go.
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February 21, 2012

What If?

What if...
Raindrops were different colours, and it rained a rainbow of hues?
Everyone would love rainy days, and the world would be bathed in endless colour.
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What if everyone spoke in meter and rhyme, and when feeling extreme emotion our meter and rhyme turned to song?
Every confession of love would be a sonnet set to an entirely new, never-before-heard melody dedicated entirely to one person.
Everyone would know who they were supposed to love and marry by the perfectly matched harmony, the echoed rhymes of the other.
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What if...
We bought things with books instead of money? The written word instead of coins.
Literacy would be so much more the valued, and hundreds of thousands of people- anyone who can hold a pen or think or write words- would discover that they held within their minds a far greater store of riches than can ever be numbered.
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What if...
Musical instruments were a part of you? Closer to you than your best of friends and more dear to you than anything else? What if it were, perhaps, your heart?
Can you imagine the music we would hear? 
The feeling and depth of meaning expressed in song?
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What if...
Time were a person?
Who would love him?
Who would hate him?
How would we treat him?
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What if a piece of knitting were a song?
Each stitch representing a note,
Each row a line of music.
I suppose a cabled piece would be Baroque style, stockinette and garter stitch would be Classical, Fair Isle the Romantic period, and seed or moss stitch would be the Modern/A-tonal style.
Ribbing would be blocked chords, knit-two-togethers would be things like seconds and thirds, slipped stitches would be trills, dropped stitches a jump in octave.
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What if everyone knew Christ as their Saviour?
There would still be sin, nobody would be anywhere near perfect, but we could all strive together towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
There would be so much encouragement.
We could speak of Jesus openly and no one would yell at you for offending them.
The world would be a far different place.
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What if everyone rode unicycles instead of driving cars?
We'd all have a fantastic sense of balance and very strong leg muscles.
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What if...
Our curiosity was, in fact, an animal or pet.
There would be so many varieties and sizes?
Some would be strange monsters, perhaps some would resemble cats.
How many people wouldn't have one?
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What if everyone knew how to dance?
Everyone could waltz,
Do the minuet, 
Had two right feet?
I would be very well pleased, and wouldn't have to waltz by myself anymore.
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In the end, I'm just a dizzy dreamer.

February 20, 2012

La Pluie

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(In search of a good rainy day picture I ran across this and I couldn't resist posting it. They're storm troopers!)
It is a very overcast, very rainy, very beautiful day.
My poor mother, bless her, has a good deal of trouble keeping all eight of us children separate in her mind, and when I was gleefully skipping about the house this morning, ecstatic about the lack of sunshine, overjoyed with the promise of rain, she looked at me strangely and said "But I thought you hated rain!"
On the contrary, I am the only one of her children, although all of us were born and raised by the sea in a very rainy, very wet climate, who does not loathe rain. 
But I digress.
There is something so peaceful about rainy days, something so comfortable and familiar.
Something that begs for beautiful things: poetry, art, Scripture, tea, music.
And speaking of music, here are some of my favourite pieces to listen to on days such as today.
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No rainy day is complete without Clair de Lune (or any Debussy, for that matter).
The second song, by Joanna Newsom, has become my latest obsession. 
I've spent a good chunk of the morning trying to transpose it from harp to piano.
I'm not really all that fantastic or skilled a pianist, so I've no idea the best way to go about doing this outside of either just trying to play it by ear (which I sometimes do) or cheating and transposing it to chords for the guitar, and from there changing it into an arrangement that suits my own taste. I'm better at the latter, which is far easier to do. 
Cheating usually is.
*Wink*
Aside from torturing the family with my musical efforts, I've also been reading T.S. Eliot, drinking my usual copious amounts of tea, and meditating on the truth of Philippians 4:7 and Isaiah 26:3 which read...
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." 
...and...
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You."
I love both verses because they are a reminder of the greatest thing that can be found when one runs to Christ: perfect peace and assurance.
It's something that is so rare today, what with all the bustle and noise that surrounds us in today's society and life. And that rarity makes it all the more precious. 
What do you love most about rainy days?

February 17, 2012

Not-So-Fancy Friday


In the  midst of typing up today's Fancy Friday post, I realized something:
I do not really feel fancy at all.
At.
All.
Which would explain why said post was sounding, upon rereading, rather dull and tedious. 
Between a sore throat and emotional exhaustion, I've simply decided to throw the fancy thing out the window today (I can do that 'cause it's my blog. Oh, the power! *Rubs hands together maniacally*), and just post a series of photos of random, lovely things I happen to have a rather large folder of.
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Not sure which I like more: the cute couple, or the cute, blue piano.
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This quote is embarrassingly true of me, only I'm far from ever being able to play beautifully. 
All I really want to do is play Debussy and Yann Tiersen songs and be able to convey the same beauty and emotion I experience when I listen to them.
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There's something so hauntingly beautiful about old pianos.
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I find everything about this picture absolutely charming
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I'm a pen-pal with several of my bloggers, and it's something I enjoy immensely. 
There's no feeling that can quite compare to the elation one experiences upon receiving a hand-written note int the mail from a friend.
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Pardon me, but have I died and gone to heaven?
So many books.
*sigh*
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Cherry blossoms are, and always will be, my favourite flower.
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Have I ever mentioned how much I miss the sea?
I wish more than anything I could pack up my belongings and run back to the shore.
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I'm not truly happy unless there's salt in the air and sand gathering in the corners of every room.
Living here in the desert of Idaho is like being a fish out of (ocean) water.
Perhaps some day God will lead me back there.
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Today is a cozy socks and blanket kind of day.
And I actually have a pair of socks much like these that I've knit. 
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Enough complaining, though: I'm off to listen to Rosi Thomas and do some knitting!

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I hope the rest of you are in far better form than I am today, and that perhaps you can do something fancy on your own.
Cheerio!





February 14, 2012

Someday My Prince Will Come

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Straighten up, everybody, because it's here.
That day of all days, in the midst of cold Winter,
In which every single girl,
No matter how much she claims to despise the day and spurn the idea of love,
Has some small part of her that hopes that perhaps a dozen roses will appear.
Maybe a small note.
A chocolate or two.
(About the latter: even if it's from a family member, it doesn't really matter. Free chocolate is free chocolate).
But the funny thing about this day of love for me is contemplating what love is, what it means, what it has become in today's society.
I have no scruple in announcing that I am very disappointed in the current idea and representation of love.
I know so many people who are in relationships, most of them simply for the sake of having a boyfriend or girlfriend, or because they merely "like" the person they're dating.
Love is painted as a mushy gushy feeling, it is splashed across billboards as sensual, it is displayed incorrectly in movies, it is made into the simple, easily cut-and-paste lyrics of a hundred thousand pop songs that all sound exactly the same.
In today's society, love looks like sex and self gratification.
Perhaps I am coming on a little too strong.
Let me back up and describe what love truly is, at least as I understand it, and then I will let you compare the two.
Love isn't a feeling, love is an action.
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"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends"- John 15:13
"Love Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." - I Corinthians 13: 7-8
 Love is so much more than fairy godmothers and true-love's kiss (although there is certainly a heavy dose of the second going on in there somewhere, just hopefully not publicly displayed and prematurely given).
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Let's face it: if Disney's done anything for us it's made us all extremely dissatisfied with boys. And with our hair. Am I right?
To meet your Prince Charming does not require you to kiss a lot of frogs. 
Because let's face it: there are bound to be more frogs than enchanted princes, and it is unfair to both you and your one-day Prince for you to go about getting your lips all slimy kissing said frogs in the attempt of finding a hidden Prince. It also isn't fair for the princess for whose kiss that frog will transform.
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Please, ladies: save all of your shining purity for someone who truly deserves it.
You have been made for a purpose, and you have been made for a person
Out of respect for myself and the person I will one-day meet an love, I choose not to give little chunks of my life and heart away to boys that mean nothing in the big picture. 
I have this funny little theory.
It's that God has a love story all planned, written, and ready for me. 
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In fact, I'm already taking part in it, I just haven't met my Prince Charming yet.
Well, that I know of.
There is a Godly, funny, tea-loving, imaginative, silly, perfect-for-Grace boy out there somewhere, and he is in desperate need of hand knit socks and cardigans, and someone to sing the harmony in songs with him. Or the Soprano. Or the tenor part transposed to a soprano octave. Either or. 
The funniest thing about my admitting the above is that I've spent so long denying that I will ever get married, ever fall in love, ever want to exchange handwritten letters with anyone other than the chummy ones I send to my various pen-pals.
But in the past year I've caved steadily to my inner princess, and finally am ready to admit that I'm really,
 Terribly,
 Lonely.
But the funny thing is, no matter who this person ends up being, he's never going to be enough. He's never going to be perfect, he's never going to make everything better, and, although he may save me from spiders, will never be able to save my soul.
As it follows, I need to do what every single girl on this earth needs to do before she has met that someone the Lord has designed for her, and designed her for.
And that's to give my heart to the King of Kings, the greatest Lover of my soul.
Someone once said that we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts, lives, and souls.
A hole that cannot be filled with anything but Christ.
Try as we might to dump things into it, be it material items, other religious beliefs, or ideals, there's only one thing that can truly take up that space and make us whole.
So until the day I meet my Prince and complete my fairy tale, I'm going to wait. I'm going to fill that hole with the only thing that can take the space.
 I'm going to acknowledge that my love story has already started, and I am merely in the phase all of Disney's most famous leading-ladies seem to find themselves in.
The pre-prince, house-cleaning, evil-enduring, faith-building, life-moulding portion. 
That often ignored, very important part of the story that, had the princess not lived through, probably would have drastically changed both the girl and the ending. 
God is moulding me.
And God is moulding the man (poor soul) who will be stuck with me.
However, man is fallible.
Man can love you, give you roses, and recite poetry to you.
But man will never meet all your expectations (nor should he. Good grief, but we as women have some ridiculously high standards, you know).  
Ladies and gents alike, I hope you'll take a stand with me and pledge to wait for your happily-ever-after, and spend that boring, guy-less portion of your life before it filling up your heart, mind, and soul with the one thing that can truly satisfy it.
Christ.
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