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Saturday, May 29, 2004 AD
A Bit o' Ben
I'd never heard this quote from Benjamin Franklin before last night at my nephew's graduation: Well done is better than well said. Whomped me upside the head, it did. Especially since I mentally punctuated it as "Well done" is better than "Well said," thinking of what I ought to be hoping to hear from my Master someday.

[EDIT, June 7] I think it needs to be stated that although well done is better than well said, medium rare is better than well done.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/29/2004 08:41:00 PM • Permalink
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Thursday, May 27, 2004 AD
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
I've been watching the 1971 miniseries this week, and am wondering why I'm putting myself through it. Who is there to like in these tales? There are some to be pitied, and a great number to loathe, and quite a few to be subjected to both emotions, but there's no one heroic or truly admirable.

While church politics was not the focus of this series, there's enough of it portrayed to remind me of how very queasy I am regarding the origins of Anglicanism/Episcopalianism. Recent shenanigans are, in a sense, a coming full-circle for this tradition: "How can we fiddle with plain scriptural teaching about marriage to suit ourselves?" And if this portrayal's Cranmer is to be believed, he set the stage for the spinelessness of those who have followed in his wishy-washy footsteps for nearly 500 years. (Were there enough metaphors mixed in that sentence?) (Now before you Anglipiscopal types of orthodox standands start yelling, please be aware that my ignorance of church history is vast indeed, and I will be completely unable to defend these thoughts as aught more than passing fancies. And I'm not putting y'all on my list of damnable heretics or anything.)

Ugh...Henry was the worst kind of theological dabbler -- the kind for whom religion really is a mere set of propositions, devoid of faith in or fear of God. Of course the most exasperating abuse of scripture is that which leaves me yelling at the television, "She's not your brother's wife, she's your brother's widow, you imbecile! Read the rest of the Pentateuch!"

I liked what the commenter at IMDB had to say about the series' portrayal of Anne Boleyn: "what's most admirable here...is that neither the playwright nor the actress...try to gloss over the cruelty and arrogance of the legendary Hussy, and even seem to want to convey the idea that in a sense getting thrown in the Tower and having her head chopped off were the best things that ever happened to her...." Yes, I actually come close to liking Anne in the end. One almost gets the sense that the Anne portrayed here might have truly repented of the evil she did do while maintaining steadfast dignity in the face of accusations of the evil she didn't do.

I think the third classic blunder is "Never get romantically involved with an occupant of or heir to the British throne." I suppose someone will counter with an example of where such an attachment went well for someone, but there are just so many really nasty examples that I don't think it's worth the risk.

And a couple other random thoughts:

+ Whoever did the soundtrack for the Jane Seymour episode should be truly embarrassed. That horrid early '70s...I don't even know what to call it, because Anne of Cleves's tuneless lute playing surpassed it in approaching the definition of music...should be erased from all copies of the film distrubuted henceforth.

+ Three Catherines, two Annes and a Jane (which is really the same name as Anne, anyway)...somebody needs to come up with some more names! We can at least be grateful to Elizabeth I for bringing that heretofore (or would that be theretofore?) relatively rare name (which happens to be my personal favorite) into raging popularity. (There's a line in...Austen?...something about "all their Annes and Janes and Elizabeths." Anybody know where/what I'm thinking of?)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/27/2004 11:42:00 PM • Permalink
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004 AD
Sweet Coconut Curry Bread
From the sampler edition of Bread Electric that came with my bread machine.

Extra Large
3/4 c
1 1/4 c
1 1/2 c
1 T
2 T
2 T
white bread flour
2 c
3 c
4 c
dry milk
1 T
2 T
2 T
brown sugar
1 T
2 T
2 T
1 t
1 1/2 t
2 t
1/3 c
1/2 c
2/3 c
coconut flakes
1/3 c
1/2 c
2/3 c
curry powder
2 t
1 T
1 1/3 T
fast-rise yeast
1 1/2 t
1 1/2 t
2 t
or active dry yeast
2 t
2 t
2 t

Dang. Now I'm hungry....
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/25/2004 12:02:00 PM • Permalink
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Monday, May 24, 2004 AD
Blogger Dinner
Brian and Stacey hosted Daniel, Amy and me for dinner last night. Seven-year-old Harrison and 4-month-old Samuel rounded out the party. The Davises provided marvelous shish kabobs and spinach salad. I brought a loaf of my world-famous coconut curry bread, which disappeared entirely -- always a gratifying result. Since there was no dessert on the menu, I contented myself with nibbling on Sam's ears -- a quite tasty and low-calorie treat!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/24/2004 01:59:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, May 22, 2004 AD
Family Fotos
Easter Eve, 1996:

Clockwise: David (bro), Donna (David's gf of...about 15 years), Sondra (sil), D.J. (bro), Mom, Becky (neice), me.

Christmas morning, 2000:

Clockwise: Chip (neph), David, Sondra, D.J., me, Becky.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/22/2004 07:20:00 PM • Permalink
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Friday, May 21, 2004 AD
Dying to Self
I've been trying in recent weeks to get my head around the idea of dying to self. Trying to figure out what that looks like. I'm thinking it's like a giant Novocaine injection that numbs us to any thoughts, appetites, etc. that are self-centered, self-fulfilling, etc. Or maybe a severed spinal cord would come closer to the picture of what we really ought to be. As we progress, however, perhaps we should expect to go throught the Novocaine stage -- periods of self-carelessness that wear off all too quickly.

An old John Michael Talbot album, based on ancient Celtic prayers, includes the song "Betwixt Me," which reads in part, "No mouth can now curse me/no tongue defame/no venom can wound me/beyond His pain." All irritations, insults, persecutions, etc. should truly be as light and momentary troubles to us. And every comfort, compliment and honor should likewise have little impact. These things can happen only if we have died to self.

Of course none of this works without the flip side of being alive to Christ, seeking first the kingdom, hungering and thirsting after righteousnesss. And even none of that works if we're the ones working it. Although we of course must strive toward these ends, our sanctification, the process by which we die to self, is ultimately scheduled and accomplished by God.

Lord, in Your great mercy, kill me.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/21/2004 01:59:00 PM • Permalink
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Thursday, May 20, 2004 AD
How to Leave a Telephone Message
How to avoid a run-in with my Pet Peeve Department when leaving me a phone message:

1) Always leave your phone number. I don't care how many times I've called you in the past, unless I've specifically told you I have your number memorized, don't assume I know it or have it handy.

2) When you leave your number, speak slowly and clearly -- at a pace that would allow a normal human being to write. Practice doing this if you're not sure how slow to go. Usually a pause after the area code and the exchange will do the trick. Saying the number rapidly twice in succession is actually counterproductive.

3) Tell me why you are calling, and be specific. Unless you are a close friend, "I want to talk to you about something" isn't sufficient.

4) Don't ramble. Answering machines, whether digital or tape, generally have limited storage capacity. Get to the point.

5) Don't ask, "Are you there?" If I am, this question will more likely annoy me than entice me to answer the phone. If I'm not, you are wasting space on my machine.

6) Don't assume I know what time you called. Not all machines have time stamps, so asking me to call you back within the hour is a waste of breath if you don't tell me what hour.

7) If yours is a legitimate business call, rather than a personal call, spell your name.

8) If yours is an illegitimate business call, i.e., phone spam, don't call in the first place.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/20/2004 10:17:00 AM • Permalink
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Wednesday, May 19, 2004 AD
The danger of plugging my TV back in to tape "Colonial House" is that I've found myself plopping down in front of it and watching much stupider stuff. The other night I watched "The Swan," a reality makeover show in which doctors rearrange women's faces and bodies, and therapists rearrange their minds. Each show chronicles two makeovers and one contestant from each episode is chosen to go on to compete in a final pageant to select "The Swan."

The contestants live without mirrors until the "big reveal" at the end of three months. In this episode, the last before the pageant, they showed several of the reveals in succession. Almost invariably, each woman, upon seeing the reflection of her Barbie-ized face and bod exclaims, "OH MY GOD!" Usually repeatedly. It struck me that they were being not at all inacurate. They were, indeed, looking at their gods.

Used to be idols, which are ultimately instruments of self-worship, were sculpted out of stone and metal. Now we can go ahead and sculpt flesh and bone and silicone and porcelain right there on the site of the object of worship. Add in a few "learn to love yourself" brainwashing sessions and self-idolatry becomes a much more efficient process all 'round. Ain't progress grand?

(Takes one to know one, by the way. These are the observations of an expert in self-idolatry.)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/19/2004 05:07:00 PM • Permalink
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Monday, May 17, 2004 AD
Colonial House
I'm gonna plug my TV back in for this.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/17/2004 03:01:00 PM • Permalink
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Thursday, May 13, 2004 AD
Harry Potter and the Orthodox Presbyterians
(Or, uh, some other O.P.)

I'm on the last tape of my second listen-through of the fifth HP novel and am full of complaints:
  • The ruddy thing is way too long. Get on with the story, already.
  • Yes, Dolores Umbridge is a witch in the vernacular as well as the technical sense of the word. Is it really necessary to tell us so again and again on every other page?
  • What's with the therapy session between HP and Dumbledore near the end? Cut the touchy-feely crap.
  • Why are HP&Co. too stupid to disarm their opponents even after they've stunned them? There's a Death Eater stone cold on the floor, but he's going to wake up soon. Break his wand, you nitwits! For that matter, why not just use "Expelliarmus" every time? That's always a quick end to a duel, but I guess it would kind of put a damper on the drama. Kind of messes up every fight scene for me, though.
  • For all the touchy-feely crap, you'd think that HP could muster some, small level of sympathy for Prof. Snape, and vice-versa. Rowling just seems to be building up to a big future emotional scene when they both finally get it and fall crying on each other's necks.
  • Sirius's death was lame-o. All the drama is in Harry's reaction. The death itself is deadly dull.
I probably have several more gripes but the durn thing's so long I've forgotten them by now. But Mrs. Rowling doesn't need to fear she's lost a customer for the rest of the series. Overall I'm still enjoying it quite a bit. Anybody heard any rumors of when book six will be out?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/13/2004 01:41:00 PM • Permalink
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Tuesday, May 11, 2004 AD
Them's Good Listenin'
Anonymous 4 on Saint Paul Sunday, May 9. Will probably be available 'til the end of the week.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/11/2004 06:39:00 PM • Permalink
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More Flowers
One white rose had opened enough by this morning that I could pluck it and stick it in my hair. I will repeat this process with white or pink or red blossoms many mornings over the next few months.

I remember as a little girl in Sunday school and VBS listening to other children pray sentence prayers such as "Thank you God, for trees and flowers" and, with 6- or 7-year-old smug superiority, making my prayers about much more spiritual things. Arrogant little gnostic brat!

Thank you, God, for trees and flowers, and for teaching me that it is right and good and not at all unspiritual to be grateful for them!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/11/2004 11:27:00 AM • Permalink
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Monday, May 10, 2004 AD
'Let Us Have a Little Fermentation with Our Eucharistic Celebration'
We missed the Lord's Supper yesterday at CREC because the pastor was out of town and the sub preacher was an unordained intern. "Just a Little Wine" ( words | MP3 ) didn't come near making up for it, but it gave me a good laugh, at least. (Link via Mark.)

Since Eric will be gone again next week, I think I'll take the opportunity to visit elsewhere again. After three months of weekly communion, two weeks without it seems like a purgatorial length of time. (The church I want to visit won't feed me, either, but at least I'll get another shot at seeing the friends I missed on Maundy Thursday and Easter.) I don't think I could ever go back to monthly, and I wonder how anyone endures having it even less frequently!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/10/2004 05:49:00 PM • Permalink
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The only reason I can cope with the passing of the forsythia and daffodils (the two best of all blooming things) each year is that I know the lilacs will be out soon. And after them, the azaleas (which I enjoy in other people's gardens, as I have none of my own), and after them the irises (the first blooms of which greeted me this morning), and after them the roses (which are starting to bud).

Of course the various other flowers and flowering trees are also a delight. The petals of one pink-blossomed tree on a nearby street all fell one calm day a couple weeks ago, creating an effect that looked for all the world like small drifts of pink snow.

This year I got a very special treat. Traveling northward at the end of April afforded me the experience of spring redux -- daffodils and forsythia all over again (a happy girl was I). I wonder if, in the new earth, we'll get to have the best of all blooming things all year 'round. Maybe, maybe not. But this is for sure--we'll have a far deeper and richer and purer appreciation of all the gifts of the new creation. Thy kingdom come...quickly!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/10/2004 03:47:00 PM • Permalink
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Tuesday, May 04, 2004 AD
Everything's Going Exactly According to Plan!
I hit upon this last night as a new personal liturgy, complete with the gesture of clapping my hands and rubbing them together gleefully like a mad scientist. Of course this has naught to do with my own plans and is intended to remind me of the bigger and better plan by the Bigger and Better Planner, and to help me think rightly about things that don't go the way I would have chosen them to go.

About a minute after I started using this liturgy, one of my barrettes popped open. "Everything's going exactly according to plan!" said I (but without the hand gestures, because I was busy putting my hair back in order). It popped open again a couple seconds later. "Everything's going exactly according to plan" said I (with a little less enthusiasm as I reattached the barrette again). It didn't stay any longer than the first time. "Everything's going exactly according to plan, but this is getting annoying!" said I (through gritted teeth). I took out the barrette, fiddled with the clasp and put it back in. This time it stayed, having served the purpose of illustrating just how much need I have of practicing that liturgy 'til I really get the message through my thick Arminian skull.

I think I'm going to make an "EGEATP!" bracelet. And maybe when anybody asks me, "How's it going?" I'll be brave enough to learn the habit of responding with my new liturgy. I have grand visions of becoming absurdly cheerful as I beat myself over the head with this message!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/04/2004 01:19:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, May 01, 2004 AD
For Everything Else, There's Mastercard
Assorted presents, gift bag, balloons ... $73
Three and a half tanks of gas ... $63
Towing, battery and labor ... $137
87 in a 65 zone ... $220
The look on my mom's face when she opened the door and found me there to surprise her for her 75th birthday ... priceless
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/01/2004 11:19:00 PM • Permalink
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