Monday, May 28, 2012

Project 52: forty-six and forty-seven (plus bonus!)

The top picture (#46 of my Project 52) is an accurate representation of how my little brother sees life.* The middle picture (#47) is an accurate representation of my life currently, and for the next couple of weeks. And the bottom picture (a bonus!) is an accurate representation of the small furred thing that has been distracting the lot of us since she joined our family on Saturday. Her name is Taxi, she is eight weeks old, and she has single-handedly turned this household of frankly-we're-ambivalent-about-cats-people into -- simply -- cat people.

*When I saw that little scene on my parents' hall table, I cracked up. The soldier is so hardcore there with his military stance and his khaki. Pooh, on the other hand, is thinking, "If I just stand here smiling, this is all going to be just fine."

* * * * *


Andrea -- that comment sounded very Seussian! I'm impressed.

Lauren -- Maybe the blonde hair zigzags generations? You're the zag, and Mum and Abby are the zigs :D.

Domesticwarriorgoddess -- I think grace is a battle for all of us. It's a gift, and it's a struggle. For what it's worth, however, I think you are an excellent embodiment of charis.
Sarah -- yes, His grace is sufficient. Always good to be reminded of that. xx

Staish -- you are a beloved "anyway" in my world. Love you. PS. I love your "epitaph" question. That one'll take some serious mulling.

Elizabeth Simard -- You are precious. I almost sobbed writing it so we're even.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Project 52: forty-four and forty-five

Two of my most favourite people in the world --
my Mum and my wee youngest niece, both blue-eyed blondies.

* * * * *

A postcript: I've kind of dropped into unintentional hibernation as the end-of-semester tidal wave approaches (not just end-of-semester, but end of degree (yay!)). I had optimistic visions of myself sprinting gleefully to the finish line*, but 2012 has been a crazy whirlwind** (in the best possible way), and it feels more like I'm limping to the end instead. Regardless, it's been a good journey***, and I'm both sad and happy to see it concluded. Roll on postgrad studies (please, Jesus?)!

Anyway, just letting you know I might be a bit more absent than usual over the next few weeks. Also, thank you for your continued excellence in being the best real life and bloggy friends a girl could ask for. The last few weeks have been sprinkled with lovely acts of grace from people who probably don't realise just how giving they are. Getting a beautiful handwritten letter in the mail from someone across-the-sea (when I have been an incredibly poor correspondent) is just one example of grace upon grace. This, like other grace-gifts, points me back to the bigger picture of amazing grace. 

And so I've been thinking a bit about how grace, even the grace of a friend's unexpected letter, takes the bad news about me -- my inadequacies, my failings, my lack of -- and replaces it with another's good. Grace says, 'Whatever your failing may be, it doesn't matter anymore. I will give regardless.' Grace is the anyway, and that's a very beautiful thing.

So thanks, friends known and friends unknown, for your graces in my life, graces made evident through your reading, your comments, your shared creativity, your time, your words, and your warmth. You are a pretty fantastic bunch.

* the metaphor suddenly switched from the ocean to a marathon. Because that makes sense.
** and now we're couching it in terms of the weather.
*** and now it's a trip?

* * * * *


Thank you, brilliant friends, for your excellent questions for my About page. Can't wait to dive in! You're all so cool and creative. xx

Andrea -- you're welcome. NOW POST AGAIN ALREADY.
Abbie -- I'm loving that the 'girls' are all blogging, too. I keep dreaming of a family blog project, but so far no brilliant ideas :).

Caitlin -- books are just a necessary part of growing up, hey? xx

Katie -- your "when" rather than "if" in your published author question brightened me considerably :D.

Carla and Alastair -- we practically are related, aren't we? I mean, it feels like we are! Ooh, that would be so fun to write your "about" page! I'll email you about it after a few weeks, when school is done. Warning: it may turn out rather silly indeed.

livingintheshadowlands -- you're precious. Thank you.

harriet coombe -- I miss you, too! I was just reminiscing about your wedding, the other day. So beautiful...

Lauren -- haha!! Andrew Peterson's mum and dad, I guess :D PS. No, that effect was done with an app. Totally cheated.

HCH -- I love that you could relate to this.

Sarah -- rather like you girls -- a family of blogging ladies! By the way, I've really enjoyed keeping up with you girls (at least in my own meagre way) online.

Bloss -- you write the best blog comments. And of course I'll use your questions; they were awesome! Ugh, like you, I couldn't believe that someone would respond so negatively to the ad that Pete Peterson wrote. I'm discovering that some people really get joy out of raining on others' creative parades. It's such a shame! Love to you, lovely lady. xx

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's a million little things:

Given that I post nothing for thirteen days and then emerge with thoughts that only I am likely to relate to, I feel I owe you more, oh excellent blog friends. So it is more that I bring you, a whole selection of more.

Point the first: my sister Andrea is now blogging! For me, this is on a level of delirium to which I might compare earth-shattering things of such calibre as, 1) "Oh, didn't I tell you? Harper Lee is coming to dinner tonight and she wants to talk to you about her secret second novel which no one thought she wrote but which she actually did and it's every bit as good as To Kill A Mockingbird"; 2) "News flash: Willy Wonka stepped out of storybooks and into the real world in order to create a Magnum icecream which not only is not disgustingly bad for you like the ones you know and love on only rare occasions, but is actually positively good for you and therefore you should consume one a week or possibly even one a day"; or 3) "Congratulations, Danielle, you have won a competition which you never even knew you entered and suddenly the entire contents of one Kikki-K store SHALL BE YOURS." So basically I'm excited that Andrea is blogging. Also, she somehow thinks of herself as not a writer but she's obviously delusional because even though she only has one post (and an About page) up so far, they're both excellent. And this completes the trifecta of immediate female family members blogging: my Mum, my middle sister Andrea, and my littlest sister, Lauren. Cool beans? Very.

Point the second: since my so-called not-a-writer-not-a-blogger sister who now is blogging (and thus writing) has an About page on her blog, I am overcome with the sudden need to create such a thing for myself. But is there anything more awkward than writing a blog introduction? Okay, yes, falling over while rollerskating and clutching the shirt-front of a teenage boy whom you don't know in order to save yourself from certain death is definitely more awkward than writing a blog introduction, but still. So I am trying to think of a less awkward but certainly still silly and yet hopefully slightly intelligent way to do said About page, and since I can't just outright copy my sister's format, I'm thinking of going for a Q&A style thing. The only catch -- I need some Q's before I can fill in some A's. So hit me with your best -- and even your most random -- questions for my About page, and I will attempt to use them to talk about myself in that mildly humorous yet endearingly self-deprecating voice which we all somehow want to emulate for our blogs. I should probably state that in a less tongue-in-cheek way: Ask me questions, please? I will love you forever and send you imaginary cupcakes.

After a break for April, I'm doing the photo-a-day project for May. I won't be posting my daily pictures here except for the occasional one, but you can see them at my tumblr under the hashtag #photoadaymay. I'm loving being back in the challenge of taking a picture in response to a word prompt every day. It's a great and yet manageable little creative project.

While we're talking blogs and photography challenges, I have to tell you that my lovely friend Abbie has just started blogging, too! Her pictures are serene and feminine -- actually, that's a perfect representation of Abbie -- and I love the URL she has chosen. Very appropriate!

Over at the Walker Books Walk-A-Book blog, there's an excellent article on why kids in the internet age still need to be exposed to good old-fashioned paper books. It's called iKids Need Books, Too.

Meanwhile Louise Cusack, a writing tutor and mentor I've been privileged to learn from, is exploring the world of publishing in a series of blog posts. Her recent post, Doing The Work, is an excellent, excellent reminder not to plan for harvest when we haven't even done the ploughing. Also, she references Ira Glass's brilliant creative advice which is always a winner.

And this post is a month old, but it's a discussion which will never go out of date. Pete Peterson discusses the value of creating habitually. It's a good read.


It can come from anywhere -- out of the blue -- though I suspect it appears more when you're actively looking for it. Today, it was in the words of Annie Dillard, whose lovely sentences made my stomach muscles hurt from the not-breathing. Other times it will be something else -- a picture of one niece's impossibly-long eyelashes resting on the curve of her cheek, or the moment when my other niece buries her tiny round head right in the baby-sized hollow where my neck and shoulder meet. Or hearing a piece of music that takes an emotion I have felt, or that I have known others to have felt, and pulls a tune from that emotion, taking a shapeless cloud of feeling and forming it into a note-picture that is visible, recognisable. Or I will be sitting in the sun with people I love and for the merest instant I see my life from a distance. I see it for the story that it is, for the movie that I get to watch as I live it, and I realise how good things are even in the brief upsets, how golden the moments are between the challenges and the small heartbreaks.

LM Montgomery's Emily (of New Moon) talked of this thing she called The Flash. CS Lewis borrowed a word from the Germans, Sehnsucht. And I wonder if they were both speaking of the same experience. When I think of Emily's "flash", I think of how, occasionally, we have these brief moments when suddenly the ridiculous constraints of time and gravity and history open up for the merest slit and we get to see past it all into something beyond, something that -- even though it's unfamiliar -- we seem to recognise. And Sehnsucht, well it can be translated as a yearning or a craving, even an intense missing -- whether or not we know what it is that we miss. For me, it's a great and irreconcilable clash of satisfaction and longing. In one moment it heals and hurts. My heart is full, yet hungry.

In a way, it reminds me of inspiration. Inspiration is a gift and a beauty in and of itself, but it is not satisfied to simply be. It wants to move, and it will not be happy until it goes somewhere, until it works itself out in some kind of art. And when I say that Sehnsucht -- that longing for a far-off country we know but can't quite pinpoint -- is irreconcilable, I only mean that in the sense that we are hemmed in on all sides by finiteness. Once we're freed from those constraints, once we're out in the broad infinity, everything is turned loose to find its reconciliation. It will all make sense in the Someday. 

For now, though, we watch. And if we are startled by a thrilling and unexpected glimpse of what Annie Dillard calls 'the corner where eternity clips time', so much the better -- because then we remember. This life is not all there is. To steal the words of another: we were meant to live for so much more.

* * * * * 

Carla and Alastair -- YAY first and beloved commenter! I love you, and I love that you love me in spite of my overthinkyness. And no, while I might feel shy leading up to a visit if it's ages since I've seen you, I could never be shy with you in real life. You are almost family!

Meaghan -- random fact #14: I learnt any awesomeness from you.

Charis -- thank you for persisting with commenting even though the internet is convinced you are a cyborg. Please don't terminate me. Is it weird that I am sort of happy that there is another person out there like me whose special talent is nervousness? I feel your pain and yet I love that I've got a buddy in this odd affliction! Ooh, I love quippy and fast humour, too (THE WEST WING!) and I hate watching others' awkwardness in real life. I can only handle it if I know it's made up. 

Andrea -- you should know by now I like quirky, conventionally daggy things, right? :D

Sarah -- aw, it's tough when you have big assignments all due at once! I hope you come through it unscathed! And I still haven't posted your questions and my answers, but it's on my bloggy to-do list :)

livingintheshadowlands -- if Atticus Finch was a living, breathing, non-fictional man, I might even propose to him.

Laura Elizabeth -- YAY you actually get this! Somehow, talking about what you'll be given after a grandparent passes away seems so morbid and -- yes -- mercenary, but in actuality it turns out to be quite natural and even funny :D. PS. I loved seeing Avengers with you yesterday. It feels like ages ago already, though, because it's been a really busy 24 hours. Boo to time passing too fast!

Jess Axelby -- so if we ever get a little hangout together again, Office marathon y/y?

Elizabeth in Alaska -- thank you, dear friend! x
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