Friday Fave: A Brief Political Detour

I don’t have a lot to say about the politics of the day. My latest book review probably reveals plenty, but I ran across a video from the insightful Jason Whitlock of Outkick, and I decided to share a snippet of it here. I will add a link to the entire video for those who may be interested.

However, in the interest of expediency, I am offering a small 2 minute portion that beautifully encapsulates my political stance in this contentious election year. It’s a great rebuttal to those people who insist that people of particular ethnicity (or sex or age or whatever) must belong to a particular school of thought.

 
I couldn’t have said it any better, honestly. You can find Mr. Whitlock’s full rebuttal to the WaPo hit piece on him and his colleague here.
 
Edited to add: Not sure why my embedded video didn’t show up in the post, and my IT guy is at work. So, you’ll just have to click the link. But I promise it’s worth the 1 minute, 20 seconds. It really is. He even mentions Booker T. Washington not once, but twice! Twice! In 80 seconds.

Dostoyevsky: Atheism–> Socialism–>The Tower of Babel

I am savoring my journey through Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. It’s not a story to rush through. Even if I wasn’t a slow reader to begin with, this is a thoughtful book that deserves a measure of contemplation as you go through it. The story is rich, compelling, and complex and I’m only through the first one-third of it. For this week’s Friday Fave I decided to share a quote from the beginning of the book. Despite having read it a week ago, it repeatedly floats back to the top of my consciousness at regular intervals. I’d love it if any of you find it intriguing enough to weigh in and share your perceptions. Here, the author introduces the beliefs and lifestyle of Aloysha, the youngest of the Karamazov brothers:
As soon as he reflected seriously he was convinced of the existence of God and immortality, and at once he instinctively said to himself: “I want to live for immortality and I will accept no compromise.” In the same way, if he had decided that God and immortality did not exist, he would at once have become an atheist and a socialist. For socialism is not merely the labour question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism to-day, the question of the tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to heaven from earth but to set up heaven on earth. Aloysha would have found it strange and impossible to go on living as before.
The question occurs to me again and again: how often do we, having ostensibly reached some profound conclusion about the nature of life, continue to go on living as before?This beautiful quote about the trajectory of Aloysha’s resolve resonates with me. I am reminded of a much less eloquent quote that is, as far as I am aware, unattributed:
We live what we believe. Everything else is just talk.

Friday Faves: Southern Colloquialisms

Sometimes the darndest things take me back to my earliest years. Things like seeing a grasshopper.

Last week we went for a hike in a nature preserve area about 40 miles west of our house. A particular stretch of the trail was awash with grasshoppers. There were so many, we had to watch our step lest we crushed one as we walked. I snapped a picture of one before moving on:

After seeing the grasshoppers, I recalled an old saying of my late uncle. He’s certainly not the only person I’ve ever heard use it. It’s a fairly common expression in the south:

“I remember when you were just knee high to a grasshopper!”

This is one way of telling a teenager or young adult that you remember when they were just a toddler. As I thought about this, I was reminded of how many unique colloquial expressions we southerners use that are not often familiar to Americans who reside points north and west of us. So here’s your Southern idiom education edition of my Friday Faves.

Most of these I know well, but I went to Southern Living to have my memory jogged about some I may have forgotten or even never known. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all hail from the deep south, but I’ve spent my entire life in the melting pot that is the Sunshine State, so there are a few I haven’t heard:

  • He ain’t hit a lick at a snake in years. (Translation: He’s lazy.)  I know this one well. My Texas-born step mom is fond of this one.
  • I’ve got a Champagne appetite on a Kool-Aid budget. ( Translation: I want more than I can afford.)
  • Well, butter my backside and call me a biscuit! ( Translation: Well, I’ll be dang!) There are many renditions of this one.
  • People in hell want ice water, but that don’t mean they get it. (Translation: You don’t always get what you want.)
  • Whatever cranks your tractor. (Translation: Whatever makes you happy.)
  • He/she really cranks my engine (Translation: A romantic interpretation of the aforementioned expression)
  • That girl ain’t wrapped tight! (Translation: she has a few screws loose, elevator doesn’t go to the top floor, is slightly unhinged)
  • Well, the lights are on, but ain’t nobody home. (Translation: see above)

I could go on for quite a while with these, some of which range from slightly comical to outrageously inappropriate. But we Southerners? We know how to turn a phrase, no?

 

 

Friday Fave: A Quote Worth Considering

Joshua Gibbs of Circe Institute offers this kernel of wisdom which dovetails perfectly with my concluding thoughts on Neil Postman’s The Disappearance of Childhood. It’s always exciting when someone says what I tried to say, even if I wish I could have said it as well as they said it. From his recent post, Apart from Dogma, Inspiring Wonder is Reckless:

Children need room to play, but inspiring wonder without also teaching that some things aren’t up for debate is like loosing little children to explore, create, and discover on a busy interstate.

A rather astounding number of Christian high school graduates go on to abandon the faith in college. Is this for lack of wonder or lack of orthodoxy? Both, I suspect.

This quote is worth the price of admission, really, but click over and read the entire post. Those of us who have chosen the path of classical, religious education for our children need to give attention to what it is we’re ultimately trying to produce in our kids. Bonus quote from farther into the post:

Unhinged imaginations always work their way around to perversity.

I’m interested in your thoughts about the aims and methods of education. Share them!

 

 

 

Friday Faves: Food and Fitness Edition

Happy Friday, all!

Did you guys hear about the entire town that has gone on a diet to stave off the possibility of residents gaining what has become known as the “quarantine fifteen”? It’s not a bad idea! While I have gotten a chuckle out of memes such as this one:

Quarantine Barbie

Not everybody thinks it’s funny. There have been a lot of articles admonishing women to stop talking about trying to stay fit when we’re all trying to stay alive. This is not only frivolous, they say, but fat phobic. The problem, of course, is that this disease is disproportionately not fat phobic. It’s a bad time to go all-in on the body positivity stuff.

Last week, I pulled a muscle in my back. At least, the doctor was pretty sure that’s what I did when we conducted our virtual doctor’s appointment. As a result, I went a whole week without weightlifting or my morning walks. I’d already put on 2 pounds in March, and although I pulled it together in April, I felt like it was time to go the extra mile to keep me on track for however long I’m spending less time out and about. Moving around at home is definitely possible, but so is stillness. I figured it drastic times call for drastic measures, and my resistance to an extremely low carb diet has melted away.

I’m not interested in keto as a way of life. Period. Florida peaches are in season right now. My daughter drove recently out to a farm and picked some up. Peaches off of a tree created by God in the season that they were created to be harvested. There is nothing bad about eating a peach, but I have completely cut out grains and most fruits if they are out of season. It’s been extremely helpful. Not only do I feel lighter, but I feel better.

I restarted my workout this week, and I’ve taken up keto baking as an alternative to traditional baked goods. Baking is in our blood around here, and I miss it when I can’t bake because I’m trying to get and stay fit. Two of my favorite blogs of late are Kirbie’s  Cravings and All Day I Dream About Food. Yesterday, I made these butter pecan cookies from All Day I Dream About Food:

These rolls from Kirbie’s Cravings are still one of my favorite low carb recipes:

The formal school year has ended here, so time at the kitchen table will be drastically reduced, which is also helpful. Besides math -which never takes a break- and reading good books, our school load is drastically reduced. For now, which means more opportunities to get outside.

At least until the Florida summer swelter kicks into high gear.

How are you staying healthy during this crazy season?

 

 

 

Friday Faves: Just a Short Update

How are you guys doing out there? You staying sane in the midst of our collective national push to practice social distancing? I thought I’d take a minute to talk about what life is looking like for us during this season.

Where we live, large swaths of the state are under some kind of stay at home order. Some are more strict than others, but most everyone has guidelines to adhere to. Because of that, we’re -obviously- spending a lot more time at home. We still get out for walks, jogs and the occasional bike rides, and we buy groceries like milk and eggs as needed (we’re pretty well stocked on the non-perishables). Other than that, we’re not getting out much, although a few of us are in jobs considered “essential” for various reasons. So there are family members heading out and returning home each day. We’ve maintained our health and our sanity, for which we are quite grateful. So what are we doing with all this extra time? By way of home projects (since thankfully home improvement and gardening places are still open):

  • Building new garden beds, and doing other backyard projects.
  • Cleaning out the garage (on the to-do list for the next week)
  • Clearing out the file cabinet (a hellish job if ever there was one!)
  • Reorganizing cabinets and bureaus.

On the literary and education front:

  • We’re already technically homeschoolers, despite the fact that most of our kids’ academic courses are supported by outside class time. So our kids have been doing several classes online using Zoom meeting platforms as I continue my usual role as supporter and facilitator.
  • I’m reading a lot when we’re not working on home stuff. Currently reading A.W. Tozer, a writer who requires a fair amount of prayerful concentration. I’ve spent the last 36 hours -when I can manage a private moment- trying to discern what it is I really believe about God; deep down in my soul, and not just from all the Bible verses I’ve memorized.
  • Cooking and baking, of the paleo variety. Except I need to remember that cookies made with almond flour and sweetened with coconut sugar aren’t magically calorie-free!  The flour was wiped out at my local grocer (I wasn’t looking for it I just noticed), and I’ve since learned that women are getting into baking bread and stuff since they’re stuck at home. That, in my opinion, is very cool.
  • Working on my side hustle. You might remember that I acquired a certification last year from my Local U. I figured since I’ve been forced off my normal suburban mom rate race treadmill, I may as well put the time into drumming up some coin out of it. Requires a fair amount of -again- ability to concentrate, so I’m not making much headway there.
  • Sewing. My daughter and  I are gearing up to make skirts. I’m not the greatest seamstress, but I really want to fit this into the time that is available to us right now.
  • And lastly, writing. That’s all I say about that because it is very slow going right now.

This list is composed partially of works in progress and partly ambitions of things I hope to do over the next two weeks.

The theme of this season for me, right now, is learning to be content, and preparing for the possibility of a very different world when this is done. The possibility that our lives will change materially, culturally, and politically is a possibility we would all do well to prepare for. so that’s what I am doing in addition to striving to be productive during this time, since productivity, along with prayer, also staves off panic and worry. Panic and worry help no one.

So…what’s life looking like for you guys?

Friday Faves Potpourri: Pandemic Edition

In this age of Cornonavirus overload, I will resist the urge to pile on to the millions of discussions about preparation for the pandemic. This Friday, in the absence of a planned set of favorite things, I’m going to list a few thoughts I have entertained over the past week. Feel free to add your own in the comments:

  • A virtual friend of mine pointed this out, but it’s funny, and I think she’s right. Y’all know there are far worse things than toilet paper to run out of, right? The toilet paper aisles are empty, but numerous varieties of bread are on the shelves of my local grocery store. What good is it really going to do anyone, if it comes to that, to starve surrounded by bulk packages of toilet paper?
  • I picked up Albert Camus’ novel, The Plague, from my local library.  I have been reading it in the evenings for the past couple of days (after reading from my Lenten reading list in the mornings). The Plague is a really good book. I was struck by how similar the post-modern USA is to the description of the Algerian city Camus uses as the setting for his novel published in 1947. It reminded me that while modernity is fluid and unstable, its underlying characteristics are recognizable across generations.
  • Whatever my negative thoughts about American politics in general and the Democrat party, in particular, I have marveled yet again at how they exercise the discipline they do in their ranks. In one night, they managed to completely change and control the trajectory of their primary race. Because I don’t generate enough traffic to warrant fear of being politically incorrect, I’m going to say what isn’t being said: trading out the old socialist for an equally old establishment guy who is showing signs of dementia means their choice of a VP candidate is probably more important than any VP pick in recent memory.
  • On a happier, lighter note, we recently went on a tour of the historic city of St. Augustine with some fellow homeschooling travelers. St. Augustine is a touristy town,  being the oldest European settlement in the United States. However, it’s touristy without being overly crowded, which is nice. Touring the historic buildings commissioned and financed by the ridiculously, obscenely rich Henry Flagler induce contrasting feelings of awe at the beauty and craftsmanship combined with “oh my gosh who needs this much money?”

    rotundaCapture

    What looks like gold in this rotunda? It is ACTUALLY gold!

  • The Gilded Age, which is what Mark Twain billed the period in which Flagler and other wealthy industrialists reshaped America, is an apt name for the period. It reminds us that the blatant materialism that we lament today is nothing new.  I am also reminded that most of us are probably more materialistic than we think or are willing to recognize.
  • We noted that whatever one might think of the gilded age, at the very least, they built things with a level of craftsmanship and beauty that are still worth admiring 150 years later. Can any of us imagine anyone building anything today that people will care to tour and admire 150 years from now? I know I can’t.

Happy Friday! Stay healthy and safe!

Friday Faves: Miami Arts District

My beloved and I recently whisked away to Miami to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful, picture-perfect weekend with sunny skies, temps in the mid-70s, and postcard-worthy beach views. One of my favorite parts of the trip, however, was our walk through the Wynwood Arts District. So this Friday, I thought I’d share some of the spectacular murals on display at the Wynwood Walls.

This first one made me smile as soon as I lay eyes on it. It is so happy and cheerful:

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You can get a feel for the scale of this one by noting that I am 5’9″ standing in front of it:

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This one isn’t quite as big, but something about the paint dripping upwards really grabbed me:

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This one, which you can see is at the top of a taller building, is really spectacular:

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This woman spanning the width of the wall was pretty cool:

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Last but not least is another mural featuring yours truly for scale. The wind took over my hair, but I really liked this mural too:

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My husband has something of an artistic gift, which I do not share, but I have acquired his love of creativity and design. Gifted artists remind us that we are the Imago Dei of the Great Creator.

What are some of your favorite artworks or mediums? Feel free to share! Have a glorious weekend.

 

 

Friday Fave: Quotable Literary Quote

It occurred to me quite recently, after my post in memory of Roger Scruton, that while I have watched his documentary on beauty a couple of times, and read many of his online essays, I’d never actually taken the time to read one of his books. I took some time this week to do so. A review of Culture Counts is forthcoming at my earliest convenience, but for now, I thought this quote was profoundly true:

It is sometimes said that we now live in a “knowledge economy,” and that “information technology” has vastly increased the extent and accessibility of human knowledge. Both claims are false. “Information technology” simply means the use of digital algorithms in the transference of messages. The “information” that is processed is not information about anything, nor does it have its equivalent in knowledge. It treats truth and falsehood, reality and fantasy, as equivalent, and has no means to assess the difference. Indeed, as the Internet reveals, information technology is far more effective in propagating ignorance than in advancing science. For, in the conquest of cyberspace, ignorance has a flying start, being adapted to the habits of idle minds.

There’s a lot to be said about this (and I hope you’ll share your thoughts!), but the biggest takeaway for me is that we have erred greatly by conflating information and knowledge as if they are synonymous. We are much poorer for it, in my opinion.

 

Friday Faves: Chucktown, SC

sunset kiawah

The view we enjoyed during our stay.

We recently had occasion to spend a great week exploring the charming and historic Southern city of Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a city with subtropical weather (not unlike Southern Florida), surrounded by water, with scenic views in every direction. For my Friday Faves, I thought a brief recap of my favorite stops would be a fun thing to do.

  • Kiawah Island: The combination of the weather (after the first two days of rain), views, and general beauty of the place made it a place I’d love to stay again soon.
  • The City Market: The array of vendors selling everything from local specialty foods to the work of local artists was a feast for the senses. I really enjoyed touring and shopping there
  • Low Country Cuisine: You can’t really go to a food region like this one and not enjoy the local seafood, especially a plate of shrimp and grits.
  • The Sound of Charleston: This musical history of the city featuring beautifully performed music from plantation fields, confederate battlegrounds, and Gershwin’s South Carolina inspired opera Porgy and Bess, which contains the well-known song, Summertime.
  • The unquestioned highlight of our short excursion northward was getting to meet a friend I first began communication online with 8-10 years ago. She is every bit as delightful in person and I look forward to getting together again with her much sooner than a decade from now!

Next week, I’m thinking of listing a few of my guilty pleasures. We’ll see…

Y’all have a great weekend!