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Oh, I had such a good spring break! I think this is the first break ever where I got everything done on my to-do list (or I will by the end of it, anyway).

Saturday I relaxed a bit, helped my parents with some proofreading, and sent out 7 more resumes, among other things. Sunday I polished off the next draft of my thesis (60 pages now, not counting my truly monstrous works cited pages), which took, as always, longer than anticipated.

Monday I went to Fayetteville with Mom for an eye exam (last time on Dad’s insurance!), but fortunately my eyes hadn’t changed enough to need new glasses (huzzah for saving money). Then we did a bit of shopping, which was actually not as boring as usual because I got the SWEETEST pair of hiking boots known to man, which is a very good thing because the hole in my current ones is getting kind o’ ridiculous. I’ve been searching and searching for ages for good boots, with no luck (I’m very picky about my boots, thank you very much), so I’m very glad I found these. They’re dark brown Timberlands, waterproof, with fantastic tread. I think we’re going to be very happy together. 🙂 I also bought a dress for formal, which was cool, but not as cool as the boots.

Tuesday I did all of the research for my last English paper in my last English class, Victorian Lit. Wednesday I wrote the paper – 15 pages in 4 hours. I’m kind of bummed I’m done with papers, because I think I’ve got the hang of it. At the same time, I am ridiculously glad to be done. Thursday I did all of the research for my German 410 paper, cleaned the roof of debris, and did other little chores. Then today I wrote the German 410 paper in one go and got terribly carried away, as I stopped at 12 pages and it only had to be 8-10. I have been in the paper writing zone lately! Then Ed and I tackled Nick’s Creek trail, which links to a bunch of other trails around here. It would’ve been an 11-mile trip, but we got a very late start, so we shortened it to 7 miles, which was fine. It was kind of a dull trail, not much worth exploring, but I’m glad I at least know now.

Somewhere in there I went running and did some archery. There’s one of those cool speed-checker thingummys down the road, so I was playing with that one night. Turns out it’ll measure your speed running pretty well! I could get it up to 13mph, but I’m hoping to try it some night when I haven’t already run and see if I can get it up to 14. I’m sure the neighbors are irritated by my running back and forth in front of their houses…

I also saw the movie Australia the other day, and it was quite good! Had a couple weird or over the top parts, but it was visually exquisite and it was really cool seeing and hearing Aussie things again. I will go back to that country before I die…

I was rewatching some recut trailers the other day; I give you Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, recut as horror movies.
I didn’t think this was real at first, I admit.
The city of Sybaris has been found! I love the story of the dancing horses; that should be some kind of creepy bedtime story.
What do you do when your country has been flooded with nuclear radiation? Turn it into a nature preserve, of course.

Wow. I just confused the cthulhu and Culhwch. Talk about slipping. That was terrifying.

Other than apparently losing my memory, things are going pretty well. I should be freaking out about papers and the like about now, but instead I find myself with a hazy sense of vague well-being! Of course, that could just be the sleep deprivation talking.

The English language is dum.
Glowing cities under a nighttime sky. Nighttime is always one of those words I do double-takes on and am never quite sure is real.
Atlantis discovered on Google Earth! Maybe. I can dream.
What news anchors do during commercial breaks. Absolutely awesome.
Lille by Lisa Hannigan, quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.

I must share with you some school moments. I’m taking German 410, Love and Death, which is literature translated (mostly) from German about (you guessed it!) love and death. It’s a fascinating class, taught by the philosophy professor, who operates about 17 intellectual levels above most human beings and is thus rather too cerebral for complete comprehension at times. However, he is one of my favorite professors of all time, and I reproduce for you the following:
Dr. T, after a long, harrowing discussion on death: “Do you know what I always carry in my bag?” *reaches into the bag ominously*
Mike, one of my fellow English majors and partners in crime: “An AK 47?” The class watches in horror as Dr. T draws forth…
Dr. T: “Better than an AK 47 – The Complete Works of Plato!”

Dr. S, my favorite history professor, was discussing the military advantages in the Civil War. “If I had a grenade,” she said, eying us speculatively in class, “I could take out at least five or six of you guys…*long, long pause*…I would never do that.”

Well, I’m off to find some apples or cheerios or chocolate milk or something else wholesome.

At long last, we move into our new house and out of this miserable apartment tomorrow. We still have a very, very long way to go, but I think (hope?) that things will go easier after this. I won’t even go into all the work we’ve been doing, it’s boring and tiresome. Suffice to say we’re still working like dogs!

I take it back, I will tell the more interesting parts. One day I went up on the roof and swept it off and pulled down a nasty tv antenna and we all ripped off nasty gutters, which was kind of fun. I love being on the roof. When I have a place of my own sometime, I will go up on the roof and look at the stars as often as I please, and no one will be able to stop me. We took down a tree or two as well, which I find fun because I like a. chainsaws and b. axes. Axes especially. I feel very medieval swinging one, and it’s a very satisfying activity. You throw your whole body into it and the blade bites into the wood and throws woodchips all around, and you feel as if you’re really *doing* something.

Super glue is, I find, a most satisfactory shoe repair tool. I have now patched together two pairs using that remarkable adhesive. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Once in a while when I don’t have to go to the house in the evening to work, I go running here at the apartment at night. The other night I went in the rain, only it started lightning and I thought perhaps a golf course was not the best place to be during a thunder storm, so I skedaddled home double-quick. There are tons of mimosa trees down here, and when I’m running their smell fills the air, like honeysuckle only dustier, somehow, if that makes sense. Such odd-looking flowers.

I like to always have a scrap of paper going with quotes, words in other languages, phrases, story ideas, etc. from things I read or hear or think up. I returned some books at the library and was getting more when I saw a piece of paper just like mine sitting over on the librarian’s desk. I thought, oh look, someone else does that too! My, they’ve packed a lot onto that little piece of paper. Then the librarian brought it over to me and said she found it in a book. It was mine! I hastily took it and stuffed it in my pocket, and then tried to remember what exactly I had written on that particular scrap, because sometimes it gets pretty weird. I looked at it when I got home, and there were words in Old English and Welsh, a couple phrases in Latin, a few Bible verses, some very cryptic ideas for stories, and a list of books to read. Nothing *too* incriminating…

Speaking of books…I finished the Heaven Tree trilogy by Edith Pargeter. For some reason, I didn’t really like it all that much until about 300 pages in. Around 600 pages, I started really enjoying it, and by the 800th page I was in love. I can’t put my finger on why I don’t love it as a whole, though. There’s something, some flaw or inconsistency that puts my teeth on edge and keeps me from loving it the way I love that type of book. The only thing I can come up with is that Pargeter reminds me of my own writing (though hers is obviously better). She used the same plot twists I would’ve, the same style of dialogue, and I could predict exactly what was going to happen down to the words that the character was going to say, sometimes. Not because the book was exceptionally predictable, but just because it’s what I would’ve had happen next in the plot or what I would’ve made the character say as well. Her flaws remind me of my flaws. She has characters touch each other too often. Not in a weird way or anything, but people are forever putting a bracing hand on someone’s shoulder or hugging someone or nudging someone, things like that. For me, I do the same thing with facial expressions, particularly smiles. No one in real life smiles as much as I write that they do. It’s not that my people are particularly happy characters: sometimes they smile grimly, or grimace, or grin viciously, but they’re always smiling, and I have to go through a story once I’ve written it and pull out fully half of the smiles before the blasted thing is anywhere near realistic. Pargeter’s physical contact is my smiling. But aside from that, I really did ultimately love the book, and I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t read the book, just read her introduction. It’s only 2 pages long, and it’s beautiful in itself, the way she talks about her story.

I also read the rest of the Dark Is Rising series (Over Sea Under Stone, The Dark Is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King, and Silver on the Tree). I read The Grey King once a long time ago and was entranced in spite of not having a clue what was going on, it being fourth in the series. The Dark Is Rising is one of the richest books I’ve ever read when it comes to history, mythology, and cosmological good vs. evil concepts. So I was a bit irked when Over Sea Under Stone turned out to be merely a children’s story. The other two I had read went so, so much farther and deeper than that, it seemed almost blasphemous to put it in the same series, and what’s worse, to start the series with it. Greenwitch is the bridge book between the child story and the full breadth of the other books, and I found myself resenting even that as they tried to juxtapose the two. Silver on the Tree was better. It incorporated both without trivializing the seriousness of the ideas of the more mature books or ignoring the children’s story. But I still felt as if Cooper was told to write a children’s series and didn’t want to, or was told to dumb it down. Watered down good vs. evil just comes across as paltry, and a weakened evil makes the good that struggles against it seem equally silly. Her ideas were so good, they deserved much better than that. I still adore the series, but I wish it had been done differently.

One more confession: I got my hands on the BBC’s newish series (well, I guess not anymore, I’m kind of late coming to it), Robin Hood, and I fell madly in love with it. It’s so horribly flawed, occasionally cheesy, and constantly anachronistic, and the historian and Robin Hood aficionado in me should be revolting in disgust, but alas, I merely sit and watch in utter fascination. The physically impossible archery tricks! The horseback chases through the forest! (It’s filmed in Hungary with some of the most beautiful trees…) Robin Hood, far from being the macho fellow who somehow manages to pull off green tights, is a rather slight fellow with floppy hair (which could go horribly Myspace emo, but somehow doesn’t) and a hoodie (??), who smiles roguishly and is quite twinkly and Irish, twirling a bow around. Marian looks like a real live girl instead of a supermodel, and she’s witty and funny and manages to keep devil-may-care Robin out of trouble, even when he drives her to exasperation. The other characters are all very enjoyable, and I especially like Will Scarlett, who is a very quiet carpenter and doesn’t look like much at all, but who suddenly pulls out a practical, clever solution to every predicament. In the old stories, Will is supposed to be the best swordsman of the bunch (just as Robin is best with the bow and Little John with the quarterstaff), but in this series he wields axes like a fiend, which is still pretty darn cool. Honestly, if I accumulate any more guilty pleasures, I’m not going to have any more non-guilty ones.

In other book news, I’ve been doing more research for my thesis (more Frye, more Jung, more Campbell, Frazer’s The Golden Bough, and I don’t even remember what all else). Also, one of the ladies who works in accounting has taken to leaving me surprise books in my office now and then, which is quite possibly the best way to begin the day ever. I highly recommend Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, and I found The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter quite sweet as well. I’m currently reading more Mary Stewart (yeah, I’m hooked), and I’m plotting another library trip in the near future.

I’ve been sitting on my hair accidentally a lot lately. Hair getting longer, or me getting clumsier? Difficult to say.

I have recently discovered that I love driving barefoot! I’m not sure why exactly it’s so thrilling. Part of it may well have had to do with wearing heels every day for work and being able to slip them off and drive with bare toes is quite freeing. That and it feels just slightly illegal enough to be exciting (but it’s not illegal, I checked!).

I found Claire de Lune on my computer today. I didn’t know I had it, and I’m not sure where it came from, but it was the loveliest thing that happened all day.

The other day a lady called the club and asked, “Can you see smoke from where you are?” *hastily looks out the window* “No, ma’am! Where are you that you can see smoke?” I asked, thinking there was a fire somewhere nearby. “Oh, I’m in Raleigh.” “…” “Thanks, I was just wondering if you had all this smog and smoke,” she said, and hung up. I was completely baffled until I read later in the paper that smoke from a forest fire was drifting over the state, obscuring Raleigh’s skies, but I had a good laugh before I found that out.

Ok, now I don’t usually rant in here because that’s what everyone does in their livejournal, and it’s pretty dull. So if you don’t want to hear a bunch of whining and angst, skip on down to where I ramble about books or something instead.

This is the most miserable summer that I can immediately recall. Everyone is bone-weary, stumbling around like zombies with paint brushes in our hands and drywall screws in our pockets. One evening Dad and I were carrying our millionth sheet of drywall from the garage into the house, and I looked up and realized both of us were staggering like drunks with the drywall wobbling all over the place. A full-time job is just that, full-time, and three of the four of us work 40 hours a week (fortunately Mom’s job ended for the summer a week ago). We get up at the crack of dawn to begin the process of driving everyone to work. We work all day at our respective jobs, with Mom working all day at the house, then comes the round of picking everyone up and scrounging for dinner, then going to the house to work. We drive back to our minute, grungy apartment and fall into bed far too late, to get up and do it all over again the next day. One of our vans died the other day (pushing a mini van in heels and a skirt after work, that was an experience, let me tell you), so now we only have one car to get all of us to our jobs. We spend a couple hours a day just driving since our jobs, the house, and the apartment are far apart. Everything is taking longer and costing more than we expected (which is typical, but we’re exceedingly typicality here). The thing is, we can’t let up at all; we have to get it done as fast as humanly possible so we can move in, because we’re spending money on this apartment, the pods we have in storage, the dumpster we rented, etc. etc. We can’t take time off from work to finish it because we desperately need the money that our jobs bring in. On top of that, we’ve lost Beowulf, our last pet. He ran off from the new house weeks ago and we haven’t seen him since. If it weren’t for the Sabbath, I’m pretty sure we would’ve ground ourselves to nothing by now. Friday night at sunset, we all just sleep and sleep and sleep. We’ve been at it only one month so far, but it’s been the longest month of my life. We estimate there’s another month before we can move in – hopefully it’s not more. It better not be. *ominous tone* I’m going to kill something.

Work, while not horrible, doesn’t really help matters. I’m back at the country club for what I am praying is my last summer. It’s not that it’s terrible there; it’s well-air-conditioned (hey, this is a major factor for me!), I get to read when it’s slow, and I don’t have to be on my feet all day. But I hate how I subtly change when I’m there. The snobbery worms its way into your head insidiously. For example, there’s a big to-do this weekend, some wedding hosted by a member. A co-worker came by and told me to make sure everything was all set and there were no mess-ups or clumsiness because “this is a very important person.” So I’m bending over backwards to be exceedingly polite, anticipating this person’s needs, ignoring other people, etc., when in reality they are no more important than anyone else, and I shouldn’t be treating them any differently. Some of my co-workers and most of the members completely ignore, say, the cleaning staff. And some woman who spends more in a month on clothes than the maids make in a year will come in and complain about her housekeeper’s incompetency, and I find myself clucking my tongue and murmuring polite little “oh dear” and “that’s terrible” right along with her, trying to think of just the right thing to say to make her happy and hating the polished, perfectly poised façade I’m supposed to be projecting when all I want to do is shake her hard enough to knock at least a little bit of the selfishness out of her. One of the people there is always talking about “following your heart” and the touchy-feeliest of touch-feely religion, during which she’ll switch tacks in the same breath and gossip and run down other people and criticize every aspect of their lives. Good thing I don’t “follow my heart” when she’s around; physical violence would probably be involved there, too. No one really knows me there. I talk about the topics I’m expected to talk about, the correct number of napkins and florist deliveries and whether it’s too hot for golf and whether it’s nicer to eat on the terrace or the dining room. I can’t talk about anything that actually matters. The usual conversation is the type of thing I would consider completely inane, so it tends to go in one ear and out the other unless I force myself to remember, because these things are essential to my job. I suppose it’s all very character building…two months of it is, anyway. Any more than that and I would be afraid I would find myself being changed more and more by it and losing perspective.

WELL. Enough of all that moaning. I don’t want to give the wrong impression, there are a lot of good things going on too. There’s a guy who calls all the time (not sure why…why would you need to call the club half a dozen times a day?) who, after I say my little spiel, always says “Stephanie.” Then there’s a long pause. Then he finally says who he wants to be transferred to. It threw me at first because you get stuck in the pattern of answering and transferring and it pulls you up short a bit. But now he knows me and he’ll say, “Stephanie. *long pause* Why are you still here? Do you work 12 hour shifts or something?” “I get off in a few minutes, actually.” “Good.” He’s very gruff but I think he’s nice. There are some really sweet coworkers who almost make up for the nastier ones. One lady calls me Rapunzel, and several of them always stop by my desk to say hello. The other day a lady ran by and said, “We’ve lost our nuns! If you see them, direct them this way!” Sure enough, three little old nuns came by a few minutes
later.

It’s amazing, the dichotomy between my internal, mental life and my external, physical life. Inside I’m thinking such thoughts! In that, I almost enjoy the level of reserve I employ at work: I can hug these secret, precious thoughts to myself, and the rest of the world goes by preoccupied with their business deals and housekeepers and don’t know that that girl is anything other than an efficient little secretary. It’s a little like a super hero having an alter ego. 😛 Where are all of these glorious thoughts coming from, you ask? From the tremendous quantities of thought-provoking books I have been reading! I’ll forgive this job a lot for the simple fact that it allows me to read so much.

I’m in the midst of my preliminary research on my honors senior thesis. I started with The Essential Jung, and I must say I’m becoming a fan of good old Carl. I’m glad I read Freud first, as it’s giving me a good background helping me to understand Jung. It’s been beautiful timing, actually – I read (or rather, I read parts of) Peter Brooks’ Reading for the Plot which is also heavily based off of Freud’s writings. I’m taking copious notes on everything, and I’m not quite sure yet what I think of everything, but it’s fascinating. I also read Spiritus Mundi: Essays on Literature, Myth, and Society by Northrop Frye. I LOVE Frye! He is a hoot. Joey recommended him an age ago, and as usual I’m late on the bandwagon, but I definitely enjoy his ideas and his writing style. I’m going to read more literary criticism books by him as soon as I can get my hands on them. I read Language and Myth by Cassirer under the recommendation of Dr. Vaughan and very much enjoyed the ideas expressed therein as well. I read Myth, History, and Religion: The Remythologizing of Christianity by Kelsey but was less impressed. After a refreshing plunge into the intellectualism of Frye and Cassirer, Kelsey’s uber-Christian approach seemed rather cloying. He’s not nearly as succinct of a thinker, either, which made me impatient with his book, even though it was only 100 pages long. Still, good to get all perspectives.

I’ve been finishing a book a day on average, half academic research (which I enjoy ridiculously, to the utter puzzlement of the people around me at work all day) and half purely recreational reading. I read The Dark Is Rising (finally…Luke recommended that one, also an age ago) and am madly in love with it (I’m getting the rest of the series on interlibrary loan asap). The text is incredibly rich in history and mythology (yeah, can’t escape the mythology right now), and I think it likely that the majority of people reading it miss so many of the treasures in it. Clearly, Cooper knows her stuff. I have a feeling the book would not be so popular in Christian circles if they knew what she was drawing from; much of the book stems from very pagan, even anti-Christian sources, which is touched on so very delicately in the book that most people probably didn’t even catch it if they didn’t already know the history. The Old Ones are basically the Druids, and it makes me a tad nervous that they’ve included so many Druidic rituals under different, slight sanitized names: about the only one they’ve left out thus far is the human sacrifice angle. Somehow I don’t think slowly disemboweling a prisoner and telling the future from the way the blood and entrails fall during his death throes is quite the right fare for children’s books. The book kind of feels like some kind of rather dark, snide inside joke on one level, but that the same time it’s quite beautiful.

I read Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier under the recommendation of Dr. Waldron, and quite enjoyed it. In moderation, Maurier can be very entertaining, although sometimes her surprise endings are kind of…unsurprising, perhaps because she’s so known for them that you’re always looking for it. I read Mrs. De Winter by Susan Hill (stumbled across it quite by accident and thought I’d give it a go, since I liked Rebecca immensely), but it was quite bland – sequels to classics usually are, it seems.

I finally read the diary of Anne Frank. I know, that was a shameful gap in my education, I’m not sure why it took me so long. I always meant to read it. I think when I was very young I was going to, and my parents didn’t want me to. Our religion bears a strong resemblance to Judaism and I think they thought it would be too scary when I first found the book (9 or so). Now I wish I’d read it a bit earlier, but it was still historically interesting and fascinating on a personal level.

I read Atonement by Ian McEwan under the recommendation of Dr. Thomas, and at first I hated it so much I almost didn’t finish, which I almost never do with a book because…you just can’t do that. I forged onwards, and while I still don’t like it (it’s not a book one is meant to like, I don’t think), I am very glad I read it. It was good for me. There are moments of tremendous ugliness (which is where I almost gave up in disgust), but by the end you see exactly why they are there and how carefully crafted the novel is. That was one of my strongest impressions: how carefully put together everything was, and how the ugly moments had to be told just as they were to produce the calculated effect. It’s a very powerful book. I can’t say I recommend it, and I’m not exactly sure what I think of it, but it is impressive.

I also read This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart, also per Dr. Waldron’s recommendation (yeah, I get together and talk to my professors about books a lot when I’m at school). It was very good, and I think I’ll investigate more of her books. She has a knack for saying just enough without saying too much when it comes to conveying emotion, and I think I can learn a lot from her in that regard. Plus, the whole book is centered around Shakespeare’s The Tempest, I mean come on, what’s not to love?

I’ve also realized that it’s good for me to read contemporary fiction sometimes, even the crappy stuff…I love reading Tolstoy and Hugo and Faulkner and sometimes I forget what most popular books are like – reading purely for entertainment. Anne Elisabeth showed me the value of that last year when she brought over the most wonderful fantasy novels during paper and exam weeks: it was exactly what I needed at that time to break up the oh-so-heavy Vietnam War books and the Shakespeare, and it really is useful to read what is popular now and then. One of my professors urged me to read some Stephen King, saying “There’s a reason he sells millions of books before a new novel is even in print. You can learn a lot from writers like him.”

Another school year come to an end. I was even more torn about that than usual this year. I love school so much, but I like a rest from the academics; I love being at Campbell, but it’s great to be home too. And of course it’s always kind of awful leaving everyone. However, now that I’m home, I’m enjoying it very much, in spite of the chaos. We’re moving into a very teensy tiny apartment on the 21st, where we will be staying for a couple months while we fix up the new house, which we officially get on the 29th. Yet again, we buy a fixer-upper! We’re not very fast learners, apparently. I’m mostly packed (I wanted to get it done early since we have so much other stuff going on), and my room looks so small and sad with even just half of my books packed up and everything taken off the walls. There is nothing so forlorn in this world as an empty bookshelf.

I am typing this from my brand new, ever-so-lovely laptop! Mini Jim did indeed give up the ghost, and my relationship with his replacement is progressing nicely. He is as yet unnamed, but that will shortly be remedied. He’s wonderfully swift and talented, so I think we’ll get on swell.

I am reading a book called Legendary Warriors (the same one I fought the battle over with some mysterious person who kept putting it on hold…I’ll find you one day), and it’s quite interesting from both a mythological and historical perspective, even if it is rife with typos. If I were their editor…*shakes fist* But yes, ask me a question about 5th century Scandinavian armor, I dare you. In other books news, I really haven’t read much of anything else that is non-school-related. I’m still coming off of the post-exam week reading blahs, so I’m just wrapping up a couple books. But I foresee a trip to the library in my near future.

Rediscovering one’s love for bands is quite nice. I am currently re-experiencing Bright Eyes, which would be a good band if only for its name, all lyrics aside.

I love http://www.old-picture.com. I just spent an unbelievable amount of time looking at photos from the Crimean War!

Reassures me that Gattaca will not come to pass...at least not anytime soon.
Weird things live in Russia.
More college kids should do this sort of thing in their spare time instead of making Drano bombs.
Scientists have proven shoes are evil. I feel vindicated.
21 accents in 2.5 minutes, shamelessly stolen from a friend and reposted so that all may see and marvel.
Kind of disgustingly cute, but I like the French kids singing.
Psst, there’s a second Prince Caspian trailer out.
Somewhat encouraging!
Misread by Kings of Convenience – one of the saddest, mellowest songs and videos you’ll ever see.
The legend of Drake’s drum – England is beating us, I’m telling you. I think the problem is that America is too young to have hundreds-of-years-old legends of returning heroes. I’m fascinated by the king in the mountain motif in mythology, and I wish we had more of that kind of thing around.

Off to sleep…

The above Flannery O’Connor quote is so true as to be frightening.

Oh, a warning, this will be VERY LONG. I’ve been saving up ideas.

There’s a note on the counter that says, “Steph, oil the cats.” It means the stuff you put on their backs to keep off fles and whatnot, but I get the best mental image of Dorothy-me oiling Tin Man-cats with a tiny oil can.

I am all the way to the Is in my giant musiczilla project! Idlewild is very good.

I defy anyone to watch to the end of this video and not have a smile, at least on the inside, by the end of it.

Everyone in the world has pretty much seen this already, but seeing as how it may be the coolest thing on the internet, you get to see it again.

Seen while studying the prefective active tense of *mumbles* Elvish: “Do not mutate the dipthongs!” I guess you had to be there. Speaking of Elvish, I was studying Tengwar and was utterly confused. I had a new chart, and I just couldn’t see how it made sense to have the alphabet arranged in the way it was, until I suddenly realized, with a forehead smack, that it was in ENGLISH alphabetical order. I’ve been playing around with Elvish more, and looking over my old vocabularies is like slipping into a comfy pair of socks, all worn. I know the feel of the language still, and that makes me glad.

Found on a roster at the country club: Stewart Little. I do wonder if he was whiskers.

There is someone I dislike who has, from the first week of our acquaintance, called me Steph. Steph is completely reserved for good friends, people I know well who know me well, and to be called so by someone I am constantly gritting my teeth around feels entirely too familiar and very distasteful. *Victorian sniff*

Oh, such books as I have been reading lately! Cut because this will go on for pages!

I must share this with all of you. Quite by accident, I found this huge collection of high res photos from Yellowstone State Park. They are absolutely amazing and completely free, and I have saved so many that my computer threatens to explode. Some of the headings sound boring, but then you click Weather and find gems like this, or you click on Plants, then Carrot Family, and find a picture from underneath a cow-parsnip, all shot through with light. Go, go see!

I was quite pleased with myself the other day. I almost shot a Robin Hood. Just as well it didn’t actually split, those little guys are $6 a piece and I have to make these last for at least another 6 months. I’ve already got one irreparably lost somewhere in the pasture…I need a metal detector. Or a dog.

I always write down the names of people, towns, streets, etc. that I think sound interesting, so I’ve got quite a list going. I was adding a few to it the other day, and I realized why I love kennings so much in Old English literature. Lots of the names I had written down were compound words with a similar feel to kennings, like Greyabbey, Eaglesrest, Applecross, Windson, Youngblood, and Sunderland. So do I like the names because I like kennings, or do I like kennings because I like the names? Hmm.

I’ve been half-heartedly searching for a book I thought I read when I was pretty young about a house with thousands of feral cats. I was *sure* I had read it; I can even picture the cover. It’s that old kind of cover you see on kids’ books where it’s only in 2 or 3 colors, with that distinctive none-too-expensive-old-book-cover texture, if you know what I mean. The picture is of an old, dilapidated house with a big front porch, surrounded by trees on three sides. The front is open, and the ears and back of a cat’s head is in the foreground. The dark trees all around the house are full of shadowy cats and bright eyes looking at the viewer. I’m fairly sure that the cover, at least, is a real cover. But now I’m not so sure the book is a real book, at least the way that I remember it. Cut away for length as I describe another cool and creepy dream.

Hm. I thought I had updated a couple times since the last time, but then I remembered that I only *thought* about doing it and never did! I’m so funny har har.

Anyway! Books. I finished Life of Pi, and it was every bit as grand as the intro led me to believe. I highly, HIGHLY recommend it. I don’t want to talk about it too much because it would kind of ruin it, I think, but just trust me, it’s good.

After Pi, I read The Longest Road, the last book in the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy. And…just…wow. I don’t know if I can talk too much about that one either, just because I don’t think I know the words. So, so good. I noticed Guy Gavriel Kay helped Chris Tolkien edit the Silmarillion, so I guess that explains it. You just don’t know what to do after reading those books. I do not know how he can blend so much sorrow in so much beauty, it makes you want to laugh and scream. As an aside note, I learned something recently; in Kay’s books, there are svart alfar and lios alfar, being (very) roughly the equivalent of orcs and elves, respectively, in Tolkien’s universe. But what’s so neat is this: while I was reading Corpus Poeticum Boreale in English, I was also playing around with the Old Norse, and learned that “svart alfar” is the Old Norse expression for Dark Elves, while “lios alfar” means Light Elves. I find that unspeakably cool. Do you realize how few people in this country know Old Icelandic/Norse? Actually neither do I, but it’s not many; it’s like a tiny little secret worked into the book. He also incorporates a multitude of myths into his story, which I thought was neat. It’s interesting to go through and say this came from such and such. It gives the books such a strong sense of history.

Well, I could go on about Kay, but like I said, I can’t do it justice. After Fionavar, I reread Prince Caspian by, of course, C.S. Lewis. I was going to read it right before the movie came out, but it looks as if the release date has been pushed back and I wanted to read it sooner. *hugs lovely Lewis books* I rather love him. It also helped that I was munching apples most of the way through the book. It’s such an apple book.

I read Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz, which may be his most recent book, I’m not sure. I thoroughly enjoyed it, one of my Koontz favorites. I’ve been reading so many great books one after the other, I feel a little book-drunk. My brain will explode from all the word goodness!!

And now I’m working on The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, so further explosions are no doubt imminent. This is the last Bradbury book the library has that I haven’t read. I don’t know what I shall do. It’s wonderful, though. Sarah told me the first story in the book and did such a great job I felt as if I had already read it. She will one day be a famous story-teller, mark my words. Her children will have word-feasts every night before bed. The rest of Illustrated Man is so far incredible, as befits a Bradbury book. I will report on it when I’m done.

This will no doubt be incoherent when I look at it tomorrow. I got up at 5:30 this morning to work the early shift, and it’s approaching 1am now. Next week will be easier, that is until we leave for Pennsylvania on Friday. Busy busy RUN AWAY NOW busy. It’s actually good though, I need the money. I got the first bill for this coming semester of CU. *wrinkles nose*

Hey hey! Last week the new seasons of Stargate started up. You better all have watched. *narrows eyes* ‘Cause it was great and all. I do dearly love my scifi.

Ok, names. I like names. A lot. I have pages and pages of names that I like. Names for dogs, cats, hamsters (we do not have nor have ever had nor do we ever plan on having a hamster), kids, book heroes, book villains, book two-bit characters who die in chapter one of horrible birth defects, etc. But also I like the ideas behind names and the power (?) in them. I think I’ve read too many old myths in which beings are bound or released or compelled or known too deeply through use of their name. In so many of the old stories, magic and power are tied to names of people, whether it be of the protagonist or the antagonist. It’s not just mythology, though; in the Bible, demons are cast out by use of Christ’s name. Biblical figures are renamed as they change (Abram to Abraham) or are given names prophetic of their lives or names that in some way tell their personality (Jacob) or the circumstances of their life (Moses). Presumably because of all that, I always viewed names as rather important things. Which is the only reason I can think of why it bothers me when people use my name (or someone else’s) lightly. At work, of course we all wear nametags, and occasionally I get customers who just seem to love to use your name. In the space of a two minute transaction, they say your name two or three times, but of course you don’t know their name. It reminds me of the old expression, “you have the advantage of me”, used when somone knows you but you don’t know them. It feels like they really do have an advantage, and yet I know that’s silly.

It kind of feels the same way when people give you nicknames. I always introduce myself as Stephanie. It’s the name I’d rather strangers use. Steph, Stephie, or any variations thereof are reserved for people who know me. Usually after a few months of being friends with someone, they’ll start to call me Steph on their own. I always notice the first time they do, because it seems like a marker of a change in the interaction. It means we officially know each other well enough to call each other by friend names instead of acquaintance names. So it’s a nice little thrill when friends call me Steph for the first time. But at the same time I absolutely HATE it when strangers who have known me a few minutes/days/weeks call me Steph. It feels like they have that old advantage over me again, because I don’t feel like we’re friends at all. Sometimes people I dislike call me Steph, and that’s even worse. Once in a while they seem to look at you as if they’re wondering if you’re going to object (or maybe I’m imagining that), but I never say anything. It seems even worst yet to admit that it bothers me to the person because then they would be fully aware of the advantage they have over me. Good grief, that sounds horribly superstitious, I can’t explain it right at all at this hour. 😛

Oh, I got new userpics! They are most snazzy. I seem to have gathered far too many Narnia ones, specifically of Peter, so I’ll try to spread them out and use them up without overloading anyone. Oh, also, I’m still working like a fiend on trying to get my site back up. Web design sucks up time like a black hole, it’s a bit horrid. I’ve made progress on the Musiczilla project, though! I’ve made it all the way to the Concretes, which means instead of finishing it when I’m 68, I may only be 31. I can live with that.

I had so much to write about and now it’s gone again! I really should make a list or something. I know, I’ll go to bed. Yes. That will be good. Very good.

So if I should visit the moon
Well, I’ll dance on a moonbeam and then
I will make a wish on a star
And I’ll wish I was home once again.

That was always one of my favorite songs on Sesame Street. Along with the one about the capital letter I, but that one eludes me to this day –

WAIT

NOBODY MOVE

LOOK

I found it!! Bless you, Youtube!! I love that song, but I only saw it twice when I was about 6, and I had resigned myself to never seeing it again!! Everyone should go watch the Sesame Street videos on Youtube, they’re all great. I always did kind of wonder how they fit that long ladder back into the I, though.

They’re waiting for parts to come in to fix Mini Jim. I begin to doubt that I will ever see him again.

New levels of bizarreness. That’s the eighties for you.

Books! I finished The Dragon in the Sea, and it was a good, solid story. Not the creative genius of Dune, but Herbert is a very consistently good writer. I wonder, it must be nasty when you write a series that people really love, and then you try to write other things less ambitious in scope and everyone must always be comparing your works. That’s got to stink.

I read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and was quite impressed. There are a lot of very wise insights in it, though I would imagine it must have been thoroughly exhausting to write. I don’t think I could ever write something like that, but it was definitely a book I needed to read, there were a lot of things I needed to hear in it. That makes it sound very didactic, and I don’t mean to make it sound so preachy because it’s not. It’s just very much a self-learning book.

I also finished Eric Brighteyes, which was perfectly lovely. Everyone died at the end, but then that’s to be expected. Ah, Viking fatalism. Wonderful in moderate doses, just don’t go jumping off any bridges now.

Reread Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester yesterday. I love these books so very much. Actually, I’m wrapped up in a fit of book-love of any kind lately. It’s so much fun when you are constantly re-discovering your obsession for things, it makes life so interesting.

I started Dune by (of course) Frank Herbert. I realized it’s been at least two years since I originally read it, and Dune is so incredibly compex you just can’t get everything out of it in one reading. I’m going to work my way through the whole series, I think. Speaking of books, this batch will be due soon, and I don’t think I’m going to finish them in time. Dune is 500 pages and then I have a positively gargantuan volume of Old Norse sagas and poetry. I’m thinking I’ll try to finish Dune tomorrow and renew the sagas for reading on the way to the camping trip.

Speaking of which, for those who don’t know, I’m going camping, white water rafting, and tubing in the mountains of NC. We’re leaving Thursday evening and we’re going to pick Ed up from his leadership conference, then stay the night somewhere and arrive at the campground Friday morning. I am looking forward to it VERY much, it’s always a blast to camp and we’re going with a passel of friends.

D’ya know, I realized the other day it has been a whole year since I’ve been riding and since I sold the horses. Not so very long ago I couldn’t have possibly imagined my life without horses, it still feels strange occasionally. I miss it sometimes, but not terribly. I do wish I could go riding sometime though. I should pick on some horsey friends.

Last week one of our neighbors was away so I fed his three horses, dog, and cat. This week another neighbor is going away, so I’m feeding his seven hunting hounds. I must say, for hunting hounds, they look about as intimidating as a bunch of wombats. They’re stubby little beagles, not the taller, rangy hounds they use for foxes. Animals are just so much fun, I don’t know what we’d do without pets. As it turns out, it looks like we’ll be adopting Beowulf permanently as our own cat because Jason is being sent to Afghanistan for a year. Mom is really glad we can keep him, she has gotten quite attached. We’ve been hunting around online, looking through the shelters for dogs. We’re thinking of getting a collie from the Collie Rescue Foundation of the Carolinas. Mom has a thing for collies, she had one when she was younger that she really loved. It won’t be for another week at least, but still, it will be good to have a dog here again.

Speaking of dogs… You know when you see a semi truck without the trailer and they’re driving down the road? To me they always remind me of puppies. It’s like they have too much speed and power behind them and they’re about to trip over themselves and go tumbling in a somersault any minute like puppies do when they get going too fast. Of course, it’s funny when a puppy accidentally trips over his paws, but it would be considerably less amusing if a semi tripped over its wheels.

When I was rereading Narnia the other day I noticed that when Aslan and the White Witch are talking about the Deep Magic, Aslan mentions “what is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the trunk of the World Ash Tree”. Now, as anyone who knows their Norse mythology will tell you, the huge ash called Yggdrasil (the name actually means “the Terrible One’s horse”, and I would have named one of my horses that if I hadn’t despaired of anyone ever pronouncing it properly) is the World Tree that links and shelters the worlds and will be one of the sole survivors of Raganarok, the battle of the gods. Anyway, Lewis never gives more information on the subject. Lewis blended mythology in some pretty crazy ways, I have to say. The White Witch Jadis is supposedly descended of Lilith (the first wife of Adam in Mesopotamian myth and one seriously messed up chick) and a giant. Her minions include efreets and jinns, which are in the Koran, and ettins, which come from Anglo Saxon myth. Then you’ve got mentions of Dionysus and Bacchus, both names for the same Greek god. And do not even get me started on Father Christmas; he’s anachronistic to all the rest. All of these mythologies make for interesting reading, but I can see why Tolkien and other myth purists get frustrated with Lewis when it came to these sort of things.

And now I’ve gone and talked too much!

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

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