I confess I've never read Walker Percy. I've heard how amazing he is, but felt somewhat intimidated for some strange reason. Can a Canadian read a Southern writer? Will the themes be too veiled? Everyone goes on and on about how brilliant he is, will I understand it at all?
So ridiculous literary intimidation aside, I picked up Love in the Ruins, even though it is subtitled The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World and I have a strong no apocalyptic reading personal policy. The story centres upon Thomas More, a scientist who has recently discovered a soul-healing machine that would in essence cure civilization from its spiritual malaise, unless it falls into the wrong hands. Political unrest abounds, society is lost, racism and religious division are everywhere. Tom lives with personal tragedy, and though he is romantically involved with three women he remains loyal to the true Catholic Church, not the American state sponsored "catholic church". The irony of his faith and relationship with God, and his lustful actions seems strange to those around him, and even himself. Yet he cannot separate himself from his belief and love of God and the Church even though he sees himself as a sinner.
Percy's writing of such complex topics is unbelievably light-hearted at times, funny, and at others piercingly tragic. I have a tendency to compare most novels to what I think is a perfect novel, The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton. The beauty of The Man Who Was Thursday is that it is entertainingly written with a story that pulls the reader in but at the same time is really about something completely different from the actual story itself. The story ends up being about many different things. None of the least of which includes man's relationships with God which is also a pivotal in The Man Who Was Thursday. The genius of Love in the Ruins is the same as Chesterton's masterpiece; it is a well crafted story that is entertaining in of itself, yet is full of ideas and themes that endlessly explore the realities of life.
In other words I was pretty blown away by this book. Not only because of its fantastic development of themes involving man and God, prophetic visions of our own society from way back in the 70's when Percy wrote the novel, but the sheer enjoyment I got from reading it. No matter how many great themes a book can introduce, how cleverly it can conjure images of a not-so-distant future, or bring Catholic elements seamlessly into a plot line, what really matters in the end is if the book brought you enjoyment. And for that reason this book now sits among my classics.
Further evidence of my chronic lack of attention span/diligence to write something I find myself looking at these several times a day and becoming completely torn as to which style to purchase. Because, oh yes, I am in love with these loafers completely and utterly.
My husband says I have enough shoes, but how can that be when I have no loafers of any kind?!
First world problems here I know...but look at how cute they are!
They're from the Gap, yet wonderfully affordable and fun.
I've been so MIA from the interwebs for the last week because the littles had swimming lessons at our nearby lake. Its about 15 minutes away and its the perfect little kid lake. Warm water, plenty of sand, nice shallow depth for almost as far as the eye can see and no awful bird excrement to worry about this year! Sadly in Alberta this is something these itsy bitsy lakes contend with every other year or so...its gross, God had mercy in keeping it away this year or else I woulda gone crazy washing and rewashing children!
The swimming lessons are sponsored by the town's Lion's Club and it costs just a ridiculous $5 bucks for the entire week. The kids have the greatest time, but it meant that we spent the greater portion of each day last week at the lake. How come that means I was completely exhausted each day? I swear having four kids makes you feel old!
Add to our swimming adventures two trips to the city in two days and my house is a complete disaster area. I was hoping all the mess and laundry would just go away if I ignored them for long enough but they appear to not have gotten the hint. I can't wait to have some semblance of order around here...and a baby back on nap schedules of sorts!For me as a hermit mom, or maybe just one focused on keeping a somewhat peaceful home, after these busy times I become even more hermit like until I get back to my somewhat chaotic yet semi-functioning little home!
I had one of my best thrifting days ever on Friday. I think it may have surpassed that storied day when I bought about 12 brass birds and I Married Adventure for $3.99! I walked into the Sally Ann for the first time since I had Max and hit the bookshelf first to feast my eyes on this baby:
I almost completely geeked out and let out a small high pitched shriek, but held myself together although I did rip it off the shelf and then clutch it to my bosom in record time! There is so much satisfaction in finding a fabulous copy of one of your favourite books I can't even describe it.
And then these beauties were in the store window:
The Our Lady of Perpetual Help print is gorgeous, seems pretty old and genuinely from Italy. Its really gorgeous and has a really nice aged, vintage-y patina that it awesome. I think I'm going to keep it in the little frame as well because it makes it seem so unassuming and old-ish. The portrait is kinda sweet and I have an intense desire to have a hip oil portrait gallery wall one day...so heres hoping it will work out for me. The poor portrait is in what could possibly be the worlds ugliest frame of all time:
This picture doesn't to it justice. Its the grime-iest plastic ever. Really, really bad.
I'm not sure where these two pieces will end up in my house. I just know I love them a lot.
I come up against the old..."how many religious art pieces should one put on just one wall" problem time and time again.
I also picked up this book:
I've never read it. And partly bought the book because I loved the type and colour combo. But the movie with Rock Hudson is out of this world awesome. Quite possibly the best tear-jerker of all time, and Rock Hudson at his dreamiest. Please go watch it right now.
So one of my most beloved books in a 1945, second edition came in at a whopping $1.00.
The Our Lady of Perpetual Help print was $30.00 and my little portrait of mama and babe was $12.99.
I recently read Sally Thomas's excellent article about homeschooling not once but twice within a week through two different websites. I thus took it as a sign to write a little about the point that I made me agree, and hurrah the most.
The article is a good one so go read it, but it basically sums up the author's feelings in regards to the general response those who educate their children at home receive. All her answers to the usual array of ignorant questions are spot on, but what I loved the most is how she addresses homeschooling as a perfect training for a rightly ordered life. A life that integrates education and learning into one's life without compartmentalizing. This in turn teaches children to live a life that isn't divided into small increments; prayer, faith, education, leisure all come together in the home. Children develop wholly as opposed to block by separate block. I was educated at home for all but first grade, so I can vouch from personal experience that I've found this to be true and also a skill that seems to have all but disappeared in my generation.
But what really surprised me when I started to think about this idea is the effect of the integrated life upon stay at home moms. I'm sure this principle applies to those in the work force as well, but as my experience as a stay at home mom has now surpassed the time I spent "working" my mind now automatically applies principles I read about to my own life circumstances. (weird, right?)
I've found that those who dislike being a stay at home mom, or feel somehow useless, or feel unchallenged while at home with little children have difficulties precisely because they've never experienced an integrated life. I know this is a broad generalization and that many particulars and many more factors contribute to the societal push against staying home with our very young children, but when I began thinking about the integrated life it stuck out to me that when you become a stay at home mom is when things really start to hit the fan if you don't have an integrated life. Most of your time gets spent on caring for your child, but you soon find out you need more to stay sane and happy while at home. A life that integrates one's interests, faith, responsibilities, and the myriad demands upon life as mom makes for a more fulfilling life as a stay at home mom.
When you become a stay at home mom you're in essence forced to make your world revolve around your home, and for that which interests you to spring out of your life within the home. Since most modern women today are schooled in a public system which creates the idea that learning only happens within sturdy public schooled walls, that home is where you sleep in between extra-curricular activities, which then prepare you for a career that promises to give you fulfillment and which requires you to make your home a refueling station between work days, it must feel like hitting a brick wall or walking into another world when staying home with that first newborn infant. The world for which we are conditioned completely disregards the home, and rejects the idea that a life can be fulfilling within it. I've seen many friends who grew up going to school, who's mom's worked outside the home, and who had the very good intention of staying home with their children only to become completely discouraged and "bored" once their child was born. It was as if the only things that interested them were only accessible through their job. The concept that life can be integrated at home through continued learning, pursuing interests and work at home or around the children's schedule seemed impossible to them.
But homeschooling does train an integrated life. Learning doesn't begin and end at precise times, an attitude that leans towards discovering and learning is there around the clock. Of course one of homeschooling's great selling points is learning about what
interests you instead of being held to a generic curriculum, but this
idea spreads through to outside interests, hobbies, projects, etc. The pursuit of each person's individual likes and ideals is constantly cultivated. It just creates a lifelong habit of pursuing what interests you and learning all while being rooted in the home. These ideals come naturally through homeschooling, but aren't they perfect skills to have for a stay at home mom trying to build a happy outlook?
We all know staying at home to be a mother to our children is tough a lot of the time. Society isn't too helpful in supporting it either, but how we've grown up does effect our attitude towards it. Maybe its time to start acknowledging that one of the life skills homeschooling gives our children is the ability to live an integrated life not only in the workforce but in the home.
You know how about 11 months out of year I complain about how cold it is?? Well get ready for this one...its WAY TOO HOT! I swear its a strange and bizarre irony of Canadiana to always be capable of complaining about the weather. Its the second day of above 30 degree celsius temperatures and everyones acting as if life as we know it may soon come to a complete grinding halt. And its also humid! I know...fairly unbelievable for Alberta, and it feels so strange...like Toronto...in other words yucky.
We've been up to lots of fun, but I've been run off my feet and have taken a shameful lack of photographic evidence. My picture taking really takes a nosedive when I have an infant in need of boob time I think. I'm detecting a theme, those spare couple moments I'd get my camera out is now used up by giving a child sustenance.
I had a sad moment of "mommy-irrational-sentimentality" the other day when I was at the lake watching the kids build sandcastles and splash and fight over the grimiest toy shovel we own...its unbelievable that they'll never be as little as they are this summer, they won't enjoy the same small excitements in quite the same way by this time next year, will their faces and hair and features change by then? See, sentimental.
As of right now I've got a great little 5 year old Gemma who is truly living up to the "5 Year Old: Sunny and Serene"* title. She lives joyfully in the moment, not worrying about the past, not fearing the future, just enjoying the beauty and fun around her. Its such a nice age and she's such a fun person.
Dom is still a very conscientious three year old. He's beyond observant, particular in his desires, but adventurous enough to enjoy fun opportunities when presented. He adores his dad. I can't even remember how long its been since I've been his favourite. There may have never been that time. He's also the least cuddly, maybe that has something to do with it.
Luke is hitting the two and a half disequilibrium and it. is. a. bitch. He wakes up in the morning, makes demands, and no matter how patient and kind I am he screams, shouts, demands again. He is usually very easy going and fun loving, but lately he's been the most unwilling to go with the flow. I'm chalking it up to the age in order to retain some hope for the future. He's still mischievous beyond all reason, so I try to enjoy even his happy destruction when it happens. Lets grow out of this stage soon.
Max is pretty much crawling at 6 months. I can't express my unhappiness with this fact enough. Haha, I promote immobility in my infants. It just makes life easier. But there is pretty much no holding this little lean man back. His arms seem very strong, and his big toes have some kind of propulsion that gives him the ability to go anywhere he wants. So...its going to be a gong show around here with 4 people who can move on their own accord and only one mom who wishes they didn't.
There. Baby update complete.
* I've been reading the series by Drs. Ames and Ilg about child development for specific ages and I've liked them much more than I thought I would. They are very good common sense, yet researched approach to child development that gives me a good reminder about the abilities of each baby...I'm going to have to buy all of them!
You know who wishes she could blog more? Or with at least some semblance of consistency? Me! But that's what an empty nest is for...or will blogging be around when that ever happens for me??
Anyways! I just wanted to post this sweet little Miraculous Medal ring I found on Etsy. I saw it while making some random searches and loved it and bought it instantly. I love vintage holy medals, but a Miraculous Medal ring seems very rare indeed! This one has the tiniest blue medal with a barely visible imprint of the Blessed Mother, and its sweet tarnished band is vintage perfection. I love how sweet it is. I found it through the lovely little shop of Vintage In Bloom which has lots of sweet vintage treasures. And I hope to post on some more Catholic-esque shops soon!
"I believe in that philosophy which claimed to come that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. And I think it is because of our defects and dissatisfactions that we weary of life, and not because life itself would not always be glorious to men truly alive."
G.K. Chesterton (Illustrated London News, July 7, 1928)