Random (but not really)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Something Missing…

I’ve often said that when it comes to faith and religion, I sometimes feel like I’m broken, or missing some essential part that others have.

One side of my family has a very strong sense of faith and devotion, and that has helped them through difficult times, as well as being part of general celebrations. (Perhaps to clarify, God isn’t just someone you turn to when you need help, but also someone you remember when things are going well.) Her faith was the most important thing in my grandmother’s life, along with her family.

The other side of my family, well, it’s never been discussed, but to the best of my knowledge, there wasn’t much in the way of church going. (I don’t ever remember my other grandparents going to church, or talking about god and faith.)

And then there’s me.

I was raised Catholic, went to CCD classes, went to mass every week and all the holidays, was in the choir, and got all the sacraments the way a Catholic girls is supposed to.

But at my Freshman year in college (at a Catholic university) I realized there was something missing from me. I didn’t seem to feel what others felt. Going to church was a boring chore I did because it was expected of me, not because I felt anything while there.

After college, before I got married, I tried to go back for awhile, but instead of feeling peace and calm and faith, I’d instead see people I knew to have done Bad Things, standing up and acting like role models. Instead of being inspired, I’d feel a sick anger, and think, “you harmed a child–what right do you have to stand there and act as an example to anyone?”

I’d end up leaving feeling worse than when I went.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many wonderful and amazing and inspiring people who went to my church–but they didn’t offset the emptiness I felt when everyone else seemed to be filled with the holy spirit and love and everything else.

So I stopped going.

I’d go with my grandmother, solely to make her happy, but I still didn’t feel anything, so at this point, the only times I go to church are for weddings and funerals.

This is why I read with fascination, a study about twins and faith:
What Twins Reveal About The Science Of Faith.

It’s not just me. Maybe there is something missing from my genetic make-up that makes me this way.

Funny thing is, I don’t know if this makes me feel better, or worse.

Written by Michelle at 5:35 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday Word Association: Summertime

Today’s word is: peaches

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (7)  Permalink
Categories: Fun & Games  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What on Earth Kind of Search Did I Just Stumble Into?

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I have no explanation for this.

Written by Michelle at 8:50 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Non-Sequiturs  

Tasty Tuesday: Peaches

So, it’s been a long time since I posted one of these, however, I discovered that I now have enough cookbooks, and have tried enough recipes, I’m never quite sure which recipe I preferred, or which cookbook that recipe came from.

Oops.

I’ve bought a fair amount of fruit from the Farmers’ Market, and frozen a good bit of it for fall, when it’s cool enough to bake, but some of this fruit is so wonderful I want to make something RIGHT NOW.

I’ve been trying several cobbler recipes, and the recipe I made the past two times was okay, but nothing fantastic.

This week, I tried a cobbler recipes from a book that almost never fails me: Nancy Baggett’s The All-American Dessert Book. I made High-Summer Cobbler with Buttermilk Biscuit Crust, using raspberries, blackberries, and peaches.

Peach and Berry Cobbler

Peach and Berry Cobbler

I do believe this is a recipe to make again.

The only down side is that my dutch oven is way too large. I bought to try out a technique for baking bread (which I haven’t gotten around to trying yet. Of course.) so it’s, I think, 4.5 quarts. But really, the only issue was that it was extra heavy. And the solution to that was to make Michael get it in and out of the oven.

The other new recipe (I also made my favorite sandwich bread, because if I was going to be heating up the house anyway, I may as well make bread) was from the The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. I made Spiced Peach Muffins with (what turned out to be) white peaches.

Peach Muffins

Not too bad for a day’s work, although it’s pretty much the opposite of exercise.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food,Photos  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weekend Rambling: Rail Trail North to Pennsylvania

Yesterday we biked along the Mon River Rail Trail from Star City North to Pennsylvania. We made it as far as the Lock & Dam before the trail became complete mud, and we turned around. (The tires on our bikes are not good enough for riding in mud.)

This section of the trail has lots of interesting man made structures falling into disrepair and decay. (All of these pictures are marked on the map–I grabbed a picture at each of these places with the GPS.)

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At this point, you can quite clearly see the stacks of Fort Martin. The rest of the ride past you’re viewing it through the trees. It’s also surprisingly loud, and you can hear it quite a distance off.

We also stopped at the strange cement hut that must have been something for the railroad (there’s a similar hut south of Morgantown on the trail) but I don’t know what.

Regardless of it’s intended purpose, it fascinates me.

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Here’s where we turned around (after wandering down to the lock). You can see the road, wandering off in the top right corner, complete mud and puddles.

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And we scrambled down to the lock. I’m thinking my investment in a collapsible walking stick was one of the smartest purchases I made in the past several months. It made me comfortable scrambling down paths that I wouldn’t otherwise be sure my ankle was up for.

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And we saw a little hut, in the back corner of a field. Michael refused to climb down, claiming it was because he wasn’t interested, but really it’s because he’s Lawful Good.

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Written by Michelle at 9:49 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Morgantown,Photos,West Virginia  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dumb as a Post

I promised a friend this yesterday, and then promptly got distracted.

—–

Jed had a reputation in town as no one to joke with–not because he was mean, but because he simply wasn’t bright enough to get your joke, and everyone feels like an idiot when they’ve told a joke, and the person in the receiving end just stares there, blinking at you.

So, Jed wasn’t bright, but he was strong, so he found plenty of work–as long as it was a task that wasn’t complicated.

Farmer Brown (not related to the Mister Brown, who can moo) had done well enough in the previous couple years that he bought seventy more acres, but needed to extend his fence before he could let his animals graze there (he also had plans to extend his herds, but no sense in getting the cow before the fence.)

So Farmer Brown hired Jed and a couple other older boys at loose ends, who were likely to wander into into trouble if they weren’t put to use, to help him with his fence.

Farmer Brown was mostly acting as supervisor for this job, seeing as how young men left on their own tended to talk more than they worked, but he wasn’t a hard man, and so mid-afternoon he headed back to the house, to get a drop of something wet and a bit of something sweet for the boys.

Farmer Brown dropped off the jug and the biscuits and apple butter and then headed back to the house to get more rails. Unfortunately, he’d grabbed the wrong jug and instead of water, left the boys with the jug of hooch he’d left cooling in the spring. By the time he got back, all the boys were lying on the ground, laughing uncontrollably, except for Jed.

Jed was sitting by the fence, giving the post upon which Farmer Brown had set his hat a long talking to. It seems that Jed had seen the hat, and sat down and started talking to Farmer Brown about Miss Millie who sometimes worked the counter at her father’s general store. Jed was entreating Farmer Brown to put in a good word for him with Miss Millie’s father, but Farmer Brown (or more rightly Farmer Brown’s hat) said nothing in reply, and Jed was getting himself more and more worked up on the subject.

When the boys (sobered up by Farmer Brown, who was nervous his wife would learn about the incident, and thus learn about his stash of moonshine) returned to town, the story of Jed talking to the fence post quickly spread, as did the lack of response Jed received.

Soon, to tweak Jed, folk about town started saying someone was “as dumb as a post” when they didn’t have a response to a question, but Jed being Jed, he never knew they were making fun of him.

But he did eventually take Miss Millie out walking, and then asked her father for her hand, and if he wasn’t much smarter than the post he was known far and wide for talking to, he loved her to distraction, and their life together was as happy as the day is long.

—-

Well, that didn’t go at all where I was expecting, but there it is anyway.

Written by Michelle at 7:09 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Fun & Games  

Rape, Fiction, and Doonesbury

As an addendum of sorts to the previous post, have you been reading Doonesbury this week? It’s a rerun, but it’s one I felt was very well done.

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Again, the whole strip is available on Slate.

You could say that rape isn’t a subject for a comic strip, except that it IS. Garry Trudeau is using his soapbox to bring the subject to the public’s attention. Because it IS a subject that most people do not want to talk about. It’s a subject that most people want to cover up, to close the door and walk by and pretend it doesn’t happen.

But it IS a subject that needs to be discussed and shown, and it is a subject that belongs in ALL genres.

Written by Michelle at 12:17 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Religion & Philosophy  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wait… What?

I just had a shockingly visceral reaction to Will Shetterly’s piece on rape in fantasy. Why fantasists should not write about rape. Shocking because I did not expect to have any reaction to the piece.

Let me state something clearly first: I believe that a LOT of rape & revenge fantasy stories are awful.

But there are also some stories that contain rape, where that horrible action is integral to the story. Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry. Mercedes Lackey’s Vows & Honor series. Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series.

He says:

But where is the metaphor in rape? In fantasy, something as mundane as rape is a failure of imagination.

I believe the word that pisses me off the most is “mundane.”

There is nothing mundane about sexual assault.

I mean, would you think it was reasonable to say, “But where is the metaphor in war? In fantasy, something as mundane as war is a failure of imagination.”

Where is the metaphor in war? Where is the metaphor in murder?

Rape is, for many many women, a life changing experience that can affect relationships and actions for the rest of their lives.

But more importantly, women–especially young women–who suffer the trauma of sexual assault shouldn’t be told that rape is something people don’t want to read about. To hear about. To learn about.

That rape is mundane.

To call a trauma that uncounted numbers of women (and men) go through mundane is to say that it’s not interesting, which leads one to infer it’s therefore not important.

Why would it fine for fantasists to write about murder and war, but writing about rape is “a failure of imagination”?

Rape is not mundane.

Those stories I mentioned at the beginning? They’re important not because of the rapes, but because we read about the resilience of the women who are assaulted. We see how different women get through the trauma in different ways–and that they can survive and go on and be okay.

Rape itself is a failure of the imagination. Writing about how people move on with their lives and have set-backs and recover may not be fantasy, but it is human, and it is something that many more people than are ever willing to admit go through.

But it is not mundane.

ADDENDUM the First:
Mr Shetterly came by and posted an explaination of sorts. I’ll add it here, but I would also like to note that Eric, Anne and I all had comments below that I believe are pertinent to the discussion.

I followed your link here. Sorry about the misunderstanding. I don’t know if this will help, but I added it as an ETA to the post: “Someone was upset by my choice of “mundane”. I was using it in the sense of the opposite of fantastical, like this dictionary definition: “of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one”. Fantastical literature has fantasy in it; mundane literature does not. That doesn’t mean one’s better than the other, just that they provide different possibilities for writers. If you’re going to write fantasy, use it to do what isn’t possible in any other genre.”

I commented on that below, as did Anne. (So far)

Written by Michelle at 4:34 pm      Comments (29)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Has Michelle Been Doing?

Studying?

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Of course not.

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Just marking some of my favorite passages.

Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko translated by Andrew Bromfield

Written by Michelle at 8:12 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekend Travels: Driving from McHenry MD

As we were driving to Swallow Falls, I saw this old barn, and was so fascinated by it, I made Michael stop on the way back.

I’m guessing this was Hurricane Sandy Damage, because it looked like it had been otherwise kept in good repair, and the property around it was in very good shape.

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Maryland,Photos  
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