Sunday, February 26, 2006

(Pointing at head) There is too, fluff in here!

Well, gee, nobody tagged me but I'll answer anyway!

1. How many meals does most of your family eat at home each week? How many are in your family?

There are four of us living at home: Rich and I, if he is not travelling somewhere, eat breakfast and dinner at home, bringing lunch to the university weekdays. Meg does the same but usually has a lunch or dinner out with friends on the weekend. Ian does the same but usually has a lunch and a dinner out with friends each week.

2. How many cookbooks do you own? How often do you refer to a cookbook each week?

I have under ten cookbooks, which I use not very often. All this fills a shelf in my kitchen that's about 24" long.

4. Do you collect recipes from other sources?

I do have a subscription to Cook's Illustrated which I save in a binder; and a collection in several binders of favorite recipes from other sources such as family or magazines. I use these daily.

5. How do you store those recipes?

They are in plastic slips and filed in binders which are divided into categories.

7. Is there a particular ethnic style or flavor that predominates in your cooking? If so, what is it?

We like Indian and Chinese, favoring Indian strongly.

8. What’s your favorite kitchen task related to meal planning and preparation?

I like planning and shopping, especially if it's a new recipe that needs an ingredient that takes me to an ethnic food store.

9. What’s your least favorite part? Cleanup.

10. Do you plan menus before you shop?

Yes, always. I plan for three dinners for two nights each, and the seventh night I usually wing it with whatever's handy. This saves money and keeps me from buying stuff I don't need.

11. What are your three favorite kitchen tools or appliances?

I really, really like my electronic probe thermometer-- well worth the $20-30 I paid, and my electronic scales, which was about $40. I also love my bread machine.

12. If you could buy one new thing for your kitchen, money was no object, and space not an issue, what would you most like to have?

Oh, man...give me an Aga stove! Red or green please!

13. Since money and space probably are objects, what are you most likely to buy next?

Maybe a food processor. I don't have one of those because I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to appliances...I don't want to clutter my kitchen with alot of junk that only does one thing. (The bread machine is worth the counter space though!)

14. Do you have a separate freezer for storage?

No, but I sure wouldn't mind a small one.

15. Grocery shop alone or with others?

Definitely alone. I go into such a Zen state at the store that people have to shout and wave their arms at me to get my attention.

16. How many meatless main dish meals do you fix in a week?

At least one, which is two dinners, and often more.

17. If you have a decorating theme in your kitchen, what is it?

An architect friend said my kitchen looked Scandinavian because of all the golden wood cabinets and floors. A grapevine motif; I have a grapevine painted all the way around the ceiling, which is an inspiration from our time in Vienna, and a wrought iron candleholder in the center of the table decorated with grapevines which we bought while there.

18. What’s the first thing you ever learned to cook, and how old were you?

My father made Sunday dinner, and he taught me to revere leg of lamb, and a roast beef. But the first thing I really mastered was fish; in college I'd beg my friends with apartments to let me cook a meal for them in their kitchens. They were usually happy to allow it!

19. How did you learn to cook? Trial, error, cookbooks, and feedback from the family. One of the house rules was that if my family really hated something I made for dinner, they could tell me and I wouldn't make it again, but they had to eat it that one night.

20. Tag two other people to play. I don't know who else reads this besides Cindy and Anne, but if anyone else reading this, you're it! (Send me an email if you don't have a blog!)

Friday, February 17, 2006

What to do...what to do...

I think I'm going to have to leave after the semester is done.

By that time I hope to have gotten a handle on Photoshop. They announced my presence in the Vet School newsletter, letting all and sundry know that I am available for free illustration purposes, but it's been two weeks, and no bites so far. In the meantime I'm really getting alot out of my painting class, and am beginning to wonder whether God might wish me simply to paint. One area that's gotten me very interested lately is portraiture. If I can get to the place where I am comfortable with painting and know more about what I'm doing technically, I'd really like to try some portraits. I'd also like to spend some time with a portraitist, and there are one or two locally. One of them, who isn't strictly a portraitist but also a landscape artist, Leo Neufeld, is going to soon do a portrait of the outgoing Dean of the Vet School here. I admire his work tremendously.

None of this is likely to earn a penny, however, unless the Lord is willing. It's not yet time to make up my mind. Meg doesn't go off to college for another year. Alot can happen in that time. But I do think the time is drawing near for change. I already have a landscape location in mind, and am finding myself looking at friends and wondering how I would portray them, and what questions I might ask of others in order to help me know them well enough to do so with insight and expression.

If you happen to think of me, pray for the Lord's guidance in this decision.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Pieces of a Puzzle.

This has been an interesting semester so far, and in some ways the past two weeks have been unusual, in that I am finding myself confronted with an array of reading material, situations, and conversations that have combined to get me thinking on the subject of feminism.

Let me begin by stating that I am not a feminist, not in the conventional sense that my generation gives to this word. I don't necessarily believe that women should be paid the same as men for the same jobs. I don't think that women can do any job as well as men (nor do I believe the opposite). I don't think women should be in the military. I don't believe women should be sovereign over "their own bodies". I do believe that there is a primary place and task for women, but that not all women will have opportunity to pursue it. I believe that women should be protected and provided for.

On the other hand, I see no reason to think that a woman cannot pursue some things for which she displays a talent and thinks she has a calling, and be renumerated for the doing of them. And while I believe it is a woman's right to be protected and provided for, that is not an excuse for men to lord it over her, patronise her, or treat her as a mindless thing with no capacity for real wisdom. She is the perfect helpmeet for the man because she is capable of all these. She is meant to be his crown, not his shoe.

This past week, we had an interesting discussion in painting class. The instructor, Vicki, who is an older lady with some rough edges and a heart of gold, brought up the subject of content in painting composition. It is not always necessary, but it is usually desirable, to have something to say when we paint. One student's work had in it a reproduction or a classical Greek female form. The head had neatly been cut out of the composition, while the rest of the composition included mostly things like househole items and kitchen utensils. Clearly, this was meant to be a statement against tradional female roles (so the student admitted herself). Vicki declared herself to be a feminist, and spoke about the need for artists to express their views in their paintings, and to be prepared to get questioned about them. This is not the sort of thing I ever experienced at Boston University, where the discussion was limited to formal subjects such as light, color, form, negative space, and line. BU at the time was a politically liberal place to be. Purdue is considered a conservative place among state universities. Anyway, I was gratified that we were speaking about these things as a class, but it made me wonder how I might present my ideas of godly femininity without resorting to cliches that would make the viewer either yawn or retch. One does get tired of bad art. And one gets tired of having one's eye poked out with in-your-face messages. How can I do it in such a ways as to cause the viewer, however much a jaded feminist, want to linger on the beauty of the thing?

Juxtaposed with this discussion was the fact that in the past two weeks I have been reading a wonderful book called Reading Lolita In Tehran, by Azar Nafisi; and Washington Square by Henry James, which is the subject of some discussion in Nafisi's book. Then, in a weird twist of things, I'd gotten out the chick-flick movie Kate and Leopold at the end of last week. We watched it Frday night. All of these things have their own things to say about women which are truthful, revealing, and incredibly poignant.

What does God want me to do with all this, and what does it mean for the direction in which I ma headed? For it seems to me that God is saying something to me that is rather strong, but I haven't heard the last of it yet.

But you can believe I'm paying attention. More on this later.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


A young woman was talking to me recently about a problem she was having with a young man. This young lady, of extraordinarily high ideals, has made for herself a goal to not date a young man until she is older, wiser, more knowledgeable of her own heart and mind, and more in command over them. This means not ‘going out’ alone with a young man; for to do so, she believes, can lead a young man into believing that she esteems him more than she really does, and also can lead him to allow his heart to go where she does not wish it to. And why does she not wish a young man to do so? Because she is saving herself for the young man of God who will become her lord husband, and because she would not scar the heart of any young man whose heart is meant ultimately for another.

The young man in question is not a believer, but he is a very charming, intelligent skeptic who is probably interested in this girl—we will call her M.E.—because she is so different from all the other girls he has known. She is undeniably a romantic, but she is such a one who has devoted herself to her “delusion” of there being a young man somewhere in the world that God is leading her towards, and she is intent on waiting for God to bring this young man to her and her to him. M.E. has re-arranged her life and actions to suit this belief, and she knows how odd it looks. She also feels very alone in this conviction. None of her friends who once held to it seem to hold as fast to it as they once did. Perhaps she is too delusional, she asks?

M.E. had an opportunity, in a certain course of events, to address this young man in private, which she did. She had a cup of coffee with him in a local shop. She paid for her own; he paid for his. While they sipped, she explained to him why she does as she does. She did not approach the idea of this young man’s apparent interest in her. She merely described her reasons for doing what she does, in the hope that he would somehow see that there is no future in the relationship. After their coffee, they parted on good terms.

Now she feels a little guilty. Did she do wrong by having a cup of coffee alone with this boy in a coffee shop in the middle of the day? My advice to her was that perhaps she might have done only one thing: consult her parents, especially her father, who is almost always accessible by cell phone. M.E. could have done this right there in front of the young man, which would have spoken volumes to him of her sweet dependence on her parents’ counsel, and done great things to show him what fathers are for. (The young man’s parents are divorced; he lives with neither of them, but with his grandmother.)

I also advised her to listen to her conscience, which is informed by Scripture. While what she did was not, I thought, sinful in itself, and probably needful, she might have avoided it if she thought it might do damage to her conscience. In this case, the thing to do is not to agonise about how one has failed. The thing to do is to run to Christ, and expose the hearts that we ourselves do not understand (“Search my heart, O Lord, and see if there be any wicked way in me”) and to ask Him for the wisdom that He promises, and to apply for and receive forgiveness—and leave it there. We are, I reminded her, in Christ, which means that He has covered us with His righteousness, not our own.

I also advised M.E. not to take too much of the condition of another person’s heart upon herself. If this young man is inordinately attracted to her, though she is modest in manner and dress, it is not a call to become unattractive. (I do allow for a certain wise pastor’s permission for young ladies to exercise what he called “holy rudeness” towards the truly obnoxious male.) M.E. is what she is, and in what she is, she desires to be a lovely woman of God. It is not her responsibility to wear a burqa and act like someone with no personality if young men cannot control themselves. And the young men in question need to understand that they too, must confess their own sin, and not, like Adam, blame the sin on the woman.

This is a lead in for another entry on Feminism (oh, that dirty word!) that I would like to address within the next couple of days.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


From now on, I resolve to sign my work not with my name nor my initials, but with the signet SDG. Let there be no more of me; let there only be Him in and through me, and me in and through Him.

"In the Latin Bible at Romans 16:27 and Jude 25 we find the words "Soli Deo Gloria"—"to the only God be glory." This was to become J.S.B.’s motto. He would sign his works—whether sacred, such as "The St. Matthew Passion," or "secular," such as the light-hearted "Coffee Cantata," with these letters: S.D.G.

Actually, to Bach there was no difference between sacred and secular. All works, he maintained, should be to the glory of God." ARTHUR L. FARSTAD

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

Thursday, February 02, 2006

No Silk Purses Yet.

My dear professor D.W. is a kind, good, and erudite man. He claims he is not social, but he actually loves people. He told me the other day that one day he'd met a man during his morning exercise routine, and struck up a conversation with him. The man invited him to a football game,and DW accepted ("Ordinarily, not being very interested in football or society, I would have turned him down, but he just looked like an interesting guy, so I found myself agreeing to go."). Turned out the man was a neighbor from down the street, and over the course of the following weeks, the two of them became fast friends. B.B. was a professor of Shakespeare and a writer of poetry and stories as well. BB died recently, and DW was devastated at the loss. In sharing this with me, DW loaned me a couple of books by BB. One was a memoir of BB's stint in the Army during WWII, and the other, co-authored with another man, was a more scholarly treatise on a unifying view of Shakespeare's plays, and essays on some internal structural features of certain sets of them.

The former I read with interest. BB was a very subtle writer, and very deadpan about those sorts of wryly humorous or outright ironic incidents that seem to be basic to Army life in wartime, not to mention the ones that ought to make one despair..but only latch on to a man for the rest of his life like some sort of leech, draining him of blood a little at a time without actually killing him.

The latter, it quickly became apparent to me, was quite over my head. Some of these plays I had not read in years, some not at all. To read the essays would have required a familiarity I do not possess, and have no time to cultivate at the moment. So, a bit sheepishly I returned the book to DW.

The best professors are the ones who befriend their students, and instill in them an interest in all of life. They encourage study of those things outside the realm of their own expertise; they work hard to expose their students to every realm of human endeavor and study. That DW had loaned me this book was a proof of his confidence in my brains to grasp it, and I'd let him down. But I could not lie about it and pretend to know what I didn't know and had no time to learn.

So after I handed it back to him, he said, "Are you sure you won't want to try to delve into this?" I told him I was afaid I just could not. He was silent for a few moments. Then he said, "Well-- I was never able to read that book, either."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On Doing Art.

The business of being an artist seems to be something I just can't escape. It is fraught with all sorts of problematic, teen-angsty problems.

On the one hand, I know I can do it, and do it well when I put my mind to it. On the other hand, I hate it-- hate how people react to artists-- a mixture of love and hate. You can tell people are a bit jealous, and yet they think it's so easy. They think doing art is like eating chocolate or something, an activity that is purely pleasure and not much use. And I hate the attention it gets; you can't be very anonymous....and then there is that awful, horrid part of me that wants adulation...ugh! For many people the word artist means useless. The worst part is I'm not sure that I don't believe this myself, and I ought to know better.

It is not safe to be an artist. Sin is everywhere in it!

I'm having a hard time trusting God with all this. There is that in me that refuses to believe that I could possibly be doing what God wishes, and that He will provide for the living of my life if I will just obey Him. Surely the world does not need pictures from me.

In the past few weeks I've been arriving at the office at the Vet School, where I am laboring to learn PhotoShop (which I loathe....doing art with a computer?? Ugh!) and wondering what the deuce I am playing at. Why am I doing this? It all seems so ridiculous. Go home, Eleanor, and do the laundry and clean the bathrooms, fer goodnessakes. Don't pretend to be what you are not.

And then there is this voice way down deep inside of me, saying, don't cash it in yet. Wait and see what's in store. I'm giving you another chance, but you have to persevere. Patience, child.

And so I pick up my paintbrush, and address the classroom still life that looks like a jumble of garage junk...and I forget about everything else but the colors, the shapes and the shadows. O God, I am confused. Why am I doing this?