Monday, 31 December 2012

The New Year, et novum traditionem

The New Year is literally right around the corner, and, just because, I have decided to traditionem novum facere, mainly quod placet mihi. 

In other words, I have decided to start or create a new tradition, simply because it pleases me. The tradition? I want to write about blessings God doles out so generously during the week. Two songs that came to mind were the old "Count Your Blessings" and the newer composition (by Matt Redman) "10000 Reasons," both of which cause me to think grateful thoughts.

It is all too often I find myself over-thinking any bad something that happens, like getting locked out of the house: It is not very pleasant (standing on the doorstep, looking for a key) when family is warm, up three flights of stairs, eating supper.  Instead of feeling sorry for my half-frozen self, I decided to kick self-pity, mostly because it is pretty selfish. (This post is posted on the last day of 2012, but I am going to attempt to publish these posts every Friday or Saturday.) So here is a post to kick off "Seven Reasons" posts that will display a little more of God's blessings he's given in seven days )even if there are more than seven paragraphs).

We were blessed too see long-time actors in a fun child's theatrical production. Most of the actors were ones we had worked with, and it was good to see dear friends we spent so much time with.

Family and Christmas Eve. Although my grandparents do not have a wood stove, and even though I missed more than half of the carolling because I was scrubbing coffee out of the lace table cloth, we gathered and shared our tradition of Christmas carols and such, voices accompanied with cello, trumpets, and violin.

God blessed us with quiet: It was lovely to have a quiet Christmas in the midst of a busy time.  

Last week, when company and families visiting, we went sledding in our pasture, and I also took the opportunity to shoot some sledding photos. I trudged back alone, to make cocoa from scratch.  It made my day when my three-year-old friend sat with his tiny cup at our long, maple, plank dining table and told me how good my cocoa smelled and tasted.

The day after Christmas, five of us cousins spent the night in our studio loft. The best part was that we stayed up until 3:00 am, talking about theology and soteriology.  I love the fact that God's blessed me with cousins with whom I can have utterly superfluous conversations at one point, but at another, delve into deep issues that we are concerned about.

Upwords. There are little ways you can show a person you care for them, and so I played Upwords. Little things add up, and the least I can do is participate and show my interest. After two rounds, I became quite competitive...

Time with grandparents: Cleaning their house for Christmas. God is so right, and it is indeed more blessed to give than receive, even if it means getting slightly sore from scrubbing floors.  God blesses by allowing me to do the everyday tasks with those close to me, and I will not take changing the light fixtures for my grandparents for granted.

Senior Photos. I did not want to do them, but realized I am only a High school senior once, and might as well.  I brought a friend, and it was so very pleasant, even though I had to shed my coat for the better part of the day.

It is better for our souls to dwell on and thank God for the little blessings, because those are often the most meaningful.  May God bless you and yours in the coming year, and even as it is ushered in.  Whatever New Year's resolutions you make (whether it be to read your Bible more or to make a habit of flossing your teeth...) pray over them, and let God bless them.

felix novus annus, meis amicus!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Saturday Shoot//Abstract Color Play

New Holland 


Tyvek, not "Ty vek"

Blue by any other name would be just as Bright

Cold, but Gold


May I Help You?

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Neutral Tones Analysis

A Doleful Outlook Though Nothing to Fear
     What is alive enough to have the strength to die? Thomas Hardy's poem “Neutral Tones” was written in 1867 but not published until 1898, and the four four-line stanzas picture a very dull one indeed, as every shade of color is no longer vibrant and every tone has become neutral (NAEL 1932). In “Neutral Tones,” the speaker mourns a lost love, and the unfortunate part is that all life ends up looking very bleak and worthless. In fact, many of Hardy's pieces focused solely on the outlook that all humans are ruled by a fate of a perverse nature and that events of disaster and irony are usually coincidental (1915). “Neutral Tones” exemplifies this in that Hardy (1840 – 1928) writes of how life is chance and love is a gamble. Even for the speaker, love was so alive it had the choice to die, and fate chose the latter (1914).
     When poems mention nature and compare it to something dead, in this case ashes, I cringe, because God created his world to glorify himself and bless his people. When I read that leaves had come from ash and were lying upon the starving sod, I was slightly upset. The seasons were fashioned for a reason, and Winter is simply part of his grand plans. Hardy may have been alluding to the fact that his love was not destined to be forever and therefore had started from ash and then fell (in a neutral tone of gray) upon the sod, which is not a lovely element to rest on. In essence, the piece irritated me because the theme overflows with selfishness. The fact that he lost a love should not be an excuse to think that the world is bleak and God has cursed the sun.
     Some say I over analyze situations, which could be true, but I love thinking, and after thinking about “Neutral Tones,” I thought about ones I have lost. When I remembered beloved grandparents and other family members I have lost, I gave the speaker more sympathy. Moreover, I thought about some friendships I lost, friendships over which I did not have any control whatsoever, and I understood what Hardy meant by “words played between us to and fro.” Confidences and stories exchanged between the two were right and good at the time, but now everything was meaningless because the relationship was disintegrated. He did not convince me that fate was perverse and that everything is a coincidence, but I could understand the feeling of not having control over a situation where a relationship between friends completely dissolves. I do admit to others that I have never lost a “lover,” which means I cannot imagine the hurt because I haven't experienced it. However, the piece reminded me of people being parted from one another in a drastic and painful way, and I could relate to the image of feeling like a gray leaf upon a dead piece of sod starved by the sun.
     Techniques used by Hardy were mainly vivid word pictures of neutral tones. The speaker, near a pond in the middle of the Winter, is mourning his fate and lost love. Hardy employs very visual language, and when he mentioned leaves, I was confused. Usually trees shed their leaves well before the middle of Winter, and the snow falls, covering the earth with a beautiful blanket to hide the arid ground underneath. Not here: At this specific pond, Winter is at its dullest state, and the neutral tones provide the perfect place to have a party of self-pity. The sod starves, and God has cursed the sun (NAEL 1932). What could be added to make a more bleak picture? For the speaker, it seems he is trapped in this tone and phase in life, and he certainly is not making any great effort to escape the pattern of thoughts he finds himself pondering.
     Losing a friend or love is aching, but that does not mean that the speaker is justified in thinking all the world is bleak because of it. It is true people need time to grieve when they lose one they love, but to go to such an extent as to compare the smiles spent on one another before the loss to dead, swept bitterness with a bad prophecy, it is as if to say that any friendship or relationship is dangerous because it might cause hurt or even be taken away by hurt. Though depressing, I have thought of this poem often. I do not have to worry or fret about fate or relationships, because I have a higher authority who is in control, and my Heavenly Father only wants the best for me. Even though I once lost many family members and friendships in a short period of time, I learned that when and if this happens in the future, I will most certainly recall this piece, if only to remind myself that I need not worry about losing someone and having to live life in a colorless way, because I am actually never alone.
     Hardy did have a point: It hurts to lose. From his poem, however, I had the feeling the speaker had been standing at the pond under the white sun for an extended period of time, longer than necessary, and though he had probably grieved enough, the narrator was simply prolonging his session of selfish sorrow. Hardy expressed that fate was perverse, and the speaker simply could not move away from the designated pond, a place of self-pity. To both Hardy and the speaker, love and fate were both alive enough to decide to disappear at any whim despite the pain he would feel, and when they did, the speaker was left numb and aching, and all the words and smiles exchanged before the casualty were considered worthless. I was annoyed at the doleful outlook on life the speaker assumed, but I could relate to it, and Hardy's colorful language to describe a colorless life and situation is vivid, and I can now look back and recall a poem about neutral tones that shows me how much I have to be grateful for, because no matter how bleak the Winter may seem or how starved the sod may be, my higher authority holds me in his hand. If God promises I will not be burned walking through the fire, I have nothing to fear from a Wintry crisis.

Works Cited  
Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Vol. F. New York: Norton, 2012. Print.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Neutral Tones: Thomas Hardy

We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod;
         – They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles of years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro
         On which lost the more by our love.

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
         Like an ominous bird a-wing….

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God curst sun, and a tree,
         And a pond edged with grayish leaves.

I wrote an analysis on this, more or less, hopefully up in a week or so. Or less.  The poem frustrated me (as did many from this era) because people were so woebegone. Do not get me wrong: I like woebegone, but not when God is blamed for a world and life without color. 

Works Cited
Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. New York: Norton, 2006. Print.  

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sinterklaas Poem

St. Nick and Claus are different;
All who think otherwise
Think within an inference.

“Sint zat te denken,
wat hij jou zou gaan schenken.”
(Was that a sneeze?) Bless you.

The saint was thinking,
The thought, it was sinking.
What should he give to you?

They'd worked hard all year
Not a “Santa baby, Santa dear”;
Not even one pleading cry.

So two by two,
They set out their shoes.
And bid their parents “Goodnight!”

On that good night Zwarte Piet,
With fancy robes and slipper-ed feet,
Set out with Sinterklaas.

This party of four
Had no musical score
To accompany their task at hand;
But the surprises they
(Sinterklaas and Piet)
Placed in the shoes two by two,
Created smiles so grand.