Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dear Bloggy! (Part Two)

This past Sunday was the one year blogoversary of Classical Quest! I've enjoyed looking back over some highlights of my journey thus far. In my previous post I reminisced about events from January to July 2012. In this post you'll find highlights from August 2012. Initially I intended to post a two part series, but it has now turned into three! Part Three will go up on Friday. A birth-week is really more appropriate anyway, since that's the way my kids like to celebrate!

Why do I bother baking cupcakes for my kids?
They would be happy with a bowl of icing and a jar of sprinkles!
Things were starting to go swimmingly. I finished a round of antibiotics after contracting a staph infection and I felt great. I began jogging again. I had learned quite a bit through trial and error about making the most of my days in order to fit my quest into my life. I was going to bed earlier and waking up at 5AM to read.

Kid's water shoes get frequent use around our place.

I did not post much here on Classical Quest during August. Instead I focused on opening the doors of my home to my community for the first time since my C-section. I had finally overcome what Fly Lady calls CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)!

My living room -- with extra chairs for company. I do most of my reading in the chair with the quilt on the back. 
praise and worship with friends

precious guests

I recall one pleasant day in early August when I was out hiking in the sunshine with all my children and I suddenly felt so grateful my heart literally hurt. (Does that sound crazy? Have you ever felt that way?) It occurred to me that it was quite possibly the happiest moment of my life.

What happened next was not an earth-shattering tragedy, but it was an event that wounded my heart and made me feel very sad.

For a while it cast a cloud over my days.

I got my first heckler.

As I sat watching my kids playing in the yard, someone tossed a stream of jabbing text messages right into my lap.

The worst blows were hurled privately, but looking back I realized that my heckler's critical spirit had been present online for a quite a while -- even dating back to at comment she made on the blog I had before Classical Quest. Her periodic terse questions and general shortness was really steam from her rising disapproval of me. She was bound to eventually boil over. With hindsight I could see this clearly.

Being heckled knocked the breath out of me. It struck me deeply because it came -- not from a stranger -- but from a person whom I had long held in high esteem, a person I had tried to confide my struggles to.

I went "dark" for a few days to pray and sift through the criticism I had received. This experience became a turning point for my blog.

There were tears.

I don't believe I should forgo telling you about this part of my journey, but I will be discreet out of respect for my heckler, whom I still love. Dear readers, you need to know that if you choose to embark on a quest -- to live your life with intention -- you are bound to face opposition. Most likely your most unfair critic will emerge from those who think they know you well.

Through blogging I've revealed some of my goals and dreams. I've made myself vulnerable. I've taken a risk. This person, my heckler, was disgusted with what she saw when I cracked open the door and allowed her to peer in. She took it upon herself to scold me, not lovingly, but as a bully.

And friends, it's likely that some of your acquaintances will be disgusted with what they discover about you if you choose to bare your soul. We all live in a delusion about each other. We're excessively fond of perceiving others through the filtered lens of our own ideals. My heckler is not alone in this. I am often guilty of doing this to others too.

I emerged from my time offline with sober determination and a renewed vision. I realized that one of the things that my heckler said was true -- Classical Quest should be an extension of my whole self! I had been writing a lot about the product of my labor and very little about the process of laboring. I was making things seem effortless, when in reality a good bit of tears and sleepless nights were going into getting this quest off the ground.

I don't think my heckler meant to inspire me with a great idea which would boost my following! I think she would have been content to see me shut down. But after some soul searching I understood that if I stopped pursuing my quest I would be pushing God's hand away. I wasn't doing a bad thing. I was doing something I was made to do, something my family is proud of.

In this way my heckler became my helper.

Now, I won't go so far to say that no one in my family has ever been frustrated with me! Nor will I pretend that I have never dropped any balls because of getting up extra early to read and write! But yes, my family is proud of me. They show me this daily. My quest enriches all our lives.

A drawing my daughter made for me.

Two great things happened at the end of August:

Anne Bogel, a.k.a. The Modern Mrs. Darcy, recommend I read Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeline L'Engle. ( I'm still reading it in small portions and soaking it up.)

Through the magic of Facebook I reconnected with my darling friend, Krista Bjorn, whom I haven't seen since I was in Moscow, Russia in 1994! Krista is a writer who lives on a beautiful farm in Australia. She has a lovely blog called Rambling Tart. She reentered my life like a beacon  at just the perfect time.

Krista's advice for me (which I took to heart):
" ...just be a beacon. It will draw some and repel others and both are OK.  Those who leave free us up to THRIVE with the kindred spirits who come along."

At the Kremlin in 1994 with friends I'm still in contact with today. I'm in the middle. Krista Bjorn is on the right near the grass.

Thank you for taking the time to read my reminiscences today. I would offer you a cyber cupcake but since it's already been licked, I'm sure you'd politely decline. Take care, friends. Please join me tomorrow for the final post of "Happy Birthday, Dear Bloggy!"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dear Bloggy! (Part One)

Classical Quest  is one year old today!

My mom showed up with this cake for my kids out of the blue the other day. "It was on special!" :) So I stuck a candle in it and dubbed it my blogoversary cake!

I took this pic on a whim. I'm an introvert - which means I'm usually not inclined to stand before a camera. (I could have at least straightened up my bookshelf! Oh well.) The books in the foreground are WEM titles which are stacked on my mantle. The camera is my Sony Cyber Shot. It cost less than $200. I use it to take all of my pictures on Classical Quest.

This past year of my quest has absolutely been a dream come true.

I'm not exaggerating. Not at all.

I've long dreamed of continuing my education, but there's only so far a person can go on her own without a network of challenging friends to bounce ideas off of! I have been abundantly blessed this year with witty, encouraging, intelligent blog-friends from all over the world. I love you people. Seriously, I do. You keep me on my toes. You propel me forward. You make me think harder, dig deeper, laugh louder. I wish I could give each of you a big hug in person.

So I'm looking back today - sharing some highlights from my journey thus far.

January 2012
Started this blog when my fifth baby was one month old. I had been crawling through the autobiography list from The Well Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had for years. At the rate I was going, it was unlikely that I would have been able to finish the five recommended WEM reading lists in my lifetime.

When I started this blog I was reading The Essays of Montaigne and I was positively aching to find people to discuss my reading with.

I had one faithful follower, my friend Christine, who used to blog at The Good, The Pure and The Lovely. She wasn't interested in reading through the WEM lists with me, but she was interested in encouraging me. I soaked up her praise like a flower in the sun.

I did a Google search for The Well-Educated Mind and discovered three blogs whose authors were reading through the WEM lists too!

A Classic Case of Madness

An Experiment with the Well Educated Mind

The Sunny Patch

What bliss to find kindred spirits!

After I introduced myself, the ladies from A Classic Case of Madness left comments here inviting me to join them in reading through the WEM fiction list.

I made the decision to switch from the autobiography list to the fiction list. (It was probably the best decision I've made on this journey so far.)

Read The Scarlet Letter along with my new pals.

Read Moby Dick. Enjoyed it way more than I ever imagined I would.

Collected 40 of my favorite quotes, which I will probably write a post about if I ever get a chance to take some pictures of the ocean.

Read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller Loved the idea of taking an active role as co-author (with God) in writing my own life story.

Joined The Classics Club. Though I haven't participated in many of their events, I have connected with some wonderful blog-friends through the club.


Read Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Participated in Anne Bogel's Blog Carnival at The Modern Mrs. Darcy, "The Book That Changed My Life".
Writing the post for the blog carnival helped me define the purpose of my quest.
Getting that post up was a major effort. Not long after, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and nearly shut down my blog. I was struggling on all fronts. My posts became less frequent for a while.

My kids conspired with my husband to surprise me with this new bike. I've always wanted a bike with a basket!

I wrote two posts about Uncle Tom's Cabin which helped me define the way I wanted to use my photography on my blog. After this post and this post I decided to use my own pictures as much as possible.
Peonies -- my favorites.

Read Why We Can't Wait, by Martin Luther King Jr. -- not on the WEM list, but still a classic. I was glad I read it fresh off of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Took a road trip to Ripley, Ohio to visit the Rankin House where Harriet Beecher Stowe received inspiration for Eliza, a main character in Uncle Tom's Cabin.

View of the Ohio River and the "One Hundred Steps to Freedom", from the Rankin House lawn. 

Wrote How Did She Do It? because I was still struggling and I needed some personal inspiration. I turned to Harriet Beecher Stowe to learn how to manage a large household and write too.

Read Madame Bovary.

Read Crime and Punishment.

Struggled to write. I had high personal standards for the kind of posts I wanted to create and my active lifestyle with five lively children was not blending well. I see now that I was lacking in two areas: sleep and overall time management.

As I relaxed on the front porch, my 2yr old brought me daisies.

To take some pressure off of myself, I started a casual side blog which I called "Quest Notes" (now archived). I lowered my expectations and just put up what ever I could. I was trying very hard to find a way to write everyday and stay sane too. The reality was I wasn't getting enough sleep at night to keep up with everything. I was constantly pushing through -- not feeling well but willing myself to move forward. The postpartum depression had passed, but I still felt numb most of the time. I wasn't giving anything my best.

We went tent camping for a week with my husband and all five of our kids. During the trip, I read about three pages of my WEM novel then stuck the book in the bottom of my suitcase.
My husband is a master at cooking over an open fire.
One of my favorite pictures. I took this while on our family camping adventure last July.

The camping trip was an exciting adventure for all of us. We made some splendid memories, but I returned home with mountain of damp laundry and a staph infection which I had contracted through breastfeeding. Things were thin here at the blog.

At the end of July two great things happened that helped propel me forward on my quest: I read an ebook called What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, by Laura Vanderkam; and I got a prescription for antibiotics.

In my next post I'll revisit highlights from August to January (including how I handled my first heckler). Thanks for stopping by for my blogoversary! Enjoy a piece of cyber cake. Zero calories! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blush: The Grand Finale

Sketch of Kupavina for Ostrovsky's play

While reading Anna Karenina for the first time a couple months ago, I was struck by the number of instances in which Tolstoy's characters were depicted as "blushing," "flushing," "reddening," or "crimsoning." Somewhere around page 60, I flipped to the back of the book and started keeping a list on the inside cover. I labeled it, "BLUSH."  

From what I've noticed so far from reading 19th century literature, most main characters typically blush at some point, even several times, but Anna Karenina is a novel in which blushing positively abounds. In my first reading I gleaned 95 instances out of 923 pages.*

I wonder if people blush less now than they did in the 19th century. Are we more brazen today? Has the degree of modesty which was depicted in Anna Karenina become completely archaic?

Perhaps what we might consider an excessive display of conscience could be attributed to the Russian Orthodox culture in which the novel is placed. It's easy to imagine how a collective consciousness nurtured in the bosom of the Church could produce an overarching delicacy and reverence which most modern readers would be unaccustomed to.

But what exactly does it mean when a person blushes? Some of the instances of reddening which I included in my list had nothing to do with a sense of shame. For example, Levin flushed after ice skating, Kitty was flushed and radiant after childbirth, and Vronsky reddened with vexation. However, most instances of blushing were incited by a breach of conscience or by embarrassment.

Prof. Ray Crozier of Cardiff University states,
...when we feel shame we communicate our emotion to others and in doing so we send an important signal to them. [Blushing] tells them something about us. It shows that we are ashamed or embarrassed, that we recognize that something is out of place. It shows that we are sorry about this. It shows that we want to put things right. To blush at innuendo is to show awareness of its implications and to display modesty that conveys that you are not brazen or shameless.
With this in mind I started looking closely for instances of blushing in real life. Here is what I observed last month:

A middle aged man in the check out line at my local craft supply store placed a cartload of coarsely themed placards on the counter before an attractive young cashier. As he did so, he blushed.

A baby sitter we hired for our Bible study dove across my kitchen to catch a toddler escapee. As she ushered him back to the play room, she blushed.

Yesterday I thought my son may have overheard something of an intimate nature which my husband spoke to me. (Thankfully, my son did not!) As I shushed my husband, I blushed.

That's it. Three times in a month. But you can believe I'm still on the lookout! Blushing fascinates me. While reading Anna Karenina, it was my obsession. 

The list I've included below is rather long -- I certainly don't expect you to read the entire thing! Scroll through it at your leisure.


The following is the complete list of all the quotes I gathered from my first reading of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina which I labeled, "BLUSH": 

p. 12 The little girl knew that there was a quarrel between her father and mother . . . and that [her father] was pretending when he asked her about it so lightly. And she blushed for her father. He at once perceived it, and blushed too.

p.24 Levin suddenly blushed, not as grown men blush, slightly, without being themselves aware of it, but  as boys blush, feeling that they are ridiculous in their shyness, and consequently ashamed of it and blushing still more, almost to the point of tears. And it was so strange to see this sensible, manly face in such a childish plight that Oblonsky stopped looking at him.

p.39 Catching sight of Kitty going away, and her mother meeting her at the steps, Levin, flushed from his rapid exercise, stood still and pondered a minute.

p.57  [Levin] glanced at [Kitty]; she blushed, and ceased speaking.

p.61 "My words must make a deep impression on you since you remember them so well," said Levin, and suddenly conscious that he had said just the same thing before he reddened.

p.85 Anna had the faculty of blushing.

p.95 ...with rapid, short strokes [Kitty] fanned her burning face.

p. 136 When the doctor came in [Kitty] flushed crimson . . .

p. 209 [Vronsky] blushed, a thing that rarely happened to him.

p. 213 [Vronsky] would have run to [Anna], but remembering that there might be spectators, he looked around toward the balcony door, and reddened a little . . . 

p. 216 ...a hot flush came over [Anna's] face; her checks, her brow, her neck crimsoned, and tears of shame came into her eyes.

p. 235 Anna,  . . . flushed a little the instant her son came in . . . 

p. 236 "No, I don't . . . yes, I do," [Anna] said, not looking at [Karenin] and crimsoning to the roots of her hair.

p. 253 "Let's skip that," said Varenka, flushing a little.

p. 258 "No, I've not noticed it, Maman," said Kitty, flushing hotly.

p. 280 "But I still do not admit this movement to be just," said Konstantin Levin,reddening a little.

p. 306 "You know, Kitty's coming here, and is going to spend the summer with me." 
"Really," [Levin] said, flushing  . . .
p. 307 "Darya Aleksandrovna," [Levin] said, blushing up to the roots of his hair . . .

p. 329 A burning blush of shame spread over [Anna's] face.

p. 333 Again a flush of shame spread over [Anna's] face . . .

p. 344 "I do nothing," answered Anna, blushing at these searching questions."

p. 353 [Serpukhovskoy] hurriedly took three 100-ruble notes from his wallet, blushing a little.

p. 357 Vronsky opened the letter, and flushed crimson.

p. 362 [Vronsky] was confused, and reddened . . . 

p. 365 On seeing [Anna], Karenin began to rise, but changed his mind; then his faced flushed hotly -- a thing Anna had never seen before.

p. 376 It seemed to Levin that he had deceived someone, that he ought to explain something, but that to explain it was impossible, and for that reason he was continually blushing . . . 

p. 391 [Levin] felt that in not answering Darya Aleksandrovna's letter he had, by his rudeness, of which he could not think without a flush of shame, burned his ships . . . 

p. 415 "I meant, I only . . . " [Anna] said, flushing hotly. This coarseness of [Karenin's] angered her, and gave her courage.

p. 420 And on receiving an assenting nod from Karenin [the lawyer] went on, stealing a glance now and then at Karenin's face, which was growing red in patches.

p. 426 "Stiva! Stiva!" Dolly called, reddening.

p. 435 Kitty was looking at the door, calling up all her energies to keep from blushing at the entrance of Konstantin Levin.

p.436 "Have you a lot of people? Who's here?" asked Levin, unable to help blushing . . .

p 437 [Kitty] crimsoned, turned white, crimsoned again, and grew faint, waiting with quivering lips for [Levin] to come to her.

p. 446 [Kitty] felt that the impression she had made was very good. She blushed and laughed with delight...

p.454 Once or twice [Kitty] stole a look at [Levin], as though asking him, "Is this what I think?"
         "I understand," she said, flushing a little.

p.467 Karenin flung the telegram down, and, flushing a little, got up and began to pace up and down the room.

p.482 [Betsy] got up, but Anna, suddenly flushing, quickly seized her hand.
            "No, wait a minute, please. I must tell you . . . no, you." She turned to Karenin, and her neck and brow were suffused with crimson.

p.489 "I hope you believe in my love for my sister and my sincere affection and respect for you," [Olblonsky] said reddening.

p.491" Yes, I think divorce -- yes, divorce," Oblonsky repeated, reddening. " That is from every point of view the most rational course for married people who find themselves in the position you are in."

p.507 "You're mad!" [Kitty] cried, turning crimson with vexation.

p.511 "It's so stupid, what happened to me, I'm ashamed to speak of it!"[Levin] said,reddening . . ."

p.524 [Golenishchev] had never met Anna before, and was struck by her beauty, and still more by the frankness with which she accepted her position. She blushed when Vronsky brought in Golenishchev, and he was extremely charmed by this childish blush overspreading her candid and beautiful face."

p.525 . . . again a vivid flush overspread [Anna's] face.

p.554 "Yes, I'm writing the second part of the Two Principles," said Golenishcev, coloring with pleasure at the question . . .

pp. 557-558 Levin crimsoned both from shame and from anger with his wife, who had put herself and him in such a difficult position; but Marya Nikolaevna crimsoned still more. She positively shrank and flushed to the point of tears . . ."

p.583 [Countess Lydia Ivanovna] blushed with excitement when Karenin came into the room . . .

p.589 Countess Lydia Ivanovna, breathing hard and flushing crimson, put into Karenin's hands the letter she had received.

p.614 "Come and dine with me," said Anna resolutely, angry with herself for her embarrassment, but flushing as she always did when she defined her position before another person.

p.626 "Oh we shall be delighted," answered Varenka, coloring a little.

p.627 The rapidity of [Varenka's] movement, her flushed an eager face, everything betrayed that something out of the ordinary was going on in her.

p.628 Agafya Mikhailovna, her face flushed and angry, her hair untidy, and her thin arms bare to the elbows, was moving the preserving pan over the brazier with a circular motion, looking darkly at the raspberries and devoutly hoping they would stick and not cook properly.

p.631"That Vronsky paid you attentions -- that happens to every girl."
        "Oh, yes, but we didn't mean that," Kitty said, flushing a little.

p.637 [Sergey Ivanovich] looked straight into [Varenka's] face, and noticing the flush of joyful an alarmed excitement that overspread her face, he was confused . . .

p.640 Varenka's heart throbbed so that she heard it beating, and felt that she was turning red and pale and red again.

p. 641 Everything in the expression, the flushed cheeks and the downcast eyes of Varenka betrayed a painful suspense.

p. 648 "I? Why should I go? Kitty said, flushing all over, and she glanced around at her husband.
           "Do you know Anna Arkadyevna, then? Veslovsky asked her . . ."
           "Yes," she answered Veslovsky, crimsoning still more . . .
[Levin's] jealousy had in these few moments, especially at the flush that had overspread her cheeks while she was talking to Veslovsky, gone far indeed.

p.649 As Veslovsky said good night to his hostess, he leaned down to kiss her hand again, but Kitty, reddening, drew back her hand . . .

p.679 "No, it's impossible," [Levin] thought, glancing now and then at Veslovsky bending over Kitty, telling her something with his charming smile, and at her flushed and agitated.

p.680 " . . . shall I come too?" said Kitty, and she blushed.

p.693  Anna noticed Dolly's expression, and was disconcerted by it. She blushed, dropped her riding habit, and stumbled over it.

p.717  Once Darya Aleksandrovna felt wounded, and got so excited that she positively flushed ...

p.726  . . . a flush rose into [Anna's] face. She got up, straightened her chest, and sighed heavily.

p.740  Several people smiled. Levin crimsoned . . .

p.746  "Yes I quite remember our meeting," said Levin, and blushing crimson, he turned away immediately, and began talking to his brother.

p.756  . . . Anna, flushing hotly, got up . . .

p.761  . . . the blood rushed to [Kitty's] heart, and a vivid blush -- she felt it -- overspread her face.

p.761  Levin flushed a great deal more than [Kitty] when she told him she had met Vronsky at Princess Marya Borisovna's.

p.762  "I am blushing now much more, much more," [Kitty] said, blushing till the tears came into her eyes.

p.762   In spite of [Kitty's] blushing [Levin] was quickly reassured and began questioning her, which was all that she wanted.

p.767  "What I began precisely was to write a book on agriculture; but studying the chief instrument of agriculture, the laborer" said Levin, reddening, "I could not help coming to quite unexpected results."

p.787  Looking at himself in the mirror, Levin noticed that he was red in the face, but he felt certain that he was not drunk, and he followed Stephan Arkadyevich up the carpeted stairs.

p.789  Levin looked from the portrait to the original. A peculiar brilliance lighted up Anna's face when she felt his eyes on her. Levin flushed, and, to cover his embarrassment, was about to ask whether she had seen Darya Aleksandrovna lately; but at the moment Anna spoke.

p.793 "Tell your wife that I love her as before . . ." [said Anna]. "Certainly, yes, I will tell her . . . " Levin said, blushing.

p.795  Kitty took not the slightest interest in the discussing the drinking habits of the peasants. She saw that [Levin] blushed, and she wanted to know why . . .
          "Stiva strongly urged me to go and see Anna Arkadyevna"
          And as he said this, Levin blushed even more . . . 

p.800 [Kitty's] flushed face, fringed with soft curling hair escaping from under her nightcap, was radiant with joy and courage.

p.806 [Levin] saw the old princess too, flushed and overwrought, with her gray curls in disorder, forcing herself to gulp down her tears, biting her lips . . .

p.816  "Bolgarinov has fully assented as far as he's concerned," said Stephan Arkadyevich, turning red. Stepan Arkadyevich reddened at the mention of that name because he had called that morning on [Bolgarinov] and the visit had left an unpleasant impression.

p.817  Stephan Arkadyevich had made haste to forget it all as soon as possible. And now, at the mere recollection, he blushed.

p.821 [Seryosha] bowed to his uncle as to a stranger, but recognizing him, he blushed and turned hurriedly away from him, as though offended and irritated at something.

p.821 "Well and how are you getting on?" [Stephan Arkadyevich] said, wanting to talk to him and not knowing what to say.
          The boy, blushing and making no answer, cautiously drew his hand away.

p.822 [Seryosha] blushed crimson, and his face clouded over.

p.837 [Vronsky] had actually flushed with vexation, and had said something unpleasant.

p.839 [Vronsky's] embarrassment confirmed her suspicion. [Anna] flushed hotly and drew away from him.

p.844 "I said yesterday that it's absolutely nothing to me when I get, or whether I get, a divorce," she said, flushing crimson.

p.857 Gathering her courage, Kitty went in, walked up to [Anna], blushing, and shook hands.

p.858 "[Levin] has gone back to his own country," said Kitty, blushing.

p.887 "I do believe the laundress hasn't sent the washing yet, and all the best sheets are in use. If I don't see to it, Agafya Mikhailovna will give Sergey Ivanovich the wrong sheets," and at the very idea of this the blood rushed to Kitty's face.

p.914 Levin reddened with vexation, not at being defeated, but at having failed to control himself and being drawn into an argument.

* I counted 95 occasions. If I had counted the actually times the words "blushing", "flushing", "reddening", or "crimsoning" were used, the number would be greater.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Upcoming Synchro-Reads (So You Can Plan Ahead)

Upcoming Classical Quest Synchro-Reads for Winter 2013:

February 4 - 9 The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan (Part One only!)

February 14 - March 8  Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen 

What is a synchro-read?

It's basically a read-along. The difference is that with a synchro-read the accountability is more frequent (every day) whereas with a read-along there is usually a weekly check-in. I've chosen to host all of my synchro-reads on the Classical Quest Facebook page. I post a status update whenever I finish a chapter. Usually I post live as I go; however, now and then I will update you on what I've read within the past 24 hrs.

You can keep track of my progress and occasionally chime in to let everyone know where you are. You can also share a quote from the day's reading, ask a question, or give an insight. It's fun. 

Currently we are in the midst of "The Portrait of a Lady Synchro-Read". "Like" Classical Quest on Facebook to follow our progress.

If you think you might like to join us for Part One of The Pilgrim's Progress, you can purchase the edition I will be reading here.

I've also decided to do something else a little different for this novel: I've purchase the unabridged audio version, read by Max McLean, for my Kindle. I'll listen as I read along with pencil in hand. You can listen to a sample here.

Last spring I read Moby-Dick this way -- Penguin edition paperback along with Frank Muller as narrator. It was awesome. I wasn't bored for a moment! His straightforward American accent with its slightly wry intonation did the novel justice. For quite a while I've been thinking about indulging in an audio version again. I feel confident The Pilgrim's Progress will be a good fit. The rich, sincere sound of Max McLean's voice makes me feel repentant.

If you are interested in studying the history of the novel, you won't want to skip The Pilgrim's Progress. Please leave a comment (here or on Facebook) if you plan to join me February 4th!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What a Blog Is

Classical Quest will soon be one year old! My blogoversary is coming up on January 27th.  Today I'm thinking about what my blog has become for me. Below is a list I jotted in a quick stream-of-consciousness fashion. This morning I dug through my archives to give you links to some examples from my past posts. If you are new to blogging these links may help you consider what your blog could be for you. 

A blog is --

A blog could be many other things as well!
I would love to know what a blog is for you. Please share in the comments!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Choice

Today I'm thrilled to have a guest post by Jeannie Prinsen, who blogs at Little House on the Circle. I've come to know Jeannie through the comments section at Tim Fall's blog. Her hopeful thoughts and wise insights are always uplifting. Jeannie is an online writing instructor/tutor at Queen's University. A few days ago I dropped by her place where she shared this poem with me. It struck a chord since very recently I was beckoned by "Narnian whiteness"! I felt her poem would compliment the pictures I took while hiking near my home through Narnia last week. It also inspired a theme for my goals this year: "plunging forth with joy". 

The Choice

I stood before the path into the woods.
Its Narnian whiteness beckoned to me, yet
being loath to spoil the smooth expanse of snow
and knowing night was falling dark and fast,
I turned and said, "Another day will do."

A small decision, hardly thought of till
an early thaw comes, and the snowy trails
turn muddy brown -- and I, with wistfulness,
recall that hushed midwinter moment when
I stood before the path into the woods.

I see it still: the long inverted V
of that straight road into the forest deep,
the fenceposts frosted thick with powered snow.
Bewitching promise of an unwalked trail!
Its Narnian whiteness beckons to me yet.

In retrospect my reasons seem so slight:
excuses not to dare. Had evening come,
my footprints would have easily led me back
(assuming I had wanted to return).
Being loath to spoil the smooth expanse of snow?

That now seems an especially foolish thought.
Surely the fresh and untouched path desired
that some exploring foot, some questing heart,
would break the surface, plunging forth with joy.
Now, knowing night is falling dark and fast,

I vow to take the path. So what if that
was this year's final snowfall? Then I'll wait
till winter comes again and draws me in
to that charmed world. I'll go, brave-souled and glad,
not turn and say, "Another day will do."

c Jeannie Prinsen 2011
please do not share or reproduce without author permission

+ + +

Proof I was really in Narnia.

More proof.