My Favorite

It was bound to happen.

I love to read. I live in Asia. English books are not readily available.

I am now the proud owner of a Kindle. (Thank you, Aunt D!)

I love the Kindle. A lot. All of my previous arguments against the Kindle (you can’t write in the margins or fold a corner back, the way I love the physical act of holding and smelling and curling up in a warm place with a nice thick new book, no more books to look at and remember and use in decorating, hate of change, sadness over the death of the publishing industry, just plain stubbornness) have folded because now I can download new books whenever I want and that is, as Martha Stewart would say, a good thing. Also, my inner cheapskate is happy about this Kindle because old books, classics, are usually available free. Basically, this means that it’s as if I still have my very own library (and I love the library) even though I live in not-America.

I’ve been on a download binge for a few days now and am pretty excited about my upcoming reading list. My plans include:

Pensées, Blaise Pascal. As you might have guessed from my last post, I’ve been reading Pascal recently and am encouraged by his thoughts and his life. My favorite thing is that he lived in the middle of the Age of Reason and yet realized that  faith must not be reached and could not be proved through rational thought: belief is a matter of the heart. Yes, reason has its role, but knowing God is a relationship and not an intellectual idea.

The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins. A mystery novel about a diamond stolen from India in the 1700s. Apparently T.S. Eliot called this “the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels.” If Eliot liked it, that’s good enough for me! I’m reading this right now and so far have found it funny and entertaining. Had never heard of this book until a few days ago, but I feel like I should have.

Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis. Michael and I are reading this one out loud. A few years ago, some friends shared how much they loved reading out loud together and so we started reading the Harry Potter books together. We finished book #7 this fall and have moved onto Narnia. I love reading out loud and it is a great pastime the two of us can share.

Middlemarch, George Eliot. Honestly, I know almost nothing about this book other than it is a classic and that I feel I should read it. I’ve never read Eliot but have long been curious about her.

Dream of the Red Chamber. This is a Chinese classic (one of the three great books in Chinese history) and, since I have never tackled any Asian literature, I’m excited to jump in feet first with this one. It’s set in the 1600s and is apparently comparable to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, with hundreds of characters and a complex plot spanning a long historical period. I’m intimidated but feel excited to learn more about culture and history through this one.

Does anyone have any fun suggestions for other books? Classics are great (because they are usually FREE!) but I also love light, thoughtless, fun reading. Let me know…


Fireworks (Feb. 17th, 2011) and Blaise Pascal (17th century French scientist, mathematician, and philosopher).

That’s all.


“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing: we know this in countless ways.”

“I say that it is natural for the heart to love the universal being or itself, according to its allegiance, and it hardens itself against either as it chooses. You have rejected one and kept the other. Is it reason that makes you love yourself?”

“It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason. That is what faith is: God perceived by the heart, not by the reason.”

“What a long way it is between knowing God and loving Him!”


“The metaphysical proofs for the existence of God are so remote from human reasoning and so involved that they make little impact, and, even if they did help some people, it would only be for the moment during which they watched the demonstration, because an hour later they would be afraid they had made a mistake.

What they gained by curiousity they lost through pride [Augustine].

That is the result of knowing God without Christ, in other words communicating without a mediator with a God known without a mediator.

Whereas those who have known God through a mediator know their own wretchedness.”

Lantern Festival

Tonight is Lantern Festival, the last night of Asia’s 15-day Spring Festival, the annual celebration of the new year.

That means just one thing: fireworks. Every year, the last night of Spring Festival is the last chance to get all the fireworks (and Asians looovvve their fireworks: after all, they invented them) and sparklers and noise-making out of their system. It. Is. Insane.

Actually, Spring Festival is more than just fireworks: it’s also colorful lights. I love how bright these streets are in the middle of long, cold winter nights.

Michael with, you know, a few bottle rockets in the back pocket. (Not my favorite idea. This little incident in 2007, during my second year and Michael’s first year in CQ, made me kind of hate doing fireworks forever.) This year, we walked down to the riverside from our apartment to be in the midst of all the action, and I promise that a couple of tame bottle rockets were no big deal. Granddads were firing off huge flower-blossom fireworks with onlookers peering and crowding over their shoulder to see what was happening.

Lots of people brought their families. Tons of babies hanging out around that craziness.

This pretty much sums up my feelings toward fireworks. I like them when other people set them off (I can see them from my balcony right now and they are gorgeous!) but please, for heaven’s sake, keep the lighting action far away from me.

Michael and Owens preparing to fire. It went pretty well until Michael’s backfired and nearly caught a girl’s hair on fire. Seriously.

Sarah was brave enough to try the bottle rockets herself.

I prefer tamer things, like sparklers. And, even with those, I was a big sissy and had to wait until Sarah bought some and told me that this was happening to get in the spirit.

OK, maybe this isn’t exactly the safest holiday…. but it was fun.

Well, Hello There

Happy  Year of the Rabbit to all! I’m a month behind on the blog but am returning to let everyone know that we’re alive and well. It’s Spring Festival time here in Asia: that means lots of fireworks every night (although I really haven’t heard any tonight), a whole bunch of colorful twinkling lights, and rabbit cartoons everywhere. I wish I had some photos, but… well, my desire to get some pictures is not as strong as my desire to be warm and cozy and inside at night! Maybe I’ll get around to that before Spring Festival ends on Thursday…

We’ve just gotten back from being out-of-town and it has been wonderful to be home. I love our apartment, I love having time (sort of) to cook dinner, I love hanging out with our friends here, I love laying on the couch at night and watching movies. So, yes, it has been great to be home! Still… please indulge me in a moment to complain about two not-so-great things that have irked me recently.

Our downstairs-neighbor. They’re nice, mostly, every time we meet them on the stairwell. But–but!–every night at 10.30, if we have the audacity to stay up past then, they come upstairs and demand we turn our heat off. Apparently it is too loud. By the way, although it’s not central heat but a kind of box-like thing (looks a tiny bit like a skinny fridge) in the corner of our living room, we can hardly hear it blowing as we sit next to it ourselves. But, apparently, trying to stay out of bed and warm past 10.30 is just not OK with our downstairs neighbors. Bleh!

Gripe #2 would be that someone, we’re not sure who, turned off our electricity while we were out of town (this can be done in the hallway just outside our apartment door). Everything in our fridge and freezer went bad. This is particularly unfortunate as we live about an hour cab ride away from Metro, the best place for us to get bulk quantities of cheese, butter, whipping cream, and etc. We had just made a stock-up trip before going out of town and had frozen ingredients intended to last us at least until summer (we try to go only once a semester or so). So, yuck: expensive and inconvenient.

Sorry for the whine-fest. I feel much better now. It is good to be home and we don’t, not really, not at all, have anything to complain about. I’m thankful for our warm and cozy apartment, for awesome (and very cheap) Asian food at our favorite restaurant just down the street, for 4th of July quality fireworks that last two weeks long, for dear friends on two sides of the globe. Life is good!