Friday, June 11, 2010

And this is why Cornelia Philosophene

I wrote this in an email to a friend a while back, and I kept meaning to post something similar here; I've finally just taken the cheat-y way and cut-and-pasted from that email. I have made (as usual) slight editorial revisions. I named my blog after my email address-- despite the fact that it's dastardly difficult to spell, I do still love my email address-- but, as you shall see in my next post (chronologically), it turned out to be a good name for the blog in and of itself.

Your last question is the easiest to answer, as well as the longest. The first part of my email address came from a First Presidency Message that President Hinkley wrote in the December 2007 Ensign. I double checked it before I actually used the name, because I didn't want to be wrong and be all embarrassed and be stuck with a weird email address that I would have to start explaining by saying that I had been mistaken.

Anyway, in the article, he told a story about these Roman ladies who got to talking and decided to pull out their jewels to show off to each other, and they asked their friend, Cornelia, where her jewels were, and she called in her two sons and said they were her jewels. And then they grew up to be famous and good, or something like that.

I liked the story so much that I thought it would be great to name a kid Cornelia, (mmm... or something...), but never knowing if/when I would have kids, and also knowing that whoever I married might want a say in what we named our kids, I decided to go for it for the email address. I was completely sure that any variation of my actual first, middle, and last names was going to be very crowded in the email address market, and I really didn't want any numbers in my address.

Also, there's a small reference to a character in one of the Anne of Green Gables books; the lady is Cornelia Bryant, and she's this super opinionated, very kind, frighteningly competent old maid who is Anne's neighbor during Anne's first couple of years of marriage, and who takes Anne under her wing and encourages Anne to be friends with their other neighbor who isn't very friendly but desperately needs true friends. I felt that, as I head in to old maindenhood myself, I don't mind having her as a -- I'm not sure what the inverse of a namesake is. At any rate, I could do much worse than to turn out like Cornelia Bryant.

I had just declared my philosophy major when I was choosing my gmail account name, and since I'm a girl, I picked "philosophene." When I found the Philosophy Department at BYU, I felt-- and looking back, it still has this same feeling for me-- like Harry Potter at Hogwarts: suddenly, all of my weird academic quirks and interests made more sense than they ever had, were welcomed, even became useful! I have no idea if I'll ever be able to go back (um, flunking Aristotle certainly didn't help much for that prospect), but I will never regret having graduated in philosophy. My addiction to thinking in general, and particularly to wondering about the "why" of practically everything-- that which finally landed me in philosophy at the end of my somewhat extended undergraduate career-- remains a major part of my character, and I hope it always will.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chickens Playing Bongos

You know when you've already shown a youtube video to every member of the household you currently live in, and have called other people for no other purpose than to try to get them to look it up, it's time to blog about it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I don't feel like Writing (or at least, not on this blog)

But luckily I took some pictures a couple of months ago which I feel like sharing.

Cherry tree at sunset

Looking up at a different cherry tree, around the corner from our row of townhouses

I kept trying to get a shot of this from my room-- then you'd have had a chance to see it from the top, which is the angle from which it brought loads of happiness into my life-- but the light would never  quite cooperate. It was worth taking the picture from different perspective, though; doesn't the streetlight remind you, just a little, of the lamp-post you first meet at the beginning of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? And I would never have even realized the possibility if I hadn't come around the other side.

And the same tree from closer by. I love the contrast between the creamy-white blossoms and the red and blue of the child's toy. This shot comes closer to showing what bliss awaited me whenever I looked out my window, down on this tree, in those heady few weeks of spring.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer Squash and Sweet Potatoes

Remember in Prince Caspian (umm... I think not the movie, but I've only seen it once-- but definitely it is in the book) when it says that Trumpkin has "marvelous ideas about cookery," and they take their apples and wrap bear meat around them and spear them on sticks and then roast the whole kebab over the fire? Right. I just knew you did.

So, I told a couple of different people about how I cooked the summer squash we were getting from our produce co-op, and both of them immediately said, "I should do that!" This is when I thought that perhaps I should blog the recipe-- if it could even be called a recipe. It's a little too simple to feel like a proper recipe to me. It is, you could say, an idea.

  • summer squash
  • oil (I always use olive oil)
  • salt
Slice the summer squash thin. Mix it with, like, half a cup of oil for every summer squash? And then spread it out over a large, heavy pan (I used the large pyrex pan we still have left after I exploded that one last summer), sprinkle it with salt, and put it in the oven for, like, an hour, at 350 degrees F.

A lighter-weight pan will produce more uneven results (found this out by testing it). I find that it doesn't take that long to arrange my slices in a sort of French-looking way-- you know, all overlapping and even-- and that this helps it to bake more evenly. Of course, you CAN use less oil, but of course that will make it harder for the natural sugars of the squash to come out and caramelize and get all delicious-like. Also, the slices reduce in size considerably while they're cooking, so it's OK to really pack them in there, side-to-side-wise.

Also. This can be done with sweet potatoes, which we did last night and they really are pretty good. I must admit that our household is having a bit of a craze for thin-sliced vegetables at the moment, since Mom got a food processor for me herself for Mother's day; if you don't have one available, the sweet potatoes are still pretty good when they are more thickly sliced.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

At the National Aroboretum

I visited The National Arboretum yesterday because I was looking for something cheap, preferably free, to do between working in the temple in the morning and going to a cookout in Virginia in the evening (because Virginia is the other direction from the temple than my house, so going home in between seemed like a waste of an hour and a half and a quarter tank of gas).

So. Admission to the National Arboretum is free! So is admission to the National Zoo, but at the National Arboretum, parking is free, too! And it was QUITE beautiful. Among the rules listed in their little pamphlet were that wedding and commercial photography would only be allowed if you asked permission ahead of time, and that in some instances you would have to pay a fee. I could see their point. It was beautiful enough to warrant lots of wedding photography being done there, and clearly they aren't making a lot of money off of their visitors in other ways.

I wandered through for only a short time (I didn't have as much down time as I had anticipated), thinking about how this place would be the perfect date place for my parents. One of the delights of my life is to be in a car with both of my parents and have them identify some roadside flora, planted there by humans or not, and have them identify both its common name and its Latin name. "Oh, there's some something-or-other-flower!" one will say; and the other will say, "Yeah, something-or-other-i-cum; we used to sell a lot of those in the shop around Mother's Day," and then the conversation will be over and my life will be that much richer. An herb garden, bonsai exhibit, and native-fern planting-- just for starters-- seem PERFECT for them.

As I wandered through the clearly European-inspired (perhaps Tuscan-inspired, but I hesitate to pin down influences which I'm just not sure about) anyway, the inspired (and it was!) herb garden, I noticed a sign by the pathway of the variety which, often, warns visitors to keep off the grass, or in a horticultural garden may inform them of the name of a nearby specimen; in this case it announced a "free cell phone tour." It gave a number which would, indeed, use up minutes to call, but which would give one a free-other-than-that audio tour of the garden.

And, being the low-picture blogger that I am, I don't have pictures. I haven't even posted the ones yet that I took of the really cute turtles that came out one morning by the lake, nor have I taken the ones I wanted to of the log-over-the-stream-which-again-reminds-me-of-a-fantasy-novel-because-I-grew-up-in-a-desert-and-that-much-green-still-seems-fantastic-to-me. I have, however, uploaded a picture that one of my weathercolour nieces uploaded for me as my avatar. She called it "Victorian Lady," and it looks--mm-- at least a little bit like me. My hair is brown, at least. And I am certainly rather Victorian. Isn't it beautiful? (You can see the full-sized version at her blog,