Saturday, May 31, 2008

G.K. Chesterton's Essay: Woman

I found this essay by Chesterton to be interesting, clever and well worth the read. Chesterton raises some good questions regarding the realm in which a woman is happiest. I find his analysis quite accurate. My favorite quote is copied below. - Sarah Angell

Of the two sexes the woman is in the more powerful position. For the average woman is at the head of something with which she can do as she likes; the average man has to obey orders and do nothing else. He has to put one dull brick on another dull brick, and do nothing else; he has to add one dull figure to another dull figure, and do nothing else. The woman's world is a small one, perhaps, but she can alter it. The woman can tell the tradesman with whom she deals some realistic things about himself. The clerk who does this to the manager generally gets the sack, or shall we say (to avoid the vulgarism), finds himself free for higher culture. Above all, as I said in my previous article, the woman does work which is in some small degree creative and individual. She can put the flowers or the furniture in fancy arrangements of her own. I fear the bricklayer cannot put the bricks in fancy arrangements of his own, without disaster to himself and others. If the woman is only putting a patch into a carpet, she can choose the thing with regard to colour. I fear it would not do for the office boy dispatching a parcel to choose his stamps with a view to colour; to prefer the tender mauve of the sixpenny to the crude scarlet of the penny stamp. A woman cooking may not always cook artistically; still she can cook artistically. She can introduce a personal and imperceptible alteration into the composition of a soup. The clerk is not encouraged to introduce a personal and imperceptible alteration into the figures in a ledger. - G.K. Chesterton

Memorial Day Celebrations: Bentley Style

The day began with a fabulous small-town Memorial Day parade. This was followed by a Bentley picnic attended by approximately thirty-five persons and included friends and neighbors alike. A perfect day. What a great beginning to the summer!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Generations Past and Present

Today my dad's sister, Marjorie, my cousin, Jeremy, and his wife, Barbara (and baby - still hidden!), visited the farm from Michigan and Colorado, respectively. Aunt Marjorie is an amazing piano composer and shared one of her compositions with the family this evening. We spent much time in conversation about generations past - especially regarding my paternal grandmother's parents, Marjorie Hill and Warder Clyde Allee. We just finished reading a book that my great-grandmother had written entitled The American Girl. Interestingly, the book explores a trip that my grandmother, Barbara Allee Angell, took to France while she was a college student at Earlham. We also pulled out an old diary of Warder Clyde Allee's where he describes a funny incident of falling asleep while driving a horse-drawn buggy - when he woke up he was back in his driveway; the horses took him home! (Pictures below include pictures of the backyard badminton game, the newest landscaping project and general enjoyment of a wonderful dinner feast!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Strawberry Hill Fiddlers

My nursery school teacher, Carol Schaad, has since gone on to develop the talent of young violinists with her group, The Strawberry Hill Fiddlers. Tonight they opened the free lawn concert series, "Music in the Parks" with some lively international folk tunes. The weather was perfect and the Hudson River setting at Mills Mansion was ideal for strewn blankets, picnic dinners, badminton and baseball.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


It is truly the most wonderful time of the year for any outside activity. The muggy heat of the day was blown away with some wonderfully cool breezes this evening, encouraging Mom, Jake, Jacob and me to experience a beautiful (and quite hilly!) bike ride. The farm pictures are from Clarence's place, where our cows live and graze and have their milking.

Wonders of the Modern World

When I came back from my bike trip, I found my siblings on a computer (no cords attached) speaking to our friend, Jay Lee, in South Korea. Skype is amazing.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Jake and Nathaniel helped scratch one of Caleb's long-standing itches - rowboat fishing on the back pond. They were pretty successful in their fishing attempt, although they have not eaten the results of their adventure yet.

Memorial Day Weekend on the Chesapeake Bay

Emily, and I (and my sister, Rebecca) embarked on an eight-hour drive along the eastern seaboard to California, MD, to visit our dear friend, Lorna and celebrate graduations, birthdays and Memorial Day. The Navy moves Lorna's family quite frequently, but Emily and I have managed to visit Lorna in each of her family's new homes - first in Virginia, then in Florida, and now in Maryland. The weather was outstanding and the Chesapeake Bay area is gorgeous! (Descriptions are embedded in most images below.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Those Who Look To Him Are Radiant

Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.

This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:3-10)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Coming Home for Dinner

Nothing tops a fun and active day followed by an amazing dinner compliments of Mom and Grandma! Nate came home from Princeton for the day and mowed the lawn; I went on a bike ride with my "new" $50 Craig's List bicycle; Jake, Luke, Rebecca and Caleb continued work as normal on Bentley Farm. We all came home quite hungry for dinner (see the pictures of the children walking up Bentley Lane while hot supper was waiting in the oven).

Doing Well the Work

As the boys grew older, they made do with old cars and farm equipment as they earlier had made do with old bicycles and outboard motors. This is the way they will survive - by being marginal, using what nobody else wants, doing well the work that nobody else will do. If they aren't destroyed by some scientific solution to all our problems, they will go on though dynasties past. - Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow

Pictures below highlight Luke and Jacob's work of the day. They are working on a long project - putting up a new fence line between the diversion ditch and alfalfa fields.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Jayber Crow

I have been re-reading an author whose non-fiction I read quite frequently in college. I recently started reading some of Wendell Berry's fiction. I have found his commentary on human existence certainly reflective, and often quite fitting. Samples of Berry's writing, from his novel Jayber Crow are reproduced below. - Sarah Angell

I have got to the age now where I can see how short a time we have to be here. And when I think about it, it can seem strange beyond telling that this particular bunch of us should be here on this little patch of ground in this little patch of time, and I can think of the other times and places I might have lived, the other kinds of man I might have been. But there is something else. There are moments when the heart is generous and then it knows that for better or worse our lives are woven together here, one with one another and with the place and all the living things. (p. 210)

The visions of the mind have a debt to reality that it is hard to get the mind to pay when it is under the influence of its visions. (p. 195)

She had come into her beauty. This was not the beauty of her youth and freshness, of which she had had a plenty. The beauty that I am speaking of now was that of a woman who has come into knowledge and into strength and who, knowing her hardships, trusts her strength and goes about her work even with a kind of happiness, serene somehow, and secure. It was the beauty she would always have. (p. 191)

He was all show, and he had the conviction, as such people do, that show is the same as substance. (p. 177)

What I liked least about the service itself was the prayers; what I liked far better was the singing. Not all of the hymns could move me. I never liked "Onward, Christian Soldiers" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Jesus' military career has never compelled my belief. (p. 162)

[The preachers] learned to have a very high opinion of God and a very low opinion of His works - although they could tell you that this world had been made by God Himself. What they didn't see was that the world was beautiful, and that some of the greatest beauties are the briefest. They had imagined the church, which is an organization, but not the world, which is an order and a mystery. To them, the church did not exist in the world where people live and move and have their being, but rather in the world where they fear death and Hell, which is not much of a world. (p. 160)

Everything bad was laid on the body, and everything good was credited to the soul. It scared me a little when I realized that I saw it the other way around. If the soul and body really were divided, then it seemed to me that all the worst sins - hatred and anger and self-righteousness and even greed and lust - came from the soul. But these preachers I'm talking about thought that the soul could do no wrong, but always had its face washed and its pants on and was in agony over having to associate with the flesh and the world. And yet these same people believed in the resurrection of the body. (p. 49)

Dutchess County Youth Day

The Dutchess County Fairgrounds hosted the county-wide youth day today, complete with food, animals, crafts and talent shows. I took Rebecca and Jacob, but mostly enjoyed it myself! I have never fed a baby kangaroo before!

Sailing on the Hudson

Sailing brings back many idyllic childhood memories for me. As a child, I was privileged to sail with my Dad's friend, Herb, during the annual New York Yearly Meeting at Lake George. Before tonight, though, I don't remember sailing on the Hudson.

The brother of my friend, Dawn, graduated today. In celebration, we headed to the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club for a short sail before barbecuing back at Dawn's grandparents' house. The river is so peaceful on a sailboat, much more peaceful than on a motor boat. We got a good glimpse of Mount Saint Alphonsus (pictured below) where I went to a Catholic retreat back in January.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Prince Caspian

Ever since The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe came out in December of 2005, we have been anxiously awaiting its sequel, Prince Caspian. Nate caught the first show in Princeton, NJ at 12am this morning. The rest of us patiently (!) waited to view the film this evening in the theater. Jacob and Caleb preferred the sequel to the original, while I ended up really missing a lot of the personality, character-development and attention to plot that the first film provided. If one favors long battle scenes in cinema, Prince Caspian would be well-received.

(Oh, and I just learned that Liam Neeson - whose voice would be recognized as the voice of Aslan - lives in the next town south of us.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pick Up Your Cross and Look to Your Side

And Jesus said to them all, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

Today I thought often of Simon of Cyrene. When the Lord Incarnate could bear His cross no longer, Simon of Cyrene bore it with Him. Our Jesus knows that the cross we daily pick up is often heavy. He knows that sometimes we can't carry it another day. He does not forget the kindness of Simon, who shared the unbearable load on the journey to Golgotha. He does not forget us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Chemistry of Weight Loss

One of my favorite questions to ask my students is, "When you exercise and 'lose' weight, where does the weight go?"

My favorite responses are their inital ones: "Into my sweat," they often say, or "Into the sewage system."

But when I push my students to think about fat loss, they often propose that the fat is converted into energy. At this point, I stop and remind them that unless their bodies are nuclear reactors, there will never be measurable conversion of mass to energy because of the very famous and universally obeyed Law of Conservation of Matter which definitively states that matter (mass) can never be destroyed.

Anyhow, I guess the real answer to this question may be most obvious to a swimmer. As I have been preparing for my first triathlon, I have been listening to the steady bubble...bubble of my now rhythmic exhaling as I swim, day after day, stroke after stroke.

Yes, isn't it strange...when you lose weight, you lose it by breathing it out - fat gets converted into carbon dioxide and thus we breathe away our extra poundage. What a creative idea.

Which brings us to the corollary of the first question, "When you look at a seed and then at a tree, where did all of the extra mass of the tree come from?" Typically my students begin to answer, "Water and nutrients from the ground."

Certainly some measurable mass of the tree came from the ground. But the bulk of a tree is made up of carbon.

Its origin? Ahh, yes, that useless carbon dioxide that we breathed out constitutes (through the miracle of photosynthesis) the mass of the tree.

An amazing design, if I am allowed to be judge. The mass we lose is the same mass that the plant gains is the same mass that we eat again is the same mass that we lose again... Pretty nifty.

You Are God Alone

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Oregon Brother Returns

Jake arrived late last night from Oregon for his three-and-a-half month summer stay. His arrival put much gladness in our hearts as we certainly consider him a brother. His 11:45pm arrival did not stop him from waking at 3:45am this morning to milk the cows with Hannah and Luke. Wow, Jake!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The God of All Comfort

It felt very appropriate that Pentecost and Mother's Day coincided yesterday. It seems that a mother's heart is the heart of the Holy Spirit - a heart that above and before all else, counsels and comforts. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14)

Our annual Mother's Day Destination: The Vanderbilt Estate on the Hudson

Sunday, May 11, 2008

All is Owed to Mother

People have told me all of my life that my mom is an absolutely incredible woman. To which, I say, "You actually have no idea." My mom's incredibleness runs so much deeper than any eye can see. I think most people assume that a mother's job is basically done when her children leave home and start their own career. But my mom knows that, more than ever, her adult children need a listening ear, a tear-drier, an encouraging-word giver, a shoulder-snuggler and a counseling presence that is never more than a phone call away.

Mom, you are such a source of encouragement and true strength. You listen continuously to my heart and my thoughts and my words forever, and somehow you lovingly take everything that I see as hard and discouraging, and you mysteriously present it back to me with hope and brightness. You truly allow me to find the rainbow in every raincloud. Thank you for loving me so deeply, for always seeking relationship with me, and for being my true, true friend. Happy Mother's Day! All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to you. Of all my aspirations and dreams, none is so lofty as that of becoming a wife and mother like you.

New Seasons, New Rocks

No matter how many years we have continued to till and soften the garden soil, each new spring we find new rocks. And, so, as in life we find that changing seasons reveal continued need for the uprooting of freshly revealed vice and planting of newly required virtue, we continue, each spring season to remove the rocks in hope that this season's harvest will be a bountiful one.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Few Miles Change Everything

I am always amazed by how a quick ride down the Hudson River to New York City completely shatters my attempt to understand New York state; the city may as well be its own country. I arrived in Grand Central Station yesterday and immediately was greeted by 24,000 long-stem red roses that were part of a campaign for Mother's Day from the A Diamond Is Forever Floral Spectacular. I had no further turned from the flower exhibit when I saw this chic tourist (traveling solo) taking a picture of himself with his camera on what looked like an extended walking stick (I originally mistook it for a metal detector). When I came outside the station, within a couple of blocks of Grand Central, I saw a woman hysterically crying in the streets. A man on the next block had has arms seriously close to the neck of another man and was screaming at him. The intimacies of life seemed so public on Lexington Avenue, but the odd thing was not the public intimacies but the severe privacy born out of the anonymity of no one caring about anything but their destination.

Veterinary Croquet

You may think that pictures of Isaac during finals of his first year of veterinary school would include a desk and books. Evidence proves otherwise.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ordinary, Everyday Life

It is the desire of my heart to love God. And there is no other place where I can learn to do this except in my ordinary, everyday life. - Elisabeth Elliot

If the Lord of Glory took a towel and knelt on the floor to wash the feet of His disciples, than no demeaning. To offer it up to the Lord of Glory transforms it into a holy task. Could it be right to turn from so much that might be of profit and become just nursemaids? The answer was yes. It is not the business of the servant to decide which work is great, which is small, which important or unimportant - he is not greater than his master. - Amy Carmichael

Sunday, May 04, 2008

How, Not What

Teach me, God, to live in the reality that Your calling on my life is so often in the details of how I do the task set before me and not in the enormity or importance of the task I undertake. My vocation is simply a call to obedience and to joy.

Where the Trees Stand Still

After spending many recent weekends traveling, it was a treat to just sit under my skylight today (see picture for view), stare out the window at the newly emerged leaves and alllow the tantalizing sunshine to dispell winter's remaining chill. Randomly, Bebo Norman's "Where the Trees Stand Still" started to play on my computer, and I concurred, "Yes, it is a gift to land where the trees stand still."

Everyone it seems
Is looking for the grass that's greener here
And through my window pane
The scenery flies by and disappears
So tell to me the secret
That won't let the memories fade away
Until I am home again....where
the trees stand still

Yesterday it seems
I traveled in a younger man's clothes
Living out this dream
And wandering through fields of touch and go
Moving on forever
Watching the distance fade away
But now I just want to
land...where the trees stand still

All this time
On this line
Here then I am gone

Tonight I want a life
Where the faces are the same most every day
Tonight I want a wife
To sit with me and watch our children play
All the world between us
Watching the years fade away
And when the laughing's done...we'll
watch the trees stand still
Everyday...where the trees stand still
We will make a home...where
the trees stand still - Bebo Norman

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bentley Farm's Changing Landscape

Thursday, May 01, 2008

You're Going to Miss This

This country song by Trace Adkins is the best and so true! Every moment counts.

You're going to miss this
You're going to want this back
You're going to wish these days
Hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're going to miss this.