Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What I'm Into Lately, December edition

our  family
Christmas Eve service, 2013

From the book pile

42  Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey (Random House, LLC, 2013. 304 pages) 

Enlightening, fun, scannable read.  Brian and I took turn reading to each other the daily rituals of various artists who caught our attention.

Here's an excerpt from a fun review by Oliver Burkeman at The Guardian:  
"This was all in an effort to adopt the rituals of some great artists and thinkers: the rising-at-dawn bit came from Ernest Hemingway, who was up at around 5.30am, even if he'd been drinking the night before; the strong coffee was borrowed from Beethoven, who personally counted out the 60 beans his morning cup required. Benjamin Franklin swore by "air baths", which was his term for sitting around naked in the morning, whatever the weather. And the midday cocktail was a favourite of VS Pritchett (among many others). I couldn't try every trick I discovered in a new book, Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration And Get To Work; oddly, my girlfriend was unwilling to play the role ofFreud's wife, who put toothpaste on his toothbrush each day to save him time. Still, I learned a lot. For example: did you know that lunchtime martinis aren't conducive to productivity?"

43 The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas by William J. Bennett (Simon & Schuster, 2009. 128 pages) 

For a few years now I've been reading up on this saint each December.  His story is beautiful.  If even a few of the accounts of his ministry are true, he is a model for all of us to follow.  I'm especially touched by the account of him using gold coins from the inheritance his parents left him when they died young (leaving him an orphan) to rescue 3 unmarried daughters of a poor man.  Their father could not give them a dowry and, in that day and custom, this meant no man would marry them, forcing them to look for work that would keep them alive.  Oftentimes, this sort of work meant harsh conditions -- even prostitution.  Secretly, over time, Nicholas dropped coins through their open window during the dark of night.  Three different nights for each daughter.  Legend tells us the coins fell into socks or stockings being hung to dry.  The women were able to marry and care for their father and families.  This, of course, explains the custom of hanging stockings -- only with a much more profound outcome than warm-hearted Christmas traditions.


    Movies & TV 

    It'd take a pretty amazing episode to better -- match, even -- last year's Christmas episode of this wonderful series.  Still, it was good to visit again with the nuns and nurses of Nonnatus house and the burgeoning families of Poplar in 1950's London's East End.


    In my ears 

    The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs In & Out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger songbook

    I couldn't stop listening to this album all during Advent.


    In the kitchen

    Random thing making me happy 

    Being home for a white Christmas in New York this year.


    On the Blog (Get This Sacramental Life delivered by email.) 


    So, what about you? What's in your book pile? 

    What art, film, song has captured your imagination? 

    What are you pinning or cooking or planning? 

    Share in the comments, won't you?

    For more “What I’m Into” posts, head over to Leigh’s blog

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