Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nathaniel Hawthorne Hurt My Feelings

I recently bought a copy of Kate Chopin's novel At Fault. In the appendix, I ran across two letters written by writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, and their content included his opinion of women writers.

In a letter dated 1952, he wrote, "All women, as authors, are feeble and tiresome. I wish they were forbidden to write, on pain of having their faces deeply scarified with an oyster-shell..."

Then, in a letter dated 1855, he wrote, "America is now wholly given over to a d____d mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash -- and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed."

Not cool, Nathaniel.

This is a writer who was contemporaries with the Bronte sisters, Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickenson, Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and George Eliot, to name a few. Feeble, tiresome, and trash? I think the endurance of their writing proves otherwise.

Writing is difficult, under the best of conditions. But to write when you face open hostility from fellow writers and closed doors in the publishing world because of your gender is unimaginable to us today. It's fortunate that Charlotte, Anne, Emily, and their compatriots perservered, despite the attitudes of writers like Mr. Hawthorne.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Father/Son Cake Off

Our Tiger Scout, Reed, had his first Cake Off last night. This was a father/son event, so on Sunday Tim and Reed set to work designing their "Star Wars" creation. They baked a chocolate cake from scratch (even the chocolate icing), and then did a masterful job decorating it. I was very impressed with Tim's icing ability. Apparently the precision of an engineer is a handy trait for a cake decorator. Here is their finished cake:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Snow Day!

I remember having several good snows each winter of my childhood. In fact, I can recall snow on every one of my birthdays (January 12) and the accompanying snow day that freed me from school for the day. Beth and I always had a snow suit from Sears, complete with boots, a puffy jacket, and insulated pants.

Seth and Reed have seen very little snow in their lifetimes. It just doesn't snow like it used to. However, we finally had a decent snow on Monday. Thankfully Tim was off from work for the day, so we were able to enjoy it all together. The boys' excitement was only heightened when school was cancelled for Tuesday. Oh, joy! Here are a few photos from our snow day:

Ganging up on Dad? Not sure if that's a great idea.

I hate to say "I told you so." Ever had snow down your shirt? Seth and Reed now have.

Our snowman, Bottle Cap.

Reconciliation. Snowballs in the face and frozen backs forgiven.

A great day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I'm watching a convoy of limousines make their way to the U.S. Capitol. Throngs of American citizens line the streets, waving flags and cheering loudly. Even from my 16-inch television, the excitement of the crowd is contagious. My heart is full as I watch history unfolding. The fact that such a transfer of power can happen peacefully is awesome to consider. I don't think we comprehend how rare this truly is.

Last week, Seth had a timely memory verse -- Romans 13:1-2:
Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.

While we may have voted differently last November and hold conflicting opinions about the direction this new administration may take our country, we need to remember what God has said in His Word. Our new President is in a position of authority because God has placed him there. God is in control.

I am proud of our country, proud of President Bush and President-Elect Obama, and proud to share this moment with all Americans. I am especially thrilled to share it with Seth and Reed, who are watching their first Inauguration today. I pray that they will understand just a little more fully the amazing democracy of America and the freedom we enjoy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Aging Gracefully

Ten years ago when I worked at Southern Living, I had a postcard tacked to the wall of my work space. It featured a quote by Major League pitcher Satchel Paige: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" I was struck by this idea then, and I continue to be today.

Some days, when I wake up with an achy back and knees that pop and crack, I feel ancient. I try to run a mile, and I find myself gasping for the next breath. I visit my dentist or doctor and marvel at how they could be at least a decade younger than me. I find I'm singing along to a favorite song ... and it's playing on the "Oldies" station.

Other days, I feel like I'm still a giddy, goofy teenager. I feel silly, funny, carefree, and I share silly, funny, and carefree moments with Tim and the boys. An opportunity comes my way, and I feel the thrill of trying something new. I get lost in a book, in a conversation with a friend, or in a moment of freedom, and time slips away.

Yesterday was my birthday ... number 39. Just one year until the big 4-0. Seriously?! For some well-adjusted folks, this may not be a big deal. For me? Right now it seems like a major milestone, and I wish that wasn't the case. I want to learn to share Paige's ageless mindset. Because, like him, I know that our age is truly just a number, a mile marker, but not a statement on the vitality of our life.

There is a bigger story being told -- one that goes on and on and on, and I am part of that story. And it isn't measured in years, decades, or even centuries. Donald Miller expresses this idea beautifully. He writes, "I am early in my story, but I believe I will stretch out into eternity, and in heaven I will reflect upon these early days, these days when it seemed God was down a dirt road, walking toward me."

There's relief found in understanding that truth, in accepting that, and in anticipating it. Freedom even. Freedom from counting the days, fretting over the years, and worrying about the future.

So, as for this new year? I greet you with a smile. And when 40 arrives in 364 days, I seek to face you without dread and without fear, but with this same timeless smile.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Thank you for all you have given me.
Hath given me a brother, mom and dad.
Also my cat, friends, food, and clothes.
Never sad in
Knoxville, and I am never alone.
So happy for my parents, brother, cat,
Grandparents, and cousins.
In Knoxville, thee gave me a house, and
Vibrant people I have met.
In happy hours with my family.
Not mean people I have met.
God, thank you for everything.
~acrostic poem written by Seth Tucker

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Simple Idea

I don't really make New Year's resolutions. Yes, I always feel the urge to exercise more and eat less as the calendar turns. But that's not really a resolution ... just stating the obvious, as I sit surrounded by leftover Christmas cakes, cookies, and candies.

What, really, is a resolution? Most often we think of it as an intention. A decision we make to change something about ourselves or our lives. However, I prefer Webster's first definition. Resolution: the act or process of reducing to a simpler form.

In this age, life is anything but simple most days. Just finding time to enjoy a pajama day with the boys, a date night with Tim, or a game of spades with our friends seems almost impossible. Our cell phones, laptops, and Blackberries keep us plugged in, on schedule, and in contact, but we seem to be missing each other along the way.

How about instead of making a resolution this year, we truly experience resolution? Reducing life to a simpler form: slowing down, breathing deeply, living daily, engaging fully, giving generously, worshiping lavishly, and loving completely.