Leave a comment

Wednesday, 20 February, 2013 The Immodest Post

This article on the well-worn classic, Catholic modesty,* has made awildviolets cycle through my facebook feed. While I am rather surprised (based on some other comments from the author) by her highly reasonable take, I don’t think the author adds anything earth-shaking ** (or offensive) to the continual modesty-in-dress discussion in the Catho-sphere.

I read this here response to the original article, and I must say I’m not entirely clear how the responder manages to interpret “In terms of modesty, that might mean dressing in a way that is appropriate to one’s culture and circumstances, not drawing undue attention to oneself either in one’s dress or undress, remaining circumspect about one’s own choices, and not denouncing the reasonable choices of others” as “true modesty is following the crowd, because you can’t be modest if you stand out.”

It seems to me that the choice the responding blogger presents – that one can either choose to “stand out” in appearances (both of the person and of the home) or one can hang with the hoi polloi (who are made “uncomfortable” by your Church-art-y home and whatever it is you wear) – is a false one. And I wonder if what gives this endless debate about women’s clothes such pervasive life (kind of like the awful wild violets in my backyard; occasionally tolerable and definitely harmless-looking, but hugely insidious and practically impossible to remove) isn’t these sorts of false dichotomies. (This is certainly not the only false dichotomy or uncharitable premise I’ve come across in this debate.)

I get the sense (and this may partly be because I’m still trying to be all Carmelite-y with Fire Within***) that if one is truly following Christ, one will stand out whether one wants to or not. (Which is part of the reason I feel so unprepared for the coming persecution in this country; afraid I won’t be brave enough for the times.) One could try in every outward way to blend in with the world (even cover one’s wall with movie posters and take down all the crucifixes, I bet!), but one’s words, actions, and beliefs would shine out anyway.

It’s hard for me to accept that the “standing out” that comes of being a real follower of Christ, is something that hinges so much on clothing. Clothes are just clothes; everyone’s got to wear them. They shouldn’t be used to advertize one’s “bits,” but beyond that I really can’t see how they are relevant. (With the caveat that if wearing certain clothes matters to a person, then it matters to that person and they should act accordingly. I certainly don’t care. How someone else dresses is equally irrelevant.)

I really like Simcha Fisher’s wise application of “keep your eyes on your own work” to the spiritual life. That those who really follow Christ will be misfits in the world is probably the only point at which I can agree with the responding blogger. To truly follow Christ, I am sure, is harder than obtaining a PhD in neuroscience (insert hardest degree of choice here) or than qualifying for the Olympics. I’m certainly a remedial student in being a Christian and heaven knows my attention and effort waxes and wanes enough already – I am wary of expending extra thought or effort on what I consider to be silly externals****.


*Decoder ring for non-Catholics: on the Catholic internets “modesty” means “what kind of clothes women should wear” or, if a proud “Traditionalist” and/or a man who wants in on this fight, “what kind of clothes (right down to individual garments and fabrics) should women be allowed to wear/can they wear without risking HELL.”

**This is not meant as a criticism; merely an assessment.

*** Totally unrelated: apparently Fr. Dubay lived to the end of his life (he died just a few years ago) at the home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor which is quite close to me. I wish I had known at the time, but I am sure I would not have been brave enough to send a note.

****Responding blogger mentions visual arts and literature as well. I do not consider art or literature to be “silly externals.” (Clothing I do; fun, but silly.) I consider art and literature to be in a different category (in the Aristotelian sense.)


Leave a comment

Friday, 24 August, 2012 7 Quick Links

7 Quick Links

… to things I read and enjoyed on the internets this week:

1. Egregious Twaddle on confession – a subject which I think could use more “blog-time” partly because almost everyone has had a troubling experience in the confessional and solidarity with one’s fellow Catholics is a balm and partly because many of us (myself included) were never well-catechized on this sacrament.

2. Betty Duffy on bikinis – a sane take in the midst of the perpetual modesty debate. My own mother came from one of those cultures where two-piece swimsuits were the norm, (Brazil and Hawai’i) and came back from one of her trips to Oahu when I was an early teenager bearing (cute) bikinis for all her daughters at the time. She was sadly disappointed and slightly hurt (just like she was sadly disappointed when we wouldn’t eat papaya, or guava, or any of the other tropical fruits she scrounged from CA supermarkets) when all but the very youngest refused to wear them. Now I’m kind of sorry I didn’t wear that suit while I could still pull it off.

3. The Jerk reviews Red Dawn (I confess I have not seen it – but now I have to!)

4. (more) Simcha Fisher at the Register on misplaced zeal

5. Barefoot and Pregnant on… child antics – no commentary can add a thing to this post; it simply has to be read

6. 10 Hard Truths for Kids by Matt Archbold – true dat

7. I am appalled at how difficult it’s been to come up with 7 full length articles from one week! I waste at least 2 hours a day on the internets, what do I have to show for it??! Oh, yes, Pinterest.

Some people have actually put up 7 Quick Takes here.

Leave a comment

Thursday, 23 August, 2012 Ikea Hack

This is my first-ever Ikea “hack” – accomplished with only basic hand tools and a lot of trial and error.

It isn’t the most impressive or complicated project, but I’m hoping it will be useful to someone out there for brainstorming or ideas. I didn’t plan this hack out; it sort of evolved and I made a few errors of judgment that ended up costing me – mostly in the money department, but also in terms of time.


I moved about a year ago from a one-bedroom apartment to a shared house. And while I dearly love my new bedroom, it presented some substantial challenges in terms of furnishing and storage.  There is not one clear wall in the whole room – it has 3 doors and two windows and a radiator.

Once I’d figured out the placement for my bed & bookshelves (the main pieces of furniture for the room),  I still wanted: a headboard,  more storage, and a charging station. I had this ancient Billy (?) Ikea bookcase, I’d inherited from my sister a few years ago.

Here’s the famous bookcase “before” – I used it as a bedside table/dresser in my old apartment.

Even though I was satisfied with the general placement of my bed and bookshelves in my new bedroom, the spot I chose for the bed had a downside: the radiator forced a gap of about a foot between the wall and the head of the bed. I wanted a headboard or something to fill the gap and to lean against while reading etc, in bed.  Also, I had an overflow of books and some other homeless items that I wanted to store. Initially, I solved both problems by elevating my old Ikea bookcase and putting it behind my bed. I bought Vika Amon legs for the purpose, but couldn’t screw them into the particle board underside of the shelf without a drill, so instead I attached them to an Ekby Tryggve wall shelf and placed the bookshelf on that. (Lifting the bookcase onto the shelf was a two-person job. The result was a little wobbly as well.) Unfortunately I have no pictures of this stage.

In the end, I didn’t like how the bookcase fit in the space between the window and the corner and I didn’t really care for the visual of “there’s a bookcase behind my bed,” either, and the result wasn’t really stable enough to lean against.

So, I decided to turn the bookshelf on its side, buy some smaller shelves and use them to form “cubbies” (that would look a little less uniform and less like a conventional bookcase) and cover up the bottom shelf with something I could lean against.

Not having any power tools, I decided to support the “cubby” shelves using the existing shelves and improvised rails. I measured precisely the spaces between the shelves as the were, and then bought shelves in those exact lengths – one small white Billy extra shelf, and two 8″ shelves from Amazon*.

I bought a length of 1×2″ from Home Depot and they cut it in the store into the lengths I needed for rails. I spray painted (not the best decision, either) the rails white and nailed them into the frame of the bookcase at the heights I wanted.

The rails are not very attractive

The cardboard back of the bookcase was a bit warped and pulling away from the frame. I decided to take advantage of the damage to run power cords for my soon-to-be-charging station in to the bookcase through the gap.

Laptop cord (horizontal) and extension cord (diagonal) running in through the back panel and behind one of the original shelves/supports

Here’s the Billy bookcase on its side with cubbies (and ledges*) & power cords set up.

With legs and charging stations set up

Now I needed a way to attach the pillows to the bottom portion of my new headboard. I tried some makeshift arrangements using the pillow ties, but they were unsatisfactory. In the end I decided on using the same method I’d used to hang up an earring holding ribbon.

Ribbon attached to rail of (a different) bookcase with Command strips.

I put up Command picture hangers (the kind that are kind of like velcro) on each of the uprights and frame of the bookcase/headboard.

Command strips on the frame and supports

(Re)measured the distances between supports and attached Command strips to a length of wide gross grain ribbon at appropriate distances.

Test hanging of the ribbon to make sure the strips lined up

Then I basted the pillows to the ribbon.

Pillows on ribbon. The ties show that I dyed the pillows – but they can be tucked neatly away behind the ribbon

Basting up close

And attached the ribbon with the pillows on it to the headboard.

Pillows attached


It’s not a perfect setup – I think I may have to replace/reinstall Command strips, but it hides the clutter and gives me a spot to lean against.

And done!

Side view: the gap is closed

Full length

(Clutter can be accessed by lifting the pillows.)

Lastly a completely gratuitous beauty shot of my room. (If you look closely, you can see it was taken before I came up with the ribbon solution.)


*This would be where the trial and error really kicked in. I took me several tries to get the  smaller, 8″, shelves – first I bought some really overpriced picture ledges from Amazon, that turned out to be too shallow to be useful as shelves. Then when I went to buy more shelves at Ikea, I meant to buy a glass insert shelf just under 8″ wide (that Ikea apparently doesn’t sell anymore), but accidentally (because the stack was sitting over the label of the shelves I wanted to buy, and I stupidly didn’t check labels) bought the same shelf in just under 7″ wide.  So I gave up and bought two expensive (but not as overpriced as the ones from Home Depot) 8″ shelves on Amazon.

Leave a comment

Friday 10 August, 2012 Quick Takes

1. So… I missed last week’s Quick Takes because I was in Minnesota for a friend’s wedding. I’m very happy for said friend who waited a long time for this. But I think I don’t know any single people any more!

2. A couple other things I’ve missed lately:

I totally have not been watching the Olympics – I don’t own a TV – but I’ve saw snippets here and there on the televisions in the hotel, so I know it’s happening. However, I saw this story before the Games began, and all I could think was: Is Darren Nichols directing the Opening Ceremony?

3. The Chic.k-fil-a flap: I think the initial outcry and media fuss over Dan Cathy’s interview was an example of media malfeasance – an attempt by members of the news media to promote secular fascism – deceptive and despicable. Really, there should be public outcry over that kind of behavior in the media. But as for the “buycott”… I just really don’t like Ch.ick-fil-a. It’s better than KF.C, but that’s like saying Velve.eta is better than spray “cheese” (shudder.)

4. Any brave people willing to share thoughts/experiences about spiritual direction? Pretty please!

5. Back around the March for Life, I was tempted by Twitter. I never really got into it. However, I am completely taken in by Pinterest. I’ll put up a button just as soon as I figure out how to do it.

6.  A friend sent me this last week. I have a strong preference for Mac (been a user since 5th grade/the era of 8″ floppy disks), but this is angering and horrifying. Also, I feel very justified in my attachment to internet anonymity.  No real names here!

7. About that garden/picture thing: I am discovering that I am too much of a perfectionist for “after” pictures! Must. weed. a. little. more.

Find more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary



Friday, 27 January, 2012 Lame Quick Takes

Quick Takes – Kind Of

1. For the first time in a couple years, I didn’t go to the March For Life (St. Blogustine’s has the best pictures I’ve seen.) In order for you to understand how disappointing this is, you must know that I a) live in DC and b) had permission to take the day off from work. I had a pressing project (from my mother) that needed software only available at work and was suffering some diffidence about the effectiveness of protesting. I guess it was just as well, because my plan was to spend a chunk of Sunday night before the March at the vigil at the Shrine, only I ended up not even doing that because of feeling unwell with a topping of killer headache.

2. I did Quick Takes belatedly for last weekend – those who marched also had to brave what remained of the only snow we’ve gotten this year.

3. I guess there’s always next year. This was one of the years I really, really wanted to be back on the West Coast, though. West Coast Walk For Life coverage here. I love everything about the Walk For Life.

4. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but, I’m feeling the pull to join Twitter. Since I didn’t go to the March, I initially kept C-Span on in the background at work, so I could hear the rally (loved the Baptist (?) preacher at the end, could do without the endless political parade.) Once the rally’s over, you’re out of luck for news coverage, because almost all the media just ignores the March. (Although here’s  an article I found on the day from the Medill School of Journalism, putting the “professionals” to shame.) So I pulled up Twitter, found hashtags and kept a couple tabs open to follow the updates.

5. Consequently, I became obsessed, obsessed, with waiting to see if #marchforlife would trend on Twitter, wondering why/how #marchforlife wasn’t trending on Twitter (not even in DC!), googling to find out how topics trend, etc.

6. Because of the need to check local versus national trends, I do now in fact have a Twitter account. But I don’t really know if I would use it. Worse, I have an inkling that if I did use it, the last remaining 20% of my life not consumed by the internet would vanish. Anyone already on Twitter, feel free to tell me that isn’t true.

7. And that’s really it – nothing new or exciting happening here. I’ve been writing a bit on the side (which takes away from the blog) and haven’t really had enough energy to photos or gardening (bad, bad, need to check to the tulip bulbs languishing in the basement soon.) I don’t even have any controversy-stirring thoughts to share.

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Leave a comment

Friday, 13 January, 2012 Quick Takes Again, So Soon!?

Friday Quick Takes – Muddling Through

1.  It’s Friday and I’m tired, but goll darn it, I’m going to do Quick Takes.

2. Progress report:

The Christmas tree is still up in my house. This does not faze me at all, since in my ancestral home the Christmas tree is up until February. However, I suspect my housemates have different tolerances. Taking it down is a project for this long weekend. A project not without reward, though, as I have followed the long-standing family tradition of concealing a few candy canes deep in the branches to find while taking the tree down.

New Year’s Resolutions: Today I paid off the balance on my narsty, narsty credit card.  Not quite ready to close it yet, but my balance is $0!

The garden continues to be neglected. It’s cold. I’m tired. What can I say?

3. Art of the Day:

I think I like this Escher fellow.

4. Jen asks (it’s her birthday and our gracious hostess gives us one Quick Take for free! Sweet!) : “If you are younger than 35, tell me about what you want your life to be like when you’re my age.”

Boy, this blogging thing means telling all. I am younger than 35, but not by a whole lot, therefore I think it’s unrealistic to expect any drastic changes.

There are the big things: I would like to be in a different job. I would like to be married. I would like these major developments, but the likelihood of either occurring in the time remaining is close to nil.

More realistically, I would like to be in good health, have a good relationship with God and have a very nice garden.

5. #4 wasn’t much of an answer but, I find it helpful to keep my expectations low.

6. While we have yet to get much in the way of snow here in DC, it is winter and I’m craving color, so here:

Genuine California poppies in summer

7.  Just an off the cuff about feeling rich vs. poor:  I’ve worked in two completely different fields over the last ten years, but for about four of those years my income has been very nearly exactly same. However, I feel poorer (mostly because I’ve had to struggle to pay basic expenses) living in DC than I did living in CA. As I was calculating whether throwing the larger portion of my paycheck at my credit card was really a prudent move this morning, I realized that while my salary is nearly exactly what it was in CA, I actually take home $250 less per month than I did there.  Hark, residents of the Golden State: there is somewhere with a higher cost of living even that the Bay Area.

Aaaand, I’m done. Go to Conversion Diary for more (and better) Quick Takes!

*Image source

Leave a comment

Friday, 9 December, 2011 Friday Freight Train

Friday Freight Train – Late Quick Takes

1. This blog is supposed to be (primarily) my spot for writing about the good and/or interesting things. Today has been a bit of a challenge to that. Example: by 9:30 this morning, I was already down one favorite earring and one co-worker.

2. Actually my “real” life has been shall-we-say challenging also lately, so I’ve been trying to find ways to deal. Some of these ways are have already been a source of entertainment to others, (my housemate nearly asphyxiated laughing at this factoid last night) so I’ll share the joy.

I, a *cough*ty*cough*-year-old woman, have started rewarding myself for doing “adult things” (ranging from the simple – washing my dishes, to the very difficult -emotionally charged conversations, going to the DMV) with stickers. To put in my planner.

3. Now that you’ve recovered from your laughter, I’ll squeeze another couple Takes out of that little “share.” I am ridiculously wired of late, (although my laptop is pretty geriatric) since I now own a laptop, cell phone, fancy camera, and schmancy i.Po.d, (with internet capability) but I still find my paper planner essential. Maybe because 90% of the time, the mere act writing something down guarantees that I’ll remember it.

4. The other 10% of the time, it’s as if by writing it down, I’ve already done the task and it is completely wiped from my memory. Not great.

5.  Because it makes me feel better:

"I need you to be my second." 'Ok.' 'What's a second?'

6.  Writing the sixth Take last, and I’m dry. Anyone want to argue about discuss the New Roman Missal?

7. Lest anyone disbelieve me about the craziness of mid-Atlantic weather, despite the cold last Friday, this week has been weird spring-like weather. (Until today which is rather like last Friday.) This is confusing the heck out of some plants.

It’s a terrible picture, but that is a blooming iris in front of a neighbor’s Christmas display.

Find more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.