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Friday, 22 March, 2013 Brief Quick Takes


1. Doing these QT’s in a state of mild shock, so they’re going to be short. My garden is being mulched & pruned. The snowdrops and crocuses have come and are on the way out; the daffodils are beginning. (Pictures added a little later.)

2.  I went to Florida (Ft. Lauderdale-ish)  in Feb. It was warm and lovely. Can’t get over that turquoise water.


tree orchids

Orchids growing in the trees! At the Miami Zoo.

3. I do and will miss Pope Benedict very much.


4. Holy Week next week. Not ready. I am still “a long way off.” Lent this year was not my finest.

5. Pope Francis! My reactions are all a jumble, so it is too early to have much to say. I don’t know, really, if there is much benefit to opining on the Pope anyway.


6. But I love, love, love St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis, the straightforward. St. Francis, the literal. St. Francis, the sincere. St. Francis, filled with holy zeal. St. Francis, the undetered. St. Francis, the wonder-worker.

7. Way back when I made myself accountable to get back to teaching. Yesterday I was offered a fellowship spot.

That’s it. I hope everyone has profoundly blessed Holy Week.

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.



Friday, 21 September, 2012 Quick Takes

This week I set out to write one quick take per day until Friday. It didn’t quite work out that way. Fascinating results below:

1. Saturday night: (Premature?) aging is proceeding apace over here. It is 11:30 pm and I am trying to get to bed while outside the air outside (windows open because the weather is perfect) rings with the yelling from droves of CUA students processing to and from off-campus parties. If I had a hose, I’d be tempted to turn it on them.

2. Tuesday lunch: Elizabeth Foss is blogging about her Napa Valley trip. After last week’s Quick Takes, her pictures are killing me.

3. Wednesday night:  I think I may be out of touch with the culture of contemporary 3-year-olds (?)

Babysitting tonight, I was compelled to trap the younger (18 mos old and trouble, trouble, trouble) of the two brothers I was watching between my knees so I could use two remotes at once to manipulate the incredibly large and complicated TV system into playing a video. To mollify the trapped party I started singing “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” substituting his name for “lady” in the chorus (guaranteed to work for a whole 20 seconds.) Immediately, I had the (apparently) wonder-struck 3-year-old in my lap. “What is that song?!” “Sing it again!” “I want to hear it again.”

I think even when I was 3, “London Bridge” was old news…

4. I do not remember the words to “London Bridge” past “Take the key and lock him up.”

5. Thursday morning: In the garden I am growing a (one singular) pepper. I do not know what type it is, so I am uncertain whether/when to pick it.

It looks like a banana pepper. If it is, what do I do with it? All the banana peppers I’ve ever eaten have been pickled…

6. Thursday evening: So, I started out to slowly change my garden page to reflect my garden (not that the inspiration pictures of the Arboretum weren’t lovely.) I ended up making a little garden section. It’s probably not fascinating to anyone but me and is still under construction, but take a gander if you will and leave constructive criticism.

7. Japanese food was made to fight colds (I have the start of one.) Miso + wasabi. Medicine.

More coherent Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

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Friday, 7 September, 2012 Quick Takes


Like our lovely hostess, I am an introvert. This week I spent Sunday through Tuesday entertaining my sister (on Monday one of her friends, as well), I spent Tuesday and Wednesday evening with one of my housemates, last night I made dinner for my housemate and a friend, aaand I have plans to see friends Saturday and Sunday.  I already feel wrung out. Next week you may find me hiding in my room.

2.I fear being recognized as a creepy stalker revealing publicly how many blogs I read and how avidly, but, really, I love the Catholic blogo-sphere. Even though it sometimes serves to deepen and emphasize the various arguments and resentments among Catholics, more often it teems with the life of the Catholic mind, to wit (ha ha): blogging help and “tech-y” stuff, literary analysis, drink-spewing-out-the-nostrils humor, perspective from a linguist and an engineer, pop culture, serious considerations on living out the Catholic faith in many circumstances – none of it cloying or uniform and all of it at a level of writing I wish I could half-way achieve.

This is why I don’t buy print magazines anymore.

3. In the garden:

First (and likely last) fruits

A squirrel (I suspect) stole the larger one before I got around to picking it. Sadness is an untasted tomato.

4. Apparently the place to grow Italian parsley is not in a sunny garden bed.

Parsley in the ground – rock for scale.

It appears to prefer the garage roof.

Parsley on the roof.

5. I really need to order kale seeds for the fall.

6.  There’s a post kicking around in my brain, and maybe if I write out the beginnings now, I’ll put it in full-length form some day.

Speaking of the dark side of the Catho-sphere, I realized in chatting with my housemate yesterday evening (what to wear to a wedding rehearsal dinner) that the word “modesty” now automatically makes me cringe. This is not just because I intemperately read intemperate posts on the subject – I’ve encountered my fair share of the (invariably female) Catholic “modesty police” in person.

However, I don’t want to discuss modesty (here’s a great post if you need one), but rather to explore why the scorched earth wars knife fights discussions amongst Catholics on this particular virtue get so “internet-fighty”  (as the husband of a friend of mine says) so quickly. And whether such discussions in their present form are necessary/good at all. Briefly:

Modesty as a virtue is not restricted to a dress-code or “modesty in dress.”

When discussing matters of dress with fellow Catholics, I think it is unhelpful, unfair, uncharitable, and unrealistic to assume that those fellow-Catholics don’t or haven’t given thought to how they live and feel no need to resist conforming to this world. I don’t think it’s just to assume that your co-religionists blithely consult current culture (especially Cosmo magazine!) for guidance on these matters. It’s possible some do – but I think it is more fair, charitable, helpful and realistic to start by giving people the benefit of the doubt.

It is also problematic to assume that there’s only one correct way of setting oneself aside from the destructive elements of this world.

In my experience, the Catholics I encounter – in person and on the interwebs – even those whose catechesis has been lacking, do have a sense of responsibility to be “in this world but not of it.” Rather than harp on and on about pants, or skirts, or cleavage, or headcoverings, or swimsuits, why not discuss how we (as individuals guided by the Church) manage to be in the world but not of it and how we might encourage our children and those we meet to do the same.

And maybe this does not need a full-length post.

7.  I should incur some sort of blog penalty for writing on modesty and not contributing much that is positive, but at least I’ve avoided ranting about politics!  However, I have many, many bad blogger habits and so I hereby resolve that next week,  I will not only put up Quick Takes, but go and comment on other blogs too.

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

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Friday, 31 August 2012, 7 QT’s Garden After pictures

Almost a year ago when I started this blog, I was going to convert the wilderness that was the  back yard at my house into a reasonable approximation of a garden.  10 months later…

1. The back garden before

Fallen tree obscuring the right hand corner of the yard – March 2012

and more before

The other side of the yard before

I wish I had taken more thorough “before” pictures.

2. The back yard “during”

It has been a long road fraught with obstacles to get to “after” pics!

What happened the last time I was (almost) ready to post “after” pictures:

Hard to tell, but this is the same angle as the original before picture


3.  Ta Da!

The path to the back – August 2012

On the garage roof: my veteran geranium, zinnias, Italian parsley (apparently this is the spot it likes), snap dragons. I have ambitions fill the edge of the roof in future.

The back yard – August 2012

This is my best “overview” shot. That vague shape of mulch is my path and everything on the outer edge is a bed.

From the other angle

I have ambitions of encouraging the moss in the center so much it becomes a moss lawn. That brown patch in the front was an experiment with buying sheet moss – didn’t work, sheet moss is definitely dead.

The Tour

4.  heading straight ahead from the path behind the garage, first

Vinca and the blue column

The vinca is a “found” plant – I didn’t plant it, just encouraged it. Also pictured: wild violets, current bane of my existence.



which I hope will be hardy outside.  Not pictured because it’s dormant, I planted a bleeding heart on the other side of the column. There will be snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils in the spring, too,  if I’ve managed not to disturb them too badly this summer.

5.I planted hostas in the right-hand shady corner, against the back fence and under the pretty but highly invasive trumpet vines, that I am tolerating.

Blooming hosta

Ferns and begonias in the left hand corner

The bamboo is creeping back over here

6. Annuals along the lefthand side of the fence – this is the only consistently sunny side of the yard.

Zinnias and ageratum (floss flower)

Next spring, I will plant some chrysanthemums in the ground in this spot and fill in with summer-blooming flowers.

7. Here’s my little “raised bed” – the food section of the yard

Veggie corner with Cana lily

I can’t figure out how I want to hang/install my wine bottle tiki torches which is why they are dotted all over the yard.

Tomatoes and a pepper (in black pot) – I’m afraid they’re not going to ripen, though


A little patch of nasturtiums, courtesy of my sister

And bamboo on the garage wall brings the tour full circle

More Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary. Happy Friday!

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Monday, 27 August, 2012 The Garden After – part one

I think I’ve delayed long enough, it’s high time I started posting “after” pictures of the garden.

So, here we go:

Here’s the herb/flower patch “before”

March 2012

In this case, I feel the “before” pictures are a little unfair. There’s just not much that’s planted in this bed that comes up in the spring or is evergreen. And everything I’ve added will be gone next spring too.

Nonetheless here are some current shots of that same area.

August 2012

In pots: tomatoes, alyssum (not currently blooming), a 3 plant mixture at the top of the stairs and the purple flowers by the railing (lower pic only) purchased at the hardware store – names not known, purple basil (!) and there’s lemonbalm (lower pic only) hiding off in the upper left corner. In the ground, from left to right: basil (x 3) and some pathetic parsley (not the spot for it), oregano #1, green onions, in the back zinnias, more oregano with some spearmint pushing through, a marigold, another zinnia, rosemary and over by the gate some bachelor buttons (also not blooming and apparently not very happy.)

From a different angle

This bed is in a happy stage of growth. Because I started everything late this year, it seems many of my plants are at a late-June stage of growth here in late August. I don’t mind so much, except it means I may not see more than the two tomatoes pictured ripen all the way.

I’m really liking the pairing of the zinnias with the onion flowers. Something to do again next year.

I’m still very proud of getting rid of the trash can that used to stand back there.

Way before

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Thursday, 15 March, 2012 Lent, garden, QTs

1. Regular blogging is just not happening right now, (see #2 – maybe next month I’ll be able get back to it) so most blogging will be Quick Takes and most Quick Takes are likely to be garden related or Lent related.

This week’s  exception: There was meme going around fa.cebook showing how to use make fac.ebook reveal the “name” of your cell phone (based on fa.cebook’s codes for member pages, I’m guessing.) Normally, I ignore that type of thing, but I was bored, so I tried it.

My cell phone’s name is “Doug Quirke,” which, I think, is fitting for a cheap, lime green, plastic brick. I should remember to call it Doug when cursing at it for randomly shutting off.

2. Lent: getting a bit spotty here in the third week. A combination of weakening of the will and ongoing  health issues that bring with them forgetfulness.   I’ve been randomly forgetting to do basic daily tasks, what I’ve said I’d do for Lent, almost anything that’s not built into a routine – one day last week, I arrived at work wearing rain boots and discovered I’d forgotten to bring any change of shoes.

3.  Garden progress! I would like to report that the laws of physics are still true and highly useful. (I bombed high school physics, so doing anything that relies on gravity or laws of motion brings up memories of failed labs and the conviction that something will probably go horribly wrong with my attempts.)

I am pleased to report that  a garden hose can become a working siphon.  I successfully siphoned the standing water in this beast (there was so much in it that I couldn’t move it or tip it over):

into the drain in front of the basement door! After picture:


Note the daffodils blooming, as well!

Also, I have begun the project of digging out the bamboo in the very back (not “after” picture worthy, yet.) Some prior tenant knew what he was doing with the bamboo, as I found a very handy root-cutting spade leaning against the garage.

4.  I think these unidentified bulb things that are in the back yard (and along the side of the house) may be liriope. Or maybe “glory-of-the-snow.”

Unidentified bulbs to the left behind snowdrops

I’m leaning “glory-of-the-snow” based on these buds.

5. The very back is still under exploration.  I have found more daffodils.

About to bloom! Makes me ridiculously happy.

And here is a new crop of unidentified bulbs (in the farthest corner of the very back):

About twice as tall as daffodils, but a similar gray-green and with much broader leaves. Thoughts?

6. Here are the missing bits of the back yard not pictured in last week’s before pics:

The slope up to the garage with camellia tree.

And ivy

The stairs leading to the pathway to the very back behind the garage.

7. Last and best: it has been so crazy warm here in DC the past week (the longest stretch of humane weather I have experienced on the east coast thus far) that things are bursting into bloom left and right, most particularly the trees. Many people make a big fuss over the cherry blossoms in DC, but I have noted that the magnolias on my block are going crazy – time to go to the Arboretum to see their magnolia/dogwood collections. (The Arboretum is also much less prone to crowding than the Tidal Basin and there’s not large murky body of water for the tourists to try and jostle you into.)

A little taste from last year:

More Quick Takes at the blog of our gracious hostess.