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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.


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Wednesday, 6 February, 2013 Snippets

What do you call someone who is moved to write and post “Quick Takes” 2 hours after the cut off time on a Monday? And doesn’t actually get them up for two additional days? If no new post happens before  Friday, I’m just going to shameless link this one up.


1. Every since I read the news, I have been (quietly) praying for our linkup hostess who’s suffering from multiple pulmonary embolisms. While pregnant. Please add your prayers, if you feel moved to do so.

2. Because of the digits that comprised my age last year, I was hopeful that 2012 would be a sort of “landmark” year, in which I would either experience deep, meaningful, and significant change in my life or in which my circumstances would change in some important way. Or something. Anyhow, none of the aforementioned changes materialized; 2012 for me was largely hectic and not always in the happily so. (N.B. It is probably dumb to assume that the particular integers that make up your age mean anything at all.) So, here I am in 2013, it’s only February and shezzam!! progress abounds. It seems that I may be able to pull off a long-planned change in my field of employment, I may go on my first actual vacation* in 10 years and a few other small but welcome developments have arisen. I hope things continue on this trajectory!

3. My eating home-cooked food drive now continues aided and abetted by French Kids Eat Everything, which I picked up out of curiosity after from having read Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong. I got a bit impatient with the author’s careful presentation of the research that validates much of the French attitude towards food, but found the exploration of French food “pedagogy” fascinating. I’m not in a position to put the author’s suggestions into practice, but having been brought up an omnivore and fairly adventurous eater (ok, I am NOT anxious to try brains or various pickled “delicacies” from other cultures) in a culture** that encourages such eating, I’m interested in the topic.

(By contrast, I have an adult acquaintance whose list of food dislikes extends into what is, for me, normal eating. I mean, the man does not like garlic. What??!)

4. New ingredients: I have recently cooked quinoa and beets for the first time. I took no pictures because I was too busy cooking. I really like quinoa, but probably won’t make a habit of it because since it’s become a popular export the Peruvians and Bolivians aren’t able to eat it themselves. The beets were interesting – in that fresh(ly boiled) beets don’t taste too different from the canned variety. I like them; I do not like how much they bleed.

5. In my eternal search to find something different to do with chicken, I learned (internet recipe search) after several decades that the dish that my mother used to make with chicken and red wine is not, as I had long believed, “coco van.” (I don’t know. It’s just how I always spelled it in my head.) It’s “coq au vin” and it is darn tasty in all its variations. I’m guessing that the other celebratory dish she sometimes cooked was not “turkey divine.” (Don’t ask me why chicken got the more phonetic spelling.)

6. If I were to be a crafty blogger I would have to overcome my resistance to taking “before” pictures. Thing is I find the “before” so bothersome/hard to look at that I do not want to record it for posterity. I just want to fix it, stat.  Projects I have not taken pictures of over the past couple months: I did an update to the terrible laundry space in our house. And I sewed trendy elbow patches on my favorite sweater. (Not to be trendy, but because one elbow had tragically developed a hole!)

7. So there is, as I write (I’m guessing it’ll last two more days), another of these huge meta-discussions raging in the Catho-blogo-sphere about Beyonce’s Super.Bowl Halftime show and for once I’m not even mildly tempted to join in.  I think people are focused on the wrooooong thing here. I mean the 49ers lost (moment of silence, please.) But at least it wasn’t a slaughter. And Colin Kaepernick, woah!

For more Quick Takes visit Conversion Diary.


*family visits just don’t count.

**California, baby

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Friday, 9 November, 2012 Blogiversary Takes

Blogiversary Mishmash Quick Takes

1. Not the most diligent of bloggers, yet I’ve made it a full year at this blog. I feel as though I’m still just getting started.

2. I don’t really have a favorite post, so here’s the opinion post I feel most strongly about. (Not hard to pick ’cause I think I’ve done two opinion posts ever and the other one was on clothes.)

3. Least exciting stat: my most viewed post is: The last time I did Quick Takes

4. Last week I got tired of the look of my blog, so I changed it a bit.

5.The election. Ugh. Not the outcome I was hoping for in the presidential race. I don’t feel apocalyptic about it, but more like this from More Like Mary More Like Me (via Bonnie Engstrom)

“Am I even strong enough to be a martyr myself? Maybe not to death, but to jail? Or to joblessness? What will I be asked to sacrifice for my faith? And I’m sure some will read this and think I’m being melodramatic and that it can’t possibly come to that. I hope you’re right. But I believe you’re wrong. It’s already happening.”

Exactly. I do not feel ready for the marginalization of Catholics that is arriving slowly, creeping along. I guess I need to pray.

6. I had a placeholder for a garden Take here. I’ve got nothing. The poor garden is so so neglected lately.

7. And now for something completely different: this made me laugh (via a procrastinating-schoolwork-sibling on facebook):

UPDATE: Aaack – I forgot to link up. More Quick Takes at Jen’s.


Thursday, 11 October, 2012 Thursday Quick Takes

Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Quick Takes: Sick Pity Party Edition

1. “Acute viral bronchitis.” This is why there has been no blogging over here in forever.

2. “Which has lasted longer than normal,” quoth the doc last Friday, regarding the then two weeks of sick. Apparently, I could have ten more days to go before I feel better.

3. I guess codeine is the drug of the moment. I have a scrip for cough syrup with codeine. When I had the emergency root canal situation this summer, I was given Tylenol with codeine and I discovered that codeine produces a very altered mental state in me.  Not planning on filling the cough syrup prescription; I have a hard time seeing being high as an appealing alternative to being sick.

4. Self-pity on display (written Tues. while home sick):  Being sick when you are single/on your own sucks.  It is also the one situation where sharing a house is not a positive. One cannot monopolize the couch and bathroom with abandon in a shared house; and, sick or not, one cannot let the dishes pile up. I have been confined to my increasingly putrid room for the last 14 days. And I pity my poor housemates (although they are uninfected thus far.)

5. Canned soup gets gross after week two. Even excellent instant miso gets old. Homemade chicken soup is much better and rutabagas make a nice substitute for rice or noodles. (When I get better, I really must remember to make/freeze another large batch against illness or to give to sick friends.)

6. The weather has more or less turned in DC, and I need to do all my cold-weather arranging (inside & out), but am still too sick to tackle much of it.

Besides geographic beauty, I miss the simplicity of California dressing.  This is the time of year where I resent strongly the need to switch out my whole wardrobe and do not look forward to having to stifle myself in multiple layers of cloth every day. Sure, it’s fun to go read all the fashion sites and get “ideas” for the change of seasons, but even after four years, the amount of clothing needed for the East Coast still feels  excessive and fussy and unfrugal and unnecessary to me.

The only cold weather chore I’ve gotten to (out of sheer necessity) is to put my duvet back on my bed. For a long time I was in complete agreement with Seraphic on the subject of beds/bed linen – especially duvet versus sheets*.  But I ended up buying a duvet some years back (the last time I had nasty bronchitis, actually) and I really like it.  I just (unrepentantly) use sheets with the duvet.  In the very hot months, I just take the duvet out of its cover and use the cover as a light blanket. When the weather turns, I stick the duvet back in its cover, and if it gets very cold, add blankets. Works quite nicely, I think.

7.  This site is about my speed right now. Bad for my cough, though.

Find more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary


*(Top sheets provide a necessary barrier between you & the covers. Thus, if you are sick or not especially clean or whatever, the covers remain uncontaminated and no need to wash all your bedding frequently, just wash the sheets. Substituting a duvet cover is not the same somehow.)


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, 14 September, 2012 Go West Quick Takes

Better Coast Quick Takes

1. Recently I seem to have caught a raging case of “West is best,” a weird form of homesickness, if that’s what it is. I am pretty darn acclimated to the East Coast and my life is here now. I don’t feel driven to buy plane tickets and head back, but I would like to point out all the superior things about California and specifically the Bay Area that I currently miss:

Picking blackberries

2. The wild amaryllis (or “naked ladies”) that bloom every year around the time when school begins again:

3. Real hills. Everywhere.

Crockett, CA photo taken yesterday. (See, the sky is often clear in CA.)

Above the color late summer; below the color of late spring.

Walnut Creek/Lafayette, CA taken from Mt. Diablo.

Suddenly when I look at the CA pictures that pop up in my facebook feed, I am really struck by the hills for the first time in my life. When I lived in the Bay Area, the hills were beautiful, but unremarkable.

4. Redwoods

5. And manzanita

6. Fog that pools like the sea between the hills



7. Superior drivers’ education. No, really. After having my life repeatedly threatened this week, both behind the wheel and on my bike, here are 4 items taken from the CA drivers’ handbook (DC doesn’t put out a drivers’ handbook, so that explains a lot) that based on my observations, DC drivers are unclear on:

-Obey all traffic signals

-Yield to traffic and pedestrians already in the intersection or just entering the intersection. Also, yield to the vehicle or bicycle that arrives first, or to the vehicle or bicycle on your right if it reaches the intersection at the same time as you.

-Pass traffic on the left. You may pass on the right only when:
• An open highway is clearly marked for two or more lanes of travel in your direction.
• The driver ahead of you is turning left and you do not drive off the roadway to pass.

-Treat a bicycle lane the same as other traffic lanes.
• Do not turn into the lane if there is a bicyclist in the bike lane.

Right                                  Wrong
Vehicle properly passing a bicyclist.                  Vehicle improperly passing a bicyclist.

Just saying.

Read more Quick Takes at Camp Patton this week!

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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