Friday, April 19, 2013

7 quick takes


I'm beginning to think I should make a habit of these quick takes.  I have too many blog ideas.  Many of them could be a whole super-long post of their own, but I don't have time to write all those posts!  I think it's nicer anyway to give a teaser of a few ideas than 1,000 rambling words every time.  I don't edit myself much here, but sometimes I think I should.  I go really long.


On Monday I transplanted broccoli and cabbage seedlings.  Those things have been through a lot.  First Michael grabbed the tray and flipped it onto the floor, but they actually survived being scooped up and shoved back into the dirt.  Then they were almost ready to go, when I put them out to harden off and get some sun ... and then I got a fever and passed out on the couch instead of doing my evening chores, and yep -- I left them out there.  It froze overnight and the poor things were stone dead in the morning.  I watered them anyway because it's amazing what seedlings will spring back from -- but no, they were gone.  So I started alllll over.  By that point it was so late that I sowed a few outdoors as well.  I have trouble sprouting things in my garden, but I thought it was worth a shot.

So when I planted out the seedlings, sure enough, there were tiny sprouts in the garden as well.  A bit patchy, but they're there!  They are smaller than the indoor ones, but healthier-looking and not at all leggy like the inside ones are.  I'm curious to see what does better.  My money's on the outside-sprouted ones.  That's always been the case for me.  Outside, the germination rates are low, but if anything does come up, it's way healthier than what I transplant.  Someday I'd like to sprout everything outside and save myself a lot of trouble.  Our growing season is long, and I have no good place to grow seedlings indoors.  I end up moving them from window to window all day; it's a tremendous hassle and I'm always killing them.  I've never been able to sprout tomatoes or peppers outside, but I'm going to try again this year.


Oh, and there was something else amazing in there!  Carrot seedlings!  I have tried and tried and tried to grow carrots.  Last year I sowed them three or four times; no luck.  They're slow to sprout and they won't grow if you let them dry out.  I heard to sprout them under cardboard to keep the soil moist, but that didn't work either.  This year I just sprinkled them on the surface of the soil and covered them with a bit of sand.  (Our clay tends to turn into concrete, especially if you're always watering it, so it traps seeds underneath and they can't break through.  Saves on the weeding, but you can hardly direct--sow anything.)  Sure enough, I had dozens of seedlings.  So now I'm in the shocking position of having to thin them.  It feels ridiculous and also kind of heartbreaking because I have to choose which carrot babies are going to grow up.  I feel like they all deserve a chance, especially after I've wanted them so badly.

There were a few tiny beet seedlings, too.  Maybe five.  Five beets are better than no beets!  I love them pickled.


It's been kind of a bad-news week, if you haven't noticed.  Let me summarize: Kermit Gosnell (complete with horrid pictures that I wish people wouldn't post), Boston (today at Mass the priest called it "The Boston Massacre" ... that refers to something else, you know), the fertilizer plant in Texas that killed so many people and destroyed FOUR BLOCKS' worth of houses (why does no one seem to care about this one?), a bomb in a cafe in Baghdad, and several earthquakes.  I also read about two viral rapes resulting in suicide, though apparently both happened awhile back.  Did I miss anything?  Don't tell me, I don't want to know.

Sometimes I feel like people with think I'm heartless if I don't read up on all the news after every tragedy.  Don't I CARE?!  Of course I do.  If you can explain to me how reading a news article will bring people back from the dead, I'll do it.  Otherwise I'll take it to prayer and let the rest go.  I don't have to read it all.  The constant onslaught of bad news, gory pictures, and scary movies are a recipe for living in constant fear and misery.  The world seems awfully violent these days, but I think that's partly because our brains are constantly marinating in bad news.

Yesterday, after reading about the fertilizer plant, I felt literally ill.  It was just too much.  I loathe anhydrous ammonia anyway; it's a relative of WWI-era poison gas and incredibly volatile.  Why do we have it in towns, where people live?! But we can't live without it apparently; almost all farms in this country are reliant on it.  And that brings to mind things I've been reading and watching about the farm system in this country.  Last night I watched some of Dirt!  It was pretty good, but the footage of the Dust Bowl really got me.  Tons of topsoil, that had taken thousands of years to lay down, just blowing away in the wind.  And knowing that we've done nothing, nothing at all to make sure this doesn't happen again.  Topsoil is washing out to sea, clogging the Mississippi, poisoning the Gulf of Mexico, along with that nasty ammonia we use to fertilize it because it would be utterly barren on its own.  Food is one of the few things this nation exports; we've had droughts lately; and I know the whole farming system and our entire economy poised on top of it are on wobbly, wobbly ground.


I had to stop.  I can't think that way.  Terror helps nothing.  So some of yesterday and most of today, I left the computer sleeping and did other things.  I weeded my garden and checked on my seedlings.  Then I took my spindle and went out into the beautiful spring day to spin.  I used up the last of my wool roving, but now I have fifty yards of beautiful, 2-ply, laceweight wool yarn.  It's not perfectly even, but I love it all the same.  Wish I knew of anything I could make with that amount of yarn.

This morning I walked to Mass and then the playground.  It was windy and glorious.  I thought: modern life is precarious and terrifying, but the wind and the sky and the earth, these are lasting.  They feed my soul.  There is nothing on the computer that can do for me what nature does.


I suppose you've seen the Dove ads about our perceptions of our own beauty?  I watched them today, but I felt a little doubtful.  I mean, one of the mainstays of female culture is that you never, ever praise your own looks, but you must always, always praise others'.  When everyone around you is complaining about their hips and zits, you learn not to say, "Well, I for one think I look pretty darn good."  And no matter whether a woman is there to hear you, you never ever call her fat or ugly.  Not unless you hate her guts.

Let me come right out and say it: I like the way I look.  I know I'm no model, but I have nice eyes and good hair.  Oh, and my teeth, thanks to a bundle of money and three years of agony, are quite straight.  I'm not thin, but I'm a healthy weight that I don't have to struggle to maintain.

Some days I feel like a hag, especially after I've been watching movies filled with gorgeous people.  But most days I don't watch any TV.  I grew up with a mother who always thought and said I was pretty, and I have a husband who thinks so too.  So why fret?

But I can't say this.  You know I can't.  If someone asked how I look, I would probably answer "close-set eyes, pointy nose, round chin, perpetual ponytail."  Because any other answer would seem vain.  And if I was supposed to describe a stranger, I would automatically try to say nice things.  That's how we are.

There's not really such a thing as an objectively beautiful woman.  There's simply a woman who is considered beautiful by a certain person or a certain cultural standard.  I'm okay with being considered beautiful by those people I love the most, and never mind if I don't fit the cultural standard (I don't, but apparently my kind of figure was popular in ancient Greece.  That's something, right?).

And as I read elsewhere today, beauty is not the most important thing.  Not by a long shot.  John fell for me for my brains.  He thought I was pretty before but that wasn't enough to tempt him until I started showing more of my intellectual side.  And my brains will hopefully last long after my looks are gone.  Beauty may help me get a job or friends, but brains and strength and creativity and resourcefulness can keep me alive even if there is no one else around.  Kindness and patience and understanding will help me be a better mother than the yummiest mummy on the block could be without those things.  Beauty is such a minor thing to get hung up on.  How you look isn't you.


I finished watching The Hunger Games last night.  It was pretty good.  It was nothing to the book though.  The book has so many thoughts in it; how could you include those?  I was really impressed with the costumes and set design though.  The descriptions in the book leave a lot to live up to, but I think they succeeded.

Everybody else's quick takes are here.


Melody said...

I watched the Hunger Games this week, too! I liked it, but agree that the book was way better (as is usually the case). Many of your thoughts resound with me this week.

Amy said...

The state of our soil makes my heart hurt. I only very recently learned about it (taking a course--love it!), and I am torn between wanting to read more and wanting to completely ignore the whole issue, because I feel like there's not much I can do. But Dirt! the movie sounds really interesting--I will have to see if I can find it here anywhere.

Also, #6--so true. I haven't actually watched the Dove videos, but your points make total sense.

Enbrethiliel said...


1. I did 7 Quick Takes several years ago. Sometimes I think about joining up again--because several old friends do it and it's a good way to make new friends--but then I never remember in time.

2. That's too bad about the seedlings. =( I recently transplanted some "seedlings" of my own from small pots to a bigger one and am hoping for the best. (The use of quotation marks around "seedlings" is due to some uncertaintly as to whether they are proper seedlings or just sprouts.)

Oh, that reminds me: moving things from window to window was what I suspect killed my basil seedlings a couple of years ago. =(

3. My container garden includes carrot seedlings/sprouts now, too! And I'm worried about them because there's a good chance they will dry out. I'm not home most of the day, and it's a freakishly hot summer.

4. I feel the same way about following the news, but perhaps not the same way about Horror movies. ;-) Incidentally, the Slasher movie Scream 2 suggests that if the evening news had a genre, it would be Horror.

5. Maybe someone will dare you to start knitting the way you dared me to start gardening! =P

6. LOL! I kind of think I look rather good myself, now that you mention it. =D

7. Every time someone compares the Hunger Games movie to the book, I recall the scene with the gift of bread from District 11. It was my favourite part of the book and I think the movie is incredibly poorer for not having it.

Sheila said...

E, if there is a difference between seedlings and sprouts, I don't know what it is. Things in pots dry out so much faster than things in the ground. Is your pot rested inside a larger container that you can put water into? I put my pots on a cookie sheet and pour water into that so they can wick it up. (And then they mold. Of course. Growing in containers can be a hassle.)

I do knit, but I'm not very good at it. I can't seem to keep my stitches even. My goal for the yarn I spin is to weave with it, but you can't do much of anything with 50 yards. Maybe knit baby socks? That's the only thing I can think of, but I've never managed anything in the round before -- the double-pointed needles always fall out.

I did miss the scene with the bread. And it bugged me the way you couldn't tell what Katniss was thinking, whether she believed Peeta or not at any given time or what she was thinking about the political issues. Her character was very interesting to me; she's so simple and straightforward that she's always missing the point. How do you convey that? John had lots of questions as well, because there's so much they just leave unexplained because they can't explain it, like the three-fingered salute thing. There's really no good way to explain that.

Renee said...

on #4,

Do not feel guilty, about that!

I live just outside Boston, and there is not reason for you to get so worked up, watching 24 hours straight of what occurred here.

The social media reaction reminded me of of people's reactions to Newtown, they wanted to make it personal for them and how it affected them. Reporters assigned to cover, were all over the town. The town was engulfed by the media because American needed to grieve. Instead our consumption to grieve, failed to respect the privacy of the town.

From someone else,
"The truth is, however, that I don’t understand their pain. I couldn’t possibly because it’s not my reality. Letting my mind play over the horrific happenings does me no good. It doesn’t do any good for my family, nor does it do any good for the grieving families."

In some cases people lost life and limbs. Yes, limbs! I, however didn't experience that.This family did, though in Lowell, and another in Chelmsford and Dracut. (my area) I do not know them. This tragedy does have an affect all of us, but I respect the victims space for privacy and need to be there for each other.

So yes, you a normal person. You are not a jerk.

Anonymous said...

I can't handle the news anymore either. I listen on the radio and read a bit on line, but I tend to shut it down when everyone else is ramping up as well.

In a rare switch, I saw the movie Hunger Games before reading the book. I was impressed with how closely the movie followed the plot. I was impressed with how well teen narcissism was wrapped into the anti-utopianism in the book.

Anonymous said...

I can't handle the news anymore either. I listen on the radio and read a bit on line, but I tend to shut it down when everyone else is ramping up as well.

In a rare switch, I saw the movie Hunger Games before reading the book. I was impressed with how closely the movie followed the plot. I was impressed with how well teen narcissism was wrapped into the anti-utopianism in the book.

Enbrethiliel said...


I've commissioned my brother to do a bit of watering in the late afternoon. I hope that he remembers!

Would the trick with the cookie sheet work even with a deep pot? I have the carrot seedlings growing in a deep container, and I imagine that their roots are still pretty far away from the bottom.

Sheila said...

I would think so -- water soaks through soil really well. Think of it as like a sponge. You don't have to water the plant, just keep the soil damp, and you can do that by watering any part of the soil. This is especially the case if you're using potting soil.

Betsy said...

Sheila, I think it's wonderful that you're happy with how you look! Maybe it's just me, but most women I've known do NOT think they are pretty. All they can see are the flaws, and those flaws become exaggerated in their minds. I think it's easier for many of us to see the beauty in others than it is to see it in ourselves. That's why I think this Dove video resounds with so many people. I can tell that it means something to them because they keep sharing it on Facebook. :-) Anyway, I wish I had a healthy attitude like yours!

Sheila said...

Well, think of it this way. You and I look so much alike that you can pretty much just appreciate my beauty, and then turn around and apply all that to yourself!

You're very pretty, anyway. I think so and I know Kyle thinks so. I'd say your prettiest feature is your amazing smile, but you probably don't know it because you don't beam at mirrors and cameras the way you do at people. It's downright beatific and it makes me feel special every time you flash it at me.

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