Friday, January 31, 2014

7 quick takes


Things have been stressful lately.  All kinds of reasons.  The result of this is that when it comes to "me time," I am too tired to do anything worthwhile.  Spin?  Blurg.  Blog?  Meh.  Read something in-depth?  Nah.  How come my internet comics only update once a day?    I usually describe this as feeling bored, but it isn't really bored.  It's just lacking energy and interest.  When you're tab-surfing all over the internet and whining that "There's nothing gooooood onnnnnn," you know it's not a lack of material.  The boredom is within me.


However, in the interest of overcoming my flaws, I have been doing a few things.  For instance, I'm spinning some llama wool, which turns out to be super awesome.  I don't know why I thought llama wasn't soft!  Sure, it has guard hairs which you have to pull out, which is a bit of a hassle.  But the resulting yarn is just so delightful.  Even before I ply and wash it, it's super soft, while most things I've spun are kind of wiry when they first go onto the spindle.

The question then is what to do with it.  I know some of it is going to go back to the dear friend who gave me the fiber, and some is going to be sold, but I want to do something with some of it myself.  I know that llama is extremely warm, that it's not at all elastic, and that it's nice and soft.  So what would you make?  Socks are out, unless I blended it with something, because those require stretch.  Shawl?  Baby blanket?  Both of those require a lot of yardage.  So I'm bouncing around the notions of a hat, baby sweater, or a scarf.  Other ideas welcome.


I also just read Ceremony of Innocence, by one of my favorite bloggers (Dorothy Cummings McLean, who writes Seraphic Singles) and enjoyed it.  I'm not quite sure what genre to call it.  I think she says it's a "thriller," whatever that is.  What it mainly is is a mystery, but the mystery is revealed through a lot of flashbacks rather than detective work.  And the central question is not so much "who did it?" (though I was dying to know), but "what is right, what is wrong, and who can claim to be innocent?"

It was very interesting and made me think.  I disagreed on some points with the author .... although it is possible that I actually don't disagree with her, but that she simply was stepping back to let me make a conclusion she wanted me to make, but wasn't explicit about.

Mysterious enough?  I'd hate to spoil it for you.  Buy the book.  People complain there's no good Catholic fiction, but you aren't in any position to complain if, when it comes out, you don't buy it.  The reason there isn't much excellent Catholic fiction is that when people write it (and they do!), their publishers say, "But we don't think we could sell that.  No one buys their fiction from their Catholic publisher."


I keep whining about money, and I know I shouldn't.  It just hurts to watch our income dwindle, even as the numbers stay exactly the same, because of inflation.  It makes me angry to hear that the government is willfully printing more money and injecting it into the economy and then claiming it "doesn't cause inflation."  How exactly is that supposed to work?  Inflation numbers are low because they do not count the price of gasoline, housing, or food.  Well, those are most people's main expenses (in addition to healthcare, which is skyrocketing for its own reasons), so inflation can still drive people into poverty even when, by the government's numbers, it doesn't exist at all.

The worst of it is that the only reason the government uses those inflation numbers is because they are required to adjust social security payments to inflation, and they wanted to keep those payments as low as possible.  So now Grandma can't afford food, housing, or gas ... but that's okay, cellphones are getting cheaper all the time!

Meanwhile, of course, our own needs are growing.  You know how I was complaining a month or two ago that the kids wouldn't eat?  Suddenly they are eating everything in sight and demanding more.  I buy tremendous amounts of food for tremendous amounts of money, and snap! gone.  At any rate I can be glad that the kids are getting enough to eat.  But the rate our grocery bill is skyrocketing .... it keeps me up at night.

Anyway, John had TWO interviews last week, and we are very excited that he could finally have a chance to work in his field and therefore make significantly more.  One, the less promising one, already chose someone else, but the really exciting one is still doing interviews, so John is still in the running.  If you would like to say a prayer, that would be great.


I fell asleep during the homily last Sunday (Michael has been up all night teething, and YOU try staying awake after a sleepless night when a snuggly toddler is napping in your lap) and thus got a great sermon.  I woke up briefly to hear the priest say, "Just like we can't say 'I am for Paul' or 'I am for Apollos,' we shouldn't say we are 'Benedict Catholics' or 'Francis Catholics.'  We are all Catholics.  And we can't choose only to listen to the Pope we liked best."

I rejoiced, thinking "Finally this priest understands!  He might jive best with Benedict, but he's going to take Francis' words to heart too!"  John tells me that was not at all the point of the sermon.  But I meditated on just those words as I nodded back off, and they meant a lot to me.  We can't be divided between fan clubs.  We have to realize that Benedict's words and Francis' words came from the same root, which is Christ, and that both of them can bring us to Christ.


I don't seem to remember winter in Virginia usually being this long and cold.  John says I always say that.  Time flies for me in the summer, and crawls all winter long.  I get very tired and depressed in the winter.  It's not a lack of sunshine -- there's sun reflecting off the snow right now! -- but I hate being cold and I also hate being stuck inside.  So there you are.

I want it to be spring NOW.  At least it is almost February.  And though February has nothing else to recommend it, it is the shortest month.  And as soon as it's over, no matter how cold it still is out, I am planting some broccoli seedlings inside and maybe even putting some peas outside.  I read recently that you can plant peas as early as you like, they'll just wait for the weather they need and then come up.  We'll see if that's true.  I do know my only hope of having peas before the hot weather kills them all is to get them in the very earliest I can.  And sugar snap peas are just about my favorite thing ever .... and I never buy them because the price is ridiculous.

Oh, for another thing I hate about winter -- expensive vegetables and nothing fresh.  Ugh.  I want to eat tomatoes that are still warm from the sun.  And lettuce that's just had the dirt brushed off two minutes ago.  And cilantro and mint and dill.



That reminds me of some plans I have for the garden this year.  What better time to share them -- it is, after all, traditionally seed-ordering month.

I'm not growing any squash this year.  Last year I had both squash bugs AND squash borers, zillions of them.  I'm positive their babies are all wintering over under the mulch, and my garden isn't big enough to put any distance between the old and new beds.  So I'm going to try sweet potatoes instead.  I love them, and I hear they are very easy to grow.  As a bonus, they're not troubled by any of the pests that trouble the rest of the garden because they're in a whole different family, the morning glory family.  And really they don't taste very different from pumpkin.  Plus, SWEET POTATO FRIES.  Need I say more?

I'd like to try New Zealand spinach.  Apparently it tastes just like spinach (which I love) but can withstand the heat.  And since I've tried three years to grow spinach and gotten ONE tiny plant which promptly bolted, I think it's worth a try.

Last year I had three red potatoes start sprouting, so I planted them.  One rotted but the other two gave me some nice little new potatoes.  And though I don't have close to enough room to supply our potato needs (at least 5 lbs a week!), I figure I'll plant a few this year so we can have a couple meals of new potatoes.  I wish I could replace store potatoes with homegrown though.  I can't afford organic, and it's depressing to know that potatoes are THE most heavily sprayed crop and also the one we eat a tremendous volume of.  John and the kids love them, and when you don't eat gluten, what else is there?  (Quinoa and rice are not favorites, sadly.)

And I have a resolution: if my homegrown starts don't succeed, given my lack of light in this house, I will buy some.  Last year I kept trying to manage with my scrawny half-dead seedlings, and I wasted a lot of garden space waiting for them to catch up, which they never really did.  Which is more expensive, a $2 tomato seedling, or having to buy $2 clamshells of tomatoes EVERY WEEK?  It's an investment that it would be crazy not to make.

More takes at Conversion Diary, as always.  How has your week been?


Hannah, Horn, and Hannabert said...

I have Annie's Heirloom Seed catalog on my desk right now, trying to decide what to plant. We moved last summer so didn't plant anything except some herbs.

Belfry Bat said...

Of course "printing" money doesn't cause inflation; most "money" that circulates, now-a-days has never been printed, anyway. (That is, I quite agree with you, but the lie is even craftier than the wrong inflation index).

Belfry Bat said...

... and I see I missed one comma. Do I seem to write with the New Yorker comma style?

The Sojourner said...

Prayers for John's job search, definitely. (Scott's had a couple of interviews fall into his lap the last few weeks but no job offers have materialized yet. He's working in his field but as a contractor--terrible pay and no benefits, which just doesn't work for us anymore with a baby in the mix.)

Enbrethiliel said...


#4 -- Inflation makes me angry, too. Your point about cheaper gadgets but more expensive food reminds me of another American friend's critique of government interference in the economy. He said that outsourcing decent production jobs and then telling the locals that they have more "freedom" because they can choose among several different cheaply-made DVD players is one of the biggest lies of the modern era.

#5 -- So what was the point Father was trying to make? I'm really curious!

#7 -- Last year's gardening project wasn't very successful, but I want to try sweet potato next.

Sheila said...

Well, my more experienced gardening friend tells me sweet potatoes require no effort! She stuck six plants in the ground and got a laundry basket full in the fall. Of course what is "easy" to grow and what is "hard" depends greatly on climate.

Father's point was to criticize dissenting Catholics who identified themselves as "Francis Catholics." I don't see that as picking and choosing so much as just insulting Pope Francis. But whatever. I would prefer it if the sermons were less negative, but napping seems an excellent alternative to getting grumpy.

Leaving out one of a pair of commas is a pet peeve of mine, BB. I even saw one in the National Catholic Register the other day. I knew the journalist and was tempted to write him to suggest an edit, but I was afraid he'd think I didn't appreciate the article, which was excellent. Still. Paired commas can be omitted together, but you can never just omit one.

Sojourner, the best of luck. Unemployment may be stable, but they never mention underemployment. And it seems the universal condition of people my age. I'm hoping all that means is that we are going to take a few more years to get established on our careers, and not that it will always be this way.

HHH, whatever else you grow, grow tomatoes! Cherokee Purples are my favorite; they never fail me.

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