Friday, September 16, 2016

7 fall takes


John, I'm sure, would remind me that fall has not started yet.  And therefore we can't be experiencing "fall weather" because the weather we're experiencing is normal for mid-September, which is part of summer.

BUT.  I am wearing a sweater today.  His argument is invalid.

It's not just that either.  There is a tree in our yard with one reddish branch.  The oak tree has brown leaves starting to appear here and there, and all the black walnut trees in the area have yellow ones scattered around.  I haven't seen any sumac lately, but it might already be finished -- it's always the first to change colors.

So yesterday I called it: since it's definitely feeling like fall, that means it's definitely time to make pie.

Apple, because I'm not a lemming.  Just because pumpkin spice is "cool" doesn't mean pumpkin is what you start fall with.  You start with apple and move on to pumpkin in October.  Well, that's my opinion anyway.

Did you know pie is actually REALLY easy to make?   You hear complicated instructions about pie crust, but it's not actually hard to get it "good enough."  Perfection -- both flaky AND easy to handle -- is hard, but if you're willing to accept a slightly messy-looking pie because you tore holes in it and had to patch it, that's pretty simple to do.  My crust took a total of about 20 minutes to make, and it was deliciously flaky if a little homely.  And the filling, that's just a matter of cutting up fruit and sprinkling it with flour, sugar, and cinnamon, even easier.  You should make a pie today.


I had a really, really horrible week or two healthwise.  I just felt so lethargic.  Getting up from chairs, I felt dizzy and saw stars.  Functioning as a responsible adult felt like this Herculean task.  I was getting pretty good sleep most of that time, but I still would find myself dozing off in the afternoon -- which I really can't afford because even with the TV on, the kids get in fights or wander off.

It was really demoralizing; I couldn't do anything I enjoyed.  Even reading a book felt really hard -- I couldn't focus.  Answering emails?  Forget it.  Too much work.  I scrolled through Facebook a lot, aching to lie down but afraid if I did I would fall asleep.

I considered a lot of possibilities.  It felt like low blood sugar, dehydration, or sleep deprivation, except I was eating, drinking, and sleeping fine.  Might have been anemia, but my midwife should have my lab reports by now and I would think if they showed anemia she would have called me.  (Of course I could have called her but that is HARD.)  Then again low blood pressure is common right around this part of pregnancy because your blood volume needs increase.  My blood pressure was normal at my last appointment, but then I felt fine that day anyway.

Then weirdly I just started suddenly feeling better.  It could have been any number of things.  It could have been that I started putting flaxseed in my English muffins or that I ran out of prenatal vitamins (have they been POISONING me?) or that I started soaking in epsom salts for the magnesium.  Or maybe it just passed.  All I know is I can go to bed at 10, be up for an hour with Miriam at night, get up at six or seven, and feel okay all day now.  I have accomplished several things per day without hating every minute!  So, all I can say is, I hope this lasts.  I like functioning.


Marko is officially registered as a homeschooler, just in time for him to lose all interest in school.  I really believe it's best for him to be mostly self-motivated right now and that if he's not keen on reading at the moment, I should wait.  But MAN does it take patience and forebearance.  I know it'll turn him off reading if I push too hard.  On the other hand I don't want him to forget all he knows.  I've done a trade with him ("if you read five pages of this book to me, I'll read this Star Wars book to you") and I've tried to incorporate his current obsessions ("I wrote a story about ghosts and skeletons for you!") but it's been kind of like pulling teeth.  I blame how fun our new house is, and how busy he's been playing in it.  Plus, I haven't been as available for school stuff in the past couple months as I should have been.  (This is why I shudder at the thought of homeschooling while having  a baby every other year.  Isn't that a guarantee that the older kids' school will be constantly disrupted?  It's disrupted enough with just Miriam, who does not like sharing my attention.)

I figure I'll just keep offering stuff and checking out easy readers and we'll see how it goes.  Maybe now is a better time for math or science than reading anyway.  I just feel like the pressure is on because at the end of the year we have to "demonstrate progress" in one of several approved ways and the whole concept terrifies me.  What are they going to do if they don't think he's made enough "progress"?


I have officially read all the Terry Pratchett books the library has.  They were all super awesome; I highly recommend them.  There's adventure, but not a lot of gruesome death or heartrending loss.  There are interesting themes but no preachiness.  I think my favorites are Small Gods and Reaper Man -- one about a minor deity having a change of heart and the other about Death having a change of heart.  What can I say -- I guess I'm interested in the theologically impossible!

What should I read next?  I have already forgotten everything people have recommended to me in the past, so .... feel free to repeat yourselves.  I need to keep a running booklist.


It's always on the verge of having another kid that I start to really appreciate the size family I have.  Three kids is a really good number.  And more importantly, not having anybody under two.  It's especially great when we go out.  When it's time to leave the house, everyone uses the bathrom before we go and no one has to wear a diaper anymore.  Everyone can run out to the car themselves and only Miriam needs help buckling.  Everyone is good about holding my hand in the parking lot.  And we're good for a couple of hours at the park or library before anyone starts asking to go home or eat a snack.

Now, don't get me wrong: if I mistakenly try to do a big grocery shop in the afternoon when they're tired and cranky, or if Miriam is having a tough day and wants to spend the entire time at the park being held, it's not super fun.  But it is just so much easier to do stuff when you don't have a baby (and a hulking diaper bag) to worry about.

At home, too, they sometimes all disappear outside or into the playroom and don't fight or cry for minutes on end!  Or they all split up and play their individual things perfectly happily.  Miriam tends to stay up a little later than the others, and though I wish she wouldn't, I have to admit it's really fun to sit with her in the playroom as she makes tea for me, makes food for her "babies" (one of which is a koala and another of which is a bear), sits her babies on the potty, puts them to bed, builds towers of duplos, and basically is busy as a bee doing what she calls "work."  As I've said before -- Peak Cute.


So I read a news story about the SSPX, which got me googling for more information, which led me onto some traddie blogs.  I usually try to steer clear of these because they raise my blood pressure, but it's kind of like a train wreck -- I get fascinated by the awfulness.

You see, most Catholics are very cagey about the more iffy things in the Church's history.  They either don't know about that stuff, or they pretend it didn't happen, or they have complicated reasons why that wasn't doctrine, or there was a good reason for it at the time, or whatever.  And in some cases they have a good point.  But traditionalists aren't so bashful.  They actively dig up the worst, most embarrassing words and actions of early Catholics and gleefully agree with them.

Which is why there's no better way to question your faith than by listening to them.  They will tell it to you straight: the Church used to teach some really awful things.  It's up to you to decide if that's a dealbreaker or not.  The traditionalists don't seem to see why it would be.  Their problem is trying to figure out how a church supposedly guided by God could stop believing that stuff.

Anyway, I'm sharing the really horrifying links because I want to point out that Catholicism is, in many ways, a big tent and that these ideas have been held by many, many faithful Catholics over the centuries.  Saints lived and died believing them, as the quotes attest, and while there are really good arguments why Catholics today don't have to .... it's still kind of bad that they're in there at all.  And I am tired of constantly being told that the Church "never taught that" or "never did that" or "only bad Catholics would ever say that."

Here and here are two on the Church's treatment of Jews.  Both authors wrote their posts to defend their own anti-semitism.  They point out that forcing Jews to wear distinguishing marks, expelling them from countries, or enslaving them are entirely within the tradition of the Church -- and therefore, of course, that makes them perfectly justified in wishing to do the same things.  Finding quotes from the saints in there -- St. Pius V, Bl. Julian of Norwich, Padre Pio, etc. -- was kind of shocking to me; I guess I had assumed that these were people who would take the moral high ground even in opposition to cultural prejudice.  I found both posts eye-opening because I wasn't really aware of the extent to which Jews used to be persecuted.  I guess that's something we can thank Hitler for -- that now very few people want to be anti-semitic, because we know how bad it can get.

And here is a post making the exact argument that I have made here: if God wanted to save everyone, he could do it; the fact that he doesn't do it proves he doesn't want to.  Only I shied away from the conclusion he draws.  My conclusion was that there could not possibly be any hell because it didn't serve any of God's stated ends.  His is that God prefers to glorify himself by the eternal torment of most of the people he ever created.  [Because yes, of course this guy believes that the invincibly ignorant and unbaptized infants are punished just like sinners are.]  I hear Calvinists believe the same.  It seems obvious to me that a being that would do a thing like that would be unworthy of worship.  Yet I understand the argument -- on the one hand, morality does not exist apart from God so if God says it's the right thing to do, it is; and on the other, morality doesn't matter because what really matters is making sure you're not one of the ones being tormented forever.  I disagree with both premises, but that would have to be a whole other post.


John's work recently had their big annual fundraiser, which is a benefit polo match.  Polo looks to me like a sport for crazy people -- I mean, hockey is dangerous enough when you don't bring horses into it.  But the donors love it.  There's a fancy-hat contest and a luncheon and all the posh things you might imagine.

So after it was over I got some leftover party favors: four boxes of fancy chocolate.  I want it out of my house so it doesn't tempt me, but on the other hand I want to eat it all.  And I can now, because my stomach has gotten a lot better.  I did get a stomachache one time when I had four pieces of candy after dinner, but at least I can have some.

Still.  If you live near me and want some chocolate, send me a message.  Like, soon.  :D


The Sojourner said...

I really want to make a pie now but I lack shortening. I should remedy that next time I go shopping.

Also I should probably buy some apples so I'm not a heretic. :p I did buy a can of pumpkin when I was at Aldi because 89 cents. I am not sure what I'll do with it (bake a pie next month?) but just the idea of having pumpkin in my pantry is soothing.

Sheila said...

You can use butter for pie too. Just make sure it's all the way cold. My recipe calls for 1/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup shortening, but I use all butter and it always turns out fine.

Have I shared my recipe for pumpkin muffins here? I should. They are tasty and very easy. You do need molasses for them though.

Nothing wrong with pumpkin things that are savory either -- pumpkin soup, creamy pumpkin pasta. But not everyone goes for that. I usually spice it with curry or else sage.

The Sojourner said...

I do have a recipe for pumpkin muffins. It does not call for molasses, which is good because I don't have that either. (My pantry is full of stuff, believe it or not, just apparently not the right baking stuff!)

Charlemagne said...

When the Halloween candy and masks start coming out, it's autumn, no question.

Sheila said...

I hate Halloween stuff appearing the second back-to-school is over. It results in an obsession with "make our costumes NOW" and "buy our candy NOW" among kids who have no notion at all of what "two more months" means.

(So far they both want to be skeletons. But Michael at least is likely to change his mind several times before Halloween.)

Cristina said...

Here's a mindset trick I learned from the online language community (which I later heard again from someone who has coached Olympic athletes): Never focus on how far you are from your goal, because you'll always be further away than you like and you'll just feel that you're not making progress. Instead, focus on how far you are from where you started, because you'll see that you are making progress and it will energize you to keep going.

In any case, there's no way Marko is going to go through one year learning nothing!

Of course, this doesn't guarantee he'll make whatever "progress" the state is looking for, but feeling energized to do more work is better than just trudging along. (This was certainly the case with the athletes' coaches: they weren't hired to teach technique, but to teach mindset.)

* * * * *

The only Terry Pratchett novel I've read is Good Omens, which he wrote with Neil Gaiman. Are you done with it, too?

But I was greatly reminded of my friends who are Pratchett fans when I recently read a Piers Anthony novel (Ogre, Ogre). At least both authors seem to have Fantasy world building and funny word play in common. Anthony has a long back list as well, so if you like his stuff, you'll have a lot of books to go through!

* * * * *

The anti-Semitic Trads remind me of Harry Crocker joking that he longed for the days when one could be a lusty warlord and a devout Catholic at the same time. And I'm sure he was only half-joking! But as you point out, the Church is a big tent: it's perfectly possible to believe in every point of the Nicene Creed and in the Real Presence, and to hold all sorts of peripheral views as well. Perhaps hundreds of years in the future, someone will look back at our time and long for the days one could be a pro-choice feminist and a devout Catholic at the same time!

And I'm not being facetious. The odds are good that Pope Francis or a successor of his will canonize someone who can be made to fit that description by people who want to defend their own beliefs -- just like the anti-Semitic Trad bloggers! But seriously, how much of a deal breaker is "being pro-choice"? If one has not had an abortion or actively enabled one, what can this label tell us about him? Even the most "pro-life" people in the world can be said to be "pro-choice" in the sense that they want everyone to choose life freely and willingly. And I think most people will admit that those who blow up abortion clinics are as extreme as the Muslims who engage in terrorism, and not representative of all pro-life people or all Muslims. (If they won't admit it, point out that's not even statistically possible!) Similarly, if someone hasn't worked to expel Jews from his country or otherwise acted on anti-Semitic beliefs, how much of a deal-breaker are their views on that one issue?

Charlemagne said...

Consider the early Halloween decoration our revenge for being forced to view Santa Claus coming up the day after, when we're still undergoing post-Halloween withdrawal.

Sheila said...

Didn't see the last two comments till now!

The library doesn't have Good Omens, which is a shame because I heard it's good. I binged heavily on Piers Anthony in middle school -- I've read almost everything he had written at the time. I do enjoy the puns.

St. Pius V actually *did* expel the Jews from the Papal States. So he put his hateful words into action with that one.

Dorothy Day actually DID have an abortion and may someday be canonized! But of course she was *sorry* for it. I would like it if she did become a saint; I admire her a lot.

Sheila said...

Charlemagne, I also hate the premature Christmassing. WHY can we not have the holidays at the time of year they are supposed to be?!

Cristina said...

I still wonder how much of a deal-breaker that is. Some Catholics have hated Jews; other Catholics have hated the rosary. It's shocking at first when people don't conform to what we've come to think is non-negotiable but really isn't; yet what the Faith actually demands of us in belief and action is so little that a big tent is inevitable.

Cristina said...

I'm back to say I shouldn't have muddied the waters by making this about Pope Pius V's actions. (Your post overlapped perfectly with to a Marcos-related discussion I was having somewhere else, and I had trouble keeping the discussions separate.) All I was thinking about were, well, his thoughts.

And when I floated the question of whether it is possible for someone to have certain unfashionable views and still be a good Catholic, I was really wondering about myself. Over the years, I have become reasonably convinced that there is a basis for thinking that traits beyond physical appearance are passed on through genes. I didn't want this any more than you wanted your deconversion, but it was hard to ignore all the arguments and evidence and still think of myself as intellectually honest. For me, the biggest surprise was emerging from the process and not being the evil stereotype that people with these views supposedly are. Not everyone who holds these views automatically becomes a Nazi any more than everyone who becomes Muslim automatically becomes a suicide bomber. If I were judged entirely by my actions, I'll bet people would say I believe everyone in the world is perfectly equal. It's just my thoughts (and occasionally, my words) that don't pass the "purity test" of this age, which brings me back to the question of how much those even matter.

As I said earlier, they don't really hinder me from believing every point in the Nicene Creed or in the Real Presence. And well, I think everyone in the world, regardless of what his DNA looks like, can believe in the Nicene Creed and in the Real Presence, too. There are certain prudential judgments I would make now that I would never have made before this deconversion (e.g., which countries it is safe for me to visit as a woman traveling alone), but otherwise, nothing has changed.

This isn't really to argue with you. Your point was that Catholicism is a big tent and that it's possible to be a saint while holding views that others find horrifying -- and I totally agree with that. But I just think that anti-Semitism among historical Catholics (or even contemporary traditionalist Catholics) is an odd deal breaker. Having said that, I can't imagine what a good deal breaker would be that isn't actually something we're required to believe or do. The absolute essentials of the Faith are pretty clear. You either believe those or you don't, and if you believe them side by side with people whose other views you find abhorrent, that's a feature of the big tent!

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