Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear God,

My apologies. Ninety degrees and sunny was much more pleasant than I expected. (Maybe You really don't make mistakes!)

Dear God,

I appreciate that you gave April's showers a rest, as per my request. However, I apparently did not make myself clear. I was anticipating the imminent arrival of May's flowers, not August's sweltering 90* heat. No hard feelings, but I look forward to a replacement at your earliest convenience.

All the best,

Sunday, April 26, 2009

At PostSecret this week. . .

(Sometimes I feel the same way. Everyone knows I'm Catholic, but they'd be appalled if they knew I considered that to mean that I actually believe and attempt to practice the tenets of Catholicism.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just wondering

Do you ever take a break from writing your 15-page research paper that you ignored until the weekend before it was due, and read the news for a few minutes, and thinking to yourself, "I bet I wouldn't have to hand this in if I got swine flu!"

(I know, I'm a terrible person. No need to let me know.)

I'm a Catholic

A few years ago, I stumbled onto Jim Shoulak's music here*. I haven't ever bought his cd, so I'm only familiar with what's on that page, but I particularly love "I'm a Catholic." I regularly forget about it, then remember some months later and have to go googling to find it.

*I'm not endorsing the rest of that website, which seemed to contain a few iffy things that it would take a more learned theologian than I to evaluate.

Friday, April 24, 2009

And don't forget to nominate and vote for your favorite "little" Catholic blogs at The Crescat!

Cannonball Catholic Blog Awards
No Quick Takes for my this Friday, since I've been too busy writing a last-minute research paper on the policies governing the treatment of human remains in museum collections (honestly, I can't get enough of this topic. 2 semesters in a row now I'm writing on similar topics). Be sure to check out 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary, though!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


It is generally ill-advised to ignore term papers until the week before they're due. When will I learn?

Posting will be light for the next week or two.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Flower Garden

My mom's uncle might be psychic, or else the mass quantity of forwarded e-mail he sends everyone in his address book may just make the odds good that he send something I find worthwhile when I find it worthwhile.

Click here for some Springtime!

(Click once you've reached the black page.)

These May Flowers Better Be Freakin' Gorgeous

It rained all last week. When I woke up on Friday, there was not a cloud in the sky, not as far as the eye could see. I took an umbrella anyway. Mother Nature needs to earn my trust back. So far, she's doing a terrible job.

This weekend was gorgeous. Utterly gorgeous. Rhett and I went down to the Tidal Basin and went paddle-boating. We walked around the mall. We found a BookCrossing book! We saw a mother duck on her nest. We got lunch from a hotdog vendor on a street corner. We got tan, which is rare - we're a couple of pasty white kids. It was perfect. One of the best days I've had in a long time.

By Sunday night, as I was heading to church, I decided to take the bus, since the clouds and wind looked ominous.

This morning, it was pouring. (Even though I had, for once, dried my hair before I left the house!) The bus was late, and my umbrella's big enough to keep my head dry, but not big enough to cover both my toes and my backpack. It's after noon, now, and my socks and shoes are still wet. (I'm at work in a big sweatshirt that belongs to Rhett, looking more like I'm hanging out in the apartment on a rainy day than at my job on a rainy day. When my toes dry out, and I stop feeling cold and wet, maybe I'll be amenable to taking off my sweatshirt.) When the bus finally showed up, the rain didn't stop. No, the rain continued, even inside the bus. When I sat by the window, it dripped onto my side from the vents. When I sat by the aisle, it dripped onto my head from the ceiling. Rain water filtered through a 30-year-old Metro bus is undoubtedly ickier than rain water straight from the clouds. I feel dirty. Weather reports say the rain is supposed to continue through the week.

May flowers are so not worth it.

Prayer Request

I heard last night that a friend's mother had a brain aneurysm. She wasn't expected to live, but is doing as well as could be expected after surgery. They still aren't sure if she'll make it, and have said that if she does survive, she'll likely be paralyzed. Please pray, for her survival and recovery and for her 3 kids in this difficult time.

Georgetown Scarf

This is the scarf I made for Rhett this winter. I got the pattern from. . . a homeless man on a bus. That story is part of the reason I love my neighborhood; people may not be well-off, but they're kind and decent people. (We'll ignore for now the pressing issue of street violence.)

I had been in DC for New Year's Eve, but was heading back to NY for the rest of my break in the early days of January. I was taking a Chinatown bus, but had gotten to Chinatown - mercifully very early - only to realize that I'd forgotten my ticket! I got back on the Metro bus to head home and pick it up. Sitting near the back of the bus, I noticed that the man across the aisle was wearing a crocheted scarf, in the style pictured above, in blue and gray Georgetown colors. He was talking to his friend, but they noticed me staring (I hadn't realized how intently I'd been looking at him) and said hello. I said hello, apologized for staring, and said I was just admiring his scarf and trying to figure out how I could make one like it. He took it off and tossed it across the aisle to me. I looked at the stitches for a couple minutes to figure out how it had been made (I think it was a double crochet - at least that's what I ended up using when I tried to replicate it), and when I tried to give it back, he told me I could keep it.

Of course, I wasn't about to take his scarf, so I insisted on giving it back, and said that since I wanted to make one like it as a gift for my boyfriend, it would be better if I made it myself than kept his. I got off at my stop, ran back to my house, grabbed my ticket, and went back to the bus stop to wait for the bus in the other direction.

While I'm waiting for my bus back to Chinatown, I see and his friend walking down the street again. He says hello, and take his scarf off to try to give it to me again. I keep protesting, and he eventually puts it back on.

Then he asks me for money "to help him buy a sandwich."

Usually, I say no to people asking for change. If I don't say no, the most I do is give them change. But this was clearly a nice guy, who had twice tried to give me his own scarf. He had tried to give something to me before he had ever asked me to give something to him. And we had a relationship by that point (I still wish I had asked his name). So I gave him $5, and never regretted it for a moment, never felt like I'd been had. I was only glad I could help him, and grateful to have gotten a pattern I really liked for a scarf that Rhett was (eventually, once I finally bought the yarn and actually made it) really excited for.

Friday, April 17, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XIV

1. I know that Sister Mary Martha always says not to choose a Lenten penance that has an "and besides. . ." But I think I did so accidentally this year, and in the past week I've heard several times that I look like I've lost weight. It really wasn't the chocolate, I'm almost positive. I became very adept at snacking on potato chips instead, eating Vienna Fingers when I wanted Oreos, and substituting Dulce de Leche for Double Fudge Brownie. (I don't think I'm very good at Lent.) But in order to make sacrificing chocolate a real sacrifice, I have to give up peanut butter, too. You see, while any of the above are very poor alternatives that leave me still craving chocolate, peanut butter by the spoonful is very satisfying in the face of a chocolate craving. Having a tablespoon (or 4) or peanut butter when I want a Twix bar is a completely acceptable alternative to me. What I really think made me lose weight, though I hadn't considered that this was a possibility when I was planning my Lent, was that peanut butter is also one of the only things I ever eat for lunch on workdays. So I skipped a lot of lunches, and ate a lot of oatmeal. I'd have to check, but I'm sure my oatmeal is lower-calorie (and I know it's higher fiber) than my PB&J, and so, voila! I lost 5 pounds. I didn't mean to, I promise!
2. Though I wasn't trying to lose weight during Lent, I'm certainly trying to keep it off during Easter. Now that I'm back to my PB&J and to being dependant on my will-power to say no to mid-afternoon candy bars. . .I don't have high hopes.
3. I am also now back at work after almost a week off. I really do like my job, but all I can say is ICK! I much prefer my free time.
4. I know "following the rules" of Catholicism is relatively rare, but when I'm in DC during the year, it's just me and the internet being Catholic, and so it seems like the most natural thing in the world that I should be at least trying to follow the rules (and believe me, trying is usually the best I can come up with). When I went home, though, it was me and my whole family being Catholic, and I was still the only one trying to follow the rules. I don't want to go into too many details, though I could write several posts on the topic if I did, but the disbelieving, disapproving looks when I didn't eat anything on Good Friday, and the problems caused when no one understood why it might be a conflict to schedule our egg-dying during the last opportunity for Confession before Easter made me feel like I must be some sort of a fundamentalist. More than rejoicing in the Resurrection, Easter at home just made me wish I could be normal. Catholicism really seems so much easier when all it means is church on (most) Sundays, but how do they handle the cognitive dissonance of professing belief in an institution whose teachings they don't believe?
5. I shouldn't think this is funny, but I do: Number of Pirates Killed by Each President

6. On Wednesday, I posted about Twittering the Passion via Blogger's new (to me) "post by e-mail" feature. I think it may have existed in the past, I just never noticed it. I find it very cool, though it's very dangerous that now I can blog from work without looking so much like I'm blogging from work. Uh oh.
7. When I went home for Easter, there was a long-awaited envelope in my mail pile. It was the Civil War records of a man with my great-great-great-grandfather's name, and these records were supposed to tell me whether or not it was my relative who had joined the Union army (and then deserted after 3 days). They did not. The man in these records is very similar to my ancestor in a lot of ways, and very different in others, like being almost 20 years his junior. I find this hugely frustrating!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Genealogical Joke

From the Brooklyn Eagle, H/T The Genealogue.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tweets from Golgotha

Well, this is one way evangelize the internet generation:

Jesus Tweets for a Good Friday

It's not quite the Passion play I saw on Friday (performed by the HS students of my cousin's parish). . . but I think I like it. It seems to have been respectfully "performed" ("tweeted"?).

(I also came across this Facebook Seder the other night, which seems to be a more humorous take on combining social networking with Pascha/Pesach. Wish I could remember where I found it. I think it's hysterical, but I'm not Jewish and have never been to a Seder, so I'm sure I'm in no position to determine its appropriateness or its humor.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maccaroni with Pumpkin Sauce

I found this super-simple, super-delicious recipe for "Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta" on Rachael Ray's website. I simply didn't add the few of the ingredients I didn't have, and kind of generally halved it, since I'm only one, and it claims to feed six. (One would think that halved recipe should feed three, but instead it just fed me.) The recipe I made used these ingredient; I copied Rachael Ray's instruction's below.

  • Elbow maccaroni
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 (plus a little) cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
2. While the pasta is working, in a medium skillet, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the
shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin and cream. Add the hot sauce, cinnamon and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sage.
3. Toss the pasta with the sauce and pass the parmigiano-reggiano around the table.

I was very lucky that my roommate happened to have some heavy cream she had just told me I could use when I came across this recipe, because otherwise I'd never have had it. The pumpkin taste is understated, but hey, it's not like I'm cooking lots of pumpkin because I can't get enough pumpkin. I'm cooking lots of pumpkin because I can't get rid of enough pumpkin! (In fact, my one problem with this one is that it doesn't use enough pumpkin! How many nights in a row would I have to eat this to clean out my freezer?) I had trouble getting my sauce to thicken at the end, which could be because I left a couple ingredients out; you never know how that messes with your chemistry. It was delicious nonetheless. I'll definitely try this one again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Atlas District: Cool Stuff to do Locally

I'm getting ready to break my lease (no penalty if we find new tenants) and, since my roommate isn't staying in DC, to find a new roommate and a new apartment. I live in a neighborhood that tends to be alternately described as "family oriented," "on the upswing," and "the ghetto." I love it - except that Metro access is not easy, which essentially means my friends will never come visit. I survive, though I'm not sure I could take it if I ended up without a roommate; still, I'd really like to stay in the neighborhood. Looking around the internet has only made me realize how much I like it around here, and how much I wish I'd taken more advantage of the resources around here over the past year.

H St. Farmers' Market
We have a farmers' market? I guess I should be up before noon on Saturdays sometimes.

H St. Shuttle Schedule

H St. Country Club
If I recall correctly, this place is going to be a bar with indoor mini-golf. Whoa.

A. Litteris
This place looks just like my Italian deli at home, except bigger and better! How did I never know it was here?

And I've never even been to any of the cool bars in the Atlas District; nor have I been to Eastern Market since I was an undergrad.

One month left until I head home for the summer. How many of these things do you think I can get done between finals?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

When You Find Joy at Easter. . .

Last week, Conversion Diary ran a guest post by Elizabeth Barr of Tink's Mom, in which she described how her joy at the approach of the Resurrection was the final sign that her reversion to the Catholic Church was complete. I found this a remarkable assertion, because my experience has been the complete opposite.

While I was never in a position to fully "revert" to Catholicism, my pretty apathetic high school Catholicism left plenty of room for growth and the continuing process of conversion. The very first sign that my lukewarm faith might be beginning to heat up was a joy in Easter. Even before I ever began to contemplate the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Resurrection, I realized that among the best words in all Catholicism - nay, in all the world - were "He is Risen." Nothing brought me more joy than singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" at Mass on Easter Sunday. I looked forward to those stanzas like no other part of Easter.

Somehow, those rhyming lyrics -

Christ the Lord is risen today
Oh, triumphant holy day
Who did once upon the Cross
Suffer to redeem our loss

Hymns of praise then let us sing
Unto Christ, our Heavenly King
Who endured the Cross and grave
Sinners to redeem and save

and especially, more than anything else, those Alleluias - meant everything in the world.

(More than chocolate. How did that happen?)

Can I say I looked forward to Easter more than Christmas? Probably not. I still look forward to Christmas a lot. The Incarnation is nothing to sneeze at, and neither, in fact, are joyous family celebrations and widespread goodwill. But for a while (on my old computer, before it crashed and I lost everything), I kept a list of things that inspired my faith. Snippets of homilies, song lyrics, Gospel fragments (come to think of it, that was probably a good practice that I should revisit). The vast majority of those pieces of inspiration were Resurrection-related. (Gosh, I wish I could remember them all now!) They were what inspired me to grow in my faith, the kick-start to my increasing devotion. The Joy of Easter, for me, initiated (rather than completed) my faith.

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

(For the actual words to "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," rather than my cherry-picked favorite lyrics, try this.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Fast?

Because boy did I have to keep reminding myself of Christ's suffering on the Cross tonight, to avoid being certain that I was experiencing Hell on Earth, in the form of a big Italian family's birthday party for a 3 year-old, complete with pizza, penne, and an extravagant birthday cake, at which I appear to have been the only one fasting.

So apparently this fasting stuff really works. Keeps you mindful of Christ's suffering and all.

5th Annual Genealogy Fair at the National Archives!

For anyone interested in genealogy, and especially people local to the DC area, take note of the 5th Annual Genealogy Fair at the National Archives. It's coming up on April 22 and 23, and will include sessions on a variety of subjects of interest to family history researchers. There's something for everyone, from those looking to get started in genealogy to those looking for more detailed guides to National Archives records, both online and off-line. Speakers include Archives employees as well as professional genealogists and historians.


Home for Easter. Posting slow. Minor surgery this morning to remove cysts on my eyelid. I'm going to look like I have a black eye on Easter. Spent the rest of the day on the couch. After a couple beers, my mom and I decided to play the violins we haven't touched in 5-10 years. Struggled through tuning and the first couple songs in the beginner book that we kind of remembered.

Meeting tomorrow morning to set up a summer internship, then maybe an oral history interview of my grandmother, then hopefully seeing my cousin be Jesus in a Passion Play, then my cousin's birthday party, which will involve dinner and cake. Let's just say that they're trying to make sure that fasting on Good Friday isn't easy.

Saturday: Egg dying, Confession, seeing my cousin and her band perform.

Have strenuously avoided the homework I have due, but spent a lot of time trying to figure out whether or not I've found my great-great-great-grandfather's Civil War service records.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Plumb Ironic

Irony: When a water heater that has for months refused to provide hot water for the shower begins providing hot water to the floor next to the water heater.

My Mom's Going to Kill Me

I came across this picture on A Frog's Life a few weeks ago, but it wasn't big enough to read the captions. I just finally stumbled upon it on a Facebook pro-life group, and couldn't resist sharing; I hope it's legible now. I think it's really powerful.

Friday, April 3, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XIII

Visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

1. I never thought I'd be one to say something like, "The Catholic Church needs to get in step with the times and move into the 21st century." But I'm saying it. Don't worry, I'm not talking about women's ordination or birth control. But how on Earth do so many churches get away with not having web sites and e-mail addresses? It's the twenty-first century; do I really have to make phone calls and write letters to find the sacramental records of my nineteenth-century ancestors?
2. Lately, I've been head-over-heels in love. . . with these Nature's Valley Chewy Fruit and Nut bars. They're like granola bars made out of crack. I simply can't stop eating them. I once ate a whole box in one day. I bought them because they were on sale and seemed healthy (though I'm not naive enough to assume that the listed ingredient, High Maltose Corn Syrup, is any better than High Fructose Corn Syrup, which I tend to try to avoid - though I don't actually know anything at all about HMCS), but I keep buying them - even though they're more expensive than I'd like - because they're just so good. I just finished my last box (by eating two bars one after the other), and I'm already thinking about where to get my next fix. I don't understand how the stores keep these things on the shelves. I can't wait for Lent to be over so I can try the Dark Chocolate & Nut flavor.
3. I lost my crochet hook. This is torture. I wanted to make my friend a scarf for his birthday, and so brought my crocheting to work with me - I worked on it on the way to work on the bus, and was going to do the same on my way to his house after work, on the bus. At some point, I dropped my hook, which was the only one I had in that size (I), and which was the size I was using for both the projects I was working on at the time. I'm effectively stuck. It's an undertaking - and a long Metro ride - for me to get to a Michael's or an AC Moore, so I sit, hands idle, while my list of projects keeps growing.
4. I have a confession to make. . . I drink Starbucks. There. I said it. I know, that makes me a bad pro-lifer. I'm not supposed to support companies that support organizations like Planned Parenthood, right? Neither the torture of trying to stay awake in my history class without any coffee, nor the torture of drinking coffee that actually tastes like coffee (I hate coffee; I'll only drink it fancied up with things like whipped cream, mocha, and caramel), compares to the literal torture of abortion. But I do it anyway. And then today, from Starbucks itself, on their new cups:
Bought 228 million pounds of responsibly grown, ethically traded coffee last year.
Everything we do, you do. You stop by for a coffee. And just by doing that, you let Starbucks buy more coffee from farmers who are good to their workers, community, and planet. Starbucks bought 65% of our coffee this way last year - 228 million pounds - and we're working with farmers to make it 100%. It's using our size for good, and you make it all possible. Way to go, you.

So Starbucks itself is giving me responsibility for what they do with their money. I might have to rethink my 1 coffee a week habit. Coffee's not good for you, anyway, right?
5. Speaking of which, how is it possible that "Starbucks" is still marked as misspelled by Firefox's automatic spell-checker? Is Mozilla actually unfamiliar with Starbucks?
6. One of my favorite things about DC is Cherry Blossoms. They're gorgeous; they make spring in Washington into a spring like no other. They also suck. It's like cherry blossoms are super-magnets, and tourists are all made of iron. And I'd like to take some pictures of these amazing flowers, but I can't. No one who lives in DC takes pictures of cherry blossoms. You might look like a tourist. But my mom's coming this weekend (she's a tourist, and it's one of her life-long dreams to see the cherry blossoms), so we're doing the tourist thing anyway. Parade, street fair, even martial arts demonstrations.
7. Fantasy sports. What's the deal with that? Does anyone get it?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Not-So-Golden Age

If you were doing genealogical research, and discovered that your great-great-grandfather died of complications from untreated syphillis, how widely would you disseminate that information? To me, it's something juicy, something to entice my otherwise bored relatives to actually pay attention to all the awesome stuff I'm finding out.

(I have another blog that is mostly just for family, of genealogy. I once encouraged my family to read it. "Can we comment?" Suellen asked. "Of course!" I said. ("Finally, someone's interested!" I thought.) "Can we make jokes in the comments?" she asked. "Sure!" I said. ("That'll get other people interested in commenting, too!" I thought.) "Good," she said. "Because the only comments I'd leave on your genealogy blog would be jokes making fun of you for having a genealogy blog.")

I worry, though, whether some of my relatives would be offended or saddened by this information. I have no qualms about sending out my transcriptions of the death certificate, and if they're interested in knowing how he died, they can google the causes themselves. I won't hide the truth.

But I know I wouldn't be thrilled if information came to light that indicated that perhaps my great-grandfathers were not the fine, upstanding gentlemen I've been told about. Might my dad feel the same way if I call attention to the fact that one of his great-grandfathers died of syphillis? (Although, I think all he knows about this great-grandfather is the story of the time he drowned some kittens. His opinion might not be that high to start with. Drowning kittens is relatively horrifying when taken out of the context of the time period.)

And what about my great-uncles? (Great uncles are the only relatives who are ever interested in what you find in your genealogical research. It's a fact.) This is their grandfather I'm talking about. I'd be disappointed, disenchanted if similar evidence were revealed about one of my great-grandfathers. I could imagine being devastated if it were about one of my grandfathers.

And yet, is idealizing the past doing anyone any good? I'm sure my grandfathers, just like my great-grandfathers, just like my great-great-grandfathers, made poor decisions and did stupid things when they were young. I know my dad did. I know my mom did. I know my sisters have. I know I did, and still do.

Our ancestors were human. But should we broadcast that fact?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pumpkin Leather Update

It needed to be in the oven for up to 18 hours. It was already overcooked - but good nonetheless - when I took it out at 8 am, after a mere 13 hours in the oven. I'll have to try again some time when I have 13 hours or so to be in the house (ha!), checking it occasionally.