Seven Quick Takes No. 55




Long time no Quick Takes! Wow! I know you’re all thrilled to see this back, right? 🙂


"John the Baptist in the Prison", Juan Fernandez de Navarette

“John the Baptist in the Prison”, Juan Fernandez de Navarette

So today’s Feast in the Church Calendar is the Beheading of John the Baptist. Happy, huh? Usually the Church celebrates the day a person died, as opposed to the day a person’s born, but John the Baptist gets both. (His birthday is June 24, by the way). Only John the Baptist, Mary (September 8) and Jesus (of course) get their birthdays observed in the official calendar, as well as the day they died (or in Mary’s case, was Assumed). So while this isn’t the most, er, festive feast, it’s a point of theological coolness.


 So that Yarn Along post I did yesterday? Yeah, I started working on the piece some more while I caught up on Once Upon A Time, made big mistakes, and had to rip the whole thing out and start again. Sigh. It’s very much two steps forward, three steps back in my knitting. I was purling all wrong. So back to the book today to make sure I’m doing it correctly this time.


In rehab–still working on running. I’m at 58 seconds of running without stopping, which is good–gotta break that minute mark next week. I’ve also lost another pound which makes me exceedingly happy.


Reading: Kristin Lavransdatter Vol. I “The Wreath”; The Happiness Project (again); Summa of the Summa. I also have The Artist’s Way and the workbook, which I’m excited to start next week!


Speaking of writing–the beta readers still have the book, but I’m working on making an outline and making sure the order is what I want. I might toy with some new sections over the weekend.


You want to know how it’s fall in Ohio? (Or almost) The reappearance of all the Scarlet and Grey shirts everyone seems to have, in various incarnations. They have appeared all of a sudden, because OSU plays Navy tomorrow. So, it’s fall, for all intents and purposes, in the OH.

Yarn Along No. 10

OK, so, we are moving on to NEW patterns! Time for stockinette stitch!

However, as you can see, I haven’t gotten all that far:


This is the outer border, which is done in garter stitch. The yarn is the same as I’ve been using, except in Fairy Tale, and the needles are Caspian Needles instead of Sunstruck. They’re new needles, so I have to sort of get the feel for them, and break them in, so to speak.

The book is the first part of Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath, by Sigrid Undset. It’s  the first of the three parts that make up the whole of Kristin Lavransdatter, and if you’ve never read it, I suggest starting with this one, or going whole hog, with this one (which my friend Liz gave me as a Christmas gift many years ago). So yes, I’ve read this book before, but it’s time to read it again, because sometimes we just need to go back to Medieval Norway, right?


Daybook No. 71

Outside my window::

Clear blue skies. Going to be another warm day, so I might go swimming at some point. The nice thing about the pool being open when the kids are back in school means there’s more time for “adult swim”, so to speak.


Just my PJs. I slept of 12 hours last night. I must have needed it because I’m never in bed by 9:00, but I was last night. Perhaps the last vestiges of surgery stuff? Who knows. But I’m taking it slowly this morning.


Mansfield Park, The Joy Luck Club, Women of the Word, The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds, Summa of the Summa. Yes, I’m back to good ol’ Aquinas, after being inspired to take him up again at my Dominican Laity’s Day of Recollection this past Sunday. There was a lot of talk about Aquinas, so I’m back to the Cliff Notes version of the Summa, as it were. 🙂


Back to rehab yesterday. It was nice to be back. I’d missed working out, if you can believe that! We didn’t run yesterday but we probably shall at tomorrow’s session.


Man, my rhythm everywhere is out of whack–housekeeping, sleeping, prayer, everything. Yesterday I just had total inertia once I got home from the hospital. I didn’t want to do anything, I was so tired. I could have gone to bed for good at 6:00! So today I’m going to imitate the Little Engine That Could and work through things slowly and methodically. Some of this is a result of surgery; it just throws off everything. So I need to get back into a rhythm of prayer, cooking, housekeeping, all that stuff.

CCD also resumes in TWO WEEKS, so I have to start planning the first two lessons, which is also on today’s agenda. The first class isn’t especially difficult–it’s mostly rules and paperwork sorts of things–but I still want an outline of sorts.


This year has flown by. I mean it seems like it was just March and here we are back to fall. Relativity of time, indeed.


Adding more structure and chapters to the memoir, but waiting also for the beta reader feedback. So it’s mostly ideas I’m playing with about structure and things that should be in the book, at least in my mind.


Dawdling like crazy on this washcloth but I hope to have it cast off and a new project started in time for tomorrow’s Yarn Along!

Photo to share::

perfect rose from my church's rose garden.

perfect rose from my church’s rose garden.

Beach Vacation: Shrimp boil and skillet cornbread

One of my favorite meals when I need a beach vacation and I can’t leave Ohio.

Emily's Midwest Kitchen

One of my favorite vacation destinations is North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I’ve only been there twice, but every time it’s a week of heaven–swimming, reading, shopping at my favorite Independent bookstore, and eating amazing food.

Sadly, I live in Ohio, and I can’t get to the Outer Banks whenever I want.  So I love to cook this meal, taken from Elizabeth Wiegand’s Outer Banks Cookbook, when I need an OBX taste in my kitchen.

These are two recipes: first, for the shrimp boil, and then the cornbread, because who doesn’t love a good cornbread, right?

Shrimp And Beer Shrimp Boil

adapted from Elizabeth Wiegand’s Outer Banks Cookbook

2 lbs. shrimp, preferrably unpeeled (but sometimes you can only find it in the “peeled” state. That’s OK.)

1 12 oz beer, any kind, as long as it’s not lite beer

1 c. water

1 medium onion, sliced

1 lemon, sliced


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Yarn Along No. 9


If it’s Wednesday, it’s Yarn Along Day! (AKA, the posts my dad doesn’t read, because he doesn’t know or care about yarn! hahah!)

So last week’s project is juuuuust about finished. Surgery impaired my ability to knit for awhile. 🙂 But while watching Outlander again (thank goodness for DVRs!) I did a lot of catch-up, if you will. Watching Outlander makes me want to knit; anyone else notice this?

Anyway, next week I’ll have–hopefully–stockinette stitch to show you.


The book is St. Teresa of Avila: Progress of a Soul, and I’m really liking it so far. I’ve read things that the saint wrote, but nothing about her life (I haven’t read her autobiography yet). It’s nice to get the fresh perspective of an outsider, because sometimes if it’s written by a family member or close friend, it can be too much hagiography and not about the saint as person. 


Summer in the Little Oratory–Chapter Nine and Ten


The Little Oratory(All Little Oratory posts here)

We’re doing a chapter twofer today, since I don’t really have a lot to say about Chapter 9, which is “Who prays and who leads prayer in the Little Oratory?”

In my house, currently, the one who leads prayer is me. The one who prays is also me, because I live alone. When I was growing up, my parents took turns leading the prayers. When we were in the car going to school, Dad lead the prayer. At home, mom usually still leads the prayer before meals, and other prayers, it was whoever felt like it.

Chapter Nine says that the “women is the heart of the home”, but also that the “family needs this masculine side of things in the same irreplaceable way that they need the feminine. The family needs leadership and a strong example.” (108, 109)  I really suggest that you read chapter 9, because one, it’s short (ha) and two, it’s beautiful writing.

Chapter 10 addresses difficulties you may have in the house, from actually making a prayer table (finding a space, keeping it clean, etc. ), having time to pray, “making” children behave during prayer time, and the well-balanced spiritual life.

Basically, whether you have kids or not, a husband/wife or not, you need to make time to pray every day. This is sort of nonnegotiable if you want to have a relationship with God that is deeper than surface area stuff. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just like the oratory doesn’t have to be elaborate. But you do need to pray. We’ve talked about lots of different types of prayer throughout this series, and some of them will speak to you more clearly than others. But prayer is non-negotiable. Start small, but start.

If you’re worried about kids not paying attention–it doesn’t really matter. I’m sure–I know–my brother and sister and I didn’t always pay attention during family rosary. Sometimes we forgot where we were in the mysteries, or sulked because we wanted to watch Rugrats, or were thinking about the sleepover we were having that weekend. Whatever. But he important thing is that our parents prayed with us, on a pretty regular basis. There were Catholic statues in our home. We had holy water fonts in our bedrooms. Prayer was something we did on a regular basis, and it was something we saw our parents doing on a regular basis. We each had our own rosaries and had Catholic movies we watched to learn about the saints. Eventually, all of this seeps in, and we remember these things. Sometimes you may despair of them learning anything (I teach first grade CCD, I know about this), but you’ll be surprised at how much they are actually learning and absorbing. Your example is a powerful one. Make it count.

Emily’s Book Reviews, August


emily's book reviews button


(I love the sparkle, don’t you?)

What I’ve been reading of late. Some of these are “new” reads, and some are old friends, and some I’ve just started!

Dakota, The Virgin of Bennington, Amazing Grace, all by Kathleen Norris: These are all religious books, which are written as memoirs, and tell the story of the author’s “reversion” to Christianity, starting with her life after college as a poet in New York City, moving to her grandmother’s home in South Dakota with her new husband, and finally, becoming a Benedictine Oblate and diving deep into the history and movements of Christianity. I’ve read her two previous books The Cloister Walk and Acedia and Me, and loved them both. These three were harder to find, but I was well rewarded, especially in the case of Amazing Grace, which is a bit of a “dictionary of Christianity”. Norris takes common phrases in religion (i.e., salvation, Hell, grace, creation) and writes about what they mean to her. Dakota is a spiritual memoir, which links family and religion. Virgin is a bit of an odd read, at least for me; I thought it would be more religious in tone and less about her post-graduation life in New York City, but if you like poetry, this is an excellent read. They are all well-written, but Dakota and Amazing Grace gripped me more than Virgin did.

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais: The movie previews lead you to believe that the movie is about Madame Mallory, a Frenchwoman with a Michelin two-star restaurant in France, and her trials when a raucous Indian family move in across the street and open their own restaurant. Well, that may be the crux of the film, but it makes up quite a small portion of the novel, but with lasting repercussions for the protagonist, Hassan. If you like to watch Food Network and read cookbooks, like I do, you’ll like this book. It will also make you hungry!

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom: I wanted to like this more than I did. It had a lot of promise in the beginning– Lavinia, an Irish orphan, becomes an indentured servant on a southern plantation in the late 18th century. Though she’s white, she works with the black slaves, and soon considers them her family, even though the master and mistress of the house try to raise her “properly”. Lavinia and Belle, a slave, are the two narrators of the book, and I don’t think it worked very well, in this case. Belle’s portions of the story become less and less, and Lavinia’s become  more central, but since the book is told from only their perspectives, there are gaps in the story as it moves towards its climax. When it ended, I felt as if several chapters were cut from my copy, which was a shame, because I did like it in the beginning. It loses steam, however, and sort of sputters to a close, and I felt several characters were ill-drawn.

The Way of Perfection, by St. Teresa of Avila: I had previously read The Interior Castle, and this book was sitting on my shelf, quietly waiting for me to pick it up, which I finally did! It’s an excellent book, written before Interior Castle, so it obliquely deals with some of the topics in that (probably) more famous work. My copy was very heavy on notes and summaries, which made a bit of slow reading. They were helpful at times, but sometimes I just wanted to move on to the next chapter! St. Teresa is to be read slowly, and not raced through, so this took me awhile due to the deliberate pace I set when I was reading it. Have a pen handy so you can make notes.

Following that: Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul, by Cathleen Medwick: I’ve seen a lot of my friends reading this book, so I thought I should read it too, and get to know more about St. Teresa. I joke that part of my soul is Carmelite, so why not know more about them? (My Confirmation saint is indeed a Carmelite–St. Therese of Lisieux).

(And wow, lots of Cathleen/Kathleens this month! Well, the past few months, anyway)

Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldman: This book was a Christmas gift, and I’m really diving into it now. I love books about writing (see the next entry, too!) and I’ve heard such good things about this one!

The Writer’s Way, by Julia Cameron: again, a gift; again, heard great things. Starting this tomorrow.

The Year of Pleasures, by Elizabeth Berg: This is one of my desert-island books. I just adore it, and it’s what got me started reading Elizabeth Berg’s novels. Betta Nolan’s husband has died, and she decides to sell her brownstone in Boston and move to a tiny town outside Chicago, sight unseen, and have a “year of pleasures”, living in a small town and reconnecting with her three roommates from college. Berg’s trademark attention to detail, dialogue and character are richly displayed here, and I wish the book would’ve had at least 150 more pages. You’ll want music, tea, and bubble bath while you’re reading this!

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan: A re-read, but it’s been about a decade since I read it, so it’s overdue.

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds, by Jen Wilkin.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane: Part of the Jane re-read. The end of the book always makes me smile. Next up is Mansfield Park.

Swann’s Way , by Marcel Proust: I keep dipping into it, but it’s time to Get Serious and Read it. 🙂

Wish You Were Here, by Amy Welborn: Another re-read, another book I love. Welborn writes exquisitely of the time immediately after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. She took her three children to Sicily, so the book is part travelogue, part journal of grieving, and part religious meditation. It’s fantastic and has many C.S. Lewis like passages.

Notes from the OR

The last post was a bit fast, even by my standards, and sort of disjointed, since I was on meds. 🙂 And I’m still on meds, but I thought I’d share some thoughts, anyway, because I’m a good blogger like that!

  • I do not understand why people bring 8, 10, 12 people to surgery with their child, especially when only two adults are allowed back with said child. The other people will be very bored and take up all the chairs in the waiting room for people who are actually having surgery. Why do people do this? It’s not like this is a day at Sea World. It’s not that entertaining.
  • Why are hospital pants designed for people who haven’t hit puberty? I was glad I couldn’t wear them, because if you have hips, they will not ever fit you. It’s amazingly inadequate. 
  • What else is amazingly inadequate–the lines on the forms for “prior surgeries” and “current medications.” Four lines for each? Really? No. I need a lot more than four teeny lines. 
  • I had great nurses and a great anesthesiologist this time. I was super blessed, especially with the anesthesiologist. If I don’t get good vibes from that person, I am nervous going into surgery, but this one was divine. She was very methodical, laughed at my jokes, and  explained everything perfectly. She was also great at authorizing pain and nausea meds after surgery, which was really important, since I came to while I was vomiting up bits of blood and bile (LOVELY), and I felt like my head was being slammed into concrete. So go doctor!
  • The nurses was great at answering questions and administering meds. 
  • This time, I had a “scented” mask in the OR. I’ve never had one before, but since it’s a kids’ hospital, might as well take advantage, right? I chose bubble gum, and it was indeed bubble gum-y. The oxygen that comes through the mask is thick and warm, so I think that’s why I don’t like it, but I was out pretty quickly after my doctor began pushing the happy meds. (She called them the “sleepy meds”, and sounded just like Jen Arnold, the doctor on The Little Couple, which I loved, because it meant I could understand her pretty easily, since we watch a lot of that show.)
  • Around 3ish I really came to and had some oral pain/nausea meds, and was released around 4:45. I had cereal for dinner and then read a bit on the couch, took more pain meds at 730, and went to bed really early. Pain meds tend to wake me up when they’ve “expired” (hit the four hour mark, meaning I can have more), so I was up a bit during the night to take meds, read a little on my iPad, and then float back to sleep. 
  • Last night the nausea was back, so I took some of those meds that I have here (I’m back home) and thus I slept until about 11 AM today, but that’s OK. The only thing I really had to do was wash my hair, which I did, and I also finished The Way of Perfection and started The Kitchen House, which I’m really enjoying. I also have The Joy Luck Club, Swann’s Way, Pride and Predjuice, and Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul in my pile over here. 
  • Since it’s Outlander night (YAY!), I’ll be up until that’s over but then I’ll be getting myself to bed. 
  • My throat is super sore, from the tube and the draining of stuff from my sinuses (and I can’t blow my nose until tomorrow, ugh!), so tea/coffee are my friend, as is ice cream. 
  • You don’t realize how much you NEED to blow your nose until you…can’t. Man I’m going to be happy tomorrow!

Surgery recap

I’m back!
Surgery was successful; my doctor said there was lots of pus and other gross stuff in my sinuses, so I’m glad it’s gone! My septum was also fixed and we took out the splints from that this morning, but I can’t blow my nose for three days, to prevent destroying his work. The only rough part was the pain afterwards. I’ve had lots of painful things, like pancreatitis 8 times, but this was almost a ten. I felt like my head was being slammed against concrete. But we dealt with that with magic meds!
So that’s all fine and I’m on the road to bring back to 100%!