Daybook No. 80

Daybook No. 80

Outside my window::

Well, no snow. 🙂 In fact it’s really sunny and windy. Yesterday we had crazy winds–I was expecting Dorothy’s house to come flying by any second–but they appear to have calmed down now.

Wearing::

jeans and a v-neck t-shirt.

Reading::

I’m re-reading my Dear America books, because sometimes I like me some kid lit. I have a bunch of “adult” novels I should be reading, but I’m not, because they haven’t really hooked me yet. I’m going to give them another go today.

I will have a post on Advent books up either today or tomorrow!

In the CD player::

Christmas music. Well, Christmas/Advent music. I have a CD of Advent hymns (it’s this one), and I consider Messiah to be Advent music, so there’s that. But the CD that’s in now is a Christmas compilation CD of classical musicians singing Christmas songs. I have a lot of Christmas CDs lined up in the car.

Fitness::

Back in the gym habit. Yay! I’ve been feeling really good, too, when I’ve been working out. Yesterday I hit the free weights for the first time in like a month, and my arms complained, but too bad. 🙂

Creativity::

Well, my NaNo novel stalled. I’m not terribly surprised. The subject requires a lot of research, I’m coming to find, and it’s not the sort of thing that can be rushed out. I need to develop some characters more carefully before I write them. This is probably the hardest novel I’ve attempted so far. I’m not saying I’ll forget it forever, because I won’t–but it’s not going to be done by the end of this month. (By “done”, I mean first draft done. Not done done.) That’s OK.

Around the house/Holiday prep::

Just the usual. Thanksgiving is at my parents’ house, as usual, so I don’t have to do any crazy holiday cleaning. 🙂 My creche is up, and I’ll probably bring the Advent wreath up today, and possibly a box of ornaments. My tree preparations are elaborate. I have a ton of ornaments and other decorations, and if it’s just me, it can be a real slog to go up and down the stairs bringing up boxes, so this year I’ve decided to do it in pieces. I usually put my tree up the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I wish I could put up outdoor lights, but my house doesn’t have an outdoor outlet, so I don’t/can’t. My neighbors do, but they run an extension cord up through an open second floor window, which stays propped open a bit all season, which would be cold. So I don’t go that route.

From the kitchen::

I’m sort of “Off” cooking at the moment. Not sure why. But I’m planning a winter minestrone for dinner tonight. I think because it’s Thanksgiving week and I know there’s a big meal coming, I’m anticipating it. 🙂

Pondering::

Gratitude. This year has been big for that. I’ve counted more than 1000 gifts. I’ve learned–or just started to learn, really–how to  really trust God and to depend on Him for everything. This year has been crazy. There’s been  lot of ups and downs. But I’m grateful because they taught me how to trust God and to take everything to Him. I sort of knew that before, but I really know it now. Counting 1000+ gifts makes you see everything is gift. It really is. There’s so much of it, all around us, that we can remember and give thanks for everyday, not just on Thanksgiving.

Being Joyful Grateful

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Seven Quick Take Friday No. 59

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I.

Well, I guess it’s Officially Winter in Ohio. We had the first snow of the season yesterday. Nothing stuck (unlike near Cleveland, where they got inches of lake effect), so it was the snow I like. The kind that doesn’t stick. 😛 But it is definitely heavy coat season and “find my gloves” season now.

II.

We’ve had radio silence over here (except for my Interstellar review), mostly because of NaNoWriMo. I’m about halfway to the 50K word goal. This novel has been hard, pacing wise–there’s a big, seminal event that sets off the big things in my novel and I’m not sure when to make that event happen. I’m trying to time it right. This is a novel that would HAVE to be more than 50,000 words, because there’s a lot I have planned in my head. It’s just a question of getting it down in the document. (NaNo novels can be over 50K–50K is the minimum word count to “win”.)

III.

I’ve started Christmas shopping–I’m actually almost done for my parents–but now I have to wrap the gifts. Yeah, I’m not so great at wrapping….but at least I have pretty paper! And then there’s people who haven’t told me what they want yet. Sometimes I try to get something on my own, and some people I like to be told what to get them. I also have to start writing out the Christmas cards. They’re bought, but I haven’t started writing them out at all.

IV.

I have, however, done my Advent prep. 🙂 I bought new Advent candles for the wreath yesterday and I’ve got my Advent books all prepared. That’s going to be a post next week, I promise, because I love my Advent books and I try to share them with lots of people. 🙂

V.

I am SO EXCITED about the Edel Gathering! I’ve already booked the room in Charleston, and tickets go on sale next week. Will I see you there?

VI.

When do you put your tree up? I generally put mine up the Day of the OSU/Michigan game, because that’s usually the week before Thanksgiving. I know some people who have it up NOW, and my mom usually puts it up after Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, we put it up the first weekend in December, the same weekend as the parish bazaar. Now it’s sort of whenever mom and dad want to, since none of us live at home anymore. 🙂

VII.

Reading: Traveling to Infinity by Jane Hawking, which is the basis for the new movie The Theory of Everything, which I cannot WAIIIIITTTT to see!!!! Between this book and Interstellar I’ve been thinking a lot about space this week!

Daybook No. 78

Outside my window::

Sunny with some clouds, and definitely seasonal–it was almost 80 on Monday and we might have snow this weekend. The weather is ALL OVER THE PLACE!

Wearing::

red cashmere sweater, jeans, grey flats.

Reading::

The Hummingbird’s Daughter, Little Town on the PrairieLeaving Time (again).

Pondering::

“In our culture, the concept of hospitality has lost much of its power and is often used in circles where we are more prone to expect a watered down piety than a serious search for authentic Christian spirituality. But still, if there is any concept worth restoring to its original depth and evocative potential, it is the concept of hospitality. It is one of the riches biblical terms that can deepen and broaden our insight in our relationships to our fellow human beings.”
– Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out

Creativity::

Working on this knitting project.

Writing::

NaNoWriMo 2014 is only days away! Yayyyy!!!!  I am really excited for this year’s novel, and I’m doing some research this week.

Around the house::

Dishes and polishing the furniture in the living/family room.

From the kitchen::

Having a friend over for dinner on Saturday so I am planning that meal, as well as reading Ina Garten’s new cookbook (LOVE)! Dinner with my parents tonight and then fending for myself tomorrow and Friday, so I need to figure out what to make!

Fitness::

Back to the gym. I am finally feeling better and getting up at a decent time, so I’m glad to be back there. (Never thought I’d say that!)

Plans for the week::

Dinner and movie night on Saturday; CCD and brunch with my brother on Sunday.

Things I Think About

A list of random things that are occupying my brain:

  • Does anyone else think the Comeback Canyon on Biggest Loser isn’t working? It’s like it’s always week two over there. The person who is the newest is always going to win. It’s a decent idea in theory, but in practice? not so much. (Much like many government policies!)
  • I’m always glad when people come out to see a show that I’m in. Heck, I’m glad when people support live theater in general! But if you’re going to come, don’t play video games. Don’t play with your phone. Don’t hold conversations in the middle of a big musical number. We, the actors, can see you! We can see the light from the phone, and we can see you talking! It’s distracting! It’s RUDE! STOP IT! You paid money to see a show–how about you, I dunno, watch it? A few random whispered things, like “I’m leaving to answer the phone, because the President is calling”, that’s fine. But these people were having a multi-person conclave across an entire row. Folks….just don’t. This is especially true in smaller theaters. It’s not like you’re at the Met and you’re in the family circle. You’re right in front of us!
  • My dad is a really funny guy. Proof here.
  • James Levine celebrates his 2,500 conducting outing at the Met today. That’s amazing, as is the music he leads. I’ve got  one of his Ring cycles on DVD, and one of his Otellos, and man….that’s good stuff. Bravo, maestro.
  • I wish it was November so I could start writing my novel, but I’ve got about a week of planning left. NaNoWriMo, here I come! I’ve got the family trees roughly sketched and a (rough, of course) timeline, and I think I need to start making some character notes, just so I have an idea. I don’t generally plot the end of my books. I like to see where characters take me.
  • In CCD tomorrow I’m teaching the kids about Abraham and Noah. Actually, that should be Noah and Abraham. I think. I always mix up who comes first. Thank God for the book. 🙂

Daybook 77 and A Saint for All Times

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Outside my window::

Overcast and chilly. It’s definitely fall! But that’s OK! I have a lovely bouquet of red roses in a mason jar on my counter and they make all my mornings better. (My parents gave them to me for opening night of Dolly! They’re really gorgeous.)

Wearing::

PJs, and drinking Mystic Monk coffee. 🙂 My body has been demanding lots of extra sleep lately so I’m trying to obey it, even though it makes me grumpy, because I’d much rather get up at like 8, and not 10. But….the body wants what it wants.

Reading::

I just won a book from Goodreads, so I’ll be starting that today (It arrived yesterday) and then blogging about it, so look for a review soon! Reading Benedict XVI’s general audiences on prayer as well. Really, I have a bunch of books I want to start/finish but I just haven’t yet, which is inexcusably lazy on my part.

Pondering::

The pontificate of St. John Paul II.

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I was so, so lucky to spend the majority of my life under his pontificate, which also meant, sadly, that I didn’t really appreciate it until he had already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. (Well, one doesn’t really appreciate the pope when one is a small child, to be sure!) He was elected pope on October 22, 1979, just a few months after my parents were married. My siblings and I were all born during his reign. I received all my sacraments while he was pope. His writings, so rich in so many genres (he wrote plays and poetry), and his life, so rich in so many ways, are a source of inspiration and constant study for me.

I vividly remember feeling like I was losing a father when he was dying. My father is still alive–praise Jesus–but I thought this is what it would feel like. He had always been there, always faithful shepherding the church. He had done so much to bring Christ to the world, to “open wide the doors to Christ”, and he did so much to change the world! A pope from a Communist country, who helped bring about the defeat of Communism? Prayer works, indeed. It was unimaginable for so many people. I remember the night the Berlin Wall came down. We watched it on TV in our family room. But I really didn’t understand what was happening–I was only seven and a half. But as I studied history and became more mature, I marveled at it.

For me, personally, I have only admired him more as I’ve gotten older. I ask for his help before auditions, since he was an actor. I ask for his help when writing, since he was a writer (yeah, I ask St. Francis De Sales too, but John Paul II is more immediate for me). His fearless attitude, his call to “be not afraid!”, echoes all the time in my heart. And of course, his great devotion to Our Lady, as he entrusted his entire papacy to her.

I don’t think theologians have even begun to mine the brilliance of his writings, and what they mean for us. I’ll really always consider him “my” pope, like so many other people in my generation. It wasn’t just the length of his pontificate, but the way he spoke so intensely to young people, and even remembered them on his death bed: “I have looked for you. Now you have come to me, and I thank you.” I was a young person during his papacy; I was about to turn 23 when he died.

Watching him in prayer was an intense experience. I never got to see it, personally, but I’ve read accounts and seen video. He had such intense communion with God, such a deep prayer life. You could see how it imbued his mission, how vital it was to him.

And of course–his suffering, the idea of redemptive suffering which is so unique to Catholicism–was on display for everyone to see. As a sick person, this also inspired me. He showed us that life has worth always, even when fragile and failing. His spirit never faltered.

There’s so much that could be said about him. If you want to learn more, I suggest George Weigel’s monumental Witness to Hope

Around the house::

(I really need to reorder these when I have such a long pondering!)

Sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor today, and dusting the furniture in my bedroom.

Creativity::

Working on my NaNo2014 novel–getting the prep done before it starts up November 1!–and also it’s the last weekend of Dolly. Come see it!

Daybook 76

Daybook 76

Outside my window::

Totally clouded over. It was really pretty but really humid yesterday, and I think it’s raining outside now. Not that I mind rain and clouds, because they’re good knitting/reading/tea days.

Wearing::

Jeans and an Oakland Zoo (Pitt) t-shirt. I’m being lazy right now.

Reading::

Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time comes out today. I was very lucky to snatch up an ARC (advanced reading copy) at an event a few weeks ago, and I have to tell you, this book is amazing. Read it. I want to write more about this book but not until more peeps have read it, so….get on it. 🙂

Taking up Swann’s Way again as well. During Tech Week/Performance weeks I load up my bag with books I’ve been meaning to read, and this is on the top of the pile. I re-read The Joy Luck Club earlier this week and found I really didn’t like the book as much as the movie! Also re-reading Outlander, and I’m on An Echo In The Bone.

Creativity:

A lot on this front. Dolly opens on Friday–gulp gulp double gulp. NaNoWriMo 2014 is live, so I’ve been drafting out my novel for that–thus far it involves opera and Italians (a good combination, of course!). And I’ve also been knitting. I can purl fine when I do an entire row of purl, but when I start with a knit stitch border it all goes to hell. Ideas? I really want to start a basket weave scarf but I can’t if I can’t manage to knit and purl in the same row!

Cooking::

Well I have lots of plans but this week is a mess with the cooking…so busy. Trying valiantly and possibly failing to get it under control!

Family::

my sister is in town! She moved to Texas over the summer and this is her first trip back since then. Her birthday is on Friday so we celebrated early on Sunday at a local restaurant. Yesterday we had lunch and coffee together before I had to run to a doctor’s appointment. It’s been great to see her!

Theater::

Well, Dolly, really, all the time. We’re in dress rehearsals now. I’m hoping on of the lovely ladies in the cast can do something with my ridiculous hair….I am so hair impaired it’s not even funny.

Health::

I went to the dermatologist yesterday. Part of post-transplant life is making sure that you take care of your skin with sun protection, because we are super photosensitive (meaning we can burn a lot faster than other people due to the meds), and getting regular skin checks. I go about every six months. Nothing out of the ordinary at this appointment so that’s a good thing. We have a much higher risk of cancer compared to the general population, and skin cancer in particular, so it’s very important to stay on top of these things. Fortunately I’ve never been much of a sun bunny.

Around the house::

Today is a house day, meaning I’m going to clean and tackle some projects here (filing, bill paying, etc.) that I need to do. This gets super important during tech week because otherwise the house can become a monster of utterly terrifying proportions due to neglect. 😛

From the iPhone:

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During a local shopping district’s chalk art festival–isn’t this great?

Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 58

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 (I meant to schedule this for tomorrow morning. So “tonight”=Friday night. 🙂 )

I.

OK, so good news first: I’ve been accepted to make life promises with my Lay Dominican chapter! Yay! I will make them in December at our monthly chapter meeting.

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I feel like Agnes with her Fluffy Unicorns. 🙂 🙂

II.

So I am super excited about that. I am also super excited that I got to read Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) of LOTS of awesome new books that are coming out! This week I got to read Leaving Time, Jodi Picoult’s new book which comes out October 14, and Alexander McCall Smith’s The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe, which also comes out in October. I love these authors, and I adore these new books. You must read them!

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I’m not going to say too much about these because I want y’all to read them yourselves and then we’ll talk.

Tonight I also read Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar, which comes out January 13. As an avid Virginia Woolf fan, I really liked this novel, especially since it was told from Vanessa’s Point of View, as the title tell us 🙂 I’ve read almost all of Virginia’s novels, and The Hours is always one of my top five movies. Highly recommend this one.

The last one, which I haven’t read yet, is A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison. This one also comes out in January (1/27).

How did I get these? A local public library had a rep from Random House come in and talk about new releases, and there were lots of ARCs available for us to read. Part of that is drumming up interest, and no, I didn’t get paid to read these, so I can tell you, without bias, that the three I’ve read so far are great.

(ARCs are basically the finished novel, but “uncorrected proofs”, so there may be small typeset or editing errors that will be corrected before the final copies that go to bookstores.)

III.

I’ve also been cooking a lot this week, mostly from The Chew‘s first cookbook.  I’ve made General Tso’s Chicken, Mario’s Restrictor Plate Chili, and Eggs in Hell thus far this week (and my hands are still stinging from chopping the jalapeños in that last one!). These recipes have all been really great, and I’ll try to post links to them on my cooking blog.

IV.

Speaking of blogs: as part of the BOOK PROPOSAL, I need to develop a “platform”. So I’ve got an “author” web page, which has links to my Twitter and Facebook Author Page. (Yes, I have one, yes it feels ridic to have one, but….) If you would be so kind as to go to my page here and follow both those things (and the page!), I’d be super happy. 

The page itself is still under construction, so there won’t be too much activity there for right now. But it is important in this digital webby era to have BRANDING ALL OVER.

So, I’m trying.

(I hate selling things, by the way. I hated selling Girl Scout cookies. But I really want the book to get published, so I’m selling myself for my book. :-0 )

V.

In the world of writing, it’s almost NANOWRIMO time! This will be the third year I’ve participated. I wrote more about it here.  Come join? 🙂 It’s fun!

VI.

Dolly rehearsals go hard core this week. Dancing is tonight.

I’m nervous about that. I don’t really….dance….

On Saturday we’re running/blocking Act I, and on Sunday, Act II. I’m not teaching CCD this week, it’s my co-catechist’s turn. The topic? The rosary. The first Sunday of October is Rosary Sunday at my parish, so we’re going to teach the kids about this very Dominican, very important devotion.

So it’s a weekend with Dolly and teaching, and dinner with my friend Mary.

VII.

And finally:

This is an awesome look at OSU’s Wizard of Oz halftime show.