Learning Virtue From Jane Austen

This baby needs to be rebound…

Every couple of years (usually during pregnancies) I pull out our tattered volume of the complete works of Jane Austen and read it from cover to cover. And with each reread of her novels, I discover more about how she saw human nature. This past reading I was struck with her exploration of her characters’ natural inclinations. We all have them, an inclination to certain sins like sloth, gluttony, selfishness, or over-indulging various pleasures. But we also have inclinations to good things. Some of us are more inclined to quiet prayer, while others are inclined to a long run, and others to friendliness. And while we are to spend our lives overcoming our weaknesses, we do so with the aid of our good inclinations.

In Austen we see her heroines and heroes overcoming their natural weaknesses, and her villains succumbing to them. The villains of her stories, such as Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice or Mr. Crawford in Mansfield Park, have no guidance or inclination to seek virtue, and often they are influenced by others with the same weaknesses to lead a life of vice. A character that is inclined to self-indulgence often has been raised by someone of the same character or been spoiled in their youth by a well-meaning adult. Those who overcome their weaknesses, such as Emma in Emma and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, are encouraged to do so by a good upbringing or by another character who is self-aware enough to see the need to overcome weakness. In Austen we see these good influences in the forms of a mentor or of a romantic interest who sees more clearly the other’s faults. Clearly, one cannot form oneself in virtue alone.

Austen has very little conversation about God in her novels, and her characters’ attempts to overcome their weaknesses do not include prayer. In fact, about half of her clergymen, such as the unforgettable Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice or the prideful Mr. Elton in Emma, are inclined to various vices that they do not overcome. I imagine that Austen did not want to preach to her readers, but was merely making obvious the importance of forming ones own character and the character of young people for the best.

Despite her lack of attention to the importance of prayer, her emphasis on improving upon our natural inclinations reminds me of St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life. Early in this beautiful and practical spiritual work, de Sales discusses the importance of overcoming our sins so that we can become holier. He explains that the more we pray, the more we open ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit

As the Holy Spirit enlightens our conscience we perceive more clearly and distinctly the sins, inclinations, and imperfections, which hinder us in attaining true devotion. The same light which discovers to us these tares and weeds, also kindles us with the desire to cleanse and to purify our hearts from them.”

If we don’t want to end up like Mr. Wickham or Mr. Crawford in Austen’s novels, we must seek a life of prayer, and in that life of prayer work to weed out our natural inclinations to evil. And while Austen does not teach us to seek God to overcome our weaknesses, she does warn us that if we do not seek to form ourselves in virtue, we will make bad choices and surround ourselves by vicious people. The only way to ensure a good life of virtue is to seek to overcome our weaknesses and seek out others who are doing the same.

Originally posted at Truth and Charity…

12 Week Update: Jane Austen and Pregnancy

It has been 5 weeks since our first trimester ultrasound, and now is our traditional time for announcing pregnancies. But you are all so lucky that we went ahead and did it early, because I love having lots of people praying for a healthy baby.

In the past five weeks I have had lots of pregnancy symptoms, but have been fortunate enough to not throw up, so that is cool.

Today I ventured out in the cold (13°F here in MN), but thankfully sunny day, with the three girls for the 12 week visit. It was the normal “tell me about your previous pregnancies” questions and normal how are things going with this one. He also seemed to think it was possible that the flutters I have been feeling are actually the baby. And we finally at the end of the appointment got to hear loud and clear the baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler. That is all I really cared about today. I did not even mind having six vials of blood drawn out of my arm. And G impressed the nurse by telling her that her birthday was on the Ides of March. It was an all around good appointment. I even let the kids have suckers afterwards. And to make things better I had leftover pizza for lunch, and felt some uterine flutters while driving home. 

And now I will prove to you that I am officially showing; I am pretty sure this counts. I am even isolating my transverse abdominal here, so yeah. Every baby deserves online bump pictures.

Our bedroom walls are not this bright, I promise.

And since I found rereading C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy to be a struggle for my pregnancy brain, I am officially rereading the Complete Works of Jane Austen. M seems to remember my pregnancies better than I do, and tells me that I do this every pregnancy. Good old Jane. Maybe I will pick up on more of her virtue ethics this time around.

This 1930s complete volume and my down comforter make the perfect combination for winter reading. I just need a cup of hot tea.

P.S. I am justifying rereading my favorite books by explaining that I am listening to audiobooks during my treadmill workouts, so I am getting through new literature. (And by new I mean classics that I have not read yet.)


I once made this cupcake rosary (four years ago). It was pretty.

Today is one of our favorite feast days. We used to throw an Our Lady of Victories party back when we lived in Buffalo every year. One of our dear friends, now has an annual St. Francis Day party on Oct. 4, so we keep our festivities in the family now. I am going to attempt a symbolic dinner tonight, which you will have to wait for my quick takes to see.

Our main annual tradition is to read the poem Lepanto, which I leave here for your reading pleasure:

Lepanto by G. K. Chesterton

White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young,
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain—hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunset and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees,
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be;
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,—
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, “Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done,
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces—four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate ;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still—hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

St. Michael’s on his mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
      Domino gloria!

Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

King Philip’s in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that, is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial, and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed—
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man’s house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign—
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Vivat Hispania!

Domino Gloria!

Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade….
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

Source: The Collected Poems of G. K. Chesterton (1927)

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
By T.S. Elliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again
Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice
And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us
Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying
Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.
Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.
At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.
At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jagged, like an old man’s mouth drivelling, beyond repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.
At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs’s fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.
Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy
but speak the word only.
Who walked between the violet and the violet
Who walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary’s colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs
Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary’s colour,
Sovegna vos
Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing
White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.
The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word
But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken
Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew
And after this our exile
If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.
O my people, what have I done unto thee.
Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice
Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose
O my people, what have I done unto thee.
Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.
O my people.
Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn
Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings
And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth This is the time of tension between dying and birth The place of solitude where three dreams cross Between blue rocks But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away Let the other yew be shaken and reply.
Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee.

Post # 201!

During a blogging hiatus. And this is definitely a mirror image phone “selfie”…

I meant to commemorate post #200, but I happened to miss it in the frenzy of last week. I was not expecting the crazy amount of traffic that my Truth and Charity post on young people trending to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) it received, and I missed my 200th post. Well, I did post a silly thing on winter music, mostly in attempt to amuse myself in the midst of a blizzard.

I started this blog back in 2008 when I was in my second trimester with G. I had been married slightly longer than I had been pregnant, and out of college slightly longer than I had been married. A lot had happened and continued to happen as I learned how to balance kids and living. The blog was neglected for a large portion of my life in Buffalo, but towards the end of it I started writing more. Maybe I owe my deeper introspection to the move to St. Paul. When you have to restart life to some extent in a new place, it is nice to have a place to process it all. Due to my renewal of this blog, I was invited to write for Truth and Charity. I am deeply grateful to everyone at Truth and Charity for inviting me to write for them. It has been such a rewarding experience, and a challenge for me to expand my writing abilities.

I feel like that I can really call myself “a writer” now. I always wanted to be a writer. That was my plan before I discovered theology and philosophy. And since I did not make it past my masters degree before my vocation turned to wifehood and motherhood, blogging seemed the appropriate option. Thank you for all your support of my blogging. I am especially grateful to the “writer’s group” from freshmen year of college, who have always been my most faithful readers. The weekly group also happens to be where M and I had the chance to get to know each other through our love of writing.

On top of our love of writing, M and I have a love of reading. When I was discussing my article about the Pope’s understanding of young people becoming traditionalists, M mentioned this passage, which I will leave you with, from Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh:

So Rex was sent to Farm Street to Father Mowbray, a priest renowned for his triumphs with obdurate catechumans. After the third interview he came to tea with Lady Marchmain [Rex’s future mother-in-law] …
“Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said “It’s going to rain,” would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father.’ ‘But supposing it didn’t’ He thought a moment and said, ‘I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.’
“Lady Marchmain, he doesn’t correspond to any degree of paganism known to the missionaries.”

Philosophy while parenting… kinda make you want another…

P.S. I am planning some updating on my blog design…I am not sure exactly the extent or when.

Seven Quick Takes–Saturday, November 23

1. And it is the weekend again already! The days just fly by with the kids and keeping house. I am really thankful for my Monday resolution, which I might need to alter to include email. I missed a few important emails during the day this week, so I think I need to allow myself a quick email check. Facebook, however, can wait until the kids are in bed.

2. G (4.5) picked out a book at the library last week about a little girl and her grandma. At the end of the book the grandma dies, and the girl discusses death and how she misses her grandma. Out of the stack of 13 books, this is her favorite to have read to her. She has not yet known anyone who has passed away, but she will someday. I don’t really know if literature can prepare a little child for such a loss, but maybe it will help her understand what has happened better when she encounters it in her own life. Maybe I will follow up on the book by discussing praying for the souls of the dead.

3. I am cooking my own Thanksgiving turkey this year for the first time in my life! Our first three married Thanksgivings we were traveling, and last year our aunt and uncle cooked dinner for us in our home since I was three weeks post-partum at the time. This year my in-laws are coming to visit, and my mother-in-law and I planned the meal earlier this week. Everything but the turkey and L’s birthday request of mac and cheese is going to be vegan for the benefit of M’s youngest sister. However, this meal should be no problem compared to the Pate de Canard en Croute that I made Wednesday and Thursday.

4. We bought a treadmill last weekend, and it is a good thing we waited until we bought house to get something so huge and heavy! We got it safely down into the basement study with the help of M’s colleague. Many thanks to him for his help! It is just in time for today’s high of 18°F. If I was cool and had a smartphone I would post a screen shot of the weather forecast here. 

5. In case you are wondering, I am still working my way through Crime and Punishment. I am over halfway now. Maybe I should have a two week deadline for myself. I will try to have it done by St. Nicholas day. Speaking of St. Nicholas day, when one emphasizes that with kids instead of Santa, one hears things like this from one’s 4.5 year old, upon seeing Christmas displays with candy:

“Look, Mom! They are getting ready for St. Nicholas day!” 


Photo by Brian Behrend. This is not the dog we saw.

6. The world from the perspective of a nearly three year old gets pretty interesting. Today I found L looking out the front window at a lady walking her dog. She said to me, “That dog broke his poor little body!” I took a closer look at the dog. He was wearing a sweater. I almost did not want to explain to her that he was not in a full body cast, because it was so cute that she thought this.

7. Please take a moment to pray for a friend’s (from grad school) wife and newborn baby. She just had an emergency c-section and apparently the baby is not doing well. 

Linking up with Jen’s Conversion Diary. Head on over for more quick takes.

Seven Quick Takes, Oct. 18

This is my second post of the day after a weeks hiatus. Let’s just say that mothering three children does not always allow for blogging…

1. For number one, I want to thank Fr. Z for turning my latest Truth and Charity post into a “Guest Post” on his blog. I really appreciate that he read my email and took time to read my post. Thanks, Father!

2. The Saga of the Leaky Pipe Continues… Here is the current look of our basement:

This one is not quite current, the ceiling in this family room is mostly put up.

The laundry room is painted.

Spare Oom. Maybe we should skip carpet and go for a marbled cement look?

While entertained hopes of the basement being finished by next week, the carpet is not due to be manufactured for two more weeks and the ceiling is slow in going up…

3. I was trying to convince L (2.75) to go outside today by telling her that it was going to be cold soon. Her response: “When it gets cold out then it will snow and then we can go ice skating!” She has no clue what ice skating it like… though maybe we need to look into taking her sometime this winter…

4. I bought a large squash at the farmer’s market this morning. The farmer told me that it would be good for pie. He cut one open to show the inside. It looked orangey-red and fleshy. I think it will be good. Last year we tried out the blue hubbard squash, and it made delicious pies and breads.

I am not sure what kind of squash it is, but it looks like a pretty close relative of the pumpkin.

5. I first read Dostoyevsky while in college, starting with The Brothers Karamazov. It took me a really long time to read the book. Until now I thought it was because it was a long book, but now I am realizing that it probably was because whenever I read Dostoyevsky I get so caught up in the story and the characters that I lose track of myself. I started Crime and Punishment a couple of weeks ago, and am only about 70 pages into it. Wednesday I spent about 30 minutes of naptime reading it, and got caught up so much in Raskolnikov and his emotions, thoughts, and actions it took me about 10 minutes to realize that I had not just committed an awful crime for which I was probably going to get caught for… Dostoyevsky, yeah… read him.

6. I am currently watching Game 6 of the NLCS with my MLB app.  It is possibly the last baseball game I will watch this season because of our voluntary lack of television. If the Cardinals hold onto their 9-0 lead then I will have to listen to the KMOX broadcast of the World Series games.

7. And I leave you with Carly Simon singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” And the video I want won’t imbed so you have to go there.

Head on over to Jen’s for more Quick Takes!

Seven Quick Takes-Saturday, August 3

1. I have no excuse for not writing these yesterday, except that I wanted to sit and read Sense and Sensibility during naptime. I am on a rereading kick this summer, and Jane Austen has been come to again. It is also in research for a writing piece I am mentally working on which I hope will be written eventually. It is taking more thought that I expected.

2. M and I both have finished rereading The Lord of the Rings, and so we decided to re-watch the movies. The Hobbits just made it to Rivendell and well we decided we cannot watch anymore. Peter Jackson did not get Tolkien and I am pretty sure that he did not actually read the books, because his way of telling the story is so different from the book that it is not even the same story. I really need to stop watching movie versions of books that I think are great and that I love… don’t even get me started on how the movie of The Last of the Mohicans totally got Natty Bumpo’s character wrong…

3. House update: The asbestos should be removed early next week as long as the contractors and the insurance company keep things moving, and the main basement room is going to get a total redo so that it all matches. Hopefully we will get to go over the details of what will be done this week, ie. redo knotty pine paneling or switch to dry wall, carpet style and color, etc…

4.  G (4) picks up on random phrases from books and nursery rhymes (which is what makes reading them to her so great). This week her phrase has been “I don’t think I can bear it!” or a toy will “not be able to bear” something. It is pretty cool to hear her explore language and use new phrases without any hesitation.

5. G and L (2.5) like to act out the stories we read to them. I overheard them playing the other day and L was pretending to be “Baby Carrie” from the picture book based on Little House in the Big Woods. I asked G who she was pretending to be, and she explained that she was pretending to be one of her friends (who happens to be the daughter of T).

6. Since he does not have his own blog, my last two quick takes are one’s inspired by M. He has been into Leonard Cohen this week and he shared Cohen’s song “Suzanne” with me. Now he really wants me to feed him tea and oranges from China (picking at my dislike of people forgetting that my name is not Suzanne, but Susanna, as in “O, Susanna”). M has decided that Cohen’s way of combining sexual and theological references is very incarnational and makes him think of the Theology of the Body.

7. This song just came into M’s head. And I reminded him that it was one of my theme song the summer and autumn that we were broken up while he was discerning his vocation.

Head on over to Jen’s Conversion Diary to read more Quick Takes!

Seven Quick Takes-Saturday, April 27

I was not really in the mood to blog yesterday, so I am late on the Seven Quick Takes Friday link in, but here I am now.

1. We closed on our house on Monday, meaning that we have a house to live in which is owned by a bank. We will make a monthly payment for years and years and one day will have our own house. Hooray!

2. Today we spent the whole day cleaning at the house. We primarily used our new Shark Vacuum and a Norwex cloth. The house had been unoccupied for 8 months, so there were a lot of cobwebs. The whole (finished) basement is entirely clean: every surface (including walls) wiped and the floor vacuumed. We did about half of the upstairs, but the rooms we have left will be done this week. All of the floors are done.

3. Friday and Saturday are painting days. We are painting two bedrooms, the living room, a bathroom, and the stair hallway. Hopefully we will get it all done on those days. 🙂

4. M is rereading Lord of the Rings for the billionth time; his goal is to read it seeing Frodo as an English middle-aged gentleman. I am going to start The Fellowship when he gets onto The Two Towers. It is nice to read a book from time to time that is really hard to put down.

5. I am almost finished with Catherine of Sienna by Sigrid Undset. Undset is such a great writer and portrays humanity so clearly; she had a great understanding of the Middle Ages and gives interesting insight into St. Catherine and the divisive times St. Catherine lived in. I am pretty sure that God put St. Catherine into the time he put her to save the papacy, by using her to bring the pope back to from from Avignon and then during the schism, use her to support the true pope. She was an amazing person who loved everybody with her whole strength.

6. Another great biography of a saint is Edmund Campion:A Life by Evelyn Waugh. St. Edmund lived during the suppression of the Catholic Church in England, and became a Jesuit and did secret ministry, and was martyred. What is so great about this biography and Catherine of Sienna is that they were written by really talented authors who knew how to write and loved the Church.

7. I never linked it here on this blog, but I thought some might still find it worthwhile. I wrote this post for the Truth and Charity blog a couple of weeks ago about how procreation is an end of marriage and how those who choose to have no children (in marriage) are not fulfilling its ends.

Head over to Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!