Thursday, December 9, 2010

I am occasionally a coward in the meanest, pettiest of ways.

And the things I've done in such a state can't be undone. And yet somehow God still forgives. And yet somehow He still works all things to the good in ways I may never see. That is faith, is trust: He is so much bigger than me, and I cannot bring down His plans. Not for myself, not for others--not ultimately. I cannot ever, wittingly or not (or something in between), defeat His love.

So I place myself in that mercy.

And what is Advent the season of if not trust? Isn't waiting about trust? Our Lady made trust a lifestyle during her Advent.

(Pardon the disconnectedness. I am tired. I am letting myself be braindead tonight. Going to read some Dappled Things and Image now.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

in the meantime

Several wonderful things have happened since I last posted here.

1) My birthday.

2) Knitting.

3) Oh yes. I also got engaged.

I have also been very, very busy. But I don't intend to abandon this blog. I imagine it will have a lot of wedding posts and knitting posts; hopefully I can pick get back to blogging a bit more regularly after Christmas, when I have a more normal course load. (I almost died last week. Oof.)

On a side note, if I am able to pick up NaNoWriMo sometime this month (no plot? definitely a problem...), my personal goal will be 25,000 words. No way am I hitting 50k. Unless I get some incredible spurt of inspiration; then the time would find itself, I know. But not for now.

I have also--surprise--been thinking a lot about marriage and vocation lately. So some of those thoughts will likely end up here as well.

Soon, lovely people. Soon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tales from the Awesome

My life is awesome, and I'm not ashamed of telling you.

I guess I should be expected to substantiate claims like this, so I will offer you proof positive: I made my own lavender sugar last night.

I've been meaning to get some for a while now, but it's not the sort of product Giant Eagle or Trader Joe's carries. Whole Foods seemed the right place to look, since Keith has found rosewater for me there; however, they didn't have it either.

I was told so by someone over the phone, and I was reluctant to believe him. So I searched their website and found this recipe.

I am pretty delighted with the results. I reduced the ingredients to 3/4c of sugar and 1tbsp lavender flowers. I didn't bother to google pictures until after making it, so I didn't realize it was okay to still have whole buds floating around; the result is that I nearly pulverized the sugar. At first I thought my handheld blender was smoking; then I realized it was puffs of sugar dust.

It still turned out wonderfully, and is very pretty to look at. Or would be, if I had something other than a tupperware container to store it in.

As if this wasn't enough evidence of My Awesome Life, I have more to offer.

  • Amazon emailed to inform me that my copy of Mockingjay has shipped. (Granted, I didn't have Amazon Prime when I pre-ordered it a few months ago, so it won't get here in two days; but it should still arrive before school starts. Guess how I'll be spending next weekend?)

  • I brewed my first cup of loose leaf Earl Grey tea. I added lavender sugar to it. I don't think I can even attempt to desribe this.

  • Keith burned a DVD of the latest Hercule Poirot episode. (Poirot's a Belgian! A Walloon! We must be related.)

  • Keith also made me dinner--fettuccine with peas, asparagus, pancetta, and lemon.

  • I made an amazing dessert, using, of course, my Amazing Lavender Sugar.
(The image is from Design*Sponge, not me. My own effort was much less picturesque. But still tasty.)

Any one of these things would be more than enough Awesome for one evening; but in all seriousness, my life is one of abundance. Praise God.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

the hidden lovely truth

To a Long Loved Love: 7

Because you're not what I would have you be
I blind myself to who, in truth, you are.
Seeking mirage where desert blooms, I mar
Your you. Aaah, I would like to see
Past all delusion to reality:
Then I would see God's image in your face,
His hand in yours, and in your eyes his grace.
Because I'm not what I would have me be,
I idolize Two who are not any place,
Not you, not me, and so we never touch.
Reality would burn. I do not like it much.
And yet in you, in me, I find a trace
Of love which struggles to break through.
The hidden lovely truth of me, of you.

-Madeleine L'Engle, The Weather of the Heart

To see myself from inside is all flaws and tangles
and my fear is that the good,
the lovely, is just veneer
for the broken.

If you find me
in this place,
will you love me
will you bring yourself
will God grant us light to see by

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blogs You Should Read: "Philokalia" and "No More Than Pen and Ink"

I need to add links to the sidebar at some point; but in any case, one of the things I'd like to do here is share awesome things online. Maybe a little bit like tumbl'r, only perhaps more thoughtfully. (I refuse to get a tumbl'r account because it would kill my time, oh yes it would. But I do understand the appeal.)


This blog is run by Fr. David Abernathy of the Pittsburgh Oratory. He will be leading a study of this book, starting in September, which I'm looking forward to attending, classes permitting. It consists of his own reflections on the Philokalia, a collection of texts by the Eastern Fathers. "Philokalia" means "love of the beautiful," and thus, "a love for everything of God, beauty’s source."

I've only read a few posts on here, but they are amazing. For example, the latest is about the Eternal Beauty that Saves the World.

And also, Father David is a wonderful priest. So you should read his blog. :)

No More Than Pen and Ink

Here Marlin Klingensmith shares his work and, more recently, posts reflections on writing. His stories are always a smart and enjoyable read--the worlds he creates of words are tangible enough to taste the air of them.

Actually, I've always loved reading most anything Lyn writes. His voice draws you in and keeps you reading, whether fiction or regular prose. So you should read it. (And comment. He posts more when people comment.)

Holy Shamoly ...

I got 59 hits over here today! Which is ... not a lot in the scheme of things, but you know, it's the most my little blog's ever gotten in one day. My readership is small but dependable, and then there's Twitter and the magic of tags. So--wootness. :)

As for this even littler blog, it is still going through a process of self-discovery. I have been reading too many design blogs lately, and so sometimes it asks to be that. That's when I remind it that I know nothing about design, am not remotely artistic or crafty--at least not in a successful way--and can't live up to its dreams.


That being said, I have measured Keith's couch for a slipcover. It currently lives in my apartment, and it is a very masculine shade of charcoal grey. Needless to say it will be getting in touch with its feminine side in the not-too-distant future.

I have also started my toilet paper wall art venture--so there will be a post on that soon.

I get so carried away with plans of redecorating that I forget I have a new roommate moving in less than two weeks from now, and she may, in fact, have something to say about how the apartment looks.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tears of Joy

(I don't intend to double post here and there very often, but for once at least I am.)

My grades are all turned in! Now to sit back and wait for the emails of complaint ...

Anyway, that is not the event this post title refers to. I was reading the blog of the Poor Clare nuns at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, in Alabama. My cousin Regina was invested in July, which means she is now a novice! And she has received a new name: Sister Chiara Marie of Jesus, Our True Light.

I am so proud of her, and so joyful for her, even as I miss her. Take a moment to see how beautiful she is.

My other cousin--Regina's sister--sent me that blog post, as well as the reminder that my deadline is a week from yesterday, and I ought to be writing. (She is serving as my "professor," the one I'll turn the draft in to.)

I suppose I ought to listen to her ... she'd make a tough prof.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

with all of your self

Perhaps "fancy" is a misleading title for this blog. So far it has been fanciful; but often I fancy things that are philosophical, thoughtful. When these things grab hold of my brain and churn around for a couple of days without letting go, I release the pressure by blogging. So maybe "Rosemary's Obsession" would be more honest.

In any case. Welcome to this blog's first "philosophical" post.

On Sunday I got together with Kim and Nicole, two writing friends from college who I hadn't seen from graduation. We went shopping at Target (clothes! silverware! cereal bowls!), ate at Steak and Shake, and got coffee at Eat'n'Park. We talked about writing and undergrad and life and love.

Love. As a Catholic, I think this may be the simplest truth about the universe. We are all held in existence by Love. But we are fallen, broken, and our souls are full of jagged corners and rough edges that complicate things.

I asked Nicole how she defined love (and the context here was romantic love), and she answered: love is when you give yourself completely, your entire heart, everything. (This is my paraphrase, not her words.)

That answer struck me as wise. Nicole and I have different ideas about relationships in many respects; and yet I agree with this.

I believe in saving sex for marriage. To those who know me as thoroughly Catholic, this comes as no surprise; but I it's not just a "Catholic" thing. In fact, as I mull over Nicole's definition of love, I find that it is reason enough to save sex for marriage. Not that love (emotional, platonic, sexual, spiritual, etc) is a subject I can plumb in a blog post; but explaining my own decision from a standpoint that makes sense to non-Catholics? Perhaps I can touch on this.

Human beings have a body and a soul (or spirit, to use a less religious term). I am well aware there are people out there who disagree that we have anything beyond a body; but I don't think this is a religious difference. I know very few people, religious or otherwise, who don't believe in a spirit on one level or another: this mystery of having a personality, of being a Person. If we don't have a spirit of some kind--if we are mere bodies driven by elaborate instincts--then love is not a reality at all, beyond a chemical trick to get us to reproduce. (And one that isn't doing a very good job in these days of Pills and "protection," I might add.)

BUT. This is not a blog post about whether or not people have souls. My argument is that these two parts of us--body and spirit--are not two separate entities, but equal parts of the same person, and thus inseparable. Now there is, of course, death. You may believe that, after death, the spirit passes away with the body; you may believe the spirit is born in another body; you may believe the spirit wanders around without a body, ghostlike; you may believe that both, eventually, will be resurrected. You may, sometime in your life, even have an out-of-body experience. But as you walk around the world, eating and talking and laughing and crying--as you read this--they are equally you.

This is something we take for granted, without thinking: we get tattoos and piercings, we dress a certain way, style our hair, and so forth. Our bodies are means of expressing and revealing (or hiding) our spirit.

There is also music. Its creation is a very physical thing: strings and wood and air rippling in sound waves. So is our experience of it. We have nerves and ear drums and cells that transmit chemicals and folds in our brain that store the memory of it. And yet music is not a mere physical phenomenon--it isn't even strictly necessary. Some people love music that others simply call noise; we type our favorite bands in our Facebook profiles. Our connection to music is emotional, and at its highest a spiritual experience. We make and receive it through our bodies, but it speaks to our souls. (I think art in general is one of the best proofs that 1) we have a spirit, and 2) it is irrevocably tied to our bodies, these concrete parts of us.)

The key to being whole and at peace with ourselves is to be at peace with our bodies and our souls. They are meant to function together, to compliment each other.

I think that Nicole was right: that love means being able to give all of your heart, your self, everything. And sex is the physical expression of that reality. Not just symbolically, but literally, because your body is just as much a part of you as your spirit, your heart. Your body--including, of course, your sexuality--is part of the everything that makes you up as a person.(And true love involves giving ALL of your sexuality--not withholding your fecundity. But that is yet another subject.) Sex divorced from love is, at worst, a lie to the other person; at best, it's a lie to yourself that your body and your personality are disconnected.

I see so many young girls (and some older ones) who can't stand not being in a relationship. They are addicted to romance. They must always be "in love." They are ridiculous. When they give their hearts, it isn't real, because they are simply sating a thirst for romance, and deceiving themselves in the process.

It isn't always easy to wait for sex. Of course not. And for some people it is even harder than for others. But it's just another form of unreality, like using the word "love" for every boy you've dated for a week. It isn't true.

And so I am waiting for the point in my life when I can honestly, fully give that everything, to one who can and will give his everything to me. Reaching that point, I believe, is part decision and part circumstance. It is not at all passive--not any more than abstaining from sex until marriage is prudish. And it's something much richer and deeper than I have captured here; but these are the thoughts in my head tonight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bergamot Summer

Call me crazy, but despite muggy 80 degree weather I still crave a cup of hot tea. Specifically, a cup of Earl Grey. Even more specifically, the Numi Aged Earl Grey I got from Giant Eagle the other day but have yet to try.

This is the problem with summer. You sweat too much; you can't take hot showers; and you can't drink a cup of tea or cocoa without your insides melting and seeping out through your pores. Last summer when I lived in my parent's air conditioning I had an evening cocoa habit, and during the day drank tea in the chilly finished basement.

My apartment--designed like an oven to keep the internal temperature five degrees hotter inside than out--is another story. I've gone without a cup of Earl Grey for too long.

My first encounter with this tea was accidental: a box of Twinings abandoned by a friend in my cupboard. To this day Twinings is still my favorite (I mean, it's not for nothing that it's approved by the Queen), though I also have a fondness for Stash's double-bergamot version--not their regular Earl Grey, which also has lavender.

My cousin--a former Starbucks employee--had never tasted it, so I introduced her to it. She remarked after one sip that it tasted like citrus.

I was taken aback. Her taste buds are more finely tuned than mine. Citrus, to me, meant lemons, limes, grapefruit. I don't know what I thought bergamot was; I wasn't expecting it to be something like an orange. And I still can't think of it as citrus; it's light, yes, but also rich. It's like a dance between sunshine and cool, shaded places.

This is how my obsession has grown, you see. I browse bergamot scented perfumes, lotions, and body washes on Etsy. It smells the way it tastes. I haven't bought any--yet. I think if I used bergamot scented perfume I would never stop smelling my wrists.

Since my first box of Twinings, I've made Earl Grey shortbread, Earl Grey brownies, and one of my life goals is to make Earl Grey ice cream. And then Earl Grey Chocolate ice cream. (I'm of the opinion that Earl Grey + dark chocolate is one of the best combinations in existence. Perfect for watching British television.) And of course there are bergamot curd, bergamot dreams, and Earl Grey cheesecake to try also.

But I have no ice cream maker, and it's too hot to bake, so I did the only thing I could: I made Earl Grey iced tea. It was a spur of the moment experiment, but it turned out pretty well.

Granted, the scent of bergamot is hard to get out of the pitcher--and it will flavor the next tea you make. (I used to make Earl Grey in my thermos, and my coffee had a definite citrus flavor afterward.) As the last four pitchers I've made have been Earl Grey, this isn't a problem for me.

This is my pact with summer. And I suppose there aren't many things more summery than citrus.

How I make Earl Grey Iced Tea:

Pour approximately six cups of boiling water over eight bags of Earl Grey. Steep for about five minutes. Add 1/4-1/3c sugar (maybe even 1/2c, if you like sweet tea). Add 1-2c cool or lukewarm water to moderate the tea's strength.

This makes a strong tea--the kind I like. If you prefer a lighter flavor, try using Twinings Lady Grey instead.

Monday, July 19, 2010

TPing the Apartment

My roommate is getting married in a few weeks (!!), which means that the furniture situation here will be changing. All I own is a kitchen table and four rickety chairs painted a pretty shade of indigo. The rest--couch, chair, television, etc--is hers.

I did buy an armchair at an estate auction (a story unto itself), and I may even be able to keep the couch for the next year. She and her husband-to-be aren't moving very far away, and they don't have room for it. Or, I can take one of my boyfriend's couches for the time being, neither of which fit into his new place.

Either way, I will have the place to myself for a month before the new roomie moves in, and I find that I'm in re-decorating mode. I've been wasting inordinate amounts of time on sites like Apartment Therapy and Design*Sponge, keeping my eyes peeled for local estate sales, looking for bookshelves on Craig's list, and saving toilet paper rolls.

Well, one toilet paper roll. My roommate threw the last one out, so I have to keep an eye on the tp and make sure that I'm the one to use the last square; I am not in favor of digging things out of the bathroom trash. But ever since stumbling across the Design*Sponge tutorial for making toilet paper roll wall art, I've been excited about this project.

I can sense your skepticism. Keith was doubtful too, until I showed him Cool Pictures From The Internet.

The fact that you can paint it all sorts of lovely colors as opposed to leaving it a weird shade of cardboard made him admit it wasn't a completely ridiculous idea, although I think he still has his doubts. Perhaps calling it wall art is a bit overblown.

But I did find some real art while googling for inspiration pictures. Check out these trees from artist Yuken Teruya. Or the scenes crafted by Anastassia Elias.

I'll need to use more toilet paper before I can attempt this, but when the time comes I'll share my own success (or failure) here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Brief History of Blogging

Part one: Blogger

In April of 2005 I wrote my first blog post on a very basic, very pink blogspot. I posted there pretty faithfully until it petered out and eventually stopped completely in 2007. I also started two group blogs, both with members of The Inkspiller: a NaNoWriMo blog, and one for writing in general.

This was my first blogging experience. It was fun, light-hearted, profound, and typical of my late teens. Nostalgia-worthy, long over.

Part Two: Xanga

Yes, I created a Xanga account. This happened mostly because all my internet friends were over there. For a while I posted mostly the same things to blogger and xanga, and then xanga took prominence.

It was on xanga that I learned--the hard way--my first lesson about protecting posts. I overreacted, I think, putting the whole blog on a friends only lock; but if I recall, xanga didn't offer many privacy options.

Xanga died a quick and merciful death.

Part Three: Livejournal

I was attracted to Livejournal in part because of the myriad of privacy options, and in part because of the fact that (again) many of my internet friends were posting there. Those friends no longer read it, but I still keep it up for the few that do. It is my most personal blog. Not intimate per se--I keep my secrets off the internet--but personal things, the sort of sometimes-lighthearted, sometimes-serious chit chat you'd exchange with a friend on the phone.

Part Four: Wordpress

I can't remember when I got a Wordpress account. I registered, but didn't start a blog, and forgot about it. Then in early 2009 a friend wanted to start an independent film production company called Dos Lados, and invited me to be a part of the attendant blog. I tried to register a Wordpress account, and it told me my email was already in use, and I remembered that account existed.

Not much happened with that blog--or Dos Lados--but last fall in a fit of procrastination and admiration for blogging writers I started a Real Blog called Rosemary Writes. As the tagline proclaims, this blog is for "matters more bookish than not"--reading, writing, teaching, etc.

But I wanted to participate in more light-hearted blogging, something less personal than Livejournal but less focused than Wordpress. A place where I could blog about whatever strikes my fancy.

And so here you have it--my return to blogger, and to the sort of blogging which took place there. I hope you enjoy.