Commonplace Book

What I’m fixing:

  • More sourdough waffles. I used extremely runny homemade yogurt (can we call it kefir?) for the milk, and added chocolate chips because that’s the kind of house this is.

  • Slow cooker collard greens. They were a bit too spicy for me but J really enjoyed them, and you can’t get much easier, at least in feeding vegetables to a man who spurns anything green that neglects animal fats.
  • In my continuing sourdough adventures, this slightly fussy recipe, suggested to me by my friend Emily, has become my go-to. I don’t like that it only makes one loaf (I guess I could get a second dutch oven eventually) but the crust is out of this world, and it’s not much more work than my old recipe.

What I’m reading:

  • In the Countryside, England’s Catholic Heritage Remains Hidden in Plain Sight”  Any piece that starts with the word “ember,” a truly lovely word, already has my attention, but this one goes on to meditate on how the landscape of rural England still reflects its Catholic past. Very Charlotte Mason-y and beautiful. (h/t Helena Daily Collection)
  • In our continuing talk of laid-back hospitality and my deep admiration of Emily Stimpson Chapman, I offer “Practical Hospitality: How Clean Is Clean Enough?” (h/t Helena Daily Collection — are you detecting a trend here? just go ahead and subscribe to Helena Daily)
  • The Long LonelinessI read and really enjoyed Dorothy Day’s On Pilgrimage last winter and thought I’d give Day’s autobiography a try. So far, even though I’m not hugely a memoir person, I’m really enjoying it as I chip away at it slowly at the gym (!). What should I try by Dorothy Day (or her friends) next?
  • A friend wanted a bunch of us to read Hold the Dark by William Giraldi for Bad Catholic Book Club and while it’s not the sort of thing I usually choose for myself, this review encouraged me to give it a try. I was interested in exploring Flannery O’Connor’s idea in Mystery and Manners that a Catholic novel needn’t be written by a Catholic, but while that is probably true (The Sparrow is truly terrific and written, as best I can tell, by a liberal Jew), Hold the Dark does not seem to be particularly Catholic by any metric. My biggest disappointment — which I think I can state vaguely enough to avoid spoilers — is that the simmering foreboding of the early chapters (which were mostly a pleasure to read in page-turning dread) gives way to a bloodbath that ultimately has Reasons. Instead of the characters committing atrocities because this is the logical end of human fallenness, as in Heart of Darkness, which I really love,  the characters of this brutal, isolated Alaskan village do the terrible things they do because of their own psychological baggage, and what is meant to be a shocking revelation at the end to me fell flat. Oh, ok. In Mr. Kurtz, I may see myself and recognize a truth of human nature, but in Medora Slone I just see one depraved woman with individual circumstances sending her along her path of destruction. Has anyone else given it a try?
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I’m not sure I could have loved this book more. I listened to it as an audiobook, so it gets bonus points for a cool accent, and I owe having picked it up at all to the dual influence of my college chum Dot, who recommended Liane Moriarty, and the blog Like Mother, Like Daughter. But I found Alice immensely likable and relatable, both as a cheerfully bumbling 29-year-old and driven, tense 39-year-old, valued the many insights into marriage and motherhood, and often found myself laughing or crying. Strongly recommended.

Time machine:

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