Commonplace Book

I’m feeling hopeful these days because I read that when you plant bulbs, you can expect that sometimes the first year they sleep, the next year they creep, and finally they leap. We are pretty firmly in creeping territory, and I’m not sure any of my new ones from last fall will bloom this year round. But six of my peonies have returned, and that is a great source of satisfaction and hope.

What I’m fixing:

  • Usually I steer clear of recipes with “healthy” in their title but this “healthy chicken stroganoff” is awfully nice, much easier than the pot pie recipe I was hunting down, and nothing says you can’t add a little butter.
  • THE PINNACLE OF DIETARY-RESTRICTION-FRIENDLY FOOD: I made this dairy-free gluten-free vegetarian frittata for a retreat and people liked it, even those who don’t have dietary restrictions. You’re out of luck if you’ve got an egg sensitivity or are vegan, but otherwise, this makes for an easy and wholesome dish to serve at a potluck — and it’s pretty if you cut it into squares and plop it on a cake stand.
  • and…NOT THE PINNACLE OF DIETARY RESTRICTION FOOD: sticky toffee pudding 

What I’m reading:

  • What Frog and Toad Can Teach Readers of All Ages: I’m a Toad. You?
  • Why One Dad Decided to Live on Expired Food for a Year: I won’t eat things very out of date, but I am a wild fan of the closeout grocery, or, as J calls it, “the used food store.” Americans’ obsession with beauty and perceived freshness doesn’t have much bearing on the actual wholesomeness of most foods, as best I can see.
  • I’m listening to Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, after reading and loving The Quotidian Mysteries just before morning sickness set in two years ago. I am enjoying this nearly as much, though a.) I wish Norris wasn’t the narrator and b.) I actually just wish I were sitting down and marking this up. But the question of where mental illness ends and spiritual malaise or even sin begins is a question that’s interested me for years and I haven’t found often addressed. I’m also going to spend some time thinking through this idea of “bad thoughts” rather than “sins” — a recognition of the role our habits of thought shape our choices.

“Acedia is not a relic of the fourth century or a hang-up of some weird Christian monks, but a force we ignore at our peril. Whenever we focus on the foibles of celebrities to the detriment of learning more about the real world- the emergence of fundamentalist religious and nationalist movements, the economic factors endangering our reefs and rain forests, the social and ecological damage caused by factory farming – acedia is at work. Wherever we run to escape it, acedia is there, propelling us to ‘the next best thing,’ another paradise to revel in and wantonly destroy. It also sends us backward, prettying the past with the gloss of nostalgia. Acedia has come so far with us that it easily attached to our hectic and overburdened schedules. We appear to be anything but slothful, yet that is exactly what we are, as we do more and care less, and feel pressured to do still more.”

  • Finally finishing Seven Storey Mountain (the month after WRM discussion) and looking forward to discussing its Lenten takeaway for me with y’all soon.

Me, elsewhere:

Time machine:

  • One year ago: Breaking Up With Facebook — that means it’s my anniversary of ditching (one form of) mindless scrolling. A few bumps in the road (like arriving at the wrong place for book club) but I’ve never been seriously tempted to return.
  • Two years ago: Radio silence. Then in May, my announcement of Roo’s approach: Dispatches from an Enchanted Castle.
  • Three years ago: talking about Cloth Napkins, a love J finds completely perplexing.

3 thoughts on “Commonplace Book

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