Emily M. DeArdo

writer

7 Quick Takes

Seven Quick Takes No. 120: Let's talk about Harry

7 Quick Takes, booksEmily DeArdo5 Comments

I. 

Before we get into Harry Mania, here's this week's posts: 

Summer Reading: July

Let's Communicate

II. 

(Obviously: If you haven't read the HP books or watched the movies, there are tons and tons and tons of spoilers ahead.) 

Like a lot of other people, I picked up the "eighth" Harry Potter book on Sunday, the 31st--which is also Harry Potter's birthday. 

As you can see, it's a play--a two part play, actually--published here as a script. The "rehearsal addition" means that it's the script the cast was using in rehearsals, based on a story by Rowling. The final script will be published later. The show opened on the 30th, and up until a show opens, changes can be made (and usually are) in previews. 

(That doesn't mean that no changes are made once it's officially open, it just is pretty unlikely.) 

The story opens nineteen years later, with Harry as the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, Ron running the Weasley joke shop, and Hermione as Minister for Magic. Harry also has three children (mentioned in the Epilogue of Deathly Hallows)--James, Albus, and Lily. Albus and Harry have a...rocky relationship. And there are problems at work. 

I won't much more because I don't want to give anything away. But the script works well, both as a script (Ginny has a fantastic monologue in Part II that I would love to use in an audition), and as the next chapter in the Harry Potter universe.

III.

So, obviously, after I read the play (And I HAD to read the female parts out loud, come on!), I decided I had to go back to the movies and the books. 

Right now I'm re-watching the movies, and it's really clear that Chamber of Secrets is my least-favorite. It's so long, and so unwiedly. So many important things are introduced in it, but yet, it is a movie I usually skip. 

This is the movie where we get Dobby, Ginny arriving at Hogwarts, a HORCRUX!....and the movie is just so SLOW. 

I also don't really like the book, because I don't think it "fits" in the rest of the series. 

IV. 

I also have a beef about the diary as Horcrux. Does it feel like a sort of half-done thing to anyone else? The other horcruxes are crazy well protected, important items--and the diary is just given to the Malfoys! Who would give the Malfoys anything important?!?! 

And the whole "Riddle as memory"....that seems odd. The whole mechanics of the diary seem not well done. I sense authorial inattention. 

V. 

There are two movies that I dislike--Goblet of Fire and Chamber of Secrets. GOF because the book is just so rich, and so much is cut out in the movie. I know it probably had to happen, and I don't really mind missing SPEW, but I do miss all the other neat things, especially "after", when Dumbledore and Fudge are talking in the office, etc. "The Parting of the Ways" is one of my favorite chapters in the series.  
But I like Order of the Phoenix much better than the book. In the book it's all Harry yelling and being....teenagery. That's not interesting. I do like the bits on Occlumency, the Order, and St. Mungo's, but the series drags for me here. The movie is streamlined and focuses on the big points, which I enjoy. 

VI. 

Book seven--and movie eight (DH part II)--make me cry. I cannot read or watch with anyone else around, because it's ugly crying. Like, sobbing. As soon as Harry goes into Snape's memories in the pensieve, I am gone. 

 

I mean, just that picture. Holy cow. 

VII. 

Also, I am still mad at Lupin died. I LOVE Lupin. I would've married Lupin. He's my favorite teacher and he just DIESSSSSSS. 

Molly Weasley is also the Bomb. 

Share your thoughts on HP--really, anything HP related--in the comments. :) We'll have a Harry Potter party! 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 119: 23 Rules for Sane Eating, and Dragons!

7 Quick Takes, Catholicism, family, foodEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 

The weekly recap: 

Intro to the Sacraments

Seeking Motivation

II. 

Last weekend, I visited my grandma with my parents. My grandma is 86 years old, and she's my last remaining grandparent--and I love her to bits. She raised eight kids on a music teacher's salary, and all 8 kids are married (STILL married! Not divorced!--several of them in the 30+ years category of marriage), and all have had children. There are 25 of us grandkids, and 9 great-grandchildren. Grandma gave me my lifelong love of piano. (And listened to me play even when it was more like....random noise.....than music.) 

Me and my grandma, celebrating her 85th birthday last year. 

Me and my grandma, celebrating her 85th birthday last year. 

 

Anyway, Grandma's house always has good reading. I was reading her back issues of Catholic Digest, and found some food columns written by Emily Stimpson, whom I love to read. And then I remembered that Emily had a blog about Catholic food and friendship and entertaining called The Catholic Table

So I went home and read through her archives, where I found this gem: 

23 Rules for Sane Eating. 

Really, don't we need these? Eating, one of our most basic tasks, has become so complicated, hasn't it? It was so refreshing to find Emily's level-headed advice, here. 

And I am definitely going to start entertaining people again. I love dinner parties, and though my place is small, I love having people over to eat. 

III. 

Today is the Feast of St. Martha. DRAGONS, people. DRAGONS. (Click the link for Dragons!) 

Seriously, I love St. Martha. She gets such a bad wrap for the "Martha, Martha" story. But geez. She is really a pretty awesome lady. 

Some musical inspiration, as well: 

IV. 

This week I've been crazy into my painting and sketching. I'm working on adding some SoCal trip pages to my "big" sketchbook . Here's some of this week's work: 

Charcoal movement sketches as part of a SBS assignment. The idea was to catch people doing things, or in poses. So it was mostly line drawings, but I'm glad with what I caught here. The goal wasn't to be realistic. 

Charcoal movement sketches as part of a SBS assignment. The idea was to catch people doing things, or in poses. So it was mostly line drawings, but I'm glad with what I caught here. The goal wasn't to be realistic. 

A page in my big watercolor sketchbook detailing the SoCal trip with two maps--a larger (and wonkier) one with the general area, and then a more detailed one of LA and environs proper. I do have a travel sketchbook, but sometimes I want the larger pages. 

A page in my big watercolor sketchbook detailing the SoCal trip with two maps--a larger (and wonkier) one with the general area, and then a more detailed one of LA and environs proper. I do have a travel sketchbook, but sometimes I want the larger pages. 

This is a watercolor version of my grandma's flower bed. I put the paint blocks in first and then drew in some flowers in ink once the paint had dried. The flowers are sort of successful, but I wonder if it would've worked with just the paint blocks. I think it might have. And obviously, my green got away from me. Too much green! 

This is a watercolor version of my grandma's flower bed. I put the paint blocks in first and then drew in some flowers in ink once the paint had dried. The flowers are sort of successful, but I wonder if it would've worked with just the paint blocks. I think it might have. And obviously, my green got away from me. Too much green! 

I'm trying to work with my watercolors and brushes, to get to know them a little better, and see what they can do. But I really had fun with the charcoal pencils. 

V.

I'm on snapchat now as emdeardo, if you're in to Snapchat. I think I have the hang of it. Maybe? Not sure. But I do see how it can be fun. I haven't used any of the silly filters yet. :-p 

VI. 

One of my favorite Columbus Summer things is next weekend--the Dublin Irish Festival! And thank goodness, it looks like decent temps for the day I want to go. I love going and hearing the Irish bands, eating the good food, and it's a great time for sketching. I brought my sketchbook for the first time last year and I had a lot of fun with it. I can't wait to sketch some more this year! One of my favorite bands is Cassie and Maggie, sisters from Nova Scotia. They don't just sing and play; they dance, too. Seriously. They are fantastic!

VII. 

Does anyone else really like the month of August? I like June because it's like the unfolding of spring and summer. It's full of possibility. July, I don't really like. I don't know why. And this has even been a particularly good July, with all sorts of fun things happening. 

But August just seems like such a lovely month. A slow month, a month to sort of enjoy the summer and prepare for fall. I remember when I was going back to school and I was always ready for school to start come August. August is like that slow transition from summer to the demands of fall. (But I do love fall.) 

Seven Quick Takes No. 118: Aftermath

7 Quick Takes, JeopardyEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I. 

OK, so if you missed the wrap up on Tuesday: 

here you go. 

If you want more Jeopardy things, then click the "Jeopardy " link under the title of this post, and you will see all the goodness!

II. 

I was at a party, graciously hosted by Tiff and Bill, on Monday, so I wasn't tending to my social media. However, that didn't mean that social media didn't have thoughts about me....

So, um, I don't know what that means. 

BUT it did give me a great title for my memoir: Absurdly Happy. What do you think? :) There is a subtitle coming. I just don't know what. 

And some Tweeters did do a nice job sticking up for me: 

Matt wins the prize! :) 

Should I change my ringtone to Hello, Dolly? :) 

III. 

What Alex said to me after the show: He was impressed that I wrote down my answer for Final Jeopardy so quickly. "That was the fastest writing I've ever seen!" So, that can be my claim to fame, beyond all other things. 

He also explained why that was the Final Jeopardy question--the Tour is going on right about now. So, it's pertinent. 

(I mean, somewhere. Maybe not here--in Columbus it's All Convention, All The Time....)

IV. 

Someone did recognize me in the grocery store yesterday....

I had a craving for cereal, so I made a quick run to the store. In the cereal aisle, a woman stopped, looked at me, looked at the cereal, looked at me....

Her: Can I ask you a weird question?

Me: Yes.

Her: Were you just on Jeopardy? 

Me: Yes. 

Her: (Squeal--no, I didn't make that up) We watch that every night! We were so happy someone from here was on! 

She was very nice. But it was very surreal, being recognized in the cereal aisle. 

V. 

After my episode wrapped, Mary and I went to the Santa Monica Pier and had lunch. I could've stayed to watch the rest of the day's episodes, but I thought it was time to get out of there....and I really didn't want to see another show that would've had "better" questions air. I didn't need that sort of thing. So we decided to leave right after I signed all the forms. One of the lovely producers called me a taxi, and we headed off to explore.

VI. 

I don't know if I get a tape of the episode. I sort of hope I do? It's currently on my parents' DVR. :) 

VII. 

It was definitely an excellent experience--one I'm glad I got to do, and I'm so glad that you all got to watch it (or at least, most of you.) It was also nice to bring some positive coverage to the CF community! 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 118: Transplant Celebration and Jeopardy reminder!!

7 Quick Takes, JeopardyEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

OK , first of all--

Jeopardy on Monday. 

Check your local listings and all that. :-p 

II. 

Second: 

I'll be on Jen Fulwiler's radio show on the Sirius XM Catholic Channel on Monday! 

If you have Sirius, tune in. If you don't, there might be an iTunes link. I will try to post. 

III. 

On Sunday, my parents took me out to celebrate The Anniversary. We wanted to go to Fado, the place where we had eaten dinner right before I got my call, but it's an Irish pub that shows European Soccer, and there was a huge game on. So we went to PF Chang's instead, which is just as delightful.  

After that, my parents surprised me with a super-duper treat. 

Chocolate fondue, people. 

Sadly, I have no pictures of the Gloriousness that was Chocolate Caramel Toffee fondue, with magical pieces of fruit, a blondie, rice krispy treats, pound cake, and a brownie. Yes, all of that, per person. You got a lovely little tray of items to dip in the bubbling, magical chocolate. 

Guys, I would've married that fondue. Or at least licked the bowl if it wasn't so crazy hot. I didn't feel like burning my tongue. 

But it was so delightful. Right now, writing about it, I'm salivating. I want more! MOREEEE! 

IV. 

And if you're not an organ donor, and you have an iPhone, you can sign up RIGHT FROM THE PHONE, people! RIGHT FROM YOUR PHONE! You don't even have to go to a pesky website!

Do it. Really. Sign up. 

Oh, you want to know why? 

Well, if not knowing me isn't cool enough.....here's a list of some of the things I've done post transplant. 

V. 

Gone to California; gone to Boston; gone to NYC and Chicago; discovered the epic-ness that is the Outer Banks; been in a ton of theater; tried tofu; been on Jeopardy!; been to Disneyland; eaten in Beverly Hills; started pin collecting; gotten my own apartment; had several jobs; left the job to be a freelancer; written a few novels and a memoir (that eventually someone will want to publish....) 

VI. 

Seen my godson graduate from high school; seen my sister graduate from high school and college; seen my brother graduate from college and become a Steeler sportswriter; Penguin Stanley Cups!; been my cousin Paige's confirmation sponsor; pinned my sister at her graduation from nursing school; seen multiple small children be born that I never would've seen other wise (and that would have made the guy below SAD)

No transplant, no meeting Justin. He's only seven. 

No transplant, no meeting Justin. He's only seven. 

Been in my other cousin Justin's wedding, and met his adorable kids....

 

Been in a million OTHER weddings, including this couple's....

These people rock my world. A lot. 

These people rock my world. A lot. 

Met hundreds of people I wouldn't have met otherwise; been to Edel with awesome, awesome people; become a Lay Dominican; read the Outlander books (this would've made my life so sad, people....to not know Jamie and Claire!).....and about a thousand others....seen the resurgence of the Pirates into a good baseball team!....

VII. 

Organ donation doesn't just save one person. It saves families. It saves friends. It saves entire networks of people. I mean, not that I'm all that or anything, but I do have friends and family that would miss me (I hope!). I would've missed so much without these 11 extra years

Guys. Be an organ donor. Save lives. Give people joy and grace. 

Seven Quick Takes No. 117

7 Quick Takes, CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment

I. 
Per usual....if you missed them (posts from the long weekend are here, too!)

My Country 'Tis of Thee

When In the Course of Human Events

Summer Reading: What I Read in June

I'd Like Your Vote

II. 

In the area of Catholic news this week, here is an article about Cardinal Sarah asking for ad orientem worship everywhere, starting in Advent. 

For those of you who aren't into technical liturgical details, "ad orientem" means "toward the east"--basically, in this style of worship, during the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest is turned toward the east, or, with his back to the congregation. Everyone is facing the same way, as it were. 

Ad orientem does not mean "in Latin". You can offer ad orientem worship within the confines of the "normal" English Mass. The only difference would be the direction the priest is facing. 

I'm not a huge fan of the Mass in Latin, I gotta be honest. I feel like I'm just sitting around watching the priest do things. However, I realize it might take time to get acclimated to it. 

But ad orientem worship seems like something we should try. So many Catholic churches don't even look Catholic these days. Yes, some moving the altar work might be involved, if you don't have an older church, like mine, which still has the high altar. But I think making the Mass more reverent isn't a bad thing, and it's probably sorely needed. 

III. 

The 11 year transplant anniversary is on Monday. I will have my annual retrospective post up that day. Just some FYI. ;-) 

IV. 

And also in the FYI category: Jeopardy! July 18th. Watch it. It'll be more fun than the convention that starts that day....eyeroll. 

V. 

I found this on the SITS girls facebook page this week, and I just adore it: 

 

I mean, right? Isn't that the way it works? 

Me and Tiffany--randomly doing stuff together since 1996. (holy cow, that's TWENTY YEARS.....) 

Me and Tiffany--randomly doing stuff together since 1996. (holy cow, that's TWENTY YEARS.....) 

VI. 

What's the longest friendship you've ever had? I gotta say I'm impressed with twenty years. That's more than half our lives at this point. 

Tiffany and I met in a theater class in high school--alphabetical seating is our friend. Amilia and Sue I met in freshman choir. My friend Tom I met in Freshman French....and I've known my friend Branden since we were three years old. No kidding. 

That's sort of amazing, if you think about it. 

VII. 

And since I have nothing else, I'll leave you with an Ann Voskamp image. :) 

Have a great weekend!

Seven Quick Takes No. 116: My Country Tis of Thee

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment

linking up with Kelly and the gang

I. 

Ok, first: What You Might Have Missed This Week

The Fight for Joy

Summer Scribbles No. 4: The Summer After High School

II. 

Since it's the Weekend of the Fourth, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about Our Peculiar Form of Government! So gather 'round for a Civics lesson, cats and kittens!

 

III. 

OK, the first thing y'all need to know: Things in the U.S. are done in threes. There are three branches of government. There are three levels of government. 

The three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial.

The three levels of government: local, state, federal. This is called Federalism. (More on that in a bit) 

Every level of government has the three branches of government. 

So, your town has a mayor (executive), a city council (legislative), and a mayor's court (judicial). Or something like a mayor's court.

A state has a state legislature, a governor, and a state supreme court. 

The nation--the United States-- has Congress (legislative), a president (executive), and the Supreme Court of the United States (Judicial). 

IV.

Each branch of government has its specific functions. 

The legislative branch makes the laws. (This is your local council, state legislature, or the U.S. Congress.)

(For how this works at the federal level....)

The executive enforces the law. This is the mayor, the governor, the President. (You hear the president say he will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America when he's sworn in on Inauguration Day. That's part of being an executive.) 

The judicial branch interprets the law. (It's not supposed to make law, but you know....) 

Each branch has powers over the other branches of government, so that one branch cannot become too powerful. This is called checks and balances. For example, a governor can veto a bill--but the state legislature can override the veto. A supreme court can declare a law unconstitutional, and so forth. 

V. 

Got that? 

Back to Federalism. 

The idea behind Federalism (or at least, American Federalism)  is that what can be decided by the states, should be. The Constitution gives us this in the 10th amendment. 

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.[5]

Keep in mind that, before the Revolutionary War, the colonies were governed by the British King. As in, the King thousands of miles away. Who knew nothing about them or what they were doing or what they wanted. Hence, the idea that government that is closest to the people should make most of the day to day decisions for the people in that area. From the beginning, everyone agreed that there should be levels of government--but who does what? What should the Federal government do? What should the state governments do? Etc. 

You can still see that we have a divide in our country about what the Federal government should do and what it should not do.  But the general idea was that government closer to home is better at knowing what the people need in a particular area, and that the federal government is good for things that affect the nation as a whole. (i.e., the military, building roads, the mail service, etc.) 

VI. 

Having said all that

People do not seem to understand these ideas. 

Here are two examples. 

1) When I worked in my congressman's office (Congress being the legislative branch on the Federal--national--level), people would call and complain about the local sewer service. Or trash pickup in the city where the district office was located.  

This is not something you call the federal government about. This is something you call the local city/township/village about. 

2) When I worked in the state senate, people used to call and ask for federal senators. As in, senators from other states. Note that I worked in the state senate. As in, all of our senators represented different parts of Ohio. Not different states in the nation. 

You may remember that the Democratic Nominee for President is 2004 was Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. That fall, I worked for State Senator Jon Carey, who represented part of the state of Ohio. 

Can you guess what happened in our office nearly every day? 

That's right. People called looking for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts

Yes, they were both senators. And yes, their names were pronounced the same way. 

But guys. One is a federal senator. As in, he works in Washington, D.C. and represents the people of an entire state--which was not Ohio.  

One is a state senator. He represents significantly fewer people.  And he's not running for president. 

VII. 

If you learn nothing else in any civics class, ever, please learn the difference between the branches and levels of government. Don't say that a state representative is getting the same great paycheck/benefits as his federal counterpart. Don't call the mayor to complain about the president (and definitely not vice-versa). Don't expect the Supreme Court of the United States to care about broken city ordinances in Smalltown, U.S.A. (I mean, sometimes they do. But that's another kettle of fish.) 

And now I shall leave you with the Schuyler Sisters. 

 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 115--Not to go all Boromir on you....

7 Quick Takes, health, JeopardyEmily DeArdo1 Comment

 

linking up with Kelly and the gang. 

I. 
There is logic in that title. Really. :) 

So last week I was watching Army Wives on Netflix (Yes, sometimes I watch soap-ish TV. DO NOT JUDGE.) There was a kid with CF who was brought into the ER with a collapsed lung.

Now, to treat a collapsed lung, an interventional radiologist (so no, not just anyone) has to insert a chest tube, in order to reinflate the lung. It requires cutting. It requires stitches. It requires boxes. It basically sucks. It's my second-least favorite thing to have done, medically. 

(What's first? A pH probe. Seriously. Don't ask. 

Oh, you asked?  OK. 

A pH probe involves sticking a tube up your nose, down your throat, and into your stomach. And the tube sticks to your face and dangles outside of your body because it's attached to a stupid meter. It sucks. A lot. And it hurts. A lot. Basically, it's a tool left over from the Inquisition.)

So anyway, while watching the show--the kid had no tube left in. It was basically, we stick in a tube! The lung reinflates! Let's go home tomorrow! 

Um, no. 

Hence, the below photo, which I created to express my displeasure. 

 

One does not simply not keep a chest tube in. Sorry. And to remove it also requires an interventional radiologist. Yeah. Stitches, remember.

II.

So, please make the above meme a thing. I think it's awesome and the Internet needs it! 

III.

I have a clinic appointment on Monday, so I'll report back with the results when I get them. Oh what joy, oh what rapture. :) The nice thing about clinic visits in the summer is that the rush hour traffic is significantly better. 

IV.

The recap from this week, in case you missed it: 

Summer scribbles: A taste of summer (My strawberry salad recipe) 

Postcard: Chicago

Catholic 101: Apostolic Succession

V.

Also, I got a picture with this guy:

You know, some random Canadian. ;-) 

The dress is from Shabby Apple. It looks a bit better on TV. I think. Since the photos are taken during one of the commercial breaks, you don't really have time to primp. 

VI. 

The show airs on July 18th! 

I will also be on Jen Fulwiler's Radio Show that day, to tease the episode. :) If you have Sirius, be sure to tune in! I'll have more info as we get closer.

VII. 

Another thing about that photo? The microphone pack is attached to my bra strap. Really. They have a guy who attaches all the microphones. He asks before he attaches it. And he's very professional about it. But that's where the microphone pack is. They remove it before they shoot the "let's all talk at the end of the show" thing, so you won't see it. :) 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 114: My hockey team loves me!

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

My hockey team loves me, guys. 

II. 

We were in Pittsburgh all weekend--my godson graduated from high school last weekend and the party was on Saturday. 

My godson is standing next to me--blue shirt. 

My godson is standing next to me--blue shirt. 

How in the world he's this old already is beyond me. I mean, at my high school graduation party, he was a toddler! 

Cue Sunrise, Sunset....

III. 

Anyway, on Sunday, I spent time with my Aunt Judy and Uncle Frank, and their son, Justin, and his wife and their two boys. I had never met their boys before so I was totally eating up the cuteness. 

I mean, seriously,  look at those eyes! 

I mean, seriously, look at those eyes! 

Rex, the oldest, was a bit reluctant to talk to strangers. But he warmed up to us. 

Rex, the oldest, was a bit reluctant to talk to strangers. But he warmed up to us. 

And there was also...Primantis. Yeah. 

So, seeing my Dad's sister, her husband, and my cousin and his wife and kids, and eating delicious food, all made for a pretty great day. 

And the hockey game hadn't even started yet.

IV. 

One of the nice things about having a big family is that you have people to eat the leftovers. So dinner was at Aunt Patty's, where we ate party leftovers, I swam with the kids (barring my inability to "properly" swim), and then we Waited for the Game. 

This child is my cousin Justin. He just finished first grade, and yet he was shockingly unaware of the Rules of Hockey--especially Stanley Cup Final Hockey. 

Rule No. 1: When the game starts, you pick a seat. And you stay in it the whole game. No exceptions. His seat was my lap. 

Rule No. 2: They are "periods" not quarters, and they are 20 minutes long. There are three of them. 

Rule No. 3: In the intermission, you can leave Said Seat, but you must return to Said Seat when the next period begins. 

Rule No. 4: You will yell at the TV. 

Me: mumbling things at the TV and the players.

Justin: Emily, they can't hear you! 

Rule No. 5: The only time you can leave your seat during play is when your seat is about to leap up and celebrate victory--she will be afraid of tossing you into the coffee table. We don't want to go to the ER. When victory occurs, she will then lift you up into the air and squeal a lot. 

After victory, the photo. 

After victory, the photo. 

V. 
My sister and my dad then went to Dick's, which opened after the game, and scored many Victory T-shirts and Other Things. 

Yes! Mel was here, too! She came up from Houston to party with us. :)

So we rejoiced in victory. 

VI. 

And then we spent the next day at Kennywood, our favorite amusement park. I had time to do some sketching, had Rita's gelato, ate excellent food, and rode fun rides. 

Dad and I  on the log jammer, wearing our Victory Apparel. (Well, I am. Dad is wearing a shirt from the last Cup run.) 

Dad and I  on the log jammer, wearing our Victory Apparel. (Well, I am. Dad is wearing a shirt from the last Cup run.) 

Seven Quick Takes No. 113

7 Quick Takes, Jeopardy, life issuesEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 

First up--this week's post roundup: 

SITS girls Summer Scribbles No. 1

Catholic 101: Those "Screwball Apostles"

II. 

I'm going to Pittsburgh this weekend for my godson/cousin's high school graduation. He actually graduated last week, but the party is this weekend. I can't believe he's that old, first off. I was fifteen when he was born! He'll be going to Pitt to study computer science. He's a good kid, and I'm so lucky to be his godmother.  

III. 

Just a reminder: my Jeopardy! appearance is July 18th!!!

IV. 

(Yes, that merited the cool font. You know it did.)

I'm actually sort of nervous about people watching it. I can see the whole slew of tweets and Facebook postings of "YOU IDIOT! How did you not know THAT?" And honestly, there's at least one question I'm still beating myself up about. :-P 

I did manage to impress Alex T., though. I did. But that is a story for the day the show airs. :) 

V. 

I did manage to whip the sketchbook out this week, not once, but TWICE! Oh yeah! 

Lunchtime sketching--lamp and a wonky pitcher. :-P (I was trying to do single line contour on that guy, so....)

Lunchtime sketching--lamp and a wonky pitcher. :-P (I was trying to do single line contour on that guy, so....)

Plant at Dawes Arboretum. 

Plant at Dawes Arboretum. 

VI. 

California legalized assisted suicide this week. Why that's a bad idea. 

VII. 

And my hockey team is continuing to hate me--game 6 in San Jose.....

Seven Quick Takes No. 112

7 Quick Takes, life issues, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 
Previously on the blog, here (in case you missed any of it!): 

Sugarcoating Suicide: Me Before You
Ordinary Joy
Summer Reading

That first one has become particularly relevant since I found out that the state of California will legalize assisted suicide next week. 

II. 

In My Summer Reading post, I talked about Eligible. Well, I finished it yesterday, and it was terrible. Terrible isn't really a strong enough word for how bad it was, acutally. If you are at all tempted to read it, please, for the Love of All That is Holy, go pick up the real Pride and Prejudice, or watch the Only Version That Exists In My World. 

 

III. 

Also in the world of Jane, I'm re-reading Persuasion. If you haven't read that one, go for it, please. It gets overlooked sometimes!

IV. 

If you're a Facebook friend of mine, you're probably wondering why, around 8:00 every other night, my feed becomes incomprehensible with sports jargon. It's because the Penguins are in the Stanley Cup Finals, and I adore hockey.  

My first NHL game was against the Hartford Whalers (Wow, I just dated myself) at the old Igloo--the Civic Arena-- in Pittsburgh. I think this was in 1990. But anyway, I have been a lifelong fan since then. Poor Mary, when we were in LA, had to put up with my attention totally deviating from her if hockey came on the TV when we were eating. I'm like a dog going "SQUIRREL!" 

So, until the series is over (and hopefully the Pens will sweep and it'll be over next week, and we'll have our Fourth Stanley Cup victory), there might be some weird Facebook posting. :) 

V. 

If you're wondering why I root for Pittsburgh teams when I live in Columbus--it's because my parents are both from Pittsburgh. In fact, they were born three days apart (although in different hospitals), and Dad is a Pitt and Carnegie Mellon graduate. Mom used to work at Pittsburgh Children's before she married my dad. So all of us kids were brought us as Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins fans, and it stuck. Even though my brother went to OSU, we're not very strong OSU fans. 

And I hate calling it The Ohio State University. Some of my friends do it just to spite me. :-P

VI. 

It go so hot, so fast here. It's like we didn't really have spring at all. It was cold, and then "boiling lava hot" (as Jim Gaffigan says in his Hot Pockets sketch). Oh well. At least the pool's open and my A/C works!!!! 

VII. 

Finally--do any of you use fountain pens? I just started and I have to say, I love them. I feel very writerly and Jane-ish (although I know Jane didn't use them). Ink spots on my fingers? Fun! 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 111

7 Quick Takes, writingEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

Before we get into Quick Takes proper, here's this week's posts: Catholic 101 on Pentecost and a Nashville Postcard

II. 

Next week: Catholic 101 is about Divine Mercy, and the Postcard is from Duck, NC--one of my favorite places on Earth. I'll also have a manuscript update! Yay!!!

III. 

Man, Barre 3 class on Monday was hard. I hadn't been all month due to post-trip recovery, and so it was going to be hard anyway, but I think the teacher felt like making it Evilly Challenging. It was almost all leg work and I've been sore all week--but I'm still going to class today. Because that's how I roll, people! 

IV. 

The Last CCD for the season is on Sunday. It was a really long year, but I'm always sad to leave the kids. But I'm happy to get my Sunday mornings back--I can either sleep in and go to a later Mass, or I can go on Saturday night like I do during the CCD year and sleep in Sunday morning. Either way, Emily gets more sleep, and that's a good thing. 

V. 

In the home improvement department, I have floating shelves!

The Pirate parrot also likes his new perch. 

I was tired of having books that didn't have "homes" randomly scattered around, so I decided to give the floating shelves a try, and I love them. They're so cool looking, and these books finally have homes that are not just stacks on the carpet! Yay!

VI. 

Two months until my Jeopardy! appearance on July 18. Yes, I'm going to keep reminding you about it. :-P 

VII. 

Did any of you watch Army Wives when it was on? I've found it on Netflix and man, it's sort of crazily addictive. Between it and the hockey playoffs, I'm spending too much time with my TV. 

Seven Quick Takes No. 110

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

So, after a deluge of California posts, we're back to Regularly Scheduled Programming with 7QT! Yay!

II. 

It took me awhile to get back on track post-California--this week was the first week where I was really sort of back to normal. I started meal planning and cooking at home again, cleaning, and sort of getting back to my normal routine. Nothing major but it's those tentpoles in the week that keep things humming around here. 

III. 

Last week I went to the dermatologist and had two spots  on my scalp biopsied. They're probably nothing but they are stubborn and don't want to go away, so the doctor decided to take a official look, as it were, at them. It didn't hurt, but the two stitches that closed up the spots are crazy annoying. I'll be really happy when I can wash my hair normally again! 

(Also, this leaves TWO body areas that have been untouched by medical intervention--my left leg and my abdomen. That's it! No scars there!)

IV. 

I loved having my travel sketchbook with me when I was in LA, and I'm finally doing some watercolors of Santa Monica Beach. I'd forgotten to bring my supplies when we went to visit, so I took some photos for reference, but it worked out, because my home watercolor palette has four blues, as opposed to the two in my travel kit, so I'm really able to get closer to the actual colors, and work on watercolor techniques and blending shades. My watercolor landscapes haven't turned out as I've wanted them to, but this time I'm approaching it as an exercise in variety, etc., as opposed to wanting something to be perfect immediately. 

I've done one in my travel sketchbook, and a larger one in my "big" watercolor paper Moleskine book. Different colors, but the same techniques in both. 

V. 

Every summer I do the great Jane re-read, but this year I'm reading the new book in the Austen project, first. This entails current authors reworking Jane's novels to reflect the modern day--the first one was Alexander McCall Smith's Emma, and the latest one is Eligible, a re-working of P&P by Curtis Sittenfeld. I picked it up at LAX but I never got a chance to really read it, since I was reading Color  on the two flights home (I got Color from the Getty, and it was really interesting, especially in light of my love of watercolor!)

After I read Eligible,  I'll start with Persuasion. I'm going to read the books in reverse order this year. Mixing it up! I love Persuasion but sometimes I run out of summer before I get to it. Not this year!

VI. 

Oh, and I forgot to mention here (Geez, Emily!) that my Jeopardy episode will air July 18, 2016. Monday night, y'all. Three fun people playing for money. You know you want to watch!

VII. 

What are your summer plans? I have NONE, other than my godson/cousin's graduation in June. I am in denial that he is old enough to be going to college. I really am. But other than that, a nice, free summer is ahead of me. 

Seven Quick Takes No. 109

7 Quick Takes, travelEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I. 

I leave for California in eight days. That's right guys. EIGHT DAYS. So today I'm getting my hair trimmed in anticipation of its TV appearance, and then I really have to start packing in earnest. I have a list, and I have some things laid out, but the time has come to Get Things Into Bags and Make Sure It All Fits. The fortunate thing is that it's going to be pretty mild, weather wise, so I won't need to pack a huge variety of non-show clothes. 

II. 

Of course I also want to do fun things while I'm in LA, so I'm trying to narrow down that list as well. I'm a little sad that the ocean will probably be too cold to swim in, and the air temperature won't be warm enough to necessitate a plunge into freezing Pacific Waters. But hey...it's the beach! 

III. 

In case you're late to this party--I'm going to be a Jeopardy contestant, so that's why I'm going to California. Obviously, that is paramount in the scheduling. I'm trying not to freak out too much. I mean, I have performance experience, so crowds don't bother me, and I've done quiz show things before (Thanks, College Bowl!) so I've worked buzzers and such. I just haven't done it on national television. I'd like to not totally screw up. And no, I can't tell you how I did. I can tell you when the episode will air--but you don't get to know how I did in advance. Lips are zipped. It's a rule!

IV.

I turned 34 last Saturday and while it was snowy and cold, it was still a fun day. We had dinner at PF Chang's, which involved Birthday Cake flavored ice cream, chocolate cake, and honey shrimp, so that's always good, and my family. Melanie was in Texas, sadly, but I did get her gift. :) 

V.

I went to my first Barre3 class yesterday and while I am sore today, it was a good workout and the teacher was great. I've scheduled three more classes for next week before I leave because going to be on TV. So, you know. Even though you won't see much of me on said TV, I have some pride here people. :-P

VI.

I love Colonial Williamsburg, and I especially love their adorable sheep! If you like adorable things, check out this story about Baby Lamb Edmund. 

VII. 

If you have any suggestions on things to do/see/eat when I'm in Southern California, let me know! I don't want to miss anything good!

Seven Quick Takes No. 107

7 Quick Takes, transplantEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

So this week has been interesting from a medical perspective. Not terribly bad interesting, but Interesting, Capital "I". 

I have a port (an implantofix) implanted under my collarbone. I got this before transplant, so I've had it now for more than 11 years. A port is a place where, with a special needle, nurses and other Medical People can draw blood and give meds without having to hunt for a vein. Since my veins suck, my port has been a good and valiant friend for all these years. It means that when I need things--blood draws, fluids, meds--we know we're going to have access. 

Until Monday, when it decided not to. 

II.

Every month, the port has to be flushed with saline and heparin, to keep it from clotting. Since the port is placed in a big vein near my heart, this is important--we don't want any clots flying around and causing trouble, or clogging up the line. And for 11 years, it has worked splendidly. Sometimes we have to finesse the needle, but normally, we get blood return. 

(The "We" in this case, is me and mom. Mom does the port accessing. Yes, she's awesome like that. She wields Huber needles with aplomb, and she's better at it than a lot of nurses I've had.)

This time, no blood return. And I'd also had problems with it in the ER a few weeks ago....so I'm wondering....

III. 

Ports aren't permanent--the silicone cover that you actually poke can only take so many pokes. It's a few thousand. So I'm thinking it's died and gone to port heaven. 

But when we call clinic, oh, no! This might not be the case. Apparently there are many Magical Things we can do to see if the port just has a glitch. 

IV. 

So on Monday, we get to try the first of the Magical Things--a special drug that "sits" in the line and can remove any clots that might be at the tip of the line. The drug sits there for two hours. I sit in clinic for two hours. And then we see if we can draw it off the port and get blood return. 

If so--yay! If not--dye test! 

(I don't really know what the dye test entails.)

V. 

The benefit to this is that I'm going to get new books....so that's something, right? 

VI. 

In other news, though: SPRING!

And yes, that orange barrel also equals Spring in Ohio. 

VII. 

During the March Madness kick off yesterday I managed to wind two hanks of yarn and clean. And I have pink tulips!

Seven Quick Takes No. 106: A Squirrel Saga

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdo2 Comments
No, my squirrel is not this cute....

No, my squirrel is not this cute....

I. 

So, let me tell you, squirrels are not cute and cuddly. Disney has lied to us, people!

II. 

On Super Bowl Sunday, I came up to my bedroom and was going to get ready for bed, when I noticed a large hole about the size of a softball, 11 or 12 feet up on my wall. This had not been there when I'd gotten home from church, and I thought maybe, since the kids were using the side of my house as a goal for soccer (It had been a really nice day), that they'd hit the wall hard and dislodged a bit of the drywall. OK. Fine. I was annoyed, but not terribly worried. 

The next day I went to the apartment office and told them that the wall needed patched. A guy came out, took a photo, and said he'd be back to fix it.

III.

Two weeks later...still  not fixed. And the hole is getting bigger. 

Maybe they had to order a new piece of drywall, or something. Because holes should be patched quickly, right? 

IV. 

My patience ran out when I came up one day and saw that the hole was MUCH bigger, and there was now drywall and insulation all over the floor. Patience gone! 

Go to the apartment office again. Guy comes out, re-plasters the hole, says he'll finish it the next day--Thursday.

V. 

Wake up Thursday morning. The hole is back

OK, now I know there's something in there. I am officially freaked. I go back to the office and tell them. 

"OK, we'll send out a guy to look and trap the squirrel."

A squirrel? Eating my drywall and insulation and living in my attic? EATING MY BEDROOM WALL??!?!?!

I slept on the couch that night. 

VI. 

On Friday I went to my parents, where I would stay until this was dealt with. The office told us that they had to fix the roof, set traps, catch the squirrel, and then they would fix the wall. And there would be no more squirrel. 

Finally, last night (AKA, a week later) we got a call from them saying that the roof was fixed, and while the squirrel wasn't in the traps, he wasn't in the house, either--so maybe he had escaped to get food while the roof was being fixed and couldn't get back in. Whatever it was, the squirrel was gone. 

VII. 

I came home--there is a huge piece of wood bolted over the very large hole. No way the squirrel is getting through that sucker. 

I slept the sleep of the Just--or at least, the sleep of the Non Squirrel Infested Bedroom. 

And now I really, really hate squirrels. 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 105

7 Quick Takes, drawing, healthEmily DeArdo4 Comments

I. 

The snow is melting! The snow is melting!

Really, I don't mind snow--around Christmas. I do mind it when it's crazy cold and I have to scrape off my car whenever I want to go somewhere, and deal with the ice around my car. But it's going to be 50 today, and almost 60 tomorrow! Yay!

II. 

I'm glad about that 60 in particular because tomorrow is the Columbus Catholic Women's Conference, and last year a huge snowstorm kept me from getting there. It starts at 8, but you have to get there early to get a decent seat--and registration opens at 7. So that means you get up early. And getting up early plus dealing with snow? Just, no. But this year, no snow! No ice! Yay!

I'm especially excited because Jen Fulwiler is one of the speakers.

At Edel with Hallie Lord (L) and Jen Fulwiler (center)

At Edel with Hallie Lord (L) and Jen Fulwiler (center)

III. 

This week I went to my audiologist and got my cochlear implant (CI) tuned up. That's not the technical term, by the way. I hadn't been to see her in awhile, so I went it and we "reprogrammed" my processor. 

The big difference between a CI and a hearing aid is that a hearing aid just makes sound louder, while I CI helps you understand what the sound is. And if you're like me, and your hearing is basically shot, you need the CI, and not a hearing aid, becaus making sound louder won't help you. The cells in the cochlea have been destroyed, and thus the sound isn't getting processed correctly by my brain. Thus--the CI. An "array" was threaded into my cochlea during surgery, and that relays the sound I get directly to my brain, bypassing the broken bits. 

So anyway, with the programs, I can have various settings depending on what I need at the time. I generally use one that allows me to get a wide array of sounds, but there are ones for when I want to focus on quieter sounds, or when I want to focus the microphone to just the person or people directly in front of me (meaning, where my head is pointed is where I'm going to pick up sound.) 

After we fine-tuned the programs (they're called MAPS, if we're being technical, but I forget what that stands for), my audiologist took me to the booth where they run hearing tests. If you are hearing-impaired, these booths are generally awful because you feel like an idiot. But with the new program, I was able to hear a really wide range of sound at various levels (meaning I detected the sound--I could hear it at all) of pitch and volume. So yay! 

IV. 

The other thing about CIs? They're covered by insurance. Hearing aids aren't. 

V. 

I've been doing a TON of drawing this week. Bust out the paints and pencils! 

This is my Atlantic Puffin. I didn't get quite the result I wanted on the black parts, but I did it on watercolor paper, which has that grain. So, whatever. But how cool is this animal? Orange eyes!

I'm also working on sketching and painting teacups. I need to take some pictures of those, though, to show you. 

VI. 

Reading: Not a whole lot, sadly, other than my Lent books. But when one gives up book buying for Lent...also, the library hasn't had any interesting books on the ebooks roster lately. I love that you can borrow ebooks. No worries about returning things on time!

VII. 

This week in CCD we're doing Sacraments--we've broken them up into parts. The book does a chapter on the Eucharist when we talk about Holy Thursday, so that's coming up. This week we're covering Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. Next week: Marriage, Confession, and Anointing of the Sick.  

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 104

7 Quick Takes, food, LentEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

Well, Winter has finally shown up here in Ohio. It's going to be three for a low this weekend. Brrrrr. Glad I have lots of warm socks and boots and a heavy coat that's good for clearing off the car. 

II. 

I'm learning Italian! I'm using the Duolingo app and I have to say it's really fun, although there's some weird Italian grammar things that do not exist in French or English. For example, the word "dinner" (cena) can mean the noun, dinner, or  "eating dinner." So if you want to say I'm having dinner, It's "Io cena." IT IS WEIRD. In French, it would be Je mange diner. You need a verb! Not in Italian! 

Also, their possessives are sort of tricky. I'm working on it. But learning Italian is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, so I'm glad I'm finally getting on it. 

III. 

Lent has begun, but you can still join Restore! It's not too late. 

IV. 

I'm taking my first Barre3 class next week. I will hopefully survive. ;-) Cristina loves them, and I've taken similar classes before, so I think I'll survive.....It's only an hour! One can do anything for an hour! (Right?)

V. 

One of the great things about winter is that I get to experiment with my cooking. When it's summer and gorgeous I don't want to be working with a hot oven. But tonight is perfect for something like Tuscan marinated chicken and couscous with feta and lemon. It's warm and filling and really easy! 

VI. 

Fasting is something I didn't have to do for the first 23 years of my life. And now that I have to, it's HARD. Man, I was GRUMPTASTIC Wednesday night, and I also inhaled my dinner like there was no tomorrow. 

VII. 

Outlander season 2 premieres on my birthday! (April 9) Happy birthday to me! I can't wait for Season 2 with my favorite time travelers. 


Seven Quick Takes No. 103

7 Quick Takes, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 

It has been AN AGE since I have done one of these! So let's start with Jane--Yesterday was the 203rd anniversary of Pride and Prejudice's publication. Huzzah!

II. 

Here in central Ohio, we got no snow from last weekend's huge storm. I'm not totally opposed to that, since me and snow aren't really friends. I don't mind the dusting that's outside right now, but feet upon feet of snow? NO. 

III. 

My follow-up appointment post-hospital was on Monday and things were joyous. My PFTs are back to baseline, the X-ray is cleared up, and I even lost weight! (Although I'm pretty sure that's a med side effect, but we'll see.) Everyone was quite pleased. 

IV. 

That being said, I'm sloooowly getting back to my own personal baseline. I think I'll be there by next week, which is good, because the last three weeks have not been the way I'd like them to be. I'm OK with slow recoveries but it is nice to be able to get dressed, run errands, and make dinner all in one day without feeling like that's the equivalent of Everest climbing.  

V. 

Guys, Lent is upon us. Do you have a plan? I'll be running my Lent series again next week, but perhaps you should consider Restore? It's a truly excellent Lenten workshop that starts on Ash Wednesday and runs through Easter.  Read more about it here, or click the button on the sidebar .

VI. 

A good quote from St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast day was yesterday: 
"Beware the person of one book."

Good advice, Sir! :) 

VII. 

And lastly, because it's Friday: 


Seven Quick Takes No. 102: Seven Great Cast Recordings

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment

We're doing something a little different this week. I'm sharing with you seven of my favorite Broadway Cast albums, for either your edification, or to serve as a "what to buy" for the Musically Inclined on your Christmas list (or for yourself!) 

These are not in any particular order, except for 1 and 2, because 1 and 2 are freaking indisputable

I. 

he Phantom of the Opera: Original Broadway Cast Recording. 

It's the best selling cast album of all time. So, you know. It's also the Cast Recording that made me fall head-over-heels in love with musical theater. You really cannot know awesomeness until you have this cast recording. The great thing is, it's almost the entire show. (If you want the whole show on disc, you want the 25th anniversary cast, but that's not as good, vocally, as the original. So if you're only getting one, go here.)

II.

Les Miserables: 10th Anniversary Concert recording

This is THE RECORDING. I have the "complete symphonic recording" from when I did Les Miz a few years back, and I wanted the whole thing on disc. But the 10th anniversary cast is the creme de la creme. There is no better "Bring Him Home" in the entire Freaking Universe. 

III. 

Titanic: Original Broadway Cast Recording

This is such a fantastic show, and it's much more choral in nature than any of the other choices here. The writing is complex, vivid, and the end of the show is an emotional gut-punch. "The Proposal/The Night Was Alive", "Lady's Maid", "In Every Age" and "Still" are just a few of the highlights. 

IV. 

Parade: Original Broadway Cast Recording.

Yes. It's a show about a lynching and a murder. But man, the music is incredible. Jason Robert Brown is one of my favorite contemporary composers, and what he does here is magic from beginning to end. I was fortunate enough to be in this show several years ago and it is my favorite musical experience to date. 

V. 

he Scarlet Pimpernel: Original Broadway Cast Recording

rank Wildhorn makes my alto heart happyScarlet Pimpernel, a retelling of the novel, is beautifully written, sharp, witty, and has some of the best melodies he's ever churned out, that have never gotten the attention that J&H got. Also, "Storybook" is my signature piece, so I have to include this recording.
 

VI. 

Jesus Christ Superstar: 1997 Revival Cast

Is it wrong that I listen to this every Holy Week? If it's wrong, I don't want to be right. 

VII. 

OK, seven is a tie. I'm sorry. But it is :) 

Fun HomeOriginal Broadway Cast. I love this recording. Michael Ceveris (who is also on the Titanic soundtrack) is in great voice here, as is Judy Kuhn (who is also on the Les Miz recording). The music is written differently, and in new forms,but the end, in particular, is just devastating (in a good way). Great performances all around. 

The Producers: Original Broadway Cast

It's just so funny. This CD brightened many gray winter commutes in my life. And it's much better than the movie version of the musical. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are in top, top form here. 

 

To round out a "top ten", here's three honorable mentions: 

The Bridges of Madison County: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Sunset Boulevard (really, any recording works. I prefer the one with Judy Juhn as Betty Schaffer.) 

The Secret Garden: Original Broadway Cast Recording

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 101

7 Quick Takes, writing, theater, holidays, behind the scenesEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

First an addition to the Daybook from earlier this week. I don't know what happened to the text, but I'd written a bunch about Hamilton that inexplicably disappeared after I hit 'publish'. So, I'm rewriting it here. :) 

 

Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schulyer Church) in a scene from  Hamilton . 

Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schulyer Church) in a scene from Hamilton

This musical has been getting a lot of positive press, and at first I was skeptical, because: rap? hip-hop? Whaaaa. No. Emily doesn't like that sort of music. But surprisingly, it works really well here, to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton. Most of us know Hamilton because of one of three things: he died in a duel with Aaron Burr; he's on the $10 bill, or he wrote a lot of the Federalist Papers. But he did a lot more than that. He found the New York Post, was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and served with George Washington during the Revolutionary War. 

The musical is sung-through (I think) and covers his life from his arrival in America as a young man, his graduation from Princeton, involvement in the Revolution, marriage to Eliza Schuyler, birth of his son, rise in Washington's administration, and then his political downfall and death. The musical was written and composed by its star, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Some of my favorite tracks are "Helpless", "Burn", "My Shot", "The Room Where It Happens", "You'll Be Back" (a hilarious song for King George III, played by Jonathan Groff), and "It's Quiet Uptown". 

Anyway, all this to say--give it a whirl. It's probably going to kill it at the Tonys and there's even talk of a Pulitzer Prize win. 

II.

I won NaNo! Yes, it's only the second week of November, but I'm over 50K, and I think there might be a sequel to this novel, because I don't think I can do the story justice in one setting. How crazy is that? These characters haven't stuck with the plan at all, but I've never written anything so fast, and as long as what the characters want works with the plot, then I'm fine with them dictating things to me. 

Right now I'm imagining them as YA novels. But of course anyone can read them. 

III. 

The Confirmation last weekend went well. I was proud of my cousin, and glad she picked a real saint--some of the kids just picked their middle names or something. (I know this because I asked one kid who her saint was--I'd never heard of this--and she said "it's my middle name." Eyeroll. Now, I'm sure there is a saint with that name, but come on, guys!)

IV. 

My Christmas cards are  done! Yay! I always love doing the Christmas cards. I usually start sending them out the first week in December, because some of my friends are in school and go home for the holidays, and I want them to get it before that happens. And I also love sending real mail to people. 

V.

I also binge watched Starz's Flesh and Bone this week. I wish the ending would've been more concrete, since the series isn't being renewed, but I guess it was probably shot before that decision was made? I love anything that has to do with ballet, so this series, which focuses on a fictional ballet company, was something that's like catnip to me. There were several great plot lines. (And also several tired plot lines--crazy artistic director, back-stabbing catty corps dancers, etc. )

VI. 

I'm moving on in Sketchbook Skool, too. Right now we're doing continuous line drawing ,which is something that I definitely need to work on, because my drawings looks crazy right now. Our assignment is to do one, two, and three objects this way, and then do one three object drawing and watercolor it. I'm a little afraid of that assignment. 

VII.

How are you guys doing on your holiday shopping/preparation? When do you put up your decorations? I Usually start the day of the OSU-Michigan game, which is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.